Marketing Mambo

Exploring the World of "Badvertising" with Advertising Vet and Author Tagline Jim Morris

January 03, 2022 Terry McDougall Season 2 Episode 1
Exploring the World of "Badvertising" with Advertising Vet and Author Tagline Jim Morris
Marketing Mambo
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Marketing Mambo
Exploring the World of "Badvertising" with Advertising Vet and Author Tagline Jim Morris
Jan 03, 2022 Season 2 Episode 1
Terry McDougall

Tagline Jim Morris is the author of Badvertising: An Expose of Insipid, Insufferable, Ineffective Advertising.

Armed with a degree in philosophy and an unnatural fondness for hippos, Jim spent a decade in pursuit of rock and roll stardom. Failing that, he became copywriter and creative director at ad agencies from FCB to DDB Worldwide.

For the past 25 years, Jim has enjoyed a thriving freelance copywriting business while teaching copywriting at Columbia College for 12 years and writing a monthly column for Screen for five years. He is currently nurturing an adjunct speaking career. Jim’s accomplishments include authoring dozens of successful taglines, including “We are Flintstones Kids, Ten Million Strong and Growing,” the cornerstone of one of the longest-running campaigns of the last half century; and creating an international branding campaign for Lions Clubs International.

Having self-published a collection of his non-advertising writing, his expose of the advertising industry is out. Jim’s advertising work can be seen on his website,

You can buy the book at Amazon and at Barnes and Noble


If you'd like to talk to Terry McDougall about coaching or being a guest on Marketing Mambo, here's how you can reach her:


Her book Winning the Game of Work: Career Happiness and Success on Your Own Terms is available at Amazon

Here's how you can reach host Terry McDougall:

Her book Winning the Game of Work is available at Amazon

Show Notes Transcript

Tagline Jim Morris is the author of Badvertising: An Expose of Insipid, Insufferable, Ineffective Advertising.

Armed with a degree in philosophy and an unnatural fondness for hippos, Jim spent a decade in pursuit of rock and roll stardom. Failing that, he became copywriter and creative director at ad agencies from FCB to DDB Worldwide.

For the past 25 years, Jim has enjoyed a thriving freelance copywriting business while teaching copywriting at Columbia College for 12 years and writing a monthly column for Screen for five years. He is currently nurturing an adjunct speaking career. Jim’s accomplishments include authoring dozens of successful taglines, including “We are Flintstones Kids, Ten Million Strong and Growing,” the cornerstone of one of the longest-running campaigns of the last half century; and creating an international branding campaign for Lions Clubs International.

Having self-published a collection of his non-advertising writing, his expose of the advertising industry is out. Jim’s advertising work can be seen on his website,

You can buy the book at Amazon and at Barnes and Noble


If you'd like to talk to Terry McDougall about coaching or being a guest on Marketing Mambo, here's how you can reach her:


Her book Winning the Game of Work: Career Happiness and Success on Your Own Terms is available at Amazon

Here's how you can reach host Terry McDougall:

Her book Winning the Game of Work is available at Amazon

Hey everybody. It's Terry with Marketing Mambo. And I got a question for you. Have you ever read a book that. That was so spot on about the topic that you couldn't put it down. And maybe we're even. Even laughing out loud by recognizing so many of the truths that were in the book. 

Well, my guest today. Has written one of those books about the advertising. Industry. His name is Jim Morris. Otherwise known as tagline Jim Morris. And the name of his book is bad, retiring and expos, a insipid, and sufferable ineffective advertising. When I first heard Jim speak, I knew that I had to have him come on to marketing Mambo because he's just somebody that knows so much, he spent 40 years in the advertise. 

Advertising game. And he just knows it so well. I immediately bought his book and read it straight through a lot of times laughing. Laughing out loud because he hit the nail on the head in terms of some of the, absurd truths about advertising. And of course, in marketing Mambo, we talk about advertising. We talk about marketing and. 

You know, obviously. Sometimes things don't go the way that we expect, or they're just hoops that we have to jump through. That just don't seem to make any sense, but we still have to do it. Jim and I will talk about a lot of those things today. He's definitely somebody who calls a spade, a spade, and I absolutely love his directness. 

