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September 23, 2010

Bob Sundland comments

I hope you're all following the comments about Bob Sundland. Dave Butler just left a great one. You all know how to read comments, don't you?

Click here and scroll down.

September 20, 2010

The arc of the advertising industry

As a follow-up to my posting today about the Ad Age article, I just thought I'd offer up a theory I've had for years about the historical trajectory of advertising agencies.

I think the story of ad agencies in America parallels that of the great movie studios of the early part of this century. The studios were founded, for the most part, by Jews of Eastern-European heritage who had the two ingredients necessary to create something as unique as Hollywood: vision and power. Sam Goldwyn, Louis B. Mayer, Jack Warner, Adolph Zukor - they ran their companies with an iron fist.

Chiat/Day always reminded me of MGM in its heyday. Jay had his stable of creatives just as Louis B. Mayer had his stable of stars.

And think how many great ad agencies were created by men who also had the swagger of movie moguls.

The Hollywood studio system was ultimately destroyed when the government forced them to divest themselves of the theatres they owned across the country, thereby preventing them from owning their own distribution system.

And then the banks swarmed in. And this is what truly killed Hollywood. Bankers knew nothing of how to make a movie. But they knew how to read a balance sheet. Stars' contracts were canceled, budgets had to be approved by New York, and, after a brief heyday of great films in the 70s and 80s, Hollywood was taken over by the demographers. Films are now designed to meet the needs of men in their teens and 20s. Creativity became formula.

The agencies are all owned these days by conglomerates. They are supervised by finance people.

And, as the Ad Agency article states, NOBODY IS HAVING ANY FUN.

No wonder people like Rosemarie Ryan and Ty Montague are starting their own "collectives." They want to re-experience entrepreneurship. They want to have a chance to be mini-moguls. To put it bluntly, they want to have sex with their craft again.

They should sit down and watch ever single movie that was made in 1939: "Gone With the Wind, "The Wizard of Oz," "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington," "Stagecoach," "Ninotchka," "Wuthering Heights," "Of Mice and Men," "Dark Victory," and "Goodbye Mr. Chips." The ingredients for great work were never before, and never again, so powerful. What was different about that year and how could a new ad agency recreate that alchemy?

It's easy. It's all in the creative. Or to be more specific, it's all in the narrative. People thirst for great, powerful stories. Even if they're 30-seconds long.

Steve Alburty

Creative Exodus in Adland: It's Just Not 'Fun' Anymore

I rarely post things from Ad Age because I figure that many of you read it at your offices (those of you who are still in the biz, at least.) But they've just posted an article about the "brain drain" that is shaking big agencies to the core.

Read the article by clicking here.

September 17, 2010

Rosemarie Ryan and Ty Montague

A big article in today's New York Times about a new boutique agency started by C/D alums Rosemarie Ryan and Ty Montague.

Co:, with a colon, is the name of an agency being opened in New York by Ty Montague and Rosemarie Ryan, who surprised Madison Avenue in March by disclosing that they would leave their senior posts at the giant JWT for an entrepreneurial venture. The name — perhaps one of the pithiest for any agency — is meant to suggest the Co: business model by evoking words like co-creation, collaboration and co-venturing.

Read all about it here.

September 15, 2010

Tom Cordner

C/D Alum Tom Cordner, having achieved fame and fortune as an art director and creative director, has decided to write a novel! I asked him for a professional bio, and this is what he sent to me:

I worked at Chiat from 1980-82 on Yamaha motorcycles and snowmobiles with Penny Kappousouz, Brent Thomas, Brent Bouchez under Bill Hamilton and Jeff Roll. Penny and I also worked together on Fotomat. I left and came back to work with Bouchez on Yamaha and the Pizza Hut people campaign from 1984-86. The teams that were in our group were D. Lubars, John Stein, Jean Robaire, Ed Cole and Doug Patterson an awesome group. Bouchez and me decided to spread our wings by going to Ogilvy LA to become creative directors. That was fun. I left Ogilvy to join a start up agency called Team One. I wrote the line that launched Lexus and guided a lot of great creative people over 15 years. All of whom I owe greatly for their amazing talent. Some of the better known ones were Schwartzy, Chuck McBride, Court Crandall, David Angelo (David & Goliath), Andy Spade of Kate Spade/Jack Spade and Steve Levit to name a few. After Team One I left sunny California for dreary Detroit. I launched the new F150, the new Mustang, the Ford GT, the new Hybrid Escape, the new Edge and the new Fusion. Loved Midwest people. I left Detroit with a years sabbatical (client fired me). I rested for 6 days and on the seventh day I started an agency called Traffic. Very quickly we won a piece of Toyota and then all of Mitsubishi Motors a few months later.

