Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Brand Persona as Constant Friend

Through the moments of everyday life one brand stands out.


When it comes to soft drinks, Coca-Cola could be said to be always there for us.

The Coca-Cola brand persona is that of a beloved friend, one who supports and comforts and encourages, helping us to find the enjoyment in any moment...the pause that refreshes.

My students recognize this genre of creativity as Eighmey's Law: Number Seven - "When in doubt, rock it out."  In this commercial, Barry Gibb's 1967 song "To Love Somebody" begins as a typical love song between a couple but the scenario quickly moves to portray the adventures of parenthood. It is this unexpected direction that makes this commercial great.

Be sure you notice what the woman holds in her hands at the beginning of the commercial, and again near the end. Dare I say genius?

   Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Advertising and Realization

In music, realization is said to be the action of enriching a piece of music by interpreting performance directions that are ambiguous.

In advertising, realization occurs in the minds of audience members when they are invited to construct their own narratives for the imagery in messages they see.

In so doing, their existing values come forward to guide their interpretation, and they come to realize the fullness of the idea in the message as their own thoughts.


The action of the whale in an unexpected context invites interpretation. Realization of both the meaning and immediacy of the environment as one world is brought home in ways words cannot.

This public service message for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society was created by Gentleman Scholar, an agency based in Los Angeles, CA.

   Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Definition of Branded Content

What is branded content?

Some say it is the "fusion" of advertising and entertainment.

But, the potential for audience enjoyment can be seen as a dimension of any media content. Advertising has long been evaluated in terms of its entertainment value. Indeed, "attitude toward the ad" has been an aspect of advertising research for well over a century.

Some say branded content began with sponsored radio programs during the 1930s. The term "soap opera" comes from the prominence of packaged goods companies as sponsors and producers of their own radio programs. Advertising agencies once had specialized production departments to provide the needed creative services.

However, the origins of branded content and its definition as a marketing communication practice go back even further in time, long before the age of broadcasting.

Here's an 1880 trade card for Ayers Sarsaparilla.


Trade cards are a long-standing advertising practice. They can be packaged as a premium or gift along with a wide variety of consumer products. In the 1880s, trade cards were often distributed by traveling salespeople long before national advertising media became a centering factor in marketing.

As branded content, the information and enjoyment provided by trade cards can be valued by consumers for its own sake. The ideas and feelings imparted in this manner support favorable brand associations. Importantly, these associations are made in an implicit, natural manner.

So, what is branded content? It is a new term for a very old practice.

Broadly speaking, branded content is brand storytelling. It is a broader term than "brand journalism," an idea that inherently likens advertising to commercial news.

Here is a recent example of branded content in a video format, the kind of material that can be placed in paid media or released to find its audience in a viral manner.


Actions to provide consumers with enjoyable and meaningful experiences such as the John Lewis holiday video are not a new marketing communication method. What is new is that the media environment has changed.

The competition for attention is increasingly intense in today's accelerated and complex electronic media. Marketers are finding value in actions that are truly consumer centric. This underscores the growing importance of a newly minted term for a longstanding practice, branded content.

  Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.


Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Psychology of Demonstration

The best advertising makes you think.


If you thought about rotisserie chicken, this commercial is not for you.

On the other hand, if you are a younger discerning customer for the most advanced automobiles, then this commercial speaks to you a charming, highly sophisticated way.

The commercial cleverly demonstrates the advanced function of this brand's latest suspension technology. Showing a car dodging potholes at a high rate of speed would have been for the birds.

   Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Meaning of United

The actions of people as they come together in a musical performance may be the best example of the concept of community. Each person has a voice, yet works in a united manner with others so they may together reach a high ideal.


This is admirable advertising showing how the core values of a brand can reach out to attract and reinforce the brand community. And, the message is that people who work in a united manner can accomplish the highest goals.

This is a lesson with far reaching implications.

The United Airlines commercial was done by McGarry Bowen.

      Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Character and Brand Community

One pathway to better advertising is to break stereotypes.

This can be especially true of brands consumed in social circumstances. Personal identity and reference group influence come into greater play.


In this Guinness commercial our expectations tell us we are watching a group of guys go at each other in a rough and tumble game of basketball. The game captures our interest because of the unexpected intensity and skill of the wheelchair basketball players.

We are surprised when they all stand, and are momentarily left with feelings of being deceived.

But when we see one player still in his chair, we experience the influence of our own stereotypical thinking and realize the importance of character.

This commercial demonstrates the importance of core values and the role of character in building the strongest brand communities. Altruistic values, in particular, are the basis of long-term sustainable relationships between brands and their customers.

  Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Jell-O and the American Dream

When it comes to market segmentation, the well-known VALS typology points to the importance of a broad sector of the American population driven by ideals. They are conventional people, following established routines of work and family. They are practical decision-makers hewing to well-known brands.


For advertising account planners, this commercial is a remarkable demonstration of consumer insight.

