How to Kill a Pitch: Video Satirizing Ad Biz

Concepting and Copywriting, Content Writing, Humor Writing, Original Content, Short Films, Videos

Oh, creatives! Don’t fall on that sword over your favorite idea. Certainly don’t pull pistols! “How to Kill a Pitch” is a cautionary comedy video Walt Jaschek wrote on this subject, directed by Angie Lawling, shot by Chris Lawling, produced by Mercury Films. All in good fun: it’s movie blood. Client not loving your latest idea? There’s another one, you know. Come up with it and live, damn it!

Spoiler: look for a cameo by Walt himself in the final scene, amid the “agency in waiting.” Full credits on IMDB.

Bonus: For those who like to read this sort of thing, here’s…

“How to Kill a Pitch”: The Shooting Script
by Walt Jaschek

Characters:

Jon / Creative Director – Agency
Jeanette / Account Director – Agency
Bernard / Chief Marketing Officer – Client
Brooke / Marketing Manager – Client
Ethan / Office Assistant – Client

Extras: The next agency in line to present / 3 people, non-speaking, cameo

BLACK SCREEN

Fade in title: How to Kill a Pitch

Fade up sound of a small group laughing. Title fades out and the laughter bridges across the CUT TO:

INT – CLIENT CONFERENCE ROOM

Jon and Jeanette are wrapping up a presentation to clients Bernard and Brooke. It’s obviously gone well. The laughter is dying down. Jon puts the last of a series of foam core boards face down on a stack.

JON:  And with that final, funny scene, this spot serves as climax to a completely integrated, cross-platform marketing campaign that is “locked and loaded.” Let’s pull that trigger.

JEANETTE:  And from a strategy perspective, it is right on strategy. Right. On.

BERNARD:  Well, Jon, Jeanette: this is fantastic work. Wonderful. A home run. Hilarious, memorable, unforgettable, really. I was totally entertained every second.

Brooke is agreeing with her boss via a series of verbal cues:  “Right, Uh-huh, it is, yes.” The agency people are beaming. Bernard, though, has one more card to play.

BERNARD:  But…

Uh-oh. The agency people trade glances. It’s the “but.” The client’s demeanor changes to a concerned scowl.

BERNARD:  I worry. Is it TOO entertaining? TOO engaging? If we go on the air with something this noticeable, this excellent, will the spot wear out faster? Will people get tired of it? Will we have set a standard of being “excellent” that we’ll have to meet each time?

He gives the word “excellent” air quotes, of course.

Jon and Marcy are completely drained by this exasperating reaction, which they’ve obviously heard before.  It’s just too much.

JON (to Jeanette):  Will you just kill me now?

JEANETTE:  I’m sorry?

JON:  Will you kill me? Right now? Here? On the spot.

Jeanette considers this with sobriety.

JEANETTE: Well, hmmm, yes. Yes, I will. But only if you kill me simultaneously.

JON:  Simultaneously? 

JEANETTE:  Yes.

JON:  That’s a deal.

JEANETTE: Let’s do it.

JON:  I’m in.

Jon pulls a pistol from his sock.  Jeanette pulls a pistol from a Coach handbag.

The clients seem to be bemused by this. But sure enough, the CD and AE point the guns at each other.  Creative director counts down:  “3… 2…. 1…. now.”

Reaction shot of the clients as the creative director and account executive shoot each other in the heads.  BLAM! BLAM! The clients get a little splattered blood on them. We see the bodies of the CD and AE slump to the floor.

But the clients aren’t really disturbed. Brooke turns to Bernard with a studied earnestness.

BROOKE: I don’t think he knew how to answer your question.

Bernard nods. This is the right response from his subordinate. The onus is on the agency, which obviously flaked out.

KER-CHUNK! The client assistant, Ethan, opens the door to the conference room.

ETHAN THE ASSISTANT: Shall I send in the next agency?

Bernard and Brooke straighten, gather papers.  Brooke smiles up at Ethan.

