The day I almost became a pro soccer player (or experienced the best scam possible)

Since I moved to NY and got my brand new NY area-code phone number, I think I’ve received at least one scam call a week.  Sometimes I hang up immediately. And sometimes, when I don’t have anything better to do, I actually listen to the things they have to say.

And I gotta say…

Scam artists are geniuses!

But today everything changed.

Hands down, I’ve received the best scam call ever.

So, cue the memory flashback sound effect and let me start with my story:

It was 10 or so in the morning. I was sitting down at my desk pretending to update some copy comments from last night. I was sharing with my ACD the next Stephen King movie he should watch when my phone started to ring. The number identified as being from Newark, New Jersey.

I was perplexed. I’m so unpopular, I receive fewer calls than a cow with a cellphone.

So I picked it up.

Immediately, someone called me by my name and started inviting me to what could easily be one of my childhood dreams. Play for a professional soccer team. Well… kind of a professional team. It was for the NY Red Bulls, who play in the MLS, which isn’t considered a real pro league (sorry, Red Bulls fans).

At first, I couldn’t believe my luck. Finally, I was being recognized for my talent to trip myself while dribbling the ball. And I knew that some MLS teams pay so little that often have players with side gigs.

Then, the questions started. How did they get my number? Maybe my old coach, who probably don’t remember me recommended me. Maybe they knew Mexicans kinda play good, so they’re calling every Mexican they could. Maybe, just maybe, they realized I have a dormant Messi-like talent nobody (not even me) knew about.

There I was, picturing me, in all my glory, wearing the red-white Adidas kit. The number 15 cradling my surname, while every fan at the Red Bull arena shouting my nickname.

And then, it hit me

This might be a scam…

…or a plot to get me killed.

So while I was trying way too hard not to shit my pants, I politely told them I wasn’t interested and hung up.

And that was it. Cool story, bro.

But, if this was a real call and any of the Red Bulls scouts is reading this, I have something to say.

I’M IN! I WANNA PLAY FOR YOU GUYS!

 

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Procrastination (or the post that took 7 months to write)

Yes, you’re not reading it wrong. It took me seven months to write this f****ng post.

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As much as I’d like to blame my lack of posting to my new job, my trips to renew/get a new work visa, the holidays, a nighttime shift, charitable charity, a sports league I joined but never went to a game, an Instagram-worthy social life, failed business ventures, food comas, global warming, modeling gigs, stunt double duties, being mistaken for a famous person, exploding phones, Exploding Kittens or even trying to win the Lotto jackpot—the truth is I didn’t write a post because I was procrastinating the shit out of it.

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I swear I even had at least ten good topics I could write about (and by ten I mean I had between 0 and 2).

So, when I saw a fellow writer documenting her trip to the other side of the world, her 30-day journey to learn how to draw, and a few other posts she wrote after that, I forced myself to write this.

So let’s talk a little about PROCRASTINATION

Look, I was gonna do some deep research about its origins, causes, if there’s an actual medical condition associated with it, but honestly, I would end up procrastinating that too. So, ya’ll end up with the next best thing: a Wikipedia article! (come on, click it, you know you want to).

So much winning!

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Next, I spent a couple more days procrastinating.

And then, as the truly great creative I am, I went to Giphy.com to find the GIFs I needed and finish this post 10 minutes before my next meeting.

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I even got a guest writer to help me, but she procrastinated too and this is the only thing she could come up with:

Sopenis by Alice X.

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I make ads. I block ads.

When I was growing up, I remember my excitement when my parents finally decided to get cable TV and I was gonna be able to watch as many ads and cartoons as I desired (I know, I was a weird kid). I grew up watching ads and I loved it!

So yeah, I grew up watching ads and I loved it!

Little me had no clue that one day I would become a proper ad man and be the mind behind those ads.

But what “little me” couldn’t predict is that “adult me” would also pay to block ads.

Let me explain.

