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The Ad World has had more than our share of “duplicate” ads this year.

The biggie being Ogilvy Paris recycling a Cannes Winning print campaign for the second time; same visual, different client, same award: a shiny Gold Lion.

Yeah, that was a bad one. Everyone in the business did a collective /facepalm and once again vowed to “never again!”

Just like the time before and the time before that.

But sometimes idea theft happens on the consumer level, too; with the boring old commercials that we make for our real clients (as opposed to the phantom clients we use for award shows).

The latest, and one of the most brazen I’ve ever seen is Subaru’s latest TV spot: “Baby Driver”:

Anyone who sees this spot in a vacuum would say that it’s a big idea, well executed.

It’s a great spot.

But those of us who have seen State Farm Insurance’s spot “, which has been running for a couple of years now, have a slightly different opinion on that:

Seriously, WTF?

Was it a coincidence? Or did they know? Or are they just clueless?

Whichever it is, I find it hard to believe that nobody on the agency or client team had never seen the State Farm spot…because it’s gotten a LOT of rotation in the last year-or-so.

Call me crazy, but I think that watching at least a little bit of TV should be required for anybody who writes TV spots for a living. And a little bit of competitive research should be required for any big agency before diving into campaign planning.

What a shame.

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Lots going on in the consumer world… we’re preparing action items concerning our 3 favorites here, due out in the next couple of weeks:

“Lacie, redux”

“T-Mobile, OMG!”

And, last but not least, a new ongoing series entitled:

“The MTA owes me some muthafucking money!”

Or, some other title that *might* be more fit for consumption 😉

Stay tuned, and thanks for the hits.

e

If you’ve been watching TV at all in the last two weeks you just might have seen the latest Red Lobster commercial, advertising their “Jumbo Shrimp”.

What’s strange is, although this seems like your ordinary, run-of-the-mill Red Lobster commercial with the nautical imagery and the gratuitously suggestive lemon wedge squrtings… they’ve actually broken new ground in marketing. Yes. It’s true.

Normally, they would call it “Jumbo Shrimp Week” or “Jumbo Shrimp Extravaganza!!!”. And the copy would read something like:

“Come on in to Red Lobster during our Jumbo Shrimp Extravaganza!!! and get all you can eat buttery, golden-broiled shrimp”… blah blah blah.

But, since Red Lobster is now defiantly re-shaping the English language, the copy goes like this:

“Come on in to Red Lobster during Jumbo Shrimp and get all you can eat buttery, golden-broiled shrimp”…

….um, wha?

That’s right. Red Lobster has apparently run out of catchy “event” monikers, and have decided to just go with the proper “sea name” instead. We can look forward to “seabass”, “scallop” “fried clam” and even “cod” sometime in the near future. They were even too cool to simply put the word “week” after the damnd thing. How can we know how long it’s supposed to last?

So it’s “Jumbo Shrimp”. Now acceptable to be used like other terms meaning “extended length of time: eg, “Rhamadan”, “sweeps” or “finals”.

No, not the end of the advertising world. Just. Damn. Weird.

Well Bear Stearns, you did it.

Sure, there were a lot of greedy bastards in all of this, both on the bank side and the consumer side. But you, sirs, somehow managed to be such monumentally large douches, you’re actually taking the rest of the World down with you.

“Too Big To Fail” is the term that’s been bandied about.

And of this, I’m fairly sure you were well aware. I mean, why else would you ignore just about every news report for the last 3 years and somehow decide that actually *buying* these rotten loans was somehow actually a *good* idea?

Okay, you’re right. You were not alone. But you weren’t satisfied with merely being one of the pack. No sir ree.

Not only did you hold you nose and drink the tainted subprime tequila shot-for-shot with those other greedy douchebag banks, you chased it with a 4-foot bong of northern lights, a whippet, and then went streaking.

And before you say that’s the worst analogy you’ve ever read, let me clarify. …A little back story.

When I was in college there “the rich kids” and the “rest of us”. The rich kids were lucky enough, to have their parents pay for everything: school, food, housing, and even a little spending money for booze. Whereas the “rest of us” had to pay for everything ourselves, either through school loans, or if we were smart, actual jobs.

Well, somewhere between freshman and sophmore years, there was this rash of rich kids who went nuts with their parents’ money. They bought booze, drugs, music, clothes, and everything else you can think of like it was going out of style. Drunk with their first taste of freedom, and a little gratis spending money, they let loose.

And there was always that one kid who took even that way to far. And I knew one of those kids.

On top of the booze, drugs, clothes, music and what have you, this kid signed up for a bank account, and a credit card, and in a desperate attempt to gain some ephemeral small time fame, went and spent as much money as he possibly could buying booze, drugs, clothes and anything else he could think of, for anybody and everybody.

