Advertising

    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.

    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.

     

    IPG’s Starting to Samba.

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    The Interpublic Group of Companies (IPG) just announced a minority investment in Samba TV. Props to Michael Roth and Chad Stoller. This looks like money well invested.

    I’m always looking for the Is-Does when it comes to brands and Samba TV seems to be an analytics company. One tapped into 10 million household TV cable boxes. The Does of the Is-Does may be best described by co-founder and CEO of Samba TV, Ashwin Navin: “We think that more data will allow brands to reach more people they care about and waste less of their media budgets.”

    This bulls eyes the famous John Wannamaker quote “I know half my advertising is working, problem is I don’t know which half.” Samba TV may not corral the missing half, but it will start to get close.

    Nice to see IPG getting back up on the horse again. It’s good for business. Peace!

     

    Advertising Generics

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    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!

    Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

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    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!  

    Paper the Walls.

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    Many years ago I learned a trick about advertising from Brendan Ryan, president of FCB/Leber Katz, in NYC. One day he asked the AT&T Network Systems account team to paper the walls with the current campaign. The headline for each as we “Are You Ready.” Network Systems sold the 5E switches to phone companies that powered American communications. So paper the walls we did.

    Mr. Ryan walked around the plush conference room reading sub-heads, looking at visual and dashing through copy here and there. He pointed to campaign outliers and confirmed what he thought to be the idea. Neat trick. Neat way to level-set the idea.

    Fast forward 25 years to an era when communications manifest across more channels than we ever perceived, some with control, many with none. If you were to paper the walls with the myriad comms we generate today, you’d have a messy, messy room. A walk around that room  would remind you why an “organizing principle for product, experience and messaging” is critical. Otherwise known as a brand strategy.

    So me droogies, paper your walls with your internal and external comms and see what-ith you spew-ith into the consumer realm.

    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.

     

    Coming soon. Mass Communications Atomize.

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    There’s a nice piece in the NYT today by Farhad Manjoo about the evolution of luxury apps to apps that end up being affordable over time once scale is created. One example cited is Munchery, who with enough orders and resources, hopes to deliver healthier food to consumers close to the cost of junk food. Ish. The ability for scale to reduce cost is a promise of the interwebs.

    In this world, we resource and massify what is produced, yet individualize what is delivered. At scale. Logistics, as Uber likes to say, is a nice living.

    Mass communications have for decades been produced and sold in bulk. Direct marketing tried to individualize, but really only segmented. The creators of advertising have never really tried to individualize marketing communications, yet today data collection and analysis and digital content are bringing us many steps closer. The individualized creative product is still pretty awful and way too expensive. Even at retail, belly to belly selling is static; a couple of selling points used for every customer.

    We have a long way to go. With new tools like NFC (check out the promise of Invisible Media) and single user identifier not too far away, personalized selling will improve greatly. Then, so will creative. Ad agencies will have to become more fluid.

    As this happens selling will atomize – and brand strategy become more important. An organizing principle for a brand built upon what a product does well and what a customer wants most, will be the only staple.

    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!