Ad Blog: News and Views about Advertising, Branding, Marketing, and Copywriting

Title: Ad Blog: News and Views about Advertising, Branding, Marketing, and Copywriting Address: www.kuraoka.com/adblog/ Author: John Kuraoka From: San Carlos Blogging since: 1997

Post Date: April 18, 2007 Well, here again is someone making a career out of stating what should be obvious. Audiences are fragmenting. Media are fragmenting. Message channels within the fragmented media are fragmenting. Thing is, this is not a problem for advertising, it's a solution. We no longer have to be content with so-called mass audiences, narrowing the focus through creative execution. Now the media by itself can be micro-targeted, with creativity extending up and down the entire process. Here's a quote from Jaffe: "My definition of advertising is trying to sell stuff to people who don't want to be sold to, using methods that applied 50 years ago and no longer are relevant."

I call that a pretty convenient definition of advertising for someone espousing the "eradication of advertising:" to specify a dated, irrelevant methodology appealing with limited success to a resistant audience. Yeah, that kind of advertising dies all the time. There's no need to eradicate it; it's already gone.

My definition of advertising worked 50 years ago, and still works today: performance art, with ROI.

See, all these new media gurus get confused because, being experts in media, they think the medium is everything. It isn't. The audience is everything, and you can distill that down to a single person, in a single moment. You touch that person, you move that person, that's performance art. You do it with a commercial intent, that's advertising.

Post Date: March 30, 2007 There's an awful lot of copying being done in major domestic markets. DaimlerChrysler, for instance, is being sued over a Jeep campaign that allegedly came too close for comfort to the "Choose Your Own Adventure" series of children's books. When I saw that campaign, I assumed there was a connection; it made smart marketing sense. But, apparently there wasn't, at least, not a conscious, legally secured one. I never owned a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book; they were aimed at a younger market than I when they were introduced in 1979. That doesn't stop me from being aware of them, purely as a function of cultural literacy.

And I think that points to a fourth major factor driving the decline of creativity in advertising and branding: the rise of self-centeredness. There's a tendency among less-mature creatives to assume that every concept they have is original. So we see the same old ideas, done over and over again, in part because creative teams may not even be aware that they're repeating the past.

You can't innovate in a vacuum.

Post Date: March 28, 2007 Spring break is just days away! Here's a look at the marketing side of spring break, from The Washington Post (DC) via the Ashland Daily Tidings (Ashland, OR): Buried in the article is one of the key reasons for all the loot being given away: research. Case in point: It was during research like this in Miami last year, says Victoria's Secret Direct copywriter Sarah Stark, that Pink discovered its demographic prefers the word "underwear" to "panty."

There is just no substitute for getting out there in the trenches.

Post Date: March 21, 2007 You can both entertain and sell. In fact, that combination has made for highly effective advertising for the past 100 years or so. It's nothing new. What is new, is that today an awful lot of ad creatives seem to be wanna-be-screenwriters or wanna-be-film directors instead of craftsmanlike copywriters and art directors. The result has not been an improvement.

Post Date: March 19, 2007 A branded broadband video player aimed at preschoolers has signed up its first advertiser.... First, there is no place in a preschooler's life for on-demand television. Sorry, that's just the way it is, I don't care how many child psychologists and researchers line up against me. Because I'm not talking about numbers and social norming and statistics, I'm talking about real children, having real childhoods.

The preschool years are the last ones in which parents can exercise a high degree of control over most of the day's content. Those years, zero to five, are critical exploring years. Those are the years when children should be learning experientially -- heaven knows, there's little time for that from age 5 to 20-something, when you're expected to learn from books and teachers and, yes, media content.

Note that I am an advertising copywriter; I have no training in child development. But, as a parent of two small children, it seems to me that plunking a preschool-age child in front of a television or computer deprives him or her of active learning. It models passivity and builds an expectation of entertainment instead of exploration.

Okay, on to a second point: advertising content...

If every toy comes with a pre-existing storyline, its value as a creative plaything declines. That's why Tinkertoys and Lego blocks (and rocks and sticks and mud, for that matter) enhance creativity more than carefully defined action figures. That's not to say that Thomas the Tank Engine isn't a fine toy. But it is to say that the more established the storyline (in other words, the more entrenched the branding), the less creative value it has. The more you expose your child to corporate Thomas, the less freedom he or she has to engage an imaginary Thomas. And, the less ownership your child has of the whole play experience.

Kids should be kids. And we must not use the creativity of this generation to quash the creativity of the next.

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