Mark Denton's D&AD Talk.

Is unsurprisingly brilliant. 

Mark Denton is someone I've always admired because  his work is uncompromising in its artistry yet remains firmly planted in advertising. 

He's one of the few people who has consistently raised the standards of advertising with the work he's done. Plenty of people can talk craft but when you look at a Denton piece it exudes it. (Which makes the three awful work samples I sent to him during college even more embarrassing.)

But this talk is less about the work than it is promoting yourself. And I think that's a good thing because it's something the advertising industry as a whole is very bad at.

So watch the talk on D&AD's website. (I can't figure out how to embed it here). 

I think you'll enjoy it as much as I did. 

Staying on this corner. Just out on this corner. Slanging my Weekly Linkly.

Listen I'm out here fuckin...fucking curating these links and shit 24/7. Twenty. Four. Seven. You got that? I live by the curation. I die by the curation. The internet is mean streets and I don't need your shit. This is my life, man. All day on my curation grind. You can take the curator off the internet but you can't take the internet out of the curator? Don't fuck with me. Don't fuck with me, Donnie.



New tUnE-yArDs song "Water Fountain." Crazy as always.

Bottle Art Museum (because I love miniatures. Music is...questionable.)

World Blacksmith's Competition. Battle tongs!

Forging a Katana. (I'm on a smithing kick this week.)

Johnny Express.

Paula Scher on Design and Identity.

Just Say No

Last summer I got really in to riding a bike.

I mean really, really.

Partially because it was fun. Partially because it was quicker than riding public transport. Partially because I have issues being at the behest of systems or anybody else so the freedom afforded by a bike really appealed to me. 

(It was mostly that last one.)

Unless a friend was in town and was opposed to riding around on my handlebars I wouldn't go near public transportation. And I sure as hell didn't have a car.

This activity has carried over to LA. Despite having a car I just feel more comfortable on a bike. Even if it's tried to kill me multiple times when something went wrong. I hadn't filled my car up with gasoline for over a month until a week ago. 

But enough background.

I learned early on that one of the most important things about owning a bike is finding a good bike shop. Because things go wrong frequently. Especially if you ordered your bike off the internet.

As luck would have it, I found a great shop two blocks from my apartment called Rapid Transit Cycleshop. In fact, I never went to anywhere else the whole time I lived in Chicago. And not just because it was stupid convenient. 

Early on after I was in the shop a lot. Just figuring out things and getting parts replaced. (Again, internet bike. Lots of problems.)

During one of these visits someone came in with a bike and a new fork. He said he wanted the new fork on the bike but the stem on it was too tall. And he asked the bike shop to correct that. You know, saw it off. Or something.

The manager was there asked him to repeat what he wanted. He listened intently then responded in a way that made me so happy. He rubbed his hands together and said, "No."

He said that what this customer was asking for wasn't a proper procedure. Not only that, it was dangerous. It just isn't done. And it shouldn't be done because you're fucking with the integrity of the fork So he wasn't going to do it. He could order him a new stem. Or point to a few on craigslist that would work. But he wasn't willing to put this guy at risk just because it's what the guy wanted.

That blew me away. Because he was taking a stand despite the effects it might have on his business. He was doing it for an ethical reason.

He wasn't willing to do something because it was good of him as a businessman, or as a business, or because the customer asked for it. By refusing to do something that put the customer in harm's way he did what was right for all parties. (Unless the party is the one that's supposed to make gobs of money off of customer's ignorance.)

It would be great to see agencies willing to say no to its clients. To push back when they know that the work is being undercut. When they request something that seems like common sense (i.e. make this fit/can't we just add one more promotional message?) but we know will be detrimental to their business.

In effect, "No" is a way to help agencies reclaim a place of expertise.A way to show that we know what will work or what won't work. That clients come to us for a reason other than 'it's the way it's always been done.'

Because without a reason to use agencies, I think there are too many options out there for clients to choose from. By saying yes to everything we are undercutting our primary competitive advantage and for what? To hod an account for another 4 months? Advertising is  business but it's a business that has to offer something better than what's out there.

Ed McCabe's advice. Weathered but not worn.

Last night I found this Ed McCabe interview from an old Lurzer's Archive. 1996, I believe. I enjoyed it and thought other people might as well.

There are things I agree with  (like his points on education, clients, revisions, and the point of advertising). And some I don't (lots of bragging but that comes with the territory when reading McCabe). But it's interesting a whole lot less bullshit-filled than the drivel today's thought leaders spew out. 

Add to that that McCabe made ad after ad that appealed to people and got them talking, and you've got a good idea why it might be a good idea to read this interview.

