Friday, December 17, 2010

Yeah, Ok. It's been a month. Anybody still out there? Is this thing on?

I been busy and distracted, unmotivated and lazy. So I'll give you your money back. Call customer service. Operators are waiting.

Meanwhile here is an ad I found in a Las Vegas supplement to Corporate & Incentive Meeting Planner (and how many of you read THAT little gem, hmmmmmmmmmm?)

Probably too much copy. Actually, the copy is kind of crappy. But I like the visual.

A lot.

Than again, I really like Blue Man Group.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

This is a good picture of Katie and Woody

But she probably hates it. Girls are like that.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The clash between making money and recognizing creativity

(Note: I've made this point before, and I don't think anybody agrees with me. Good thing I'm used to people not agreeing with me.)

Awards season is soon upon us.

Part of what the DC Addy Committee is doing to promote it this year is producing a series of short videos featuring past Addy winners. Mary Fletcher Jones produced them and I think she did a great job. She even did one featuring us and another with just Katie.

I saw one of the other videos the other day, and it included a bit that I really disagree with. (Or, more properly, with which I really disagree.)

A local CD with an agency that does very good work and wins plenty of awards was advising people to enter their work in as many categories as possible. "In some ways, it's a numbers game . . . don't enter one piece in one category. If you can have it in color, black and white, full page, half page, illustration, copy - there are a lot of ways to win . . . sometimes it helps your total."

I'll go along with the copy and illustration part. And I believe a single piece of work ought to be entered as single and as part of a campaign if applicable. But the rest of it is just bogus.

See, I don't think the point of entering the Addy Awards - or any show - should be to win as many awards as you can for the same piece of work. Honestly, I think if you win an award for a piece of work as a color ad, a black and white ad, a magazine ad, a newspaper ad, a poster, bus shelter and subway car card, you've still just earned one award. It's not just about your total.

The problem is that the Ad Club depends on proceeds from the Addy Awards for a major chunk of its funding for the year. So the more times you enter, the more income the Ad Club gets. And, unless people want to pay a hell of a lot more in dues and events fees, or the Ad Club can find another source of income, the math isn't going to change.

(Other shows that allow multiple entries are in it for the cash, so they certainly have no motivation to limit the number of entries, although some of the big national ones are strict on this.)

It's a conflict. The Ad Club wants to honor the best work and wants an Addy Award to have value, but it also has some very real budget issues to manage.

And then again, if a lot of Addy Awards don't get handed out, people who enter tend to bitch. As if the point is to get an award, not win an award. Big difference.

Last year, we won a pair of Addys for a poster campaign we did for the Washington Humane Society. I say "a pair" because a campaign is defined as up to five ads, We had six, so we had to split it. We also won at District II and won a national Silver Addy (thankyouverymuchholdyourappluaseplease).

The creative has since been used as billboards, bus shelters and print. So should we enter it three more times this year? Or six? Certainly that's kosher within the rules, but we're not going to do it. Any additional awards we win for that same bit of work - that same bit of creativity, that same idea - would be nearly meaningless. But if it won again, we'd be able to stand up and cheer for ourselves. Hooray! Look at us! We won a bunch of Addys.

Maybe the answer is to let people simply buy Addy Awards. You know, pay the entry fee plus $50 and you get a "Participation Addy". The same way everybody who plays midget soccer gets a trophy these days. The statue wouldn't look a hell of a lot different at first glance, people to could line their shelves with awards and the Ad Club could make a lot of money.

Now, we all know I'm an idiot. But I think that the if there are fewer awards available, each one you win is worth a lot more. Win a bunch of awards for a bunch of work and you've won something.

Win a bunch of awards for the same work and you're fooling yourself.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sort of interesting

Even with all the new media out there and all of the options open for advertisers, the "mainstream" ad blogs like AdFreak and AdRants and even Ad Age seem to focus mostly on television when they show examples of creative or get excited about some new campaign.

It's hard to read anything about the future of advertising without running across somebody who is certain that the :30 TV spot is old hat -- and certainly it is becoming part of an arsenal as opposed to the only marketing weapon available.

But still, television seems to hold all the glamour for people in the ad business.

Friday, November 5, 2010

One more time for Chrissake

I saw a big sign on a storefront this morning. "The best-kept secret in women's fitness."

