February 29, 2008

Hillary's Dilemma

Nothing Hillary is doing or saying is having any traction against Obama. The Clinton campaign must have tried out 5 different strategies in the past month alone, and nothing is working. There is a lesson here for advertisers about the heirarchy of message impact.

Obama is clearly the emotional choice among Democrats. Hillary will never beat him at the emotion game and should stop trying.

Her strategy has been to counter his emotional appeal with a message of "experience" and "ability". These are vague notions that have very little impact. There are only 3 ways to beat an emotional favorite:

Be specific. Be specific. Be specific.

"I will end the war in 90 days."
"I will grant citizenship to all immigrants in 60 days."
"I will introduce legislation to allow all defaulted mortgage holders to stay in their homes for 1 year."

I'm not saying that any of this is good policy, I'm just saying that in order to get back in the game, she needs a specific, concrete message that will appeal to Democrats.

And for us ad people, the lesson is that there is a heirarchy of message impact:

1. A specific, powerful fact
2. Emotion
3. Everything else

February 27, 2008

Even More Creative Cliches

From guest blogger Roger Lewis:

My favorites:

1. It's award winning.

2. Casting will make all the difference.

3. Do you remember what the lady said in the focus groups in Houston?

4. Let's review the creative strategy.

5. Of course we aren't showing the product, the idea is to drive traffic to the web site!

February 26, 2008

More Creative Cliches

Guest blogger James Cabral weighs in on creative cliches. (See Five Worst Creative Cliches.)

Irreverent - As in: "Our target LOVES irreverence. Do something irreverent." Irreverent, to me, means it either doesn't make sense to anyone or only a small group understands it. And the best part is, irreverent advertising doesn't sell anything but an inside joke to a few bozos. Beef jerky and .com companies love this stuff.

February 25, 2008

Five Worst Creative Cliches

Next time you make a creative presentation, if you would like to avoid eye rolls and sudden creative death syndrome (SCDS), here are 5 ways not to describe your idea:

1. Aspirational: Sounds like it's having trouble breathing.

2. Edgy: Edgy was edgy in 1998. Edgy no longer edgy.

3. Hard-hitting: This means "We did exactly the kind of dumb-shit idea you wanted, Ms. Client. Aren't we good at kissing ass?"

4. Quirky: Quirky means almost funny. There's nothing less funny than something that's almost funny.

5. Anything-At-All-About-YouTube (AAAAY): There are about 624 million videos on YouTube. The chance of your quirky, edgy video getting any sort of attention is one in, um... 624 million.

Please send your favorite creative cliches to adcontrarian@gmail.com and we'll post 'em.

February 19, 2008

Ad Contrarian Mantra

While on vacation, I will leave you with The Ad Contrarian mantra:

We don't get them to try our product by convincing them to love our brand. We get them to love our brand by convincing them to try our product.

I'll be back on the 25th.

February 17, 2008

Only The Fog Remains

I've developed a melancholy attraction to things that never were: the Old West of Hollywood movies; the 50's of early sitcoms; the San Francisco of Sam Spade.

I sometimes find myself walking on the streets that Hammett wrote about. They seem brighter and cleaner -- less haunting. The world weary, corrupt officials have been replaced by incompetent hustlers. The dangerous yet oddly naive characters have been replaced by the merely dangerous. The semi-respectable hotels, restaurants, and bars have given way to the proudly respectable and the unapologetically seedy.

Only the chill fog remains. The fog of empty streets on late nights -- and the fog of fiction.

From time to time, TAC reserves the right to wax poetic.

February 14, 2008

Lame Excuses

I love to pick on the research industry. They're so full of shit. They make proclamations with such certainty. And then backtrack so timidly.

The researchers who were all so wrong in New Hampshire, wrong in California, wrong everywhere else this primary season are looking for reasons why they were so wrong. (Remember just a few months ago when Hillary and Rudy were locks to be the candidates? When McCain was dead?)

The excuse I like best is that people changed their minds and didn't do what they said they'd do.

The question I have is this: How can you be a researcher and not know that people don't do what they say they're going to do? How clueless do you have to be not to know this? How can you be a professional researcher and still take what people say at face value?

And how can we in business possibly be expected to take what you say seriously about consumer motivation -- which requires subtle analysis and interpretation -- when you can't even count correctly?

(For more on this, see Research Knuckleheads)

February 13, 2008

2012 Came Early This year

On October 23, 2007, TAC wrote an entry called "Baloney Sandwich." It said:
...Second was this piece of baloney from CNET:

"A report by U.K.-based Datamonitor, titled 'The Future of Social Networking: Understanding Market Strategic and Technological Developments' predicts that growth in the number of people signing up to be a part of the cultural phenomenon, which has put the likes of Facebook on the map, will peak by 2009 and plateau by 2012."

