Monday, May 31, 2010

This is kind of silly, but kind of funny

Besides, it made my goal of getting in 31 posts in a 31-day month.

I'm exhausted.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Is small beautiful? Does size matter?

Agencies like us (the small ones) often wrestle with whether or not to actually describe ourselves as small.

Is being small a bad thing?

(Let's take just a second and let anybody who wants to snicker and make smutty jokes about "small" go ahead and make them. Remember, my name is Woody and even though I had the name long before it became a euphemism for anything, I'm pretty familiar with the whole penis joke-category.)

While large agencies, mid-sized agencies and small agencies all have their place in the world, here at N+H, we tend to think that a small agency has as many advantages over bigger ones as it has disadvantages when compared with those bigger agencies (and please note the correct use of "with" rather than "to").

Cost-efficiency is one advantage. And that often means less expensive and/or more for your money. Just remember that "less expensive" doesn't necessarily mean "cheap". A Lexus is less expensive than a Benz, but it's still not "cheap".

Attention from senior people is another advantage. If you're one of the smaller accounts at a big agency and you don't offer a lot of awards-show potential, you're probably not going to get the A-Team. Entry level at a big agency may be better than entry level at a small shop, but it's still entry-level and not always better than a senior person at that same small shop. Besides, small shops can't always afford to wait for entry level people to grow, unless they are Really Something Special. So there are fewer of them around. (My friend Sheila calls them "ad pups".)

Setting aside account size for a moment, quality of the work and service may or may not be a big-agency advantage. Clearly, a larger agency has deeper pockets to attract the best talent. And the status and opportunities available at a big award-winning agency certainly attract the brightest and the best. That said, a lot of "smaller" agencies do pretty damn good work. Just check out the showbook of your local advertising awards if you don't believe me.

Do you judge the "size" of an agency on the number of employees or the size of its ideas?

And should a smaller agency embrace its size or try to look bigger than it is?

Just wondering.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I'm certain about this

Adfreak says we might "actually miss the FreeCredit guys."

I won't.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What is it with the Brits and the 2012 Olympics?

First, they come up with a baffling logo (read about it here), and now Someone Who Apparently Doesn't Think Clearly has come up with a pair of surreal mascots for the 2012 London Olympics.

Feast your eyes on Wenlock and Mendeville, two characters with a serious WTF? coefficient.

I just loved Ken Wheaton's description in Ad Age: " Perhaps London won the 2012 Olympics bid by showing the International Olympic Committee its top secret plans for the new mascots -- mascots guaranteed to outshine all other city's mascots when it comes to downright, abstract stupid things that can't be described in words by anyone in any language."

opywriter Underground says : "You can’t get a better guarantee of soft, formless mediocrity than to assign a creative project to a committee – especially those expressly designed to avoid controversy."
Anyway, here they are. They'll probably grow on us.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

These work for me.

I find a lot of do-not-smoke advertising to be a bit preachy and self-righteous. And I don't smoke.

But I do like these, which were produced by Barber Martin in Virginia for the Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation. Since a lot of people I know who smoke like animals better than people (then again, who doesn't?), this is a smart approach, I think.

I do wonder why they didn't use the same tag on both of them, though.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Show it to me when it's all finished. And be quick about those changes.

About a bazillion lifetimes ago, I worked as a PR guy for a defense contractor in the Washington area.

We made a fighter jet for the Air Force and all kinds of other things I don't totally care to remember now.

The president of the company was arrogant and mean as a snake. One of my responsibilities was financial public relations, so I was charged with producing things like the quarterly report to stockholders - a little newsletter that reminded them how wonderful we were and gave them a financial update. This president-guy (let's call him "John") had to personally review and approve everything, but refused to actually look at anything until it was a blue line.

For you kids out there, all you really need to know is that a blue line was the very last thing before printing. Which is to say any changes - and with this joker there were always changes, because had to show you how smart he was - were a hell of a lot harder to make then they would have been if he'd looked at the damn manuscript before it was set in type.

Blue lines have gone the way of the manual typewriter, but there are still some clients who resist making life easier on you and on themselves by approving - or disapproving - copy before the artwork is done. "Put it in the layout, so we can see what it will look like," they will say. "Can we have it this afternoon? I can't promise you there won't be changes. But we'll still want it finished tomorrow."

I'm not saying a client's role in life it to make our lives easier. But it is true that if they'd just take us to our word that this is the better way - for everybody - to do it, we'd all be a bit happier.

Now I need to post this thing so I can go back and review it for the first time.

I kinda like this. I definitely love the simplicity.

I can just hear some lawyer somewhere wanting to include a disclaimer about using a feather for a spread could spread avian disease or that no endangered species of bird should ever be plucked to obtain a spreader.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I cannot stand fried chicken. Here, let me show you how to make it properly.

