Saturday, August 25, 2012

Thursday, June 14, 2012

On Agency Pitches and Ancient Practices

In the ad agency world, we are frequently called on to pitch new business. This is universally understood to be a mode that takes several weeks, requires just about everyone's labor, and a 24/7 commitment from all parties. In short, it is hell.

Recently I have started to wonder why pitches are like this. We routinely turn around business-critical work under tight deadlines and unreasonable client expectations. And though there can be lots of late nights, there are usually established processes and roles that help to increase efficiency and divide labor. For digital work, we can use some form of Waterfall (yucko) or the more efficient processes, like Scrum and Kanban, that fall under the Agile framework. In traditional print, TV and radio, there are departments that manage the workload in shifts, spreading the responsibility of delivery fairly evenly.

But pitches are an area in which I have yet to encounter any process or working agreement at all. There is only an imperative: win the business at any cost.

I have come to believe that in the absence of any model or set of guidelines for completing this (admittedly important) work, people resort to primitive rituals to meet the goals of the agency/tribe.

From the moment the Request for Proposal arrives, there is a sense that we have been given a sign from the Gods. They have signaled that they will make it rain only if we collectively demonstrate sufficient reverence and sacrifice to satisfy their every whim.

Immediately tribe members are told to stop their normal planting and harvesting activities and prepare for the coming ritual.

There is a war room (cave) selected. We sit around the big table (fire) and begin the long, long conversation (prayer). Print outs and sketches (cave paintings) are put up on walls. Regular meetings are scheduled so that the representative elders and their minions can perfect the rain dance.

As the pitch date approaches time loses all meaning, food is ordered at all hours, tribe members break off in smaller groups and reconvene regularly to pray and dance. People start to brag about how they slept on the couch and had to run across the street in the morning to buy a toothbrush. The tribe turns nocturnal and there is the expectation of human sacrifice.

Honestly, if we did not have modern laws and morals, I suspect that the tribe would elect one member to be pushed off the roof the night before the pitch.

To question any of this is seen as a threat to the wellbeing of the tribe. Those who demonstrate a lack of faith have their work ethic called into question. If a tribe member continues to perpetuate this heresy, he or she may be banished from the tribe altogether.

For only the Gods make it rain, and unless we keep praying and dancing, we shall feel Their Wrath.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

RIP Andrew Breitbart

In honor of my old high school acquaintance and primary driver of traffic to this largely defunct blog, rest in peace, Andrew Breitbart.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Breitbart Fail

It looks like my old nemesis Andrew Breitbart is going to fail on his attempt to smear another well-meaning black person, in this case Shirley Sherrod. Breitbart's group, Whites for Getting Scary Black People Fired, or WGSBPF, keeps trying to prove how terrible all of these various black people are through misleading, selectively edited videos.

This time, though, it looks like Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is backtracking on her ouster and she is becoming a symbol of the victims of hateful Tea Party gotcha operations against respectable black people.

Oh, and we're supposed to believe that these Tea Party types aren't racist? Bullshit.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The future of news

Has anyone else noticed this awesomely trashy web ad purporting to offer "BREAKING NEWS" relating to an expose of a berry of some sort?

It amuses me/makes me sadface that this image represents a lowest common denominator view of what "news" is: a hot chick on TV in a revealing tank top, urgently offering unimportant information that turns out to be an ad.

Also: in the future, will female newscasters actually start wearing less clothing? Fox already has a well-enforced porn aesthetic (for the women). How low will television news get?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Tea Party wackos holding a "Woodstock for conservatives"

"There will also be musical entertainment, from acts that have toured the Tea Party circuit, such as Lloyd Marcus. In addition to Palin, other speakers include Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher, former Saturday Night Live actress Victoria Jackson, Andrew Breitbart and others."

I'm sorry, Lloyd Marcus?

Ah, yes, Lloyd Marcus the black Tea Partying singer! Yee haw!

Oh and look, he's also a talented artist.