Archive for the ‘Memorable Marketing’ Category

The monster creative duel between Direct TV and Charter Spectrum

In Ad Creative, Memorable Marketing on February 25, 2018 at 5:23 pm

If you live in a “Charter Spectrum” area, you quite likely are familiar with the ad battle currently going on between the company and Direct TV. The latter has put extensive weight behind it’s campaign that attempts to make fun (or in my view, ridicule) those people who still “prefer cable.” In the process, they show an endless chain of poor mopes who, to support the metaphor, enjoy things like walking into glass doors, spilling hot coffee in their laps, getting poison ivy, or paper cuts on their tongues …you get the idea.

Meanwhile, Charter Spectrum has created a family of cliche’ horror movie monsters, including a mummy, an evil doctor, a killer dummy, the grim reaper, and several others. We enjoy their frustration when bad weather or other problems knock their Direct TV service off the air.  Many entertaining situations result, as we see the hideous group on the subway, during poker night, even trying to cut down a tree blocking their satellite signal.  

(My favorite version  features death himself trying to lead a game of charades to pass the time. He gets into a sarcastic exchange with the caustic little dummy, while the mild-mannered mummy and the simple-minded alien attempt to grasp the conversation.) Read the rest of this entry »


Bad news, “savvy” marketers – you ARE the clutter.

In Media, Memorable Marketing, Research on February 11, 2015 at 3:59 pm

Saw an interesting research brief the other day. The Center for Media Research was summarizing a study from Track Maven that shined light on a truth that we all know, intuitively -but all vainly think is only a problem for someone else.

To put it bluntly, in the blind effort to inundate every potential customer with their oh-so-valuable messaging, marketers are spewing it out to every possible channel. They pat themselves on the back for “capitalizing” on every social media trend, never missing a trick, being present on every virtual stage they know (or have recently heard about). The only trouble is, they are apparently doing it without paying nearly enough attention to the content of that messaging.  As a result, too many of them are simply boring more people in more places, and contributing to the overall marketplace din that they are presumably trying to cut through.


The study highlighted in the report shows that there is far less engagement per item as this tonnage has grown. A bit self-serving for the organization conducting the research, perhaps – but does anyone out there really doubt that it is true?

This marketplace is really nothing more than an analogy to the whole “parity” marketing struggle so many companies go through. If your product isn’t different, isn’t unique, isn’t interesting, then you are doomed to a battle on price, at best. Or in this case, relative anonymity, since no one cares.

It’s a logical thought process, of course – but too much though is going into the distribution end, and not enough into what is being distributed.  Too many times today, buzz-trends like “native marketing” are really just “naive” marketing. Just getting in people’s faces isn’t a good thing. Getting into their minds is far better – and takes real work.

“Jake….from State Farm.”

In Ad Creative, Memorable Marketing on March 5, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Chances are, there’s already a smile on your face from the headline to this post.   I just decided I could no longer resist writing about a commercial I have enjoyed for years. (And how often can you say that about a spot?!!) Just seeing the “wife” in a banner ad, I laughed. Image

I won’t describe it – you already know it well, and can watch here if you’d like to enjoy it again.

But this commercial represents the wonderful confluence of three major things essential to a great spot (or campaign, for that matter). The marketing objective is clear – let people know you can deal with State Farm 24/7 by phone, and presumably other ways. The copywriting is tight and ultra-believable; no wasted words, and extremely true-to-life dialogue that comes from the real world, not adland. And finally, great acting performances.

I can envision a comedy routine interrupted by the actor who plays the agent in the spot simply taking the stage, walking up to the microphone, and saying “….uh…khakis.”  It would bring down the house.

This commercial is rapidly achieving status I have previously reserved for the all-time-great film  “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”  – where pieces of dialogue from the film are apt to enter any conversation at any time. Yes, officer, yes they are.

So congrats to everyone involved in writing and producing this spot.  Somewhere, there may be a person who doesn’t look forward to seeing it. But who cares?  She sounds hideous.

For 2013, one marketing idea buried the rest.

In Media, Memorable Marketing on December 3, 2013 at 6:47 pm

“Outside the box” is a  horrible cliche’- mostly because it’s the price of entry for any marketing communication effort these days.  The number of messages bombarding the average brain every day makes it obvious that bland, “typical” messages simply won’t penetrate.  To me, that means that effective advertising and public relations efforts do have to meet one simple standard: they have to be smart.

They have to demonstrate creativity born of insight; the kind that only happens when its creators stop thinking in terms of a particular magazine page or 30-second TV unit. Every project should start with a clean drawing board and a simple strategy that includes WHOM we’re talking to, WHAT we want them to do and WHY we expect them to believe us.

