John Kuraoka, freelance advertising copywriter
(619) 465-6100
Ad Blog: news and views about advertising, branding, marketing, and copywriting
February, 2005

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February 28, 2005
I’ve got two stories today. The first is about the rise of podcasting, from the San Francisco Chronicle (CA):
Advertising copywriter blog link

It’s exciting to see media reverting to the people, through technological innovations like blogging and podcasting software. But, we’ve already seen blogging go commercial, thanks both to trend-watching advertisers and bloggers seeking ways to “monetize” their efforts. So, once better data is available about the listeners, it won’t be long before commercial podcasting becomes the standard.

And, speaking of commercialization, here’s an article from the Denver Post (CO) about advertisers targeting kids, and (I’m sorry, but I have to say this) some parents making dumb choices:
Advertising copywriter blog link

Sigh. One mom says that, because of advertising, her kids feel like they have to get something every time they go to the store.

Time, again, for my regular rant (see also February 17, January 11, December 22 ...). The issue here isn’t about advertising. It’s about parenting. Advertisers are not “succeeding;” parents are failing.

Look at the glazed expression on the four-year-old’s face. It’s hard to tell, and this may just be an inopportune photograph, but from her posture, she may be watching television. In what could be her bedroom.

According to The Center for Science in the Public Interest, quoted in the article, children see about 58 TV commercials every day.

That’s not the advertiser’s choice. That’s the parent’s choice. Who turned on the TV? Who’s in charge of that household, who’s raising those kids? I don’t think my kids see 58 TV commercials in a month, let alone in a day. And creating advertising is my job, for crying out loud.

And as for turning household errands into gift-giving opportunities, what’s wrong with saying no? Here’s my grumpy-daddy parenting slogan. Ready? “Every Yes Makes A Mess.Feel free to adopt it as your own.

Okay, seriously, part of childhood is mess-making, but some messes are better than others. I’d rather deal with a mess on the kitchen table due to over-exuberance with stickers, scraps, glue, and paint, than deal with a messed-up head due to over-reliance on mass media entertainment.

Speaking of messes, over the past week or so, my boys’ favorite toy has been the mud all the rains have created in the back yard. Now, I’m not claiming this is altogether healthier than watching TV; after all, the 2-1/2-year-old likes to dip a cup into puddles and drink it, with, of course, the 4-1/2-year-old looking on with a combination of delight and disgust. However, it at least promotes independence without promoting consumerism. Of things other than rainpuddlewater, anyway.
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February 25, 2005
I’m going to wrap up the week with the excerpt I promised, from the novel Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis, about advertising copywriting. Here’s a free e-book version of Babbitt from Project Gutenberg ( You can’t search for it because the title is misspelled in the Project Gutenberg database, so this is a direct link to the text file:
Advertising copywriter blog link

Babbitt, Chapter 8, Part 3 (Ed. note: the scene is a dinner party at the Babbitts’ home)

However intimate they might be with T. Cholmondeley Frink as a neighbor, as a borrower of lawn-mowers and monkey-wrenches, they knew that he was also a Famous Poet and a distinguished advertising-agent; that behind his easiness were sultry literary mysteries which they could not penetrate. But to-night, in the gin-evolved confidence, he admitted them to the arcanum:

“I’ve got a literary problem that’s worrying me to death. I’m doing a series of ads for the Zeeco Car and I want to make each of ‘em a real little gem – reg’lar stylistic stuff. I’m all for this theory that perfection is the stunt, or nothing at all, and these are as tough things as I ever tackled. You might think it’d be harder to do my poems – all these Heart Topics: home and fireside and happiness – but they’re cinches. You can’t go wrong on ‘em; you know what sentiments any decent go-ahead fellow must have if he plays the game, and you stick right to ‘em. But the poetry of industrialism, now there’s a literary line where you got to open up new territory. Do you know the fellow who’s really the American genius? The fellow who you don’t know his name and I don’t either, but his work ought to be preserved so’s future generations can judge our American thought and originality to-day? Why, the fellow that writes the Prince Albert Tobacco ads! Just listen to this:

It’s P.A. that jams such joy in jimmy pipes. Say – bet you’ve often bent-an-ear to that spill-of-speech about hopping from five to f-i-f-t-y p-e-r by “stepping on her a bit!” Guess that’s going some, all right – BUT – just among ourselves, you better start a rapidwhiz system to keep tabs as to how fast you’ll buzz from low smoke spirits to tip-top-high – once you line up behind a jimmy pipe that’s all aglow with that peach-of-a-pal, Prince Albert.

