Thursday, January 29, 2009

Oh baby!

I'm sorry. That's a terrible headline.

But you know that e-trade baby commercial? Well, I've discovered (and I could well be the last one America to do so) that there are lots of funny spoofs of it on YouTube. Like this one.

And this is a collection of outakes, which may well be funnier.

Like that annoying cousin at a reunion, it's coming

I'm not a huge Super Bowl fan. Maybe it's because I'm not so much of a pro football fan anymore -- not since Daniel Snyder bought the local team.

But I find myself sort of watching it every year, mostly because my friends John and Vickie have a great party, the food is great and, well, there they are on a big-screen TV. And, I guess, because I feel like I sort of have to watch them, because being in advertising sure as the world for the following week, people are going to ask me what I thought and did I see this or that wonderful spot.

And suddenly everybody's an expert.

OK, there are two thoughts I have here. 1) Super Bowl commercials aren't always that great. (the spot illustrated here is a notable exception,of course.) Actually, I generally feel like about half of them out-and-out suck by virtue of trying too hard. And you know what else? (That would be #2) There are lots of pretty terrific commercials produced all freaking year. Spots that probably cost less to produce, certainly cost less to place and in many cases worked harder for clients.

So forgive me if I don't fall all over myself talking about about Sunday's spots. Not unless you're willing to talk with me about advertising next month too.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

This is one spot you won't see during the Super Bowl

According to PETA, it was not accepted. Apparently a number of folks are producing outrageous spots and promoting them as too hot for the Super Bowl, complete with a press release. So who knows if they really tried to place it.

Via Illegal Advertising.

There are so many cheap punch lines here my head may explode

From I Believe In Advertising.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I don't know exactly what this is -- ironic maybe?

So Pfizer is going to acquire Wyeth for $68 billion in cash and stock, in a deal that will, according to the Associated Press " increase its revenue by 50 percent, solidify its No. 1 rank in the troubled industry and transform it from a pure pharmaceutical company into a diversified health care giant."

At the same time, this diversified healthcare giant with $68 BILLION to blow on an acquisition is going to lay off 8,000 employees.

I'm sure the shareholders will be so proud.

Maybe I'm a dope, but on the surface, this company seems like a prime candidate for a torches-and-pitchforks assault by the masses.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Our representative at the Inauguration

As you probably know, Washington was all atwitter over the Inauguration yesterday.

And one of our group -- Tracy Bernstein, account executive and brand manager extraordinaire -- ventured out from her place at Van Ness to see it all For Herself. She and her husband Brett (top) left a little before 9 a.m., took the subway to Farragut North, walked to the Washington Monument and saw the whole thing on a jumbo-tron with the Capitol in the distance. She and 1.75 million of her closest friends.

And then they walked home, stopping for lunch in Cleveland Park. All in all, a lovely day out.

As they were taking pictures on the Monument grounds, some guy named Eric came up, smiled, introduced himself and posed with Tracy (bottom). Just in the joy of the moment.

It was that kind of day.

Somebody beat us to the Commemorative Tea Bags

Never let it be said that the Washington Post doesn't know how to make a buck on an Inauguration.

First, there was their special commemorative section full of paid messages from all of us to the new President. Then their special commemorative photo album available for purchase for the low, low price of $29.95. And now, my personal favorite (get ready) "an authentic replica press plate of the January 21 Commemorative Edition of the Washington Post." Just $49.95.

Wow. An authentic replica. Don't be fooled by all of those imitation replica press plates that are flooding the market at souvenir stands and from shady-looking guys in overcoats all over town.

So not to be outdone by the Washington Post, Juggling in the Dark is offering limited edition Commemorative Coffee Filters -- exact duplicates of the Melitta #4 paper filter that Karen and I used to make the coffee we drank while we watched the inauguration. Complete with a red "O" (for, you know, Obama) hand-crafted in Magic Marker. All for just $17.49 plus shipping and handling.

Hurry, supply is limited to the 37 filters we have left in the box we bought earlier this month in anticipation of this historic occasion. Call now. Operators are standing by.

Here's your chance to own, as the Post says, "Your piece of history!"

Sunday, January 18, 2009

This was not technically a flashmob. But still . . .

Found this on Illegal Advertising.

Other blogs refer to it as a flashmob, and I suppose it is very flashmob-like -- assuming everybody in it is tuned into and has rehearsed the choreography. Obviously that was not the case, so it wasn't really that. But it was still a very cool event. I know that.

I also that if I ever dreamed up and pulled off something like this, I think I'd quit while I was ahead.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

There's always something cool on I Believe in Advertising

Which is where I found this.

Great idea, isn't it?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Credit where credit isn't actually due

I was poking around the Internet today, wasting time while putting in the appearance of Writing Something We Can Sell, when I decided to check out the web site of a very good, very well-known, relatively new design studio here in DC. I wanted to show Rick.

I clicked to the inevitable "awards" section and saw that they included Best of Show at the DC Addys -- in a year a few years before they were formed. In fact, there are a whole lot of awards on there that somebody won before the studio actually existed.

