I'm one of those lucky stiffs blessed with a curiosity about cars and a wife who graciously indulges it. 

When not writing, I can generally be found messing with hot rods, vans, or vintage iron. I find so doing so gives me a natural advantage.  I not only understand the enthusiast mindset, I understand what makes a vehicle tick. I gain a deeper appreciation for collaboration and form strong bonds with mechanics, upholsterers, metal fabricators, and other talented people who are able to execute a vision.

It’s a lot like creating a great campaign, really. It’s not something you can do alone. Getting everyone to embrace the objective and adhere to the concept is what matters. To me, there’s no better feeling in the world than throwing down with a group of talented people on a project, whether it’s a car or a marketing campaign.

I live for projects. And I'm really looking forward to getting busy on my 27 Ford Model Tall T coupe project. But I'd rather be throwing down on your project. 

Hey, it’s not like these cars of mine pay for themselves.

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Super Bowl Spots -- Bravo to the avocado.

It's easy to have an opinion about Super Bowl spots when you have no skin in the game. But it's another thing to produce one that ends up on the "best" lists.

With that in mind, I want to take a moment to pour a little praise on GSD&M for their "Avocados from Mexico" spot.

I like avocados. But now I like Avocados from Mexico because they recognized something funny about avocados, and human nature, and masterfully blended the two into a strong Super Bowl TV spot.

I have no doubt that while it may or may not be the most talked about spot -- a distinction that belongs to Tide, IMHO -- it did a lot of things right and was money well spent by the client.

All things being equal, I'd buy avocados from Mexico because I liked them better as a brand on Monday morning. That's successful branding. 

Let's look at their Super Bowl spot. First off, it was about avocados, and a precious supply of them. Secondly, it was about humans being typical whiney human beings. And thirdly, it made me smile and made my wife laugh out loud. It recognized something universal about human nature. 

Laddering from a limited supply of avocados to no supply of chips, then to a much larger crisis --the temporary loss of a wifi signal -- wah...wah...wah, was a great comedic sequence. 

If you were to ask me what a successful Super Bowl spot looks like, I'd point to this one and a small handful of others. It wasn't trying to create controversy. It didn't put a storyline between the viewer and the product. It didn't appropriate from a MLK speech, drive backwards, or talk "inside baseball" during a football game. 

It made avocados and the consumption of them the primary point and told a good joke in the process. Kudos to GSD&M and the client. I took the liberty of posting the :60 but the :30 is just as good. Well done. 



Pouring a forty for Shiner Beer -- The End of an Era?

What a fucking game. I loved every minute of it. But I hated many of the commercials, which is typical for me. In years past, I've been asked to publicly comment on what spots I liked and what I hated. I learned to stick with answering the first question, but to bite my tongue about insulting other people's work. 

But since this is my fucking blog, I cannot go quietly about the Shiner Beer spot that ran early in the first quarter of this year's Super Bowl. I was embarrassed for the brand after seeing the travesty of their: 30-second spot, which was so publicly hyped before running on Sunday.


It's not easy to shoot a hole in both your feet with one bullet, but IMO Shiner did just that. They managed to insult Texas residents and newcomers in equal measure. The wardrobe was cliche. The newcomers looked like idiots. I've lived in Texas for twenty years and I have never put on a bolo and attempted to take my wife line dancing. It saddens me to think that some of the best work of my life was done for this once-fine brand and now they've lowered themselves to making fun of people and trading off of tired cliches. City bumpkins. Wannabe cowboys. Shoot me in the head. 

I'm sure things are pretty quiet in the halls of McGarrah Jessee this morning as the opinions roll in, but I think there's a much bigger problem here. I know full well that blowing 1.2 million dollars on a steaming hunk of shit is not Mark, Bryan, or mc-j's style. Like Whataburger before it,  I've stood by and watched a great little agency's work slowly evolve into boilerplate crap and it breaks my heart to see it happen. 

Frost bank was once a great client and they got the work they deserved. We didn't do great work in spite of that client. We did great work because of them. Same goes for Whataburger and Shiner. 

So who deserves the blame for the soulless crap that I'm seeing for clients who used to be great? I call bullshit on the clients, who no longer listen to their agencies once they reach a high level of success. I blame marketing departments for hiring people who don't understand their brand's DNA and what their agencies have built for them. 

I believe Shiner's Director of Marketing should be shit-canned immediately for squandering 1.2 million dollars on a veiled attempt to glad-hand a wider audience. Boy, that's a lot of beer to sell. Maybe I'm the only one who feels this way. Maybe this does do a better job of welcoming outsiders than I think. Maybe showing dorks attempting to be cliches is a good move. I'm off to find a new beer of choice. Adios, Shiner.    

To me, this is the kind of work that agencies lose accounts over. Isn't it time that the marketing departments got the ass-kicking? Clients who get so drunk on their own successes that they lose sight of how they achieved it. They stop listening. They hire more "sophisticated" Marketing Directors who lead them down the path to pure drivel. 

I'd like to hear from these clients. Why is the Whataburger TV devoid of concept or the personality it once had? Why is the Frost Bank work an empty shell of what it once was? Why has Shiner just spent 1.2 million dollars to embarrass a building full of talented people?

Never confuse production values wth real human values. 

I'm only glad to say that none of this happened on my watch. I stand by the work I created for those brands before success went to their heads. When the clients had the sack to do what makes them unique.

End of rant. And perhaps, sadly, an era.