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Monthly archives "February 2013"

Brain Science in Brand Building

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“60 Seconds: How to tell your company’s story & the brain science that makes it stick” is a little book with a big message. Seriously, the book is shorter than Miley Cyrus’ new haircut. However, it tells you exactly what you need to do to build your company’s brand through the consumers eye via video. A video can engage the audience and leave them with a lasting impression if done right. Author Andrew Angus, Founder and CEO of Switch Video, lays out the process and a look into his proven strategy. Here are a four key points that everyone should take away from this book:

  1. Keep the story simple: Simple storytelling is best. The slogan of Angus’ company is “Explain what you do.” It may sound too simple, and you may say ‘we already do that.’ Truthfully, very few companies get this right. Let your point come across as cleanly as possible. Save the details for later. Most of all, just keep it simple.
  2. Create new old memories: Do this by connecting the past with the present. You can create these new old memories by bringing up an experience, a mindset, or an issue that has been occurring or has occurred for some time. This allows a potential client to connect you with a thought that is deeply rooted in their mind. They will right away store your brand values with these thoughts. Similar to the simplicity factor, do not overload potential clients with too much data or detail. If there are too many new ideas to connect, they will never remember them.
  3. Metaphors expand understanding: You are in the business to solve a problem. No matter what project or service it is, it solves a problem or fulfills a need. Break the story down so it is easy to remember your value-add by using metaphors to your advantage. In the book, Angus describes a brand building video for dog owners seeking playmates for their pups as “eHarmony for dogs.” Without explaining any more of it you understand the concept right away. Metaphors expand the reach of your product or service.
  4. Stimulate both auditory and visual senses: “I know that feeling.” Getting potential customers to say this is one of the biggest keys. Make them realize you care about their issues and understand them. Once you make it there, it is cake.

These four key points work for more than just brand-building videos. It is also easy to put them into your new client pitch. One astounding example Angus describes is focused on Collingwood General & Marine Hospital in Canada. Apparently 70% of the equipment used in hospitals in Canada comes from private funding and is not provided as part of national healthcare. Private donations make up that 70% while the remaining 30% is covered by Canada itself. The video Angus and his team created for the hospital depicted what it would be like in an emergency room if only 30% of the equipment was available to its customers (patients). Imagine that scene. This video changed the way potential donors saw the situation that they have been trying to explain for decades. Brain science works. It just takes a little knowledge and a little handbook.

How would a little brain science help your brand?

Read the original article on the Talent Zoo blog Beneath the Brand at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beneath-the-brand/blog_news.php?articleID=16998

The Art of Proofreading

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proofreading_billboardIt is the copywriter’s fault. It is the manager’s fault. It is the creative director’s fault. It is the designer’s fault. It is the vendor’s fault. It is the intern’s fault. Without proofreading, it is everyone’s fault. With an industry as fast-paced as advertising, it pays to have at least one good proofreader on staff. Let us look at a few reasons why a proofreader is needed and some case studies to back it up.

  1. Oops, wrong word: The word may be spelled write but it is used in the wrong context. Why is this so important? Consider a billboard placed in 2010 for South Bend, Indiana Public Schools. Fox News described it as “This billboard left ’em blushing.” The billboard was supposed to read “15 best things about our public schools” but instead read as “15 best things about our pubic schools.” If you really think about how many steps it had to go through before it was approved, you wonder how it ever made it to the point of being posted. The key takeaway here is spell check doesn’t cut it.
  2. Misspellings: In a rally to re-elect President Obama last Fall it was noticed on national television that the t-shirts were spelled wrong. The t-shirts were simply supposed to say “FORWARD” but instead said “FOWARD.” While this was only one group of supporters that seemingly had the shirts spelled incorrectly it still helped taint one of the largest advertising campaigns of 2012. One would think someone would have at least noticed the misspelling before they were put in the front row of supporters on national television. Another example is aPorsche billboard in London. Not one billboard, but all of the billboards in and around the city were misspelled. Think of all the time and money spent to have this changed. Proofread people.
  3. Punctuation: Good punctuation is the difference between “Let’s eat Grandma” and “Let’s eat, Grandma.” It is funny but it also turns people away. After all, you would not want to end up as a “look at what not to do.” Commas and apostrophes seem to be the biggest mistakes when it comes to punctuation. In one online advertisement featuring the Ford Edge they couldn’t figure out the difference between its and it’s.
  4. Social Media: Not all social media can be planned out due to the shelf life of the majority of the updates. However, in the time you are able to plan out your social media in advance it is also important to have a proofreader take a look through. However, many instances of mistakes via corporate social media accounts happen when someone thinks they are logged in under their own profile.

