Advertising

    Creative that sells.

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    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.

    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.

     

    Ads that Jab Like a Needle.

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    When first working on the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System business I thought I was going to dislike the category. Now I’m a fan.  Perhaps I was conditioned to think healthcare was bad and unexciting because the ads were so bad.   My agency,  Welch Nehlen Groome, made recommendations to North Shore to manage the brand as if a consumer packaged good: land on a strategic idea, organized it, stick to it and use the it to manage the client. The approach paid off. In our market “Setting new standards in healthcare”- a promise every healthcare provide would aspire to – was better known than “the best cancer care anywhere” the promise of Memorial Sloan Kettering.

    What turned me around on healthcare was the depth and complexity of the sell. It offered very fertile ground for connecting with consumers.  If you did your homework, you could hear great stories about the human condition. Talk about finding the pain?  Stories about relationships, e.g., caregiver, doctor patient, etc. Even stories about heroism.  Then there was the science side of the storytelling.  What the docs did. The role of diagnosis, R&D, the team.  Suffice it to say a lot of info could go into the making of an ad.

    The Hospital For Special Surgery ran an ad in the NY Times today that is half brilliant. The headline is “Our doctors work hard to perfect joint replacement. Our scientists work hard to prevent them.” Buried in the copy are no less than 5 awesome stories waiting to be told —  waiting to convince people to jump in their cars to go to HSS. But the stories won’t be read; the headline was either written by a tyro or a beat down writer too busy to connect. Too busy to change or save a life.  When we get advertising right in the digital age, those five stories will be linked web videos. In print, they will be underlined and printed in blue to let readers know there is multimedia attached. When we get advertising right in the digital age, we will write headlines that jab us like a needle. Peace!

    Heineken Light’s New Campaign.

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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.

     

    Young girl, violins, center of her own attention.

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     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!

     

    Where is the Original Art?

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     I was just flipping through CIO Magazine looking at the ads and here’s what I found.   There were 17 full page ads: 8 were all type, 4 used simple product shots and the rest clip or stock art.  What would Don Draper say?  And I’m talking about ads from companies like HP, Dell, CA, Symantec and Palm — companies that should know better.

    Let’s not even get into whether the ads have an idea, support the brand strategy or are well written.   B2B print advertising today is a joke.  If it wasn’t for clip art, there would be no art.  The people tossing these ads together (tossers) are not professional ad crafters, they’re drag-and-droppers.  This is “We’re here!” advertising at best.

    Corporations that allow this type of work are lazy.  I know the economy is poor and companies are looking for ways to cut corners, but let’s put a little art back into selling.  No wonder print is dying.  Sad.  Peace!

    Lee, Mike, Arnold and Amber.

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    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!

    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.

    When is an object an ad?

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    I was running near Southards Pond the other day and saw up in a tree a nice pine board birdhouse. A friend of mine makes birdhouses using his table saw and untrimmed logs. Logs with bark still on them.  They are amazing.  The word rustic comes to mind. I got him on Etsy and he moved some merch. The houses are so unique you want to stop running or walking and get a closer look.

    Rather than print out a color picture, laminate it and attach put peel-off telephone numbers, and post it on the trail in a pseudo guerilla marketing effort – a ham handed one, at that – why not put a house up at eye level with a subtle URL burned in it. Small, like a painter’s signature. Make it feel more like art than commerce. I don’t need to do an A/B test to find out which approach would work better. Ham-handed would sell some houses quickly and be removed from the trail. The artful approach would reach “Posters” or influencers (as opposed to Pasters or “the led”) and he would have a longer-term showing and be celebrated by all.

    A rustic product needs a rustic approach. Redefine how and where you put your product sale and message. Pick your spots and your tactics carefully. Kirshenbaum and Bond once did ads for Snapple where they put stickers on fresh mangos in the grocery store that read “Also available in Snapple.” Peace.

     

    Selling business.

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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.