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What if we made periods a happy time?

This is hardly breaking news, or even a new insight. Rather, it’s a bitterly funny data point on the endless cluelessness of marketers when it comes to women.

Ir comes in the form of a letter written by Wendi Aarons to the Always brand manager (male, of course) at Procter and Gamble. It’s well worth your time to read the entire screed, but here, to whet your appetite, is the opening salvo:

Dear Mr. Thatcher,

I have been a loyal user of your Always maxi pads for over 20 years, and I appreciate many of their features. Why, without the LeakGuard Core™ or Dri-Weave™ absorbency, I’d probably never go horseback riding or salsa dancing, and I’d certainly steer clear of running up and down the beach in tight, white shorts. But my favorite feature has to be your revolutionary Flexi-Wings. Kudos on being the only company smart enough to realize how crucial it is that maxi pads be aerodynamic. I can’t tell you how safe and secure I feel each month knowing there’s a little F-16 in my pants.

It only gets better from there. Given the fact there is a whole ecosystem of consultants, research firms, academics, agency leaders etc. who specialize in telling the Mr. Thatchers of the world “what women want,” it’s amazing that these tone-deaf marketing efforts crop up so often.

Even with a wife of 29 years and 3 daughters, I don’t profess to know what women want.But here’s a suggestion:

Pretend you’re talking to a guy.

Whatever you lose in feminine sensibility, you will avoid sounding like a pandering, condescending idiot. If men had menstrual cramps, saying “Have a happy period, bro” would get you killed.

Here’s to you, Mr. Bounce-it-by-Billingsley!

I’ve got a new campaign that’s flapping its wings furiously, trying to get off the ground, and if it succeeds, it will be because of a client.

We bitch about clients when they kill or maim good work. But we forget what a Herculean task they have if they actually embrace our vision. The layers. The “stakeholders.” The politics. The bean-counters. The lawyers. The processes. The sheer inertial mass of a huge organization that needs to be overcome.

And there, slogging through it with our precious idea in his hand, is our client, in his soul-crushing, Orwellian office park with little more to help him than his belief in our idea and his own sheer tenacity.

How often does it happen? Not very. Then again, how often do we do work that justifies his thankless journey?

“I think it needs kids or animals.


I’ve gone dark for a few weeks. Never a good blog-viewership move.

Why? I’m speechless.

Here are some things I’m speechless about:

Ad Age asking Julie Roehm to be on an expert panel.


The SpongeBob square bootie thing for Burger King.

Bank of America corporate advertising.

Republican “Tea Parties.”

The Celebrex :60 legal disclaimer spot.

When the bile rises high enough in the gorge, words can no longer escape.

My fishmonger is better than your agency copywriter.

Seen this morning driving up 49th Street:


Show the work first.

Here’s an idea.

Show the work first. Then get the strategy approved.

I know it’s not gonna happen. But it would save so much aggravation.

This is not quite the same thing as Mark Fenske’s “no one ever wrote a good ad by looking at a strategy.”

It’s more “No client ever looked at a strategy and had any idea what kind of advertising it would lead to.”

Showing the work first would lead to better strategies. And fewer tears.

Hello world!

Welcome to This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

The real 800-lb. gorilla

Eric Webber’s excellent recent post on the triumph of cheesy commercials like the Snuggie and ShamWow spots and the Cash4Gold Super Bowl ad highlight the difficulty of justifying huge production budgets, especially in these cash-strapped times. As Eric and his commentators pointed out, insanely expensive but crappy commercials like the new Bank of America campaign, financed on the taxpayer’s dime, don’t help.

But for all the talk about budget woes and ROI as the reason clients push back on pricey top-drawer production, there’s another factor that never gets discussed. Insurance-peddling primates aside, it’s the real 800 lb. gorilla in the room whenever clients and agency people talk craft and production value.

I’m talking about taste.

Or more properly, the lack of it on the part of many clients.

No one talks about taste because it gets uncomfortably into class issues and reeks of snobbery. It’s undemocratic and toally non-PC. There’s no “your taste” and “my taste.” There’s only good taste and bad taste, and neither correlates in any way whatsoever to people’s intelligence, character or ability. Some of the biggest jerks I know have impeccably curated and art-directed lives, and some of the finest people live in houses decorated by Wal-mart.

But nontheless, taste is real. Agency folk, and especially creatives–tend to have strong aesthetic sensibilities. They can be poor as church mice living in a 400 sq. ft. rathole, but it’ll be the best-looking rathole you’ve ever seen. If they own or wear anything tacky, it will be purely in an ironic way–the irony, of course, being lost on their clients.

Aesthetics is not a driving force in the lives of most American middle-class businesspeople. Work, family, community, church, sports, hobbies…these things come first. And because there is far more tasteless, tacky or just plain uninspiring stuff in this world than there is stylish, authentic and beautiful, the odds are overwhelming that the icky stuff will find its way into these people’s homes and wardrobes.

Nor is it about money. Check out this double-height shrine to bad taste:

Why does this matter? Because part of what you’re buying with a 1st tier director, music house, editor or photographer is his or her taste. Even if you’re lucky to work with a client with good taste (there are some), someone who understands what a Nadev Kandar or Noam Murro brings to the work, you’d be hard pressed to translate it into incremental business results. Now take a client who doesn’t even see the difference.

We all throw up our hands (or have Bob Garfield do it for us) when we look at Cash4Gold and see cheap sets, bad lighting, stilted dialogue and heinous graphics. A lot of clients (not to mention customers) looking at it say, “I’m sorry. What’s the problem?”

That’s the 800 pound gorilla talking. Good luck enlisting his help for your next production.

My bumper sticker is better than your Cannes Press award-winning headline

Seen on on the bumper sticker of a car in front of me Friday:

Don’t believe everything you think.

Who are you going to believe–us or your own eyes?

Seen this afternoon on

Where were we, anyway?


Pretty hard to think about it, let alone write about it, until after the election.
But that didn’t stop Ad Age and Adweek from speculating about “what Obama’s win means for Madison Avenue.”

If it means anything, it’s that telling outright lies doesn’t appear to work as well as it used to. At least, not in the branded candidate space. But that’s getting a little macro. The election’s over. I haven’t felt the need to go to HuffPo or 538 for days. Let’s ratchet it back down to more day-to-day advertising issues.

Here’s one: having the advertiser you were the TV voice of, dive headlong into the crapper. Stockard Channing’s take on AIG’s demise as quoted in New York Magazine: “Guess they didn’t have the strength to be there.” Guess not. Hope she got all her residuals.