Well, clearly, those were awards someone (one of the principals, I'm guessing) won at a previous design studio. That's cool. But what is not cool, I don't think, is letting the world at large believe that those awards were won by the current group.

In fact, I said "clearly" above, when it's not "clear" at all. And just for the hell of it, I looked back at the old Addy showbook from nearly 10 years ago and counted a total of six people who had a significant role in the creation and development of that particular "Best in Show" piece. A creative director, two designers, a copywriter, an account manager and an illustrator.

This firm really does great work. Their success is well-earned and so are all the accolades they get. So they don't need to pad or BS their rep at all. But the fact of the matter is, someone at that company won those awards, and that's a different thing than the studio. Even if it was a principal. Who else might have been involved and what impact did they have on the work?

Maybe it's a fine point, but I still think it's misleading, just as I think it's misleading for agencies to put in their "clients" section the names of anybody they or anybody in their firm ever did a bingo card for. Or use work from one of those sources in their portfolio section. I've been over this before. I'm sorry, but it's just not honest.

Feel free to rummage around our site. We don't have an awards section, although we have won a lot of them and have them scattered about the office in what I call "studied indifference". But all the work on there is work this agency did, and I won't put anything on our site that I didn't have a significant role in. Maybe that diminishes our book, I don't know. But it does keep it honest.

Of course, if I've got the rules confused, we should revise our site. Rick has been in the One Show plenty of times. And Show South, CA, Graphis, Archive and on and on too. And he's done a lot of work for some very high-profile clients. I wasn't involved, and N+H wasn't involved, and so it's not really our work, but who needs to know that?

It's Sunday afternoon, and I'm looking over this post again, and it seems to me to be a whole post dedicated to flogging one particular design studio. That wasn't really my intent.

Poor writing. Or something.

What this studio did on their site was not what I'd call totally honest. But I'm afraid neither is it as uncommon as I wish it was. Unfortunately, they are not the only ones to "pad their resume" online. Just the ones that drove me to do the post.
- WH

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I have a better ending for this spot

I think I'd go with "You think that's surprising? Get this. Neither a big company like Mountain Dew nor their agency could think of a better way to sell soda than this stupid commercial."

Does nobody preach the ills of borrowed interest any more? I mean, they could do this exact same spot for a car dealership ("You think that's surprising. Get this. Our low, low Washington's Birthday sale prices . . .") or a candy bar ("You think that's surprising? Get this. Chunk-o-Chocolate bars have twice the calories of . . ."). You could do this for any damn thing.

It's like the creative guys all sat around and watched all the Jackass movies 14 times each and said "Whoa, dude! This is really funny stuff. Think we can work it into an ad somewhere?"

I hate this kind of stuff. And I hate that somebody got paid good money to do a spot with just about no idea at all.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Could you picture this in Union Station?

This is what I call a cool idea.

It's for Mini-Cooper in Spain. A giant mousetrap. They put them in public places like train stations, bus stations, etc.

From the Communicadores web site (which is in Spanish, so I have no idea who did it) via the Denver Egoist.

The Animation King of Bethesda

Late last year, I tried to post the animated holiday card my friend Bob Howard sent out, but I couldn't make it work and loop and do all the things it was was supposed to do.

And then, low and behold, Bob sent out an e-mail with a link to some "fun animated loops" on his site. Check it out. The holiday "card" was the juggling snowman in the lower right-hand corner.

Talented boy that Bob Howard.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Thanks for your business. Now get the hell out of the way. I see somebody new.

Karen and I were at the Maryland men's basketball game Saturday and saw some guy at a card table offering these cool funny-papers umbrellas as a premium for new subscribers to the Washington Post.

This seems to me to be a marketing error.

Because personally, I get kind of honked when I see somebody I do business with offering something to a new customer that I can't get. Especially when, in the case of the Post, all I get for years of subscribing is regular subscription increases. (Unless you count the better rain bags they started using.)

The Post isn't the only organization that seems more focused on getting new business or customers than retaining what it has, that's for certain. But with all the hullabaloo about how newspaper readership is declining, it does seem to me that a smart marketing department would realize that retaining readers is at least as important as getting new ones. Besides, your existing customers are not dopes. They can see the cool "new customers / subscribers only" stuff they can't have.

And yet, very few organizations -- certainly not your local newspaper, cable provider or cell phone provider -- offer much in the way of a genuine loyalty reward. A price break after so many years, or maybe a free month of cable service after three years or something. And, frankly, I don't consider the Post's dopey, hard-to-understand Post Points program much of a loyalty reward either, no matter how many times they try to say it is. You have to start an account, spend money with Post advertisers and redeem points or something. It all just sounds like too much trouble. And the major beneficiary is whomever uses all that shopping habit information you're racking up for them.

It's too late to make this short, so I'll try to sum up and get out.

Why focus your marketing on new customers at the expense of existing ones? Go for 'em both, but don't give loyal customers the back of your hand while you woo that pretty New Girl down the street.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Today should be an international holiday

Or something.

Today is Elvis Presley's birthday.

Oh, what the hell. Here's another. Turn your speakers up and share with everybody in the office.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Year's Resolution Renewed

Last year, one of my resolutions was to read Seth Godin's blog every single day.

