Monthly Archives: April 2009

Long Copy for the ApathyisBoring Spec Campaign

My first Long Copy Ad, think it’s good enough for Portfolio Night?



What do you want people to do when they get to your site?



How I'd like my high-end outlets when I shop there--empty!

How I'd like my high-end outlets when I shop there--empty!



I was reading an article that popped up in my google alerts about copywriting today at and one of the questions posed is what the purpose of having websites are for. For a lot of people, it’s basically an online business-card/brochure, and when people get there they ultimately want somebody to buy something. The thing is, people are modelling websites off their retail outlets, when our society has changed enough I think that we should be working the other way around.

This kind of reminds me of the shop experience I had at Harry Rosen last weekend, which I’d been meaning to blog about but completely forgotten. I was wandering the streets of Toronto after a night on the town, the buddy who I was staying with was still passed out and probably on his way to a terrible hangover (thank God I don’t get those), and my copywriter’s curiosity led me to drop into the store, see how the big boys of men’s clothing are doing in this recession and maybe get some decorating inspiration for a client. Here’s the analogy I’d make to the web:

– filling your store with salesmen twiddling their thumbs is like pasting your site full of your own tacky banners, they’re all wearing your clothes or sporting your logos, nobody’s going to think you’re busy, in fact you’ll look like quite the opposite

– while I appreciated the two compliments from the salesman in the basement on my attire (dress shirt, suit jacket, jeans and Ray Ban classic-style shades), the overwhelming number of them who’d come up and ask if I needed help every time I changed a location was like getting hit with a pop-up ad whenever I clicked on something

– nothing says you’re struggling like carrying products that don’t fit your brand image, the pseudo-silk-screened sweaters and canvas trillbys and plaid shirts just screamed mid-life crisis. Harry Rosen appeals to yupsters who want to look successful at the office, and white-collar men who want youthful-yet-classic styles, slim-cut suits and loud patterns should be your nod to current trends. I said nod, not Obama-bow.

– this edgy street stuff doesn’t even fly on casual days and even though they’re in your demographic, your consumers would still rather drop by Urban Outfitters rather than pay over $130 for a frayed fedora. Online it’s like… actually I don’t even know, I’m sure whoever tried it has died or has paid a lot of money to wipe that event from our collective subconscious. Actually, plenty of online brands try this, from Google to Youtube to Facebook, but they’re different, they’re in the R&D tech business, and even so, you don’t see them hawking tacky frayed Kerouac shirts either do you?

These days browsing online and browsing off the street are becoming synonymous. Few people in our generation want personalized service unless they’re actively looking for something. Even then nobody wants to feel like the lone seed in coop full of chickens. A nod from the clerk and they should be allowed to wander. If they need you, they’ll find you.

What do I want my site to be like? Maybe it’s because the Habs are out until next year, but I’ve thought of this place as like me playing pickup hockey. It’s sort of a dream, but the ideal scenario is kind of like in those sports movies where the cigar-chomping manager sees little Maurice launching pucks between two garbage cans in a back alley with his munchkin pals and says “get me that kid, I must have him on my team!”

One can dream right? In the meantime I’m gonna do some more skating.

Apathyisboring campaign posters…

Here are pseudo-campaign posters for the apathyisboring viral-marketing campaign. The idea is two-fold:

1. The posters would be made of real places placed near, but not in, the ridings listed, or we would use fake-but-familiar riding names. People seeing them would assume they were from neighboring ridings, people in the know would probably report something wrong with these and go to the site…

2. The websites listed would take you to fake politicians’ websites where you can do various politically infuriating things (like submit a comment where the response is along the lines of ‘we don’t care’, soon a pop-up appears directing you to apathyisboring. The client would also be listed in the links of ‘people we hate’ on the site and constantly slammed by the politician for trying to be relevant, you’d almost get a sense s/he is afraid of you going.



An alternative tag here might be “A vote for noone is a vote for me!” or “When nobody votes, I can afford sh*t like this!”


Vote Sara-Lee Othelberger ...or not at all. (Either way I keep this job).

Vote Sara-Lee Othelberger ...or not at all. (Either way I keep this job).

website is

As always, thoughts are more than welcome.

ApathyIsBoring is… kinda boring.


Well not really, but with a name like that, these guys are kind of asking for it. Here’s how I’d get them some publicity with a bit of viral marketing…

I heard something really interesting during a youtube interview with Alex Bogusky of CP+B. Part of New Media/Social Marketing is about envisioning a world not too far from our own, this sort of thinking led to the idea of Coke suing CokeZero (in a world where litigiousness goes out of control).

Here, I was thinking about politicians who would take out ads to gloat outside . Since nobody votes anyway, and everybody’s apathetic, these guys and gals in power have decided not to bother persuading us of anything. The nugget of truth in this is that most of us are so cynical this is what we secretly believe they think anyway. The point here is that they don’t even think we’ll do anything about it.