The hard-working father, stressful commute, and the actions of an insensitive boss reveal the everyday experiences of our times. In the face of these challenges, this archetypical father in the middle class continues to accept his responsibilities and remain an optimistic soul. Indeed, his son also acts in an archetypical manner carrying forward his father's example by making a helpful action of his own.

This is admirable advertising in modern times, placing true-life circumstances in a charming context, while pointing to the value of a well-known brand.

This work for Jell-O was done by Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

  Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Advertising and American Core Values

The American Declaration of Independence begins with the statement that all men are created equal and that the purpose of government is to secure life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

In 1956, General Electric advertising framed our nation's ideals in an economic context.


The advertising copy is particularly relevant on Labor Day.

"We in America believe in high wages, high productivity and high purchasing power. They must occur together. One without the other defeats its own ends, but together they spell dynamic growth and progress."

These words support the General Electric corporate slogan of that era, "Progress is Our Most Important Product."

In 1956, General Electric clearly understood, as did Henry Ford a generation earlier, that workers and consumers are the same people, and as such they are the leading force of the nation.

Here is yet another example of the power of advertising to reveal who we are and what we can be.

  Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Discipline of Account Planning


What is advertising strategy and account planning?

Advertising account planning is sometimes said to be a "British thing."

Although jazz may have come up the river from New Orleans, it is not accurate to say that account planning came over on the plane from London in the 1980s. That was just a trend popularized by people looking for less costly ways to differentiate one advertising agency's research department from others. It became a clever business solution at a time when agency cost structures were radically transformed.

Actually, advertising planning and planners have been at work in the United States for a long time. Today's account planners might be surprised by the work of George Rowell in the 1860s, Nathaniel Fowler in the 1890s, James Webb Young at JWT in the 1920s, and George Gallup at Y&R in the 1930s. More recently, Kenneth Longman, William Moran and Robert Walsh - all working at Y&R during the 1960s and 70s - have probably had as much or more influence than anyone on the framework for modern advertising thinking.


The goal of account planning is two-fold. For clients, the goal is to garner the most attention for the most effective message, to be at that pinnacle of the most admirable, most productive advertising. And, for the advertising agency there is also the goal of efficiency. If everyone knows the right direction, then effort can be focused on doing great work. After all, poorly planned efforts waste time and resources in any industry.

So, just what is advertising strategy and account planning? It is a discipline based on a specific strategic framework.

It begins with research to provide factual answers to five questions.

1.  What is the competitive frame (or source of business) for the product? What are customers most often buying or doing instead of buying the client's product or service?

2.  Who is the target market? Often this involves identifying the people who buy most frequently or in the largest volume.

3. What is the purchase cycle? Is the product or service purchased often, or based on an infrequent pattern tied to life events or product durability, or does a sensory cycle of fad and fatigue characterize product use?

4. What is the desired response? Are customers to be asked to switch brands, remain more loyal, increase their rate of use, return to a brand after lapsed use, try an entirely new kind of product for the first time, or make a single action purchase such as responding to a retail sale.

5. What is the message argument? What argument will (a) encourage a person in the target market to (b) make the desired response you identified in (c) the context of the competitive frame you also identified. In stating this message argument you must identify the brand's customer benefit and the reason why the brand will deliver that benefit. The argument is the basic premise for the offer you make to your customer that will lead them to make the desired response.

These five questions are the strategic considerations that, if you take time to research them well, can be said to be your enduring strategic framework. These items are the fundamental underlying basis for the entire field of strategic communication.

Indeed, these five items items are so important you should call them your "strategic commitments." Advertising planners should carefully respond to these questions and then stick with their answers. If you frequently find yourself changing your answers to one or more of these questions, then you have a strategic problem. Frequent changes in advertising strategy signal inexperienced marketing or poor management skills.

Once you have made these five strategic commitments, you are ready to develop a more specific groundwork for creating advertising. You can call this groundwork the creative brief or creative work plan.

An effective Creative Work Plan has these components:

The Key Fact: Given the five strategic commitments that you have made, what one fact about the brand, competition, or customer is most relevant to advertising?

The Problem Advertising Must Solve: Based on your key fact, what is the problem in the marketplace that advertising can and must solve?

The Advertising Objective: What is to be the specific effect of advertising on the actions of customers? Will the advertising message lead to brand switching, increases in loyalty, increases in rate of use, or another specific action? What will be the measurable customer action in response to the advertising message?

The key fact, problem advertising must solve, and advertising objective support the five elements of the creative work plan that can be called the creative strategy for advertising.

1. Customer Definition: Identify the customers in terms of demographics, rate of product use, lifestyle activities and interests, and leverageable customer insights relating to their use of the brand.

2. Key Competition: What is the market or market segment of competing brands from which the advertising must help draw customers to the brand?

3. Brand Promise: What is the benefit as experienced by the customer? This is not the place for clever slogans or expected advertising copy language. State clearly and specifically what the brand does to improve the life and experience of the customer.

