Wednesday, April 30, 2008

But maybe there's a better one

This actually ran on a web site somewhere.

Just off the top of my head, I'd say that the positioning of the South Africa tourism ("It's possible") ad and the story about the guy who was killed by a shark is, gee, I don't know, what's the word . . . "unfortunate"?

(Found this on Adrants today.)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Gimme one of those No-Name condos.

This is definitely not a good time to be selling condominiums.

At least not in Washington. But with a little foresight, many of the developers suffering out there right could have been doing better. All they had to do was develop their brand and use it.

Regardless of who’s doing the building or who’s doing the selling, as far as marketing is concerned, most condominium projects start at ground zero and go from there. Over and over. They start from scratch every time with nothing to commend the project except whatever totally unique brochures, advertising or promotions are done for that project. Each one has its own web site logo, signage ― even stationery.

There is no awareness for the developer, no brand equity, no nothing. To me, this is a whole lot of wasted effort and money, and completely disregards the relevance of who built the place. Most of the time, the only association with the developer is a logo at the bottom of the ad. And that logo usually is no larger than the “sales by” logo. Like that’s important.

I know of one developer who doesn’t even identify itself as the builder or developer. It’s just “Sales by XYZ”.

I think this is silly. Here are a few reasons why:

Strong brands allow for premium pricing over competitive products.

Strong brands give you protection against price wars.

Strong brands allow for greater new product success (as in new projects) because of the implied endorsement.

That’s for starters.

Seems to me that if you develop your brand as a quality developer of desirable condominiums and your target knows what you do and what you stand for, the sell for each of your projects gets a real running start, and you've got an edge over the competition.

The point is, condominium developers should lead with themselves first and the project second as in “you can believe in this project because you can believe in us, so whatever we do carries the quality that our brand is known for” then maybe they wouldn’t be reduced to running price-slashing ads now. When Nordstrom has a sale do they come across as desperate? If you believe in the Toyota brand doesn’t that belief extend to all of their models? If you like Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, aren’t you pre-disposed to try a new flavor they introduce? A brand is a powerful income-producing asset. But only if you develop it and use it.

It’s ironic that one of the most expensive purchases of your life isn’t built around a brand promise. You sure as hell know the brand of a car you buy. Or the coffee. Even toothpaste.

Of course, it’s not too late. Unfortunately things aren’t going to change in the next week or so.

It’s going to be a long hard summer in developer-world. A bit of brand development can make it easier, I’ll bet.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A New Year's Resolution justified

I knew that resolving to read Seth Godin's blog every day was worth something. This is what it was worth today.

What he says about unfocused traffic coming to your web site is great. It's something we've said before, but I like the way he says it better.

I love the term "unfocused intent".

Thursday, April 24, 2008

And another thing . . .

A while back, I put up a something about how a tag line is not your brand. And my earlier post today kind of made me want to expand that further. Here goes:

A tag line is not your brand. (We covered this already.) But neither is a logo, corporate color, font, advertising or graphics standards.

Your brand is a promise. A unique claim of distinction that is supported by evidence of performance.

A brand is an asset. It can keep customers from considering the competition, help you get premium pricing, help you recruit employees, help get new products accepted . . . and all kinds of other stuff.

Brand development is the discovery of a brand’s distinction. Branding is tactical delivery of the brand message. This is where things like colors, advertising, fonts and the logo come in. But in and of their own personal selves they are most certainly not your brand.

(And while we’re at it, “over” and “more than” do not mean the same thing. There’s a big difference between “ensure” and “insure”. And for God’s sake stop confusing “it’s” and “its”.)

Meanwhile, this blog has impossibly rigid design guidelines.

I’m really not exactly sure which side of the fence I’m on when it comes to identity standards.

I’ve seen guidelines as simple as a few pages and I’ve seen them bound in massive volumes. I’ve come across some that made sense and some that make none.

(One that makes no sense to me is Hershey Resorts. One mandate is that “Hershey” and the different property names are always CAPITALIZED and another is that you always have to have the ® immediately after the “Y” if you use the word “Hershey” alone. This means and I am not making this up that if the occasion arises, you are required to do this: “HERSHEY®’s”. But that's just my personal opinion and does not reflect any official position by Nasuti + Hinkle, its employees, subsidiaries or any of our relatives.)

Then again, I’ve been in a situation where three people from the same company handed me three totally different business cards for no good reason. And I’ve seen logos so misused that somebody ought to be hung out to dry. Honest, I understand how identity standards can help protect the value of a brand. But let’s live in reality.

I’ll buy you lunch if you can show me one instance of someone not doing business with a company because they stacked the logo in a narrow ad or, the company name was in white on a black background instead of black on a white background. Or how on earth the brand is compromised because the HOTEL HERSHEY® wasn’t all caps in an ad.

Like I said, I’m really not exactly sure which side of the argument I come down on when it comes to identity standards. Common sense, perhaps.

Which, I guess, usually leaves out all the lawyers.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

This has GOT to be a joke.

