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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.