Stupid Mail Order Policies

I don’t think I’ve been this angry in a long time.

And it’s stupid. But I’m still furious. It’s all because I ordered something online and the delivery company is being an idiot. OK – here’s the premise.

My wife and I have been looking for a new coffee table for our living room for 10 years. We can never find anything we both like. So we’ve been living with this ugly coffee table I got second-hand when I was living in my NYC apartment in 1988. I’ve always hated this coffee table. I’ve put it outside for the trash men at least 4 times. And every time, my wife pulls it back in.

Recently we actually found two coffee tables we liked from the same online site. We bought them. And then the delivery stupidity began.

Unless you buy the ‘premium’ delivery package for an extra $400, the delivery company won’t take the coffee table off the truck when they come to deliver. That’s right, they will pull up to the street, knock on the door, and YOU have to go inside the truck and carry it off.

But wait there’s more — they can’t leave until I sign the delivery sales receipt AFTER I inspect the item inside my house. Really. So they’re going to sit in the truck and wait for me and my wife to carry the table into our house, unpack the box, inspect the item, and then come outside and sign a piece of paper. Interesting.

Oh, and they only deliver on weekdays. And won’t give you a range of times when they’re going to show up. So my wife and I BOTH have to take the day off, since I probably won’t be able to carry the table into my house by myself.

I know, you’re thinking ‘and you didn’t cancel the order and tell them to #$@$# off?’

After 10 years of searching – I really want the table. So I have a plan.

I’m going to bribe the drivers. Yes, I’m going to see if they have a price. $50? $100? What will it take to have them carry the table into my house.

Another alternative is to ask for their company information before I get on the truck. “You know, I’d like to know who I’m going to have my lawyer call in case I hurt myself while inside your truck.”

My last thought was to have my wife and son go outside to carry the table inside. Surely the drivers won’t allow a woman and 9-year-old to carry the table.

And I know the final outcome — I’m going to take delivery, carry the table inside the house, unpack it, inspect it — and something’s going to be wrong. I’m going to have to have them take it back. And start the stupidity all over again.

I think I’m always going to hate this table as much as the current coffee table. Maybe I should just cancel the order now.

2.18.12

Award Winning Print Campaigns

I love print. The perfect image. A tightly crafted headline. Beautiful design. Great ideas.

I’ve decided to attach some of my favorites from the past few years. I like the simplicity. I like the fact that someone actually sold these ideas to a client. I love that they all have an interesting simple idea. And that they happen to be beautifully executed. Enjoy.

HIV and AIDS
This is a very simple idea using striking visuals and ‘stealing’ a device to get the message home with today’s digital generation.

MEDICAL ASSISTANCE FOR TRAVELERS
A global campaign to get the message across — get sick overseas — we can help. Take a look.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
This organization has had a history of doing great work. I love this campaign. The thought “write a different history” is simple and powerful. I hope you like it.

GREENPEACE
Love them or hate them, this organization did a great job with the “David versus Goliath” campaign from my sister DRAFTFCB office.

I hope you enjoyed these campaign. All great. All award winners. All effective. I’d love to know which one you preferred. Please fill out the poll below. Have a great weekend.

A TV Commercial With Great Surprise

I watch a lot of TV commercials. Here’s one that when I saw it, I laughed. I also love the premise.
And it’s the type of campaign I love, as you can imagine the rest of the executions within the campaign.

Plus it has a copy line at the end which is just perfect.

I wish I was in the room when the creative brief was written. You know it had a simple message. You know that everyone in the room laughed and said “I wonder if we’ll ever REALLY get away with this.” I can also imagine the creative team presenting the idea to their clients. “We see these friends driving backwards all day!” I can picture the clients squirming in their seats a little. “Will people really watch the commercial – I mean it’s about guys driving in reverse.” And the creative team will answer “Yes, we’ll give them just enough to make sure our message gets across.”

And they did. And it went viral. In a good way.

Enjoy

I’d love to know what you think. Please post comments on the WordPress site instead of FACEBOOK. (I’m trying to get on the front page of the wordpress site.) Thanks.

The Best Campaign In A Long Time

I judged an award show today and saw a campaign that I loved. In fact, I gave it a perfect score. And I don’t give anything a perfect score. You should check out the link, because once you see it, I think you’ll agree it’s an amazing campaign. It’s for the Troy public library. It’s great.

