Branding Yourself Is A Pain In The Ass.

9 07 2009

I have a torn and twisted paper towel taped to a wall in my office. It came from a bathroom floor in a dive I frequent. A drunken slum soldier had just been ousted by security from his face down rapture on the bathroom floor. A floor which represented as close to the bottom as I allow myself to get these days. And so when I spied this paper towel, I had to have it. I had to take it back to the Hollywood Hills and tape it to the wall over my iMac and scrawl in black Sharpie, “The Bottom.” So as not to forget.

This was the start of my current self-branding phase. Any brand worth branding has to start with the truth. The truth about the Harry Webber brand is that if it is not successful, my ass could end up on somebody’s bathroom floor. Rock fucking bottom.

Once you have a clear idea of what is at stake for the brand then you can accurately identify your obstacles. Those liabilities can then be overcome.

The first obstacle is finance. Is there enough money, time, talent to do it right? If the answer is no, stop right there. You only have one opportunity for your brand to make a first impression. If the impression is bootyass, then I strongly suggest you pass. If there is a chance in hell you can pull it off then, as Seth Godin advised me on last weekend, “Go for it, Harry.”

My brand objective is simple. I want Harry Webber to become synonymous with the new improved advertising practices of the 21st Century. To accomplish this I have chosen to reinvent Advertising. So, my tag line is short and catchy. “Harry Webber Is Reinventing Advertising.” There it is. A simple declarative statement designed to stick permanently in the memory banks for all who read it. People are not products. They have to be branded like a service industry.

A personal brand needs to tell everybody why they should give a shit about you. e.g. “Harry Webber created “I’m Stuck On Band-Aid Brand.” (Yawn) “So what?” you say. OK, how about “Harry Webber Is Reinventing Advertising?” Yeah, it’s about time somebody did something. Advertising sucks. However when you do this: “Harry Webber created “I’m Stuck On Band-Aid Brand and now he is reinventing Advertising” you may have something that will get Marketing decision-makers (the ones with bucks) to say, “Tell me more.”

That’s why it’s important to consider who the audience for your self-branding effort is BEFORE you set your objective in stone. Who are they? what do they want/need? How can I best give/sell it to them? Tossing these questions around for a month is a good place to start.

Next comes the package. That would be you. Or in my case, me. I started walking two miles every day. To drop the weight and build stamina. I shaved my head (in tribute to Georg Olden) and grew a beard and moustache) to signal a brand “redesign.” I started commenting on industry blogs to build readership for my principal media platform…the one you are currently reading. And last but not least, I rebuilt my website.

The biggest challenge/pain in the ass in the whole personal rebranding process is coming up with an adequate reason for doing it all in the first place. I had done alright for myself as a high-priced hired gun in the agency business. But more and more of my work was “think” oriented, as opposed to “art” or “copy” assignments. And considerably more than half of my clients were “clients” as opposed to “agencies.” It was time for the portfolio site to go. Time for the Brain For Rent site to emerge. And so it has. only has one job. Brand support. When somebody reads that “Harry Webber Is Reinventing Advertising” they may (or may not) want to find out what makes this guy think he can pull that off. The brand support for that claim is found at “Harry Webber Knows.” And page after page of accomplishments in advertising, entertainment, technology, the web, media, education and advanced practices. It gives me a headache just thinking about it. But like the Sunday NY Times, you don’t have to read it all. But it’s good to know it’s there. And for those who still need to see the latest creative stuff, there’s a link to in the navigation.

Now that that is done I can go back to the beach.

Be Careful What You Do. ‘Cause The Lie Becomes The Truth.

3 07 2009

Once upon a time I was King of New York. King of New York for an entire week of my life. The week of August 4th, 1984. During that week my phone rang off the hook, but I was never there. Messengers piled rum and expensive scotch on the front desk of my condo’s lobby on 5th Avenue and 58th Street between the Plaza and the Park Lane. People sent limos to pick me up for breakfast, dinner and a number of lunches a day.

This was the week of the Jackson Victory Tour. And I had 100 promo tickets to give away. There were only 19,000 seats to be filled in two instantly sold out shows at Madison Square Garden, the most intimate venue in the 55 concert North American tour. To say these orchestra seats were in extreme demand would be the understatement of this century and the next.

