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This is Roby. Roby and I have been friends for many years now, despite the fact that he is Italian and I am French. Roby is a pretty kick-ass photographer, graphic designer and all aroundman of fashion, and like me, he spent some time in the military before moving to the US. Unlike me, however, Roby decided to return to military life to take part in the “war on terror.”

If you are a regular reader of the BrandBuilder blog, you are no stranger to any of this. If you’re new, then you’re about to get caught up.

A few years ago, Roby and I came up with the idea of F360 over beer… or coffee… (or possibly both) at the Coffee Underground coffeeshop in Greenville, SC. I was bored at my corporate job and looking for ways to put my strategic and creative skills to better use – and for a broader pool of companies. Roby was also a little non-plussed about where his job was going and was starting to build a nice little portfolio of graphic design and commercial photography, but needed someone to bring copywriting, marketing strategy, and project management skills to the mix. It took a few months for me to finally make the jump and take him up on his offer to join forces with him, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Just as F360 was starting to really take off, Roby decided to join the Army National Guard and within two years, got his ass shipped out to the Stan – presumably to go hunt down Osama. Roby has been there since October – first in Kabul, and now at some undisclosed location. Looks like mountain passes and whatnot, so I guess his unit is helping local soldiers make sure the bad guys don’t come through their area.

Anyhoo, Roby took his cameras with him, so he shoots photos of his life over there, which is pretty damn cool. The photos posted below are from one of my favorite galleries he’s posted so far… just a few days ago… as he turned 35.

Happy Birthday, Roberto. Now get your ass back to the US so we can have a beer. (You’re still a big wuss for not climbing that hill with your gear, though.) Pffft. Army. Figures. ;D

There’s an accident waiting to happen if I’ve ever seen one.

A gunner’s view.

Roby is running up mountaintops now. WTF?! I can’t believe it! It must be photoshop!

Hmmm… I’d better start training.

Sweet view of the mountains and the valley. Good luck sneaking up on this outpost, you Taliban bastards!

Snack time.

Pajama pants.

The best pose EVER.

Livin’ it large.

Eden?

Gorgeous photos, Roby. Hooah.

The rest of you can go chat about the crappy overpriced commercials shown during the Superbowl. I’m sure by the time you read this post, the interwebs will be a-buzzing with excitement over whose ads scored, whose ads flopped, and how advertising is dead or making a comeback or whatever… *sigh*… Same conversation we have every year. I’ll pass, thanks, and watch the good ones on YouTube later this week, when I feel like the bandwagon has safely passed me by.

Have a great Monday, everyone. 😉

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Pre-Game: Ah, it’s Super Sunday in the US again. Football, hot wings, beer, and yeah, the TV ads.

Since I’ll be skipping most of the game tonight, I’ll have to catch the ads on YouTube later. I hope they will be better than last year… and the year before that… and the year before that too.

And I hope they will be a little more adventurous than the half-time show’s lineup. (Don’t get me wrong, Billy Joel and Prince are great performers, especially live… but whatever. It’s 2007. Nuff said.)

Fortunately for people like me, the folks at AdFreak have set up a website specifically to review the ads. Guest reviewers include Seth Godin, Chris Wall, and Joseph Jaffe, so I expect the reviews to be pretty dead-on. The site is called superadfreak and you can get to it by clicking here. I will definitely be checking on it throughout the evening.

Adrants also put together a fine listing of the TV ads with reviews. Click here to go check them all out.

Enjoy the game everyone, and have a great Super Sunday evening. 🙂

Post Game: Congrats, Colts. No congratulations for most of the agencies who took their clients’ money and threw it down the proverbial drain, however. The best Superbowl ads this year were average at best, while the rest languished somewhere between lame and horrendous. But hey, that’s just my opinion. What’s everyone else saying?

Joseph Jaffe:

“Almost nothing has stood out…not even the return of eTrade from the grave (a duet with Orville Deadenbacher perhaps?) Perhaps the line of the Bowl is from Go Daddy: ‘Everybody wants to work in Marketing’ (Maybe) at your company, but for every other marketing Veep at this year’s Bowl, you’re going to be trolling Careerbuilder come Monday morning… If you’ve got nothing newsworthy to say … don’t say anything.

