Ogilvy

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Ogilvy launched a new ad campaign and idea for IBM yesterday. And in Ogilvy fashion it was big. Big media, big idea, big investment. The campaign idea is Cognitive Business. Copy pays of the claim with “A new era or technology. A new era of business. A new era of thinking.” The platform is IBM Watson, the mega computer that attempts to rival Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories biggest iron. The specific products are 28 APIs (application programming interface) that can be built into one’s digital business to crunch numbers that deliver insights and new processes….drum roll please…to create solutions for a smarter planet.

Campaigns come and go, a powerful brand idea is indelible.

Cognitive Business is Solutions For a Smarter Planet writ small. Same idea, new creative envelope. More productized envelope. To me it feels like an idea IBM marketing directors can more easily cozy up to. Cognitive Business is a little advertising retro but a strong evolution.

Brand ideas work best when combining “what customers want most” with what “the brand does best.” The most effective ideas, however, always favors the consumer. This idea and its support planks feels a bit too IBM focused: cloud, infrastructure, security. But it’s only day 2 let’s give it a chance. Glad to see some movement around Watson. Peace.

PS. Two really great TV ads here and here.

 

 

 

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You knew I would.  Weigh in on the new Dove campaign that is.  I love the idea of this campaign, which is to redefine what is beauty. The latest tactic in this evolving effort revolves around asking women to describe their faces to an artist, sight-unseen.  A friend is similarly asked to describe the same person to the artist and a comparison of the drawings is made. The research shows women being much harder on themselves and their features than are their friends.

The first iteration of the campaign, begun in 2005, showed a number of smiling and confident women in white underoos. The women stretched 6 or 8 across showed a variety of body types, few of which you would find on the cover of Women’s Health or Cosmo.  The women’s skin, however, was amazing. (An endemic brand quality.)  This new campaign is an evolution of the so-called “real beauty” campaign and it’s important, but I’m not sure it is killing as a soap selling idea. It’s likeable. Heady. Emotional. And a great message.  Without the linkage to creating cleaner skin, though, used long term it may prove to be an opportunity lost.  

I wouldn’t be surprised if Dove is selling well and this campaign kick starts some retail movement.  People may fall in love with the message and appreciate the brand by proxy. But should those same women find a soap that has qualities more agreeable to their skin and cleaning ability, this social statement about beauty will remain appreciated and important — but not necessarily a motivator for purchase.  I suggest sticking with the “real beauty” idea Ogilvy, but find an endemic product quality to illuminate. Peace.   

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There’s an interesting article in The New York Times today on the growth and viability of programmatic ad exchanges – algorithm based, bidding based systems that finely tune ads to consumer behavior.  A buyer of hiking boots might be found on a bowling site, for instance, rather than a bird watching site at a more effective price and click-through, so implies the analysis.

It’s science folks. 

Anyway, if online media is getting more predictive, tied to behaviors and data trails, then it stands to reason creative will follow. Here’s a prediction: advertising production is going to flip in the coming years.   The big TV shops from holding companies will have fewer creatives than will be found at didge shops.  Makers of shorty, bursty digital ads have long been seen as less glamorous than those who create high production videos and network :30s and that may not change.  But banners and towers and leaderboard and whatever is next will become more creative and effective – it’s evolution baby. And the need for more units, especially those tailored to the algorithm’s finding, will generate exponential leaps in the need for creative resources at digital shops.  Creative will never be algo based, though it will be tried. So the jobs won’t be replaced by the machine — not here. 

The tipping point for when creatives at digital shops outnumber those at the BBDOs, Ogilvys and Greys is coming.  I bet it will happen by 2016. Peace. 

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/16/business/media/automated-bidding-systems-test-old-ways-of-selling-ads.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1353068830-60ilVThvwJh1tC+hjCjt9A&_r=0

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It used to be that a brand planner or strategist could easily sway corporate officers as to the need for a brand plan – or at least a campaign idea – by taking all company ads and pinning them to the wall.  For good measure one could display brochures, direct mail and other printed pieces. 

Today, the biggest culprit in creating brand disharmony, especially true at small and midsize companies, is the video.  In this social media age, most agree – and you heard the drum beat at Advertising Week in NY the last 4 days – visual selling through video is more engaging and powerful. 