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Gordon Reed


GR: You see, I’m basically the kind of politician everybody hates, because everybody is so cynical about politics. And you know what? They’re right! I love to get in on the freebies, hell I’ll even take the stuff that isn’t. The supply people wonder why the pens keep disappearing, where the paper-clips go, and why there’s never any paper, printing or toilet. People always ask me what the hell happened to the donuts and the coffee. The answer is, basically, me. Actually it’s my interns, I get them to swipe that stuff for me, and why not? It’s the taxpayers’ dime and its not like I’ve got anything else to do for them anyway. Actually >laughs< sometimes I get them to draft ‘policy papers’ for the environment, make ’em as long as possible, then I wave ’em around at the meetings, use them to justify my building this green thing or that, then I chuck ’em out, straight into the trash. It’s fun to be wasteful, like I give a damn.


Kickbacks. Now there’s where the real fun begins. Every once in a while the city gets to decide on a contract, maybe it’s to build a road, sometimes it’s to fix something you assholes broke. You know how this works right? We put out a call to get some offers on the table, then we go with the lowest bidder, some po-dunk company that’s headed by my pal Greg or Al or Bob, it doesn’t matter, as long as they pay me to vouch for them. Then construction starts, and the workers go on strike, and then we pay ’em some more, and then they pay me more. It’s glorious!


The only thing I don’t like about this job is you guys, citizens. You whine and you moan and you cry—wah wah wah—about all your little problems. Then you make me go to your dumb cultural events, have me speaking about crap nobody cares about. Why, if you guys weren’t such suckers, and if it weren’t so easy to fill my pockets here, I’d have gotten out of the politics business a long time ago. C’mon, admit it, you guys love me! >laugh< Actually, you just can’t be bothered to get rid of me, so I keep coming back. Because I may be the guy nobody wants to vote for, but I’m also the guy who gets the job because nobody wants to vote. >laugh<


VOICE: Ever wonder who you vote for by not voting?

Since you’re lost, lemme tell you about this shiny new…

404 error pages seem to be getting more and more confusing these days. It used to be you knew you were in the wrong place because there’d be that text (“404 error the page you requested…”) in that font and immediately your eyes glazed over and your finger clicked back. Nowadays error pages are getting harder and harder to identify as error pages as webmasters try to give a helpful suggestion and a little graphic to tell you they don’t have what you were looking for.

For whatever reason I always see that helpful little graphic as the equivalent of this portly little English bureaucrat-type you would bump into at a mid-sized company/government headquarters in the hallway.

“Oh I’m dreadfully sorry! Well that’s quite alright… hm? Sorry I’m afraid I can’t tell you where office room #432b is, I’m rather in a hurry…. Unfortunately I haven’t the faintest who might know or where you could go to for help, have you tried the front desk? It’s right back where you came from. Yes… Oh I’m sure it must be in this building–well I really must be going, so long!”

And despite all the neat 404 error pages that have popped up, nobody seems to see it my way either…

Sometimes you can’t argue with simplicity. When just about everybody had the same 404 page users automatically knew they were at a dead end. Anything you put up to try to differentiate yourself or entertain the lost user is like sticking an additional ice machine by the side of the road near that dead end, compelling visitors to stop and investigate what’s going on before realizing there’s a giant brick wall behind your cool animated gif and pretty words and turning back. At the very least you are painting on that red brick wall (maybe one of those Wile E Coyote-style roads going off into the distance designed to pancake anybody who’s surfing too fast). Bottom line is you are actually wasting visitor time. I understand the need to be entertained during loading pages, but when I’ve made a mistake the first thing I want is answers, barring that at least tell me immediately to just turn back.

That being said, and because in advertising everybody talks about making negatives into positives, the 404 space, even moreso than the loading space, makes for great advertising opportunity. I think I’ve already seen it done under the auspices of being ‘helpful’. You’ve probably seen them, getting taken to a bogus url with a bunch of banners that ‘suggest’ where you intended to go (looking for Kierkegaard? sorry perhaps you mean ‘PENIS ENLARGEMENT?’ I use this example because, other than your search subject maybe needing what the shill was offering, there is no connection). I would say that’s about as pleasant as asking for directions and getting knocked unconscious, then waking up in that store from Pulp Fiction, possibly with a sore butt.

No, I’m saying that the 404 page is a great place to apply the Big Idea because people’s guards are down just long enough for you to gauge and keep their interest, maybe you can even offer a button to get them back. Just make sure it isn’t a ‘skip this ad’ link or too easy to find heh heh…

This South Park ad would be a great place to start in my opinion, and could be put in just about any website its demographic visits with some frequency.


I think for the consumer it’ll be a bit like dropping by after dinner to browse the shop whose nice keeper told you where the restaurant was. It exhibits a little more thoughtfulness from a company you know.

Of course, there’s the issue that some customers might never see a 404 ad, because they aren’t supposed to happen. To which I say, that should justify making ad space on 404 pages cheaper, but there should be no competition as to the kind of response you’ll get when someone does get lost. In time this area may be just as polluted as those commercials that come on before movies and banners that pop up after you’ve clicked something, but the target will never be trained to draw his mouse and click-close anything with ‘skip this ad‘ on it.

