As an advertising hack, the thing I like about weblogs-as-advertising-medium is the control.
Also, having briefly worked in the magazine business, I know the perils of traditional media: having to keep an army of editorial and freelance people happy (not to mention paid). And then there are those dreaded paper, printing and distribution costs. All that trouble just to tell 400,000 nobodies that purple is the new black. Why bother?
My 'blogvertising' model dictates that the major cost to the advertiser is driving traffic to an environment where the desired outcomes (including the imparting of the advertising message) can all be achieved. The actual cost of creating and maintaining that environment is minimal.
Hey, guess what? Driving traffic is cheap and easy compared to the rigors of financing and maintaining a traditional media organ. And it's also a lot cheaper than building and maintaining a good enough site where the desired audience will just appear on its own volition.
We all know that traditional advertising is far too expensive. We all know that banner advertising doesn't work (0.01% CTR is the industry standard. One click per 10,000 people seeing it. Ouch...). And we all know that a traditional new media version of old media (the dreaded "dotcom") is economic suicide.
The future of advertising is "simple and cheap". But there are still too many people out there with an incentive to keep it "complicated and expensive". You have been warned.
"Week in, week out, some dire British movie plods into a Soho screening room, puts its head on the block and waits for the critics to swing the axe. If it actually makes it to the multiplex, the public by and large ignore it - they'd rather watch something American, and you can't blame them. Indeed, the idea of a homegrown movie that rates as a genuine artistic achievement, as opposed to a loudly fanfared event (such as Calendar Girls), seems almost outlandish, something so rare we might not even recognise it. Well, I'm happy to report that such a movie is now here. It's called Young Adam, and it deserves your immediate attention..."
I'm going to ask the producers to send me links for (a) where the movie will be showing, once it hits America in April and (b) somewhere you can buy tickets online. Makes sense, doesn't it?
TobyZ made the following thoughtful comment on an earlier post:
"The problem with blogs for advertising - or anything else, for that matter - is that most net users don't know what they are, can't find them, and won't 'bookmark' them.
"You've mentioned Gerber, for example. Google shows 1.7 MILLION hits for Gerber. Does it matter whether your blog is hit #415, #415,000, or #1,415,000? No one is going to find it from a search engine.
"The gateway to your blog (for me) is a link at the top of the adrants.com site. When that goes away, your blog ceases to exist (for all practical purposes), and you can't control that.
"Blogs are for small groups of friends who are contributors. They can't reach the mass audiences that traditional media provide to advertisers. Once I post this comment and leave, I'm gone forever. I won't see any follow-up comments. I won't see any ads you might put here tomorrow.
"Blogs is not an advertising medium."
Oh, man, where to begin...
Well, if ABC, CBS and NBC had to follow the same economic rules as Toby assumes bloggers do, they wouldn't be selling much "mass" advertising, either. All they'd have to show the public would be a lot of empty offices and ticked-off shareholders. But of course, they don't follow these rules. And there's a reason.
To get millions of people to sit down in front of a TV channel for any length of time and soak up all those advertising messages, broadcasters first have to spend big money. How much does NBC burn through in a single day? $100 million? Heck, "Friends" alone must be setting them back $10 million a week.
And every year those numbers keep getting higher, as people find more and more things to do with their time, besides watching Chandler getting it on with Monica.
But providing advertising on blogs is not free to the blogger, either. Besides supplying the content necessary to attract the advertiser, the blogger has to find ways to drive traffic to her site. That means media buys, among other things. And to get serious numbers isn't cheap.
But then again, neither are sitcom actors, anchormen, journalists, TV producers, editors, researchers, Manhattan offices, camera operators, art directors, marketing managers, cafeteria workers, receptionists, and all the million and one things a big media company like NBC has to have in its arsenal before it has something viable to sell the advertiser.
Obviously, I can't individually get the numbers "Friends" has. But knowing what I know, I can get a couple of million people to soak up my client's message without too much trouble. Considering I don't have Jennifer Aniston's wages to pay for, I'm not complaining.
The issue isn't whether media is "mass" or "micro". The issue is always (A) how much trouble is it to get x people to your stuff/brand/media/message etc. and (B) what people do once they get there.
The line seperating "mass" and "micro" is an intellectual construct, it has nothing to do with economics.
If the blogosphere was willing to spend the same collectively per day as NBC in order to shift product on behalf of their clients, we'd see big, big changes in how advertising was done. 2 million blogs or so, $50 each on average? Hmmm...
From Adrants.com: "A new study from Havas' Arnold Worldwide Partners, Boston has found consumers still prefer brick and mortar shopping over online shopping. According to the study, Americans still prefer human contact. Among the findings, 63 percent prefer to shop a physical store for a gift, 79 percent for clothing and 66 percent for pharmaceuticals. Conversely, for categories such as booking a cruise and banking, the study found consumers don't want human contact and would rather do these things electronically."