Prince Albert is john-on-the-job – always joy’usly more-ish in flavor; always delightfully cool and fragrant! For a fact, you never hooked such double-decked, copper-riveted, two-fisted smoke enjoyment!

Go to a pipe – speed-o-quick like you light on a good thing! Why – packed with Prince Albert you can play a joy’us jimmy straight across the boards! And you know what that means!

“Now that,” caroled the motor agent, Eddie Swanson, “that’s what I call he-literature! That Prince Albert fellow – though, gosh, there can’t be just one fellow that writes ‘em; must be a big board of classy ink-slingers in conference, but anyway: now, him, he doesn’t write for long-haired pikers, he writes for Regular Guys, he writes for me, and I tip my benny to him! The only thing is: I wonder if it sells the goods? Course, like all these poets, this Prince Albert fellow lets his idea run away with him. It makes elegant reading, but it don’t say nothing. I’d never go out and buy Prince Albert Tobacco after reading it, because it doesn’t tell me anything about the stuff. It’s just a bunch of fluff.”

Frink faced him: “Oh, you’re crazy! Have I got to sell you the idea of Style? Anyway that’s the kind of stuff I’d like to do for the Zeeco. But I simply can’t. So I decided to stick to the straight poetic, and I took a shot at a highbrow ad for the Zeeco. How do you like this:

The long white trail is calling – calling – and it’s over the hills and far away for every man or woman that has red blood in his veins and on his lips the ancient song of the buccaneers. It’s away with dull drudging, and a fig for care. Speed – glorious Speed – it’s more than just a moment’s exhilaration – it’s Life for you and me! This great new truth the makers of the Zeeco Car have considered as much as price and style. It’s fleet as the antelope, smooth as the glide of a swallow, yet powerful as the charge of a bull-elephant. Class breathes in every line. Listen, brother! You’ll never know what the high art of hiking is till you TRY LIFE’S ZIPPINGEST ZEST – THE ZEECO!

“Yes,” Frink mused, “that’s got an elegant color to it, if I do say so, but it ain’t got the originality of ‘spill-of-speech!’”

The whole company sighed with sympathy and admiration.
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February 24, 2005
February was Black History Month in America: time to stock up on soap, cornbread mix, and cars. Yup, yet another noble effort at celebrating our nation’s history, co-opted by retail advertising. Here’s the story, from The Washington Post (DC):
Advertising copywriter blog link

The idealist in me wants to say that this is just one more way that advertising brings America together as one big happy family (see February 16, for example), but I just can’t. There’s a difference between reaching out with aspirational visions of inter-cultural harmony, and turning historical contributions to society into another excuse for a sale. Yeah, I feel the same way about President’s Day and Veteran’s Day too.

And now, back to the topic I can’t seem to leave alone this week: writing offhand but gripping dialog. Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis. Brilliant stuff, evoking tedium without ever being tedious. My next slow news day, I’m going to post a long excerpt from this novel that specifically pertains to advertising copywriting.
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February 23, 2005
Focus groups may soon be able to collect more hard data about brain reactions, including predictors for emotional response and recall. Here’s the article from the Sydney Morning Herald (AUS):
Advertising copywriter blog link

First, I think target audience data is a good thing. The more you know about who you’re talking to, the better advertising you can create.

However, I believe (with no neurological data to back me up) that a person exposed to an ad in a focus group, wearing a headset, is likely to have a different set of reactions than an unobserved person exposed to the same ad in the wild. The issue is neither creative vs. research (as researchers often assume) nor the validity of the research. It’s the extent to which that research can be applied to advertising in the real world. The data points are useful in a broad sense, but in any focus group you’re still dealing with a moderated audience that is paying attention, being affected by group dynamics, and consciously evaluating the work, and that skews the numbers. If the data is collected one-on-one, then it may in some ways be even less applicable to advertising, although undoubtedly very useful in the field of medicine.

The other broad issue is the perishability of the data pool. Once a particular trigger is identified by potential consumers, it becomes easily filtered out. Communication isn’t a static event with passive message recipients. There’s too much noise for that. And, given an onslaught of carefully crafted marketing messages, hidden variables can wield influence far out of proportion with their ability to be measured.