I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but:

Being a secret is not a freaking selling point, damn it!

Why on earth would it be?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

There's a difference, I think, between smart creativity and gratuitous creativity.

These are some examples of advertising - some new and some older - that I think employ creativity in the right way. Sure they all have jokes or some sort of edge. But none of them lets you get away without knowing who the advertising is for or what it's about.

I mean, how many times do you hear somebody start to tell you about a "great" commercial they saw but they can't really remember who it was for?

Personally, I think you don't have to ignore the brand position or the benefit to be funny. At least not most of the time. Depends on the product, of course. Let's accept that there isn't much funny about a funeral home, for example. But, using that same example, it is possible to be creative and demand some attention for your funeral home client and do it in a way that is relevant to what you're selling.

A lot of the time, it seems to me like radio and television commercials are jokes with a client tag line bolted on. You know, the "but not as crazy as . . " sort of approach.

But that's just me.

As far as the examples below are concerned, I think the proposition of selling Diet Coke "for the taste of it" was absolutely inspired. It was the same approach that Miller Lite used with their classic series of "Tastes Great. Less Filling." commercials. Neither of these approaches said their product was less fattening.

And the idea of a one-second commercial on the Super Bowl? Brilliant.

Monday, November 1, 2010

This week's unbelievable waste of money

This was the inside front cover of the Washington Post Magazine yesterday. Open rate for a full-page is $33,000.

That works out to about $11,000 per person who will actually read it.

Why do people do this? It's just sad.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I want better but want to pay the same but for more and better (for less if you got it)

Guy calls.

It's a referral, actually, through a pal. Guy is the ad guy for a developer with a shopping center or two.

Wants to see what sort of price we can give him to do some holiday television spots. Hot diggity.

Guy says he's been having his spots produced by the local cable system and the results have been less than good. No surprise there. Says he's been paying X-and-So for the spots. Can we do better spots? Sure thing.

He'd like a spot in two versions (which is to say, two spots) for the holidays. But he wants to be able to use them after the holidays too. (Four spots.)

And he'd like to be able to use the VO for radio spots. (So now it's four television and two radio spots.) Still wants to spend about X-and-So. What he was spending before for the stuff that didn't work. Which, by the way, isn't enough. Which, by the way, is about what one radio spot usually costs. Only remember, he wants what amounts to two radio spots plus four television spots.

For X-and-So.

Guy isn't happy with what he's been getting for X-and-So, but it never occurs to him that perhaps there is some value attached to this stuff, and you can't do all that for X-and-So or less.

Tell you what Scooter. You have an expensive shopping center. In a good location. I'd like to spend the same on rent that I'm spending on rent in my bad location because my bad location isn't bringing me any traffic. I'd like twice as much space in your high-end shopping center as I have now in my low-end shopping center and I'd like to pay what I'm paying now. How does that sound, hmmmm?

Yeah, that's what I thought.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Great words for the boutiques

I'm re-re-reading Jerry Della Femina's "From The Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor" a look at advertising in the 60's and 70's.

I remember reading it the first time in 1969, in my senior year in college and I knew I wanted to be in advertising. Of course, I got sidetracked into newspapers and corporate PR for 15 years, but that's another story. "FTWFWGYPH" is a bit dated, but a great book anyway.

Anyway, without anybody's permission, I want to share this passage from Chapter Eight "Fights Headaches Three Ways":

"There comes a time when all agencies are created equal and that time is when Jerry Della Fenmina & Partners, which maybe is billing $20 million, has a four-color ad in Life magazine next to a four-color ad from J. Walter Thompson, which bills maybe $640 million and has thousands of employees. No consumer sitting in the barber shop is going to know the difference in the two agencies behind those ads. Media are the great equalizers.

"We're as good as anybody in Life or on NBC. We've got it made. We're right up against them and nobody knows it. Nobody ever said 'I won't buy a Corum watch because Della Femina isn't billing what J. Walter Thompson is'. They really can't beat us - except in the quality of the ad or commercial. And that's what the game is all about."

I love Jerry Della Femina.

Big agencies with deep pockets and status accounts can attract the brightest stars in the business. But sooner or later, no matter how big or small you are, stripped to its bare essentials, it all boils down to a couple of people with pencils and a blank piece of paper.

