How to build a brand.


    bosch ad

    Bosch is a brand I’m familiar with on a couple of levels. First I know the name, so that means I’ve seen it on product, in retail and probably advertising.  Second, I have brand associations, but across a couple of types of products: brakes come to mind, automotive products, some speakers.  So it seems Bosch is some sort of conglomerate… like GE. Also they feel European.

    But about 2 or 3 years ago, Bosch started advertising in my the newspaper, The New York Times. I don’t recall seeing Bosch on TV, in radio or online, just the Times.  And they have kept up the media pressure. With drumbeats. The ads are all focused on kitchen appliances. I wasn’t aware they were in that business. And the appliances are beautiful.  No skimping on the photography costs here. I cannot recite a headline or copy points, though these ads are burned into my memory. Product as hero, at its best. Here’s what I know and feel thanks to the advertising: the product design is spectacular, the engineering way above average (that’s what good industrial design will earn you) and the appliances quiet and efficient. Most important, they are now in my consideration set where once they weren’t.

    I am not a fan of awards ads and today Bosch ran one about customer satisfaction with their dishwashers.  It was a prudent choice to wait so long to do an awards ad.

    The seer in me says, Bosch is gaining in market share and the blocking and tackling they are doing – beyond excellent product design – is the cause. Old school. Peace in the New Year.


    Creative by the pound.


    Paul Ottellini is stepping down as Intel’s CEO in May. Implicit in the announcement was the notion that his leadership did not evolve or lead Intel into the mobile device age. It seems Intel is no longer inside the hand candy owned by nearly every man, woman and child in America and the ROW (rest of world). This announcement and an article on the transformation of education thanks to MOOCS (massive open online courses) got me thinking about the fate of ad agencies and whether they are evolving with the times.  

    Let’s face it, it’s sad but true, outside of the third world humanity’s purpose on planet earth is “buy stuff.”   That’s why we go to school, work and pay taxes.  Advertising used to be about pushing product and product preference on would-be consumers, but today consumers are wound up and ready to buy, so marketers aren’t as much interested in creating demand as they are in predisposing consumers toward their products.  The web is the big pre-disposer. Broadcast and print are still great tools, yet these days they’re mere sign posts. The real selling takes place after the ad. Agencies that sell creative by the pound are not seeing this — the total picture. It’s great to have top reputation for creativity, though it is better to have a full understanding of modern marketing: brand planning, lifecycle, loyalty, aftercare, twitch points, insouciance, and timing. Honestly, not many shops have this view. 

    Great creative is a price of entry for ad agencies but the web has changed marketing. Moving the desks around, being media-agnostic and practicing all sorts of other marko-babble are not going to fix the profitability and value of the ad agency business. It needs a new box.

    Mr. Ottellini didn’t change the box. IPG’s Michael Roth isn’t going to do it. Tom Bedacarre would like to. Carl Johnson-ish. We need a savant. Peace!  

    Celebrate, rinse, repeat.


    I often use the word “celebrate” when talking about branding. It’s a great word. Once you have your brand idea and planks together, spending money and calories celebrating your product, service and/or customer is the best way forward. A great many ads and sales schemes focus on tearing down competitors.  Consumers don’t appreciation that. They appreciate and gravitate toward the positive.  “If you don’t have something nice to say…” 

    When it comes to advertising, too often we build ads that people like.  By celebrating the above, we are building up products people like. There’s a difference.  One can imply a negative, so long as it’s done by superimposing a positive.  One of my favorite ad sayings is “make them feel something, then do something.” Feeling good is good. Peace!

    Target Ad a Bulls Eye.


    There is a Target spot running on the Olympics showing high school seniors opening up their college acceptance letters. It is riveting. Had I to do it all over again, I would have studied harder so as to live that letter opening moment.

    I don’t remember the casting or any individual kid in the spot; I do remember the excitement and raw jubilation in each performance.  Back to school ads hit August first or thereabout and typically are a bummer.  Muscle memory for back to school is the antithesis of that for the words “snow day.”   

    One of the best back to school ads I have seen was from Staples, I believe, and showed the over the top excitement of a mother packing her shopping cart with supplies, dancing and grinning through the store knowing the little treasures were going back to school. Funny yes.  Engaging yes. It did not hold a candle to the Target spot; a spot so pregnant with possibility, aspiration and energy it almost made me smile out loud (SOL). The target spot was about a celebration that should tie parents and kids to the Target brand. Even subliminally.

    This is an ad, yet it has the power and depth to be a brand idea. Great work Target. You learned a lot from Wieden+Kennedy. Good on you. Peace!

    Genetically Engineered Copy.


    There is a new story today that suggests tomatoes have no taste because they’ve been genetically engineered to look good.  Brilliant red tomatoes with nary a color blotch, piled high in our grocery stores because of a gene mutation that has said “buh-bye” to flavor, sweetness and aroma.

    I wonder if advertising has been genetically engineered to look pretty, the result of which has been impeded selling. Have we removed the important selling component of thoughtful copy in favor of pretty pictures?  Has the flavor gone out of our copy. The sensual response that good copywriting can evoke?  I fear the answer is yes.

