Tag Archives: ad writing

shadowy subjects

It was just last week that a certain rodent allegedly popped its head up to predict the weather. According to the “experts” they’re predicting 6 more weeks of winter weather.

From where I’m sitting, I’m seeing things a little differently. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m sitting here in short sleeves in the middle of February and it’s supposed to climb near 70F today (as it did yesterday).

Mostly, it’s because I believe my future is facing the sun, leaving my shadow — and this supposed bleak next few weeks — behind me.

I’m feeling good about the steps I’m taking even if at times it feels as if I’m just walking in place. I know that any movement is better than no movement. More important, you gotta know where you’re going if you want to end up in the right place.

No more throwing darts at a map. No spinning of globes and stopping the world with a fingertip in some random way. Now’s the time for planning, dreaming, organizing and just plain getting my head on straight.

One step — and day — at a time.

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the devil is in the details….or is it?

Part of the challenge of being a creative writer is the overwhelming urge to share, and share everything. But sometimes you gotta show some restraint. It’s about the tease. Or just letting the brain complete the picture.

Here are a couple of new teaser ads that do just that. We don’t spell out the whole story. We let the viewer draw their own conclusion.

These are part of a campaign to help promote a new kid-friendly ER at one of our client hospitals. In addition to TV, these spots are also being shown on theater screens here in ABQ. Rich media web banners and outdoor bulletins are also in play.

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reinvention is just so…hard

Ask any ad agency and you’ll find that creating their own website is so much harder than building ones for their clients. Sure, part of the equation is that a client website is a paying gig, but in the grand scheme of things, ideally the agency’s website will pay for itself in new business while getting to show off their programming  and design chops.

Recognizing that I haven’t touched my own website in over 3 years, I’ve started wandering through the many forests of themes looking for inspiration. Knowing that Apple no longer supports my easy-as-pie iWeb program that I used to build my current site, I’ve started looking around at all the options available.

Squarespace looks like a viable choice, but I’m already paying for web hosting. RapidWeaver is something I actually used before iWeb, so that can always be an alternative. And there’s WordPress (which I use for this blog) that has a bunch of options available, some free, some for a fee. But playing around with it this past weekend made me realize that being stuck in the land of spreadsheets and client hand-holding has left my design and programming skills feeling a little….rusty. I stare at things that should make sense and only come up with more questions. But by gawd, I’ll plow through and figure it out, right? (I should mention that my normal pattern is to NEVER ease into anything….which really causes a lot of unnecessary aches and pains when I apply this “jump head first, think about the consequences later” mentality.)

It’s with this recognition that while updating my website is a priority, so is taking the time to think about it and doing it right. I don’t want to regurgitate my current site and simply rebuild it in a new program. It’s time to reinvent the wheel of experience that I’ve built over the years. But with so much emphasis on usability, SEO, SEM, analytics, etc, it’s daunting to think that this website isn’t just words and images on the page. It’s something that needs to be thought out/through.

So thinking things through I shall, including what portfolio samples best represent me and my experience. Small steps will ensue until I take that giant leap to publish a new site. Stay tuned….

 

 

 

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when all else fails…jump!

50thThere’s something about hitting certain milestones that can set the hamster in the wheel of my brain to running. For me recently, it’s stepping delicately into a new decade in my life that has given me lots of reasons to pause and ponder.

Am I where I imagined I would be at this age? Did I ever really give much thought to that question in the first place? What is becoming obvious is…no, I didn’t. I just assumed that I would be where I was supposed to be….wherever that might be.

Ten years ago I would not have imagined that I would be living in NM, working as a hybrid AE/writer for a small, well-respected regional ad agency. Ten years ago I was in the middle of a 5-year stint working on the Nissan brand and living near the beach in SoCal. A job change, two layoffs, and a long stint of freelancing opened up a lot of possibilities. Several trips to Seattle, Portland, and ABQ began what would eventually mean a move to a new home. During this transitional time, I’ve worked on a variety of other brands (and for those who thought I could only “get” automotive….I guess I proved otherwise) including Allergan, Microsoft, Kaiser Permanente, as well as smaller local and regional brands in all areas of healthcare, technology, the arts, and nonprofit.

With each new day of this new year, I find myself stopping and asking myself questions. Do I want to look back in 10 years and wonder what I was thinking – or not thinking – about my purpose on this planet? Am I fulfilling my role? What is my role? I venture back into a land that consistently inspires me and come across this. Seeing this post & clip reminds me that it’s never too late.

I’m happy in my life as it is. But am I fulfilled? Do I live with passion? I know it’s there…but perhaps it’s time to relight the pilot, stoke the fire, and just take that leap.

