Jan 2014

The most racist holidays ever!

This holiday season, we celebrated the opposite of good will to man. We played Cards Against Humanity. A lot.

The politically incorrect version of Apples to Apples was the surprise darling of the 2013 holidays and is now the top selling game on Amazon. We gathered round the hearth to crack wise on “ethnic cleansing” and “praying the gay away” while  lining up for expansion packs, full of added vitriol. We did this to feed some bizarre, yet titillating hall-pass we’ve granted ourselves to express profound racism among friends.

Yes, I get it. It’s not racism. It’s misanthropy. Which is fine. Misanthropy is a general disdain for all groups of people, making it truly offensive to none. And these cards are so absurdly offensive, they clearly could not represent how anyone playing really feels. But for the majority of cards-against-humanity-carrying masses (which I presume to be white, middle-class people), this particular brand of misanthropy seems only acceptable within the confines of  other white, middle-class people.

What if there were some black people sitting at the table with you. Or Native Americans, Asians, gays, the poor, etc. Suddenly all those “ha-ha”s start to get a little stifled. Suddenly, that super funny card about slavery might fall a little flat.

So, who died and made Self so self-righteous? No one. We’ll keep playing the game and making light of years of oppression. Just thought it worth noting that someone said “Special Olympics” and the rest of us peed ourselves laughing.




Nov 2013

Let’s Monetize Some Content

The newspaper industry is going bankrupt. Music labels can’t get fans to pay for their product. And everyone blames the internet.

Tonight I was prevented from reading a New York times recipe – one I desperately need for Thanksgiving – because I reached my 10-page limit for the month. I refuse to pay 99 cents a month for an online newspaper (though I would pay 99 cents per issue if I could somehow have that one issued delivered to me immediately). I would also, quite happily sit through a 30 second banner ad to see that recipe. And, on the other hand, I pay Spotify $5 per month to avoid a few annoying radio spots.

These are the absurd personal choices I make. And why aren’t I allowed that?

The best content providers attract an audience and get paid, either through subscription or advertising. And the advertisers get people who actually choose to expose themselves to a sponsored message. Everybody wins.

So,… what seems to be the problem?



Nov 2013

160 frames per second

Self recently had the good fortune to work with global digital agency, Razorfish in developing some eye-candy around the up-coming release of the new XBox One’s launch title, Forza Motorsport 5. No difficult task there, considering you’re hyping sexy cars with some of the smartest online advertisers in the game. But still, it was work.

What resulted were a few banner ads (above), promoting a top-speed commercial that promoted the game. And the landing page linked above. Now, if we could just get behind the wheel of that McLaren (release date Nov 22).




Oct 2013

Confessions of a Meta-Sports Fan

Professional sports takes up a very small part of Self. A casual fan at best, I try to keep up with some light water-cooler conversation on the NBA and to a lesser extent, the NFL and MLB, mostly around the playoffs. Can’t even fake the NHL. Who has time?

But the media around professional sports has my complete and undivided attention. The commercials. The commentators. The player / coach personalities. I’ll read blogs on that shit all day long. I feel like I’ve had more meaningful conversations with Bill Simmons than I’ve had with my own wife. You can take your live game action. I want the press conference.

As if reading my mind, Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) has taken baseball from my absolute least favorite professional sporting event, to the greatest show on earth. Pairing the biting wit of Keith Olberman with the barely legible, but totally loveable, shenanigans of Dominican, power pitcher, Pedro Martinez, these nightly, MLB playoff recaps are without question, the ONLY thing to watch on TV. As great as these games have been – fucking Papi – the TBS commentary trumps all.

Why aren’t there more clips from the previous night circulating the youtubes? Why isn’t TBS featuring last nights hi-jinx in the marquee of their site?

This IS the show folks. And it’s only on for a few more weeks. Oh, and by the way, Go Tigers!



Sep 2013

Last Night Went Viral

It’s no longer enough for TV’s funny men to get out on there every night, deliver eight minutes of stand-up, and then hope we’re still around after the commercials for more scripted filler before the guests arrive.

If the Conans, the Fallons, the Kimmels and the Colbert’s aren’t producing some viral worthy snippet of content at least once a month, anyone of them could quickly reside in the “Where Are They Now Files” (Leno and Letterman excluded by their own lack of  relevance and Stewart gets a pass because he’s Stewart). One can only imagine the tremendous strains this puts on the writing rooms (cue remake of the Larry Sanders Show).

But, advertisers want eye-balls. So if any one of these guys are getting said eyeballs, both in real time, and  in the days and weeks ahead, well, that suddenly becomes the media buyers norm.

The conversations go something like this:

NBC MEDIA SALES GUY: Have you seen what Fallon is doing with the toy instruments. That Xylophone is bringing us 12 million Youtube views everytime he busts it out. Boom!

JACK LINKS MEDIA BUYER: Hm, that seems pretty good.

VIACOM MEDIA SALES GUY: Yeah, if you like your audience going to Youtube for content. We like em at Colbert dancing around to Get Lucky brings us 1.5 million views. Basic cable, brah!

JACK LINKS MEDIA BUYER: Is that better? I’m confused.

ABC MEDIA SALES GUY: Kimmel’s got the time slot and the network. And now he’s got all of Kanye’s followers.

JACK LINKS MEDIA BUYER: Wait. Kanye’s got a show?