    To sell one must do more than convey, one must connect and inspire.

    At Cannes, mightn’t we instate a copywriting award?  RU listening creative leaders?  (David  Lubars?) Let’s loose the robo-copy and build more artful selling. Put that on you BLT with light Hellman’s.  Peace!

    Supersized Claims.


    I was just watching a video from the recent PSFK Event in NY showing Graham Hill’s new project  His interesting “life editing” concept fits nicely with the Craft Economy, me thinks.  Anyway, the opening for the video talks about how America has super-sized our culture over the last 50 years. Quite right. Mr. Hill’s suggestion is to downscale one’s physical footprint on earth, which is a savvy and necessary idea. 

    You can find the video here.

    In addition to our lives, though, we’ve spent years supersizing our advertising claims: most, best, largest, unparalleled, flah-flah-flah.  These words and their overuse have made advertising and marketing unreal. Who do we believe? Coors Light is the most refreshing beer in America? Are you kidding me?  What happened to standards and practices?

    Marketers need to stop pizzling into the wind.  They need to find own-able territory, live it, mean it, and be it. It’s nice to aspire, but don’t aspire to the un-noble supersized claim. You wouldn’t brag at a keg or cocktail party, why spend millions on such boorish behavior in advertising?  Peace. 




    I have a Blackberry Bold – not sure which model number.  I bought it two days before my need for reading glasses began.  Double u tee ef. Today without reading glasses I came across an ad in The New York Times in which Blackberry exclaims “Our browser should have a racing stripe.”  Is someone kidding me? I had to read it because it felt joke-ish.

    I’ve yet to have a good web experience on my BB since purchasing it.  Were the ad to have said “New Browser” I wouldn’t feel so mislead but it just said browser. I know some of it is Verizon. Some has to do with WIFI Web access vs. digital phone service access, but this claim is absurd.  And maddening.

    Blackberry users, dwindling though they may be, tend to be older. A 2” X 1.5” screen for that audience is como se silly.

    Domino’s Pizza realized their Pizza needed fixing and did so.  I’m not sure what RIM is doing about its technology and customers, but teasing us with untruths, or perceived untruths is not marketing.  It’s pizzling all over us. Peace.

    PS.  Can’t wait for the Lumia 900 to come to Verizon with Microsoft Tiles for Mobile.


    Papa John’s. Better ingredients, better ads.


    It’s time to retire John Schnatter from the Papa John’s advertising.  The founder of Papa John’s, the number 3 national pizza chain in America, has long been the focal point of its advertising.  The only other constant has been the line “better ingredients, better pizza”  Not a bad strategy but an unrequited strategy if you ask me.

    Better ingredients do make a better pizza, when properly cooked and assembled — with meticulous attention to cooking detail. But all we get is Papa John talking to the director behind the camera on a football field somewhere with a forced smile and a few red tomatoes flopping around the screen.  The dude is a great business man, but has an almost Mark Cuban-like need for air time.

    Please sir, go to Italy and cut a deal on some mountain grown olive oil or hand milled flour and get us better ingredients. Better ingredients, better story, better pizza. Peace! 

    Facebook Advertising and Creativity.


    Facebook had a big marketing day in NYC yesterday at the American Museum of Natural History.  They shared how they’re going to garner big excitement in the advertising world by creating new opportunities for marketers and their agents who advertise on Fotch-book. Advertiser pages will have special functionality, new ad positions will open up, mobile ads will be more something and, of course, data and ad tailoring will improve and be revolutionary.

    This is Facebook’s post IPO.

    The problem with all these announcements is two-fold.  People don’t like ads, because most of them are poorly constructed, and people don’t like those who profit excessively from anything.  Jeremy Lim anybody?

    So if Facebook and marketers are going to make this work, the ads (20-30 words though they may be) are going to need to be better. On a NYT cover story today, it was mentioned that 250 millisecond load time is competitive advantage for a website. That being said, do you think a crappy ad in your load or stream is going to be welcome?  And if the universe of unique daily ads goes from 500,000 to 10 million, are those ads likely to be good, creative and engaging?  Creativity will be at a premium. This is going to be a wild ride. Peace.



    There is subtext in every marketing piece.  For instance, today there is a big hubbub (and rightfully so) about a Mad Men outdoor billboard showing Don Draper in free-fall high atop a building on the West Side of Manhattan.  (The board is 95% white space.) To show watchers it’s an iconic visualization of the show and Don Draper’s life.  To New Yorkers and others who lost friends and loved ones 9/11, it’s an insensitive punch in the como se llama. 

    Visuals, more than words, tell immediate stories. We need to be mindful.  Pictures that show danger may be eye-catching but convey danger which research shows can transfer that feeling subconsciously to the brand.  Imagery that conveys happy (Coke’s happiness factory) can transmute smiles.  Visuals that depict chaos or disorganization similarly hurt an organization story.

    Ergo, think before you select a visual.  Not everyone sits around a computer for hours trying to select a visualization to match a brief.  Most pass marketing pieces with nary a glance.  So look up. Stay true. Be sensitive. Peace.