Oh Thank HEAVENS There’s an AD!!

16 Jul

So I’ve neglected this blog a bit recently, but by popular demand* (true story) I’m making it a priority. For now.

Let’s talk about two possible ways this after-the-jump ad below happened:

Route 1: They started with understanding where the target market is. Somebody came into a meeting at Crispin Porter + Bogusky with statistics, a PowerPoint deck full of bullet points and horrible animation and too-many-words-on-a-slide and one of them said something like, “57% of our target market who live in metro areas use public transportation.”** Fingers-crossed, someone was inspired by this…

“Well, what’s that like? That experience of public transportation. It’s hot, you wait, you are bored, you avoid eye contact at all possible costs, you are sitting next to somebody, and heaven-help-you your thighs might even be touching and so to do all this you look down at your iPhone or Android device or Blackberry (those poor bastards) and read email or Twitter feeds or fascinating Word Press blogs, or hell, even read spam. So they wait a lot, and their phones lose power.”

"Plus, it's really awkward when the person next to you brings their human head along. Wait...what?"

So you know your target market, you know their problems. And if you want to be relevant, you solve that problem. Let’s go where they are (waiting for public transportation) and let’s help them. We could entertain them, distract them? We could give them information they might need on their way home? We could charge their phones. Hmm… what would help them? And what would work for us?”

So you take a breath and say, “What’s the product again?”

It’s this:

Continue reading


Literal Metaphor

3 Mar

One of the things we talk about in creativity is to think about what your limiting assumptions are. Identify them, and then figure out how you can push past them.

So you are trying to communicate about Gold’s Gym. You want to say “Hey, man, your body is a fine piece of machinery. It works, it moves, it lifts. And the more you work out, the more it becomes heavy machinery.  It can do whatever you want. And you have to go to the Gold’s Gym to make your machine even more powerful. So, shoot man, how do we say this?”**

How about you do JUST that. Don’t let the fact that it’s a metaphor hold you back. You show the man as machine. You literally translate your metaphor. You make the body into a machine. You listen to the words you are using and you realize you can do that. Well, you can DO it but you’ll find some cut dude and paint him naked for a few billion hours…

Which was more uncomfortable: Getting painted or holding this pose?

Yeah, welcome to the gun show!

Forklift. (I'm not liking this one as much, in all candor.)

**All of this was said in Spanish because this ad is from Costa Rica.

Top o’the drinkin’ to ya!

26 Feb

Two big points to make here:

Consumer touchpoints– anything that the consumer comes in contact with is a potential place to engage them. If you own it (salesperson shirts, beverage labels, delivery trucks) and you aren’t taking advantage of it, you are crazy. Even if you don’t own it, there are places you might be able to engage them. I tell my students that you could have members of your target market take pictures of whatever is in front of them with their phone and send it to you, and then it’s up to you to think about how you could engage them on anything in front of them.

Consumer experience– if consumers can find you in a strange and engaging place, they may be more entranced by your brand, like your brand is Lloyd Dobbler standing outside your window holding a boom-box over its head playing In Your Eyes. (Forgive me; I’m from the 80’s.)

Guinness has known about this for a while. They have a long pour that’s part of the “process” of getting a Guinness. And it’s thick and substantial, and they reinforce all of that with this:

Poofy and substantial enough on the top to take a shamrock. And if you got that, you’d be all “Cool!” And then you’d drink it and your poor, American, Bud Light-addled mouth would drink it and say “WTF is THIS??” (Push through; learn to drink a real beverage, my dudes.)


To engage your consumer somewhere surprising and temporary- like the top of your drink- is pretty cool.




So what do we do with this information:


  • If you sell beverages and can stamp or draw a cute messages in there, do it. It’ll engage your target market, and reinforce a lovely little relationship.
  • If you don’t sell beverages, but know your TM consumes them the way Charlie Sheen consumes, well… nearly everything, can you engage them here? Is there some monochromatic message you can communicate?
  • And you don’t just want “matched luggage”- you want to think about how the beverage ties in with your message? If it’s a hot beverage, maybe good for a warm tourist destination, reinforcing a warm message. If it’s fluffy like in the beer or on a fluffy espresso, maybe something for something soft, or tall, or poofy. Or if it’s an enjoyable beverage and you know that people are sitting and relaxing, you could reinforce the “relaxing” or the “taking time” aspect. Brainstorm on the characteristic you want to reinforce.


