The Angry Hour

Election day is closing in and the TV airwaves are filled with anger and accusations.

No time is that more apparent than between 6 and 7 pm. That’s the time slot occupied by local news followed by exciting programming like Wheel of Fortune. Advertisers know that air time is cheap and that the right eyeballs are staring at the screen, hitting the 35-65+ audience.

Right now, it’s virtually impossible to escape the endless barrage of political ads – most of them local, none of them positive in nature, all of them extremely angry at the great injustice the opposition candidate has done to us, the innocent and apparently, quite gullible citizens of this community.

Everyone is wrong for Missouri (or in some instances, Illinois). Everyone has stretched the truth, spent money recklessly, or sided with a government that fails us all on a daily basis.

It is the rarest of the rare occasions when a candidate comes on, delivers his or her platform without overhyping and without bashing his or her opposition.

Politics is not about emphasizing the positive. Politics is about ripping into your opponent, belittling him or her as much as possible and letting us all know what a horrible job he or she will do if elected or even worse, re-elected.

Is it any wonder that more and more Americans continue to avoid the polls altogether?

September is coming to a close.

It’s going to be a long month of mud-slinging coming our way.

Especially during the angry hour.

Adjust your schedules accordingly.

 

 

Hard work has its awards

BloodLines Creative made its presence known at last night’s TAM awards put on by the St. Louis Business Marketing Association recognizing excellence in business-to-business advertising and marketing communications.

In all, we won six awards including a best in class winner for the total communications campaign category for our client, SchoolReach and the launch of their CyberBully Hotline service. The campaign consisted of a new website (www.cyberbullyhotline.com), an overview brochure, in school posters, YouTube videos (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rb-68K1mXwk), trade and online ads and a newsletter.

Many people in the crowd were wondering who exactly BloodLines Creative is and where we came from.

I began this business on 11/11/11. After having been Creative Director at Summit Marketing for close to four great years, I was downsized as a result of government cutbacks that led to an overall loss of business for Summit. The CFO, the Director of Account Service and myself were all let go and it was at that point that I vowed to succeed on my own.

Starting your own business, hiring out others, pursuing new accounts and doing great work in the process is no easy task. Still, many have done it before me and I use them as inspiration.

I look at the great work being done by firms in this city, many who were in attendance last night, and they inspire me to work harder. I love to create. I love to help clients achieve success by developing cut-through work that really works.

Though this was the first year that BloodLines Creative entered the TAMs, I’m certainly no stranger to the event which is now in its 26th year. In all, I’ve won more than 100 TAM Awards. The four Silvers and two Best in Class awards we won last night (including one for this blog!) are just a starting point for where I want to take this business.

So if you, or anyone you know might be in need of some big idea thinking for any and all marketing challenges, remember, I can be the advertising agency you thought you couldn’t afford.

To see more of my work, please visit www.bloodlinescreative.com

And then call me. This operator, will be standing by.

NFL Owners: clean up this mess

A debacle. A travesty. The worst blown call in the history of the NFL. A fix. Sheer incompetence at its highest level.

Call it whatever you want, but the ending to last night’s Monday Night Football game between the Packers and the Seahawks has got to be the tipping point to get the owners of the NFL to cave in and come to an agreement with the real NFL refs regarding their pay and pension.

I read that the difference between the two parties is about $10 million, which, if they did settle for that amount would cost each NFL team a little over $310,000 or about $40,000 for every home game. I read on Yahoo Sports that the difference is actually only $3 million.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

The NFL is worth more than most third world countries. Last year, owners generated $9.5 billion in revenue. They have deals with NBC, CBS and ABC worth $28 billion over the next nine years and $15.2 billion with ESPN through 2021.

Money is not the issue. Apparently, the main issue is the pension. The owners want to switch to a more traditional $401k style of a retirement plan which has more uncertainty built into it for the refs over the long haul.

This much is certain – these replacement refs are in way over their heads and they are ruining the games.

The blown TD call was just one in a series of horrible calls last night.

There was an interception that was overturned due to a non-existent roughing the passer call. There was an interference call that led to a Seahawks first down when it was the Seahawks player that did the interfering. The Patriots-Ravens Sunday night football game had 13 first downs awarded as a result of penalties – the most in NFL history. Vicious blows haven’t been called and so there have been even more of them – just ask Texans’ quarterback Matt Schaub who lost part of his ear due to an illegal hit.

