Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Thank you, Blogger's blogged, Mercury is Retrograde

According to Astrologer Extraordinaire, Kathryn Silverton, Mercury won't stop messing with electronics, timing, connections, etc. (see until the beginning of August.

Must be why I've been trying to publish comments on several posts, but nothing seems to be working.  I'll keep trying, one day they may show up. 

Thank you for your comments and support.  I'll let the world see your comments as soon as Blogger cooperates or Mercury goes Direct, whichever comes first.

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Truth. A$$holes. The line we both loved? The END?


It is true I retired from teaching classes two terms ago. 

It is true my husband, pets and I are moving to South America.

It is true there are other things to do on Thursdays than spend eight-ten hours on Skype.

Relative Real A$$holes: See Kamikaze Copywriting Occupational Safety Rules 18-22

To the student too slimy to face me with his opinion: It is true anyone - even I - can be an a$$hole. It is also true calling me one on a form without signing your name proves my assessment and you weren't paying attention.

The construction of your other sentence fragments revealed your secret identity as clearly as your signature would have.

Had you listened more closely, you might have learned something about alternate writing styles.

Great Line.  Take it Out.  Put it Back In.  No, Take It Out.  No

There was something in the same critique I'd like to clarify.

Yes, I sometimes make students change a line, then change it back.  A sign of advancing senility?  No, something I do in my own work all the time.

When you change one line - one word, one punctuation, one line break - in copy, it often dictates previously beloved lines must change with them.  Adding or subtracting lines can also make the line we love obsolete.

A new approach may be so much better than your previous version.  What was once your best line may now be the weakest.

At times, corrections in information, solidifying or changing the copy's style/voice/tense/whatever makes good lines go bad,

Other times, changing anything - or changing the whole thing - still doesn't solve the problem.

As frustrating as it may be for any writer, going through the above exercises only proves what a great - or lousy - line it really was.

It's part of the process.  It also prepares you for clients, CDs and other higher ups who aren't happy with anything you write - until they change something. 

The End?

I've never been a dependable blogger. I still owe readers several posts I promised and never delivered.

I am considering publishing this entire blog into several smaller booklets for distribution. 

I am discussing publishing ebooks on various important subjects - everything from job interviewing to quitting to all you do in between - in tandem with at least two other "experts" with differing views.

I keep promising myself a new site, linked to this blog, to do those things plus a few goodies to help you concept, find work and show off your A shirt form (I had two my last term, so I must not have been that big an a$$hole), connect with mentors and a host of other thoughts.

Right now, however, I have to sell everything we own (looking for stacking Russian dolls depicting President Bill Clinton and his most notorious paramours?  How about three framed prints of various Dogs Playing Poker scenes?), find a place to live, probably in Cuenca, Ecuador (where even butterflies have humane constitutional rights), figure out the right CBD doses to keep the pets quiet on an International Flight and hug a few people good-bye.

Watch This Space

I'll let you know what's next as soon as the dust clears.  Meanwhile, watch your Kamikaze Copy Sins. Keep those concepts Kamikaze.

If I pick up some freelance or get a question from a former or someone else's present student, I may even add posts here as they arise.

Keep Kamikaze Copywriting Occupational Safety Rules #21 and #22 in mind:

21.  Just because he/she is an a$$hole does not mean you should be one. (Agencies know who the a$$holes are - if they're there, it's because someone much higher up than you feels they are somehow necessary.)

22.  Keep your honest opinions of a$$holes to yourself.  Remember.  Advertising makes strange bedfellows (except for Safety Rules #9-#13.)

What are Safety Rules #9-#13?  Something else I may publish.

Friday, February 8, 2019

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER - Who won the shirt and Why

I started this post several months ago, got caught up in other things and realized I failed to recognize a student who worked hard and won a Kamikaze Copy Sin shirt for her efforts.

Last term I announced a tag contest.  Lexus has a new tag composed of two Kamikaze Copy Sins - Experience Amazing.  As many of you know, experience as a noun and/or verb is a KCS (Kamikaze Copy Sin).  Amazing, a true KCS to anyone passing through my class' experience.  

Both words are overused relics of Ad Ages past.  Experience, a holdover from the New Age 80s (thank goodness another from that era, Paradigm, has all but vanished).  Amazing, from the birth of Medicine Shows and non-magical magic acts.  Amazing's still non-magical.  Both, over used to the point of meaningless.

