Advertising Thanksgiving

Now don’t be misled by the title. This post isn’t going to wax poetic about television commercials advertising Butterball Turkeys or Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce.

No, I just want to take up a little digital real estate (is that an oxymoron?) to say thanks to Advertising for the opportunity it has given me to earn a pretty fair living, work with a lot of great people and have more fun coming up with ideas than I ever could have imagined. Along the way I’ve logged lots of frequent flier miles, worked late into the night countless times, and sold my share of campaigns with smoke and mirrors. No, I’m not going to name names here. It’s Thanksgiving, remember.

My work has sold everything from supermarkets to Chevrolets (before the bailout). Light bulbs to surgical blades. Spaghetti sauce to ice cream. Casinos to bottled water. And while every client relationship has its ups and downs, I’m thankful for them all. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them, although sometimes I’m not quite sure exactly where that is.

But I digress…

I’m also thankful for the opportunity given to me by Kean University as an adjunct professor on the Robert Busch School of Design. It’s a great honor and challenge to share my knowledge and expertise with the next generation of young creative thinkers. And to see so many of my former students become successful art directors and copywriters is personally rewarding, to say the least. One of my students, who shall remain nameless, once called me “the Simon Cowell of Professors.” I think she meant that as a compliment.

But I digress… again.

Like any business, our “industry of ideas” has certainly changed since I created my first advert back in those dark days of the last century when typesetters roamed the land. But, the technology revolution of the last decade and the communications opportunities that have resulted offer more ways for us to be creative than ever before.

I’m REALLY thankful for that.

I guess there’s not much else to say but “Can you pass the sweet potatoes, please?”

Battle of the Brands: Part 9

Another car competition.

VW New Beetle vs Mini Cooper

Round vs Boxy

Germany vs England (via BMW)

Fun vs Fun

Individuality vs Individuality

Cult vs cult

Simple selection vs limitless options

Turbocharged vs Supercharged

Turn the key. Pedal to the metal. Smile.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am the former owner of an “Alien Green” Turbo New Beetle and currently drive a British Racing Green Mini Cooper S

Battle of the Brands: Part 8

How about a little vacation getaway?

Bermuda vs California

A Little Island vs The Left Coast

A Bit of Sophistication vs What’s Your Pleasure

Great Golf vs Great Golf

Pink Sand Beaches vs Big Sur

The South Road vs Pacific Coast Highway

Mopeds vs Maseratis

St. George vs Santa Barbara

Pack a bag and pick one.

Thinking outside the box that isn’t there.

I recently was discussing a creative project with someone who remarked to me that they had a hard time “Thinking outside the box.”

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh, that old cliche. The one that describes the land beyond those four little cardboard walls. The place where incredible, unforgettable ideas float gently across our minds like so many puffy clouds on a sunny spring day.

Which brings me to the point f this post.

Who came up with this box? What’s in the box? What’s outside the box? And, what makes the inside of the box such a bad place for ideas, and outside the box such a great place?

Frankly, I don’t believe there’s a box. Or a tooth fairy. Or a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Or……

You fill in the next one.

I’ve seen “outside the box” thinking that couldn’t sell ski gloves in Alaska in January. Great idea? Sure. Make me want to buy the product. No way.

And, I’ve seen a supposed “inside the box” idea drives sales off the charts. No Gold Lion Winner to be sure. But a solid, creative concept that made me want the product, get up off the couch, and part with some hard earned money. Mission accomplished.

The point is, that whatever the idea, it had better connect with the viewer and drive home some positive, motivating thought. Great ideas that are funny, entertaining and well executed but fail to deliver a relevant differentiating brand message are just that. These messages still have to solve a problem in some way. And, the problem doesn’t have to be a big one. Often the small conquest of a problem can have the most impact… if the idea that solves it is a big one.

Porsche makes some of the most wicked fast sports cars in the world. They built their brand on speed and the adrenaline rush that results. Find a curve in the road, drive fast. Find a straight stretch of road, drive wicked fast. Then, they build the Cayenne. An SUV. With all the Explorers and Grand Cherokees already out there on the road, and selling for a LOT less money, what problem were they hoping to solve?

Remember, there’s no box. Really. There’s just ideas. Big ones and little ones. Smart one and dumb ones. Ones that entertain and ones that really sell. Ones that make people like a brand and ones that make people buy.

There’s just a place in our minds where ideas come from that we have to discover. Over and over and over and over and…

Let’s all go there.