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power play

Sure, I believe some of the stuff I’ve written over the years has played a role in a purchase decision or two. But I never imagined I could have this much power. (cue wringing hands and sinister laugh)

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the difference between marketing in US and other markets

There’s no question that, when it comes to advertising, the US market is much more…prudish.

Take a look at this M&M’s campaign Down Under…..

The sly innuendos. The fact that we’re watching “nude” M&M candies interact, including mixed company. (You never know what to expect when you mix crispy, peanut and plain. Whoa!)

But no matter how great the animation, as a writer, it gets very distracting to see typos.

Or maybe I just need to “confont” my own demons…..stripping away at my shell and face that even I’ve made typographical errors when writing copy. It is easy to “read” into what has been written and overlook very obvious errors.

Live and learn….

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The difference between building traffic, and building trust.

These days it seems companies are jumping on the Facebook and Twitter wagons like lemmings. And usually with the same disastrous outcome. (Can we really keep referring to such dated things as a wagon? Maybe it’s time to start calling it the band-hovercraft??)

Building community through online technology isn’t as simple as “hey, I think I’ll throw a party for my 500 closest friends.” Sometimes you have to step back and assess what it is you’re really trying to accomplish.

Are you trying to convert 500 strangers into friends of the brand? Can you really pull off something that will compel and entertain everyone equally? Maybe it would be wiser to start smaller. Perhaps a dinner party where you can try out your recipes successfully before booking that assembly hall or stadium.

Sure, every business wants to open its doors (brick & mortar, web, even social networking) and see throngs of customers clamoring to get in. But what kind of relationship are you trying to build? Do you want thousands who might come through the doors in the first week, most of whom only browse? Or would you rather have fewer clients that not only purchase, they come back for more? Sure, it’s not an either/or situation. But so often, businesses put so much effort into getting a relationship off the ground they forget that, to create loyalty, you have to put in just as much effort to cultivate your tribe. If you don’t, your loyal followers can quickly become strangers, or worse, enemies.

Technology can definitely help build an audience. But it can’t always build trust. Take, for example, the buzz created by “Jenny” who posted her resignation online using a dry erase board. People were so amazed by her chutzpah and technique that mentions (and tweets) were flying all over the web. In a matter of days, this story was everywhere. What most of us caught up the frenzy didn’t realize initially — it was all a publicity stunt. Imagine if a company launched a new product with as much buzz and fanfare, only to have consumers realize it was all a hoax? Is that the kind of exploitation of technology you think works for your brand?

Sure, it’s easy to become intoxicated by a sudden onslaught of traffic. But when you rely on a stunt rather than a well-thought out plan (social or otherwise), where will you be when the masses pull a mass exodus because they no longer trust you or your products? Go this route and you’ll spend more time doing damage control than more productive things like, oh, cultivating brand evangelists.

Unfortunately, some businesses think they need to do something so buzz-worthy to generate interest that they don’t realize the best results are nurtured over time. It’s important to remember that you’re not just putting your brand into the hands of your consumers, you’re also building trust. And sometimes, technology like Facebook and Twitter might not be the best way to do it.

What it takes is a thorough assessment of communication goals, and then determining the best course of action to take. You have to first know whom you’re trying to reach, and then figuring out the best way to get your message out to the right audience using the right outlet. Even if that outlet is Facebook. Or a dry erase board.

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we interrupt our normally scheduled program….

OK, so it’s election day in parts of the country. And, even though this blog is intended to talk about my life in and around advertising, I cannot help but chime in on some of the goings on.

There is a slight connection to advertising, now that I think about it. Especially after reading how one of the GOP contenders in my former home state has spent $71 MILLION!!!!!! of her own money to run TV ads for the primary.

I’ll say it. It makes me sick! Especially when I read things like A) our Supreme Court thinks big money has every right to give as much as they want to support their candidates (and to hell for those who don’t have the resources to fight back or the little guy/gal who doesn’t come from old money or have rich friends), and B) state parks across the country are closing because there simply isn’t enough money left in the till.

Is no one else bothered by the fact that companies spend billions lining the pockets of politicians on both sides of the aisle — combined with all the money spent invading another country (or countries) — when our own precious natural resources here in our own country are being padlocked and closed simply because there isn’t enough money? Not only are people being deprived of enjoying — and learning — about great natural treasures or historic sights, but there’s also the risk that, once closed, these parks are ripe for vandalism and neglect.

Where is our moral compass? Has it been sold to the highest bidder? Or has it simply been padlocked and left to neglect?

I know it’s easy to sit back and say “hey, it’s not in my backyard, so let someone else deal with it.” But that’s just it…it IS my backyard. This IS my country. But where do you start?

