Tag Archives: lali adverts

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!




Filed under lali

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!


Filed under lali

“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!


Leave a comment

Filed under lali

“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!!

1 Comment

Filed under lali

lali lessons in advertising #9: work dies and then you go back to the well. wash, rinse, repeat.

This is advertising. Work dies. We all know it and it’s just a fact of our lives.

dead as a doornail

However, li and I have had a particularly rough six months of work dying. When we got an email the other day stating the following:

is dead, sorry, they appreciate the work, they just don’t want to go in this direction.


We decided to just count out how many campaigns we’ve had die in the past six months. Seven.

Now, let me just back up a second. I’ve gotta whine for just a bit before I can spin this into something positive, e.g. a lali lesson (#9 to be exact).

When we get a brief in this business, there’s hardly ever one team working on a brief. Anywhere from two to ten or more. And we don’t present one idea. We present anywhere from one to 42+. And then we take whichever of those ideas the creative director likes and tweak, massage, blow out, revise, comp, revise, rewrite, comp more, rethink, rinse and repeat, for the account team, for the GCDs, for the Rob Schwartzes and Patrick ONeills of this business. And finally it goes to the client. If we’re lucky and everyone of those people likes our ideas enough.

Well, these seven campaigns we’ve had die over the past six months have not only gone to the client, some have gotten as far as director calls, photographer calls, focus group testing, etc. And the more you work on something, the more you pour your heart into it a little. Which means that when it dies, it hurts just a little bit more.

That’s not to say that we don’t realize this about the job we do. A big lesson for us over time has been to walk the line between caring enough to make it good and make it something we’re proud of and caring too much, caring to the point where a campaign’s death is detrimental and distracting. It’s just that when you put hours and weekends and holidays and creative juices and heartfelt belief into your ideas and they get rejected, it’s hard to get an email saying sorry it died followed by an email saying please can we have more work.

It’s like the Greek myth where the guy rolls the boulder up the mountain only to have it roll back down and so he has to roll it up again. Ad infinitum.

Now, for the positive spin.

tired & concepting

I love my job. As much as li and I roll around in the red couches room bemoaning our fate and grunt and moan over comps and writeups and campaign deaths, I’d far rather be doing that that doing something else. What we do is exciting. Thrilling. Different every day. In the past six months, we’ve gotten briefs for soda, lunchmeat, sausages, breakfast sandwiches, airlines, credit cards, luxury cars, compact cars, sportcross turbo cars (what?), batteries and makeup. We get to lounge around in flip flops and sweatshirts, show up late and have that be the norm, act unprofessionally and be rewarded for it. I mean, we get to sit around and talk about the iPhone apps we want someone to make for us. If I’m using Facebook during the work day, that’s just “research.” I’m expensing a photography class because it’s going to help me creatively. We get tickets to free shows (this Thursday in fact, Greek Theatre, Death Cab) from reps like John Buckley just for having “creative” on our business cards. I mean, that’s cool in and of itself – we’ve got the title “creative” on our business cards. And hey, maybe the coffee is runny but there’s always free food somewhere. Cool bands play for free on our basketball court. Wait, there’s a basketball court in our office? Oh, that’s kind of awesome too.

And while seriously, I spent most of this blog post whining about having to come up with MORE creative ideas, we actually get to spend out days coming up with creative ideas. That’s pretty awesome. And when shit gets really tough, and my brain is on the fritz and li and I can’t find anything to sing about and our personal lives keep taking over our concepting discussions because we don’t want to be concepting, we just need to remember that work dies, that sucks, and that’s why you have to keep working so that you can have work that eventually doesn’t die. And step back every once and a while and think that even though this particular moment sucks, we’ve still got it pretty good. And apparently, as noted by several ACDs, it’s totally normal to go a year (or years) without so much as producing a banner ad, let alone a tv spot or a campaign.

When li and I got our reviews (omg almost a year ago!), Chris and Margaret told us that we were incredibly resilient. That when work dies, we’re good at just bouncing back with more ideas and a smile. And that’s a great compliment. And even though they’re not here to compliment us anymore (frowny face), we’re gonna try and still make them proud.