My favorite part was when he talked how his agency McCabe and Co. did strategy. Still holds up, I think: 

"The old adage in advertising used to be 'you do your job, we'll do ours.' Bullshit. Unless we know how to do a client's job, how can we know how to advice their company what to do?"

If the pictures I've embedded are too small you can find it here. That's where I did.

When you drill down deep--real, real, deep--all you'll find is me clutching my weekly linklys.

Mind taking a look at all this stuff since you're already here? Will only take a minute.


  • Infinitely clickable. Probably more interesting than any other clickbait site on the internet.


What you'll be if you don't read this presentation by W+K's Martin Weigel. (via Sell! Sell!)


Please use this song in a commercial. (via @Awoooooga)

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin went to Russia. Shot a video for their song "Young Presidents."

Why is ketchup so hard to pour?

Smoking. Also hard.

This space intentionally left blank for that hamster eating a burrito video everyone has already seen. 

Full-Service vs Fine Dining.

In the restaurant world sit-down restaurants generally fall into a few different categories. For simplicity's sake this post focuses on two types to which I think parallels in advertising can be drawn. 

It's an oversimplification, sure. But this is a blog not a term paper.

The first type is full-service casual restaurants. These are usually part of a chain and can often be found a few yards from another, similar restaurant. The prototypical example of this is Olive Garden.

Olive Garden serves middle of the road food. Food that people seem to enjoy because as long as they're not food snobs. You've probably heard some derivative of "Those breadsticks, oh those breadsticks! And the endless soup and salad bowl. I simply cannot get enough Olive Garden." (Maybe you haven't if you didn't grow up in the Midwest like I did.)

It's a brilliant marketing concept. Giving people exactly what they want. Essentially a home cooked meal prepared by someone else, to the tune of $7 plus tax and tip. Of course it has way more sodium and fat and everything else than you would make at home. But it's food people want to eat. Often lots of it. And the quality is consistent regardless of location. 

And Olive Garden is not alone in this perfectly homogenized food game. It's joined by a legion of other fast-causal restaurants that give people what they want without a lot of thought. We're talking the Red Lobster, Chili's, Applebees, Hooters, and TGI Fridays (really anything owned by Darden) of the world. And while the food might not be mind-blowing, it is passible as sustenance. 

Meanwhile, what seems like worlds away in a culinary sense, is the second type of restaurant: fine dining establishments. And the top of these are restaurants that have or are attempting to garner a Michelin Star or a few. (The Michelin Guide also happens to be my favorite advertisement of all time because it transcended being just an ad. From a humble scheme to sell tires it became the most respected authority on where people need to eat. Pretty incredible.)

Michelin starred restaurants are not the easiest to get in to. Or to approach. Or afford. But they are consistently interesting, daring, and high quality. Oftentimes toeing a fine line between dining and event. They take huge risks. They develop techniques. They polish themselves so that they become the envy of chefs across the globe.

They lead the world of food rather than existing in it.

Extrapolating from my time working in and studying adverting I think this metaphor can be extended to our industry. With agencies substituting for restaurants. Creatives for chefs/cooks. And work for food. (The main difference being that no one needs advertising to live. Unlike food. But how easy would our jobs be if that was the case?!)

These days most agencies seem fine with being a full-service casual restaurant.  Which is understandable. From a business perspective it even makes sense. There's a reason fast-casual restaurants exist. Not just exist; flourish. They're big, bloated, and flush with cash.

And within those restaurants there are people who truly care about the quality of the product that goes out. But that product is always compromised because it's only trying to be a certain level of passible. Good enough to not leave people retching, sometimes even 'good' but never remarkable. The product of mass production and compromise.

That's the way most ads come out. They might be fundamentally palatable, but not necessarily something people want. Work that took a lot of effort but is largely glossed over because there's plenty of other things to focus on These work best when they're pushed out over and over and over. They are bland but ubiquitous.

When you consider what is possible in advertising it's easy to assume that most people are reaching for the next level but that doesn't seem to be the case. Most people are beaten back and reduced to pale imitations of themselves. Told that originality has no place. That copy or visuals that have been changed but that's okay because it's just advertising anyway. This is the mass-production way of viewing things. The end product is nothing special. It is a means to an end. And that end is selling product, public perception of advertising be damned! 

And maybe that's fine for some people. Even though 90% of advertising ends up as wallpaper and we know that boring, safe stuff doesn't work as well as the bold, exciting stuff.

However, there are agencies on the other side of things. Trying and succeeding to work work that is consistently tasteful, exciting, and great. They're the same 5-10 names pretty much everyone talks about. And I don't think for a second that this type of work is easy. It takes bravery to wade out into the waters of the unprecedented. It takes bravery for someone in an agency to stand up and tell a client no. 

