Thursday, September 11, 2014

Collisions: The Source of Creativity

I tell my students you cannot have a new idea if you only have one idea.

Creativity involves intersections, and the most interesting outcomes can be described as collisions.

Here we see the outcome of a three-way collision when irony and parody are collided with self-confidence.


Everything old can be made new again.

  Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Why Do Youth Join Social Movements?

Why does any person join, or enlist, in groups, organizations, and movements?

Every person, to some degree, feels a need to be part of a social context, to be part of a social milieu larger than oneself. Otherwise, a person may feel his or her life has diminished meaning.

Indeed, purposeful and productive group membership provides individuals with feelings of dignity and fidelity. These twin feelings of self-worth and membership in something larger than oneself are necessary for a fulfilled life. Without such grounding in social contexts, the isolated person can fall into feelings of anomie, with its potentials for self and socially destructive behavior.

Youth, in particular, are searching for values, structure, and purpose to give meaning and dignity to their lives. The search for self-esteem is most strongly felt during the transition from family to autonomous adulthood.

Moreover, youths who encounter difficulties making this transition are likely to feel increasing pressure to identify groups, organizations or social movements in which they may yet find success. It is worth noting that the availability of employment opportunities in a youth's immediate environment is a critical context factor.

Indeed, youth who fail to complete high school, and who then find employment opportunities and needed self esteem beyond their reach, can be drawn to organizations and social movements that make offers of ready access to means of heroic self esteem.

You can read more about why youth enlist in organizations and social movements and the twin factors of dignity and fidelity in my 2006 article "Why Do Youth Enlist? Identification of Underlying Themes" in Armed Forces & Society, Volume 32, Number 2, pages 307-328.

 Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Essentials of Cause Marketing

Cause marketing is a public relations method in which brands and companies form partnership programs with not-for-profit organizations.  These partnership programs are designed to support the work of not-for profit cause-oriented organizations.

Such actions may be perceived by customers and the public as "altruistic" gestures supporting the common good. Hence, the public relations or reputation building value of cause marketing programs.

Reading the contemporary press and sources such as Wikipedia gives the impression cause marketing is a recent practice.  It is not. Cause marketing has often been seen in times of social or economic stress, and when brands seek new means of competitive differentiation.

Here's an example of a commonly seen cause marketing effort during the WWI era.

This recent Guinness commercial is particularly instructive about the design of effective cause marketing programs.


In this commercial, you can easily see how the cause relates to the core values of the brand. These values are encompassed by the brand's long-standing claim, "Good things come to those who wait." Indeed, in contrast to other more superficial brands in this product category, the core values of the Guinness brand reflect mindfulness, consideration, and appreciation.

That is the key to success in cause marketing. Productivity is based on the extent of shared core values among the brand, the cause, and the consumer.

This conceptual model lays out the basis for what I call my Index of Cause Marketing Potential. Brands are urged to associate themselves with productive social values to more effectively and usefully participate in the civic and social environment which is served by the economy.

  Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Creativity at Cannes

Held in June, the Cannes Film Festival is an annual rite of spring for the advertising industry. A Grand Prix award or a Gold Lion can be a career defining achievement.

But, as with industry award shows generally, the outcome is always subject to debate. That the Cannes judging panels have the same predominantly male composition year to year, doubles down on the opportunity to second guess.

For example, this year's Grand Prix winners included Volvo Trucks featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme in an "epic" demonstration, and Honda for celebrating the skill of F1 driver Ayrton Senna.

One way to cut through the propensity to award production values is to look for award winners that better exhibit consumer directedness.

Here we see Nivea speaking in human terms to its consumers, with an innovative gift, that both benefits consumers and builds the brand's reputation for protection.

This work also won a Grand Prix at Cannes this year. It is highly instructive about creativity that tells an original product-centered and consumer driven story that is not dependent upon production values.

   Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Nature of Breakthrough Advertising

There are two parts to breaking through all the clutter to gain the attention and action of customers.

The first is to garner attention. People are overloaded with pieces of information seeking their attention. To break through the clutter you need a clear idea with a fresh, vivid way to dramatize the idea. Show them their problem, and how you will solve it.

The second is to ask for the order. Too often in contemporary work this part is missing or vague. Tell the audience in no uncertain terms what you want them to do.


This Y&RNY commercial introduced the very first brand of liquid dishwashing detergent. The breakthrough nature of the work caused the brand's market share to grow at a breakneck rate to over a 15 percent market share in a few weeks. It kept growing and growing.

The amazingly fast and obviously highly talented copywriter was Lisa Rothstein. The art director was the brilliant and highly tasteful Susan Lipschutz Kaufman. 

  Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Fusion Advertising and the Diffusion of Innovation

When it comes to introducing new technology, the simple pathway to success is clear demonstration of the technology's "relative advantage."


Of course the actor is John Slattery, who plays agency head Roger Sterling in Mad Men. Drawing upon the actor's established ironic persona, Honeywell places its new thermostat in a scenario that is immediately retro, stylish, classy and future oriented.

The scenario quickly constructs a fusion of iconic male-oriented images - the beer, dog, leather sofa, cool jazz music, food on demand - all in a sophisticated atmosphere. He manages this perfect life with his voice, and now he no longer has to even lift a finger to control the thermostat.

This work was done by mono in Minneapolis.

  Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Lesson in Negative Political Advertising

Named comparative advertising claims are useful in two circumstances. When a small or relatively unknown brand wishes to grow, that brand can benefit by identifying an advantage over a brand everybody already knows. Or, when a well-established brand wishes to seize the high ground of greater market share, named comparisons against another well-known competing brand can help win the day.

It is never useful for a well-establish brand to name and compare itself to a less well-known brand. The effect is to raise awareness for the unknown brand. Indeed, surveys also show the public has a general distaste of negative comparisons, even so far as to express sympathy for disparaged underdogs.

The recent primary election results in the Virginia Seventh District are illustrative of these facts and strategic considerations.

Here we see the incumbent, and most well known candidate, attacking the newcomer.


Of course, the incumbent lost this primary election. And, there has been considerable speculation about the the reasons for this outcome.

But one fact stands out. Over the past four election cycles the incumbent won each general election by increasingly smaller margins. He won by over 51 percent in 2004. By, 2012 his winning margin had dropped to 17 percent.

When it comes to communication strategy, this simple fact points to the need to bolster loyalty among the electorate.  Obviously, speaking in a positive manner about his own merits should have been the communication strategy.

Instead, the incumbent invested over $1 million in television and radio advertising in an attack strategy that substantially promoted the name recognition of his challenger.  Indeed, the challenger had only a $200,000 budget for his entire campaign.

The fundamental lesson of this primary election is what happens when a large communication budget is invested on a flawed message strategy. The incumbent spent heavily to raise awareness of the challenger's name. In a state with an open primary, this opened the door for like-minded voters to support the challenger.

In advertising and marketing, never stoop to conquer, especially when your own status with your customers is shaky. And, when it comes to politics, never under estimate a professor.

  Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.