Chris also said to us, when a spot we really loved died (it was on life support for many months, and then they finally pulled the plug), that it’s never really dead. He said ten years ago, Apple had wanted to introduce the Beatles to iTunes. And they had a great campaign. And then they never launched the campaign. Until ten years later. And not only did Chris and Margaret get to make their campaign a decade later, but they got their credit for it too.

beatles itunes billboard

As noted by our nickname a year and a half ago of “Black Widow Team” (since everything we touched sold to the client and then died) and then our brief stint as “Zombie Team” (since our dead work kept coming back to life), and then two months later we launched into our summer of producing two Nissan spots and four Pedigree spots and the entire Juke digital launch, things turn around. And maybe our dead Energizer campaign or our beautiful Nissan spot or our Infiniti campaign will come back from the dead.

Until then, we’re going back the well and we’re doing it with the conviction that if it gets made or not, we’re still going to make it good.

(with a little bit of healthy complaining because we’re still human after all)


PS In a meeting right now where it looks like a spot of ours just got greenlighted, fingers crossed, maybe. Did I just jinx it?
PPS One of those seven campaigns that died had a spot in it called “Imaginary Friend.” When I sent that script to Richard O’Neill, Executive Producer at Chiat, I got the most heartwarming email back. And while this spot didn’t get made, maybe it didn’t matter. This email made my day because I made someone feel something. And after all, what we’re doing in this job is just trying to make people feel or think or do. And if I can do that with a word doc and Richard’s imagination, maybe I don’t need a 2mill budget, a fancy director and months of production to get the validation that we can go back to the well and not come up dry.

Here’s the email:

It’s a terrific script. My daughter Hayley had an imaginary friend “Puppy Spark” when she was little. My wife and I would hold doors open longer for “Puppy Spark” as my daughter looked back to make sure he made it. We’d tuck “Puppy Spark” into bed every night beside my daughter and wish them both good night. Your script brought back this wonderful memory of Hayley’s childhood. My daughter is now in her twenties and is an artist in the movie industry. She still has a great imagination which she exhibits in her work. I’ll treat your script with TLC just like I did with “Puppy Spark”.


Filed under lali lessons

lali + lila, doppelganger strangeness

Well, the world is full of funny coincidences…

So, as per our women in advertising post, we were the only girl/girl team in the building. Until now!

As you know, li and I moved up to the third floor. And in our little empty seats down there, a new team of youngbloods moved in. Whose names just happen to begin with an la and an li. Lauren and Lina. And Lauren’s last name even begins with an “S!” AND she’s the copywriter! (PS I’ve already started getting emails meant for her!) And as coincidences continue, we’ve also been put on the same project, working together. Who woulda thunk it. So, when Bob and Patrick (who were our CDs for United, working under Rob and Patrick – Bob and Rob, Patrick and Patrick, what? huh? My brain just had a mild spasm) wanted to get some help for lali on this Infiniti campaign we’re working on, they thought it would be a good idea to put Lauren and Lina under Lauren and Lindsey.

It’s even been joked about by the higher ups in this building who have better things to do than remember our nicknames, but still do. Rob Schwartz is now calling them lila. And we’d like to introduce you to our doppelgangers.

The Li’s, in photo, at our old desk and their new one.
the li's!!
Meet Lina, and her book. She’s an Art Director from Austin, TX, went to Portfolio Center in Atlanta and most recently worked at Modernista in Boston. She also happens to be obsessed with reality TV and a die-hard UFC and MMA fan. Who wants to see LINDSEY VS. LINA in the cage together, duking it out over photoshopped fist punches, fouled logo designs and color correction grappling.

The La’s, in photo, at our old desk and their new one.
the la's!
Meet Lauren, and her book. She copywriting at VCU Brandcenter, but originally hail from Philly. She used to throw the javelin, has been painted in gold, is seven states shy of visiting the entire US and is a self-proclaimed movie reviewer (but more like life reviewer). Well, I can’t throw anything because I have terrible hand-eye coordination, let alone a javelin, but I have been painted entirely green, have visited exactly half of the states and love ummmm watching movies and reviewing life. Looks like we’ll get along.

Welcome lila to some Chiat Days and Nights and maybe we’ll get a guest adgirl blog post out of them one of these days :)

the OG “la”


Filed under lali, lali friends