John Kuraoka, freelance advertising copywriter
(619) 465-6100
Ad Blog: news and views about advertising, branding, marketing, and copywriting
August 2013

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August 27 2013
Infiniti and Lincoln are two automotive brands trying to work their way from “premium” to true luxury status. Here’s a look at how they’re doing, from Fortune via CNN Money:
Advertising copywriter blog link

Key snip:

Achieving true luxury status is like gaining admission to an exclusive club. It means you possess something beyond the basic credentials. You command that extra something that allows you to charge more.

Currently, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi are charter members of the club, while Jaguar, Land Rover, Maserati, and Lexus hold junior memberships, and Cadillac is an aspirant. Porsche enjoys a dual status as a sports car maker as well as luxury marketer.

Luxury brands are thought of as iconic and somehow stable. But the reality belies that myth. Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, and Porsche are all relatively recent arrivals to the luxury class, having started their moves from “foreign car” to “luxury car” in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. By comparison, Jaguar and Rover were both well-established posh marques in the 50s. And to call Cadillac an “aspirant” in the category it pretty much created nearly 100 years ago, at least in the US market (along with the late Pierce-Arrow, Duesenberg, Packard, and others), is, well ...

The truth, as far as today’s marketplace is concerned. See, that’s the thing about prestige when it comes to brands. It can be climbed into. And it also can be fallen out of.

And, it can happen in just a few years. Look at the rise of Lexus, for instance, or the fall of Lincoln, one-time provider of presidential limousines. In fact, over the past century or so, there may be only two automotive brands that have always been virtually synonymous with true luxury, albeit in almost opposing forms and attitudes: Cadillac and Rolls-Royce.

There have been some interesting detours too. Like Cadillac’s multiple small cars – Cimarron in the 80s, Catera in the late 90s, and CTS today – each marketed as the brand’s first small car. Toyota’s late-60s forays into the premium class (Crown) and sports car class (2000GT). Mazda’s attempts to move upscale, including, in the 70s, the Cosmo, a high-tech grand tourer, and, in the 90s, Amati, an aborted luxury brand from which one model got folded into the regular product line as the Millenia. Chrysler’s on-again-off-again model/division Imperial. Packard’s popular entry-level Clipper, which may have marked the beginning of the end for that luxury brand. The stunning 70s Citroen SM. The Rover-Honda alliance that produced the short-lived Sterling 825 and 827, but that may also have helped make Honda’s Acura a credible premium brand in its own right.

See, luxury branding is every bit as exciting, and as fast-changing, and as cut-throat, as any other category.
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August 16 2013
Just a quickie to point out this collection of past logos from major tech companies, from
Advertising copywriter blog link

It’s always fun to see how design evolves, particularly within a fast-changing category like technology. Apple’s original logo, for instance, definitely went the opposite direction from the letterform designs that proliferated during the 70s and 80s. It’s been getting more mainstream ever since; I’d say the original rainbow apple logo lay at the intersection of contrarian and classic. The best logo redesigns, like Adobe’s, maintain the corporate lineage. A cool look back at old tech design (and possibly a look at the retro design of the future).
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August 12 2013
Last week I was camping with my family in the Sierras north of Truckee. The campground has clean pit toilets, bear-resistant food lockers and trash dumpsters, and running water: practically luxurious facilities. So it took a while before I noticed this sign posted on the campground message board:

During the week we visited friends and family in three or four other campgrounds in the area, and at each of them, posted on the message board, was an identical flyer.

I think it’s pretty effective marketing for the cost of a few copies. The Red Moose, by the way, is a B&B/cafe on Highway 49 in Sierra City. The owners seem to cater to PCT through-hikers.

The missing piece of information is the price, but any consumer disgruntledness would likely be overcome by the experience of being clean for the first time in a week or longer. (A buddy and I came off the John Muir trail some time during the late Pleistocene, happy to wait in line to pay, if I remember correctly, $3 each for a luke-warm shower outfitted with questionable shampoo and a well-worn bar of what might have been Irish Spring. We’d packed no bath towel, obviously, so we borrowed a slightly used one from a clean-looking total stranger before cadging a lift down the mountain and around to my car.)

Also, what with the transience of campers and through-hikers, the shower economy is hardly based on repeat business or customer loyalty; disclosure is not only unnecessary, it may also be undesirable. The same applies to any kind of promotional offer.

As for us, we just waded in the creeks, swam in the lakes, and let hot showers mark our return to civilization at the hotel on the way home.
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August 1 2013
Hey, just in time for a much-needed family getaway comes this story, from BBC News, about how camping helps reset our body clocks by removing us from artificial lighting:
Advertising copywriter blog link

I liked the tips about how to integrate more-natural lighting into an electrified, media-connected environment. I’ve always turned the house lights down in the evening; now I know why I like doing so. I’ll have to check my computer settings, though, to see how to dim my monitor when I’m working late.

One trick I read somewhere else has to do with desk lamps. If you turn them so the light hits the ceiling, it makes a much more-pleasant, diffused light. I’m writing this right now fairly late at night, with the office lights turned off and the desk lamp turned to bounce its light off the ceiling, and it has a nice midnight-oil quality.
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Backwards in time to July 2013

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Advertising strategy and other lies
An advertising copywriter’s bookshelf: recommended books
Brands and branding: a white paper
Do you make these mistakes in advertising?
Free (yes, free) advertising copywriting resources
Four ad copy traps that ensnare even experienced copywriters
How to become an advertising copywriter
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How to write a brochure: advice from an advertising copywriter
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Long John Silver on writing ads
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Napoleon’s advice to entrepreneurs, Part I: starting the enterprise
Napoleon’s advice to entrepreneurs, Part II: the entrepreneurial character
Napoleon’s advice to entrepreneurs, Part III: growing the enterprise
The ART of repurposing marketing copy (Or, why you shouldn’t use brochure copy as web content)
The economy (and what to do about it)
The Tightwad Marketing project
When you should consider hiring a freelance copywriter
Advertising copywriting mentorship
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John Kuraoka, freelance advertising copywriter
6877 Barker Way
San Diego, California

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