The problem stems not so much from the quality of the videos, e.g., editing, audio, effects, it’s the content.  It meanders. It is not blocked out in serial, logical chunks.  With ads, if you didn’t have a tight strategy you called Ernie the montage artist. With a loose video, you just rely on fast cuts and louder music.

So who is making these videos?  Mostly, it’s inexpensive freelance, 20 something, fresh-out-of college kids with iMacs.  One such young man, who is more than capable, said he’d been to many meetings with large agencies like Ogilvy, where he was instructed to “just do something that gets noticed, that goes viral.”  No direction, no brief.  This is not how big agencies normally operates, but at those agencies on the digital creative side, it happens more than you might think.  As for smaller shops, or in-house marketing departments it’s even worse.

Marketing videos need to do a job but they also much convey a positive, organized brand imprint. With half of marketing videos either case studies or tutorials, brand strategy has a way of slipping away. Branding is always on. Approving videos without a brand planning oversight — and it happens thousands of times a day — is like writing bad checks.  So executive, turn down the lights in your conference room, fire up the interactive projector and start watching all your vids. Then ask yourself what are they trying to say about the company?  Peace.

 

 

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As a student of B2B advertising and someone who has made a nice living helping corporations sell technology, services, even processes, I am amazed by how few marketing promises are served up in the tech space.  SAP will be the latest such company with a new campaign built around the word “Run.”  Ogilvy does the work, and I suspect it will look much the same as its IBM “Smarter Planet” work.  One headline from the new SAP campaign is “Run 10 years of numbers in seconds.”  A smart brand planner at BBDO once said to me good planning is about poetry, and there is very little poetry in this type of tech advertising – but there are lots of bucks in it.

I’ll tell you what makes companies and countries and planets smarter: Education.  Teachers. School administrators who love their jobs.  Technology people in inner cities who mine garbage bins to find PCs for students. Parents who care more about their kids educations than watching “Family Guy.”  Education moves societies. It moves cultures.  Software is nice. Hardware is nice…but it won’t stand in front of a bullet to save your life. People will.

Education is a right in America.  Now let’s make great education a right.  If we get great education right, we don’t have to worry about “clean technology” and porous borders and religious zealotry.  Peace.

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Ogilvy is a great advertising agency.  Always has been.  It loves big ideas, big productions and big brands.  Lately, it has made a name for itself on services companies.  Other than American Express and IBM, I’m not quite sure what accounts they have – which is my bad, but partly theirs. 

IBM’s “Solutions for a smarter planet” was a big idea. Already well entrenched with big businesses on the hardware, software and services (consulting) side, IBM decided that rather than grow by increments, it would focus on large-scale advances targeting countries and industries.  That’s some enchilada stuff, there.  “Solutions for a smarter planet” helped IBM take on the planets ills (traffic, energy, food) and showcase some future technology.  By going big, it covered small (corporate) and positioned IBM as vendor of choice for massive overhauls.

Then the economy tanked. And companies started having a difficult time making payroll. And saving the planet lost a bit of luster.  Rather than returning to an advertising idea that supported product and services sales, IBM tasked Ogilvy with keeping revenue up by evolving the idea — the planet will be back at some point (knock wood).  Enter “I’m an IBMer, I’m an IBMer.” For the purposes of continuity (agencies are big on that) the campaign is tagged with “solutions” but focuses on smart employees.  Mistake.  It milks a campaign idea that is no longer the business idea.  Like the Microsoft Bing work that straddled two ideas “information overload” and “decision engine,” IBM is pushing an unclean idea.

Come on Ogilvy, bring on the new work – the new idea. Peace!

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Advertising agencies have allowed themselves to become commoditized.  In product marketing there are luxury goods, mid-priced challengers and bargain goods, but in the agency business everyone is more or less priced the same. 

Sure, if you hire BBDO or Ogilvy your top line creative people will be more expensive than someone from the no-name middle tier but you get what you pay for and after a year or so the profitability equation seeps in and both type of shops meet in the middle. The commoditized middle.

This is because ad agencies sell labor and stuff (pictures, video, writing, music and coding).  The valuable part – strategy – more often than not is given away.  Strategy and creative win new business but brand strategy often disappears after the contract is signed leaving creative to carry the day.  At that point middle-managers-on-the-rise start to take control.  And tactics take over. That’s when air starts seeping out of the balloon.  Tactics are commodities in the ad business. Apple wouldn’t put up with this. 

