Thursday, May 25, 2017

Gone Phishing

As mentioned last Thursday, I have stumbled onto a new thing. With my wife's begrudging permission, I have embarked on a digital love adventure.

I started screening free letters from And I started replying.

You may remember years ago, I published a book -- that none of you bought -- called Tuesdays With Mantu, My Adventure With A Nigerian Con Artist. In it, I replied to those ubiquitous Nigerian Scam Emails, you know:

"I have been left $12 million dollars by my uncle Mbuto, but need your assistance getting the money out of the country."

That was then.

This is now.

I received so many positive reviews of last week's AsiaDate correspondence, I've decided to give Thursday over to a continuing series. So with no further ado, meet Jaime.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Change is afoot

In addition to self identifying as America's crankiest Freelance Copywriter, I'm also a canary in a coal mine.

Allow me to explain.

Being out here, with no corporate safety net and wasting my days cold calling potential clients, I have excessive time and opportunity to make meaningless observations on our industry. Exhibit #1: RoundSeventeen.

Towards the end of 2007, I noticed a shift in the wind. My permalance gig at Chiat/Day had come to an unexpected close. The landline had stopped ringing. And the marketplace was gripped with fear.

By 2008, true to my prediction, we had gone into a full-on freefall.

It's ten years later, and I've got a tickle in my canary throat. Things are changing in adland. Particularly, and I'm no Nostradamus for saying this, for advertising agencies.

Two weeks ago, my partner and I were contacted by a large firm.

They had been invited to a pitch for an up-and-coming brand that had real upside potential. We worked out the logistics and the finances and then proceeded to dig in. We did taglines, brand platforms, outdoor boards and OOH, and a bevy of the obligatory brand activation units.

More importantly we did it from the comfort of my home in Culver City. In between bursts of creativity, there was the jocularity of finding fun shit on the Internet, a quick run to the store for more coffee and of course, the legendary sandwiches from Jackson Market.

More pleasantly, there weren't any daily check ins. No interruptions by planners. No gun-to-the-head deadlines. And no gawd awful "thought starters." (I've been doing this for more than 25 years. I know where good ideas come from. And where they don't come from.)

When the deck was presented it was met with laughter, enthusiasm and wild appreciation.

"These are such great ideas."

"There so much here, we don't even know where to start."

"You guys hit it out of the ballpark."

Not to sound immodest, but I've enjoyed this euphoric experience at many ad agencies in this past. Probably in direct proportion to the amount of times I've seen work go down in the flames of corporate cretinism.

But what's noteworthy here and why holding companies should be at DefCon 5, is all this didn't place at an advertising agency.

We, and I suspect this will be happening a lot more in the future, were working at the behest of a PR Firm.

Suck on that Marty.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Better Empower and Share

If you're like me you've noticed there's a lot of Better in the air. Not so much in our lives. Precedent Shitgibbon and his band of clueless amateurs threaten to pull the plug on civilization on a daily, almost, hourly basis. So things aren't actually Better.

But we're definitely hearing a lot more Better. And I choose to capitalize the word because there's a distinctive gestalt about it, particularly from a marketing point of view.

It's only May and I've seen campaigns for Better cars, Better laundry detergents, Better burgers, even Better butter.

It's as if planners and strategists all came out of the same focus groups and meetings and rushed to their keyboards because they had, through grit, rigor and determination, uncovered the holy grail of 2017 -- Better.

And I'm guilty party to it. If you want commercials, campaigns or brand activation units about Better, I'm your man. You better believe that.

Just as I was your man in 2016 when the collective gestalt was all about Empowering.

There were Empowering Toaster Ovens.

Empowering Toothpastes.

Empowering SUV's.

Even Empowering Mosquito Repellents.

Hell, it was pretty clear that in 2016 people felt they had lost all control over their lives and by golly this nation's makers of garden hoses, post-it notes and microwavable breakfasts were going to fix all that and Empower the people.

But before there was Better, and before there was Empowering, there was Sharing.

In 2015, we Shared so much.

Who could forget all those Shareable moments when we gathered round the Tostitos Scoopable Chips and shared A Whole Lot of Awesome™ and our favorite Tostitos Dips, including Roasted Garlic, Spinach and Salsa Con Queso.

I may not remember who was playing in the NFC Conference Championship Game that year, but the memory of being with friends and family and other Tostitos Brand Chip Lovers will be with me for a lifetime and probably one I Share on my deathbed.

Who knows what kind of thoughtfuckery planners have in store for next year.

