Advertising

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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. 

 

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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!

 

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Heineken Light is launching a new ad campaign. All the stories will be about new spokesman Neil Patrick Harris, Wieden+Kennedy and the advertising poking fun at the fact that one can’t drink beer on a TV commercial. Mr. Harris drinks and slurps off camera.

According to Heineken USA CMO Nuno Teles “Everything in marketing should start with a consumer insight.” The one he identified to Stuart Elliott of the NY Times was that “40% of 21-27 year old consumers desire a light beer with a full taste.” Some quick research suggests there are 25 million 18-24 year olds in the US, so let’s say there are about the same number of 21-27 year olds. Forty percent of that number is 10M. In a country of 300M, that leaves a lot of beer on the table. But I agree that taste for a premium light makes sense. The fact that Barney from “How I met your mother” craves Heineken Light on a TV commercial, though, doesn’t quite set the “taste” hook for me. I’m not sure if he says anything about the new Cascade Hops, but I surely hope so.

Behavioral brand planners will ask how do we get consumers to change beer brands? The answer is, get them to try it and like it. Also, give them a reason to expect to like it. Not sure drinking what Barney drinks is that reason. Peace!

P.S. Wieden knows what they are doing and they know advertising, so let’s wait until the barrel counts start coming in. This is just my expectation of success.

 

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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.

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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.

 

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Native advertising is defined by some as advertising done to look like the content of the media on which it appears.  The ads are tailored to the media. A couple of decades ago if you made your TV ad to look like a newscast and scheduled it to run on the evening news, standards and practices would not approve it.  It had gone too native. Lately, I’ve seen some cable stations using program actors to promote products in commercial pods during the show.  It’s worth a rewind…until you see it’s an ad.  Smart idea actually.

In the web world, native advertising is doing similar things, allowing marketers to appear to offer site content but then pulling the rug out quickly to reveal a product endorsement. It is a way forward, and if does properly effective yet it will make us callous to the media channel.

I’m all about value…and native advertising has the ability to add a little value to the selling message, but it does detract from the media channel’s integrity.

But here’s the thing.  Today many regular ads aren’t native to their own selling message. So why be native to a media property.  Ads are typically native to humor, to visual extravagance, to performance and story but not the product. Let’s fix that first before we go mucking up other media channels.

Great consumer insights married to emotional and logical selling schemes are the way forward. Let’s not forget we are in the selling business.  Peace.

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