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52 posts categorized "Advertising Strategy"

November 17, 2009


Something doesn’t make sense with this poster ad on the DFW Airport skylink tram. Do you see what I saw?
If I’m advertising a “treat yourself” occasion at the airport during the hullabaloo of holiday travel, I’m choosing something more treat worthy than a low-fat soft pretzel. There are lots of "treat yourself" opportunities at DFW Airport that out indulge a basic pretzel.

March 10, 2009

The Difference is Why

Motivated by Seth's post on the difference between PR and Publicity, I excavated this juicy marketing quote from a vintage Brand Autopsy post (circa May 6, 2005).

”Advertising is when you tell people how great you are.
PR is when someone else says how great you are.”

— Guy Kawasaki —
(HarperPerennial reprint, 1990)

February 05, 2009

Dunkin's Snide Snipe at Starbucks

Excuse the multiple coffee-related postings today. Last one for a long time. I promise.

In a cost-saving move, Starbucks no longer requires its stores to have brewed Decaf coffee ready-to-serve after 12 noon. (You can read all the hubbub on StarbucksGossip here and here.)

Dunkin' Donuts is again sniping at Starbucks. This time, Dunkin' is chiding Starbucks for its cost-savings Decaf decision with a creative print ad that includes this brilliant line, "We don't work around our schedule, we work around yours."

(Ouch, Starbucks. Ouch.)

Kudos to AdFreak for the hook-up.

October 28, 2008

Better Billboard. Fresher

In July, I ranted about how there isn’t a faster way to commoditizing a brand than using unemotional and uncreative language. The example I used was Starbucks and this billboard:


I wasn’t knocking the billboard tactic as OOH advertising can be used effectively. I was knocking the fast food mentality of the copy used in the billboard.

Communicating a new and improved position is totally of the fast food mindset. And, to feel the need to say BETTER COFFEE is off-putting to me. (Shouldn't the Starbucks cup automatically convey Better Coffee? After all, the "Better Coffee" angle should be the culmination of everything Starbucks has strived to communicate to customers since its inception.)

The other week I noticed a new Starbucks billboard execution going eastbound to the Austin airport. It’s being used as a directional guide to support a just-opened Starbucks location nearby.


Kudos. The language/tone isn’t unemotional and uncreative. It’s (somewhat) interesting and functional. In other words … Better Billboard. Fresher. A marked improvement.

July 16, 2008

Better Coffee. Faster. ** NEVER **

I’m not as unsettled about Starbucks selling smoothies as I am about Starbucks approving this billboard:

LOCATION: Northbound & Southbound on I-35 (near Temple, TX)

Sadly, this is another decision the company has made which has “… lead to the watering down of the Starbucks experience, and, what some might call the commoditization of our brand." [SOURCE]

As marketers, we know there is not a faster, better, or cheaper route to commoditizing a brand than using unemotional language like: Faster … Better … Cheaper.

Back in the day, Starbucks marketers were coached to: (1) NEVER communicate like a fast food company; (2) NEVER convey a new and improved mindset; and (3) NEVER allow a tactic to take priority over the company’s heritage and personality.

Today is a different day. However, if Starbucks is to truly transform itself back to what in once was … it needs to also transform the language it uses.

January 29, 2008

Student Seeking the WORST Ad Campaign of 2007

I'm figuring some of you can help Julia. She's looking for the "worst ad campaign" from last year. If you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments section. Thanks.

Here's Julia's email:

"My name is Julia, and I am a marketing student doing my undergrad at McGill University. I am currently in an Advertising Management class, and we have been assigned to take what we think was the "worst ad campaign of 2007/2008" and pretty much fix it. I was wondering if you may have any bad ad campaigns in mind."

November 06, 2007

Buckley’s: The Good Taste of Bad Taste


We all know cough syrup isn’t the best-tasting medicine. That’s why medicine companies have been introducing better-tasting concoctions loaded with sugar to help the medicine go down.

Not Buckley’s.

For years Buckley’s Cough Mixture, available in Canada since 1919, has been highlighting the fact their cough syrup tastes horrible, but it works. Print headlines in the past have been: ** People swear by it. And at it. ** Made with oil of Pine needles. What did you expect it to taste like? ** Your cough won't know what hit it, neither will you. **

Buckley’s is finally entering the US market and they aren’t backing down from their “tastes awful” positioning. TV spots include faux taste tests with blindfolded consumers asking them to tell the taste difference between Buckley’s vs. Used Mouthwash, Buckley’s vs. Trash Bag Leakage, Buckley’s vs. Public Restroom Puddle. Seriously. Click on the above links to watch the short commercials.

Here’s a snippet from one of Buckley’s radio spots:

"If you are inquiring about your cough mixture tasting like expired milk, trash-bag leakage, a postpedicure foot bath, a state fair porta-potty, decomposing meat fat, monkey sweat, used denture soak, New Jersey, or hippie-festival runoff, please hang up. Your cough will be gone shortly."

Buckley’s is also into the Consumer-Generated Media game asking people to submit videos of their first sip of the malicious cough mixture with their Bad Taste Tour contest. Troll YouTube and you’ll also see videos of people trying Buckley’s for the first time.

I applaud Buckley’s for accentuating the hate with their cough syrup. The easier path would have been to reformulate the cough syrup to taste better so as not to turn off customers. But by turning off customers, Buckley’s turns them on. Kudos to Buckley’s.

And Kudos to the Wall Street Journal for the heads-up.

July 12, 2007

The Fading of Advertising


Lenore Skenay, of Ad Age, introduces us to Ben Passikoff, a 17 year-old high school student, and his recently published book, THE WRITING ON THE WALL. Ben has captured the fading remains of advertising’s past with his coffee table book of photos and stories from New York’s vintage painted building billboards.

(FYI ... Ben’s book started out as a high-school project but has ended up as a glossy coffee table book.)

There’s something ultra-cool and ultra-authentic about these fading painted billboard ads. As Lenore puts it … “The lesson one gleans, however reluctantly, is that whatever seems absolutely immutable, isn't. Not what is advertised. Not how it is advertised.”

Ben’s photos clearly tell us that old advertising doesn’t die … it just fades away.

May 26, 2007

Balloon Payments


Jay Ehret, small business marketing specialist in Waco, TX, shares a story about a car dealership that spends $3,000 a month on flying balloons but refuses to spend $1,200 a month to send a newsletter to existing customers. >> READ MORE

February 05, 2007

Super Bowl Ad Chatter

Yeah, I’m agnostic about advertising. I also think brands that advertise during the Super Bowl have a lot in common with singles looking for a one-night hook-up at a cheesy meat market dance club. Despite all that, I , along with a few others, shared some HMOS (hot marketing opinions) on the Super Bowl ads with Angus Lotun of Inc. Magazine. READ IF YOU WISH.

January 10, 2007

Sticking with MADE TO STICK

Made_to_stickAs I mentioned earlier, MADE TO STICK could be the breakthrough business book of 2007 for creatives, marketers, and anyone else responsible for communicating ideas and/or messages. (Anyone else includes … writers, teachers, lawyers, salespeople, project managers, pastors, rabbis, etc.) Communicating ideas that get people to not only understand you—but follow you—transcends whatever leadership role you are in. We can all learn to be better, more compelling, and more effective at communicating our ideas, right?