And his clarity. So I think you're really going to enjoy the conversation that I have with him today on marketing Mambo. And on the topic of calling a spade, a spade. Come on. Sometimes stuff at work is just a little bit crazy. And if you sometimes are asking yourself, am I going crazy? Or is this just not, does this just not make any sense? Well, I would invite you to go out to Amazon and type in winning the game of work. 

This is a book that I wrote based on many lessons that I learned in my career. And also I interviewed 11 fascinating. Dating people about their careers this. Book is just a treasure trove of   and tricks and strategies about how you can lead not only a successful career, but also a happier career. And honestly, if we got to get up and go to work every day, 

Don't we want it to be. Satisfying. So check out my book. And now without further ado, let's get on to our conversation with tagline, Jim. Jim Morris. I think you're going to love it. Let's let the Mambo begin.  

Hey everybody. It's Terry with marketing Mambo and I am so pleased today to have as our guest. Morris, who is the author of bad advertising and expo say on insipid and sufferable ineffective advertising, I bought this book and I read it in a matter of hours. I just tore through it because as a long time marketer, I could relate to so many of the really great insights that Jim had about, marketing and advertising.

So, Jim, I want to welcome you to marketing Mambo. How are you?

Good Terry. Thanks very much for having me. 

Yeah, well, so I would love if you'd give us a little bit more,  insight into who you are and where you come from. Cause you didn't just sort of like drop out of the sky and write a book. You have a long background in the whole world of advertising. So give us a little overview. 

Yeah, sure. All right, well, I've been in the business for 40 years, so, covered a lot of ground. And during that time worked at big and small agencies for about 15 years, bouncing around, DDB and FCB and then the next 25 years as a freelance guy with my own business. And I kind of changed my brand about, Maybe 10 years ago, I had been, the communicator, for a long time.

And then I decided I was going to try, making, a  niche for myself. My specialty now is taglines writing taglines. So I became a tagline, Jim. During that time, I've obviously worked on about a thousand different, accounts and clients and assignments and projects and stuff like that.

So I won't bore you with all that. But, 

taglines are really my first love and actually my next book is going to be all about taglines. So  that's my plan. 

Well, great. I can't wait to read it. Like I said, I tore through your book and there were a few things in here that were so on the nose that I actually laughed out loud as I was reading it. A lot of what we do  on marketing Mambo is really talk about the realities of what it's like to work in marketing and advertising.

And I've had a lot of guests who. own their own agencies or have worked in marketing. I actually really wanted to get my start when I got out of college in advertising, but wasn't really able to get my foot in the door in those early days. So, really got more on, a path that led me to the client side, working in marketing.

What led you to work in advertising?

Okay, well, during the decade of my twenties, I was,  trying frantically to become a rock and roll star.  That was my plan. I got out of college. I didn't really have any plan. I had been a philosophy major, so, 

Not a lot of, house philosophers at the fortune 500 companies. So,  I kept on being told I was overqualified for any job I applied.

So I just got a job at the board of trade as a phone clerk on the trading floor. And I did that during the days. And then I was in a band. And I did that for about a decade and then the music business caskets were ugly. I couldn't stand it. So I finally dropped that dream and I, realized that then that moment, that actually.

Even in high school. In my mind, my plan B had always been to go into advertising. And part of that was because my father was the editor of advertising age for a bunch of    years. And so I was very conscious of advertising because he'd bring home issues of  his publication. Then he'd bring home all kinds of promotional stuff from, people ,  they used to have.

LP records, however, they were made in a vinyl. Yeah.

That whole thing. And he would bring home, some album of all the radio commercials in a campaign, for conta Dina, tomato paste or something, done by Stan Freberg, who was in a mortal in advertising. And so I had a lot of exposure to advertising.

I watched television constantly. And for all those reasons, I realized my love of advertising. It was a fascinating, weird, crazy, business and phenomenon. So, I put my book together and. Finally found a head hunter then tore my book apart, pardon me? A recruiter.   And she turned my book apart and helped me rebuild it.

