Hollywood Visit

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I am going to LA next week to produce a TV commercial and decided to blog about some of the experiences…I am not even there yet and I am already thinking to visit one of its great landmarks.

If there is one landmark that says “Hollywood” to the world – literally! – it is the famous Hollywood Sign, perched high atop Mount Lee, the tallest peak in L.A.

The Sign measures 450 feet long, its mammoth letters are 45 feet high, and it’s visible from all parts of Hollywood. Erected in 1923 as an advertising sign for a real estate development in Beachwood Canyon, the Sign originally read “Hollywoodland.” The last four letters were removed in 1945, after Hollywood had become the world’s movie capital, and the Sign had already become a well-known landmark. (In fact, it’s been officially declared “Los Angeles Cultural-Historical Monument #111.”)

In 1932, during the Great Depression, one despondent young actress, Peg Entwistle, even jumped to her death from the Sign’s giant letter “H.”

The original sign contained thousands of light bulbs, which were changed daily by a caretaker who lived in a small house behind one of the Sign’s giant “L’s.”

And in the 1998 Disney remake of “Mighty Joe Young,” the oversized ape climbs the Hollywood Sign and perches in one of its giant letter “O.”s

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to reach the Sign itself, which is located atop an undeveloped hillside, far from roads. And if you did manage to reach the area, you would discover that the Sign has been fenced in to keep out the curious, and that a new high-tech alarm system has recently been installed.  Boo.

The best way to see the Hollywood Sign is to drive up Beachwood Drive. The Sign is clearly visible most the way up Beachwood, That is where my other “must” visit landmark is located…the Village Cafe or as the locals call it, the Beachwood Cafe.

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Pedigree Super Bowl AD

Pedigree used to do the most boring ads on the planet…this one is cute…

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Seven Reasons to Have a Career in Advertising

Matt Weiss of McCann Erickson Worldwide wrote this…I worked at McCann Worldwide for 17 years and with McCann I traveled the world literally so I added my two cents to his article.

Everyone loves to hate the advertising industry. The TV show “Mad Men” portrays the heyday of advertising as a men’s club of gin-swilling, secretary-exploiting, self-satisfied white men who live in Connecticut and work in a bubble surrounded by dim-witted, loyal clients. My mother loves this show.

Matt works for and I worked for the agency which produces work for Intel, MasterCard, the U.S. Army, Verizon Wireless, L’Oreal, Staples, Weight Watchers and other leading global advertisers.

Advertising might not be as exciting as Man vs. Wild or the NFL playoffs, but it does provide a career path that is more stimulating than Wall Street or the law or many white collar professions.

I love advertising because it is a unique combination of art, creativity, mathematics, industrial psychology, marketing, media and a host of other disciplines.

Here are seven reasons to jump into a career in advertising:

1) You can get a film deal. OK, we are both exaggerating here, but only slightly. The creative environment of advertising does provide a career path to Hollywood for dozens of writers and directors every year, from Michael Bay to the guys who directed the “Cavemen” spots for Geico. Tony Scott, Ridley Scott, David Fincher, my ex boss Phil Dusenberry who wrote the Natural all were great advertising directors.

Fincher Coke TVC when I first came to Japan

I think the best advertising is better than most of the movies and TV shows out there, and you can get paid accordingly. Until you can write screenplays for Steve Carrell or create the next “South Park,” you’ll be having more fun than should be legal.

2) Be the next Steve Jobs. The crazy-ass idea you have for faxing burgers or filling up your car online might just happen tomorrow. The world of advertising, media, the Internet and technology is changing so fast that no one can predict what will happen next month, let alone 10 years from now. You can change the world. (And it beats changing diapers.)

3) Be an outlaw. Renegade thinking and behavior is rewarded. Are you quirky and full of weird ideas? Are you innovative, prone to breaking rules, and feel you always see the world differently than your friends and colleagues? You’ll fit in perfectly at an ad agency.
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Lee Clow of TBWA
4) This is not your parents’ career. Advertising is a youthful business, for people in their 20s and 30s. Your youth is valuable because you are talking to your peers. You can text your friends in a meeting and it will be cool. Well almost lee Clow is close to 65 and he is still creating great work…perhaps in his head he is 20?

