A holiday break

Good morning, BloodLines Creative followers.

This message goes out only to you.

I am taking a break from these pages for the holidays and will return on Jan. 2nd or 3rd with new insights, thoughts, opinions and useless babbling on a wide variety of subjects.

Thanks so much for following this blog.

I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, too.

See you in 2015.


Why I can say “Merry Christmas” but companies can’t

The holiday season is in full swing.

Actually, it started on November 1 and at some retail stores, even before that. Halloween decorations and candy hadn’t even been pulled from the shelves yet while garland and tinsel and holiday lights were busy being hung.

Most retail stores have no problem mentioning the word Christmas. It’s all about moving merchandise.

It just doesn’t sound right to say there’ll be lots of presents under the holiday tree. No, the presents go under a Christmas tree so they feel entitled to mention it.

Even car companies manage to get away with saying Christmas, as Santa is a frequent character who loves to give away vehicles for – the holidays? No, Santa comes on Christmas, leaving those shiny Lexus vehicles with the big red bow in the driveway or he drives a Mercedes convertible and encourages those who’ve been naughty or nice to choose red or white.

It’s a bigger deal for many corporations and large companies to publicly deliver a Merry Christmas message. It’s just not politically correct – not when you may have Jewish, Islamic, Hindu or atheist employees or customers among your mix.

It’s a problem that confronts agency and in-house creative departments every fall when they get around to creating the year end Holiday message.

Christmas stockings? Can’t show ’em. Ornaments hanging from a Christmas tree? Uh-uh. What about Santa somehow using your product or service? Even that’s risky.

So the creatives face the task of wishing everyone a generic Happy Holiday message.

Back when I worked on the Enterprise Rent-a-car account we always tried to do something with the e – one year we had an illustration of an ice skater on a pond who had skated the letter e into the ice. Another year we took two candy canes and  photoshopped them into the shape of the e on red velvet. My favorite one was a New Yorker style illustration of a snowman driving an enterprise rental in city traffic, drawn from the back of the vehicle. He had his little stick arm hanging out the window to indicate he was making a left turn and his license plate read, ‘frost-e’.

It was a new challenge every year and I face the same kind of challenge where I currently work. This year, we’re celebrating our 150th anniversary so we came up with an e-card that contains ‘150 fun things to do for the holidays’.

And not a single one of those fun things mentions the word Christmas.

As a company, we can’t go there. But as individuals, we certainly can.

In our hallways, there will be plenty of Merry Christmas greetings being exchanged as well as Happy Hannukahs and I’m not sure what else.

But when you’re sending out messaging to a wide variety of people, Happy Holidays and best wishes for the New Year is what you’re going to get.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

On behalf of me, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Bryan Burwell kept his story under wraps

I was stunned to hear the news that Bryan Burwell died of cancer yesterday morning.

It was only then that I realized I hadn’t read any recent articles by the gifted St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports columnist. And when I thought about it, it sank in that I hadn’t heard his laughing voice over the radio airwaves all that recently, either.

But it seemed like I had. His laugh was easily recognizable. And he liked to laugh, loved to poke fun – at himself and others.

I never knew Bryan Burwell.

But I felt like I did.

Turns out his last column for the Post-Dispatch was about the plans for a new Rams stadium. This morning in the paper, I read that silent Stan actually reached out to Bryan during his illness and offered to help however he could.

Money can’t do a thing about pancreatic cancer.

Still, I’m sure that Stan’s offer was genuine.

And so was Bryan.

I enjoyed reading his columns even though I often disagreed with his point-of-view. He wasn’t just a good writer. He was a great writer – able to capture a story and make you think, make you mad, make you smile, make you something – his words had power.

Bryan wasn’t an African American sports columnist. He was a sports columnist who happened to be African American.

I read every word I could about him in this morning’s sports page and I tuned to the radio today to hear if there would be more tributes to this man.

His words, his actions and the way he lived his life touched people across the sports world of America.

From everything I read about him, he lived his life full of energy, always positive, always ready for the next kickoff or tip-off or the first pitch of the game.

He loved sports and he loved life.

And that’s probably the reason he didn’t want the news of his illness to be known. It would be a distraction from the games.

I never knew Bryan Burwell.

But I miss him already.

RIP, Bryan.

How Lowe will they go?

DirecTV continues to churn out the Rob Lowe comparison commercials and with each one, I don’t really pay any attention to their sales message, I just wonder, “What’s next?”

We started off with far less attractive Rob Lowe and that one got my attention. I loved the shot of far less attractive Rob sitting at home on his dingy couch and watching him run his fingers through his hair and visibly seeing the hair come out. That was fun.

Then came creepy Rob Lowe and that one had the desired effect – it kind of weirded me out. It seemed like those two commercials were in heavy rotation as I know I saw each one at least 10 times and I was a little overLowed with it all.

So I guess I was happy to see painfully awkward Rob Lowe come along and when I read about how shy bladder sufferers across the country were sending in complaints about the commercial, I had a feeling there would be more Rob to come.

There was – as crazy, hairy Rob Lowe recently made its debut. That one struck me as just plain dumb and a little bit too over-the-top.

When scrawny armed Rob Lowe came along it made me wonder just how much longer Grey Advertising will continue going Lowe with their slam cable comparison campaign.

I’m sure the writers on the campaign are beginning to wonder that themselves. Stuttering Rob Lowe? Transsexual Rob Lowe? Painfully boring Rob Lowe? From a different galaxy Rob Lowe? These are the issues the creative team is currently facing.

Should they keep going Lower and Lower?

Or have they already reached the point where it’s time to move on? DirecTV has done some brilliant creative, all based on the simple premise of bashing cable.

Remember the campaign that wrapped up with these lines?

Don’t wake up in a roadside ditch.

Don’t have a grandson with a dog collar.

Stop taking in stray animals.

Don’t re-enact scenes with Charlie Sheen.

That was back in 2012 and 2013.

They’ve had a few clunkers in-between. But you have to say this about DirecTV – though the creative may change, the strategy remains the same.

I think we may see a few more Rob Lowe DirecTV commercials.

But then the bashing will shift to a whole new premise. And Rob will find that he’s woken up in a roadside ditch.

Keep ’em coming, Grey and DirecTV.

I may not buy your premise. But I sure do enjoy your commercials.