And here’s the kicker. The budget for the campaign was $3,500.

Now I didn’t forget any numbers here. That’s right three thousand five hundred dollars. Many campaigns have bigger budgets for client entertainment.

It just goes to show that a great idea done brilliantly is better than an OK idea with a ton of money behind it.

I also judged entries that have $100 million dollar ad budgets – Troy library was better. I saw amazing special effects TV spots – Troy library was better. I saw emotional tug-at-your-heart campaigns – and Troy library was better.

Please take a look and let me know what you think.

That’s it for today. A simple brilliant campaign. I wish I created it. Kudos to the team who did.

2.15.12

The Best & Worst Creative Directors I’ve Ever Worked With

I’ve been very lucky, I’ve worked some amazing creative directors. These are people who have molded my career, taught we valuable lessons, mentored, pushed and promoted me. These are also people who have fired me, harassed me and bullied me. These are people I’ve loved, loathed, looked up to, and looked down upon. These are people who taught me how to behave and how not to behave. But most importantly, these are people who made me want to someday be a creative director. To help others as they have helped me.

Below are a list of the best and worst. But mostly the best.

The Best (In order of my career):

Sandra Jackson – Copy Chief, Strawbridge and Clothier Department Store.

My first boss, who taught me more than she will ever know. She was a mentor, a friend, a teacher and a disciplinarian. She gave me the foundation of my entire career. She also gave me the desire to give back to more junior writers. She didn’t have to spend as much time with me as she did. But she never complained.

Jim Dale and Steve Perrin – Doner
I’ll never forget my interview with Jim and Steve. My portfolio was awful. The concepts were expected. But they saw something in me – not my work – that they liked. The told me that I have exactly one good idea in my portfolio. They couldn’t tell if I was good, or if I created it by accident. But they were willing to take a chance on me. They also beat the heck out of me. Steve said one line over and over again “you know what this ad needs, it needs an idea.” But he taught me so much. Helped me with my concept development. Jim and Steve were the godfathers of my career.

Laurel Krischok – DMB&B
Laurel was not my creative director; she was my art director partner. She taught me more about how to create a TV commercial than anyone I had ever worked with. We also hated each other. We would fight like cats and dogs. She had to be right about everything. The problem was, so did I. She eventually left and I got reassigned to another art director – Greg – who ended up being my favorite art director partner for years.

Bruce Nelson and Ira Madris – McCann
I loved Bruce and Ira. Incredible creative directors. They hired me to work on Coke and Kodak. They gave me incredible opportunities. They had great taste. They produced great work. Unfortunately, they didn’t stay for very long. I didn’t like the guy who came after them and I left the agency. But I’ll never forget Bruce and Ira.

Stan Becker – Dancer Fitzgerald Sample
He gave me the first BIG promotion of my career to Associate Creative Director. Considering I was only 28 at the time, it was a huge risk. And for a long time, I wasn’t very good. But he taught me how to guide others. He gave me to tools that I still use today. Plus, he was a hell of a nice guy. Thanks Stan.

Brent Bouchez – Bozell
I don’t think Brent liked me very much. But he gave me the greatest gift any CD ever gave me – the greatest team on a great product. Brent put me, Lynn Mercado and Michelle Ferone together to produce some TV commercials for a small regional telephone company. For the next four years, the three of us travelled the globe shooting hundreds of commercials for Bell Atlantic and then Verizon wireless. Some of the best times I’ve EVER had at work I experienced with that team, that client at that point in my life. As a matchmaker of creative talent, Brent was #1.

Tony Granger – Bozell
Those of you who know me are probably surprised to see Tony’s name on the ‘best’ list considering he fired me. But without Tony, I wouldn’t be where I am today. He taught me how to dig deeper into myself to find the really great ideas. He pushed me like no creative director before or since. I also learned how I didn’t want to act in front of people. He was a difficult man to work for. I never felt like I was on his team. I did everything I could to avoid him, right up until I was asked to leave the office.
Thank you, Tony. I did learn something from you.

The Worst: (Since these people are still alive, I will change their names)

Curveball O’Drunk – McCann
The man had a drinking problem and you couldn’t show him work after lunch. I would work hours and hours and hours on a project, just to watch him kill everything. The next morning he asked to see the work, as if the meeting the afternoon before didn’t happen. I quit McCann while he was my boss.

