(512) 587-5175 [email protected]

Rants

The case of the 50 year missing sandals.

The case of the 50 year missing sandals.

I went to school at Cecil B. DeMille Junior High School in the early 70s. Only in Southern California would they name a junior high after a film director. The school is gone now. It was built in the 1950s and served us well. When I was there, the school was divided...

read more
The teams took the field and it was fallow.

The teams took the field and it was fallow.

Ok, I’m bitter. I admit it. The Saints shoulda been there. Of course I went to a friend’s house for a party and ate chips and dip and brisket and drank a couple beers and caught up with folks and laughed and had a fine time. A great American tradition and a welcome...

read more
The deliberate submarine life.

The deliberate submarine life.

I grew up in Long Beach, California. It's a quiet little DMZ between LA and OC. My whole neighborhood for miles around was strawberry fields back in the 50's and one night got whipped up into a sea of cheap, little houses with three bedrooms and one bathroom and...

read more
What price loyalty?

What price loyalty?

I understand loyalty. I've worked on loyalty programs for years and I'm very conscious of how corporate behavior affects my own loyalty. I'm as jaded an Ad Guy as could possibly exist so I can see through all the loyalty programs you could ever dream up and they...

read more
The Harley Shovelhead and UX.

The Harley Shovelhead and UX.

Chances are, whatever you know about Harley motorcycles isn't about the Shovelhead. The Shovelhead was a kind of Harley engine that powered all their bikes throughout the 70's. They dressed them up a lot of ways, but the engine was basically the same. They were...

read more
FUD vs. The Piano and the piano wins.

FUD vs. The Piano and the piano wins.

FUD. Fear, uncertainty and doubt.  It's an old advertising cliche that I think should be buried along with those Camel cigarette ads about how more doctors smoking Camels blah, blah blah. Fear, uncertainty and doubt. The art of scaring your prospects into buying your...

read more
How does your company simplify the message?

How does your company simplify the message?

Man, I've seen some miserable messaging. Complex, overly verbose, rambling, bland. Here's a great example. I spent a fair amount of time in a big tech company a few years back and one of the execs would do presentations that were composed entirely of business cliches,...

read more
Rio The Half Cat on her final walkabout.

Rio The Half Cat on her final walkabout.

She’s gone. She retired from her wanderings a few years back and felt it was time wandering around the back yard, sleeping on the bed and looking for a lap to sleep on. and sleeping in. But now she’s gone. She slipped into what I could only assume was a bit of a cat...

read more
Why your company should have improv training.

Why your company should have improv training.

It ain't just about being funny. Or laughing. But it doesn't hurt. At one point in my life I was leading three-day creative workshops for my clients. I was all over the country and did around 40 of these things. They were a blast but they were brutal. I had to keep...

read more
Funeral for a friend.

Funeral for a friend.

Went to a funeral yesterday. They never get easy. It occurred to me, as her friends and family spoke, that there is a great metaphor for how we know each other. Imagine if you will, a piece of sculpture is set magically in a pasture. It's a great masterpiece by...

read more
The billboard is visual cognac.

The billboard is visual cognac.

"A billboard is done when there's nothing else to remove..." I learned that in a billboard design class in college and it's stuck with me all these years because it's one of the truest things I've ever heard. Take away everything till there's nothing left to take...

read more
The Great Accidental Brainstorming Lesson.

The Great Accidental Brainstorming Lesson.

The Austin Technology Council had tapped me to do brand development and guerrilla marketing presentations a couple times a year and I always obliged. Then one day they had a cancellation. And a very last minute cancellation at that. I get a call that the meeting was...

read more
Eat. Pray. Come up with big ideas.

Eat. Pray. Come up with big ideas.

I listened to a talk on NPR today by Elizabeth Gilbert. She wrote the book Eat Pray Love and I admit I may be the only person on earth that hadn't read it, so I'll get that out of the way. She was talking about creativity and a unique concept of where it comes from......

read more
Kicking over tables… One company at a time.

Kicking over tables… One company at a time.

Disruptive is a miserable word. It's a cliche. It's been beat to death and when I hear it, I don't think of anything positive. I think of an angry baby in the seat behind me on a long flight. That's disruptive. So I won't use disruptive to talk about what I do for a...

read more
Bring in the Torpedo People.

Bring in the Torpedo People.

I spent several years traveling around the country leading creative discovery sessions for a process I called The Dozen. After seeing how most intranets were built, I realized that the only way to build an effective site was to get a real understanding of the company...

read more

Carlos Santana and The Tornado.

I heard a tornado one afternoon. Then I saw it. The old adage of a tornado sounding like a freight train seemed accurate at the time, but one tends to think of a freight train in sudden, frantic energy. The tornado kinda crept up on me and kept getting louder and...

read more
The Edge… Jump off, the water is fine.

The Edge… Jump off, the water is fine.

Someday... Someday I know it's not going to happen. I'll go to that deep, dark recess of my mind, trying to come up with The New Thing and there will be nothing. The deadline will come closer and closer and nothing. I'll have to make that painful perp-walk to the...

read more
The Pitch and the mountain of sausage.

The Pitch and the mountain of sausage.

I love a good pitch. As an Ad Guy, there's nothing more fun in this business than to pitch a new client. There's the competition, the short timeframe and the great theatre of presenting ideas. It's my favorite part of this business. I've done hundreds of pitches over...

read more

A new campaign always makes my day.

I have the best job in the world. I get to make something out of nothing. Or, in this case, something out of sausage. Shiner Smokehouse got it's roots in a little meat market in Shiner, Texas back in the 1930's. And if you don't know, Shiner, Texas is a berg an hour...

read more

A 24 Hour Brand delivered in Houston.

