Tuesday, January 31, 2017

When did we decide that everybody on earth was 28 years old?

I was judging at an advertising awards show last weekend and, if this is what such shows have come to, I don't think I want to do it anymore.

Best In Show went to a Tumblr campaign.

I gave it a high score in its category, but was outvoted when it came to the Best In Show determination. Sure, the posts were funny and well-written and the occasional animated GIFS were clever, but I had – and am still having – a hard time considering something like that the best bit of "advertising" in the show.

"Not everybody on earth is 28 and follows Tumblr," I said.

"But look at the target for (it was a fast-food outlet)," they said.

"Correct," I said. "Are they all on Tumblr? The older end of that group (I resisted saying "the adults") aren't necessarily spending that much time on Tumblr."

And so it went.

At one point, one of the other judges reminded me that "it's 2017," as if an Old Guy like me should just shut up and go off in a corner and die and stop getting in the way. Well, I looked it up – remember, this was a fast-food outlet (in 2017, don't forget that). It seems that 55% of fast-food spending is done by people older than 45 and 38% by folks over 55. And nearly 10% by folks over 75.

The older set isn't as technically ignorant as millennials would like you to believe, but that still sounds to me like a target in which anywhere from 10% to 55% aren’t the sort to go through the day with their noses buried in their smart phone checking Tumblr. Or Instagram, Pintrest, Facebook, Twitter or something else.

But like I said, I was outvoted and went back to the hotel for a couple of belts of Geritol while a Tumblr campaign was named Best In Show in an advertising awards show.

Friday, June 17, 2016

A short, personal rant

A while back, I was scanning the website of a local agency and noticed their "specialty" page - a page that listed no fewer than 15 things, from advertising to events to PR and everything in between.

Nobody does everything best. Or even well. Which is why we limit what we do to creative thinking and Brand Development. We know lots of people who (each doing one thing and doing it well) help us out when we need PR, web site coding, events, SEO and all the rest.

But it really, really, really honks me (personally - me, Woody Hinkle) when I hear about some firm offering to take on things that are out of their arena. I hear of design studios taking on radio commercials for clients, of PR firms doing advertising, of web design firms doing Brand Development and - most recently - social media companies offering to handle PR.

A social media company can't do PR as well as a PR professional. A design studio can't do radio (which is an audible, not visual, medium) as well as an ad agency. A web design firm can't do Brand Development as well as a Brand Development firm. And a PR firm can't do advertising as well as an ad agency.

Think about it a minute. Nobody can perform a secondary or tertiary skill as well as their primary skill. That's why there IS a primary skill.

OK, I feel a little better.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Over and over and over and over and again and again and again

It's the Pepsi Generation for . . . whatever


You've seen a billion of them. TV spots for everything from cars to phones to beer to vodka to  . . .  jeeze, probably even to long-term disability insurance.
They feature millennials just having so much fun as they run around, drive around, race around in the city, the country, on the beach, at a bar or at a party. They're quick cuts with lively music as they love their phones, their beer, their cars, their whatever else and  . . .
And they're repetitive and unoriginal. 
Our friend Lyn Thompson used to say back in the 70's that this sort of thing was "The Pepsi Generation for (product name goes here)."
There are two things about this that are kind of embarrassing. One is that they are for national brands who can't seem to find an agency with much in the way of original thought.
The other is that they run together so much and are so much one to another that it's hard to remember a specific or two.Which kind of seems to be the antithesis to advertising.Call me old-fashioned, but I never thought that the idea was to do ads and spots like everybody else's ads and spots.

Anybody can do that.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The worst commercial I have seen in weeks

This is absolutely dreadful.

I'm not going to believe that the target audience is that stupid.

Friday, April 29, 2016

People who ruin it for everybody

People who ruin it for everybody

Whatever business you are in, there is always somebody who wrecks it for the rest of us and gives everybody a bad name.

Yesterday, I got an e-mail from someone who is selling new-business coaching.  He had what he said was a sure-fire way to get a better return on new-business approaches. It was an e-mail. One that went more or less like this:

"Dear _________,

I haven't heard back from you in response to the e-mails I have sent and the voice messages I have left . . . "

Well, that's as far as that has to go, right?

