Advertising

    Creative that sells.

    0

    Not sure where I first heard the phrase “creative that sells” but it stuck with me.  Obviously, the first definition relates to selling marketer’s goods and services. It’s what marketers do: create words, pictures, sounds and motion that inspire feelings and actions to move product. But another definition of “creative that sells” exists — and it relates to agencies making a profit. An agency that puts 100 hours into developing a piece of TV, print or digital creative that doesn’t sell to the client is an agency that has to do it again. That inability to sell creative the first time out costs agencies money…and rep.  Unfortunately, creative that does sell the first time out is often safe creative. Repackaged creative. Repurposed, even borrowed creative. It feels familiar because it is familiar.

    Creative that sells (first definition) differs from creative that sells (second definition) in that the former is “wild yet fitting.”  It moves product because it is untamed and unique but appropriate when offering up claim and proof. Conversely, off the shelf creative and/or wild creative that is not fitting sells to clients but not to consumers. Great creative people know this. Great creative people know when to throw a fish back into the ocean.  It may be a great fish, just not for today. Sadly, there are a lot of seine net operators out there and it’s hurting both marketing and agencies. When an idea is right, for the right reasons, and sustains all parties, it will sell. By both definitions.

    Insure Product Meaning

    0

    Yesterday I Tweeted the question “Does anyone know what the Discount Double Check is?” Everyone has heard of it; it’s all over TV.  Especially on NFL football. Aaron Rodger’s who mimes putting on a championship belt after touchdowns has sold the little dance to Allstate Insurance who has paired it with some double check insurance option and uses that as a differentiator.  I’m so interested in the humor (or lack of it), I’ve yet to figure out what the product feature means. Perhaps you do. What are we double checking and how does it work? 

    It only took AFLAC half a decade to move beyond its quacking name-onic brand device until the advertising explained to customers that AFLAC is insurance that pays out if you are hurt on the job.   

    In both cases we knew what the company IS but not what the product DOES. They both fail the Is-Does test. The first test of marketers, and I know it sounds fundamental and silly, is to get the Is-Does out of the way. So all you self-described lifestyle brands out there, that’s way too inside baseball. It’s too markobabble. Get your Is-Does right.

    Peace.

     

    Data Chunking.

    0

    Omnicom and Publicis agreed over the weekend to merge.  Como se unexpected? The story even made front page of The New York Times. The spin was all about big data. More people, more devices, more messages. And the best way to reach all these things is through smart use of earned, owned and rented data.

    Data companies are finding new and exciting ways to track people. And it’s only just beginning. Home thermostat apps can indicate when a person is at home, road side cameras can log when a license place passes a dinner, voice activation apps can capture when a body needs a sushi fix.

    When I pitch Twitch Point Planning to marketers and their agents I explain the offer in three words: understand, map and manipulate.  Big data feeds the understand and map components. Capture and organize data.  But as David Droga rightly says in the article on the merger (last para.), someone has to do something smart with the data. (When everyone has the understand and map tools, data will just become a commodity.) And that’s the subtext not covered in the Times article. Ad agencies are best at creating the manipulative message. Not bad manipulation, but good. Important. Heartfelt and personal. Dare I say poetic.

    I agree that marketers will do understand and map in-house. But the manipulation part, they can’t do well. For this, even for a one-on-one mobile phone ad, they need professionals. If you want to follow the money, this merger is about good old fashion creative, not chunking data. It bodes well for agencies of all size and stripe. Peace! 

    The Idea. The Performance.

    0

    Anything Elizabeth Hurley does I like. No really, anything. In this Droga5 ditty for Newcastle Ale, there was an idea, great copywriting and a compelling performance. It made me thirsty.

    elizabeth hurley

    Great work contains 3 things: an idea, proof of idea and performance. Ideas without proof may take hold but don’t really impact sales. Ironically, ideas without proof are called selling. Claim, claim, claim. When someone is claiming or selling we shut down. Ideas supported by proof have the most sales impact.

