George Parker: MAA’s 2014 Titanium Dildo Awards

Oh yes indeed, Mike Lee and Jerry Judge have decided, in their wisdom, over numerous bursting troughs of exotic Italian nosh, all washed down by gallons of Pinot Grigio, then unquestionably chased by numerous thimblefuls of “hold your nose and chug the fucker” Italy’s answer to battery acid, Grappa, that Droga5 is their wholehearted choice as the winner of MAA’s US Agency of the Year Award. Something, I actually agree with, even though I was somewhat pissed not to be invited to partake in their “Festa Gastronomica.”

olgagoldmood_0However, because, as you all know, I am a fucking Prince, I have volunteered to grace the readers of MAA with something even gnarlier, less circumspect and generally up to the Kick – em –in –the – Balls, standards of AdScam. So, here are the first annual, (and, I am quite sure, maybe the last) Titanium Dildo Awards.

Please be aware, that the TDAs (left) are not awarded specifically to agencies, holding companies, campaigns, ads, or even artisanaly curated holistic examples of viral/native/data/boola/whatever. No, they are awarded by the jury (that’s me!) for stuff that causes me to gag on my Fourth Reich Potato Vodka as I peruse the “Tubes” in search of insanely great advertising. Kudos for anyone who can come up with the derivation of that. Naaa, fuck it. And never stop wondering why we have descended to such a level of mediocrity.

 

TDA 1: Wieden+Kennedy never ceases to amaze me with their ability to do great work, immediately followed by embarrassing stuff you would never want to own up to being responsible for. Over the years they have done tons of remarkable shit. Nike is a given. The only way they could lose that biz is if someone puts a bullet through Phil Knight’s head. Then they came up with Kraft’s “Lusty Smithy” shagging gob-smacked housewives over his steaming anvil.

OK, they deservedly lost Kraft. Now we are advised that “Ad-Wankers” are braver than firemen, astronauts, and “Hurt Locker” bomb deposal experts – Wot, no CIA interrogators? Not only is this a stupid idea, it is demeaning to people who put their lives on the line… Not for the sake of a fucking Andy Award… But because they do it as a dedicated calling, and for a lot less money than Ad-Wankers. Aaaargh. David must be spinning under the Chateau Touffou turf!

 

TDA 2: CP+B, which has garnered lots of publicity when winning the Infiniti account after a ten year shoot out that cost all the contenders mega millions they will never recoup. But, that’s par for the course these days. I have it on good authority from my always infallible AdScam “deep-throats” that at the end of the never ending search process, it all came down to who was prepared to work for a quarter bowl of rice, rather than the now normal, half a bowl of rice. Even weirder, the frat/fart boys at CP+B announced they will open a Shanghai office to better service the Chinese market, but the entire account will be handled out of the Boulder office.

I’m sorry; pour me another Fourth Reich Potato Vodka while I process that! Oh, now I get it, the creative’s kerchief wearing dogs wandering round Shanghai, might end up in the rice bowl. Yeah, I know, that’s fucking Korea! Sorry. Animal-Phobic joke… Or, Fourth Reich vodka!

 

TDA. 3: Victors & Spoils. Remember them? Yet another spin-off from CP+B after Alex decamped to “The Shed” to drink tea with the Dalai Lama and change the world. V&S was the world’s first “crowdsourcing ad agency.” Hundreds of wannabe Mad Men could send in wild and wacky ideas for posted client campaigns, and if you were lucky and got one of your wild and wacky ideas selected, you’d get a check for fifty dollars. If you weren’t, you got fuck all.

One of their first clients was Harley Davidson. Some genius came up with a campaign that had people riding around in cages, or something equally fucking dumb. The client ran it for three months. Then a light bulb came on in his Hells Angel tattooed head, and he thought… “Hello, why am I paying big bucks to these frat boys in Boulder, when I can crowdsource creative directly myself?” So, he did… Yeah, the work still sucks, but it’s cheaper than putting it through V&S. Just don’t tell V&S… ‘Cos that would destroy their entire business model. Last I heard, V&S was just another agency inflating the real estate market in Boulder.