It works. They loved it. And it wasn't a simple problem, but it was a simple solution. A company in Houston booked a 24 Hour Brand. We had several conversations. They sent me everything they could on competitors, their marketing problem, their history and their goals....

read more

Quality. Value. And other Death By Verbage words.

Every so often I have a fight with a client over language. Or verbage, as I often hear (and shudder when I do). They want to use words like "quality" and "value" and "consumer" in their copy and I get itchy. First off, can anyone define what "providing value" actually...

read more
Ten lessons from two hundred startups.

Ten lessons from two hundred startups.

As a brand developer, I've been in around two hundred startups in the last twenty years. I've seen a lot of tragedy and triumph and here are some lessons that bubbled to the top. 1. When everyone has a thousand dollar Aeron chair, you'll fail. I've walked into...

read more

Once upon a time it was more than “content.”

I remember the first time I heard the word "content" in referring to copy for a Web site. I hated it. Good marketing copy should tell a story. It should move you and motivate you and make you want more. It should grow a business and turn readers into passionate fans....

read more

The Creative Savant… And 246 Toothpicks.

"Eighty two... Eighty two... Eighty two..." "Thats a lot more than eighty two toothpicks Ray." "Two hundred and forty six total." "How many toothpicks in the box?" "Two hundred fifty." "Pretty close Ray." "Um... There's four left in the box..." Maybe your company...

read more
Carlos Castaneda and the Scary Park Guy.

Carlos Castaneda and the Scary Park Guy.

No, Carlos isn't in the ad business and it's been years since I read his work, but he had one idea that's stayed with me and any company needing new thinking should embrace. In the story, Don Juan is giving advice to someone with a poorly behaved child. They just...

read more
From my old friend, Hunter S. Thompson.

From my old friend, Hunter S. Thompson.

OK. So I never actually MET Hunter S. Thompson. He's not actually a "friend," not even in the Facebook kinda way. But I've always admired how he thought. His communication skills amazed me and I've read nearly everything he's ever written and some things really stand...

read more

An Ad Guy sells out.

I sold out. I sold The Ad Ranch. My baby. My ad agency. That thing that defined who the hell I was (well, kinda). I had the agency for more than a dozen years. A dozen years. A dozen years. Had to repeat that. For an Ad Guy, that is several centuries. We Ad Guys have...

read more

The neverending pursuit of The Best Stuff.

I love great design. And so does the whole world. Look at Apple. They've done very well competing in a business where everyone thought the cheapest would win. But they approached the market with the idea of making truly beautifully designed products and do you ANYONE...

read more

The meat won.

It was a grand experiment. I went Vegan for almost two years. No meat. No cheese. No nothing that was ever part of anything that walked, crawled, swam or waddled. I felt so proud. I felt so socially responsible. I fell asleep at odd hours. Ya see, while it's a grand...

read more

The Rat Pack Manifesto.

OK guys. Every couple years I feel the need to send this out. I don't even know how I came across it. It was published in DrunkardMagazine.com back in 2004, and I probably shouldn't be reproducing it here without permission from lawyers and such, but sometimes ya...

read more

Bucketlist car. The Citroen DS.

I think it started around a year ago. I came to the sudden and unexpected realization that the coolest car ever built was the Citroen DS. Don't ask me why. It just happened. I remember going to Europe back in the early 80's as a 21 year college kid, schlepping my...

read more

This is my church.

 I spent a piece of my day in the National Gallery in Washington DC. Their collection of French Impressionists is amazing. Room after room of canvas and oil visions that take over my thoughts. French Impressionists are my holy sacrament. Monet. Or Degas. Or even the...

read more

A tale of two Peche’s.

Peche and Peche Kucha. Two random events in one night. So my wife Loree was downtown last night and we met at Pesche, the most interesting bar in the city. An Ad Guy friend (although he swears he's a RECOVERING Ad Guy) named Tim McClure joined us for an evening of...

read more

War and harmony and why we need them both.

Something occurred to me this morning. Everything is balanced between Harmony and War. I'm no Zen Master, but I think this is what they mean by the whole Yin/Yang thing. Think about this. War is awful. Harmony is good. But you really can't have one without the other....

read more

Adios Leslie. Austin will miss you. Kinda.

Leslie died. If you live in Austin, you know Leslie. He's been a fixture here since I moved to Austin in 1994. Leslie is, well, WAS, our local crazy crossdressing streetguy. He was an Austin Icon. Everyone in Austin knew who Leslie was. Everyone had a Leslie story. He...

read more

Two and a half cats.

I've got two and a half cats. The logical first question is "Where can I get a half cat?" So here's the story. I live on the outskirts of Austin on a hill. Behind my house is a couple thousand acres of greenbelt. Its protected space full of scrub oaks, cedar, coyotes,...

read more

A gathering of Ad Guys.

So a lot of stars aligned last night. Back in 1994 I was living in LA and working for various ad agencies. I worked full time and freelanced for a lot of LA agencies, large and small. I even registered the name McMann & Tate (as in Bewitched) so I could wear...

read more

What I learned from my Father.

It’s Fathers Day. I’m in a plane to Denver for business and I got to thinking about what we learn from our Fathers and what we hope our kids learn from us. I lost my father when I was 17. I’d gone through a rough patch in middle school. Hanging with “the wrong crowd”...

read more

The Citroen DS…

So I’ve had this weird fascination with Citroen DS’s for a long time now. Somehow it bubbled up in my consciousness and has festered there, leaving me to decide I HAD to possess one before I die. And since we never know how much longer we have, it makes sense to do it...

read more