One thing is for sure, I'll be there with my keyboard, my dark roasted coffee and my exorbitant day rate to pimp the hell out of that shit.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Congratulations, you won.

The other day somebody told me I won.

I had put up a snarky remark on one of the social media political sites. I won't bore you with which one, I make so many snarky remarks I can't remember which snark-enhanced missive had earned the victory. I only know that I won.

And not some cheap trinket that one could easily secure at a carnival midway. Nor some gaudy zirconium-encrusted belt coveted by hairless, steroid-enhanced "professional" wrestlers given to ranting and raving at MAGA crowds.

No, I had won something bigger. More substantial. Something enormous.

I won the Internet!

Naturally, I thought it was too good to be true. But I didn't hear it from just one person, I heard it from many.

"That's brilliant, you win."

"Sir, you have won the Internet today."

"ROFL, LMFAO, the Internet belongs to you today, buddy."

Pretty intoxicating.

Not only to receive the glowing praise of total strangers but to also find out that my affinity for cracking wise can result in some type of astronomical cash prize. If I won the Internet, it's gotta be worth something, right?

Not so fast, Sparky. Turns out it has as much value as an advertising executive promising a client "brand loyalty" or "this FFDKK -- Frivolous Fuckwadian Digital Knick Knack™-- will engage the consumer and stimulate meaningful and fruitful brand dialogue."

And then it struck me, actually it struck my friend Paul, who had also seen that I had won the Internet, that it should mean something. This is actually a good idea for Google. What if, during the course of the day, Google randomly awarded $100 or even $1000 to a computer-curated comment deemed to have won the Internet.

It wouldn't be hard to do. Nor would it be expensive. Pffft, those people are just printing money up there in Mountain View, home of the $21 Tiny Artisanal Croissant.

Moreover, by the end of the year, Google will have compiled a Best of the Best if the Internet. That can easily be turned into...wait, what is that the kids call it these days...oh yeah, Content.

Best of all, this new brick-and-mortar prize awarding approach will increase competition. People will go out of their way to craft smart, witty, razor-sharp repartee. And it will weed out the losers. Discouraging wannabees from clogging up our interwebs with dull, facile, yawn-inducing comments and replies.

Because, as Kamau Bell put it after witnessing grown white Republicans crossing swords with their new Saudi friends, "If you can't be funny in 2017, you can't be funny." 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Makes Me Happy

I might have mentioned this a few weeks ago, but as a lark I answered a phishing scheme from Asia

Much to my delight, my mailbox has been flooded with titillating offers from Asian ladies looking for old, fat Jewish guys with oversized noses.

And so, because I have no hobbies and it's an easy way to amuse myself, I have taken on the fake persona of David Goldstein and started writing back.


If the analytics on this post indicate any success I will publish a new letter (I have more than 75 ready to be addressed) and any return correspondence, every Thursday until the joke wears itself out. Or, until my wife tells me to cut the shit.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must write back to Sunny, who likes to shell peanuts and bring great dishonor to dirty clothing.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

In the Holy Land.

It's Wednesday where we are.
It's Wednesday Night, possibly into Thursday, where my daughter Abby is.

Two days ago, she set off on her Birthright program. By the way, I hate that name, as it implies some kind of genetic privilege, which should be an anathema to any Jew.

Nevertheless, I do understand the intent of the program.

For those who don't know, Birthright provides a free trip to Israel to any kid 17-26, who can show Jewish lineage. Even partial lineage. The purpose is to expose, enlighten and preserve.

My daughter is a Bat Mitzvah and has had plenty of exposure to her religion. She also graduated from a Catholic High School, so she is well versed in other religions as well.

Enlighten? Well, having been raised by a cranky militant atheist father, me, and an on-the-fence agnostic, my wife, there's not much room for enlightenment. As the other campers on the tour will soon discover, my daughter is quite the Nihilist. A funny one, at that.

Preservation is a whole other thing. Some of you less-informed readers might be thinking...

"Jesus Christ, what is with you Jews and your obsession with self-preservation?"

Allow me to elaborate.

That obsession has been earned. Forged in the fire of slavery, de-Judaization, the Spanish Inquisition, the Diaspora, pogroms and less than a hundred years ago, a mass genocide at the hands of people who swore to kill every Jew on Earth. And unless you haven't been to a movie theater in the last 30 years, you'd know they did a pretty good job.

By 1945, they had murdered 1 out of every 3 Jews on the planet.

If you had a family of six it would now be a family of four. Two of your loved ones would have been butchered, raped and slaughtered simply because they believed in a God, the same god who figuratively gave birth to Jesus and/or Allah.

