Monday, October 29, 2007

Trash advertising and great graffiti

I don't know whether the clothes are any good, but as far as American Apparel ads are concerned, for some time now I've been in the of "why are they so hell bent on dehumanizing women"? camp.

The ad above left is fairly typical of the crap they run. Ahhhh, but the shot on the RIGHT shows the reaction of someone in New York's Lower East Side to a billboard.

Love it.

(If you can't read it, the handwritten part rsays: "Gee, I wonder why women get raped.")

Friday, October 26, 2007

Baseball, Tacos, Cars and Lipitor

Like some of you, I’m staying up way too late watching the Series. A couple of things make it worthwhile.

One is those Malibu commercials with the woman who keeps running into a parked car while jogging and the bank robbers who are ignored by the cops. They aren’t the highest-concept spots I’ve ever seen. The “Soon, there will be a car you can’t ignore” line is kind of ordinary and the VO doesn’t blow me away, but there is something about these spots that just makes me laugh every time. More memorable than most car commercials you see.

The other thing that cracks me up is when this or that particular segment of the game is sponsored by both Taco Bell and Lipitor. Lipitor is a medication for controlling cholesterol. One kind of thinks that fewer tacos might help too.

And speaking of Taco Bell, just how cool is it that everybody in America gets a free taco (between 2 and 5 p.m. on October 30) because Jacoby Ellsbury stole a base last night? Taco Bell was the company that, a few years ago when the Mir satellite was going to crash land in the ocean, floated a big target out in the Pacific somewhere with a “hit it here and everybody in the world gets a free taco” promotion. Smart, clever folks over there.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

On The Road

I’m a Virginia-to-Maryland transplant. That gives me permission to say that I think the road-side political sign placement in Northern Virginia has gotten totally out of control.

But since I live in Maryland, it doesn’t really affect me so much. So why bring it up at all? Because, as we drove to a client meeting in Virginia yesterday, it occurred to us that those median strips covered with signs are a great analogy for media advertising and a great way to illustrate why a good, attention-getting ad will pull better than one that looks like all the rest. This is a real-life show of what ad people mean when they talk about “cutting through the clutter.”

Take a ride out Rt. 50 in Fairfax. Tell yourself that median strip is a publication. Which signs will you remember? Probably, the biggest ones and the ones that appear the most frequently. In other words, the ones where they spent the most "media" money.

If you pay for fewer signs (that is, “spend less on media”) and attract the same or more attention aren’t you ahead of the game? I think so.

And isn’t that where creativity comes in?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Nothing like Jack on a Friday.

Posted yesterday on AdFreak, this is pretty funny. If you're a writer or know any, that is.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

This is an amazing spot.

It's an AIDS awareness spot Leo Burnett France did.

In case you don't read French, the line is "
Every 10 seconds, someone dies of AIDS in the world. Protect yourself."

Be sure you have the sound turned on.

(P.S. Ignore the "click to play" at left. That's just on the image I grabbed from the site where the thing actually is. Wait until you get there to click to play.)

This is your idea? Really?

This may be old news at this point, and for that I apologize. But I just ran across this ad for Converse in a copy of the New York Times Spring men’s fashion issue I’ve had lying around for reference.

Here’s the thing. You’ve got a client like Converse, a classic brand. A cool factor that’s off the charts. You’ve got a New York Times fashion magazine as your canvas – and your very best idea is a photo of two people who (snicker, snicker) look like they are having stand-up sex in a public park with a headline that (giggle, snort) sounds like a dirty word. Whoa, dude. Like, totally awesome creative.

I imagine the creative team were all pretty pleased with themselves and thrilled that they “got away” with coming this close to showing and saying “fuck” in an ad.

This passes for an idea? I mean, I’ve been known to f***ing drop the f-bomb freely. It’s not that. It’s the stupid, cheap f***ing joke here that pisses me off. They had an opportunity to do something good and f***ing blew it.

Is the target for Converse a universe of people who will identify more strongly with the brand because of this Beavis-and-Butthead approach? Really?

Some years ago, Jeff Kidwell of the late, lamented AudioMaster started a monthly get-together of creative people called Last Tuesday. Sadly, it died, but one evening we were doing group concepting on a pro-bono campaign for a charity organization. One team came up with a headline that said “Hey career bitch, cough up $25.” When someone asked Mark Greenspun of Adworks what he thought, his response was along the lines of “it’s easy to just do something shocking.” That applies here.