The authors of MADE TO STICK, Chip & Dan Heath, "… believe the best ideas have most of these traits: They are simple, core messages; they are unexpected; they are concrete, credible, and emotional, and they are stories.” [source: Inc. Magazine | Jan. 2007]

According to Chip & Dan, those traits form a checklist for creating ideas that stick. Simple Unexpected Concrete Credible Emotional Stories stand a better chance of sticking with people than do ideas presented in some willy-nilly, off-the-cuff way. To learn more, read this shorthand explanation of the MADE TO STICK checklist ...

“It’s hard to make ideas stick in a noisy, unpredictable, chaotic environment. If we’re to succeed, the first step is this: Be simple. Not simple in terms of ‘dumbing down’ or ‘sound bites.’ What we mean by ‘simple’ is finding the core of the idea. ‘Finding the core’ means stripping an idea down to its most critical essence.” (pgs. 27, 28)

“The most basic way to get someone’s attention is this: Break a pattern. Humans adapt incredibly quickly to consistent patterns. Figure out what is counterintuitive about the message—i.e., What are the unexpected implications of your core message? Communicate your message in a way that breaks your audiences’ guessing machines.” (pgs. 64, 72)

“Abstraction makes it harder to understand an idea and to remember it. It also makes it harder to coordinate our activities with others, who may interpret the abstraction in very different ways. Concreteness helps us avoid these problems.” (pg. 100)

“How do we get people to believe our ideas? We’ve got to find a source of credibility to draw on. A person’s knowledge of details is often a good proxy for her expertise. Think of how a history buff can quickly establish her credibility by telling an interesting Civil War anecdote. But concrete details don’t just lend credibility to the authorities who provide them; they lend credibility to the idea itself.” (pgs. 138, 163)

“How can we make people care about our ideas? We get them to take off their Analytical Hats. We create empathy for specific individuals. We show how our ideas are associated with things that people already care about. We appeal to their self-interest, but we also appeal to their identities—not only to the people they are right now but also to the people they would like to be.” (pg. 203)

“A story is powerful because it provides the context missing from abstract prose. This is the role that stories play—putting knowledge into a framework that is more lifelike, more true to our day-to-day existence. Stories are almost always CONCRETE. Most of them have EMOTIONAL and UNEXPECTED elements. The hardest part of using stories effectively is make sure they’re SIMPLE—that they reflect your core message. It’s not enough to tell a great story; the story has to reflect your agenda.” (pgs. 214, 237)

... in closing...
“Those are the six principles of successful ideas. To summarize, here’s our checklist for creating a successful idea: a Simple Unexpected Concrete Credentialed Emotional Story. A clever observer will note that this sentence can be compacted into the acronym SUCCESs. This is sheer coincidence, of course. (Okay, we admit, SUCCESs is a little corny. We could have changed ‘Simple’ to ‘Core’ and reordered a few letters. But, you have to admit, CCUCES is less memorable.)” (pg. 18)

BLOGGER'S NOTE: The above post was compiled by digging deep into MADE TO STICK to highlight a few meaningful snippets. Consider this a sample, a tasty bite-size chunk from a book that is worth reading from cover-to-cover.

January 09, 2007

The Lovemarks Effect

When posting comments about THE LOVEMARKS EFFECT, I promised to also post some worthwhile Money Quotes and worthless Baloney Quotes. Considered posted. Access below …

RSS Readers ... access the Money Quotes here.

RSS Reader ... access the Baloney Quotes here.

January 05, 2007

The Lovemarks Affect

Backstory -- In Sept. 2000, Kevin Roberts, CEO Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide, first presented his Lovemarks concept (known then as Trustmarks) in an article for Fast Company magazine. Four years later, Roberts had evolved Trustmarks into Lovemarks and published a branding book called, LOVEMARKS: the future beyond brands. It was met with skepticism from many marketers who felt the Lovemarks idea was an over-blown retread of old ideas repackaged as snake oil secret sauce for ad agencies. In late 2006, Kevin Roberts published a follow-up book titled, THE LOVEMARKS EFFECT: winning in the consumer revolution.

It seems to me … Lovemarks is having a greater affect than effect with marketers. Meaning, it’s affected our thinking more than it has effected our marketing. Some folks love it while other folks loath it. (Hmm … is someone working on a Loathmarks book?)

Those that loath Lovemarks seem to have difficulty in separating the messenger from the message.

The messenger, Kevin Roberts, does come off as a narcissistic, fanciful word spewing caricature of an advertising executive. Ain’t no doubt about it … he thinks very highly of himself. (And I’m sure he would tell you just that if you asked him.)

But this messenger’s core message is very smart and very relevant to marketers today. At the heart of the Lovemarks message is the idea brands evolve to a higher level when they earn respect and love from customers. Roberts uses a fanciful word, Lovemarks, to describe the state of when a brand evolves to the next level.

According to Roberts, when brands earn respect and love from customers, they can forge loyalty beyond reason. And when that happens, brands transcend from being just a brand … into being a Lovemark.

Dismiss the name Lovemarks all you want as being a creatively clumsy word. But, you’d be challenged to dismiss the notion that all brands are not equal with some brands playing on a different, more emotional level. Apple and Gateway are both brands but clearly, Apple plays on a different, more emotional level than does Gateway. Whole Foods Market plays on a much different, more emotional level than does Kroger. (Right?)

While reading THE LOVEMARKS EFFECT, it became blatantly clear to me that Roberts is desperate to make Lovemarks a Lovemark. And according to this Ad Age interview, the future of Saatchi & Saatchi depends on Lovemarks becoming a Lovemark.

Roberts tells how the Lovemarks concept is now Saatchi & Saatchi’s secret sauce. Its their company’s unique point of view on what the Saatchi & Saatchi brand aspires to become. Its what will hopefully make clients loyal beyond reason to Saatchi & Saatchi’s ideas. Its something Saatchi & Saatchi needs to make the company more endearing so clients will form a heart over head relationship with them.

I reckon Roberts hopes the affect of THE LOVEMARKS EFFECT will positively effect Saatchi & Saatchi’s present day and furture day business.

Look for a future posting on Brand Autopsy sharing Money Quotes as well as a few Baloney Quotes from THE LOVEMARKS EFFECT.

December 26, 2006

Never Forget Consumers Are Smart

I’ve just finished reading THE LOVEMARKS EFFECT from Saatchi & Saatchi ceo, Kevin Roberts. It’s a continuation of his Lovemarks ideology. According to Roberts, when brands earn respect and love from customers, they can forge loyalty beyond reason. And when that happens, brands transcend from being just a brand … into a Lovemark.

THE LOVEMARKS EFFECT still reads like an advertising agency capabilities PowerPoint pitch deck on steroids. But when you strip away the thick advertising agency varnish, you’ll uncover some super-smart marketing thought. (You can sample some of T.L.E. by perusing this PDF.)

On page 93, Roberts talks about the importance of gaining inspiration from allowing customers to mash-up, mix-up, and redesign products. He says we marketers might not always like what we see, but we’ll probably find a germ of idea from which to build upon. Roberts closes with this super-smart marketing thought …

Did you read that David Jones?

December 21, 2006

Michael Wagner on Trustiness

Steven Colbert provided the inspiration by creating the word Truthiness. Gary Stein parlayed Truthiness into Trustiness. Now, Michael Wagner gives us the Truthiness about Trustiness

Trustiness is that ‘not quite sure I am being told the facts’ feeling clients have just before they write the check or open their pocketbook. It’s the alarm bell going off in their minds which produces the inner dialogue, ‘I’m not so sure this is a good idea, but the salesperson seems to be telling me the truth.’”
“I suggest you skip both truthiness and trustiness and go straight to telling the truth and earning trust.
READ MORE from Michael Wagner

November 21, 2006

Citizen Marketer Hater Fallout

There’s lots of worthy chatter riffing off of ad agency honcho David Jones’ strident take that brilliant marketing ideas must come from ad agencies and not from everyday people (i.e. Citizen Marketers).