4. Reason Why: What one specific fact about the brand most effectively supports the brand promise?

5. Media of Expression: Given the activities and interests of the customer, what are the key media environments for advertising? How are the core customers defined as users of mass media and social media?

Once you have the creative work plan or brief, your work is to effectively share the plan with the assigned creative and production staff, and to respond to their questions as they do their work.

The responsibility of the members of the creative staff is to receive the advice of account planners, to question it, to even challenge it, and then to go on to invent original and motivating human expressions of the agreed upon creative work plan. In this endeavor, the creative work will not necessarily literally reflect the language of the planning documents. Creative problem solving involves reinvention of the planning advice as a compelling presentation in human terms.

The creative and production staff members are the heroic persons in this scenario, while the account planners lay important groundwork for their success. It is a relationship based on dialog, not dictation.

This is the underlying framework for the discipline of account planning. It is expressed above in a condensed and organized manner. But, how many people really know all of these considerations? How many have both the quantitative and qualitative experience and skills to draw upon all of the needed information resources? Having customer insights and developing customer personas are important aspects of this process. But, the insights must be leverageable insights based upon considered research, and they can come into play for all aspects of the strategic framework.

  Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

MNsure Shows Way to Effective Healthcare Advertising


I've commented earlier (in my August 4th and 10th posts) about the Kaiser Family Foundation survey showing that half the adults in the nation say they do not have enough information about the Affordable Care Act to understand how it will impact their own families. Indeed, about 40 percent say they are either unaware or confused about the very status of this new law.

This points to the importance of attention getting information placed in a helpful context so people can understand, trust and act appropriately to the benefit of themselves and their families.

To that end, the 18 states establishing health insurance exchanges are initiating public information campaigns.

Minnesotans can begin enrolling on October 1. To assist them, MNsure - the state's name for its health insurance exchange - has begun its public information campaign.


This MNsure commerical is a demonstration of effective health care communication. It is not a healthcare lecture. Rather, it employs the state's key iconic figure to appeal to all Minnesotans and to motivate viewers to visit the health exchange website.

The website is attractive, easy to navigate and straightforward. Importantly, the overall tone and manner is cheerful. My 1997 article in the Journal of Advertising Research was the first scholarly study showing the importance of these factors in website based communication for brands and organizations.

This is a complete campaign with televsion, radio, print, and outdoor advertising with the website as the key focal point. This radio commercial underscores the cheerful and informative tone and manner.


The Affordable Care Act is an important public matter. Here we see advertising playing the critical role effectively bringing needed awareness and information so members of the public can make decisions in their own best interests.

The MNsure campaign was produced by BBDO Proximity in Minneapolis.

  Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Transformation Versus Information in Advertising


Informative messages are often less successful than hoped. Audiences are not necessarily waiting for you to lecture them about what they should buy, ways they should think, or how they should live.

To be a successful messenger, you need to do more about the form of your message.


This new Coca-Cola commercial from Argentina opens with a credibility statement. Real life experiences are transformed into a persuasive side-by-side demonstration.

Transformative advertising shows you how people feel in light of a key fact. That's the desired outcome leading to a successful pubic communication message or advertising campaign.

So when it comes to your next advertising campaign, remember this distinction between information and transformation.

  Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Advertising, Truth and the Affordable Care Act


The story of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is an elusive saga in the public conversation.

It is at once talked about, yet not sufficiently understood.

In April of 2013, a nation-wide survey of adults by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that about 50 percent say they do not have enough information about this new law to understand how it will impact their own families. Indeed, about 40 percent say they are either unaware or confused about the status of the ACA.

Moreover, the Kaiser survey also shows fading support for the ACA among American adults ages 18 and older.


Since April of 2010, favorable opinions for the ACA have dropped 11 percentage points from 46 to 35 percent, while unfavorable opinions remain at 40 percent. The group reporting they don't know their opinion or refusing to answer the question increased 10 points from 14 to 24 percent. The margin of sampling error is 3 percentage points.

These polling trends point toward January of 2014, when the ACA policies are to go into full effect. The growing proportion of adults who say they "don't know" suggests public support is waning due to the absence of clearly conveyed information. The voices in support of the ACA have been losing the day.

Between now and then, Americans will encounter an increasing public information tumult surrounding the ACA. There will be reporting by newspapers, cable news, and broadcast news. There will be 18 state-sponsored enrollment advertising campaigns for their health care insurance exchanges. Advocacy advertising campaigns will be sponsored by supporting and opposing groups.

What information source may prove most useful to the public at this critical time?

It is important that we recognize there is only one form of mass communication that must be truthful by law. That source is advertising that is "in commerce," meaning that it offers a product or service for sale. All other sources, including news, commentary, advocacy advertising, political advertising, and the Internet in general, are not subject to this important legal requirement to be truthful.