Also, and you'd never know this paging through the credits on a TV sitcom or if you were looking for a lawyer or a good dentist or if you were scanning the list of Nobel Prize winners, but there are only 15 million Jews on the planet today; living, breathing and sending the cold soup back to the kitchen.

In short, every Jew counts.

I'm going to climb down off this soapbox, now.

But before I do, what's with the divider separating the men from the women at the Wailing Wall (see picture above)?

It's hard to maintain the thin veneer of moral superiority when my own tribe is participating in this patriarchal bullshit.

God damn, you religious people are stupid.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Got my mojo working

The NBA playoffs are in full swing.

I don't really pay much attention to basketball unless my beloved Syracuse Orangemen are playing --not very well of late -- or until the playoffs kick in. Truth is, as my brother often points out, you can skip the first three quarters of any game and just tune in to the fourth-and-decisive quarter and still come away satisfied.

But, with so much tsuris emanating form Precedent Shitgibbon and his band of conniving half-wits, the playoff games provides much needed relief.

One thing, even obvious to the casual observer, is how a shooter can get on a streak. A 3 pointer from downtown...a jumper from top of the key...floats a teardrop...another 3 pointer from beyond the arch.

It's a matter of rhythm and confidence. It's how success breeds success.

It's not a phenomena exclusive to 6' 4" point guards from Baltimore or Detroit. Ad people can find it too.

Lately, a lot more of my work is coming directly from clients. Meaning I'm put in the unenviable position of talking with people. That's not always easy for a misanthrope like myself.

And as many agency people will tell you, in my younger days I was not the kind of person you wanted to trot out in front of clients. Opinionated and stubborn and lacking in personal hygiene is not a winning formula, they might have added.

It's different now.

I've learned to put some distance between myself and the work. I know I can't control the outcome of any situation. And so I don't try. I simply put what I consider my best foot forward and offer up my honest opinion. Not in a hard-headed obstinate way, like I might have done in the past. But in a pared-down straightforward manner that is devoid of any agenda.

In recent weeks, I have found myself saying, with a new found quiet confidence,

"You (Mr. or Ms. Client) have to do your homework."

"I understand where you are coming from, but I wouldn't do it that way."

"I know I'm shortchanging myself out of money, but here is the way I would approach that."

Even more surprising, this shit works.

It's almost as if the less I care, the more persuasive I become. This is an incredible revelation to be learning so late in my career.

Other observations, I have made.

The NBA halftime show with Charles Barkley, Kenny the Jet, Ernie and Shaquile O'Neal is the one of the funniest on all of television.

Tina Fey, while funny on SNL and a talented writer, has no business doing those AmEx commercials.


Monday, May 15, 2017

I can swim

Last week, I received a message from LinkedIn. The good folks at the data mining company informed me that I had come up on 13 years in my current position.

Ironic, because my current position is not a position at all.

I can gussy it up all I want, but the truth is I'm an unemployed freelancer. The other truth is I never thought my career trajectory would go this way. In my mind I was between jobs. Just waiting for the right opportunity to come knocking on my door.

Turns out there weren't many ad agencies looking to pay a handsome sum of money to a cranky copywriter who was never willing to compromise on quality. And even less willing to work late or on the weekends.

And so I found myself gigging. Leapfrogging from one assignment to another. From one dysfunctional ad agency with free bagels to another dysfunctional ad agency with artisanal iced coffee.

It was terrifying at first. Particularly since I had two young princesses to feed and spoil wildly. Two mortgages. And a mountain of bills from the Bosley Hair Replacement Center for a treatment program that proved itself ineffective.

Of course I had no one to blame but myself.

If there was any pain, it was all self-induced. I had quit my lucrative position as a Group Creative Director at Y&R, where the work we were doing was hit or miss, and blindly leapt off the cliff into the unknown.

As you might expect there was fear. But that fear was far outweighed by not having to commute 106 miles every fucking day on the 405 Fucking Freeway --or as I refer to it, Satan's Dirty Anal Tract.

In many ways it was reminiscent of the way my father taught me to swim.

Having watched all the other dads, with their slim waists and full heads of hair, patiently coax their kids into kicking and paddling and alternately swinging their arms to stay afloat, my father dispensed with all the niceties. He hoisted me up and to the dismay of my screaming mother, simply tossed me in the deep end of the pool. Somehow I managed to claw my way to the edge, where my father announced, quite proudly...

"There, he's a swimmer."

