Advertising

    United Technologies and Dick Kerr.

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    As a kid growing up in advertising I was lucky enough to work on a piece of the United Technologies account. Comprised of Sikorsky helicopters, Otis Elevator, Carrier air conditioners, and Pratt and Whitney, this juggernaut was a fairly unknown master brand. And a master brand saddled with a pretty poor name.

    To elevate the United Technologies brand they turned to a copywriter named Dick Kerr. They could have gone to Ogilvy or JWT but somehow Dick got his foot in the door and became the creative agency of record.

    Dick wrote all-type ads. Wonderful ads. Ads not about helicopters and elevators, but about people. Places. Things. And behavior. At the time these ads ran – as full-pages on back covers of The Wall Street Journal — this type of corporate advertising was unheard of.  At the bottom of each ad, composed of a single top-to-bottom column of type, sat the United Technologies wheel logo. Captains of industry began to read these babies and understand that  holding companies could be much more than the sum of their parts and balance sheets.

    At one point, readership studies showed that 7 of the top 10 “best read” ads ever to run in The Wall Street Journal, were penned by Dick. By United Technologies. UTC make a book out of the ads called Gray Matter named after Harry Gray, then CEO.

    Dick is gone now but in its waning days United Technologies is still benefiting from his writing, his wit and his strategy.

    Below is copy from the first ad in they series, as I remember.

    Keep it simple.

    Strike three.

    Get your hand off my knee.

    You’re overdrawn.

    Your horse won.

    Yes.

    No.

    You have the account.

    Walk.

    Don’t walk.

    Mother’s dead.

    Basic events require simple language.

    Idiosyncratically euphuistic eccentricities are the promulgators of triturable obfuscation.

    What did you do last night?

    Enter into a meaningful romantic involvement
    or fall in love?

    What did you have for breakfast this morning?

    The upper part of a hog’s hind leg with two oval bodies encased in a shell laid by a female bird
    or ham and eggs? 

    David Belasco, the great American theatrical producer once said, “If you can’t write your idea on the back of my calling card, you don’t have a clear idea.”

     

     

     

    Accenture + Droga 5 = Band Aids and Champagne.

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    So David Droga has decided to sell Droga 5 to Accenture, a deal which should be completed by the end of May. Don’t count on it.  You think Brexit was hard, try getting creative people in a room with business nerds. And I understand Accenture Interactive will be the home not Accenture proper.  (Again, don’t count on that either.)

    I actually think this exercise will be cathartic for both sides of the purchase. There will be agita. Some feathers will fly. But the reality is, the coming together of business and creativity is the exact aspiration of marketing clients. They are business nerds who aspire to be creative, but heretofore haven’t been able to pull it off. So they farm it out.

    The reason businesses are using consulting companies more and more in marketing today, the reason advertising holding companies find the big consultants to be competitors, is because engagement, data and AI are all measurable.  And when you can bang some inefficiency out of the equation (poor or misdirected creativity) you do it.  Or you lose.

    Droga 5 will learn about the dark side. Accenture and Accenture Interactive will learn about the light side. And learning in general will cascade across the marketing business. Break out the Band Aids. Break out the champagne.

    Peace.

     

     

    We’re Here!

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    This is a leader board from AOL that appeared on Adweek.com.  It’s a perfect example of “We’re Here” advertising, doing little more than telling users they exist.  The creative for this baby could not have taken more than 10 minutes.  And that with 3 re-dos.  Come on AOL, you can do better than this!  Peace!

    Buick’s Progress. A tale.

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    I drove a Buick Skylark as a kid and loved it.  Though green wasn’t my favorite color, the car offered a little macho and some pep.  My friend’s dad owned the Buick dealership from whence it came and when he grew up he, too, owned a Buick Dealership.  I went to work at McCann-Erickson in the 90s and we had the Buick account. Market research began to slip out that Buick had become the brand of Q-Tips — little white heads that stuck up from behind the steering wheel. That was the 90s.  As much as the client and agency derided the target and tried to go younger, they never really changed the car models.

    The decade of the 2000s rolled in and again management talked about aiming younger.  Tiger Woods was the spokesperson – young phenom that he was.  Some youthful accoutrements were put on the cars, some grilles were youthenized, a new younger nameplate introduced (Lucerne, hee hee), yet the old people car tag did not abate.