Who won the shirt?

Kudos to a winner!

India Allen won the Kamikaze Copy Sins shirt for submitting the winning Lexus tag redo.  To  judge fair and objectively, I gave Circus co-founder and super recruiter Carol Vick a list of the finalists:

Machine Alive
Drive On
Auto Exotica

I explained the assignment to Carol, sent the list without comments or attributes. Carol – who probably knows more about what agencies are buying than anyone else I know – picked India’s entry,

Drive On

The Winner.  I think we had some good choices for her pick from.  Here’s India in her shirt.

Always thought the shirts were pretty cool.  India really dresses it up.

Before you say, "Wait!  I would have chosen ________," let me remind you.

Advertising is subjective.  Carol's job is different than mine.

Carol's job is to determine what Creative Directors are looking for.  In this case, I'd guess a line the Lexus driving public can relate to.  Prospect Centricity, after all, is my mantra.

My job, to get you outside that comfort zone and come up with something no one has seen before.  Not every Creative Director's cup of tea, but a sure way to stretch you as writers/concepters.

Although we've not discussed it, I believe Carol picked India's line on its power to (pardon the pun - you know I rarely resort to them) drive a CD to think the copywriter crafting India's line can write.  And write for just about any brand.

I'm proud of India and her line.  She had some tough competition and proved one very important thing:

India grokked Lexus' Prospect.  The can-afford and want-to-afford what has become a standard-bearing brand for the mainstream of people she wrote to.

She also makes the shirt look darn good.

Congrats, India!  

Tuesday, October 23, 2018


Once again, I break my no politics rule to remind you It's time to vote.

If you know me, you know my politics.  That's not the issue.  The  issue is even if you disagree with me, VOTE.  

In more states than I want to count, legislatures and courts are fighting to either eliminate or add people to the voter roles.

In more districts than I want to count, boundaries are gerrymandered to the point of making voting seem futile.

You decide what kind of a country you want to live in.  If you don't exercise your right - no, your duty - to vote, yours will be the one eliminated.

End of lecture.  Get off your rears, get your out-of-state ballots or drive to your home district.  Do not assume they'll let you vote once you get there - you may have to fight for what is one of your American given rights.

I don't want to know who you voted for.  Only that you're smart enough to know how important your vote is - even if it cancels out mine.

Saturday, October 20, 2018


I've posted a few times about the Kamikaze Copy Sin "Experience" as noun or verb, only to get one response, who pointed out I called one KCS, missed the other.

The tag/line is:

"Experience Amazing"

As Anh pointed out, Amazing is just as cliched as Experience. 

How to fix it?

Translate the thought.

Although I'm planning an extensive post on "Translate the Thought," I thought I'd start with this challenge:

I have a Kamikaze Copy Sin shirt (photo attached) for the person who successfully translates the thought behind "Experience Amazing" into something I've not seen before.

Guess this is one way to find out if all those hits this blog gets mean anything.

Translate the thought - kill two cliched Kamikaze Copy Sins with one line.  You may use up to four words.

Now show us how Kamikaze you are!

Publish your translations in the Comments Section.  Cool shirt.  Hope I'm not talking to air.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Some of my best stories were job interviews.

I try not to unload Old War Stories.  Try to keep posts short.  But I’ve been throwing some pretty heavy interview stuff at you.  Here are a few hard-learned lessons we’ll call “Fun with Interviews.”

Most of these stories started with some foreknowledge.  I knew the person/people/someone who’d be included in the process.  Someone in my network knew someone.  Some worked for them.  Some interviewed with them.  Some merely knew someone who know someone. 

Foreknowledge is a double-edged sword.  If you’re smart, you arrange your presentation to the Prospect.  More easily done one-on-one, but in group shows, you must (a) learn who the REAL decision maker is (maybe not the ECD, maybe the GCD, CD, ACD, AD, AE – could be anyone; your job to find out).  If it’s a committee, well, presenting to committee’s an entire subject.

File everything you hear – true, untrue, rumors – in the back of your mind.  Mix with what you’ve learned during the live process.  Call for reserves if you need them.

Once you’ve tailored your presentation for your Prospect, hold back some work for Just in Case moments when things go South. When you need a Hail Mary.  Keep them not easily accessible (locked files, for example). 

