28 April, 2010

When Life Gives You Detours: Give People Directions

Saw this story this morning on Baltimoresun.com. A detour threatened the business of an A&W fast food restaurant. So this resourceful owner turned the detours into directions--and business is actually up. To quote summer rental, "I don't know if it's legal, but I like it." Check out the Fox40 story below.

--George C. Convery, Copywriter

PS Apparently blogger does not allow "&" in tags for posts, in case you were planning on naming your new, breaking all the rules ad agency/bistro martini bar "&." Hey, we look out for our friends.

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20 April, 2010

FiOS: Hey, we could suck more

Just saw one of FiOS anti-Xfinity spots the other night. To those who haven't seen the new spots, Verizon is taking aim at Comcast's recent rebrand, but the phone company does note an interesting statistic. "FiOS has four times more very satisfied customers than Comcast." Their graphic notes Comcast has 12% very satisfied TV customers, compared to FiOS 49%.

So, yes, Comcast has a lower approval rating. Now to anyone who follows the Telco industry that's not news. Like Microsoft, Wal-Mart, Starbucks, etc., people always take shots at the biggest guy in the industry. And of course, FiOS is only talking about TV, not Internet or phone service, although the voice-over conveniently leaves that out as well. What does surprise me is that FiOS is advertising that more than half their customers ARE NOT SATISFIED.

Now I understand the anti-comp angle here and the idea of touting your approval rating, but usually you only do that when your approval rating IS ACTUALLY GOOD. They attempt to hide this fact by using a very tall bar graph and numbers so small you can barely read them. But you don't hear grocery stores going, Less than 50% of our customers consider our stores to be passably clean. And do you see restaurants saying, Almost half the people who eat here don't get dyssentary?

But that's not all. The fine point says to visit www.changewaveresearch.com for more information. So I did, and unlike the commercial, which notes the Research is from February 2010, the Change Wave site shows a graph dated October 2009, which reads FiOS TV service (once again, television, not overall) approval rating is 46% and Comcast's is 14%. Nothing mind-blowing, but also, not accurate, or maybe FiOS is just bad at find print.

Now, I'm no genius. But, who the hell pitched this strategy and what genius actually endorsed the idea of claiming, you suck, but suck less than the other guy? All I'm saying is, I understand the whole concept of finding your unique selling proposition, but you have to be able to come up with something better than We don't suck that much. Because now it's baseball season, and many Orioles, Pirates and Royals fans have heard that phrase too many times to actually believe it. But I guess asking for 100% honesty in advertising is like asking for 100% honesty in politics or personal ads. Sometimes it's appreciated, but it's not always effective.

FiOS: Hey, we could suck moreSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

16 April, 2010

Who the hell do we think we are?

One of the biggest challenges for us as an agency has been the fact that we're not an agency - not in the traditional sense. In fact, when the company first started in '88, it was a production and post house. Over the years, the marketing and strategy side evolved to keep up with the needs of our clients. Like fish that grow feet.

We brought in agency talent from around the region and the country. Advertising studs who, instead of resumes, can bring in an issue of Fortune, point to a page and say, "I helped make that."

While that certainly made us look like forward thinkers - having agency and production so closely linked has been one of our strongest differentiators - up until recently, we weren't quite sure what to make of it. And if we were unsure, it's safe to say some of our prospective clients were thoroughly perplexed. Especially when many of our clients on the production side are other agencies.

Believe me, it's was months (read: years) of internal hand-wringing, brainstorming beatdowns, and branding brawls as we tried to wrap our heads and arms and legs around exactly who we were. But through it all, a funny thing emerged. We began to embrace this agency/production paradox as a good thing. We realized that we can be many things to many people and not have to compromise or hide or otherwise subvert what makes the whole place great. After all, industry newswires are chock-full of consolidations and mergers - usually from a financial or operations aspect. We're simply celebrating what we've been doing all along - consolidating services.

And true to form, we're doing it the exact opposite way others have done it: building a brand by splitting it apart. Confused yet?

