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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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.

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).

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).

 

The dilemma of presenting live vs. presenting digitally

Ok, I have to come clean. I love Mad Men as much as anyone else who works in the ad industry does. But this post is not about how much we love this show. It is about what this show can teach us (aside from drinking and sleeping on the couch during office hours).

Like presenting an idea live.

Remember this scene from Mad Men?

Yes, I know. This is one of the most famous scenes in the whole show and everybody has talked about it before on countless blogs (some of which I have read). A former teacher from ad school even used to say that this is the pinnacle of how a client presentation should be set.

But today I’m not digging into the mechanics of how to build a deck (that might be a topic for another post). Today, I’m going to talk about the dilemma of presenting your creative live vs. the comfort of presenting it digitally.

 

While sending a deck to the client over email and waiting for their comments might sound like the comfiest thing to do (especially if booking a meeting is near to impossible). Sometimes you need that extra “oomph” (this is not a word, obviously). What I mean is that sometimes you need to paint a more comprehensive picture to your client other than just words and images over a PDF.

For example, a few months ago, we presented a couple of ridiculous radio spots to a client. For the first one, I had to act the voice over and the SFX so the client could imagine how the final product would sound. The second one was presented with a spec spot that we badly recorded on our computers.

Both were sold and produced.

Why?

Because the client didn’t have to imagine them.

s8lb8ff7gtcuc

I know that this might be harder to do with TV spots or more innovative ideas. But that’s why I started this post with that Mad Men scene. Because if Don Draper had put that speech on a deck and emailed it to the client, he might not have sold the idea.

When we present live, we can act, we can paint, we can play with our client’s imaginations. Guide them to see and think the way we did when we created the idea.

When we send it digitally, we can only hope they see it the same way as we imagined it.

And let me ask you a question. How many of you have sent or received an ambiguous text message that could be interpreted in so many ways?

Exactly.

So if you really want to sell an idea, book that meeting. Don’t leave it to chance.

How do I renew my passion to create everyday?

Working in any creative industry can sometimes be really frustrating. You know, having to go through endless changes, ideas getting killed, budgets being cut (or non existent), etc. It’s no surprise that many people think that the only ones that have what it takes to succeed are the ones with an unnatural talent, a really thick skin and luck.

I can vouch for the thick skin. It is true that you need it to see your mind-babies being killed and gather enough courage to keep pushing until you give birth to a new one.

But unnatural talent?

No, sorry.

Creativity is part of human nature. Which means, we all have talent. You just need to nourish it, unleash it and enjoy it.

Even though, sometimes you need to renew your passion to create. Find that fuel that makes you keep on going against all odds. It is a different process for everyone. Here is how I do it.

Ready?

READING

Say what???

Yes, reading. Everyone who knows me or has worked with me knows that I’m always reading something. I’m either stuck to my Kindle, to the endless tabs I have open in my browser (which make my computer crash regularly) or to any book that seems interesting.

Reading keeps me up to date with new tech, ideas being made, funny stuff, entertaining stuff—you name it. Sometimes I won’t even finish the article when I’m using it for an idea I just came up with. Reading is my fuel.

For example, on a recent trip back home, I dug out a gift package I got from AKQA back when I was a not-so-little fella attending ad school. It contained a book called “Spark For The Fire” from Ian Wharton.

I started to read it and oh boy, my mind was blown.

So much that it led me to set new goals for my professional career that will make me push myself even harder than before, and a new personal project that hopefully will launch in two weeks.

I honestly don’t know if the book is really that good or should be an obligatory read for any creative (sorry Ian). But I have been recommending it like crazy to all my office mates and friends (you’re welcome Ian).

Anyway. That’s how I renew my passion to create everyday.

Now tell me… What’s yours?

 

 

Welcome to the taboo-free “Touching” Era

I’m gonna start by saying this—BREAST CANCER SUCKS!

So whenever an ad agency comes up with a really cool and clever way to encourage people to touch themselves and detect early stages of breast cancer, I’m totally on board with it.

Why breast cancer?

The answer is simple—taboos.

While we’re comfortable talking about sex, balls, male genitalia and the gruesome ways characters kill other characters on Game of Thrones, we still feel weird when talking about or seeing breasts. Remember the Super Bowl XXXVIII nipple incident? In fact, our most beloved social networks won’t let a female nipple get anywhere close to a post.

When someone comes up with an idea to fight breast cancer, the first thing they have to think about is censorship and the female nipple taboo. That’s fucking bullshit! Fortunately, some creatives are really good at this and know how to go around it.

I’m proud to say I know one of them.

One of my closest friends created The Sisterhoodie, a hoodie for all mamkind. It lets you touch yourself and become familiar with your breasts just by changing the placement of the hoodie’s pockets.

And I don’t care if I sound a little biased. This idea is fucking awesome, fashionable and about 80% taboo-free.

Enter the CTA

Learn more about The Sisterhoodie or order yours at thesisterhoodie.com.

 

Beat breast cancer. Touch yourself.