The Commodification Of Writing

Ain’t no such things as halfway crooks.

After reading Ben’s perceptive blog post on The Gruen Transfer, I wondered why there were no similar shows about writing. Although I haven’t actually seen The Gruen Transfer, I can understand the appeal of watching a bunch of wise-cracking advertisers flaunt their shit to a panel of judges. The show gives viewers an insight to the industry and, most importantly, it entertains.

Eventually I came to the sad conclusion that a television show about some budding writer hunched over his computer probably wouldn’t draw too many viewers – unless I was on it, of course. While I enjoy creative writing as much as the next guy, even I can see that it lacks the danger, the intensity, the jizz-on-your-face action that today’s society requires of its entertainment.

How do w
e solve this?

If they can redesign cricket – the world’s most boring activity to engage in, let alone watch – into the almost spectator-friendly game, 20/20 cricket, I’m sure someone can turn the act of writing into something resembling a dynamite-laden bouncy castle on acid.

Maybe writing needs to be packaged, commodified, into something a little more spectacular.

Shit, yeah.

I can picture it now. A creative writing game show. It would have to be hosted by someone charismatic and trustworthy to the public. David Attenborough? The Rock? Jenna Haze? Hmm. I think they'd each bring something unique to the show.

Due to outrageous public demand, the show would probably be broadc
ast nightly across multiple channels, possibly in place of the 6 p.m. news shows. The news shows could be played later at night or even scrapped altogether. (How much news do people really need, anyway? Christchurch had an earthquake, we get it. Meanwhile, in Africa…)

The show would have to have some kind of badass, attention-demanding name, which at the same time communicated the objective and content of the show.

Something like:








I’m still undecided on the name. They’ve all got potential.

Each show would have four contestants: two loud, proudly confident men, and two giggly, low-cut-singlet-wearing women. The host would give the contestants a character, a setting, and an obstacle, and then, armed with only pen and paper, they’d set out to write the best piece of fiction they could – all while bathing in the lungs of a thousand llamas, or setting themselves on fire, or engaging in fights to the death with one another.

Gore, sex, explosions, creative writing.

Fuck, yes.

I’m salivating just thinking about this show. And I don’t mean at the mouth.


This picture goes out to Ashley. It’s a spider giving a marketing report. I think I made the stapler too big.


Black Eyed Innocents.

When you get told your idea is shit it can be pretty tempting to punch someone in the face. You feel particularly angry, like a niche style of anger. The kind of anger where you don’t want to punch just someone in the face, but a squirrel, or the arrogant neighbourhood kid who refuses to move when you are trying to reverse out of your driveway (you know who you are and just you wait till I get told one of my ideas is shit boy).

But yeah, let me manage your anger for you. Even though, as the above paragraph may suggest, I am terrible at managing my own. Ok! So here goes. Just some little tips to managing anger (elaboration: by manage I may mean pass on)(further elaboration: I just lost the close bracket key, rage).

1. Blame your partner

You are the best creative in the world. And you would have been epic if it wasn’t for your partner. Even if you did all the work, ruthlessly deny your part in the assignment and blame them for putting together the worst brief you’ve ever seen. The key to this one is dedication, don’t just start denying then bail out, be American.

2. Stab someone

I know, I know. I know

3. Drink.

We live in New Zealand. When the world is getting you down because someone can’t appreciate your genius it’s time to get patriotic. Crack open a monteiths, better yet, have a pint, better yet, buy a jug. Drink that bad boy down and think about how awesome you are as that frown floats itself upside down. Note with this one: Don’t beat your wife, don’t expect eggs to be cooked for you, and don’t recklessly vandalise your sons property.

4. Sexualise.

Or Sexually harass. Both good. This ones all about the tension relief and positive self-reinforcement. Spread your feathers you mighty peacock. If the ladies don’t want to look, give them a slap on the ass as a friendly reminder of your presence. If they like that, go all out and grab a boob. If you get away with all that you’ll be left thinking “what bad idea?” and possibly even pull a number. Stud.

5. Petty Crimes.

Specialising in petty theft. Gum, choc bars, etc. Litter! No one can take anger in like the good old punching bag that is mother nature. Tip chemicals down the drain and think of all the marine wildlife you are abusing. Got a D grade? Hell, bury a plastic bag! That shit don’t bio-D-grade. Just do something abusive. It’ll take it all in and spit It out on future generations. Generations that you won’t have to worry about.

I know these are shit ideas and probably won’t help. But when you are totally down in the dumps one day, try one, you might feel better. Just don’t try it round me, unless it the drinking one, even then it’s on you.

Till next we meet, Cheers.


The Gruen Transfer

If you're one of those fortunate people to have Sky, or better yet MySky, (because let's face it, no one wants to miss Outrageous Fortune) then you may have heard of a show on Comedy Central at 8.30 on Tuesday evenings called The Gruen Transfer.