Meet Renegade Productions. Not to be confused with Renegade. We're still the fully-integrated advertising and production company. We're just making it easier for different people to get a handle on our different services. Clients have always been able to come to us for the whole shebang, from the concept to the casting couch to the cut. Now, there's a little more clarity, a little better understanding of how the company fits the needs of clients from all sides. We hope.

Our Director of Production, Jason Stern, put this out to help clear things up for clients and agencies looking for a shop who can help produce pretty moving pictures.

So Renegade moves forward from today as one. In two pieces. Or something like that.

Who the hell do we think we are?SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

12 April, 2010

Intern Sweatshop: Has Social Media Gone Too Far?

Facebook, Twitter, MySpace… just to name a few. Social media is great, right? Catch up with old friends, see how everyone’s doing, and even advertise for your company. But as the saying goes, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.

Have you heard of the newly popular foursquare? No, not the playground game – the social networking site. You download an application onto your cell phone, and then as you go places, you “check in” on foursquare. You are then awarded “points” and “badges” for updating your location. So, it’s an application that encourages you to explore different locations and let friends know what you’re doing. No harm in that, right?

Wrong. Consider this scenario: You go out with some friends to your favorite restaurant, and you check in via foursquare, “in New York, NY: White Castle has the best burgers!” Guess where everyone now knows you’re at… you guessed it, the White Castle in New York, NY. But what’s more important, guess where people now know you're not: your home.

foursquare seems to have just gone a bit too far. I’m sure the creators had no intention of making this dangerous, but this can cause problems with stalking because people know your location, as well as theft because people know when you aren’t home. The website pleaserobme.com was created to raise awareness about “over-sharing.” It scanned tweets from twitter and check-ins from foursquare and posted them on their website to show people who were not in their home. Recently, the site has stopped showing the tweets or check-ins but still encourages people to not share anything they don’t want everyone to know.

This link shows you how a guy figured out a woman’s age, location, profession, shopping habits, email address, and phone number in a matter of minutes from social networking sites. Quite scary to know how much someone can find out about you just by a few clicks of the mouse. Here's another link to an article about a woman who claimed to have been robbed after posting on Facebook that she would be out for the evening.

So, while social media may seem like a great thing, just be careful what you do and what you say. Whether it's a Facebook post a potential boss may find or a foursquare check-in a potential stalker may look at, once it's on the Web, it's hard to take it back.

--Tara Cammarata, Creative Department Stealth Intern

Last time on the Intern Sweatshop: Is Dove Men+Care really targeting men?

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02 April, 2010

Friday Ad Haiku: Simplify

There's something about the notion of simplicity that intrigues me. A downplayed genius to it. Our world has more moving parts than ever, more things pulling for my attention, and certainly more stresses than I can possibly stress over. The thinking has been to create tools, apps, platforms that aggregate and multi-task and help us get through it all. I can dig it.

But sometimes simple inspires.

For all my digital debauchery and complex media machinations, when it comes to organization, there's one thing I've never gotten past: The Analog To-Do list. My BlackBerry, My Outlook, My Google and Facebook Calendars are all great, sure, but there's a psychological aspect to them that's intimidating. Overconnected. Overwhelming. Overdone.

So I scribble lists in notebooks instead. And then I cross stuff off as I complete it. Simple. Except that I'm a humongous slob, often spill crap all over my notebook (when I'm not leaving it places), and rarely can read my handwriting.

Then a friend turned me on to TeuxDeux.com a few weeks ago. I was immediately smitten.

It's not flashy. It doesn't sync calendars or geotag my tasks. It simply allows me to write something on a list. And when I've finished it, I click the task to cross it off. Didn't finish the task? Drag it to the next day. Or the next week. Or drop it into the Someday category. Naturally, that's my favorite category; "Write novel" and "Pay mortgage" have had top billing in it from the beginning.

So, no more dog-eared notebooks left behind in train stations - at least, not any with a list that includes "call doctor about mole" or "tell dirty Olsen Twins joke to Kory".

I'm simpler than ever...which is no surprise to anyone who knows me.

Leave complexity
to smart, serious folks. I've
got a one-click mind.

Previously in the Friday 5-7-5: Bumper Stickers.

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