I still love ads, any kind of ad. In fact, I spend most of my day watching new ads, good ads. But let’s be honest. There are so many bad ads that finding those few good ones is like finding a gold mine in your backyard (or any other analogy you’d like better).

For example, every time I watch The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on Hulu, I get this Bud Light Lime ad that’s, for the lack of words, bad (sorry if you’re the ones behind it, but you know deep in your heart that I’m right).

I think I’ve seen this ad at least 20-30 times in the past 3 weeks. But when I try to analyze the thought behind it, my only outcome is this:

Limes in a beer -> Hispanics -> Spanish

Refreshing -> Summer -> Palm trees

=

Palm trees speak Spanish

I know it’s really hard to get good ads out there (heck, I’ve done my fair share of embarrassing stuff that I’m afraid to look at). I know that there’s always someone in every department and every client that maims the original vision. I also know that as creatives, we need to pick our battles and only fight for the things that are monumental.

But now, technology is against us and those Ad Blocking plugins are just gonna keep on growing, and more people are going to start paying to block ads. Or if the Adblock Plus thing goes trough, see only the ads that pay to be seen (an extra to their media budget).

So unless we start educating ourselves and our clients to be bolder and create better content and better ads that people want to see and share, the people like “little me” that love to see ads will go extinct (and our jobs with it).

P.S. I also pay to see ads. Good ads.

Look ma! I’m cashing in nostalgia

Now that it seems that the Pokemon Go fever is fading away. I think it’s safe to talk about how everybody is cashing in nostalgia without sounding like one of those haters who think that game is only for geeks and children.

And before you start bashing me, I’m a level 16 Team Valor trainer that’s also a proud father to a 1035 CP Snorlax. So fuck yeah! I’m a geek too!

But let’s move on to our main topic…

Nostalgia—the single most powerful money making element since selling cocaine was so harshly prosecuted by the cops. Everyone is cashing in with it, from Hollywood, to sports, to video games.

The fever is everywhere!

Sometime ago, I wrote about how Pop Culture tends to recycle everything from fashion to music. Even then Hollywood movie releases were mostly sequels or book /comic book adaptations. Nothing original coming our way.

Now it seems everybody is catching up to that and making as much money as they can. And Pokemon Go is the perfect example to that. Just look at how it changed the way people interacted with the outside world, revived the once death trend of Augmented Reality (AR) and made a video game from my generation popular to children again. It was genius!

But if you still don’t believe me that everyone is catching in with nostalgia, check out this trailer…

That’s right! The Bat-Dance is back—in animation form!

Now, if you excuse me. Gotta go find something from my childhood that will make me millionaire. Anybody interested in VHS movies?

A post about nothing (or something)

There I was, coming back from a morning run, ready to get into the shower when my mind started spinning. Ideating. Creating. I don’t know how to describe what was happening to me, but between suds and weird shampoo hairstyles I was on fire! Idea fire!

That’s the life of the creative, always thinking about the next big thing (or the next bad joke) while doing the most brainless thing possible. In my case, the idea was to write a blog post about nothing.

Why nothing?

Because it’s more challenging than writing a post about something.

Sure, I can definitely talk about politics, but everyone is talking about it so much that it stopped being funny and insightful at all.

(Full disclosure: I’m totally against the radioactive orange)

I could talk about news in the ad business, but most of them have been covered by AdAge, AdWeek, AgencySpy, etc.

(The only thing I’ll say is: I’m glad that the gender and diversity problem it has is being addressed and noticed by everybody)

Maybe I could talk about the script for the SuperBowl ad I’m hoping to make.

Or maybe I can finish this post as it is and I’ll have completed my mission. A post about nothing (or something).

All hail the interns

Summer is here. Which means that if you’re lucky enough, you’ll get to the agency one day to find out a bunch of kids sitting everywhere (some will even claim your favorite spot as theirs).

You watch them, you sniff them, you close your eyes a little to look more dramatic and suspicious. Then you walk to your seat and start working on your day to day. You know someone from HR, your boss or the creative manager will come to introduce them or at some point you’ll receive an email telling everybody that the interns are here.

