Rant: “Advertising Done Right”

If you claim “Advertising Done Right” in your banner ad and I actually click, I shouldn’t have to wait 25 seconds for your homepage to load.

And when it does, if I see statements like:
–“a leading integrating communications marketing firm”
–“leveraging a streamlined branding and positioning methodology”
–“we help our clients to operationalize their positioning into all of the customer touchpoints”

…I know you suck.

Rant (Update): Speeding Ticket

Prologue for those 14 of you who didn’t read my last blog post (I’m assuming the rest of the world’s population read it):

Got pulled over on Saturday, 9/3/11 for allegedly doing 76 in a 65.

Called the Judge’s office as instructed the following week, they told me I “wasn’t in the system yet.”

Called again last week, told the same thing.

On to today’s call…


So now I’m finally “in the system.” I’m told that I have until October 21 to come in (oh yes, I have to somehow miss time at work to take care of this) and register a plea and/or pay the fine, which is $XXX (a three-digit number, removed on advice of legal team).

When I asked about points on my license, the lady told me that I could avoid them or any other issues by taking care of this by October 21. (No duh, I’ll do that.)

Option 1: Pay $XXX (removed on advice of legal team) in person, bringing license, insurance, registration and inspection (for the last two, cell phone photo is OK) and it’ll be “dismissed at that moment.”

Option 2: Pay $XXX (removed on advice of legal team, $70 less than Option 1) in person, bring license and insurance, and do Defensive Driving course.

Drum roll…

MY CHOICE: Option 1. I know how to drive defensively. I also know how to drive offensively. And pensively. And frankly, however many hours of time it takes to complete Defensive Driving is worth a ton more than $70.

Next up, get the money and all my little paperwork together, then find a day to head over to the Dallas County courthouse on Marsh Lane. Wondering if I can go at lunch, or will I be standing in a line for hours like the DMV. Hmm.

Checked Google Maps, it’s a 20-minute drive from the office. BUT, they’re open at 8AM. Guess I’ll go in late one morning.

You win, Dallas County. Just to make this silly ticket go away, I’ll pay you a few hundred bucks and waste a chunk of my morning.

I believe the word I’m looking for is “Ugh.”

Rant: Speeding Ticket

Got a speeding ticket on the Dallas North Tollway this past Saturday. 76 in a 65 near Wycliff exit heading north.

Although I don’t think I was actually doing 76, I’ll probably just pay the fine or do the online courses (or both). Typical fine is $250-300 or so.

Sure, I could be stopping a burglary. But this looks more badass.

I call the judge today as instructed by the quota-filler cop who pulled me over. I get a mildly annoyed representative on the phone who takes my information and basically tells me to call back — that my ticket hasn’t been filed in their system yet.

So I’m supposed to call back. As if I don’t have a job and family and things to do, I need to keep calling back while I wait for the “system” to get updated.

FACT: I haven’t gotten a speeding ticket since 1997 on the Atlantic City Expressway. I was doing a 1.5-hour commute, and got caught doing 76 in a 55. THAT is a stop-worthy offense.

FACT: The “violation” I allegedly committed last Saturday was “Speeding 10 percent or more above posted speed limit.” So math-wise, here’s your lesson:

In a 75 MPH zone, you can do up to 82.5. (75 x .10 = 7.5; 75 + 7.5 = 82.5)

In a 65 MPH zone, you can do up to 71.5. (65 x .10 = 6.5; 65 + 6.5 = 71.5)

In a 55 MPH zone, you can do up to 60.5. (55 x .10 = 5.5; 55 + 5.5 = 60.5)

And so on.

I’m not sure why they went away from actually telling you how much your fine is on the ticket.

I guess it’s nice to give me an option where I can avoid getting “points” on my license — via the online courses.

It would be a lot nicer to either give me a cost up front or at least update your bureaucratic systems.

So I have to call back. You gotta be kiddin’ me.


Unemployment: Workforce Center Orientation

So I got a letter a few weeks ago that notified me I was “scheduled to attend a Workforce Center Orientation.” Although they didn’t come out and say it clearly, this was apparently a mandatory seminar in order to keep receiving unemployment insurance benefits.

