"Logic is not as powerful as intuition."
Here at Slow Burn Marketing, we love good advertising. Classic advertising. Advertising that enters the zeitgeist. Advertising that goes down in history. Advertising that sells, but does more than be salesy.
That kind of advertising often defies logic and is born of intuition. Some of the most potent advertising it's been our pleasure to create has defied logic and generated huge ROI--sometimes in the face of powerful people saying it would fail because it wasn't logical. ROI is the bets revenge. [Insert winky emoji here.]
"There are three responses to a piece of design: Yes, No and Wow! Wow is the one to aim for."
Last week, the world lost an advertising and marketing great. Milton Glaser, the legendary graphic designer, died of stroke and renal failure on his 91st birthday. Mr. Glaser's most enduring work is probably the "I Love NY" graphic. He admitted that even he was surprised at its durability over the decades. He had sketched it in a taxi cab and given it to the State of New York as a gift the survives to this day.
One of Mr. Glaser's more "Wow" pieces would be the famous 1966 poster for Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits. Six million copies of that poster were distributed. It sells as a collectible for hundreds of dollars. And to hear Mr. Glaser himself discuss it decades later, he can be critical of his own work.
Less famous but arguably more "Wow" is Glaser's poster for The School of Visual Arts. It was designed to coincide with the United Nations World Summit on Poverty in 2005. It shows an image of a black hand bearing fingers the colors of the five races. Advertising Age said that the poster "expresses the need for empathy and a change of consciousness to deal with the overwhelming problem of political and social indifference to poverty."
In the same article, Glaser said, "For all of us in the communication business, the thought that another generation would look back at us and say, 'How could they have been so indifferent and callous to human suffering?' drove me to respond."
Is it any surprise that another of one Glaser's personal favorite quotes is, "Tell the truth."
"You can only work for people who you like."
We've all experienced trying to work for people we don't like. When I was working as a Creative Director in radio, there were times when a client was just unlikeable. Those clients rarely enjoyed the fruits of good work or good results. And sometimes, a client just has to be fired.
The faithful reader to the Weekly Screed knows that Honey Parker and I made a significant change in our own business the day we decided that we would only ever work for people with whom we'd look forward to having dinner. We get to do good work for people we like. It's better than paying the bills. It's fun. And you sleep well.
"We are all born with genius. It's like our fairy godmother. But what happens in life is that we stop listening to our inner voices, and we no longer have access to this extraordinary ability to create poetry."
We all live and work in an enormous sandbox--and often don't know what to do with it. Creativity is normal. It is also hammered out of people by The System. Whatever it is you do, you've seen it in your line of work. You probably aren't a victim of it yourself. If you were, you probably wouldn't be reading this. But you've seen it around you.
Honey Parker and I have spoken to huge audiences about branding for small business. Our work is so obviously the result of play. We play on the stage. We make people laugh. We show how brand changes businesses and lives. And afterwards, someone from the audience will come to us and say, "That was great! But really, branding's not for my business, is it." [Face palm.]
Hunt down that inner voice and let 'er rip.
"We were excited by the very idea that we could use anything in the visual history of humankind as influence..."
When Milton Glaser started working professionally in the 1950s, he had been soaking up art influences from across Europe. When he returned to New York and began working for The Man, there was nothing about him that fit in a pigeonhole. Anything visual was an influence and informed his work as he saw fit. As the New York Times said in his obituary last week, "Mr. Glaser brought wit, whimsy, narrative and skilled drawing to commercial art."
Forget the "commercial art" part of that thought. Hone in on the wit. The whimsy. The narrative. The skill. Those things are in short supply. You're either in advertising or using advertising. Or both. You're allowed to access wit, whimsy, narrative and skill, whether your own or that you borrow from others. Feel free to bang the drum for them a little more. Feel free to use them when following Mr. Glaser's directive to "Tell the truth."
And while you're at it, you might enjoy banging the drum for intuition and how we're all African. And if you're drinking your morning coffee right now, join us in a toast to the late, great, modest Milton Glaser. His legacy represents marketing at its best--transcending offer and call to action to raise the bar for art and humanity, wit and whimsy.
If you'd like to see more of Mr. Glaser's portfolio, click here
Your Lean, Mean Creative Director in
WHAT'S ON YOUR WRIST?
The 2017 Oscars telecast is forever going to be known for its Best Picture award announcement.
If you haven't been paying attention to the Oscars because you're too busy searching for signs of intelligent life in the universe of the president's twit stream, here's what happened.
Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty were tapped to present the Oscar for last year's Best Picture. Which makes perfect sense. A fter all, the two of them starred together in Bonnie & Clyde, a landmark film from 50 years ago, nominated for Best Picture because of big violence, sexy anti-heroes, candid sexuality, and the bloodiest, death-scene carnage in the history of cinema.