And I got a job at, what was then a taste them Laird and Kutner, which I think is a  Havas  process now.   anyway, that's how I got in. It was just basically on the, I was astounded.  They don't want to see your resume. They don't want to see. Anything, you know, accolades and references and Lisa Guy that hired me, he just took my book, opened it up, flip through it in about 10 seconds, 15 seconds, and hired me that offered me the job. 

 Yes. So I'm presuming you were a copywriter. And so were you doing freelance stuff or did you just write some stuff that was sort of on spec?

Yeah, that was, it was on spec?

There was a book back then called how to put your book together and get a job in advertising. 


Yeah. Maxine Patro wrote that she was a recruiter in New York, I think. And I found that book and I followed it to the T plus the direction that my recruiter gave me.

And so that was how I put the book together. It was all spec work. This is before, everybody could be a designer and an art director, so I couldn't draw. So I just did stick figures. It was primitive. It was really, really from an a, but it didn't matter. Cause if you have an idea, it doesn't have to be pretty, represented in a pretty way.

If it's an ideas idea and a good creative director recognizes that. So 

Yeah. And they were like, yeah, we've got the talent in house to make that look pretty, if it's a cool idea. Yeah. Yeah. So, as I was reading your book, every single chapter. Totally hit home with me. And there were so many, the thing I love about the book is I feel like, you're just being a truth teller.

You know, there were so many times in my career where I'd just be like,  the emperor has no clothes here. Am I the only one that sees this? And I sort of sensed from reading your book, that you've been somebody who's observed and has said, you know, come on people.

Right, Wait a minute. That makes no sense. 

right. right. There's so many things and I'm like a little bit at a loss where to begin, but, you know, I'm just kind of taking a look at your book. And, I think it's chapter two selling by telling stories. Well, let's talk about the importance of storytelling and advertising.

Good. So the first thing  want to say about storytelling is that it's,  like so many things in advertising and beyond advertising.

it's been the newest, shiny object for about a decade. Now, I would say where everybody is talking about, it's all about storytelling and this and that. And I'm always kind of bridled at that notion because as far as I'm concerned, you look at any commercial.

There's a story. I mean, it tells a story whether it means to or not, and whether the person perceiving it gets a story or not, but I mean, there's, everything is a story. If you make it a story, you know what I mean? So I get a little irritated that don't, we're even talking about storytelling.  I mean, what's new,  you know,   it's always been about storytelling.

We don't need to say it out loud, but apparently we do. So, Okay.

So. The thing that struck me, maybe most of all is that, we're hired by, an advertiser to create stories around the benefits of their brand, whatever product and sell via the story.

And that's fine. And we have to be careful not to lie. Right. So, so we don't do that. but when no one ever talks about, is that in order for the ad agency to be given permission, to tell a story about an advertiser's product first, they've got to tell the advertisers. A story about themselves, about the advertiser, about the target market, about the competition, about why this campaign is such a great idea.

They've got all these stories that they have to tell, you know, and that's, really important. And, and all the same rules should apply, including don't lie, you know,  and yet I have been in countless countless meetings where maybe lying is a harsh word. But distorting and spinning and all that kind of stuff.

  want to sell your idea. And so  you turn to the marketing research and you come up with some numbers or statistics or something, and then you find a way to couch those numbers or statistics to make your point to supposedly prove what you're saying. You know, you're  making a claim and now you you're trying to.

 Provide a certain level of certainty about that,  thing you're trying to get across and, there's a lot of fudging, a whole lot of fudging that goes on. And to me,  that undermines the relationship between the agency and the client to begin with because.

There can be no trust really built when you're doing that sort of thing. Not  everybody does it all the time, but an awful lot of people do it an awful lot of the time. And I really bridled at that kind of the overarching theme of the whole book is maybe if we tried being a little more honest about our expectations, about how this is going to go, and a little more honest about what the nature of the processes, which is essentially a trial and error.

 We think of something, we think it might have a chance of helping your brand or your sale or something. And so we try it. We don't know if it's gonna work. You don't know if it's gonna work. What would you know that it's going to work? If you knew that,  it would, there would be no business like ours coming up with ideas because some people already would have figured it out, but they don't know.

So. You have, informed guesses basically about what's going to work, what ideas and at work, what media plan is going to win, all of those things. Those are all your guests. So can we just be real about that and maybe contain our expectations as well?  Hope for the best, not expecting certain success because then it forces forces at the back end.