Today was the big day, so I got out my best pair of khakis and headed over to a [NAME BRAND REMOVED BY EDITOR] hotel in McKinney.

This blog will hereafter be written in bullet points, since I sometimes roll that way:

* I was glad to NOT see any familiar faces, but saddened to see about 30-40 attendees at this meeting. The true faces of the economy.

* The first lady to speak included the phrase “helpful to people in your situation.” Stung a little bit, I must admit. Sure, she’s got a cushy government job where she’ll do mediocre work, leave at 5:00 p.m. on the dot every day, and never go above and beyond her written responsibilities. (I’m not bitter.) I’ve seen this lady’s clones at the DMV and a variety of other places.

* She also said something about “you can get copies if you have ran out.” Governmental grammar?

* The dress code of the attendees ranged from the business casual, polo shirt/khaki look to my favorite dude — who showed up 20 minutes late in a white T-shirt and gym shorts. I’m sure he’ll have employers beating down his door.

* Next lady to speak was kinda nice. Her gig was to talk about networking and using the WorkInTexas.com site to search for jobs.

* She claimed that 60% to 70% of new hires are through networking. A middle-aged dude in a T-shirt hounded her with questions since he was so worried about giving out his personal information. I was hoping he’d launch into a tirade against the watchful eye of the government or something like that, but she was eventually able to get him to a good place.

* They passed around a sign-up sheet for networking meetings. No offense, folks, but my time is better spent networking on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. And e-mailing friends and contacts. And hitting the job boards. Which I do pretty much every day.

* I think I’m coming off wrong in this blog. I’m appreciative that the government is trying to help me get a job. But if they knew anything about me, they’d know that this meeting was a complete waste of my time. It was only an hour and a half, but I had to hurry up and get my daughters dressed and fed and over to my mom-in-law’s so she could watch them. All that prep time and driving and meeting would have been much better spent doing my search on my own.

I understand that there are many people out there who need the kind of assistance they provide. I just got nothing out of it.

*  They asked how many people in attendance were veterans. At least five or six people raised their hands, which kind of shocked me. All those years of advertising how the armed forces prepare you for a career after you’re back in civilian life brainwashed me into thinking that these brave men and women would be prepared for their post-military careers. Sadly, this is not the case.

Reminded me of how I wanted to offer my writing help for resumes and cover letters to veterans. Definitely want to revive that idea and find a way to provide my skills.

* In filling out the online profiles, they mentioned how important it is to mention your certifications and stuff. Examples given included HVAC and CNA. I’m sorry, but if you can’t find work in air conditioning in Texas or in nursing anywhere in the country (tremendous nursing shortage, if you didn’t  know) then I’m not sure an updated profile is going to get it done.

* The Web browser crashed several times during the presentations. Some day, the world will learn the superiority of Apple.

* In going over the resume portion of the profile, I was inspired to create an brutally honest resume along the lines of Dudley Moore’s brutally honest ad campaigns in “Funny People.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_ArDB7AJAI

Look for it in a future blog post! (It’ll be much funnier than this one.)

* Took a Boggle break. Trick I learned to get through meetings that doesn’t require doodling skills. Just make up a Boggle board (four letters by four letters) any way you want, then try to find as many words that connect across, up/down or diagonally — minimum four letters to make it harder.

* I did have an actual question, and waited until the very end to ask one of the workers. When I inquired as to whether they had any services for entrepreneurs, he referred me to the chamber of commerce and Better Business Bureau. While that did answer my question, it was more stuff I’ve already figured out for myself.


Hey, if you’re reading this and in charge of hiring a writer in the Collin County area, hit me up in the Comments section. (There — I think that’ll count as one of my “work search” entries for my log.)

HP Customer Service Update

No call from my case manager. Guess my issue wasn’t as “escalated” as promised.

I called tonight. Raveena(?) was incredibly incompetent, not taking my information correctly and making me repeat things over and over. Needless to say, English was not her primary language.

When she finally got it right, of course there was nothing she could do but give me the case manager’s number to call myself. I have no idea if I will get an English speaker when I make that call.

Oh, and when I asked if I could call tonight, she checked and said their working hours were 10AM to 7PM. So another night/day will go by without my laptop.

