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Monday, September 18, 2017

Getting Social at the Emmy Awards

Past Media Guy Oscars Emmy Columns: 2016 - 2015 - 2014

Okay, so where am I? 

I'm at the Microsoft Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles taking in the 69th Emmy Awards and trying to get one of those drinks loaded with bitters that Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel are sharing.

No luck.

Speaking of luck...last year I waxed poetic (very much tongue-in-cheek) about flirting with the Emmy statuette and her going with a hundred or so other writers, producers, actors, and actresses. This year was different. Sometimes you get lucky a second time.

Flirt no more...
This year also saw my return to the red carpet, and honestly the two best parts of my night was watching Lena Headey and Sophie Turner (both of Game of Thrones) scarf McDonald's fries and milk shakes on their way to the red carpet. At the end of the entertainment debauchery, it was a fantastic night for Hulu, which proved to be a late bloomer to the original scripted series game. Sunday, it became the first streaming service to win an Emmy for Best Series for The Handmaid's Tale, leapfrogging Netflix and Amazon.

Hat's off to the marketing folks at Hulu. Seriously, how much of the public do you think has seen The Handmaid’s Tale? Certainly the voters have (again a credit to Hulu marketers), but it goes into the category of the things that make you go "hmmmmmmmm." Does this show have 1/100th the audience penetration of This Is Us? At the end, it was a triumph for not-widely-viewed series, led by The Handmaid’s Tale and Black Mirror (Netflix). It was also a big night for Big Little Lies and Veep which held onto the best comedy series and best lead actress in a comedy series titles. Women broke that glass ceiling through with wins for Lena Waithe and Reed Morano (you'll have to look them up to know more, sorry. I didn't know who they were before last night). 

Back to the red carpet...whatever you think the carpet is like, think again. Here's a taste:

During the show, I decided to troll celebrity and celebrity-ish Twitter accounts looking for behind the scenes tidbits. I mean celebrities are people too. Right? Let's see:

Red Carpet Gallery
Maybe because there's no McDonald's north of the wall...
Nice that Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman stopped their PDAs long enough for a few pictures. 
Anna Chlumsky, robbed again.
Poor Justin Timberlake...
Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys of The Americans. In my world, these two would win every year.
Yeah, I don't get this guy either.
Alec Baldwin. Genius. Pure.
Another win for Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
The new Dream Team (if you don't know who these ladies are, watch more movies)
Just some serious eye contact with Reese Witherspoon is all...
This streak you have going is pretty, pretty, good!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Opera of Orgasms

Okay, so where am I?

I'm preparing for an other trip...and another surgery...yeah, getting old sucks. I'm also prepping for the Emmys on Sunday. I got a new lens to break in. You know I'll post pictures. Stephen Colbert is hosting...more political humor. Ugh! I'm thinking Louis Vuitton for the red carpet. Yeah, that's the ticket...yet I digress.

I bring up the traveling because it's a little known fact that I see a classical music performance or an opera in every country I visit that offers such a thing. In Europe, it seems every major city has a beautiful opera house. Ah, the Opera...a kid I remember it being something you were taught to avoid. It was a old school meant to be enjoyed by the stuffy, nose-up crowd in tuxedo tails and shiny shoes.  The opera was strictly for the high cultured. As I aged I learned to truly appreciate it because I get to use my slim knowledge of classical music and study up on the stories and the history of each type of performance.

Regardless of how well I've aged and how cultured I've become, the fact remains that it is still a difficult sell for younger audiences.

Swedish opera house Folkoperan knows this fact and decided to pick the easy path to try and reach Swedish millennials is to use the old advertising adage that "sex sells."

To promote the premiere of Puccini’s Turandot, Folkoperan and its agency crafted a commercial called “The Opera of Orgasms” that is devoid of words, just moans and groans and, well, orgasms.

So much for high culture...

If you are new to opera, the connection to sexual situations isn't a stretch by any means. Opera is peppered with fables spun from of unbridled yearning, retribution and heartrending losses. Elevating its more applicable qualities was invented yesterday either. Last year, the Paris Opera recruited Bret Easton Ellis to craft a modern version of “Figaro,” a story as contemporary and depraved as you can get without dolling our red-light district ticket prices.

Turandot is especially suitable for this kind of interpretation. First released in 1926, it narrates the tale of Prince Calaf who falls in love with the unemotional Princess Turandot. To gain permission to marry her, potential suitors have to solve three riddles; any wrong answer results in death. Yikes!

