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.