Baseball on the brain

Here we are, moving in to the last day of February and I can’t wait for spring to arrive.

My son, Michael is currently going through tryouts for his high school baseball team. He’s in day two, three more days before the first cut. For the past three months, he’s had pitching lessons, getting him ready for his tryouts as well as four weeks of hitting lessons. All those lessons aren’t exactly cheap but his love for baseball is great and they really do help him. Though Michael isn’t exactly a fireballer, his instructor, Matt Whitesides, who’s taught him over the past seven years, has helped him develop great form and last year, worked with him to develop a pretty wicked curve ball that made a number of hitters look downright foolish. It was fun to see.

So while those tryouts are on-going, my coaching career will soon come to an end. For nine years (starting in kindergarten), I coached Michael’s grade school team. Last year, when he went on to play high school ball, I got the opportunity to coach my daughter, Catherine’s team. I had no idea what to expect – but quickly discovered it was every bit as fun coaching her team as it was coaching Michael’s. This year, Catherine’s team is merging with another and I’m just going to be an assistant coach which is perfectly fine by me.

Then there’s the Cardinals. With Albert and Tony gone, there’s a different feel already to spring training. I haven’t been all that enthused to hear Yadi griping and moaning but hopefully, he’ll get his millions and will maybe run out all of his ground ball outs. (Well, one can dream, right?) My expectations for this year’s Cardinals team aren’t very high. It’s just too difficult to repeat. But for now, the talk is about 12 in ’12. I doubt it, but it sounds good and is an interesting spin to have – at least until after the All Star break.

I’m also extremely interested to see the new ad campaign that’s going to come out of Hughes – or rather, HLK, my former agency. I must admit, I’m jealous. I will always remember working on the Cardinals account back when I was at Kenrick Advertising.  In 1982, we created the campaign, “You and the Cardinals. That’s a winner!” Obviously, we borrowed directly from Jack Buck but it all made sense. I can still remember directing Jack as we recorded some radio commercials. “Uh, Mr. Buck, could you maybe slow it down just a bit?”

“Listen kid, I say it the way I read it and if you don’t like it, you can get somebody else.”

“Actually, that sounded great. I think we’re good.”

And we were good. Two of the radio spots I created that year were Flair winners (the equivalent of today’s ADDY award). I got to meet Willie McGee, create some commercials with Ozzie Smith and sit in the dugout for a game which was like a dream come true for me. When the Cardinals went on to win the World Series, it was an instant classic – the year I got to work on the Cardinals account that they won it all.

So as we head in to this leap year day when the weather’s warm enough to throw the ball around it’s no wonder I’ve got baseball on the brain.

Bring on March with all its basketball madness, knowing that the first pitch of the season will be here before we know it.


The St. Louis city-county merger debate rages on

To say that I have been surprised at the number of views of my recent post on the potential merger of St. Louis city and county would be an understatement. There have been close to 1,000 views in three days time.

Many people have expressed their thoughts. I have been commended by some and called flat-out wrong on the facts by others. I’ve been told that if the city merged with the county, that nothing would change regarding population statistics – the city limits would not be re-defined and there would still be the same dwindling numbers that the city has been experiencing. Same with the crime statistics. I’ve also been told that all the various cities within this area – the city of Dellwood, the city of Des Peres, etc. would all cease to exist and so things like the Des Peres Lodge would then fall into the realm of a St. Louis city managed facility – if indeed there were to be such a thing as several people tell me that it’s quite frankly impossible.

Then there’s the matter of some of our free institutions – the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Science Center, the History Museum – these are free to everyone but you know who pays for them? Taxpayers within the St. Louis city and county area. Many people contend that people who live outside the city and county area – say our neighbors in St. Charles or over on the East Side, should have to pay some sort of an entrance fee when they visit these public venues. They’re getting the benefit of the free admission, but paying none of the freight. Is that right?

I guess what I should do is contact our good mayor and perhaps our county councilman and ask them both their thoughts on whether or not this merger could ever take place and could it ever make sense for the area as a whole.

