Vintage Ad Heaven

Fuehrer Furious The Duke University Digital Advertising Archives are a treasure trove for any ad geek (like me) looking to root around in our history. I didn’t know it even existed until a couple days ago; I do now.

Tonight’s object of fascination was war bonds. It’s hard to imagine selling people on giving money, from their own pockets, to fight a war. We live in a cynical age, and the people running our armies are excellent at proving us justified in our cynicism. But 70 years ago, the people believed in their sacrifice, and that winning that war would make the world a better place. They were right. And war bonds were a great way to join the effort, without, you know, joining the effort.

Examples after the break. Continue reading

Channeling Milton

For the past few weeks, I’ve been coming home from work, ducking into my office, cracking my old Norton Anthology of English Literature and slowly writing out a few dozen lines of Paradise Lost.Paradise Lost Book 1 1

Channeling forces me to slow down and fully digest a work of art. Moving at the speed of handwriting, I’m more able to appreciate the rhythm that glides from word to word. I can savor an iamb; marvel at the four-word sentence with the same rhythmic structure as a 10-word sentence. I don’t catch these things when I’m reading; I can’t control the urge to get to the bottom of the page.

The pen-to-paper connection forged by longhand is satisfying and physical. We’re analog creatures. I believe it’s awakening connections in my brain. Even if I can’t write like Milton, I can train my mind and body to understand how it feels to have great language flow through me.

I’ll share a few pages after the jump.
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Why small is beautiful.

In late July, we took a road trip to attend the Ad Age small agency conference in Portland. (After all, we’re a small agency. It’s good to conference with one  another.)

A couple days later, Publicis and Omnicom announced their merger, creating the world’s most gargantuan ad agency.

Quite a contrast. And we feel good about it. Continue reading

Resolved: less Internet.

Usually, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. It’s always struck me as an artificial incentive for vow-making. I’m also mindful of the Jewish tradition of nullifying prior oaths at the beginning of the New Year; so I’m like, “If I’m gonna beg off all my vows, why make them in the first place?”

And yet, for 2013, I made a resolution. I wasn’t looking for it. It found me. Continue reading

Thoughts about balls.

“What does it take to open an ad agency?”

The girl promised it would be a quick Q&A. One question, five minutes. Then she wouldn’t bother me again. 

I pressed the iPhone to my ear, and spun to face the window. What the hell. A college marketing student got me on the line; least I could do is pay it forward and answer the question.

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Why make ourselves stupid? (or: the dangers of multi-tasking)

Confession: sometimes I check my phone when my wife is talking to me. 

This makes her mad, for the obvious reason that it’s rude as hell, and it sends a clear signal I’m not really listening. (I’m not proud of this.) 

It’s even worse when she discovers that the “work e-mail” I’m checking is actually me checking five new likes for my latest #corgi picture on Instagram.

Fact: when I do more than one thing at one time, neither thing gets more than 50% of my intelligence. And, numerically speaking, when I divide my IQ by 50%, it puts me in the “special needs” category. 

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Small agency diary: I am yogurt man.

Recently, I volunteered to help our client, Smári Organics, at a food investor’s fair. Manage the sample table. Deliver the spiel. Invite people to try the yogurt.

I don’t mind. I get to meet customers, see how the brand is being received, see which pitches get the most traction. Continue reading