The same problem where now you've, run the campaign and by whatever measure you. To measure the success of that campaign.   You build into that, some certainty so that you make sure you're using a measurement that will. Definitely support what you've done.

So, you know, even if click-throughs are meaningless, we're going to use click-throughs as our metric,  that kind of thing.  So there's this so much of this fudging and  know advertising industry has this well-deserved reputation as kind of a huckster isn't it doesn't need to be that way. You know, I think that clients would appreciate a little respect and trust.

 By telling them the truth, you know,  it's disrespectful not to. So that's my overarching point. 

 Yeah. There's so much there. At the beginning of that last part when you were talking about being more honest with clients, you know, one of the things that I've seen and I was the marketer on the client side, but I was interfacing with the advertising agency.

 And then.  It's sort of like a mirror image of what happens on the client side, where I'm having to go and understand the needs of the business and determine what we need to do from a marketing standpoint, and then engage the proper professionals, whether it's advertising or events or whatever else we're using in our marketing mix.

But, you know, sometimes,  the clients believe their own PR.  That they've convinced themselves that this is the reason why people do business with us, or this is, how we're positioned in the marketplace when they're really not.   I recognized that within the businesses that advertising agencies work with.  There's imbalance of power between marketing and the revenue generating parts of the business. And when I was recently listening to you speak at another event and there was, some talk about.

Sometimes us not being able to be honest with the business. Like sometimes that's, forced within the business that somebody just says, this is the way it is. And those of us in marketing or the advertising agency, we know that that's probably not going to work. We don't know. Right. And that's part of the problem we don't know.

But sometimes we have a very strong feeling that something's not going to work, but we say, okay, I will tell you from my side, from the client's side, sometimes if you push it too far, you're not going to advance within the company. Or you're going to have hard feelings with the head of some business that you need to have a good relationship with.

And so sometimes you say, well, 


I'll let this go. He liked that headline. I didn't like the headline. I pressed it as much as I could. And I guess we'll see if the marketplace likes it or not.



exactly. it's a really difficult thing, , to find that balance there because sharing your point of view in a, passionate way. That's great to a point, but, when you basically fall on your sword for something that's likely to get you on the outs and maybe out the door and stuff like that, do people don't like when you get that committed to something and they start questioning your judgment because you don't agree with them.

 Previously. So it's a very sticky, sticky, a difficult thing. As a freelancer, I've found that, I'm much more comfortable with simply sharing my point of view in a passionate way once. And then if I'm not getting any response, people they're not interested in hearing that will step back and okay, then that's your deal just ongoing on the record is saying.

This is wrong or something else would be great or something, whatever that is, I just say, okay. And then I can back off. Whereas when I was working full-time  I would have sleepless nights, spreading about 


And so,  that's one of the reasons I found freelance to be such a great  way to go for me was that it gave me permission to let go. 


I don't want to be a hack. I'm not saying be a hack. 

oh, no,

definitely share your point of view. You need to have a point of view  and then share it clearly. And then if that doesn't work, then you know, they had their chance. 

Yeah.  I know sometimes whenever I was working with the ad agency, that they would come up with what they thought was a really great creative approach or headline or something like that. And sometimes I'd just say, I can't sell it within the organization. It is not going to fly. I worked in financial services for 21 years.

In mostly in the B2B areas, so. Not always the sexiest, advertising, although  I mentioned this earlier, the work that we did with,  Condon and roots,  , two guys that, you know, who went off and started their own agency, that was one of  the best creative partnerships that I ever had, you know?

And, and I think not really having an account team between our marketing team and them being able to be very focused on, really good creative and they understood us. And plus, you know, they were guys that had decades of experience and, big agencies. We were able to do some really, really creative things.

But earlier in my career, working with some big agencies,  they would really press me as the person. I'm like, listen, I have to go to the head of the business and sell this and I can tell you right now, it is not going to fly. You know? And if I have to put my own reputation on the line, I'm not going to do it, you know?

And it just, so it does it, I think there's sort of like this domino effect. And I also think that, most. People in business that are outside of marketing, do not understand advertising. They do not understand marketing maybe if somebody has a business degree that they might have taken like one marketing class as part of their  degree, but there's not really an understanding of how marketing works.