Something tells me all these recent games have been fixed. The point spread on last night’s game was Packers, -3. They were winning by 5 which should have been the winning margin, pleasing bettors but displeasing Vegas. Sunday night’s game also had the point spread do a remarkable reversal due to the calls of the replacement refs.

But maybe it’s not Vegas that’s fixing these games. Maybe it’s some under the table deal between the NFL Referees Association and the replacement refs. Put simply, the deal is for the replacement refs to make absolutely horrendous calls each game and by week three, the fans will reach a boiling point and demand that a resolution be reached. Do your part, and we’ll find you a job later on for the horrible work you’ve done.

Smart move.

Mr. Goodell, on behalf of your uber-wealthy owners, get this thing fixed before Thursday night’s kick-off.

This farce must end.

 

Steve Puckett rocked the boat

I was saddened by the news I heard this past week on Facebook that Steve Puckett had died.

I read his obit in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch and it all seemed so trivial.

About three inches of copy space to sum up a life. That’s about the norm for most obits – where you grew up, where you worked, and who are your survivors.

Of course, an obit can’t begin to really tell a life story. It’s just a notice – a sad notice, that someone has passed on.

I didn’t know Steve very well at all. My main encounters with him generally were at awards shows. His agency, The Puckett Group, seemed to come out of nowhere and quickly began dominating the St. Louis awards scene in the late 80s and most of the 90s.

I went back into my archives where I have a few old Flair Awards booklets – which later became the ADDYs and tried to find some of his work because I know that many times, work from my Kenrick or Hughes days went up against work from The Puckett Group and it seemed most times, they got Gold and we got honorable mention.

I remember meeting with Steve one time at his agency – he was intense, he was a little bit aloof – but I found that he was also extremely personable and passionate about the work that he and his colleagues did. Somehow, The Puckett Group fell on some hard times – it could have been his refusal to compromise and wanting to always stand up for the work they did. I don’t know.

I remember being surprised when he was named the Creative Director at the Brighton Agency – a spinoff from my old Kenrick days – so I continued to keep track of him from a distance – and the last I remember hearing anything about him was when he was let go from Brighton in 2003.

It wasn’t until this week that I heard his name again. Even in his obit, I learned a little more about him. I knew he loved sailing but had no idea he was Commodore of the Carlyle Yacht Club.

I’m sure he was as passionate about sailing as he was about creating great advertising.

His death reminds me that time is short. And we’re not necessarily remembered for the campaigns we create but rather for the person we were. Steve was a game changer. He left his mark on the St. Louis advertising community. His passion for creating great work inspired others to do the same.

That memory lives on.

Steve rocked the boat quite often during his career.

We should all strive to do the same.

R.I.P., Steve.

 

The key to winning new business

Do your homework.

Identify who you want to do great work for, and then relentlessly pursue them.

Stand for something. Be willing to give, but always know that in the end, you are judged by the work you produce, not that you present. If you can’t sell your work, it must not be based on sound strategy.

Clients want great creative, but that really is secondary. Clients want results. They want to see the needle move and the cash register ring. They want people through the doors, clothes sold off the rack. They want the turnstiles to turn. And if you can’t deliver that, you’re not going to continue your working relationship.

The reason I said you need to identify who you want to do great work for is simple – if you’re passionate going in about their business, you’ll be doubly so when you’re working on their behalf.

Not every client out there is ideally suited to your wheelhouse. You need to know what your wheelhouse is, and then be able to knock it out of the park when given the chance.

Be more selective in who you pursue. Then go after them in ways that will make you stand out and open eyes to the value you bring.

Leo Burnett used to say, “Reach for the stars and at least you won’t come up with a handful of mud.”

No one is going to hand anything to you. You have to go out and get it.

Attack!

 

A tough ban to swallow

Now that the New York City Health Department and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have teamed up to ban the sale of regular soda in any size larger than a 16-ounce cup, I’m canceling my summer plans to visit the Big Apple.

How can they do this? More important, do they really think it will lower obesity rates among New York City dwellers?

Their studies show two things: 1. People generally will drink whatever is put in front of them, especially if it’s sitting in their laps for a two-hour movie. 2. People are less likely to order two drinks versus one really big one.

I agree with both of those premises.

But why pick on soda?