Important cliché here:  Less is More.  I could show work for hours and still not run out of stuff I consider “bookable.”  Could - but don’t.  I show as little as possible.  When I get the big “aha!” response, start tapering off, being sure the last thing they see is just as strong as whatever wowed them most.  Even if I just show the Prospect’s favorite again, this time with more in-depth narrative.

While the following interviews (unless noted) were grounded in foreknowledge of some kind, how I used/reacted to that foreknowledge varied according to Prospect, my (shameless, I know) mood, personal needs/wants (not the same thing), even how hot it was that day and/or if they bought me lunch.

Load up on all the background you can.  You have but one reason to interact with a hiring Prospect:  Get The Offer.  Whether you’re looking, whether you want to work there - or not.*

Some of these past interviews lacked Prospect Centricity.  Some were in search of it.  Some had Prospect Centricity up the yin yang. One or two possibly lacked sanity, as well.

They were all fun.

This is important.  No matter how badly I needed the job, I ALWAYS HAD FUN WITH THE INTERVIEW.  Heresy, you say?   Not al all. 

If you’re having fun, your attitude‘s great.  You can control the interview, get into your groove.  You can hide how desperate for a job you really are. 

Every project – no matter how awful it was to produce – has a funny story in it.  

Every project, a moment where you shined, even if it was to break the ice with that funny story everyone else is too uptight to see.  Just make sure those stories have a point.  One that’s headed brilliantly in your direction.

What else have you done?

I hate focus groups.  But if I have to show work I did for a helicopter battery manufacturer, I love adding how the focus group helicopter pilots picked their teeth at the one-way mirror.  Love telling how the pilots loved the brand’s wet tee shirt calendars, hated the cheap-o batteries. (Female models in wet tees were standard until Gloria Steinem burned her bunny tail.)

Love even more, showing the camped up wet-battery (they upped their water proofing)-tee-shirt calendar everyone loved, but wouldn’t risk producing.  

Oh the fun - and freedom - of the desperado move!  The interviewing tanked on produced work, so I dug up parody calendar comps for a wet tee shirt wearing batteries and got the offer.  Which I did not take. (Creative Differences – I thought my produced work was much smarter than wet-tee batteries, even if the calendar parody was 100% on both interview and battery Prospects.)

The interviewer and I both walked away looking forward to working together sometime.

My unwritten law, if it’s not fun, I don’t want to do it. 

No matter how badly I need the job - if the interview’s not fun for me, it’s not fun for my Prospect.  Remember Marshall Pengra from the previous post?  “I hire people I like.”

All the following war stories were fun. Some obviously happened on a bad day for someone.

All make me laugh.  Some -- I still cringe. 

Can you tell which is which?

Never be ashamed of what you have – and haven’t – done.

Interviewing with the ECD and CEO of a worldwide agency’s most profitable franchise.  The market is depressed, shops are closing, an entire city - desperate for a job.  Myself included.

CEO:  This work is highly unusual.  And you don’t have a college degree?  (Foreknowledge:  Maybe I can intimidate her with the degree thing, get her for less $ - so much fun making job supplicants uncomfortable!)

KC:  If you can find someone with a college degree who can do this, hire them. (Stupid?  Maybe.  Scared?  Maybe – I was desperate for a job, like everyone else in the market.  But standing up to him was more fun, more confidence building than I imagined,)

Result:  KC gigged em another $5Gs.

Prospect Centric?  Absolutely.  The guy was a known bully.  I already had a soft offer from the shop’s other ECD.  Was senior enough to know if I flinched, I’d lose any equal footing I had.  (Note:  This was the only time my college degree (or lack thereof) was ever mentioned in an interview.  It’s about you and your book. Not you and your degree.)

Should you react the same way?  Not until you’re senior enough - or they’re desperate enough - to push back.  It sure was fun seeing the look on his face when he thought he might have blown it – I knew I had specific category experience they were desperate for.  Always pays to do your homework.  Always fun to make them pay for dissing you.  Once you have The Offer.

Let no number cross your lips.

Desperate for a job in a national recession.  Interviewing for a CD/GCD position I was not qualified for.  After making the interview rounds, was offered a different job.

ECD:  What would it take to move you up here?  But not as CD/GCD? (Translation: This isn’t the right spot for you, but I’d like to hire you anyway.  You’re good to let go and you’d be fun to work with.)