I think it’s obvious…right where I am. And right now. I have to stop sitting idly expecting people to wake up and see the consequences of our actions. I have to be the one who upholds my end of the bargain. To be the best person/neighbor/employee/friend/partner/constituent I can be.

I think that now is the time to stop giving money to politicians in the hopes they’ll make the right choices. It’s time to go direct to the source. Let’s channel our money and our energy to saving the parks and natural resources. Let’s use our efforts to make our own backyards a place that we can be proud of. Let’s worry about the issues that are local, and keep believing that local change will lead to a global movement that we all have to do our part. And, like it or not, we all have to work together — and get along — to survive in this world.

After all, it’s the only one we got.

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when mixing potentially gets messy

One of the “joys” of breaking into a new market is getting your name out there. There’s the slow, plodding cold-calling-one-person-at-a-time route. Or there’s tapping into big(ger) gatherings of like-minded professionals where the potential to mingle has greater mass appeal.

I’ve been attending the Ad Fed luncheons now for a few months, and have been lucky to meet some very nice people who have not been bothered by my constant nudging for introductions. These affairs are always sit down meals with guest speakers, with a little social time before and after. Granted, most of these attendees have to rush back to office jobs, but it’s been a nice, varied group I’ve met so far.

Last night was the big MarCom mixer. I had been told it was “the” event to attend for networking purposes. And it didn’t prove to be wrong. I met some great people last night, and had the opportunity to finally chat with some I’d been introduced to on other occasions.

The part I didn’t get (nor did I partake of) was the food. I never ventured over to the buffet tables to see the spread, but what I saw on people’s plates….well, it really made me LOL. Seriously, I know putting out a spread for a big group can be a challenge. I learned that from my 10+ years in the food biz. But when you have hundreds of people (with only limited opportunities to plop down to eat what you’ve scored off the buffet), why would someone choose RIBS and HUMMUS??!?!?!

Neither facilitate mixing by any means. One leaves your hands a mess, which makes me hesitant to shake any of ’em after they’ve been chowing. And the other potentially leaves your breath reeking of garlic, and would make even the strongest of us want to pull back when someone leans in to be heard over the noise.

That being said, the mixer left a great taste in my mouth. It was a successful evening of networking for me. And I’m guessing it was a success for the hosts, too. The agency’s office is way cool. And I hope to have the opportunity to hang around there more in the future.

There’s one thing I’m learning about this town, and myself, is that you do have to mix things up to be introduced to the right people at the right time. Even if that means getting a little messy in the process.

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the “duh!” heard all over the ad world

According to another article from BusinessWeek online….

A survey from IBM’s Institute for Business Value shows that CEOs value one leadership competency above all others. Can you guess what it is? (Wait for it…..wait for it….)

Da-daaa-dummmmm! Survey says!

CREATIVITY!!!!??!?!

Really! I know what you’re thinking. That’s what most of us in the ad biz do every day — come up with creative solutions to meet the needs of clients for their products and/or services. And as it is for me, it’s deep within my core. That “what is that USP and how can we use it to compel people to buy/click/call” drive that isn’t fueled by Red Bull or other caffeinated beverages. It just is.

But I suppose there is a unique process for those in the biz world who play in different sandboxes. (Although I read a very interesting take on the current state of the ad world a couple of days ago that mentioned how the influx of big corporate conglomerates has given more power to the finance people than the creative department, but that’s a whole different story.)

Until now creativity has generally been viewed as fuel for the engines of research or product development, not the essential leadership asset that must permeate an enterprise.

In face-to-face interviews with our consultants, they said creative leaders do the following:

Disrupt the Status Quo. Every company has legacy products that are both cash—and sacred—cows. Often the need to perpetuate the success of these products restricts innovation within the enterprise, creating a window for competitors to advance competing innovations. As CEOs tell us that fully one-fifth of revenues will have to come from new sources, they are recognizing the requirement to break with existing assumptions, methods, and best practices.

Disrupt Existing Business Models. CEOs who select creativity as a leading competency are far more likely to pursue innovation through business model change. In keeping with their view of accelerating complexity, they are breaking with traditional strategy-planning cycles in favor of continuous, rapid-fire shifts and adjustments to their business models.

Disrupt Organizational Paralysis. Creative leaders fight the institutional urge to wait for completeness, clarity, and stability before making decisions. To do this takes a combination of deeply held values, vision, and conviction—combined with the application of such tools as analytics to the historic explosion of information. These drive decisionmaking that is faster, more precise, and even more predictable.

So, I guess I’ll continue to think “creative disruption” (as opposed to disruptive creative….which can get annoying really fast if not abso-freaking brilliant in concept and execution). It’s how I roll.

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