Never admit you’re losing: positioning in a pandemic

A local state university president, already facing a budget deficit, is quoted in the paper suggesting that “more cuts are needed” and that the Coronavirus is destroying their ability to enroll students. This is not the message to send, even if it may be true. There is no urgency in her plans, because she assumes the university will survive, will be bailed out, she’ll have another job. The future is not something we can control, but it’s also inevitable and it’s your job to adapt and plan to win, not to admit defeat and attempt to manage.

Need proof? Steve Jobs came back to Apple in 1997 and the company was on it’s death bed. New products, including the innovative iMac were a year away. The first thing he does is look for a new ad agency. Chiat\Day, which had been the agency that gave him the iconic “1984” spot introducing the Macintosh had been off the account for 10 years when they were invited back to pitch. Now, one of the hottest shops in the country, the plan for Lee Clow and Rob Siltanen was not to pitch- to walk away if asked, so when Jobs demanded spec work, Siltanen was ready to walk, but Clow said they’d be back.

The campaign they came back with, “Think Different” didn’t show photos of computers. It wasn’t even grammatically correct, and Jobs had said he didn’t want TV, but they came back with a rip-o-matic rough cut of a 2 minute spot showcasing famous folks who walked to the beat of a different drummer set to the song “Crazy” by Seal. Only problem was, it was 2 minutes long and they needed something more compact. After Siltanen did his best to write a new voiceover- Jobs trashed his work and alienated him. Another writer was brought on, Ken Segall., and he gave us the final script for “Here’s to the crazy ones” which was as much an ode to Jobs as to the people featured in the campaign. It was the right bet, and set the stage for Apple’s comeback. The string of products, from the iMac, to the iPhone to the iPad changed the world- all as predicted by the campaign which was as much manifesto as it was aspirational, because Apple was down, and almost counted out. Jobs wasn’t throwing in the towel, he was focusing his brand on attaining greatness, which is the exact right thing to do in a crisis.

With the whole world in shock over the Coronavirus crisis, many leaders (and university presidents) have thrown in the towel. Most have directed their agencies to do ads that all sound the same “in these unprecedented times” and “we’re all in this together” kumbaya bullshit.

“If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” — General George Patton

It’s so bad, you can cut them all together and get- well, someone already did:

This is not the answer. Ever. Doing what everyone else is doing is exactly the point that “Think different” railed against. Now, of all times, is the time to launch your brand with a new message, a new way of doing things, a new commitment to reach new heights. It’s called adapting, and it’s critical to evolution. We were adapting before the crisis- to the new gig economy, to software as a service, to a new media landscape where “fake news” was somehow acceptable.

The pandemic was just a unforeseen misdirection to most. Yes, Bill Gates saw it coming, but didn’t do a good enough job of raising the alarm. Now, the question is, will you rise to the challenge? Will you adapt, overcome and succeed? The PhD flails and fails, the college drop out swings for the fences. It’s easy to be a “leader” when things are predictable- but the true test is when they’re not.

“A leader is a dealer in hope.” — Napoleon Bonaparte

“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” — President Theodore Roosevelt

The funny thing is, Steve Jobs was inspired by Nike’s advertising and looking for his own version of it when he came back to the sinking Apple.

“The best example of all, and one of the greatest jobs of marketing the universe has ever seen is Nike,” Jobs explained. “Remember, Nike sells a commodity. They sell shoes. And yet when you think of Nike, you feel something different than a shoe company. In their ads, they don’t ever talk about their products. They don’t ever tell you about their air soles and why they’re better than Reebok’s air soles. What does Nike do? They honor great athletes and they honor great athletics. That’s who they are, that’s what they are about.”

He wanted to do the same for Apple’s brand. “The way to do that is not to talk about speeds and feeds. It’s not to talk about MIPS and megahertz, it’s not to talk about why we’re better than Windows,” Jobs said.

Jobs went on in the talk to announce Apple’s newest ad campaign, which used the tagline “Think Different,” and featured pictures of legendary thinkers like Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King and John Lennon. The ads didn’t describe Apple computers’ specifications or functions, but instead gave a sense of the company’s mission.

Source: Nike’s ads inspired Steve Jobs for Apple’s ‘Think Different’ campaign

And when you want to see a company give the right response in troubled times, Nike, with their agency for life, Wieden+Kennedy, get it right, right now:

Because, once you admit you are down, if you don’t start talking about a comeback, you will never have one.