I have a couple of tattoos. One on my arm and one on my ankle. Nothing that shows if I don't want it to. And I like tattoos. But this is totally insane.

It has to be a joke. It can't be real.

Laptops Direct in the U.K. is offering to pay people to tattoo their logo on themselves. Fees range from 5,000 on the forehead to 100 for your leg.

This has to be a joke.

For one thing, would you want some loser who would PUT a tattoo on his forehead walking around with your logo?

This has to be a joke. It just has to.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Copyranter goes bye-bye

After nearly three years, The Copyranter blog has ceased to be.

Oh, it's still up and you can go "thumb through" the posts there, but he's not going to write it anymore. And it's a loss for anybody who liked to read funny posts about advertising. Dead-on posts, that is.

I don't know who "the copyranter" (left) really was, but it was one of only a few blogs I made a point of reading every day. Usually several times a day. "Irreverent" is putting it lightly.
His enemies were B.S. advertising (i.e. Ketel One), pretentious ad guys (he hated Donny Deutsch and Alex Bogusky equally), gratuitous sex (almost anything from American Apparel) and stupid real estate advertising (the list goes on and on). He was vulgar, outspoken, argumentative, cynical -- and right on the money damn near every time.

I was the guy who rounded up the judges for the D.C. Addy Awards this year, and I should have tried to get him. It would have been interesting at the very least. His take on What Advertising Should Be has a real purity to it. We had a client in the condo sales arena (who has since gone on to Better Things) who once said his goal was to do condo advertising that copyranter liked. I'm not sure that's possible.

So before Blogger takes it down, set aside any objections you may have to borderline pornographic vulgarity and check it out.

I would love to go have a beer with this guy.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Heard any good radio lately?

I heard one the other day -- for the Northern Virginia Clean Water Partnership. It’s a storm sewer in front of some guy’s house calling him up to complain about over-fertilization and uncollected dog waste. (“Hey Johnson, it’s me . . “) I love it. The casting and writing are terrific. It was originally produced for the Texas Commission on Water Quality.

Unfortunately, it’s a long stretch between water holes on the Radio Desert. Spots like this one pop up only now and again. The crap that assaults us on our way to and from work is usually somewhere between awful and terrible, amateurish and insulting, and a waste of time and a waste of money. I don’t know who writes this stuff or who approves it, but I know some good radio writers ― Ed Stern and Brian Klam come to mind ― and I’ll happily give you their phone numbers. And Clean Cuts is as good a production company as you’ll find.

You can do good radio. Honest. There is always some good radio in the local awards shows.

Maybe it’s because radio is relatively inexpensive and advertisers don’t want to invest in a quality spot. Or all the good copywriters down at the agency really want to do TV so they blow off radio. Maybe radio salespeople are really good at selling station produced stuff. Probably a bit of all three.

But the funny thing is, it seems to me that it would be in the best interests of everybody involved to run better (read it: attention-getting and memorable) spots.

Personally, I love radio. If I could, I’d do nothing else. Listening to this stuff ― and realizing that somebody got paid to do it ― is taking years off my life. So if you’re looking for a radio writer, I can find you one. Call me at 301-222-0010. That’s 301-222-0010. Don't forget -301-222-0010.

Operators are standing by.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

One of these you could actually do in DC.

That would be the one on the left, something I found on I Have an Idea. The other -- also from IHAI -- I don't know whether Metro or Union Station or anybody would going along with it.

But I like them both anyway.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

How to get Capone.

Fairly early in “The Untouchables” Sean Connery’s character, Officer Jim Malone, challenges Kevin Costner/Elliot Ness, demanding to know if Ness is willing to do “whatever is necessary” to get Al Capone.

And here’s how I think this relates to advertising. “Whatever is necessary” for the agency folk might mean anything from recognizing when somebody else's idea is better than yours to working the weekend or a late night just to Get It Right. It might mean finding a way to make a good idea out of a client mandate, rather than just bitching about what buffoons they all are.

For a client, it could mean actually listening to agency's ideas and thoughts about your product or programming, and involving them in something more than just "the advertising". It might mean pulling your pants up tight and taking a creative risk in search of big rewards. It might even mean telling the boss that his cousin/golfing buddy/brother/college pal’s agency just really isn’t Getting it Done.

But maybe for everybody it first means deciding whether we’re actually willing to do “whatever it takes” to succeed.

Or not.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Whoa dude! What a CONCEPT!

Duo to Launch Agency with a Twist

Digital advertising veterans P.J. Pereira and Andrew O'Dell caused a stir in the industry earlier this year when they left their senior posts at AKQA, then and still one of the hotter interactive ad agencies. Wednesday, they will announce plans to launch a new full-service agency.Messrs. Pereira, 34 years old, and O'Dell, 38, say the problem with most existing ad agencies is that they either have a traditional focus or a digital orientation.

Meanwhile, traditional ad agencies instinctively encourage marketers to buy television spots and print ads because that is what they are paid to produce, the two men say.

