After reading the CE-nO column, in which I called Batten Barton Durstine Osborn a "shitty bloated" ad agency, Jocelyn Weiss, their VP of corporate communications, invited me to the agency's midtown offices to dispel my misconceptions.
First stop, chief creative officer David Lubars's roomy office. He must have been used to media lube jobs like the one he received in New York in 2004, because the man was wound tighter than Barzan Ibrahim's noose. He unsmilingly slid in BBDO's TV DVD. Lubars and Weiss were especially proud of a beautifully-produced, Emmy-winning FedEx spot—a spot that employed two of the four hackneyed TV ad tricks: go back in time; go forward in time; use animals; use babies. I preferred this funny, original commercial the agency did for Cingular.
When asked about some of BBDO's other work—like the celeb-shilling Pepsi spots and the lame Gene Hackman-voiced Lowe's ads—Lubars used Gawker's content as a point of comparison.
"Not everything we do here is gonna be award-winning and edgy (there's that word again), said Lubars. "I mean look at Gawker. You had that thing with Paris Hilton (upskirt shot[s]), it looked like a ball sack..."
(As I traveled up and down endless hallways, I noticed an apparent symbolic nod to diversity: both white and black rock gardens.)
Second stop, CEO & chairman John Osborn. Smiling Osborn and his giggly director of new content Shawn Zupp seemed genuinely content as hell to meet me. Osborn said he didn't want to pepper me with the usual buzz words and than did just that, including describing BBDO as a "global boutique." Zupp? He playfully interjected "careful" every time an employee came in and was introduced to the guy from Gawker.
Last stop, "Central Filing," BBDO's full-size, in-house bar. (renaming suggestion: Think Tanked). You pay a 50-buck membership fee, and you drink for free ALL FUCKING YEAR. And they have Guinness, another client, on tap. Weiss should have made this the first stop.
My reassessment of BBDO: they are indeed bloated (Central Filing? VP of new content?). The work? I should have asked to see some web stuff but, OK, I admit it — their TV work wasn't... as shitty as I thought it was and is likely... less shitty than the work of most other bloated agencies.
Last point: Lubars, lighten up dude, it's just advertising. Go pound a couple martinis with Osborn. My instincts tell me bossman knows how to fucking party.
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Earlier: Night of the Living Dead