I think this is an interesting new tool in conventional testing. However, I also think the data may be better applied to positioning and broad concept appeals than finished creative. The only judge of finished creative, is the customer in the wild. Okay, and awards show judges, but on a totally different level.

A follow-up to yesterday’s entry: I re-read Death of a Salesman and maybe that wasn’t a good example of a way to prime the pump on “small moment” dialog, at least as far as evoking (without provoking) ennui. Man, that thing moves; the dialog has muscle in it that just slams the story along. The other amazing thing was how visual Miller’s stage directions were, and how well they worked to communicate states of mind (to bring it back to today’s topic).
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February 22, 2005
Why do car commercials start out great at launch, then fade into creative mediocrity? This article from MSN Slate explains that it’s tied to the product lifecycle itself, with the message and the audience changing as the product ages. Plus, there are some previews of upcoming VW teaser spots:
Advertising copywriter blog link

I think the concepts for the teasers are fine, but the copywriting falls short. Instead of creating an atmosphere of ennui, the commercials provoke the real thing in the viewer. Admittedly, the bar was set extremely high. It’s hard to write casual, slice-of-life dialog that still works to grab the viewer and move the story. Still, just imagine what a writer like Arthur Miller or David Mamet could have done with these commercials. Same concepts, same set-ups, dramatically different results.

Movie tip: rent Death of a Salesman (Miller) and American Buffalo or Glengarry Glen Ross (Mamet) today. Now, that’s how to write hyper-real “small moment” dialog that’s both offhand and gripping. If I’d been the copywriter on these spots, those are what I’d have used to prime the pump.
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February 21, 2005
Cable TV companies are rolling out the ability to deliver targeted advertising to their subscribers. Here’s the story, from USA Today via Yahoo! News:
Advertising copywriter blog link

This technology means that an apartment-dwelling viewer watching a home and garden show might see a very different set of commercials than, say, a homeowner or even a new homeowner or a homeowner with kids. Now, I thought this was rolling out back on March 15 2004, but I guess that was premature. Even now, the market in the data pool isn’t large enough to be cost-sustainable, and no one knows what kind of premium such targeting could carry. Cable operators could easily kill this concept with the wrong media pricing strategy. On top of all that, there are still bandwidth and privacy concerns to be addressed.

Meanwhile, though, the creative possibilities are very cool to contemplate.
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February 18, 2005
Viral marketing has become the emerging tactic, so it’s not surprising that everyone’s jumping in. Here’s an article about packaged goods advertisers using viral tactics, from The New York Times (NY):
Advertising copywriter blog link

As far as coolness goes, if everyone’s jumping in, then the real trend-setters are jumping out. However, will viral marketing go away? I don’t think so. Pass-along marketing is a classic tactic, re-energized by the internet and other emerging channels of communication (such as text messaging). The cost is so low relative to other media, and the ability to target is so precise (when it’s done right), and the persuasive power of a pass-along endorsement is so high, that viral marketing will be with us in various forms forever.

I played a couple of Brawny’s “Innocent Escapes” for my wife, who’s in the low middle of the age demo and an e-card user/subscriber. Her immediate reaction: “Eewww.” I asked her if she’d ever send one. “Only as a joke,” she said.

So, people will add their own irony. But will that help the brand?
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February 17, 2005
Branded entertainment targets kids, with both Barbie® and Bratz® launching movies and music. Here’s the story, from the Wall Street Journal via The Arizona Republic (AZ):
Advertising copywriter blog link

It seems I go on about marketing aimed at kids at least once a month. Anyways, I’m of the age that remembers The Archies (with an actual pop hit “Sugar Sugar”) and The Monkees (with a string of pop chart toppers). So, this is just todays’s version of the same old thing.

However, as an advertising copywriter, creative director, and parent, I object strongly to the quote from the MGA (maker of Bratz) chief executive: “You can’t just sell toys, you have to sell a whole lifestyle.”

Children who are playing with dolls are already exploring ways of relating to others, including social stuff like lifestyle. But they’re doing it on their own terms. They don’t need toy executives or parents intruding with crude attempts to direct the process. (Toy executive: “See, Barbie is cool because she has all this cool stuff.” Parent: “See, Barbie works hard as a doctor/hair salon owner/professor of economics so she can be independent and acquire the things she wants.”) Kids’ creativity shouldn’t be stifled by anyone’s vision of a lifestyle reality. If that happens, it’s not play, it’s just consumerism.

