New skills require practice

January 24, 2011

A pirate walked into a bar, and the bartender said, “Hey, I haven’t seen you in a while. What happened? You look terrible.”

“What do ya mean, ya scurvy dog?” asked the pirate.

“That wooden leg? You didn’t have that before.”

“Aye,” said the pirate, “a cannon ball took me leg.”

The bartender said, “What about your hand?”

“Cut off in a sword fight, so I got fitted with this hook.”

“And the eye patch?”

“Arrr, one day at sea I looked up, and a bird crapped in me eye.”

“You’re kidding,” said the bartender. “You couldn’t lose an eye just from bird crap.”

“It was me first day with the hook.”

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It all started in Miss Gershkoff’s typing class at Scituate High School. Carl Rossi and I would dream up products and ad campaigns, including our most famous: Nagilas. Nagilas were corn snacks shaped like gila monsters, formulated from corn (and whatever additional ingredients go into incredibly tasty corn snacks), and marketed in homes across America with TV spots anchored by the irresistible jingle, “Have a Nagila, have two Nagilas, have three Nagilas, they taste like corn.”

Now, with every project I take on involving Marketing, Advertising, Public relations, Creative direction, Copywriting, Brand building or Brand strategy and planning… I look back and thank Miss Gershkoff for the really handy typing skills and sweet teaching style, and thank Carl for the genius two-man ad agency that operated solely between practice sessions on those funky manual typewriters at SHS.

Inspiration from a cellist

February 8, 2010

Pablo Casals, the great Spanish cellist, (1876-1973) understood the beauty in perceiving perfection as a process rather than a final state. During his time he was considered one of the best cellists in the world. A journalist asked him on his 90th birthday why he still practiced 5 hours each day. Casals’ reply:  “I’m still making progress.”  

It's the road, not the destination.

 

 

 

 

 

Hey… babies!

April 1, 2009

etrade-babyIf you’re in the business of pre-stressed steel I-beams, maybe cute won’t work for you.

Or maybe it could… at least with my wife. She pays rapt attention to any TV commercial that breaks out the cute — particularly human-type babies and youngsters.

Some advertising simply goes for the emotional jugular. The old Welch’s Grape Juice spots come to mind. Others mix cute with adult language that, to me at least, is very entertaining and engaging and more effective than just face-value adorable. The E-Trade spots come to mind.

“Hit ‘ch up later, babe” the baby says to his girlfriend on the phone. Ha!

He “underestimated the creepiness” of a clown he hired. Ha!

Great entertainment that brings us to the implied point that buying stocks with E-Trade is so easy that… a baby could do it.

This kind of point, of course, is made all the time, and may be one of the archetypal creative foundations. The E-Trade spots go well beyond this familiar form for their fresh approach and under-played humor.

Hey, if anyone has any ideas for using babies or puppies for a prestressed steel I-beams client pitch, let me know. I think we could sell it.  My wife would watch.