What’s the way out?

Ad agencies need to strengthen their commitment to strategy over tactics. They need to build incentives into their contracts tied to the strategic product.  If a client approves work that is off strategy, the client should have to fund a kicker to the fee. A – because it will cause more work.  And B – because the work will be off-piste.  Campaigns come and go…and that’s okay.  But brand strategy should not. Agencies known for their strategic work will emerge from the commodity slurry. Peace!   

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UnitedHealthcare (one word) is an insurance company with 78 thousand employees serving 70 million Americans. Those are some big numbers. And big numbers are what drive the company’s current advertising campaign. “Health in numbers” is the idea. With lots of data in hand and lots of analysts managing its output, the promise to consumers is an improved healthcare experience. That’s the micro promise; the macro promise is “we’re huge and can offer better insurance pricing.”

I’m pretty sure Ogilvy is the ad agency for UnitedHealtcare and, sadly, the ads are forgettable. Today there’s one in The New York Times showing a 60-something man riding a motorcycle with a flurry of animated numbers flying in his wake. That’s the visual idea. I know this advertising is targeting number crunchers in corporate America more than patients, but this is high school stuff. The copy in the ad is focused on “knowledge in numbers” and how data records can prevent contra-indicated medicines from being administered to patients, so as a brand student I can see there’s a plan here. The other brand planks are: strength in numbers, humanity in numbers and comfort in numbers. (Okay, I didn’t say a good plan.)

Here’s my diagnosis: Good strategy, not so good creative, poor client brand management. I’m betting the work was the product of a team of clients that couldn’t agree and therefore went with a hodgepodge, duct taped effort. The revenue was there for Ogilvy, the B team delivered a product, and the agency will live to see another campaign year. Maybe.

Ogilvy is better than this. And a company that can analyze data in a way that can save lives, is better than this. Peace!

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Social Media and Social Marketing have caused me today to alter the creative brief format I’ve used for over 15 years.  I borrower it from McCann-Erickson in the 90s, added a cherry and started cranking.  The original brief was written, I suspect, by Peter Kim, then the top strategy and biz-dev dog at McCann.  Mr. Kim has since passed, RIP.

The part I changed this morning had to do with the “Living Breathing Target.” Living Breathing connoting more of a behavioral look at the target than demographic — part of the secret sauce.  Today, the brief loses the “t” word and gains the word “customer”.  I debated using “prospect” but chose not to because as someone smart once said about marketing “nothing happens until someone buys something.”

In the social marketing world target is almost militaristic. Site and fire.  But the best marketers don’t view people as targets; they see them as buyers, users, and experiencers. Now, I’m sure you can read an Ogilvy or BBDO position paper from the 60s and get the same shtick, and good shtick it was, but here’s the social media twist.

While most social media agents today tell you the consumer is in charge, they ‘re wrong. They will tell you there needs to be a dialogue, and in in this case they are right. Marketing is no longer solely about broadcast and transact; there is a new bidirectional requirement. Consumers have a POV and they often log on and share it.  But consumers should not be left undirected with their points of view. They need to be herded. And herded around brand planks and brand values.

Customer feedback is not a plank. Price and coupons are not planks. Engagement is not a plank. The job of the marketer and his/her agent today is to find the brand building qualities of a product or service, organize them, package them and socialize them.  Targeting is passé. Peace!

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Media planning and buying has always been about the “Who.”  Demographics, psychographics and, lately, socialgraphics or the social graph are part of the Who science.  Buying the Who used to be done on a cost per thousand basis and now can be done on a cost per click basis.  Buying the Who is still big business.  But the web has become so pervasive in our lives, so instrumental in all areas of marketing – from product research to ratings and recommendations all the way to the actual purchase – that the Who is not as important as the “What.”  What are consumers doing? What tools are they using to ready themselves for purchase. Where the consumer is along the purchase continuum and where they intersect with choice-influencing content is beginning to trump the old reach and frequency model.

The What vs. Who approach is much more experience focused, looking at the lifecycle of a purchase decision and inserting selling content at key waypoints of the journey. It’s a new way of selling and it is changing the business of the JWTs, BBDOs and Ogilvys of the world.  All aboard!  Peace.

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