And you can compete with anybody.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Power of Power.

Tag lines are funny things.

They do something for a brand or nothing for a brand. They can come to you in a logical flash or they can be a stone bitch to write.

There is a good column by Al Ries about tag lines in Ad Age (sorry it's a month old, but I been busy, you know?). He makes a great argument for longer tag lines. For example, while "Take charge" is an ineffective short tag line (American Express), "It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken" (Perdue) is a terrific long one.

The reason tag lines can be hell to write is the same reason logos can be hell to design. Sometimes, clients expect too much of them. "We need a tag line/logo that shows our history, commitment to the customer, the fact that we make 12 varieties of widgets and reflects our values". That that kind of thing. And, while my example is a little extreme, everybody in this business has some variation on it to share if they're a mind to.

Years ago at a creative conference, I saw a presentation by Larry Postaer that was built around the premise that not every client needed a tag line; that very often, the logo is the most effective tag line of all.

That has stuck with me. Especially when I have found myself creating advertising that needed the tag line to explain the damn thing (which told me right there what I'd created was inadequate) or had clients start right in saying they needed a tag line before any other thinking has been done (maybe they did and maybe they didn't).

Personally, I hate obtuse tag lines. Like anything out there today that refers to the "Power of (insert confusing word here)". "The Power of Go" was never one of my favorites. Then again, since we all know I'm am idiot, maybe I just didn't get it. Of course, a tag line ought to be pretty easy to "get", I think. Like "When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight." (Which unfortunately, FedEx doesn't use any more. Now they use "We understand" whatever the f*** that is supposed to mean.)

Anyway, I commend the article to you out there in WhereverTheHellYouAre Land. It's a good read. And one advantage me being so late on this (look, I done told you I been busy) is the collection of comments that follow it. One I like the very best is by "sschildwachter of Chicago".

"One of my colleagues distinguishes between "simple" and "simple enough". "Raid kills bugs" is simple. "Raid kills bugs dead" is simple enough."


Friday, October 8, 2010

I'm baaaaaack

Hiya Kiddies --

Been out for some warranty work. Thanks to this year's visits to the Suburban Hospital ortho ward I now have so much metal in my body, with any luck at all, the airport scanner will short-circuit next time I go anywhere.

So I'm getting back into this stuff a bit slowly.

According to copyranter, people are complaining that this Halloween ad for Snickers is scary or creepy or something.

Personally, I think it's funny as hell. At the very least.

In fact. I may just go down to the convenience store and buy myself a Snickers just to make a point.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I'll be in the shop this week

So I'll be gone for at least a week.

In the meantime, why not just start at the beginning and re-read the whole freaking thing?

Pop quiz Tuesday.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

An open message to Walter Bayliss

Please stop putting self-promoting comments on this blog.

It is annoying as hell.

Please take your Internet hustle somewhere else.

Thank you and God bless.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

1:57 and 2:37

YouTube won't let me embed this, but I am such a genius and I love you all so much that I have arranged for you to be able to just click this picture and see the scene.

And even though this whole scene is great, the meat of it for my purposes is at 1:57.

My purposes being to comment on an Ad Age Small Agency Diary piece I saw today about that runaround so many prospects give us where they want us to do some work for free or cheap so that "when it succeeds and the budget is bigger, why then you'll have a bunch of well-paying business!"

Except it almost never works out that way. Maybe they get bigger in part through your efforts and now you're too small for them. Or someone new comes in who really doesn't give a sh** about what his or her predecessor told you, they're going to work with the agency from their old job. Or any number of good or bad reasons.

Point is, it's a crap shoot and even though nobody ever says it out loud, everybody knows it.

As I said in my comment on Ad Age, if you can build their business with a small budget, then why the hell should they ever spend more money?Seriously. Apply that extra cash to the bottom line or something.

There are a lot of things people say to and ask of their agencies or prospective agencies that they seem to think we've never heard before. And "work with me now" is one of them. Except none of them can really answer the question "why the hell should I invest in your business by giving you a discount?" with anything but some vague promise. Unfortunately. there are agencies who will do it. Every time.

And just in case you're lazy or don't have speakers, the line at 1:57 (that is my new favorite movie line - not to mention probably the only one I remember) is:

"If you're good at something never do it for free."

