Wednesday, May 27, 2009

This is so perfect I may have to set my hair on fire

For all you kids at home making notes, this is how it really works.

Or at least how some people think it should work. I especially like the "we'll cover your hard costs" part. And "make it up to you on the next one."

Found it on the Denver Egoist.

See? You can even produce a waste of time for a good cause.

I'm all for voting.

The government only lets us actually participate in two ways: voting and jury duty. And encouraging people to vote is a good thing.

But I'm sorry. This is just %@#&ing stupid beyond belief.

Found on Illegal Advertising.

The view from down here in small-business-land

Every day, you read or hear something about some millionbillionwhatever project that will use "stimulus money". But do you know anybody -- personally -- who is benefiting from this national largess?

I don't. But I do have a few thoughts on it.

America runs on small business. So maybe instead of coming up with cash for airport or road improvements, pork (I'm sorry, I mean "earmarks") or that sort of thing, the gubbmint could see its way clear to using a bit of cash to, let's say, help out small retailers who are having trouble making rent and payroll. Maybe they could use a cash infusion so they can fix up their stores, stock up on merchandise, hire another salesperson or even (gasp) advertise.

How about maybe making some money available to the one-location restaurants who are struggling to make ends meet through no fault of their own and give them a cash boost that might let them hire a new chef, open an outdoor patio, add waitstaff or (gasp) advertise?

Maybe there could be some cash to help all those home remodeling companies and builders who are having to lay off workers? Maybe they could use the money to enhance their services, do some spec or pro-bono work and raise their awareness or even (gasp) advertise.

And what about hotels? Especially independent hotels. Maybe with some stimulus cash properties that have delayed or canceled renovations could go ahead and finish the work that will enhance their ability to attract meetings or tourists? Or maybe they could even (gasp) advertise.

Maybe all small business could use a little help with restructuring some debt. Or with lines of credit that let them buy the things they need to make whatever it is they sell.

Sure, I'm in (gasp) advertising, and our company will benefit from increased advertising, but there is no question at all that if small business could afford to advertise in some way, shape or form, they will do better than if they don't. Especially now. See this paper about advertising in a recession on our web site and read this post about advertising and stimulus money.

I can't find the post I put up a few months ago with all the specifics, but as I remember it, something like 60% of our national payroll is paid by small businesses. More people are employed at small businesses than big ones. And there are all kinds of other statistics to support my contention to small business is a very important part of the country's economy. So why are small businesses expected to hope for trickle-down prosperity while the Big Boys and politicans' favorites line up at the public teat?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Something cool from Paul Safsel

My New York friend Paul Safsel sent me this cool loyalty promotion he did at Greynyc for The Chocolate Bar.

Every purchase is rewarded with a punched tooth. After 16 teeth are punched, the customer is entitled to a complimentary chocolate of their choice.

Very cool. It reminded me that when I was a kid, our dentist used to give us candy after an appointment. Really.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Somebody maybe oughta be taken out and shot for this

I couldn't tell you who. My guess is a whole lot of folks have their fingerprints on the terrible new Chipotle advertising (left). I mean, you've seen original campaign right? Those great, iconic black-and-white ones?

I can tell you that I really like the "Cheapotle Plea" ad in the original ad style (below). I found it on The Denver Egoist blog.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

This is a good idea for all kinds of reasons.

Found this on I Believe in Advertising.

It's a "business card" for an environmental consultant. Or, as the site says, maybe it's more of a communications piece than a card.

If you don't feel like enlarging this, here's what it is. Rather than print up some business cards, this guy has a rubber stamp that he can stamp on any damn thing.

A little hard to carry around in your wallet, but it sure does make a point.

By the Fischer agency in Lisbon, Portugal.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

This is mostly so you'll know I'm an intellectual

Because I saw the print part of this in The New Yorker.

