John Kuraoka, freelance advertising copywriter
(619) 465-6100
Ad Blog: news and views about advertising, branding, marketing, and copywriting
February, 2004

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February 26, 2004
As consumers, we hate pop-up online advertising. And now, there’s proof that, not only do we hate pop-up ads, but we hate the websites that thrust them on us. Here’s the article, from Media Life Magazine (UK):
Advertising copywriter blog link

Key stats: 60% of the web users in the study said they distrust websites with pop-up ads. 50% clicked off the pop-up ads before they finished loading – which means no marketing message delivery at all. Only 2% allowed the ad to load enough to see a complete company logo. And, 35% of pop-up ads are “ignored completely.” Despite the strong negative consensus, only 14% of us have a pop-up blocker on our browser, even though many are available free. Which goes to show that most of us would rather gripe about a problem than solve it. Nothing new in consumer behavior there.
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February 25, 2004
Branding is a big challenge. Especially if you’re a retailer, because branding goes so far beyond tangible products. In England, middle-of-the-road department store Marks & Spencer, once well-known for solid value, is struggling to update its image. Here’s the article, from the BBC:
Advertising copywriter blog link

Swap the Marks & Spencer brand name with that of any mid-level department store in the U.S., and the challenge remains the same. Sears. J.C. Penney. Robinsons-May. One wonders, though, if any of them would have the guts to try out a concept as daring as Marks & Spencer’s Lifestore. There’s a lot to get right, all the way from store location and design, through line buying, right down to the hiring and training of the sales and support staff. In fact, that last piece – personnel – is the big one. Regardless of advertising, marketing, or branding, in retail the most-important message to customers is delivered by the people on the floor.
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February 23, 2004
A television commercial starts with a concept. And, between concept and broadcast, there stands a lot of hard work. This article, from ESPN, looks at what went into the latest Adidas commercial featuring a fictional bout (using real footage) between Muhammad Ali and his daughter Laila:
Advertising copywriter blog link

The spot was computer-composited but not computer generated, and the difference shows. Producing it took tools from low-tech (using a drum beat to time punches, and a tennis ball as a target) to high-tech, plus a lot of human labor in both research and in physically matching the moves in each shot. Technology gets you only so far in delivering an advertising concept. Plain, old-fashioned elbow grease gets you the rest of the way.
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February 20, 2004
“Advertising,” Maurice Saatchi reportedly said, “is a fashion business.” Okay, what does one make of this article from the Edinburgh (Scotland) Evening News (via about the resurgence of Manly Chest Hair:
Advertising copywriter blog link

Yup, chest hair is in again, along with manly men. Light brand-oriented thinking for a Friday: did Georgia-Pacific change the Brawny Man just when he might have turned fashionable again? For the heck of it, here’s an article from the Los Angeles (CA) Times (via the St. Paul (MN) Pioneer Press) dated last month. It’s worth a read both for its insight into the process of creating a character-based branding icon, and the final paragraph in which author Susan Faludi (Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, 1991; Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man, 1999) predicts all of this:
Advertising copywriter blog link

Sometimes, predicting trends is almost too easy.
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February 17, 2004
Skepticism about advertising in all its forms is on the rise with the younger generation. This article, from MediaPost looks at research about marketing to “echo boomers” – the 12- to 24-year-old children of the baby boomers:
Advertising copywriter blog link

Key quote: “This generation is about authenticity, authorship, and autonomy.” Among media choices, the credibility of television advertising dropped the least, perhaps because it was lowest to begin with. An interesting finding about the 18-24-year-old segment: “82 percent are skeptical about the accuracy of the news media.” That means public relations and event marketing are about to face the same challenges as advertising. Heads up!
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February 16, 2004
Okay, this is fun. Any copywriter who has worked for a residential developer (which is basically every copywriter in Southern California) will read this article, from the San Jose (CA) Mercury News with more than a glimmer of recognition:
Advertising copywriter blog link

Ahh, naming streets and developments (er, communities). Fun little diversions from the day-to-day task of creating ads. Not a lot of heavy thinking involved, just poetic license and list generation, topped off by the tiny thrill of seeing your work on the map and realizing that you just touched the lives of dozens (on a short street, a Place or Close or Court) to hundreds (on an Avenue, Street, Way, or, dare one think it, a Boulevard). Once, I included the names of several agency staffers on a list submitted to a builder, and I seem to remember that one made the final cut (fortunately for the residents, not mine). Thing is, those names will outlast my ad work, and yours, and a whole slew of newly minted brand names as well.
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February 12, 2004
Everything old is new again. Proctor & Gamble’s marketing chief wants more accountability and innovation in advertising. Here’s the article, from Ad Age (QwikFIND ID: AAP37J):
Advertising copywriter blog link