Check out 2:37 too for something we'd all love to say one day.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

So what do you suppose they paid?

For the new Wyndham Hotel Group logo that is.

Old logo top.

New logo bottom.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sad, but true

Found this on a Facebook page called Bad Ad Advice.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The power of television

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

Maybe it's time to piss somebody off

So I will. I guess I have to.

(Let's all understand before we start that I'm stupid, a miserable hack and will never amount to anything. My 5th grade teacher Mrs. Smith was right. But still . . . )

I was at an Ad Club Addy committee meeting yesterday (and just wait until you see what SmithGifford has come up with for this year - it's singularly terrific) and we got into a discussion of creative in DC and whether it's good, not good and all like that.

I've always thought that the way to build our creative reputation is not by telling the world that we do great work here (when, in fact, most of us do good work), but to do better work. Kerry Feurmann once said to a Last Tuesday (R.I.P.) group that the way to do better work, was to "do better work." That's the truth of it, if you think about it.

Anyway, I went away from yesterday's meeting feeling pretty good about the people I'd met and the ability of this community to raise the bar a bit. Check that, feeling really good.

And then, I logged on to the Capitol Communicator this morning and saw a link to this thing.

I know. I know. It's easier to sit back and criticize than to do something better in the first place, and it is decidedly low-rent to criticize someone local who no doubt donated their time. But this is, frankly, a pretty stupid spot for DC Advertising Week. It doesn't say much positive for what we can do locally.

Forgive me, but this is late-night-Comcast-produced kinda stuff. Damn near Ameritel.

There are agencies in town who, in exchange for creative freedom, could a lot better. SmithGifford, Adworks, August Lang, Redheads and Arnold come to mind. And if you challenge me to do better next year, I'll take that challenge.

Christ, the guy in the goatee looks like he's giving the old guy a lap dance. Or something. But let's not go there.

The point is, is this really what we want to hold up as how we promote ourselves to ourselves? Really? Are you serious?

I realize that the people who did it are students (at least I think they are.) And I surely don't intend to be be unnecessarily mean, nasty or diss anybody who doesn't need this kind of crap from an idiot like me we did it for free for Christ's sake and where the hell was Woody Hinkle when they were looking for volunteers - but if I'm a big local company (let's say like, oh, Hilton?) a spot like this only reinforces my low opinion of the capabilities of local ad agencies.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Told ya

Our belief in Brand as a valuable tool is fairly well documented.

We've blathered over and over about it.

OK, sorry, but it's a fact that a strong brand begets brand loyalty which begets your customers not looking elsewhere for a lower price during a recession.

Right now, according to all kinds of feedback from clients and prospects and reports (one of which Karen downloaded from a hotel news site yesterday) consumers are looking at cheaper products, beating people up for a lower price and using whatever coupons and offers from previously unfamiliar companies are available.

And anybody who invested in themselves (as in building a strong brand position and cementing that position with their customers) a year or more ago, isn't getting hit as hard. If your customers and prospects know what you are and why they should do business with you, they aren't as price-sensitive as they might otherwise be. They're more likely to pay a "premium" - which might be simply full price these days - for that known quality.

But if they don't know any of that, well, in their minds, you're probably no better or worse than the next guy who may be undercutting your price in an attempt to stay afloat.

Then there's that whole continue-to-invest-in-yourself-during-a-recession-and-come-out-of-it-a-hell-of-a-lot-better-than-those-who-don't thing. But that's another discussion.

(Bet you're wondering about this picture, aren't you? Click it and see just how clever I am.)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Things I know. And things I don't know.

Sometimes I'm a quick study and sometimes I'm not.

Just last night I figured out something about this business that I should have understood years ago. Other things I figured out pretty quickly. And still other things I will never know.

For example.

When it comes to naming things , I have just realized that as often as not (perhaps even more often than not) our job is to come up with a bunch of things that the client won't like as much as the one they came up with. This also sometimes applies to things like logos.

Also, the more senior someone is in a company, the more certain they are that they can do anything. An executive vice president who starts to tinker with a logo design, for example.

Often pressed for time means you have to hurry. Not a client necessarily. Get us those headlines and design options now since we're in a big hurry, but I'm taking a long weekend for Labor Day and will get back to you sometime after that. But of course, I won't tell you that I'll be gone until you bust your ass to get the work when I wanted it and you get an out-of-the-office bounceback in reply.