Because it’s the growth and prosperity of this area that is my ultimate goal. I want to see the St. Louis area rise to greatness once again. I want the city to become important again as a place of commerce and as the hub of the nation. I want the schools (both public and private) to prosper. I want major corporations to shift their headquarters here and startups to have the tax incentives to grow and the backing to make it happen. I want families to know this is a great place to live yet I want us all to have the opportunity to explore the world and learn from the triumphs and the mistakes that others make in their communities.

Yes, I am an idealist.

Maybe it doesn’t take a city-county merger to bust us out of our mindsets. Maybe it doesn’t require re-zoning for us to try and help our fellow St. Louisans.

And maybe I should just stick to writing about advertising and let this one go.

Still, I’m interested in the possibilities. Chelsie Helige told me there is a group called Tomorrow STL that’s a part of the Greater Gateway Alliance that is trying to get the city’s re-entry into the county to be on a statewide ballot in 2014.

Stay tuned and we’ll see what happens.




My return to the St. Louis city-county debate

A few weeks ago, I posted my belief that St. Louis city and county should merge – instantly changing our population size, making us the 7th largest city in the nation. Our crime statistics would instantly drop – we’d no longer be one of the most dangerous cities in America.

Of course, all that is perception and simply messing with statistics.

The real problem seems to be that there are simply too many kingdoms in the St. Louis metropolitan area. All the various police departments, fire departments and all the associated governing bodies of each and every municipality would have to change. The city and county government structure would have to change – and change dramatically. The tax base of both the city and the county would have to change as well.

Being a life-long St. Louisan, I realize all that change is probably way too much for the powers-that-be to accept. The status quo would be turned on its head and St. Louisans in general, don’t seem to be in favor of upsetting the status quo. That’s why we continue to march down the wrong paths leading to more sprawl, more racial divides, more economic disparity and more corporations leaving the area vs. new ones moving in.

There is no simple answer. It would take a massive overhaul of the city-county governmental structure that would affect everyone who lives in this area. The only way this could ever come about would be a grass roots movement. And how does one go about starting a grass roots movement, particularly in the social media dominated world in which we live?

I guess you start a website. You begin an on-line petition movement. You start a group and try and get your voice heard. I’m going to post a comment Mark Travers made regarding my last post …

“Demographers say that if St. Louis City and St, Louis County joined together, we’d become the 7th largest municipality in the country. We’d have greater clout in Congress. We’d have more federal funds coming to our area. We’d be able to consolidate dozens of governments into one and save taxpayers millions. We’d no longer be a fly-over city.”


Doesn’t this sound like something worth considering?

Is there anyone out there who might be on board with this? I’ll help if I can but I’m not quite sure what we need to do. My friend Ken Underhill, who now resides in Arizona, said he’s in and ready to help start the website. That’s two, maybe three of us if Mark joins in as well.

Who’s with me? And what exactly do we do next?

Never, ever take your client for granted

(I was asked to write another guest blog for TriLeaf Communications. This is what I sent them.)

They are your bread and butter. They are the reason you get paid. They have many choices for their communications needs and there are many, many others who would love to be working with them. But for some reason, your client has chosen to work with you.

Do not let them down. Cross every t and dot every i. Push yourself to deliver the best product every time, with every assignment. Tell yourself that every call you make, every email you send is the most important communication you’ll have all day – until the next call or the next email.

Surprise your client by going beyond the assignment. Do more than is expected. Dig deeper. Work harder. And if your work is not well received for the particular assignment you’re working on, vow that you’ll find a better solution. Listen to their feedback. Here what they say. Examine it from another perspective. Put yourself in their shoes for a minute and ask yourself, “Is this something I’d want to move forward with if it were my company?”

There will be frustrations. If there aren’t, you may not be pushing the creative envelope hard enough. There will be ups and downs just like in any relationship. But your job is to build a working partnership – one based on trust and respect and an on-going commitment to helping their business grow.

Do your job and you’ll grow right along with them.

Enjoy the ride.

Is there a law that local car dealer ads have to be awful?

There must be.

Think back and ask yourself, “When was the last time you saw a local car dealer ad and it actually had an impact (positive) on you?”

True, there have been some memorable lines over the years. If I name them, odds are good you can identify the dealer.

Thank you and here’s my address.