And I think there's not comfort with it because there are    big gray areas.

 Yeah, Right.


And I think there's a lot of, not believing in marketing. So.  If you have a client that doesn't really believe in marketing to begin with, but they're told that they're supposed to have marketing. So they do that's never gonna work because to your point, then   if it's a higher up you're never going to get anything really, seemingly powerful past them because they don't think anything's going to work because they don't think marketing works, So it can be a very difficult thing.  You know, the other side of the problem, though, with like, you're talking about when you would say. You know, I like this idea, but I can never sell this up to my higher ups is that, you're grappling them with this business of second guessing, 

Sometimes is the prudent thing to do.

 you can't really avoid it the second guessing, but it also kills. I mean, this is really, at least as true within the had agency and trust.  As it is in talking to the client, presenting an idea, trying to get an idea.  To the client can be the most difficult thing because of the barriers you have with in my case copywriter.

Okay. So I have a partner director partner. I have to convince that partner. This is a good idea. And we have to convince my creative director. It's a good idea. And he.  That's get some other creative director  to agree and then account management comes in. You have to convince them it's a good day, you know?

And I don't know. And so it's really, really easy at any point there for anyone to say, Nope. I don't like it. I mean, nobody ever got fired for saying no. Right. 


so that, a problem is that you have to have this  willingness as an act of faith, that this is a really interesting idea.

And it could work, you've got to have everybody in line on that or that the idea dies. And so there's this graveyard out there full of zillions of great ideas that just couldn't get even to the client. Nevermind.  Through layers of the client. 

Yeah. it's definitely kind of a domino effect. And it's interesting to think about the fact that, when we're advertising that we're trying to influence  prospects and clients to take a certain action, but there is  this, whole chain of influence that has to happen for us to even get.

Advertising,  put out into the marketplace. So  it is really fascinating and actually it got to a point where, for me that was actually the more interesting part of being a marketing director was just, strategizing about how do I influence to get things done within this organization.

 I think that you may have, touched on this in the book as well about the fact that, all of us consume so much marketing and advertising, right. We're surrounded by it here in America. And,  I think that, that makes a lot of people feel like they are experts.   In, marketing and advertising.

And, I had, heads of the investment bank coming to me with what they thought were just fantastic headlines, you know? And I was like, most of the time it was. Terrible humor, that probably would get us sued because it had some kind of, you know, raunchy humor or something in it. And like how, I mean, I could send those off generally, but, what do you think about that whole idea about the fact that people, because we consume so much marketing and advertising, that we tend to consider ourselves to be experts.

yeah. it's  definitely is out there. And the problem is consumers in one sense, are experts on Abernathy. They have become expert at ignoring advertising. And so  getting their attention is the biggest problem in the business. And it's the problem  that maybe gets the least attention most of the time, the agency and the client work.

 Tirelessly to hone that message. That's going to be in the ad. You know, what's the message, you know?  And so they spent all their time and energy on that, Nevermind that if that message doesn't. Resonate with the consumer.  It's going to be invisible basically. And then you've wasted all of your money because no one's paying attention to the ad and consumers have become very gifted at ignoring advertising.

So, breaking that barrier  is a huge, huge problem. So then yes, then on the other side of that, many people think they're experts in the advertising for that reason, because they've seen so much of it and they've but Yeah. That's kind of a big reason why I wrote this book because I was hoping that, people out there in the world just general, regular civilians, not people in this business might glean a little insight into why someone.  ban advertising is so bad,  because there's all these barriers and on the whole book is about barriers to doing good advertising and civilians don't really understand any of that. 


No, you don't see them, the sitcoms and the movies about advertising. It doesn't really, mad men. My mind was a soap opera set at an advertising agency background, not really appropriate to today's, situations. So, they, no one ever gets a glimpse of 

what's really true about the process, the business and all that. So. 

 Yeah. Very, very true. One of the things  that I was, thinking about also, and you touched on this a little. You touched on this in the book and we might've talked about it a little bit today, but, understanding what the purpose of any particular ad is as well, because, I definitely know that.