So the internet is only good at some things, but not good at everything. Hmmm... reminds me of a few people I know.
"Also wanted to tell you your cards were getting raves at this party I went to last night. Weird mix of people from banks and some artists. The artists loved them."
Yeah, that made my day. Heh.
"Classic Hollywood film noir speaks with a Scottish brogue in "Young Adam," an impressive second feature by David Mackenzie that takes its darkly existential cue from a forgotten novel by heroin-addicted Beat writer Alexander Trocchi.
"While Mackenzie, an award-winning short filmmaker, gets right to the murky heart of the genre, he also does extremely well by the efforts of his highly capable cast -- in particular, the truly dynamic duo of Ewan McGregor and Tilda Swinton..."
Hey, Young Adam also won "Un Certain Regard" at Cannes.
I'm enjoying pimping the movie, I have to say. Of course, it's made easier by the fact the critics and me both like the movie, and the director's a friend of mine.
I wonder what I'd do if they asked me to pimp some real piece-of-sh1t, mainstream-pandering-feelgood-crapass romantic comedy. Oy vey, that would bite.
That being said, they probably wouldn't. No point matching the wrong film with the wrong website audience etc.
A good review of Young Adam in Latino Review.
"The eroticism and exposure these actors partake in explodes off the screen in a bold way. The chemistry between them is so strong that they sneak off to grope or have sex with each other in the most peculiar and tiniest places on a barge where three people reside..."
Yep. Ewan and Tilda are verging on porn in this one.
Yes. This is huge. I'm going to go away and think about it some more.
I’m Creative Director for a small advertising agency that’s doing some really interesting things at the minute. A lot of the ideas you will have come across on gapingvoid already- the agency job allows me to put them into practice in the real world.
We’re a small team, but we’re utterly fabulous. Heh. We’re also not limited to geography. We believe that, like blogging, our ideas should be able to be applied anywhere.
If you want to know more feel free to write me and I’ll tell you all about it: hugh at gapingvoid etc.
"The Kinetic Quality": All products are information. The molecules are secondary.
The future of brands is interaction, not commodity. It's not something you buy, but something you paticipate in.
i.e. a brand is not a thing, but a place.
Here's an example: My former agency was pitching Gerber ( the US baby food company) a few years ago. During the pitch I told them "you don't know a lot about babies because you make great products. You make great products because you know a lot about babies."
Think about it. The average 22-year-old new mom doesn't go into a Kentucky Wal-Mart looking for baby food. She goes into Wal-Mart looking for information. She wants any information she can get about how to be a better mother, and she's willing to spend money to get it.
After she has the information, then she wants products that are credible extensions of the information. A good baby-food brand is merely an extension of good paediatric nutrition.... i.e. put the information first, and the products and sales will follow.
So what we pitched was turning their Wal-Mart shelf space into miniature "information centers". We'd sell the products, obviously, but there would be other things as well- books, leaflets, CD-Roms etc etc. Basically, a young mother would leave Wal-Mart a lot more informed about babies than when she entered... and her shopping bags full of Gerber products. This is what I mean about "the kinetic quality" of a brand. A good brand offers immediate and obvious transformation.
If Mom doesn't leave Wal-Mart a better informed mom than when she entered, then somewhere along the line Gerber isn't doing its job.
Of course a good Gerber website/blog would enhance this process. The TV and magazine campaigns would be more informative than 'selling'. All under the umbrella concept of "Healthy Happiness Hints". Giving little parcels of managable information, communicated as "hints".
My point is: the kinetic quality applies as much to package goods (baby food) as it does to media brands (The Economist, The Wall Street Journal etc). A good marketer understands this, and tries to tap into it.
In the old days, the three most important words in advertising were "Unique Selling Proposition". To me, the three most important words are "By Interacting With..."
-By interacting with Gerber, she becomes a better-informed mom.A good brand is a two-way conversation.
-By interacting with The Wall Street Journal, she becomes more tuned into the world of capitalism.
-By interacting with Apple, she brings her entrepreneurial dreams closer to reality.
-By interacting with McDonald's, her busy schedule is made slightly easier by avoiding a lot of fuss over lunch.
-By interacting with Ralston Purina, she becomes more attached to her canine friend.
-By interacting with your brand, she becomes...?
What we bloggers know about the nature of information (a great deal) can be applied far beyond our usual diet of media, politics and journalism. Because all products are information. The molecules are secondary.
Which is why I believe this is a very exciting time for all of us.
Jeff Jarvis (at Buzzmachine.com) has started blogging about the very same subject and mentioned this very post. Thanks, Jeff :)
btw: I left the following thought in his comment section:
"My advice to clients vis-a-vis the internet is: the infrastructure is not here yet, but it's coming. In the meantime, just start the conversation and keep it going. Make your mistakes and push yourself up the learning curve as fast as you can while the baby is still in its infancy. Believe me, when the next big wave begins (1-4 years?) you'll be glad you did."