I had organized and reorganized the list. I would have every creative director on Madison Avenue eating out of my hand if I played my cards right. And then the letter came from Ladonna Jones. And the hasty press conference we had to throw together in 24 hours. And Micheal’s statement:

“I want to talk to you about something of great concern to me. We’ve worked a long time to make this show the best it can be. But we know a lot of kids are having trouble getting tickets. The other day I got a letter from a girl in Texas named Ladonna Jones. She’d been saving her money from odd jobs to buy a ticket, but with the current tour system, she’d have to buy four tickets and she couldn’t afford it. So, I’ve asked our promoter to work out a new way of distributing tickets, a way that no longer requires a $120.00 money order. There has also been a lot of talk about the promoter holding money for tickets that didn’t sell. I’ve asked our promoter to end the mail order ticket system as soon as possible so that no one will pay money unless they get a ticket. Finally, and most importantly, there’s something else I am going to announce today. I want you to know that when I first agreed to tour, I decided to donate all the money I make from our performances to charity.”

That was the Michael Jackson I knew. The “Young Man” ( his code name for security purposes) who would pace like a caged cat back stage, going over every cue, every pause, every single beat. “No, no, no. On the second coda. At the turnaround. Layout the horn stabs. I want to put an off mike scream in that hole.” That was the Micheal Jackson I knew. So when Michael ended his statement, I headed straight for Fox Street in the South Bronx with my block of tickets. Half to the cops and the church. Half to the kids. Ten to the people I knew would never forget the experience.

The Michael Jackson I knew could do that to you. Make you reconsider your motives. Rethink your strategy. “It’s impossible. Why can’t we do it?” Michael would say like a kid conspiring to get you to run through a tunnel with him when you knew a train would be coming out the other end any minute now. But off you’d go.

It was several years later in Bob Jones’s basement helping him build his model train empire that I learned there were many influences that had pulled on Michael to step into the surreal world of image reinvention. Michael believed that the music for “Thriller” was “touched by the hand of God.” He would talk for hours with author Og Mandino about devine inspiration and the solumn responsibilities that went with it.

During the filming of “The Wiz” in New York City, Michael fell under the influence of the designer Halston and the idea of “being transformed” became an obsession. That and the acne and vitaligo outbreaks drove him to plastic surgery. Halston read Michael the Oscar Wilde classic “The Picture Of Dorian Gray.” From that an idealized portrait was commissioned. Halston called it “Prototype #9.” It was the blueprint of what the world would ultimately behold as Michael Jackson. And it was Bob Jones who created the public persona of “Wacko Jacko” and the sleeping chamber and “Elephant Man” press orgies that took the image into hyperdrive.

But on the night of August 4, 1984 there was only one thing on the minds of on all 19,000 of us jammed into Madison Square Garden. When would “Working Night and Day” be over? We had cheered and clapped and toe tapped our way politely through 14 golden oldies of the Jackson Five and Off the Wall Eras. Truth be told, few people were there for the old songs.

And then it was done. The house went dark. Just enough time for a frantic wardrobe change in total darkness. The first sign of life from the darkness were the apocalyptic power chords of Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstein EVH Stratocaster. The darkness erupted into a blaze of light and where five had stood only moments earlier there was only one. Frozen in time. Then suddenly alive and electric. As the tempo of “Beat It” ramped up, the silver sequined rail thin figure was all over the stage at once. He had us up out of our chairs, then on top of our chairs, then suspended in mid air chanting, “Beat It! Beat it! Beat it!”

Those of us in the front got to see what no one else saw. The eyes of the Young Man. Wild one moment, lazer sharp the next. “They’ll beat you. They’ll cheat you. They’ll tell you it’s fair just beat It,” he ordered us. Then begged us. “Just beat it!” And from that moment forth, we believed that we could. No video could compare to being 20 feet away. No 125 track vinyl could contain the greatest solo of the VanHalen legacy.

But just three years later we all knew we had to help MJ beat it. My job was to help Bob Jones devise a “signature” for Michael. Like most of my collegues at Motown, Michael and Bob were proud of what I accomplished after leaving Motown and when they brought me back from time to time I was always handsomely compensated.