People don't always understand why we are in this business. I mean, we do like it and we do it because we enjoy it, but that doesn't mean we're not trying to make a living here. This comes up whenever someone says "but if you want to think about some ideas or designs we'd love to see them." Of course you would.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Kinda makes you want to go to FantasyFest, doesn't it?

Only this body painting is for a good cause (a good cause other than oggling hooters, that is) -- breast cancer awareness.

Found these on the Creative Advertising Facebook page.

OK, fine. I'm arrogant.

Is there anything worse than checking out the web site of the agency that got the business you were pitching and saying to yourself "Are you $%@&ing kidding? We lost to these guys?"

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Probably a bad attitude. But those of you who know me know that I'm kind of a dick anyway.

But still . . .

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Actually, the response is probably better

This is a spot Dodge ran (with Dexter C. Hall narrating) that Peta objected to.

And THIS is the Dodge response. Really, I think this version is better anyway.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I love this song

Download this mp3 from

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

And Wowie ZOWIE!

Here's another one. Beautifully told story.

Too bad it's for a hair product.

Find more videos like this on AdGabber


Sorry. I been busy.

But this spot I found in an AdFreak think on the 25 Most Epic Ads That Aren't 1984 is awesome.

According to AdFreak, Guiness spent 10 million pounds, shot it in Argentina and (this is the good part) used no digital trickery. You have got to check them out. Some awesome stuff on there.


Monday, August 2, 2010

There is a reason big sucessful brands advertise

And you can make a hell of an argument that advertising is one of the reasons they ARE big and successful.

This always kind of pops into my head when someone small questions the validity of any sort of advertising. Seriously, Nike didn't just materialize that big. Nor did any of the others. They came up with a good idea and promoted the hell out of it.

Four words: "Do good. Tell people."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I don't know who did this

Or where. But I do know that it's pretty cool.

Found it on the Creative Advertising Facebook page.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I would pay money to get to do a painted wall someday. Maybe these are ads made to look like a painted wall and maybe they are real, buy still . . .

20 years in this business and I still don't understand

One of the first thing I noticed when we started our business was that there is often an inverse relationship between how much people charge for their product or service and how much they are willing to sell or promote it.

Time and again, I run across someone with a big-ticket item who tells us that they have "nothing", "next to nothing" , "very little" or "no budget" to spend to attract customers.

To their big-ticket item.

Lots of these people want to be able to hone in on that segment of any given universal target that wants to really spend money. You know, the people who want a great room at a luxury hotel, not just a room somewhere in town. Or the people who are willing to pay top dollar for a remodeling job, not just new cabinets from Home Depot. Or the people who are fine with shelling out $25-$35 for an entree not people who just want some filler. But all too often they tell us that they don't want to spend any money to do it, even though they really, really want it to be effective.

In other words, they want to sell a high-end value but not buy one.

I'm sorry. I just don't get it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I'd work for these guys for free

But they don't need me.

I love Ace Hotel. I love this HAHA Comedy Night too.

Friday, July 16, 2010

What a great idea!

But apparently, this poster promoting the Bloody Mary Tudor exhibit at the London Dungeon, was banned from the subway because parents complained that it scared their children.

Um, well, yeah. So it was scary. The exhibit is scary. And?

Found on the Denver Egotist.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I'm not sure what a prepaid MasterCard is

And I kind of get the feeling that the whole "priceless" campaign is pretty close to jumping the shark, but this spot with Mr. T is pretty freaking funny.

Especially the last few seconds.

Probably makes no sense at all, but still.

Via Ads of the World.

Monday, July 12, 2010

I hate using a quote by Donald Trump

But it's a good one.

"As long as you're going to be thinking anyway, think big." Or words to that effect.

We're talking Jim Justice-type thinking here. Jim Justice (right) is the man who bought the Greenbrier recently, wresting control of it from Marriott. Now he could have - as Marriott no doubt would have - done himself a nice renovation, opened back up as a sweet, expensive West Virginia resort and banged along maybe making money and may not making money as it has for the pasty 20 years or more.