It’s not for you.

26 Feb

There’s a certain terror that some marketers have of leaving somebody out. We need to appeal to more people, we need to increase our chances of being liked by somebody, we have to make it widely acceptable. We also think we need to oversimplify everything, and talk to people like they are 5 years old.If we make our advertising or our communications too difficult to process, people won’t process it.

As they say on the Family Feud: “EHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!”

People don’t give a crap about advertising. Or put more elegantly by Howard Gossage:

“The real fact of the matter is that nobody reads ads. People read what interest them, and sometimes it’s an ad.”

So be interesting. Focus your efforts. Talk to people the way they talk to each other. And don’t be afraid to make it a puzzle. People like to be intrigued. They like to solve puzzles. And they like to solve puzzles that maybe everybody else can’t solve. Think about those people you know who like to brag about doing the NY Times crossword in pen. (And think about how much you enjoy poisoning their Earl Gray tea.) So take this for example:



Now, I know what this says, if only because I was born before 1985 and can read an analog clock. But my Fancy Mathy days are too far behind me to remember how to do everything here. But somebody out there who makes binary jokes (“There are 10 types of people in the world: Those who get binary, and those who don’t.”) thinks this is fantastic.

So what do we learn from this: put the effort into find out how people talk. And don’t be afraid of making the message obscure to large groups of people. Google knows this:


Solve the puzzle, find a link to a job site


And as a side note, being obscure to large groups of people can also get them intrigued. “What does it MEAN?” We don’t like unsolved puzzles (ah yes, the Gestalt psychological principle of closure) and might just take the effort to find them. And if you have motivated people to approach your advertising and to find more out about it, you’ve definitely created something interesting.


Depends on your perspective

17 Feb

So I’m in love with this street art. Forgive me. And the stuff on the  Street Art Utopia site is really cool. Since a lot of ambient media that we see is basically street art with a commercial purpose (which I’m sure would make true street artists cringe), it’s a great place to get inspired.

With all those acknowledgments out-of-the-way, I wan to talk about this kind of image:

I’m sure this kind of “art” has a name. I’ve heard it called forced perspective, and according to the Street Art Utopia site, it’s 2-D lines. And it is; it’s basically making a 2D image in a 3D world. How do you put elements of an image there are at different depths and angles, and make it appear flat if the perceiver is standing in the proper place. I’ve never encountered one in real life, but if I did, I can imagine standing in the proper place, moving over a few feet, skooching back over to the right place and watching all the pieces slide into place.

So it looks like this kind of stuff:

Continue reading

Fitting In

16 Feb

So let’s talk about what we can learn from street art. These aren’t examples of guerilla/nontraditional/ambient communications, but we can learn from it.

So today let’s talk about using your environment. Using legal graffiti can be a great way of making your brand feel really local, personal, and incorporated. If you take it a step further, where you haven’t just painted on the walls, but really built into the environment, you’ll get even more personal. People will appreciate the effort.

Now for these particular examples:


Lovely. Some version of this could be used to talk about hair. Needs a cut? Unmanageable? Want a natural look? Could do it when the plants are blooming, and talk about “Freshening up for spring.” Or if the plants are more overgrown, could paint face as if it were peeking out, and talk about needing to clear away brush, or not seeing the forest for the trees.


And then there’s this:


Want to do a PSA about polluted water? Got it. Or if this is over clean water, could do something about how the water tastes so natural and is from a fresh spring.  Or any sort of pipe oriented thing; Maybe could do a PSA about how nasty cigarette smoking is.


Options, baby.

Less is more

14 Feb

So you want to say your paint makes for some natural colors. It’s the low-hanging fruit to say “We’ll add, right? We’ll have a picture of a guy painting like seashells or something.” But it’ll be a full rectangle of a picture.  SO what if we turn it around. Instead of saying “Paint something natural” we say “Let the natural be the paint.” And thus we have this:


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