March 22, 2009

Indecent Accolade

Awards are a measurement for the best of any particular field's top work and achievements.

Advertising is an industry that produces so much work over the course of a year that it requires a slew of award shows in order to recognize achievements in the many various categories and channels.

Award shows are the gala balls of the industry and often have pomp, circumstance and drama associated with them. Last year gave us the infamous gripe of Michael Lebowitz who spoke out about credit. This years drama has already started to surface, ill get to that in a second.

Advertising forefather and visionary, David Ogilvy abhorred advertising awards, stating that they had nothing to do with sales or bottom line. He remarked that most awards were trivial, "for best commercial shot on a cloudy day." Ogilvy felt that advertising awards should reflect the effectiveness of the campaign, not it's cleverness or creativity.

In light of a recent spillage of a certain spreadsheet from a major award show's entries, I felt that a dedicated post to awards was in order.

Agencies love awards, its fuel for the fire when going after new clients or brandishing in front of perspective talent that they may be wooing to the agency.

Awards are shiny reminders that the work that comes out of "here" is top notch.

Awards are a great way reward the most creative and successful work, however these days it seems like they have become the ultimate goal.

We are all in the service industry, we service our clients in order to sell more of what they make or to get them more recognition for their brand in the eyes of the public. Our goals and objectives should be the same goals and objectives of our clients, not to fill the space on our own award mantels.

Awards are really nice and when you win, your on top of the world, but the bottom line, especially in today's economy, is to sell sell sell and to make sure creative is communicating the brand story properly.

On March 20th Ad Age broke a story about an accidental list of entries that leaked into the public. It had the names and entries of agencies who submitted work to The One Show. There were 9,795 entries for the awards, at a total cost to the agencies of $3,507,860.

Three and a half million dollars in award entries!

I think that as an industry we need to keep things within perspective and recognize what the ultimate goal is, and that is to service our clients with creativity, dedication and integrity. The work we produce should be focused on the goals of our clients and not the judging panels awarding the bling.

Recessions are a great time to rethink what is truly important and to learn to commit to and appreciate the substance of what we do. It is a time to reflect upon the mistakes we have made and to cut away the fat that we have been carrying.

Perhaps this accidental leakage was no accident at all and a sign of the times and a reminder to all of us that we need to help our clients spend their money more wisely, and to help them re stimulate the economy so that we may get back to filling our bellies with useless things we don't need (joke).

Perhaps the poor unfortunate soul who has most likely been fired for attaching that infamous spreadsheet to the email she sent out is an angel in disguise who has come down to help us fix the error of our ways. Probably not but when viewed as such it makes for a much better story.

I have compiled a list of major ad industry award shows so that you may get a sense of what kind of money is being spent on award shows, imagine what was spent just on the One Show and add that across all of these other major shows:

ACE Awards
ADDY Awards
Advertising Age Awards
Advertising Hall of Achievement
Advertising Hall of Fame
CA Advertising Annual Competition
Clarion Awards
Clio Awards
G.D. Crain Jr. Award
Creative Excellence in Business Advertising
Cresta International Advertising Award
Effie Awards
Ad Age’s Hispanic Creative Advertising Awards
International Advertising Festival at Cannes
International ANDY Awards
International ECHO Awards Competition
Jay Chiat Planning Awards
Mobius Advertising Awards
MPA Kelly Award
New York Festivals
OBIE Awards
One Show Awards
O’Toole Awards
Pro-Comm. Awards Competition
Radio Mercury Awards
Reggie Awards
Webby Awards

Lets all remember in this time of slashed budgets, sparse work, struggling clients and a faltering economy, that what is really important is the substance of what we do and not the bling it gets awarded.

March 18, 2009

Pearl Jam Ten Game Rocks The FWA!

In the interactive industry we have many different types of affirmations in the form of awards. Awards are like doggie treats they get us to do things a tiny bit better than we would have originally but just a bit better.

No but seriously, accolades are good, they remind you that your work is good.

As a highly technical, emotionally artistic, generally cranky and highly caffeinated industry that works long hours, gets daily ass kickings and suffers ego crushing blows day in and day out these small things can mean a lot.

So without further ado: Today's FWA Award goes to PEARLJAMTENGAME.COM

Not only is the site super cool and very addictive, oh and it has some of the most memorable tracks of the 90s, but if you go to our website you will see the new feature for PJ that is pretty darn cool itself.

I wanna say congrats to the band!


Stay tuned... much more to come!

March 12, 2009

The Times They Are A-Changin'

Thomas L. Friedman is a NY Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winning author of Lexus and the Olive Tree and From Beirut to Jerusalem.

Mr Friedman wrote a column in the New York Times on March 11, 2009 titled "This Is Not A Test. This Is Not A Test."

