Friday, May 21, 2010

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. 

A few ideas for the networks
It was announced this week at the big upfront presentations that CBS will be remaking Hawaii 5-0, a clear signal that the networks are finally out of ideas.

Well rather than just picking up old shows and remaking them, maybe they could take two old shows, mash them up and create something that's at least a little new. Here are a few ideas to get them started.

My Three Sons' Company – The Douglas boys are all grown up and running an internet dating site while living together under the same roof. Uncle Charlie adds comic relief as the night watchman who, while the brothers are sleeping, creates wacky matches the that are just crazy enough to work.

Mr. Ed Knows Best – Move over Oprah, a new horse just rode into town. Mr. Ed dishes out his equine advice to people with a all kinds of problems from his stall in the classic red barn.

Marcus Welby, USMC – America's favorite small town country doctor show his comedic chops by joining the Marines as a medic and helps new recruits with all manner of their embarrassing medical issues.

Married... with Golden Girls – Al Bundy finally leaves that harpy, Peg and moves to Florida where he begins a relationship with Betty White. Think about it, Betty White and bathroom humor, we have a winner.

Welcome Back, Gilligan – The castaways finally make it back off the island and Gilligan lands a job as a teacher of underachieving students at an inner city high school. He enlists his old friends to help him with lesson plans. The professor teaches the kids how to make a radio out of coconuts, Ginger directs and stars in the school play, and the Skipper, now the principal, hits Gilligan with his hat.

And finally, The Love Taxi – A New York city taxi where strangers who share rides meet and fall in love somewhere between LaGuardia and Midtown.

See, it's not so hard to take inspiration from old shows and come up with something new. Until then, I guess I'll just have to be satisfied with reruns of Jeopardy on GSN.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A ray of light for GM?

Yesterday new GM marketing director Joel Ewanick made the first smart marketing decision I've seen from GM in a long time. According to reports in Ad Age, he pulled the Chevy business from Publicis, the French-owned conglomerate that recently won the account, and handed national advertising to Goodby-Silverstein and dealer advertising along with several other key assignments back to Campbell-Ewald.

If you're not familiar with Goodby-Silverstein, there work has long been terrific. They are one of the few agencies who've actually managed to marry a solid strategic foundation and consumer insights with first-class creative thinking to create memorable campaigns that actually move the needle for their clients.

Founded twenty some years ago by two refugees from Hal Riney & Partners, Saturn's original agency, highlights of their work include the long-running "Got Milk" campaign, great work for EBay, Specialized Bicycles, and Denny's. Their automotive credentials includes work for Porsche, Isuzu, and Saturn, as well as recently working with Mr. Ewanick to create the Hyundai Assurance program. Typically the folks at Goodby think way beyond the 30-second spot to create complete programs that engage the consumer on multiple levels. It'll be interesting to see what they do with Chevrolet. My guess is that it will be better than "Excellence for all" or whatever nonsense Publicis was cooking up.

The other good news from a personal standpoint is that a lot of work will be staying in Detroit at Campbell-Ewald and a lot of good people will get to keep their jobs.

All in all, a good first week on the job for Mr. Ewanick. Now lets see how good the work is.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Peter Arnell Writes A Book

The top 5 reasons this book won't be on my summer reading list.

5.  I prefer to get my advice from people who's work I actually admire.
4.  Two words: "Tropicana Redesign"
3.  Bob Nardelli likes it.
2.  He claimed his 3D Super Bowl commercial for Sobe was as monumental as Edison's invention of motion pictures.

And the Number 1 reason Peter Arnell's book won't be on my summer reading list?

His best work is pure fiction, like the Pepsi "Breathtaking" presentation.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Owning it

You don't always have to own the most important product benefit in a category to be successful. Sun Chips' marketing is a great example of this.

Consumers will tell you the most important benefit in a snack food is of course taste. But it's not really a differentiator. All chips taste good to someone. Whether it's the greasy salty goodness of original Lay's or the spicy hit of Dorito's 1st Degree Burn Blazin' Jalapeno, there's a flavor that appeals to someone, but no flavor that's everyone's favorite.

Sun Chips, while making a very tasty chip, decided to focus on a secondary benefit and determined that they should be the "environmentally responsible" chip. What this has allowed them to do is create a campaign that separates them from the pack and be meaningful to a significant portion of the population.

By communicating about things like their solar powered plant in Modesto and new compostable packaging, they've created an idea for the brand that goes beyond taste and are connecting with people on an emotional level. Which only proves that sometimes it's the feather that tips the scale.

Monday, May 17, 2010

1000 Monkeys

Ever since Ad Age named "The Consumer" the agency of the year back in 2007, consumer generated advertising has been all the rage.

Every year now some Average Joe – actually ad student, unemployed copywriter, or struggling director – gets the chance to win a million dollars in Dorito's Super Bowl ad competition. Seemingly every brand has a web contest to update a jingle, submit a product name or create a new TV spot.

Based on some of the work I've seen for major brands from some of their agencies, you can't blame the marketing director for looking for new solutions.

Ultimately though, going to the consumer for breakthrough advertising is a lot like giving typewriters (should we update that to laptops?) to 1,000 monkeys and expecting them to write Shakespeare. It may happen, but not on a deadline and there's a lot of gibberish you have to wade through to find anything good.

Consumers are great for endorsements, testimonials, and word of mouth, but when it comes to creating and producing memorable, integrated advertising ideas with legs, you're probably still better off leaving it to professionals.