Monthly Archives: September 2011

Response to: Chiat’s Iconic Pledge

So we recently blogged about a pledge we took at TBWA\Chiat\Day. To read that post (and examine, according to the scathing comments, my terrible grammar, which I hope is more a result of my laziness, busy-ness & unwillingness to proofread before posting than my actual intelligence), go here.

The story about the “pledge” got picked up by agencyspy. And then copyranter (who apparently hates most things, including advertising, fake blondes, real blondes, people who don’t hate things) covered it. And then adland mentioned it as well (who coincidentally called our post nincompoop, although whether that referred to the subject of the blog post or us personally I’m not quite clear).

And then the flurry of vitriolic comment emails began to flood li’s inbox.

Here’s an overview:
blog comments
And more here:
A Pledge, & the Nincompoop Forest comments

And says “Vinnie” (no link available) on the copyranter post (a derogatory word “edited” by me, not Vinnie):

“Wow. I hope the Grammar [C*nt] is reading this.
This individual needs to be sacked immediately.”

That’s the second time it’s ever been recommended that I be fired for writing something. The first was an ad that was considered sexist. The second time (this time) has been for my grammatical errors on the blog. Meh, I wouldn’t fire me for that (li agrees!). Besides, as commenters have suggested, we may be “fired” in six months anyway!

So why so negative? Is it because it came from Chiat Day? And because people love to hate on Chiat? Because we’ve got big clients with big budgets and big work. And just like every agency, we’ve got problems, and because we’re big, they seem bigger?

Is it because creative people are inherently critical? Is it because this industry is full of jaded, glass-half-empty, secretly-want-to-be-screenwriters people who pretend to be above everything and not care about anything because to hack it here you have to be cool? Ok, that was a bit harsh. But sometimes the pendulum of advertising mindsets swings from the artificially cheerleader-y to the bitterly cynical. And where it probably should be is resting somewhere right in the middle.

At the end of the day, lots of people in this industry talk about “good work.” And inspire us to do good work. When I worked at RPA we had similar gimmicks associated with goals, work & creativity. Li as well, at Saatchi. The desktops at KPS+B say “do things that matter.” There are endless examples that I can’t think of currently (examples anyone?). The only thing Chiat did differently than the rest of the industry waxing poetic about “good work” is that they just asked us to aim for “iconic” and to commit to it. It’s simply a tactic to inspire. I mean, my mom used to ask me to do “better than my best” and when I got a 95% she wasn’t satisfied until I’d gotten 100%. Chiat’s just doing the same thing right now that my mom did for me throughout school. Ask me to aim for the best I can do. And for everyone who loves to hate on Chiat for never doing good work, why isn’t anyone commending Chiat for wanting to do better? Or is it just the way Chiat went about doing it…?

Whatever the casing, whatever the reaction and whatever the climate, the sentiment is a common one, a real one and sometimes, an inspiring one. And apparently, one for discussion.

So for now, we’ll welcome a few more readers (our blog views totally spiked, thanks guys!), take the criticism seriously & lightly at the same time, and keep doing what we’ve pledged to do: work hard & work good. And hopefully something iconic, great or just plain good comes out of it.

And we appreciate the positive comments when they come. Thanks Ryan!

blog comments

Ok, back to work! Comments, as always, welcome and encouraged!




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5353\2 Music\Art\Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day

So last year we blogged about 5353 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day. Well, it happened again! 5353\2, with music\art\fest.

A big thank you to the following for making this happen (seriously, like a HUGE, x5353 million, we owe you a bajillion thank you!):

Kevin Laronda
Michael Gross
Carol Madonna
Kacey Harahan
Alisa Schwartz
Noreen Masih
Kelsey Reddick
Katie Kause
Jim Darling
Thomas Dawson
Ricardo Diaz

So in usual la fashion, I busted out my fancy camera and my intimidating lens (that frustratingly is not working on autofocus!) and went shutter-crazy for the event. So instead of write about it, I’ll photoblog it. Enjoy! It was a super fun day, and one of those that reminds you that what we do is pretty insanely cool.

Here’s a poster from the event (check out that lineup!):
5353\2 Fest Poster

It also ended up as a huge mural painted outside.
5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day

Here’s Jim Darling painstakingly painting it!
5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day

Now to the music.

First up, Dustbowl Revival. A Venice, California-based roots+jazz collective that merges New Orleans second line swing, bluegrass, jug-band and jump blues. Known for their wild, lose-your-troubles live sets, the Dustbowl Revival often features up to ten instruments ranging from fiddle, banjo, gypsy guitar and mandolin to accordion, tuba, trombone and clarinet and plenty of kazoo and washboard for good luck.