In many single occurrences a good proofreader could have had their entire year’s salary paid by the cost of repairing these and other advertising mistakes. When you are looking to hire a proofreader or qualify someone internally to help in this role part-time, give them a test. Make some of the ad blunders easy to see, some difficult, and some with no changes at all. If you have a proofreader it wouldn’t hurt to test them from time to time to make sure they are catching everything. Quality checks are needed on absolutely all company communications including advertising, PR, and marketing initiatives.

Proofreading is an art. What do you do now to proofread your company’s communications? What could you do better?

Read the original article on the Talent Zoo blog beyond Madison Avenue at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beyond-madison-ave/blog_news.php?articleID=16929

Brand Extensions Gone Wrong

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zippo-fragrance-adBrand extensions can make sense. In many cases, brands emerge stronger because of it. When Tide laundry detergent developed the Tide To Go instant stain remover pen, it was a great move. According to Nielsen, brand extensions are five times more successful than new launches in some countries. This is true with one caveat — when done right.

“Done right” sounds like an easy statement but it is far from the truth. Some brands fail miserably when it comes to extensions because the extension simply does not make sense. It leaves consumers asking “Why?” Here are two examples describing poor brand extensions that left consumers confused:

Failure Numero Uno: Bic Underwear
Bic is known for its disposable pens, its disposable razors, and its disposable cigarette lighters. The Bic brand thought they were large enough to go into other categories as well, so why not Bic underwear? That’s right. They created a line of women’s disposable pantyhose. They did not even want to change the brand name. Consumers did not understand, production and entrance to market costs were high, and in the end it flopped. Other than disposability there was no link between the products. Brand extensions should make sense and be a logical step from the flagship product. This made absolutely no sense, leaving consumers asking, “What were they thinking?”

Failure Numero Dos: Zippo’s Women’s Perfume
The scent is called fruity, but it sprays directly out of a bottle with a flip top that very closely resembles a Zippo lighter. In the market it brings up thoughts of smelling like a smoker or lighter fluid. It could be a decent-smelling perfume, but perception is everything. The key here again is that it is not a logical extension, bringing us to our favorite question — what were they thinking?

So now you may want to know what makes a great brand extension. Here are a few simple key things to keep in mind:

  1. Know your market. It sounds simple but it is not. No company can be all things to all people. Look at what markets you are currently reaching and what their buying habits are. Once you review this it will help steer you in the right direction for a brand extension.
  2. Make it logical. Just because something sounds like a foolproof plan does not mean it fits your brand. Knowing your market will allow you to see which directions are logical for your brand and which are not. It may be determined that there are a number of areas for growth. So how do you determine which area to tackle first? This brings us to part three.
  3. Do your homework. Extending your brand into other categories requires research to do it right. It may seem logical to you from the start, but it pays to make sure your customers think so. Focus groups and the like can be used at this stage. Spending a little extra on research and time at the beginning can save your brand a lot of headaches in the future. You also want to make sure the brand is not simply going into the market because the new director wanted to put his or her own mark on the industry. The data returned at this stage will not lie.

Brand extensions must be planned carefully with proper knowledge of the market and research behind it. Focusing on an extension or change to a popular brand can, at times, bring on devastation and leave consumers disillusioned. After all, you wouldn’t want to pull a New Coke, would you?

Article originally published on the Talent Zoo blog Beneath the Brand at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beneath-the-brand/blog_news.php?articleID=16856

An Exclusive Interview with Mad Men’s Janie Bryant

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janie_bryantMad Men is coming. The date has been announced for the premiere of Mad Men season six, and you can feel the excitement building. Fans are begging for details, but AMC has only allowed the release of a few glamorous cast photos. Who is behind the industry-changing costume design on Mad Men? Janie Bryant.

Last week, I was fortunate enough to sit down for an exclusive interview with Mad Men’s Emmy® award-winning costume designer. Throughout our 25-minute conversation, Bryant took a few moments to answer some questions that may be of interest to fans of Mad Men and readers at Talent Zoo. She reflected on her costume design choices, adding the ’60s style to clothing options in today’s ad agencies, and thoughts on a new clothing line.

Don: How does it feel to be responsible for changing the fashion industry with your Mad Men styling?

Janie: I’m glad we’re talking about this because, just so you know, I am not a stylist; I am a costume designer. It is about creating a story about the characters through costume design. They are completely different jobs. A lot of people don’t know there is a huge difference in professions. Styling is about developing someone’s own personal style. Costume design is about creating and telling the story of a character through their costumes. On Mad Men I design the costumes and I build from scratch, I rent from costume houses in Los Angeles, I work with vendors from around the country to purchase vintage clothing, and I often redesign vintage garments as well.

