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Scott McKay is a Toronto strategist, writer, creative director, patient manager, half-baked photographer and forcibly retired playwright.

This little site is designed to introduce him and his thoughts to the world. (Whether the world appreciates the intro is another matter.) If you'd like to chat, then you can guess what the boxes below are for.



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    "They had their cynical code worked out. The public are swine; advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill-bucket."

          – George Orwell






    "Advertising – a judicious mix of flattery and threats."

          – Northrop Frye






    "Chess is as an elaborate a waste of time as has ever been devised outside an advertising agency."

          – Raymond Chandler


    Entries in Monty Python (7)


    I'm not dead yet

    Based on a recent post, my site traffic should now be rivalling Facebook's, thanks to my recent prolonged absence. (Apologies for that. You know, work.) For some reason, however, that seems not to be the case, so my faith in regular posting has been restored.

    Besides, I prefer to have some semblance of a coherent thought before I sit down to peck away at this thing; otherwise, I'd be on Twitter more. (Okay, not quite fair – but it's not like Twitter allows you to wedge more than half a thought into that damn field.)

    So, this is more of a quick housekeeping post to declare my return to the long-form digital life. And in honour of the recommencement of the hubbub, a sign of rebirth:


    if life seems jolly rotten, there's something you've forgotten

    Not much to say this evening, other than the fact that this video seems slightly à propos.

    And in the immortal words of Eric Idle:

    I said to them, Bernie, I said, they'll never make their money back...


    it's runnier than you like it

    I got nuthin' tonight. I think you should enjoy some cheese instead. Just don't ask for Tilsit. Or Red Windsor. Or Stilton. Or Emmental. Or Port Salut. Or Camembert...


    he's very unhappy with your campaign – in fact he's shot himself

    In lieu of actual content, I offer you the fine work of S. Frog, copywriter – Conquistador Instant Leprosy.


    "if we took the bones out, it wouldn't be crunchy, would it?"

    One of those late nights of typing on the work front, so instead of my regular wit and alleged wisdom, I offer a lesson in the dangers of using accurate language in product packaging.


    Mr. Debakey's free, but he's a little bit conciliatory

    Late night o' work. No coherent thoughts. Lack of finger coordination. Zero chance of interesting post. Slapping up random video for your amusement. Laugh. Please laugh.



    just one more word, it's waffer thin 

    Was recording a :30 radio PSA this afternoon and our voice talent, who we've worked with several times before and who is fantastic, reminded me just how fantastic she is. (Not of course literally by telling me, but by... oh, just keep reading.)

    The script was too long; our client wanted to say a lot and at the last minute added three or four extra "clarifying" words that actually made the difference between a tight but doable script and one that just sounded rushed all the way through. (Surprising how small that difference is.)

    So, I apologetically warned our voice talent about all this as she stepped up to the mike, and she was game. And on maybe the second take she nailed the script as it was written perfectly. That is, as perfectly as she could. Because she sounded like she'd been sped up by the sound engineer. She was rushed, and there wasn't a drop of space or emotion in it; it was clogged with words for 30 seconds solid. 


    It was the kind of thing you technically could deliver to a client and say, hey, we did everything you wanted, here you go. But in the real world you can't do that. It's just bad work with excuses, it's bad for your spirit, and in spite of the fact that you've caved on every single thing asked for, you still end up with an unhappy client.

    As I stared at the board and the sound engineer thought about how dumb I was, the producer suggested losing the word in the call to action that was repeated from two lines before. At first I resisted, because I liked that particular bit of repetition and thought that there had to be some brilliant alternative. Then after a couple of bonus minutes of floundering, I realized that she was right. (Hey, the script was less than 24 hours old, and the last client changes had come through only an hour before the session. Lighten up, okay?) The repetition in the CTA was gone. Same with two wonderfully descriptive adjectives that until that moment I'd thought were vital, but were in fact just adding precious time. And this is going to sound funny, but these adjectives were long words; they were words that naturally wanted emphasis when they were read.

    So, by deleting them and that repeat in the CTA – literally just three words – we actually gave our voice talent room to breathe. She nailed take after take running between 28 and 29 seconds. (Try it some time; it's got to require an internal metronome.) She repeatedly nailed the subtle but necessary inflections that gave the script not just some human feeling, but actual meaning. All it took was us (okay, me) giving her room to do her job, by extracting a few of those waffer-thin words that couldn't possibly make a difference.

    That's how she reminded me just how fantastic she is.

    Now, it's not an award-winning spot. It's a straight read of a serious message that needed to convey a lot of information.

    It's just a nice example of the craft that actors, and specifically voice actors, possess. They have skills. They have knowledge. They can save your butt when you cross the line between too much and waaaay too much.