Friday, July 1, 2011

Free Idea Friday

Free Idea Friday makes a cameo appearance today with 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.

Last night at midnight, NBA owners locked out the players as their negotiations with the players union hit an impasse. Unlike the NFL lockout which is expected to end shortly, many predict the NBA will lose most or all of the 2011-2012 season due to this dispute.

My guess is the owners have the resources to withstand a protracted dispute, certainly better than the players. I'm sure they're counting on that fact to help put pressure on the players to get them to cave in the negotiations.

So how can the players earn the money they'll need to feed their families during a long lockout?

Form the Locked Out Super-Stars (LOSS) basketball league.

It's a simple premise. A six team league (Miami, New York, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, and Dallas). Each team made up of only 10 players. Teams are captained by that city's leading superstar and coached by a veteran player who's ready to retire.

Each team drafts its players from a pool of the other locked out players meaning the league will include only the 60 best players in the game. So unlike the current NBA, you'll actually see great players all over the floor on every game. They'd play two games a week on Thursdays and Saturdays night, filling arenas and garnering great ratings because the star value of each game would be so high.

Obviously ESPN, ABC and TNT won't touch this, but I bet NBC and Versus or Fox and Fox Sports Net would be very interested in broadcasting the games. Proceeds from the television rights and ticket sales would be split 40% to the players on the court and 60% to the NBA players association to help the out of work players pay the mortgages on their mansions and leases on their Maybachs.

Yes, there are a lot of details to work out: referees, facilities, schedules, etc. But I'd be willing to offer my services as commissioner to get the job done. And because I'm a nice guy, I'll do it for half the ten million a year David Stern is paid.

So LeBron, Mello, Kobe, Derrick, call me. The sooner we get started, the sooner you start making money again.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Is this Porsche?

Porsche has always had a thing for innovation and never been afraid to try something different, creating cars like the 928 and Cayenne that challenged peoples' very perceptions of what a real Porsche was.

Now comes the news that they're working on an Adaptive Cruise Control system that feels like something from an Orwellian future. The Porsche ACC InnoDrive isn't designed just to sense the surrounding traffic and make adjustments to prevent collisions like the one Mercedes is promoting. It's a wicked-smart computer control module that integrates satellite navigation with an array of sensors to take over all pedal applications, maximizing fuel efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions. And according to this review on Autoblog (written by the always articulate and often hilarious Matt Davis), it works remarkably well.

So why is Porsche, a sports car company, developing technology focused on saving gas?

Because it wants to survive.

It can't make enough money just selling 911s and Boxsters. Between factories, labor, distribution, dealers and the like, there's so much overhead in the auto business that it's very hard to be profitable if you limit yourself to just a few models.

That's why companies like Porsche, BMW and Lotus also sell design and engineering services to others in a wide variety of industries.

My guess is the ACC InnoDrive will show up not just on Carrera's and Cayman's, but also on its VW and Audi brethren. Porsche could also license the technology (as GM is starting to do with OnStar) to a wide range of manufacturers generating royalty revenue that could well exceed what they make selling cars. If I were running Mack Truck, I'd definitely be interested in a system like this.

And that revenue will allow them to continue to do what they really love, make more 911s.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Talent wins

On the heels of its win at Cannes, a lot of marketing directors are asking, "How do I get a campaign as good as Old Spice?"

According to this story in Adweek, you get rid of client committees and don't test the idea with focus groups.

But the change in process isn't what created the great idea for P&G, it just made it easier. There's only one thing that made Isaiah Mustafa famous and increased sales of Old Spice: talent.

A talented planner uncovered and articulated a salient insight. A talented writer and art director envisioned the character and his environment. A talented creative director recognized this as the winner among all those he was presented. A talented account team made the client feel comfortable enough to move forward with an original idea. A talented producer found the talented director and they were able to see the project through to fruition.

If you remove committees and research and put your advertising in the hands of hacks and you get the Groupon Superbowl campaign.

I've never been a big fan of focus groups. I've seen them water down great ideas because they seem original and different (the two most important criteria for any new advertising campaign or product). Not having them, however, doesn't guarantee a breakthrough campaign.

Great talent can overcome a flawed process. But a perfect process will never replace superior talent.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Kia continues to surprise

I don't know which is worse: the Brazilian agency that created this ad, the client that approved it, or the jury  that awarded it a Silver Lion at the Cannes Advertising Festival?

Even if it were possible to ignore the overall creep factor, as concepts go, this one's pretty thin.

Kia now offers dual climate control, so one side of the ad is cool and the other is hot. Get it?

I know the point of advertising is to get attention. But if everyone hates what they see once you get their attention, how does that help sell cars?

It seems the folks at Kia Motors America agree, issuing this statement disassociating the North American company from their brethren to the South.

Ah advertising. Such a noble profession.