I SAID EARRINGS, YOU ASSHOLE

The CA Advertising Annual arrived on my doorstep the other night. I recall how much I used to look forward to pouring poring over of the industry’s finest work displayed therein. For me, those days are gone. I’m not exactly sure what happened. I guess I finally let go of the idea that I would someday see my own work in CA. Don’t get me wrong. I still examine the winning entries. I just do it with detachment, like I’m a spectator. Maybe it’s because I put my journalist’s cap back on, and that’s how I see things today. Maybe it’s just the realization that the ad world, as seen through the trades and various award shows, is not the world I inhabit. The fact is, very few people do live in that world. Even people who work at the best agencies, are in many cases, anonymous tools. It’s not like the entire creative department gets in to CA (or jets off to Cannes every spring). One or two teams get in. Everyone else is a spectator to one degree, or another.
So, what is there to see in this year’s edition?
One of my favorite campaigns is The Martin Agency’s work for The Onion. Sure, the bar is set absurdly low with a client like this. Nevertheless, Martin’s work is pretty sharp. Here are some headlines from this copy-driven campaign:

GIVE THE GIFT THAT WILL MAKE HER SAY, “I SAID EARRINGS, YOU ASSHOLE.”
READ ABOUT THE WORLD THAT’S PASSING YOU BY AS YOU MASTURBATE.
IT’S JUST A NEWSPAPER. YEAH, AND GANDHI WAS JUST A MEXICAN.
WE FIRED OUR FACT-CHECKERS AND PASSED THE SAVINGS ON TO YOU.
ALWAYS POLITICALLY CORRECT. EXCEPT FOR THE STORIES ON RETARDS.

We have Martin’s Rob Katzenstein, the copywriter on The Onion’s business, to thank for these lines. Sure many of us had similar in-your-face spec. campaigns in our books at one time. Perhaps, they’re in there now. But Katzenstein managed to get his “tattoo parlor” aesthetic in to CA. Nice work, if you can get it.

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About David Burn

Native Nebraskan in the Pacific Northwest. Brand builder at Bonehook. Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. Contributor to The Content Strategist. Believer in Gossage, Bernbach and Clow. Doer of the things written about herein.

  • http://bullshitobserver.com Todd

    These days I’ve been thinking that creatives doing work for “The Onion” or Matchbox Cars or Tabasco or Sporting Goods aren’t even in the same industry as I am. Most of the clients that make it in are just rediculously easy to sell.
    Try selling a fucking semi-conductor motherfuckers.

  • Mark Trueblood

    I saw this campaign in CA too.
    I didn’t understand what was supposed to be funny about several of the lines. But a few were great.
    I think the campaign is okay, but for the most part it’s not nearly as compelling as The Onion itself.
    True

  • tim

    Thanks for the post David.
    One correction, though. Unless you really do happen to like your CA with some Aunt Jemima syrup on top, I think the verb you’re looking for in that first sentence is “poring.”
    :-)

  • http://adpulp.com David Burn

    Thanks, Tim. What I wouldn’t give for a full time copy editor.

  • Carl LaFong

    Despite being as insecure and egotistical as the next creative, I’ve never bought into the lemming-like mentality that causes otherwise intelligent people in this business to attach such absurd importance to award shows. When a magazine like “Creativity” devotes the bulk of an issue to tallying up who won what at the various orgies of self congratulation, it just shows how completely out of hand things have gotten. (That, and their blatant bias in favor of certain individuals and agencies, is why I no longer subscribe to that particular publication.)
    I’ve never won — nor am I likely to ever win — a Lion, a Pencil, a Clio. And that’s jake with me. As much as I respect the people who judge these shows (and it’s always the same 20 or so year after year), I don’t need their approval. I’m perfectly capable of deciding on my own what’s good and what isn’t.
    Besides, the only people whose opinions really count are the people we are advertising to.
    Having said all that, I too used to look forward to the CA Advertising Annual each year. But it just seems anticlimatic. You already know what’s going to win — and you’ve already seen it in the trade journals and online.
    I got this year’s annual in the mail last week — and I haven’t looked at it once. In fact, I still haven’t looked at last year’s either. I don’t know if that means I am growing up — or just growing apathetic.
    It’s nice to hear, though, that Martin’s done some nice stuff for “The Onion.” Aside from the occasional ad for the JFK Museum and their ongoing Geico campaign, what’s Martin been doing for the past five years?

  • http://adpulp.com David Burn

    I’d say Martin’s been pretty busy with the “What can brown do for you” campaign.
    Maybe a better question, is does “The Onion” even need advertising?
    I’d hate to think Martin got in to CA for spec work.