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

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September 30, 2003
Dated tomorrow because it’s already tomorrow today in India, is this article from The Economic Times about staged events as marketing.:
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The error many advertisers make (including almost all the ones cited in the article), is turning the event into a glorified exercise in sampling, a one-on-one experience re-processed for the masses. When a staged event works best, it’s not just clever and relevant, but it’s also almost subversive to traditional marketing in the way that it works.
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September 29, 2003
Branding the Mile-High City as ... “The Mile-High City.” Here’s the article, from the Denver (CO) Post:
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Whether you call it branding or an ad slogan, the fact is that it’s already entrenched. Taking official advantage of it, that’s the smart thing. One funny bit is buried: the result of a professional marketing team’s efforts at branding Denver in the 1980s with the unusually inane, committee-driven ad slogan, “Denver - a great place to be.”
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September 24, 2003
This editorial, from the New Zealand Herald, discusses the role “ mad inventors” play in creating good advertising:
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Of course, mad inventors, no matter what you call them, can also be (ahem) hired freelance.

Oh, and then there’s this little tidbit, from the San Diego (CA) Union-Tribune:
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$473,500 for a 30-second television commercial on “Friends,” and that’s just the media buy. For one spot. On a top-rated television program. It seems to me that if people are that involved in the program, guess what - they aren’t watching the commercials! You’ve just paid $473,500 to reach a bunch of essentially empty chairs. I would rather run two spots on a lower-rated show - less reach, but better penetration. Then again, of course, maybe I’m one of them mad inventors.
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September 23, 2003
Naming rights are now extending to works of public art. Here’s the article, from my hometown San Diego (CA) Union-Tribune:
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Well, it worked for Michelangelo and the Church, I suppose. Still I think this is taking branding too far in a direction that may not be effective. As for one of the cited examples, most locals refer to San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium as “the Q.” In a few years, how many people will know what the Q stands for? About as many as knew that the “Murph” was named after long-time sports editor Jack Murphy.
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September 19, 2003
The hot new thing in advertising these days, is something called “brand integration.” Here’s an good overview, from ABC News:
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I’m glad the article places this new trend in historical perspective: as a repeat of the early days of television and radio. I mentioned this in my ad blog on March 13, but it bears repeating: any advertising copywriter or ad agency that wants a look ahead would be wise to look back to James Thurber’s excellent study of the radio serial, “Soapland,” in The Beast in Me and Other Animals.
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September 18, 2003
Litigation over the creative ownership of the Taco Bell Chihuahua has gone on longer than the advertising campaign itself. Here’s an article from the Guardian (UK):
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Are there any truly original ideas? Probably not. Would an advertising copywriter or art director knowingly steal an idea? Probably not. Do advertising copywriters and art directors routinely study popular culture, including films, songs, slang, art, and even advertising awards annuals, in search of inspiration? Absolutely. Would any advertising concepts that developed out of such inspiration be at least somewhat derivative? Umm ...

