Gramma Isn't Happy

Or maybe, this should be called . . .

This is Gavin. Yep, he's cool. He also deserves his Awesome Tonka Truck for his Birthday.

This is Gavin. Yep, he's cool. He also deserves his Awesome Tonka Truck for his Birthday.

“Use Twitter to let companies know they underperform because Help doesn’t get it.”

Okay, on occasion I take to this blog to write about something non-advertising-related. And this is one of those times. My grandson, Gavin’s, birthday present is late.

Yes, it’s worthy of a post. You’ve been there, I’m sure.

He isn’t going to get his gift on time.

I love I buy books and gifts for my grandkids (I know, it’s stupefying to believe that I have grandchildren). And everything gets shipped directly to them. Easy. As. Pie.

It works out nicely, because if I ship to my house (I have Prime so it’s free), I have to pay sales tax, and then I have to repackage and pay more to ship to the grandkids. Besides, it leaves a big carbon footprint, or something like that, with all that driving around by UPS and extra packaging and stuff. It’s plenty warm in Las Vegas already, thank you very much.

So I ordered this awesome Tonka Tow Truck. Little boys should always have a Tonka Truck of some kind. Metal. Sharp edges. Stands up to the elements. Gavin lives in OR – E – GUN. Officially spelled OREGON. (It's relevant - read on.)

I’ve been tracking the package, because this IS for his Birthday.

Here’s the route as of today.

So I did what any normal Gramma with a sense of self-righteousness and a Twitter account would do – I tweeted.

I got a fast response from UPS via Twitter.

I followed their instructions to contact Help.

I got another fast response from UPS via email.

I answered them back.

They answered back with a wholly uninspired answer.

Uh, sorry. Guess that’s the way it is.

A little dissatisfied with the response, I did what seemed to be the very logical next step. I took to Twitter again. Then the folks at UPS asked me for my email address.

Well, you get the idea.

So right now my email and Twitter are ringing off the hook (if they were phones and we were living in 1970).

So I got a Twitter response via email. Huh? And, where the heck is UPS located? The timestamp puts them somewhere in Portugal. Oh well.

My point is, I guess: you just have to take to Twitter to get noticed. “Help” certainly was responsive but un-help-ful.

And my second point, more important than my first complainy point: Christmas is coming. UPS, get it together because I order from and I am not ready to place my Christmas order quite yet.

So, yeah, this really does come down to Advertising. I just saw a whole bunch of ads last night about UPS Logistics(Actually one spot, run a gazillion times – great media buy, by the way, can’t you rotate just a couple of spots to make it more interesting?) 

"Get good" is the line in the spot.

Awesome, but I want to get it in time for Gavin’s birthday. He deserves it.

The end.

Stop The Cruelty! I Hate Negative Advertising

This is Feather. The Most Awesome Cat. 

This is Feather. The Most Awesome Cat. 

I saw this little piece in Business Insider today for The Mayhew Animal Home in London. Imagine that, a positive ad for pet adoption.

I’ll admit that I watch my share of cable TV, late at night, when all the pleas for donations range from saving children across the globe to saving pets in the US of A.

Yeah, I’m talking about the ASPCA ads with Sara McLachlan singing, I don’t know, it’s sad, the images are sad, and they’re compelling.

And they piss me off. This is what gets me about the advertising direction and the money negative ads generate…

If you Google Sarah McLachlan ASPCA, the top hits are the videos of the ad, then go about halfway down the page, the articles begin with questions on how much dough the organization brings in and how much is doled out to the local affiliates.

There is no doubt those ads get results, but stopping cruelty to animals starts at the local level. It is the care and shelter of animals in our home towns.

As one who has worked (on the ad agency-side) of a national non-profit, I’ve witnessed the scrutiny when tons of cash comes in, and the outflow is disturbingly low.

Most agencies that take on not-for-profit organizations do the work for free. I don’t know how it works these days, but back when I was on the agency-side, there was a certain amount of free TV air time dedicated to not-for-profit. I imagine it is the same today.

The recession has been devastating on pets in Las Vegas. A lot of people simply left, and left their pets behind.

But this is about advertising, negative advertising. I hate it. It gets Big Dollars.

So donate locally. There are wonderful local affiliates of the ASPCA and related organizations. Give to the local chapters directly.