Alternate Title: Lead, follow or get the Hell out of the way.

Client of ours has a superior who has made it very clear that he does not believe in advertising, does not think it works in any form and is absolutely certain that he can get all the business he needs to get through personal relationships.

That, of course, doesn't stop him from injecting himself in the advertising. Especially the creative. He is an "expert" on what works, what doesn't work, why people read ads and what they are looking for. I'm telling you, this guy knows it all.


I should been a telephone lineman like I wanted to be. You too.

(And actually I love fried chicken and I'm really good at making it. Corn meal, flour, panko, Old Bay, brine the chicken, cook it in a wok and so on. I'm banking on fried chicken to get me into heaven when there might otherwise be a slim chance.)

Sometimes you just got to speak your mind.

I've stepped in it plenty of times in my life by saying exactly what I thought about something, and I'd like to think that as I get older, I get better at thinking first and talking later.

Saying what you really think is sometimes stupid and sometimes admirable.

But my hat is off to Susan Gianinno, CEO of Publicis USA when she sent a memo to her staff after getting dumped by Chevrolet. Her note called out Chevy for the treatment. Good for her.

All creative work had been consolidated at Publicis about a month ago, but when a new marketing director came in at Chevy, he decided go with Goodby Silverstein & Partners - without ever even bothering to take a meeting with anybody at Publicis. He'd worked with Goodby when he was at Hyundai. (And it took me three tries to spell that properly.)

So Gianinno sent her staff a memo (read the whole thing in Ad Age here) that said, in part: " . . . they were disrespectful in this decision. It was made without a thoughtful review of what we were doing or had planned. It was made without meeting any of us. That just isn't right."

It's not. But unfortunately for too many people in business, right and wrong doesn't enter in the equation. Look agencies -- and people get fired every day. For good reasons and bad reasons. And if there is more to tell about this than I think, I'll say so. But what the hell is wrong with showing some class and manners in business? Who the hell knows? Maybe if he'd bothered to meet with Publicis and seen what they had in mind, he'd have learned something and decided to hang with them. OK, maybe not.

I, for one, admire Gianinno for standing up for her company. If I worked for her, I'd be pretty proud right now.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A webinar is totally different than in-person

It was a subject I was actually interested in too.

Mobile marketing campaigns for agencies in the hospitality industry. That's us.

But I decided to wait for the handout rather than pay attention. But here's something I did learn:

Whatever personal charisma you may have goes right out the freakin' window on a webinar if you're not careful. These guys knew their stuff, but with nobody in person and just the PowerPoint slides on our screen, every "uh" was magnified, speakers droned on and the clicking as they used their computer to move through the presentation was terminal.

I lost interest and went to the bank. Karen stuck it out.

But like I said, I did learn something. If I'm ever doing any kind of remote presentation, I'd better be aware that my in-person charm, stunning good looks and eye contact aren't going to hold anybody's attention.

It's a whole other game there.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Yet another Pedigree spot I love

This one is about shelter dogs.

Love the last line.

Friday, May 14, 2010

OK, well maybe I stand corrected

Talking with Julie our intern-for-a-few-weeks today and I asked her to check out the whole Get Your Preak On campaign I dissed this morning and tell me how she'd make it better.

She made a few really good points.

She started out with "It's probably not terribly creative, because it's probably the first idea they had." But she went on to say that she checked out the blog and Facebook page and the target seems pretty tuned into it already."

"Get your Preak On" is just something they are all saying and I think that's good, smart advertising. They will just keep saying and get more and more excited about it. "

Bottom line: She wouldn't do anything different.

So yeah. Maybe my age is showing. I'm not drawn to it, and I still think it could have been better.

But then I haven't been in the infield mob in years. So what do I know?

This is about the coolest hotel web site I have ever seen

And it looks like one of the coolest hotel groups I have ever seen too.

Ace Hotels -- New York, Portland, Seattle and Palm Springs.

A spectacular bid that falls short.

OK. The Preakness is this weekend. For years the infield was a drunken brawl, more or less. Then for a year or two they tried to clean it up and now it's back to all-bets-are-off. $20 for all the beer you can drink.

Some debate around about whether that's a good idea or not.

(Read more about it here. Love this line in the story: "Given that Pimlico's gates open at 8:30 a.m. and the race won't start until 6:18 p.m., the bottomless beer mugs may represent the biggest bargain in sports history or the most ill-advised. "

Personally, I think the infield at The Preakness is supposed to be a drunken brawl. So I'm OK with it. But this post is more about the ad campaign around the Preakness anyway.

It's a "controversial" campaign (or so says the Baltimore Sun) built around "Get Your Preak On." Billboards (one is here), broadcast and a web site where you can (wait for it . . . ) "Get your Preak on!"

