Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Ideas matter.

+ Bob Hoffman (@adcontrarian) gave a presentation titled "The Golden Age of Bullshit" at Advertising Week Europe 2014. You can watch it below:
Throughout the presentation he hit on data that doesn't back up all the things that pundits are constantly saying about the evolution of the advertising and marketing business. And, he's right about a lot of things, some of which have always bothered me. You look at case studies that talk about "amazing, great success" because 1,000 people participated in a contest or 10K watched a video online. We work the data to tell the story that we believe to be true (hence bullshit), and sell it in like snake oil salesmen. We care more about channels and the medium than the ideas. I remember someone once told me that ideas didn't matter anymore--what a horrible, sad state for this business if that was to be true. Ideas are not just for creative, they're a part (or should be) of each step in the process of creating advertising, branding, marketing and communications from strategy to development.

At the end of the talk, Hoffman is interviewed and in response to a question of an audience member he says this:
"We are so obsessed with delivery systems, with what media you're going to use. We have to get back to ideas. That is what has always built brands. Great products and great ideas about those products that can be delivered in any advertising channel. A good idea is a good idea in any channel. A bad idea is a bad idea in any channel." - Bob Hoffman
Yes. Yes yes yes yes yes. Yes.
How and why we as an industry have gotten away from this basic thinking is just crazy. Ideas matter. It's what we do. It's what we sell. It's our value to our clients. Pretending that it's not is just absurdity.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

A Collection of April Fools

+Busy today but here's just a few April Fools to keep you entertained. More and more brands are definitely jumping on the bandwagon. Some should probably not bother.

April Fools Pranks Across the Food & Restaurant World. The Marmite energy drink is quite nasty.

April Fools collection from The Drum

More Canadian April Fools

Herbal Essences

Nest + Virgin

Cheetos pretended to come out with a perfume called Cheeteau.


April Fools Top 8 brand pranks according to Social Media Today.

Think Geek April Fools products.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Content, Marketing, and Social articles worth a read

+ Here are a few things worth reading (most of them are quick), that I've been reading today.

How to Tell the User's Story looks at how a user's knowledge bridges the gap between client's expertise and our expertise. The article talks through ways to capture the user's knowledge and incorporate it into the overall process.

The most key thing in How to Do Brand Publishing Right is probably this:
Publishers, on the other hand, begin with an editorial mission. Think of any great publication, whether it be The Economist, Cosmopolitan or anything in between, and the mission is clear. They stand for something.The mission doesn’t change at the end of the quarter or when success is attained, but only deepens and becomes more salient...So, the first step to successful brand publishing is to stop thinking about content and start thinking about what you have to offer the world.

Why Marketing Has Changed Forever ends with a question that needs answering, "If marketing practice has changed so fundamentally, why do our marketing organizations look so much the same?"

Brand Engagement and Value Exchange is a good read for understanding how to get to engagement by creating value beyond the basic transaction of payment for a product or service.

Real Time Marketing vs. Ready For Anything Marketing slices and dices the differences and points to RFA as much better than RTM.
Don’t be myopic in your strategy. Migrate to where it makes sense. Tide could have killed on The Walking Dead last night (pun intended). Considering how many adults with kids watch that show, knowing that Tide can get out blood stains would have been a helpful, valuable, contextually relevant addition to the conversation.
(I know I am picking on Tide here a lot… and only because I think they have the chops and potential to be better.)
The reality is, we are viewing social channels the same way we do traditional channels. The online conversation is fluid. There is overlap and we must look at the full spectrum of opportunity vs. thinking that 3 hours dedicated to one program is a wise investment. I’d much rather see a brand like Tide latch onto a show like The Walking Dead and be there every week. Engaging with fans, understanding the story line, and being an actual fan.
Why can’t brands be fans of the shows they watch?
The point of really finding out what your target audience likes and creating a conversation around that is key. True, it's also a bit borrowed interest, but less so than jumping on the Oscar bandwagon, where every brand out there is doing the same thing.