BERNARD:  Certainly.

BROOKE:  Yes, please do.

CUT TO: EXTERIOR HALLWAY

Ethan, holding the smile, turn and looks down the hallway.

REVERSE ANGLE – HALLWAY – ETHAN’S POINT OF VIEW

A group of anxious, smiling people from the next agency, all holding their presentation materials, looking to Ethan for the “come hither” signal.

REVERSE ANGLE – Back to Ethan

With a small hand gesture, he beckons the next agency to advance.

CUT TO BLACK

CREDITS SEQUENCE

Quick single-screen credit cuts and scroll over a lively, jaunty “Ragtime” tune.

“See?,” the music seems to say. “It was all in good fun.”

THE END

Walt Jaschek home

Hi. I’m Walt Jaschek. Ready to Write, Create and Brainstorm – Now!

Comic Writing, Concepting and Copywriting, Content Writing

 

As a blissfully freelance, St. Louis-based writer of copy, content and entertainment, I’m thinking big and living large. At least in my own imagination. Luckily, my imagination is also my livelihood. (Whew!) See a few scenes from my typical writing day of writing, brainstorming and pacing in the video above. Then examine the resulting creative work throughout this site, with examples of my:

Copywriting

Content writing

Comics writing

Also represented are some my creative musings; real-life moments; kind recommendations; scintillating press coverage; creative treasures; and even a guide to pronouncing “Jaschek.”

Walt Now Creative. At your service. Need big ideas and killer copy? Contact. Now!

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What Walt Jaschek Believes. (And Doesn’t Believe.)

articles, Content Writing, Opinion Pieces, Walt a Life

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Part One: What I Believe. 

Originally published as the editorial in Slightly Bent Comics #1.

I BELIEVE in music, I BELIEVE in love. But not necessarily in that order.

I BELIEVE for every drop of rain that falls, one is leaking into my basement.

I BELIEVE before the end of time, the title of every pop song ever released will also be used as the title of a movie.

I BELIEVE civilization reached a peak with the invention of the prescription swimming goggles.

I BELIEVE on of the best titles ever for a comic book is “Mysterious Suspense” (Charlton, 1968), because mysterious suspense is truly the best kind of suspense.

I BELIEVE in the universal, healing power of sarcasm.

I BELIEVE George Reeves (TV’s Superman of the 1950s) was a great actor. So you can synchronize your aesthetic tastes to mine right now, as long as you know mine are correct.

I BELIEVE it’s not what you can do, it’s what you can repeat.

I BELIEVE it’s not what you can do, it’s what you can repeat.

I BELIEVE it would be inappropriate to foist my vegetarian beliefs on others, so if you want to slaughter sentient mammals just to have a heart-clogging bacon-burger, I will give you no grief.

I BELIEVE the glass is half empty and half full. We call this reality.

But I BELIEVE the half-full part is a lot more fun.

I BELIEVE being alive is a caper. We’ve stolen existences from the vaults of the Carbon-Based-Life-Form Bank & Trust and zipped off in the getaway car of biology. I’m giddy about it.

But then, I BELIEVE exuberance should be the default emotion for human beings. We should all snap back to it when not otherwise engaged, like when, you know: working.

I BELIEVE those who can find exuberance in their work are lucky dogs.

Or other lucky domestic pets of your choosing.

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Part 2: What I Don’t Believe

Originally published as the editorial in Slightly Bent Comics #2.

I DON’T BELIEVE I caught your name. I’m Walt.

I DON’T BELIEVE everything I read, which is odd, because I do believe everything I smell.

I DON’T BELIEVE in ghosts, except for Capser, ’cause he’s friendly. In fact, I say this with authority: he’s the friendliest ghost in town.

I DON’T BELIEVE my personal life is anybody’s business but my own, except for maybe a few close friends, family and oh yeah, “The E True Hollywood Story.”