    In the Droga5 spot, there is an idea: America would be quite different if Britain won the Revolutionary War (#ifwewon). There is proof: the funny examples of what would be different in America today — which makes us smile, nod and even empathize. But the performance of Elizabeth Hurley takes the work to a higher level.  The performance of the idea is what brings it to life.

    Smart ad agency people understand this — they are paid to excel at it. Performance is a little lacking in the digital agency space, but there, it has more upside. More breadth. And I’m not talking acting here, I’m talking performance of the idea. Performance of the proof.

    Think about the performance, don’t stop at strategy, creative and production. Peace.

    Promises vs. Deeds

    0

    I’m all about the deeds.  In marketing, promises are like air. Deeds on the other hand are few and far between. Okay, bringing coffees to a sale call is a deed. So is lunch.  But they are not brand-meaningful deeds. For a great reference on meaningful marketing check out Bob Gilbreath’s bookThe Next Evolution of MarketingDeeds are about putting your money where your mouth is.  About delivering proof that you care. Words are important. Deeds are marketing currency.  Deeds make one believe the words.

    The first print ads were no doubt all type.  Words. Then came the ability to reproduce pictures in ads so marketers could pair products and usage with the words. Advertising now is in end-benefit land.  Yet it still feels like “me” advertising not “you” advertising. When we market through deeds rather than promises we connect.  We create muscle memory for our brand ideas.

    One good deed can support months and months of promises. And I meaningful it.  Hee hee. Peace!

     

    Advertising and the commodity slurry.

    0

    Advertising agencies have allowed themselves to become commoditized.  In product marketing there are luxury goods, mid-priced challengers and bargain goods, but in the agency business everyone is more or less priced the same. 

    Sure, if you hire BBDO or Ogilvy your top line creative people will be more expensive than someone from the no-name middle tier but you get what you pay for and after a year or so the profitability equation seeps in and both type of shops meet in the middle. The commoditized middle.

    This is because ad agencies sell labor and stuff (pictures, video, writing, music and coding).  The valuable part – strategy – more often than not is given away.  Strategy and creative win new business but brand strategy often disappears after the contract is signed leaving creative to carry the day.  At that point middle-managers-on-the-rise start to take control.  And tactics take over. That’s when air starts seeping out of the balloon.  Tactics are commodities in the ad business. Apple wouldn’t put up with this. 

    What’s the way out?

    Ad agencies need to strengthen their commitment to strategy over tactics. They need to build incentives into their contracts tied to the strategic product.  If a client approves work that is off strategy, the client should have to fund a kicker to the fee. A – because it will cause more work.  And B – because the work will be off-piste.  Campaigns come and go…and that’s okay.  But brand strategy should not. Agencies known for their strategic work will emerge from the commodity slurry. Peace!   

    Lee, Mike, Arnold and Amber.

    0

    It was reported by Stuart Elliott in today’s New York Times that Lee Jeans is using Mike Rowe as its spokesperson.  Mike Rowe, the guy from the Ford commercials, is the star of America’s Dirtiest Jobs (or whatever it’s called).  His fame comes not from the show, which probably does a 2.2 rating on Cable, but from walking around Ford showrooms and using his sing-songy manly voice. 

     The fact that Mr. Rowe is the news of the Lee Jean advertising story shows how shallow the strategic idea really is. Moreover, Lee has 3 agencies carving up the work: Arnold Worldwide, GroupM (for media), and Barkley of Kansas City for PR and didge. The total budget is about $10M and you know a chuck of that goes to Mr. Rowe. 

    So let’s recap. National challenger brand. No identifiable, differentiated brand strategy (comfort a man would love?). A spokesperson famous for selling cars. A limited “jump ball” budget shared by 3 partners.  And a product with little to talk about. About right?

    The Fix.