I'm about as clued up on next-generation forms of advertising as anybody, but I'm still confused by that statement.
Regardless of what advertising method may be in vogue at any given moment- TV, Radio, Websites, RSS feeds, Guerilla, Viral- the same question remains:
"I've got Product X that's good for Y reasons. What's the best way to get customers?"
And so you go out and push it. That's what you do. If the bar rises, you jump higher. If the landscape changes, you get yourself a different map.
Technology may make reaching some people harder, some people easier. But Push Advertising is not going anywhere, because too many people (including Fred) have products they want other people to know about.
Still, one has to stay on top of things. I meet a lot of people who hope to one day be the next John Hegarty. Well, that's great, but Hegarty's "creativity" model is already 30 years old. He already had that idea, and put it into practice 3 decades before you. That train already left the station.
Interesting times we live in. Jeff Jarvis concurs.
One thing I think the Young Adam movie does better than the book is capture exactly how utterly grim Scotland was in the 1950's.
Edinburgh certainly seemed a lot more grey when I was a kid than it does now. Not that I cared. I was too busy trying to getting laid.
Back when we were 18-19, Dave (the Young Adam director) and I used to go out a lot and try to meet girls. There was this one girl called Sally, who was a real firecracker. Sally was pretty cool by teenager standards. Badass-attitude girl, really pretty, but really sweet. Dave had this big, big crush on her. Sally would roll her eyeballs every time Dave came into the room. Dave was just too geeky for ol' Sally.
I saw Sally the last time I was in Edinburgh. She works in a restaurant owned by a guy I went to school with.
We chatted for a few minutes. She's doing OK. I told her about Dave and his uber-cool film gig. Yep, she rolled her eyeballs again. Heh.
With some help from some friends, I fixed the code on the RSS syndication feed. The images load, the links work, it's spectacular.
If you're into RSS please go check it out. Thanks.
Damn fine lollipops. Suck like your life depended on it.
For the last few months, I've been advertising this site on Adrants, the ad industry blog.
The result is, every few days a couple of hundred advertising folk discover this site. A couple of hundred folk is the size of a good-size agency. Not bad, not bad at all.
A week's worth of advertising on the site costs about the same as one decent cocktail in an upscale New York bar. Yeah, I think it's worth it- insanely so. Especially when you think about how hard these people are to meet in real life (any recent grad looking for her first job will know what I'm talking about).
So far the investment has paid off. I've been contacted by a few people who saw the ad. I't ll be interesting to see where all this leads. Watch this space.
One more thing: Steve Hall, the guy who runs it, has recently been laid of from his agency media job. Based in Boston, he's looking for work. If anybody can provide him with any leads, that would be great.
Megan asked me in an earlier comment if I had a favorite cartoon.
I don't think I have an all-time favorite. But if you look to the links section on the homepage sidebar you'll see a link for my "personal faves" section, which has a dozen or so of my sentimental faves.
Abigail from St. Louis wrote me yesterday. In her e-mail she asked:
"And then there's the question of integrity. There's all sorts of criticism of product placement in print media. If a magazine starts talking about how wonderful a product is, and they're being paid for it- suddenly the mag is one big infomercial. Would your site have the same sort of problem?"
Abigail, I think that's a definite issue. Especially when you think the main engine driving the blogosphere is goodwill. To abuse that is not only wrong, it's economically stupid.
I think the trick is (a) making sure the main content far outweighs the pimping content (b) being upfront about the pimping (c) making sure the product is one you honestly believe in.
"Tell the truth" is the best advice I can give anyone.
I have no qualms about pimping my friend's movie. I want people to see it and I make no apology for it. I think it's a damn fine movie and I'm willing to stake my reputation on it. Same is true with EVO.
When a basketball player or famous actor lands a multi-million dollar endorsement/pimping deal, he is praised to the skies by the media for it. But when a regular guy (blogger) does likewise on a vehicle that he owns himself (blog), suddenly the media is talking about "integrity".
There's a subtext here: "Pimping is OK for rock stars like us, but how dare the little people try to do it." The usual big-media arrogance.
That arrogance to me is really nothing but kvetching by a lot of mediocre hacks in dead-end media and advertising jobs. All sound and fury, signifying nothing.
For the last year or so I've been writing about "the future of advertising".
Yak yak yak, yada yada yada.
Then a couple of weeks ago I decided to stop talking about it, and just start doing it.
And now tens of thousands of people know all about Young Adam, and I believe see it in an informed and postive light.
Had I put a wee bit of money into media-buying, that figure would have been millions.
No fancy ad agencies. No large herds of suits screwing around. No fancy commercial shoots. Just one guy, some cartoons, a computer and some strategically-placed media buys is enough. Millions of people.
The cartoons are essential. Gives people a reason to be here besides hearing me shamelessly plug a movie.
