This is a leader board from AOL that appeared on Adweek.com. It’s a perfect example of “We’re Here” advertising, doing little more than telling users they exist. The creative for this baby could not have taken more than 10 minutes. And that with 3 re-dos. Come on AOL, you can do better than this! Peace!
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!
There is a radio campaign I’ve been hearing lately for Frank’s Hot Sauce – it’s actually red hot sauce, but my ears don’t hear it that way – and I absolutely love it. There are snippets of video on the website which suggest the campaign may be on TV but I haven’t seen it.
You can’t miss the radio. It’s typical actor product banter but punctuated by line “I put that bleep on everything.” Whatever word you think is bleeped out is up to you, but you just know it starts the “shhh” and rhymes with “hit”. The line is delivered by a granny-sounding actress and you can’t help but giggle (out loud). Even moms of the Southern Christian Right have to twinkle a wee bit.
The strategy is straight forward – use Frank’s on more dishes in more dayparts – but the humor is wonderfully disruptive. It’s the best radio out there. For me, though, the jury’s still out on the TV. If the website videos are representative I think the TV will fall short. The acting performance isn’t the same. The surprise isn’t there. And it almost demeans the radio. As a branding idea, I don’t see it translating in print either. But enough darts, the radio is killer.
If you know the agency and the creative minds behind the work, please share. I smell a Mercury Award. Peace!
Advertising generics in this case does not mean store brands or value brands, it refers to the selling words we use in advertising and sales. Quality. Service. Tailored to your needs. Savings. You’ve heard these words a million times in selling. They are the flah, flah, flah of selling. Key words, if you will, that tell consumers you have no real message. Today, if you are selling quality, you are not selling.
If you want to study selling go out and do some cold calling. Or telemarketing. (No don’t. You may find your way to my door.) Advertising is a little like cold calling. But at least many who create ads understand the notion of engagement, product benefit, value demonstration and simplicity.
The best advertising and cold selling does not use generics. It uses meaningful selling ploys — to be figured out on a case by case basis. It’s an art.
In sales the pop technique for the past 10 years has been “solution selling.” Don’t sell the features – ask, listen, find the pain points and create the perception that your product can heal. Solutions selling has spawned a generation of listeners. “Hi, I know you are very busy but tell me about your company.” Nuh, uh. No thanks. Busy. Buh bue.
Stay away from generics. Don’t sell education, sell Princeton. Don’t sell medicine, sell your branded scrip. Listen to yourself selling, experience your ads. If you wouldn’t buy from you who would? Peace!
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!
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?
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!
Advertising isn’t ineffective because it’s a dying medium, it’s ineffective because it’s ineffective. Good branding is about “Claim and Proof.” Advertising, an important, controllable means of branding, needs to follow the same “Claim and Proof” dictum.
Toyota, a company playing defense peppered with catch-up promotions, ran an ad in The New York Times paper paper today – a perfect example of badvertising. All claim, no proof. Here’s the copy:
No matter who you are or what you drive, everyone deserves to be safe. Which is why the Star Safety SystemTM is standard on all our new vehicles – no matter what model or trim level. It’s a combination of five advanced safety features that help keep you in control and out of harm’s way. Toyota is the first full-line manufacturer to make the features of the Star Safety SystemTM standard on all vehicles. Because at Toyota, we realizes nothing is more important to you than your safety.
I forgot the headline and I only read it 10 seconds ago. The call to action, where one might actually find the proof, is prominently displayed below the copy — Toyota.com/safety. This ad is one expensive call to action and a lot less. Fail!
Who is at Fault?
I’m not sure who is responsible for this $20,000 piece of “we’re here” advertising but everyone is to blame. The creative person who said “People don’t read long copy.” The strategist who approved it, the client who agreed and paid for it. Frankly, The New York Times should be ashamed. Isn’t someone over there watching this stuff?
This business is easy: Find a great claim and support it with compelling proof. Compelling proof. Compelling proof. Compelling proof. Peace!
Joel Ewanich landed at GM with guns blazing. GM’s new marketing head left a similar job at Nissan without having been there long enough to find the coffee machine. And his first act at General Motors was to replace Campbell-Ewald and Publicis with Goodby Silversten and Partners as Chevrolet’s agency of record.
Many of the snarks are saying “Why not hold a review?” and “He never even met with the old agencies” but the reality is Mr. Ewanich knows Goodby from their time together on Hyundai, be wanted Goodby, and he is in a hurry. If he wants Goodby, why pretend to put the business up for review and waste everbody’s time and money? Whether this decision turns out to change the market share for Chevrolet is still to be played out but I’ll give Mr. Ewanich credit for strong leadership. He didn’t vacillate publically or do the politically correct thing — he made a decision and is getting to work.
Goodby is a great shop. It knows consumers. Gareth Kay was the planning leader at Modernista when Hummer was humming. I don’t know Mr. Ewanich from Adam and though the Hyundai advertising may not have been crazy memorable, it absolutely delivered solid marketing ideas and results. This move makes sense to me. But as fast as it was done, it can be undone. We learned that already. Peace!