Former Brand Autopsy blogger Paul Williams refutes my take with his take and I return volley with more musings. Troll the comments section for more sharp musings from a slew of smart-thinking marketers.

And Spike Jones, from Brains on Fire, stokes the conversation with more fire which elicits more smokin' comments on the super-worthy Marketing Profs Daily Blog. In his post, Spike directs us to a blue flame Ad Age blog missive from another ad agency pro deriding the passions of everyday people who are compelled to create amateur marketing messages. The comments in this blue flame are priceless. Enjoy the fodder.

November 14, 2006

A Citizen Marketer Hater

CITIZEN MARKETERS: When People Are the Message is the much anticipated follow-up business book from Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba. I’m an unabashed McConnell/Huba fan which began when I read their first book, CREATING CUSTOMER EVANGELISTS, back in December of 2002.

CITIZEN MARKETERS looks to be right on trend as a continuation of the CREATING CUSTOMER EVANGELIST message. After all, it’s the customer evangelist turned citizen marketer that’s driving much of the social media we are exposed to on YouTube, MySpace, podcasts, and blogs.

However … not everyone in the marketing biz is thrilled to see the rise of the citizen marketer. One such citizen marketer-hater is David Jones, global CEO of Euro RSCG.

At the recent IDEA CONFERENCE put on by Advertising Age, David Jones blasted the concept of everyday people creating marketing ideas. Instead, he steadfastly believes it’s the advertising agency that must be the entity to create brilliant ideas and that consumers should consume the ideas agencies create rather than try to create marketing ideas of their own.

Money quotes from David Jones’ address at the IDEAS CONFERENCE
include …

“Our industry cannot delegate the creation of brilliant ideas to consumers. That has to be our job.”

“What’s been quite a prevalent trend in the lazy agencies over the last two years is to go, ‘I know. Consumers can now create ideas so what we'll do is get them to come up with the idea.’”

“If you look at and go play around on the ‘YouTubes’ and ‘MySpaces’ … well, there are a few entertaining things there but there is so much utter crap there. There are only so many times you can watch someone dance in a crazy way or mime badly to a song. And so firstly, consumers aren’t that brilliant at it and secondly, what they will do is not all that relevant.”

Oh my … so much fodder for us marketers to feast on.

And since I’m going to be out of pocket for a few days, feast on more of David’s diatribe by reading this article and watching the accompanying video clip. Or, you can simply click below and watch a hastily reproduced version of the video clip uploaded to YouTube.

RSS READERS … click here to view the video.

October 03, 2006

Jack is an Evolutionist WOM Guy


I’m agnostic about advertising but I always pay attention to the Jack In The Box (JITB) television spots because they are clever, savvy, original, and authentic. I’m also a believer in Evolutionist Word-of-Mouth and not Creationist Word-of-Mouth. [For more, watch this YouTube presentation.]

The Evolutionist WOM mindset is about generating talk with and between customers by designing products/services that are worth talking about. Marketers believing in Creationist WOM would rather create conversations with and between customers through outrageous attention-grabbing antics which may or may not have any connection to the advertised product/service.

And it seems like Jack is also a believer of Evolutionist WOM thought.

In a new JITB commercial, a JITB marketer is seen pitching Jack on a variety of attention grabbing antics to promote their latest Ciabatta burger. One of the great ideas the marketer pitches to Jack is to name the baby of a pregnant woman (seen in Jack’s office) after the new Ciabatta burger. The JITB marketer also pitches Jack on other Creationist WOM marketing ideas.

But Jack abruptly cuts the marketer off and says something like, “Hey, I have an idea … let’s have our new Ciabatta Burger advertise itself.”

Yep … Jack is an Evolutionist WOM guy.

April 19, 2006

What's Goin' On -- Presentation

UPDATED 1:45 PM | JAXMAC Folks ... scroll below to find links to videos mentioned from today's technology challenged presentation.
I’m in Jacksonville, FL today talking marketing stuff. In particular, I’ve been asked to address the following:
Word-of-Mouth, Viral Campaigns, Product Placement, and Branded Entertainment are all the RAGE in marketing today. Is Traditional Advertising dead? Can advertisers really create Word-of-Mouth? Has Product Placement become passé?

Wide ranging topic, eh? Well, I put together a presentation which addresses all that and a little more. A collage of a few sample slides are below and you can also download a low-res version of the presentation by clicking on the download link at the end of this post.


DOWNLOAD LINK | What’s Goin' On [.ppt (5MB)]

Video Links

1 | George Masters iPod video
2 | Converse Gallery (website full of fan-created videos)
3 | I’m into Nuggets Y’all video
4 | Ronaldinho NIKE video
5 | Microsoft does the iPod packaging video

February 04, 2006

Super Bowl Advertising Insanity

I've updated a vintage Brand Autopsy riff on the Super Bowl advertising insanity and recorded it as a short audiobog.

It's goofy stuff.


[2:12 minutes | 2.1 MB]

January 04, 2006

McDonald's Milkshake

I may be advertising agnostic, but I ain't oblivious to whiz-bang creative. This billboard from McDonald's is wicked good.


SOURCE | Advertising Age | Dec. 19, 2005

November 18, 2005

RadioShack’s Holiday Irrelevance

This Holiday season expect to see a lot of RadioShack advertising. Kieran Hannon, RadioShack’s vp of marketing and brand communication, had the following to say regarding RadioShack’s heavy-up Holiday advertising blitz …

“We want to entertain [consumers] and make RadioShack relevant and exciting again for people to shop at. We have high awareness, but not high relevance. People don’t realize the depth and breadth of products we have.” [SOURCE: Adweek | Nov. 7 | pg.6]

Hmm, I’m not sure RadioShack gets it. It being … it’s not what you do during the 6-weeks leading up to Christmas that makes a business relevant. It’s what you do during the 46-weeks leading up to the Holidays that makes a business relevant.

If you are expecting a multi-million/multi-dimensional Holiday advertising blitz to make a brand relevant, then you should expect to fail. Businesses and brands are not made with heavy-up Holiday advertising. They are made with all the everyday marketing and business activities done in the many months before Christmas comes.

October 25, 2005

What You Do vs. What You Did

Via the WOMWatch blog

In a worthy read ClickZ article, Mark Kingdon, Organic CEO, shares thoughts about what to do when a client requests a Subservient Chicken-like viral campaign. Mark writes …

My advice is simple: take a (calculated) risk. Christian Haas, our group director of online advertising and our viral expert, says, "Stay consistent with what your brand stands for, but remember that sometimes the edgier the content, the higher the viral factor. You have to stretch beyond your brand comfort zone to capitalize on the power of viral."

I have a different take. As a student of Sethology, my advice to clients is to spend dollars to make the product more remarkable, not to make the word of mouth tactic more remarkable. Otherwise, all people will be talking about is what your company did and not what your company does.

When working with clients, I stress the importance of TELLING THE STORY and not Making Up a Story.

TELLING THE STORY is about designing marketing communications to deliver on the promise all the while being clever, savvy, authentic, and true to the brand. It’s about treating consumers as being interesting and interested.

While, Making Up a Story is when marketers engage in outrageously gimmicky attention-grabbing antics that over-promise and woefully under-deliver. These marketers treat consumers as being boring, indifferent, and brainlessly gullible.