 

TDA 4: FCB Chicago. Note, I said Chicago, not the entire FCB operation. Carter Murray has taken over the reins from Howard “We are creating the Agency of the Past” Draft, and Laurence “Report to me in the Corner Gym” Boschetto, and is doing a sterling job in steering the Exxon Valdez of BDAs away from the rocks of advertising irrelevance.

Firstly, he had the good sense to hire Lee Garfinkel (disclosure… My mate) to run FCB/New York; I expect to see good shit coming out of that office shortly. Then, for some mind-bendingly insane reason, he decided to retain the services of Jonathon “Idgy” Harries, the creator of the Draft/FCB “Creative Rumble.” This is the guy who hired Todd Tilford and his “Adventure Team” to create some of the most abysmal work on the face of the planet for retail client Kmart. Yes, I am referring to Ship my Pants – Jingle Balls – Slap my Belly – Pregnant Hip-Hoppers, culminating in the just released Masters of Madness.

In which an imbecilic Mom and Dad (perhaps the spot was directed by Rid as Dad appears to have a baby growing out of his chest, a la Alien) freak out in the parking lot because they can shop on line, then drive to the store and pick their shit up. Which just happens to be a totally unique service every other store in America already offers? No wonder Kmart is planning to close nearly 300 stores in 2015. Perhaps FCB should consider doing the same in Chicago.

 

TDA 5: This is the final award; the Dilithium Crystal Coated Titanium Dildo, Cap’n. Readers of AdScam should not be surprised that I have decided to award this prestigious prize to the ad biz in general as recognition that for over forty years, it has proceeded to slide down the shit encrusted pipes of the bookies toilet in Trainspotting!

article-2645142-1E5ED93600000578-199_634x779After the great days of the sixties and seventies, both in the US and the UK, the rot set in during the early eighties, when in the middle of yet another economic slump, Mary Wells (left), of all people, said… “Hard times require hard advertising.” She then turned Wells Rich Greene, into a facsimile of the Rosser Reeves, Ted Bates swill pail of the fifties, before cashing out and jetting off to her villa on Cap Ferrat.

Since then we have had numerous “Agencies of the Future” who have promised to change everything by blowing up the silos and knocking down the walls. Unsurprisingly, most of them have ended up being “Agencies of the Past,” whilst the walls and silos continue to block my view of the King Cole Bar at the St Regis. Back in my Mad Man days, everyone knew that advertising was an unquantifiable, snake oil, smoke and mirrors business. Because, unless you were in direct marketing, no one had a clue whether the millions you were blowing on advertising, actually worked.

However, I believe that, after the creative revolution of the sixties, a lot of it, did indeed work. Simply because the master craftsmen of the business in those days recognized that the audience actually had the perspicacity to understand reasonable and rational arguments, which were interestingly and, sometimes, humorously presented. As David O once said… “The consumer isn’t a moron, she’s your wife.” And as Bill Bernbach, the archetypical master of modern advertising also put it so well… “Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make.”

Unfortunately today, impressions are not quantified in terms of how successfully you persuade potential customers to buy the stuff you are pedaling; they are now merely impressions, likes, pokes, virals, nods, wanks, whatever. Furthermore, they are wrapped up in tautological and obfuscating language that goes on and fucking on about data, big, small, metric, holistic, curated, whatever. But, anyway you look at it… It is still all wrapped up in smoke, mirrors, snake oil and bullshit.

At least, back in my Mad Man days, we had a damn good time drinking, smoking and shagging the chairman’s daughter on the conference room table, than the miserable fuckers in the business do today.

So, there you have it. The first and probably last Titanium Dildo Awards ever. See you in the King Cole Bar at the St Regis. You’re buying!

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About George Parker

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George Parker has spent 40 years on Madison Avenue. He’s won Lions, CLIOs, EFFIES, and the David Ogilvy Award. His blog is adscam.typepad.com, which is required reading for those looking for a gnarly view of the world’s second oldest profession.” His latest book, Confessions of a Mad Man, makes the TV show Mad Men look like Sesame Street.

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    Oh… And for all the masochists out there. Today is the tenth anniversary of AdScam. Ten years of Ad Bullshit, Hitler Wednesdays and Kate “Preferably Naked” Moss. How do I fucking do it?
    Cheers/George