We are in the midst of a new and confusing milieu for information in the public sphere. Truth is becoming increasingly elusive in a world in which information sources are at once rapidly growing in number, and increasingly pervasive, subtle and invasive.

As we move further into this confusing new reality, commercial advertising for products and services must emerge as the only source of mass communication that adheres to the legal standard of truth.

  Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Advertising and the Liking Schema

Research about mass communication effects tells us that sources interpreted with what is called an "accessible schema" tend to produce higher cognitive and emotional readiness by the audience.

One of the most accessible schemas or modes of thinking involves liking by ourselves and by others. Liking schemas are said to be more easily understood and more accurately remembered.


This McDonalds commercial presents an exemplary application of the liking schema in advertising.

The narrative involves a familiar yet unexpected attention-getting scenario. The story action exemplifies attraction, the verbal message is literally "I'm loving it," and the branding visualization codes strongly with with the colors, package design, and product shape.

There is also the matter of the likability of the commercial itself. We enjoy the message and this amplifies our feelings for the brand that brought the message to us.

   Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Algorithms: The Operant Conditioning Short Cut to "Just Good Enough"


We engage in "operant behavior" whenever we take a voluntary action and then, based on the degree of success or reward, decide to repeat the action or increase the frequency or strength of the action. Encountering a lesser reward or failure we may even decrease or cease the action.

Also called "operant conditioning," this manner of behavior is not a response to prior cognition or a rationale. Rather, it is behavior that is solely determined by the consequences of an action taken.


In the practice of marketing communication today, this psychological theory offers an explanation of the attraction of algorithms, expert systems, data-mining, and programmatic media buying.

In these approaches, computer codes or programs are applied to data-sets in order to find what are known as locally optimal solutions to problems such as media buying and even selection of message appeals.

Algorithms generally give you seemingly reasonable answers, and often the alternative choices in marketing and communication are choices between right and right.

So the obvious risk is that a somewhat right approach will become a self-reinforcing path to a less than optimal future. Organizations and brands can all too easily fall victim to this high technology route to lesser success.

Actually, human truths and leverageable customer insights are the pathways to developing the highest performance marketing and communication plans. There are no short cuts on the pathway to learning what works best and why.

   Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Advertising and the Affordable Care Act


A key to affordable health care is that everyone obtain health care insurance.

However, not everyone in the United States understands this responsibility, nor are people sufficiently aware of how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will help them meet their health care needs. Indeed, surveys show substantial public confusion concerning the nature and status of the ACA.

In April of 2013, a nation-wide survey of adults by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that about 50 percent say they do not have enough information about this new law to understand how it will impact their own families.

Importantly, over 40 percent say they are either unaware or confused about the status of the ACA.

The sources and voices of public information on the ACA are diverse, confusing, and sometimes even intentionally counterproductive. So these recent survey results should not be surprising.

To strategic communication professionals, this is what is known as "a problem advertising can solve."

As paid messaging on behalf of organizations and brands, advertising can help overcome a lack of awareness, understanding, and acceptance of products and programs.

The 17 states now initiating health insurance exchanges are aware of how advertising can help the public make more informed choices. For example, this summer the state of Connecticut began investing in a $6 million advertising and promotional campaign for its health insurance exchange - Access Health Connecticut.


California - one of the larger and more populous states - is investing in an $86 million campaign called Covered California.


This underscores the importance of advertising as an essential institution promoting progress. The purpose of advertising is to help make things happen faster in the economy and society so as to help people lead richer, fuller and  - in this case - more healthful lives.

   Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Post-Verbal Era of Advertising and Mass Communication


One limitation of American advertising is that it is too word oriented.  Marketing managers often superficially concentrate on looking for identical wording across their value propositions, creative work plans, the creative work itself, copy tests, and advertising tracking studies. Copyediting is a more easily accessible literal endeavor, while imagery and metaphor call for greater depth of thinking.

Indeed, some seem to be educated to avoid, or even fear, communication via metaphor and visualization. And, of course, it is easier to conduct tests that merely detect the recognition or recall of a phrase.

Now this tendency is about to become even more self-limiting as we enter what I call the “Post-Verbal Era of Advertising and Mass Communication.”  It has long been said a picture is worth a thousand words. And now, the mass communication world is defined by electronic media that privilege visual communication.

Hence, in focusing on word-based communication, both communicators and media operators will find themselves in increasingly marginal positions. This is the concern of Facebook when it acquired Instagram, and the limitation of Twitter when compared to the capabilities of more versatile micro-blog services such as Sina Weibo.

In contrast, Pinterest and other media that provide welcome environments for appreciation of design and visual communication are poised for success.

These developments set the stage for the latest McDonalds advertising, created by an agency in France.




Some have noted this work for an absence of "overt branding," but such observations fail to account for our changing media environment. 

Evidence that McDonalds clearly understands the new realities is the inclusion of the fish sandwich wrapper as a natural way to include the brand on what might be seen as a more generic photo of their fish sandwich.  

