Monday, December 8, 2014

Advertising Is Education

If advertising can be said to be education, here is a commercial with many lessons.

The most admirable advertising teaches us first to feel, then to think, perchance to buy.

In this commercial from Hong Kong's prestige watch maker Solvil et Titus, we learn the significance of gift-like acts. Indeed, depicting the gift via the abstraction of an ink drawing gives genuine depth to the message.

In this love story about Audrey and Tom, we learn that messages can transcend class. Audrey departs with parents in a luxury car, while Tom remains in the care of a local policemen who rides a bicycle. Perhaps the kindly policeman is the boy's father, or perhaps he arrived at the behest of the store owner. We don't know.

With repeated viewings, we learn to appreciate the power of nuanced messages. This message can be likened to "rich media" with its many layers of meaning as we notice further details that enrich the story.

There are indeed many lessons to learn from this commercial. Remember them forever.

Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Living Up To Advertising

Advertising is serious business. Better advertising is based on the core values of the company. These values can serve as the basis for enduring relationships with customers.

This 1971 classic Schlitz beer commercial shows how the brand stood behind the values of hard work, family and friendship. Archetypical stories reminded consumers to make the most of their lives.

Unfortunately, the brand lost its status as the number one beer in America.

In the kinds of cost-cutting moves that have become commonplace throughout industry, the company behind the brand failed to deliver on its core values. A series of product modifications designed to reduce materials costs and struggles with labor to reduce manufacturing costs took the "gusto" out of the brand. One might even say the company management took the "gutso" out of the brand.

By the end of the 1970s consumers came to recognize that Schlitz beer no longer lived up to the brand promise so admirably communicated by the advertising. This is an important lesson from a generation ago that remains strikingly significant today.

  Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Adventageous Advertising

The challenge of making a holiday commercial is to meld a message with an emotional or heartwarming story line.

Indeed, brands often try to out-do each other and their past-years' work attempting to wrap an emotional punch around a selling package.

Here, Samsung takes a light-hearted approach to charm us with the fun of the season.

The commercial succeeds as a personal story featuring actors Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard who are really married to each other.

It is a product line commercial and the advantages of Samsung technology are easily and clearly demonstrated throughout. As a window on their lives, it is also a celebrity endorsement commercial.

Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Big Game Advertising

Pepsi has just released a video hyping its sponsorship of the 2015 "big game" halftime show.

Katie Perry is to be the featured performer. In Pepsi's video, Katie takes us on a tour of possible creative directions for her show. Glitter, unicorns, dancers, drummers, kittens... all are possibilities she considers and rejects.

Advertising sales for the 2015 "big game" appear to be running behind the usual curve. The rate for a single 30-second commercial is $4.5 million. This is 12 percent more than the 2014 rate.

Given these costs, Pepsi is smart to begin promoting its halftime show now, two months and a week before the game.

Indeed, fewer "big game" advertisers are waiting to debut their commercials on game day. They see earlier engagement as a way to maximize the return on their investment.

With increasing commercial costs, rising public concern about violence, and the challenges of creating content that will satisfy audience expectations, there may be something to that jumping shark visual after all.

Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Advertising's Role As Truth in Modern Media

In November of 2014, the journalism world was all abuzz about a widely viewed viral video purporting to show a Syrian boy rescuing a younger girl from gunfire. The video is dramatic. Indeed, at least one YouTube source showing almost 4 million views within a few days.

Unfortunately, a number of major world-wide news organizations featured the video as though it were real. That they rushed to show this video without verification is a powerful statement on the current status of journalism.

This video is not real.

It is a fake video made and posted by, of all organizations, the Norwegian Film Institute. Here is a photo of the production crew. They produced the video on the island nation of Malta, on the set of the movie Gladiator. The photo shows the boy actor (blue shirt) alongside the young actress he was presumed to rescue.

This unfortunate scenario is revealing about the status of truth in the mass media. The extreme pressures to garner audience attention (or "hits") has turned the media businesses, including traditional journalism, into a "hype" industry.

Indeed, attention has become the most valuable commodity on the Earth. Every organization supplying media content is aware of this priority. This recent comment comment demonstrates the manner in which the pressure for attention affects organizational behavior. In this connection, truth becomes what attention requires.

