Brands are more self-obsessed than ever.

I recently saw an ad for Panasonic where their tagline was “A Better Life, A Better World” and it reminds me of how much we’ve abandoned good, witty copy for pompous horseshit in the pursuit of some unrealistic goal of empowerment and inspirational revelation.

Don’t believe me? Check out this print ad from Panasonic in 1988:

“Just slightly ahead of our time.”

That slogan is beautiful, witty, and cheeky. Unfortunately, that “time” has come and gone, only to be replaced with their current slogan. …


Everything you need to know in 20 minutes.

Introduction

Though I usually write about advertising on here, I know we’re all suffering from overwhelming existential dread during this lockdown, and how we utilize this time decides how we come out of this. So if you’ve got a camera lying around that you’ve never bothered to use, or you just need some guidance on getting started, I’ve laid out everything here to help you hit the ground running, or, hit the bedroom with some cool subjects. And I’ve tried to condense it all down to the fewest words possible, because few have the attention span to read an entire book…


We don’t need empty messages of solidarity. We need action.

Downtown Miami on Saturday, May 30th.

As we transition almost seamlessly from one catastrophe to another, it seems that our social justice brandwagon is dragging its heels a little too much.

I found myself in downtown Miami on Saturday afternoon in what became a battleground of violent clashes between activists and law enforcement. Dozens of police cruisers were set ablaze, smoke and tear gas filled the air, amplified by the chants and cries of people who, after decades of unsuccessful peaceful protests, are fed up with it all. While most joined to protest in a peaceful and meaningful way, the pain and grief that has stricken…


It’s a battle between positivism and interpretivism.

I usually write about advertising on here, but I’d like to jump back to some of my undergraduate studies, because they relate to my current career in the marketing industry — not as a data researcher, but as a creative writer — or rather, not as a positivist, but as an interpretivist.

Background

When a brief lands on our desk, loaded with statistics about our audience, and once in a while even comes with a spreadsheet. As creatives, it’s up to us to come up with ideas based on that data.

I like to find a lot of my insights on…


Our generation desperately needs voices that don’t write in acronyms, emojis, and memes.

I’d like to have a word about how we’ve abused our language.

My biggest challenge in my career was at the beginning. I spent my entire undergrad writing academic essays and getting lost in Google Scholar archives. Using scholastic jargon like “deindividuation” and “epistemological solipsism.” Writing papers 30, 40, 50 pages long about the social construction of reality, or cataloguing a performance ethnography on marginalized groups. Then I started a career in advertising, writing three word fragments using made-up horseshit like “lit, finna yeet this woke-ass ratchet boi off a cliff, u feel fam?”

Weird flex, but okay.

My copy…


There’s no one process for coming up with ideas for ads. We seemingly gather the thoughts from nowhere, sometimes stemming from insights, other times generated out of thin air. But when you’re really stuck on a brief, there are some formulas you can use to generate concepts and drive your thinking. I’ve outlined seven of my favorite here with examples.

Make it so good, it’s bad.

Make up a reason why they shouldn’t buy it. But make sure the reason comes from the benefits of having it. Like a gigantic hyperbole.

The trick is to find a way to twist the benefits of the product into…


This. This goddamned gorilla. You remember this?

I love and hate this ad, the same way the French love and hate Napoléon. The Cadbury Gorilla spot was a quirk in the space-time continuum, where an ad from another dimension infiltrated our airways. In a world where everything works backwards, nothing was on-brand, it’s obnoxiously long, the product is never shown, and there is no message. Fallon ignored all the ingredients of a solid campaign and instead, microwaved the unusual daydream of some bloody Phil Collins fan, then served it up on the dessert platter that is primetime television.

I was…


Sometimes, you just get really, really stuck. Like the headline I wrote above. Pretty bland, right? I mean, it works, it’s informational, but it’s not fun. The CD looks at your line and asks, “where’s the twist? What’s the surprise?”

The words don’t always just magically “come to you” as people like to boast when asked, “how did you come up with that?” We learn to construct our language at a very early age, and a lot of what we were taught wasn’t complete bullshit.

Just take a stroll back to the basics of elementary learning, the ones we now…


I work in advertising. My clients use Facebook ads, and my clients follow strict FTC guidelines to make sure people aren’t misled, misinformed, or flat out lied to. So, I’m horribly insulted that the very system I use to help brands communicate with people is responsible for gleefully legitimizing evil that dismantles civility, and falsely touts itself as an organization whose mission is to be “beneficial” to society.

“Bringing the World Closer Together” is how Facebook’s oligarch, Mark Zuckerberg, addressed his audience at the Chicago Community Summit. He called it, “Facebook’s mission.”

*barfs everywhere*

Facebook is not a good, altruistic…


“A joke is a very serious thing,” –Sir Winston Churchill.

I don’t mean a giggle, I mean full out crack up in your chair. Spread the laughs across the room, share them with your guests.

When was the last time an ad really surprised you?

This was the last time for me. My dad and I were watching Seinfeld when the Geico ad came on, and my old man damn nearly fell off the couch.

So, what happened?

I just saw another study that said over half of consumers want their brands to stand for something now.

*Gasp*

I get it, we’re shifting towards new horizons. All our brands think…

Mike Shaheen

Copywriter at Publicis. Aggressively unfancy. A daydream dressed like a nightmare. 🏳️‍🌈 www.mikeshaheen.com

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