With those as the only parameters, I think my favorite marketing effort of 2013 came from Brazil, and featured Count Chiquinho Scarpa. He is an exotic Brazilian billionaire, somewhat famous for his excentric behavior. He announced on Facebook  his intention to, on a given day in September, bury his  luxurious Bentley automobile worth  $500,000 in his yard – a la the ancient Pharoahs who buried their priceless artifacts, as if to be reclaimed in the afterlife.

A Bentley for reference – in case yours is in the shop.

The Brazilian population was outraged – and the country’s media channels, and many international ones, grabbed the bait like the starved piranha in the nearby Amazon.  The event was discussed and debated endlessly, with talk shows obsessing about it and newspaper editorials calling him out. Scarpa himself appeared frequently to “explain” his reasoning and fan the flames.  In all, many millions of dollars worth of media time were allocated to the topic.

On the appointed day, with media everywhere (including in helicopters overhead), the Bentley Read the rest of this entry »

Traffic signs that make you THINK?????

In Ad Creative, Memorable Marketing on June 11, 2013 at 12:39 pm

In my first Chicago ad agency job, I created a  menu for restaurant in Water Tower Place that had lots of clever (okay, they were at the time) names for sandwiches and other items. And the advertising columnist in the Sun-Times wrote a column about it, saying “Sometimes creativity must be recognized, even when the vehicle is only a restaurant menu.”  I think it’s time to pay that kindness forward.

This weekend, traveling along I-80 in west central Pennsylvania, I noticed a couple of signs encouraging seat-belt use.  We’ve all encountered them ad naseum, of course, and most are so trite and bland, we don’t really “SEE” them at all any more. They tell us “it’s the law” or “it saves lives” – but nothing new and certainly nothing interesting.

But ONE sign really stood out:

Buckle Up Sign

Okay, it’s not much, and it’s not likely to win a CLIO or anything. But somebody, somewhere decided to infuse the project with a couple of ounces of wisdom, intelligence or whatever it takes to realize “if we put a little twist on it somehow, it might resonate a little more.”

I’m sure you get it, and know what I mean – it’s just a different way of saying “ALWAYS buckle up.”  But it’s a better way. And the proof, to me at least, is in the fact Read the rest of this entry »

Etch-a-Sketch knows what’s shaking!

In Ad Creative, Memorable Marketing, The Marketing Microscope on April 5, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Personal confession here: I LOVE this kind of marketing. I am always very impressed when I see a marketer seize an appropriate moment in time to generate some buzz and hopefully, some fun built around a timely occurrence in pop culture, politics, whatever.  And do it well.

Ohio Art, with its beloved timeless Etch a Sketch toy, has done just that. An article here on MediaPost News gives the full details. But to summarize, they’ve done some very clever things to capitalize on a recent comment from a Romney adviser that generated plenty of reaction from opponents.

They’ve struck just the right chord in their efforts to play off the event, referencing how (in terms of their toy, of course) there’s a left and right, but things work best when they work together. And the end message is an encouragement to vote! All very positive and upbeat, with no real political lines being drawn (sorry). You can, of course, buy a red or blue Etch a Sketch, if you must.

And the whole affair is built to deliver the people touched by social media to their redesigned website! Great marketing, and great fun – (Etch a) Sketch comedy, if you will. Way to go, Ohio Arts. More fun than a Barrel of Monkeys. (Uh, no offense, Milton Bradley.)

Thanksgiving for FedEx – and clients who “get it.”

In Ad Creative, Memorable Marketing on November 23, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Those of us who have been in the advertising industry for a number of years know the many things that stand in the way of great advertising. Often, poor strategic direction or an undisciplined creative brief is at fault. And more often than I’d like, it is simply a case of creative people who themselves don’t understand how to be strategic, engaging and memorable all at the same time.

But often, the blame is heaped on a client, for not recognizing a good creative concept, or for failing to have the courage to embrace advertising that does what ALL advertising SHOULD do – stand out. This year, I’d like to pay homage to one client that, for as long as I can remember, has not only tolerated, but apparently insisted on, memorable advertising; campaigns that not only carry the right strategic message, but also present it in a way that gets noticed.  Thanks, FedEx, and credit to you, BBDO – the agency of record for 20 years or more.

When I first entered the business, FedEx and agency Ally and Gargano were doing great commercials, some with a director named Joe Sedelmaier who was known for ‘over the top” productions, most often humorous. (You’ve laughed at many of them, trust me.) For FedEx, fast-talker John Moschitta starred in an early spot you may recall.

Ever since, FedEx  has kept the bar high, with many commercials you would remember and laugh at today!  In one of the latest, FedEx Office promotes its printing and copying services by making it simple for a guy in the witness protection program to become a very visible  icon for his hardware store. He’s a bit unclear on the concept, of course, but it’s very funny stuff.

A lot happens at a company in 20 or 30 years, including many changes of the guard, new CMOs and  other transitions. But in the case of FedEx, the company has never lost its commitment to unique, watchable advertising campaigns.  Oh, the tag lines haven’t always been much to write home about. But the quality is consistently high, with very few turkeys.