What is the future of advertising? You're reading it.
Any ad folk out there who want to continue this conversation offline feel free to e-mail me: hugh at gapingvoid etc.
This is a good photo of Alistaire MacKenzie (on the right), my pal Dave's younger brother.
Alistaire is best known as "Archie MacDonald", the former romantic lead in the TV show "Monarch Of The Glen".
This pic is a still from the movie Dave shot just before Young Adam, "The Last Great Wilderness". To save money Dave got his own flesh n' blood to play the lead. Or something.
The Scottish film world is a small one. Alistaire's great high school friend was Andrew MacDonald, the producer of both "Shallow Grave" and "Trainspotting", both which Ewan McGregor starred in. And now Ewan's in Alistaire's brother's film.
I knew Andrew MacDonald vaguely in Edinburgh when I was a teen, though I doubt he'd remember me. Hung out with him and a girl named Scarlet a few times, both who I thought were awfully nice.
There's another, less-known connection between Trainspotting and Young Adam. The editor at Canongate Publishing who "rediscovered" Trocchi, and got him back in circulation after years of being out of print, was a guy called Kevin Williamson. Before he worked at Canongate Kevin had a wee underground literary magazine called 'Rebel Inc.' It was pretty central to the whole "Scottish Beats" literary scene that was doing the rounds in the quality papers a few years ago.
Rebel Inc was the first to discover and publish Irvine Welsh, the writer of Trainspotting.
Alistaire's in LA at the moment, grabbing some acting work. Dave's working on a new film called Asylum, based on the Pat McGrath novel. Sir Ian "Gandalf" McKellan's in it. Kevin, who I've shared whisky with many times, is still in Edinburgh, seriously involved with his own brand of socialist politics. I have no idea what Andrew MacDonald's up to. I saw him in London in the street a few years ago- he looked really busy with the person he was with, so I didn't say "hi".
"The best Scottish movie ever. An utter masterpiece of seething, beat-novel-film-noir sexuality." - Hugh MacLeod
Ewan McGregor, Tilda Swinton, Peter Mullan, Emily Mortimer etc.
Opened in USA April 16th, 2004
Cities include: New York, LA, Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis, Washington DC etc.
Buy the artisically superior, far racier but more expensive NC-17 version from Amazon.co.uk.
'The Independant' (big UK paper) loves Young Adam: "Indeed, the idea of a [British] homegrown movie that rates as a genuine artistic achievement, as opposed to a loudly fanfared event (such as Calendar Girls), seems almost outlandish, something so rare we might not even recognise it. Well, I'm happy to report that such a movie is now here. It's called Young Adam, and it deserves your immediate attention..."
From The Guardian: "Alexander Trocchi was the smack-addled icon of beat literature, whose writings have been eclipsed by a lurid life of porn, pimping and dissolution in New York, Paris and London. But with a new film out adapted from his novel Young Adam, the Glasgow-born writer's life and work are ripe for re-evaluation." By Tim Cumming.
People who have been coming to this site for a while will notice I'm posting a few old ones... There are two reasons.
1. The old "white on black" website is buggered. All the links were broken when I moved it across to the archives. It is no more trouble to repost them here than to fix the old archive, and since I much prefer this new format, I might as well post them here again. It also allows new visitors to see the old work without having to schlepp through the old archives, which are a pain to navigate, anyway.
2. I kinda like reposting them. It kinda shakes the dust of them a bit. I prefer thinking of it as "revisiting", rather than "Hugh's a lazy bastard who can't be bothered posting new stuff." Besides, I'm posting more new work than ever before, I just happen to be combining that with posting the old work.
What sayest thou?
Thanks to everybody who bought blogcards in the last week. Seems there were a lot of you :)
David Byrne was actually born in Scotland, in Fife. Moved to the States with his parents when he was a kid.
It's a good soundtrack. Sort of reminds me of the stuff he did with Brian Eno 15-odd years ago.
You can get it on iTunes as well.
"Take Action. Get Action." (Their tagline, not mine) Personal ads for political activists. It's one of those Spring Street Network websites, the same folk who do personals for Nerve.com and Gawker.com.
"Better cool it with that blogging stuff. We don't want black folk finding out about it."
Henry Copeland's Blogads score a big success in helping to get a Congressman elected.
The CD will be dead by 2007.
It's fun to watch the BBC suffer.
A 'Plague of Artists' Is a Battle Cry for Brooklyn Hasidim.
French Intellectuals Protest Government "Anti-Intellectualism"
One very cute blog, if you like that whole "cute blog by some British chick" thing.
The Dean campaign plans to carry on "taking their country back", even if nobody quite knows what that means.
-By interacting with Gerber, she becomes a better-informed mom.
-By interacting with The Wall Street Journal, she becomes more tuned into the world of capitalism.
-By interacting with Apple, she brings her entrepreneurial dreams closer to reality.