Significantly, commercial advertising remains the only form of media communication that must be truthful by law. Commercial speech has a long tradition of regulation by government agencies and in civil and criminal courts.

It is important to recognize there is only one media information source that must withstand the legal test of truthful claims. It is advertising. As the public continues to search for relevance and veracity in the media, this fundamental distinction will become increasingly important.

  Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Tale of Two

Airline advertising is destination advertising. The goal of this service is delivery, to a new time and place, to promise and possibility. Hopefully, to pleasure and success.

Here we see British Airways calling our attention to two of the most wonderful destinations in the world. The commercial artfully presents the similarities and differences, welcoming the audience to step into each scene.

Political advertising is often a tale of two alternatives. Would that this genre of advertising could become as intelligent and respectful of the audience as this admirable airline commercial.

 Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Gift Of Advertising

The reward theory of communication is based on the idea that audience members are to be acknowledged for their time and effort.

Message reception takes time, a fleeting portion of seconds to minutes to sometimes even more. Comprehension, realization and retention also call for effortful attention. For their efforts, audience members are owed a return, an enjoyable and informational experience.

This John Lewis commercial is notable for its depth and complexity. The boy matures before our eyes. The commercial celebrates youth and imagination. Gifts are seen as more than items, they are gestures representing deeper thought.

John Lewis holiday advertising is known for its storytelling.  My students will also recognize the work as demonstrating the reward theory of communication, attitude toward the ad, and the cognitive theory of emotions.

Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Spectacular Advertising

The first question in effective advertising is attention.  So, cease your rabble rousing and listen carefully.

When it comes to advertising, or really any form of communication, there is no need for the audience to devote precious time to everyday repetition of familiar information.

To secure attention, message designers must take intelligent risks, to present their information in unanticipated and enjoyable new ways. That approach is known as the reward theory of communication.

Here, in this in-flight video, we see Air New Zealand showing us what advertising can be. Epic.

   Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sophistication in Advertising

When it comes to apparel, everyone wants to be "appropriately sophisticated." Here, sophistication means a person can feel "right" in the moment in the places that matter most.

This is a particularly compelling motivation for Millennials, today's most sought after age cohort.

Here we see The Gap presenting its apparel as a reliable pathway to comfort in your own time and place. That's sophistication in the moment. The copy line "Dress Normal," held against the stories told in the latest Gap advertising, allows for quirky individuality with the reassurance you are not likely to go wrong at The Gap.

This commercial is one of four in the The Gap's new campaign.

It is also an outstanding example of the unifying role music can play in storytelling. The rocksteady rhythm integrates the movement of the actors with the action of the pinball machine in an intriguing time and place. The wearer of The Gap apparel owns the moment. Genius.

   Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Might of Memes

Before we all began talking about memes there was Grant Wood's painting American Gothic.  Along with the Mona Lisa by da Vinci, it is one of the most well known and parodied paintings of all time.

This recent print ad by Nescafe repurposes Grant Wood's painting to demonstrate a product benefit. Indeed, one might see this ad as an exemplification of Rosser Reeve's seminal concept known as the Unique Selling Proposition. The self-replicating power of Grant Wood's imagery is seen anew.

This painting has found many applications in advertising. Perhaps the best is this 1963 commercial for Country Corn Flakes.

There is a fine line in parody where homage can become ridicule. The secret of this commercial is the creators knew the difference between celebration and cynicism.

Memes have magical powers, if you know what you are doing.

   Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Nudge Theory of Advertising

Manipulation involves encouraging someone to do what someone else wants them to do. Sometimes the "manipulated" person already knows what they should do, they just need a little nudge.

Call it the "nudge theory" of advertising.

 Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

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, respect from others, and dignity 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 promises 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.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Time Flies Solo

The magic of the best advertising creative people is they condense complex brands to simple highly motivating expressions, revealing their essential memes.

This coming Monday, Time Magazine and its sister publications are to be set free from Time-Warner. These once industry leading publications have become a seemingly unsolvable management puzzle. What is their role in the modern media scene?

In 1983, at Young & Rubicam New York, writer Dick Olmstead and art director Bob Czernysz had the answer.

