Where art meets commerce

On Thursday, a bunch of dudes met up for breakfast at a Panera in Newport, KY. It was the visual arts equivalent of the Algonquin Round Table… designers and illustrators and photographers, oh my. (They let a few writer types hang out too… including a hack named dubbatrubba.)

I was fortunate enough to work with many of these fine fellows back in my ad agency days. They’re an amazingly talented bunch… and super-nice as well (sometimes those two qualities can seem mutually exclusive).

A lot of the folks who attended the breakfast are self-employed. Some by their own choice; others have had their hand forced by ad agency layoffs. Freelance is a tough row to hoe, especially in the Fiverr age where it can be a “who can do this cheapest?” race to the bottom. Not only do you have to be a standout in your chosen field, but you also have to be a salesperson, a client coordinator, a project manager and an accountant. You’re on your own for healthcare. And vacation? No work, no pay. As one of the gents there put it “I’m always on vacation until the phone rings.”

My friends do mostly commercial work, but you can’t commodify what they do. It’s art. Period.

L to R, top to bottom: Rob Warnick, Chris Dye, Brian Steege, Keith Neltner, Tom Post, Keith Neltner (again), Andy Sohoza, Doug Best, Todd Lipscomb.

Cutting the cord

We dumped cable. Dropped it like a two-foot putt. Because I’m tired of paying a ton of money for it each month when I rarely watch it and the kids almost never watch it. I’m also tired of cable companies that offer better deals to new customers than to loyal customers. 

I’ve considered cutting the cord before, but never really found a Sling/Hulu/Netflix combo that had all the channels we wanted… live sports were using the missing link.

But YouTube TV has most of the channels we watch (no HGTV… much to my wife’s dismay… and my delight) and costs $40 a month. We dumped the TV and phone part of our cable “triple play,” kept our internet and signed up for YouTube TV. Now we’re saving about $80 every month. Sure, the picture isn’t quite as crystal-clear, and sometimes there’s a second or two of buffering, but that’s a small price to pay for paying a much smaller price. 

Cable providers are going to have to come up with a more enticing package than “get it cheap for a year, then pay through both nostrils.” If not, they’ll go the way of Blockbuster Video stores. 

Cornering the market on weird names

Believe it or not, I actually have to pay money to operate this blog. But I do it gladly so that you, the few, the proud, the dubbatrubba blog faithful, can get your semi-weekly dose of semi-coherent ramblings. You’re welcome (not sure if I should punctuate this with a question mark or an exclamation point…maybe I’ll do both)?!  

The company from which I bought the dubbatrubba.com domain (surprisingly, there was no bidding war…) is always trying to sell “extras” to me. Their latest pitch gave me pause: 

Whoa, I can actually get rubbadubba.com too? I’m thinking I should lock it down, and corner the market on goofy names. Perhaps later I can sell rubbadubba.com at a profit to Three Men In A Tub, LLC. 

But what really got me was the fact that “dubbatrubba.com” isn’t considered a premium domain, yet “batrepellant.com” is. 

Guess I’ll have to spend the weekend figuring out other ways to “monetize” my site. 

Save a forest without chaining yourself to a tree

This was dumped on my driveway recently:

So I’m dredging up a post from 2015 that’s still relevant today.

Every year, someone would drop a two-ton Yellow Pages book on our front porch… and they’d drop one on the porch of every other house on our street. And on every street in the neighborhood, the city, and the world for all I know. Seriously? Who uses the Yellow Pages print edition anymore? Marty McFly? Are they looking up “Betamax Repair Shop” in it?

BetaMax

Are they trying to hire a private investigator?

rockford_yp_ad2_by_aaron_tuell-d63w5ne (1)

Our gargantuan edition went directly from our front porch to the recycle bin, just like it has for the past  decade. But the prime directive of the green living trifecta is “reduce” (then reuse, with recycle as the last, least efficient option). So I found out that we can opt out of Yellow Pages print delivery. You can too. “Let your fingers do the walking” (archaic video reference is below) on your computer keyboard, and sign up here: https://www.yellowpagesoptout.com/.

Tell your neighbors about the opt-out option too – based on the heft of the YP tome, we can save a tree or two per house, easily.

treehugger-love

 

 

 

Art for art’s sake, not for Martin’s sake.

Band of Horses was in town last night, playing a sold out show at Bogart’s. Having seen them seven times already, in seven different venues, in four different cities (including an amazing acoustic set/electric set show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville), I decided to sit this one out. So did my friend Dale Doyle (the original d2), who has joined me at five of those gigs. But Dale’s an artist, a graphic designer by trade, so he made an oversized gig poster just for grins.

Simply brilliant!

I had the pleasure of working with Dale for five years at Landor (where I also worked with other amazing artists like Keith Neltner and Tommy Sheehan). Dale was at Landor for 23 years, working his way up from entry-level designer to Executive Creative Director, thanks to his skills and his dedication to the craft. His reward for all those years of service? He was unceremoniously dumped earlier this summer. Call it layoffs or budget cuts, or a “reduction in force” or a “restructuring”… to paraphrase Shakespeare, bullsh*t by any other name would still smell as stinky. (Sorry Big Willie!)

Yes, Landor’s Cincinnati office was struggling to make their numbers, and that’s part of the equation. But the other part is why their “numbers” were probably unattainable in the first place. Landor is merely a cog in the universe of WPP, a publicly-traded company that’s the world’s largest advertising conglomerate. It owns scads of well-known ad agencies, brand consultancies, PR firms, media buying companies and digital agencies. For 33 years, WPP was run by Martin Sorrell, a man whose ambition was outstripped only by his ego. A shark who swallowed up other ad agencies whole, usually via hostile takeovers. A man whom advertising legend David Ogilvy called “an odious little sh*t.” A person who could squeeze blood out of a turnip, and was never satisfied with the revenue numbers and profit margins of the dozens of companies and hundreds of offices under his thumb. Last year, “Sir Martin” (he was knighted in his native England) earned 70 million pounds. His net worth is listed as 495 million pounds.

Artist’s representation of Sir Martin

Creative artists like Dale are a dime a dozen to him, and if it came down to keeping a Dale or earning an extra nickel, he’d take the latter every time.

Dale did get a severance, so he has a few months to figure out his next move. He also has a freedom he hasn’t enjoyed in two decades. The freedom to create art whenever the muse strikes. To use his talents for self-expression rather than marketing campaigns. To make a band poster just because. You can’t put a price tag on that.

Oh, and what of our friend Sir Martin? He was sacked by the WPP board earlier this summer over allegations of “personal misconduct.”

 

 

 

Writing is editing

This coffee mug pretty much sums up my work life over the past couple of decades:

“This tastes bitter…”

HT to my old ad agency pal BJ Hicks for sending the photo my way.

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