KC:  The recruiter said you pay GCDs $125K+.  What do you pay ACDs?  (Wrong wrong wrong.  If you’ve read any of my interviewing/salary negotiation pieces, you know to never introduce a number first. Even if you think you know it. Even if, as in this case, you’re using it as a non-number.)

What ECD heard:  $125k+.  (Never give up the first number.  Even if it’s not one you’re shooting for.)

Prospect Centricity:  Blew that one.

Result:  End of interview.

Should have responded with something like “What’d you have in mind,” then had fun ratcheting it up by emphasizing position’s importance and my strengths.

Bite or Cut Bait.

Stranded in a smaller market when regional gig closes doors.  Interviewing with ECD of different franchise of CEO with penchant for college degrees (above). Cut of same cloth.   In days of paper portfolios, he throws my samples onto couch, finding fault (small and large) in each piece. Stops watching my reel mid-way through.  Then makes an offer.

KC:  If my work’s so bad, why are you offering me a job?  (Better than telling him off, but not as much fun.  Foreknowledge – he’s an a$$hole.  Personal foresight – I have category experience he needs.  He’ll call for freelance (he did).

Prospect Centricity?  Up to your point of view.

Result:  KC thanks him for his time, leaves before he can answer.  Builds freelance business into award-winning creative boutique.

When you know better than to say less.

Interviewing name-on-door society CD of highly regarded small local/regional shop in new city.  Great personal rapport, but clouds of creative difference on the horizon.  An offer sensed as forthcoming.

KC (cutting offer off at the pass):  I have a rule not to work for anyone better looking than I am.  Otherwise I’d walk through fire to work with you.

Result:  Twenty-year friendship, with short period of award-winning freelance.  Name on Door gives elderly aunt and uncle royal tour of city, with exclusive private club lunch.

Prospect Centric?  Absolutely.  Played right to his ego, without insulting/hurting his feelings by turning down his job offer. 

Fun?  Interviewing with this guy was fun from the get-go.  We had such a great rapport – but that rapport was what let me see his egocentricity, which I turned into Prospect Centricity.  Although I knew better than to work for him myself, I sent him several juniors in my big international agency group who had a great time, built great books. 

One to grow on.

This is way too long, but this one included for all those who read my 8/21/18 post, That recruiter isn’t looking for a new BFF.

Interviewing for a great job for a great agency.  The Recruiter and I got on famously. Everything from shoes to Jack Russell Terriers in common.  So supportive, so certain I was perfect for the spot, so comforting in a huge shop full of people I didn’t know. 

As I worked my way through all the other interviews, I started noticing the questions seemed to all point to one I didn’t want to answer.  Something I had let slip to my new BFF, the Recruiter.  Deflected the issue as best I could.  Everyone loved my work.  Loved my background.

And kept asking about the one thing I did not want to discuss.

Prospect Centric?  Well, the Recruiter seemed to love me.  My research never indicated the Not Answered question was relevant. 

Stupid?  Absolutely.  The issue wouldn’t have even come up if I hadn’t “bonded” with my new BFF, the Recruiter.

Result:  No offer.  The Recruiter and I still talk, but never became best friends.  I am careful what I say to her.  And every other recruiter I talk to, even those I’ve known for years.  I do not lie.  I simply do not disclose. 

Don’t cry over spilled pop.

One last Quickie:  On my way to an interview, I spilled pop down the front of my top.  I tried to rinse it out, but the wetness grew and so did the spot.  With every new introduction, I said something like, “sorry, I’m usually not a mess but I hit bump drinking a can of soda on the way over.”

What they said:  Oh yeah!  Didn’t notice until you showed me!”

The reality:  Nine out of ten people never notice things like that – until you point it out.  Do your best to clean up.  Smile.  If they ask, make a joke of it.  If someone stares at the spot but says nothing, either make a joke (if you have a good one) or say nothing. 

If there’s time, there’s always a store nearby.  Sometimes it takes is a scarf.  Usually all it takes is Attitude.

Now get out there and have some

*A lot more to it, possibly another post, but your job is first to get the phone/Skype interview.  Then to get the in-person interview.  Then to get The Offer.  You may not want the offer, may not decide to take it even it’s great – up to you.  But until you learn how to control who gives you offers and who doesn’t, Job #1 is ALWAYS GET THE OFFER.

This blog post, as with everything else published in, ©2018, Doreen Dvorin/KamikazeCreative