So now I've got 13 years behind me as a semi-successful freelancer. I'm only 44 years old, so hopefully there will be another 13 years in front of me.

After that, I'm done. Because quite frankly I can't imagine any agency in their right mind needing the services of a seasoned copywriter in his mid-fifties.

That's crazy talk.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

My cup runneth over

I had no intention of doing a RoundSeventeen Themed Week, but as you might have noticed the three previous postings from this week were all centered around Precedent Shitgibbon.

And so is this one.

I don't know what it's like at your household, but here in the heart of Culver City blood pressure is spiking to heretofore unseen levels.

When my wife and I are not screaming at the TV. We are seriously paging through the Aliyah pamphlets and contemplating a move to the Holy Land where we would ironically feel safer than we currently do in America and the rise of the Fourth Reich.

My liver, overworked by a nightly three fingers worth of Maker's Mark has been producing more bile than my body knows what to do with. Consequently it has poured itself all over the blog.

Perhaps it's because I'm a so-called writer or perhaps it's because meaningful political persuasion is way above my pay grade, but I've become fascinated with Shakespearean insults as well as the practice of linguistic antibacchius.

antibacchius -- compounds consisting of one element of a single stressed syllable and a second disyllabic element with a trochaic pattern, i.e., stressed unstressed.

Of course, it's more fun to eat the sausage than it is to see or discuss how it's made. So with no further ado, here are my favorite names for our current commander in chief.

Churlish, earth-vexxing jizztrumpet

Paunchy, beef-witted taintbiscuit

Frothy, gore-bellied flapdragon

Lumpish, clay-brained shitmandril

Reeky, clapper-clawed pissweasel

Mammering, dog-hearted hugger mugger

Fawning, idle-headed toadsucker

I encourage you to use any or all of these colorful descriptors when referring to our heartless leader.

Also, if you prefer pictures over words, please free to use this.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Holocaust? What Holocaust?

Years ago, the leaders in Iran, thought it would be a clever idea to sponsor a Holocaust Cartoon Contest, after all nothing delights the soul or pleases Allah more than the desecration of 6 million corpses.

Moreover it would be a perfect way to exact some type of revenge on those Jews, who not only found a way to make the desert bloom, but also had a nuclear bomb, Stuxnet, and better tasting falafels.

What they didn't count on was two enterprising young Israelis who, in a brilliant display of free speech and one-upmanship, did a ju-jitsu on the Persian leaders and created their own Holocaust Cartoon Contest.

The cartoons in Tel Aviv were darker.
And as expected, funnier.
No one does self-loathing better than us.

I bring all this up because I am a 1st Amendment Absolutist. I don't agree with many of the European countries and their restrictive laws regarding Holocaust denial or access to Nazi ideology. Hateful speech is more detrimental to those speaking it than it is those hearing it.

Voltaire put it best, "I don't defend what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it."

You could argue that this is the very cornerstone of American democracy. Not sure however, if you'd get agreement on this from Precedent Shitgibbon.

I'm not even sure he knows of Voltaire.

"Voltaire? That crappy French restaurant on the Upper West Side. Had a steak there once. They didn't even have ketchup. SAD."

Seems the man who criss-crossed the country telling us that political correctness has destroyed America and left the country a disaster, a terrible, horrible disaster, feels he is free to bloviate at will but the rest of us simply are not.

Last week, we not only saw a woman being federally prosecuted for laughing at a congressional hearing, but the chairman of the FCC was instructed to investigate and prosecute Steven Colbert for cracking a politically incorrect joke over the airwaves; suggesting that Trump's mouth was nothing more than Vladmir Putin's cockholster.

By far, my favorite phrasing off 2017.

The hypocrisy here is glaring. Particularly after the infamous pussy-grabbing affair.

Or as my astute wife noted after hurling a string of unmentionable invectives at our favorite frothy, triple-chinned jizztrumpet...

"Come on Donnie, it's just locker room talk."

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

What have they been doing?

By most accounts, the new healthcare bill, TrumpCare™, that passed last week is a paper turd.

It had a 17% approval rating in public polls.
It will lead to 24 million Americans losing their coverage.
And it was rejected by 20 Republicans in the House of Representatives.

I don't want to get all wonky and dive into the details. Fact is, I don't even understand how the deductibles work on my car insurance. I'm not about to tackle waivers, high risk pools, and affordable exchanges.

Here's what I do know -- the business world.

I know how corporate organizations work.
I know how tasks get delegated.
I know how deadlines get met.
I know about optics.
I've seen it at the best ad agencies. The worst agencies. And even at great agencies who are no longer at their best.