______. The red-hot dealer.

Because we own our building and lot … (nice singing jingle of the name at the end)

______ GM Country.

Don’t close a deal, ’til _______.

I can only think of two tag lines that have come along in recent memory that I like. The “Sapaugh GM Country” makes sense for their location. And I’ve always liked, “If you bought your car somewhere else, you don’t know Jack Schmidt.”

But let’s be real. The commercials are atrocious. They are not memorable. Obviously, they do not have large production budgets. And I know that the dealers believe it’s oh-so-important that they get that valuable face time and name recognition by being in front of the camera and blabbing about new shipments that have arrived or a special orange convertible that’s marked down and has got to go.

I have never met George Weber. And I refuse to say anything negative about a man I’ve never met. So I’m not going to say anything at all about George but my kids sure do a good impression of his opening line. Then there’s Don Brown. Don’s been around for a long time and so has his dealership. He’s got some natty suits. But that’s not why I’d buy a car from him – used, new, re-conditioned, whatever. His dealership has a history of service. They probably have several generations of car buyers. There’s a story there. Too bad it will probably never be told.

I know most car dealerships are reluctant to feature their salesman in commercials – all the attention needs to be on the dealer name. But the salesman are the ones doing the selling most of the time. They’re the ones you interact with when you walk through the door. (Not that featuring them would be any more appealing but again, there might be a story there.)

The bottom line seems to be that local car dealer commercials have a tradition of being obnoxious, low-budget, volume up obnoxiously loud, give your pitch, show some stock footage of cars and that’s what they’re supposed to be, right?

I would love the opportunity to work on a local car dealer account. I would love to figure out a way to position that dealer so that they stood for something more than a talking head, trying to push some metal out the door.

If you know anyone who might be interested, let me know. I’d be happy to help.

Thank you and here’s my address: 532 Winding Trail Lane.

And while I’m still here … “What’s your all-time favorite local car dealer commercial?”



Mad props to E-merge Interactive

My bloodlines creative website ( went live about two weekends ago. It took longer than I expected – than again, this is a rather work-filled website so it’s quite heavy on content and putting all that content into place takes time. I’m sure it also took a good deal of patience. So I want to thank everyone at E-merge Interactive for working with me. Ed Madden was my key point of contact. He took some initial designs I presented him with and plussed the home page, bringing my tag line of “Big Ideas Start Here” to life. Barry Lee oversaw the programming and I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know the last name of Shaun, the main man who did all the programming – but he was awesome, particularly the one afternoon where we sat down side by side and fine-tuned one page and one set of samples at a time.

There’s a lot of work still ahead of me building up the content and look of all my links and there’s a lot of work I wish I had featured – particularly many of the radio and TV commercials I did in my distant past. The Pasta House Company commercial with the spinning statue of David and the fake Jack Nicholson voiceover has always been one of my favorites – but I don’t have it anymore. There were several commercials for Mark Twain Banks that I’d love to have on there – one where we crushed a toaster, talking about how they don’t do free gifts. Another series that was all type and flashes of color set to jazz music scored by Jay Oliver who now plays in Jimmy Buffett’s band that helped sell a boatload of annuities. I could lament some of the missing radio spots as well. The fact is, I don’t get to do hardly any radio and TV spots anymore and that has always disappointed me. I consider myself somewhat of a master of the low budget, big idea spot. Very rarely in my career did I ever have what would be considered lucrative budgets to work with. Small to even smaller was always the order of the day. So if anyone out there is looking for some big ideas for their radio or TV efforts – you know where to find me.

And for those of you who aren’t all that familiar with my work, now it’s a whole lot easier to see at least a representative sampling of what I’ve done and hopefully, give you some kind of idea of what I could possibly do for you. The site also contains a sampling of a few of the paintings I’ve done in the Tom’s gallery section. I’ve had a total of three fine art gallery showings in my past and also had many of my works on display at several different restaurants. What was once my painting room is now my office and there’s simply no place in our household right now for me to resume that hobby which also became a passion. But I do encourage you to check it out.

If you visit the site, I thank you. And if you’re a company or an individual that is looking for solutions, not just tactics with your e-marketing, I suggest you contact E-merge Interactive at or just pick up the phone, call 647-3900 and ask for Kerry Brown.