 In the, the businesses that I worked in that senior leadership was not comfortable with how much money they spend on marketing and advertising.  And I think part of it is because a lot of times  it was really impossible to directly.  Connect the dots between the investment and the return on the investment.

You know, it's, it's really hard to, assign, attribution to any particular activity. But it's important when you're developing. Advertising or any other type of marketing tactic to get clear on what is it that we  this to do? You know,  is this a brand awareness campaign is, you know, do we want people to give us their contact information?

Do we want them to rush out to the store? Is it a promotion? You know? And  I think that some people think about advertising. They expect like one ad to do everything. For the business,

Yeah. Especially in small business,

world that's really true, small businesses,  in their minds. They can barely afford to run one print ad in the local paper or something or one banner ad. And so that's what they do. And then nothing happens and they.

Write that off well, advertising doesn't work. You know, when that just isn't really giving it a fair shot and those people maybe shouldn't be advertising in the first place that our budget is limited, as it is, might more wisely be spent on other things, paying to go to trade shows or, you know, something like that.

So, Yeah. It's a complicated, complicated mess for sure.

Yeah. It's part of the reason why I love it though. It's 


Oh, it's. 

It's meaty. One of the chapters you talked about the Mimi, me and I always thought that that was kind of interesting too, because, often I'd have people in the businesses I worked in saying, well, that doesn't appeal to me and I'd be like, okay, well you're not our, you're not our target client.

So,  I think that's kind of interesting  I forgot what the name of the chapter was, but it was the one about impossible job descriptions. That's it. I actually am working with a coaching client. who, At one point worked for a very large business and she was sort of in strategic marketing.

She now works for a startup and it's just really her and like maybe a half-time person working with her on marketing. She'll come up with an idea like, oh, I think that we need to do, a Google ad words campaign or something like that. And her boss is constantly saying. Well,  just Google it and you figure out how to do it, or if they want to do PR it's, well you can just like Google how to do a press release.

And  it's really, really interesting I mean, I don't think that you would say that if you were talking about like a doctor or something like, oh, well you're just a pediatrician. You can do my heart surgery. Can't you.

Yeah. Well, if they were doing a  P and L statement or something got that, I think they would give it a little more respect, you know, that, that, that sort of thing. Don't just Google how to do one of those. A P and L yeah, I don't think so. And again, that comes down to not having.

And actual understanding of what the business entails. So that's part of the problem there, and there's a lot of naivete in there and there's, there's a lot of, a lot of stuff. Yeah.

And you know, that Mimi Minas thing  it comes up all the time. when I'm in front of  advertising students in college One of the first things that  I'll tell them. Your job as a copywriter is you have four jobs. Actually,  you need to be an idea. Thank her upper. You need to be a wordsmith. So you're really good at language. You need to be a salesman so you can sell your idea up and down the line, share your vision and articulate it and so forth.

And you need to be an actor.  And that accurate thing has all to do with the Mimi Minas is that if you're talking to a target audience that isn't you, which is, we're almost always talking to, you have to find a way to get in the heads of that, of that target audience. Somehow you need to be able to have some understanding of the way they see the world.

There are pain points. What matters to them? What kinds of things might appeal to them? You have to have all that in your head the entire time that you're trying to think of an idea for an ad.  And that's really, really hard. And the default is to fall back to, oh, I think this would be funny. I know, but that's funny to, you might be offensive in your target audience, so that's a, that's part of the business.

Yeah. I don't know what the answer to that one is. 

Yeah. I think that you mentioned,  the  burger king crazy chicken. 

Yes. Uh huh. Yes. Subservient chicken. 

Subservient chicken. Another burger king campaign that comes to mind is when they had that like plastic head burger king. 

I mean, clearly I wasn't in the target audience because I'd see this.

I'd be like, I don't get it. I do not get it. Maybe this is, 18 to 24 year olds think that this is or people that eat a lot of fast food, think that this is a really very compelling, but I sometimes I see advertising and I'm like, I don't get it. Just don't get it.

Yeah, I'd like to think that that's because they're talking to a different audience than you shouldn't get it, but I don't think that's awesome a case often. It's just that they, that it's a mess  for any number of reasons. All of which are talked about in that book or not all, but most of which are talked about in my book.