Don: Got it. I had no idea there was such a big difference. When you’re telling these stories through this costume design, you really changed how some people are dressing out there. Since the show started you’re seeing a lot more skinny ties, and a lot more of the tailored suits for the guys at least.

Janie:  And for the women, too. It’s been incredible to see this whole fashion movement and designers being inspired from my work. I come from a fashion design background. That was my first career and I moved into costume design. I have always felt like costume design was one of the characters of this show in particular, because in the 1960s so many things happened during the decade, not only in terms of fashion but also socially and politically.

Don: That would definitely be a lot of pressure.

Janie: I don’t mind the pressure. I love period design. I really do I love it. And I love that people have been so influenced by the show. I love that the fashion industry has been inspired by the show. I love that there has been a whole movement in men’s and women’s wear that is based around the costume design of the show too. I love it.

Don: That is absolutely great. We were talking about how your clothing choices in Mad Men really speak as much for the characters as their dialogue. Do you ever second guess any of your clothing choices, and which characters are the most difficult to dress?

Janie: Well, it is all about careful balance. Of course there are at times when, yes, I do change things around but it’s also about instincts and really using those instincts. We shoot each episode of Mad Men within eight days so there is not a lot of time for changing or rethinking things. Also, it is just about knowing the character. I’ve been the costume designer on Mad Men since season one so I really know them well. I have lived with these characters for a long time, but not quite as long as Matt Weiner, the amazingly brilliant creator of Mad Men. With six seasons in, I have my color palette for each of the characters and their silhouettes set. I like to maintain some kind of continuity of their silhouettes and carry that through each episode, but again, it really depends on what is going on with the script. It all starts there. It’s about reading the script. It’s about breaking it down. It’s about understanding what the characters are saying to each other. It’s about understanding the mood or the tone of each script and how that character is going to best show the emotions of each scene through their costumes.

Don: Out of all of the characters, which one is the most difficult to dress?

Janie: I don’t really approach it that way because it’s not really about that for me. It is more about the challenges of what I want to say with each scene. Also, it’s more about the pure volume of people. It is more about figuring out how all of these pieces are going to fit and work together. I like to approach it essentially when there are all the principles in one scene and all of the background characters in one scene as like it was a painting.

Don: That is a very intriguing thought. The landscape of office attire today is very casual compared to the Mad Men era. What do you think the impact would be on today’s workforce if the same standard of professionalism and style existed today?

Janie: [laughs] I wouldn’t call the Mad Men guys very professional — grabbing women’s asses and drinking in the office. I don’t think one era is better than the other; I think it is an evolution. We definitely live in a more casual and comfortable period of time. Do I think it looks better to be dressed up and all put together? Yes, but I don’t know if we can ever really go back to that way of being so put together and not being comfortable. People are used to being comfortable now.

Don: I understand completely. That is a very good point.

Janie: It can be compared like this — would people in the 1960s wear corsets like they did in the Victorian era? No. If you look at all of the different decades, each really gets more and more casual. Then again, I think people have also been inspired lately to dress up more and really do understand that different way of how they feel when they’re really dressed up. They understand the feeling of looking great as opposed to when they’re not taking as much care. I think it’s about education and I think it’s about knowing how to dress up. There is a time and place for everything, you know.

Don: So along with that, when you’re looking at the characters, they look so put together. It’s definitely a different style and era.

Janie: That’s called permanent press fabric. The fabrics of that period were engineered to not wrinkle. It’s a whole permanent press era. That’s why so many of the fabrics were blends. That was the whole trend to stay pressed all day long in that period. Our fabrics are different today.

Don: That is very true; most clothes today are 100% cotton. You don’t see many blends out there.

Janie: Yes, and thankfully not. They don’t breathe. That’s why manufacturers stopped making them. The trend is different now. It’s more comfort. It’s breathable fabrics that are not focused on being permanently pressed. It’s about being permanently distressed [laughs].

Don: So, how do you recommend advertising professionals today add Mad Men vintage flair to their work attire?

