Have a big wad of cash lying around? Want to own the original Energizer Bunny? Or how about some original set pieces from Gone with the Wind ? Just visit www.la411auction.com, "Hollywood's online auction store." The site, which launched early this year, is an extension of LA 411, a resource guide for production services. Giles Goodhead, the publisher of LA 411, says, "The site is a simple extension of the directory, but instead of just giving phone numbers we can support actual transactions."
You may be wondering how set pieces from David O. Selznick's epic film fit into this scenario. Goodhead explains that when he and his staff inquired about getting the production equipment for the site, inevitably the sellers mentioned that they also had other merchandise to get rid of. Says Goodhead, "Most of this stuff is worth nothing anymore. It's just a hassle to keep -- if you can find a home for it, it's recycling in the best sense."
The latest addition to GSD&M's office building in downtown Austin, Texas, is a 56,000-square-foot "idea studio." It contains, among other things, the agency's grass room. It's not what you think. The corner room is so named because it looks out over a nicely manicured lawn, in the middle of which happens to sit a $100,000 pecan tree. That's no typo. The tree had been marked for death because it was in the way of the proposed expansion. But GSD&M, which coined the state's ubiquitous "Don't mess with Texas" slogan, and has been pitching an as-yet-unnamed environmental account, didn't feel they should be chopping down a healthy 125-year-old, 75-foot tree. So they had it moved instead, at something close to a hundred grand. The tree weighed in at almost 800,000 pounds -- "about as much as a fully loaded DC-10," points out Eric Weber, director of communications at GSD&M. The agency even broadcast the moving process via Web-cam. Says Weber, "We got a few e-mails from people who were watching the progress." He pauses. "It frightened me really, it was really slow. It took almost a month." Agency and tree are doing well.
Name-dropping not allowed
Anyone who's ever called the offices of Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG knows that the poor receptionist has to answer the phone with the agency's full name. No `Messner' no `MVBMS' -- the whole enchilada is required here. It's been a source of amusement in the industry (and especially among employees) for years. Founding partner Tom Messner volunteers that the "agency sounds like a funeral parlor in Queens," but he informs us that they probably won't be shortening the name anytime soon, "because when a name goes to initials I always feel like the people have died."
Proving that agency brass possess a sense of humor, they decided to hold a contest within the network, offering $1,000 to the employee who came up with the most creative take on the company name. The winner, submitted by account person Mary Perhach, reads, "Is that your business card in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?" We have to admit, though, that our personal favorite comes from Messner himself: "Good morning, Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG. Good afternoon."
Did Marina Del Rey-based Ground Zero commit plagiarism? That's what the letter alleged that recently went out to members of the Advertising Club of Los Angeles. Ground Zero's 1999 Belding Bowl award-winning "Knowledge" campaign for ESPN "was indeed plagiarized from an older ad," said the official-looking document, printed on the Club's letterhead. The letter goes on to state that the Club retained The Milner Group, "a respected Oxnard-based research organization," to investigate the wrongdoing. The Ad Club and Ground Zero were flooded with calls, including a few from people who yelled "Cheaters!" and then hung up. The second mailing, an official-looking blue booklet compiled by the Milner Group, presented the "Findings of the 1999 Belding Bowl Investigation." It includes proof of Ground Zero's plagiarism with the inclusion of the famous David Ogilvy ad for Rolls Royce, nicely doctored to show the fuzzy, footed "Knowledge Ball" standing across the street from the car. The scandal doesn't end there: earlier Belding-winning ads -- Kowloon's Jack-in-the-Box work and TBWA/Chiat/Day's Taco Bell Chihuahua -- are likewise shown to be pilfered from someone else's work.
Now, the jig is up. It's all an inside joke. Upon closer examination (or flipping toward the end), the "Findings" booklet turns out to be Ground Zero's gutsy execution of the L.A. Club's 2000 Call For Entries. Says Crandall contentedly: "It did what we hoped it would do."
Om . . . Shanti . . . edit
Arc-light, a film editorial boutique, has taken its Eastern location (the East side of Manhattan, that is) to heart. In addition to the usual editing suites and comfy viewing lounges, management has added a little something extra: free yoga classes for the editorially stressed. Says Arc-light founder and senior editor, Dana Miller Bol, "It's a great way of relaxing and it helps in terms of clarity and productivity."
Where there's a will, there's a wall
In November, New York postproduction perennial The Tape House and its sister facility Photomag Sound opened a downtown audio/video post boutique in the Union Square area called The Anx (as in `annex'). But not to let commerce outpace art, Tape House principal Arthur Williams has opened The Wall @ The Anx -- a quirky, long and narrow exhibition space devoted to the art of people in the advertising and production business.
"I'm committed to the creative part of our industry," says Williams, a noted collector of ceramics who's The Wall's curator. "Artists in the business need a venue to show their work. This is it, and as far as I know it's the only one of its kind."
The gallery debuted with the photographs of New York-based director Michael Ulick; "I'm the guinea pig," he laughs. Ulick's striking 4x5-foot, black and white anatomical studies of male and female bodybuilders "represent homages of a sort to the sketches and drawings of Leonardo and Michelangelo," he says. "Manipulating grayscale, I bend the photographic form so they don't look quite like photographs, but they're clearly not drawings either." Of the space itself, Ulick says "people won't necessarily come in off the street, but that's not its purpose. There are so many people in the industry who do other things in the arts, and this should bring some of them out of the woodwork."
Maybe some will even come with their woodwork.