The precise insights of Dick Olmstead unite with Bob Czernysz' visuals of people transported by the act of reading Time.

Time flies and you are there,
Time cries and let's you care.

You understand the world we share,
Yes, Time brings you closer to living.

Time puts events in sharper view,
Time brings it all right home to you.

Each week Time Magazine takes you beyond the news,
to help you make sense of it all.

Throughout your world, throughout your land,
Time puts it all right in your hand.

Read Time and understand.

The outcome of the Olmstead-Czernysz creative partnership was one of the most powerful magazine circulation campaigns of all time. The work won two Gold Awards at the 1983 One Show in New York City.

The active synergy between the precise language and perfectly selected imagery of people absorbed in the act of reading brings about a realization about what a magazine can mean to its audience. To date, no one has better expressed the meaning of magazine content.

The technology of the media may change, but the human response to useful information remains the same.

  Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Beat of Branded Content

Some think of branded content as a new idea in the advertising arena. It may be a relatively new term, but entertainment values have been an important aspect of advertising since there was advertising.

Call it the reward theory of communication if you like. As communicators, we borrow attention from our audiences, and we owe them something in return:  Enjoyment.

On one conceptual level, the "Game Before The Game" invites you to recognize key aspects of the psychological theory of trying: attitudes toward success, failure, and the preparation to succeed. There is also the obvious factor of source credibility or celebrity endorsement with a product demonstration throughout the message.

And, the story itself invokes the cognitive theory of emotions. A father's prayer, the athletes prepare, the audience anticipates, the event arrives, go with God.

But more than anything, this commercial comes on like a cultural force driven by the beat of the music. It is an artistic total form from beginning to end. And, of course, it asks for the order.

  Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Advertising as Excitation Transfer

Better advertising should always "ask for the order." That is, the desired response by the audience should be clear and compelling.

This commercial done by VW in Sao Paulo, demonstrates the psychological theory known as excitation transfer.

The suspenseful mood followed by surprise in the opening scenario quickly develops an emotional response in the audience. Once felt, the physiology of emotional response takes some moments to subside, and therefore the feelings of excitation carry over into the following scene about side assist mirrors.

Problem-solution formats in advertising lend themselves well to asking for the order. In this commercial, the added element of excitation transfer elevates the ask to an emotional level.

   Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

House Arrested Advertising

About six months ago, a survey by the Association of National Advertisers found almost 60 percent of marketers in the United States were using some form of in-house advertising compared with about 40 percent five years earlier.

"In-house advertising," of course, is the practice of relying on a company's own staff for advertising expertise as opposed to employing an independent agency on a contract basis.

In the survey, advertisers reported a growing interest in "brand expertise" and "institutional knowledge" as possible benefits of relying on in-house advertising personnel. Possible risks were identified in the areas of "staying on top of key trends" and "creative innovation."

For computer and technology companies, the 64-bit question is whether the hoped for advantages of speed and control provided by in-house advertising will outdistance the originality and third-party objectivity of independent agencies.

During the past year, Apple is among the brands moving toward greater reliance on in-house advertising. Already for Apple, the in-house work has the look of industrial video, albeit expensively produced.

This is an industry development to watch. Indeed, the advertising quality of a firm is an important consideration on Wall Street. The strategic and creative quality of a brand's advertising is a strong signal of the the quality of leadership vision and strength of top management.

Worth remembering, in 2002 Gateway took it's advertising in-house. Let's just say, "The cow went out to pasture." Where is that brand today?

  Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Advertising as a Cultural Agent

This 1966 Ford Fairlane commercial embodies that era's cultural scene in connection with the changing views of and toward women.

The actress Ann B. Davis enacted a romance novel inspired script to take the audience to the edge of innuendo and then "shift" to humor. The selling idea, of course, concerned the virtues of the car's automatic stick shift. 

This commercial was written and produced the same year as the founding of the National Organization for Women.  In this exemplary commercial, the archetype has turned the tables.

  Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Art in Advertising

Artists share realizations. They communicate a new view of reality, and the audience thinks differently.

In the hands of a lesser art director, these illusions might appear trite. But, in this 1994 commercial the high fashion approach to the artistic tradition of altered perspective invited the audience to a deeper understanding of what hair can mean.