Branding is now all about what I call "ownership of product category visualization."  

The race is on. 

Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Second Level Problem-Solution in Advertising


Problem-solution is one of the most effective formats for advertising. The approach places product demonstrations in strategic contexts.


In this Maple Leaf Bacon commercial we see what I call “second level problem-solution.” This homemaker is vexed by all the little things that don’t get done and should be shared. And, bacon can be annoying to prepare. There is all that extra fat to deal with.

The solution to one problem becomes the solution to another. The power of “second level problem solution” is double strong.

  Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Eighmey's Laws of Advertising


All of my students know Eighmey’s Laws of Advertising.

Eighmey’s Law of Advertising No.  7 is:  “When in doubt, rock it out.”


Rock music provides an endless wellspring of narratives placed in the context of enjoyable melodies.

On one level, such advertising is destined to succeed merely on the basis of attitude toward the ad. We enjoy the moment, so we like the brand that made us feel good.

Cognitive responses enter the picture when the narrative of the rock song plays directly to the brand’s selling proposition.

In this Vodaphone commercial, our heroine is waiting and hoping, yet the call never comes. But, when they meet again, his actions will be revealed. He won’t be able to blame it on his phone.

  Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Advertising's Revealing Window on America


I've recently assembled well over 400 print ads that reveal the emerging themes in the American economy, society and politics since 1880.

Beginning with the Gilded Age, you can see how the ideas and imagery in advertising look forward in predictive ways. There are 30 carefully selected and annotated items for each decade, with brief notes about the overall scene for the economy and innovation during each decade.


Now, you can place your understanding of advertising strategy and creativity in an historical context. To help you get started, here's a brief introduction to each decade, illustrated by one ad selected from the 30 for each decade.



Decade of the 1880s – Ascent of the Gilded Age

This was the rising decade of the Gilded Age, so named by writers Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner. Rapid economic growth covered widespread poverty. 



Expansion of railroads enabled commercial growth across the nation, although the South still remained devastated following the Civil War. Voting rights of Blacks were suppressed. Inventions included the solar cell, wind generator and coaxial cable.

National magazines grew in circulation carrying advertising to support the development of nationally known brand names. The realm of selling products began to shift from the world of the traveling salespeople with their trade cards to include a larger role for the developing field of national advertising.


Decade of the 1890s – Economic Panic and Hard Times

During this decade, ongoing rapid industrialization led to economic panic in 1893 followed by rising unemployment.


T
he Duryea brothers introduced the first successful gas powered automobile for sale. Other inventions included mechanical tabulating machines, clipless pedals for bicycles, medical gloves for physicians, bottle caps, shredded wheat, and the Ferris Wheel.


Decade of the 1900s – Realization of Progressive Era

This was a decade of scientific advancement, including the Theory of Relativity and the discovery of radioactivity. 



Edison invented the storage battery and Eastman invented the Brownie camera. Other inventions included the first plastic, cellophane, tractors, the airplane, the helicopter, radio, windshield wipers, safety razors, and crayons. 


Concerns about the common good led to new institutions such as the Food and Drug Administration. In advertising, the formal newspaper format was giving way to the open spaces of the magazine page.


Decade of the 1910s -  Age of Improvement

This decade exemplifies the "age of improvement" with advances in manufacturing, distribution and marketing. 



The first modern bras and zippers were introduced. Inventions included electrical ignitions for cars, Pyrex, stainless steel, movies with sound, tunable radios, and pop-up toasters. 

Near the end of the decade citizens conserved resources to support the war effort.


Decade of the 1920s – Roaring Growth Ends in Great Depression

The decade known as the "Roaring Twenties" brought in new ways of thinking. Also known as "The Dry Decade" with Prohibition lasting from 1920 to 1933. 



The NAACP was formed at a time when Blacks and their progress were under attack as shown in 1921 by horrific actions in Tulsa and other cities. Radio broadcasting emerged as an important local and national advertising medium.

Inventions included insulin, robotics, self-winding watches, 3-D movies, frozen food, traffic signals, the tommy gun, and Band-Aids.


Decade of the 1930s – Struggle for Progress

During this decade, the nation embarked on a contentious struggle to emerge from economic depression. Radio broadcasts and movies captured the attention of the nation. 



Inventions included radar, jet engines, nylon, Scotch Tape, drive-in movie theaters, golf carts, and parking meters. Stock car racing was introduced in 1936.


Decade of the 1940s – Unity on Purpose

The decade of the 1940s involved social and economic support for the war effort and the promise of new things to come when the war ended. 



Inventions included the first electronic digital computer, early software for computers, hypertext, synthetic rubber, aqualung for diving, aerosol spray cans, nylon, and color television. 

Public service advertising played an important role helping to inform citizens about the needs of the war effort. Product advertising often included war related information or themes.