To me, the Subservient Chicken, Ugoff, Dr. Angus, and The King are diversionary marketing actions designed to get consumers to focus on the kooky creative Burger King did and not on the food Burger King does.

Sure, people are talking about The King on blogs and such … but no one is talking about the breakfast goodies The King is hawking. As a marketer, I want people talking about what a company does and not what they did. Dig?

Sex Sells

Egads … looks like more sexually suggestive print advertising is in order. A recent survey conducted by MediaAnalyzer (pdf) reveals purchase intent increases when using sexual imagery in advertising targeted at men. However, brand recall suffers because men are too busy ogling the hotties and not the logos.

Take a look at this Adweek article (pdf) analyzing the survey results. It shows the viewing patterns of how the men and women survey respondents look at sexual and non-sexual advertising. It’s a revealing look at how differently men and women view print ads.


SOURCE: Adweek | Does Sex Really Sell? (pdf) | Oct. 17, 2005]

August 19, 2005

Agnostic about Advertising

I’m not an advertising atheist … just agnostic about advertising. I’ve always believed if advertising is the answer, one should question the question.

For many marketers, the answer to the question of, “Sales are down, customer counts are falling … what can we do?” is to spend marketing dollars on an advertising campaign.

From my experience at Starbucks and Whole Foods, I learned to answer the question of, “Sales are down, customer counts are falling … what can we do?” by spending marketing dollars to make the product/experience better and not to make the advertising better.

This week AdJab and Adrants clued me in on two very creative advertising campaigns where the marketers have decided to spend money on making the advertising better and not necessarily to make the product better.

Exhibit A: CBS Television | Water Cooler Advertising
To promote its Monday night comedy shows, including the new sitcom Out of Practice, CBS is placing ads on water coolers in Rite Aid and Duane Reade drugstores. CBS is also placing ads on prescription bags with the tagline of "Prescription-Strength Comedy." [MORE]

Exhibit B: Court TV | Billboard Advertising
On King Street in the SoHo area of New York City, Court TV has installed a “… faux painting on the side of a building to make it look like the rest of the structure, picturing various ‘inhabitants’ of the building in the middle of potential crimes.” [MORE]
Any thoughts from the atheists, the agnostics, and the believers in our audience?

July 10, 2005

Whole Foods Marketing Strategy

On Sunday, the Austin American-Statesman ran an article looking into how (and why) Whole Foods Market has grown to become a $4.5 billion dollar business WITHOUT relying on traditional advertising to do it. It’s a good read. Bonus points will be awarded to Brand Autopsy readers when you spot my name.

link: Whole Foods Shuns Ads | June 10, 2005 | Austin American-Statesman

May 14, 2005

Advertising on Times Square


As a marketer I’ve never had the challenge of having TOO MUCH money to spend on advertising. (Instead, the marketing budgets I’ve managed at Starbucks and Whole Foods have been more svelte than obese.) But there are plenty of companies with obese enough budgets to spend millions per year placing billboards on Times Square.

Advertising Age recently ran a very interesting story on the Times Square advertising scene. A few takeaways from the article include:

  • The annual Times Square billboard business is estimated to be $69 million
  • CPMs range from $2 to $5 (prime time TV CPMs are around $20)
  • Times Square draws 40 million annual unique visitors (about 14% of the U.S. population)
  • It is estimated more than 100 million keepsake photos are taken in the area
  • If Times Square were an Arbitron market, it would rank #152 between Rockford, Il and Flagstaff, Az
  • Thai Airlines spends nearly $1 million for their sliver of billboard space
  • Kodak spends over $2 million yearly for their display
  • Target spends in upwards of $10 million per year for 23,000 sq. ft of display space
  • Further Reading:

  • The Cost of Advertising on Times Square (sub. may be req'd) | Ad Age | May 9, 2005
  • Chart of Times Square Advertising Prices (sub. may be req'd) | Ad Age | May 9, 2005
  • May 06, 2005

    Difference Between Advertising and PR

    The following quote is suitable for any presentation from a Word-of-Mouth Marketer or Customer Evangelist evangelist …

    ”Advertising is when you tell people how great you are.
    PR is when someone else says how great you are.”

    SOURCE: Guy Kawasaki, THE MACINTOSH WAY (HarperPerennial reprint, 1990)

    April 25, 2005

    Too Little Too Late

    FOX plans to become the first major television broadcaster to offer advertisers the opportunity to customize commercials with different voiceovers, graphics, etc. For example, a Budweiser commercial could be customized to refer to the score of the football game viewers are watching. Or Campbell’s Soup could insert a graphic with the current frigid temperature in the city where the ad is airing. [SOURCE: Wall Street Journal article (sub req’d) | April 21, 2005]

    And, some high-end advertisers are beginning to offer high-def versions of their commercials to air on HD broadcasts. Citing spendy incremental costs and low household penetration, very few advertisers are currently offering high-def commercials. HD industry experts believe ad agencies would develop more high-def commercials if they better understood the potential of the medium. [SOURCE: Wall Street Journal article (sub req’d) | April 25, 2005]

    Hmm ... no matter the customization or if it’s in high-definition, television commercials will not affect my purchasing behavior. Yours?

    April 10, 2005

    Chaos, Revolution, and Micro Media

    UPDATED (4/13) -- Link to Bob Garfield's "Chaos Scenario" article.

    In this week’s Advertising Age, Bob Garfield examines what happens if the traditional marketing model collapses before a better alternative is established. In the “Chaos Scenario” piece, Bob joins our chorus in singing the exuberance for the “democratized, consumer-empowered, bottom-up” world of micro media.

    The article is far too deep and wide-ranging to adequately summarize it on a blog posting.

    Good thing Bob recorded a 12-minute synopsis which recently aired on NPR’s All Things Considered. Listen to the story by clicking here (.wma file). (A transcript will be available on the afternoon of April 13 at

    While I will not attempt to summarize the article, I will share a few interesting takeaways.

    Rishad Tobaccowala, president of Starcom IP, made a brilliant observation about the shortcomings of how we still try to measure advertising. In the article Rishad is quoted as saying,

    “The [ad] industry’s key currency is basically reach, frequency, exposure and cost per thousand. And where the currency out to be is about outcomes, engagement and effectiveness. Because right now all I’m doing is I’m measuring how cheaply or how expensively I’m buying the pig. I’m not figuring out whether or not the hot dog tastes good.”

    Right on Rishad! Reach/Frequency is so yesterday and Remarkability/Fanaticism is so today.

    Rishad also made some keen observations about how the fall of mass media will bring about the disappearance of economies of scale. Bob Garfield writes,

    “The whole point of new media is small ball. Quit playing for the three-run homer and amass the singles and doubles. Because, says Starcon’s Tobaccoowala, ‘the key thing sis the economies of scale is going to disappear. That’s really what the issue is. Our business [advertising] has been built on the economies of scale. And instead we’re going to go into the economies of re-aggregation. Which is how do you get 10, 20, 30, 40 thousand people instead of talking in 250 million and making them into 12 and 30 million dollar segments. How do you re-aggregate one at a time the tens of thousands?’”

    Micro media will definitely redefine how we marketers look at cost-per-thousand figures. Is it time we readjust our media math thinking to cost-per-individual?

    Speaking of individuals, Garfield sums up the impact micro media will have on society by writing,

    “It is a beautiful thing: the total democratization of media, combined with the total addressability of marketing communications. We, the people, cease to be demographics. We become individuals again.”

    Right on Bob. Right on.