Shit gets done.

For 8 years we've heard the Republicans in Congress bitching and moaning about Obamacare and its Death Panels. We've heard them yakking about jobs and how the previous administration had failed working class Americans. And then there's the National Debt, now near 20 trillion dollars. We heard them panic on that as well...

"If we don't do something about the debt soon, we'll be bankrupting our grandchildren."

Well, six months ago the pasty-faced white men in their Joseph A. Banks suits got a gift from heaven (or Moscow.) They were unbound, free to impose their myopic will and make their legislative mark on America. But it hasn't exactly gone as planned.

Let me tell you what would have happened if these were ad people and not politicians.

On January 20th, shortly after a royal walk down Pennsylvania Ave., Precedent Shitgibbon would arrive at the Oval Office. And before he even had time to order a Coke, there would've been a thick document sitting on his desk, waiting for his immediate signature. That document, a viable ObamaCare alternative would have been carefully crafted by people who worked nights and weekends to dot every i and cross every t.

This new healthcare bill would have covered every American. Would have lowered premiums. And would have been blessed by every Republican in the House and the Senate. It would have been so meticulously thought out there would simply be no need for revisions or committees.

But before they all retired to the Rose Garden for beer and high fives, Eddie Munster (Paul Ryan) would have placed another thick document before COTUS -- our Cockholster Of The United States.

A jobs bill.

A comprehensive, creative piece of legislation encompassing 8 years of their best thinking, to lower unemployment, and guarantee working Americans a better shot at the future. That too, would have unanimous approval by the Republicans, after all they would have spent the better part of a decade canoodling and tweaking the bill to perfection.

And finally, before the ink was even dry on the new Healthcare Bill and the new Jobs Bill, and before the press photographers ran out of digital space on their SD cards, our orange-haired twatwaffle would have been presented a new budget.

One that also reflected 8 years of nose-to-the-grindstone work. A budget that would lower spending, reduce our collective debt and put us on the path to financial sanity.

Oh and since it was prepared by ad people, not worthless politicians, it'd probably include some hashtags and brand activation ideas.

All of which begs the question,

"What the fuck have these bible-thumping, khaki-pants wearing, illiterate frat boys been doing for the past 8 years?"

Monday, May 8, 2017

Off and running

An Open Letter to my daughters:

Dear Rachel & Abby,

As you know your mother and I have recently updated the living will and trust. Many of the terms and conditions still apply, including the power of attorney clause.

Should I ever find myself choking on a Swedish meatball and turning blue and losing oxygen flow leaving me with all the mental capacities of a Red State Voter in Iowa's 4th Congressional District, please feel free, no, obligated to yank the plug from the wall and donate my remaining puree meals to the poor schmuck in the hospital bed next to me.

And rest assured that certain financial arrangements are still in place for you with regards to any liquid assets or subsequent sale of the house. However, and this is the difficult part of this letter, there may be substantially less money than you had previously been led to believe.

Here's why.

Your mother and I have decided to move to Sioux City, Iowa. OK, I'm still working on convincing mom, but I'm dead set on going. The plan is to establish residency in this very white, very Republican, very goyish 4th District and dethrone current Representative Steve King, not the author, the miscreant.

Rep. King once famously stated the "female body has the ability to prevent pregnancy in cases of incest or rape."

King also proposed electrifying the fence on our southern border because it's been proven to work on livestock.

Are we (?) going all the way to Sioux City to support and fund raise and campaign for a new candidate and help him or her unseat this walking talking flesh-sack of idiocy?


The plan is grander than that.

Your inheritance, the money you have been eyeing since the time you accidentally opened an envelope from Fidelity Investments, is being redirected. It will nourish the seeds of a political newbie. A man of principle. Common sense. And enough moral indignation for 10 men -- Me.

I have officially reached my boiling point and can no longer watch this feckless Congress and their Fascist flagbearer, the man we call Precedent Shitgibbon. Or, COTUS, Cockholster Of The United States. Or, the churlish, clay-brained, canker blossom.

I'm going to be the change I want to see in this country. You know as soon as I change your mother's mind about picking up and moving to Iowa.



PS. Possible campaign slogan:

The Jew from the City of Sioux.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Truth in Advertising

Today's post is short.

Short because it's the end of a very busy week. And because I rarely get any credit for maintaining consistency, nor the discipline it requires to make these daily observations. Furthermore, as my wife points out, "what's the point of it all?"

