writing bootcamp

May 26, 2010 by

This June we’re packing up our gear and heading to bootcamp in the tony jungles of LA.

Promax/BDA, the organization of TV promotion execs, invited us to put TV novices and honchos through some basic writing drills. Because, frankly, promo writing has gotten listless and lazy. Time to lose the love handles around the verbiage.

Ready for a bootcamp preview? Check here over the next few weeks. You’ll find out how to:

-Kick your spots into award-winning territory

-Pack muscle onto your prose

-Settle the showdown between pictures and words

-Tell a competent story, soldier.

And if you’ve got a spot that you think would be prime example of any of these topics, we’re paying attention and we love showing you off.

At ease.

in the mood

April 28, 2010 by

The villa was lovely with its view of the beach and heated pool.  I could have remained on the porch indefinitely watching coffee cups, wine glasses, and olive pits pile up. Instead, a morsel of motivation prevailed.

We piled into the mini van and, after an hour of wrong turns and Google maps, found the village. A castle rose from the top of the hill, guarded by a statue of a 12 foot tall knight in full armor. Did someone say M’lady?

We passed through the gates and entered the 13th century.

It took me a moment before noticing the music.

No apps. No guided tours. Just the sounds of classical guitar filling up the courtyard and mingling with the ruins. We climbed ramparts and looked over the turrets. Easy to imagine busy markets or peasants below.

Sometimes, in advertising,  we get so caught up in embellishing moments with a special effect or over-the-top visuals that we forget the simple power of music to move us. It weaves an atmosphere and helps tell a story.

In this spot below for Che Men’s Magazine, I love how the music puts us in the mood.

What music puts you in the mood?

kicking ash

April 19, 2010 by

Airport shut-downs across Europe, thanks to a moving cloud of ash, seemed surreal. So much for being in control, with travel apps, Google maps, and carry-on luggage. The volcano was laughing.

While our European friends faced cancelled flights and airport slumber parties, we lucked out with a direct shot across the Atlantic. Momo and I arrived in Lisbon at the Promax/BDA European marketing event and discovered not everyone was put off by the hassles. Vanessa, who runs Promax Europe, hitched a 31 (not a typo) hour ride with the tech crew. She was waiting for us, bright eyed and lively as ever, to run our rehearsal.

Giant hassles are just gentle reminders that the only thing we control is how we respond to the curve balls that come our way.

How do you cope with the cabash on your well orchestrated life plans? Can you overcome the simple setbacks or, as the spot above shows, the major ones?

Tell us–what did you rise above to be here today?

endings+beginnings

March 22, 2010 by

3 brilliant spots.

Each makes a different point about beginnings and endings.

The first celebrates the end of a soldier’s tour of duty. I love how honest and simple the execution is.

The next is the perfect sequel ending to one of the most popular viral videos ever.

And the last sparked imitators world wide because–in a brilliant twist–the ending is the beginning. (Stay to the end, it’s worth it.)

All three  spots move me in different ways. Two of them cost almost nothing to produce. They inspire by strong writing and unexpected twists.

Flannery O’Connor once said “Beginnings+endings are critical moments . . . the shorter the narrative, the more important their function and their import.” These short ads make the most of both.

I hope they start something in you.

good morning, sunshine

March 15, 2010 by

We love spring.  Crocuses nosing up from the earth. Sunshine spilling onto the sidewalk when you leave work.

But up in Inuvik, the Canadian Artic, sunshine has an even greater power. For sixty-six days of winter, they’re encased in darkness. Which makes this documentary style spot, from Tropicana Canada, so charming. And their message about brighter mornings so meaningful.

Find a story. Or make a new story that meshes with your brand. Tell it honestly. You invite people to experience your message, instead of bracing themselves for your sell.

What story is waiting for you?

lingo stars

March 8, 2010 by

Give me fifteen minutes with a new on-air talent. I’ll tell you if they have breakout potential. How? By listening to them talk.

Breakout talent speak a different language from the rest of us.

Cruise the top ranked personalities of 2009. Rush Limbaugh? “Dittoheads” know their leader. Oprah Winfrey has her “aha moments.” John Stewart, “Not so much.”

One of my favorites, Rachael Ray, brings a whole new vocabulary to cooking. When she calls olive oil “EVOO,” or declares “Yummo” after tasting a “spoonola,” she’s telling us that food isn’t serious. It’s fun and colorful and just us guys hanging around the counter.

What’s your brand lingo telling everyone?

can’t help ourselves

February 28, 2010 by


Thirteen of us crowded onto the sofa and chairs around the Superbowl, and this spot came on. A man, a boat, and a horse. The guys laughed because it poked fun at what they think women like: six pack abs, diamonds, and “tickets to that thing you love.” The women laughed because this guy is pumped full of himself.

Women and men: now that’s a tightrope of humor. Old Spice pulled it off, towel and all.

That’s the beauty of finding the right point of view in your brand personality. When it works, you can’t help yourself.

How have you used POV to grab someone’s attention?

*If you want to meet the guy behind the Spice, go here.

sounds like genius

February 22, 2010 by

First, a confession. I’ve always been a sucker for radio.

You supply the story, the audience supplies the pictures. Now that’s interactive. Plus, compared to print and television, radio is inexpensive to produce. $500 for an award-winning spot? That’s how much my first clio winner cost.

Turns out, audio is even more powerful that we thought. Two recent articles reveal how aural persuasion taps our unconscious.


In this week’s Time magazine,  Martin Lindstrom, author of the best seller “Buyology”, hooked up participants to neoro-sensors. He discovered that some sounds zap right past our thinking brains and compel us in primal ways. Irresistable forces.

The New York Times magazine looks at how the top two contenders for Best Picture, “Hurt Locker” and “Avatar”, both use sound to create entirely new worlds. The lush jungles of Pandora and the dry, still world of bomb defusers — would either movie be as effective without their world of sound? Not likely.

How are you using sound to change minds?

our favorite un-app

December 2, 2009 by

We love how, when everyone’s going in one direction, someone chooses to head in the other.

Like this spot for the Florida Keys. Simple. Memorable.

What’s your favorite twist?

live it out

November 25, 2009 by

Whether you’re talking business or personal style, standing out takes balls. And the ballsiest person I know is 88 year old Iris Apfel. Iris is outrageous, down to earth, and can count herself among the ranks of art geniuses.

Her medium?  Clothes.

Don’t laugh. Art museums around the country are showing her work, including NY’s Met and the Peabody Essex Museum. Last month we promoted her extraordinary exhibit on radio.

Now, meet Iris…

“Live it out!” Iris tells us. It’s true in life as well as business. The first question to ask is: Do you have the guts to be truly distinctive? All it takes is some balls and maybe a boa.