For crying out loud, three-year-olds and eight-year-olds and eleven-year olds need to play, not buy into a lifestyle.
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February 16, 2005
Where is multi-ethnicity the norm in America? In advertising, of course. Here’s the story, from the Associated Press via the Daily Herald (IL):
Advertising copywriter blog link

It’s a good sign that one of the things we aspire to as a nation, is this vision of a place in which people of all colors get along, working and playing together side by side. Yes, it’s not quite reality, but it’s a step toward realizing it.
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February 15, 2005
A tale of two chief marketing officers, four companies, one good deal, and one maybe not-so-good. The first, is Apple Computer’s pick-up of HP’s Allison Johnson, story from the Associated Press via the Monterey Herald (CA). The second, is Mitsubishi’s pick-up of former Mercedes marketing head David Schembri, story from (UK):
Advertising copywriter blog link
Advertising copywriter blog link

What do you think will happen? Here’s what I think. Apple made a good pick; someone who knows how to build a brand and will take Apple from strength to strength. Mitsubishi, on the other hand, I have to wonder about. Hiring the head of marketing from the car brand with some of the biggest losses over the past couple years to head the marketing of the only Japanese car brand to be losing money seems like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. I hope I’m wrong. Mitsubishi is a highly visible brand across so many industries – possibly the first brand name in the U.S. to successfully span from banking to consumer electronics to automobiles – and I just hate to see that go downhill.
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February 14, 2005
China may be welcoming Western-style profits, but Western-style advertising creative is another story. It remains a rigidly controlled society, no doubt about it. Here’s the story, from the Los Angeles Times (CA) via the Seattle Times (WA):
Advertising copywriter blog link

It’s an interesting, occasionally contradictory, blend of values. Decadence and individualism are out. But showing off one’s upward mobility is in. The difference, of course, is that upward mobility reflects well on the society within which such socioeconomic movement is possible. With China’s advertising market growing at a conservatively estimated 20% per year, these subtleties must not be lost on American advertising agencies looking to expand.

Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day!
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February 13, 2005
Dated tomorrow, because it’s already tomorrow in Malaysia, is this delightful story about how a boy from Kuala Lumpur became a senior art director at a New York ad agency that’s part of DDB Worldwide. Here it is, from The Star (Malaysia) :
Advertising copywriter blog link

I am such a sucker for stories like this. Perhaps it’s my middle-class upbringing; I can’t say I’ve ever had to work two jobs to live in a rat-infested apartment. On the other hand, I also can’t say my job so far has brought me into close proximity with Salma Hayek or Halle Berry. To heck with it. Copywriters don’t tend to hang around on set anyways, and when we do we sort of shuffle from one foot to the other, behind the director, looking thoughtful and quietly nurturing the hope that some outrageous sequence of events will allow us to save the day’s shooting with a lightning-fast re-write. But I digress.

This is a “local kid makes good” story, so the advertising industry is glamorized considerably. But, still, the essentials are there. To get ahead in the creative side of advertising, be prepared to work hard, deliver creative solutions to real-life problems, and never, never take your eyes off the ball. Like this guy, and everyone else who’s making it.

Yeah, there’s a reason I’m in the office on a Sunday.
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February 12, 2005
What am I doing here on a Saturday? Well, sometimes I see items in unexpected places, and I have to share them. Here’s a cautionary tale of advertising, creative execution, and rights management, from Autoweek via the Wheels section of my hometown San Diego Union-Tribune (CA):
Advertising copywriter blog link

In a nutshell, both automaker Chevrolet and telecom company Vonage licensed the same song (“Woo Hoo” by the 5,6,7,8s) from the same publisher for the same use (advertising).

Now, given the cost of the original license and the license for the replacement song, plus the cost of re-doing the TV commercial soundtracks, wouldn’t it have been more-economical for Chevrolet to buy exclusive advertising use rights in the first place? Especially since they knew that another advertiser was interested? Maybe not; exclusive rights can be cost-prohibitive. (But from an act as obscure as the 5,6,7,8s?)

But, there’s a larger issue here: a natural consequence of the convergence of advertising and content. In the Old Days, this would be no big deal, the two product categories being non-competitive. Today, we can safely acknowledge that a car ad is in competition with a telecom ad is in competition with programming. And, in that light, rights management needs to keep up with the times.