    [Blogger's note ... others are blogging about this great story too -- Scoble & Winsor.

    April 06, 2005

    Crest Violates the Law of the Category

    Crest is reviving its “Crest Kid” advertising campaign which first appeared in 1956. After looking at the new creative, I’m struck less with the obvious nod to diversity and more with the change in message strategy.


    The Norman Rockwell creative from the 50s clearly promotes the category of cavity-free teeth with the headline of “Look, Mom – no cavities.” While the up-to-date version focuses more on the Crest brand with the “Look Mom, I’m the new Crest kid!” headline.

    Admittedly, the modern ad is cleaner, but I think the vintage ad is stronger.

    It’s stronger because Crest uses copy to promote the effect of using Crest toothpaste -- no cavities. The updated version evokes brand egotism without a clear explanation of why Crest is better than any other toothpaste on the market.

    Al and Laura Ries would say Crest is violating the Law of the Category which says … “leading brands should promote the category, not the brand.” Given this thinking, I contend Crest is in violation of the "The Law of the Category."

    February 08, 2005

    Super Bowl Ad Relevance Study

    Brand Autopsy’s exclusive Super Bowl Ad Relevance Study reveals startling connections between today’s Super Bowl commercials and yesteryear’s television icons.

    With the assistance of independent marketing research firm RPS Systems (Rock, Paper, Scissors), we assembled a representative sample of iconic television characters and electronically charted their second-by-second reactions to ads airing during the Super Bowl. The tabulated results clearly show the deep associations iconic television characters had with particular Super Bowl XXXIX commercials.

    Each Super Bowl commercial resonated especially well with a select group of television icons. Some television icons gravitated to particular spots while others felt distanced.

    Highlights from the study including the following strong associations between particular Super Bowl commercial and certain iconic television characters:

    Anheuser-Busch: "Standing Ovation"

    Gomer Pyle (Gomer Pyle - USMC) and 'Radar' O'Reilly (M.A.S.H.) both associated themselves strongly with the this spot.
    While Balki Bartokomous (Perfect Strangers) and Dr. Bombay (Bewitched) did not resonate at all with the 'Standing Ovation' commercial.

    Ameriquest: "Romantic Dinner"

    Jack Tripper, Larry Dallas, and Mr. Furley (from Three's Company) connected strongly with the premise of 'misundertsandings.

    Diet Pepsi: "P Diddy" (Pepsi Truck)

    Because of their on-screen occupations, BJ (BJ and the Bear) and Doug Heffernan (King of Queens) felt a bond with the P Diddy 'making big trucks hip' commercial.
    MasterCard: "Brand Icons Together for Dinner"

    Still clinging to their aspirations of one day becoming widely recognized icons, the Great Gazoo (Flintstones) and Gleek (Superfriends) reacted positively to this spot from MasterCard.
    ************************************************************************** "Cubicle Monkeys"

    Lancelot Link Secret Chimp, Jim Fowler (Tonight Show), and Alf felt this spot from CareerBuilder played off stereotypes but nevertheless, they connected strongly with the ad.

    Go Daddy: "Booby Trap"


    Barney Gumble (Simpsons), Paul Pfeiffer (Wonder Years), and Eddie Munster all became overly excited while ogling the Go Daddy spot.

    January 28, 2005

    2005 Super Bowl Media Study

    According to a "Super Bowl Media Study" from Brand Keys, Novartis, Volvo, and Go Daddy will be challenged to get a positive return on their Super Bowl advertising spend. Brand Keys developed a Return on Equity (ROE) model to measure which brands will be best reinforced by advertising during the big game.

    Their analysis basically says established brands will garner a higher ROE than non-established brands for advertising during the Super Bowl. For example, Go Daddy (not them again) received the lowest ROE score (-6) and Consentino USA (-4) didn’t fair much better. On the other hand, Frito-Lay (+15) and Pepsi (+13) scored the highest on the Brand Keys Return on Equity measurement.

    Now … I am really confused as to what this ROE score means or how exactly it was measured. The article (click here for the PDF) doesn’t address any specifics behind the ROE measurement.

    Anyone able to school me on the intricacies behind the Brand Keys Return on Equity measurement?

    January 18, 2005

    I won't say, "Make my logo bigger."

    McKee Wallwork Henderson, an advertising agency specializing in helping fast-track small businesses become bigger businesses, recently published a list of 13 Rules for More Effective Advertising. You can download the PDF here or simply read below for a verbatim scalpel/suture version of the way worthy article.

    [SIDE NOTE] As a retail marketer, I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly to everything bit of advertising advice from McKee Wallwork Henderson. I especially resonated with Rule #2 -- “I won’t say make my logo bigger.” Years ago while reviewing Starbucks marketing collateral, I more than once was caught uttering the phrase, “Make the logo pop more.” These days I have come to the understanding that a bigger logo is not necessarily a better logo.

    13 Rules for More Effective Advertising

    (1) I will avoid exclamation points.
    Use an exclamation point at the end of an exclamation like Wow! or Ouch! Don’t use it to gin up artificial excitement (Sale!). Exclamation points are the grammatical equivalent of shouting, and shouting causes headaches.

    (2) I won’t say “make my logo bigger.”
    You like your logo. You want to see your logo. But to your prospects your logo is not yet relevant. If they notice it too soon they may turn the page. Your logo should be the tasteful last point of a well-crafted appeal.

    (3) I won't spam.
    And remember that what constitutes spam is in the eye of the beholder.

    (4) I will give my advertising a chance to work.
    The average campaign’s life in the marketplace is just over two years. By the time your advertising launches you may already be tired of it, but resist the urge to change. Take inspiration from Absolut, which launched it’s now-famous “Bottle” campaign over two decades ago.

    (5) I won’t be all things to all people.
    Bob Lutz, the visionary behind the Dodge Viper, Ram pickup and PT Cruiser, led Chrysler to record profits in the ‘90s by designing vehicles that were the first choice of a handful of buyers instead of the second or third choice of everyone. He knew that the more broadly you try to spread your appeal the less appeal you have to go around.

    (6) I won’t project my media habits on my customers.
    You may hate country music or subscribe to obscure journals, but chances are your customers have different media habits. Just because you never see your ads doesn't mean that they don’t.

    (7) I will be more open to taking risks.
    If you want to stand out you have to do something different. But doing something different is, by definition, risky. Don’t be afraid to take a calculated risk with your advertising; it's your only chance to generate a big return.

    (8) I will not discount.
    Discounting is dangerous because it’s easy and it works. But discounting is an addiction-once you start it's hard to stop and you need to continually go deeper to get the same results. If you feel the need to discount, there are probably larger problems with your brand or product that you need to address.

    (9) I won’t use the word “quality.”
    Quality is a great word, but its usefulness in advertising has been ruined by too many abuses. If your product or service is of truly higher quality there are plenty of other ways to say it.

    (10) I will not promote my competition.
    Whether you make comparative claims or spoof a competitor’s ads all you're doing is giving them recognition. Be who you are and let your prospects make the comparison themselves. If you’re better, they’ll know.

    (11) I will have the courage to overrule the research.
    Research said that the Sony Walkman wouldn't work. Research said that New Coke would. Nike and Volkswagen don’t pre-test their ads. General Motors does. Enough said.

    (12) I will not let lawyers write my copy.
    No offense to attorneys, but their job is to help you avoid risk. See #7.

    (13) I will not pollute.
    Bill Bernbach, the father of the ‘60s-era creative revolution in advertising, said, “All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgarize society or we can help lift it to a higher level.” There is perhaps no better thought with which to begin the new year. Be it resolved.

