April 30, 2008

Arguing In Cyberspace

For those of you who like a good argument, I had a nice back and forth with some people on the Copyblogger blog. Copyblogger is a blog for people who are web marketers and want to learn how to do it better.

The argument was motivated by a piece called "New Media Model For Creating Lifelong Customers" by Sonia Simone who writes one of the few literate web marketing blogs called Remarkable Communication.

Read Sonia's piece, then scroll down to comment #25 where the action begins.

April 29, 2008

Friday Is "Talk To A Naked Copywriter" Day

Here at TAC, we're always looking for better ways to inform and amuse. And, also, we're really tired of having to write a blog every day.

So from now on, Friday is going to be Talk To A Naked Copywriter day. Here's how it works: Sometime during the week you, dear reader, send a question or comment about advertising to adcontrarian@gmail.com.

TAC will pick one question or comment from those submitted and turn it over to one of our naked copywriters for a response (we have roomfuls of 'em in all sizes and sexes.)

Where else do you get this kind of amazing content?

April 28, 2008

Feel Free To Pull Your Hair Out

If you're full of shit, it's a great time to be in the advertising business.

Advertising has always had a high bullshit factor. But recently we have risen to new levels of achievement.

The ascendancy of "branding", "engagement" and "new media" means that nobody knows what the hell anyone else is talking about anymore. There are no actual facts, just mind-numbing jargon and fancy opinions.

You can say pretty much anything and get agreement from the other 10 people in the room who don't know what the hell they're talking about either.

If you try to introduce facts you get shouted down by cliche-mongering jargonistas and their dreadful android technobabble/religion of "conversations" and "meatballs" and "twitters."

If you're not frustrated, disheartened, and exasperated, you're not paying attention.

April 25, 2008

Cliche Of The Week

If I have to read one more quote from one more brain-dead agency boob with the word “engagement” in it, someone’s going to die.

The ”engagement” crowd is trying to convince us that the effectiveness of advertising is highly correlated to the level of “engagement” a consumer has in the surrounding content.

Baloney. Ads have to stand on their own. Good ads are good anywhere. Bad ads stink everywhere.

April 24, 2008

Aren't We Lucky!

You're looking at social psychology professor Daniel Gilbert who directs a laboratory studying the nature of human happiness at Harvard. Dr. Gilbert’s “Stumbling on Happiness” was a best seller for 23 weeks and won the Royal Society Prize for Science Books last year.

In an article in The New York Times on Tuesday, Dr. Gilbert said:
"What we’ve been seeing in my lab, over and over again, is that people have an inability to predict what will make us happy — or unhappy."

So, let's recap.

Harvard professors find in their research that people can't even predict what will make them happy or unhappy. But account planners can confidently tell us what will make people buy frozen chicken and floor wax.

Aren't we lucky to have people of this caliber in advertising!

April 23, 2008

Three Secrets of Creativity

After 100 years in the ad business, I think I know the secrets to being a good creative person.
  1. Insomnia: Good ideas come at odd hours. You've got to be awake when they decide to show up.
  2. Fear of embarrassment: If you're not afraid of your friends making fun of your work, you'll never be any good.
  3. Will: A lot of people have talent. Only a few have the will to impose their talent. These people are a pain in the ass and drive everyone around them crazy. But they don't quit till they get it the way they want it.
But TAC we're all creative!

April 22, 2008


$126,000,000 doesn't buy ya much these days.

The No-Cliche Guarantee

Here at The Ad Contrarian, we have been scanning marketing blogs and are fully fed-up with the jargon and cliches of web marketing. Consequently, we are now offering our loyal readers the only no-cliche guarantee available on the web! When you read TAC , you will never see the following terms:
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • User Generated Content (UGC)
  • Widget
  • Gadget
  • Web 2.0
  • Anything x.x
  • Surprise and delight
  • Agent of change
  • Interruptor
  • Disrupter
  • Integrator
  • Platform
  • Channel
  • The long tail
  • Buzz
We will beat any advertised no-cliche guarantee or your money back!

The interactive part:
Contribute your favorite web marketing cliches to adcontrarian@gmail.com, or click on "Comments".

April 21, 2008

Newspapers And The Internet

Newspapers are dying and the internet is thriving. Most pundits think this is because the web delivers news faster and in a more interactive way.


People who are seriously interested in the news still read newspapers. Nobody with half a brain believes he's going to get better news coverage on a website than in a newspaper.

The problem is, most people are not seriously interested in the news, and never have been. The internet is not a better source of information, it's a better source of gossip and entertainment. And regardless of what they say, that's what people want. The internet is not killing newspapers because it delivers news better. It's just more fun.

As a blogger about advertising, I often read what other ad bloggers are writing. Most of it is inane gossip and infantile score-settling. And yet these are the blogs with the highest readerships.

As I've said on a number of occasions, this is not "the information age." It's the entertainment age.

April 18, 2008

Times Change. Principles Don't.

Every marketing genius in America is telling us that consumers have become resistant to marketing and advertising, right?

Tell that to Apple and Toyota.

