Saturday, March 28, 2009

This would be better without so much copy.

But it's still good.

I think we've all seen or heard about advertising by atheists recently. I think there were even some bus sides here in D.C.

I like idea of capitalizing on it in this ad from the Brazilian Association of Advertising Agencies. They could have done without most or all of the copy, but I like it anyway. Great headline.

Found on I have an Idea.

Friday, March 27, 2009

I love this kind of thinking

Check it out. From Adrants. The Cleveland Indians got the city to let them use city buses to enlist fans to the tribe -- literally and figuratively -- signing on to the Indians by signing on to the bus itself.


I think this is brilliant. I've said many time that I think the mistake sports teams make is trying to draw new fans by promoting players and a team they may or may not care about. This is what you might call impossible to ignore. And way better than free-bat night or first-fans-get-a-towel nights.

And whoever it was who talked the city into doing it is a pure genius. I can just hear the reaction from some of the lesser thinkers. "What? This will encourage vandalism and graffiti! Increase the drop-out rate and bring about the total decline of Western civilization!" Yeah, probably all kinds of problems to deal with this with this, but worth every one of them, I think.

Great work.

I don't know who did it, but they are my current hero.

A concept in search of a reason - weapons and bread division

From I Believe in Advertising.

You just simply have to wonder if maybe two guys were eating lunch and playing with their food when they came up with this. Believe it or not, Eno (not Brian Eno) is, according to the GlaxoSmithKline web site: " a range of antacid products that treat the symptoms of heartburn and gastric discomfort. It is available in different flavours and pack formats."

"Cool! Let's use a semiautomatic rifle made out of bread and chocolates and cookies and stuff. We could, like, really confuse the living shit out of people!"

"Dude! I love it!"

From Ogilvy and Mather. Curgaon, India.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Is it just me? I don't think it's just me, but maybe it's just me.

This is not necessarily an easy time to be in any business -- certainly not our business. For any number of good and not-so-good reasons.

And it seems to me that the number of individuals and organizations offering their services to help drum up new business has grown. We get a lot of e-mails from this list or that service or that individual who used to do new-business development. We're talking close to out of the woodwork here.

Unfortunately, it's one of those things that if you had the business you wanted, you'd be able to afford to hire someone to look for new business, but then, if you've got the business you want and can afford to hire someone, then maybe you don't really need to have someone looking for new business unless you need more business because you don't have enough, but then you can't really afford it probably anyway.

Or something like that, you know?

Friday, March 20, 2009

OK, so don't take it from me, take it from Bob Pittman

He may not, as he says have a horse in this race, but I do.

Bob Pittman is, according to Fortune, and also "is a co-founder of the Pilot Group investment firm, the former CEO of MTV Networks, AOL Networks, Six Flags Theme Parks, Time Warner Enterprises and Century 21 Real Estate, as well as the former chief operating officer of America Online and AOL Time Warner."

Full disclosure (as if you need it): As an ad agency we stand to earn money on ad spending. That doesn't alter the fact that this guy makes a lot of sense when he says:

"The government's stimulus plan won't work as planned if we don't get consumers spending again. But in the nearly $800 billion package, there is one thing missing that would surely help accomplish this: advertising. To get people spending again, and the economy moving, the government needs to provide help for businesses in America to advertise their products and services."

This was taken from an article in Fortune that I found via the American Advertising Federation Smart Brief. I think it makes a hell of a lot of sense. Read it for yourself here, but I especially like this part: "It's a mistake to think of advertising merely as a cost -- it's an investment, and like all investments it can have a wide-reaching impact."

No kidding.

Happy Spring from Penn Parking

The lot next door to our office is a public Montgomery County lot.

You pay by the hour, but you can buy debit-card things if you want. But that's not the point. The point is that these guys pretty much don't have to compete for parkers in Bethesda. There's not enough to go around as it is.

But they treat their "customers" well. There are always two "greeters" there who wave good morning or good night and help with any machine issues that might come up. And on days like today -- the first official day of Spring -- they give everybody candy. Just a little "Happy Spring" smile from Penn Parking. These are two touchpoints that they could, frankly, probably just ignore. But they don't.

I don't know whose idea it was to take that approach, but I like the way they think.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Gimme some of that cheap stuff

I am not bitching about money here.

But I am befuddled. Whether it's blinds, hotel rooms, copiers, condos, ball-point pens, cars or steaks, whatever the category, there are some companies that sell a premium product and expect to get a premium price for it. They have good reasons for this.

But some of those same companies can't buy into the concept of paying much beyond a bargain-basement price for creative, talent, photography, production or the like. As if the rationale that applies to their product or service doesn't apply elsewhere. There is always a cheaper alternative to the high-priced spread, a cheaper hotel room in town and window coverings at a discount.

