Advertising

    Celebrate, rinse, repeat.

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    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!

    The Silo Chasm

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    How does a brand idea cross the silo chasm?  It’s doesn’t always. 

    Matching luggage is creative term for creative that travels nicely from media to media.  Let’s say you have a selling idea for a TV commercial – but it’s visual.  How does that idea transfer to radio? (“Hi, I’m a talking horse from Yonkers Raceway.” Ouch. )  Similarly, what if you have an experiential idea, perfect for promotion or digital but it lies like a lox in print? Campaign ideas don’t always travel. So what do you do? 

    And today, with marketing silos expanding not contracting, it is even harder to corral a campaign idea and bring it to life – especially for big clients with multiple agencies, all of which want to come up with the “big” idea.  

    So here are some rules to live by. Campaigns come and go…a powerful branding idea is indelible. Coke must “refresh” no matter the campaign.  Corona must convey a hot, vacation-like retreat. Norelco electric razors must convey a smooth shave. Rule 2:  Don’t kill yourself trying to force fit a campaign idea to a media. Media is not a strategy.  A hammer does not turn a screw.  Do your best to allow an idea to travel, but don’t force it.  It only will diminish the original idea.  Matching luggage may be nice for Paris Hilton, but she doesn’t have to carry that much shizz with her — she got peoples.

    Peter Kim (the deceased one) once told an AT&T client spending hundreds of millions on TV “Campaigns are overated.” 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.

     

    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!

    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.

     

    Creative by the pound.

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    Paul Ottellini is stepping down as Intel’s CEO in May. Implicit in the announcement was the notion that his leadership did not evolve or lead Intel into the mobile device age. It seems Intel is no longer inside the hand candy owned by nearly every man, woman and child in America and the ROW (rest of world). This announcement and an article on the transformation of education thanks to MOOCS (massive open online courses) got me thinking about the fate of ad agencies and whether they are evolving with the times.  

    Let’s face it, it’s sad but true, outside of the third world humanity’s purpose on planet earth is “buy stuff.”   That’s why we go to school, work and pay taxes.  Advertising used to be about pushing product and product preference on would-be consumers, but today consumers are wound up and ready to buy, so marketers aren’t as much interested in creating demand as they are in predisposing consumers toward their products.  The web is the big pre-disposer. Broadcast and print are still great tools, yet these days they’re mere sign posts. The real selling takes place after the ad. Agencies that sell creative by the pound are not seeing this — the total picture. It’s great to have top reputation for creativity, though it is better to have a full understanding of modern marketing: brand planning, lifecycle, loyalty, aftercare, twitch points, insouciance, and timing. Honestly, not many shops have this view. 

    Great creative is a price of entry for ad agencies but the web has changed marketing. Moving the desks around, being media-agnostic and practicing all sorts of other marko-babble are not going to fix the profitability and value of the ad agency business. It needs a new box.

    Mr. Ottellini didn’t change the box. IPG’s Michael Roth isn’t going to do it. Tom Bedacarre would like to. Carl Johnson-ish. We need a savant. Peace!  

    Is Creative a Beauty Pageant?

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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.

     

    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!

    Insure Product Meaning

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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.

     

    Google as advertiser.

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    Google is advertising now.  On TV, in The New York Times.  Using BBH. On the Super Bowl.  Hmm….this advertising stuff must work.  Oh yeah, that’s where most of their money comes from.  Money they will soon be throwing into a dark hole known as the hardware business (Motorola purchase).  Hopefully, the hole won’t be too deep so it can learn, correct and prosper.

    I often write “Campaigns come and go, a powerful brand idea is indelible,” which makes people think I don’t like campaigns. I do.  Campaigns are organizing principles.  Google, a company that has made bazillions on a search algorithm that is an organizing principle, has finally come off its slightly elevated soap box and decided to advertise.  But it’s relatively new to the practice. Luckily, it has the aforementioned ad agency BBH to guide it.

    The TV is emotional and beautiful.  The print is whimsical, fun and smart.  I’m not feeling a campaign idea as yet and, frankly, that’s quite fine.  This is new territory for Google. And for BBH and its labs. There will be some reinvention going on here no doubt. And one day (before trivestiture) Google will become a top 10 advertising spender.  Zero to 60 in…  Peace!