Monday, June 25, 2007

Mutts to Life

As far as I am concerned, the two greatest comic strips going are “Pearls Before Swine” and “Mutts.” Period.

One “Mutts” strip not long ago, made its way to my refrigerator at home. It’s a simple drawing of a dog and he’s saying that every animal but man knows that the whole purpose of life is to enjoy it.

Kind of puts your day in some sort of perspective, doesn’t it?

I don’t know whether or not the whole purpose of working in advertising is to enjoy it. But when it comes to life as it should be lived, I think I agree with that little dog.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Prospects and Clients and References

It’s not unusual for a prospective client to ask an agency for some references. But how frequently does an agency ask a prospective client for references? Probably not very often.

Are we afraid to offend a prospect by implying that we want to know more about them before we enter into a business relationship? Perhaps. But are we offended when they ask us for references? Of course not. In fact, we often suggest it. It’s just good business sense.

Before a client wants to trust us with their budget, their marketing success and their reputation, they’d like to have some confidence in us. In our creativity, our reliability, accountability and our personalities. Fair enough.

So it seems to make sense for an agency to want to know something about a client’s business manners, ethics, reliability and personality before we trust them with our reputations, our future and our talents.

One reason this can be difficult is that although any given agency has several clients, any given client will have only one agency, often while they are in the process of interviewing the successor. And that incumbent agency may or may not know that a change is about to happen. That means the one agency in the very best position to speak to a working relationship with a particular client is the only one you simply cannot ask.

What to do? All of us in the agency business have had a bad experience with a new client. One that could have been avoided if we’d just had a chance to chat with a previous agency or some sort of creative vendor who felt comfortable speaking freely. Sometimes, any particular agency/client relationship isn’t a match, for all sorts of good reasons. But a lot of time and money gets wasted – and feelings get hardened – because nobody knew it ahead of time. Both client and agency want a good working relationship.

Here’s what I think. For our part, we should be willing to ask a prospect to give us a few names we can talk to before we commit to the relationship. We should also be willing to be honest if called by someone about a former client of ours. “Honest” as in candid and forthcoming, but not taking the opportunity to go for any paybacks for any perceived bad treatment. We’ll tell it straight. Promise.

For any prospects who may be reading this, don’t be offended if we ask you for some names who can give us some background on you, even as we understand you can’t very well ask us to call your current agency. But maybe it’s a former employee, or a trusted media rep or designer you use outside of your agency relationship. Even your accounting firm can tell us what you’re like to work with.

At our place, we’re all about relationships. The agency business has to be. So it’s important to us that any relationship we enter into, we enter into with our eyes wide open. And with as much background as we can get. It just seems like before going into business with someone it’s important for all parties to be as informed as possible as to what could lie ahead.

Friday, June 15, 2007

OK. So maybe you're not into cyber-strippers . . .

You still have to admire the creativity here (via the copyranter blog). Flightpath Media, based in England, in England, installs humongous “ground billboards” under the approach paths at airports. This one under the approach path at Gatwick is 100,000 square feet, took eight people three days to complete and, according to the Flightpath will be seen by up to two million people in one month. Very, very, very cool.

We’ll be stealing this idea as soon as possible.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

This is some great advice.

It's been up for a while, but this is a great piece on American Copywriter about Creative. If you're a creative, read it. If you're a client, read it. If you're just an interested bystander, read it.

Read it.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Two ideas. One winner.

I don’t know about anybody else in this business, but one thing that just totally honks me off is a wasted opportunity. And one thing that makes me think there is hope yet for this business is when somebody does something special.

Here’s one example: Bryant Air Conditioning. One of the most pathetically stupid, moronic commercials I have seen in ages. “Bryantman” in some idiot superhero costume defeating “Scorcher” who winds up in the kiddie pool after being foiled from assaulting Mr. and Mrs. Happy Homeowner’s Little House in the Suburbs. You know what? Whoever dreamed this up should be shot. And so should everybody along the line who approved it.

If you have an opportunity with a national client to sell air conditioners at the beginning of summer and this is the best you can, do I have five words for you. “Get out of the business.” You’re embarrassing yourself.

But here’s another example. Select Comfort has a mattress called “Dial a Number” that lets you adjust the firmness of the two sides of the thing. And the other night, we saw a spot where some guy and his dog are on the bed and he goes on and on about all the different numbers his different wives had and which one the dog a big dog has. He finishes with something about how his next wife will probably be someone with the same sleep number as the dog.

Inspired. A beautiful spot with a simple idea. No matter who you share your bed with, Select Comfort has you covered.

Bryant ought to fire their current agency and hire whoever it was that did this spot.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

I don't know how to react.

Should I hate these guys for doing such a crappy job and getting paid so much for it or admire them for getting paid so much for so little?

"These guys" being Wolff-Olins. Wolff-Ollins is a “Brand Consultancy” in England who did the hideous Olympic logo you see here. This is supposed to reflect the Olympic brand. Somehow.

It just looks like a mess to me. An amateurish, trying-too-hard-to-be-cool mess at that.

Here’s the sad part. The thing cost $800,000. That’s a good year for a small agency or design studio. I can think of two dozen studios, agencies and freelancers around here who could have done a better job.

Last time we did a logo it was some for somewhat less than $800,000.

Read more about it here.