The two say their new San Francisco-based agency, Pereira & O'Dell, will offer clients both digital and traditional services, but won't sell them what they don't need. The company has secured $30 million in funding -- plus, the founders say, the prospect of an additional $70 million -- from Brazilian investment fund ABC International.


Tracy saw this release today.

Don't sell clients what they don't need! How radical! How innovative! How out-of-the-ordinary. Or is it? All I know is that here at N+H Central, we've always put what the client needs first. Always believed that if your only tool is a hammer every problem tends to look like a nail.

So I'm not sure these guys have come up with such a radical concept. At least it's not new to us. A pretentious release? Oh yeah. But an original idea? Nahhhhh.

But about that $30 million in funding . . .

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Honest to God, this is so cool, I may just throw up.

I found this work for Friends of the Earth on the always wonderful I Believe in Advertising site. If you go there to poke around, dwell on the Ambient & Outdoor section for a real reward.

If you can't read the copy on this even if you blow it up, it goes like this:

"The poster is blank with a clear sticky coating over the headline and visual. Over time, dust and dirty particles on the street get stuck on the poster, gradually revealing the message. In doing so, we let polluted air speak for itself." From JWT Hong Kong.

If I could come up with an idea like this JUST ONCE . . .

Monday, April 7, 2008

JITD is one year old today.

That’s 122 posts all told. Not including this one. Which would make it 123. I think.

In the past year, we’ve moved our office, hired a new art director, lost a client, got dissed by another, made several new friends and picked up a some nice accounts. Along the way, JITD has amused and entertained a few people, pissed off a few people and, with any luck at all, gave a few others something to think about now and again.

Or not. Maybe. I don’t know.

In any case, it's a great way to look like you're working.

Friday, April 4, 2008

This is a fun site.

Note to self: Never do a post just as you are getting ready to go home sick. If you do, you might have grievous errors like naming your post -- as THIS one was originally named until just now -- "a fin site" instead of "a fun site".

I'm better now. Thank you for your attention.

Classic Commercials TV4U.

Looking for that American Express commercial I mentioned in the previous post, I came across this site full of classic TV commercials. Obviously, not everything from the past is really "classic" (this probably ought to be called "Vintage Commercials"), but there are some spots there that would still work today.

Be sure to watch the old Pabst Blue Ribbon beer spot "starring" Jeff Daniels with Denzel Washington in a teeny little role (as the token black guy). Look under Classic Beer Commercials. Also check out the Anderson Soup spot.

Don't use the navigation at the top of the page -- the commercials are linked to the thumbnails.

Sort of like an old Amex Spot. But not really. But sort of.

This is a cool Visa spot by Saatchi and Saatchi.

It reminds me -- a lot -- of an American Express commercial years and years ago that featured a guy washing up on a beach with nothing but an Amex card. Haven't found it online yet, but I'll keep trying until somebody wanders in my office and tells me to do some real work.

Both do a good job of showing that you can get anything with the card. This one is probably a bit more original, although 25 years ago when the other one ran, it was probably considered "out of the box".

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

There is so much I don't understand.

Right now, this moment, what I don’t understand is why people spend perfectly good money to run a print ad, tv spot or radio spot but don't seem to want to have something worth reading, watching or listening to. I mean there is some really goofy stuff floating around out there.

Last I looked, they don’t give space or time away. So why not go to just a little more trouble and expense to get something good? You know, something that will actually work?

My guess is that there are people who a) don’t know the difference between good and not good, b) simply have a different standard of good and not good than I do or c) for some reason, don’t need the creative to actually accomplish anything.

Then again, as I’ve said before, I’m probably just an idiot. Besides, right now I have a headache.

So here’s a picture I took of the Cherry Blossoms at dawn today. And one of Alfalfa.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I'm not here today.

That’s because April Fool’s Day is a holiday at Nasuti + Hinkle, so we’re closed. I’m not even here. I slept late, went for a run, had a nourishing breakfast and then went back to bed for the rest of the day. I’ll be in tomorrow.

I love April Fool’s Day. April Fool’s Day was my first day on my own after I escaped the financial security of a corporate job. Seemed an appropriate date at the time. And in hindsight, I guess it was, but maybe not like I thought.

My friend from Fairchild Industries, Marlene Duvall, was born on April Fool’s Day. So was Karen’s uncle, Dana Nasuti. A few years ago, John Cassell, a friend of ours who is a wonderful remodeling contractor, waited at our house until we left for the day and then posted a VERY official-looking sign noting that our home had been rezoned for a duplex. It was great. Totally freaked out the neighbors. My friend Barbara Roybal used to go down to Dupont Circle and play the old money-on-a-fishing-line joke on people. We have a basket of old-fashioned hand-buzzers here for anybody who needs one. One day, we’ll start having April Fool’s parties again.

My buddy, photographer Carl Caruso, called this morning with a "new business lead". Contact name is "Meehoff, Jack". And in recognition of this day of days, I'm wearing a white Brooks Brothers, button-down shirt and tie. And if you know me at all, you can appreciate that.

Imagine. A whole day dedicated to nothing more than making people laugh.

Happy April Fool’s Day. Go do something silly.