“We succeed only as we identify in life, or in war, or in anything else, a single overriding objective, and make all other considerations bend to that one objective.” — President Dwight D. Eisenhower

We’re not saying we have the answers for the Coronavirus crisis you are facing, but, we’re here to help brands find a voice that is uniquely theirs and projects hope for a better future. This is what advertising does- it creates lust, evokes trust- and triggers an emotional response. If your campaign doesn’t inspire folks while they are desperate for a comeback, don’t even consider running it.

When the “Think Different” campaign launched, Apple immediately felt the boost despite having no significant new products. Within 12 months, Apple’s stock price tripled. A year after the “Think Different” launch, Apple introduced their multi-colored iMacs. The computers represented revolutionary design, and they became some of the best-selling computers in history. But without the “Think Different” campaign preceding and supporting them, it’s likely the jellybean-colored and gumdrop-shaped machines would have been viewed by the press and general public as just more “toys” from Apple.

Source: The Real Story Behind Apple’s ‘Think Different’ Campaign

“We need to learn to set our course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship.” — General Omar Bradley

Apple showed us how it’s done. Are you ready to Think different?

Not another company on earth that could do this campaign

September 23, 1977. Steve Jobs walks into a conference room to introduce “Think Different” internally. Khaki shorts, long sleeve black turtleneck with the sleeves pushed up- looking tired.
It’s an 18 minute presentation that anyone looking to turn a brand around should watch.

It’s not about speeds and feeds. It’s not about a better product. It’s about the core values of the company- and where does Apple fit in this world.

Yes, he begins with the product line being too complex, the distribution channel being too long and heavy, and that they spend a ton of money on advertising- although “you’d never know it.” He doesn’t blame his predecessors. He looks to the future and thinks about what kind of people he wants to build products for: “we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better.”

They get to use people that had never appeared in an ad- or ever world- for any other company. Partially because they aren’t talking about themselves, and partially because their leadership understood that doing great work comes first.

He cites examples- the milk processor board spent 20 years advertising “Milk is good for you- even though it really isn’t” and sales didn’t move- and then, Goodby Silverstein comes up with “Got milk” – which actually advertises the lack of the product and sales climb.

Jobs says that Nike, who makes a commodity- shoes, doesn’t sell shoes, and does advertising the “best of anybody” by honoring great athletes and athletics. Side note- Nike, for the most part has used Wieden and Kennedy for the brand since the start. Believing and trusting your ad agency is another good lesson. Jobs went right back to Chiat/Day for this campaign for a reason.

The result- is the “Think Different” campaign. Which literally changed everything. People listened to an ad. they watched it over and over- before YouTube. The words from this ad, turned into posters, were remembered as a eulogy for Jobs because it was so different.

Watch the video about the introduction. Learn. (sorry the actual commercial has the music cut out- you can watch the full final spot below).

Apple's new ads feature Samuel L. Jackson and Zooey Deschanel

Samuel L Jackson - Say What Again Siri

TBWA\Chiat\Day released two videos Monday night showcasing Siri for the Apple iPhone 4s. The ads feature Samuel L Jackson and Zooey Deschanel.

The video featuring Jackson shows him cooking a dinner for “date night”, asking Siri about organic mushrooms, and doing a few other things that don’t involve yelling “Mother f****r!” (which, I admit, is a little disappointing).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqXGWQhowXk

 

Deschanel, meanwhile, is shown in her pajamas doing her usual cute and quirky things like ironically asking if it’s raining, asking Siri to remind her to clean her room (tomorrow), and goofily dancing out of frame.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EP1YAatv1Mc

The ads are a noticeable break from Apple’s usual advertising style. While Apply has used highly-visible celebrities in their TV spots in the past, these days Apple rarely uses celebrities for their ads other than for Voice Over, opting more for product-focused advertising.

In a departure from its product-as-hero ads of the last few years, Apple has enlisted a pair of celebrities to hawk Siri.

Samuel L. Jackson and Zooey Deschanel star in the ads, which broke Monday night. In Jackson’s ad, he uses Siri to help cook a meal for “date night” and asks Siri to “find me a store that sells organic mushrooms for my risotto.” (Sorry fans, Jackson doesn’t drop any expletives in the ad.)

Deschanel, meanwhile, plays on her quirky/cute appeal and, noting it’s raining, asks Siri to find someone to deliver tomato soup. Then, she asks Siri to remind her to clean up — tomorrow — and then to play “Shake, Rattle and Roll” so she could dance today.

It’s unclear whether these ads, from longtime agency TBWA\Media Arts Lab, represent a new direction for Apple. The brand has typically opted to use celebs — including Richard Dreyfuss and Jeff Goldblum — for voiceovers.

via Mashable.