"F*** that" he seems to have said and, thinking big, he's got one of the hottest fancy-schmantzy places in the country on his hands. He's got a golf tournament a-comin' and he opened a snazzy new casino thanks to a change in West Virginia laws. The opening event was what might might call star-studded and earned itself plenty of national coverage.

Because he thought big and acted big. And it's gonna pay off for him.

One of the real frustrations of this business we're in is watching opportunity drift away from people because they think small. There are always excuses - budget or uncooperative upper management are two favorites. But I just don't think there is any real good excuse for thinking small when, as The Donald says, you might as well think big, since you're going to be thinking anyway.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we don't always think big here at N+H Central. I know that. I didn't say we were perfect. What I said was that watching opportunities drift away because somebody (and that somebody could well be me) is no fun.

But for the moment, let's all cheer for Jim Justice. He ought to be an inspiration for us all.

If he had had a lesser vision, the Greenbrier today would be just another semi-boring Marriott Resort.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hey kids! Here's a fun game!

It's called "Guess Why This Spot Was Pulled"! (via Illegal Advertising)

Watch and see if you can guess! Eeeeverybody's a winnah!

(Scroll down for the answer.)

According to Illegal Advertising, the Nigerian government complained, the spot was pulled and Sony issued an apology.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I have one dentist who does the top teeth, one who does the bottom ones, a third one who cleans the crowns, and some guy who advises on flossing.

Like many of our brethren and sisteren in the ad business, we're hustling for new business as hard as we can.

And one thing we see and hear just makes me scratch my head in disbelief.

We'll run across hotels, CVBs, tourism bureaus and companies in other market categories that have a PR firm, a web marketing company, sometimes a separate web design company and a media placement company. Or some combination of most of those.

What's missing here?

That's right, There is no creative company and nobody really developing or protecting the brand. It's a whole kitchen full of cooks and anybody in our business who has ever worked with a client that had other outside resources knows one thing for sure: more often than is good for the client, two or more of them are going to be fighting to be the Alpha Dog in the arrangement.

The public relations people will tell you that they ought to drive the bus. In fact, when I was in PR and got my APR from the PRSA (going with LBJ on the IRT down to 4th Street USA [where we saw] the youth of America on LSD . . . oh, never mind), we were told in no uncertain terms during review classes that advertising is a subset of public relations.

Except, as I have since learned, most PR firms do crappy advertising. Sorry, but it's the truth, and it you want to go out back and fight about it, we can.

Anyway, the PR people will sometimes tell you that they ought to drive the bus. Other times the ad agency wants to be behind the wheel. (And trust me on this, ad agencies can not do public relations.) Still other times, the web marketing people see no useful purpose for anything but the Internet and the media people, well I suppose they are usually not in the fight, since their role is pretty clear-cut.

The point is, nobody except the client is really in charge. Now, plenty of clients are perfectly capable of - and good at - being in charge. Except they often have lots of Other Things on their plate. And I'm here to tell you that too often, each of those outside companies can be found whispering in the client's ear like some back-stabbing Roman senator.

It's a working relationship that is not effective, it's not cost-efficient, and it makes a whole bunch of No Sense at All. OK, sure, I come from the ad agency side of things, but I've been a client. And a PR guy (with a suit and a tie and everything) and I just think it's a crazy, crazy way to do things.

Think about it. The best web site on the planet won't do any good unless people find it and know something about you when they get there. That's where the advertising and PR come in. The PR and advertising messages really had oughta be in sync. And so should the point of the web site (which is, of course, conversions, not just hits - but you knew that already).

Whatever advertising is done should be creative and compelling (hence the role of the advertising and design company), ought to support the brand (here comes the brand development function) and the media needs to be based on the message as well as the target. Which means there sure better be some back-and-forth between the creative people and the media people.

There are plenty of times when the media is part of the creative strategy if you do it right. And that's not going to happen very easily if the media company and the creative company are in different cities, different states or even have different names on the door.

These are not economic times when anybody can afford to waste any money. Which is precisely what I think this all-hands-grab-a-broom-and-do-something approach does.

So there are two things here. It helps immeasurably if everybody is on the same page, and it seems to be like the advertising and creative function is the one thing you can't do without - or better not try.

Now comes the part some of you may consider to be a bit of parochial thinking. Creativity is the most practical tool available to a business today. (Actually, that 's a stone fact and not the parochial part. This next part is the parochial part.)