The column so eloquently states in exactly 860 words how badly up shits creek we all are.

His exact words are "Economically, this is the big one. This is August 1914. This is the morning after Pearl Harbor. This is 9/12."

Hows that for not beating around the bush?

On the same day I read Mr. Friedman's words pertaining to the economy as a whole I also read a statement made by the Omnicom Group saying that they are issuing a very stringent sequential liability clause in vendor contracts.

The clause is that vendors will not be paid anything until the agency gets paid by its client. Additionally the Omnicom agencies will not assume liability for a project if the client doesn't pay.

If your part of a production shop or a digital vendor I will give you a second to say "WTF!!!?"

:one second pause:

We all work in an industry where we are obligated to our clients to sell more of whatever it is they are offering.

As ad industry professionals we are supposed to find innovative ways to come up with creative campaigns that will somehow be impervious to the economic crisis we face in this country and to find ways to get our audiences to buy stuff regardless of the fact that they have no money to spend.

The very fact is that no matter what, the public all needs things. Basic items, luxury items, services and everything in between, we are a country built on consumption and no economic downturn is going to change that.

Smaller production shops are the lifelines of these massive agencies. We are the blood, sweat and tears that go into every project.

We are the craftsmen and women who have honed our skills to perfection in the various fields of film, editing, digital, technology and beyond.

We are the assassins who come in on a project by project basis and give everything we got to make sure, in many cases the turd of an idea we are handed is polished and sparkles like a diamond.

We provide the small details, the documentation, the specifics and the education. We set up the infrastructure and handle the executions. We offer up solutions that sometimes don't even exist before we create it on the fly.

How many times has the experience of a production shop given an agency the core idea for a brand because the agency had no clue what kind of technology was needed to execute whatever it is that they are trying to communicate?

This is a collective slap in the face to all of the folks who work hard day in and day out to get these projects done. The producers, the directors, the flash programmers and video editors, the after effects wizards and the 3D modelers, the gaffers, the grips, the designers and the programmers.

This is the first step towards what I predict is going to be a major impasse in the advertising industry. Productions shops will not accept these suicide contracts and eventually will go directly to the brands themselves to provide the services that these brands all need to communicate to their consumers.

Where does that leave the agencies?

Granted this is just Omnicoms policy and I am sure other agencies outside of Omnicom's group will not adopt this policy. However this is not good for the industry to take a stance against those folks who break their necks day in and day out to get projects out the door.

As holding companies agencies need to be the financial brokers between us smaller vendors and the massive client. Agencies get to call the shots because they were the ones holding the cash, but now what?

Brands would benefit more from working directly with the vendors in executing the ideas that the agencies come up with. The transparency would produce some shocking results.

Brands communicating with vendors directly will result in campaigns being richer and better communicated, the lines of communication would open up and the barriers would get torn down so that the soul of the idea doesn't get diluted by all of the needless layers.

Oh! And budgets would be utilized towards the core idea and not for roles that are simply not needed within the project.

In doing this we would usher in a new golden age of advertising that would welcome and utilize all the advances and experiences of the various vendors. The stories that we tell would be more compelling and the creative will explode into the hearts and minds of the public.

Clients should know exactly how and where their money is being spent and they should have realistic expectations for what is going on with their campaigns during a project life cycle. Vendors have always been hidden away and the agencies have tended to throttle the flow of information in a way that only benefit themselves.

Its time for CHANGE!

March 6, 2009

String of Pearls

I have produced a lot of websites over the years for some of the worlds biggest brands and properties. But this project has some special meaning for me.

Our latest project over at Freedom + Partners is one that I have to put into my top three projects of all time that I had personal involvement in.

Sony Music partnered with Freedom + Partners on this amazing website for Pearl Jam.

Our intention was to converge two widely popular genres, music and gaming into one kick ass website. To create an engaging experience that would keep users coming back again and again.

We wanted to create an experience that would give Pearl Jam fans the ability to play a branded game that would pay off with some killer Pearl Jam tunes, a sweet visualizer and some unique videos.

I think we hit the mark! (feel free to let me know if you disagree)

When you work on a project for a while you tend to get sick of looking at it but this site keeps getting better every time i come back to it.

The challenge and the pay off are both fun and gratifying.

"Everyone knows the music industry is going through monumental changes,” says Freedom + Partners Founder and CEO, Mark Ferdman. “This project is a testament to Sony Music's willingness to think outside the box set, and their understanding of the creative power of new media to extend a band's vision for the music. It's visionary type of thinking and Pearl Jam gets it, too, of course."

Check out this truly awesome website at

I want to say thank you and congratulate the entire F+P team for an awesome job!

Love to Hate

We are culture that loves to hate the people we secretly love.

When real people who get up on stage with a brazenness that entertains us more than actual talent we flock to see what the hell it is that they are saying.