“We live in a society where we’re constantly encouraged to indulge life, but it’s often in very superficial ways,” says Mellika Melouani Melani, director and artistic director at Folkoperan. “In our interpretation of the opera, we want to pay tribute to the urge of desire and the total devotion that comes with it. In our film, the orgasm symbolizes this.”

In the commercial (the Folkoperan marketers call it a film), people in diverse—not necessarily glitzy—sexual circumstances express their apex to the tune of the Nessun Dorma aria. It’s a festival of unlimited longing, those moments when you’re so close to metaphorically falling off the cliff that things like environment, expectancy and social norms no longer carry any weight. And it exquisitely echoes the state Turandot’s admirers find themselves in, one in which the proximity of pleasure is so painful that nothing matters more than finding release, not even oblivion.

Now trust me, having an orgasm might actually be the closest you and I get to singing opera. Both are big physical experiences that release endorphins and oxytocin, but this piece just rings wrong with the current state of advertising. It’s over the top and getting ample amount of press but it’s done so well, it’s much too hard to be incredulous.

So what do I know?

I do know this—it's becoming all too easy for brands to use sexism as low-hanging fruit to go viral. Time after time, we rise to the bait, giving the brands exactly what they set out to achieve: Internet Fame.

On an almost daily basis, sexism in headlines, adverts and newspaper front pages is getting taken to task on Twitter. But, by tweeting about those brands and making them go viral, are we giving them exactly what they want?

As Oscar Wilde said "the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about". Brand managers are well aware of this," says Anthony Patterson, professor of marketing at Liverpool University. A "response — whether outrage or support — demonstrates that consumers are engaging with their brand."

Take the London's Daily Mail. On eve of Britain triggering Article 50 and officially entering Brexit negotiations, it was #LegsIt (not #Brexit) that topped the UK's Twitter trends. The newspaper's headline declaring "Forget about Brexit, who won Legs-it!" alongside a photograph of Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and British Prime Minister Theresa May and a pain staking analysis of their legs, prompted the ire of thousands on social media.

A statement from a Daily Mail spokesperson (which began with "for goodness sake, get a life") only added fuel to the fire. "Sarah Vine's piece, which was flagged as light-hearted, was a side-bar alongside a serious political story." The Daily Mail wasn't sorry. And, why would they be? We, by venting our outrage on Twitter at their "light-hearted" sexism, made #LegsIt the most talked-about story of the day.

Long story short: Women shouldn't be roadkill in a brand's race to get viral fame. Brands, it's time to get your act together and find another way to get internet fame.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

You Can Lead A Horse to Water...

Okay, so where am I?

Sistine Chapel: God creates Adam
I'm at the Vatican and anyone in the advertising game will tell you that this is probably the last place you want to be potentially facing the wrath of God for all of your past sins stretching the truth and checking the Federal Trade Commission manual to make sure your spot doesn't mislead consumers. Anyway, that's a story for another day, but seriously, the Vatican, especially standing at the entrance/exit of St. Peter's Basilica in the August/September with the sun reflecting off the limestone is no place to be without a bottle of cold water.

The Vatican Museums: Heed the Advice
Yet, there I was, baking in the sun as the Pope waxed poetic in Latin over the loudspeakers and my tour guide going on endlessly about how lucky we were it was a Wednesday and everyone is watching the Pope and we had early access to the Raphael Rooms, Sistine Chapel, and the Vatican itself. Meanwhile, all I could think about was my brain NOT exploding from the heat and when I could make a beeline for an eight Euro bottle of water with gas.

Blah blah blah, alright already...I need some water! Speaking of water, it's become quite an industry, right? Give a nod if you remember water. You know, regular classic water where you turned open the knob and lifted the level to the very top? It was refreshing, divine, perfect; the ultimate drink that you enjoyed for pennies a glass. Now, water as we once knew it is dead swallowed by our obsession for what's next...our mistaken ideal that everything could always be improved upon.

Water is now bottled water, spring water, artisan water, antioxidant water, flavored water, carbonated water, fizzy water, water with gas, flat water...jeez, I sound like a thirsty "Bubba" Benjamin Buford Blue...