BMW created a piece of art called "The Expression of Joy" by having artist Robin Rhode drive a new BMW Z4 around a massive canvas. Below is a short YouTube video about it, but there is much, more on their Expression of Joy web site.

Love it.

I might as well admit it

I hate both of these campaigns. Although I may be the only person on the planet who does.

I hate the Geico Gecko with his smarmy English accent, and I hate the Geico Caveman, which I thought was a good spot one time (the one with the caveman walking off the set) that doesn't translate into a campaign. There. I've said it, and I feel much better now.

I almost forgot -- I hate the "eyes" campaign too. A lot. A whole, whole, whole lot.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Oh my God! They're spending MONEY!

We met with a company the other day that had recently completed a re-branding effort and, while they had new things ready to go -- advertising, collateral and the rest -- they weren't releasing it just yet for fear of how it would look.

You know, lavish spending in tough times.

This is not an isolated incident.

For example, companies are reluctant to hold offsite meetings, regardless of whatever productivity gains might be achieved by getting away from the office (and you can thank AIG for that).

A friend of ours works for a large national bank and spends three days a week in New York City. She stays in a hotel instead of a corporate apartment and takes cabs to and from the airport instead of using a car service. A corporate apartment would save money. So would a car service. But you know, appearances.

I'm sure you know of more examples.

If I'm a shareholder and a company I own stock in has invested in new branding, I want them to get something out of it and start adding to the value of the company. If I'm a taxpayer who is helping finance various bailouts (and I am one of those), I want bank employees to make the best use of their money, appearances be damned. And if I'm a business owner and advertising can help my company get through this economy, I damn well want to do it, regardless of whether the guy next door thinks it's extravagant.

(Let's understand right here that there is a difference between effective, useful advertising, which you should do, and The Other Kind, which you should not.)

We could be getting close to a situation where we should change our national tag line (I guess it's called a motto) to "Pennywise and Pound Foolish for Appearance's Sake."

Monday, May 11, 2009

Um, this is for vodka

42 Below vodka actually.

I found it on Illegal Advertising. It's a sweet spot called Last Day Dream. You can stop watching after 1:00 -- the last :30 are just credits.

Seriously. This is not a game.

Here's what I hear when a somebody tells us that they don't have a budget.

"We're buying on price."

What I don't understand is why they won't be more forthcoming and just say so. As in "We have a price figure in mind, but we're not going to tell you what it is, because we want to see how cheaply you can do the work."

I'm sorry. Not telling a prospective business partner what you intend to spend is just silly -- and is a clear indicator of your willingness to let other people spend a lot of non-billable time on guesswork. It's like we have to play this dumb little game:

"What's you're budget range?"

"Umm, I don't have one."

"Nothing? You're in business and making a big investment in this thing you want me to help you sell and you have no idea how much or little you are willing to spend to do it?"

"Umm, well no. Tell me what you'll charge."

"Tell me what you want to spend."

"You first."

"No you first."

"Noooooo. Youuuuuuu first."

Jesus, what a waste of time. Here's a news flash. In a conversation like that everybody in the freaking room knows that you have a budget figure in mind. Or at least a range. You have to. So why pretend otherwise?

Here's a better idea: "I have X-and-so to spend. What can you do for that?" Or even "I have X-and-so to spend and I need someone to do ABC. Tell me if you can do it or not. We'll go from there."

That does something critically important. It shifts the decision to the quality of the work and the value received for money spent. I mean, if money is the only thing that matters, get college kids to do it for free. Or don't even do it. That will save a lot of money.

If you're up front about it, there's nothing wrong with buying on price, although I don't think it's the smartest way to retain any sort of professional service. Buying on price is what you do when you buy a commodity. And professional services are not commodities.

"In the end, the decision came down to price . . . " needs to be something you are clear about early in the game.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Somebody got paid big money for this

Full disclosure. At N+H we do Brand Development. So do big companies for even bigger companies.

