28 January, 2008

I Might Be a Sucker

Rolling my cart out of Safeway the other day, I was asked by a girl, maybe 10 or 11 years old and sitting behind a small table, “Would you like to buy some chocolate to raise money for a good cause? They’re only a dollar. The money goes to my school.” I thought, she seems excited, and I do like chocolate. Only a dollar! SOLD!

In retrospect, did I need it? I’m 40 pounds overweight, and this wasn’t some special enzyme-filled, calorie-reducing health chocolate. It wasn’t a great deal, either. I could’ve bought a Snickers in the checkout line for $0.79. Nor was it gourmet chocolate. It pretty much tasted like a Hershey bar, the same brand of miniatures I already had in my shopping cart. And as for the good cause? I don’t have any kids, so helping a school is only a benefit for me in that it keeps kids out of the way of my car during the day.

And when I asked her if it was a good school, she didn’t shout, “It’s the best school on the planet!” She shrugged her shoulders and, counting out five chocolate bars said, “Sure.” Thinking back, I'm wondering if I didn't hear her say, “Sure…sucker. And thanks for wearing your church sweatpants out on a Sunday, slob.”


So why did I buy this needless candy? This little girl presented an enthusiastic sales pitch for a product I already liked, followed by a reasonable price point. On top of that, it was for a good cause! I enjoy inexpensive chocolate, and I help save our nation's youth! Hooray!

So, is a strong pitch and a good deal all it takes sometimes? Is that why we still see infomercials for Tony Little's Rock and Roll Stepper?

Or why Billy Mays (Oxiclean, Orange Glo, Ding King, etc.) is such a popular pitchman?

I didn’t think I needed a Samurai Shark, but he just seemed so excited about it. Only three easy payments of $19.95! Why don’t they just give it away!

The answer is, YES.

As an ad agency, we love brilliant creative like this ad for Centraal Baheer insurance.

But not every campaign needs to be Advertising Genius. It may just need to be Advertising Smart. If you’re trying to get a brilliant concept to a hard-to-reach audience, it’s probably worth spending the extra money. But if your audience just needs a good price point to buy something they already use, like food or cleaning supplies or electronics equipment, then maybe you just need someone like this classic pitchman.

Although, as my father, Admiral Awesome, once noted, you do run the risk of annoying your potential customers. He’s vowed never to buy anything Billy Mays pitches. I said, “But Dad, he seems really excited.” He said, “Cap’n, we were really excited when you started remembering to zip up your fly, but we weren’t gonna sell it to anyone.” You win this round, old man.

So, know your message, know your audience, and decide, do I need something brilliant, or do I just need to spring Crazy Eddie out of prison?

-Captain Awesome, Project Specialist

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Food Company's Annual Report Half-Baked...but not Half-Bad.

European food company, Podravka, has released its annual report, developed by Croatian agency Bruketa & Zinić. The gimmick: it has to be baked in an oven to activate the thermo-responsive pages and reveal the contents:

Man, if only this had been done here where the irony of "cooking the books" would add another level of ass-kickery to this concept.

I'm guessing this year's numbers were good; it'd be cruel (but also hilarious) to have stockholders spend 25 minutes baking to find out the company's going bankrupt.

(via de zeen)

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25 January, 2008

Friday Ad Haiku: Art Directors

A copywriter's best friend, worst enemy, and everything in between. Equal parts Lennon & McCartney, Laurel & Hardy, and Sonny & Cher--with a headline and deadline thrown in.
To the folks that make us look as good as we're convinced we are, my Friday 5-7-5:

Don't cut my copy.

Why'd you put the logo there?
You bastard-genius.

Previous Friday Ad Haiku: Guinness

Comment with your own...

M.M.McDermott, ACD/Copywriter/[logo here]

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22 January, 2008

The Shroud of Vytorin

I don't intend this article to be an indictment of the drug industry. Lord knows they're doing a fine enough job of making themselves look bad.

The fact Merck & Co. sat for a year on the knowledge that claims they were making about Vytorin--their cholesterol-reducing drug--were wholly untrue isn't unexpected or even surprising. Remember Vioxx? Drug companies spend huge sums of money on R&D for new drugs. Once investment has exceeded a certain critical mass, the drug companies are loathe to let something like the truth interfere with the investment-to-profit conversion process.