Gustave Leven, Super Genius
All of these waters are simply capitalistic spins on original water with consumers in their sights because companies know that the gullible will drink it up. There are three things that should never cost money: sunshine, air, and water. Now you go into a fancy restaurant and they ask you if you want sparkling or flat water. If you ask for regular water, the server's face grows into a passive aggressive sneer with a complimentary warning that it will come from the tap! Seems "free" is not really an option anymore.

Now one of the trendy waters is Norway's artisan water Voss, you know that cylindrical bottle with the silver top? Well guess what? Norwegian television has reported that Voss has the very same sources as tap water from a municipal source, contrary from it's snooty marketing and big price.

Many people think the designer trend started with Evian, which ironically is naive spelled backwards. But really, who convinced us that water should or could be sparkling you ask? Well I have the answer...

Meet Gustave Leven. He had a bold idea: Convince Americans that they wanted to drink Perrier, aka “Earth’s First Soft Drink.”

In the 1970s, you can imagine that Americans weren’t so open-minded about opening their wallets for water, instead openly laughing at paying astronomical markups for a liquid that flows freely, and usually safely, from their home taps.

That all began to change sometime in seventies, with a nutty idea from a Frenchman who peddled fizzy water in green glass bowling pin-shaped bottles. His company was Perrier, and its carefully constructed, impeccably timed advertisements paved the way for one of the greatest marketing scams this side of Barnum and Bailey.

Perrier’s campaign created a massive new market for the American beverage industry, and it still serves as a playbook for how to convince people to pay for water. At the same time, it does not fully account for what remains an even greater mystery: the enduring appeal of bottled water.

Whether they choose fizzy Perrier, flat Poland Spring, or a different label, Americans are guzzling more bottled water than ever before. And in an era defined by speed and convenience, they show no signs of slowing down.

Perrier’s American transformation began with television ads in the spring of 1977. They were straightforward, but eye-catching and ear-catching. The company spent somewhere between $2.5 million and $5 million on the groundbreaking campaign.

“More quenching, more refreshing, and a mixer par excellence,” intoned the rich baritone of Orson Welles in a Perrier advertisement dated 1979, as a bubbling stream cascaded from a green bottle and swirled into a clear goblet.

“Naturally sparkling, from the center of the earth,” the actor continued. He wrapped up the ad with a single word, the “r”’s perfectly French: “Perrier.”

Perrier’s advertising was selling a specific message, and it targeted a specific population: well-to-do baby boomers, born between 1945 and 1965, as they entered adulthood. It sought to assure them that those who partook of Perrier’s sparkling waters were sophisticated, classy, and conscientious. It conferred, in a word, status.

So capsulizes the story of Gustave Leven, Marketing Genius.

What seems abundantly clear, however, is that the powers of marketing are as limitless as the water we drink and the air we breathe. Last year, Vitality Air, a Canadian company started offering “fresh air,” in three and eight-liter bottles.

“Remember the day when people laughed off bottled water?” the company explains on its website. “The truth is we’ve begun to appreciate the clean, pure and refreshing taste of quality water.”

“Air,” it says, “is going the same way.”

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Birth of Venus

Dartmouth says that "personal diversity" means entertaining many different kinds of experiences in your own, daily life. It goes beyond the ordinary diversity in which we find ourselves surrounded, like it or not, with people who offer us counter narratives. Personal diversity means filling our days with activities that don’t match up with what we normally do...

In the advertising world, it means if you want to make it, you better be able to talk about things other than copy, photo shoot ideas, and next year's campaign. I mean, there's a world of great concepts out there lurking in the minds of your colleagues and competition.

What keeps clients and co-workers alike happy is the ability to spin a good tale and talk about areas of interest nobody has any real knowledge about. Throw out something about art or history in any real detail and most of your contemporaries with think you're a real brain and want to hear more at a later date. Think Scheherazade extending her life for years in One Thousand and One Nights. The real secret is when to work in your special knowledge and make is worth listening to. This is an art in itself.

This approach has served me well for a handful of decades. It will serve you well too.

Okay, so where am I?

I'm in Florence, Italy. In case you don't know it, Florence is the Cradle of the Renaissance, romantic, enchanting and utterly irresistible, Florence (Firenze) is a place to feast on world-class art and gourmet Tuscan cuisine. It's also home for some pretty great art.

Now, I know a thing or two about art, having penned a couple of books about the subject and all without taking myself too seriously. But, Florence offered the allure of the Uffizi Gallery and the opportunity to see some special pieces of art that I've written about but never seen before.