Hey, maybe the whole mess will give rise to more original content in advertising. What a concept. Could the rise of the custom-written ad jingle (um, that is, audio branding) be far behind?
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February 11, 2005
The Federal Trade Commission ruled that paid product placement need not be disclosed, all but eliminating the lines between programming and pitching. Here’s the story, from Media Post’s Online Media Daily:
Advertising copywriter blog link

Okay, the proposed rules (which would riddle the screen with pop-ups) were dumb and out of touch with reality. But then, so is the glee with which advertisers are greeting this ruling. In a peculiar way, it diminishes the value of the placement because now consumers have even more reason to be skeptical of and cynical about all messages in all media. Plain old advertising is rapidly becoming the last honest thing in the media. And, with that the audience and the value of that audience will rise.

Hey, I’d love to have a pop-up come up over my product placement. I’d make it clickable to learn more, receive a special offer, or buy online.

The weird thing in all of this, is that so few so-called forward-looking marketers are looking beyond the immediate past to anticipate a future consumer reaction. Advertising is all about consumer reaction; it’s inevitable, if the advertising is any good at all.
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February 10, 2005
The post-mortem begins at HP after the firing of CEO Carly Fiorina. Here’s a good comprehensive article on the challenges facing the company, from Business Week (UK) via Yahoo! News:
Advertising copywriter blog link

The stirrings to break up the company strike me as more an attempt to distance the future management from Fiorina than a real solution. Yesterday I said that HP needs to move forward with the assets it has in place. One valuable asset that HP inherits from Fiorina’s reign, is centralized management of large, potentially powerful divisions. Another is, for better or worse, a high-profile brand. To give those things up and return to the fragmented management and niche brand of the past seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
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February 9, 2005
HP CEO Carly Fiorina is ousted by the board over a disagreement over corporate strategy. Here’s the story, from InfoWorld (San Francisco, CA):
Advertising copywriter blog link

This has been brewing for a long time, at least since the 2002 HP-Compaq merger (see my white paper on brands and branding for more). So much went wrong with brand strategy here, from over-extension to squandering brand equity to marginalizing the core category, that it’s practically a case study in what not to do.

Still, what’s done is done; HP needs to move forward with the assets it has in place. One potential strategy might appear to be a step backwards, a re-focusing on the printer/endpoint peripheral market through its own brand and OEM deals. It could end up smaller, but more-profitable – and with a stronger brand to boot.
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February 8, 2005
I just found this delightful archive of product packaging, promotional gimmicks, and newspaper advertising from the 1950s to the 1970s. It’s the Tick Tock Toys Archive and Gallery, the work of artist Dan Goodsell (good name, that):
Advertising copywriter blog link

I spent most of my time looking at the food packaging, store displays, newspaper ads, ad characters, premiums, and television storyboard drawings. However, I must also admit to a certain voyeuristic glee in peeking at the “Snapshots of the Past” section. Some of those could be my own family photos. This site joins the other advertising archive sites I’ve bookmarked (January 3 2005, December 28 and 29, 2004) as great places to study pop culture trends.
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February 7, 2005
I did not watch the Super Bowl yesterday. The ads, particularly the movie trailers, were simply not appropriate for family viewing with small children. The ads I did see, though, were not very good; I saw nothing worthwhile. And the world moves on: Google loses a third trademark-infringement battle in France over its profitable Adwords program. Here’s the story, from the Associated Press via Yahoo! News:
Advertising copywriter blog link

Since I addressed this last (January 21, December 16), Google has lost two rounds of court battles in France, and faces more court challenges all over the world. It’s a complicated issue, in which open access to information has to be balanced against intellectual property rights. I don’t have an answer. I believe that trademark owners need more protection than allowing their rightful trademarks to be used as direct sales tools by competitors or counterfeiters. But, on the other hand, should all search results for a brand name have to meet the approval of the the trademark owner? That reduces the web to a strictly commercial environment, which is not a good development for anyone.
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February 6, 2005
It’s Super Bowl Sunday, and advertising is on people’s minds. Here’s a big article about online buzz, from the entertainment section of my hometown San Diego Union-Tribune (CA):
Advertising copywriter blog link

It all comes down to the same old stuff, folks. Nothing kills a bad product faster than good advertising, and it doesn’t matter whether that advertising uses traditional or non-traditional media.

