Friday, April 29, 2011

Eating ourselves to death

Apparently we need to be saved from ourselves. At least that's what the Federal Trade Commission thinks.

Our children are fat and clearly advertising is the problem.

They've proposed "voluntary guidelines" to change how food products are marketed to children. Essentially the proposal is encouraging food companies to produce marketing campaigns that "encourage children to choose foods that make meaningful contributions to a healthful diet." Fair enough.

So if you're a food maker and you're going to advertise to children using "child- or teen-oriented animated or licensed characters; use of language to appeal particularly to children or teenagers; use of child or teen models; child- or teen-oriented themes, activities, or incentives," the FTC will be watching you. And if your food doesn't conform to very strict guidelines for added sugars, sodium, trans fat and saturated fat, there will be consequences. What those consequences will be as yet are unknown, but one can only imagine...

As someone who has created food advertising and new products for nearly 20 years for brands that include Kraft, Chiquita, General Mills and Pepsi, and knowing a lot of people who work in those companies, I fear that our government ascribes darker motives to their behavior than I have ever seen. These are good people with families of their own who are doing their best to produce the products that people are asking for and even lead the market in healthier directions. Ultimately their job is to produce products that sell and do it in a responsible way.

It's unfortunate that they are being punished because we have become so lax in our parenting and our food knowledge is so poor that the government feels the need to step in before our under-parented children eat themselves to death.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Simply beautiful

Sometimes you don't need to say much to get your point across. And when you're point is that your cell phone is made of wood, it seems you don't need to say anything at all.

Very clever, engaging and smart. And the phone looks cool too.

There's also a companion video that offers a look behind the scenes to see how they made the spot. Something that adgeeks like me always appreciate.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Selling up

Everybody has something to sell: a new song, movie, line of clothes, design services. religion, technology, way of life, bridge in Brooklyn, cure for cancer.

In fact, if you're not selling something, you're probably not breathing.

Contrary to popular belief, selling isn't about convincing people of your value.

Millions of people pay for the privilege of testing their physical limits in the Race for the Cure when they could just send a check to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. 

Bargain hunters wait for hours in the freezing cold on Black Friday when they could get very similar savings online. 

True believers make a pilgrimage to the Apple store or website every year after MacWorld to pay a premium for the latest iThing.

Clearly getting people to part with their hard-earned cash is about more than price or features.

In a time when there are more sellers than buyers, people might buy when you have what they want. But they'll pay a premium when they want to be a part of what you're selling.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Advertising ain't easy.

One of my guilty pleasure shows is "Celebrity Apprentice." (Go ahead, throw your derision my way in heaps and buckets. I deserve it.)

Yes, Donald Trump is a self-important blow-hard.

Yes, the Celebrities are C-listers at best.

And yes the manufactured drama is relatively predictable.

What I like about the show is that it proves how difficult my chosen field is.

The show isn't about business. It's about marketing. The tasks are always either to create an event, make a tv spot, a print ad, etc. And thus we're subjected to watching people who know nothing about marketing and advertising pretend to be experts in it.

The result is always amusing as participants make rookie mistake after rookie mistake. TV spots look like infomercials and print ads look like as one judge described them "Strip Club Fliers."

What it proves is just because you've seen a lot of advertising that doesn't mean you're an expert in it. Making great advertising is an art and a skill. Like anything else that requires skill you have to do it everyday to be great at it.