Point is, if you have a client like Converse and the smartest thing you can come up with is “Get Chucked”, you need to get out of the business. And so should your CD. Obviously I wasn’t privy to the brief or any of the meetings, so maybe there is something here I don’t know, but I can’t imagine what it might be or why they went with this. Where were the clearer heads? Where were the adults?

I have no idea why the girl in the ad is spitting a stream of water. Use your imagination, I guess. (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, knowwhatImean?)

Friday, October 5, 2007

A little diversion on a Friday afternoon

A working lunch debating a branding project and I come back and, naturally, check out the copyranter blog to see what's important. And I found a link you might enjoy.

Nonsense, a boutique British agency is asking The World at Large to vote on the creative concept for their new web site.

Go here and vote

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Get yo'self a Lisa.

We had a great client experience yesterday. We love all our clients, of course, but reality is, just like we do things that drive them nuts now and again, they do things that drive us nuts. Sometimes. (No, not you, I mean all those other clients.)

But yesterday with Lisa was pretty fabulous. We’re working on a branding project for a clothing company and we’re doing some phone and in-person interviews with the top marketing people. You know, to get their initial takes on strengths, weaknesses, the competitive arena -- like that. And that's what Lisa is -- one of the top marketing executives.

So it was basically, “let’s talk about the most critical essential truth of [the company]”. Then we just sat back and wrote as furiously as we could, because this woman had it down.

She knew what we were looking for; she was colorful and poetic; she was candid, funny, insightful and, for all intents and purposes, answered our questions before we even asked them. She got it.

In a Previous Life, before I saw the light, I did some time as a newspaper reporter. And the kind of person I always liked interviewing best was somebody like Lisa. Ask a question and get ready to write it down.

People like Lisa make our jobs easier and make the end product so much better. No one-word answers. No having to draw it out of them. No guessing at what they think or what’s important.

So you kids at home thinking about going into the advertising business? Here’s a tip when it comes to finding clients: Get yourself a Lisa.

You've been there. You know you have.

This video is currently making the rounds on various advertising blogs. I got it on adfreak. It's a video that was shown at the Hatch Awards in Boston. It's a focus group test of the classic "1984" Apple commercial. Somehow, they found people who hadn't seen or heard of the thing and ran it past them.

It, um, didn't do well. And that's about 75% of what you need to know about focus-group testing creative.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Hold on a sec. How much is that by the minute?

I’m a little behind on my reading, so I just caught up with a great piece in the September 24 Ad Age – “Agencies Must Wake Up To A Different Business Model”.

There’s a lot in there – like compensation, revenue streams, outsourcing and social responsibility -- and I’d suggest anybody in the agency business read it. But one thing I especially agreed with was writer Avi Dan’s take on compensation. “Instead of compensating agencies fairly based on their contribution to wealth creation for their clients,” he writes, “clients [have] adopted labor as the metric for evaluating the contribution intellectual property has on wealth creation.”

As much as I have long been an advocate of paying agencies based on the value of their work rather than the time it takes to do it, I’ve never really taken the next step and expressed it quite as well as Dan has. That is, the value of our contribution to wealth creation for clients. Read that last part again: “wealth creation for clients.” What we really do is generate and apply intellectual property to build value, not just spend X-number of hours. It would be pretty terrific if more clients were on board with the concept. (But shame on us for letting it get to this point, I suppose.)

Dan goes on: “ Most intellectual-property wealth creators, whether they are Steven Spielberg . . . or Georgio Armani, don’t fill out time sheets and don’t get compensated based on how many hours they toil, but on the basis of the value that their artistry creates.”


See the whole article at Ad Age online.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Call it filler if you want . . .

A couple of thoughts have been rolling around in my head.

This: I know it’s kind of old news, but still I think it’s great that Qorvis/+SmithGifford got the Virginia Lottery account, breaking the stranglehold that middle- and southern-Virginia agencies have had for years.

That: I wonder why the DC Convention & Tourism group picked the local office of an international public relations firm to drive its marketing effort. Then again, these were the guys who picked a Baltimore agency a few years ago. With MDB and White & Partners both in the mix pitching that account, I know they could have gone with a local creative firm that would have done a great job.

But nobody asked me.