Unlike many of my collegues I will respect my non-disclosure agreements as to the nature of my work with Bob and Michael other than to say “The King of Pop” became an overnight global brand. The result of my work and my willingness to answer the red and gold cell phone with only one number in the memory chip at any time of day or night led to many, many amazing conversations that would go on for hours at a time. And every conversation would begin with. “Band-Aid,” (my security code name) you’re on the clock. Is this a good time?” I had been well briefed by Bob Jones that I was never to imply this was a bad time or the calls would cease, forever.

In 1984 I had no idea of the storm to come. Like everybody else in the Garden that night I was heart pounding to the devil’s own base line. You know the one. The backbone of every pop hit since 1984. Dum, dum, dum, dum, dum, dum, dum, dum, (repeat and vamp) Yeah, that’s the one. The one that has been playing around the clock somewhere in the world since the minute his departure was sanctified by CNN. 19,000 people churping “Boop-Boop!” “Boop-Boop!” “Boop-Boop!” “Boop-Boop!” And then that voice. That falsetto tenor. Cutting through the smoke from the fucking fog machines. Backlit by the lasers. That face from another planet burning itself into your memory banks because you knew you had never be that close to a god in your lifetime. This was not to be forgotten.

And it hasn’t been. I only want to share these moments with you in this feeble attempt to pay my respects to the greatest performer that ever lived. And say to all that will read this, even though the worst is yet to come. Please remember the following words when the snakes slither out from all of their rocks to feed on the flesh of their fallen idol.

Michael Jackson was a vibrant, spontaneous force of nature who lived for the opportunity to perform for his audience. If he wasn’t performing or preparing to perform he was despondent and totally self indulgent. Michael had no friends. He only had heroes. Steven Speilberg was a hero. When Speilburg was one of the first to turn away from him when the molestation accusations began, Michael was distraught. Dissappointment turned into distrust. Distrust to acute paranoia.

But never did any of that effect his adoration of children. He envied their innocence. He coveted the shelter afforded by their families. He told me that he befriended these children because as their friend he felt safe and protected by their parents. Most of the infamous “sleepovers” took place at the homes of the children. Michael confided that he would never scar those children the way he had been scarred. He told me once that the worst thing you could do to a child is to make him a party to a secret. “Secrets are the enemies of innocence,” he said in a late night phone call. “They come between a child and their parents. Secrets are a sin.”

These are not the thoughts of a predator. They are not the thoughts of a monster. I have seen real live monsters in this business. Michael was a master manipulator but not of the innocence of children. In my opinion Michael Jackson was the boy who never grew up. And we crucified him as his punishment for being that “Lost Boy. That Peter Pan..

Father forgive them. They know not what they’ve done.


Moving Too Fast to Keep Up.

25 06 2009
I haven’t been getting a lot of sleep lately. What with attempting to reinvent Advertising at IAPIA and helping America reinvent General Motors at Smart, my dance card has been fully punched this week. Overlay that with the mother of all cold bugs and the stewardship of laying down new rosewood floors on the entire ground floor and you have life at the speed of chaos.

Then in the middle of all of this, my partner Angela Glenn kicks in with “Look, you’re either on Twitter or your not.” Uh boy. I didn’t like the sound of that the minute I heard it. Reluctantly I responded in the affirmative. Within 24 hours her forces at Gasp had had established Twitter feeds for IAPIA, Smart, HarryWebber and WeOwnGM. And AG had fully developed “Twitegies” (as opposed to strategies) for each feed. Now all I have to do is write five 140 character gems every day on top of all of the other flotsam and jetsam associated with being moi. Will I even be able to keep up? Which leads neatly into the question of the day. Will I even be able to keep up with the work load if I can’t keep up with the technology that is supposed to help me keep up with the pack?

I have more than too many friends who have overly concerned themselves with making sure they had the latest upgrades and plugins and digital feeds at work and then somehow also seeing to it that their systems at home were equally well provided for. Then comes the pink slip. Now they are back to working on CS2 and discovering the joys of being of “reverse incompatible.”

And now, “keeping up” is so much more involved. Not only are there the latest hardware and software upgrades, but now we have to keep up with the stuff going on in the cloud. Then there are the “best practices” associated with all of this stuff. Now that I understand how Twitter works, I have to understand how to work Twitter. And all of those other little do-dads like Feed Burner and NewsGator and Shrook and god knows what comes next. Who are these people who have time for all of this intake?