Can't say I totally succeeded, but I did pretty well.

This is a direct link to a recent post of his I found on there yesterday. It's a fabulous bit of thinking about ads. Here's the Cliff's Notes: Do you have a budget for ads that work? Of course you do.


Monday, January 5, 2009

If only

Believe me, I understand the concept of "when your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail." And I am not one of those who thinks that advertising (in whatever form) is a panacea. We just don't play that at Nasuti + Hinkle.

But when I hear talk about how business is down or leads aren't coming or pricing is struggling or rooms are empty from people who have cut or eliminated their advertising budgets, I just want to scream.

Because whether you do it on the web, in a newspaper, on the radio, on television or anywhere else, if properly done, advertising can help draw customers and attract business. That's just the way it is. A smart, well-done effort can more than pay for itself. Really. No kidding. Seriously. I mean it.

( Note that I referred to a "smart, well-done effort". Not just any old thing.)

What kind of business decision is it to eliminate something that can cost-efficiently do you some good? It's a bit like someone on their way to an important and potentially profitable meeting who gets a flat but doesn't have a jack because he wanted to save money when he bought the car.

And even though some guy is standing right there with one for rent, the driver doesn't want to do it. He's going to try to get to the make meeting on three wheels.

I know it's after Christmas, but I've been backed up.

Found this on I Believe in Advertising. By TBWA \ Neboko, Amsterdam.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

For best results, play video first and listen to sound track while reading the post

OK. That's enough.

I have always kind of ignored it when the Washington Post promoted their annual Valentine's Day special classified ad section. You know, when you buy your sugar-doodle a heartfelt sentiment in 3-5 lines?

"Say honey, check out today's Post classifieds for a special surprise! It's in that special section between the automotive and the garage sales. See?"

That's right, nothing says "I love you" quite like a classified ad.

And recently, I sneered quietly when I saw the Post promoting their special section full of "Welcome to Washington" messages we were all encouraged to buy for Barack Obama. I'm sure just as soon as the dust settles from the Inaugural whirlwind -- perhaps over coffee before his first day On The Job -- the Obamas will pore over this Very Special Section of heartfelt greetings. "Oh look Michelle! The Carson family says 'good luck and God bless'!"

But this past weekend I think they reached a new low with their "In Memoriam" section of the Washington Post Magazine. ("Prepared by the Washington Post Advertising Department" as if they'd taken it upon themselves to honor all of our lost loved ones.) It's just a scheme to sell 12 pages of advertising. Which I think is a bit tasteless. At best.

Before anybody gets all up in my business about anything, know this. Between us, Karen and I have lost three of our four parents. We know grief. So if this sort of thing brings comfort to people left behind, I'm all for it.

But I have a really hard time imagining that a classified ad is going to bring that much comfort. And I wonder how many people will actually "browse the In Memoriam pages and take time to reflect on the lives of these wonderful people who were loved by many." Seriously.

And to be perfectly honest, I think that if I bought one of these cheesy little "in memoriam" ads for my parents, my mother would come back from the grave to beat me for it. And my father would probably come back with her. To help.

As far as I'm concerned, there is nothing special about this section at all. Like all the others, it's just a . . . well, you know.

Friday, January 2, 2009

More from the Denver Egoist

I think this is a very cool campaign for Titus Cycles from TDA Advertising and Design in Boulder.

Titus Cycles apparently ain't cheap. And the campaign "simultaneously recognizes today’s difficult economy and the bikes’ nearly unaffordable cost" with a new 'It’s worth a second job' tag line."


Cool stuff from the Denver Egoist

Denver must be a pretty good ad town. At least the Denver Egoist blog seems to point that way. It's a great blog, I think.

And Denver, of course, is where my friend Ace Copywriter Larry Hinkle is.

So I'm cruising the Egoist this morning on a slow Friday morning after New Year's, and I came across several nifty (nobody uses that word enough anymore) things, which I am posting here for your reading pleasure. Free of charge. A public service of Juggling in the Dark.

Let's start with this library parking garage in Kansas City, shall we?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Originally, I was just going to show you the video

I found this on Illegal Advertising. It's a supporting video for Humanitarian Lion. The idea is collect as many signatures worldwide as possible to try to convince the Cannes advertising festival to add a humanitarian category.

Apparently, it's been around since last May, but I just ran across it. The concept is to require any agency entering the festival to also submit a humanitarian idea -- of any sort. It's free to enter and the format is just a one-page Word document. According to their website, it can "give ad agencies and clients a new role in the world".

Learn more about it -- and participate -- here.

I don't know if it will make it or not. But it is nice to think about the possibilities. Perhaps an approach of this sort is something the D.C. Ad Club could consider. The thought of doing more than just pro-bono advertising or commercials is pretty compelling, I think.

This is a video above is in support of the concept. If nothing else, it makes you think about how, even with our economy the way it is, we still have so much while others have so little. The video below explains the idea.

Like I said, I think it's a great idea. For my money, people in our business are some of the smartest, most creative thinkers around. Why not apply that talent to a greater good in addition to commerce?