So yeah. Yeah. There's just any number of ways to screw up the advertising process.

Yeah,  I'm presuming that it's something like we're going to cut through the clutter that, we're going to grab their attention. 

Yeah, yeah. 

So I do want to talk to you about humor and  advertising, and you actually brought up Geico and progressive, and you also talk about, humor  ha ha ha humor versus like the true, belly laugh.

Like it really gets me. And  I do agree that a lot of, like the flow from. Progressive. And a lot of the Geico were just like, Hmm. You know? Hmm. Yeah, that's amusing. But I will say that there have been some of their commercials that I literally have laughed out loud and I've gone back and watched there's one, for Geico recently where   there was a mom in her kitchen making dinner, and then they kind of pan to the side and there's, some rap group from the early nights.

That did that song whoop. There it is. And then all of a sudden her husband comes in and they start doing these  dances from the nineties and the daughter does an eye roll and leaves the room. I cracked up at that one and if I saw it, when I was fast forwarding through shows, I would stop and go back and watch it.

And then there was one that, progressive did too.  Jamie was married to a supermodel and he also was a talented, Spanish guitarist. And everybody was like, whoa, what's up? You know, just kind of, it's funny because with the progressive, it's almost like, the characters and they're telling you stories all the time.

And a lot of the stories are not that amusing, but because we know the characters that, they have permission to continue telling us stories. And some of them are a lot better  than others. But,  yeah, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the whole idea of humor in advertising.

Yeah. Well, and couldn't pick two better examples. , first of all,  the big, underlying problem is that humor is completely subject. And so,  some people find this funny and some people don't find such and such funny, so you're not going to get consensus  on that sort of thing.

So for that reason, humor is always kind of risky, but humor is also, I think the potentially the most powerful weapon you have in your creative arsenal, most of them. You know, if going, getting serious or getting  weird, but not funny.  All of those things have a bigger issues, I think, than going with something that's at least mildly funny,  but then, one of the things I talked about is that.

Is  if you have a, creative team working on it, that aren't actually comedy writers, and they're just trying. And so they're looking at the examples of humor and advertising.

and then they try to kind of mimic it or whatever, but they don't have the thing. There's a kind of funny bone that, that funny writers have that other writers don't have.

So it's like, just recognize that you don't have that. And don't worry about that because then you get these things. I call human humanoids where the commercial has the cadence structure that casting that everything that a funny commercial would have, except for that thing at the bottom, we're supposed to the punchline happens or whatever it is that kicker that's supposed to really be funny.

And it's not very funny,  but people have become accustomed to  chocolate.   At that when they see it, because they know they're on, it's like cue the audience to laugh. And so they do very obedient, like, but it doesn't matter because it doesn't affect, the emotion of humor actually has a powerful effect on your brain.

If it's genuinely something you're finding funny,  if you're just faking it, then it has no effect on your brain. And so it's a mess and that way, so that's 

Yeah, I know you, I think in the book you talk about the capital one commercials and, 


  That got me thinking about those in particular and what it strikes me as is, the old sitcoms that just aren't that funny. And they run the laugh track. Right. And you're like, oh, okay. This is where I'm supposed to live.

 Yeah. And I  agree, like, I definitely don't have that, like emotional,  it's almost like you just tolerate them, you know, like, okay, this is kind of stupid. I'll whatever, you know, what, see what their, weird situation is.  but it's not really that entertaining  you know, one thing I will say about those insurance commercials is that I actually do not do business with progressive or Geico. I actually do business with USAA, which does not  use humor in their advertising. So I'm not sure what, that says 


that is interesting.   On the other hand, I'm one of those weird people who has brand allegiances and I will not patronize brands, generally that offend me and a progressive firm offends me.  I will never, ever, I don't have to go to, or just not be insured.  I'll do that before I will.  Whereas Geico, really admire Geico because.

 If you have a lot of money. And they've done. The smartest thing you can do, which is run four or five different campaigns, more or less simultaneously all the time, millions and millions  of commercials. And so you're going to hit on a reasonable number of them.  And so you get, what's seen as a successful campaign,  even if there's a lot of clunkers, you don't worry about people forget about those because they didn't make an impression, but the ones that are really funny, I've laughed out loud at  many Geico commercials that they do really well with.