5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day, Dustbowl Revival
5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day, Dustbowl Revival

And really enjoyed the intermission music by DJ Soft Touch! For the past few years, CLIFTON AKA DJ SOFT TOUCH has made a name for himself as a DJ with a wide range and impeccable taste. His mix of rare soul, funk and R&B is truly unique, with a fresh ear for sounds off the beaten path. A veteran of the Eastside / Hollywood L.A. music community, he’s also a bass player for The Mojo Filters, The Belle Isle, Black Sugar, and Love Grenades, as well as a guitarist/singer/songwriter on his own. A dedicated lover, historian/sage of most western popular & underground music forms out there, he always digs deeper in his selections but always moves the crowd.

5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day, DJ Soft Touch

Next up, WATERS. WATERS was born out last year of the ashes of the San Francisco rock band Port O’Brien and founding member/front man Van Pierszalowski needed a break from the hectic, wonderful mess that is touring.
After making his way out of music and into Oslo, Alaska, California & New York, he made his way make in again with Waters. He returned to Oslo and put together a band of fine Norwegian gentlemen and made a mix of fuzzy, pealing guitars and crashing drums, and easy, alternately soaring and languid, indelible melodies. According to Van, “The record is about waking up. It is about getting out of a situation that seems endless, and realizing you’re not too old to make dramatic and sudden changes in your life. It is about starting over.”

5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day, Waters
5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day, Waters
5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day, Waters
5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day, Waters
5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day, Waters

And then came Dengue Fever. Los Angeles-based Dengue Fever’s music is wholly unique — an exotic blend of Cambodian rock, Afro grooves, surf, and garage psychedelia. Since their inception, the band’s unique take on 60s Cambodian pop and American surf rock has garnered praise and attention from fans and critics alike. True Blood named an entire episode after one of their songs and featured the band’s music throughout the show, Spin highlighted the band in their ‘Breaking Out’ section, and profiles on the group have appeared in the New York Times, Magnet, Wired, and NPR’s “Fresh Air.” Ray Davies from the Kinks called them “a cross between Led Zeppelin and Blondie.”

5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day, Dengue Fever
5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day, Dengue Fever
5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day, Dengue Fever
5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day, Dengue Fever
5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day, Dengue Fever

And then possibly my favorite from the day, He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister – they had such joy and vivacity! Really a pleasure to watch. He’s My Brother She’s My Sister’s unique yet familiar sound exudes the earnestness of folk, the colorfulness of glam rock, the infectiousness of pop, the innovation of indie rock, the rawness of blues, the theatrics of cabaret, and the hip shake of rock-a-billy.
Brother and sister Robert Kolar and Rachel Kolar split vocal duties, with Robert on guitar and kick drum and Rachel on tambourine. Their voices range from boisterous to introspective, from breezy to emotive. Lauren Brown adds full-body percussion with her fluid tap-dancing. Oliver Newell plucks the stand up bass with joyous flair. Aaron Robinson plays lead guitar on a lap slide, veering from nuanced psychedelica to American roots riffs.
The band’s infectious rhythms and high energy make the sounds come alive and cause even uninitiated crowds to erupt in dance. Their songs ring like pop classics in a modern framework. It is a recipe that has quickly gained the band a devoted following in their hometown of Echo Park and the surrounding LA area, and that following has spread to every town the band visits.

5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day, He's My Brother, She's My Sister
5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day, He's My Brother, She's My Sister
5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day
5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day, He's My Brother, She's My Sister
5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day, He's My Brother, She's My Sister
(last two photos by Josh Withers, my camera’s memory card crapped out booooo)

And last up, Class Actress. I didn’t get to stay and photograph because I actually thought I had my first travel photography class that night (although I was just wrong and it’s actually tonight!) So a couple photos from Josh Withers. (Thanks Josh!)
Class Actress is: Guilty Pleasure. NSA dance music. Casual Encounters. Stalker Pop. Depeche Mode meets early Madonna and Five Star as heard on the radio in the leather backseat of a cab.
Brooklynite Elizabeth Harper’s first musical offerings appeared in the form of personal singer/songwriter fare — her airy vocals paired only with quiet strums of acoustic guitar. But having a long-held desire to make electronic music, Harper recruited producers Mark Richardson and Scott Rosenthal to assist in achieving her desired sound, and electro-pop outfit Class Actress was born.
Harper remains the force that binds the songs into a cohesive statement, her winking coo darting about in the deep drums and lofty arpeggios, and her passion – backed mostly with electronics– summons thoughts of Yaz’s Alison Moyet. In concurrence with the title (“rapprocher”is French for “bring closer”), the candid, sincere lyrics meld with the atmosphere, enveloping the listener into Class Actress’s world of 21st century romanticism.

5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day, Class Actress
5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day, Class Actress

There was also a trailer set up by CAVIAR CONTENT with an adorable “row row row your boat” video made with Chiat peeps. Record players and polaroid cameras and all things cute and vintage.

5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day
5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day

And to close it out, here’s a couple shots of people enjoying the music!

5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day
5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day
5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day
5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day

Thanks to Chiat Day for making our job infinitely cool.