They helped me out tremendously with my site and I’m letting people know that. After all, one good turn deserves another.

The day Warren broke into work

From time to time, I said I would relive some of my favorite memories of Kenrick Advertising. This is one of those times.

Warren Wiethaupt was one of the most interesting humans I’ve ever worked with in my 30-plus years of advertising. Warren was an account guy and worked almost exclusively on the Missouri Division of Tourism account. For a while, we also did work for the Missouri Division of Community and Economic Development as well as the Missouri Film Commission. But the tourism account was Warren’s primary piece of business and he was a fanatic about it. Warren had an extremely interesting way to view creative work – if the client loved it, he loved it. If the client hated it, he hated it – and there really was no in-between.

Warren also had an extremely interesting way of working. He would arrive in the office around 4 am, create a flurry of memos (long before people would send out a flurry of emails), distribute them to the necessary recipients throughout the office and then he’d be gone, out of the office by 6:30 or 7 in the morning leaving everyone who received his meanderings wondering what exactly we were supposed to do next. Cell phones weren’t even around back then so he would largely be incommunicado, showing up occasionally for a meeting, particularly when client deadlines were looming. As long as Marjorie (our tourism client) was happy, everyone seemed to be happy.

Kenrick changed dramatically when Ken Hieronymus, Ric Sides and Gene Duncan all opted out for retirement, made possible by Denny Long, the former president of Anheuser-Busch, who bought Kenrick Advertising, along with several other companies (including Technisonic Studios, Aragon Public Relations, Kingsbury Graphics, Multa-Vista Productions, Patrick Promotions and I think there may be one other I’m forgetting). Anyway, with Denny in charge, things were – well different. I came back from a tourism shoot to discover that I had lost my corner office and that I would be reporting to a newly installed Creative Director. Okay. When the Christmas holidays rolled around, our Christmas bonuses were eliminated – instead there was a party at the Sheldon where we all received a Waterford ornament. Okay. Things continued to change, none really seemed for the better, but there was still plenty of work to be done.

One day, I needed to get in early myself – not exactly Warren time but I did roll in before 7 am. I was walking toward Warren’s office and could hear the furious sounds of him typing away on his electric. As I approached his doorway, I noticed a small pile of sawdust on the floor and when I actually saw his door, noticed there was about a four inch circular hole that had been cut where the door knob once was. I stopped at Warren’s office, peered in and asked, “Hey, Warren … what’s the deal with the door?”

Warren stopped typing, turned in his chair and faced me.

“Those bastards locked me out,” Warren said and then turned and resumed typing.

That wasn’t enough of an answer by me so I dug a little deeper. “So you cut a hole in the door?”

Warren got up, walked up to me and was mere inches away. There were little bits of sawdust on his forehead and sawdust specs covered his glasses. He was red in the face. He said, “I come in early to try and get work done and someone goes and changes the locks on my door. I’ve got to get work done. So I got in my car, drove home, got what I needed and sawed my way in.” He then smiled, went back to his desk and resumed typing. I looked at the door again. It was solid oak or walnut and I figured cost at least $800, if not more.

“Someone’s not going to find humor in this,” I thought to myself.

I was correct. Warren paid for a new door. A few months later, Kenrick Advertising and all of the other Aragon Companies that had been purchased 11 months earlier closed their doors when Denny Long filed Chapter 11 and about 130 advertising and marketing related employees were out on the street.

We all went on to different things – several agencies sprang up as a result – Brighton, Geile-Rexford (now Geile-Leon) among them. Warren died a few years ago – but his memory lives on.

So I guess it’s true what they say – when one door closes, another one opens – preferably without a hole marking the spot where the door knob belongs.

Get more business

As I continue to try and grow my own business, one thing continues to stand out: I need to always be looking to get more business.

When you’re a salaried employee, you kind of take your income for granted. You’re paid every two weeks and though it may never seem like enough, still, you’re paid every two weeks.

I am not a salaried employee anymore. I am, to paraphrase Joe Guerra, a fellow freelancer, a “hired gun”. Joe has done quite well for himself. He consistently delivers quality creative work. The St. Louis market is literally crawling with really good freelance people – writers, art directors, videographers, web designers – I never really thought all that much about all them as they struggled to find work, keep work, get new clients and hold on to existing ones until I joined their ranks.

