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.

     

     

    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.

     

    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.

     

     

    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.

     

    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.

     

    Is Creative a Beauty Pageant?

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    BBDO has made a huge impact on advertising and consumerism with its call-to-arms “It’s all about the work.” a reference that explains its constantly superior creative product. There have been creative hot shops over the years, the flavor of the year if you will, but BBDO is always up there. This year it won the Gunn Report’s most creative network for the tenth straight time.

    Most agency creative chiefs and executives will tell you it’s about the work. But is it?

    In the marketing world there is only one litmus: sales. Sales leadership backed by market share and revenue power. Money creates scale and scope. And advertising. Can’t fund good work without money. Advertising can touch the hearts, minds and souls of consumers but so can a good movie. A great song. What it needs to do is move a consumer closer to a sale.

    Advertising is also about being in the right place at the right time. Ask someone in sales. Sure sales surround helps, but nothing says cha-ching like a consumer ready to buy. When ready to buy a consumer who thinks about your brand, prefers your brand, and understands its value is a consumer that buys your brand.

    Branding is about ideas that infuse the soul. Ideas that create preference. That’s the work marketers care about. Creating muscle memory for value. Not for an ad. Ads can contribute mightily, but it’s not the beauty pageant some make it out to be.

    Peace.

    PS. This post is not meant to suggest BBDO’s work is not effective. The post is about redefining what the work is.

     

    The Apple TV of Tivo’s Eye.

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    Tivo just sucker punched Apple. Apple TV specifically. Tivo just launched a new product called the BOLT which holds to its core value by allowing viewers to scan past pods of advertising with a click of a button. The launch ad highlights another 7 or 8 things it does that Apple TV doesn’t including get rid of the cable box. With Apple TV you can’t record your shows, you can’t watch shows on any device – so the ad says.

    The Tivo BOLT ad works. It contains a picture of the box, which offers a lovely Apple-esque product design. The unchanged Tivo logo, a particularly simple and brilliant design of a TV with Martian antenna, is not only distinctive but fun. And Tivo’s restraint in not trying to tie everything up in with a bow in the form of a new tagline beneath the logo, is genius. Under the mark, a space typically reserved for a tagline, it simply read “San Jose, California.”

    Start with a great product that meets pent up market demand (for features and function) and take care of marketing with clean comms and design and you have the secret to success. Apple has always known this, apparently Tivo does now too.

    Peace.

     

    Coming soon. Mass Communications Atomize.

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    There’s a nice piece in the NYT today by Farhad Manjoo about the evolution of luxury apps to apps that end up being affordable over time once scale is created. One example cited is Munchery, who with enough orders and resources, hopes to deliver healthier food to consumers close to the cost of junk food. Ish. The ability for scale to reduce cost is a promise of the interwebs.

    In this world, we resource and massify what is produced, yet individualize what is delivered. At scale. Logistics, as Uber likes to say, is a nice living.

    Mass communications have for decades been produced and sold in bulk. Direct marketing tried to individualize, but really only segmented. The creators of advertising have never really tried to individualize marketing communications, yet today data collection and analysis and digital content are bringing us many steps closer. The individualized creative product is still pretty awful and way too expensive. Even at retail, belly to belly selling is static; a couple of selling points used for every customer.

    We have a long way to go. With new tools like NFC (check out the promise of Invisible Media) and single user identifier not too far away, personalized selling will improve greatly. Then, so will creative. Ad agencies will have to become more fluid.

    As this happens selling will atomize – and brand strategy become more important. An organizing principle for a brand built upon what a product does well and what a customer wants most, will be the only staple.

    Peace.