Friday, June 22, 2012

How to beat big

Jujutsu is the martial art based on using your opponent's force against himself rather than using your force to defeat him.

If you're a small business competing with large multinationals, it's something you might want to study.

Whether intentional or not, that's what the Bank of Ann Arbor used to help grow it's assets by over $230 million in the past two years.

Banking is a tough market. State and national regulations make it hard to differentiate yourself at the product level. So big banks try to use their superior resources to overwhelm smaller, local and regional options, drowning them out with massive multi-media campaigns.

Bank of Ann Arbor and their agency Perich + Partners came up with a campaign that focused on the one thing that BoA, Wells Fargo and the other behemoth's can't claim: local knowledge, turning their strengths – national presence and huge resources – against them.

If you're a small fish in a big pond, find the one thing your competitors can't be or do and own it.

It sure beats trying to compete on price.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The difference between needs and desires

If you want to become a rich and famous in the world of new products don't develop products that meet a need. Develop products that create desire.

Meeting needs are the table stakes, the ante you must throw into the pot just to get in the game. But meeting your customers' functional needs won't win you the hand. You have to go further.

Tap water meets the need to quench one's thirst. Evian satisfies the desire for the purity that comes from drinking water from the French alps.

A Toyota Yaris meets the need for reliable transportation. A Porsche 911 satisfies the desire to drive like Jacky Ickx at Le Mans.

A Sanyo 8400 meets the need to make phone calls from anywhere. The iPhone 4s satisfies the desire to be seen as technically advanced and creative.

If you spend all your time focusing on needs, you'll never discover what people really desire.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Making bad food look good

Yesterday on the set of a video shoot, I was talking with one of my clients about the complexities of shooting food and why it's the details that matter in making a dish look good on camera.

Of course, the way things work in my world, this morning while surfing the web for a blog topic I came across this video from McDonald's in Canada about how they make their burgers look so good in their ads.

First of all, this is a pretty accurate portrayal of the process. If you're going to shoot food, you better have a lot of patience. Tweezers, paint brushes and syringes are tools of the trade for a professional food stylist. It is tedious, meticulous and focused. It has to be if you're going to make a Quarter Pounder look appetizing.

The other thing I found interesting about this video was that McDonald's made it. It's a good example of the kind of transparency most people are looking for from the companies they do business with. It answers a question people actually ask, and does so honestly without sharing too much information.

It just goes to show that with the right talent, time and attention, you can make just about any product look good.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Shell gets punked

I've been seeing posts for a few days about the "Let's Go! Arctic" campaign for Shell and people describing it as social gone bad. Especially due to a "create your own ad" page that lets you put headlines into layouts with pristine arctic images and then post them to Facebook and Twitter.

The implication is that this an ill-conceived marketing campaign created by Shell to celebrate new, exploratory drilling programs in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.

Well, I hate to break it to folks but Shell isn't this dumb.

The site, which has Shell branding all over it, is clearly the work of an environmental group looking to make some noise. How do I know? The first clue is in the first paragraph of the home page: "We've all heard about global climate change and the challenges it brings, especially to the most vulnerable among us. For example, 300,000 people already perish each year from climate-change-related causes..."

Essentially what is happening here is brand identity theft.

And while its effects are not as immediate as someone stealing your credit card and going on a shopping spree at Best Buy, this campaign is doing damage to the Shell brand.

It's time for Shell to get out in front of this story before it gets out of hand.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Ego kills

In case you were wondering, yesterday marked the start of the 2012 Cannes Advertising awards – excuse me – I mean the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. As if creativity is the sole property of the advertising industry.

Self-aggrandizement has never been a problem for people in the ad biz (yes, I realize the irony in that statement coming from someone who thinks his thoughts are interesting enough to post on an almost daily basis). If you ever want to see it in its highest form, I'm told you must make the trip to Cannes.

Not that I'm opposed to a little ego. When it comes to work ego is critical whether you're in advertising, medicine, automotive, technology or any other industry. You have to believe in yourself and your mission. You have to fight for your ideas. Without ego, that doesn't happen.

Ego kills mediocrity. It kills the urge to compromise. It kills complacency. It kills the naysayers, the nitpickers and the committees whose sole purpose seems to be to bleed the life out of ideas one pinprick at a time. Ego is the point of view that differentiates you and your work from everything else.

Ultimately when properly channeled ego is a key component in producing great work like this, one of my favorites of the finalists for the Film Grand Prix at this year's festival.