Janie: Well, I’m a huge fan of menswear, and whether I am designing the suits for the cast or I’m renting vintage suits, it’s all about proper tailoring. As far as the ’60s era, it’s the skinny ties, the skinny lapel, and flat front trousers. Men were also wearing a lot of accessories in that period like tie bars, cuff links, monogrammed belts, beautiful watches, bracelets, pinky rings and so much more. For the men, it was definitely a time of accessories. And for the women, again, it’s about having clothes fit to your body. I always recommend people having a good tailor or seamstress. For the women, the design has really changed from when we first started the show to season five. Then [season one] it was all about the sheath and now [season five] the times have changed and definitely more of a square and architectural shape became the fashion. The thing is for women it is really hard to say what exactly is that Mad Men look. Iconically, I’m sure everybody thinks of Joan in her tight-fitting sheaths and her wiggle dresses. Now it’s about Megan in her Zou Bisou Bisou minidress.

Don: Sure, it’s all about finding your niche and seeing what works best for you.

Janie: Exactly.

Don: Do you have any future plans of creating your own fashion label? Would it take a page from the Mad Men era or would it be completely unique?

Janie: I do. It will be unique to my designs. As a costume designer I am working from the Mad Men scripts and I love the period. I love the ’60s. It’s a great period, but as far as my own design aesthetic, my brand is much more modern glamorous and sexy with an edge. But hopefully soon you’ll see that. [laughs]

Don: Soon, yes. I know a lot of people are asking you questions about upcoming things. On Twitter I see a lot of people are asking you questions about season six of Mad Men.

Janie: I know, I can’t tell you anything about that.

Don: I understand. I actually think it is funny that people ask because everyone knows how tight the set is and everything.

Janie: We’re all hush-hush around here. As for other current projects I’ve been working with some amazing brands. I’ve worked with Banana Republic on the Mad Men collection and we have just announced our third collaboration, which is really exciting. Last year I worked with Maidenform on designing their 90th anniversary capsule collection and I still work as their brand ambassador. Also, I’ve been working with Hearts on Fire®, a diamond company which I love. Then I’ve been working with oneCARE company on a product called Downy Wrinkle Releaser® for fabric care. I love textiles and fabrics and have been working with them a lot, which has been great.

Don: It sounds like you’re staying pretty busy then.

Janie: [laughs] Well it has been busy, but it’s been really fun and really creative. I’m just working on it day by day.

Day by Day is the only way for someone as motivated as Janie to work. Her costume design on Mad Men is so spot-on that it almost feels wrong to call them costumes. It is almost more believable to think she took a DeLorean back to 1962 and filled the trunk of with as much clothes as she could. If you didn’t think working on the set of Mad Men was enough, she is brand ambassador to three brands, wrote a book called The Fashion File, designed three lines for Banana Republic, and is working on her own future line. There are four big takeaways from our conversation: find a good tailor; approach challenging situations like artwork, making every brushstroke count; to be successful like Janie you must have passion and love for what you do, and; as much as you ask, you will never get a spoiler on Mad Men.

Janie is clearly a large part of the genius behind the success of Mad Men. How has her costume design affected you? Discuss.

Article originally published on Talent Zoo at: http://www.talentzoo.com/news/An-Exclusive-Interview-with-Mad-Men-s-Janie-Bryant/16784.html

How Sharp is Your Axe?

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abraham_lincolnAbraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Reading that tells us that preparing for the ‘big moment’ is two thirds of the battle. So many people focus only on the moment without sharpening their axe. Look at this in terms of presenting to a potential client. If you go into the presentation room the day of the meeting and you have not done your homework you have already lost your chance of winning. If this were a test you would only be able to get a 33% as a top score if you nailed it. Looking at it in this manner you start to realize that homework is what is most important.

The homework starts with background research. Background research is key in developing the idea behind a great advertising campaign. Great ideas are hard enough to develop on their own, but without background research? Forget it. Your point will not translate well and the idea will be lost in a sea of other bad ideas. So what do you do? Start sharpening that axe. Find out everything you can about the demographic you are trying to reach. Learn how the market has reacted to new product launches. Delve into books of key industry-specific decision makers. Find out who went to prom with your competitor’s CEO. Do whatever you have to do. Take that full two-thirds of the time to make that axe so sharp that you could shave with it. Then, and only then, are you ready to fully develop the idea.

Once your homework is done and you have your idea formed, it’s time to prepare for the pitch. Preparing the pitch is almost more important than developing the idea. Lot of great ideas are lost in poor presentation. In The Art of The Pitch by Peter Coughter, he says “Don’t focus on the deck, focus on the story.” Think about how many times you have presented something. What is the first thing you do? You open a PowerPoint and start filling it out. You make sure you have enough material for a full hour presentation. This is exactly what the Coughter says should be the last thing that happens. Create your notes first and then make a stunning presentation after. You should not think of it like you are trying to fill up the time. Tell your story. Get your point across. Then give them time back. Just because a presentation is long does not make it good.

