Thursday, June 30, 2005


My wife surprised me when she bought her most recent car. She played the tough negotiator in the deal. I'm one of those who, like most Americans, would rather have root canal surgery than have to wrangle a car deal. And it looks like someone at GM finally got wise.

GM has done a very good job of advertising their Employee Discount promotion, and it is paying off. Sales are up by as much as 30%. Chrysler is said to be readying their pitch. At the heart of the promotion - no rebates, sales incentives, or other drivel. It's as close to a pay-one-price as you can get. And the consumers are responding. Hmmmmm... wonder if the airlines are watching this.

--Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Ventriliquist Paul Winchell died last week at 82. The headlines remembered him as the voice of Tigger in the Winnie The Pooh movies. But for many of us baby boomers, Paul Winchell was synonomous with ventriliquism. His wise-cracking dummy Jerry Mahoney was one of my first intros to show business.

TV Guide published a short routine of Paul and Jerry. and I adapted it for a second grade talent show. I don't know if I was a good ventriliquist, but I won the ten dollar first prize.

Ventriliquism was also called "throwing your voice" Kind of ironic in the sense that these days, I'm throwing my voice around the world for all sorts of client projects.

Thanks, Mr. Winchell, for helping me to get out there on that stage so many years ago.

--Thanks for reading

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Did you hear about the latest Shoneys ad? By the way, Shoneys is the franchise name of "Big Boy" in the South. Other places in the U.S. may know it as Bob's or Frisch's or something different. Anyway, Their ad agency in Louisville created a radio ad for their breakfast buffet. In it, A driver ticks off middle America towns with odd-sounding names -- Two Egg, Fla., Weiner, Ark., and Sweet Lips, Tenn. -- noting there are Shoney's along the way.

"Pretty soon down the road when you're passing Gas, you'll be glad you stopped," the announcer says before a brief pause. "What? Gas, Kansas, you sicko. I can't believe you went there."

Two New Orleans radio stations, WLMG and WTKL refused to run the ad. The Agency's PR director says, "We thought the ad was a little cute, but we didn't think it would get banned," he said. "Especially in New Orleans, which is not the most conservative of places."

Having lived in New Orleans, I can attest that is true, but he forgot one thing. The stations that refused to run the ad: WTKL is 60s and 70s oldies. WLMG is Lite Rock. One of the core "branding beliefs" in both of those formats is that it must be "Family Friendly" That means not airing things that you'd be embarrased for your eight year old daughter to hear.

It happens a lot that agency folks think they've got a great ad, but forgot that radio is a targeted medium. They would have been much better off to have created another version or a different message altogether for stations like WTKL and WLMG. I've heard a very bold "Club Mix"-type urban spot for Pine Sol running on a country station, and country-oriented jingles running on Urban stations. I think it's just lazyness.

If you're talking to me, talk to me in MY language. Have the respect for your potential consumers to create a message for them. Advertising is not a one-size fits all industry.

And speaking of cities that should or should not be conservative places...guess which U.S. city has the highest number of churches per capita. It's Las Vegas.

--Thanks for reading.

Monday, June 20, 2005


Oh My! Very rarely am I at a loss for words, but let me tell you what happened today. I have begun to work with a company on their advertising. I have not yet visited this company in person, but nevertheless, I was asked to create a compelling piece of copy for an event they were planning.
“So, tell me what’s going to happen during this event. I said
“Well, whatever you put in the commercial, just let us know, and that’s what we’ll do.” The business owner replied.

It was 24 hours away from the start of the event, and the only thing he had settled on was a name. We could give away money, we could have free food…maybe we could even get The Rolling Stones to play. Except none of that was in the budget.

This company’s product is not unique. The only things that trigger a buying decision in the consumer for their product is either 1. packaging or 2. service. I had no idea if this company could out-perform on either one. If I made a compelling statement about one, and it wasn’t true for the consumer, then the company would lose a lot more than a customer. I would also lose its credibility.

Be specific with your goals and how you want your advertising to perform. Those who believe that writing or producing advertising is pure hype are destined to failure. Advertising is about speaking to the needs of the consumer, and addressing a past product failure with a new or different innovation in a way that causes an emotional reaction in the consumer.

In other words, show your customer how your product can help him do something easier, better or faster.

Some believe it takes extraordinary means to justify the ends. But it’s actually simple to be a success. It’s just advertising.

-- Thanks for reading

Sunday, June 19, 2005


About a month ago my wife and I decided we wanted a second cat. We went looking at all the pet shops to find the right kitten. After a couple of weeks, we fell in love with a face. I had doubts about how our five year old Calico would handle the adjustment, so it was not on an impulse that we decided to adopt Gizmo. Still, that moment of making the decision would affect so many lives.

If we hadn’t, the kitten would surely have been adopted by some other loving family. And maybe we would have found another somewhere. But we did, and that set into play an entirely different set of actions, feelings, and emotions. I suppose it’s like The Butterfly Effect. You can apply that principle to almost everything in your everyday life. It’s not something that one would obsess over, but It does pose interesting questions.

What if a consumer made a different choice than your product? What if a number of them did? How can you sway those opinions? Can you directly sway the opinions of the consumers who matter most to your business, or do you take a shotgun approach? I see so many businesses who decide to take the latter approach, and then later fault the process rather than the decision for their failure.

We have a plan for integrating the new kitten into the family. And we are planning to consult a professional. I believe that we’ll be successful.

How do you insure that your message will reach the right consumers? Do you have a plan? Will you consult with someone who specializes in relating your message to the right customers for your business? Or will you go it alone?


OK, I give up. After reading a number of other blogs, I have succum to the blogging world. Actually, it might be fun. I'm always planning to write more articles for my website, and this might be a way to leave ideas without actually going through the long process of self-editing. I have a lot of ideas, so if I can get up to speed on this blogger site, I'll post them as quickly as I can.