Friday, October 2, 2015

Two totally different, totally wonderful commercials

So here's a look at how good
advertising can actually be - if it wants to.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

Because this is the guy who gets credit for saying it, that's why.

Ok, with the "why is there a picture of Ben Franklin in a post about being penny wise and pound foolish?" question out of the way, let's move on to the subject at hand, shall we?

Which is, well, being penny wise and pound foolish.

Here's a short story.

We're in the process of doing a small brochure on a project basis. We quoted a price that included preparation of some specific artwork, but this client wanted to spend a lot less, so we eliminated that - and other things - from the proposal to get to their price point.

Long story short, that artwork has become a colossal pain in the ass and has delayed production of the brochure by at least three weeks. The main reason for the delay is that the client isn't really equipped to deal with this sort of pain in the ass and is having issues properly preparing the artwork.

Of course, we are equipped to do it. And we coulda done it. Long ago. But it wasn't part of the deal and the client didn't want to pay the extra cost for us to do the work, Of course, if they'd accepted our original price in the first place, this artwork would have still been a pain in the ass, but it would have been our pain in the ass, not theirs.

So what should have been a simple brochure has become a problem and is way overdue. For no good reason.

My point here is that there is often a false economy when you Do It Yourself. Which is to say when you get a proposal from an agency or design firm and you want it done for less, think about whether or not you can really take up the slack for things you don't want to pay for.

Maybe it's a good idea to let people who know how to do certain things do those certain things.

Of course, I tend to think that if the most important factor in getting something done is how cheaply you can get it done (as opposed to, say, how well it can be done), then don't do it at all.

That's the cheapest way there is.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Let's talk about the root of all evil

I say let's talk about money early on

Like many of us, I grew up being told it wasn't polite to talk about money. How much someone gets paid or laid out for a car, a house or a tie was none of my damn business, so don’t ask.

Maybe that's why many creative firms are reluctant to bring up the subject of money (as in b-u-d-g-e-t) early on in the conversation. That and maybe it takes away, somehow, the perception that we're all dedicated artists and gosh-I-just-do-this-for-the-love-of-it and money is secondary.

(We actually had a client say to us once in a meeting "I know you guys aren’t in it for the money . . . " At which point both of us leaped from our chairs to nip that particular line of thinking in the bud: "Actually, that's not true. We do it for the money.")

I think that often an agency doesn't want to talk about money because they are just so doggone focused on getting the job,they lose sight of the fact that it has to turn a profit.

As far as prospective clients go, a lot of them don’t want to talk about money because they would like it if you gave them a proposal that was well below what they have earmarked for a project or an agency fee thankyouverymuch.

It's amazing how often someone will answer the "what's your budget?" question with "I don't know" or "we don't really have one."  Really? You have no idea how much you are willing to spend for this? Of course, everybody in the room knows that they do have a budget or even a rough idea of how much they can spend or think is appropriate to spend. It's a silly, silly game to play. But it's been played or years. It just won't die, you know?

At the risk of sounding like I'm only in it for the money, budget is one of the very first things you need to get sorted out, whether you're an agency or a client. That's because the whole idea of finding the right creative firm to work with you and the right client with whom to work is determining whether this is going to be a good marriage.

And, in addition to chemistry, category experience and quality of the work, money is a pretty significant indicator of whether or not it's a good match.That's just reality.

So if you're a client, it's going to make things a whole lot easier for everybody and help you find the right agency more quickly if you 1) have an idea of your budget, 2) tell the agency what it is and 3) be aware that they will want to spend it all.  (And why not? That's what it's for, right?) The question is who will spend it all most wisely and get the most out of it for you.

And if you just absolutely, positively, have some block about being willing to divulge the amount of money you may or may not spend with those people across the table with whom you may enter into a relationship, do this:  Ask them what sort of budget range works best for them as far as a client is concerned. Just as a client really ought to have a budget figure in mind, a professional creative firm ought to have a figure in mind below which they can't really afford to do the work.  The key is for everybody to know that there is a financial fit in there somewhere.

Of course, if you're a creative firm, you have to find out early on whether or not the piece of business you are discussing is one you ought to be pursuing.

As awkward as it may be discussing money, once it's over and done with, everybody seems to feel better. You either know you're in a good place as far as what you want to spend and/or need to earn, or you're not.

And if you're not, everybody can stop wasting any more time on it and you can go out and get some lunch.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Orson Wells, wine, Ritz-Carlton and Reserve hotels

Orson Wells is here for a reason.