-By interacting with McDonald's, her busy schedule is made slightly easier by avoiding a lot of fuss over lunch.
-By interacting with Ralston Purina, she becomes more attached to her canine friend.
-By interacting with Evo...?
I'd say it's the second-best Beat Novel ever written ('Naked Lunch' being the first). Imagine if Joseph Conrad had writen 'L'Etranger'. But it's a lot more sexual than any of them. Trocchi made a living writing porn for a while. It shows.
What I think it does very well is portray the deep, existential, predatory quality all males have when they're trying to get laid. And you girls thought it was all about you. Heh.
Yes, they build and hire out limos, but that's only the first product of many.
When they started the company (only 2 years ago in a suburban garage) they asked, "What could we do to get the product out there, that could get a lot of people seeing and using the vehicles right away, day in, day out?"
Limos were an obvious choice, especially as they were based so near Hollywood. But there are other products on the drawing board, which I will talk about at a later date.
So my job is not about selling limos. It's selling something much bigger.
I firmly maintain that Evo's main competition is not Detroit. We've already moved on from worrying about dinosaurs.
Somebody in the comment section of a recent post thought citing Apple Computers as our competition was a bit of a stretch. I disagree- to me, it's glaringly obvious. The kind of people we want working for Evo in the next 5 years are going to be the kind of bright sparks Apple would hire. I see us trying to steal people from them, or other comparable companies, and vice versa. We may not be competing for the same retail space, but we're competing for what really makes the money for any organization- the people who work for us.
All companies begin and end with the collective knowledge of their people. It's up to management to figure out a way to put that knowledge to best use. Products, be they molecules or services, are just extension of said knowledge. Not to mention extensions of passion, wit, ego, ambition, desire, love and sex drive.
90% of any company's worth is intellectual capital. It isn't 1960 any more.
Update: The thought "Intellectually Driven" is a nice little buzzword to bring up in a meeting, but I don't think it's a big enough nail to hang the entire company on. Keep digging etc.
"Perhaps it's not entirely fair to say that the idea of art cinema is profoundly un-British. Un-English, perhaps. David Mackenzie's Young Adam is a thoroughly Scottish film in subject and in mood; its steely poetry, and very European belief in letting images speak as much as words, can only be compared in recent British cinema with the work of another young Scottish director, Lynne Ramsay. Young Adam is based on a 1954 novel by Alexander Trocchi, the Glasgow-born writer affiliated to the Beats, whose life and work were very much a revolt against British insularity and staidness, and against Scotland itself. Suffice to say, Mackenzie's dirty, damp, bone-chilling film is no tourist board advert for lochs and glens..."
Nice one. The film opens in America in April, and it's nearly March. Not long to go. I'm getting a little nervous, as time marches on. I'm trying to tell everybody I can about the film, but I'm just one man with a wee blog. I'm not CBS, y'know?
Still, it's a good movie, and with the internet being what it is, if folks like the film they'll blog about it, and word-of-mouth will travel fast.
(This cartoon sponsored by Evo bwa ha ha ha...)
Truly great post on corporate blogging from Microsoft's Robert Scoble (Thanks, Loic).
Also see: Scoble's Corporate Blogging Manifesto.
What makes America exceptional. Powerful stuff from Jeff Jarvis.
Meatspace of the week: DEMO
Kerry still breathes.
Not everybody who markets to hipsters is a schmuck.
From Gawker: "Last week, Amazon's Canadian site somehow got glitched to reveal the names of the writers of anonymous user reviews -- which gave everyone a little peek into the world of friends pimping friends' books and bitter unpublished writers trashing other writers. (It seems Amazon is sort of like, oh, any street corner in lower Manhattan.)"
How many bloggers can dance on the head of a non-issue? e.g. "Your 'friends' are an angry controlling abusive mob. This thread started with an incredible demo of that. Some people are in and others aren't. The really creative people are always out. You kill them. And you just got told no, enough is enough. If friendship is just that, people being friendly and supportive, great. But if it's really defining who it's okay to attack, then it's not friendship."
To me, the Evo story isn't "clean-fuel limos", it's about the people running it. Clean fuel is just one attribute.
Usually, when you think of "limo service", you think of characters out of 'The Sopranos'. Think fat guy/cheap suit /clip-on tie and you get the picture.
Evo is different. Its roots are in the media business. Two media execs got sick of the entertainment industry, and decided to focus on something they perceived more useful to the people around them than just one more screenplay needing schlepped around Hollywood.
Ergo, I'm currently writing stuff that has nothing to do with "clean fuel" or whatever. The story is not about eco-warriors. The story is about providing the kind of service the people you party with would want to use. And it's about building the kind of company the people you like and respect would want to work for.
Position Evo as a knowledge company first, and its services as extensions of that knowlege (limos, clean-fuel engines, parts etc), and then I think we're in business.