    Arnold is actually a good shop with breadth.  Lee should go all Joel Ewanick on itself and give them the entire business.  Then turn Amber Finlay loose, Arnold’s new head of digital strategy. I bet she could multiply the dollars.  Lee needs a little brand spanking and, if allowed, Arnold is the kind of shop that can do it. Was there a buy-out clause in Mr. Rowe’s contract?  Peace!

    Young girl, violins, center of her own attention.

    0

     When Eddie Vedder sings “Daughter,” which according to the movie Pearl Jam 20 started out as a song called Brother, he sings the headline of this post about a girl at a breakfast table. To Pearl Jam fans, this song makes the world spin. If a guy, the song has meaning. If a woman, even more meaning. The lyrics speak to us in many, many ways. Personally. On behalf of a friend. On behalf of a neighborhood.  This is Pearl Jam at its best.

    Reading The New York Times this morning I encountered 4 “young girl” ads in the first few pages. They were silhouetted in white or surrounded by big retail type and pictured beneath headlines telling other girls and non-girls about products and services. “Experience the finest education on 3 continents.” Stuff like that.  If I had a dollar for every girl ad without a narrative, I’d e a much less busy man. When Pearl Jam plays Daughter in concert 85% of the audience knows 95% of the words. And they sing.

    When marketers, tiny ad agencies, and in-house communications departments put a girl in the ad, she is no one’s daughter. There are no violins.  She isn’t alone, listless, sitting at a breakfast table in an otherwise empty room.  She’s not even selling shit.  No wonder every other new TV show is about zombies.  Can we fix this please? Hee hee. Peace!

     

    Promotion and the Human Algorithm.

    0

    The problem with appointment promotions is they don’t really build customer loyalty. When Starbucks tells you to come to the store on Thursday between 12 and 2 P.M. for a free apple fritter and they publicize it in a big newspaper ad, you have to make an appointment to go.  They’re trying to generate traffic. If you must buy a new cup of something in order to get the free fritter, it’s about product trial.  It’s not really a loyalty play because everybody can participate.  Unexpected promotions are much better for loyalty building. 

    Unexpected promotions are much better, also, because they’re more social. With an unannounced promotion, especially one of the free variety, there is a wonderful surprise and feeling of serendipity. With mobile phones what they are today and our “always on” culture, free can go viral fast.  And those virused are usually best friends or most appropriate friends. 

    Let’s say I go into Starbucks to order coffee and get a blueberry fritter, not my usual apple fritter. As I’m waiting online I might tweet or 4square it.  Or, text my commuting office mate.  Why would I do that?  Because I’ve been hit with a pleasant random act of kindness and I can pass it on. I’ve been recruited to be a good guy.  And Starbucks has enlisted me to curate their promotion.  I mete it out based upon who I think will enjoy it.  The human algorithm.  And, by letting “the people” promote your promotion, you can spend more money on the giveaway itself and less on advertising. Try it you’ll like it. Peace.

    Frank’s Red Hot Sauce Radio Spots.

    0

    One of my favorite advertising campaigns is for Frank’s RedHot Sauce.  It may be my only favorite ad campaign.  I heard if yesterday morning and had to remark about it to the lady at Ace Hardware.  The business strategy is to get consumers to put Frank’s RedHot Sauce on more dishes.  I use hot sauce on burritos and tacos only.  My brother in law from North Carolina likes it on his eggs.  (It’s not bad.) The more dishes Frank’s can get you to spice up with hot sauce the more sales it rings.

    Now normally funny advertising for the sake of funny is not something I advocate.  Funny is rarely a brand plank. But the little old lady with the graggy voice who performs these spots is quite the star. But the copywriter is the true star.  Each ad repeats the line “I put that shit on everything.” Of course the word shit is beeped out. The bleeped word is the hero of the spot. Try not laughing. Try not understanding the strategy. Try not visualizing a little old lady putting hot sauce on her breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    Some church people will be offended. Some parents with small children will have to explain to their kids why they are laughing. Some will want to protest.  Me?  I just love that ____.  The best ad campaign I’ve heard in a long time. Peace.