UPS and Logistical Love Redux

It’s been almost two months since I posted my first observation of the UPS brand repositioning. Sadly my first opinion hasn’t changed. If anything, it’s been reinforced through repeated viewings of subsequent creative efforts by the package delivery industry’s version of Avis. The ‘love’ thing still rings semi-generic, uplifted by the outstanding production values of each spot. They almost make you forget the idea driving them.

“We love logistics.” makes me pine for the demonstrative ‘Whiteboard’ campaign by way of Richmond’s Martin agency. Instantly and uniquely recognizable for both brand and benefit. OK, like many others I kept shouting “Get a haircut” every time I saw a spot, but, let’s not forget that the campaign became so iconic it was even spoofed on Saturday Night Live and in dozens of YouTube parodies . Talk about becoming part of America’s social fabric… not bad one of the color wheel’s tertiary colors. The campaign made the UPS brand position of partnership and simplicity a powerful one. “What can brown do for you?” Miss ya.

UPS “Logistics” commercials work hard and look good demonstrating the functional aspects of the lengths to which they’ll go to demonstrate their love, but it all still comes off as a generic exercise in creativity. I even imagined a FedEx logo in place of the UPS shield and everything made sense as a campaign for FedEx, sans the love. Unique brand position? Not in my book.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MG6Q3x1yV_8

Why explain in excrutiating detail (a brown smart car, even) what you spent the entire last campaign simplifying? It’s as if UPS was saying “We make it really, really simple, but look how complicated it all is and see how hard we all work to make it really, really simple for you! And it’s all because we love what we do!”

AND… we do it internationally!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwSL5roKHRA

Love ya Brown. But you’re giving me lessons in logistics that I already know. And that love thing, sorry. I like logistics.

I’ll keep you posted should things change.

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.

Art Direction or Graphic Design. Who leads?

Who’s more needed, necessary and valuable in toady’s creative environment? The AD or the GD? In my opinion it’s neither. Or rather both. Versatility and broad creative-solving skills are the best way to stay relevant and valuable in the marketplace of ideas.

More and more online and offline media are becoming mashed up. More online media outlets are popping up everyday. Consumers shape-shift from social community to social community with increasing rapidity. All of this requires creative skills that can adapt ideas – big ideas – to whichever medium is called upon to create a connection to the consumer ad the communities they form.

Design and advertising have formed a creative alliance thanks to the Internet and social media.  Let’s call it designvertising.

U gotta problem wit dat?

I love problems. Big problems, little problems, serious ones and stupid ones.

Do you??? I hope so.

After all, that’s what we’re in the business of. Solving problems. Creatively. Intelligently. Insightfully. Powerfully. And all too often, quickly and cheaply. But problems are what I love. Do you?

Sales are down. Problem!

Our brand has lost it’s mojo. Problem!

We’re not being re-tweeted enough. Problem!

We need more visitors to our website. Problem!

We need an integrated, online marketing campaign in 3 days! Big problem!

Lots of problems. And lots of opportunity. Funable opportunity!

Take advantage of the opportunity. Solve the problem. Bingo, you got a job.

Solve the problems, solve them very well, and for a long time, and you’ve got yourself something we call a career.

Avoid problems and you’ve got yourself a… problem!

Ideas need a bit of attitude but just how much ego?

I just finished reading a posting by Eric Karjaluoto of smashLAB in Vancouver. I found it interesting because of his single idea hypothesis to problem-solving design for his clients. While I applaud his methodical and logical process, and involvement of the client in the project development I have to question the wisdom of the all-or-nothing solution approach. According to Eric they do the same amount of creative development work prior to the presentation of the final idea. They just don’t show the creative options.

It’s been my experience over a long period of time and for a wide number of clients that they, increasingly, want to be part of the final decision. After all, we know what we do better than they do. And conversely, they know their business in greater depth than we do. So, it’s a collaborative process where mutual trust and respect are the foundation of a successful relationship.The ultimate satisfaction of our clients rests on the nurturing of that relationship. It needs to weather the good times and the bad. We have to accept criticism with the same grace with which we accept praise. We need to hear their likes and dislikes. We need to understand and empathize with their world. Like any good relationship, it’s not all about us.

Let’s make sure we give our clients choices and that all those choices are great.

Check out the article.

http://www.appliedartsmag.com/opinions.php?id=29