Friday, December 18, 2009

Free Idea Friday

Ideas are easy. Execution is hard. Every Friday I will share an idea that's been rolling around in my head that I have neither the time nor the where-with-all to execute. Remember, it's free, so take it for what it's worth. 

The New Chrysler
Fallon just got the Chrysler account and I for one am looking forward to seeing what they do with it. They're in a tricky position, because they're going to have sell cars now while setting a believable course for their future. Just because I didn't have anything better to do last night (The Office and 30 Rock were preempted for some SNL clip show), I created this ad as a stake in the ground to mark a point between Chrysler's past and their future. Click on the image to view the ad full size, you should be able to read the copy.

Go easy on me with your fact checking as I didn't have Chrysler's product information department to back all this stuff up. Everything here came from a quick google search. And if there's a typo, let me know, I'll fix it. As for the art direction and Photoshop work, just remember this: I'm a writer. 

Oh, and I do know the irony of just putting this ad up here an letting it "reveal its brilliance" to you after yesterday's post, but so be it.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

It's Not A Great Idea If You Don't Sell It.

Bill Westbrook, former CD at Fallon once said, "The difference between good agencies and great agencies is that great agencies sell their best work."

I've seen it happen over and over again, great ideas killed by bad presentations. Either the team thinks their idea is so great that the client will fall all over themselves once its brilliance is revealed. Or they try to bore the client into buying the work by droning on and on over every insignificant detail. So how do you sell an idea when even if a client's physically in the room he may not be mentally because he's checking his email or updating his facebook status on his iPhone?

First, have a point of view and limit the number of ideas you bring into the meeting. Get to the point. No straw dogs to make your favorite idea look better. If you bring it into the room there's a chance a client will buy it. That's a mistake I'll never make again.

Second, if the meeting is in person create a little theater to dramatize your idea. To kick off the meeting for a mobile phone client we held a funeral for the land line complete with flowers, candles and a eulogy. For another, we converted a conference room to a college dorm room to bring the target to life in front of our client's eyes. The theater must be strategic and relevant to the idea being sold. Done well, it intrigues the client and brings the challenge or opportunity of the assignment to life.

Third, engage the client throughout the presentation. The person talking is the person being sold. Ask them direct questions and phrase them in a way that will elicit an answer that leads to your solution. For a home security client we asked, "What things, other than guns, do people keep in their homes to protect themselves from burglars?" When the client answered, "a dog" the ad was sold, because when I turned the board over showing a cute, lovable dog it was now the client's idea as well as ours.

Fourth, if you're using PowerPoint, use it as a presentation aid, not the presentation. You deliver the information, the slide reinforces it. Make one point per slide, ideally with a headline and visual representing the idea. If you must use words other than the headline, keep it brief. No bullet points. No paragraphs. If you have to say, "sorry this slide is such an eye chart" then change it. You're not selling the client. You're annoying them.

Finally, rehearse, individually and as a team. Work on your transitions, your set ups, your closings. Anticipate questions and objections and if you don't know the answer, don't fake it. Write it down and get back to them.

Great presentations are not about being slick, they're about being persuasive and that happens when you're honest, genuine and prepared. I've seen too many great ideas die before their time. Hopefully this will help save one or two.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Shocking News. Consumers Say They're Not Influenced By Commercials!

Hard to believe isn't it? People actually saying that television commercials don't affect them. What's next? A research study that concludes no one admits to watching porn? This study in Advertising Age is the biggest waste of ink, paper and pixels since the ascension of Britney Spears.

In the main, people don't admit to being influenced by advertising because that would be admitting they don't think rationally. And we all know how rational the human mind is, right Tiger? This study is so full of "duh" conclusions, I wonder which intern performed the analysis for Big Research (if that even is a real company). Here's my favorite: 45% of the people surveyed said coupons were the most influential marketing tool. What a shocker. Of course price matters. It matters a lot, especially today. So what should I do? Stop differentiating, just cut prices and put a coupon in peoples' hands. How'd that work out for Circuit City?

This has always been the knock against television advertising, its lack of measurability. I get it. I've been fighting this battle my whole life. When used for the right purpose, it's incredibly effective. You only need to look at the rise of Apple, Lexus and Viagra to see that. It's just one tool in your marketing workshop and like all tools, it's most effective when used for the right task.

So how do you know if your advertising is working? Here's a tip, don't listen to what people say, watch what they do.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Amateurism Goes Global

As I've noted previously on this blog, getting consumers to advocate for your brand is critical, whether it's good old fashioned word of mouth or via social networks like facebook and Twitter. And advertising plays a role in this. When consumers start creating your advertising, however, huge dangers lie ahead. Take a look at this story about a consumer generated TV spot for Toyota in Australia.

Consumers may know your brand. Consumers may love your brand. And if it's really well managed, consumers will feel your brand's promise at a visceral level. That doesn't mean they're qualified to create advertising that is consistent with your brand's vision and goals. And, just because it's produced for a contest in Australia doesn't mean it won't be seen around the world.

There's more opportunity than ever for consumers to spread the word both positively and negatively about your brand. That doesn't mean, however, you should cede control of every message. Bill Bernbach had it right when he said, "We are so busy measuring public opinion that we forget we can mold it."

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Happiest Cows On Earth

With all due respect to California and their extremely efficient factory dairies, there's a farm not far from here that must have the happiest cows in the world if research published in this Sunday's New York Times is to be believed.

At Sassy Cow Creamery, they not only name their cows, but attach trading cards with each cow's picture and a brief note about that cow to every bottle of milk. This is a nice symbol for the dairy that brings their philosophy of "the cows come first" directly to the consumer.

At a time when people are more and more concerned about the origin of their food and wonder about the effects of antibiotics, hormones and other additives, this sort of transparency is reassuring.

And profitable.

With more than 500 cows on their farm, producing both non-organic and organic milk, Sassy Cow bottles their milk on the same day it's produced so it's fresher. It sells for a significant premium to the commodity brands.

So not only are the cows happier, the dairymen are as well.