Neither a media company, nor a public relations firm is typically capable of delivering the kind of creativity necessary. And, to be honest, since one needs to be media-agnostic, neither is a web design firm or an Internet marketing company. You know, when your only tool is a hammer, every problem tends to look like a nail, and all that.

I'm not saying an advertising agency is always going to be the best and the brightest - unless it's us, of course. What I'm saying is that I don't understand why so often the people best qualified to create a clear brand and come up with a creative way to deliver it - the two most critical parts of marketing for my money - are left on the bench when the team takes the field.

Then again, as we all know, I'm an idiot most of the time.

(So what do you think? Wasn't that part about the bench and the team taking the field a real gem?)

These are pretty cool.

How many of you thought the pineapple one was a bathing suit top?

Tell the truth now. He's listening.

I love the simplicity of these. Sometimes this visual pun approach gets a little old, but these work for me.

Via Creative Advertising on Facebook.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

If you build it, you will have built it

Years ago, an agency Karen worked for did some work for a small local brewery.

They designed a wonderful logo and label and packaging. Then everybody looked up and the agency and blown the entire budget (I said it was a small brewery) on logo and package design and nothing was left to use to actually sell the beer.

Fortunately, the guy who owned it was a rich guy who did the beer thing sort of as a hobby and didn't really need to make anything on it, but I think about that example when I see an organization (hotels seem to pop up most frequently) who spend a boatload on a new web site, but little to nothing to promote it.

There is a plethora of information out there that supports my contention that it's not enough to count on people who stumble on your site or find their way via SEO, so I don't need to expend a lot of energy citing it here. Besides, I have before and if you don't take notes when you read JITD, well, then shame on you.

(Are you impressed that not only can I spell plethora, but also that I know what it means? It's some sort of leech-like slug kind of thing, right?)

Just because someone shows up at the front door doesn't mean she is going to buy anything. It helps if she knows something about what you're selling, why it's worth the cash and was looking for you, not just people who live in your general neighborhood. This is where things like advertising and public relations come in.

Not only that, but just because she shows up at your door and peers into the foyer doesn't mean she is going to necessarily spend any money. This is why the success of a web site should be measured in conversions, not just hits and why a web site ought to be designed to turn visitors into customers.

A "new web site" too often seems like some sort of short-cut to success. It's not. It's a tool. And it will work better if it works in concert with other tools.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The commercial that changed the way Americans look at Kosher food.

(Apologies for the sound quality. Blame YouTube. Or somebody. Not me.)

There was an interesting piece in the Op-Ed section of the New York Times by Sue Fishkoff about how this commercial "resonated at a time when Americans were growing increasingly mistrustful of the government and were starting to worry about what dangerous hidden substances might be on their dinner plates." And changed a lot about eating habits and preferences in America.

Today, while Jews make up about two percent of the population and most of those don't keep Kosher, Fishkoff says. And yet "One-third to one-half of the food in American supermarkets is kosher-certified, representing more than $200 billion of the country’s estimated $500 billion in annual food sales, up from $32 billion in 1993." Clearly many are non-Jews who believe the "higher authority" promise. They believe that somehow Kosher food is better for you.

Smucker's Gatorade - even Tootsie Rolls have Kosher products.

Read the whole thing here if you like. I think it's an interesting comment on the power of effective advertising.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

If you're on Facebook and like creativity in advertising, go here

Creative Advertising is a pretty cool Facebook page.

I don't know who does it. but stuff like this is up there all the time.

If you can't read the type below the picture, this is the door at the School of Visual Arts in New York.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

" A Better Way to Pitch"

That's the title of a terrific post in the Ad Age Small Agency Diary by Phil Johnson, CEO of PJA Advertising and Marketing.

You can read it here.

His premise, slightly borrowed, is that "the traditional agency capabilities presentation has gotten out of sync with the times and current realities of the business." He suggests, for example, that perhaps having the agency at the "center of the client's marketing universe" isn't always a good idea.."

I'd agree sometimes or for the most part or part of the time. But not every time. I mean, someone has to understand and control the vision to an extent. Somebody has to drive the bus. The agency is in a damn good position to do it, too.

