Friday, June 27, 2008

Speed Dressing and Bronze Lyin'

There’s been a sort of a stink out there around Cannes, a big ad festival.

(This is a festival where all the big-agency executives go to party and whoop it up for a week or so celebrating big-budget advertising before coming back to lament about the state of the ad business today. But that’s another story.)

It seems that a Bronze Lion (no mean feat) was awarded for the JC Penney spot you see here. It’s a kind of funny spot, although I can’t for the life of me what the hell it has to do with JC Penney. The only thing is, JC Penney didn’t do it. Neither did Saatchi & Saatchi, their agency. Apparently it was created by a former Saatchi employee now at a joint called Epoch Films. I don’t know for sure if the damn thing even ran anywhere.

JC Penney and Saatchi & Saatchi both disavowed any involvement in the spot, and today I see in Ad Age that as a result of the brouhaha, Epoch requested that the entry be withdrawn, thus saving themselves and the festival the humiliation of having it taken from them. Good. As far as I’m concerned, Epoch ought to be banned from entering awards shows for a year or so. Not because the spot seems to promote teen sex, which is a stupid argument, but because the fact of the matter is, they cheated.

The sad thing is, in the overall, it was probably a good thing for Epoch. They will get business as a result.

Not that the spot didn’t deserve some recognition for creativity. Like I said, in its own non-related way, it’s funny. But because the proliferation of bogus ads like this ― created to win awards ― pisses me off.

Right about now there’s a debate in some parts of the advertising blogosphere about whether the spot is worthy or not. Many believe it is. “This is a lot better than the crap JC Penney usually does” is a typical ― and not inaccurate ― comment. And right about now, some readers of this blog are probably agreeing and think I’m an idiot.

But my view on advertising awards shows is that they are about advertising not art. And it goes beyond just thinking up something funny, shocking, cool, brilliant or innovative. It also means having have some relevance to the client and getting the client to go along with it.

Otherwise, as I said, it’s not advertising. It’s just art. Pure creativity. I believe strongly in both. But neither art nor meaningless creativity alone have any place in an advertising awards show. No matter how good it is. It should be about more than that.

Watch the spot. You’ll like it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

There were three of these, but I like this one best

Found this on AdOfDaMonth. Pretty cool idea from Berlin.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

This post may be e-mailed twenty'leven times

The local chapter of the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International really wants me to attend their “Mining for Virtual Gold on the Internet” presentation next week. I mean really.

Like “seven e-mails in the last two weeks about it” really.

There are also many, many photographers’ and illustrators’ reps who want us to know all about their clients. I know this because Jessica and I each get five or six e-mails every day from them.

Or used to. Whether it’s the HSMAI or a rep, a constant barrage of e-mails from the same people is only going to get me to opt out.

Many of the photographer and illustrator e-mails came to me via AdBase, a service that sells e-mail addresses. I can’t see that it’s useful, because they sell your name over and over and over to all kinds of people and you just get swamped with all sorts of often-irrelevant e-mails. I mean really. We’re a small agency in Bethesda, Maryland. How critical is it that I see the annual report work a shooter in Texas did recently? Besides I know how to contact a rep.

I finally contacted AdBase and unsubscribed to the whole damn thing. It just got to be too much. That defeats the purpose for everybody. Not only am I out in the cold as far as getting information from them is concerned, but also, they no longer have my ear. Or my eyes. Or whatever. I can’t really unsubscribe to the HSMAI list, because I want to know what’s going on. I just don’t want to know about it three times a week. I wish there was a “tell me once or twice and then leave me alone” option, but no such luck.

E-mail is a great marketing tool. We use it. In our case, we send out about one, single-page e-mail a month. Ideally, it’s one that people can read and absorb quickly and click through for more information if they want it. I wish more of our clients made better use of it. So I’m not saying you shouldn’t use it. You should. All I’m just saying is people, please ― show some restraint.

No matter how informative, witty, brilliant, controversial or freaking funny we may be, nobody wants to hear from us all the time. Even my sister doesn’t want to hear from me that much.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

If I buy Camaro can I get a case of beer too?

Ok, this is not a joke. Although the promotion ended May 31.

I ran across this little sales innovation on a blog called Church of the Consumer. Then I Googled it and discovered the source. Max Motors of Butler, Missouri. There I learned that "America loves free guns!"

Honest to God, I did not know that.

I'm not really to sure what to make of it, either. Except, I suppose that I feel one hell of a lot safer living in Bethesda, Maryland, than I would in, say, Butler, Missouri.

Car dealers, you gotta love 'em.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mum's the word

A friend of mine sent me a link to this spot on Huffington Post, but I also found it on YouTube. It's for Heinz Mayonnaise, and I think it's great. (The spot, I mean. I'm not a big mayonnaise fan. My Reason For Living puts it on -- erk! -- hot dogs. Tomatoes too.)

The ad is part of a campaign with the tag line, "Give your BLT a little NYC". The concept is, the product tastes so good "It's as if you have your own New York deli man in your kitchen.'"

Watch it as many times as you want; there's just no way the concept of a Deli Man works any other way.

I don't know who did it. Wish I did.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

He's got MY vote

Just when I was looking for something to put on the blog, a fun-loving client sent me this.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Good morning. What the hell do you want?

Ever call Jet Blue?

I have. Even though it’s a mostly-Internet kinda thing, there are times when you need to talk to a human. And every time I have, it’s been a great experience. They are helpful, engaging and friendly. You can hear them smiling.

I think one reason for this is that they work from home. At least most of them do. And why the hell not? All they really need is a laptop, high-speed connection and a dedicated phone line. I think it’s a terrific idea, and not just because of the money it saves Jet Blue on brick-and-mortar call centers. Because it ensures that the people working the line actually going one-on-one with customers are in a good mental place when they do it.