But Yum! is just about the dumbest name I have ever heard. OK, so it's a bunch of restaurants -- see the logos above -- and I suppose the name is supposed to imply that Pizza Hut, KFC and the rest are simply "yummy".

This is what is called an "Endorsed Brand" -- that is, sub-brands that are linked to the corporate brand by verbal or visual endorsement. But in this case, the corporate brand just comes across as stupid to me.

But I'll bet you my car that they paid some big New York brand development company something in seven figures to come up with it.

There is a certain "Emperor's New Clothes" quality here, I think. Nobody really wants to speak up. (Just like nobody spoke up when the prototype Baby Ruth bar was presented, but that's another story.)

" 'Yum!' ? That's it?"

"Yes sir. That's what they recommend."

"We've been working on this for nine months. And this is it? Kind of stupid, don't you think?"

"Yes sir, it is. But we're paying them a whole s***load of cash, so I guess they probably know what they are doing. I think. Doesn't the fact that we paid them a s***load of cash mean they know what they are doing?. I think we ought to just go with it, and treat anybody who doesn't get it like they are the stupid ones."

"Works for me. 'Yum!' is it."

(Of course these are the geniuses who tried to introduce grilled chicken in a brand whose middle name -- literally -- is "fried.")

Friday, May 8, 2009

OK, well, I'm in advertising and I still like this. A lot.

I like public art. A lot. And I'm not talking about a sculpture outside a big, ugly office building placed there in hopes of softening the crushing effect of the building on the visual environment. I'm talking about public art. Accessible art. Art people can actually enjoy.

This is a pretty cool project in New York where a group of people whitewashed illegal billboards and replaced the spaces with art. The interesting this was that they got some resistance from a few quarters.

Anyway, check out the web site (it's really a blog) too.

And if you like this kind of stuff, check out Banksy, a fabulous street artist in England.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

An argument for an agency retainer

I've got an idea. (Or, I "have" an idea, whichever is correct.)

It's something one of our clients could do. Easily. All of us here at N+H Central think it's a good idea. But it won't make us a nickle. Nothing. Zip. Nor will it cost the client very much. But it could be a benefit to them.

Point is, this idea is worth something.

But we're not on a retainer or anything with this client. And ideas are a big part of what we sell. So, should I tell them? Should I give it away? How much is the good will worth? They are a good client, but not such a big client that I could justify giving away something for nothing.

Personally, I think it makes sense to pay your agency some sort of retainer, so they will feel comfortable offering up (and taking the time to generate) those unsolicited ideas -- including those that may not make any money for the agency. The concept of agencies thinking up ideas so they can benefit from the production revenue is old hat. And no longer valid.

People tend to think those us in the ad business are whores. That may be. But I think I'd rather be a whore than a slut.

I guess I'd just rather not give it away.

(Postscript: I just came back four hours later and re-read the post above. Don't ask me why, because I don't know. I do that sometimes. But it strikes me that the "I don't want to just give it to them" attitude doesn't come across as very concerned about my client, does it? I'm thinking that perhaps it's that I'd rather not feel like the relationship is too one-side. After all, clients never just send us a little extra money for the good will. I don't know. Anyway, there it is.)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I have no idea what this has to do with sunglasses, but I like it

I especially like when The Giant Red Ball Rolling Down The Streets of San Francisco makes a right turn.

For Ray Ban.

Because not everybody reads Ad Age

Or various ad blogs.

And if you don't, you missed, among other things, the Garfield piece in Ad Age about Lawson Clarke a self-described "Out of Work Copywriter" who took a different approach to his web site. (Be sure your volume is on when you look at it, the music is great.)

This thing has been up less than a week, I think. My guess is, he already has a job.

Friday, May 1, 2009

My apologies for not getting this up sooner

It was posted on I Have an Idea in March.

But here it is. It's for a parachute school, by BBDO Switzerland.

This is one of those things where you know it's just a poster on the floor of the elevator, but still . . .