The ads do raise a few questions: Could this be the start of a new campaign for Apple and TBWA\Chiat\Day? Why did they choose Jackson and Deschanel? Should we expect to see more Siri-celeb ads out there soon? Perhaps the intention was to poke fun at celebrity-based ads. After all, in the Samuel L. Jackson ad he is departing from his stereotypical bad-boy character while Zooey Deschanel is playing a highly exaggerated version of her character. Whatever the intention is, we will be keeping our eyes peeled for upcoming Apple ads.

 

Oh, and by the way, there’s a soundboard app called iSamJackson. You’re welcome.

Here's to the crazy ones

We’re still trying to imagine a world without Steve Jobs.
If you haven’t read his sisters eulogy, you should: “A Sister’s Eulogy for Steve Jobs” New York Times link.

The “think different” spot that was created soon after Steve returned to Apple, and moved the ad account back to Chiat/Day and rekindled the relationship with Lee Clow, may be the best short tribute to Steve, even though it’s from 1997.

As a memento, tribute and gift to you- we’ve taken the spot and created a poster for you to print and hang.

Here's to the Crazy ones poster

Click on image for link to PDF of "Here's to the Crazy One's poster

Enjoy.

 

Why Crispin Porter + Bogusky is the reigning king of Hoopla (advertising)

Crispin Porter + Bogusky is proving why they are at the top of almost every agency search consultants list. Burger King continues to have same store growth after years of failed campaigns, and changing agencies. VW was almost ready to give up on the US market, again, but have at least started to rebound sales. But what started out as an embarrassingly bad intro for Microsoft with Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld, and then into an “I’m a PC” has now hit pay dirt by not even talking about Microsoft’s products, but by doing a comparison between PC hardware and Apple hardware.

“Laptop Hunters” is credited with changing perception of brand value, according to a BrandIndex study:

Based on daily interviews of 5,000 people, BrandIndex found the age group gave Apple its highest rating in late winter, when it notched a value score of 70 on a scale of -100 to 100 (a score of zero means that people are giving equal amounts of positive and negative feedback about a brand). But its score began to fall shortly after and, despite brief rallies, hovers around 12.4 today.

Microsoft, on the other hand, has risen from near zero in early February to a value-perception score of 46.2.

via In Mac vs. PC Battle, Microsoft Winning in Value Perception – Advertising Age – Digital.

Hefty gains in a short time, although Apple hasn’t sat idly by:

But, while this battle royal can wage for years, the real reason that Crispin Porter + Bogusky keeps winning for their clients is that they get the fundamentals right.

They know that advertising is supposed to surprise and delight, not inform and sell. They take great pains to make sure that you might actually want to talk about the ads they do around the water cooler at work the next day.

Today, they pulled one out of the hat for me. I own a copy of “Hoopla” which is their monograph. For the most part, it’s heinously designed making it almost impossible to read, but, inside the back cover- I discovered (via a tweet by Alex Bogusky) there is a secret second book:

This guy @DomineConcept discovered the hidden book that was bound inside the back cover of our book Hoopla » link to Dominé Concept | Hooplanetics and a ripped up HOOPLA book….

Which led me to carefully operate on my $50 copy:

A secret book awaits inside the back cover

A secret book awaits inside the back cover

I’ve also been watching the CP+B Ebay auction of their interns time:

ANNOUNCING THE CP+B INTERN AUCTION

In the past, our interns have created work for companies like Burger King, Volkswagen, Guitar Hero and Microsoft. And now they can do the same for you. Bidding starts at $1 for three months of service with all proceeds going to the hardest working people we know – the CP+B interns themselves. So bid early and often, and world-class advertising can be yours for a fraction of the going rate.

via Crispin Porter + Bogusky Intern Auction: Summer 2009 – eBay (item 270392380113 end time May-27-09 10:57:37 PDT).

Which is currently going for $5,400.

It’s innovative, it’s interesting and it’s not strictly advertising. It’s a conscious effort to manipulate and shape contemporary culture, cajoling and dancing outside the boundaries of conventional advertising wisdom. Everything can be an ad if you make it interesting enough.

And that’s why they are winning awards, accounts and owning the crown of the Hoopla kings.

More on comparison advertising

It’s becoming an epidemic, your competition does a “great ad” so we should “one up” them with something derivative.

Here is TBWA Chiat/Day’s original MacBook Air commercial introducing the super slim computer”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLb7EVF6-Jc

And, then Ogilvy does a response ad (much later) for Lenovo:

And while this may seem funny, it’s not really building the Lenovo brand, but reminding you of who was there first.

I heard a great quote the other day, “cover bands never change the world.”

The same thought applies to advertising.