To tell them that they'd rather kill the work and find a solution to suit both parties, rather than produce middle-of-the-road mush. Agencies that develop a style and product that is distinct for their clients. Even when the client just wants something that's been done before.

This is a very scary proposition but it's what turns out the work that people love. And the public at least tolerates.

Here's one more thing to consider about the restaurant/agency parallel.  

The styles and dishes developed at the highest levels of each industry slowly eek their way into other restaurants. Even to the most pedestrian chains. 

(A bit like how Meryl Streep explains fashion in The Devil Wears Prada.) 

I believe this is the saving grace of Michelin Star restaurants and "good" ad agencies. The reason for being slightly unwilling to compromise. It makes the expense and extravagance somewhat permissible because they are affecting culture en-masse.

To be completely honest I don't care which side of things agencies and clients choose to be on. As I said earlier there are obvious advantages to being bland and boring and profitable. (The profit being the obvious advantage.)  It's a fine way to make a living if a living's all you want to make.

But I don't care about just making a living. So even if 98% of  agencies are content with producing full-service casual work, I'll keep trying to make something of Michelin quality (not that I'm anywhere near there yet). And I'll do it until I'm kicked out of every single agency and have to have a go at something completely different.

You haven't gone the distance if you haven't gone the distance but none of that matters because THIS your Weekly Linkly.


Attention anyone who posts a video online, familiarize yourself with "The Wadsworth Constant". (Old concept but there's been too many videos recently that are all or mostly build.)

Great British archival video. 8,500 of 'em.

The complete oral history of MST3K.

Have the doors of perception been gently but firmly closed?

Incredibly insightful interview of Ex-Fallon ECD Pat Burnham by Dave Dye.



This is how you sell a $2,000 watch.

Plugs from Channel 101

4 way stop vs Roundabouts. Europeans have it right.

Richard Linklater's 'Boyhood' looks outstanding!

Commenting Culture vs. Creative Culture.

Confession: I love comments. I read them about my own work. About other people's work. About pretty much anything. Not because I love vitriol (though reading a great acerbic comment makes me happier than it should). I read them because there's often a really interesting discussion going on that wasn't necessarily intended to happen.

That's what happened with the comment above. It was posted on a failed Channel 101 pilot in the midst of a pretty heated discussion.

Channel 101, if you're not familiar with it, is a democratized TV network.  People make 5 minute TV pilots for it every every month. Those pilots are screened and an audience votes on which shows make it into 'prime time' (meaning they get to air a new episode of their show next month). It's spawned an impressive group of people whose only reward is more work if they win. But people do it because they're compelled to create something and put it in front of people.

So the gist of the comment 'war' is that one of the creators tried to tell one of the other creators why he didn't like his work. That devolved into an argument about who has the right to tell other people what is and isn't good in their work, about gaming the system, and about quality work in general. 

And even though it wasn't the kindest comments thread it was more constructive than 99% of anything you'd read on Agency Spy. There isn't really a 1:1 binary between Channel 101 and advertising because the people doing Channel 101 have complete artistic freedom. But I do think this comment thread, especially the comment above, shows how silly it is to argue about all this stuff. This garbage. Because there's a fine line between giving a shit and being an ass.

Oftentimes the act of making something or trying to make something isn't done for the end product. It's about learning something. Trying to figure out what's in your head and what you can make. Like I said above, I love comments. But being a commenter first because you think that's helpful or because you're not happy with your own output, rather than trying to make something, that doesn't make sense to me.

Take seven. Divide by three. What do you get? The Weekly Linkly. (I'm bad at math.)


Cameron Esposito writes about life on the road as a comic. But it's pretty relatable to anyone driven by their career. 

The history of monowheels. The coolest, most impractical cars ever.

The genius of 'Rick and Morty' summed up in one fan theory. (Watch this show if you haven't.)

Justin Roiland talks about the entire first season of 'Rick and Morty'.

Are Ad Agencies Wasting Talent? and What do people want from advertising? from Sell! Sell!

Is 'whimsy' a bad word in advertising?


Listen to Death's unreleased "Death III"

Aimee Mann and Ted Leo interview about their new project The Both.


Amy Schumer gets inside Aaron Sorkin in 'The Foodroom'

Dirty Art Club - Napalm Skyline (via)

NPR's Milkshake Experiment. Our brains work in fucked up ways.

Donald Glover's David Lynchian music video for 'Sweatpants'.

How Gregory Euclide (my favorite artist) makes his art.