I have the strangest feeling that this will be an unfixable issue and they’ll have to replace my laptop for a second time.

Of course, my MacBook Pro from work has been crashing anywhere from once to seven times a day.

It’s like our crappy two-party political system. If you don’t want to vote Democrat or Republican, you’re pretty much screwed. And if you don’t want to spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on a PC or Apple, you’re also up the creek without a paddle.

Argh. Oy. Meh.

Rant: Advertising Job Search (& Welcome WAS readers!)

One of the sites I visit daily is Why Advertising Sucks, a multi-writered blog that covers pop culture, has funny “Top 5”-type entries, and of course, poops on advertising.

Here’s a mini-rant, dedicated to the WAS peeps and their many other devoted readers:

(Disclaimer: I am blessed enough to be currently employed and NOT searching for a new position.)

A colleague of mine (never worked with or even met the guy in person, but he’s a fellow copywriter in the DF-Dub, funny/brilliant/creative/etc. and we “met” through online networking) who’s currently unemployed hit me up yesterday, asking if I knew anybody interested in a copywriter gig.

Now why was this guy – who’s been at several of the “major” shops in the area – not even considered for the job? Because he didn’t have enough experience with the certain industry/market in which the major new client did business.

So this writer who’s been putting words together professionally for the better part of a decade, a guy who comes highly recommended by former bosses and colleagues alike, and a highly intelligent human being, is told that he’s not qualified for a position.

This is a problem that runs rampant throughout advertising. “If you haven’t done it, you can’t do it” is the attitude of many hiring-decision-makers (HDMs, for our purposes) in our biz, which is incredibly stupid. Eminently qualified creatives with years of experience and high IQs can’t “learn” a new industry?

Here’s a quick lesson on some of the “niche” industries that these decision-makers are so picky about:

  • Pharma = Don’t say it if you can’t back it up or have Legal back it up. Have disclaimers ready for everything.
  • B2B = Give up now. Mediocrity reigns supreme. Pick up any trade magazine and you’ll see 90% crap. Just ask the client’s company president’s wife to throw something together. Either that, or use a big-ass product shot. They love that. “Ooh, show ’em our new flibbertygibbet valve!”
  • High-tech = Buzzwords, buzzwords, buzzwords. Robust. Synergistic. Leverage. Platform.

Final message to HDMs: Don’t eliminate candidates who don’t have the exact specifications you’re looking for, because frankly you’re eliminating new, fresh perspectives on the industry/market. If they can write or art direct or run an account or buy/plan media for other types of accounts, they can handle yours too.

Rant: Jackass advertising clients

Actual, word-for-word comments on a series of direct mail pieces from a client (not mine, luckily – but I’m helping out this week while my colleague is on vacation):

“I think we need to work on the first paragraph as well because I think we are forgetting they most likely have [service with a competitor so they most likely have [service] already.”

“The whole first paragraph I believe is really soft.”

“2nd heading has terrible English.”

“I think it is cute but [Boss] doesn’t like cute.”

“What if they just stop right there rather than opening.”

“Something like that. Not copywriting but just an idea.”

“Remove the Cali fornication image.”  [Californication, starring David Duchovny on Showtime]

“Again not copywriting but it just isn’t clear on what we are saying right now.”

“Maybe we say something like again just throwing it out there”

I wish I could tell you I made these up. But I didn’t.

Rant: Snow in Texas, part 2

This is ridiculous.

They’re calling for up to FIVE INCHES OF SNOW for much of the DFW area.

We moved here to get AWAY from the White Devil, as I like to call it.

And on Shannon’s birthday, no less.

They don’t even use salt down here to help with the roads (something about being unable to store it, because it’s rarely used).  So what do they spread?  SAND.  Which makes for a nice crackling sound as you drive over it, and puts a nice brown sheen across the bottom of your car.  But it doesn’t help much with traction.

Even if it did, the vast majority of bad drivers here–who can barely handle rain or ice–will undoubtedly careen into each other during this evening’s commute and tomorrow morning as well.

Ugh.  This sucks.  At least it’ll be back up to 70 degrees on Sunday.