Blackburied.

    Paper the Walls.

    A Google+ ad.

    Advertising

    The Idea. The Performance.

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    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.

    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!

     

    Geico burnout vs. new paradigm churn-out.

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    Here’s a fresh idea for bold national TV advertisers.  One and done.  Okay, maybe five and done is better.  Create and run TV spots 5 times then take them off the air and move them to the web.  A question many large agencies asked back in the day of the $385,000 TV commercial and still ask is “What is the burn out rate”?  How many times can a consumer can see a TV spot before his/her eyes start to bleed.

    In today’s fast twitch media, where clicking is a sport, the burn out factor has grown even more sensitive. This is why sooner or later Geico is going to need to chill.  I was reading today about The Gap and its desire to become more relevant to the younger set – more relevant is a euphemism for sell more – and I’ve also been reading about Denny’s, similarly strategized.  The former will do nice ads and burn, burn, burn them.  The latter is running ads only a few times, then driving people to the web to watch them on-demand, on-desire, in longer form. Denny’s and Gotham get the target’s media habits and will save money. Gap and Ogilvy will not…unless.

    Unless they use the new “five and done” model.  Should Ogilvy decide to turn itself into a crafty, creative TV production studio for the Gap it will have a chance. Buy high profile mass reach media and run their ads only a handful of times.  Then move on. Lots of freshies. Story-tell with lots of chapters, a la James Patterson. And it shouldn’t necessarily be a serial story, just a gestalt-y all around the brand strategy story.

    Smart shops can create spots at low costs these days. Fast twitch ads, not burn out campaigns, are what the daring will do. That’s what the youth market wants. Peace.

    Creative by the pound.

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    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!  

    Advertising is not a task for the lazy.

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    Google ran an ad today in The New York Times using an age-old communication device, listing a number of great user-benefits for which people use the service — a nicely bracketed list of searches Google has allowed us over the years. All true. All fairly amazing, were it not for the fact that we’ve been using Google now for 15-20 years.  In a sense it’s what I call “We’re here” advertising – not much more than a simple logo on a page, conveying no new information. A billboard reminder, if you will.

    Advertising that doesn’t engage a reader with something new, something learned, something blue (sexy), is merely “We’re here” advertising. Repetition and/or frequency is a foundational tool for brand building the old school saying goes. According to the logic, consumers won’t remember your message until they see it a minimum of three times. Not a fan. It worked before we were saturated with ads. Not today.

    If the messaging is compelling, if it teaches, if it stimulates – it’s off to a good start.  Then it needs to make you do something. Act. And lastly, it must make a deposit in the brand bank. Alter your attitude in a way that predisposes you to purchase the next time — for reasons brand managers decide. Advertising is not a ask for the lazy.

    Peace.

     

     

    Adjectives R Us.

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    My alma mater Rollins College is a really neat school. A beautiful school.  But sometimes its beauty overshadows the academics, so someone smart came up with an idea for a YouTube video to downplay the former and highlight the latter. The video is nicely shot but the script is terribly weak.  Shame.

    Once past the beauty shots and facilities recap, about a third of the video, I began counting marketing adjectives. And there were plenty. The same adjectives any school could and would use. In fact, the same adjectives any institution, company or even brand might use.  Adjectives R US.

    There was a good provable “idea” hidden in the copy but it was glossed over. The notion that classes are small enough to mirror post-graduate work. Sorry to say it but the video proved nothing more than a pictorial sales piece. As it stands, the video strategy “more than just pretty” lay fallow and, sadly, uncultivated.

    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!

    New Cadillac Spots

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    I wrote Friday about the new Cadillac campaign, sight seen. My qualm was actually with the quote by Publicis’ CEO who intimated image, not car sales, was the point of the work.  I get image. It’s an important got-to-have, but it’s not the primary reason for advertising. Image and an on-brand strategy message are imperatives. Not, however, at the cost of selling.

    The Cadillac ad I watched last night on the Oscars was lovely. Of the time. Its heart was in the right place. The product manager/client made the agency show, at least, some old Cadillac cars. But how hard would it have been to show a new model at the end of the spot? Even grayed out a bit? As mentioned Friday, Cadillac’s challenge the past couple of years has been inelegant car designs. Not showing the new model car almost makes me feel, it’s still a challenge.

    Then Cadillac ran another ad introducing the Escala. (Watch the second commercial on YouTube link above.) It’s product first. Product forward. And the car design is huge. Exhilarating.  These two execution could have ben combined a la the “Imported From Detroit” spot from years ago. That would have been some ad craft.

    Peace.

     

    Facebook Advertising and Creativity.

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    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.

    Salesmanship vs. Packaging.

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    Albert Lasker, a seminal advertising figure and CEO of Lord and Thomas (a predecessor agency to FCB) and a copywriter by the name of John E. Kennedy had a discussion in 1905 about a Kennedy theory suggesting advertising is no more than “salesmanship in print.”  Smart dudes Kennedy and Lasker.

    If the goal of salesmanship is sales and the goal of advertising is sales, then shouldn’t this notion still be applicable? Sure. But more often than not, advertising today is a loose federation of benefits and features packed together in designer wrapping paper, with a promotional bow.

    The sign of a good salesperson is you believe them, trust them and are convinced by their expertise. You may remember the salesperson but you are more apt to remember the product. Similarly, the litmus of a good ad is its ability to be remembered for the product selling idea, not the ad execution.  And to be remembered the day after it was seen.

    Messrs. Lasker and Kennedy were right back in the day and they are even more right today. They knew the best ads are not about “me, me, me,” but about the consumer. Sales people know this, ad craftsmen often forget. When done correctly, advertising in print, broadcast or digital is salesmanship not packaging. Peace!