Content, Measure For Measure provides some tips around helping make your content pay off.

How Capturing Consumer Intent Creates Better Advertising can be summed up with this:
The future of advertising will not only rely on matching content based on search and share behavior but will go much deeper by understanding the mindset and intent of the consumer. Advertisers will make strides by creating engaging customer experiences that pair with what consumers are looking for in real time. Intent targeting might just be the most powerful weapon in an advertiser's arsenal for increasing engagement and conversions. And, when deployed correctly, it can dramatically improve the path-to-purchase dynamic going forward.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Super Bowl ad fumbles and themes

+ Last nights Super Bowl was a blow out, at least in terms of the game. The ads? Not so much. Some shared themes and tactics by brands came through.


A good 'ol Super Bowl creative standby...bears. Nearly as expected as dogs these days.

  • Chobani
  • Beats Music
  • CarMax

Borrowed Interest

Rather than focusing on their own unique points, brands have piggybacked on other things. Not like it's new this year though.

  • Bank of America with U2 and RED
  • Chrysler and Bob Dylan
  • T-Mobile - Tim Tebow - the only upside on this one is that it was at least connected to the celebrity in some way. But the thought of him as an OBGyn increases the creepy factor.
  • SodaStream and Scarlett Johansson
  • Toyota and Muppets
  • Kia and The Matrix
  • Okios and Full House
  • Microsoft
  • Honda and Bruce Willis

America & Patriotism

Nothing's more American than football and the Super Bowl so these brands felt it was the perfect place to tout their ties to the American spirit. Strategy was showing through a bit much on some of these.

  • WeatherTech made in America
  • Coca-Cola America The Beautiful
  • Chrysler and Bob Dylan with the opening line "Is there anything more American than America?" Sounds like it came straight out of the brief.

Attempts at Epic Copywriting

Anthemic spots are nothing new to the Super Bowl. In fact there have been some decent ones in years past.

  • Jeep - Restless
  • Are you among the restless many? Each tick of the old clock a reminder, that stillness is what actually kills us. When the walls close in, do you climb out? When the road ends, do you go on? Restlessness starts with an itch. And ends in progress. It is your ambition refusing to be bottled up. Begging for a little blue sky time. Genetics have a voice that you can only deny so long. They scream GO. RUN. ACT. FIND. DARE. Where you go when you have the itch is free will. How you get there, is why we made the new Cherokee.
  • Chrysler - Bob Dylan
  • Is there anything more American than America? 'Cause you can't import original. You can't fake true cool. You can't duplicate legacy. Because what Detroit created was the first and became the inspiration to the rest of the world. Yeah, Detroit made cars and cars made America. Making the best, making the finest takes conviction. And you can't import the heart and soul of every man and woman working on the line. You can search the world over for the finer things. But you won't find a match for the American road and the creatures that live on it. Because we believe in the zoom and the roar and the thrust. And when it's made here, it's made with the one thing you can't import from anywhere else. American Pride. So let Germany brew your beer. Let Switzerland make your watch. Let Asia make your phone. We will build your car.
  • Maserati
  • The world is full of giants. We have always been here. Lumbering in the school yards. Limping through the alleys. We had to learn how to deal with them. How to overcome them. We were small, but fast. Remember? We were like a wind, appearing out of nowhere. We knew that being clever was more important than being the biggest kid in the neighborhood. As long as we keep our heads down, as long as we work hard, trust what we feel in our guts, our hearts. Then we're ready! We wait until they get sleepy, wait until they get so big they can barely move. Then we walk out of the shadows. Quietly walk of the dark. And strike.
  • Microsoft - Empowering
  • What is technology? What can it do? How far can we go? Technology has the power to unite us. It inspires us. Technology has taken us places we've only dreamed. It gives hope to the hopeless. And it has given voice to the voiceless.

Most uncomfortable ads of the evening

Title says it all.