I DON’T BELIEVE in fairy tales. I mean: a pig? Who can make a “house” of straw? A “house” that gets, like, blown down? By a wolf? Yeah, right. Who do they take us for?

I DON’T BELIEVE how good you look! Are those new glasses? And you’ve lost weight! HOW? You must tell me! Treadmill?

I DON’T BELIEVE you should write checks in grocery store lines, unless you don’t have cash or credit cards, and if you don’t have cash or credit cards, please, don’t go grocery shopping.

I DON’T BELIEVE there’s anything more beautiful than a sunset, except for a sunset in the background of a Victoria’s Secrets catalog photo.

I DON’T BELIEVE in government conspiracies. Conspiracies require competence and coordination.

I DON’T BELIEVE you ignore that whole “Wag the Dog” thing, though.

I DON’T BELIEVE in not believing.

I DON’T BELIEVE in spreading bad Karma, hatred, intolerance, paranoia, gossip or flu germs.

I DON’T BELIEVE you paid attention all this time.

But I’m glad you did.

Walt Jaschek means that.

 

Censored Doonesbury Comics of 1976: Revealed (Again)

Comic Strips, Content Writing, Flashbacks, Reporting

Get ready for hot, sexy comic strip action: 1976-style!

Just kidding. What you’re about to see is, by today’s standards, quite tame.

But in November, 1976, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (and about 20 other newspapers around the country) made an editorial decision to withhold publication of a 5-day run of the Doonesbury™ comic strip, and replace it with reruns.

At the time, I was a 21-year-old feature columnist for The Current, the student-run newspaper at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. I was also a crazed comics fan. Realizing I could fill a column, provide a “public service,” and see the blacked-out strips myself (not easy, pre-internet), I pitched then-editor Tom Wolf: “Let me ask Universal Press Syndicate if they’ll let us run ’em. For free.”

Tom and the syndicate said, “Do it.” We printed the strips with my article, which you can read below. 

First, of course, you want to see the strips.

Here they are, as printed in the December 2, 1976, edition of The UMSL Current.

Warning: they are very safe for work.

Doonesbury™ by Garry Trudeau

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The Doonesburys You Didn’t See

By Walt Jaschek

Most St. Louisans will never know how good Joanie Caucus is at breakfast.

There were were, Tuesday, Nov. 11, breathlessly watching as Joanie makes her final moves on Rick Redfern. Eating dinner in his apartment, Rick compliments Joanie on the meal she had made. “Thank you, Rick,” she says. “I’m pretty good at breakfast, too.” Rick’s face contorts. Joanie thinks to herself: “As the kid goes for broke.”

The next day, we were intrigued further, as Virginia Slade — having just withdrawn from the Senate race — dials Joanie’s apartment in the morning… and gets no answer!

The day after that, we were suddenly and mysteriously back on the familiar football field with Captain B.D., no mention made of Joanie’s romantic adventure.

It was enough to drive Doonesbury fans zonkers, so to speak. Local fans of the terse, explosive, provocative comic strip realized The St. Louis Post Dispatch had substituted alternate episodes rather than finishing the Joanie and Rick sequence.

We called Joan Dames, features editor at the Post, and she was quick to clarify this comic strip tease, AKA the Doonesbury dilemma.

“The editorial board of the Post decided to take out the sequence that showed Joanie Caucus and Rick Redfern in bed,” said Dames. “We thought it inappropriate for a family page.”

But the Post wasn’t alone in blacking out the strip.

Lee Salem, a representative of Universal Press Syndicate (which distributes Doonesbury to 450 newspapers) said about 20 papers dropped the sequence. But those papers, including the New York Daily News, make up a large chunk of circulation.  Most of them just dropped the Nov. 13 strip.

Riding out this controversy, as he’s done before more than once, is Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau, the most electrifying force on the contemporary comic art scene.