Art plays the critical role answering the fundamental question for any advertising person. What can the advertising be? 

   Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Advertising and Art

Artistic expression moves people:  to think, to feel, to believe, to do.

Maya Angelou's performance in this PSA gave power to her words connecting them with a specific cause, allowing others share her vision and to act.

This 1994 public service message for the UNCF was created by Y&R in New York City. The supporting actors were all Y&R employees.

  Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Consumer Insight and Advertising Excellence

Back in the 1980s, I did a series of in-depth interviews about how people experienced fast food meals. I was interested in the social context. Who was there during the meal, what happened that made one brand experience different from another?

When it came to KFC, many people talked about good times around the kitchen table. A bucket of KFC chicken has unusual powers to attract family and friends to the table and facilitate conversation.

This commercial is from KFC in the UK.  It recalls the 1980s era Y&R campaign for the brand, "It's so nice to feel so good about a meal."

This Y&RNY campaign identified the basic consumer insight about the brand as an enjoyable family meal experience, beyond the concept of fast food. Even unto today, this fundamental idea remains home ground for KFC.

    Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Advertising Productivity and Psychological Theory

In a world filled with attention getting stunts, it is helpful when advertising can place the brand in the context of productive psychological theory.

Congratulations to Axe for going beyond the common method of sex-appeal borrowed interest to tell a story. Our hero makes repeated and even "historic" efforts to succeed. Then the commercial pulls the rug out from under the audience when the brand becomes the hero.

My students recognize this as an example of the Theory of Trying, Attitude Toward the Ad, and the Reward Theory of Communication. Might even be an argument  for "excitation transfer."

  Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Creative Victories

My students all know Eighmey's Rules of Advertising. Number One is "For any piece of advertising to work, it first must be seen.  And, to be seen, it must be different."

"How different?" is always a good question.  Sometimes creative victories come in small packages.

This full page ad in a current national magazine shows the creative team won the day with their idea for this playful Easter-time recipe reminder from Jell-O.  Corporate clients usually go for the just the facts.

Congrats to the folks at CP+B.

   Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Advertising and Sustainability

The German company Followfish has adopted a forward thinking approach by applying a conservative philosophy.

This company focuses on proven sustainable fishing practices to foster a healthy and vital fish population. It also provides customers with full information on the sources of ingredients of the food products it sells.

In this commercial, we see a child's magnetic fishing game employed as a metaphor to depict the consequences of indiscriminant industrial fishing practices. The copy line at the end of the commerical is "Follow the true taste."

In this ad, the tomato mirrors the company logo pointing to its own place of origin on a map to demonstrate the ingredient tracking codes on the packages. Consumers can use the codes to identify the sources of the ingredients, following the pathways of true taste from the fisheries and farms to themselves.

This is path-making advertising for sustainable business practices.

   Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Advertising and Young Children

The Federal Trade Commission has established that it is an unfair or deceptive practice to portray children engaging in unsafe acts that may relate to unreasonable risk or harm (In re Uncle Ben's Inc., et al., 89 F.T.C. 831, 1975). The matter involved a commercial showing the face of a young girl coming very close to a boiling pot on the front burner of a stove.

Now, almost 40 years later, we see child safety remains an issue for the "front burner" when it comes to advertising management.

By way of perspective, the 1956 Refrigerator Safety Act stated that it is unlawful in the United States to sell household refrigerators that cannot be opened easily from the inside. The reason for this law was that refrigerators can be lethal to children.

In 1956, hundreds of children were being accidentally suffocated playing in refrigerators. Often the incidents involved two children climbing inside to play, then becoming trapped.

The law has proven effective. In 2010, the National Center for Health Statistics reported that there were 31 accidental suffocations of children aged 5 to 9. The number of accidents specifically involving refrigerators was not reported separately, but clearly there are far fewer such deaths than in the 1950s.

Nevertheless, safety issues remain when it comes to young children and refrigerators. A Google search for "refrigerator child locks" will return 873,000 results in less than a half second.

Clearly parents remain concerned, and playing inside refrigerators is not recommended for safety reasons.

  Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Advertising and Corporate Inspiration

The Coca-Cola Super Bowl commercial has sparked a great deal of public discussion. The commercial  has many admirers, and some detractors.

But, value-oriented advertising is nothing new on the American scene.

In 1956, General Electric ran an advertising campaign about the American economy. This GE magazine ad frames the ideals of the United States in an economic context.

The ad copy stated:

"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."

In the 2014 Super Bowl, the Coca-Cola commercial celebrated the dynamic vitality of the diverse American society.  Singing America the Beautiful in their own languages, youths of diverse backgrounds express their deep dedication to the dream that is America.

Advertisers of all kinds have an interest in an America that lives up to its economic and social promise. The campaigns by GE and Coca-Cola remind us all of the the promise of America, and that progress is truly our most important product.

  Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Super Bowl Advertising Reaches New Heights

In the 1950s Dinah Shore simply invited us to "See the USA in a Chevrolet." This was an example of a classic celebrity endorsement. A famous and well regarded person spoke on behalf of a brand.

Today, during the 2014 Super Bowl, we saw this concept of celebrity endorsement rise to new heights.

In the 2014 Chrysler Super Bowl commercial Bob Dylan, the risk-taking, visionary, intellectual, folk-rock icon reminds us what our nation is. Dylan spoke about originality, conviction, accomplishment, and legacy. With a driving rock beat, he honored "the heart and soul of every man and woman working on the line."

This commercial goes so far beyond celebrity endorsement as to redefine what endorsement advertising can be.  In this commercial, Dylan not merely endorses the brand, so much as he embodies the brand. Dylan, through all his work, has shown that he has a unique and incisive capacity to see what America is and what at its best America can be.

For the third year in a row Chrysler has won the Super Bowl advertising sweepstakes. Advertising quality is a leading indicator of a company's core values, managerial strength, and prospects for the future. This is a company to watch.

  Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Super Sunday Sunday Advertising

Super Sunday is our national day of hoopla and hype.

This Sunday, over a hundred million people will turn to the big game to watch the best football players match play for play, in the midst of leading advertisers who have invested millions hoping to break through all the clutter and excitement.

What kind of commercial will win the day?

Over the now 48 years of the Super Bowl, Budweiser stands out as the most consistent bet when it comes to the national popularity polls of big game ads. So perhaps this one will prevail on Sunday.

Budweiser clearly knows about the cognitive theory of empathy.

The brand symbols of the Budweiser clydesdale horses and the dogs that guard them are highly likable. We relate to them as though human characters in a play. We identify with the dedication of the young dog, the anxiety of separation. We rejoice in the outcome.

Other than winning the advertising super sweepstakes, the payoff for Budweiser resides in the concept of "attitude toward the ad." We enjoy the advertising, and we like the brand that makes us feel good about the world and ourselves.

  Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Year Six of the Psychology of Advertising

Welcome to the beginning of year six of authoritative observations on how psychological concepts and theories better inform our understanding of the effects of advertising.

I began this blog in January of 2009. Since then, thousands of people all over the world have been coming to these pages for psychological perspectives on advertising. The topics range widely, often triggered by a striking new ad or commercial that just appeared somewhere in the wide world of advertising.

The two most widely read posts in 2013 registered quickly with visitors to this site, moving into the top five of all posts.

The most widely read post appeared the weekend of Labor Day. My September 1 post was titled "Advertising and American Core Values."  It featured a 1956 General Electric print ad that framed the ideals of the United States in an economic context.

The ad copy stated:

"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. Indeed, in 1914 Henry Ford paid workers $5 an hour when the going rate at the time was half that amount. His company remains arguably the most continuously successful automobile manufacturer on the planet, clearly contravening the payroll policies of many companies today.

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

The second most widely read post in 2013 concerned "The Discipline of Account Planning." This post shared critical perspectives on the definition of this important position in strategic planning and creative development.

Be sure to visit my August 22 post for a detailed discussion of the important underlying framework that is essential to successful account planning

Who knows what 2014 will bring?

Surprise is one of the many joy's of working in advertising. This important intersection of art and commerce is always about what's new, what's relevant, and what works.

Thanks for reading. And, one thing's for certain, there will be Super Bowl commentary in a few days.

   Copyright © 2014 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.