Monthly Archives: January 2006

Czech Mate

Just as we’re “re-branding” every spot on the map in the U.S….the phenomenon has spread worldwide. The Czech Republic now has a logo. [LINK]

Newsflash:: Most countries already have a logo…it’s called a FLAG.

I’m no expert on Eastern European Graphic Design…but it looks a LITTLE busy to be a logo. It looks to be more of a poster. Each of the little cartoon bubbles highlights a part of the Czech culture. From the press release….

It’s very bouncy and playful, and one row of bubbles is dedicated to words like “mushrooming”, or “Christmas carp” and “remoska” referring to favourite Czech hobbies and a very famous Czech portable oven.

Ahhh, nothing like the lights on the tree and the Christmas carp in the oven.

(Sad Disclosure — I actually got a little giddy when I thought of the corny title to this post. Close runners up were “Czech, Please” and “Czech out this new logo”. …I think I made the best choice.)


Death and Taxes

Just when you get sick of Santa Claus in every ad…here comes Uncle Sam and April 15.

This year, more than ever, I’ve seen a huge marketing push for the BIG REFUND. If you go to this tax preparer, they promise a huge refund….If you go to another preparer, they have a contest that you can win double your refund…etc…etc.

The thing is…a good tax preparer makes sure you DONT get a refund.

If you get a BIG refund, it means that you gave the government a BIG interest-free loan with your money. Money that you could have used to invest or just spend. A good tax advisor should work with clients to have the correct amount withheld or quarterlies paid throughout the year so that there is only a small amount to deal with at the end. (refund or payment)

But, in the US, it’s a public lie that the big refund is a good thing. So in the meantime, H&R Block, TurboTax, and all the paycheck cashing ripoffs continue to market to the ignorance of the masses. Sadly, it’s good marketing because it plays to the beliefs of the audience.


People are still in the dark

When I tell people I have a blog, sometimes they have a little hidden smile about it. I believe the reason for this little smile (and one of the hurdles for all business/corporate blogging to the public) is that the people who actually KNOW what a blog is have the wrong mental image of bloggers.

When you say BLOG, I think a large number of people still picture a hormone-depressed teenage girl writing on Xanga or MySpace about why her boyfriend broke up with her and why she hates Jenny and all her friends. This all on a loudly designed page. Kids and teens are heavy bloggers. In fact, they are so open about their lives online that it causes serious trouble.

You’d think that school administration and those even higher up would be on top of blogging…at the very least to teach the kids how to be safe online. But, according to this Ohio reporter, the president of the National Education Association (NEA) does NOT even know what a blog is.

I refer you once again to one of my former posts…Blogs are not mainstream.


Maybe they were too focused on the Ampersand

It’s all over the blogosphere [Scoble] [Rogue] [AdRants] [etc]..but I thought I needed to add my 2 cents as well.

You may have the biggest-most-hugest-earth-shattering ad budget the world has ever seen…but you have to exercise just a little common sense.

Companies can’t just tell people what to think when they “rebrand”. Consumers already know what a company represents. Now, in the new world, it’s just more obvious that a company is making a fool of itself becasue they can be belittled publicly for it.

BTW here’s another little stupid glitch…look what Blogger’s spell check doesn’t understand… tags::

The Original Idea

Quickly answer these 3 questions about current major corporate ad campaigns…
1) Why do Microsoft’s ads currently have “dinosaur people” in them?
2) Why does David Spade torture his pudgy cubicle buddy when he doesn’t say “No” in Capital One spots?
3) Also with Capital One…why are those Vikings running around…or unemployed?

There once was an “original idea” with all these ad campaigns. And those ideas are the answers:
1) You’re supposed to “evolve” to the newest version of MS Office. If you haven’t, you’re still a dinosaur.
2) Capital One doesn’t say “no” when you try to redeem rewards. David Spade and the rest of the cubicle farm work for the credit card competitors.
3) Credit works peacefully until you get the bill or the rate goes up causing credit card robber barons (a.k.a. Vikings) to rob and pillage your money.

The problem is that consumers have to already have seen the “original” ad for the current one to make sense. You’re joining a program already in progress. There are big problems with this.

First, unless you have an obscene ad budget, this will never work. It takes many viewings of any ad before it finally starts to sink in. In addition, you’re assuming that people care about your advertising and are paying attention to your every move. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. If it did, you’d only have the run the ad once.

Even worse, you may be sending the wrong message to consumers who may not “get it”. A prime example is the David Spade Capital One campaign. I bet that if Capital One did some research they would find that a significant percentage of consumers think that David Spade and his pudgy friend work FOR Capital One…and don’t realize the spots lampoon the competition.

