The Cindy Hayes Conversion

For those who don’t watch the show Orange Is The New Black, you probably have no idea who Cindy Hayes is.  For those of you who do, you know exactly where I’m going with this post (please note that this includes a “spoiler” discussion of the Season 3 episode “Trust No Bitch”, however it is somewhat of a minor story line).

For those not watching the show, here’s the setup.  The prison has been taken over by a private company and the food the new ownership provides is beyond disgusting.  As a result, some of the women decide to use the “kosher loophole” to get better food.  This naturally spirals out of control, with over 1/3 of the inmates stating that they’re Jewish in order to get the kosher meal.

Caputo brings in a Rabbi to test those who are claiming to be Jewish and the results are predictably humorous.  Cindy Hayes decides to try and trick the Rabbi by describing her upbringing using references to Yentl and Annie Hall.

The Rabbi’s response is 100% complete awesomeness:

“Miss Hayes, while I am heartened that you appreciate the works of Woody Allen and Barbra Streisand, I think you’ve confused cultural Judaism with committed Jewish belief.  Also, I hear Mandy Patinkin can be difficult to work with.”


After the visit, it comes to light that only one person passed the tests – the nun, Sister Jane Ingalls.  Not surprising, since Catholicism includes the teachings of the Old Testament.  Undeterred, Cindy continues her efforts to convince the Rabbi she wants to convert.  She studies, she learns and ultimately comes to the realization that being Jewish is about much more than just kosher food.

She once again meets with the Rabbi who asks her why she really wants to convert.  Her description of what it means to be a Jew is quite possibly the most beautiful, eloquent description I’ve ever heard.

“Honestly, I think I found my people.  I was raised in a church where I was told to believe and pray.  And if I was bad, I’d go to hell. And if I was good, I’d go to heaven.  And if I’d ask Jesus, he’d forgive me and that was that.  And here y’all are saying there ain’t no hell.  Ain’t sure about heaven. And if you do something wrong, you got to figure it out yourself.  And as far as God’s concerned, it’s your job to keep asking questions and to keep learning and to keep arguing. It’s like a verb. It’s like … you do God.  And that’s a lot of work, but I think I’m in, as least as far as I can see it.”

Season 3 may have been a bit uneven and the show may be spiraling in the same way that Weeds did around this time, but that speech will always have a place in my heart no matter how much the show goes off the rails.

Everything Wrong With Ad Agencies In One Print Campaign

There’s a lot about marketing that I love.  This campaign from the guys that do the CLIO Awards is not one of them.  Not only do I absolutely hate it, I’m embarrassed by it.  This is easily the single most out of touch campaign I’ve ever seen.




I get it, I really do. The ads are trying to speak to the creative folks behind making Super Bowl (or other big event) pieces. Sadly, it probably does a good job of doing so, which really says a lot about the people who create these campaigns. This is easily one of the most elitist campaigns I’ve ever seen (and believe me, I’ve seen my fair share of elitist campaigns and behavior).

The goal for any marketer or creative director should be to create ads that speak to their core audience. CLIO makes a complete mockery of this concept, basically saying that their awards are more important than what some person in Middle America thinks. Take the “Phil from Iowa” ad for example. The Creative Director thinks he/she has created a great ad, but Phil thinks it “needs more monkeys” (basically CLIO’s way of saying that the customer doesn’t “get it”).

So here’s the thing. If Phil from Iowa is representative of your core customer base and he wants more monkeys, give him more fucking monkeys. We should be designing our campaigns in a way that maximizes the potential for creating a lasting brand impression and an emotional response. Hipster Bob the Creative Director might say that the campaign doesn’t speak to him and that is completely fine.

The campaign shouldn’t speak to the Creative Director unless the Creative Director is part of the target market (which is rarely the case, especially with mass market products). What CLIO is doing here is telling their target audience that a CLIO award is more important than sales. This campaign makes the statement that only other creatives have the ability to judge whether or not an ad is “good”.

CLIO is far more interested in bleeding edge pieces that don’t speak to anyone instead of campaigns that they probably see as pandering to the “lowest common denominator”. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d rather have a populist campaign that generates millions of dollars in sales and creates an emotional response over some pretty, slick, bleeding edge campaign that is made to make CLIO judges pitch a tent.

The thing that disgusts me the most though is how these opinions have changed over the years. In 1984, this ad won a CLIO:

Pretty sure that today’s CLIO voters and the good folks who came up with CLIO’s elitist campaign would have crapped all over it.  Call me naive, but I’ve always felt that an ad that doesn’t connect with customers is a failure regardless of how pretty it looks.  I guess I won’t be nominated anytime soon.

Advertising Agency: McCann, New York, USA
Executive Creative Directors: Bill Wright, James Dawson-Hollis
Art Director: Coleman Davis
Copywriter: Lex Singer
Designer: Shelby Hipol
Photography: Getty Images
Senior Integrated Producer: Deb Archambault
Senior Project Manager: Debbie Fried
Project Manager: Alex Goldklang
Account Director: Eric Monnet
Print Producer: April Gallo
Graphic Artist: Jessica Hall
PrePress Manager: Scott Sisson
Retouchers: Bert Seva, Yana Fox, Franco Casas
Proofreaders: Dan Barron, Kayley Scott, Larry Webber
Published: January 2015