Get it? Preak / Freak / Preakness? Get it? Huh? Do ya?

Honestly, I don't think it's in poor taste or controversial. (Read more about it in the Baltimore Sun if you want.) Given the approach to beer sales, it appears that the Maryland Jockey Club wants to make this a freak - er, Preak - show. Fine by me. But the ad campaign just, well, how do I say this? Isn't very good.

I mean it's kind of sort of close. But it misses the mark somehow. I woulda said go back and try again.

Tracy said" "But look who they are targeting with the $20 beer." She's probably right, but still. Your client is the Preakness and this is the best you can do?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Some funnyawfulhystericalwretched stuff here

Mixed in amongst the "F*** economics" and " I hate accounting" comments on my nephew's Facebook wall, I found this link.

The 8 Very Worst Local Commercials.Great intro too: "Somewhere between folk art and pop art lies the do-it-yourself wasteland of local advertising." Of course, no such list is really complete unless it includes DC's own Ameritel spots, but there is some stuff here so bad it's funny.

Bottom-line lesson here? Don't get into advertising for the money, the glory or the fame. Do it to help the poor bastards out. Save them from themselves.

I'll preview a couple. Click here for the entire collection.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I love Stan Freeberg

He did some great television and radio commercials Way Back When. And some funny recordings too. "John and Marsha" was a classic.

It's impossible to find radio spots for here and hard to find television, but here are two. One for Jeno's Pizza Rolls and one completely over-the-top spot for soup featuring Anne Miller.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Honest to God, this has never come up for me

But just in case you need to know, JWT New York has produced some exceptionally informative videos for Wilkinson Sword under the general heading of "Hair off My Stuff".

See them all at Adfreak, but for your entertainment pleasure we present "Nuts and Bolts" below.

I think it's just lazy.

Last night, mixed in with Jack Bauer committing unspeakable horrors on some unfortunate (albeit a totally guilty and evil guy - he killed Renee Walker!) Russian operative, we saw almost-back-to-back commercials for Mercedes convertibles and Lincoln Something-or-Others.

The music track for the Mercedes spot was "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" from Hair and the track for the Lincoln spot was "Space Oddity" by David Bowie from the album of the same name.

I am so sick and tired of hearing old rock songs used for commercials I may have to change my name. My guess is that most of them were conceived and produced by people who weren't even around when the songs first came out and, in some cases, have no idea why they were written or what they meant.

OK here are some of the lyrics to "Let the Sunshine In":

"And when you're lonely / Hey! let it shine, yea / You got to open up your heart and let it shine on in
When you feel like everything's cheated / And your friends are turning backs upon you / Just open up your heart / and let it shine in."

Exactly WTF does that have to do with convertibles? Oh wait! I get it! Put the top down and let the sun shine in! What a concept! I hate to sound like an old fogey (too late) but people used to actually write original music for commercials. Nevertheless, here are some lazy ideas -

Let's see, how about "Run Through the Jungle" by Creedence for Nike or Reebok?

Or "I Can See Clearly Now" by either Jimmy Cliff or Johnny Nash for Four Eyes Optical.

Maybe Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" for Prell shampoo ("leaves your hair so silky soft . . . ")

"Give Peace a Chance" for Green Giant?

Monday, May 10, 2010

OK, don't believe me. Believe this guy.

Marc Brownstein writes a regular "column" for the Ad Age Small Agency Diary.

Today I saw his post about over reliance on social media. Among other things, he said: " Social media belongs in the media mix. But it shouldn't be the entire mix. How will your customers find you?" Read the entire thing here.

We've said the same thing over and over, only we include web sites, SEO, organic search and all the rest of those wonderful Internet-based tools at your disposal. If someone simply stumbles on you on the Internet, they don't know much about your brand or what you sell or why they ought to do business with you.

Conversion rates are much higher if someone is looking for, say "Nasuti + Hinkle Creative Thinking" than "ad agencies, Bethesda".

As for social media, it is, as he says. good for maintaining relationships, not creating them. I also read somewhere that someone said "You don't go on Facebook to be cool; you're on Facebook because you're cool."

I don't know if this is real or not, but I'm afraid it is

And I thought the car dealer ads around here were bad. This is even almost as bad as the Ameritel copier commercials. Almost.

Humor is really hard to do. Just remember the classic line from Spinal Tap - "There's a fine line between clever and stupid."

From Illegal Advertising.

Friday, May 7, 2010

I'm just saying . . .

I think that most of the time, a client gets the advertising it deserves, regardless of the agency.

Apologies all around and up front for this

But I'm sorry, they're funny. Let's soldier on.

