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.

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.