    Author: McKee Wallwork Henderson (December 2004)

    January 12, 2005

    The Hidden Value of a Super Bowl Commercial

    “Great advertising can inspire like no internal memo can.”
    Scott Bedbury
    former Sr. VP of Marketing at Starbucks (1995 to 1998)

    I was reminded of this quote* after reading comments from a few Go Daddy employees emphatically defending their company’s decision to advertise during the Super Bowl.

    Of the 95+ million viewers who’ll watch this year’s Super Bowl, 616 of them will be Go Daddy employees. These 616 Go Daddy employees will proudly watch their company get the attention they think it so richly deserves.

    If Bedbury is right, no internal memo issued from Go Daddy CEO Bob Parsons has the potential to motivate his employees more than this one Super Bowl ad.

    Increasing employee morale … that is the hidden value of a Super Bowl ad.

    *My recollection of this quote may be slightly different from what Scott Bedbury originally wrote in a presentation deck.

    December 17, 2004

    Reach/Frequency is so Yesterday

    While reading a magazine article about marketers working to hit magical (and some might say mythical) media numbers with their big-budgeted advertising campaigns, I jotted down the following:

    Old School

    New School
    Remarkability | Fanaticism

    October 14, 2004

    Misplaced Moxie II

    Vaughn Whelan & Partners (VWPA), the Toronto ad agency in question, has taken their campaign to hijack the Molson $30 million advertising account review pitch process to the web.

    Visit and you’ll read VWPA’s twenty-two point rant on why Molson should allow VWPA to compete against the four much-larger ad agencies in the review.

    You can also watch the rogue commercial while visiting

    I still applaud VWPA’s moxie but I’m also appalled by it. Only time will tell if VPWA’s noisy actions will result in acquiring new business from advertisers.

    October 12, 2004

    Misplaced Moxie

    I applaud the moxie of Toronto ad agency Vaughn Whelan & Partners.

    But … I’d be appalled if I was a marketing executive at Coors/Molson.

    Yet another example of why the marketing/advertising profession is losing trust and respect ...

    from Steve Hall’s Adrants:

    In what is believed to be a first, Toronto ad agency Vaughn Whelan & Partners, which does not have the Molson account, placed a commercial for Molson Canadian over the weekend. It was placed, along with other marketing efforts, to attract the attention of Molson Chairman Eric Molson, Molson CEO Dan O'Neill and Adolph Coors CEO Leo Kiely. Vaughn Whelan & Partners CEO Vaughn whelan employed the tactic in a bid to win the account away from incumbent Bensimon Byrne as part of an ongoing agency review.

    The 60-second ad told the story of a Toronto bike courier who took on Revenue Canada and won after arguing his daily food bill should be deductible as fuel. In a nod to the usual beer ad, the spot concluded with the line "Respect," a patio shot with the triumphant courier, the obligatory buxom babe and the tagline "It's a Canadian Thing."

    October 06, 2004

    Same Product. Different Packaging.

    LubarsDavid Lubars, BBDO’s new creative director, was profiled recently in this acerbically written article for New York magazine.

    The author, Mark Gimein, definitely infused his cynical slant in his profile of Lubars and in his perspective on the state of advertising today. But Lubars didn’t do himself any favors by supplying Gimein with quotes that paint him as being the new guard of the old guard.

    It is clear from the article that Lubars is not ready to admit traditional advertising is on the endangered species list. Lubars’ take on advertising is not really any different from his old school predecessor.

    In my eyes, Lubars comes off as "Same product. Different packaging." He, along with his old school advertising executive predecessors, are desperate to maintain the control the advertising world once had over consumers.

    Enjoy the article … it is a worthy read.

    [Article surfaced via the PSFK blog.]

    October 05, 2004

    30 Seconds Street

    In July, Clear Channel announced a plan to cut radio commercial time to no more than 15 minutes of ads per hour and no more than six ads in a row. And now we learn Clear Channel is using its formidable weight to sway advertisers to use 30-second spots and not 60-second spots. Seems Clear Channel believes bad ads are causing radio listeners to change channels.

    [Hey Clear Channel … could it be BAD RADIO is driving listeners to change stations? But that’s another blog for another day.]

    The Wall Street Journal reported, “… some advertisers are balking, dubbing the plan Giving you less, charging you more. In the radio industry, a 30-second spot typically costs about 80% of the price of a 60-second pitch: Advertisers usually figure they might as well spend the extra cash and get a full minute. And advertisers, it turns out, don’t like having to cram their message into half the time they’re used to."

    To help advertisers make the switch from 60-second spots (where advertisers have time to tell a story) to 30-second spots (where advertisers must be disciplined to supremely focus their message), Clear Channel has created a new unit, Creative Resources Group, to help advertisers produce better and more effective 30-second radio commercials.

    [Great. The company responsible for producing BAD RADIO is just the company I want to produce “good ads.” But that’s yet another blog for another day.]

    I suggest radio advertisers and the Clear Channel's Creative Resources Group read Hey Whipple Squeeze This. In this book, Luke Sullivan (author, advertising maven, and current Creative Group Head at GSD&M), offers his battle-tested advice for making better radio spots. Luke has specific advice on how to make a better 30-second radio commercial.

    If a 60-second spot is a house, a 30 is a tent
    Thirties are a different animal. If you think you’re writing sparely for a 60-second commercial, for a 30 we’re talking maybe 60 words. Thirties call for a different brand of thinking, It’s a lot like writing a 10-seond tv spot. If your thirty is to be a funny spot, the comedy has to be fast. A quick pie in the face.

    Here is an example of a very simple premise that rolls itself out quickly.

    ANNOUNCER: We’re here on the street getting consumer reaction to the leading brand of dog food.

    VOICES ON THE STREET: Yellllllchh! Aaaarrrrrgh! Gross! This tastes awful!

    ANNOUNCER: If you’re presently a buyer of this brand, may we suggest Tuffy’s dog food. Tuffy’s is nutritionally complete and balanced and it has a taste your dog will love. And it a dollar less per bag, it comes with a price you can swallow.

    VOICES ON THE STREET: Yellllllchh! Aaaarrrrrgh!

    ANNOUNCER: Tuffy’s. A doggone good dog food.

    The following is more advice on creating better radio ads from Luke Sullivan's excellent book, Hey Whipple Squeeze This.

    There is no law that says radio has to be funny.
    If you want to stand out in this medium, try something other than humor. It may not work, but you should at least try.

    Make sure your radio spot is important or scary or funny or interesting within the first five seconds.
    If your spot’s not interrupting music, it’s probably following on the heels of a bad commercial. Your listener is already bored. There’s no reason for him to believe your commercial’s going to be any better.

    Write radio sparely.
    Unless your concept demands a lot of words and fast action, write sparely. This allows your voice talent to read your script slowly. Quitely. One … word … at …. a … time.

    You’ll be surprised at how this kind of bare-bones execution leaps out of the radio. There is a remarkable power in silence. It is to radio what white space is to print. Silence enlarges the idea it surrounds.

    August 20, 2004

    Back to the Future Advertising

    These faux-retro print ads from Worth 1000 are worthy of your time. Enjoy.

    Thanks to Ryan Saghir for the hook-up.




    May 19, 2004

    Commercial Messages of the Future???

    In today’s Wall Street Journal, three creative thinkers propose how the future of commercial messaging will be experienced by consumers.