Thanks, FedEx (and your agencies) – keep up the good work.

Scooping out smiles again.

In Just Thinkin', Memorable Marketing on July 12, 2011 at 8:37 am

Driving to work Monday morning, I passed a small convoy of  brightly adorned vehicles from Hudsonville Ice Cream. It made me smile, as I imagined them on their way to some special ice cream “event”  of the kind I’ve mentioned here before. It was a little ice cream party waiting to happen. This time, as I later learned, they were headed for a celebration for 3,000 Whirlpool employees, honoring their participation in a Habitat for Humanity project – so it was a well-deserved reward.

Hudsonville has mastered the art of keeping customers (and bystanders) smiling. Looking into what they had done lately, I noticed that they had given new Michigan governor Rick Snyder a tour, and named a couple new Michigan-themed flavors in honor of the occasion, including Michigan Mitten Sundae.

The governor and "Chief Flavor Developer" Ken Filippini

I continue to enjoy the spirit Hudsonville Ice Cream manages to display consistently throughout its marketing and promotional activities. Sure, it’s a business, and it’s a logical way for them to behave, given their product category. But lots of companies could take a lesson from them in identifying the appropriate personality, and striving to live up to it.

Passing those brightly-decorated vehicles this morning perked up my mood, even without benefit of the product  (which would have come in handy even at 7 a.m on such a hot day). As I passed, I did look into one of the vehicles, and the driver was a nice young woman who was, of course, smiling. Now, maybe it was from something she had just heard on the radio, or some random thought.

But somehow, since it was a vehicle from Hudsonville, it seemed right. It’s what I would have expected. And that fact is not a bad indicator of a company building a brand and living it.

Keep up the good (and cool) work!

Quaker State promo either brilliant or silly. YOU decide!

In Memorable Marketing, The Marketing Microscope on June 28, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Simple. Start using Quaker State when you get your car’s oil changed for the first time, keep using Quaker State throughout its life, and drive it until you hit the magic 300,000-mile mark. Then, voila – QS will give you a check for the Bluebook value of your car. Not  to BUY it from you, just a reward, in the form of a check for whatever it’s worth at that point. That’s the whole promotion.

The positives? For consumers, it offers a little extra dough, though not much and only after a LONG while – just for choosing one brand of oil consistently, which probably doesn’t matter very much to them. For  Quaker State,  it reinforces the perception that the product helps your car last longer, so it’s “on strategy.” And it doesn’t risk much, since  very few people will keep one car that long, and 300,000-mile cars tend not to be worth much anyway. People who DO are the dedicated car buffs, and if it helps them choose Quaker State each time, that’s great.

The negatives? Well, for one thing, most people realize all the things I just said. And they just might roll their eyes and say,gee, my reward for driving this hunk of junk that long is whatever pittance someone says it’s worth at that point? BIG DEAL.

So I can’t decide. It makes strategic sense, but it is so low-risk for the company, how exciting can it be for customers? I suspect they could have offered a new car (okay, up to $20k) for anyone who made it.  Or why not make it 400,000 and give them an exciting new sports car, or vintage Corvette or something.

Bottom line is, I like things that are different enough to be interesting, and somehow relate to the selling premise. Both those apply here. But somehow it just aims so low…..

What do YOU think? Let me know. Hey, if we make it to 10 comments, I’ll give the poster of comment # 30 a great prize!  (A quart of Quaker State. And a plastic funnel I’ll guarantee for, oh  your next 100 oil changes!))

This marketing idea wins brownie points.

In Memorable Marketing on May 14, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Okay, time to break the chain of negative posts here, time to praise somebody. I found this in an E-mail newsletter from Kim Komando, the self-proclaimed “digital goddess” (Hers is one of the most helpful newsletters I get – you might want to sign up.) Now, I don’t know why this item is for sale through her site, but that’s not important.

“Filling a customer need” has always been the singularly most important goal of a marketing effort; that can mean positioning your product a certain way, or identifying the best target audience. But sometimes it’s as simple as recognizing a basic customer desire, and designing a product that satisfies it.  Like….”the Edge.” No, not the Ford “Edge.” That’s just marketing-speak, probably with very dubious justification for its name. Nope. This “Edge” earns its name.

If you are, like me,  one of the millions of people who, offered a plate of brownies, will tend to prefer ones that have at least one “edge” on it (rather than a boring center-of-the-pan segment) then your dream product has come.  Just look at the picture accompanying this post  – and you get it.  The simple design cries out “genious!”

This strange looking pan results in brownies that – are you ready for this – ALL have at least one edge! No big copy block to read, no strained claims or questionable testimonials. The picture is all the proof you need!

Now, the pan IS a little pricey, at $36. But hey, when you come up with such a beautifully simple idea, you ought to be rewarded!