Guy SeeHowSmartIAm – McCann
He was the sole copywriter and Associate Creative Director on a brand for so long, he felt like he owned it. His taste was awful. We used to come up with really bad ideas on purpose to see if he’d like them. We actually had a contest with all the creative in the group to see who could write the worst ad and have Guy approve it.
I was never ‘bad’ enough.

Silly South African – Bozell
“I want to own the color red.” Excuse me? “I want to own the color red” And how do you plan on doing that? “Isn’t that your job?” I see. I can’t tell you the strange arguments I had with this guy. I didn’t last long. But neither did he.

The Worst of All Time:

I’m Married To Someone’s Famous Brother – Ketchum
Easily the worst creative director I ever worked for. Luckily she didn’t really want to work, so she didn’t bother me too much. She liked music. She liked ideas with song lyrics rewritten. He liked execution over idea. I don’t know what I was thinking when I took a job working for her. But I couldn’t wait to get out.

At the end of my career, I’m sure I’ll look back and be thankful that I worked with many more great people that jerks. I’ll love that I’ve had a long and fruitful career. That I did some great work. Hopefully I’ve mentored the next generation of great talent. And 10 years from now someone isn’t writing a blog about me in the bad column. But you never know.

I hate e-mail

I don’t know exactly when I decided I hate e-mail. But sometime over the course of the past few years, I’ve decided it’s the one thing I hate more than just about anything.
I hate that people send an e-mail with an attachment verses coming by and showing me work. I hate that I get plenty of ‘cover your ass’ e-mail instead of people telling me what’s really going on. But most of all, I hate the volume of e-mail I get every day. If I sat and really read and responded to every e-mail, I would have time to do nothing else.

This morning, I turned on my computer and looked down at my e-mail. Today I have 2910 items in my in-box, of those, 99 are unread. So I decided to look at the 99 unread e-mails. Of those, 25 we’re automatic reminders to approve expense reports, 12 were second reminders to approve expense reports, 5 were PTO requests, 10 were online receipts for lunch orders (while eating at my desk so I can read e-mails), 3 agency wide e-mails that I wrote (which I don’t have to read) and some stray promotional e-mails from photographers, production houses and retouchers.

The rest – are probably really important e-mails that get lost in the sea of e-mails. Here are some that I probably should have read sooner:

Subject: Today’s presentation – Immediate response needed
Hmmm, I probably should have looked at that one when it was send last Thursday.

Subject: Call me before you leave the office
Opps that was sent to me two weeks ago. Interestingly, the person never called me to find out why I never called.

Subject: Touching base
OK, here’s a trick – if you’re trying to get my attention don’t send an e-mail that says ‘Touching Base.’ Because I view my e-mails by subject, every e-mail called ‘Touching Base’ gets lumped together. Right now, I have 7 e-mails all titled ‘Touching Base.’ I haven’t read any of them. Mostly because they’re from people I don’t know. But also because if you really wanted to touch base, you’d come to my base (my office) and ask me a question. The one on top of the pile that I didn’t read was from January 24th, “Hello (notice a form letter not personalized), I am in the marketing and lead generation industry …” Thank heavens I didn’t take time out of my day to read that one.

Subject: DEADLINE APPROACHING!!
I think I didn’t read this because of the use of ALL CAPS and the double exclamation point. Actually, the real reason is that it’s the 500th e-mail from my son’s school looking for a donation (which I already made on the first e-mail).

Subject: Richard, it’s your lucky day
A free subscription to an industry magazine that I already get for free is not what I’d call my lucky day. Perhaps Richard, you just won $100 million in the lottery – I would consider THAT a lucky day. Or maybe even, Richard, you just won someone to read all you unread e-mail – that would be an incredible prize.

But of all the unread e-mail this is my favorite:

Subject: Got a minute?
No, I don’t. In fact, this week I’ve received 19 e-mails all with the subject line ‘Got A Minute?’ Now, that doesn’t mean I won’t respond to these e-mail eventually. It doesn’t mean that I don’t care. What it means is that in my time stretched day, writing an e-mail that asks ‘Got A Minute’ is too easy for me to answer ‘no, I don’t.’ Now an interesting subject line should be, ‘What can I take off your plate?’

Anyway, enough ranting about e-mails. Oh, by the way, in the time that it took me to write this post, I’ve received 47 more e-mails. I read only two.

2.13.12

Happy Anniversary, Blog.