 And so I admire them, but I admire them more for not having just one campaign. When you have a  bunch of them, 

Yeah,  exactly.

you gain doesn't work. If the get-go doesn't work for you, something else they do will.     But again,  if you have more money than God go for it, but  for the rest of us with no budget, you know, what do you do?


can't do 

  Yep.  Definitely. Well, so Jim, I feel like I could talk to you forever. Maybe I'll have you come back for another episode, but, what advice would you have for advertisers for marketers about how to avoid doing  bad advertising?

  Okay.  Yeah.   30 seconds. 

I know this could be a whole nother episode or series, 


just some quick hits.

again, I think a little,   honesty forthrightness.  Would go a long way, both sides. that would be really good to just  talk frankly, about what your situation is, what your budget is, what your timing is. All of these things are. There's just so much subterfuge when there doesn't need to be.

It would make a huge difference. If I knew that I was given a two week. Deadline to come up with an ad campaign. Here's the creative brief. You've got two weeks and I know that's a real deadline, then that's meaningful to me. And it really helps having that deadline. And that's enough time, a couple of weeks, these days.

But if I suspect it's a false deadline, just because some of the, have some rule of thumb about, if you spend this much time on the strategic thing, then you spend 20% on the creative. And so they just pick a date based on that. If I have a suspicion about that, I'm not going to take the deadline seriously.

And now I don't like you because you've misled. You know, so it does a lot of damage and there's no reason for it. Just be real, whatever the real truth is, share that. And,  things will be so much better just to VAT what happened. 


There's one. And then I would say, overthink, it was maybe the other prime problem where.

You show somebody an ad campaign and  the agenda becomes to find a way to kill the campaign.   Because again, as I say, no one ever got fired for saying no. So  that happens all the time, rather than taking a leap of faith, that your agency might have some idea what it's doing and they're powerfully recommending this idea.

Maybe. You're not sure makes you a little uncomfortable. Try it. Try it. What's the worst, second hand.  You know, what's the very worst thing. It won't move the needle of your business. Well, how many ads have you done that did  and how would you know, because you don't have any way to measure and then so take a chance on something.

Not a big chance, a little chance, don't look for reasons to kill something. Keep on showing the ad concept around the office and so forth. Somebody will be happy to oblige you by criticizing it. And now you have your excuse to kill the ad. And meanwhile, how's your business. 

    Yeah. There are so many issues.  One thing that I think is very true on the client side is very often the clients haven't thought through clearly what their expectations are or even what their needs are. And, they're sort of like, I mean, they may fill out a brief, but the brief is not very thoughtful and they're tossing it over to the ad agency.

And then when they don't get  back.  Or their expectation is that the ad agency can sort of like read their mind and come back with something. And when they're not getting it,  there's dissatisfaction. But I think that a lot of times it's very unrealistic expectations. Like if you haven't done the introspection within your organization to understand what you need,  guess what?

You're not going to get it.

that's right. And  it's funny, you mentioned that because there was a time long ago when the client didn't write the creative brief. Now I think that's more the rule than in the. 


In the old days, it was the account management people and the research people at the ad agency who wrote, you know, the clients said, we need an ad, that does this.

And then it was up to the agency to come up with the creative brief, which had the. Nuggets of insight about the target market and had the,  really, smart expression of what the, benefit was and all that stuff. And they would, toil on those things for weeks, and now you don't see that happening.

Or the creative brief is just kind of a perfunctory wrote thing for the most part. And it's not really fulfilling. It's fun. 

It's not, not a great jumping off point for 


Well, Jim, like I said, I feel like I could talk to you, for much longer than. One episode and, we will have to talk about having you back maybe when you write your book on taglines.  So tell me, where can people find you. 

Okay. Well, I wish I could tell you that. Hi, my book is on Amazon and Barnes and noble, and guess I have a website tagline, And I have the whole page on the website about the book with links and all kinds of stuff. 

  So folks, you heard it here. Tagline, and bad advertising available on Amazon, right? Other places where fine books are sold. So, Jim, thank you so much for being with us today.

Thanks, Jerry. It's been a pleasure.