Decade of the 1950s –  Roots of Change

This decade saw the spread of economic prosperity supported by the nation-wide focus on television, and the growth of suburbs, interstate highways, consumer products and the middle class. 



New products included transistor radios, credit cards, and Teflon pots and pans. Solar cells, invented nearly 70 years earlier in the 1880s, were finally brought to market. Inventions included power steering, super glue, circuit boards, optical fiber, and oral contraceptives.


Decade of the 1960s –  Children of the Revolution

In the 1960s new thinking about society and what we buy into began to collide with traditional ways. Children of the baby boom generation began to ask questions, as did many of their parents. 



Astroturf, acrylic paint, fuel injection, ATMs, permanent press, hand-held calculators, and Valium were introduced. Walmart opened in 1962. The moon landing was in 1969.


Decade of the 1970s – Realization of Limits

This decade introduced economic concepts such as "oil crisis" and "stagflation" along with concerns about the sustainability of the natural environment of the Earth itself. 

The limits of the nation's resource use became evident as the inevitability of the economic concept of “externalities” became real to many.  Responsibility became as valuable a concept as liberty.




Notable inventions included ethernets, microprocessors, LCDs, floppy disks, VCRs, and Post-It Notes.


Decade of the 1980s – Dawn of Instantaneousness

The decade of the 1980s began slowly. Then, the economy turned around resulting in the highest decade of growth in American history to that point in time. 



People began turning to email, computer games and home computers. 

Macintosh was introduced in 1984 and Microsoft quickly emulated with Windows in 1985. Cell phones appeared near the end of the decade. They were larger than today's phones.


Decade of the 1990s – Web of Resources

The World Wide Web communication protocol was introduced in 1990. Email usage grew rapidly with its significant advantages over phone message notes. 



Web resources were developed at a rapid pace. Web TV was introduced in 1996. Amazon became world's largest bookstore in 1997.  Google introduced its search engine near the end of the decade.

This otherwise prosperous decade ended with the collapse of a number of hastily developed Web-based businesses.


Decade of the 2000s – Deregulation Comes Home to Roost

Homeland security concerns arose with the events of September 11, 2001. There were continuing economic adjustments as the capabilities of information technology changed the way people work. 



A substantial economic crisis driven by unbridled and failing financial institutions disrupted the national economy. 

Instant text messaging was introduced in 2000. YouTube was introduced in 2005. In 2007, Google introduced maps based on wireless locations.


Decade of the 2010s – Struggle for the Future

Concerns about climate and the environment continue in the midst of ongoing loss of economic opportunity and the apparent disfunctionality of politics and government.



Now, if you now go to my Pinterest site, you can see well over 400 ads since 1880. AdmirableAds will show you how the advertising in each decade reveals the underlying themes in the economy, society and politics of America.

Advertising is indeed a window on America's past and future. 

   Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Apperception and Opt In Advertising

Viewer interest in online video advertising is increasing rapidly.  In June, 183 million Americans watched online advertising videos 44 billion times. That amounts to an average of 240 per month, or about 8 per day.

Studies show the web audience tends to avoid (click away or opt out) from forced exposure video advertising as soon as they can.

What is it that they want to watch?


Viewers are interested in this kind of advertising video because it is both informative and enjoyable.

In the Jaguar advertising video, a person with obvious expertise takes us through a demonstration in the context of a widely known event that challenges the product to perform. Hence, the viewer goes beyond perception to apperception.

When it comes to persuasion, this advertising video does not force a message argument in a traditional manner. Rather, the product is allowed to earn our appreciation by demonstrating its value in an emergent manner, inviting us to opt in.

  Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Advertising Window on Future

Shirley Polykoff was Senior Vice President, Creative Director, at Foote Cone & Belding when she retired in 1973, after 18 years of making advertising history. She was one of the most highly productive copywriters ever to work in advertising.

Polykoff founded her own advertising agency after retiring from FC&B. She received hundreds of creative awards including the top awards at the annual Venice and Cannes Festivals.

Here is a 1957 Clairol commercial written by Polykoff.


To understand her work, I advise you to think about the other-directed and inner-directed qualities of her advertising ideas. The copy in this commercial is about how others perceive the woman, yet the woman controls her own image, and the audience wants to know her secret.

The year 1957 is the moment where the women's movement is about emerge in America and this cleverly seditious commercial shows the woman in control. How does she do this? The audience wants to know.


Betty Friedan published the Feminine Mystique in 1963. She had conducted a survey of her former Smith College classmates in 1957. She discovered discontent, and this led her to her book.

Polykoff’s creative work in the 1950s shows how the content of advertising signals the underlying themes in the cultural conversation. For the observant, advertising is a window on the future.

   Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Online Video Advertising Coming of Age

ComScore has just released its latest online video rankings showing 183 million Americans watched online videos more than 44 billion times in June.  And, for the third month in a row views of online video advertising surpassed 20 billion.

I’ve made chart showing these results for all the ComScore monthly reports so far this year. You can see the upward trend for viewing of both advertising and non-advertising videos.