Of course, Bonnie & Clyde lost to In The Heat Of The Night.
Seems the tale of overcoming racist hatred between Mississippi redneck cop Rod Steiger and black Philadelphia homicide detective Sidney Poitier was more resonant to voting members of the Academy. And maybe that's because they were able to focus wholly on overcoming redneck racism as a social benefit instead of the social benefit of sexy redneck bank robbers with a dysfunctional sex life dying in a hail of bullets at the hands of other pissed off rednecks with badges.
BUT I DIGRESS
Back to the 2017 Oscars telecast.
Warren hands the winner's envelope to Faye, who opens it and says, "Best Picture goes to La La Land!"
And the entire La La Land entourage hits the stage to accept an award that actually went to Moonlight, an important film that nobody has seen. ( La La Land cost $30 million to make and has grossed about $400 million worldwide. Moonlight cost $1.5 million to make, and has grossed about as much as La La Land's production budget. Divine justice? You decide.)
Seems the accountants from PricewaterhouseCoopers who are responsible for the mix-up have been receiving death threats, have had to hire bodyguards, and will never be allowed to work on the Oscars again.
And in the heat of all this awards mix-up stupidity, one of the true winners of the Oscars telecast has been lost in the sauce.
POSSIBLY BECAUSE THEIRS WAS SIMPLE ART AS OPPOSED TO CRAZY SPECTACLE
Everything they did went right.
What they did was create a 60-second homage to Hollywood film that should make any film lover sit up and take note.
We're referring, of course, to the one-minute Rolex commercial, "Celebrating Cinema."
Yes, Hollywood is an industry with $10 billion in annual ticket-sale revenue. Rolex is a luxury watch company with almost $5 billion in annual watch-sale revenue.
Why should the small-business marketer even think about these two behemoths?
Simple. The Rolex "Celebrating Cinema" commercial is a sterling, Swiss-crafted example of how affinity sells, and how a really good brand with a really good advertisement can be aspirational, and make the prospect want to be part of the club.
60 LITTLE SECONDS, 19 STUNNING FILMS, LOTS OF ROLEX WATCHES
The commercial opens with a classic scene from The Pink Panther, with Peter Sellers saying that it's time to synchronize watches. And to do so, he lifts his Rolex-clad wrist.
In rapid succession, 18 astonishingly lengthy, emotion-packed clips flip across the screen. They are from:
The Color Of Money
I Love You Philip Morris
The Fugitive Kind
Dead Man Down
The Usual Suspects
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
The montage ends with Charles Bronson looking at his watch--er, his Rolex, and saying, "Just about...now."
FADE IN TITLE: It doesn't just tell time. It tells history.
FADE IN: ROLEX LOGO.
This montage is a stellar piece of filmmaking in its own right. Two dozen actors. Nineteen emotionally evocative scenes. Nineteen Rolex watches. A poetic tagline.
AND IF YOU ARE THE RIGHT PERSON, YOU CAN'T HELP BUT WANT A ROLEX
If you love good filmmaking and fine jewelry, this commercial leaps off the screen and makes you feel only one thing: the desire for a Rolex watch.
Both the Fabulous Honey Parker and I had the exact same reaction: Damn, that makes it sexy. I want one.
And part of the reason it works is because the watch is never forced.
Instead, the watch surfs on the credibility of the performances.
Powerful actors are doing evocative work and displaying the watch, which becomes a quiet costar.
It is hot.
THIS IS A CLASSIC CASE OF POTENT AFFINITY ADVERTISING
Affinity advertising is in no way limited to a multi-million-dollar telecast for a multi-billion-dollar industry paid for by multi-billion-dollar sponsors.
Ever been to a kid's soccer game and seen the local sponsors' signs on the fence?
That is a simple example of affinity advertising. Soccer moms will feel really good about supporting those businesses that help make their kids' sport possible.
Our client in rural New Hampshire, Dr. Sam's Eye Care, sponsors local auto racing. Auto racing fans flock to him.
In radio, any station with a cult following is bound to generate an affinity bond between its listeners and its advertisers--if the advertisements are properly executed. I've seen it happen in genres from Christian radio to political talk to alternative rock.
TAPPING INTO THE LOVE OF A FAN IS POTENT INDEED
Granted, if you are a small-business marketer, you are unlikely to ever have the power of millions of dollars of filmmaking at your disposal.
It's even unlikely that you'll ever do anything half as artful as this potent minute of film. It's almost cheating, because Rolex is riding on the coattails of other people's art.
But, you can have impactful advertising that is artful. That is well-crafted. That makes your prospect say, "Wow, I want one."
It has even been done with Rolex watches.