But it’s my job, not just to keep up, but to stay out in front of the curve. And, as complexity multiplies exponentially from minute to minute, it becomes harder and harder to know where the curve is. Or the bleeding edge. Or the pack. So I do what every other pundit or soothsayer or so-called visionary does. I give it my best guess.

And that’s not even the hard part. The hard part is realizing all of the stuff you will never understand (like action script and CSS) and realizing that your ability to become self sufficient in a digital world is becoming less and less practical. Html4 will completely nullify my ability to build my own websites with Dreamweaver as ActionScript has crushed my ability to work in Flash. Who has time to run a business and learn a programming language? As self sufficiency goes down your cost of business goes up. That’s why God created the small legion of IAPIA vampires and night-stalkers that volunteer their time and talents to take up the technoslack.
So now I “sketch” in Dreamweaver and test for architecture and usability, knowing full well I will soon need the skills of a PhP or Drupal programmer. Our recently launched is a working “sketch” of what we hope it to be. But we all know it will never hold muster with its hybrid html/wordpress architecture. But at least we can test it for functionality.

Alas, I’ve taken entirely too long for this writing task. Angela just sent me her editorial corrections on the content for the new website. And she’s tapping her toe for this drivel to be done so I can get back to generating more tweets for her new Twitter empire. Which is why you’re getting this rag on Wednesday night instead of Wednesday morning.

On A Clear Day You Can’t See General Motors.

24 06 2009

The reason why; it’s just too damn big. If anybody needed a crash course in Adaptive Branding it is “Generally Moribund.” But that’s what everybody is saying. In a recent article in Automotive News, Mike Jackson, who left GM two years ago after seven years, pulled no punches in a recent guest column in Automotive News entitled “GM Must Overhaul Marketing.” In an interview with Advertising Age elaborating on the column, Mr. Jackson, now a partner in digital agency SarkissianMason, New York, said the automaker’s U.S. operations have too many layers for approval of marketing ideas.

During his tenure at the automaker, Mr. Jackson said that “there were no meetings where people just sat down, had a discussion and made a decision”. Mr. Jackson also was critical of GM for putting engineers and finance people with no marketing training in key marketing positions.

All of this adds up to “ho-hum work” being perpetuated throughout the product development and marketing process. Fritz Henderson thinks so, and is determined to prove that his 25 years with General Motors is an asset, not a liability, as he tries to lead a turnaround at the auto giant. Mr. Henderson, 50, became G.M.’s chief executive after his boss and mentor, Rick Wagoner, was forced out in March by President Obama’s special auto task force, according to the New York Times.

Since then, Mr. Henderson has been trying to overcome any perceptions that he cannot make the tough changes G.M. needs to survive. G.M. historically has rarely fired or forced senior executives out, preferring to move them into smaller roles or usher them quietly into retirement, according to the Times. “We need a simpler structure,” Mr. Henderson said. “You’re going to see fewer familiar faces around here.” For Mr. Henderson, the clock is running on whether he can prove he can lead G.M. to prosperity. Ultimately, that will be decided by consumers and whether they buy G.M. vehicles that the company has promised to improve.

In the short term, Henderson will have to impress G.M.’s new majority owner — the federal government — and a revamped board. If the current “Reinvention” corporate mia culpa campaign is any indication of this new thinking, we will be watching the sun set on America’s largest corporation.

The work I was engaged in at Wells, Rich, Green during the early 1980s had much of the same marching orders. But our “Quality Is Job 1” campaign rose to the occasion and was credited by Ford CEO, Phillip Caldwell as “pulling us back from the edge” with the American automotive market. Now I have no intention of adding to the Greek Chorus that has been throwing mud on the Deutsch-created “Reinvention” work. The work speaks for itself. But I will say this as a GM shareholder and Corvette owner; confidence is low.

So just like I did when my Coca-Cola shares started swirling down the porcelain bowel that is Wall Street, I intend to do my share to move the needle. Our “Cool American” campaign made the New York Times and put this publication on the map. So if you can hook ‘em once, you should be able to hook ‘em twice. The big diff between the Coke campaign and attacking the issues surrounding GM is that the Vampire Brainiacs at IAPIA are a lot smarter than my hard-drinking Hollywood buddies who were throwing together ad-hoc campaigns at the drop of an RFP. As an IAPIA project we have a lot more resources to draw on. But enough of a build up. Take a look for yourself. Visit and share some of that brilliance of yours for a worthy cause. The survival of the last living, breathing dinosaur.