Here is a chart showing the advertising video viewing share out of the total views of all online video (advertising and non-advertising).


My chart indicates that online advertising videos are coming of age as a media factor. Next month online advertising videos may reach the marker point of  one-third of the entire realm of online video viewing in the United States.

   Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Midsummer's Public Mood

Near the end of every month the Conference Board reports the current status of the Consumer Confidence Index.

This index is an average of how adults in America feel about five factors: (1) current business conditions, (2) current employment conditions, (3) expectations for business conditions over the coming six months, (4) expectations for employment conditions over the coming six months, and (5) expectations for total family income for the coming six months.

It is called an index because the results for each month are reported with reference to the average results for the year 1985. Each monthly survey is based on about 3,000 completed questionnaires. The cut-off point for survey field-work is the middle of each month.  

Here are the results from January of 2007 through June of this year when the index reached 81.


The Conference Board's June, 2013, press release stated, “Consumers are considerably more positive about current business and labor market conditions than they were at the beginning of the year. Expectations have also improved considerably over the past several months, suggesting that the pace of growth is unlikely to slow in the short-term, and may even moderately pick up.”

Since February of 2009 the underlying public mood appears to be moving in a positive direction. The next report will be on July 30th.

    Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Diversity and Communication Power

Diversity promotes creativity. Other viewpoints can introduce us to new possibilities. And, what we already think we know can be appreciated in expanded ways.


This Skype commercial demonstrates the Cognitive Theory of Emotions. Through the narrative, we come to a deeper realization of both Skype and the importance of human contact. This personal story places the brand in the heroic role of keeping families together despite challenging circumstances of time and distance.

The lesson is that greater cognitive and emotional response comes from showing brands in unexpected, more diverse, circumstances. That is the direction for deeper meaning and greater impact in the marketplace.

   Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Outside the Bottle Thinking

“Ice cold” is the traditional invitation to refreshment seen on soft drink signs everywhere.

In Columbia, Coca-Cola has cleverly converted this traditional soft drink call to action into a surprising product innovation.


Advertising is best when it is about product news. Here, Coca-Cola, the world’s most popular beverage, is thinking “outside the bottle” to bring consumers the latest in convenient, enjoyable refreshment.

Vendors are said to be selling hundreds of bottles per hour on the beaches of Columbia.

  Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Introductory Advertising

The first lesson in advertising is that you must be different to succeed. There is no reason for consumers to spend time with advertising they have already seen a lot of.

Eighmey’s First Law of Advertising is “For any piece of advertising to work, it first must be seen, and to be seen it must be different.”

This explains why some American beer makers spend so much on advertising. They keep showing us the same old approaches and therefore they have to overspend on media to be noticed.

Success in advertising comes when you have the courage to try something really new.


My students know another of my Laws of Advertising: “When in doubt, rock it out.”

This points to rock music as a highly productive source of metaphors and narratives to capture attention and establish feelings so as to deliver selling propositions with inspiration and immediacy.

When it comes to what people seek and share in mass media and social media today, Tap King clearly understands both my philosophy of advertising and their own core consumers.

Lionel Richie is welcome everywhere, even in refrigerators (you could say he is one cool dude).

Everyone recognizes his rock ballad, but Richie’s performance turns the song around as the solution to the consumer problem.  We watch the commercial, we enjoy the surprise, we instantly appreciate the product.

This is one great commercial, and Tap King did not have to overspend on media to break through the clutter.

    Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Reminder Advertising

Reminder advertising is a common strategy used to counteract consumer forgetfulness.

We are surrounded by diversions, responsibilities, and calls to try the latest new things

Even when it comes to the most important considerations, reminders are still needed.


This Young & Rubicam public service advertisement appeared in 1945, as the war in the Pacific was coming to an end. At home, Americans were looking to the future, yet there were struggles to be concluded.

The copy reads:

Well, God here we are. 

You up there. Me down here, with a burning sun, a mess of insects, too much ocean, and other buddies as lonely as me. 

Oh God, how nice it must be back home, with Germany licked, and the folks humming, and some of the boys all finished with the fighting. 

But I guess that wasn't meant for me, was it? And tomorrow and tomorrow I will still be dodging bullets, still feeling lost in the middle of the night. 

Well no hard feelings. 

I will go wherever You say, and do whatever You want me to. For You know what is best for me. 

But say, if you can only get the people back home to remember me, maybe they'll still bear down. Maybe they'll still send us their blood, still stay on the job, still send us the stuff we need. 

You see God, I'd like to get home, too.

In 1945, this advertisement reminded the nation that soldiers were still at war, needing continuing support. This remains a relevant message even today.

Now, what makes for better advertising when it comes to mobilizing a nation?


This 1943 Young & Rubicam public service advertisement drew upon the advice of Elmer Davis, former correspondent for CBS Radio, who served as the Director of the Office of War Information during WWII.