  • Butterfinger encouraging threesomes
  • Okios with Bob Saget getting familiar with John Stamos

Brands that could have spent money better

It seems a lot of brands decided on the PR strategy of having an ad in the Super Bowl vs. actually doing a Super Bowl-worthy spot. Which is a pity because it's really a waste of dollars that could have been spent more wisely and creatively.

  • Budweiser new bottle spot
  • WeatherTech
  • Squarespace
  • Sonos
  • Beats Music

Friday, January 17, 2014

1-800-Dentists and PS4 get it right

+ In the typical mishmash of boring, forgettable TV ads we are inflicted with daily, here are a couple of the ones that have stood out to me because of their great strategy and insight.

1-800-Dentists - New Job

You've got to love it when a brand that typically does safe ads actually does something that's funny and touches on a truth.

At the end of last year 1800Dentists launched a TV spot that still makes me smile when I see it. Concept is telling the story of a guy who got a new job and needs to find a dentist so he does what most of us do, poses the question to his friends on social media. And the response he tells us about is something a lot of people (especially a younger demographic) are probably familiar with.

Result is simple, funny, and memorable.

PS4 - Perfect Day

This spot from BBH, NY captures the whole point of gaming with friends perfectly. It's great storytelling. In fact, my husband who is into video games, loves this so much he told me I should work for the agency that created it. Ha.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Let's stop thinking about media and focus on the bigger picture

+ I've been doing some thinking. I have drafts of posts in the queue on themes about how agencies and clients need to restructure their processes, value of creatives with a copy background in the digital world, generalist vs. specialists, and other big thinking ideas. Things I am still playing with in my head in terms of telling the story.

But, the other day I tweeted:

And, when we get down to it, this is the best simplification of it all (that's not to say you won't see those other posts in the future).

What I mean by it is that right now both agencies and clients are still stuck thinking about media. I can't tell you how many projects I've had where the media comes before the idea. The funny thing is, that's not how I was trained. And yet, for a good part of my career, it's always been about the allocation of where they media spend is going to be. Granted, the fact that agencies made their money based on a percentage of the media buy, I understand why. But that doesn't make it right or the most effective thing to be doing for your communications.

Even more so than before, it's imperative to look at the bigger picture first and answer strategic questions that set up a network of ways to communicate an idea and tell a story. That larger picture has to include all aspects of the business, especially the ones that can have an affect on any and every customer touch point, and most critically, the product or offering. As William Bernbach was quoted as saying in a 1965 interview with the Wall Street Journal, “Great advertising can make a bad product fail faster; it gets more people to know it’s bad."

Agencies can't fix something that is broken from inside. They can help guide brands, but brands have to be willing to listen and change. And, once that aspect is in progress, then we can focus on the story and big idea. And, if it's big enough, it will work across any media channel you can throw at it.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

This And That 12.29.13

I'm the kind of person who tends to have over 10 tabs open in my browser at one time (usually it's more like 30+). This morning I caught up on some of these things and below are the ones worth sharing or checking out.

+ Watch for a few good things. 1) Make interesting things that people want to share. 2) Logos are not brands, brands are the sum of the things that they do and experiences you've had or heard about them.
QR Codes Kill Kittens, A Cautionary Tale for Creatives talk by Scott Stratten.
QR Codes Kill Kittens: A Cautionary Tale for Creatives from The 3 Percent Conference on

Creativity, Disruption, Storytelling in the Digital Age from The Guardian featuring Allison Arden of Ad Age and Chuck Porter of CB+P.
Creativity, Distruption, Storytelling in the Digital Age from The Guardian on

+ Cadence and Slang is a series of evergreen guidelines that advocate simplicity, consistency, and humanity in technology. You can get a free chapter to check out. Tempted to get the book (maybe I will).

+ "Predatory Thinking for Copywriters", a talk by Dave Trott at the 2013 Professional Copywriters' Network Conference.

+ Peter Thompson on Strategic Questions shares 8 tough questions to ask clients to get them going in the right direction with their strategy.