One such piece is Sandro Botticelli's Birth of Venus (circa 1484-86). Aside from his painting of the Primavera, Botticelli’s other greatest work, done for the Medici family, is the Birth of Venus. Unfortunately, we do not know for sure which Medici it was painted for, or which location it was originally hung in.

Sandro Botticelli, Birth of Venus, c. 1484-86, tempera on canvas
Before considering the subject matter, it is important to take note of the medium.  This is a work of tempera on canvas.  During this time, wood panels were popular surfaces for painting, and they would remain popular through the end of the sixteenth century.  Canvas, however, was starting to gain acceptance by painters.  It worked well in humid regions, such as Venice, because wooden panels tended to warp in such climates.  Canvas also cost less than wood, but it was also considered to be less formal, which made it more appropriate for paintings that would be shown in non-official locations (e.g. countryside villas, rather than urban palaces).

The theme of the Birth of Venus was taken from the writings of the ancient poet, Homer.  According to the traditional account, after Venus was born, she rode on a seashell and sea foam to the island of Cythera.  In the painting we see here, Venus is prominently depicted in the center, born out of the foam as she rides to shore.  On the left, the figure of Zephyrus carries the nymph Chloris (alternatively identified as “Aura”) as he blows the wind to guide Venus.

On shore, a figure who has been identified as Pomona, or as the goddess of Spring, waits for Venus with mantle in hand.  The mantle billows in the wind from Zephyrus’ mouth.

The composition is similar in some respects to that of the Primavera. Venus is slightly to the right of center, and she is isolated against the background so no other figures overlap her.  She has a slight tilt of the head, and she leans in an awkward contrapposto-like stance.

Botticelli paid much attention to her hair and hairstyle, which reflected his interest in the way women wore their long hair in the late fifteenth century. He gave Venus an idealized face which is remarkably free of blemishes, and beautifully shaded her face to distinguish a lighter side and a more shaded side.

Of obvious importance in this painting is the nudity of Venus. The depiction of nude women was not something that was normally done in the Middle Ages, with a few exceptions in specific circumstances. For the modeling of this figure, Botticelli turned to an Aphrodite statue, such as the Aphrodite of Cnidos, in which the goddess attempts to cover herself in a gesture of modestly.

In painting Venus, Botticelli painted a dark line around the contours of her body. This made it easier to see her bodily forms against the background, and it also emphasized the color of her milky skin.  The result of all of this is that Venus almost looks like her flesh is made out of marble, underscoring the sculpturesque nature of her body.

The demand for this type of scene, of course, was humanism, which was alive and well in the court of Lorenzo d’Medici in the 1480s. Here, Renaissance humanism was open not only to the use of a pagan sculpture as a model, but also a pagan narrative for the subject matter.

Although the Birth of Venus is not a work which employed Renaissance perspectival innovations, the elegance of the classical subject matter was something that would have intrigued wealthy Florentines who patronized this type of work. However, it would not have appealed to everyone, like those who viewed the worldly behavior of the ruling Medici family as corrupt or vile. By the 1490s, the tension that resulted from the clash between courtly excess and those who wanted religious reform came to a climax when the preacher Savonarola preached his crusade to the people of Florence. One of the people influenced by the preacher was Botticelli, whose change of heart moved him to destroy some of his early paintings by fire.

The Uffizi Dome (click to enlarge)

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Che Palle!*

Okay, so where am I?

I'm at the airport having a rather pointed conversation with the Alitalia desk manager about the upgrade to business class I just paid for my trip to Rome where I may or my not be going for a short film shoot. Although I paid my $950 to gain entry into a lay flat -- I mean seriously, sometimes you
No business class lounge? Che palle!*
need a little luxury on a 12-hour flight -- I was not going to get to check an second piece of luggage or get entry into the business class class lounge. Her reasoning was that I paid for the seat but not the "experience" of being in business class.

Che palle!* I semi-loudly told her. In all of the years I've flown business class, I was never without access to the business lounge to accompany my ticket. Sadly, I relented taking my boarding pass and reminding the desk manager that no good press could ever occur with the access a business class ticket entitles you worldwide.

Funny thing about his exchange was that I knew exactly three expressions in Italian ("Ciao" - hello, "Addio all'amore" - goodbye with love, and "Che palle!" - what balls!) and this one came in handy, although not very effective. Which got me thinking...

