Advertising

    Promises vs. Deeds

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    I’m all about the deeds.  In marketing, promises are like air. Deeds on the other hand are few and far between. Okay, bringing coffees to a sale call is a deed. So is lunch.  But they are not brand-meaningful deeds. For a great reference on meaningful marketing check out Bob Gilbreath’s bookThe Next Evolution of MarketingDeeds are about putting your money where your mouth is.  About delivering proof that you care. Words are important. Deeds are marketing currency.  Deeds make one believe the words.

    The first print ads were no doubt all type.  Words. Then came the ability to reproduce pictures in ads so marketers could pair products and usage with the words. Advertising now is in end-benefit land.  Yet it still feels like “me” advertising not “you” advertising. When we market through deeds rather than promises we connect.  We create muscle memory for our brand ideas.

    One good deed can support months and months of promises. And I meaningful it.  Hee hee. 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!

    Get some ASS.

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    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.

    McAfee Advertising, Way Asleep.

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    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?

    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.

    Promotion and the Human Algorithm.

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    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.

    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.

     

    Advertising and Power.

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    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.

     

    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!

    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.