The City That Spawned The Age Of Advertising

10 06 2009

Editor’s Note: Harry is on vacation this week. Here is one of his favorites from days gone by.

Once upon a time in a place far, far away, there was a mystical city. A city that only came out at night. During the day the city went by its Native American name. Manhattan. But the moment twilight began to fall, this throbbing metropolis took on a whole new persona.

As darkness enveloped its slate and marble spires, it emerged as Gotham. Her perspective became rakish. Her color palette slipped into the blues and deepest of purples. Her style, decidedly Deco. Yes, as Manhattan had been steel beam powerful and glass and concrete masculine, Gotham was decidedly femme fatale.

Two sides of a coin flipped on a billion dollar decision. Gotham will always win my heart. Gotham is the sleek reflection of the Chrysler Building in the in the black diamond finish of yet another long, black limousine, silently gliding past Grand Central Station. Gotham is the string of pearls made up by the round street light globes aglow in the post midnight mists of grand Central Park. Gotham is what they speak of when they whisper of the Stork Club, the Copa or, 21. Gotham oozes the music of Cole Porter, Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin.

How is it that I come by my fondness for New York at night? Because I never got to leave any agency I ever worked on on Madison Avenue before 2 a.m. From Young & Rubicam down on 40th & Madison, to Wells, Rich, Greene up at 59th and Madison, I never got to go home with the crowd. Me? I got to go home with the cleaning Crew. Just another slave in the media mines.

New York considers the souls of it’s advertising folk as one of its five basic food groups. In fact the city invented the advertising industry just to provide itself with a late night snack. All of us then, just like all of us now, believe that to survive, we must give our life to our agency. For we know that our agency will devour it gladly. Bones and all.

And as we slip out of our darkened buildings and slink into our yellow taxi hearses or down into the subway veins of the beast we feed on, some thing whispers to us. “Suckers.” But of course we fail to heed such whispered taunts.

Are we not, masters of all media? Do we not create the bearings upon which the wheels of global commerce roll? Are we not the minds that make the world go around, the world go around, the world go around? Another whisper taunts us as IRTs thunder past in the catacombs below. Up from the steel subway grates it comes. Faint but clear. “Pitiful.”

And home we go to our overpriced condo closets, stuffed with our must have web toys. We mindlessly pound our selves into a sweat, entangled in the waxed and willing limbs of our partners of the moment, Then we slip into slumber, perchance to dream…about advertising.

Meanwhile Lady Gotham is still churning up our lives. Our world is not Gershwin or Porter, but that world, still awake, defines our fate as we slumber. Our client, being wined and dined by another of our breed, has been convinced by the lady in blue kneepads to “realign” his account, to her agency. Our jobs just died in our sleep.

And as the dawn patrol of garbage trucks and streetsweepers begin their rounds, the city begins to stir. Gotham raises her veil and vanishes into the mists of countless manhole covers. And beneath the first feat of Manhattan’s morning, the ground begins to vibrate with the sound of the subways again reborn. Soon the entire city will begin to pulsate with the life of yet another day.

It takes a 60 day notice for us to fall from grace into “On the street.” But it matters not. Our headhunters and slave traders assure us that this is just a career hiccup.

Funny, this doesn’t look like Gotham. Could that be because now it’s 2am in Pittsburgh. And you are still at work, in this throwback to the forties agency your “agent” sold you down the river to, (where the President’s wife is the Creative Director) It takes every ounce of skill you have as a trained professional, not to use your belt to garrote her out of existence.

But you are determined to bring your brand of “New York Edge” to the greater Pittsburgh metro. They are paying you a shitload more money than you were making back in Gotham, and they got you a 16 room house in Carnegie Hills as a signing bonus. After a year you’ve put your Creative Director on maternity leave and slipped neatly into her corner office,( with the husband’s blessings) which you are have redone to match Alex Kroll’s digs back at 285 Madison.

You’ve joined the Pittsburgh One Club and chaired three awards committees so far. Everybody wants their work to have that “;New York Edge” to it, so naturally you’ve gotten seven or eight of your beached buddies to come out to “Perfect Pittsburgh” ( your award wining homage to “I Love NY”) to work. So you vote for their work, they vote for your work and the “Gotham Mafia” becomes a beautiful thing.