Years ago, Wizard of Ads Roy Williams wrote a commercial that opened with you standing in the snow, "five and one half miles above sea level, gazing at a horizon hundreds of miles away. It occurs to you that life here is very simple: You live, or you die. No compromises, no whining, no second chances."
Mr. Williams was putting the listener into the boots of Sir Edmund Hillary summiting Everest and taking a peek at his Rolex.
The commercial ends by saying, "In every life there is a Mount Everest to be conquered. When you have conquered yours, you'll find your Rolex waiting patiently for you to come and pick it up at Justice Jewelers. I'm Woody Justice, and I've got a Rolex for you."
A single storyteller's voice. The heroic Kiwi standing at the very top of the earth. The Swiss timepiece on his wrist. You and your own conquests.
It is a crystalline moment of impactful storytelling and vivid imagery relating to one of mankind's epic deeds.
KABLAM! YOU WANT A ROLEX!
I sure did.
Never before in my life had I wanted a Rolex--until hearing that message.
It's irrational, for sure.
It is simple desire.
I have no need for a Rolex. I no longer race yachts professionally. My budget skews more towards Rolex's lesser Swiss cousin, Tissot.
But the power of that simple radio commercial, which cost less to make than it cost to even think about producing the Oscars commercial, is extraordinary.
It was so powerful and so effective, it put Justice Jewelers on the map--and on the radar at Rolex, who was wondering how this jeweler in the U.S. heartland surrounded by cows and mobile homes was selling so many multi-thousand-dollar watches.
AFFINITY IS YOUR FRIEND
It comes in the form of sponsoring the right events.
It comes in the form of telling stories that the customer can identify with.
It comes in the form of understanding aspiration and sinking an emotional hook deep into the psyche. It has to be emotional because that is how the brain makes decisions.
It definitely does not come in the form of shoving a sales message down the prospect's throat.
It's about recognizing who they are and where they live, and showing them a shiny jewel.
Other small businesses have done it. You can do it. And you can be immensely profitable.
Your Lean, Mean Creative Director in
HEY! WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA?
Do you have one?
No, we're not talking about some Big Idea that's going to make you a million bucks overnight.
Like a Flowbee or a Ginsu Knife.
What's the Big Idea in your marketing?
This question is stirring in my gray matter this morning because of a tweet by Ogilvy & Mather.
Last week, they tweeted a graphic excerpted from Ogilvy On Advertising.
Yes, "That old chestnut." If you're one of those people who laughs off that book, you a) haven't read it or b) don't understand it, and c) you probably wouldn't be here if you're one of the laugher-offers anyway.
Following is the quotable Ogilvy liberated from that graphic...
WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA?
You can do homework from now until doomsday, but you will never win fame and fortune unless you also invent big ideas. It takes a big idea to attract the attention of consumers and get them to buy your product. Unless your advertising contains a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night.
Big ideas come from the unconscious. But your unconscious has to be well informed or your idea will be irrelevant. Stuff your conscious mind with information, then unhook your rational thought process.
It will help you recognize a big idea if you ask yourself five questions:
1. Did it make me gasp when I first saw it?
2. Do I wish I had thought of it myself?
3. Is it unique?
4. Does it fit the strategy to perfection?
5. Could it be used for 30 years?
"HEY, BIG IDEAS! LIKE A GUY KITEBOARDING IN A HUGO BOSS SUIT!"
If you follow your relentless scribe in Facebook, you may have seen a share of a blog post from a relentless marketer, Great Circle Sails of Marblehead, Massachusetts.
Great Circle is very good at sharing all kinds of sailing information that would be of interest to its core customer.
In this case, we're talking about a video from Alex Thomson Racing, a professional offshore sailing team sponsored for many years by Hugo Boss.
As team and sponsor, Hugo Boss and Alex Thomson have enjoyed a very tight relationship.
Among their marketing tactics are videos of skipper Alex Thomson doing extraordinary things aboard a big, dangerous, Hugo-Boss emblazoned racing yacht.
Naturally, he does them all while wearing a Hugo Boss suit.
Like walking along the keel of the boat as the boat sails.
Or walking up the mast.
Or, most recently, in what has to be the most over-the-top example of waterborne insanity, sailing alongside the speeding Hugo Boss yacht on a Hugo Boss kiteboard, hooking into a line attached to the top of the boat's mast, and flying that kiteboard to 200 feet in the air.
All while wearing a Hugo Boss suit.
IT'S ALL VERY JAMES BOND
Fast action. Designer suits. Consummate cool. And while it gets Hugo Boss and Alex Thomson racing a lot of attention, no--this is not a Big Idea.
It's a big stunt.
Yes, by the Ogilvy criteria, it makes you gasp when you first see it.
You might wish you had thought of it yourself.
It is unique.
