John Kuraoka, freelance advertising copywriter
(619) 465-6100
Ad Blog: news and views about advertising, branding, marketing, and copywriting
February 2011

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February 28 2011
Happy Monday! And, to pick up a story from exactly a month ago, Taco Bell is planning a schedule of TV commercials to boost the image of its beef taco filling after a lawsuit was filed claiming that the filling was only 35% beef. Here’s the story, from the Associated Press via Yahoo! News:
Advertising copywriter blog link

A couple notable things. First, Taco Bell was able to reach 50% of the people through a mix of print and social media. That, I think, shows the power of social media. Second, Taco Bell apparently believes two things: one, that it must reach the other 50%, and two, that that 50% is watching TV. I think both those assumptions are false. If Taco Bell wants to achieve 100% penetration, I think it should be with an aggressive position instead of a defensive one.

Third, I thought Ries’ comment revealed either almost maliciously poor editing or a lack of understanding of traditional media. Um, yeah, the story needs pictures. That’s what TV delivers, pictures. They move, too! The point may have been that online videos allow more time to tell a more-complete story than TV commercials. Me, I think a three-step approach might be smart, with self-contained broadcast :30s that link to a larger, more comprehensive story unfolding via an online video, the footage of which could be supplied to the media as well.
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February 25 2011
Ahh, that felt good. I took a month off from the Ad Blog to refresh. It’s been eight years, after all. Hard to believe I’ve been writing this Ad Blog since February 2003, possibly because I’ve been writing my family blog for considerably longer. (Since 1998, actually, which was before the word "blog" came into popular use.)

Oddly enough, not blogging made absolutely no difference in my productivity. I thought I’d have all kinds of time, but you know how it is: projects expand to fill the available time.

Anyway, it was great to take a break. And, it’s great to be back!
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February 7 2011
Okay, I just wasted time watching all the Super Bowl commercials. There was nothing, nothing fresh.

The “most popular” Darth Vader kid spot? What, the car has a remote starter. That’s the best selling point the car has? A remote-controlled starter? Never mind the danger in having a small child standing in front of an unattended running vehicle. Oh, how the mother and father would chuckle! Sorry, but that one shouldn’t have made it off the wall; it has “this was the first idea we came up with and we think it’s funny” written all over it. Either that, or “we researched this extensively by reading the brochures.”

It’s sad, really, to think of all the missed opportunities.

And on that unusually depressed note, I’m going to take a break from the Ad Blog for a bit. Yup, to celebrate eight years of blogging, I’m going to stop blogging! Well, for the month, anyway.
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February 2 2011
Much of the damage done to brands is largely self-inflicted, like the BP oil spill or the Gap’s excruciating logo redesign. But sometimes, brands can find themselves mere collateral damage in events thanks to decidedly off-target customers. Here’s a look at some of those situations, and how the brands responded, from the Financial Times (UK):
Advertising copywriter blog link

Examples of these off-target customer groups include rappers (Cristal champagne and Bentley automobiles) and the Taliban (Toyota trucks). Some of these situations are purely unintended – Toyota, for instance, doesn’t even export to Afghanistan and it’s doubtful that the Taliban is highly responsive to advertising anyway – while other situations are simply an extension of the brand’s success in the eyes of a non-targeted audience. Whether the brand embraces or repulses that audience, it can’t ignore it. And, on that note, I love the marketing expert’s line: “A principle isn’t a principle until it costs you money.” In other words, if the unintended audience is too far off-target, it might be best for the brand to actively discourage it, as Cristal did.

In some cases, non-targeted audiences must be targeted, if only obliquely, because a major luxury brand like Burberry (or Cristal or Bentley or Rolex) can’t sustain its image without the tacit buy-in of the envious unwashed masses. Owning or consuming the best is one thing; owning or consuming something that’s recognized as the best is another thing entirely. And that’s what marketing and branding is all about.
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February 1 2011
Super Bowl Sunday is just around the corner. Here are two perspectives on Super Bowl advertising, the first an academic look from a marketing professor and the second an inside look from the advertisers themselves. Here are the stories, the professorial view from the University of Delaware’s UDaily (DE), and the advertiser view from (TX):
Advertising copywriter blog link
Advertising copywriter blog link

Professor Antil raises a very important point: the key to success with a Super Bowl ad – or any ad, for that matter – is engagement. In the old days, there was really only one tool with which to attract engagement: the creative itself. If you could make people respond to your ad, talk about your ad, you had a winner. Now, there are many more tools available with which to engage customers. Today, the ad creative is only one element in what the ad creates. Suddenly, those shockingly clever one-off ads are decidedly old-school. I think it’s about time someone showed up at the big game with a bigger idea.

Which leads neatly into the second article, in which advertisers share their thoughts about Super Bowl spots. Sadly, new advertiser Groupon is airing an “irreverent and humorous” ad concept instead of one that really reflects the ways in which the brand touches – and even transforms – lives. It seems to me that most advertisers still view the Super Bowl as a media event, instead of as a single consumer touchpoint within a continuous campaign.

All of which makes it apparent that the creative legacy of Apple’s “1984” may have a bad side: advertising people think the goal is to create a great commercial instead of a great campaign. A killer, one-off TV spot is a revolutionary solution, for 1984. Times have changed, and to charge into the Super Bowl in 2011 with a marketing solution based in 1984 thinking is to go in with both hands tied and one shoe off.
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John Kuraoka, freelance advertising copywriter
6877 Barker Way
San Diego, California

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