Then the President has the DNA test results from his future ex-wife along with a tearful confession of how she was lead astray by that “New York asshole”. Pittsburgh doesn’t seem so perfect any more.

Others of your breed have also migrated to the four corners of the continent. And with them, the so-called “New York Edge” that you were counting on to get you on the next thing smoking. That hot little Bennington’s waitress you are about to be divorced by is keeping the house in the “Gray Flannel Scandals,” as they’re calling it at the Pittsburgh One Club.

But it’s all good. You get a tip that they just might need a little “New York Edge” in the City of Long Beach,

On Being Your Own Cheerleader.

4 06 2009

I have a terrible cold. The stuff that is coming out of my lungs has set a new low for disgusting color palettes. I don’t sleep, I drowse from coughing jag to coughing jag.

So, the past week has been more or less an endless spewfest of pain, nausea, doctors, x-rays, inhalers and flem. It was also the opening of the fiscal year for Smart. Our 23rd to be exact. Two years shy of a quarter century.

This is the week I dread most in the 52 to come or the 52 that have past. This is the week I set aside to determine the course of the company for the coming year. Or even if there will be a course of the coming year. In fact, every year for the past four years that has been the first agenda item. Will the company continue it’s operations for the coming year or become inactive.

For the past three years I have elected to keep Smart on the inactive list, while I focused my efforts on Gasp and IAPIA. Both have proven to be worthwhile investments of time and resources. But now it’s time to get back to work.

So as of June 1, 2009 Smart Communications, Inc. is back in business. And exactly what is that business? I thought you would never ask. Smart is now the World’s Very First NeoAdvertising Agency. Tah and also DA!

OK. That’s over. I believe in getting the easy stuff out of the way, early on. Because now that I went and told everybody, I am actually going to have to make a viable business model out of being “the World’s Very First NeoAdvertising Agency”. Like, what does that mean exactly? And, how does that work? Let’s not forget, Does anybody even want to do this NeoAdvertising stuff? These are the hard questions that come up right after the easy stuff is out of the way. Hard questions require easy answers. My answer is, “Let’s find out.”

That’s where the cheerleading comes in. The business imperative for Smart is to make NeoAdvertising “Real”. That’s it. Migrate the reinvention of advertising from a marketing and self-promotion platform to a viable product/service offering. Once again a simple statement to describe a highly complex endeavor with an unproven value proposition. So the first Cheerleading task is to fire up the troops to identify a viable value proposition based upon performance not promise. In other words , build it and they will come. The right cheer can make all the difference in the world. Cheerleading is a form of NeoAdvertising.

The primary difference between a NeoAdvertising Agency and a Traditional or Digital advertising agency, is that the Neo ad firm is in the audience building business and the others are not. So first up for us is to build a hell of an audience for our very first client. And like the Verizon Guy, trot our audience over to the Brand we built them for and say, “Let’s make a deal.”

Audience building requires network building. NeoAdvertising works on the premise that there are no consumers, customers or prospects. There is only the audience and they are advertising immune.

The NeoAdvertising audience has four basic spheres of interest. Family Well-Being. Financial Security, Personal Growth and Fun and Escape. Through highly focused sponsor produced content networks, NeoAdvertising engages with and influences the advertising immune audience and therein establishes on-going brand preference and topical brand equity. It says so right here on the label. Right next to this big red button.

Let the games begin.

Battle Fatigue On The Road To “New.”

18 03 2009

A friend of mine told me she had been reading through the MadAve archives and noticed a decided difference in the writing I was doing in the Fall of 2005 and the tone of voice of the current articles. My editor, Angela Glenn, agreed fully and said my writing has always been transparent. Of course she’s my business partner in IAPIA so she doesn’t count as an impartial witness.

In any case, the consensus was that my tone of voice has somehow migrated from day to night. “When you talk about something you care about, rather than something you hate, you’re way more compelling.” That was my friend’s takeaway. But then she writes me off as a “smart ass.”

In either case it has gotten me to take a real good look at my frame of mind as a result of taking on the self-appointed task of “reinventing advertising,” and to question whether I was up to the task.