Davis said better advertising should be based upon information, inspiration, and immediacy.

That is great advice in any era for any advertising.

    Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Patriotism and the Selling Proposition

It was reported in USA Today that a recent national survey discovered, when it comes to for-profit brands, Jeep is seen as the most strongly associated with “patriotism.”

Brands generally want to be heroic. They do so by solving consumer problems. They get out the deep down dirt, are easier to use, get us there more quickly, provide us with greater enjoyment.

But Jeep has a claim to something more.


Interestingly, the illustration in this 1943 Willys ad is of the defense of Stalingrad by Russian soldiers. Russia, one of the allied countries, had been provided with Jeeps by the American government.

Stalingrad is said to be one of the bloodiest battles in history. The Jeep advertising copy calls the defense of Stalingrad “an example of love of country” and credits the truck in aiding the heroic efforts of the Russian people defending their country from German attacks.

Certainly WWII imagery and nationalism play a role in Jeep's brand reputation. But, the overall consumer take-away has to be that Jeep is a tough, problem-solving truck. That’s the selling proposition.

   Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Celebrate to Sell

The Fourth of July is America's great national holiday to celebrate independent thinking.

Historically, the British were the counter-cultural force. Their red-coated soldiers came trampling all over, and King George tried to tax our tea.

But wait, what if some other nation had arrived on our shores?  Would America be the same?


Fiat has shown us what a revolutionary car commercial can be.  

It begins with the expected overly dramatic music and the cry “The British are coming.”

But, a second look reveals red cars not red-coats. The music becomes T. Rex’s rock anthem Children of the Revolution and the residents of Old Salem discover a revolution of another kind.

America’s future becomes cappuccino not tea, clubs not pubs, fashion not costumes.

This commercial celebrates to sell.

For more on the psychology of advertising please see, Patriotism and the Selling Proposition.

    Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Imagery and Advertising

A philosopher once observed that just as our eyes need light in order to see, our minds need ideas in order to think.

We recognize ideas as we encounter them. It is the natural discovery process called "realization."

Therein lies the great force of advertising.


This revolutionary advertisement for Smirnoff was the work of photographer Bert Stern who died earlier this week at the age of 83. He lived in New York City.

The slogan for this 1956 ad in Life Magazine was "It takes your breath away." The promise, of course, is that this drink is more astounding than the typical martini.

Here, in this "dry" environment, the experience has turned the world's largest object upside down.

This idea was so clear to readers, so compelling, and so easily extendable to follow-on ad pages, that it transformed America into a martini sipping country during the late 1950s.

Stern saw the "dry" connection to the desert two years earlier when he shot a prototype photo near Palm Springs, CA.  In 1955, Smirnoff sent him to Egypt to shoot the real thing.


This advertising demonstrates the power of original artistic expression when it works in service of a compelling selling idea.

Persuasion is not necessarily rhetorical. Indeed, "realization" is often more usefully produced by imagery.

    Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Paying Attention to Attention

Blur is a popular metaphor for the human information environment, as new electronic media, information, entertainment and social connectivity compete for our attention everywhere.

Sometimes, we need help to stay on track.


Rather than tout electronic entertainment features with inherently distracting playlists and phone connectivity, Mercedes calls our attention to the task at hand.

This commercial is an effective demonstration of distracted driving.

Lulled by a popular song, the driver begins to day-dream, conjuring an alluring companion.

Sensing his loss of concentration, the automobile intervenes.

Warned by the assist signal, the driver snaps to attention and the companion resolves into an alert passenger who is paying attention to the road. Is the passenger the driver's best friend who happened to be riding with him? Or, is the passenger the embodiment of the driver alert system? Could be both, we don't know.

The commercial demonstrates the everyday phenomenon of "looking away" in modern information environments, and the importance of staying on task when attention matters most.

   Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Advertising and Persuasion

Perhaps the most evocative image is that of the courageous woman.

This idea is compelling because of its complexity. The facets of this idea include vulnerability, generosity, grace, sacrifice, expectations, acuity and strength.

Although superficially contradictory, historically, this admixture of facets comprises the essential motivating metaphor of nations.

In the United States, this metaphorical figure is Columbia. As a statue, she stands above the Capitol Building in her District of Columbia.

Seen in this 1917 poster, wearing the classical cap of liberty, she extends her arms to implore actions for the common good.


In 1918, this imagery appeared in a more contemporary form. Standing before the Capitol Building, with the Columbia statue atop, a young woman quotes then President Wilson and embraces the flag to her heart to summon the nation to action.


Metaphors are not merely stylistic "figures of speech" comparing two objects without using the words "like" or "as." Reliance on that kind of definition is an injustice.

Metaphors carry deep cultural meaning. And, without such meaning, we cannot move forward, we cannot act with productive purpose.

Therein lies the power of metaphor in advertising. If you have not connected your message to its cultural value, you have missed the opportunity to persuade.

  Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.