He threw parties. He took other kids on shopping sprees. And for about 3 full months, nobody on campus had to buy any beer or weed because he had it taken care of.

This lasted for several months, and by various accounts he owed well into the tens of thousands of dollars when it was all said and done. And when I asked him why the hell he did that… why, when his other friends were topping out at, say, $1,500… why he had to go so overboard?

It was simple, he explained. You see, those other kids ended up having to pay for their debt themselves, because it was relatively minor. He, on the other hand, was more conniving.

Or was it smart?

Since he had made his situation so bad, so untenable, he was in a unique position. And his parents were in an unenviable one. Since the level of damage was so great, their unfortunate choice was simple: either “teach their son a lesson”, and insist he pay for his monetary misdeeds, which would surely mean dropping out of school, a mountain of mind numbing legal problems, possible criminal charges, and assured bankruptcy? Or, in lieu of “ruining his life”… reluctantly bail him out, but with a stern talking to?

You know what happened.

And who can blame these parents for bailing out their son? As much as they probably wanted to see him suffer because of his idiocy, they couldn’t let his entire future get thrown out the window with the proverbial bath water. So they bit the bullet and did what they had to do.

This kid is Bear Stearns. And the Government is, once again, the parents.

And you thought that was a bad analogy.

So bravo Bear Stearns. Your plan worked perfectly. And only time will tell if you  threw the World’s entire future out the window with your dirty bathwater.

Okay that was a bad one.

e

To be honest, I didn’t think I wanted TIVO until I got TIVO.

Or, to be specific, until i got Time Warner Cable’s DVR, which is built into my cable box. But when I got it, I was instantly hooked. It’s everything they said it would be, and more. And although I don’t tape a ton of shows, the ones I do record are near, and dear to my heart.

Did I just say tape? I did.

Anyway, for some reason, this weekend, while I was away, my Time Warner DVD failed miserably to record “Real Time With Bill Maher”, “SNL”, and “At The Movies With Ebert And Roper”.

Wuh?

So I go online… and there’s not much besides some “tips” that are written for morons ala “what’s DVR?”. So I clicked on the “reach us via our ‘online form’” link… which is deader than a virtual doornail:

TimeWarnerCable: Contact Us!

So I call.

Already I’m WAY past my time quotient for dealing with this mess. And I’m on hold for almost ever.

And then… I get a dial tone!

I was cut off!

So I called again, and climbed my way through the phone tree only to get cut off yet again.

Kill.

The problem here is not that I missed my precious shows, and that I cried like a little girl. The problem here is that Time Warner NY has such atrocious customer service that I don’t even know HOW to go about reporting this, or somehow asking for their help in fixing it.

And that’s one of the more important aspects of good customer service, isn’t it? When something goes wrong, in this order you:

1) Make yourself obviously available
2) Etc

So…I must ask, ever so nicely:

Time Warner New York? WTF?

Turns out I’m not the only one. Check out today’s ComputerWorld blog by on the exact same topic:

Why I’m Done With Portable Hard Drives -Mike Elgan

My response:

“The external HD “industry” needs to be way, WAY more upfront about what users can realistically expect from these drives.

Most users who aren’t in IT buy these drives FOR backup. It doesn’t occur to them that they should be backing up that backup, and then even backing up THAT one to DVDs. On top of that, most of these drives are poorly made. Just do a cursory search and you’ll turn up failure, after failure, after failure. The industry, and certain manufacturers in particular (I’m looking at YOU LaCie) need to be more honest about the fact that their drives really *shouldn’t* be relied upon. They also should explain, upfront, that if something does go wrong “mechanically” with the drives, that they will NOT help, AT ALL, with the recovery of the data. Even though the data was lost due to a mechanical failure, which is their responsibility.

The “bigger disks” which are upwards of 2TB are very tempting at around $500. But what they don’t tell you is that if that drive (which is really 4 drives in a RAID) fails… upwards of 10k to recover the data. That is a BIG pricetag. And something that needs to be communicated CLEARLY to potential customer.”

-ed

And here’s a response to my comment on digg about the fact that LaCie should be “more upfront” about the fact that their 2TB drive is, in fact, FOUR 500GB drives in a RAID array:

“No, it’s LaCie’s fault. The reason it’s their fault is that they advertise their drives as perfect for backup but don’t tell the buyer that they acheived their 1 tb size using 2 drives linked using raid 0, worse they don’t tell buyers what this means. This omission is the suff of lawsuits and if a few more buyers lose their data probably will result in one.”

Here here.