    Fast forward to today – the 2000 teens.  “People still equate us with big, floaty, boxy cars that are driven by people in their 70s and 80s,” said Craig Bierley, director of advertising and sales of Buick/GMC in today’s paper.  He added “This is really about position Buick in a progressive marketing space, so that people can think of Buick as a progressive company overall.”  This quote, a reference to a new selling application for iPhones and Androids.

    Hello?  You can market younger but the car designs must appeal so. They don’t yet. See you in 2020. Peace!

    HP TouchPad Ads Off…and Running.

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    Hewlett-Packard is launching a new ad campaign today for the TouchPad tablet and it sounds rather messy.  I read about it in The New York Times ad column and hope it’s just poor reporting. The story was written by Elizabeth Olson.

    Here’s my strategic take. 

    • HP is late to market with the tablet and needs to get noticed.
    • HP has a new operating system (OS), which will drive all its hardware devices. Called webOS, it will integrate their smartphones, PCs, printers, tablets and soon other devices and appliances.  It’s a cool promise, but s complicated story.
    • Printers are a big franchise and potential differentiator, so HP wants to make them more relevant.
    • The purchase of Palm and the growth of the smartphone market has made the mobile business a critical growth component.
    • HP is not a big brand with Millennials and teens.

    That is a lot of stuff to convey.  If you have to say 5 things, you’ve said nothing.

    The NY Times story starts out talking about a new commercial with Russell Brand. I’m feeling it.  A little old school, but I’m feeling it. Then it says there are executions with stars from iCarly and Glee. The future holds spots/vids from Lebron James and Jay-Z and Lady Gaga did some work in May but has not re-upped.  Add to that, all the social media contests (100 free TouchPads) and Twitter tchotch and you begin to see how it’s going to be hard to find the idea. Goodby Silverstein is a great  ad shop, but it doesn’t sound as if it hasn’t corralled this herd of goats. 

    My head is spinning.  I hope it is just a lot of info, not well organized, by a reporter from another newspaper beat. And I’m no Leo Apotheker. Peace!

     

    Wendy’s. Kaplan Thaler. Unreal.

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    Branding is about owning a discrete idea in the minds of consumers.  Find the right idea — something you are good at and upon which you can deliver – then spend your money proving it.  

    A couple of years ago, Wendy’s, a top 3 fast food burger chain, gave its account to Kaplan Thaler Group. Kaplan Thaler does good ads, great music and creates muscle memory for its clients.  It won the Wendy’s business with a neat jingle and neat idea “You know when it’s real.”   The idea revolves around a commitment to use more natural ingredients.  No one doesn’t want more natural ingredients.  So it is a great idea in a category with pent up “bad nutrition” ideals.

    We can debate whether the last two year of advertising have delivered on the natural ingredients promise, but there is a $25 million campaign launching for Wendy’s new French fries that has gone off trail. The product uses natural-cut unpeeled Russet Burbank potatoes and sea salt. Presumably they are using a healthier quality of fry oil.  The advertising idea – and here is where the disconnect comes in — is about “taste and sharing.”  People like the taste so much they don’t want to share.  You know when it’s real?  When this work is copy-tested people will play back “the fries are so good you won’t want to share.”  FAIL.  (I’m sure the copy talks about real ingredients, but the idea is about taste and sharing.) This doesn’t put a deposit in the brand idea bank, it makes a withdrawal.  

    Money into the market will make sale blip up. It will be viewed as modest near-term success.  But by now, Kaplan should know how brand strategy works: Get them to sing the strategy, then burrow it into their heads.  Props to Wendy’s product people for the product idea. As for the marketing people shame, shame.  Peace!

    Branding: Scorch, drone or look ‘em in the eye.

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    It was not long ago that advertising was governed by a scorched earth approach. Fire up a message and spray it in every direction.  If you bought the top TV show, the best read magazine, the leading radio station and newspaper in the 10 largest cities, you reached everyone.