The Gruen Transfer is an Australian based show focusing on advertising. For those who are blissfully unaware of advertising, how it works and why it's so fascinating, this is a great place to get involved. It's currently in it's third season however Comedy Central are only up to the second in New Zealand.

This funny as guy Wil (with one L) Anderson hosts the shot along with a panel of 'advertising experts' who are regularly shifted around. There are two dudes who have permanent spots on the panel named Todd Sampson and Russel Howcroft. Todd has this crazy American accent which isn't quite so American, and it really pisses me off trying to guess where he's from, and he's a douche. Russel has no sense of humour and everyone blatantly doesn't like him. These two fight all the time and it's really cringe-worthy trying to watch.

Anyway, on the show they scrutinize and pick apart ads and give some really interesting insight into the back story of the campaigns etc. There is usually an ECD (Executive Creative Director) featured on the show who is usually able to answer the questions on why certain ads were actually given the okay and put through into production.

The show is split up into many, entertaining segments. These segments include Ad of the Week, where Wil and the bunch look at an ad and discuss how effective it really is, What is this Ad for, where the beginning of an ad is shown a then stopped, then the panel of experts need to guess what exactly the ad is trying to sell. This segment is where some true creativity shines.

My favourite segment however is one called The Pitch, where the producers write up a brief and challenge two top ad agencies from Australia and New Zealand to try and sell something which would normally be considered unsellable. Such as plastic surgery to children and cane toads as lovable, domesticated house pets. Saatchi and Saatchi Wellington and Y&R Auckland both gave this one a shot. The judges then vote and award a representative with a fun little trophy that means nothing. Riveting stuff.

Here is a great clip where two agencies were given the task to make Australia as unappealing as possible for the tourist. Second one is fucking gold!

Once you get passed how heavily edited this show is, it's a fantastic watch. I'd highly recommend and you don't have to know anything about ads to enjoy it. Even my flat mates who couldn't give a fuck about advertising have a good time watching it. It's all over youtube and I'm sure it's streamable online. In a nutshell, it's a bunch of pals having a few laughs about figuring out ways to make people buy useless shit that they don't want. Wil is a fucking hoot too and carries the show (and even though it's obviously scripted, he delivers.)

While I'm on this subject I should probably mention New Zealand's answer called, wait for it, The Ad Show. It's shown on TVNZ 6 or 7 or something and just sucks ass. It features two terribad presenters talking to scrubs in the audience who have no idea what they're talking about. I've only ever watched it once and haven't exactly been a hurry to again. You'll find it streaming on the TVNZ website somewhere if you want to give it a go, but please don't judge our industry based on this crap. Go google The Gruen Transfer.


To Begin at the Beginning.

I feel a little sorry for you readers.

While you should all be happy to see that I have entered the proud halls of WANCer HQ and that I will now be WANCing away every Sunday (yes WANC based puns I know I’m a horrible person.) today’s post must unfortunately be one of those pointless introductory posts.

So Hi WANCers I’m Adam Martin. Copy Writer and creative soul mate of Hugh.

I’m the modest one of our partnership. The one that thinks our ideas are only okay until told otherwise by someone with the authority to proclaim these things. I’m also the quiet one, believe it or not, when pitching Hugh does most of the talking and I watch the client beady eyed.

Hugh and I have been working together creatively for years now. One of the first things that we got told at uni was never pick a friend to be your creative partner. Tutors promised the ends of friendships, poor creative work and the fact that we would probably murder each other. We pretty much proved them wrong on that one, at least for now.

So why are we an exception to this rule. I wouldn’t have a clue to be honest. Our creative ability isn’t based on the fact that we think the same, we don’t, its not that our processes are similar, they aren’t, in fact the way I think of things seems to quite annoy Hugh (apparently there is very little to differentiate whether I’m thinking of copy or staring at the wall). What we have created over the 7 or 8 years of knowing each other is our own shorthand. A series of reference points that allows us to explain and expand on the most far out ideas with the greatest of ease. I can’t imagine working without this.

The other thing is how comfortable you are with your partner. I’m a bit of a shy person when it comes to creativity, I think everything I do is shit until I get told its amazing and even then. But of course after knowing Hugh of a long time I’m not going to hold back when I have an idea I think might be shit. An idea based around, say, how a trex doesn’t like energy drinks cause the can is to big and he only has tiny dinosaur arms (that’s an actual idea I had by the way).

As a final point I think the truest creative partnership you can find is one where you wouldn’t be as good without each other. And It was pointed out to me once that Hugh and I aren’t good as ‘Hugh’ and ‘Adam’ but when we come together we create what many have said is, at least, above average work. And if I can continue to get paid for fucking round with my best mate, then advertising is choice.

Well till next week Happy WANCing.