Friday, March 29, 2013

I still prefer the original mobile device

Clearly, I'm old.

While I participate in social media and have many friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter and connections on Linked In, I'd still rather get in my car and go meet them for lunch, a round of golf, coffee, a ballgame or some other activity where face-to-face social interaction occurs.

My first mobile device was my brother's ratty, midnight blue 1969 Camaro RS with a 327, Weber carbs and a Hurst 3-speed that we used to cruise around Northern Michigan.

Today's generation lusts after an iPhone 5 with 64GB of storage, retina display and 8-megapixel iSight camera that shoots 720p HD video. 

This is a problem for carmakers.

Kids are getting behind the wheel later and getting a driver's license is no longer the rite of passage it once was. The passion for both cars and the act of driving are fading from mainstream American culture. The less people care about a category the more commoditized the products become. Thus the car is fast becoming a glorified appliance.

Is it any wonder then that in trying to reach out to teens, Toyota has developed a campaign that focuses on safety...

No wonder no one writes songs about cars anymore.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

JWT India goes rogue

Every creative at every agency has one, a file filled with ideas that were killed at one point or another by a creative director, account director or client. Most of us have the good sense never to share those ideas with the outside world.

Such was not the case with some staffers at JWT India who decided share these offensive ad comps with Ads of the World in an effort to show how creative they are.


Now the team at Ford has a full-fledged PR crisis on their hands, JWT global executives are bending over backwards to try to save the account, and the people who thought this was a good idea are deservedly on the street looking for new jobs.

The fact that they spent the time and money to hire a professional illustrator to create the comps leads me to believe that someone at a senior level in the creative department approved these "ideas." I'm not sure if they ever made it to the client, but somewhere along the way, this concept was rightfully killed and should never have seen the light of day.

The advertising business – thanks to its fascination with youth – has always attracted people who feel their talent and creativity entitle them to privileges well beyond their years, that their inflated titles and meteoric rise make them smarter than everyone else in the room. It's that attitude that leads to events like this.

Advertising is about creating memorable messages to support and build a client's brand. That requires creativity, maturity and judgement. Unfortunately it appears that no one in the creative department at JWT India has any of those qualities.

In an update, this article by Ad Age suggests that not only did people at the highest levels of JWT India know about these ads, but so did someone at the client who had to sign a document stating that the ads were real before they could be entered in a local awards show. My guess is more people will be losing their jobs very soon.

Monday, March 25, 2013

It's all about the McBrand

According to this story in Ad Age, McDonald's is introducing a new sandwich, the McWrap, to attract the demographic known as the millennials – or as we humans call them, 18 to 32-year olds.

It seems that McDonald's executives are distressed that their restaurant is not one of this group's favorite restaurants. To that, I have just one question.

Outside of the 4 to 10-year old demographic, is McDonald's anyone's favorite restaurant?

McDonald's has grown to massive proportions exactly because it is no one's favorite restaurant. Mickey D's is the vanilla ice cream of restaurants: almost everybody likes it, but nobody loves it.

McDonald's is convenient, consistent, and cheap. That's how they've managed to serve billions.

Of course they should adapt their menu to provide options that will keep the chain relevant and cars lined up at the drive-through. Of course, they should consider other policies that appeal to this and other generations of customers. But if any of those changes get in the way of convenient, consistent and cheap, there will be trouble ahead.

McDonald's faces one of the great challenges of branding, how to adapt without changing.