I had this thought: "Evo. Intellectually Driven." By that I mean, Evo shouldn't see its competition as other limo companies. Its competition are companies like Apple or Sony. Using its resources to turn knowledge and passion into good things for people. Yeah, getting you from the hotel to the airport is pretty mundane, but then again most stuff done on computers is also pretty mundane. But that never stopped Steve Jobs.
It's not what you do, it's the way that you do it.
Afterthought: 'Intellectual' is perceived negatively when it's applied to people, but not when it's applied to 'property'. The people who make movies (Evo's current customer base) have no problem with the phrase 'intellectual property' to describe their product, as far as I can tell.
i.e. Evo is driven by the same kind of brains that drive movie studios and computer companies. The product is different, but the caliber is the same. That's what Evo must reinforce again and again, it's that simple.
That being said, 'Intellectually Driven' may not be the right tagline to slap on the back of a mass-media ad camapign for a limo. But it could work as good internal marketing, as part of a long-term corporate vision etc.
Since I moved the old website over, suddenly a lot of links are no longer working. If you hot-link to my site then a lot of the images will no longer load.
It's easy enough to fix, just add "old site/" bewteen the ".com/" and whatever comes after it.
e.g. If the old old links was
the new link will be
Sho shimple, Moneypenny!
Warning: They also print the synopsis, which is basically one big spoiler. Skip that if you don't want to know the ending (and the middle, and the begining etc). Below the synopsis is the actual review by Philip Kemp, which I've also posted below.
"Portraying an emotionally amputated protagonist without either soliciting sympathy or alienating your audience is no mean trick. It defeated Visconti in his over-literal adaptation of Camus' L'Étranger (Lo straniero, 1967), a novel with which Alexander Trocchi's Young Adam has often been compared. Other directors have been more successful with less head-on tactics; in Leo the Last (1969) John Boorman undermined his exiled, passive-aggressive aristo with subversive humour, and the Coen Brothers brought a cool monochrome elegance and glittering irony to bear on The Man Who Wasn't There. David Mackenzie, in his second feature as writer-director, takes his own route but still hits the target.
Trocchi's 1954 cult novel is written in the first person, but Mackenzie rejects the obvious solution of giving his anti-hero, Joe Taylor, a doomy noirish voiceover. Instead Joe's affectless state of mind is expressed through the gritty visual texture and cold, grey-blue palette, flat, detached dialogue and above all Ewan McGregor's performance. Paring away the streetwise perkiness of his earlier roles, he evinces a hungry, raw dissatisfaction, his mouth skewed in a grimace of anticipated distaste.
Mackenzie's debut feature, The Last Great Wilderness, had atmosphere to spare but lacked focus, veering wildly – if divertingly – from road movie to black comedy to Polanskian Grand Guignol, all leavened with a hint of The Wicker Man. Young Adam, with the spine of Trocchi's terse novel to keep it on course, establishes its tone with far more assurance, and sticks to it. The script deviates very little from the original, least of all in its key narrative obliquity: Joe's connection with the girl whose corpse he drags from the water when working on a barge is withheld from us until halfway through. By the time we find out, it's evident that any recourse to Dostoevskian redemption-through-guilt is beyond Joe's moral compass.
The script includes only one significant deviation from the novel, in which Joe rescues his employers' young son from drowning. It's hard to see why this was inserted, unless to soften Joe's character – which would be odd, since there are no other attempts to ingratiate him. Otherwise Mackenzie handles his material with a light touch and intimate attention to physical detail: the sense of grimy, sweaty flesh, especially in the sex scenes on the barge, is startlingly vivid. In a moment of supreme post-coital disaffection, Joe watches expressionless as a fat black fly takes a leisurely stroll around Ella's nipple.
Mackenzie draws edgy, exact performances from Tilda Swinton and Peter Mullan, while Emily Mortimer makes the most of an underwritten role as Joe's put-upon girlfriend. There's a relishably slatternly cameo from Therese Bradley as Ella's sister Gwen, complete with black-rooted hennaed hair, blood-gash lipstick and chillingly reductive attitude to sex ("Drink up. We've got business to attend to").
Mackenzie resists jazzing up his story with any spurious sense of urgency or passion. Barring one brief, bizarre scene of erotic violence – involving custard and spanking with a wooden slat – Young Adam moves with the torpid, inexorable pace of the coal barge itself, abetted by David Byrne's moody score. Such assured film-making augurs well for Mackenzie's next project, an adaptation of Patrick McGrath's gothic tour de force, Asylum."
The new webdesign is up. Hooray!
To visit the old site archives, go here.
This is either a test or I have forgotten to take my meds.
A few years ago I got to the stage where I could have been a professional cartoonist, had I wanted to.
I didn't want to, so I didn't.
Being a pro condemns you to a reclusive life hunched over a drawing table. Sure, that would appeal to some people, but I've always prefered getting out more.