Here's a veritable extravaganza of spots for an on-demand, adult channel. Yeah, as copyranter says, they are demeaning to women. But, as he also says, they are spots for porn. So expect nothing less. You have to admit, "You won''t watch for the acting" is a pretty spot-on tag line.

From Ads of the World (where you can see them all)and copyranter both. By Cossette West, Canada.

This is pretty much way beyond cool

When you first look at the still, you wonder how the hell they can just stand underwater like that.

This simulated pool was built by Leandro Erlich for the 21st Century Museum of Contmporary Art in Kanazaw, Japan. He used two clear acrylic glass panels about a foot apart and filled the space with water. The top is also filled with about 5 inches of water so it looks like a realistic pool from above too.

From the Denver Egotist

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Maybe you should watch it at 78 rpm

Cool video on the making of the Google Chrome Speed Tests. From Creativity Online.

You have to admire the courage to say it like it is. Or was.

Candor and reinvention paid off for Domino's.

According to this story in today's Ad Age online, after stating the obvious to their customers - that their pizza was bad - and fixing the problem, same-store sales went up 14.3%.

According to the article: "Ads for the chain's new pizza -- launched mid-December –- have been hard to miss. Measured-media spending increased 9% for Domino's during the first two months of 2010 compared with last year. . . . News of the chain's pizza launch may have become unavoidable because of massive pickup in print media and taste tests on morning news shows and blogs.

"But Domino's has certainly accomplished a few key objectives: generating massive trial and awareness."

The lesson? If your product sucks, do three things: 1 - admit it, 2 - fix it, 3 - tell everybody.

Leave any one of the three out and it's not going to work. Basic marketing I think is four words - Do good. Tell people.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I could be twice as bad for half as much

Hell, I could even been three or FOUR times as bad for 10%.

You know those simply awful Priceline spots William Shatner does? Well, according to, because he "had the foresight to ask for stock 10 years ago instead of cash when he started appearing in ads for the online travel company, William Shatner has made a startling $600 million."

That's right boys and girls. Six hundred million freaking dollars.

You can make the argument that the stock has gone up partly because of him. Says HotelMarketing: "After all, it’s Shatner’s personality-driven ads for the website that has made it so popular."

I don't know that I agree with that, but holy cow $600 is sure a pantload of money.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Love this.

My buddy Rich from The Tastee Diner (retired big-shot lawyer now of The Old Sports Guy blog fame) sent me this commercial.

I'm a little fuzzy on the laugh track, but I think it's a great spot.

It's a spot from England for St. John's Eye Care Institute. Pretty funny stuff.

This is what we call "borrowed interest". Sort of.

Just saw a something about an agency that has decorated part of their office with an icon from a campaign a senior staff member created at another agency in another city.

Actually, it's a major element in the lobby.

And it's misleading I think.

Yes, it was a successful campaign and parts of it are still in use and yes, this person was a major factor in it. But, as I said, it was another agency and another city and a while back.

I used to work for a company that made the A-10 fighter jet. Should we put one in the lobby? Tracy used to work for an agency that regularly does some absolutely wonderful, award-winning spots for a national association, so should we run a loop in the lobby? Karen used to work for an agency that used to clean up on creative awards regularly, so should we put those awards in our lobby? Even though that agency is out of business?

(Funny thing - we actually could have done that last one. The creative director at that agency moved and jokingly told me I could have all those Addy statues he'd won, since he didn't want to go the hassle of packing them. )

I think it makes absolute perfect sense to use a previous success at a previous agency as part of the wonderfulness of a staff member at his or her current one. Make sure everybody knows this person was involved - no question. Totally legitimate. But when you start to make too big of a deal about it under your flag, it starts to get a little untoward. Misleading even if you're not careful.

Besides there isn't a campaign on the planet that was a one-person show. A lot of people - client included - contribute to the success of any advertising effort.

I believe advertising should contain an "essential" truth. Not a sliver of truth.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Whose ox is being gored?

I'm curious.

Let's assume these are the same ad with the same headline. Which is:

"You know you're not the first. But do you care?"

If you find that ad offensive with the top photo, do you find it equally offensive with the photo bottom one?

Just wondering.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sit back and take a few to listen to this

George Lois is an amazing guy. He has done some amazing things.

This is from a interview with him. If you don't have time - or the desire - to listen, you can read the whole it at big think here. Or go to Big Think and search George Lois and pick the topic you want. Here are a couple:

This segment is on "The Big Idea".

This one is "An Ad Man Who Hates Mad Men"

As promised . . .

I sure don't intend to be argumentative, but is one ordinary television spot.

Then again, we all know I'm an idiot, so what do you think?

Sure the previous ad is sexist. But I think it's more targeted creativity.

If it insults you, don't buy the car.