Q: "Why should we pay extra for original photography?" (or union talent, a better production company, or a more creatively adept agency)

A: "For the same reason your customers should pay extra for your product." (or service)

Seems simple to me. But then, as we all know, I AM simple.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ideas like this deserve to sell a kazillion hot wings

This, from LG2 in Quebec City, Canada is for Le Cactus Hot Wings.

Brilliant, I think. A cling to the back window, and when the central brake light lights up, the guy's tongue glows bright red. Very cool.

Via Ads of the World.

(LG2, by the way, has a pretty cool philosophy which you see on their web site: " Think like a brand. Act like a retailer."

March 17, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Thinking beyond just advertising

Let me direct your attention to the Travel section of Sunday's New York Times.

Right there, side-by-jowl at the bottom of Page 2 are two ads. One for Barbados and one for Key West.

The Key West ad is part of a larger Florida Keys campaign and is, essentially, a co-op deal. It features a black-and-white picture of the Southernmost Point Marker and a headline that tells you "There's nothing like the end of the road to turn you around." Copy explains how an exit from reality could be just the ticket these days. It goes on to mention gingerbread mansions, sunset celebrations, art galleries and six-toed cats. Nothing about restaurants or accommodations or the festivals there.

And there are four hotel co-op entries splitting the overall creative design in half.

The Barbados ad is in color with a headline that tells the reader "Barbados is putting the free back in freedom" with subheads calling out seven-night packages that include a free first-night stay and free breakfast every day from $519 per-person, double occupancy (although on the web site, the price seemed to be from $469). The visual is a colorful, energetic dancing woman. Looks like fun. A few clicks from the page where the ads directs you, and it's clear they have partnered with both Liberty Travel and Expedia to put together the deal.

Two things here. One is that I sat down today simply to write about how smart I thought the Barbados approach was. It's simple, clean, has a good offer and a smart partnership. It goes beyond advertising. It's thinking. That's the sort of approach these time we live in demand.

The other thing is that it was actually only on the second or third glance that I even noticed the Key West ad. Even though it's just as big as the other, and I tend to have Key West on my mind more than the average bear, since one of my favorite clients and a couple of very good friends are down there.

Sure, the color helped, but it was the offer (and the simplicity of the ad) that drew me. Where the Key West ad wants to get you to Key West but has five specific properties competing for your business in a single ad, Barbados seems to simply want you to come to Barbados - and is making it easy to do so, overcoming a potential cost objection. I guess it's the rising-tide-floats-all-boats approach.

I have to say, I think what Barbados has done is the smarter of the two. Not just the ad itself, but the whole idea of partnering and putting together a good package - the part that gave them something to advertise. It's that whole thing about going beyond advertising that I admire.

Listen, Key West is a fabulous place. I know this for certain. It's not hard to get to, the weather is nice, you don't need a passport, the people are great, the hotels and guest houses are terrific and there are more great restaurants than you could get to in a single trip. It has a hell of a lot going for it. For my money, easily as much as Barbados if you look at the whole picture. I'm just not sure that comes through in the advertising.

I don't know exactly what a quarter-page ad in the Sunday Travel section of the New York Times costs. Karen says a lot. But I'll bet Barbados got more for their money -- even if you factor in the additional cost of color. Because they went beyond just advertising.

At least that's what I think.

Some cool classic commercials

It's raining and a dreary day, so here are a few great old commercials to enjoy.

Friday, March 13, 2009

I did not take any math in college

Let me be right up front about something here. I am a math idiot.

If the Terps are winning 46-37, I have to ask Karen how many points difference that is. I round checks up when I balance my checkbook. And unless you're willing to keep score, you do not want to throw darts with me.

That said, I wonder about something. Just for the sheer hell of it I signed this blog up for Adsense, the Google thingamajig that is supposed to make you money by running ads. The ads are there -- over there on the right, under "Blogs and Web Sites We Like". For now at least. I get the impression that they are context-sensitive, because most seem to be for other agencies. I'm probably going to dump it.

But now and then, I check to see if we've made any money here at JITD. And we have. A nickle. Total. Supposedly they mail you a check for your money, but it would cost them more than a nickle to write a check and cost me more than nickle to cash it. So . . . nothing. Nothing expected. It makes no sense. Not for a single blog, that is.

But it made me wonder. There are 112.8 million blogs near as I have been able to find out. If just 10% of them are signed up with Google Adsense, that's 11.8 million. If each 10% of them are like us and have 5 cents in unpaid money, that's $55,900.

Here's the thing: Somebody paid Google that fifty-five grand for Adsense ads, right?

Wrong? I don't know. But as I understand it, you pay per click. But if the clicks are so few that Google doesn't send anybody any money, but somebody paid them, where is that money?

Clearly, I'm desperate for an original blog topic today. But how about that picture I found when I Googled "Google" and looked for images, hmmmmm?

Monday, March 9, 2009

I think we're all Bozos on this bus

A lot has been said about challenger brands. Books have been written, web sites launched and careers made.

Here at N+H (and, by extension, at JITD), we define a challenger brand as one that has greater aspirations than resources. Or something to prove. And we like 'em.