The other strange thing is that the ban only applies to restaurants, mobile food carts, sports arenas and movie theaters. So if it’s a 90 degree day in the city, I can still walk into 7-11 and get myself a Big Gulp. Or two. And if I’m grocery shopping, there’s nothing stopping me from picking up all the soda my cart can hold. But if I’m cheering on the Bronx Bombers, it’s a 16-ounce max of Pepsi or Coke or whatever sugar-infested soda they may serve.

I guess it’s okay to still order a 32-ounce Diet Pepsi or Diet Coke or Diet whatever. And of course it’s also okay to order that 32-ounce diet drink to accompany your double cheeseburger, nachos, peanuts and popcorn at the ballpark or to help you wash down your oversized container of buttered popcorn to get you through your next movie.

I read that the average New Yorker goes to the movies four times a year. It just seems kind of cruel to cut back on that jumbo drink to accompany your jumbo popcorn. But maybe that’s the idea. Maybe the new, svelte, New York City dweller won’t order that jumbo popcorn.

Soon, there’s going to be a lot more room on the sidewalks as the city collectively sheds millions of pounds of ugly fat caused by all those oversized soda drinks.

They banned smoking in public places. Next they banned table salt (I didn’t know that!) And now, the giant sodas become a part of the past next March unless this somehow gets overturned.

Might they even consider banning fat people in general from showing up in public places?¬†After all, doesn’t seeing other fat people send a subtle message to you that it’s okay to be fat, so eat away?

If that’s the case, many of us, myself included, have got a lot to lose.

Does direct mail still work?

Of course it does.

These days, though, if you’re going to invest in printing and postage and the cost to create whatever it is you’re going to create, you better make sure of two things – know who you’re targeting and make sure your message stands outs, gets noticed and acted upon.

It wasn’t all that long ago that direct mail still garnered a good portion of advertising budgets. Email was stealing some of its thunder but your mailbox would still be filled with flyers and coupons and catalogs.

Today, you still get the occasional flyer and coupon offers but catalogs now live online. It’s a real rarity when someone actually sends you a letter.

Would you open a hand-written, self-addressed letter if you didn’t know who wrote it? I probably would simply because I never receive hand-written self-addressed envelopes.

Junk mail is still junk mail. It’s easily glanced over and quickly finds its way into the trash.

Send me a dimensional mailer and I’ll probably open it. Send me something in a box with a creative lure to draw me inside and my curiosity will get me to open the box and if the offer is targeted enough, I’ll act.

I write all this because I’m currently working on two different direct mail projects – both are targeting very specific individuals. Both have very attention-getting concepts that lure the recipient into opening and then compelling copy that tells the story and an offer attached that will allow us to measure the effectiveness of the piece.

Both will cost more than your traditional flyer or postcard but in the end, I believe the return will justify the investment.

Does direct mail still work?

Like I said in the beginning, “Of course it does.”

Particularly, if you have the right person working on it.

Call me. Better yet, send me a hand-written letter asking for help.

I’ll be quick to respond.

 

The heart murmur

Words can’t begin to describe the love that our family has for our dog, Annie.

It was eight Julys ago when we first brought her home, a skinny, malnourished rescue dog that had puppies before she was even a year old. She’s a rat terrier which, when you hear it, sounds like it would be an ugly dog.

Annie is the cutest dog in the world.

She’s white with brown spots and doesn’t have a mean bone in her body.

We found out this weekend that she has a heart murmur.

I took her in to the vet for her annual checkup and when the vet asked me how she’d been recently, I mentioned she seemed to be tired all the time and sleeps a lot more than she used to. He told me that last time she was in, he had noticed that she had a slight murmur and wanted to check it out in more detail.

When he left for a few minutes and then came in and shut the door, I knew it wasn’t going to be great news. He told me her heart murmur had gotten much worse and prescribed some medication for it. He then said that if she got overly excited or overly exerted herself on a walk it might trigger a heart attack. He also said that if the medication does its job, she may have several more good years ahead of her and that only God knows how much longer she might have. It could be six months. It could be three or more years.

I fought back tears as he told me this and when he went to arrange Annie’s medication, it was just this little puppy and myself. I love this dog, as does everyone in our family, as does anyone who’s ever met her. This dog is just so damn cute, so loving, so loyal and so much fun.

She’s brought so much joy into our family and all five of us have a deep love for this little, 16-pound bundle of energy and cuteness.