I get those kinds of e-mails a lot and I have to be honest, I hate that I have to take the time to send a "no, thanks" e-mail to someone clearly too stupid to get the message that the fact that I haven't responded to any of their e-mails of voice messages just might mean I don't have any interest in having a conversation. But I just don't have the time to respond to everybody who sends me a note. But now, the only way to get them to stop is to mark it spam or (sigh) reply. 

In a very real sense, I am answering them when I don't answer them. Look, we deal with the same thing in our new-business efforts. People don't respond to our outreach, We get it. We just don't feel the need to keep up an annoying assault.

Sorry for the long lead-in, but talking about that with Karen this morning, she commented that people who run bad e-mail programs ruin the tool for everybody else. Ain't it the truth.

Let's define bad e-mail programs. Choose as many of the following as you like and feel free to add your own. Too many, poorly done and hard to read, of little real value to anybody, keep coming even after you try to unsubscribe, irrelevant . . .  I could go on, and so could you.

Point is, it's really a shame when someone pees in the pool and ruins everybody's afternoon. Here are some other examples:

Agencies that respond to RFPs that ask for spec work . . .  with spec work.

Radio stations that produce radio spots on the cheap.

Television stations that produce television spots on the cheap.

Ad agencies that talk clients into self-indulgent creative that doesn't work.

Social media agencies focused on things like Facebook likes and numbers of Pinterest posts, regardless of whether or not that actually serves any real purpose for the client.

(And speaking of Facebook) companies that who clutter their Facebook page with specials and offers and give readers a whole bunch of no reason at all to stay interested.

I suppose I could go on. But I got it out of my system.

And I feel better now.

Monday, April 25, 2016


Nobody likes budget development.
So let's talk about budget development.

One reason budget development for hotels and resorts is often such a headache is  because of starting at the wrong end. With tactics.

If you start with a list of tactics and assign costs next to each one, you will almost always end up with more than you can afford. Do you start with a list of "things to do" like advertising, PR, SEO, PPC and so on and simply put a cost next to each one? Let's re-think that. Don't just start with last year's tactics.

Start with goals and expectations instead. Be clear in your mind what your goals and expectations are. Build occupancy? Increase rate? A little bit of both? Or just maintain and not lose any ground?

We've put a thought-starter spreadsheet in the Thinking section of our website that can help you determine a budget level – and you'll see how having goals in mind can help you settle on what that budget figure ought to be. This worksheet lets you play around with different revenue goals and budget scenarios.

The point is, have your goals and expectations and a budget figure all lined up. Now you can think about tactics. But this way, you're looking at which tactics will help you reach that goal the most cost-effectively.

You still may find that they don't all fit within your budget. But at least this way, you have some parameters with which to evaluate and prioritize those efforts and determine which will bring you the best return. That's good.

And one reason it is good is that it might force you or whomever you work for to examine exactly how serious you are about your goals. If you have aggressive goals, but aren't willing to apply aggressive resources to them, well then, the whole budgeting exercise can seem a bit pointless.

If you've approached this the right way – setting goals and expectations first, then setting your budget figure, then prioritizing the tools you need to reach those goals and you simply can't get there from here, it's time to go back and re-think your goals or your budget. That spreadsheet makes it pretty easy to do either one.

This is a big topic that could go on forever, so we posted a downloadable paper in the "Thinking" section of our website with more on it. Help yourself.

But if you're like many in the hospitality industry, when budget season comes around you are asked to do more with less. This might be a business-based argument to take to the CFO.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Like me or spend money with me?

What's the actual goal here?

OK, so we're the creative agency for a warm-weather resort client and Somebody Else does the social media. Right now, it's cold as hell in the Northeast, but, of course, toasty warm at the resort property.

So, the client wants to get some Facebook ads placed right quick pointing this out to their target.

OK now believe it or not, Facebook has different ad specs if you want to drive business to your website and if you want to generate page likes.

We sort of assumed the goal was to drive people to the website. You know to, um, well book a room? The social agency patiently explained to us that their goal is to generate page likes, so we need to re-size the ad.

So, to repeat: It's cold where the target lives, warm where the resort property is and rather than try to get people to visit the web site to book a room our goal is to generate page likes?

That might make the social agency look good, but isn't the ultimate point here to sell rooms?

What am I missing?