5) You’ll never be bored. You actually get paid to surf the net, look at YouTube, talk about “the Office,” diss Britney and Paris, and discuss “American Idol.” You’re involved in every aspect of popular culture. You’ll think on your feet. Your lawyer friends will be sick with envy. You will never have to attend a conference in Brussels.

6) Leave the suits at your parents’ house. The uniform for creatives is t-shirt and jeans. Even the “suits”—the account people—don’t wear suits any more, because they are expected to be an integral part of the creative process. In the summer, you can even wear sandals or flip flops. And there are keg parties on Fridays. Seriously.

7) You’ll be on TV. Your work will be in the world. Your Mom, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your posse, your kids, they will all see what you do. If it’s good work, people will be talking about your work on the subway, on blogs, on TV, in USA Today.. Advertising isn’t brain surgery or rocket science, but it makes an impact. You can be a player. And you’ll never have to wear plaid pants or go near a golf course.

Lee Clow is one of my favorite Ad Men…his agency is TBWA and their office is every ad man’s dream. Conference rooms with surf boards for tables. a real basketball court in the lobby and they do creative work for clients like Apple.
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TBWA in LA

Cadbury TVC Wins the Grand Prix at Cannes

Cannes has always been a great place for movies, directors and actors to get the credit that they deserve. But Cannes also has an advertising award week that is similar to the the Oscars for any ad man around the world. My former company got Agency Network of the year but the top prize went to Fallon a very creative agency in London. Here is the TVC for Cadbury that won the Grand Prix last night.

Activate Takes New Media Idea to the Air

SkyVision is a new very lightweight blimp 40 meters long. Activate can fly this inside a domed stadium using remote control. using the latest in LED technology Activate can broadcast TV messages to almost any location.

When the Packaging is the Product.


Sometimes the packaging is everything in marketing a product and that is certainly the case with this innovative can.

It used to be that the only place to get the authentic taste of GUINNESS® Draught beer was down your local pub or bar. Then, in the late 1980s, GUINNESS® Draught In Cans brought your local pub right into your own fridge. Suddenly, cans were cool again.

It’s the revolutionary widget in the cans that does it. The patented GUINNESS® In-Can System is an ingenious award-winning idea.

A tiny plastic widget jets a stream of bubbles into the GUINNESS® beer when the can is opened. I have to admit even though I am not a Guinness drinker that this is an incredible packaging idea that has rejuvenated the brand Internationally where there is not usually a pub down the street like here in Tokyo.

BBDO captured the magic of the Guinness froth in the TVC shown here called “alive inside.’ The cinematography is incredible.
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Advertising Credibility in Japan

In most capitalistic countries people accept that marketing and communication managers are hired to present a compelling case for a product or service. The communication presented is therefore inherently viewed with a very high-level of cynicism. The marketing professionals that craft this communication come under great degree of scrutiny.

Because the ethics of most of these professionals is generally under attack, today’s clients often view the contribution of these professionals as less valuable than ever before

In addition to this high level of skepticism the media in Japan where I work is very strict about over-claiming in advertising. In Japan no comparative or superlative adjectives can be used. So in Japan no detergent washes whiter, all detergents wash white.

The media are also very cautious about what they consider unfair competitiveness: that is saying or implying anything disparaging about a competitor. The Japanese tend to believe this kind of communication is disrespectful and should be avoided…advertisers steer clear of this anyway convinced that it offends viewer sensibilities.

I think that the most fundamental difference in Japanese advertising is the intent of the communication. Let me illustrate that by showing what I believe is the logic of Western advertising-

Tell them why you are different
Tell them why you are the best
Then they will want to buy

Then they will become hooked on you because they can justify their purchase. In Japan the “logic” of the approach would be quite different…perhaps…Make friends with them

Prove you understand their feelings
Show that you are nice
Then they will want to buy
Then they will find out what’s good about you

This famous eye wear TVC is a great example…it says nothing about Yanno but the TVC certainly shows that Yanno understands the consumer.

This Japanese approach to marketing adds even more credence to client’s claims that communication alone cannot contribute to the success of a product or service. More fundamental dynamics are at work.than strong communication when a product or service is launched successfully.

After carefully analyzing market research to identify the market opportunities a company may have to develop a product, specific to the market with packaging, distribution, and price strategies appropriate to the market. All these tasks are often already completed before an advertising professional takes part in the process. Although the advertising professional can make suggestions for changes to these tasks we often lack credibility in these areas.