Cool.

Over the next few days, you notice that this new breed of graduates or soon-to-be graduates are looking at you more scared than a gazelle being chased by a cheetah. You decide to approach them, introduce yourself and be the friendly face of the company.

Deep in your mind you know that these millennials don’t know shit, but maybe, maybe one of them will teach you what’s hip in Pop Culture (do we still say hip?). You decide to invite them for lunch, talk to them, be part of their group (you might even go as far as date one of them if there’s a cute girl or a cute boy in the mix).

And that’s the breaking point.

*Dramatic music begins to play.

This is the moment where you can shape that intern into your heavyweight champion or make him hate coffee runs for the rest of their life. You’re now a mentor.

But sadly, some people are not born to be mentors. Some have an ego that’s bigger than the agency and won’t accept new blood challenging or bringing new and innovative ideas. So they go for the easy route of not including them into the real work and just send them for coffee runs.

It’s sad.

They don’t remember that once they were interns. That once they tried to break into the business (any business). They forgot how hard it is to learn if there isn’t someone to teach you or at least tell you when you did something wrong.

I know because I was an intern once. And I had awesome bosses and mentors that threw me into challenging projects. Some of them changed the company I worked for. Others forgot about me and made me endure months of just sitting at my desk watching the clock tick; no projects, no trust, no benefit for them or the company.

So please, please… Don’t be the asshole boss and give your interns a chance. Some of them will rock!

That leaves me with just one more question.

Where’s my fucking intern?

The invention of the time machine and the “A-ha” moment

Ever since I started working in this business I’ve been wondering what was the “A-ha” moment for the world’s most renown creatives. You know, that moment when they said to themselves, “oh shit! I really wanna do this for a living”—or something close to that.

I know that the Boguskys, the Drogas, the Grafs or the Royers of this world have already talked about their beginnings in the industry, the things they did to become geniuses and more. But correct me if I’m wrong, I haven’t read or heard them talking about that “A-ha” moment.

When we are young, we are naturally attracted to anything that’s creative. We’re born creative. And some people cling so hard to that feeling that they grow up to become artists, entrepreneurs, mad men at a very young age. They say they were always attracted to that life and that job, but they never mention the moment when they make that decision.

Take me for an instance. I’ve always loved creativity and took it as a hobby when my life/school took me to the boring corporate world (the kind that wears ties and suits everyday because they’re told to, not because they need to). When I was a pubescent teenager trying to decide what I was going to do with my life, nobody told me that this ad world existed (my school didn’t have career planning or counselors). So when I had to make a choice, I chose business. Cool, exciting, boring business.

That choice led me to a wealthy and successful career path. The money was good, the people were good, but I wasn’t happy. I was just going with the flow.

Then it happened.

Out of the blue, a teacher at a course I was taking explained how the ad industry worked.

My eyes opened wide, my pupils dilated, my adrenaline spiked and my mind was blown (okay, I might have exaggerated a little bit. But for the sake of argument, let’s all think this actually happened).

I had my “a-ha” moment.

I wanted to be a creative. I needed to be a creative. I suddenly got the courage to drop everything and pursue my passion. And four years later, here I am. Writing a blog a lot of people read one day (thanks AgencySpy) and having a blast at life (thanks boss).

So if I ever invent a time machine (or someone does before me). I’d travel to that moment where Gerry, David, Ted, Alex, Steve, Bill and more got that “a-ha” moment. Just to see if they were once as lost as I was.

Or…

On a second thought, I’d better travel back to when I was a naive and clueless teenager and counsel me to become a creative sooner in life (and how to successfully hookup with my high school crush before my worst enemy does—sorry, not sorry).

So M, if you read this. I’m coming for you (or coming back for you?—I’m confused).

*This article happened thanks to “The Time Machine”, a TV spot for one of my clients that you might or might not see on your screen soon (I haven’t sold it to the CD yet).