Friday, June 29, 2012

Doing it right

In response to yesterday's post about an atrocious attempt to attract girls to science, here's a spot from TBWA/Chiat/Day and Gatorade that attempts to prevent girls from dropping out of sports programs.

It's not ground breaking, it's not ultra hip, and even though it uses similar imagery to the science video, it doesn't pander.

What it does is effectively communicate the objective and gives you a reason to seek out more information without embarrassing its creators or the people their trying to influence.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Making a mockery of science

This is why government commissions, educators and other do-gooders should leave advertising to the professionals.

A European Commission developed this video in an attempt to attract more girls to study science in school. Instead they managed to insult both girls and science. Needless to say, it received scorn from all corners and was promptly pulled.

Making advertising looks easy because it's all around us. 

But when you actually have to develop a strategy, generate an idea, and execute it in a way that is both different an memorable, it all falls apart in the hands of amateurs.

Just another reminder that we are professionals. Don't try this at home.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

5 tips for better SEO copywriting

Everyone wants to be #1 on Google when potential customers search for their products or services. After working with digital agencies, SEO specialists and other wizards of the web, here's what I've learned about making that happen (aside from putting numbers in the headlines of your blog posts).

1. Write for people
Yes, Google's algorithm is crawling your site, analyzing your text and determining your ranking. But it's not buying your product. If people get to your site and find a bunch of hackneyed terminology, stilted grammar, and words strung together only for the purpose of attracting Google's digital eye, it won't create a very compelling story. People love stories. Tell one.

2. Write real
Write using the words your customers do. Every industry has its jargon. Iyou spend too much time trying to sound smart using esoteric insider terminology in an effort to sell your remote access wireless temperature control technology, you'll miss a bunch of people who want to buy a thermostat.

3. Write short
Say what you need to say and get out. One topic per page. That's it.

4. Write a lot
Search engines are constantly crawling the web for new content. Frequent updates will help keep you on top.

5. Write with style
Using keywords doesn't preclude you from using interesting words. It also doesn't mean you can string them together in a way that gives your site personality, wit, and charm. Great writing is what gets people to share your content and come back for more.

Ultimately, it's as simple as this: Keywords get customers to your site. The quality of your writing will keep them coming back and ultimately convince them to buy.

And just in case anyone needs reminding, making a sale is the real reason we're all doing this.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Eleven hours ago, Oreo and Kraft stepped into the second most polarizing political debate in the country with this post on Facebook.

As someone who supports gay rights and marriage equality, I'm thrilled.

As a marketer, I'm surprised.

Kraft, Oreo's corporate parent, is about as mass as a mass marketer can get. Coming out in support of a divisive issue like this will generate a lot of animosity from a significant portion of the population.

I can almost guarantee there will be boycotts of Kraft products announced by groups like Focus on the Family and denouncements of the company in sermons at pulpits across the country in the coming weeks.

By coming out so boldly in favor of a position that many people find abhorrent, they are putting a significant part of their business at risk.

Knowing Kraft, I am sure they didn't do this without doing their research. And I'd be surprised if this ad wasn't approved at the highest levels of the corporation.

As the conversation builds around this post, one thing's for sure – it clearly demonstrates how powerful advertising can be.

For that I applaud Kraft and the agency behind this ad.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Olympic Committee crafts some bad PR

Susan G. Komen, Dodge, and now the United States Olympic Committee

They all ignored one of the golden rules in trademark protection:

Don't be a bully.

Sure, if a large, multinational organization or competitor tries to profit off your trademark, by all means, threaten them with your worst and take them to court.

If it's a local charity, a cash strapped high school or a group of knitters, however, you might want to start with a softer approach.

Last week the USOC choose to send a threatening cease and desist letter to – an online community site for knitters and crocheters – that included this gem of a paragraph.
The USOC is responsible for preserving the Olympic Movement and its ideals within the United States. Part of that responsibility is to ensure that Olympic trademarks, imagery and terminology are protected and given the appropriate respect. We believe using the name "Ravelympics" for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games. In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country's finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.
The ravelers were understandably upset.

If you want to tick someone off, tell them that their avocation is not as important and doesn't take as much hard work as yours.

So now the USOC has to endure articles about their heavy-handedness in publications that include the New York Times, The Atlantic and Business Week, thousands of tweets and more than a few blogs like this one.

So instead of talking about the phenomenal athletes, the incredible achievements, the Olympic ideal, they've been forced to apologize where they managed to screw it up again.

Apparently common sense went out the Olympic door with amateurism. In whose mind did it seem like a good idea to ask the people you've just insulted to send you free stuff?