Tomorrow marks the one-month anniversary of my first blog entry. I have to admit I had no idea how much I’d enjoy writing it and how much I’d enjoy reading your comments. Thank you. Obviously, this wouldn’t be so much fun if nobody was reading. The feedback has been greater than I expected. The traffic is far heavier than I expected. And the weird SPAM I’ve received has been weirder than I expected.

But I have noticed some trends after a month. Here are some thoughts:

My First Few Entries Sucked
Looking back at the first few days – I’m surprised anyone came back to ready my blog. Those first few entries weren’t very good. I think I knew that and that’s why I changed the tone. Remember, only 30 days ago, I was going to write about a daily observation on my 10-block walk from Grand Central. The problem was that nothing interesting was happening. Average daily traffic was around 20 people. Thank you for allowing me to find a voice.

Stupid Stuff = High Traffic
Whether it’s funny stuff that my son says or funny stuff people do on interviews, you like to read about stuff that is hard to believe is true. 100% of the dialogue is true. I change the names of people (especially children). But the words are as close to what was said as possible. By the way, I’m working on a piece that’s all about funny ‘auto correct’ e-mails that I’ve received. Some are amazing.

Tuesday and Wednesday Are The Highest Visited Days.
Maybe people are too busy on a Monday to visit after the weekend. Or perhaps I’m funnier or more interesting in the middle of the week. But when I see a giant spike in traffic, it’s almost always a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Frankly, looking back, I think my posts are more interesting in the middle of the week. But who knows?

People Say Dumb Things
My conversations with people usually end with a punchline. Maybe the people I talk to are funny or sarcastic. Maybe I hear things through a lens of “this would make a great story.” Or perhaps real people saying real things are just funny. That’s why reality TV shows are so popular. When you shine a light at some of the thing real people do or say, they’re just damn funny. On the other hand, perhaps I just hang out with some pretty strange folks. (Can’t be that.)

I’m Not Writing About My Walk To Work
In case you didn’t read the first few posts (you know, the entries that sucked), I was supposed to be writing about the things I observed on my way to work. I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve changed my mind. My subheadline “Random Things That Pop Into My Mind” is really the subject of this blog. I think I like this better. I don’t plan on changing the title of my blog. Too many people are Google searching this site. So I plan on continuing my ‘random thoughts.’

The About Rich Levy Section
I’m shocked how many people click on the ‘About’ tab. I think I have to write something more interesting here. Every day, about 5% of the traffic to the blog is on the ‘About’ tab. I apologize that I haven’t written anything interesting in there yet. So look tomorrow. I’m planning on writing a whole new ‘About’ tab tomorrow.

But here’s a preview: I like to write about random things. Hmmmmm, maybe I should put more thought into that.

2.11.12

When it snows in England, everything shuts down

I really like this blog. It has great photography and is an interesting read. Just thought I’d share what someone else is writing.

snacks & adventure

This past weekend, it snowed in Cambridge, which happens once a year if we’re lucky.  In the middle of a driving snowstorm, I dragged my poor husband – who was on a huge deadline at work – outside for a walk.  The man is a saint.

I hopped out of bed the next morning and wandered around Cambridge for three hours with my camera the next morning, although not much of the snow stuck to the buildings – which made it less scenic than I had hoped.  The city was pretty quiet, especially when I first headed out the door at 9 am, but by noon every open space was covered with people making snowmen, from the cemetery to the sidewalk.

I was so busy taking photos that I forgot that I had pledged to spend Super Bowl Sunday eating.  Oops.

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My New Favorite Apps

This week I downloaded a few new apps that I already love. Two are just dumb fun, one helps me track my exercise stuff and another is fun in meetings around the office (or in my classroom).

Action Movie FX

OK, this app is just dumb fun. But I laugh every time. The basic premise is that you can create a Michael Bay movie at the touch of a button. Record you favorite landmark and blow it up. Record video of Broadway during rush hour and have a huge asteroid drop in the middle of the road. Cars crashing, bombs flying. It’s all good clean fun. What makes it really fun, it to record someone saying something really stupid and blow him or her up. Trust me – everyone laughs.

I plan on blowing up a lot of things (via special effects) this weekend. I’ll let you know how it goes.