Right. Drug companies bad. Established. But what responsibility, if any, do we, the crafters of the demon's message, bear? A recent Advertising Age article, "Vytorin Ad Shame Taints Entire Marketing Industry" by Rich Thomaselli is flavored with the idea that, in the public's eye, we the marketers stink a bit, having rolled in the drug industry's poo.

I have to disagree with this assertion. I've researched this extensively (I beg you some latitude on the meaning of "extensively"), and I've found that our function is transparent to consumers. The messages we bring to consumers aren't perceived to have come through some third party. They seem to be the advertiser speaking directly to the consumer. Nobody blames the telephone company when bad news comes to them over the wire. Or, more to the point, nobody would claim that ABC bears any responsibility for airing Vytorin's bogus claims.

Marketers, like television stations, are messaging enablers. The public knows we can only work with what we're given. We're not investigative journalists. To have a genuine relationship with our clients, we must trust that they are, at least, being forthright with us concerning their claims. After all, for every story of drug company misadventure, there's a story where they play the role of hero.

I'm not worried. We, as a transparent communication enabler, get to sit on both sides of the fence. Merck has a lot of explaining and apologizing to do. And we ad folks will be there to craft the message.

For right now, though, expect everyone to see Vytorin in a different light.

Jason Bloom, Senior Avid Editor

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21 January, 2008

ATM Ads Make Me Feel Sorry for People Who Work Inside ATMs

They've been out there for a while, but I couldn't help but relive the simple genius. Plus, it made me realize how good I've got it, sprawled out on the the agency couch, typing ridiculous headlines for an outdoor piece.

I wonder what they came up with for the tampon dispenser?

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18 January, 2008

Friday Ad Haiku: Guinness

What better way to foreshadow the weekend than by dedicating the Friday 5-7-5 to the product that will factor most heavily into its success. Slainte!

I don't over-drink.
I channel my ancestors
with dirty, black pints.

Your turn: Haiku shout out for the stout from old St. James Gate...

Previous Friday Ad Haiku: Photoshop.

M.M.McDermott, ACD/Copywriter/Secret Member of the 1759 Society

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16 January, 2008

Tasteful Chicken?

There’s no genius advertising in this campaign, just a guy in a chicken suit on the side of the road holding a sign and waving an American flag. But according to the Woodland Park local government, he's in bad taste--and in violation of state sign laws. They want him gone.

As a copywriter, what grabbed my attention was a quote in the
Colorado Springs Gazette from Wild Wings ‘n Things owner Lisa Branden, “He is my main source of advertising….He is my primary method for letting people know I am here.”

Someone sell these people a freakin’ sign!

Further research uncovered an article in this week’s
Mountain Jackpot, in which Chicken Man attended a local town meeting along with 100 other Woodland Park, Colorado merchants, some wearing t-shirts with the slogan “Don’t Choke Our Chicken” to show their support.

This somewhat silly story starts with the issue of tacky advertising and launches into issues of freedom of speech for advertisers and whether legislators have the right to regulate bad taste.

This past spring, these billboards in Chicago and Glenview, Illinois, respectively, were taken down due to public outcry.
With regards to the FGA Law billboard, according toWBBM Newsradio 780, the issue of poor taste was not directly addressed by local government as the firm did not have the proper permit for a commercial sign in that location anyway. In other words, the slimy message was not what got the ad pulled; it was the bureaucracy--which one could argue has a special brand of sliminess all its own.

For the moment, it looks like Chicken Man will maintain his snowy post, but this is apparently a growing issue from the Second City to bedroom communities tucked into the Rockies.

Maybe Wild Wings ’n Things founder Mike Morris said it best, “I think it’s a freedom of speech issue. I think we should be able to walk down the street in any costume we want.” Maybe not.

What did Chicken Man have to say about all of this?

According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, Branden stated, “He does not talk. He’s a chicken."