Hence all this advertising/marketing crap.
I like doing the cartoons for free. I like the control. I like being able to draw what the hell I want, when I want. If I have something to say, I say it. If I don't, I shut the hell up and do other things.
The weblog audience is much smaller than the traditional publishing route, however the loyalty and enthusiasm of your audience is far more avid. The interaction between the 'creator' and the audience seems a lot more meaningful.
I've had the hit show on the TV. I've had the cult strip in the alternative papers. I've published my work in The Guardian (the actual paper, not just online). Yet not only do I enjoy the weblog far more, I think I end up making more money in the end. The cartoon-blogging format gets my name around. Makes it easier to find work. Makes it easier for people to take "Brand Hugh" seriously.
As I'm fond of saying, blogging is a great way to make things happen indirectly. I would never have got the Evo gig without gapingvoid. The CEO liked what he saw and sent me an e-mail. I sent one back. We started a conversation. We kept it going. One thing lead to another. Yes, it was that simple.
Besides the new job, my plan is to keep drawing the cartoons and trying to convince y'all to buy blogcards. And hopefully we should be getting new prints out soon. Anything beyond that is too exhausting to think about.
I've been writing a lot about environment crap recently. There's a good reason- my latest client is a company named Evo Limo, based in Los Angeles.
I can pick any job title I want. "Creative Director"? Do limo companies actually have Creative Directors? I don't know. Creative Director sounds so '80s.
Looks like I'll be spending more time in LA. Wish me luck.
I don't have a girlfriend. I don't have to post something warm and fuzzy on Valentine's Day.
Let's say, for sake of argument, that you were living and raising a family in Southern California.
Say you wanted to start a business there, related to major industries from that neck of the woods. I guess that could include:
1. Hollywood and the entertainment industry.
2. High Tech
3. Environmental crap, alternative fuels etc.
So I guess a business that covered all 3 bases would not be a bad thing, right?
My thoughts exactly. Which is why I've agreed to go work for them.
The hydrogen car I mentioned earlier costs $400K.
The thought occurs to me: in today's money, that's about how much a decent car (Bugati etc) cost 100 years ago. Or a top-of-the-line horse and carriage, including the horsemen's wages and housing. Around $6000, back when they were real dollars.
Throughout history, things we now take for granted started out as luxury items for the priveleged few. All started out as evidence of economic surplus- no different than a set of jewels from Tiffany's.
Cars. Indoor plumbing. Electricity. Gas ovens. Hi-Fi stereo. Decent medical attention. Air travel.
And it took a couple of decades of entrepreneurial hustle to bring the prices down.
Rolls Royce made lots of money selling to the Western aristocracy before Henry Ford came along.
So green cars are going through their luxury phase. Just because your typical mall rat can't afford one doesn't mean they can't be built at a profit, that they can't be a decent business in their own right. I guess the issue is how long this phase will last. (Does this mean when we say the car is "green", we really mean "as in green with envy"?)
Of course one environmentally-turbocharged car isn't going to make a difference to the planet. But one car might impress the 40-year-old millionaire's blonde-bombshell date enough for him to get lucky that evening. Never underestimate the power of the libido in making history, one blowjob at a time.
"Meet the Whimpster. The manipulative asshole in sensitive clothing."
After the oil crash. We're all gonna die.
Goody. Another sex scandal. This time with Kerry.
Blogads are sadly getting more expensive. This is why.
How to get a free bowl of chili.
Bloggers have already established their own pecking order. About bloody time.
Diary of a Startup. Not too narcissistic, even by blogging standards.
Wow. Posting links is easy. You mean there are whole blogs that do nothing else? Imagine.
Granted, the GM Hy-Wire concept car is a nice looking vehicle. Very spiffy.
Granted, it runs on hydrogen. Very alternative. How lovely and 'green' of them.
It cost $400,000.00. Yeah, I have a problem with that.
Show me a viable solution for under $30-50K and I'll start believing they're actually thinking seriously about the alternative fuel problem.
All the Hy-Wire is doing is predicting a future so far off and out there that by the the time this future arrives, we will have already moved on to bigger and better things.
Methinks I'll start selecting possible futures from elsewhere.
Good article on making money (or not, probably) with blogs from "the guy Nick Denton hates", Jason Calacanis.
Nick Denton's lastest publishing venture is wonderful.
Fed Wilson is underwhelmed by Networking Software.
Kinda messy, kinda random, but very New York, which is why I like it.
Jane Galt (one of my fave blogs) just plugged me here. Yay! Thanks, Miss Galt!
Thanks, Joi & Adriaan!
Dave MacKenzie directing a scene of Young Adam.
More links on the movie from about.com. They had it filed under "romantic movies". Romantic? Sure, there's lots of sex going on, but none of it I would call romantic. There's one scene where Ewan is screwing a girl in an alley. After he's done his business he picks his cigarette off the ground and finishes smoking it. Yep, it's that kind of movie.