A good question considering I spotted the broken window in the picture above on my way home from work one day, and took the time out of my day to go back the very next day just to snap photos of it. Just to document the art of reality. Just to make a blog posting for you.


I'm a giver.




Anyway, the photo is Part One of a two part equation.

Here's Part Two.

Have a nice weekend.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Snake Eating Its Tail

There's a been a lot of talk lately about Precedent Shitgibbon's first 100 days in office. This post is not about that.

I'm more concerned about the last 30 days. And by concerned I mean overjoyed.

April 2017 saw the highest traffic numbers for RoundSeventeen since this blog was started about 9 years ago. Nine years? Wow, as my friend Mark Monteiro once noted, I really do have diarrhea of the brain.

Last month, for the very first time, there were more than 20,000 page views. We had come tantalizingly close in the past, hitting numbers like 19, 087, 19, 254 and 19, 457 -- that was the previous high mark.

In April we didn't just nudge past 20, 000 we went rocketing past it like Precedent Shitgibbon's disapproval ratings.

Maybe that doesn't do anything for you.

But my life is pathetic, filled with little joy and even less in the way of validation, so I'm popping the cork on that bottle of sparkling Apple Cider that's been sitting in my garage refrigerator since it went unopened at my daughter's Bat Mitzvah party.

If you're a regular reader of RoundSeventeen you might be wondering what accounts for the sudden surge in viewership.

"He's not funnier."

"He's always whining about advertising."

"His political rants are facile and long in the tooth."

Guilty. Guilty. And very guilty.

The answer is, as it always is, algorithms.

Recently, I was working onsite in an office where my Apple Mail was unable to connect to the server. Subsequently, I was forced to use my rarely-used Gmail account.

There, I noticed a shitload of spam from a mail order bride company in China. Thinking this could be kung pao grist for another book, not unlike my Nigerian spam book, I decided to respond to one of the AsiaDate promos.

And surprise, surprise, Mingyu Lee, a 22 year old cosmetology student from Quang Lo province, was looking a for a 44 year old freelance copywriter to make her dreams come true. And so, it turns out, were a thousand of her friends.

Who knew bald Jewish guys with big noses could be so popular?

Well, now the bots have taken over. Their ads are all over the blog. And the traffic is way, way up. Of course, the numbers and the statistics are all fake and manufactured. But it's 2017 and we have a fobbing,  pottle-deep moldwarp in the White House, so why should that matter?

Besides, according to the incredibly deferential Mingyu:

"Mr. Rich, you are so handsome and verile, with much strong knowledge to share with picnic by cold babbling brook."

Indeed Mingyu, indeed.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Under New Management

I've gotten to a pretty sweet point in my career.

While others are clawing and scratching for work, including the most debasing assignments (see yesterday's posting), I am growing ever more selective about the projects I will accept.

It's not because I'm flush with cash. I don't have Fuck You Money. And never will.

But what I lack in liquid assets I more than make up for in confidence and integrity.

So while the industry makes a turbo-charged race for the bottom, I'm taking, if you'll permit the expression, a more Disruptive™ route.

In addition to the Day Rate I normally charge agencies and clients, I am tacking on additional fees as a means of dealing with the increasing indignities faced by today's nomadic freelancer.

A numeric value has not been assigned to each fee, yet, but this will give a good idea of what to look forward to in the very near future:

Onsite working at the Long Table of Mediocrity Fee...................TBD

Rewriting the Brief in the Middle of Assignment Fee...................TBD

Asking for Adlike Objects Fee.......................................................TBD

Check In with Planners Fee..........................................................TBD

Lunchtime Meeting with No Food Fee..........................................TBD

Soviet Style HR Documentation Fee.............................................TBD


Dealing with Agency Bureaucracy/Politics Fee...........................TBD

Gun-to-the-Head Useless Deadline Fee........................................TBD

Planners Posing as Creative Directors Fee..................................TBD

Monday, May 1, 2017

A Proper May Day Tale of Exploited Labor

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

Last week, I got word that a TV campaign I had worked on was greeted with great enthusiasm by the client. Not just one of campaigns, but all of them. And that our collective favorite was in the frontrunner position.

Holy shit, this 44 year old might get something produced.

Of course, that euphoria was short lived. You know, like when you "accidentally" take one extra spoonful of industrial-grade cough medicine.

In my constant effort to keep the freelance train humming, I ran across a help wanted posting on linkedin. A small agency in NY was looking for freelance writers for a last minute pitch. More specifically, they were looking for writers with an interest in football. Not real football, with helmets, shoulder pads, steroids and convicted domestic abusers, but European football, aka, soccer.

