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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:

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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.

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

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:


Nautical Illusion

5 Nov

So this certainly would get your attention…

But really it’s a boat made into the optical illusion that it’s sinking. (More information about it here.)

You wouldn’t want to use this in a marketing communication just to get attention, like “Eat at Joe’s Crab Shack.” You’d want to figure out how it fits into the meaning of your communication. Like “We have quite a load of shrimp down here at Joe’s Crab Shack.” Although that’s a lot of words when you are hung over and hanging out on a beach.


  • This type of execution would be most effectively done as a “demonstration” of an issue or benefit. What can you demonstrate in your brand or brand meaning?
  • So why would this specific nonsinking sinking boat work? Are you talking about how heavy or big something is? Are you talking about being pulled down? Held back? About mysterious stuff underneath?  Are you in trouble? Stressed out? Having a bad day?

Graffitti Defeatti

5 Nov

So this:

Hilarious, right? So on the surface it seems like the advertiser got defeated.

Yeah, well okay, they did. But that’s not the point.

The point is: why is it funny? It’s never terribly funny to explain why something is funny, but what can we learn from this in order to create our own interesting communications?It’s funny because the enemy is in charge. The enemy is fighting back, in this case successfully.

So how do you shock? How do you surprise? You be the opposite of the norm. What do we expect in advertising? Some toothy endorser holding up the product and talking about how awesome it is. What you don’t expect is somebody saying “Wait up, just one minute…”

Brainstorming: Who wouldn’t want you to be successful? Who would want you to fail? Who is your “enemy?” What would they say about you? How would they try and take you down? What tactics would they take? And can you somehow use that yourself?

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