For successful marketing in any medium, through any channel, no one yet has beaten Rosser Reeve’s classic three-word formula: attract, intrigue, persuade.
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February 4, 2005
The topic of the week continues. Here’s a story from my hometown San Diego Union-Tribune (CA) questioning the effectiveness of Super Bowl ads:
Advertising copywriter blog link

I’ve seen more stories like this lately, and it seems to be hip to be a Super Bowl advertising contrarian following last year’s spectacle/debacle. However, that point of view misses as well.

For instance, the much-lauded, much-criticized Macintosh ad of 1984 may or may not have sold computers. But in 60 seconds, it absolutely launched the brand. Blaming an ad that ran 21 years ago for Apple’s current market share is plain silly. In fact, that ad created a point of differentiation, based as much in emotion as in hardware, that helped shield the brand from the fate of many once-larger competitors (Commodore, Kaypro, Osborne, DEC, Tandy, Xerox, Leading Edge, NCR, Texas Instruments, Zenith ... the list goes on and on). You can’t dismiss brand creation and survival so lightly.

Like marketing, advertising is about more than making sales. It lives within the sales process, but it doesn’t always come at the closing end. Indeed, the role of advertising is often to start the conversation.

I think the reason most Super Bowl ads fail, is because most Super Bowl advertisers lack the budget to sustain their advertising message. There’s no follow-through. That’s a simply horrible marketing plan. And it should surprise no one that bad marketing fails.
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February 3, 2005
The Super Bowl is the biggest game in advertising, so it’s no wonder it’s dominating the ad news lately. Here’s a good discussion of Super Bowl advertising and ROI, from Sports Business News:
Advertising copywriter blog link

It’s a press release, and seems to take the stand that advertising on the Super Bowl is what you do when you have a big budget and little media planning. The content is good, though, and balances out yesterday’s entry. One excellent point, is that of questioning whether higher ad recall – and any other viral success – is due to more-engaged viewers or more-engaging creative. Like I said yesterday, I think compelling creative is a viral element. However, as much as I hate the word “synergy,” I think that’s exactly what’s going on in Super Bowl advertising, and it’s awfully hard to quantify the value of the spread.
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February 2, 2005
Super Bowl pre-game ad hype reaches across the pond, albeit with a more measured response. Here’s an interesting article, from the Financial Times (UK):
Advertising copywriter blog link

Calling the Super Bowl “the original viral campaign” is interesting, the Super Bowl being one of the first media platforms in which the goal of the advertising was to stir up water-cooler discussion. That blurs the line between traditional advertising, new advertising, and plain old effective advertising. Yet, just because an ad campaign successfully embeds itself in the collective consciousness doesn’t make it viral, although the effect is similar. Viral is a matter of intent. Yet, as a copywriter, I can’t help but believe that great creative is itself a viral element.
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February 1, 2005
Advertising is a dialog involving advertisers and consumers ... and other advertisers. Here’s the story, about parody, guerilla tactics, and outright “brandalism” in advertising, from MediaWeek (UK):
Advertising copywriter blog link

When I was in college, I wrote a long thesis on what I called the “advertising ecosystem,” in which I put forward the concept that communication was a living process, inadequately illustrated by linear models. Instead, I advanced my own three-dimensional, multi-module, biologically based “ecosystem” theory of communication. I’ve blogged about this pet theory before.

In reviewing the paper now, it is embarrassingly sophomoric, complete with an odd, outline summary of John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty (a favorite among 20-year-old intellectual poseurs such as I was). In defense of the earlier me, I may have felt the need to lay down a foundation in traditional thinking before leaping forward to the new concept. And, despite big flaws in both style and direction, the paper specifically predicts all of this and more, which is pretty good for something written in 1983.

Anyway, the article (the original one, the one linked to above, before I got off on the ego-wank) is well worth reading. I like how it shows the rough-and-tumble give-and-take world that is today’s media environment. I love the stories illustrating how some underdog brands took shots at brand leaders, and how the brand leaders responded. They are mostly UK-based stories, which is all the better since that way I can steal leverage the thinking. I like how the article discusses serious issues like the tactical options of the brand leaders vs. those of the brand challengers, and how so much of this advertising dialog enters legal gray areas including truth in advertising, freedom of speech, and trespassing. I like everything about this article.
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Backwards in time to January 2005

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John Kuraoka, freelance advertising copywriter
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