Already, it’s been like an awakening of the many simple pleasures a dog can provide on a daily basis. I sat outside with her on my lap yesterday after I mowed the grass, just chilling in the shade, listening to the sounds of the neighborhood and enjoying the unqualified loyalty that a dog can provide. I shut my eyes and committed that moment to memory.

Dogs never care what you look like in the morning. They’re always there to greet you when you walk in the door, absolutely thrilled that you’re home – even if you’ve only run a short errand.

Dogs (and pets in general) are such a tremendous gift.

Our family has been blessed with a dog that I will always remember, long after she’s gone.

I’m hoping that won’t be for several more years.

But for now, I am grateful for every single day to have that little pupper brightening the days of our household.

We love you, Annie Blood – heart murmur and all.

Keep going.

The 50 most creative ad people over 50

Today, I ran across an article on businessinsider.com about the 30 most creative people under 30. It’s an impressive list and the work they are doing is fresh and unexpected.

Go here to see it: http://www.businessinsider.com/30-under-30-most-creative-people-in-advertising-2012-9

That got me thinking about creating a new list, one that I think would contain work that is equally fresh and unexpected. Perhaps even more so because here you might find a list filled with people who have been creating great work for clients for years and years.

I don’t have this list yet. People like Lee Clow and David LuBars immediately came to mind. I dug a little deeper into my memory bank and came up with Neil French (one of my all-time favorite copywriters), David Abbott, Dan Wieden, Mike Lescarbeau, Luke Sullivan, Tom McElligott, Lionel Hunt, Mike Hughes and Jeff Goodby.

If you wanted to expand that list to the digital world and also include photographers or directors you would quickly add in Robert Greenberg or Joe Pytka. And that is certainly only the tip of the iceberg.

For those of you in St. Louis, we could start our own list. My list would begin with Tom Townsend, Jon Bruton, David Bartels, Eric Thoelke and branch out from there.

Problem is, I don’t know what all of these people are doing right now – most are in leadership roles, inspiring or overseeing great creative. I don’t know if they are actually writing or art directing or shooting though I’m sure they are certainly heavily involved in the process.

I always aspired to be among those names.

I still do.

One thing that really struck me in looking at the work samples of the 30 under 30 list is how heavily integrated the advertising is these days.

It has to be.

The days of the big budget, nationally broadcast commercials to sell product or push a brand are behind us. They’re still done, though not as frequently. When they are, they have to be launched on the internet, hyped on the internet and have many tentacles that reach down to customers and find them at a variety of touchpoints.

These days, there is almost as much creativity that goes in to finding and reaching the target audience and connecting on their level as their is to the actual idea itself.

But ideas still rule.

Doesn’t matter how old you are for that.

Big ideas can cut through anything.

So I ask you, who would you put on the most creative ad people over 50 list? My only criteria would be, they still have to be in the game.

It would be nice if a few media outlets would turn their attention away for a few moments from the next generation of great ad thinkers and instead salute the ones who’ve been doing it year after year.

Who’s on your list?

 

A little Labor Day break

Way back on September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off from their jobs in the New York city area and marched from City Hall to Union Square where they then picnicked for a bit before returning to their respective jobs.

That marked the first true Labor Day in our country though its origins might actually have originated a few years earlier when a large group of Canadians took the day off to protest their 58-hour work week.

And to think we complain about our 9-to-5 jobs.

Still, we labor – working hard to make our work as good as it can be and we all deserve a day off to take a collective sigh and put the wraps on the summer and prepare for fall.

It’s one last blast of summer, one last dip in the pool or one final big bar-b-que or, in my case, a chance to play golf on a Monday.

I won’t be attending any parades – I don’t think I ever have on a Labor Day.

But I do salute all those who put in the hard labor – who come home from work physically sore and tired. Our Industrial Age was over a long time ago. But there are still countless Americans doing hard, physical labor that most of us who have office or desk jobs rarely even think about.

Granted, we labor with our minds each day and we deserve a break as well. Collectively, we should all thank each other for the jobs we do and vow to work even harder, maybe boost our productivity to a higher degree if at all possible.

So when you get back to work on Tuesday, rather than take the entire morning to clear the cobwebs from your three-day respite, dive in. Attack. Be glad you have a job and do your best to do it better than you’ve ever done it before.

Enjoy your Labor Day.

Then get back to work.