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NYIT is running a new print campaign encouraging people to get into the hi-tech fields. A worthy undertaking indeed. The U.S. is falling behind the world when it comes to educating students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Especially women. So reminding students what lies ahead at colleges and universities that provide these programs is a good idea. Making fun of — no, insulting — people who work in retail, however, is not the way to do it.  Not cool. NYIT has used just such a ploy in its latest ads.

NYIT ads


The largest company in the world is Wal-Mart. NYIT makes fun of them. One of the most powerful brands on the planet is McDonald’s? NYIT makes fun of them. Not by name, by association. But more than just tweaking companies whose riches abound, NYIT makes fun of their employees. And that’s two clicks from vile. Fun is fun. A joke is a joke. Belittling hard workings employees in the retail business…not something a well-educated institution should be doing. Peace.


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Astoria Federal Savings is spending a million dollars plus in a new marketing push. They’ve renamed the bank Astoria Bank because, so the logic goes, removing references to the gub-ment will make them less villainous in the post subprime mortgage fiasco world. Adding to the bank’s bill is a new campaign about customer-centricity.

Rather than use a strategy person who goes into branches and does field work, perhaps making a recommendation or two about the customer experience,” Astoria turned to a copywriter. Someone, who clearly doesn’t get out of the building.

Here is a copy snippet from an ad today:

“Astoria is not your usual bank. We love what we do and we love who we do it for. And that makes a difference – one you’ll feel the moment you step into one of our branches or use our mobile app or bank online.” (Do you believe this claim? Do you really think one step into a branch will make a consumer feel differently? This is Santa Claus stuff.)

More copy:

“We’re not here to just hold your money and sell you products. We built this bank one conversation at a time. We take the time to get to know your story, so we can give you the right business or personal decision.”

This copy is all theory. Not a lick of practice. Not a lick of proof. I apologize to any and all writers, creative directors and bank approvers involved in writing this stuff (the radio is the same), but this blather is what gives the ad craft a black eye. People remember substance. People remember proof. People do not remember copy. Let’s go Astoria. Get out there and start mining proof.




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For my upcoming workshop “A marketing consultancy, behind the curtain,” I suggested yesterday that the best way to undergird a brand strategy is by asking 24 Questions. With questions answered about business economics, processes and financials we move on to more of a customer focus, the brand strategy. Brand strategy (one claim, three support planks) is a coming together of what “a brand does exceedingly well and what customers want most.” An organizing principle, if you will.

Marketing and branding more specifically, are about claim and proof. Disorganized proof is not the answer. And claim, claim, claim without a reason to believe is what today we call “badvertising.” So once the claim is found the heavy lifting is finding the proof to support it.  Proof not platitude.

There’s a questionnaire I use to get to the brand brief, some of which I will share at the workshop. Questions are designed for customers, C-level execs and salespeople. I also like to do windshield time with salespeople. Watching them sell and buyers buy. If not a B2B brand, I turn windshield time into retail store time and customer observation.

For other workshop goodies tune in tomorrow. Peace


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This has to be one of my favorite headlines ever typed (see bold.) Written would be an overstatement. The ad ran today in the Wall Street Journal and must have cost in excess of $100,000. I clicked though on the URL for giggles and the homepage was in another language. Quite fitting. 

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