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:


Oh man, that’s right. So let’s go to…

Route 2: That’s right! Energy! We are selling energy! It’s what we’d call in a college marketing class a “Generic need definition” (GND). You may be rolling your eyes and saying “Bah! Vitaminwater does no such thing unless they lace it with whatever is at the bottom of Lindsay Lohan’s purse.” Well, that’s a different story. Let’s stick with the idea creation of the creative communication. Let’s pretend for a sec we didn’t just take Route 1. Assume we are starting fresh.

So this conversation starts out with the product, the boost of energy you are trying to emphasize.

“Hmm… we are selling energy. What gives energy? Could we give our target market energy? How could we do that? Can we demonstrate energy, sorta bring it to life in some metaphorical way? Could we put those crazy plasma balls everywhere, to illustrate energy? Something about how Vitaminwater does this to your brain?

"Actually that sounds less cool and more like a seizure. Nevermind."

Or could we offer them energy? Could we give them a burst of energy? I mean, we could do samples, but that’s so 1998. Could we give them a cool spot on a hot day? That’s refreshing? Maybe little spritzers? No no, that’s no good- we aren’t cooling people, we are energizing them. Okay, so what do people want energy for? For their days, their morning, for getting going, in the middle of the afternoon. Okay we are thinking too corporeally, let’s think outside the body. What in their lives need energy? Their TVs, their phones….”

Wait… wait… what was that last one? Phones?

Genius, I say.

This via Creativity Online:

The bus shelters, installed on bus routes in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston, offer a 5-volt battery powered USB port that allows users to charge mobile phones, music players and gaming devices. They form part of the soft drink brand’s ‘You’re Up’ campaign, underlining its message that it is formulated to provide a quick boost when you are on the go.

One thing to notice here is that they did NOT start with, “Okay, we need a 30 second spot during Grey’s Anatomy that’s gonna cost us $200K a pop, and a print ad for People Magazine.” Crispin Porter + Bogusky’s problem definition is NOT to fill media space. They define themselves as figuring out how to make a brand famous. And that means you start in a different place.

*By “Popular demand” I should clarify that only one person said something to me. Word of advice: always define your terms.

** Totally pulled this number out of nowhere you need to know about.


2 Responses to “Oh Thank HEAVENS There’s an AD!!”

  1. Math Eco July 16, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    Love it! And the Lohan reference was delightfully revolting and profound all at once.

    As I see more and more genius advertising campaigns (and their completely moronic counterparts (see: almost every Super Bowl commercial from the last two years)), I find myself realizing just HOW brilliant the people behind the genius campaigns are, and just how simple-minded the people behind the dumb campaigns must be.

    PS — “one person = popular demand” is legitimate if that person is popular (and demanding) enough. 😉 Thanks for the post!

  2. Dick Carlson July 24, 2012 at 6:37 pm #

    I’m a little worried about what the equivalent would would be for an Axe Body Spray ad. “What are we selling? Sexual satisfaction…”

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