Creativity is a huge gray area. Sometimes a creative team can defend its claim of ownership, and sometimes it can’t. And often, it has no right to anyway.
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September 17, 2003
What happens when a big star, with a big ego and a big budget, turns her hand to advertising? Here’s the article about Rosie O’Donnell’s unsuccessful efforts to promote her new Broadway play, from the New York (NY) Post:
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An off-target advertising brief that emphasizes her as producer instead of the show itself or the star. Irrelevant, amateurishly self-indulgent “creative” print ads (which were dramatic largely for their lack of effectiveness). An email campaign in an atmosphere of active email campaign hatred. Missed opportunities for cross-promotion. Sigh. As David Ogilvy said, “Why keep a dog and bark yourself?” In this case, the client would have been best served by heeding the counsel of those she hired.
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September 15, 2003
Over the weekend, Nike settled with Kasky, extricating itself from a costly court battle in California but also plunging corporations nationwide into a predicament about their ability to join public dialog or defend themselves against detractors. Here’s the article in USA Today:
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This affects me as an advertising copywriter less than it affects public relations writers, since advertising copy has long been considered commercial speech, and therefore lacks First Amendment protection. Now, all externally directed corporate communication may be considered, for the sake of lawsuits, commercial speech. For p.r. writers - and copywriters who write annual reports, websites, and case studies - the lack of a Supreme Court ruling on this issue leaves a situation in which even truth could take more time and money to defend than most companies have.
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September 12, 2003
News flash! Honesty in advertising appeals to the youth market! Are advertisers and advertising creatives so jaded that this is news? Here’s the story, from the Calgary (Canada) Herald:
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Honesty is the best approach to any market. It always has been. Cheating your customer is not marketing; it’s a con and a crime and bad advertising practice to boot. Good copywriters and art directors already know this. At least, I hope that honesty is only a novel concept to advertising commentators, not advertising creators.
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September 11, 2003
Taco Bell owes an additional $11.8 million in interest, for allegedly stealing the concept of a talking Chihuahua for its advertising. Here’s the story, from the Associated Press, in my hometown San Diego Union-Tribune:
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Dig back to June 5 in the archives, and you’ll find my comment. The upshot: it’s going to get even harder for outside creative consultants - including freelance advertising copywriters - to get a shot at major advertisers.
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September 9, 2003
Arrrrgh! Here’s an article, from Ad Age (QwikFIND ID: AA097V), in which the executive planning director at Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide equates consumers to street rioters and says that advertising should focus on issues of consumer “herdability” by targeting, not consumers, but the spaces between consumers:
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This advertising theory is so wrong in so many ways and on so many levels, including moral and tactical. Suffice it to say that if an ad targets the space between potential consumers, it will hit nothing but thin air. Groups of consumers are moved, not by the spaces between them, but by the individuals within them. Those people, in turn, are engaged and persuaded one at a time. Advertising may be mass communication, but it is individual persuasion that counts.

Get ready for yet another round of bad advertising, created by copywriters who are aiming at nothingness, and achieving nothing in return. Only this time, they’ll be working to plan. Arrrrgh!
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September 8, 2003
It’s the start of the CreateAThon, a national, 24-hour marathon of advertising concepting, copywriting, and art direction on behalf of non-profit clients. Here’s the article, from the Washington (D.C.) Times:
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Forgoing sleep for a 24-hour blitz of creating advertising - all in all, it sounds like a typical freelancer’s day.
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September 4, 2003
Here’s an article from Mediapost, dated tomorrow but posted today, discussing an increasing demand for ROI accountability in advertising:
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First, commerce is not without risk. To seek to eliminate risk through analysis is specious. That said, the problem with trying to predict television advertising effectiveness through ratings, whether those ratings apply to a program or a commercial, is that ratings themselves fail to factor in the effect of creative. Treating media as a commodity, as reflected in the “explosion of in-house agencies and greater oversight from corporate procurement departments,” exacerbates the problem. Advertising is about people, and people are not a commodity. What makes an effective ad campaign isn’t just the media buy; it’s also the ads themselves and how they work across multiple media to deliver a unified, relevant marketing message to actual people, in a way that will compel them to act. An effective ad campaign is the product of an advertising copywriter and art director, working to a plan (which includes media planning) to create ads that attract, intrigue, persuade ... and persist.
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September 2, 2003
It’s the day after Labor Day here in the U.S., and here’s an article from the BBC about a truly Herculean labor - getting people to like direct mail advertising:
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The article notes that direct mail advertising has two key problems to overcome. First, unlike other forms of print advertising, direct mail tends to accumulate on countertops and dining room tables, leading to a consumer perception of a crowded advertising environment. Second, you seldom see creative that compels you to open the envelope. The thing is, solving the second issue solves the first. Copywriting that reaches out to the reader and grabs him or her on a personal, one-to-one level, is the way to stay out of the junk mail pile. At that point, you’re not junk mail, you’re vital communication - and effective advertising. I started my career as an advertising copywriter in direct response, and I hope the upcoming restrictions on email marketing and fax advertising will lead to a renaissance in the quality of direct mail advertising.
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Backwards in time to August 2003

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Advertising strategy and other lies
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Long John Silver on writing ads
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Advertising copywriting mentorship
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John Kuraoka, freelance advertising copywriter
6877 Barker Way
San Diego, California

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