The Santa Brand

15 Dec

For anybody who has ever had to wade through a stereotypical brand book… here ya go…



Click on the link for a PDF of clichéd hilariousness.




Cherry is for wimps.

10 Nov

We spend so much time trying to be nice and polite and perfect and easy. And we make assumptions about what people want and how people think. And if enough people do that, you end up leaving out a whole group of consumers who want rude or harsh or difficult. The kind of people who want to build their own bookshelves and not just think about the people who scream at the little line figure dude on Ikea instructions as we try to assemble mashed wood pulp into furniture.

So in marketing one of the things we talk about is being opposite. Can’t be much more different from your competitors than if you are the opposite.  So what’s the opposite of good? Bad.

And what if people believe that bad is better, that bad is more effective. Which is why I now have a big honkin’ crush on Buckley’s Cough Syrup. Their tagline? “It tastes awful. And it works.” I’m in love. And I’m not the only one.

Does Canada let you marry a cough syrup?

They are bad ass. They are like the tough old gramma who says “You wanna whine about how it tastes, or you wanna get better?”  Which is pretty much what Buckley’s says on their website…

When it comes to being sick, there are two kinds of people in this world. Those who want comfort, and those who want to get better.

Now, you may be saying, “But how successful can they be? I’ve never heard of them.” Well, that’s because they are in Canada. And those people are tough up there, which makes me wonder how bad this stuff tastes if Canadians think it tastes bad (because they are so tough… not because they have bad taste…. oh never mind).

Go take a look at some of their ads.  One of the best lines: “Not new. Not improved.”

And the TV…


You’ll laugh at least once. You’ll also be vaguely afraid… but curious.


What assumptions are your competitors making? What assumptions are you making? If you freed yourself of those constraints, what would be the opposite of those things?

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?

Color me interested.

30 Oct

So here’s an interesting idea- a billboard that reacts to color. When you stand in front of it, the little face changes color depending on what you are wearing.

And here’s a video with an explanation of “why” and how that for no apparently reason I’m utterly unable to embed and have stopped trying.


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“How to create a shitty brand”

30 Oct

Not my title, but I totally couldn’t have said it better myself:



  • Identify who your competition is and what makes them different
  • Don’t do that. Or at least don’t do it and think it makes you different. If you want to neutralize them, give it a shot.
  • Identify the cliched ways that people communicate both in your category and to your target market.
  • Don’t do that.
  • It doesn’t really matter what you think. Even if you are a member of the target market. If you want to use your own gut check or to get ideas, go for it, but don’t assume your single self equals the big old target market. By no stretch is your/your roommates/ your significant other’s opinion confirmation of doodly-squat.


29 Oct

Innovative use of mundane objects to tell a completely different story. Notice how you spend some time looking at each aspect of each visual to see how they did it. That’s what you want a strategic communication do- be interesting on its own without turning up the volume and irritating everybody in the room. When you brainstorm on nontraditiona media placements, can you “see” things different ways, and make them into something new in way that supports the message?


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