Marc Berman:

“I just overheard my older daughter (she’s 15) say to my 12 year-old son, ‘the ads on The Super Bowl really suck.’ And, sadly, that pretty much expresses my sentiments. The careerbuilder.com spot was clever, and Coke was…well…unusual, but nothing stands out as creative or worth remembering. “

Mark Wnek:

“Overall, a sense of disappointment. The Coke animation was gorgeous, the Bud Light stuff a good group, the Emerald Nuts stuff with Robert Goulet …nutty in a good way, Fedex consistently funny. Where was the genius of the Apple “1984” spot? Feels like the genius is going into different media nowadays.”

Jim Ferguson:

“So far, I think the game is more entertaining than than the spots.”


Tim Arnold:

“Note to anybody considering an advertising career: talking animals have no automatic, built in relevance to anything resembling a real idea. (And it’s still ideas we’re supposed to be about). You’ve seen half the world’s living species so far in this game, and God knows what’s to come. But do not let the industry’s brilliant ability to re-create these speaking creatures on camera confuse you: you still need an idea, despite the evidence to date. And somebody still has to clean up after them, one way or the other.”

Seth Godin:

“I quit.

After watching GM run a 2 million dollar commercial that consists of a robot getting fired, walking the streets and then committing suicide, I’m so confused, so clueless and yes, so ashamed to be even peripherally involved in this line of work, I have no choice but to quit.

If your company was breaking records (in losing money) and was so adversely affecting the lives of thousands, why on earth would you run this ad?

I give up.”


All quotations courtesy of SuperAdFreak.

Personally, I was mildly amused by the Coke Grand Theft Auto, Bud Light Crabs, the Sierra Mist beard combover and the Career Builder spots. Guilty pleasure: The Bud Light monkeys. Nothing imaginative, but the French in me is a sucker for talking monkeys. (Hey, I grew up watching Jerry Lewis flicks. Eh.) The rest was so insipid that I really don’t need to waste any more time writing about it.

Oh, okay. Twist my arm. I can’t resist. In my humble and completely personal opinion, the absolute worst ads of the night (in no particular order):

_ Snickers’ kiss: a) for being creepy, gross AND dumb all at the same time, and b) for ruining Snickers bars for me for at least two weeks. WTF?!

Note: A Snickers bar actually saved me from passing out last week at the end of a very cold and very long bike ride. I was utterly spent and out of power gels, so I stopped at a convenience store, bought a Snickers bar, and devoured it right there. No, really. It was intense. People were staring. And let me tell you something, that was THE BEST Snickers bar I have ever had. Hell, it was the best candy bar I’ve ever had. Since that afternoon, I have been jonesing for another one and was looking forward to grabbing one for my next long ride. It would take a lot to ruin Snickers bars for me right now… but that ad did it. That’s all I have to say about that. It sucked that badly.

_ Sales Genie: At least, the Menthos commecials were cheesy on purpose. That ad was crap. Pure crap. Most of the other ads were obviously trying way too hard – but this one could have tried a little harder. Boring, unimaginative, lame, outdated and smug to the point of being almost creepy.

_ GM’s suicidal robot: Don’t get me wrong – I liked the robot. I liked the way it started. I even liked the way the ad was shot. But it ended in suicide. Hello! Besides, the editing was so horrendous that the finished product made no sense. Yeah, okay, I get it, the bot offed himself because he was sad and all… But taking us through that cheerful little journey of self destruction deserved a little more time, don’t ya think? I’d like to see the full length version someday. I’m sure the director’s cut was better. This one was hacked down to nothing, and that’s a shame.

While we’re on the subject of the suicidal robot, here are a few little pointers for GM… and advertisers in general:

Rule #1: If you can’t tell your story in 30 seconds, find a different medium than the 30 second spot for your concept.

Rule #2: If you’re going to go through the trouble of creating a cute, likeable character, don’t kill it off aimlessly.

Rule #3: Try to avoid suicide as a theme for a 30 second spot. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s generally kind of a mood killer. Unless it ends well… Like… where the suicide attempt fails and something good or cute happens.

One last thing, GM: How many people did you lay off this past year? And your ad was about… what again? Doh. A bit insensitive maybe? Ruh-roh.

Okay, I’m done. I expected this, so I’m not too bummed about this year’s lackluster lineup, but… I kind of wish someone had come up with something cool this time around.

Anyone.

Oh well.

Happy Monday, everyone. It’s a whole new workweek. Let’s try to make it count.

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