Friday, June 1, 2012

Truth in advertising is a funny thing

Great advertising, advertising that sells, advertising that sticks, advertising you don't mind watching over and over again, is based on a truth. It's based on some element of human behavior that actually occurs in the real world. That's why this spot for New Era works...

And this spot for Under Armor doesn't.

Aside from the fact that the writing is terrible and the acting isn't much better, nothing about this rings true. There's no authenticity in the situation, the people or their reactions. Nor is the "joke" connected in any way to the product being sold. It's just a bad Saturday Night Live skit that would have been cut in rehearsal.

In contrast, you can hear passionate (though not nearly so funny) conversations like the one Craig Robinson and Nick Offerman are having in sports bars all across the country.

Today's tip from Harvey's Academy of Advertising Arts:

If you want to write comedy that really sells: First find the truth, then find the funny.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

BYD's electric car is far from shocking

Well here's a surprise. The Chinese auto manufacturer BYD is finding out it can't change the game in the category using shoddy manufacturing techniques, undeveloped technology, and a derivative design.

For all those conspiracy theorists out there who believe that evil corporations are colluding to keep us from enjoying the magical convenience and tree-hugging goodness of electric cars, BYD is exhibit one of why they won't be gracing our roads anytime soon.

With the backing of Warren Buffett's billions, the Chinese company has been working very hard since 2008 to create an all electric car that would meet the needs of worldwide drivers interested in alternatively powered transportation. Well, here we are in 2012 and we're still waiting.

Yes, they have electric vehicles on the road, but their performance is underwhelming, their range is limited, their quality is suspect, and the market is growing impatient. Their stock has fallen 43% in the past few months and a recent fiery crash in China has raised other concerns.

It's not that I'm against electric vehicles. If someone can figure out a way to actually store the energy efficiently, provide at least 200 miles of reliable range and allow for charging times of eight hours or less, while providing comparable performance, safety and price to a gasoline-powered car, I'd be seriously interested.

I just know that we're not even close to having the battery technology to achieve that vision.

Until that time, the true believers will have to be satisfied with hybrids like the Prius, extended range electrics like the Volt, or all-electrics like the Leaf that barely have enough range to get down the driveway.

Me? I'll keep pumping gas into my Audi and wait patiently for the future to arrive.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ford gets its logo back

Ford celebrates regaining ownership of its trademark
What's a brand worth?

In the case of Ford and a few of its trademarks – the 'Blue Oval', Mustang and F-150 – somewhere just south of 24 billion dollars.

In 2006, Ford used those trademarks, along with a few other assets like their world headquarters building, as collateral for a $23.5 billion loan that they used to restructure the company.

Fortunately for Ford, they brought the right people on board, made some very smart product decisions and continued to build their brand even though it was technically owned by the bank.

The result? Six years later, Ford is incredibly profitable, has significantly paid down its debt, and thanks to an upgrade in its credit rating, regained ownership of the blue oval and all its other trademarks.

None of it would have been possible had the Ford brand not been so valuable in the first place. The bankers knew that even if Ford defaulted on its loans, they could sell the trademarks and other assets to another company and get most if not all its money back.

Yes, it's important to build remarkable products. But Ford proves that having a remarkable brand can mean just as much when times get tough.