Tom's novel is called "The Outhouse Diaries," and you may read an excerpt here.

September 13, 2010


Alums who have disappeared since the last last mailing:

Jon Hartman, Vanesa Alcazar, Mike McCabe, madixman@comcast.net, John Marco, Theresa Buchanan, sgwords@verizon.net, Sean MCcarthy, Colin Hagen, Gary Madonna, duffy@earthlink.net, dahotdog@earthlink.net, chetzot@d-web.com, pfahlund@optonline.net, msinger@jackspade.com,Andy Spade, Christine Donohoe, Nichole Carrington, Jack.Neary, Ally Longfield, scmbeaudin@gmail.com, Repola4@aol.com, Bronwynf@aol.com, Alix Hughes

If you know where you are, please contact me.

Ads by Bob Sundland

Nigel Carr has been thoughtful enough to find a couple of ads on the Internet written by Bob Sundland.

Here's one:

Here's another.

September 10, 2010

Ikea Cats

For reasons which are not particularly clear, an IKEA store in the U.K. decided to release 100 cats in their store.

Bob Sundland

I don't think there is a better story to come out of Chiat/Day than the story of Bob Sundland. Chuck Phillips has written up the story for posterity and you can read the whole thing by clicking here
to open the Microsoft Word document. As a teaser, here's a brief excerpt from the story:

It was after this weekend that Vegas happened. Sundland cashed in all his cherished savings and headed his late model Oldsmobile to Las Vegas. He would put all of it on one number on a roulette wheel and kill himself if he lost.

This is "must-read" C/D lore.

Brian Belefant

Hammy's Pizza 'Pompous Snob Intro' from Brian Belefant on Vimeo.

From Portland alum, Brian Belefant:

Hi Steve.

I'd be thrilled if you'd include a mention of a couple of new spots I directed on the Jay/Day site. I think I emailed you about them a couple of weeks ago.

The spots are for Hammy's Pizza and are based around a character we created, the Pompous Snob, played by Portland actor Christopher Toyne. He's the antithesis of our target –– rich, elderly, and erudite –– and he tries to convince viewers that he's far too superior to enjoy Hammy's's (how does one punctuate the possessive of a possessive?) pizza and movie offerings, but of course, they're not. Subtitles reveal the truth.

The first spot started running a couple of weeks ago and the response has been tremendous. We're furiously trying to manage the opportunities –– T-shirts, posters, guerilla ads, and personal appearances.

After years of working with clients who are increasingly afraid to commit to anything audacious, it's nice to be involved in something that takes a stand. Even nicer that it's working.

Here are links to the spots, in case you think the campaign is worth mentioning:




Brian Belefant

Judy Buehler

An alum from the 70s (!) has turned up in my mailbox: Judy Buehler!

I worked for Chiat/Day from early 1975 to mid 1976, first as the receptionist (I remember the first time I had to announce that Hy Yablonka had a phone call over the loud speaker - totally trashed his name). I was in the Olympic Blvd. office with Karen Vogel (Cayley). I then became a print traffic manager, worked with Marilee and Lee and all the others. Left the state in July 1976, but have always looked back on those times with fond memories. I still have the key chain Jay gave me for a Christmas present. Go figure!

Thanks for maintaining the info.

Judy Buehler
Williamsburg, Virginia

Richard Saul Wurman


A fascinating piece in today's New York Times about the information impresario, Richard Saul Wurman, who founded the TED Conferences.