Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cliches in advertising

One of the most enjoyable posts I came across was one about cliches in advertising, by a copywriter called Simon Veksner, also known as Scamp (who as since retired from blogging).

The post itself is short. But because he had so many readers, the 106 comments contribute to some decent guidelines on stuff to stay clear from when creating ads. Some funny comments here too.

Here were 20 of my favourite suggested cliches from his post:
  1. Loads of people making something. [assuming comment was referring to Halifax ads, T-mobile ads, Guinness tipping point ad, Skoda cake etc.]
  2. Piggy banks in ads for banks are pretty damn upsetting
  3. I'd imagine 'astonished onlookers' is currently fairly high up most people's lists".
  4. Monkeys (including Gorillas)
  5. Giant versions of everyday objects
  6. Jigsaws
  7. Lots of normal people dancing
  8. Any ad that starts with the word 'because'
  9. Balloons. Folky soundtracks. Black and white ads but with only one colour used (usually red)
  10. Crowd united by common goal.
  11. Crowds-doing-things-together
  12. Lots-of-small-things-put-together-to-make-a-better-thing.
  13. A computer mouse made to look like something else.
  14. Rainbows...also anything falling/rolling/bouncing down a street
  15. Big outdoor picnic setting
  16. Colourful things bursting out of other things
  17. Cars driving along long, winding, desolate roads
  18. Handshakes. Globes. Skyscrapers
  19. "It's child's play" to describe way too many things
  20. Tinned fruit or bottled drinks where the tin is made from the delicious vegetable or fruit in question.
The best comment though was this "I can't think of a single ad thats ever been made that wouldn't have been a little bit better if they'd included a monkey."

Another site about advertising cliches that is worth checking out is www.101cliches.com (where I stole the handshake cliche image).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"The majority of people who sign up for twitter won't be around in a month"

According to Nielsen, "the majority of people who sign up for twitter won't be around in a month". They found that 60% do not come back the following month.

Original post here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Download 'Free' by Chris Anderson

Saw on Le Craic's blog that Chris Anderson's book 'Free' is available (for free) for a limited period. See his post for more details.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Design display ads with Google

Now, I suspect creative folk will hate this. And initially I was sceptical. Surely you can't reduce advertising to this? But the reality is this has a use. And I like it. If you don't have budgets for an online agency to make your banners ads, this could be for you. It allows you to upload your brand colours, fonts, logos etc.

Of course this is no substitute for high-end online advertising but would be a substitute for low end digital work. You can even work up the suite of different banner ads you need.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Nobody clicks on outdoor ads

Nobody clicks on outdoor ads. Clearly.

But this doesn't mean outdoor advertising doesn't work. It does. And when I say work, I mean it drives sales. Of course, the ads need to have impact, to communicate and be persuasive. Such as these. But few doubt the effectiveness of the medium itself.

The problem with online display advertising is the pressure to measure it only by 'hard measures' such as cost per click. Of course these are important. But it is dangerous to determine the success of an online campaign based only on the number of people that clicked. If we do, the tendency will be to aim for the lowest cost-per-click every time.

Is this a bad thing?

I think it can be. On the face of it, lowest cost-per-click sounds like the only right thing to do. If we went just for lowest cost-per-click every time, we'd probably just do Google ads all the time. The production cost on Google adwords is nothing and you only pay per click. So, very little upfront risk and lots of transparency.

This is a bit like classified newspaper ads. They too are low cost. In fairness, Google's model is better for a number of reasons but there are similarities. It is safe to assume most brand managers would not put their entire campaign into classified ads. Yet, many put most of their online budgets into Google.

Maybe we decide to splash out and bang up a few flash display ads - to link in with some offline advertising. Not cheap if you measure the cost divided by clicks. And not cheaper than Google, so how do you justify the cost? And how do you make the case for rich media ads, video, full page takeovers or some interactive game?

We start by trying to understand why we would do each format. Why do brands take full page newspaper ads? Or gatefolds on magazines? Or wraps on the Metro or Herald AM? Or a roadblock on all the TV stations? Not for efficiency. Small ads will always be more efficient.

They do these for impact.

The difficulty I've come across is finding a common language for measuring anything beyond adwords and low-cost flash banner ads. I believe they have value in terms of fast reach, impact and other brand engagement. But I'm not happy with the measures. We can't just do full page takeovers because they look nice.

Which is why I was happy to discover a new report on Cybercom's site. All my questions are not answered but there is some good stuff in there. Drop over there for a read.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Another note on books

The Book Seer. I know there is stuff like this about, but found it quick and simple. While testing it, I found a book that looked interesting (which I hadn't previously heard of) and bought it.

Found this via Dan Germain.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Google books

Just noticed a new tab called Google books in my Google account. Available for iPhone apparently too.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Free article on the worrying divide between facebook and myspace

Ethnographer and social network guru, danah boyd, has make her recent talk available online. She talks about how Facebook and MySpace are divided by race, class, education, and other factors.

Worth a read here.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Advertising works best when you have a specific challenge.

Advertising works best when you have a specific challenge.

While brand 'awareness' as a measure is sometimes legit, it can also be lazy as a strategy. Before deciding that advertising is the answer, spend more time on the question. What exactly is the communication challenge? Try to get beyond "We want more sales". For example, do you want new customers? Or do you want existing customers to buy more of your current product? Or buy something else? Or, as in the Campbell Soup example, do you want them to use more of what they already have? Or use it at a different time?

The 'Got Milk?' campaign is a wonderful example of advertising strategy.

Faced with a steady decline in milk sales over many years, the Californian Milk Processor Board and their agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, devised a very insightful campaign, targeting teenagers and young people.

They realised that milk was boring. Everybody knew milk. Making people more aware of milk would hardly drive sales. What could they possibly say that was new or interesting?

Their used this insight - teenagers often have milk with particular food types, such as chocolate brownies, cookies and peanut butter sandwiches.

So, instead of promoting milk itself - they decided to market milk as a necessity for these other very desirable foods. They now had a very specific communication challenge - to remind their audience how delicious this combination of milk and cookies was. Remind them to have milk with their peanut and butter sandwiches. Get them to want a chocolate brownie. And make sure they have milk on hand so they enjoy it more. Above is one of their original series of ads. They went on to make a lot more.

The result? They stopped the decline. Milk consumption in California increased for the first time in over 10 years.

See full case study here and read more about it in Jon Steel's book.