As an undergraduate in 1968, Trudeau started drawing a strip for the Yale Daily News called “Bull Tales.” It introduced a cast of rich, mimetic characters like Mark Slackmeyer, Zonker Harris and Mike Doonesbury. When Universal Press offered to syndicate the strip nationally, it was dubbed after the persona presumably closest to that of Trudeau.

In its short history, the strip’s virtual world has developed and diversified, the characters shuffling, the concepts sharpening. Trudeau’s insights, pacing and crisp characterizations have enthralled legions of readers, while giving them some of the gutsiest comic strip humor since Walt Kelly’s Pogo.

The Joanie and Rick affair is just the latest of Doonesbury’s envelope-pushing concepts. While their sex life may be casual, the establishment of it — and the reaction to it — wasn’t.

“We only got about 20 letters and about as many calls, but some are very angry,” said Post features editor Dames.

“Most kids don’t read Doonesbury. But parents do get upset when this type of material appears on the comics page. We thought it wasn’t appropriate,” she said.

With a smile in her voice, Dames added: “Listen, we live in Sex City, U.S.A. We’ve got Masters and Johnson here, and even they say that sex  without commitment isn’t that exciting.”

“Trudeau said that he did this because he wanted everyone to take a stand on pre-marital sex,” said Dames. “So I guess the Post took a stand. But we’re really not bluenose about this. Just today (Nov. 18, 1976), we ran a story contraceptives. Take a look at it.”

At Universal Press, Lee Salem emphasized that his syndicate carefully reviewed the strips.

“With Garry, as well as with all the creative people we do business with, the material is gone over carefully,” he said. “With this particular piece, we had a long session over the phone with Garry, and we thought, considering Joanie’s character and that of Rick Redfern, the sequence is justified.”

The sequence was certainly justified to those readers who have shared Joanie Caucus’ long and winding road to happiness. 

Joanie worked hard in Slade’s campaign, but times turned bleak when Virginia decided to throw in the towel so that a third candidate could successfully beat the incumbent. The only light in the darkness  for Joanie — who only weeks before had been hurt by a guy who was gay — was political reporter Rick Redfern.

That’s where we came in, remember?

Trudeau has said it is the challenge of the cartoonist to, among other things, “invite the reader to involve himself in a new reality set up as a sustained metaphor for his own; to let the small meanness and foolishness of life face each other in distortion … and to seek out the vignette that speaks to the lives of many.”

Joanie got to make her “good breakfast.” That is her small pleasure.

We got permission to print the blacked-out strips.

That is ours.

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Walt Jaschek hopes you have enjoyed this frisky flashback to the sexy 70s. 

11 Signs We’re Writing Too Many List Posts

Content Writing, Humor Column, Musings

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Ah, numbered lists! As content, they’re proven link-bait; they’re merciful on readers’ eyes; and they’re an easy, go-to structure – maybe a little too “go-to” – for me and my fellow content writers. Here are 11 signs we might be addicted to writing list posts.

1. We keep a list of list posts we intend to write.

2. We tell our spouses or partners, “Here are six things you can do to turn me on tonight – and one you’ll have to figure out yourself.”

3. We’d rewrite the title of “Four Weddings and a Funeral” to “Four Weddings and A Funeral You Won’t Believe.”

4. For background music while writing lists, we listen to a Spotify playlist of Franz Liszt.

5. We are bummed Listly.com is already taken. It was on our “domains-to-buy” list.

6. We get a secret thrill when Microsoft Word automatically puts a numeral or letter in front of our lists. How does it know?

7. We spend lunch thinking of “50 New Ways to Leave Your Lover.” But we can’t get further than #22, “Use the Lyft app, Hap.”

8. We try to recall the exact list of reasonsNobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.”

9. We are envious of recipe posts because they by nature get to include ingredient lists. Damn them!

10. Our Bucket Lists include doing a podcast of Celebrity Bucket Lists. (Actually, I’d listen to that.)

11. To see this last, surprising sign, download my ebook… Just kidding. I don’t have an ebook to download. 

Yet.

 Walt Jaschek has #11 on his list.