20 Economist mock-ups for Pete Barry’s “The Advertising Concept Book”

Just something to think about while I wait for approval on the flags and go ahead with the business cards. Please vote on your top 3 favorites. Here are some official ones so you know what the style is like.





1. Because this color shouldn’t be all you see in every argument.

2. Use what comes with our knowledge responsibly.

3. Crooked is no state for your facts to be in.

4. No matter what percentage, what we say affects how you say it.

5. That guy who’s always right? Brought to you by us.

6. If your co-workers don’t talke about us, they’re just trying to stay ahead.

7. The only way to know if blissful ignorance is over-rated.

8. Insert after ‘because’, before ‘therefore’.

9. The checkmate to junior’s incessant ‘why?’ game.

10. Few celebrities/models on our covers. Just muses.

11. We provide the few out of a thousand-worth that really matter.

12. Never say ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ again.

13. Save on ‘forget-me-not’s.

14. Because clothes alone won’t make you.

15. First impressions. We made ours, now it’s your turn.

      15. (b) First impressions. There. Now let’s help you make yours.

16. We make even the weather interesting to discuss.

     16. (b) Even the weather can make for interesting conversation.

17. Why ‘filler’ is what you call all the others.

18. Put the ‘will’ after ‘they’ and say it with confidence.

19. When there’s more to remember, you’ll remember more.

20. Make ‘Y’ the generation for whom you’ll have the answers.

     20.(b) Make ‘why’ the generation you have the answers for.

Please give me your top 3, I’m running an experiment, and will have the results for you in a future post if enough of you respond to this one.

Our generation, where the men are Gatsby and women Golightly.


When people think Audrey Hepburn they think of that coffee cup and those shades and that little black dress andher teeth clenching that cigarette holder. Just about every petite girl I’ve known with a facebook profile will have her on there somewhere, not to mention a bunch of not-so-petite ones. 

While she may have been every college co-ed’s idol since the movie was releases, it’s only recently become apparent that she’s the Gen Y mascot. Here are some honest reasons why:

1. She’s kind of a whore

Call girl, party girl, working girl, lady of the powder room, you name it but you can’t deny that she’s taking money to provide a product at times so hard to find in our existential world: company. And I’m not even talking about the Truman Capote version. Conversely, everybody who is part of a social network with at least one ‘friend’ on it that they can’t list more than 3 things about without consulting his/her profile is net-whoring. Every single one of us loves the attention and secretly hopes we will somehow be lavished with money as a result of this. Same nebulous goals, different times…

2. The Sixties defines our culture

Is it any wonder why Mad Men seemingly has a huge impact on our tastes/preferences? It’s no coincidence that skinny ties, short jackets and snug fits came back shortly after the millennial countdown, it’s 1960 all over again. JFK 2.0 is in the White House, media has created another creative revolution, and drugs + alcohol are being consumed without the nauseating lethargy of the Cobain generation nor the conspicuous crassness of Gordon Gecko’s. Ours is the generation where times are palpably changin’ while we long for the grace and elegance of a bygone era before Bush when things may not have made sense, but they moved slow enough for us to notice.

3. We may be phony, but we know we’re phonies.

Remember when Kurt offed himself because he couldn’t take how disingenuous the whole world had become? Not me, I maintain that his was merely the other end of the typical junkie battle. In deciding the fate of the hardcore addict it’s usually a question between the pocket-book and the pills of which is going to run out first. Usually, the cash goes first and the junkie dies after a depressing career as more than just ‘kind of’ #1 mentioned above. Sometimes their heads are straight enough through the drug haze to get so rich they have more drugs they can possibly handle and they either overdose or eat hot lead in order to get a sensation. That’s the real Kurt Cocaine, but I digress. Point is all of us who’re left after the idealists have gone to hell? We at least realize that we’re hipocrites, and that so is everybody else. We may still be hipocrites, but at least we’re more tolerable ones with this admission. Whatever redeeming quality Holden Caulfield had is found in the fact that he’s willing to overlook everyone’s phoniness along with his own by the end of the book. Hey, nobody enjoys a whiner, shut up and join the party already (see #2).

These are pretty much all you need to be a Holly Golightly, maybe throw in a little more minimalist elegance and some verve. Again, what makes her our idol is less the fact that ever teenage girl thinks she’s pretty, and more the fact that we are fake whores living in a fake world who are okay with this and eager to have fun. The 60s define our era, and we joyfully embrace it. After all the crazy years of ‘soul-searching’ and meaning by our boomer-parents Don Draper sums it up with two penetrating lines, “The universe, is indifferent.” and “Make something of yourself.” The first she knows and the second she follows and together they construct the form-fitting black armor that, despite whatever vituperative critics of past and present have hurled her way, have allowed Holly Golightly to remain.