I made pizza from scratch...che figata!
What are the handful of Italian expressions that are an essential addition to any vocabulary, especially when you're in Rome, Florence, or Milan? (Note to self: Don't use any of these in Naples or Sicily. Why? Watch the Godfather II.). These are the expressions you’ll hear them all over the streets and if you understand them, it will make you much more fun to speak with.

* - Che palle! (keh PAL-leh). Translated word for word as, “What balls!” it’s the short and sweet equivalent to “What a pain in the ass!” Tack it onto the end of any annoying activity for added emphasis: “We have to climb all those stairs? Che palle!” or mumble it under your breath when someone causes you general agitation: “Put a scarf on or you’ll get pneumonia!” Che palle.

Boxed wine? Mi fa cagare!
Che figata (keh fee-GAH-tah). A journey through Italy will leave you with many opportunities o use and hear, “What a cool thing!” I crushed grapes at a winery today! “Che figata!”  We learned how to make handmade pizza! “Che figata!” “It’s official. I found these Pradas for 20% off!” “Che figata!

Mi fa cagare! (mee fah cah-GAH-reh). Italians take expressing discontent to a another level with the descriptive “It makes me poop,” leaving us English speakers in the dust with our much less dramatic, “It’s terrible.” “That restaurant? Mi fa cagare!” “His tight pants? Mi fa cagare!” 

Get a room...Che schifo!
Figurati! (Fee-GUH-rah-tee). “Don’t worry about it!” or “It’s nothing!” As you would in English, you can use it when you mean it: “Thank you so much for the great meal!” “Figurati!” Or to be nice when you don’t: “I’m sorry I spilled red wine on your brand new, white Gucci shirt.” “Figurati!

Magari! (mah-GAHR-ee!). The Italian version of “I wish!” “Let’s hope!” or “Maybe!” When someone asks you if you plan on coming back to Italy or owning a Tuscan villa, you can respond with “Magari!” (because of course you do). “Magari” is also a good play to  for playing it cool before your walk of shame: “Will we ever see each other again?” “Magari!

Che schifo! (keh SKEE-foh). “How disgusting!” Here are a few cases where you will encounter the need to screech “che schifo” The couple on your boat boat think they’re in their bedroom: “Che schifo!” A pigeon poops on your shirt: “Che schifo!” You see a 69 year-old man boldly hitting on a 19 year-old girl: “Che schifo!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Summer Travel: airberlin to Germany

Okay, so where am I?

Have you ever been in the middle of a fairly tale?

Where can you plan a trip that could indulge you in ways you never thought is possible?

There’s a place on earth that has created controversies at its highest level in history, yet oozes uniqueness in its recent transformation to a young city with free spirit.

It’s Germany, a country that has navigated future away from the past and lifted its consciousness to a worldly attraction. Sometimes, it’s easy to pigeonhole a country, tying it a bleak existence that was once a reviled nation. That reality is about as far in the rearview as a land can be these days.

Brandenburg Gate: The Berlin Wall once stood in front.
Germany is lush with some of the world’s hidden gem cities. Many should never be missed. Berlin, Düsseldorf, Wiesbaden, and Schwangau.

Although we know Germany was rebuilt with a brilliant combination of efficiency, innovation, and intelligence, it seemed to have risen from the ashes as if by magic. No wonder why Walt Disney’s Imagineering mind brought the splendor of Schwangau’s Neuschwanstein Castle back to Southern California as the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle at “The Happiest Place on Earth.” The place has that magic (more on that later…).

Before you do experience any of this, you need to get there. If you’re anything like the Media Guy, you’ll agree that flying anywhere these days is quite the drag. One of the most important parts of your travel planning is picking the right airline. After trying it out, I have to tell you that airberlin’s business class service from Los Angeles to Düsseldorf is the essential element to getting there with style and hospitality.

Whether you are on a business trip or planning for a holiday getaway to Germany, flying airberlin sets the stage for a fantastic adventure. Germany's tourism numbers are up for the sixth year in a row. As one of the 480 million visitors to the county every year, you have plenty of options to get you there and it just so happens that airberlin is my new fave.

Why is that you ask?

Simply, business class on airberlin is an unbeatable journey as one of the most refreshing and rewarding times you can have thousands of feet in air. Once you reach a certain point in your life, the mad airport scramble is simply unacceptable. That’s one thing we really liked about airberlin: the smooth efficiency you would expect from a German airline is evident. Gate check-in, personal ushering from the business class lounge to the gate, timely boarding, and then addressing you by name in your seat—all nice touches.