Here’s what consumers have become resistant to: generic, undifferentiated products supported by smug, benefit-free advertising.

We do not have a new breed of humans. What we have is a new breed of marketing people.

This new breed has forgotten that the purpose of advertising is to sell something. It's not "branding"; it's not to enter into a "cultural conversation"; it's not any of the baloney being peddled by effete marketing aristocrats.

Marketing has one purpose only -- to sell someone something.

Times change, but principles don't.

Why There Are So Many Duds Coming Out Of Business School:
Knowing all the rules of baseball doesn't make you a player. It makes you an umpire.

April 17, 2008

All Poop All The Time

Tuesday we had a post about doody.

We had one of our highest readerships ever and the largest number of comments ever. It's pretty clear what you, dear reader, are interested in.

From now on, the hell with advertising and marketing...welcome to The Chocolate Channel, where it's all poop all the time.

Today's topic: Why does poop stink? (from Smelly-Poop.com)
"Poop stinks as a result of the products of bacterial action. Bacteria produce smelly, sulfur-rich organic compounds such as indole, skatole, and mercaptans, and the inorganic gas hydrogen sulfide. These are the same compounds that give farts their odor."

Okay? Had enough? You done?

Be sure to wipe.

The Interactive Part:
A TAC Award of Merit will go to whomever (objective case) can come up with the funniest line or riddle connecting these two concepts: advertising and shit.

Q: Why is advertising better than shit?
A: Nobody will pay you to shit.

Name one other blog where you can get useful information on both poop and grammar. Come on. I'm waiting.

April 16, 2008

The Mysterious Mr. Morans

Our St. Louis office sent us this photo of one of their fellow Missourians.

Memo To Self:
New product idea --Spell-Check for Magic Markers!

April 15, 2008

The Real Poop On Marketing

A recent blog by ad broad got me thinking that we may be flushing millions of dollars right down the old crapper.

It turns out that in marketing today, poop is some valuable shit.

- A big-time Manhattan spa is offering a Japanese-style "Geisha Facial" which features all the goodness of real bird droppings.

- Peter Jones, an upscale retailer in London, is offering the world's most expensive cup of coffee. At 50 pounds (these days, that's about 10 million dollars) you can get a cup of coffee made with real cat excreta.

- If you want to send a note that says "I care", how about sending it on paper made of elephant shit?

- Sending photos to a loved one? Now you can send them in picture frames made from panda patties? (Panda's are so cute. Imagine how adorable their doodies must be!)

- And finally, if rubbing it on your face, drinking it, and sending it to loved ones isn't enough, now you can live in it. Michigan State researchers have developed the Eco-Floor, a floor for your home made of -- you guessed it -- cow shit.

Brown is the new green.

The interactive part:
Here's your chance to be a professional writer! Instead of "Brown is the new green" should I have ended the post with,"What can brown do for you?" Please click the comment link and cast your vote.

April 14, 2008

I Hate Art

There, I said it and I'm not sorry.

I used to like art. But it's gotten too weird and too gimmicky. When it comes to art I'm a philistine (or as my friend Mikey says, a Finkelstein.)

As you've probably surmised, I am talking mainly about contemporary art. Here at TAC Global Headquarters we have a saying: "If it's ugly, pointless and expensive, it must be art."

Art does not, as its promoters claim, help explain life. Nothing helps explain life (see The 8-Year-Old Existentialist.) Warhol's definition seems very apropos these days: "It's whatever you can get away with."

I'm thinking about starting a society to call bullshit on contemporary art. We'll call ourselves The Fighting Finkelsteins. Who's in?

Note To Artists:
I'm not talking about your stuff. It's all that other stuff.

How The Universe Gets Even With Us:
My daughter (The-Only-Person-I-Really-Like) is studying art.

April 11, 2008

Morons And Their Money

As we reported earlier this week, after conducting a 16 month study the geniuses at Comcast and Starcom MediaVest have concluded that people are more likely to watch commercials about products they're interested in. Astounding!

In keeping with this insightful finding, I would like to propose the following research studies to Comcast and StarCom Mediavest:
  • A 5-year study to confirm that sweaty feet don't smell so good.
  • A 29-month study to show that people prefer putting their toothpaste on the "furry" end of the toothbrush.
  • A 3-year study to determine whether love grows where my Rosemary goes..
  • A 9-month study to determine if the average cheerleader thinks dead rats are gross.
  • An ongoing tracking study to learn whether anyone at Comcast or Starcom MediaVest has properly functioning brain cells.
What is a MediaVest?

Part of a 3-piece MediaSuit.

If Comcast merged with Starcom, would they call it Comcom?

April 10, 2008

Internet Marketing Issues Cleared Up

Thanks to Jon Suson for turning me on to this clip.

Finally, someone intelligent explains the key issue concerning online distribution of intellectual property.

April 09, 2008

Advertising Is Dead And It's Everywhere

Everywhere you look, there's advertising -- on buildings, buses, taxis, t-shirts, dry cleaning bags, sidewalks, hats, and urinals. Advertising, once just a minor annoyance, has now become unrelenting and impossible to escape.