Find your local ASPCA here (ok it’s a link to the Las Vegas search, but you just have to change the zip code, please.) Here’s the Las Vegas chapter of the ASPCA.

And just a little food for thought…check out the difference between the National Humane Society and our local chapter. What are they selling at the National level? Negativity. (okay,  awareness is good but can't they find a better way to convey the message?) The local chapter is a happy place.

So, all you ad agencies out there that do the good work for not-for-profits, talk those jerks on the boards out of the negative ads. And if you’re the ones recommending negativity, then it’s time to just go and pitch lawyers chasing the latest heart-attack-inducing drug. You’re one of them.

Do not get me started on the Humane Society. I have a personal story that still keeps me awake almost 15 years later. Someday I’ll write about it. But now it’s time to go to my happy place.

To think I was going to post about timesheets today. Hmm.

Pass The Kool Aid®

How sad, the very first entry on Google. When a brand is linked to tragedy.

How sad, the very first entry on Google. When a brand is linked to tragedy.

What a shame that something that (for us who were allowed to drink stuff with sugar and fake color a long time ago) was so iconic and happy, has such a sad legacy.

So it goes with your agency.

Drinking the Kool Aid®

I see it every day. I hear it all the time. If you’re in Advertising and you have a pulse, can hear or read, then you know that digital Is Where It’s At

Digital is exciting. And it’s given a wide berth, both in consumption of client dollars and in agency resources.

The Adcontrarian calls out the questionable data, and the folks who worship it like the latest markdown at Filene’s Basement.

I agree with the Adcontrarian, because I too hear it every day and find it remarkable that intelligent folks actually buy in - hook, line and click-through - that because what they do is so important that following rules isn't for them.

I see it on the operational side, and it makes me wince.

I believe in the power of digital, mobile, viral – but advertising, whatever form (channel) used – it still has to sell stuff (eyeballs aren't conversions). And agencies that produce it have to make money so they can keep their doors open.

Your clients have to make money so they can pay you. If your digital wizardry doesn't work for them, then they go on to the next bestest Rainmaker. Basic business.

But digital is different, you say.

Yeah, and so are the people who do digital.

They run faster and jump higher than your average (traditional) ad team.

They have metrics, optics, engagement, conversations, insights, Big Data, on and on. (Frankly I can’t keep up with the language of digital.)

But what I can keep up with is this: you still have to run your agency as a business.

Yes you can have great strategy, planning, creative, execution and whatever else. But you have to know where things are at any given time; how much that project you just finished cost your agency (and you’re only worried about metrics for the client); how much more work you can bring on – and why you can do that.

I don’t usually drink Kool Aid®, but when I do, I drink cherry.

Now go forth, and create a profitable legacy.

Opinions On Healthcare

In the process of sitting around watching my husband recover, I had a lot of time to be productive.

Time where I couldn’t really focus. Therefore I had plenty of time to watch a lot of TV.

So during the two week stay in the hospital, I watched the news as the Healthcare site launched – and then imploded.

Talking heads.

Whether it was cable – MSNBC, CNN, Fox; or network – who watches that?; The talking heads all had opinions.

Politicians decried / defended.

How many hours a day can you fill with talk of

Twenty-four. Exactly.

But what are the facts?

Well, the federal site didn’t work well. States’ sites worked better. Some people are signed up. Some people lost their insurance.

What is my opinion on healthcare?

I just witnessed what awesome healthcare coverage can provide.

Hopefully, everyone will have access to healthcare.

I just have no idea when that will happen. And I can bet my guess is as good as anyone’s.


Remember “air quotes”? Still in use and when you see it, still pretty dumb.

So, to my dismay (as it should be to everyone’s dismay), air quotes (finger quotes, ersatz quotes) has been replaced by the pervasive #hashtag.

In the quest to be super hip, hashtags have become the new communication tool. Tool it is. (It makes sense on Twitter, I get that.)

I’m receiving emails, regular business emails mind you, laced with hashtags. #WTF? Did everyone forget how to communicate? Are we all reduced to acronyms, abbreviations and other nefarious degradation of the English language?


I leave you with Chris Farley. He puts air quotes into perspective. Soon, everyone using hashtags regularly will look as #amazing.


Youth In Advertising

I’m over 50. Well over 50. Not yet 60. There I said it. Three ways.

