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

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November 26, 2003
Okay, so this article from the New Zealand Herald is dated tomorrow, proof of the chronological tides online. In it, a veteran creative director discusses the pursuit of the big idea:
Advertising copywriter blog link

The article brings us this quote from Michael Newman’s book Creative Leaps: “Creativity is about instinctive but unexpected juxtaposition. Creative people search intuitively for surprising pairings of product and promise.” Well, that’s a start, I suppose, but big advertising ideas tend to go beyond mere juxtaposition. Indeed, juxtaposition is but one approach of many. After all, not every product or service category benefits from having its ads surprise its target market.
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November 25, 2003
Dated last week, but just posted to the web, is this article from Ad Age discussing advertising curriculum cut-backs at universities (QwikFIND ID: AAP15V ):
Advertising copywriter blog link

This does not bode well for our industry, when creating advertising becomes a certificated trade not requiring a broad, liberal-arts-type background. On the other hand, it bodes quite well for people like (ahem) me, who bring to the boardroom conference table a bit more than just highly trained mechanical competence.
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November 24, 2003
A fascinating inside look at the Chrysler/Celine Dion partnership, a branding campaign gone terribly wrong. Here’s the article, from Crain’s Automotive News via Ad Age (QwikFIND ID: AAP18M):
Advertising copywriter blog link

First, I’m relieved to find that the advertising agency, BBDO, opposed the commercials and the endorsement all along, and so advised the client in no uncertain terms. The agency earned its keep there, if the client did but know it at the time. Instead, the client pushed its own idea through, at great cost, and failed as-predicted. The dealers, of course, are all over this, but from their own perspective. Dealers will always want to sell product, and an investment in branding, right or wrong, carries little weight. Maybe ad people know something about advertising, hey?
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November 21, 2003
Two articles today that blame advertising for social problems from child obesity to teen drinking. Here are the articles, the first from Psychiatric News and the second from the Telegraph (UK):
Advertising copywriter blog link
Advertising copywriter blog link

Blaming advertising is a lot more politically correct than blaming the two-income household, in which kids are raised by day care centers, babysat by television programs, and fed a diet of pre-packaged convenience foods. I am an advertising copywriter. I am a father of two small children. It ain’t the advertising, folks, it’s the parenting. Parental involvement means more than support; it means setting limits. Where the heck are the parents these days? Curled up in a fetal ball, apparently, afraid of their own kids and relying on so-called experts for validation. For more, see my comment on November 13, below, and even back to May 6 in the archives.
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November 19, 2003
Pepsi has (yet another) new advertising campaign, based on (yet another) new advertising theme: food. Here’s an article, from Ad Age (QwikFIND ID: AAP17H):
Advertising copywriter blog link

Point number one: Pepsi built its current brand and won market share by focusing. Remember the “Pepsi Generation?” Now, Pepsi stands for nothing, squandering its brand through line extensions and strategic changes. That ain’t the way to build - or maintain - a brand. Point number two: just five words that some advertising people might remember. “Things Go Better With Coke.”
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November 18, 2003
Okay, this is too funny. I have the BBC as my homepage, and I found this story this morning:
Advertising copywriter blog link is a spoof website poking fun at current trends in branding and rebranding. It has a whimsical brand name generator that purports to tell you the perfect (and perfectly nonsensical) brand name for your company and its attributes. Here’s where reality springs a leak: out of the 150 possible brand names, at least 20 have been snapped up for real, including Winnovate, Tempero, Bivium, and Integriti.

Here’s the joke on the joke on the joke, if you can keep track of them as they go by: I think these are fine brand names. Seriously. Because whether your brand is Vix or Expleo (two “suggested” brands for my freelance advertising copywriting services), you still have to communicate what makes your company different from, say, Tu2 or Professio (two other “suggested” brands for my freelance advertising copywriting services). Although a brand name can help identify the point of differentiation, that branding challenge goes beyond the brand name itself.
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November 17, 2003
One of the strengths of online media, from an advertising and marketing perspective, is the ease and (barring actual fraud) accuracy with which ad campaign results can be tracked and consumer data analyzed. Now, offline media companies are exploring ways to provide higher levels of accountability and better audience data. This press release is from MediaPost:
Advertising copywriter blog link

All the approaches discussed still rely on extrapolating population figures from a relatively small sample, much like the Nielsen Ratings, which have long been criticized as being behind the curve, forecasting predicted audiences rather than tracking actual audiences. Still, it’s a step in the right direction. Better data means tighter targeting, which means the opportunity for better creative.

An epilog for the Super Bowl TV commercial concept auctioned on eBay: the re-listed auction (see the Ad Blog entry for November 11 for the link) did not go as high as the original. A week ago, the bid was $20,000, and it went over $40,000 before the ad agency found four bidders unqualified and cancelled their bids. The auction sat at $102.50 until its final hours, when bidding by a new user drove the price up to $1,225.00 after a mere nine bids (a far cry from the original auction’s 141 bids). Interest was lower the second time around, too, with fewer than 8,900 hits at auction end instead of more than 20,000. And, the reserve remained unmet.
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November 14, 2003
A press release from, a press release publication service. The thing that makes this p.r. worth reading, is that the article contains a concise synopsis of Jack Trout’s philosophy of branding, as presented in a keynote address to Ad Asia:
Advertising copywriter blog link