+ The Many Faces of Adaptive Design is a great read on the different uses people associate with the term "adaptive design".

+ Here's a handy toolkit from Hack Design for best tools online for design, UX, and more.

+ I came across this post, Job Stories Are Great But Personas Aren't Dead, which was a nice read but introduced "job stories" to me as a new term. That lead me to this blog post, Designing Features Using Job Stories, which basically introduced to me the idea that personas aren't as helpful as job stories. I'm not sure I really see the difference all that much besides tweaking the questions asked.

+ Content Marketing Predictions for 2014.

+ What Content Marketing Needs to Rule in the Post-Advertising Age.

+ 4 Reasons Apple's iBeacon Is About to Disrupt Interaction Design.

+ After the Digital Agency: The Three New Archetypes for Winning Agencies, which states that digital expertise isn't enough anymore--you must be customer-obsessed.

+ Notes from LukeW of An Event Apart event in 2012 by Kristina Halvorson's Content Strategy Roadmap presentation in which she talked about how to integrate content strategy into a typical Web design workflow. In my experience, this is a key thing. As well as understanding that content is not just copy. But that's another post. ;)

+ And here's an oldie from A List Apart, Reviving Anorexic Web Writing which is still very relevant, maybe more so with the content marketing buzz.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

5 Tips for Becoming a Better Presenter

+ If you work in advertising or marketing, at some point you'll need to present work to a client, internal team, or maybe at a conference. Here are five tips to help you present better.

One of the best ways to be a great presenter, is to know what you're talking about. Practice your presentation. Know your material well. Preparation is key to feeling confident in front of a room of strangers staring back at you.

Keep them interested. Think and plan your presentation around telling a story. Set it up, explain it, summarize it. But also consider what is going to resonate with them. When you have people paying attention to what you're saying, it can help remove some anxiety when you're standing in front of them. Getting them to smile or laugh also helps.

Knowing your material is one way to get to confidence. But there are many others. Psyche yourself up with the fact that you're giving a presentation for a reason: they think you're an expert, they want your point of view, etc. Feed on that.

Still not feeling confident? Fake it. Put on your acting shoes and think about someone you look up to who is confident. Pretend to be them. It could be a coworker, someone from a movie, or even just how you imagine yourself as a confident, take-charge presenter.

Take deep breaths. Put on music that calms you, or, psyches you up. I like music with a beat that gets me rallying. Some prefer calming music. It all depends on how you react to the pressure of presenting.

The other thing is that practice makes it easier. The more you do it, the better you will be. Start practicing with your coworkers, friends, or family. We all know that presentations should have a good number of dry runs but that doesn't always happen. So as much prep as you can do yourself, even in your head (I tend to do it in the shower), will help.

Good luck!

Monday, November 04, 2013

Yes, brands should be more like Bill Murray

+ I'm the kind of person who has way too many tabs open in my browser, pretty much at any given point, unless my computer is shut down. To illustrate my point, as of right now, I've got about 26 open in Chrome and 4-5 in Safari.

Anyway, in one of these tabs was a link I am pretty sure I found through Twitter. It's a bit old, but it took me a bit to get to watching the video it contained.

Digiday posted a piece on Mike Cole, sales exec at reddit, and his presentation at the Digiday Publishing Summit at the end of October. One of Mike's key premises is that brands should be more like Bill Murray; flexible; not pass up opportunities.

The video is below and worth a watch. Since you can't see what's being projected, you can just let it run while you do something else.

Making Ads Suck Less (Or Why Brands Should be More Like Bill Murray) from Digiday on Vimeo.

But I do love the premise of this. The idea that ads need to suck less is important. It goes back to a point I made not too long ago about innovation taking balls and trust, because you need to innovate to break away from the current archaic advertising structure and set budget aside to do awesome things. You need to re-evaluate how your internal structure to be more flexible, fluid, and overall agile to an ever-changing marketplace.

There's some good ideas in this that go beyond advertising as well.
(and now I can close that down, 25 to go) ;)
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