Of course, we're small, and usually a good fit for a challenger, but the better reason is that we really kind of get off on the fact that challenger brands are often People With an Attitude. People who want us to do something exciting. People who want to take a chance or two and make some noise while reaching for a big return.

Maybe they are new to the market or the category. Or their competitors all have more money or are part of a national chain. Everybody thinks your hotel is too expensive? Or your restaurant only serves old people? Or maybe nobody ever heard of you at all. Come on down. We want to work with you.

OK, yeah, we're fabulous and one-of-a-kind wonderful and everybody loves us, blah, blah, blah, yakety, yakety, yak and maybe it's true and maybe it's not. But this isn't a new-business blog. The point it has taken me five paragraphs to get to (and my Mother the newspaper editor would would be beat me for it if she was still alive) is that when you think about it, just about everybody in business these days is a challenger brand, you know?

I mean, name four companies with advertising or marketing budgets that are as big as they were two years ago. Hell, name two. And when you consider that "advertising", no matter what form it takes, can be so cost-efficient it's sick, you have to wonder about the wisdom of cutting or eliminating one of your best available tools for bringing in business because business is slow.

Call it a business necessity, call it short-sighted or call it conventional, garden-variety idiocy, I don't care. It's what's happening. And what it means is that everybody had oughta be thinking more like a challenger brand than they used to.

Do something a little scary. Put convention in a bucket and go throw it out in the yard. Get rid of it. Take some chances. Re-think everything. Jeeze, have some fun.

I've said it before. You can't do more with less, at least not in the traditional sense. That's why they call it less. But you sure can make a hell of a lot of noise with less. That might sound a little scary, but who among us couldn't use an adrenaline rush now and then?

(Headline explanation here if needed.)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Let's see what the boys in the back room think about it

I'm kind of torn about this one.

On the one hand, I have never thought that a target ought to be able to read the brief before they are exposed to your advertising. I mean, if it doesn't make sense, it doesn't make sense.

After all "you don't have to be a weather man to know which way the wind blows". (And, while that is probably not the very best quote to use here, I have been looking for an excuse to use it for years.)

That said, I'm really, really, really not sure how I feel about it when a client passes the work around then comes back with comments, feedback and changes from godknowswhere. And godknowswho. And their cousin. Especially if we're not in the discussion. Well, maybe I know how I feel about it, but would prefer not to say it out loud.

I'm not suggesting that those of us in the ad business are the only ones who know a good idea when we see it. I'm not that much of an "arteest" as one of my clients likes to say. But there is a certain "if John in accounting knows the best way to do it, why not get John in accounting to do it? And then we can sit down with him and go over the financials for the quarter" sentiment here.

The downside of doing what we do for a living is that to Everybody Else, it looks like a bucketful of fun. Something Fun that is something they can do. But as a general rule, it's not.

Not something anybody do, that is. Fun, it is. Or should be.

Dog with horn; man with horn

Every office needs an office dog. We have at least one, depending on the day.

Maceo the dog (pictured) is our regular, everyday office dog and was named after Maceo Parker (also pictured) an ace saxophone player Rick (alas, not pictured) likes a lot. Or at least liked the day he named the dog (pictured).

Exactly why our Maceo has decided to start carrying our bike horn (partially pictured) around all day is anybody's guess. But we've decided we need to teach him to honk it on demand. Certainly nobody is going to use it as our door bell anymore.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

This is just between you and me

Ok, everybody has a pet peeve or two. (I don't know if anybody says "peeve" anymore, but there it is.)

Being a grump and codger/coot-in-training, I have more than a few. Noisy kids I'm not related to come to mind. Also, when someone says "over" when they really mean "more than" (as in "over 300 reasons to buy!" or similar crap). Write this down: They do not mean the same thing.

Or when sports announcers say "within" when it has no meaning. Here's a news flash for those guys: When one team is behind by 5 points, they are not "within 5" of anything.

FOUR is within 5. I looked it up.

Here's another. Using "best kept secret" in advertising like that's some kind of good thing. I heard a spot on the radio this morning talking about how American Public University is the area's best-kept secret. Well, I'd have to agree with the fact that it is a well-kept secret (until 8:45 this morning, I'd sure never heard of it), but what I don't understand is why that would make me want to go there.

Don't tell anybody about this. I want this blog to be a secret. Maybe a best-kept secret. Or maybe best if kept secret. Probably be a better secret if I never wrote anything. Or used invisible ink maybe.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Very cool billboard

I found this on I Believe in Advertising.

It's a billboard for a brand of paint in India. From JWT, Mumbai.

A week without a WTF? moment is like a week without crankcase oil

This could be yours for this week.

I found it on AdRants. It's a lingerie ad for Agency Provocateur. Little boys all over North America Tivo'd it, no doubt. I watched the whole thing. Twice. And I may watch it again very soon.

But there is no denying it's a little strange. I love the music.

If you're not at work, check out the web site.