Genetically Engineered Copy.


    There is a new story today that suggests tomatoes have no taste because they’ve been genetically engineered to look good.  Brilliant red tomatoes with nary a color blotch, piled high in our grocery stores because of a gene mutation that has said “buh-bye” to flavor, sweetness and aroma.

    I wonder if advertising has been genetically engineered to look pretty, the result of which has been impeded selling. Have we removed the important selling component of thoughtful copy in favor of pretty pictures?  Has the flavor gone out of our copy. The sensual response that good copywriting can evoke?  I fear the answer is yes.

    To sell one must do more than convey, one must connect and inspire.

    At Cannes, mightn’t we instate a copywriting award?  RU listening creative leaders?  (David  Lubars?) Let’s loose the robo-copy and build more artful selling. Put that on you BLT with light Hellman’s.  Peace!

    Where is the Original Art?


     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!

    Promotion and the Human Algorithm.


    The problem with appointment promotions is they don’t really build customer loyalty. When Starbucks tells you to come to the store on Thursday between 12 and 2 P.M. for a free apple fritter and they publicize it in a big newspaper ad, you have to make an appointment to go.  They’re trying to generate traffic. If you must buy a new cup of something in order to get the free fritter, it’s about product trial.  It’s not really a loyalty play because everybody can participate.  Unexpected promotions are much better for loyalty building. 

    Unexpected promotions are much better, also, because they’re more social. With an unannounced promotion, especially one of the free variety, there is a wonderful surprise and feeling of serendipity. With mobile phones what they are today and our “always on” culture, free can go viral fast.  And those virused are usually best friends or most appropriate friends. 

    Let’s say I go into Starbucks to order coffee and get a blueberry fritter, not my usual apple fritter. As I’m waiting online I might tweet or 4square it.  Or, text my commuting office mate.  Why would I do that?  Because I’ve been hit with a pleasant random act of kindness and I can pass it on. I’ve been recruited to be a good guy.  And Starbucks has enlisted me to curate their promotion.  I mete it out based upon who I think will enjoy it.  The human algorithm.  And, by letting “the people” promote your promotion, you can spend more money on the giveaway itself and less on advertising. Try it you’ll like it. Peace.

    Celebrate, rinse, repeat.


    I often use the word “celebrate” when talking about branding. It’s a great word. Once you have your brand idea and planks together, spending money and calories celebrating your product, service and/or customer is the best way forward. A great many ads and sales schemes focus on tearing down competitors.  Consumers don’t appreciation that. They appreciate and gravitate toward the positive.  “If you don’t have something nice to say…” 

    When it comes to advertising, too often we build ads that people like.  By celebrating the above, we are building up products people like. There’s a difference.  One can imply a negative, so long as it’s done by superimposing a positive.  One of my favorite ad sayings is “make them feel something, then do something.” Feeling good is good. Peace!

    Advertising and Power.


    Empower is a word that used to be the haps in marketing.  Now it has been replaced by “transparency” and “authenticity” in the markobabble lexicon. Being a contrarian, I look at the word empower and wonder how to use its opposite. Depower? To remove from power or to remove power. When you think about it, removing things that make a consumer’s decision hard is what advertisers try to do.  By simplifying the decision for a consumer, removing all the impeding loci, it becomes easier to buy.

    Are you the type of person who has a hard time deciding when looking at a restaurant dinner menu?  Me too. I like duck, and pasta, a steak.  So when I read the menu I’m using the descriptions to aid me. I prioritize the descriptors.

    If we look at an ad as a selling device and are speaking to a consumer who must decide using many factors — factors that may not play to our product’s strong suit — we have to depower those factors. So a Coke that may be very refreshing but filled with calories and sugar, needs to depower the latter two qualities so it properly highlights the former. It’s not always about focusing on the positive attributes, the best advertising and marketing strategy sees the rest of the power grid and on all. A little like chess, no?  Peace.


    Facebook Advertising and Creativity.


    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.

    McAfee Advertising, Way Asleep.


    So is the brand pronounced Mac-a-fee or Mih-Caffee.  (Hoe-gaarden or Who-Garden?) One of a brand’s first challenges is to make sure the name is pronounced correctly.  McAfee is a killer PC protection software product, which, if I’m not mistaken. is #1 or 2 in the marketplace.  It was purchased earlier this year by Intel.   I’m a 3-license custy and couldn’t be happier.

    But, as an ad rat (a gym rat for ads) I can’t help but see that McAfee needs a marketing boost.  There is an ad in the newspaper today showing the McAfee logo as a superman emblem on a man’s chest. The pithy headline reads SAFE NEVER SLEEPS. A line they give a TM.   Not sure if it qualifies as copy but in small text beneath the line reads (I’ll save you the caps) “Smarter security. Every device, every network, everywhere.”

    Classic “we’re here” advertising.   Is it any wonder digital advertising is cutting into traditional ad budgets?  This is some lazy stuff.  I’m not sure I can even type anymore I’m so disappointed. There is no claim here. And no proof.  Only colors, type and photography.  Why does the McAfee marketing dept. bother to get out of bed in the morning?  Are you kidding me?  What’s the idea?

    Purple ads.


    langone edit

    Growing up in the ad business and knowing how hard it is to do well, I often harp on poorly conceived advertising. Especially that of the print variety.  This adverting is done by a good mid-sized agency in New York City, but either the planner or the creative director doesn’t care because week in and week out the execution – the whole campaign, in fact – is just sad. The hospital likes the ads I’ve heard, so at the agency the only one digging this work must be the CFO.

    A great litmus for an ad is the idea.  The idea as played back a day after it has been seen.  This ad is “one of those purple hospital ads.”  “The ones with the one word headline.”

    I read this ad stem to stern as I have many of the others in the campaign and still haven’t a clue as to the strategy. Or what the brand stands for.

    If you spend enough money, people will see your ads. It you buy the right media people will see your ads. If you don’t have an idea, people will see your ads. They just won’t be able to form an opinion about you – other than you have enough money to advertise. You have a name. And in this case, you like the unique color purple. Peace!

    PS. I’m sure the women and men at NYU Langone are terrific and save lots of lives. I applaud you, but it’s time to find a brand and brand idea.  



    Salesmanship vs. Packaging.


    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!

    Get some ASS.


    I’m not saying we are shallow but if you are walking on the street and 4 people stroll by and one is stunningly beautiful – my pal Terrence tells me men are beautiful too – whom do you look at?   If they are all similarly visaged and one has amazing clothes, whom do your eyes go to?  This is the case for advertising.  First impressions are important.  The more beautiful, the more colorful and artful, the more the ad is likely to strike the consumer.

    Many, many ads today are plain, especially those of the digital kind. Consumers have trained themselves not to look at ads. We’ve become immune.  But a pretty ad, an incongruous or stylish ad, gets seen. And always will.  Art directors get this more than copy writers. Great copy writers are on board.  (A punk rock aside, did anyone know the Bush Tetras are in town?) Once seen, an ad has to sell.  If an ad is good enough to borrow your interest and register a product name, some say its job is done. That’s lazy ad craft. A great ad attracts interest, makes you feel something, then makes you do something.

    A mother and father always think their babies are cute…even if they are not.  Brand planners and brand managers always think their ads are cute, even if they’re not. They feel a love others don’t.

    Art, Science and Strategy must come together for an ad to be great. That’s ASS.  Get you some. (See it works.)

    Happy Independence Day. Peace.