CAN WE FORGET THE SUPER BOWL FOR JUST A MOMENT?
If you've been around for at least a year, you know that we here at the screed do not touch Super Bowl commercials for at least a week after the game.
We talk mainly about big-brand thinking for small-business marketing.
And we are champions of the thoughtful process.
So, we wait for the dust to settle. And when all the pundits are done clamoring over the public's "favorite commercials," which means nothing, we move in.
We talk about actual, sales-inducing, ROI-generating tactics and strategies.
So instead, this week, we're talking about the smallest thing that could possibly be on your radar.
RHODE ISLAND TOURISM LIVES!
That's right, Rhode Island, the state that brought you the spectacular failure of a tourism slogan in 2016, along with a tourism video featuring footage of Reykjavik, is back in the news!
Over a year and a half ago, Rhode Island unveiled the baffling slogan "Cooler & Warmer" to great and immediate derision across the nation.
At that time, an old friend of mine named Bob Holfelder, who lives in Rhode Island, commented publicly that he had a much better slogan for the smallest state in the nation.
And since Mr. Holfelder is a professional trombone player, you can be certain that his slogan comes with equal amounts gravity and profundity.
The Providence Journal liked it so much, they spoke to Mr. Holfelder and published his suggestion on April 4, 2016.
WE HERE AT THE MOUNTAINTOP MARKETING FORTRESS APPLAUDED HIM IMMEDIATELY
It was genius.
And it didn't go unpunished.
Last week, scandal ensued.
Rhode Island has a new tourism slogan.
It is (drum roll please): "Fun-sized."
That's right, Rhode Island moved from a nonsense tourism slogan to a plagiarized one.
Mr. Holfelder immediately took to social media to decry his lack of credit, payment, acknowledgement, or even a pat on the back.
WHAT IS GOING ON IN RHODE ISLAND?
They spend a gazillion bucks on "Cooler & Warmer," then don't have the nerve to stand behind it, but they do have the nerve to rip-off a new and better slogan from a resident without so much as a phone call.
"Hey, Bob. Love your idea. We can't afford to pay you. But here's a six pack of Narragansett lager. Which, by the way is probably being brewed in Rochester, New York. But hey, it's still fizzy and yellow. 'Bye."
Mr. Holfelder was understandably chagrined, but journalism to the rescue!
A reporter from the Providence Journal got back in touch with him, and turned his tale of woe into further news.
In the article, the reporter speaks to Mr. Holfelder, as well as to the state's chief marketing officer--who credits Nail Communications with the campaign.
SEEMS THEY THINK NAIL NAILED IT
In the meantime, Mr. Holfelder said to the Journal, "It would be nice to at least get recognition, if not some compensation."
The state's CMO said, "If we make a profit on it, we could certainly give it to him."
That is about the worst public case of indefinite pronoun usage to a reporter imaginable. "Give it to him."
"It" being what?
This does beg a question, though.
Did anyone really swipe that slogan?
It's hard to know.
My guess is, not consciously. We get so much information flying at us every day that it's possible to hear something like that, sublimate it into your unconscious, and then later on spit it back out as something you just came up with.
And, it could have just been independently barfed up by some other writer with a wit equal to Mr. Holfelder. I've certainly written down ideas only to have due diligence reveal that I'm not the first genius to barf up that idea.
What Mr. Holfelder has going for him is that he's on the record in the state's newspaper of record using the phrase.
So, maybe he'll get something. And he deserves it.
And I'm not saying that just because I still owe him money.
In the meantime, this all points to a much greater problem for people, especially non-professionals, who need to create advertising.
"THIS IS THE LAST IDEA I'LL EVER HAVE!" SYNDROME
The difference between actual writers and non-writers creating advertising?
Actual writers forget more original ideas than non-writers ever come up with.
When the Fabulous Honey Parker and I write names and taglines for a business-branding project, we can easily generate two-hundred ideas for each.
When a non-writer tries the same thing, they often quit at the first mediocre idea they come up with.
Then, they're surprised when someone else comes up with the same idea.
If this happens to you, it means you means you haven't worked hard enough yet.
You can do more.
And you can probably do better.
BUT NEVER, EVER SHOULD A WRITER STEAL SOMEONE ELSE'S IDEA
That's the lowest of the low.
And, worst-case scenario, that writer can get sued.
It's OK to be inspired by other work. You just can't copy it.
I've been inspired by plenty of other advertisements throughout my career. But you can never draw a line between the work that inspired me, and the work that came from the inspiration. It's completely different.
It's easy to be original.
It's even easier to be merely competent.
But either requires spending a lot of time writing down a lot of crap on a blank page, and then being astute enough to recognize a diamond in the rough.
Got a writer who can't give you anything original? Tell that writer, "Do not fear the blank page. Embrace it. And despoil it with lousy writing. That's what it's there for. And that's how one's writing becomes worthy."
Your Lean, Mean Creative Director in
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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.