I grew up partly in Texas and my dad, a geologist, spent a lot of time in the oil business.
So Middle East politics aside, oil is not something I have ever had a lot of trouble with.
Yeah, it’s smelly, yeah, it screws up the atmosphere, yeah, people die because of it. Welcome to Planet Earth, Babe. Life is tough all over.
But I don’t get too upset about it. It’s not going to be around much longer. We’re running out. In about 15-30 years technology won’t be able to keep the stuff cheap any more.
I’m optimistic. I think with the oil supply in decline there will suddenly be real commercial incentives to find a viable replacement. Right now there isn’t, which is why alternative fuel technology is still in its infancy… Nobody can be bothered- there are still too many easier ways to make money. But I doubt that will always be the case.
I’m thinking maybe in 100 years or so we might very well regard the by-then-defunct oil companies in the same way we now regard our slave-trading ancestors. “Gosh! They did WHAT for a living? How terrible!!”
Interesting times we live in…
I was talking to my uncle about the internet. You know, why 90% of webpages are crap.
"Easy," says Uncle. "The web mimics what people say. And 90% of what people say is either stupid, wrong, or both."
I like my uncle.
Have you bought your blogcards yet? Huh? Huh? Have ya? Huh? Huh?
Why Technorati is the hottest thing on the internet right now.
This guy should blog more.
One very smart blogger's take on E-tech.
How dumb is our president?
Good autopsy on the Dean Campaign by Jay Rosen.
My fave blogger, Jeff Jarvis is at E-tech and doing some pretty serious blogging about it. If you want a intensely good view of the action, go pay him a visit. Lots to read, mind...
All the super-wired folk are in San Diego, at the E-Tech convention. Should be amusing.
A nice wee interview with Ewan McGregor about Young Adam. What caught my attention was his mention of my pal Dave's (the director) pet name for the movie, "Last Tango In Glasgow". Yeah, the kinda sums it up. I first heard the phrase over pub drinks with Dave about 4 years ago.
It's weird. OK, so the film has been a critical success in Europe. And here's my friend Dave getting all this attention. I still remember when he made me read the book 8 or so years ago...
"Read this book! It's amazing! I'm going to make it into a film!"
"Oh, shut up, Dave. Get a fucking job."
A nice wee BBC interview of Tilda Swinton, who plays oppostite Ewan McGregor in Young Adam.
Tilda Swinton went to Fettes, the famous private school in Edinburgh. Tony Blair went there, as did David Ogilvy, and James Bond (well, according to Ian Fleming, he did). I have good friends who went to Fettes- she was a couple of years above them.
She is probably best known in America as the Tribe Leader in the movie 'The Beach'. She is an incredible actress. Think Cate Blanchett on steroids.
I saw her live a couple of years ago, lying motionless, eyes closed, in a glass box at The Serpentine Gallery in London. Performance art or whatever.
Some people I've talked to think she was the strongest act in the movie. Yeah, I've said that before myself, except all the leads were pretty good...
Advertising is expensive. Just ask any brand manager at a large company.
The “Creative Revolution” (pioneered by such greats as David Ogilvy, Bill Bernbach, Charles Saatchi, Richard Kirshenbaum etc) is over.
The next revolution will be about making it cheaper. So far the big agencies only answer to that has been laying off people and hiring interns in their place. Sure, that saves money in the short-term, but depletes one’s intellectual capital long-term. It’s not solving the central issue: the big agencies still cost too much.
So how do you make it cheaper? Easy. You hire me. What, you think I’m going to tell you for free? Heh.
Somebody asked me today if I had a tip jar on my site. I told him I didn't. If somebody wants to support my site then the best thing they can do is buy a box of blogcards.
I've published stuff over the years- greeting cards, t-shirts, prints etc. Blogcards give me by far the biggest kick. Something about their interactive quality- they don't just sit there on a bookshelf, gathering dust. No, they get out there. They take a boring, everyday concept- the business card- and they have some fun with it. The end result is they make people smile.
They'll never make me rich- they weren't designed to. I just hope they make people happy.
This is a lovely review of Young Adam, from the BBC.
For those of you who don't know already: Young Adam was directed by one of my best friends, David MacKenzie. Since the film is coming to America in April and 90% of my readership is American, I thought I'd help a friend out by promoting it.
Here's an interview with lead male, Ewan MacGregor
More 'Young Adam' Pimpage
Brief Synopsis from Britfilms.com
Read The Book (damn fine book, by Alexander Trocchi)
Of course I agreed to. One, it's a great movie. Two, I just wrote a screenplay which I'm hoping Dave will one day direct, so it behoves me to keep him sweet. Three, the movie launches in the USA in April, and wouldn't it be good if everybody knew of its coming well in advance?
The last reason is it gives me a chance to test out all my weird and bizarre "blogvertising" theories.
So wish me luck...