FitBit

In my quest to get into better shape, lose a few pounds and become overall healthier, I downloaded FitBit. It allows you to track everything. How much you exercise, how much you walk, how much you eat, the number of stairs you climb and the amount of water you drink. It syncs to your computer and mobile phone, so you have a constant reminder of how you’re doing against a BMI goal. It’s pretty cool. I also purchased a little sensor you wear on your clothing. It tracks everything you do. In fact, last night I wore it to sleep. It told me exactly how long it took me to fall asleep (7 minutes), how long I slept (5:35) and how many times I woke up during the night (3 times for a total of 12 minutes). So my total sleep quality was 98%. So when I’m sleeping, I’m really sleeping. It also didn’t yell at me for not getting more sleep.

Let’s see how I do over a longer period of time. I know that just by wearing the monitor I’ve adjusted my activity. Last night I chose to walk up 5 flights of stairs instead of taking the elevator – since my goal for the day was 10 flights. Hopefully this will help.

Applausometer

Yes, people tend to clap in meetings. People clap when they don’t mean it. People clap when the do mean it. Sometimes we’re being polite. Sometime we’re excited. So I downloaded an applause meter to really judge how people are feeling. It’s a lot of fun. In fact, I used it in my class last night. After every student presented, people clapped. I was looking at my phone to see who got the highest amount of applause. (I’m not telling!)

Atari Greatest Hits

I loved arcade games. I spent plenty of time and money playing games in the 80s. Now there’s an app that captures all the great Atari games. Missile Command, Pong, Breakout, Asteroids, Centipede, Gravitar, Liberator and Millipede. In all, there’s dozens of games in the App. And here’s the cool part, there’s a Bluetooth arcade controller that makes it feel like you’re playing the real arcade game. Of course, my son thinks this App sucks. The games are old. The graphics are old. And I have to admit, when you look at Asteroids, it’s kind of funny how basic the graphics are by today’s standards. But I don’t care. I’m play my game and I’m 15-years-old again.

That’s about it for today. Clapping, playing, dieting and blowing things up. Sounds like a microcosm of my life.

Funny Stuff People Put On Their Resumes

I interview a lot of people. I also find that they’re surprised that I’ve read their resumes and want to talk about some small fact that is in small type way down at the bottom. And I’m always surprised that they’re surprised. Those little things, interests, hobbies, first jobs and special skills are the things that make people interesting. There are a lot of people who have had a lot of jobs working on a lot of clients. But how many people claim that they create ‘shiny, empowering, intuitive user experiences.’ I instantly wanted to hire this woman.

Here are a couple of thing that are on some resumes that are sitting on my desk.

Interest: Hiking, Danish Industrial Design, Humor, Organization and Facial Hair. (I think he was surprised when I asked about his favorite style of facial hair.)

Other: Grammar, Sudoku, Pop Culture Trivia, Ukrainian and Spanish. (A lot of pop culture trivia in the Ukraine?)

In My Free Time: Ultimate Frisbee, long-distance running, reading and baking cookies. (It was the cookies that got my attention.)

About me: Even though I’m from the South, I don’t have a Southern accent, and I’m certainly not a Republican. (Welcome to a Blue State.)

Other: I’m a copywriter who promises never to use ellipses in any of my headlines. (OMG, this fed right into one of my copywriting pet peeves….)

Summary: I work well in groups and play well with teammates. Yo, ho, ho, it’s the copy life for me! (She had me right up until the time she used the exclamation point.)

About me: If I were a betting man, I would bet that I named something in your medicine cabinet. If you are a woman, I probably named your phone. (Ironically, he didn’t name anything in either my medicine cabinet or my phone – does that make me subhuman?)

About me: I’m a digital technology geek who actually likes being out in the sunlight. But only some of the time. (I tested him by interviewing him at 8 AM.)

Skills: Marathons, Dancing, proofreading and exchanging pleasantries. (Oh very nice, you’re looking fabulous today.)

Bonus Info: I’ve managed to become a licensed stockbroker, a licensed real estate agent, an award winning bartender and a published writer. (This is advertising, the bartender part is an important bonus skill.)

Activities: Avid ultimate Frisbee player (college captain), cooking international foods, urban sustainability, playing sports, traveling and hip hop. (I think we should start an agency ultimate Frisbee team.)

But this one is my favorite:

Skills: Proficient in a lot of stuff that you probably won’t understand. (I loved the honesty of this digital technologist.)

So there you have it. If you’re planning to interview with me, expect that I will have looked at your resume. And don’t put anything on the piece of paper that you don’t want to talk about. Cheers.

2.9.12