I know as much about as soccer as a I know about English Royalty, Russian Literature and Greek Mythology, all loser categories for me when they pop up on Jeopardy.

I self-eliminated, knowing there would be a thousand freelancers in NY ready to feast on that carcass.

I'm glad I did. I heard through the grapevine that the small digital agency doing the hiring had some unconventional thoughts on compensation.

According to my unnamed source, the writers were free to submit as many ideas -- in the form of a one page treatment -- to the Creative Director. He or she would then cull down the pile, paying, are you ready for this, $100 for each accepted submission. That's right, a whole C-Note. (minus the obligatory federal tax deductions needed to pay for Precedent Shitgibbon's weekly Mar A Lago jamboree.)

Pretty enticing, huh? Well, it gets better.

Because should the client decide to move forward with one of the hundred dollar game changing ideas, this small clueless digital agency was willing to pay an extra five Ben Franklins where that came from.

In the course of a week, the industrious and imaginative NYC copywriter could conceivably walk away with a windfall of $600, $700, maybe even $800, in return for setting a worldwide manufacturing of sporting goods on the path to marketing prosperity.

All in all a shameful, disgusting microcosm of where this business is headed.

I began this post with a quote from Charles Dickens.

I'd like to end it with a music video by Terence Howard and Taraji P. Henson.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Power of No

Today I offer a tip of the hat to colleague Warren Eakins.

Warren and I have never actually met, but he is a legend in the business. And apparently he has turned his attention to more artistic endeavors.

In this last posting for the month of April, which looks to be the highest trafficked month in the history of RoundSeventeen, Warren pays tribute to the everlasting power of No.

If only other members of the ad industry knew of its dominion.

"Can we move the meeting to Monday morning?"

"Can you make that 90 manifesto work in a 15 second pre-roll?"

"Can you have a Super Bowl spot written by end of day?"

"Can you check in with the planner at 2 PM? And again at 7 PM?"

"Can you make this instructional tutorial on long term life insurance go viral?"

"Can you stay until midnight?"

"Can you do it for free?"

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Vocational heaven

Today, I am absolutely giddy.

I am booked on the kind of job that I love. Without going into too many specifics or naming names, let me fill you in on some details.

For one thing the work is remote.

Meaning I can do it all from the comfort of my home, a home that is noticeably quieter and lonelier with the passing of my dog two weeks ago, but it's still my home. Which means I'm not hopscotching around an office looking for a quiet room where I can think.

As I have stated on many occasion -- though to no avail and with little impact on office planners -- a writer and/or an art director cannot and should not be expected to work at the Long Table of Mediocrity™.

Moreover, since they are the ones who actually make the product that funds the holding companies, they should be given offices. With windows. And a couch. And a small refrigerator for cold beverages.

But today I am in my comfortable Herman Miller chair with the ample lumbar support. Alexa is in the living room shuffling through the entire library of Mark Knopfler songs. And I have enough dark roasted Peet's coffee in the freezer to last me until the Dirt Nap or until Precedent Shitgibbon launches the ICBMs.

Now, here's the best part of this gig.

The client, and I won't say who, has given me a list of deliverables. As I might have mentioned a few weeks ago, sometimes the hardest part of my job is figuring out what the fuck people want. Manifestos, minifestos, directions, platforms, journey maps, and adlike objects. It's all so hazy and nebulous and frankly a waste of good fired synapses.

This client wants headlines.

Headlines for outdoor boards and out of home transit posters. This, by far, is my favorite thing to do. If I can risk being immodest, I've built an entire career on nothing more than the wiseass ability to crank out short, snappy and pointed headlines.

I knew I was destined for this vocation when, as a young man, I spotted this gem scrawled on a condom machine in a men's room tucked inside a Syracuse saloon.

I've only been budgeted for a short time on this job. And I haven't even been given my full day rate. 

But the truth is, I'm going to give this client more than they ever asked for. Because, there is the promise of more work down the road. And because, if I'm being honest, it's the kind of work I would gladly do for free.

Just don't tell anybody.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Give HATE a chance

Last week I got tangled up in an online dialogue regarding Precedent Shitgibbon.

Oddly enough the discussion was not about any substantive issues. Rather, it was about emotions and whether it was wrong or right to "hate" someone.

As many of these Facebook/Linkedin/Twitter back and forths go, it was pulled before it got too heated. But, seeing as I have a self-built platform for my opinions, let me dispense with the semantic gymnastics and tell you why I hate this ruttish, sheep-biting, idle-headed canker blossom.