I salute each and every freelancer who’s out there right now. I could name quite a few – Bob Cox, an excellent art director who I have teamed up with on a recent project. Kit Hieronymus, my long-time friend who’s been going the freelance route for about the past two years. Walt Jaschek who I see up at the Lodge working out and who I enjoy sharing trials and tribulations with. Jon Nail, an art director I almost hired a few years back who I’ve yet to catch up with since I’ve been out on my own. Buz Phelan, a talented art director and designer who I met with earlier in the year and we’re still looking to team up on a project some time soon. I could go on and on … because the list goes on and on.

We’re all out there trying to not just get work, but to do great work whenever and wherever we are called upon. You don’t always know where that next assignment will come from or who might call you as a result of seeing your website ( or reading a blog post and having someone say, “You know what, I’m going to call this guy. I enjoy his blog, so I’m sure I’ll enjoy working with him.”

That’s the hope at least.

Call me.

I need to get more business.



Life without the ADDYs

The St. Louis Ad Club hosts the annual ADDY awards tonight at the Copia Wine Bar on Washington Avenue. Once again, I have nothing in the show. Of course, you can’t win if you don’t enter and this marks the 4th year in a row that my entry total resides in the null set.

It’s not that I haven’t been doing great work – over the past few years I’ve done some of the best work of my career. My previous employer had never been a part of the Ad Club before I arrived. They were much more of a direct marketing firm. They won quite a few Arrow Awards and several other direct marketing-related competitions but had never really done work in the categories that the ADDYs recognized. That changed a bit while I was there as we began doing more video production and a lot more campaign-related work. One of the projects we worked on was a training video that is seen by every Soldier in the U.S. Army. It was two years in the making and told a very powerful story.

Initially, we entered it in two national award competitions – the Telly Awards and the AEGIS Awards. We won a Bronze Telly and a Gold AEGIS Award – but then discovered that Army policy prohibits outside firms from entering award competitions. So instead of marketing our wins like most agencies do, we lowered the cone of silence. And when the call for entries for the ADDYs came out, we knew that entering would not be in our future. The work we were creating would have to be its own reward and that was okay – we were all very proud of what we had accomplished.

Now that I’m on my own, I will be free to enter anything I think is ADDY-worthy. The question is, “Will I?” Is winning an award that gets recognition from your peers for basically one night and maybe a little carryover for a few days after and that then sits on your shelf collecting dust really worth it?


In the words of General Douglas MacArthur, “I shall return.”

Congrats to all the winners and finalists in tonight’s show.

My cruel dilemma

I’m in day three of my quandary.

If you’re reading this right now, apparently you found it via my new website. Thanks for visiting. Right now, I think that’s the only way you could read this post because the world doesn’t know this version of BloodLines Creative even exists. And that’s my problem. I love the look of the new blog. I love how it ties in to the look of my website. But I currently have two followers. And they’re both me.

What I’m trying to figure out is how to convert the 500 followers I have on the old version of BloodLines Creative who accessed it primarily via Facebook, twitter or LinkedIn or who signed up to be email or wordpress followers.

I’ve lost them all. And that’s my dilemma. So now that you’re here, please look to your right and fill in your email so you can receive the blog link via email. I’ve been told that the reason all the potential followers can’t be transferred over is because this  is a custom design and not a wordpress template and that Gravatar won’t work on the new version – and supposedly, it was through Gravatar that I managed to reach out to the LinkedIn, twitter and Facebook accounts.

It’s all part of my continuing struggles with the logistics of social media. I love to use social media. I enjoy tweeting and posting relevant tweets when I run across them. I am thoroughly enjoying writing this blog and hope to get back to a little more meaningful dialogue once I get this issue resolved.

So now that you’re here, please become a follower of this newly redesigned page. Then I can get back to figuring out how to merge St. Louis city and county and try and solve a few of the world’s other problems in the process.

Otherwise, I’ll have to continue blogging to myself.

And if anyone out there is technically gifted enough to tell me how to get my followers to follow this newly designed version, I’ll send you a box of cookies.