Key no-duh quote: “All marketing should be permission marketing.” Um ... all marketing is permission marketing. For more than 150 years, people have either opted in or out of looking at an ad. Furthermore, there have always been multiple opt-ins: reading the copy, believing the promises, deciding to buy. Even high-level corporate communication like branding requires opt-in from the consumer side. This is obvious stuff. And, 20 years ago, the most-junior cub copywriter understood it. It was only after the new media gurus came in and screwed up the marketing side that suddenly “permission marketing” became a mantra. Well, that and “interactive advertising.” (All good advertising is fundamentally interactive.)
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February 11, 2004
This article, from United Press International (UPI) looks at mainstream online commercials:
Advertising copywriter blog link

Really, it’s the same old stuff that makes “new media” effective (or not). Breaking through the clutter. Delivering a relevant message in a way that makes the product or service personally desirable. Nothing new there. The cool thing about online media, is the level to which the message can adapt to the needs of each individual potential customer. At a certain point, we’re no longer talking about online advertising; we’re talking about individually delivered websites.
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February 10, 2004
Zany, wacky ads are the trend these days. Are they crazy like a fox, or desperately self-conscious? This article, from the New York Times, looks at sandwich shop advertising:
Advertising copywriter blog link

These ads are quirkily self-conscious in a way that, say, Snapple marketing (see February 9) is not. However, do they stand out within a mass medium to a mass market? It looks like they do. Do they hit the desired target market? Again, it looks like they do. Will they make (in Rosser Reeves’ words) “the goddamned sales curve stop moving down and start moving up?” That remains to be seen. My opinion: Subway no, because I think the creative (which I personally like, by the way) is aimed at an older market, which I think may be strategically unsound for long-term growth. Quiznos yes, because the madness and the market and the message and the opportunity all come together.
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February 9, 2004
Some companies talk branding. Others simply do it. Here’s a great article about how Snapple does it, from the folks at Marketing Sherpa:
Advertising copywriter blog link

What I love about this, is that it proves that creativity isn’t just an essential part of advertising – it’s an essential part of everyday business, from product development to promotions to customer service. And, it’s all done with the customer in mind first, a rare quality in business or advertising these days.
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February 5, 2004
Loch Ness (yes, the one with the monster) launches its first-ever branding initiative. Here’s the article, from the Press and Journal (Aberdeen, Scotland):
Advertising copywriter blog link

Research confirmed Loch Ness as one of the top 20 geographical destinations, right up there with the Alps and the Grand Canyon. This new campaign, however, is not so much a case of rebranding as branding, since Loch Ness has never before been marketed as a destination. Also, the reality is that Loch Ness is a brand, marketed or not, and the new marketing group would be fools to walk away from it.
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February 4, 2004
More than 4,000 brand experts worldwide were surveyed, the votes have been tallied, and the #1 global brand of 2003 is search engine heavyweight Google. Here’s the article, from the BBC:
Advertising copywriter blog link

Rounding out the top five global brands: Apple, Mini, Coke, and Samsung. Key hint: only one “diversified” brand in the lot. Regional differences were interesting. In the U.S., Apple was #1. In Asia, Sony was #1. In Europe and Africa, the #1 brand was Ikea. And Cemex (a construction firm) was #1 in Latin America.
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February 2, 2004
Before I get into my rant on the Super Bowl ads, here are some perspectives straight from the heartland of America, the first from the St. Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch (titled “Super Predictable”) and the second from the Duluth (MN) News Tribune:
Advertising copywriter blog link
Advertising copywriter blog link

I watched the game with my kids, and I paid special attention to the ads. (And, as an aside, some of the scary movie trailers were entirely inappropriate for children, along with most of the halftime show, and that will probably have me and my family doing something else next year during the Super Bowl.) This morning, I couldn’t recall any of the Super Bowl commercials. It wasn’t until I reviewed my notes that I remembered some. And there was nothing to remember. No message, no unique selling proposition, nothing to believe.

AOL Broadband goes fast. Yeah, well, so does every other brand of broadband. Sierra Mist refreshes. So does any other soft drink (or ice water for that matter, which one commercial rather oddly positioned as being more-desirable than the drink). A Cadillac goes faster than the speed of sound, and FedEx helps even an alien succeed in business. Entertaining but unbelievable premises that never turned the corner to believable promises.

The concepts were all about attracting attention, but the copywriting failed to do anything with that attention once gained – like branding or persuading. In all, multi-million-dollar opportunities to sell to a once-a-year audience, not only large but favorably inclined towards advertising, wasted. I hate when that happens.
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Backwards in time to January 2004

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John Kuraoka, freelance advertising copywriter
6877 Barker Way
San Diego, California

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