How does a presentation become stunning and how does this pertain to doing your homework? Easy; it needs to be well-rehearsed. Do not rely on practicing what you are going to say on the drive over or, dare I say, not practice at all. Your final homework before a presenting an idea is practicing and even presenting it to a few colleagues or friends first. If you are worried about leaking the idea, videotape yourself and watch it back. Whatever you do, practice. You will change things. You will make it flow better. You will win more often.

After the homework you are effectively positioned for the pitch. This can be applied not only to a pitch but to many other things in life, such as making home improvements, a change of jobs, or even a softball game. In each way, for the best results you must practice, learn, grow, and have your homework done before you dive into it head first. If Lincoln did it 150 years ago you can too. Redirecting focus on you, I ask, “How sharp is your axe?”

Article originally published on the Talent Zoo blog Beyond Madison Avenue at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beyond-madison-ave/blog_news.php?articleID=16783

4 Must-Watch Super Bowl Commercials

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2013 Super Bowl Commerical Coke Chase

2013 Super Bowl Commerical Coke Chase

Every year we are stunned by some of the commercials that come out during the Super Bowl. Sometimes they are amazing displays of an advertising budget and sometimes they are lost in a creative directors vision. This years is more of the same; advertisers trying to outperform each other to get the attention of the masses on this all-American-almost-holiday that is Super Bowl Sunday. Here are just four commercials that you must watch. They will pull at your heart strings, make you laugh out loud, and make you run to YouTube to watch them over and over again.

  1. Budweiser: The King of Beers always makes a move to make stronger and better commercials year after year. This time they look at the man who trains their prized Clydesdale horses. The commercial really brings it full circle and in its short 60 seconds really makes you feel like you’ve just watched a really good movie. Not to mention they are making great use of social media but having people tweet their favorite baby name for their newest horse with the hashtag #clydesdales. Watch the Clydesdales “Brotherhood” here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2prAccclXs
  2. Fiat 500 Abarth: Fiat is at it again. This time their commercial goes topless. The commercial can be best described as tastefully sultry. Other than that, you have to watch it for yourself. This should get a lot of people talking. See the commercials for the Fiat 500 Abarth here.
  3. Taco Bell: This is one of the best commercials to come out of Taco Bell in years. It is called “Viva Young” and features a version of “We Are Young” in Spanish. Other than the song, there is no dialogue in the commercial except for a nurse saying goodnight to a lonely old gentlemen. Seconds later, he jumps out of bed and into some classic Detroit Muscle for a night on the town with his old codgers like no other. They end up, like all people do after a night of clubbing, at Taco Bell. Live Más. Watch it here.
  4. Coca Cola: What would a watch list be without Coke or Pepsi? Coke does it this time with a chase through the desert. This chase includes Flamingo showgirls from Vegas, cowboys, a sheik, a motorcyclist, and a large glitter cannon racing through the desert like they are trying to get to the oversized bottle of Coke first to quench their thirst. The sign says 50 miles ahead. The chase continues. The intriguing thing about this commercial is that Coke is letting the public decide how the commercial ends. Watch it here and see how it ends on game day.

Watching all of these commercials via YouTube early can be great. However, you miss out on the big reveal. The way Super Bowl commercials used to be aired before social media took a huge foothold. The agencies and advertisers that still keep this element of surprise should be commended. Coke gets innovative by intermixing both tactics. Do you think revealing these ads early on social media hurts the airing of the commercials during the Super Bowl or helps it? Discuss.

Article originally published on the Talent Zoo blog Beyond Madison Avenue at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beyond-madison-ave/blog_news.php?articleID=16718

Berline Says “Brand Yourself”

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pencilFifteen minutes into a talk to advertising greenhorns Jim Berline, of the Berline Advertising Agency in Detroit, said “Brand yourself, it’s all about perception.” While the students in Adcraft’s ADvance class may have not known what to think, he went on to say “Perception is more important than reality.” What is your brand? How is it perceived? Did you know there was such a thing?

Berline specified four characteristics needed to thrive at his agency, and any agency for that matter, that are part of personal branding.

  1. Be competitive. Love the thrill of the fight. Self-confidence is key here. You need to have relentless motivation and drive. Always strive to make yourself better and learn from any mistakes.
  2. Be bright.  Know how to multi-task, well. In fact, in today’s day and age multi-tasking should be …

Read my entire article on the Talent Zoo blog Beneath the Brand at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beneath-the-brand/blog_news.php?articleID=16699