THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY, PART TWO

Monday, January 12th, 2009

The last time an ad agency tried its hand at a blackout poem, it was for a Lexus ad. Today’s ad agency blackout poem comes from Microsoft, on page four of the Marketplace section of the Wall Street Journal:

microsoft newspaper blackout ad

see it bigger

It’s part of Microsoft’s new $150,000,000 advertising campaign. Read more about it here.

Since the folks at Microsoft are such big fans, it seems only right and natural that they should buy each of their 60,000 employees a copy of Newspaper Blackout Poems in September.

That’s fair, right?

(Spotted again by the eagle-eyed Linda Ball. Mark Larson pointed me to the image.)

UPDATE: see more ads from the campaign in the comments of this post




13 Comments on “THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY, PART TWO”

  1. Lance Says:

    Fair—just fair.

    I hope they sell the book abroad!

  2. Jay Bernard Says:

    Hm.

    A very poor imitation, though.

    It might be nice to see your idea in print, but surely you’re a little narked that they nabbed it rather than asked you to do it for them..? I hate that kind of thing.

  3. La Belette Rouge Says:

    Just discovered your blog. I really like it. I will most definitely be back. I am just a writer who writes and so I am amazed by someone can write and manage anything else but sleeping.

  4. Austin Kleon Says:

    Here’s an ad from the same campaign, spotted in this month’s WIRED, issue 17.02:

    Microsoft's ad agency does another blackout poem

    see it bigger

  5. Austin Kleon Says:

    And yet ANOTHER ad from the same campaign, spotted in the January 17th-23rd 2009 edition of THE ECONOMIST (inside cover):

    Microsoft's ad agency does yet another blackout poem

    see it bigger

  6. Annie Says:

    The headline is ironic.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Seriously. Credit ought to be given where credit is due. Couldn’t you demonstrate proof of having created this idea before Microsoft used it in their add?

  8. Austin Kleon Says:

    Just for the record–you can’t copyright an idea. Ad agencies “borrow” from artists all the time. I’m not suggesting legal action should be taken–I’m just throwing these up here so y’all can take a look.

    And Microsoft: I’m absolutely serious about the books! Think of the joy it could give your cubicle workers on their commute/lunchbreak!

    :-D

  9. illy Says:

    when ads “borrow” ideas, especially signature ideas like a warhol look or the like, people usually recognize the source.
    the reason why these campaigns piss me off is that you are not a household name (yet), and so the approach smacks more of a rip off.
    also, for whatever it’s worth, your look is quiet and somber, silent and aware.
    this red-out and x-ing out looks kinda violent.
    really bloody.
    kinda like what syd vicious would do if he ran with your idea.
    whatever.
    just talking out loud.
    you rule.
    microsoft is easy to hate… and i usually do what is easy.
    sorry.

  10. Austin Kleon Says:

    Here’s an article in Advertising Age about the Microsoft campaign. Excerpt:

    While Microsoft initially introduced advertising for the People Ready product in 2006, the new work from JWT, New York, launched last week adopts a new tack, and its timing is something the shop says is not wholly coincidental.

    “We wanted to be forceful about it,” said Walt Connelly, JWT’s executive creative director. “The idea that business isn’t personal is ridiculous. Business is very, very personal. We wanted to say the old way is gone.”

    To achieve that sentiment, the print ads take a whack at the typical CEO success profile, redacting bloated axioms and narrow thinking and leaving only a handful of words meant to emulate this “new” mode of business. The spared words pieced together in the Wall Street Journal version, for example, declare, “It’s everybody’s business to be on the same page.”

    Mr. Connelly said JWT worked closely with each magazine in which the ads would appear — including Time, Newsweek, Forbes, Business Week and Fortune — taking pains to emulate particular styles and fonts to make their point as seamless as possible.

    “It was labor-intensive,” said Tim Galles, creative director at JWT. “We went through a lot of red markers.”

    (Emphasis mine.)

  11. daveednyc Says:

    “We went through a lot of red markers.” Gawd, what a reminder that I toil still in such a whorish industry… Nothing worse than a stolen idea except a stolen idea repurposed and executed so horribly.

    I suggest sending an autographed copy to both Bill Gates and to this Tim Galles, to show them how it should be done.

  12. Vinegar Tom Says:

    If we’re talking “rip off”, Have none of you heard of or seen Tom Phillips’ “A Humument”? A little perspective …

  13. Austin Kleon Says:

    Actually, anyone who’s read this blog at any length should be quite familiar with Tom Phillips and A Humument: I’ve posted about it before, I link to it in the sidebar, I pimp it in the “Found Poetry and Altered Texts” store …I’ve even dedicated a few paragraphs to it in the book!

    But thanks for stopping by and spreading good cheer…

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