And thanks to Michael Gross for really making the festival infinitely cool!

5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day

a musically-satiated, phototrigger-happy la

PS! I had a photo wall of concert photography at the event, and here’s Nick Ciffone and Dave Estrada checking it out!
5353\2 Fest at TBWA\Chiat\Day

PPS For all the photos, check out the photo album!


Filed under lali, lali music

A Pledge, & the Nincompoop Forest

So we just had an creative department meeting.

And in it, this is what we discussed:


We talked about what it means to do work inside these walls. The walls of Chiat Day. And we talked about how most of the work out in the world is bad. And how a lot of it is good. And a few… are great. The best in their category. And then some things, just a few, transcend that. And become iconic.

We talked about the iconic work TBWA\Chiat\Day has done. We watched a video in which Lee Clow walked us through the work that makes him proud to be part of this agency.

Like this:

And this:

And this (which I really like, personally):

And this:

And then we signed a pledge. To do one piece of iconic work in the next six months.
Signing away my next six months!

And then Lee read us something called the Nincompoop Forest, by Mark Fenske. And I’m really glad he did. Because while we may try to think of iconic ideas all the time, it is quite a different thing to actually sell and make them.

Here it is:

“For an idea to live it must journey from the mind of it’s originator out into the ears of others, into the world.

To live it must cross an area that is dangerous to the life of an idea… an area between the mind of an originator and the world where other people live who fight against ideas and try to kill them. This area, that challenges every ad idea the moment it is born is called the Nincompoop Forest.

To find your way through the Nincompoop Forest takes heart, intelligence and determination.

There are many obstacles lying in wait. Some people fear big ideas or are afraid to defend them or don’t know how to explain or sell them.

Some people are afraid to buy big ideas because, by their nature, they have never been done before and can be scary. (It’s been said that if you’re not scared of an idea, it probably is not a big idea at all.)

You’ll have to save your idea from all the people who want to change the idea, “help” the idea, compromise the idea. They want to “make it better” or safer or less expensive or more comfortable.

All great ideas have to beware of the Nincompoop Forest.”

So until you hear from us next, we’ll be battling the Nincompoop Forest and working away on that pledge to do some iconic work. Wish us luck and bring us a few axes. We’ve got a lot of trees to chop down!



*A PS UPDATE* For the amount of comments on this post, and the content of those comments, we’ve responded. Read it here, if you’d like!


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“buh BAH, buh BAH” …lali sings the stress away!

Well, a lot happened while li was gone.

I went to a wedding in Cincinnati (Congratulations Mrs. King!).
The girls at Taylor's wedding

I got a tattoo.
e.e. cummings tattoo
*when li looks at it she see l(a!
and isn’t it a lovely ee cummings poem!?

I turned 28. (no pictures because I essentially spent my birthday working until 2:30a!)

I worked a lot. (also no pictures, as I was too busy working!)

As for li, she was sorely missed. I even made my own mood board and key frames without her!

But li was also busy, here’s what she was up to:

flew to rhode island
which way to sasha's wedding?
hung out with goats at best friend’s wedding (congratulations Sasha Wexler!)
li and goats
gave a maid of honor speech
maid of honor

(not pictured):
took a free train ride to NYC
did karaoke with a bar full of firemen on 9/11
flew to see family/friends in virginia
drove to see family in maryland
drove to see friends in DC
drove really far to see her other best friend who is pregnant (!!!)
slept on plane
get picked up at LAX by me
and went straight to work
oh, and brought me sunglasses from DC!
My new sunglasses, with <3 from li!

But now she’s back! And that’s good, because I really needed someone to apply ointment to my healing back.

Tattoo Care

And having someone to help me concept isn’t too bad either.

(and good thing, because we made a 39 page PDF in a day last night, oh wait, make that a day and a night)

39 page PDF

Welcome back li to a tattooed, 28-year-old la and congratulations to all our newly married friends! May your romantic partnerships be as rewarding, fulfilling, honest, loving, supportive, exciting & fun as our work partnership!


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“buh BAH, buh BAH” …lali sings the stress away!

Sometimes, when work gets crazy and you’re bouncing from meeting to meeting and project to project like a couple of ping pong balls, you just need to go to a concert with your partner (who is also your friend) and have a little Death Cab sing along:

The Sound of Settling, sing-a-long by lali!

Thanks to awesome reps John Buckley and Ashley Ford for the invite :) And Dave Brezinski for making a cameo in our video and letting us sneak to the front!

Here is what lali would look like as a band (li on the air drums, la on the air guitar, obviously):
lali the band

And in a minor brush with celebrity after the show, here is la being rescued from a “skitter” by “Hal” from Falling Skies:
hal falling skies

xo to la (who is in Ohio for a 9/10/11 wedding)
from li (who is in Rhode Island for a 9/10/11 wedding)
miss you!!

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