Really? Wanna bet? These guys know as much about what's going to happen to Facebook in five years as...about what stocks we're going to buy tomorrow.

Well, I love to be the one to say I told you so, so here's a little excerpt from this week's Business Week. It's from a piece called "Generation MySpace Is Getting Fed Up"

Uh-oh. Social networking was supposed to be the Next Big Thing on the Internet. MySpace, Facebook, and other sites have been attracting millions of new users, building sprawling sites that companies are banking on to trigger an online advertising boom. Trouble is, the boom isn't booming anymore...many people are spending less time on social networking sites or signing off altogether.

The MySpace generation may be getting annoyed with ads and a bit bored with profile pages. The average amount of time each user spends on social networking sites has fallen by 14% over the last four months, according to market researcher ComScore..."What you have with social networks is the most overhyped scenario in online advertising," says Tim Vanderhook, CEO of Specific Media...

And clueless "researchers", as usual, dressing up bullshit to look like facts.

February 12, 2008

Who Cares?

All the fuss and hand-wringing in the ad business over whether "content" will be delivered over traditional broadcast media channels or over the internet, and whether printed publications are doomed by digital media, leads me to ask one question: Who gives a shit?

Did the world end when the written word went from sheepskin to paper? When we went from film to tape, or from tape to 0's and 1's? Why the hysteria over the medium of delivery?

People are still going to want to be entertained. They're going to want it free. Advertising will still support it. And someone's still going to have to make the ads. What difference does it make which screen they watch it on?

For more on this see "End of the World".

February 11, 2008

When Your Life Is All Wrong

1. My pathetic life in a nutshell: I turned on my computer this morning and the subject of the first email was Yogurt Overview.

Can you imagine Churchill getting an email entitled Yogurt Overview? I can't even imagine George Costanza getting one.

2. If you haven't seen it yet:

3. The dreadful effect of "hostile workplace" hustlers on free speech: I thought twice about posting this video. (Also see Super Bowl Vigilantes)

February 06, 2008

Super Bowl Vigilantes Strike Again

As we predicted in Super Bow Vigilantes, guardians of the public order have taken down a Super Bowl spot for being offensive.

The New York Times reports that SalesGenie.com has announced that it will no longer run a spot with a talking panda bear that had a Chinese accent.

The spot is offensive on many levels. Not least of which is how dreadful it is. Exactly the kind of free speech that needs protecting.

On the other hand, the thought police seem to think it's ok to stereotype Indians. Salesgenie's spot that does that is apparently just fine and will continue running.

Scots On The Rocks

Not long ago, when you arrived at an airport in Scotland, you were greeted by signs and posters announcing that you were visiting “The Best Small Country In The World.”

According to the Times of London "...this was the slogan of Jack McConnell, the previous First Minister, and it was derided by Alex Salmond when he was elected First Minister in May. In the new era of nationalism, the time seemed ripe for inspiring words that might evoke romance and expectation as much as they promised modernity and brisk efficiency."

After spending $250,000 and six months, the new administration recently rolled out its exciting new slogan:

“Welcome to Scotland”

February 05, 2008

The 5 Eternal, Immutable Laws of Advertising

1. Whoever controls the research wins.
2. When we say it’s an art, they say it’s a business. When we say it’s a business, they say it’s an art.
3. The smaller the account, the larger the committee.
4. The acquirer is always dumber than the acquiree.
5. The worst account person in your agency will someday be your client.

February 04, 2008

Big, Dumb, Expensive Super Bowl Ads

As advertisers get conned by agency and media hype into believing that their Super Bowl buys are just a promotional platform, they are forgetting something -- if the spots are no good, the rest is irrelevant.

Continuing a dreadful trend, Super Bowl commercials got bigger, more expensive and stupider than ever this year. Production once again trumped concept.

The majority were witless and unoriginal. The tired formulas of talking animals, talking babies, irrelevant celebrities, and frat house tit jokes were trotted out for the LXIInd time. The bad old days of dot-com style advertising seem to be creeping back -- 28 seconds of something incomprehensible followed by a 2 second logo.

A few mentions:

~ GoDaddy, as usual, led the way in idiocy.
~ CareerBuilder got the crap it deserved after firing the agency that made them famous.
~ Bud Light "fire breathing" was funny. "Flying" was not.
~ My favorite spot was for Tide (the talking shirt.) Not only was it funny, it actually made a point.
~ Biggest and dumbest award to Under Armour.

As I write this I realize how few of the spots I just watched I can recall.