And this is it. No matter what he said or how lovely his voice sounded when he said it, Gallo wine was still, in the end, Gallo wine. Before its time or not.
So this came to mind when I saw an article in Forbes - via the ILHA SmartBrief - about the new Reserve group of hotels from Ritz-Carlton and how it's bringing a "boutique vibe to Ritz-Carlton."
Honestly, this could be perceived as a bit of a slap at a real boutique independent hotel or small to mid-sized collection of hotels. Because, when you get right down to it, Reserve is still part of Ritz-Carlton which is still part of Marriott. Just like Autograph. Or Hyatt Andaz, Hilton Curio or other subgroups of big chains.
An independent hotel and a smaller collection of hotels is a totally different thing than a cluster of properties gathered under a large brand name and given a sub-name. Sure, there are almost certainly some differences from the Mother Ship, but it's still a part of the big brand.
People who work for Ritz-slash-Marriott are sharp people and know what they are doing, and there is no question about whether or not Reserve has a lot going for it. 
It most certainly does.
But let's not for a minute confuse it with a true independent property or small collection of hotels or resorts - with all the unique experiences they can deliver to their guests.
The cheapest and most expensive cars made by General Motors are still from General Motors with all the good - and bad - things that go with it.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The sophomore-ization of American advertising

It's finally happened.  Beavis and Butthead have gone into advertising.

My guess is that has decided that high-school boys - chronologically or emotionally - are the best target for their online hotel reservations service.
That's the only thing I can imagine based on these stupid "booking-this" and "booking-that" commercials done by Weiden and Kennedy. 
You get it, right? If not see above. "Incredible booking vacation" and "you got it booking right" and so on. (Heh, heh, heh, Beavis. He said "booking."). 
So if I'm to understand this, what could be a good idea is built around the fact that (heh, heh, heh, Beavis) it sounds like they are saying "fucking". So clever. If you're like 16 years old.
I'd have loved to have been at the meeting when they presented the creative. "OK, so the premise of this spot is that when you say 'booking-something, it sort of sounds like 'fucking-something' Pretty cool, huh? Huh?"
I think it's just stupid. There are any number of attention-getting, compelling ways to sell This is really the best one they could come up with? Maybe the target is, I don't know, different than me.
Weiden and Kennedy is a great agency with awards coming out of their ears, so there must be something I'm fucking missing. 
I mean "booking" missing.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

In honor of Barrett Strong

Let's talk just a minute about, well, you know

If you're on the client side of an agency relationship, I'm here to tell you that almost every one of them only really asks you for two things:

1. Respect us and our ideas. (Note that I didn't say like all our ideas. Just show some respect for the effort.)

2. Pay our bills on time.

So, on #$ 2 - Nobody likes to have to call and ask for money. It's especially hard on a smaller agency where they don't have a separate A/R department. It often puts the AE - the person charged with maintaining a relationship - in the awkward position of having to inquire about a past-due invoice.

If the price is too high, bring it up before you agree to the project. If there is a question about the invoice, ask it as soon as you get the invoice and you'll get an answer. If the work is no good, fire them.

And if you just installed a new accounting system, the CFO is on vacation or any one of a dozen other things we've all heard several times, make it clear to your agency early on.

Agencies can't repossess anything. Or cut off your credit. All we have to sell is time and expertise, and once you've got it, we can't take it back. All an agency - or design studio - can really do is stop work until you catch up. And nobody wants to do that because, well, because we're here to help you succeed, not slow things down.

Think about it, as much as we all want to believe that every client is important, we're also all human. And the guy who is always late and never pays we bug him for it is going to look different to us than the guy who pays promptly and on time. That's just reality.

People sometimes seem to think that because we're in a creative business, money is secondary to an agency or design firm. Not so.

Really. No kidding. Not so.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

This is a ridiculous criticism of a good spot

No, not this this. This this.

Nature Valley, makers of granola bars of some sort, produced this video that points out a  real difference in the way the youngest generation today passes the time and the way previous generations did.

The reviewer - for my money clearly a member of the nose-in-a-smart phone set - absolutely trashed it, characterizing it as a "three-minute technology hate-on."

Check it out and see what you see. Here's the link again. I mean, I really want you to see it.
I'll wait here.

Got it? So here's what I think. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Rebecca Cullers, who wrote the review, is so full of shit her eyes are brown, as we used to say when we were little.

In her snarky review she pretty much missed the whole fucking point point.

Nobody said "in my day." Nobody harshed on the kids who are so committed to smart phones and tablets. And nobody told anybody to get off their lawn. But the fact that Nature Valley (who clearly wants to associate themselves with All Things Natural and Wholesome and Perhaps Even Outdoors) pointed out that little kids are missing one hell of a lot of cool stuff by marrying their tablet, smart phone or computer seems to have really touched  a nerve with Cullers.

She seems personally offended that anybody would dare to suggest that perhaps there is a world out there that don't run on a battery. WTF?

My guess is that she is one of those you see walking down the sidewalk or across the street with her attention focused on the phone in her hand instead of the world around her or even where she is going.

I always thought each of us ought to get to bump one of those people with our car. Just once.