Before Hard Rock Las Vegas existed there was a beach with bikinis.

Before Hard Rock Las Vegas existed there was a beach with bikinis.

I read Bob Hoffman’s Ad Contrarian blog. If you are under 50, you should too. You will learn valuable information. Do it because I said so.

If you’re marketing to more than the R(x)ehab demographic, maybe you should consider making the message more relevant by targeting the correct demographic. Do you know how to do that other than using a focus group?

We, the people over 50, would like to see just a little more representation. We do buy more than Aleve®, Depends®, and Viagra®.

When I read Bob’s post about the misconception that “people over 50 want to be like young people”, it got me thinking.

What’s the percentage of staff over 50 in any given agency?

I harken back to the last agency I worked in and I think out of about 250, there were just a few – very few workers over 50 – who were not partners.

Where do those of us, who at 49, go when the big five-o is looming? I know that one won’t be a coordinator forever. I know the pay is pretty shitty in many of the positions. Do we find something more meaningful that pays better? Like landscaping?

Maybe that’s the nature of agencies. Interns become coordinators, coordinators become account managers, account managers become something else that is utterly strategically important, then they become VP of Operations. Eventually they own the place. But that is few, far between, and for the suck-ups.

The talented leave and open their own agencies. They assure themselves relevance, well past 50. Or they become consultants. Guilty.

So it comes down to this. Perhaps those kids don’t realize that anyone exists but them. Their parents did train them to think that way, after all. Everyone’s special.

So they market to their peeps. God forbid they’d ever think their parents did anything like buy a car, take a vacation or buy pickles.

Thinking back, rarely did we have a creative review where those of us over 50 were invited to lend a little critique, insight.

Maybe it’s time to seek out your over-50 colleagues and get their take on what they buy, how much they spend on themselves and their adult children.

What brand conversation engages them? (That one’s for Bob)

And by the way, there are awesome, talented people over 50 who would love to work for your agency and are out of work. Hire that person. They get it, and will work harder and more efficiently than anyone you’ve hired out of college. They onboard quickly because they have experience you don't yet have.

And yes, those folks know how to use a Mac and an iPhone. Think about it. Steve Jobs would be 58. I'll bet you’d hire him.

Now I gotta go. Have to iron my bikini.

Good Friends Old Agencies

It’s Sunday. Mother’s Day. All that stuff is good. But what makes this special is that my dear friend from Portland is visiting me.

Julie is here. We worked together for a few years way back when at Gerber Advertising in Portland, Oregon.

I was up there on the left, just above the arched window. Five years with a view of The Portland Outdoor Store neon cowboy.

I was up there on the left, just above the arched window. Five years with a view of The Portland Outdoor Store neon cowboy.

She is the funniest person I know. And is the only woman I know who could make a longshoreman blush with her very creative use of profanity. Always elegantly executed. You wouldn’t know what just hit you.

We conceded that Gerber had one of the best groups of people we have ever worked with. You know, those times when the chemistry what just - there? 

Julie and I reminisced about the funny things that happened. The arguments between creative and account; Brian and his tricks; personal ups and downs; and how we got through life while keeping up with a job that was fun and stressful at the same time. And the phone books. The Best Story Ever.

Back then, we’d get new phonebooks every year. Big, thick Yellow Pages. So Ma Bell delivered a couple hundred to our agency. Being in Oregon, it was time to recycle.

There was a copywriter who rarely showed up to work. He was Important. I guess. So Brian and colleague Jerry decided to take care of recycling. They sent an email to the agency, from this Important Copywriter’s email account saying that his son was doing a recycling drive at school and to put all the old phone books in his office. In the Important Copywriter’s office.

Now, we were in an old, historic building. Everyone had an office. Little spaces with windows facing the hall. The absent writer had an office about six by eight feet. One can only imagine…

Phonebooks stacked floor to ceiling, only enough room to open the door. The light was turned out and the door shut.

A few days later, the Important Copywriter showed up. He saw the Wall of Yellow. I don’t think he saw the humor. I don’t think he ever returned.

Gerber is gone now, but the stories live on.

So anyway, Julie’s here. We’re going to a casino so she can play craps, and we’re going to have awesome carnita tacos tonight that my lovely daughter-in-law Barbara is making.

Nice. Mother’s Day and Friends.