So for all you advertising creatives out there, like Self, just remember, your clients only expect something viral like, every month, or so. These guys have to do it every night.



Jul 2013

The Summer Lackluster

The big budget, action-packed summer blockbuster movie is a mystery to Self. Besides the hour and forty-seven minutes of explosions and destruction in between opening sequence and end credits, it’s become nearly impossible to tell one of these movies from the next.

Ironman 3. Shit. What happened to Iron Man 2?

Man of Steel. Different than Superman Returns (circa 2006). But exactly the same.

And now the announcement of a Batman / Superman mega-blockbuster. Something that was surely shouted out at least once during sex at this year’s comic con.

You see, we like stories at Self. Stories and characters and drama and humor. And these movies offer none of that.

Instead, it’s the technology and movie magic that drives these productions, and yes, they do get more and more visually stunning every few years. Why not limit it to just one monster budget, action spectacle every 3 years – just long enough for the technology to really improve upon itself? And while we’re at it, lets make those movies all about the technology, like Avatar did, and quit trying to tell a story.

As we all know, these movies cost a fortune to make. But a good movie, like Frances Ha, which probably cost as much to make and promote as the craft service table on the set of Pacific Rim, has the exact same ticket price, surely helping studios off-set the costs on their cinematic boondoggles.

Now, if only you could pay for the movie you wanted to see based on what it cost to produce – that’s a model that could make going out to the movies a much more attractive prospect. And it just might force studios to only make summer blockbusters, once every third summer.



Jul 2013

Carlos Danger Marketing Mogul

Anthony Weiner is nothing, if not 100% on-brand. From his birth name, to his self-ies (which, here at Self, are usually encouraged) right down to his new pseudonym – Carlos Danger – the former congressman, now mayoral-wannabe has never wavered from his true brand identity – the dick joke. And why should he?

This guy has so much more to gain as a dick joke than he ever could filibustering for New York’s 9th district. Does your kid want to play with the Carlos Danger, Lucha libre action figure or the nerdy, Jewish lawyer from capital hill? With the right licensing deals, Weiner could put his image (his face people, his face) and new name on every lunch box, backpack and skateboard, gracing elementary school playgrounds from sea to commercialized shining sea. Think of the endorsement deals with insurance companies and energy drinks alone. 

The whole thing is a goldmine for the disgraced politician and his wife, Huma Abedin. And while the family  may be facing a difficult time right now, surely a 12 million dollar compound in the Bahamas and some expensive jewelry could mend some broken hearts.

So we say to you Mr. Former Congressman, if you’re game to cash in, we’re game to help. Let’s do this!



Jul 2013

Makers, Meet Your Maker

Attention all you plastic bag crafters, silent videographers, beer-bottle beaders, origami metal workers and everyone else on Etsy: There’s no such job title  as “maker.” And what that job description lacks in reality, is way worse in originality.

These days, every barista with a tumblr account and an allen wrench adds this made-up profession to their LinkedIn profile and has it laser-embossed on their waxed canvas business cards, made by  some other local “maker.” But just because everyone makes something (we all make doodie, don’t we), that doesn’t make each and everyone of us a maker.

The guy who makes cabinets. He’s not a “maker.” He’s a carpenter. Someone who makes statues. They’re a sculptor. You make bread? You’re a baker. These titles help the customer understand exactly what type of services you provide. But if you’re a maker, well, we have no idea what the hell you really do.

About five years ago, our friends over at OMFGCO* coined the term (ok, maybe they weren’t the first, but it was long before this Deard heard it dropped in every coffee shop north of Alberta- Portland, OR reference). And yet OMFGCO diffused some of the pretentiousness by placing a “Thing” in front of their title. They were “Thing Makers.” It was fun and clever. But more importantly, it was apropos, as they actually built many of the “things” they were designing. As the term took on critical mass, these OG “thing makers” used the title sparingly, looking ahead toward the next culture shaper (and that just may be the closest job description to fit the bill, anyway) for when the current hoard of “makers” catches on, and tires of  the over-used job descriptor.

These days there are maker-faires and maker-bots.

A shared office space in town rents exclusively to other “makers.”

An advertising creative, playing a “maker” on the internet, points to his online portfolio…of ads. He makes ads.

Folks, the maker shark has been maker jumped and is making its way out of the building.

So before all you “makers” start tanning chicken skins for a new pair of cowboy boots, consider a slightly more original professional title. Come on. You’re makers. Surely you can make up something good. Something like “free-range cobbler.” But better.


*This blog post officially approved by the Official Manufacturing Company



Jun 2013

We Are An Ad Agency

At some point over the last 10 years, a funny thing happened to advertising agencies. They no longer wanted to identify themselves that way.

One by one, traditional shops around the world did everything they could to get the archaic stink of “advertising” off of their mastheads. The video pictured above, now two years old, goes so far as to foretell the death of every last ad agency on earth.

Well we create advertising. The TV commercials, print ads, billboards, and radio spots. And we’re proud of it. Because, people still watch TV (without DVR) and listen to the radio (not satellite) and that doesn’t appear to be over just yet.

But here’s the thing: If it’s got a logo on it, it’s still an ad. So , web sites, mobile apps, social engagements. All those buzzwords that make your agency hot and now… we make those, too but they’re just ads in a new wrapper. And while we think about all the new media outlets available for getting a message out, we prefer to focus on the message first.

That’s advertising, for you.