The masses are just that…masses. It’s hard to get their attention, hard to get them to change course, and hard to get them to understand. You ALWAYS have to make it clear and not assume they know anything.

One of my primary marketing rules is this…No one cares about your marketing except you. Consumers care about what a product/service can do for them. They really aren’t paying attention to your extremely clever advertising.


New Jersey

Some people collect stamps…or coins…or dust.

Apparently, I collect stories about the fallacy of municipal “re-branding”…[here] [here] [here] [here] and [here]

The latest?…New Jersey

As usually happens when states and cities “rebrand”, clever people come up with slogans based on the REAL brand position that place currently holds. AdJab has several funny alternatives such as “New Jersey: Not just a dumping ground for dead bodies


Problems and Solutions

I recently returned a call from a gentleman who was inquiring about hiring me to consult on his company’s marketing strategy. Within a minute of the beginning of our conversation, he popped out “Do you do guerilla marketing? I want to do guerilla marketing. I read a book at Borders about Guerilla marketing last week and it was great”

My response was that unique and non-traditional methods were extremely effective, but it would be best to take a look at his marketing objectives before we determined what strategies would work best. I don’t think he liked that I said that, but we continued to talk…

Through our entire conversation, I got the message that “marketing” was one more thing on his big checklist to get taken care of today. He had already developed the business model…already had the website online…and now was “adding the marketing” to his business. I told him that I probably wasn’t a good fit for his company.

Too many people already have “the solution” figured out before they know what the problem is. And the answer to your marketing problem is not in the marketing book you picked up at Borders last night. It starts by looking at your company from your customer’s POV and working from there.


Super Hooha

The Super Bowl ad hooha already started…only this time it’s even worse. Now there’s buzz ABOUT the buzz ABOUT buzz around the ads. (which BTW is a great company…I use them for my own and my client’s domain business) had a press conference recently with founder Bob Parsons to talk about what they were going to do with their controversial Super Bowl spots this year. (Get the complete story here.)

This year’s ads on ABC will go for around $2.6 million…which is actually up a little from last year’s record high price. I will make a prediction that that’s as high as they will go. Several perennial advertisers are already sitting this year’s game out including Frito Lay, McDonald’s, and Visa. There are even rumours that Super Bowl mainstay Anheuser-Busch is rethinking plans to be a part of the 2007 game. The reason?…the ROI is not there….Basic Advertising 101

Even so, you’ll still hear a lot about the ads this year. The Super Bowl is one of the only times that advertising itself is a news story. You’ll hear how companies rally their entire year’s ad budget and resources around this one moment. What you probably won’t hear is that the 2006 is the tipping point for the downfall of Super Bowl advertising….and another nail in the coffin for the TV ad industry as a whole.

Using the Super Bowl as an example of how traditional TV advertising is still healthy is like looking at all the people taking carriage rides around Central Park and remarking on how America’s horse and buggy industry is as strong as ever.

The Super Bowl Ad Blitz is a unique and weird animal and should be thought of in those terms.


Got Tired Worn Out Ad Ideas?

While driving through town today, I saw a sign with the phrase “Got Avon?”. These are everywhere. There’s a local windshield repair place who’s advertising cornerstone is “Got Broke?”…which doesn’t even make grammatical sense.

The “Got Milk?” ad campaign started in 1994. Lots of small and medium sized businesses have copied and adapted this “hot ad phrase” for use in their own marketing. The first couple of copycats who used it MAYBE could have been called clever. However, now even though the milk board still uses the “got milk” phrase…if you’re using “got whatever” in an ad…it’s just sad. You might as well be using the Macarena in your ads.

Stop. Please stop. You’re hurting the children.



About a year ago, General Electric said that coal can be beautiful in a TV spot that focused on new Coal Gasification technology from GE. The spot revolved around several supermodel-type men and women portraying coal miners while Tennessee Ernie Ford’s classic “16 Tons” played in the background. Watch the spot here.

At the time, quite a few smart websites and blogs came down hard on the ad for several reasons….that 16 Tons was actually about the atrocities of coal mining…that coal miners get still black lung and other diseases from mining “clean coal”…that mining is still environmental suicide…that mining destroys Appalachian mountains that can never be recovered….and lots of others. I think Seth Stevenson’s Ad Report Card had the best critique.

As happens with most conversations that the blogosphere tries to have with large corporations, GE ignored the abundant common sense ideas and kept running the ad.

I wonder if they’ll stop running it now after those gentlemen’s bodies come out of that West Virginia mine…and it turns out none of them look like Heidi Klum?