    Office Time is the New Prime Time
    At work, employees seek news, sports scores, and entertainment news so expect to see quick-hit (:10 to :15 sec) internet ads full of rich sound and dynamic full motion video embedded into web pages. (Bob Flood, EVP and Director of National Electronic Media, Publicis Groupe’s Optimedia)

    Hitching Messages to Creative Gatekeepers
    Expect to see fully-integrated product placement promotions where the client is the creative gatekeeper for the programming content. Think back-to-the-future where the advertising agency will be the developer of both the program’s content and the product placement tie-ins. (Ty Montague, Co-Creative Director, Weiden+Kennedy, New York)

    Think Simple. Think Stark. Be Iconic.
    Break through the clutter of too many words, too many disclaimers, and too many price points by creating simple and stark iconic visuals that can work well online, in print, on TV, and on posters. Powerful iconic imagery (and sounds) come across loud and clear in cluttered brandscape. (Michael Patti, Global Creative Director, Y&R Advertising)

    March 07, 2004

    Not Smart Kmart

    Justin Hitt made some good points and asked some thought-provoking questions in response to my most recent Kmart rant on the stupidity of airing television ads featuring a spokesperson who was found guilty of obstructing justice and lying to the government. Justin’s comments and questions spurred some more HMOs (hot marketing opinions) from me.

    “If your brand doesn't already conjure up the images and associations you want consumers to get when they think of your brand, then you'll need to borrow those qualities from someone or something that already has them.”
    Sergio Zyman
    from "The End of Advertising as We Know It

    That is exactly why Kmart first hooked up with Martha Stewart. Kmart lacked an identity and it deftly decided to borrow Martha Stewart’s identity to help give them an identity.

    In fact, Kmart took a big risk in initially establishing a relationship with Martha Stewart. Back in 1987 Martha Stewart was just emerging on the national scene and that was when Kmart signed her as a spokesperson/consultant. One could argue that Kmart failed miserably in maximizing the relationship because it wasn’t until 1997, long after the brand called Martha became an icon, when Kmart introduced the Martha Stewart Everyday product line.

    Martha Stewart’s branded products now generate $1.5 billion in sales revenue for Kmart and account for more than 5% of the retailer’s total sales (Detroit News). It remains to be seen if consumers can separate the high taste/low price image that is Martha Stewart with the image a Martha Stewart as a convicted felon. One Kmart shopper said, “I’m not buying her, just her products” (Detroit News).

    To an extent, I agree with that shopper’s comments. But that is a sample size of one.

    There is far too much uncertainty in how the story of Martha Stewart as a convicted felon will unfold in the media and in court of public opinion. Because of this uncertainty, I think Kmart took a HUGE RISK is running a television ad flight featuring Martha Stewart. Already, WCBS has pulled the syndicated Martha Stewart Living television show from its schedule and I am sure more affiliates will follow.

    Play it safe. That is all I think Kmart should have done with Martha Stewart and their current television flight. To play it safe, Kmart should have simply chosen not to feature Martha in the commercials during her trial and subsequent guilty verdict. All they had to do was play it safe be re-editing the spots and replace the Martha scenes with maybe a little more of that Joe Boxer guy dancing down the aisles.

    Back to Zyman’s comments earlier … it remains to be seen if the brand called Martha can retain its positive “juju” and it is that “juju” that Kmart needs to borrow since the Kmart brand is “juju-fee.”

    There is too much uncertainty around Martha Stewart for Kmart to continue using her as a spokesperson. Play it safe Kmart. Because in this case, it is far better to be safe than to be sorry.

    March 05, 2004

    Kmart, you have some explaining to do.

    I’ve ranted before about the marketing (or lack thereof) practiced by Kmart. But, their latest gaffe is inexcusable.

    Why on earth is Kmart running television ads featuring Martha Stewart?

    I just saw a Kmart spot with Martha flashing the ‘K’ sign and gleefully saying, “It's in the K!” I also just changed the channel and saw yet another television news report on Martha being found guilty of obstructing justice and lying to the government.

    Again I ask, why is Kmart running television ads featuring Martha Stewart?

    The marketing department at Kmart knew full well when their next media flight was to run. They also knew full well when Martha Stewart was going to be on trial. So why didn’t they pull their media schedule? Why did they decide to continue running ads featuring Martha during her trial? And why didn’t they pull the ads that were scheduled to air immediately following learning of the guilty verdict?

    Who is running the marketing asylum at Kmart? Whoever it is should be found guilty of reckless marketing and sentenced to a lifetime in the “time out” room without parole.

    I have no patience for marketers who are reckless brand caretakers. Its marketers like them that give marketing a bad name.

    I am dumbfounded that Kmart would be so reckless in not pulling these television spots. Sure it'll cost them money to yank the media schedule. But taking the financial hit will be easier to swallow than enduring yet another massive withdrawl from the Kmart brand equity balance sheet.

    February 13, 2004

    "Fight the Propaganda" Debate

    Should Marketers have anything to do with Political advertising?

    Rich Silverstein (Goodby, Silverstein & Partners) wrote an editorial in the Feb 2nd issue of AdWeek (click for PDF) where he makes a case for why advertising agencies should not get involved with crafting political ads.

    Here at Brand Autopsy we have some “HMOs” (hot marketing opinions) on this subject matter. And since we are in the throws... er... throes [thanks mom!] of political primary season complete with debates galore, we thought it was appropriate to stage our own debate stemming from Silvertein’s editorial. It’s more of a point/counter-point than an actual debate. Allow us some leeway and play along. Okay?

  • We begin with Brand Autopsy Coroner Moore Disagreeing with Silverstein – read his dissection of the idea.
  • Brand Autopsy Examiner Williams Agreeing with Silverstein – read his examination and reply to Mr. Moore.
  • Next, Moore's long-winded rebuttal.
  • Finally, Williams' clever closing statement.

    Enjoy. Williams + Moore

  • "Fight the Propaganda" - John's Rebuttal

    If you are just now joining us for the "Fight the Propaganda" Blog Debate between Paul Williams and John Moore, begin your reading here.

    Paul you ignorant slut. You have been bamboozled. And, you have been hoodwinked into believing that there is a discernable difference between political advertising and product advertising. The principles behind each are the same -- both are about building awareness and driving preference. Even the measurements of success are similar. For product advertising, it’s ultimately about generating sales and increasing market share. For political advertising, it’s about generating votes and increasing market share.

    I fundamentally disagree with Silverstein’s comments. Essentially, he is saying that marketers should use their persuasive powers for good -- product advertising. And not for evil -- political advertising. I do not think its that easy to distinguish “good” from “evil” in this case.

    As long as marketers and advertisers create messages that are genuine, meaningful, and truthful … then all is fair. Creating genuine messages is not about being boring. It’s about creating marketing messages that do not over-promise. Too many marketing messages in the advertising world over-promise and ultimately under-deliver. And we wonder why consumers have become cynical towards marketing messages?

    As long as marketers have the discipline and the integrity to create compelling marketing messages that TELL THE STORY and don’t MAKE UP A STORY, then there shouldn’t be any controversy over advertising agencies creating political ads or product ads for that matter. I cannot stress enough, marketers today must TELL THE STORY and not make up a story about the brands and products they promote.

    Mr. Moore, your character spaces are up. Time is up...

    And, if elected Marketing Czar of the Free Enterprise World, I promise to pass an amendment to the Marketing Constitution that will require companies to engage in meaningful marketing. Under my leadership, companies that continue to violate the trust of consumers by engaging in meaningless advertsing and over-promising on their brand proposition will be prosecuted to the fullest exent of Moore's Law. To all advertisers that resisit, I say boldy and confidently, "BRING IT ON!!!". Because all marketing messages are not created equal. Furthermore, I promise to reduce the brand deficeit that...

