Previously on Adrants. Everyone who works in marketing and any business touching it should take the time to read this article. On CBSNews.com, Dick Meyer wrote an editorial hammering home points we've touched on here before such as the portrayal of men as idiots in advertising, the hyper-political correctness foisted upon the industry and society at large and the acceptance, what scholar Charles Murray relates to "ecumenical niceness," of kids dressing and behaving like thugs fueled by marketers and the entertainment industry elevating "thug culture" to culture at large. If that's a lot to digest, just read the article and think long and hard about what cultural imagery you mirror in your marketing. Don't cop out using the tired, "Oh we're just identifying with culture," and turn a blind eye to what you are perpetuating.
Over the years, we've commented on the emasculated, sole-searching, directionless, man syndrome made famous by those Verizon Dumb Dad ads. Writing in Entertainment Weekly about how today's man just won't grow up and how he's portrayed by show creators and advertiser as a aimless, child-like buffoon, Mark Harris captures, perfectly, the ironic attraction of AMC's Mad Men.
He writes, "...the 35ish Don Draper is a New York advertising whiz with a wife, a mistress, unquenchable ambition and not an iota of little-boy-ishness; in fact, he's determined to grind his inner child into dust and obliterate any trace of vulnerability...He's a relic of an ancient civilization, and a flat out terrible role model. But in his struggle not to lose his soul, he is also, indisputably, a grown up. No wonder he suddenly seems like the sexiest thing on television."
Ok, so it's an over the top dramatization but you have to admit that presentation Mad Men's Don Draper gave to Kodak for the Carousel slide projector was brilliant. You wish you gave presentations like that more often. Come on. Admit it. You know you do. That Kodak moment was the defining moment of the season finale of AMC's Mad Men which, despite critical debate, has turned out to be a great show - good enough for AMC to renew it for another season.
During the episode we also find out up and coming creative Peggy Olsen was promoted from secretary to Junior copywriter (no small feat for a women in the early sixties one must admit) and that she's pregnant and didn't know it! Or just denied it. The father? Pete Campbell? Did enough time elapse between their office dalliance earlier in the season or is the father someone else? Intriguingly, Peggy was promoted by Don to work on the Clearasil account which Pete, through his wife's rich family connections, just snagged. Needless to say, he's being painting as the whipping boy, emasculated by his family, stomped on by his boss and forced to suffer - oh the horror - the indignity of working with a woman!
When in doubt, nothing wins people over like a good story. Playing the bard is a standby for good CEOs and, we think, great marketers.
That's one reason why we found Richard Maxwell and Robert Dickman's The Elements of Persuasion so interesting. It doesn't just emphasize the importance of telling tales to persuade; it does so from a branding and sales perspective, without neglecting the importance of listening, and sharing plenty of relevant stories along the way.
It's also compact, easy to read, and orange. How do you beat orange?!
We always thought it was funny that Unilever would champion girls' self-esteem via Dove (courtesy of Ogilvy) and premit mass objectification of lusty ladies via Lynx/Axe (courtesy of Bartle Bogle Hegarty).
Boston's Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is less amused.
"The hypocrisy is Dove positioning itself as a brand that cares and is trying to teach girls to resist this messaging," said associate director Josh Golin. "At the same time Unilever, in the form of Axe, is putting out some of the worst messaging there is."
Our take? Unilever's just a parent company.
We think it's perfectly fine for someone working in the advertising industry to dislike the AMC series Mad Men and to share that opinion with the industry at large. But, when the second sentence of that opinion reads, "I got through about 10 minutes of it before I changed the channel, trying not to squint as I yawned so I could see what was on the latest episode of Dirty Jobs," the next five paragraphs, which contain blatherings about how the show should be more realistic to industry's "magical" era, become baseless.
For someone to write a review of a television show, which has been on the air for at least 12 weeks, after only having watched the first ten minutes of the premiere episode is half-witted at best and most assuredly irresponsible journalism. McKee Wallwork Cleveland Partner and Creative Director Bart Cleveland is the half-wit who brings us wacky commentary such as, "what I really wanted it to be more like was Mad Max. I wanted the hero to be a little off his rocker about doing great work. I wanted to see him threaten to jump out a window to sell a bagel ad." Mad Max? Oh yea. That'd be an accurate portrayal of what we do.
Here's a music and video campaign called Not For Sale. The object of the game is to raise money to stop the global slave trade, which is a $32 billion industry, apparently.
We're very moved but, having come from a country whose favourite export is mail order brides and domestic helpers, we're feeling a little nonplussed.
For each girl that's bought out of slavery, another handful leaps in, encouraged by angling parents and crappy governments (which, instead of using its money for roads or transport, may fund stupid shit like Imelda Marcos' shoe fetish, a social tragedy romanticized by fashionistas worldwide).
In the end, trying to end slavery is about persuading corrupt governments to stop swilling their countries and make more productive decisions. But that'll probably happen around the same time Bush stops throwing America's dollar value at the War on Terror.
After our stokage, then disappointment, over the latest Bravia ad -- snippets of which look suspiciously like this Kozyndan panoramic (sent to Passion about two years ago) -- Sony gave us the following statement.
Here's some food for thought as you consider just how smartly your marketing budget is being spent. Recently, a media buyer refused to place a buy on a site because the site's content was deemed unsuitable. All well and good but then the same media buyer placed the same buy on a blind ad network (a buy that is made without knowing on which sites the ads will appear).
We bet you can guess what happened next. Yup. The ad appeared on the site that was deemed unsuitable because the blind ad network buys ads from the same, so-called unsuitable site. One, perhaps, can't fault the buyer since they had no idea the ad would appear on the site they thought should not be part of the buy but doesn't the entire blind buy thing seem idiotic? It's like, "Hey, let's throw some money at a stripper and see what sticks to her thong." Not the most efficient use of one's cash.
If you think strange homages and coincidences in advertising creative are a new thing, you would be mistaken. Writing on Freaking Marketing, Robert Rosenthal shares with us the fact the famed David Ogilvy-created Rolls Royce headline, "At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock" wasn't exactly original. Perhaps this is common knowledge is some circles but it's the first we've heard of it.
In a very level headed examination, Rosenthal explains how a headline, "The only sound one can hear in the new Pierce-Arrows is the ticking of the electric clock" appeared in a Pierce Arrow print ad in 1932, many years before it appeared in a Rolls Royce ad. It's nearly identical to the Rolls Royce headline.
Certainly Ogilvy was old enough to have seen the ad but, as we've seen many times before, coincidences happen and even if work plays off former work, it's usually done, as Rosenthal points out, simply to accomplish whatever the campaign set out to do. While everyone likes to say there are no new ideas today perhaps they've been gone for over 50 years.
UPDATE: In comments, Rosenthal, after digging deeper, tells us the headline may have come from the Technical Editor of a magazine called The Motor. Oddly, it sounds like we may have known this before but don't count on our brain cells for much. We're just sharing the facts as they present themselves.