Freedom of speech is platform for our entertainment more than social change or equality amongst mankind. We revel in the exploits of people who have the balls to do the things every single one of us wish we could do ourselves.

A new campaign created by Droga5 Sydney for Virgin Mobile is absolutely genius.

They have lined up every single one of these amazing personalities who have somehow made it to the big stage based on their outlandish personalities and ability to become the scapegoats of our own flaws.

As a culture we all love to hate these people because at some point they have hit a spot within all of us that resonates deeply into our psyche, they have defied the odds and made it to fame and fortune through sheer silliness and utter ridiculousness that keeps show business attainable for anyone who can find the right shtick.

This is why we love these people, in a strange way they represent hope.

If Vanilla Ice or Milli Vanilli (what's with the common Vanilla theme?) can make it, so can anyone.

Well the time has come for these pre-fab'ed, rality tv muppets to fess up and apologize to their adoring fans for being so damn awesome!

My only gripe is that this is an Australian site that should be American.

Check out this great new site

March 4, 2009

No Golden Pot

I personally find Skittles to be one of the most annoying candy creations ever, sort of like M&Ms on steroids. Ever put a handful into your mouth at once? Not exactly a rainbow sensation. But regardless, my personal preference is not really important here because I am sure there are millions of candy loving folks who adore those chewy treats in their myriad of colors and flavors, I like the sound they make in the bag.

Now take that first paragraph and split it up into 140 word little nuggets, post them on Twitter and... what?

The new Skittles web panel, floating navigation or whatever you want to call their lame excuse for a website is a clinic in a brand who did absolutely no strategic planning whatsoever on this new web site. The concept is idealistic and reckless.

Taking a brand and leaving it out there, in the guttah, for the audiences of Facebook, Twitter and Flickr to handle the creative, copy writing and reviews is suicide. Advertising is about persuasion, the art of seduction, getting people to BUY STUFF!

This method is like leaving your baby in a dumpster. Its like whoring out your sister. It is a complete cop out and frankly defies every rule in advertising.

Did no one think that exposing the Chatter section to Twitter wouldn't spark a rainbow of profanity?

Ever see a news report with some punks walking by in the background, they cant resist acting like idiots which almost always end us with a middle finger or some ridiculous pose that rolls evolution back 1000 years.

A brand needs a gate keeper, someone who is molding and moderating the message that is being put out there, the public cant be trusted to do this and frankly why would they?

So today marks the day Skittles pull down their Twittles (twitter) campaign, draped in curses, profanity, ridicule, recklessness and stupidity, the people have spoken!

Pepsi, Tropicana and now Skittles.

America has way too much brand drama, that's right I said it, brand drama! Now go pontificate on that term for a while.

Two friends and I were talking about all "this" last night and it occurred to me that the Jerry Springer Show we now call advertising has resorted to "Brand Drama" to sell things.

I said to my friend:

"How Peter Arnell handled the whole Pepsi logo leak and then the Tropicana debacle was brilliant not in just it's design but in it's essence, the buzz, the whole thing is foolish but unfortunately we live in a foolish society and Peter did his job, gave the people what they wanted.

Brands are now celebrity, Pepsi is Brittany, love her, hate her but never get enough of her...

We are a celebrity obsessed society and our creative tends to manifest that obsession, imagine, brand drama! The new way to sell.

Brand Drama - you heard it here first!"

The likes of David Ogilvy are now rolling in their graves...

March 2, 2009

The New Age

One of the first personalities that stood out in our industry was someone who had broken the code of interactive design and had started introducing us all to a whole new way of looking at how to communicate on the internet. This was a person who had come to NYC from Moscow to explore what was possible and to consistently raise the limits of what the web was capable of communicating to us all.

That person is Freedom + Partners Chief Creative Officer, Vas Sloutchevsky.

I first met Vas when I started working at Firstborn. By the time I had arrived Vas had already cemented his place amongst those who were breaking new ground in interactive design and development. He was a rock star in every sense of the word.

I am once again privileged to be working along side Vas here at Freedom + Partners and he is continuing to break new ground each and every day. It is not often that a person comes along who can continually innovate and inspire with his design prowess and ability to see beyond what is in front of him.

Working side by side with legendary flash developer Shea Gonyo, Vas has once again taken things to another level with our new company website, Freedom + Partners

Seeing the web as a living space, a three dimensional reality that both houses the rules of physics and then breaks those rules to deliver a truly dramatic and awesome experience, Vas has done it again!

Navigate the site using all your senses, 3D doesn't just apply to the eyes but to the ears and to the touch. Information has never been served up this intuitively. Each and every page is a new place to play and explore.

I am pleased to announce the launch of our new website!!

Check it out here:

Experience what the web is all about.