Category Archives: Advertising

Why You Should Join Me at ConvergeSouth

Let’s just make this short and sweet: you really should make time to attend ConvergeSouth next Friday at Wake Forest University. Why? It’s the best event in the Triad for learning about:

  • The ever evolving online social world and how it can impact your business
  • Content strategy
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Podcasting

That’s just for starters. The afternoon features hands-on DIY labs dedicated to:

  • Podcasting
  • YouTube
  • Tumblr websites
  • SquareSpace websites

This is a fantastic venue for anyone interested in learning how to build their businesses/non-profit organizations or their careers using the tools of the trade in today’s world. If you’d like to attend I can set you up with a special 25% discount so just reach out to me via email or in the comments. Hope to see you there!

Patreon or Support Your Local Blogger

Thanks to a thirty minute commute to work I spend at least an hour in the car every work day. Over the last several months I’ve started listening to podcasts more than the radio or songs from my phone, and it’s been an enlightening experience. Some of the podcasts I’ve found most interesting have been those that were spawned by a successful blog and that definitely includes Cool Tools, a blog on which people recommend their favorite tools in a variety of areas and describe in detail why they like the tool.

On one of the recent podcasts the guest recommended a service called Patreon, which is most easily described as a Kickstarter-like service for artists. Patreon allows writers, filmmakers, artists, bloggers, etc. to solicit patrons to support their work. Unlike Kickstarter, which is really a fundraising tool for the development of a specific product, Patreon allows its users to solicit funds for a project or a series of projects. So if you’re a filmmaker you can solicit funds for a specific film project or for your ongoing body of work. It’s totally up to you and your patrons how to set it up.

JonBobbleHeadCroppedI decided to test drive Patreon for this blog. Because I don’t have any specific projects in the works I decided to set it up on the monthly support model. If you decide you like the blog and find it of value you can simply go to my Patreon page and make a donation of any amount. As a “Thank You” I’ve set it up so that a donation of any amount will get you a free copy of a 20-page book (PDF format) titled Best of 2014’s Worthless Info, and if you give $25 then I’ll send you something from my library – a book, magazine or something else I’ve found incredibly useful in my accumulation of worthless knowledge.

This ought to be interesting.

Now That’s an Order Confirmation

I just ordered an energy drink for my wife that will be delivered to our home with a personalized message. Big deal right? What made it cool was the order confirmation served up by the folks at Drink the Sunshine after I finished paying which you can see below. Very creative, but that shouldn’t be surprising considering the folks behind the product.

Sunshine_OrderConfirmation

 

FYI, I’m both “The Ball and Chain” and the “doofus husband.”

Hype vs Hyperbole

A few weeks back the folks at the Greensboro Coliseum started hinting to the press that they would have a “historic” announcement. What was this historic announcement? That Paul McCartney would play a concert there as part of his US tour this fall. Sure McCartney’s a big act – a huge act to many folks – but is one concert date on one tour really historic?

Compare that with yesterday’s announcement that downtown Greensboro will be getting an 850-seat venue affiliated with House of Blues. Much less hype for something that will have much more impact on Greensboro in the long run.

Some local folks got their panties in a twist when other folks got a little snarky about the McCartney announcement. They took it as a slam on McCartney when really it was an indictment of the over-the-top PR push by the Coliseum folks. There’s a reason people don’t trust marketers/advertisers and the Coliseum folks provided us with a perfect example when the crossed the line from hype to hyperbole.

Words Are Important

Have you seen the latest Volkswagen commercial? If not take a look:

As you can see it's basically a funny take on the whole laid-back/chill island thing that most of the world associates with Jamaica. No problem right? Wrong. Apparently some people think that it's racist:

The controversy got its start on CNN yesterday when Jamaican-born Christopher John Farley of the Wall Street Journal said: "Although I love you featuring Jimmy Cliff in the ad, a terrific Jamaican performance, the Jamaican accent did sort of strike me as Jar Jar Binks-ish." The New York Times's Charles Blow had a more intense reaction, saying the accent was "like blackface with voices." The commercial was discussed this morning on the Today show and their "ad expert" Barbara Lippert, the editor-at-large of MediaPost.com, said "this is so racist." 

It's probably not surprising that someone would take offense to the ad – What doesn't offend someone these days? – but that last statement in particular is just ridiculous. How is it racist? Jamaicans aren't a race, they're a culture.  As is pointed out later in the post linked above, there are plenty of white Jamaicans.  If this ad is racist then so are all of the Lucky Charms ads that play on Irish accents, Leprechauns and all of our cultural preconceptions about Ireland. And the Swedish Bikini team? Don't even go there.

While it may seem like splitting hairs to call out critics for saying the VW ad is racist when at most it's a cultural charicature, there's really an important point to be made. Calling something racist when it isn't distracts us from the truly racist acts that occur every day. Folks like Barbara Lippert, whether they mean to or not, are acting like our society's Chicken Littles, screaming racism so often that no one will pay attention when the real thing happens.

Down Goes Print Advertising! Down Goes Print Advertising!

The Atlantic has a pretty stunning graph showing the decline of print advertising over the last 10-12 years, and worse, the acceleration over the last couple of years. (h/t to Ed Cone for the link).

The decline is stunning. "Last year's ad revenues of about $21 billion were less than half of the $46 billion spent just four years ago in 2007, and less than one-third of the $64 billion spent in 2000," Mark Perry writes. In the next few years — and hopefully, in the next few decades (I like print!) — we'll see papers and magazines continue to invest in their websites and find advertising and pricing models that support journalism independently. Otherwise, one hopes that rich people continue to be fond of paying for the production of great writing on bundles of ink and paper.

Ogilvy on Copywriting

It's easy to make fun of advertising folks because, well, far too many of them produce some truly crappy work. On the other hand there are some tremendously talented ad professionals who produce truly inspiring work. In other words advertising is like every other industry out there, populated by the good, the bad and the ugly.

One of the paragons of advertising was David Ogily and this letter he wrote about his process for copywriting shows that his process was anything but painless:

1. I have never written an advertisement in the office. Too many interruptions. I do all my writing at home. 

2. I spend a long time studying the precedents. I look at every advertisement which has appeared for competing products during the past 20 years. 

3. I am helpless without research material—and the more "motivational" the better. 

4. I write out a definition of the problem and a statement of the purpose which I wish the campaign to achieve. Then I go no further until the statement and its principles have been accepted by the client. 

5. Before actually writing the copy, I write down every concievable fact and selling idea. Then I get them organized and relate them to research and the copy platform. 

6. Then I write the headline. As a matter of fact I try to write 20 alternative headlines for every advertisement. And I never select the final headline without asking the opinion of other people in the agency. In some cases I seek the help of the research department and get them to do a split-run on a battery of headlines. 

7. At this point I can no longer postpone the actual copy. So I go home and sit down at my desk. I find myself entirely without ideas. I get bad-tempered. If my wife comes into the room I growl at her. (This has gotten worse since I gave up smoking.)

8. I am terrified of producing a lousy advertisement. This causes me to throw away the first 20 attempts. 

9. If all else fails, I drink half a bottle of rum and play a Handel oratorio on the gramophone. This generally produces an uncontrollable gush of copy. 

10. The next morning I get up early and edit the gush.

11. Then I take the train to New York and my secretary types a draft. (I cannot type, which is very inconvenient.)

12. I am a lousy copywriter, but I am a good editor. So I go to work editing my own draft. After four or five editings, it looks good enough to show to the client. If the client changes the copy, I get angry—because I took a lot of trouble writing it, and what I wrote I wrote on purpose.