The focus on brand differentiation based on ownership of an actual product or service attribute is critical here. But the other interesting thing is that, by examining largely American brand case studies, the whole Asian advertising industry has an incredible opportunity to Get Things Right The First Time. So, while they may be studying our advertising and branding campaigns now, I’d wager that in a few years, we’ll be studying theirs. Manufacture may not be the only thing that moves to Asia - in which case, where does our service economy go? It’s exciting, and frightening.
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November 13, 2003
Giant British advertising agency gets into trouble over an internal creative brief that acknowledged “pester power” in advertising aimed at children under 12. The story, from the Guardian Unlimited (UK):
Advertising copywriter blog link

As a parent of two small children, I appreciate the spirit of the regulation that bars ads from encouraging kids to pester their parents to make purchases. I really, really, really do. However, the truth is that that is what advertising to youngsters is about. Otherwise, there is no product advertising; only brand advertising - far more subtle and powerful and potentially subversive when aimed at a child who can’t make distinctions between puffery and reality. I speak now as a professional advertising copywriter and as a parent who is home 24/7: it is not the advertiser’s responsibility to teach my child to make responsible choices. That responsibility belongs to me and my wife as The Parents, and - maybe we’re old-fashioned here - we have no qualms about telling our kids no.

When he was 2-1/2 years old, my older son knew that there were no strawberries in a Cheerios box, even though the photo on the package clearly showed several. For a while, it was a running joke. “Is there a spoon in the box?” I’d ask him, pointing it out on the package. “Nooo!” he’d reply with a gleeful smile. “Is there a bowl in the box?” “Nooo!” “Hmmm. You suppose there are ... strawberries in the box?” “Nooo!” We’d repeat variations on this joke over and over, with the delight in repetition known only to toddlers, with many, many packages around the house or in the stores.

You teach children about advertising and marketing messages by active parenting. Pretty much the same way you teach children just about everything else.
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November 11, 2003
The eBay auction I mentioned last Friday (November 7), for a Super Bowl television commercial concept, was ended by eBay yesterday night, four days early, with a bid of $350,100.00. But, it was re-listed:
Advertising copywriter blog link

The bid for these creative services now stands at $20,000.00 after seven bids, the reserve has been met, and the three competing bidders include two users with eBay records. And hey! The ad agency took my advice about formatting their listing in an easy-to-read way. Or, they had someone who knew HTML enter the information. Other than that, what I said Friday still stands, along with my hope that the winning bidder and the ad agency both view the end of the auction as the start of a long-term marketing partnership, not a one-off project.
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November 10, 2003
Holy smokes, check out the link from last Friday (below)! When I first wrote about it, the bid (for a Super Bowl television commercial concept on eBay) was a little over $300.00 (up from a 99˘ starting bid). Today, with four days to go, the bid sits at $334,435.00. And remember, this is just for creative - the listing specifically says that production costs, media costs, and “out-of-pocket expenses” are not included. So, this advertising auction may make history for two reasons: the first Super Bowl spot auctioned on eBay, and the most-expensive Super Bowl spot ever! That - combined with the high number of brand-new members participating - makes me wonder who is bidding, and whether this work will actually be completed.

As something of a follow-up, here’s proof how desperate many fast-food and restaurant advertisers are to find a magic bullet, any magic bullet, please, from the New York Times:
Advertising copywriter blog link

Now, what did I say yesterday about developing long-term relationships with advertising partners? When clients jump from ad agency to ad agency, brand continuity ceases and consumers stop believing in the advertiser. Next, advertising agencies stop believing in the advertiser - not a situation favorable to delivering good work and sound strategy for the long haul. Which starts the cycle all over again. What the fast food industry needs most in its advertising, may be a five-year contract.
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November 7, 2003
Proof that you can find anything on eBay:
Advertising copywriter blog link

This looks like a fun auction, and more than one company is going to get some p.r. out of this. Okay, the likelihood of the winning bidder just suddenly having the media budget for a Super Bowl television commercial placement puts the “top ten” guarantee in perspective. One wishes the auction listing had been formatted in a way that was easier to read. And, there’s something to be said for developing long-term relationships with your advertising partners rather than seeking one-job stands. But, what the heck. Ad agencies have jumped through fewer hoops for less opportunity.
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November 4, 2003
This is something of a vertical follow-up to yesterday’s entry, courtesy of Crain’s RCR Wireless News:
Advertising copywriter blog link

In a nutshell, wireless service carriers that provide their users with branded wireless Internet portals and handset products sell more data services than wireless service carriers that offer plain-wrapper or co-branded Internet access. The danger here becomes one of line extension. Yes, branding provides a wonderful shortcut to sell additional services, but eventually customers learn to evaluate and recognize service values for themselves. By which time, that brand had better mean something personally relevant and compelling.
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November 3, 2003
Branding may be vilified or misunderstood, but it will continue to grow in power, according to an international study by Research International Observer, reported in Daily Research News Online:
Advertising copywriter blog link

All over the world, branding has become a personalized short-cut for consumers in a state of sensory overload. That means two things for those of us in advertising. First, current brands - and retro brands - will accumulate emotional precedence and mindshare out of sheer convenience for the consumer. Second, it will become increasingly difficult to launch new brands. Not that that will keep companies from buying into dumb re-branding efforts at the behest of self-proclaimed “branding consultants” who can’t see the forest for their fees.
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John Kuraoka, freelance advertising copywriter
6877 Barker Way
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