But I do agree with most of his suggestions for getting more value out of a capabilities presentation. Like having the agency address how they can and will collaborate with other agencies or partners, like public relations, direct or interactive, for example.

I also agree with his contention that agencies ought to focus on their process before they show work they have done for others. Honestly, I thought this was something everybody does., We certainly do. Nothing ground-breaking there. Or at least I hope not.

He also suggests bringing a financial guy to the meeting to explain billing and estimating practices and such. I think that's a great idea. In our case, we're pretty small, so we don't exactly have a CFO, but I think a financial discussion at the right there at the outset is smart for everybody. We're in a creative business, but it is a bidness, after all.

Finally, he suggests that you "still leave time for carefully selected work" - but I wouldn't make this such an afterthought m'self. We sell a lot of things, those of us in the advertising business do, but they more or less revolve around the creative, right? I think it merits more than some leftover time.

On a similar, but different, but not the same thing but sort of close to what we're talking about note, I read somewhere that when you present creative, get right to it. First. Before you go through the brief or present all the supporting research. After all, the writer said, if they don't like the creative, none of that other stuff matters. We tried it, and it works. It works great, in fact.

I mean, think how many times you've sat through all the supporting run-up and then notice that everybody sits up and leans forward in their chairs when the creative part of the show comes on.

Anyway, I think that Phil is right when he says we ought to stop doing things based on old models for no good reason other than that the old models are there. That's sort of what he said. I think.

But it's what I said anyway.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thanks go out to copyranter for posting all this cool stuff from Cannes

I think that after a post title like that, there really is no need for me to add anything here, is there?

All found via copyranter.

(Years ago, Polo did a wonderful spot that showed the robotic manufacturing equipment delicately hand-carving the logo on to each individual piece of candy. I'll try to find it somewhere.)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Took me a minute to get the "corner" one, but I got it.

You probably got it faster, because, of course, I'm an idiot and a bit slow on the uptake.

These are part of a magazine campaign for Recreational Boating & Fishing by Colle + McVoy. Via Ads of The World.

Me like.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I love George Lois, but I would have been terrified to work for him

I absolutely love what he has to say about creativity. Which was the headline of an e-mail we sent our recently. (See below.)


"Creativity can solve anything.The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything."
- George Lois

Not everybody gets the business value of creativity in advertising.
Whatever form it takes, creativity is what will get people to linger a little longer on your web site, respond to your e-mails, listen to your radio spot, remember your print ad or television commercial, click your banner ad or even follow you on Facebook or Twitter.

Because the role of creativity in advertising is to not look and sound like everybody else. Advertising that looks and sounds like everybody else isn't going to demand very much attention. And if people aren't paying attention, they won't have a chance to learn about the benefits of your product or service.

When you get right down to it, our job as advertising people is to, you know, sell stuff. It is. That's the ultimate point of the entire exercise. If you're not trying to directly or indirectly generate sales of some sort, it's art, not advertising.

Those of us in the advertising business just get to do it through creativity.

Friday, June 18, 2010

These are what one might call very cool.

Life in the Fast Lane for VW in Sweden. By DDB Stockholm.

These videos tell the story of some great examples of ambient advertising. A grocery cart with a skateboard attached, a slide next to an escalator and a fueled-up elevator. "Driven by fun".

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

These are great

Found links to these on "Sh*t the Creative Director / CEO / Account Guy / Client / Intern Says" Facebook page. (Neither web address at the end seems active though.)

"The Breakup"

And the sequel
(Love the "I have to solve my problem. By making it your problem." line)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Whichever side of the argument you're on . . .

This is still a powerful spot opposing the death penalty.

By TBWA / Paris for Amnesty International. Via AdFreak.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The other side of the velvet rope

Our pal, ace art director Maire McCardle of Bethesda Magazine sent us this from The Cool Hunter web site.

According to the description on the site, "At a busy Seoul subway station, Nikon mounted a huge interactive, light-box billboard displaying life-like images of paparazzi. Huddled together as if at a premiere, the "paps" appear to be jostling and competing for the best celebrity snap. The celebrities in this case were the passersby, who automatically triggered a deluge of flashing camera lights as they walked past the billboard. The accidental superstars then followed the red carpet all the way out of the station and into a mall - directly into the store where they could purchase the new D700."

Pretty cool. (Duh.)