During the almost 11-hour flight, there were cocktails, fluffy pillows, designer toiletries and, of course, the thing you want the most in business class, seats that recline all the way. If you’ve never indulged, once you push that recline button and keep it down until you are fully extended, you’ll finally understood why that extra cash is worth it.

A pod built for comfort and work...
Want more? Here are some of my top reasons to splurge:

  1. You can work: I’m note sure about you, but carrying around designer headphones can get pricey and that’s not to mention the risk of loss or breakage. In airberlin’s business class cabin, every seat comes with a lush pair of headphones that immerses you in a vast selection of tunes that range from classical to rock to popular. Your seat, or should I say, space, puts the business in business class. There’s an abundance of legroom for any working position, a Swiss army-type table with shelves, pockets, charging stations for your tablet, smartphone, and laptop. 
  2. Three-Course Fine Dining: Business class meals are a far cry from the foil-covered trays you get in economy class. We’re talking a three-course gourmet meal with a chilled vorspeise (appetizer), salad, a choice of three entrees, a dessert/cheese course and the aforementioned wine service. And as if that weren’t fancy enough, there’s even metal cutlery, actual china, real glasses, and white tablecloth service.
  3. Wunderkind: We all know flying wrecks mayhem on our appearance. For all us beauty-obsessed travelers, the airberlin business class ticket comes with a lovely black 'culture and hygiene' bag containing high-end Wunderkind accessories. The chic kits include: Wunderkind lip balm and facial moisturizer, plush sleeping mask, toothbrush and socks. Yep, my bag still goes with me on every trip.
  4. Real Dreams: I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve resorted to a sleeping pill to get through a flight. Turns out, a fluffy pillow, eye mask, the best airline slippers ever (yes, I still wear mine around the house) and a fully articulating 180-degree flatbed seat go a long way to get some rest in after finishing that deadline project and a fine meal.
  5. Dreamy Wines: An hour into our flight, I was swaddled in a lush blanket watching a Bill Murray movie with gratis luxury headphones, with a bowlful of fine nuts at my fingertips. To say I was in the clouds and not worried about the seven projects due before landing was an understatement. But then the wine menu came around. Did I want the 2016 Kaapzicht Cuvee Anna White or the 2014 Chateau de Capitoul Syrah Grenache Charles Mock? Uhm, both please! Right about then is when I started fantasizing that the flight would never end.
  6. The Ultimate Vacation: When I’m on a flight, I want 100% relaxation time. The unwinding time that business class travel gives is just what I needed to get me away from my daily non-stop energy push. To unwind is to reboot my system so my creative work and responsibilities operate at maximum speed. On our flight, I was given a “Caribbean getaway” right from my seat. With my headphones plugged into therapeutic music, I felt my wings filling with air, flying to that state of mind where nothing existed but ultimate vacation time. The quiet and friendly atmosphere translated to a spirit of luxury service. Inside, I was awakened to a delightful bite and a romantic voice preparing me for the landing. I could not believe how fast time passed and how incredible I felt preparing for a journey of a lifetime.

So, as they say on board, “Angenehmen Aufenthalt an Bord! (Have a pleasant flight!)”

Business Class Menu

Vorspeise / Appetizer

Fresh Garden Salad with Parmesan Shavings
Crôutons and Balsamic Dressing

Wild Mushroom Terrine with a delicate Quinoa Gemüsesalat
Salad and Dijon Mustard Sauce

Nordic Midsummer Salmon with a fine
Honey-Mustard Dressing and a Latvian Potato Salad

Heißes Gericht zur Auswahl / Your Choice of Hot Dish

Chicken Breast in a creamy Pepper Sauce with
Mustard flavoured Mashed Potates and creamed Leeks

Slow cooked Beef with Rosemary Jus, Polenta,
Ratatouille and Edamame Beans

Fillet of Cod in fine Tarragon Sauce on black
Beluga Lentil with and yellow and red Carrot Cubes

Nachtisch / Dessert

Cappachino Mascarpone Tart

Semi-hard Cheese with Raspberry-Mustard Crust
And Dofino Cream Cheese

Lindt Chocolates!
Awesome Slippers (See #4).
Wunderkind (see #3).
Dreamy Wines (see #5)

Sunday, August 6, 2017

KELLOGG'S: You Should Have Called The Media Guy!

