A Copywriter’s Blog
Friday Features: Diapers Ben Levy 4, May

This is exactly what it feels like to change a diaper.

Only if you screw it up, instead of getting crushed by a boulder, you’re peed on.

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This is exactly what it looks like when I play. See?


Well, the motion-blurs and flames don’t really show up in that shot, but you get the idea.

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He’s not kidding, you know. That document is completely true. You can tell because only a brand manager would ever compose a memo that sounded like a buzzword-bingo cheat sheet.

Here then, is a bit of insight into what I do for a living. It’s my job (with the help of many, many people, usually smarter and cooler than I am) to take that, and make it something like this:

I’ve never worked on Old Spice, but I guarantee you they have the same sort of guidelines. They have brand managers and strategiests who say things like “Old Spice is not an exclusionary brand” and who want the ads to inform people that “Old Spice’s line of unique scents help teens 12-18 feel empowered and individual.” There are lines explaining that “the Old Spice product should never be shown doing something cool. Old Spice doesn’t do cool things, it gives the people the confidence to do cool things themselves”.

Is any of that actually written down somewhere at W+K? Who knows. But that’s the kind of language you get handed, and it’s your job as an Ad Man to – in the parlance of the business- “solve it.” And it is a problem that needs solving.

This may come as a shock, but I don’t actually have anything against brand managers, and certainly nothing against strategists, who are liable to say things like “The message we want to communicate is that Old Spice helps me feel empowered.” Yes, on paper it sounds ridiculous. Hell, it is ridiculous. But it’s also necessary in order to make great ads. I once had a legendary Creative Director tell me, “I know how good a campaign will be just by the strategy team assigned to it.” You get the right strategy, the ads practically make themselves.

And brand managers? Well, look at it this way- without brand guidelines, Apple’s website could be hot pink. Sure, it doesn’t match the aesthetic of the iBooks, iPods, and iPads, but who cares? In fact, forget all this iStuff- let’s call the next iBook a jBook. Cause, see, “j” is the next letter after “i”, and this is a newer version, so… Sound crazy? Some moron would try it, trust me.

And so you take this ridiculously corporate, soulless language, these documents full of “extreme” “unique” “inclusive” “shareable” and the like. And you try to make something human out of it. “Old Spice’s line of unique scents helps teens 12-18 feel empowered and individual?” Let’s tell people when they use it they Smell Like Power. In hindsight it sounds incredibly easy. In actual practice, when you’ve only got a couple of hours and a sheet of paper so pompous it can be thrown as-is into a Stephen Colbert skit, it’s a bit trickier.

So let’s all raise a glass of whatever you like, and drink it alongside no more than 16 wheat thins, which will perfectly compliment whichever beverage you’ve chosen. To the brand managers. To the strategists. And to my mother, who may or may not have any better idea of what I do for a living after reading this.

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Satan needs a space heater Ben Levy 2, February

This post may have kicked off an entire category on BrokenJPG that’s produced some of my most popular rants. But make no mistake- I was using humor as a defense against the horrible, mind-searing agony of the monumental fuck-fest that was the first live-action GI Joe movie.

It still stands as one of the shittiest piles of excrement to ever get squeezed out of Hollywood. It didn’t have to be the greatest film of all time. It just had to be campy. Or have over-the-top action. Or avoid putting an entire generation’s beloved childhood heroes into fucking mech suits like some kind of anime fan-fiction.

But the live-action GI Joe film failed all these things. It failed them so badly that even though I didn’t ever see this crapfest, when the trailer for the second came around, I called it shit again. My friends told me I was wrong, that ninja’s fighting on the side of a cliff was pretty damn awesome. But my eyes were blinded by the stinging remains of the feces from years past. I would not- nay, I could not- take a chance. Some trauma is too deep.

But then, this morning, I saw this.

That is a trailer that starts out with Dwayne The Rock/Roadblock Johnson quoting Jay Z. And then using the song that was just quoted as the soundtrack. Which includes ninjas shooting bullets at shuriken, ninjas stabbing other ninjas on the side of a cliff, and Bruce Willis shooting a machine gun out the back of a pickup.

Do you hear that, dear readers? That’s the sound of my cold, blackened heart beginning to beat once more. Am I scared? Terrified. Would I have thought it possible that I would even consider seeing the sequel of the cinematic sin that launched a thousand (or, like, ten) angry posts? No, I would not.

But that looks like a great “bad” movie. And that’s all we ever needed it to be.

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Une Fille Comme Les Autres from Jalouse blog on Vimeo.

Well done, whoever thought of this. And well done to whoever has enough faith in their brand to take the piss out of it this way.

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Friday Feature: Dope Zebra Ben Levy 20, January

When my daughter asks me why we have the internet, this will be my answer.

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Boom Boom from Larry Ziegelman on Vimeo.

This is the politically inappropriate terrorist bombing video I always wanted to see.

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Friday Feature: SOPA Ben Levy 7, January

And that’s about all I have to say about that.

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Friday Feature: Dare to Fight? Ben Levy 23, December

This is the coolest thing to come out of Toronto since maple syrup and beaver pelts.

Actually, it’s the only cool thing to come out of Toronto besides maple syrup and beaver pelts.

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Friday Feature: Catvertising Ben Levy 2, December

I truly believe this would be the most successful ad agency on the planet, should it ever be formed. And I despise our entire species because of it.

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