And yet new age marketing gurus like Seth Godin can't stop telling us that advertising is dead (see "Let's Buy Seth A Television.")

TAC has some theories on why these people refuse to believe the evidence of their own eyes:
  1. They're making a nice buck on the "Advertising Is Dead" gag.
  2. They're so in love with the internet that, in their minds, it has to vanquish everything else. (You know, the Oedipal thing.)
  3. Angry that they couldn't make it in the ad world.
  4. They just keep reading and repeating each others' blogs.
  5. They have not yet read The Ad Contrarian book.
One through four I can understand. No excuse for number 5.

April 08, 2008

So Bad, It's Good.

Okay, maybe it's not "good." But it will make you laugh.

There is a certain type of advertising that is so terrible, it's actually good. Jay Tannenbaum had this spot on his blog last week and it gave me an idea.

Please send TAC spots (or links to spots) that are so bad, they're good. I'll post 'em. But we've got to maintain high standards. Bad enough isn't bad enough.

April 07, 2008

Imagine What They Could Have Found If They Had 17 Months

Listen up people. Here is some astounding news from the frontiers of marketing science.

On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that after a 16 month study Comcast and Starcom MediaVest have concluded that people are more likely to watch commercials about products they're interested in.

Now you may be asking yourself -- 'what kind of frickin' idiots need a 16-month research study to figure that one out?'

There can only be one answer, my friend -- big, dumb advertising idiots.

April 04, 2008

The 8-Year-Old Existentialist

Guest blogger Leo Krinsky, age 8, provides our thought for today.

LEO: Mom, what's the point of living if we're all going to end up dead?

MOM: Uh...

LEO: And what's the point of eating delicious food if we just poop it all out?

MOM: Uh...

LEO: Really, Mom, what's the point of any of this?

MOM: Uh...

April 03, 2008

Dirty Books

My entry last week called "I Didn't Know I Was A Pornographer" reminded me of my first paid writing job. It was for a company in Greenwich Village that published dirty novels. This was before dirty books got promoted to "pornography." I was determined to be a writer and I didn't care what I had to write.

There were four of us. The editor was a guy with colorful shirts and earrings. This was before colorful shirts and earrings made you a hip attorney. There was a very tall woman writer with severe glasses (who I was not really sure was a woman at all), and a pathetic bearded nerdy writer. Actually, counting me, there were two pathetic bearded nerdy writers.

There were two rules. First, each of us had to write a 150 page book every week. That's 30 pages a day. I can't type 30 pages a day.

Second, when some ecstasy-crazed woman screamed "Ooooooooooooh....", we were not allowed to use more than three O's. Apparently, they previously had trouble with lazy writers filling pages with "Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh's....."

I lasted exactly one day.

It just reconfirms the first rule of writing -- write about things you know.

April 02, 2008

Accidental Branding

Digital media genius Cory Treffiletti (not just a smart guy but, more importantly, a regular TAC reader) wrote a recent post about a new book he reviewed entitled "Accidental Branding".

While I haven't read the book (it has not been published yet), it appears to be about something I have discussed here before -- that branding, to a large extent, is a by-product.

Here's an excerpt from a piece on The Ad Contrarian website called "Everything You Need To Know About Branding On One Little Page."
You want to have a strong brand? Quit “branding”. A strong brand is a byproduct. It comes from doing other things right. Make sure your product is excellent. Make sure you're taking good care of your customers. Make sure your ads differentiate you. That's what builds brands...

The thousands of companies in America who think they’re going to be successful if they just get their “brand” right are nuts. You’ve got to get a whole lot of other things right first.

If you do, the brand will take care of itself. If you don't, all the "branding" in the world won't help.

Blogging Blind

I really don't know anything about blogging other than I write something and press the publish button.

All that stuff about Trackbacks and Technorati and Feeds and Diggs and Stumblewhatever and who-the-hell-knows-what is a mystery. So I'm trying to learn.

I was reading up this afternoon and I found that I've been insulting my readers by not responding to their comments. My feeling has been that by responding to their comments I always get the last word, which is not fair. But apparently in Blog World it is rude not to respond. So, to those commenters to whom I have not responded I apologize.

I promise to learn my etiquette and always chew my words carefully and wash my hands before blogging.

April 01, 2008

Gutless Wonders and Bad-Ass Bedwetters

I have spent some time recently reading advertising blogs. For the most part they're a depressing lot. The bloggers tend to fall into two categories:

1. Gutless wonders
2. Bad-ass bedwetters

The "gutless wonders" are the most depressing. They are bullies who anonymously attack other people and their work, but don't have the balls to state their own names or show their own work.

The "bad-ass bedwetters" are ad people who are having trouble cutting it and, ergo, hate the ad business. Also anonymous, they present themselves as anarchic, hard-living rebels. My guess is they are mostly suburban mediocrities masquerading as hard cases. They demonstrate their bad-ass credentials just like 8th graders -- by using lots of naughty words.

The "bad-ass bedwetters" tend to be better writers and are often funny. The "gutless wonders" are simply malevolent and pathetic.