    Mr. Moore, your passion is admired but your time has expired. Mr. Williams, you have 200 words for a rebuttal blog.
    {Mr. Williams' entry follows below.}

    "Fight the Propaganda" - Williams' Closing Comments

    Mr. Williams, you may proceed. You have 200 words.

    Here's what we can expect if we allow marketers and advertisers to keep spinning our presidential candidate platforms...

    Political Issue
    AdverSpin Slogan
    'right to choose'
    "Have it your way."
    Sex education
    in schools
    "Just Do It."
    Support additional funding
    for troop readiness
    "When you care enough
    to send the very best"
    Ease federal restrictions
    on gun possession
    "Don't leave home
    without it."
    Champion pollution
    and acid rain issues
    "When it rains,
    it pours."
    Decrease USDA requirements
    for livestock inspection
    "Where's the beef?"
    Strengthen regulation
    of the Clean Water Act
    "Good to the last drop."
    Affirmative action
    "Raise your hand
    if you're sure."
    Public transit
    "Let your fingers
    do the walking."
    Early release of
    non-violent mentally ill patients
    "Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't"
    "Think different."
    Violent criminals
    serve full prison sentences
    "Takes a lickin'
    and keeps on tickin'
    Oppose government mandates to curtail sexual content on television
    "M'm! M'm! Good"
    Allow same-sex couples
    to form civil unions
    "Reach out and
    touch someone."
    Decriminalize the possession
    of small amounts of marijuana
    "The quicker
    picker upper."

    Special thanks to the aptly named website for the awesome collection of… ad slogans! Be sure to visit to learn more about the political process and the candidates.

    February 09, 2004

    "Fight the Propaganda" - Dissection

    What you are about to read is a debate between Brand Autopsy’s marketing coroners Paul Williams and John Moore. Today’s topic is the recent Rich Silverstein editorial that appeared in the Feb 2nd edition of ADWEEK. John Moore will begin with the opening blog, Paul Williams will respond with his opening blog, and then the two will each have 200 words for rebuttal blogs.

    Click on it to get a the PDF of the entire article.

    John Moore, you have one blog entry to address the topic.

    Hello readers of the Brand Autopsy blog, it is my pleasure to address you today on a topic that is not only timely, but a topic that is sure to have lasting implications for marketers and advertisers alike. In the Feb. 2nd issue of ADWEEK, advertising living legend Rich Silverstein (Goodby, Silverstein & Partners) penned a column in which he argues that advertising agencies should have nothing to do with political advertising. Here are exact quotes from the article...

    "With the elections so close, it's time for me to suggest that our industry stay away from political advertising. It's too easy for politicians to hide behind a 30-second commercial. This format does not allow for any depth or insight into our country's problems. It allows candidates to simplify complicated solutions into a cliché."

    "Political advertising is a form of propaganda, and we should have nothing to do with it."

    "Political advertising offers sound bites with no real substance. First-level slogans that appeal to the lowest common denominator."

    "Shouldn't we elect people who can communicate on their own, who can think on their feet and aren't a creation of their handler's?"

    "I have enormous respect for our industry and its power to define our culture and persuade minds. That is why I believe so strongly that political advertising should not be used to determine our country's future."

    I find these quotes from Rich Silverstein to be incredulous. Why do I find the quotes so incredulous? Because by simply replacing the word “politician” with “product” along with a few other minor tweaks in order to make the quotes flow properly, Rich's editorial takes on a whole new meaning -- one that I am sure he had no intention of making. Read the following and my point should become blatantly apparent…

    "With purchasing cycles so short, it's time for me to suggest that our industry stay away from product advertising. It's too easy for products to hide behind a 30-second commercial. This format does not allow for any depth or insight into solving for consumer's problems. It allows brands to simplify complicated solutions into a cliché."

    "Product advertising is a form of propaganda, and we should have nothing to do with it."

    "Product advertising offers sound bites with no real substance. First-level slogans that appeal to the lowest common denominator."

    "Shouldn't we buy products that can stand on their own, products that can solve consumer problems on their own and aren't a creation of their handler's?"

    "I have enormous respect for our industry and its power to define our culture and persuade minds. That is why I believe so strongly that product advertising should not be used to determine a consumer's future."

    I don’t know about you, but I choose products much the same way I choose political candidates. I look for certain qualities/attributes in products just as I do in politicians. I look to products to “solve” for problems I have as I look to political candidates to “solve” for problems our country has. I need to be educated on the uniqueness of products just as I need to be educated on the uniqueness of politicians. I associate myself with certain products just as I associate myself with certain politicians. The similarities are endless.

    That is why I cannot understand how Rich Silverstein can draw such a bold line separating product advertising from political advertising. If he cannot stomach the thought of advertising agencies defining the culture and persuading minds by creating political advertisements then how has he been stomaching advertising agencies defining the culture and persuading minds by creating product advertisements?

    Thank you Mr. Moore.

    {Mr. Williams' entry follows below.}

    "Fight the Propaganda" - Re-Examination

    Thank you Mr. Moore. Mr. Williams, your opening blog please.

    Despite what the TV ad claims, there is little risk if my jug of ‘thicker formula’ Clorox bleach doesn’t truly get my whites whiter…

    However, there is a lot more at stake if my as-seen-on-TV candidate who “gets the job done” can’t get the job done.

    In a way, Mr. Silverstein is making an admission about the manipulation that takes place by marketers through advertising. The ways we make claims and persuade consumers with regard to products and services.

    Do we really want the folks who find a way to call a product “new and improved” because of a “change in package color scheme” to work that same slight-of-hand on the next leader of the free world?

    In an era when the headlines report daily of alleged cheats, thieves, and hucksters what we could really use right now is substance – not sizzle.

    Finally, Mr. Silverstein can draw such a bold line because he realizes the benefits of consumer products are pretty clear and limited… and none of them will be expected to influence social welfare, decision in occupying countries or our natural resources.

    I don’t choose my toothpaste the same way I choose my political candidate.

    February 02, 2004

    'Anti-Marketing' Marketing from Pizza Inn

    Since this is Brand Autopsy, I’m gonna put on my marketing coroner gloves and get to work probing what went wrong with this Pizza Inn print ad that ran in the Dallas Morning News on Super Bowl Sunday.

    Background Information
    Pizza Inn website
    Nasdaq (PZZI)
    $58.5 million sales (FY'03)
    420 locations (concentrated in the southern half of the United States)
    Key competitors include: Pizza Hut, Papa Johns, Dominoes, among many other pizza chains

    Click above to examine the Pizza Inn print ad.

    An Open Letter to Pizza Lovers:

    Today, on the biggest televised sporting event of the year, you’ll see action, excitement, and the thrills and spills of football at its best. But there’s one thing you won’t see this afternoon – a single commercial from Pizza Inn.

    >> I’ll let the contrived “Pizza Lovers” opening slide by because this ad has many more fatal errors than that one. The first fatal error being that “open letter” advertising formats are best used when companies need to make an apology or to publicly admit guilt of some sort. Because of these strong “negative” associations with “open letter” advertising formats, I do not think Pizza Inn choose the right format to tell their positive story. Now, if this was a response ad to a “mad cow pepperoni scare,” then I would say the open letter format works. However, there is no “mad cow pepperoni scare” (at least not to my knowledge).

    Continue reading "'Anti-Marketing' Marketing from Pizza Inn" »