    Extending the metaphor, following the scorched earth approach, thanks to the web, we are now more in drone attack mode. We don’t target those not interested in our products and messaging, that would be wasteful, we conduct due diligence then hover over our targets and bomb the shit out of them. Behavioral targeting, search engines, opt-in vehicles all enable drone attack kills.  The problem with drone attacks is that there are often lots of accidental casualties. Drone attacks are not only singularly expensive, they can give a brand a bad name. Drone attacks are preferred to scorched earth because corporate executives feel more in control and can see immediate results.  

    The reality is, drone attacks do have kills (sales) though as a marketing tools they dilute our brands. Brands today are defined by campaigns, not brand values.  Ask a consumer about Old Spice and the first thing they’ll say is “that football player” or the “guy who rides the horse” or “guy with the great pecs.”  They rarely play back the human connection to the value of body spray.  

    What I love about new media – social media – is that corporate executive can tune in to consumers from street level. That’s where it counts. Scott Monty of Ford is tuned-in where it counts. Sure he’s Mr. Twitter and Mr. Fotchbook, but he hears his audience every day. And Alan Mulally, his boss, and the shareholders benefits. Mr. Monty is on the ground listening, not operating a drone remotely. That’s the way to build a brand. That’s how you build a marketing program. With a brand, a plan, and a policy. Not a campaign dashboard.  Peace!

    Bing’s Decision Engine. Part 2.

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    Bing may be a better search engine; it may not be.  If you listen to Microsoft insiders it certainly is. If you listen to SEO nerds it’s a toss-up or a no.  If you try Bing, it appears to be a new skin with better pictures on the same algo.

    Bing’s initial advertising straddled the fence on 2 ideas: the decision engine and information overload. The latter was fun and made for great advertising and a great launch. It set the stage for an implicit benefit: make better decisions. The benefit was not explicit, though the tagline was. Microsoft recently moved the Bing business to Crispin Porter Bogusky from JWT and is running a new TV ad talking about Facebook integration. (Integration is a word techies use when at a loss for other words.) The new work is cute and will appeal to fast-twitch media consumers (millennials) but it feels idea-less.  I’m not getting information overload or decision engine.

    Though not everyone who searches is looking to make a decision, decision engine is a good strategy. Tying the wagon (Could I be more of a geezer?) to Facebook or Project Glee is a borrowed interest approach to marketing. It’s a tactic. The nerdiest softies in Redmond know their search algo is better than Google’s. Someone just needs to find out why. And how.  Then take that how and wrap it English — with song, pictures and video and sell some clicks. And the real softy nerds know this. “Why are we singing, when we should be saying?” Decision engine is the idea.  Organize the proof. Peace!

    Paper the Walls.

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    Many years ago I learned a trick about advertising from Brendan Ryan, president of FCB/Leber Katz, in NYC. One day he asked the AT&T Network Systems account team to paper the walls with the current campaign. The headline for each as we “Are You Ready.” Network Systems sold the 5E switches to phone companies that powered American communications. So paper the walls we did.

    Mr. Ryan walked around the plush conference room reading sub-heads, looking at visual and dashing through copy here and there. He pointed to campaign outliers and confirmed what he thought to be the idea. Neat trick. Neat way to level-set the idea.

    Fast forward 25 years to an era when communications manifest across more channels than we ever perceived, some with control, many with none. If you were to paper the walls with the myriad comms we generate today, you’d have a messy, messy room. A walk around that room  would remind you why an “organizing principle for product, experience and messaging” is critical. Otherwise known as a brand strategy.

    So me droogies, paper your walls with your internal and external comms and see what-ith you spew-ith into the consumer realm.

    Peace.

     

    IPG’s Starting to Samba.

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    The Interpublic Group of Companies (IPG) just announced a minority investment in Samba TV. Props to Michael Roth and Chad Stoller. This looks like money well invested.

    I’m always looking for the Is-Does when it comes to brands and Samba TV seems to be an analytics company. One tapped into 10 million household TV cable boxes. The Does of the Is-Does may be best described by co-founder and CEO of Samba TV, Ashwin Navin: “We think that more data will allow brands to reach more people they care about and waste less of their media budgets.”

    This bulls eyes the famous John Wannamaker quote “I know half my advertising is working, problem is I don’t know which half.” Samba TV may not corral the missing half, but it will start to get close.

    Nice to see IPG getting back up on the horse again. It’s good for business. Peace!