The Lacie Boycott

In August of ’07 I bought one of these:

linky

First of all, this drive is NOT 2 Terabytes. No sir ree. LaCie is misleading, at the very least, in their marketing. This is actually four 500 Gigabyte drive, shoved in one case, and laid out in a RAID array. Which means your data is written in little, tiny pieces on all 4 drives. So, if one of the 4 drives fails, you’re screwed. Or, as in my case, if the “controller” part of the RAID fails, and can only read 1 of the drives, you’re equally screwed.

I already had a couple of 250 Gig drives, and I got this one just to back up my DVDs and Music (the bigger stuff). And immediately I noticed some “rattling” noise, almost like something wasn’t attached properly inside. So I reported it to LaCie and they sent me a return box. I shipped it in, and they backed up my data (but only after begging them), they put it on a new drive, and sent it back to me.

Good, right? Well, not so fast.

Almost immediately after I got it out of the box, and plugged it in, it started spinning REALLY FAST. So, I emailed their tech support again. And they said “unplug it for 30 minutes”.

So, I did, but the symptoms persisted. I emailed them back… but nothing. I emailed them back again… still nothing.

Then, the drive started “dropping” from my system window. Just like that, it would “unmount”, randomly. So I emailed tech support again, and they told me to use a different power supply.

But then they emailed back and said “wait… DON’T USE A DIFFERENT POWER SUPPLY!”… which was very confusing. Because I was getting different emails from different tech support guys telling me to do, or don’t do, different things.

Then it just plum died. Well, not totally. I could bring it up in “disk utility”, but it only read 1 drive, just ¼ of the RAID array. Meaning something wasn’t “connecting” the drives together.

I emailed them about that… but heard nothing back. So I called.I talked to a very un-inspiring guy who told me that it “looked bleak”, but offered to send me a new power supply, because in his experience the power supplies were “frying the RAID controllers”. Wait. WHAT?!?!?

So he sent me a new power supply that did absolutely nothing.I called back, and that’s when they told me to call a “data recovery” place, and gave me a couple of numbers to call…

$10,000.00.

Seriously.

$10,000.00!

And LaCie WON’T HELP AT ALL.

The don’t have even an “ad hock” data recovery function. Not even an enclosure they can put these 4 drives in and re-connect the RAID. They ONLY fix the drives (which makes absolutely no sense), and they ever-so-smugly reminded me that “in the fine print” it stated clearly, yet small-ly, that they don’t do “data recovery”. Ironic, isn’t it?

Never mind that this is a “hardware failure” in that the CONTROLLER that connects the drives together was FRIED BY THEIR POWER SUPPLY. I asked them very nicely, based on my extended, and storied back-and-forth with customer service, if they would “help” defray the cost.

They said, in effect, hell no.

Now, you may ask “why don’t you just let those movies and music go?” Well… because… and this is a funny story… right before the drive failed I got Mac OSX Leopard. And I wanted to use the new Time Machine backup scheme, instead of my (achem) LaCie SilverKeeper backup-to-backup scheme. So I moved my backup to another drive, and that backup to this 2TB drive (which again, LaCie ASSURED me was still fine)… and that very day, as if on cue, it gasped it’s final breath.

Here’s the kicker: it just so happens that at that exact point in time the ONLY thing that wasn’t backed up… was my entire professional portfolio. Seriously.

Look. I’m a backup fanatic. I have always had a backup of my backups (though previously only on FWdisks, not DVDs). But the one, seriously ONE time I flew by the seat of my pants (so to speak) for ONE DAY I got burned, and burned bad by LaCie, their faulty products, and their awful customer service. On a drive that was acting a bit wonky, but a drive that they assured me was a-ok.

The funny thing was I had read many, many, many BAD reviews of LaCie products before I bought this one (just do a quick Google search, or even check out the ones on the Amazon site link). I had read all the computer magazines reviews, and saw that almost ALL other drives consistently had better ratings than LaCie. But, unfortunately, I was suckered in by price, and a misleading description of the drive.

And false hope.

Well, now I’ve got to send in my drive to LaCie’s “partner” data recovery service (sound fishy?) and spend an ungodly amount of money to recover data from a drive that failed from 10000% hardware malfunctions. As in: LaCie’s faulty power supply fried LaCie’s RAID controller. As in LaCie’s fault*.

So learn from my mistake. Back up your back ups of your back ups. On DVDs as well. And if you’re going to buy a large external drive, find out if it’s a RAID. If it is, think again about buying it.And more importantly, avoid LaCie like the plague they are. In fact, tell everyone you know to avoid LaCie. Buy any other brand… well, except Maxtor. They’re the only brand with *almost* as many bad reviews as LaCie. Almost.

A call to arms. Boycott LaCie.

e

*Lawyers: a class action suit against LaCie would net you about a zillion dollars. But all I want is my data recovery expenses reimbursed.