It’s a brand touchpoint that Jet Blue hasn’t overlooked. After all, there are very few times you will deal with an actual human before you get to the airport. That means those humans are delivering the Jet Blue brand. And they feel good about it.

Which brings me to the hospitality business.

We've done a fair amount of work in the hospitality category, and I’ve been in the “back of the house” at a lot of hotels. I’m usually surprised at where the reservations people work. These are the folks who as often as not are first in line when it comes to delivering the brand message to prospective customers. And they usually work in cubicles in windowless rooms. Drab, boring, windowless rooms. Almost no matter how nice the hotel is.

The hospitality business is very experiential. It’s not really about the beds and the tennis courts and the various F&B outlets. It’s about the experience. That includes when you call for a reservation and some information. What if the reservations agents had a view? And some personal space? Maybe a comfortable, colorful relaxed atmosphere in the call center?

I’ll bet you’d hear those smiles over the phone.

That’s delivering the brand.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I never met a man I didn't like. No wait, that's a lie.

I’m one of those casual users of LinkedIn. I always accept invitations, and I write recommendations when asked and sometimes when I’m not asked.

And when I do write a recommendation, I mean what I say. So if I happen to write that someone is brilliant, it means I really, no-kidding, honest-to-God think they are brilliant. And if I should happen to say someone is a congenital, practicing idiot, well, I guess I mean that too. (But I don’t plan on any such of a thing, so relax.)

So I’m poking around this morning, having received an update that tells me So-and-So is now in the Such-and-Such Group or This’n has “started a new retail project!” and on and on, like I care. But I see that someone who had written a pretty good recommendation about me and us had written an almost identical one about someone else in this town in the same line of work as we are. So how much is either one worth in that light? I don’t know. Probably not very much. Not that he didn't mean what he said. But if they are the best in the city, how come we're so brilliant? I'm confused. But that's not unusual.

The very nature of a recommendation is to say something nice, so a site full of nice things is, well, I don't know what it is. Nice, I guess. But useful?

LinkedIn fascinates me. I guess it’s a great networking tool if you really work it, but jeezy-peezy, I’ve got things to do. Collecting all those contacts and writing and asking for all those recommendations can eat up a lot of time. You know? Like Twitter, Jaiku, Plurk and rest. Just keeping up is hard work. But if anybody out there is “working on a new retail project!” believe me, I want to know about it.


Monday, June 9, 2008

Eight Miles High


For some reason,this spot is no longer available on YouTube. I'm going to try to find it somewhere else. It's too good to ignore.

With apologies to MDB and Smith+Gifford and everybody around here who has ever done a lottery spot, this is the best one I have ever seen. You'd have to have a heart of stone not to smile at the idea.

I love the penguin running after the one guy like a little kid.

Very nice. From Publicis in the West, Seattle.

I'm sorry, but this is just stupid

I've seen a couple of these ads floating around ad blogs in the past week. The other version has a man and a woman in it. Nobody seems to say whether they think they are good or bad, so I will.

They are awful. Stupid. Pathetic. Moronic. Need I go on?

With all the ways you could advertise student loans, this is the best you could come up with?

No wonder people feel insulted by advertising.

I don't know who did it, but just about everybody I know would have done a far better job.

And to think somebody got paid real money for this. Probably more than the people who did the ad in the previous post.

A great moment in boob-centric advertising

I don’t know did this ad for the Woolly Mammoth Theater, but I think it’s pretty smart. Great, in fact. I love it.

It's simple.

It’s an easily recognizable design.

It’s pretty clear that it’s about a somewhat ribald play.

Elements of the design the name of the play across the breasts work great as small as 1 x 1.

It’s only spot color, which makes it affordable to run.

The copy is a bit too long, but whoever it was who dreamed this up did a bang-up job, I think.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

You didn't hear it from me, but it's a pack of lies anyway.

It looks as if, perhaps, possibly, maybe we have our two Presidential candidates and what has been a 16-month nightmare is finally over. At least the primary nightmare is. The general election nightmare begins presently.

As we watched all three speeches last night, it occurred to Karen and me that in politics today the campaigns are more about what a bum The Other Guy is rather than what a perfect leader Our Guy would be.

I have nothing to base this on, but I’ll bet that an awful lot of people tend to vote against a candidate rather than for one. And with the kind of campaigns that are run, who could blame them?

But what if we in the ad world took the same approach with our work that politicians take with their advertising?

That would mean that instead of looking for an essential truth as the core of our ads, we’d be focused on telling the world how bad the competition is. Rather than sell the positive experience at our hotel client, for example, we’d level some sort of charge against the competition. (“Bedbugs the size of horses! No clean sheets anywhere!”) Or we’d suggest some sort of scurrilous behavior by a key player there. Or better yet, we’d make sure some third-party group not associated with our client took out an ad to throw the mud keeping our good name out of it, but slyly making the point anyway.

Think a minute. Doesn’t political advertising kind of make you want to take a shower? Aren’t you glad the rest of the ad world doesn’t work the way the political wing does?

(By the way, somebody told me that a certain hotel in Key West that happens to compete with a client of ours has at least one employee with an extortionist, contortionist, cartoonist or habitual jaywalker in the family somewhere. I'm not saying it's true, but I think the American people have a right to know.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

And once again, something that has nothing to do with advertising

Last night we saw Bonerama live at the Ram's Head in Annapolis.

Jeeze, what a show.

Four trombones, guitar, Sousaphone and drums. New Orleans jazz/fun/rock. An incredible sound. Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash and classic New Orleans jazz all in the same set.

Look for them on YouTube or check out their web site.