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This week Wieden & Kennedy said thanks but no thanks to Starbucks.

Something that rarely happens in the ad biz; agency breaking with client.

And they fired them. Spectacularly. Kicked them to the curb. And then wrote a press release about it.


Apparently, Starbucks had asked all their roster shops to come up with some “business building ideas”. A common request, sure. But also a common wank.

Obviously Starbucks has been doing less-than-great lately, after opening “Starbucks inside of Starbucks inside of Starbucks”. And they needed help.

So they “engaged” and “partnered” with their agencies to try and get the best “business building” ideas.

Anything from ads, to late recipes, to barista babble.

“We just want good ideas”.

But, turns out, it was just a big waste of time.

Starbucks wasn’t interested in anything truly innovative, or “business building” or even “good”.

So Wieden & Kennedy, a current industry “hot shop” (that used-to-be industry “hottest shop”), said, essentially, “go fuck yourself”.

Good for them.

It’s not that clients shouldn’t call on their agencies in this way. They certainly should. Agencies have good ideas. They know the client’s business in a unique way. And they want the client to succeed.

But more often than not, it’s really a “prove you love me” exercise from the client. And a painful death for powerful ideas, which is beyond heartbreaking for any decent agency.

If more shops called out this time-wasting, morale-sucking bullshit, the entire industry would be better off. Because it would force clients to stop crying “wolf”… or, worse, “help!”

The only problem is there’s always some suckup shop out there willing to grab their ankles under the guise of touching their toes, and scoop up the abandoned business.

But that’s the market.

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(Ad Age)

Oh goody.

As someone who works in advertising, and has worked in advertising for well over a decade, this is simply very, very funny.

Ever since I can remember the award shows have been dominated… well, not “dominated”, but something darn close… by ads that were not quite “real”.

Frequently establishing very successful careers for their unscrupulous submitters.

And I’ve certainly had that opportunity, too.

You see, in the “ad world”, our clients routinely kill good work. Sometimes even insanely great work. Work that is not only way, way better than most of the crap you see on TV, and in magazines, but ads that would win us awards, and actually make our client’s product/or/service fly off the proverbial shelves.

Stupid clients.

So why didn’t I do it? Because I don’t cheat, that’s why. And neither do the vast majority of people in the ad industry.

But, alas, some do.

And so now these numbnutz at Saatchi NY and Epoch Films have gotten caught with their greedy little paws in the liquor cabinet, and it’s all the talk of the Ad World.

Now can we please stop giving out awards to FAKE ads already?

There are way too many of us who work in the real world. We actually have these things called “briefs” and “strategies”, and after we work our asses off we have to have our concepts approved by these people called “clients” before they run. Oh yeah, and then they have to actually RUN. And with the client’s permission.

And once, in Sheboygan, in the middle of the night doesn’t count.

Getting work through THAT spanking machine, and emerging on the other side w/something great is worth awards. And, more importantly, it’s worth our respect. But this kind of concept-in-a-vacuum, ad-school fakery should deserve nothing but our scorn. Shame on these charlatan creatives, and shame on the judges. Because we all know full well that they knew exactly what they were giving an award to, and why.

It’s high time this blatant brand of award grabbling be recognized for what it is: cheating.

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If you’ve been watching TV at all in the last two weeks you just might have seen the latest Red Lobster commercial, advertising their “Jumbo Shrimp”.

What’s strange is, although this seems like your ordinary, run-of-the-mill Red Lobster commercial with the nautical imagery and the gratuitously suggestive lemon wedge squrtings… they’ve actually broken new ground in marketing. Yes. It’s true.

Normally, they would call it “Jumbo Shrimp Week” or “Jumbo Shrimp Extravaganza!!!”. And the copy would read something like:

“Come on in to Red Lobster during our Jumbo Shrimp Extravaganza!!! and get all you can eat buttery, golden-broiled shrimp”… blah blah blah.

But, since Red Lobster is now defiantly re-shaping the English language, the copy goes like this:

“Come on in to Red Lobster during Jumbo Shrimp and get all you can eat buttery, golden-broiled shrimp”…

….um, wha?

That’s right. Red Lobster has apparently run out of catchy “event” monikers, and have decided to just go with the proper “sea name” instead. We can look forward to “seabass”, “scallop” “fried clam” and even “cod” sometime in the near future. They were even too cool to simply put the word “week” after the damnd thing. How can we know how long it’s supposed to last?

So it’s “Jumbo Shrimp”. Now acceptable to be used like other terms meaning “extended length of time: eg, “Rhamadan”, “sweeps” or “finals”.

No, not the end of the advertising world. Just. Damn. Weird.

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