It might even fit the Hugo Boss strategy to perfection when contrasted with their "Mystery Man" branding for menswear, epitomizing style, a relaxed attitude, nothing to prove, purpose, strength and cool.
But could it be used for 30 years?
It really can't be maintained over the long haul.
And therein lies the challenge with finding the Big Idea.
THE BIG IDEA IS OFTEN A SMALL GEM
The Big Idea doesn't need to be shot out of a cannon every day for 30 years.
The Big Idea is as Leonardo da Vinci said of the cat: the Big Idea might be small, but it is a masterpiece.
Don't believe it?
"We'll leave the light on for you."
2016 marks 30 years of Motel 6 using that pearl of an idea as a way to convey the modest genius of Motel 6 to its budget-minded core customer.
Capt. Alex Thomson sailing 200 feet over the water at a high rate of speed and potentially to his death is a circus stunt.
Eventually, it's going to lose its charm.
Tom Bodett leaving the light on for you is a modestly-couched Big Idea that can live on through decades--and has.
DON'T DISMISS A BIG IDEA JUST BECAUSE IT SEEMS LIKE A HOUSECAT INSTEAD OF A LION
There are plenty of remarkable housecats.
Recently, The Fabulous Honey Parker and I were on the phone with one of Slow Burn Marketing's first clients, Dr. Sam's Eye Care.
Dr. Sam himself echoed the power of the tiny gem as Big Idea.
In a nutshell, Dr. Sam's Eye Care came to us as United Eyecare Specialists.
Business had been flat for years, and they knew a change was necessary.
They needed a Big Idea.
Re-branded as Dr. Sam's Eye Care, offering commonsense, straightforward and affordable eye care, we helped them harness the folksy and approachable Dr. Sam persona in an ongoing campaign underpinned by the tagline, "Straight talk. Better vision."
Business exploded. Dr. Sam became a local celebrity virtually overnight.
Seven years after it was launched, patients still come into Dr. Sam's Eyecare, repeating the tagline back to him: "Straight talk. Better vision."
In the conversation, Dr. Sam said...
"WE WOULD NOT BE WHERE WE ARE TODAY WITHOUT YOU"
And while it's a generous sentiment for which we humbly thank him, he means more than he's saying.
He means that, without his brand and a subsequent "Straight talk" campaign, he would not have experienced such growth.
And the business' growth is less a testimony to Slow Burn's work than it is to Dr. Sam's insight and commitment.
He quickly recognized the power of his Big Idea, and has no problem using it for 23 years.
He'll continue riding that pony into the sunset.
He understands its value as a Big Idea and puts it out into the ether at every opportunity.
But in Ogilvy's advice, there is a key directive that many folks will gloss over.
"STUFF YOUR CONSCIOUS MIND WITH INFORMATION...
"...then unhook your rational thought process."
This is where the genius comes from.
When working with a new client, we always tell them that they can't possibly give us too much information.
For example, we've recently finished a project with a major national bank.
Slow Burn was hired on the down low by someone in a kind of fintech skunkworks division to brand a tech product they're rolling out this year.
For weeks, we'd been speaking to the people involved with this product.
We researched fintech until it was dizzying.
We dug deep into the bank's heritage, which dates to the 1800s.
And just when we thought we'd hit on three Big Ideas...
After extended due diligence, all our work imploded.
That's because there is almost nothing as difficult as branding a financial product or service--except for branding a tech product or service.
Everything you come up with has already been used.
When working on such creative, there is a predictable pattern.
At some point, there's a lot of running in circles and patting one's hair as if it were aflame, crying "What do we do?! What do we do?!"
Then, after weeks of simmering away in the unconscious, which has been packed with information, bubbling up from the muck and mire come little gems.
You find them to be gasp-worthy. Something the Fabulous Honey Parker thought of I find I wish I'd thought of myself. They are unique. They fit the strategy to perfection. They could it be used for 30 years.
THESE LITTLE GEMS ARE THE BIG IDEAS THAT WERE SO ELUSIVE
Frequently, creative people fear the Big Idea will never come.
But it will.
The Big Idea happens.
Unfortunately, in our instant-gratification, digitally-accelerated culture, it requires that one thing nobody ever wants to endure.
At Slow Burn Marketing, ours is a thoughtful process.
We recently made a presentation to a company with a packaged good who couldn't endure a thoughtful process.
They said, "Yes, we understand that's the right way to do it. But we don't have the time for that."
That's right, a prospective client said out loud that he didn't have the time to do the job the right way.
Make the time, my friend.
That's how you find the Big Idea that serves you well for a lifetime.
Blaine Parker is prone to ranting about any and all things related to brand. In many ways, he is a professional curmudgeon. While there is no known vaccine for this, the condition is also not contagious. Unless you choose it to be so.