Lovin' Spoonful
Bob Lefsetz’s rant on poor ol’ Steve Boone hit my in box today. Bob’s a prolific ranter. His Lefsetz Letter and email newsletter are usually pretty good, rambly rants on things happening in music and culture. Man, did the bass player Steve Boone have a bad streak of bad luck that he brought upon his own bad self. (Insert bass player joke here.) Boone’s got a new book out that sounds like a How Not to Do It manual, which prompted Bob’s post.

But just seeing the name The Lovin’ Spoonful; wow. It sparked a great big ol’ bucketful of cool memories, despite learning about Boone’s nasty boondoggles. 

We had The Very Best of the Lovin’ Spoonful, which came out in 1970.  I played the heck out of it. There was always great music being played in our house around that time, which was one of the many perks of being youngest of five kids in our house. Thankfully, the other four had great musical taste. 

But the thing that did it for me with that album was the vibe. It was so 1960’s, and peace, and love, and all that rainbow sunshine stuff. Yeah, there’s some meloncholy in there, but on an impressionable kid, the songs on this album were gold. 

They sing about magic, and summer, and niceness, whistling about daydreams, and girls. The album cover featured faceless clay figureines of the band. Summer in the City has jackhammer sound effects. C’mon! Some of the tunes are kid-candy, like Nashville Cats, and Summer in the City. Daydream. And Darlin’ Be Home Soon is just beautiful. Even a little chubby Wisconsin kid could see that. 

John Sebastian’s voice always hit my smile button. Zal Yanovsky – what a name – was a guitarist, and had been in a band with people who went on to form The Mama’s and the Papa’s. These were some groovy people, man. Six years later, Welcome Back, Kotter became a hit TV show, with Sebastian’s theme song hitting number 1. I think it’s one of the top TV theme songs ever. 

And this album is one of the top summer albums ever. Since summer’ll be fading fast, here’s a taste of a summer spoonful.


It’s been called the world’s worst ad.

I sure hope this ad helps East Hills Mall in St. Joseph, Mo. And it will. It’ll help the mall have a good August. Will the mall do better than last August’s back-to-school push? Doubt it. Will it have a great 2014 because of the ad? Doubt it. Will it hurt the mall’s brand overall? Yes, because people will remember “East Hills Mall = bad advertising” for a long, long time.

And I dream of a day when nobody ever asks anybody ever to ever, ever, ever to make a video for $300, AND when nobody ever says, “Sure, I’ll take $300 to make a video!”

Like that’ll happen. All week long, I bet businesses across the land asked if they could get a video made for $200.

And I bet half asked the video could also go viral.

Here’s a local news station’s behind the scenes scoop.


We put on a live concert once a month at KW2. We call it Music:30. It’s a thirty minute concert, just for our clients, staff and pals to come together and relax with a little entertainment. April’s show brought Nick Brown into our Ad Lounge for some wonderful songs about lost love and hard knocks. Go check Nick Brown out next time you get the chance.

The Rascals song “A Beautiful Morning” is great. Slapstick comedy is great. Fishing in Northern Wisconsin is great. The actor Robert Hays is great, despite his last great comedy happening 33 years ago. The Wisconsin director David Zucker of legendary Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker fame, he’s great. (He’s why I’m in advertising. Long story.) And by golly, the great state of Wisconsin is ridiculously, incredibly great.

What’s not great is when you put them all together. Then you get the new ad that Zucker directed for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. I don’t think it makes a vacation in Wisconsin look so great. I certainly hope I’m wrong.

You can see how this came to be. Zucker directed ads for Travel Wisconsin before. He’s our state’s biggest Hollywood name. I don’t get casting Robert Hays. Perhaps his Q rating is high, three decades after his last hit, “Airplane!” Certainly, this all gets good press.

But if you buy David Zucker, you’re buying slapstick. Strategically, that’s the problem. Zucker just did his job – directed slapstick. And he did great. The fish slapping at the end is really funny. But slapstick is Laurel and Hardy, the Three Stooges, and Jim Carrey. Right now, Wisconsin doesn’t need to be the Three Stooges of vacation spots.

The voice-over says, “It doesn’t take any special skills to enjoy Wisconsin.” Great. Hey you Minnesota dipsticks! We welcome you! It’ll be fun! We’ll smash some stuff! Come on over!

And the last line on screen is, “Fun. Courtesy of TravelWisconsin.com.” Indeed, that’s what people want in a vacation. But what Robert Hays went through isn’t really fun. It’s funny watching zany, madcap stuff happen to a guy who was famous three decades ago, but it’s not exactly fun.

Again, I really hope I’m wrong. I hope flocks of people laugh at that ad, go to the website to book and enjoy a wonderful Wisconsin vacation. But next time, I just hope the ad can be as great as the vacation destination it represents.

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So there’s this small tavern in the small town of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin a few miles from my home. It’s called Paddy Caughlin’s Irish Pub. It’s wonderful.

Alas, I didn’t celebrate my Irish brethren there this year. (This photo was taken last summer.) But the photo shows an incredible idea for how you can put your customers first – let other customers buy them something. In this case, it’s a beer.

This simple “pay it forward” chart shows who bought a beer for a pal, and who has a free beer coming their way. This idea plays into the neighborhood hangout brand that they’re trying to carve out. It encourages word of mouth. And it means instant revenue for the bar; with 15 to 20 percent of gift cards going completely unused, it’s likely that this is a pretty profitable tactic.

Free beer? Great idea, Paddy.



Here’s a quick tune to help you get up, get energized, and light the rocket on your creative, idea-filled work week.

New Frontier by Donald Fagen off The Nightfly.

I once had an advertising creative partner who loathed doing ads for P&G because they always demanded a demonstration of the product in action. My buddy felt that got in the way.

Apple on the other hand frequently uses “the demo” as the entire ad, not just a part of the ad. Apple and their agency TBWA are incredibly good at making the ad about the product, in a way that’s also all about the customer. In this familiar ad, which uses the same demo style as many iPhone and iPad Mini ads, it’s as if you, the customer, are using the product. Here, they sell, sell, sell by putting the customer first with these two ads that broke yesterday on their YouTube channel. The ad “Together” showed 11 apps in action. Uh, that’s a lot of demos.

It looks like some transit ads broke as well.

With 300,000 iPad apps to choose from, selling, selling, selling is a smart play.

Here’s a quick tune to help you get up, get energized, and light the rocket on your creative, idea-filled work week.

Going Mobile by The Who off of Who’s Next.

Tonight is the first big live TV event in the US since last week’s Super Bowl. Are advertisers on stand-by, waiting for something to jump on, like an electricity malfunction?

Here’s a quick video asking you to predict the future. The “blackout ads” that appeard in social media as a result of the Super Bowl blunder paved new advertising ground. Advertisers took advantage of a one-of-a-kind opportunity to instantly connect with customers in ways that they haven’t before. These kinds of ads are going to happen again, most likely during the awards show season. So, this video asks, what is this new ad format going to be called from here on out?

Here is my annual day after the Super Bowl interview WISC – TV. It’s always great to talk about the ads with Mark and Susan. Thanks folks. And hey, I like horses. They’re our friends. But I’m not loving the Clydesdale ad. Check it out.

What were your favorite and least favorite ads?