Now I had an amazing childhood. I started my life in advertising at the age of 11when I did my first work for hire. My father was a newspaper man. I knew I owned what I created, so I could sell it. I was a runaway kid. I rode the rails, stowing away on locomotives. By the time I was 15, I was writing and designing safety posters for America’s first billion dollar corporation, the Pennsylvania Railroad. At 19, I was Art Director for Motown Records, with three Corvettes and more money than God. I was unstoppable with the Supremes and Temptations as my older brothers and sisters and the Jackson 5 as my baby cousins. That was my childhood. I was the luckiest teenager in America. At least that was what I thought until my father told me to “stop farting around, and do what I set out to do. Your dreams are worth more than your fancy paycheck. Go to Madison Avenue like you always said you would do.”

At 22, I joined Young & Rubicam on Madison Avenue for the biggest pay cut in history. From $150k at Motown to $8.5k at Y&R NY. It was a great decision in that it allowed me to spend the rest of my life creating some of the most memorable ad campaigns of all time. Of course it took me 10 years to work my way back past $150k. But so what? My work was financing network television.

I was on fire on Madison Avenue. I would do a great campaign, a dark horse candidate; certainly, never the “agency recommendation.” I would get up in front of the folks in charge and bring it to life. Of course that made me a target rather than a Creative Director. Or maybe it was the orange suit I wore in one day. Anyhow I would eventually move on and replay the entire scenario until another award winning campaign would result and…

Finally I decided to grow a mustache. But as luck would have it, they apparently weren’t promoting mustaches to Creative Director that year. I was cool with that. I just put the new award winner on my reel, called Judy Wald, my agent, and said “It’s Time.”

I was now a hired gun with a burning desire to do great work and a knowledge that if I could get one campaign in before the sheep looked up I could up my price ant the next stop. Back then, I had to do great work. Just like the kids that are coming into the business now will tell you “I don’t do shit work” and walk out the door and never look back.

Somehow, I’m not driven like the best ad kids are now. And I need to be. That’s what has always worked for me. I talked to a young man who is running a brand new program to introduce high school students into Advertising. He was very excited about his new industry and the potential it held; he was the perfect conduit to the next generation. He was also the perfect conduit for the older generation in his effect on my own outlook on my version of what advertising should be. I haven’t been nearly as excited about NeoAdvertising as this young man was about the Traditional Advertising I intended to replace with NeoAdvertising.

WTF is wrong with me? I got to be one of the best practitioners in the creation of network television campaigns in the world, simply because I had no choice but to be best. I was driven every single day to do better than the guy down the hall. And now people are telling me that, “The closer you get to making this NeoAdvertising a reality, the further you get from being able to communicate straight up. Your words have become guarded and tailored to a much narrower sounding objective, (they are) no longer personal or personable.” Damn!

Time to rethink my strategy. After all, the point of NeoAdvertising is to be more engaging to the audience than traditional advertising. If my own tone of voice is becoming less engaging as I go and as Neo Advertising becomes more and more real, then something is amiss. Why am I getting angrier instead of more positive as we move closer to our goal? Could I be tired from all the years of trying to prove my point? Only to find myself back at square one once again? One more time at ground zero. If so, it’s time to snap out of it and brace up.

Because it’s tie to deliver once more . My friend told me, “All I know is, you have to stand at ground zero by yourself. There is no room for anyone else. Survival mode is lonely.”

But as I look around, there are a number of people standing with me in the dust of the ground floor. People who have seen what advertising has become and know that it can be so much better. These people who bring IAPIA to life every day, know advertising can be worth engaging with instead of ignoring. They inspire my best, not my worst. So this negative, angry shit has to step off right here. Nancy, I’m sorry.

And for all of you reading out there, who have been following these adventures in NeoAdvertising for years. Not days and months…years… I will lighten up. That includes my friend who started this whole kumbaya thing by standing up to me by letting me know I stand alone. and one, that has to go. And that my “angriest dog” act in writing needs to cease and desist.

Advertising needs Reinvention. Not just by me, but by all of you who care about advertising. We were on to something the minute we stopped calling real, live people “Customers” and “Consumers”. They are the Audience. We are Reinventing Advertising to serve at the will of the Audience.   Join us. We are reinventing Advertising that means something rather than interrupts something. You can be a part of that.   We are Reinventing Advertising so that it matters. Help us make it happen. We’re a lot of laughs. We promise.