I hate that the man with the toughest job in the world is also the laziest man to ever hold the office; spending more time on the Mar A Lago golf course and watching cable TV than he does in intelligence briefings.

I hate that his laziness is only surpassed by his pussy grabbing crudeness; and find it odd that the party that always railed about respect and morality can stomach the way this man treats his wife. Or women in general.

I hate that his vulgarity is dwarfed by his stupidity; and I'm sure the friends of Luciano Pavarotti as well as the descendants of Frederick Douglass and the Korean folks who trace their lineage to China, will agree.

I hate that in addition to being monumentally ill-informed he is magnificently ill-tempered; and takes offense to every slight of his precious self esteem. Droning on about ratings as if he were in a Nielsen's battle with Dancing With the Stars.

I hate that because of his hair trigger temper I must go to sleep at night with visions of mushroom clouds and the nagging thought that I should have paid more attention to all six seasons of Doomsday Preppers.

I hate that Hate now has a seat at the table, including confirmed racist Jeff Sessions, LGBT foe Mike Pence, and alt. right scumbag Steve Bannon, who couldn't stand the thought of his children going to school with a bunch of whiny Jewish kids. (Though if I'm being honest, I do see his point.)

I hate that people who say, "at least he's better than her" can so easily dismiss his flagrant and countless violations of our trust; this includes admitting two paid foreign agents into his circle of influence, a disregard for the emoluments clause, shady pay-for-play business transactions, cabinet members lying under oath, and last but not least, a willingness (if not collusion) to let Vladimir Putin, our primary adversary, put his thumb on the scale of our election, which should be cherished at least as much as our right to own an AR-15. (Please note the silence of the idiots who walk around with a Constitution stuffed in their pockets)

Most of all, I hate that everything, and I mean everything, is about him.

It's not about coal miners, not about victims of terror, not about veterans, not about jobs, not about the economy, not about climate change or not even about our nation's security. It's about this cuntish, knotty-pated flapdragon and his planet-sized ego.

An ego that's going to get us all killed.

Millions of people don't see it that way.

I hate that, too.

Monday, April 24, 2017

No Country For Old Men

The question always comes up when I meet strangers at a party. Or run into relatives on my wife's side of the family, whose names I have long forgotten.

"Oh you work in advertising? Do you have any favorite commercials on TV right now?"

And of course the answer is always, "no."

Not only do I not have any favorites, my mind goes completely blank and I can't even remember the crappy advertising I know is out there.

That changed last week.

If you haven't seen the new campaign for Fram Oil Filters, do yourself a favor and make with the Google. There, you will find a set of spots by Laughlin Constable, featuring Jonathon Banks as their new cranky spokesperson.

The timing of these spots couldn't be better. Because as the astute among you will notice, Mr. Banks is also one of the stars of Better Call Saul, one of the best shows on television. In fact, the creatives at the ad agency should be congratulated for successfully appropriating Mr. Banks entire character.

It's genius. And frankly, I'm surprised Vince Gilligan, the show's creator hasn't sued the good folks at Fram and their agency.

What I love so much about the cranky spokesperson -- the cranksperson -- is no doubt what account people and planners hate about him. And I can well imagine how that first creative review went when the creative people sprung the idea on the 27 year old business and marketing experts.

"He's so negative."

"Does he have to insult our target market audience?"

"He never smiles. He seems downright angry. And he's old. This'll never work. Plus how do you put that bald ugly dude on Instagram?"

Am I fabricating these comments?
No. I. Am. Not.

I have been in a hundred, nee, a thousand of these internal idea death panels myself. In fact, if I may, I'd like to indulge in another one of those We-Had-A-Campaign-Just-Like-That Moments.

A long time ago when John Shirley (my art director) and I were still walking around with one last and diminishing ray of sunshine on our careers we were asked to head up a pitch for Hardees. We had done a little digging and found that Hardee's used to have a company spokesperson for the advertising, Lil' Chef. Our idea was to drag Lil' Chef out of retirement and put him back to work in order to save the company.

In our iteration, Lil' Chef wanted no part of it. He was an old man. An old, cranky wealthy man, not unlike the Big Lebowski. Oh and in a thinly-veiled homage to the agency management at the time, we made Lil' Chef, a raging alcoholic.

He was always drunk and always angry. He was drangry.

Of course, Lil' Chef never saw the light of day. Thus amplifying my current campaign envy. Shortly thereafter, we were shown the light at the end of the tunnel leading out of Chiat/Day.

But I digress. In any case here is your Moment of Fram.