Captain Awesome, Project Specialist

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15 January, 2008

The Audfather

Ad Age reports that Audi’s pimping “The Godfather” to shill its new R8 sportster in a :60 for the Super Bowl. OK. I can live with that. Fred Astaire danced with a vacuum; the apocalypse has already begun. But it was CMO Scott Keogh’s rationale behind felching from the Coppola epic that triggered the WTF Alarm:

"If you look at 'The Godfather,' the movie is about a classic American struggle," he told Ad Age at the North American International Auto Show. The automaker, he said, is in a "classic struggle against old views of luxury. ... Audi, of course, represents the new luxury."

Yes, the “classic American struggle”: illegal gambling rings, money laundering, and barbershop assassinations. What happened to white picket fences and making the mortgage? Last time I checked, that was what I struggled to do.

And the “classic struggle against old views of luxury?” Naturally, it’s just like gunning down a mob boss outside the neighborhood produce stand.

My guess: he watched “The Godfather” one weekend on TBS. A half bottle of 25-year Tawny later, in between bad Brando imitations and imaginary shoot outs with his coat rack, he’s in his silk jammies scribbling out the bestest Audi campaign ever creationalized! I’m guessing the moronic explanation he gave to Ad Age came the morning after this coyote ugly concept was conceived. It gives me a headache just thinking of it.

Dishing the creative before strategy only works for people named Hal Riney.

Edit: I saw the spot. It has its charms. The marketing guy's "justification" is still absurd.

M.M.McDermott, ACD/Copywriter/Hater

The AudfatherSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

11 January, 2008

Friday Ad Haiku: Adobe Photoshop

I'm feeling pretty free and airy today. Like a summer's eve. I'm feeling like a 5-7-5 for one of the best tools in the ad shed:

Making it shiny.
Smoothing away the ugly.
Make us pretty, please.

(and oldie but goody from Jezebel)

Feel free to add your own Photoshop haiku.

M.M.McDermott, ACD/Copyguy/Photoshop Disciple

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07 January, 2008

Eat at Joe's: Redux

I thought the whole idea of post-modern was to break down the BS filter and connect with audiences candidly—if not irreverently. The ads for the Jackson House in Harrisburg just miss.

It's not a total pan. The gritty design is pretty effective. They serve good food without a lot of pomp and circumstance. I get it. But the copy’s a bit heavy handed. Tries too hard. Like that guy at the indie record shop—you know the type: the snide emo kid in the salvaged Member’s Only jacket and corduroys who rolls his eyes when you ask if they carry a CD from a band who isn’t currently living in their mothers’ basements.

Thematically, the writing taps into something good, something right. But in the end, it gets tripped up in its love affair with itself. Feels like the copy guy couldn’t quite bring himself to drag a few of his babies out to the woodshed. We’re all guilty of that, though. That said, maybe it’s not a complete miss. Take the middle sentence out of the copy, and it’s a pretty damn good ad. I’m going to rule this one an infield single.

M.M.McDermott, ACD/Copywriter/Hypocrite Emeritus

Eat at Joe's: ReduxSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

05 January, 2008

A Wrd About Prroofreeding and Tpyos.

We run a pretty tight ship at Renegade. Before any work goes out the door, there are no less than six layers of proofing, fact-checking, and approval it must filter through first. From an FSI in a local rag to national TV spots, we scrutinize everything; it's a veritable assembly line of Strunk & White-reading gorillas picking through the matted fur of grammar, typesetting, and Pantones.

Of course, the same cannot always be said for signs taped to office doors by busy web designers in the heat of hellish rush jobs.

When things like this happen, we do what any close-knit company does: email pictures of it to every contact in our address book and pummel the guilty party with insults like a boxer working over a big, illiterate heavy bag of shame.
P.S. Thanks to C-- for being the martyr for all of our proofreading sins. Sometimes, we know not what we write.

A Wrd About Prroofreeding and Tpyos.SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

02 January, 2008

One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Male Enhancement

Every once in a while there's some interesting email krill that gets caught up in the baleen plates of our spam filter. Today's haul was particularly exciting. Apparently the nation's most storied space pioneer has snagged a part time gig...spamming me with ads for a product that, as I'm sure those who know me will attest, I probably, possibly, most likely might not need.

Some things you never see coming.

M.M. McDermott ACD/Copystud

One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Male EnhancementSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
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