Surfing around Amazon today and I came across an oldie but a goodie written by yours truly: European and American Paintings and Sculptures 1870-1970, in the Australian National Gallery Hardcover – 1992. Yeah, you can buy the book on Amazon but the $1800 price tag might scare you aware from this out-of-print beauty.

In a related story, there's no truth to the rumor that the book has gold-tipped pages. It's just hard to find these days. Yet, I digress...

Okay, so where am I?

I'm on a bit of a retreat as I search my soul to find a handful of Big Ideas for some upcoming campaigns. It's a lovely property with butler service, 24-hour gourmet room service, sounds of the ocean from my lanai, and a pond with huge lily pads. It's the perfect mix of civilization and nature that inspired the right blend of inspiration and meditation to spark the creative juices.

A goo place to start the creative process is to look at what's out there. The more I scrape the bottom of the creative barrel, the older I know I am. I mean, I feel like I'm the only guy that watches television commercials anymore, but based on the soaring budgets for these spots and the cost to do media buys, the more I know it's simply a myth that commercials don't work. They do, and when you get a solid spot with a decent media plan, the word spreads fast.

So there I am flipping through shows and maybe the worst example yet of awful, New Age “femvertising” pops up in the form of a Special K commercial...take a peek:

“Women? We eat. We don’t doubt it. We own it.”

Wait, whaaaaaat? As a reformed misogynist, every time I see a spot like this I feel like I'm reverting to my old Mel Gibson What Women Want ways and needing a good hair dryer zap to fully get me in tune with advertising geared at women.

So there I was watching this commercial saying "who in the holy hell is writing these inane commercials" while looking for a pencil to jab into my eye so I could stop the pain of ingesting these kinds of ads. Any wouldn't you know it, there wasn't a pencil to be found to end the suffering.

If you don't think I'm a man of simple tastes and pleasures ask me what the highlight of my last vacations was...


Still waiting...

A properly-filled scantron was the first step towards an A test!
Give up? Well, I checked into beautiful European hotel and boy they don't skimp on the super neat amenities. In my room, sitting atop the note pads on a Resolute Desk replica were elegant golden pencils. New pencils. Erasers unused with lead at a fine point. My memory drifted back to a noisy fourth grade classroom as I searched for the fresh scent of new pencil shavings as the formed a mini mountain underneath the manual sharpener.

Memories moved to the odd lectures from mostly well-intended teachers urging you to fill the circles completely on your scantron in order to receive proper credit for all of your guesses answers. Remember your teachers reminding you to use your mighty yellow Ticonderoga pencils with the ever-important number two lead? I sure do! Begrudgingly tolerated the of the mechanical pencil.

Try and find a pencil at home or in your office these days. Impossible! What ever happened to the noble pencil?

Most of this monster was started with a pencil...
History romanticizes the quill pen. It begrudgingly tolerated the unnatural abomination of the mechanical pencil. It resigned itself to the mass production of Bic's ballpoint. And all the while, the pencil was there being taken for granted and waiting for nostalgia to sweep it back into relevance.

Yeah, we are still waiting and waiting for that to happen.

It wasn't pens that beggars sold from their tin cups during the Great Depression, it was pencils. The world greatest sketches and poetry arose from lead points. Even the art of pencil sharpening was a way to both take a break during a difficult quiz and simultaneous show off to your classmates as you shaved the wood head with economical strokes that told your world you were a true craftsman.

All of this was during my time when cursive writing wasn't banned in school and pencilmanship was still a grade that counted towards your elementary GPA. It was a time when the US Postal Service bustled with snail speed to deliver the letters we wrote on fine linen stock. I digress yet again.

At the end, I called several of my female friends, imploring them to watch the Special K commercial with me on youtube and the general consensus was that the spot was terrible and they were searching for pencils too.

The moral of the story? The marketing execs at Kellogg's or even the ad men at Leo Burnett (the agency that handles Special K) should have called the Media Guy to write their "We Own It" spot. I guarantee you I would have crushed it, Clio-style or worked for free.

Looking back though, I thank America's apathy for the pencil for saving my left eye as I searched for that Big Idea today!



Check out this fun story about a professional pencil sharpener with Mo Rocca of CBS Sunday Morning: