John Kuraoka, freelance advertising copywriter
(619) 465-6100
Ad Blog: news and views about advertising, branding, marketing, and copywriting
May, 2003

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May 30, 2003
In Fortune Small Business, an article pointing out the schism between what email marketers say and what email marketers do:
Advertising copywriter blog link

Everyone talks about making advertising relevant and relationship-oriented. But very few advertising professionals put those concepts into practice - to everyone’s loss. Especially the clients, who have to pay for that stuff.
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May 27, 2003
Meanwhile, in Europe, television commercials for the Renault Megane, a subcompact car, have been banned from certain dayparts with children’s programming:
Advertising copywriter blog link

Okay, so the gyrating bottoms refer to the soundtrack - Groove Armada’s I See You Baby (Shakin That A**) - and perhaps draw attention to the peculiar hindquarters of the car (not a good thing, to my eye). Other than that, what’s going on here? Is it an attempt to be hip? An attempt at viral marketing? Whatever it is, the car sort of takes away from the soundtrack and the view of shakin’ a**es. What car? Was there a car there? Huh?
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May 23, 2003
Hallmark, the card company, launches Hallmark, the magazine. Here’s the story, from the Kansas City Star:
Advertising copywriter blog link

From greeting cards to retail stores to television specials (and, indeed, a television network), this is one company that doesn’t miss a trick when it comes to consistent branding and savvy brand extensions. Not to mention the fact that Martha Stewart’s continuing problems leave her media empire somewhat tarnished - this could be smart timing as well.
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May 20, 2003
An article from the Financial Times (UK), via MSN, about shock tactics in advertising:
Advertising copywriter blog link

Despite the headline, it’s not the size of the advertising that matters, it’s the appropriateness of the media buy - what the article refers to as “context.” And, when I say “appropriate,” I’m not speaking in a hyper-sensitive sense, but in a target marketing sense. I think much of what is called “shock tactics” merely comes down to gratuitous media. And the reason for gratuitous media, is ego, plain and simple. The ego of the copywriter, the art director, and indeed the entire advertising agency. After all, a clever print ad about, say, condoms, with a targeted, intelligently planned, media buy garners less attention from friends, family, and fellow advertising practioners than the same clever ad put up on a billboard for everyone to see and (presumably) gasp in either awe or horror.
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May 19, 2003
A hilarious and brief glance at a corporate "re-branding", titled Chinese PC giant sets new benchmark in branding banality:
Advertising copywriter blog link

I think Mr. Haines has nailed it, and really don’t have anything to add.
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May 14, 2003
Here’s a PRNewswire story about advertising and the First Amendment, as it applies to For Sale By Owner real estate websites:
Advertising copywriter blog link

The question before the U.S. District Court is, should the owners of these websites be required to hold state real estate licenses? On one hand, that would put them out of business, since the requirement of holding a real estate license in all 50 states would be an impossibly arduous, expensive, and unusual burden. Also, and more-relevant, these websites merely sell advertising space to private homeowners, and make the ads accessible to potential homebuyers. The websites do not offer broker services, such as negotiating and advising.

On the other hand, the reason newspapers don’t need a real estate license to carry real estate advertising, has to do with the First Amendment and the need for a free press. Will a classified advertising website get the same Constitutional protection as a newspaper? Should it?
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May 13, 2003
A close call in Texas, where the state nearly approved a crippling 10% sales tax on advertising services:
Advertising copywriter blog link

As more states look for ways to increase revenues, this divide-and-conquer taxation tactic will become more prevalent. First, attack an industrial service segment - advertising - with little popular support among voters. Then, nibble-and-grab from there. Remember this: politicans generate no revenue for their communities; they only manage (or, in too many cases, spend, stupidly) revenue generated by others. As a result, they have no qualms about proposing further taxes on those segments of society that do generate revenue. Beware! You may be next.
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May 12, 2003
An article about how advertising is now just another venue for new musical talent, from my hometown newspaper, the San Diego Union-Tribune:
Advertising copywriter blog link

And the gray area between commerce and commercials, advertising and programming, continues to grow.
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May 8, 2003
A breath of fresh air about the branding and advertising, out of South Africa. Here’s “Branding is Dead, Long Live the Brand,” an opinion piece by Reg Rumney, originally published in the Johannesburg Mail & Guardian:
Advertising copywriter blog link

Mr. Rumney makes several wonderful points, including the fact that Naomi Klein of No Logo fame has herself become a brand. Here’s the no-duh bit that a lot of advertisers have forgotten (or never knew): “A brand name is a symbol for a set of qualities or values. Advertising informs us of those qualities, but the product has to live up to them.” Yes! Branding and advertising are both components of marketing. You don’t do one without at least one of the other two. However, many companies do - and that’s the problem with both advertising and branding these days.
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May 7, 2003
Online advertising will get more-intrusive, according to this article in Business 2.0:
Advertising copywriter blog link

The end of the article asks: “Are ads getting more in-your-face because that tactic works -- or because advertisers can’t come up with anything better?”

Here’s the answer, from this advertising copywriter. Online advertising will get more in-your-face because intrusiveness is a shortcut to making an ad appear “hard-hitting” and “creative.” The attitude is this: instead of taking the time to research and understand the target market, let’s just yell at them and see what sticks. Not surprisingly, some of the branding message does stick. Also not surprisingly, most of the advertising message doesn’t.

Online advertising - and advertising in general - is becoming more in-your-face not because of of any changes in the way buyers behave, but because of a change in the way many advertising copywriters and art directors behave: they no longer empathise. As a result, too many on the creative side have become hawkers, not persuaders.
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May 6, 2003
Speaking of advertising to small children, here’s an article in the Edmonton (Canada) Journal, about advertising to toddlers:
Advertising copywriter blog link

A few weeks ago (April 16), I ranted a bit about advertising and marketing to “tweenagers,” children between 8 and 14 Yesterday, I ranted about selling advertising space in schools. Now, advertisers are targeting toddlers.

Here’s an honest-to-goodness direct quote from marketing professor James McNeal: “The positive effect I see is that they are able to function in the marketplace at an earlier age. And in a full-blown developed, industrialized society, that's where we satisfy most of our needs -- in the marketplace.”

What have we come to, in our oh-so-developed society, when we rely on the marketplace to satisfy what we perceive as needs? What the marketplace satisfies, is wants, And that is what we are teaching our children through advertising: to perceive wants as needs. For the record, this is a bad development for advertising and society.
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May 5, 2003
This article in Media Daily News asks if we’re seeing “the end of the 30-second commercial:”
Advertising copywriter blog link

What we’re seeing, is the rise of the 30-minute commercial, in the form of corporate sponsorships and product placement in addition to advertising. I talked about this on March 13, and remain convinced that Rinsoville will rise again.

At the same time, note that retailers - real retailers, the ones hawking miracle cleaners and cookers and jewelry - are advertising in ever-longer blocks of time, complete with studio audiences and television-show-like formats. These people track marketing and advertising ROI like hawks.

The end of the 30-second television commercial? Maybe it’s about time ... because 30 seconds isn’t long enough to sell anything.

Next up is this article from the Charleston (SC) Post and Courier, about school districts selling advertising space in schools to raise money:
Advertising copywriter blog link

I’m an advertising copywriter. But, I’m also a parent and a human being. This is a terrible idea. Granted, kids today are exposed to lots of advertising and branding messages. But not in school, on an officially sanctioned level. What are we teaching kids today?
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May 2, 2003
Branding battles continue in the form of big-guy vs. little-guy trademark suits, as reported in the San Jose (CA) Mercury News:
Advertising copywriter blog link

A few months back (on March 5, to be exact), I discussed the Victor’s Little Secret vs. Victoria’s Secret case. In that case, Victor launched his shop well after the larger retailer; yet, he prevailed. It seems that courts are deciding branding cases with even less consistency than consumers.
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Backwards in time to April 2003

My experience as a copywriter.

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Advertising & marketing advice.

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
How to write a brochure: advice from an advertising copywriter
How to write better ads
Long John Silver on writing ads
More career advice: what’s it like being an advertising copywriter?
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 economy (and what to do about it)
The Tightwad Marketing project
Advertising copywriting mentorship
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John Kuraoka, freelance advertising copywriter
6877 Barker Way
San Diego, California

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