You can be creative in 15 seconds

When the Dayton Bombers called and wanted a 15 second spot, all they thought that could be in there was date and time. Had they had the station do it- they would have had some news footage, with graphics on top and the same announcer that does every single local spot on the air.

The reality is, no one cares about your hockey game that doesn’t already know about it. Advertising is supposed to make people who don’t care- care. Good ads get your attention, and suck you in. Bad ads tell you about a product you could care less about.

Simple connections between client and consumer happens when you grab a fundamental truth- and make it relevant. Here we use “hockey is painful” - complete with missing teeth, black eyes, broken nose and organ music more fit for a funeral than a hockey game.

Getting the message to resonate with something the customer already believes is a great first step to engaging them in your brand. Even in 15 seconds.

Banned in Dayton, the Dayton Bombers spot rejected by Channel 7

One thing I love about hockey is how close the fans can get to the game. But, for most fans, they never get to go inside the locker room. It’s not easy to get great hockey action video in a hurry with one camera - the hits don’t always come where you are, the goals don’t always make great video because some noob (usually in stripes) is standing in the way- so we had limited footage of action. However, we had access to the locker room- and thought we’d give the fans a taste of the team- up close and personal:

Unfortunately (or if you are a fan of Bob Parsons and style advertising) the spot was rejected by channel 7- even though it’s ok on Channel 2.

It may not be the most polite way to get attention, but, it does get your attention.

Advertising feels like gambling for the first time.

One thing that drives me nuts about the advertising business is that many clients still think of spending money on advertising is a gamble. I’ve never felt that way, because, as our motto says “our job is to make you more money than you pay us.” Advertising, when done right, is never a gamble- it’s an investment.

ECHL Kelly Cup 2007 logoSo why am I feeling like a gambler for the first time in my ad career today? Because our client (of late) the Dayton Bombers, are playing game 7 of the Kelly Cup semi-finals tonight- and if they win, we get to do the campaign for the finals and if they loose- we don’t get the job. Money riding on a hockey game- who woulda thought?

As I said, it’s a first. We’ll know more around 10 pm tonight.

Because we believe we have to provide something useful in everything we post- a few tips on making sure your advertising doesn’t feel like gambling:

  • Advertising is a more like a marriage, not like a date. Think about the long term, and invest in campaigns that will have “legs” - a concept, or idea that lasts. Think like Apples “get a mac” campaign instead of Burger King’s one shot “Manthem” (of which more was written about here).
  • Branding is a shorthand for what your company stands for- make sure you think about it in everything you do, from what your employees wear, to how you answer the phone- and then get it to communicate clearly in your advertising.
  • Consumers are getting very smart about marketing messages- never; lie, deceive, or talk down to them- they now have the ability to talk right back and it may come in higher in search than your message.
  • Embrace the Internet, it’s everything you want your best employee to be- if you take really good care of it.
  • The immortal words of Howard Luck Gossage are even more important today than 50 years ago: “People don’t read ads. They read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad”- so make your stuff interesting, make it art, make it entertaining- but what ever you do, stop saying things like “make the logo bigger” and start saying- “can we make the idea bigger.”

Hope that helps. Now, all the Bombes have to do is win tonight, so we get to keep building their brand.

Is your ad agency passionate about your account?

There is a secret to great advertising- and it’s not the size of the agency or the number of awards on the wall. It’s not how hip the creatives are, or how cool the offices or even how big the budget is. And even though you could argue that the quality of the account planning can make all the difference in the world- it’s not what makes great ads.
What makes great advertising is the same thing that makes great leaders, great athletes, great scholars – basically great anything, and it’s one word: passion.
If the people coming up with the ad have a passion for the task at hand- and know the product and who they are trying to reach- you will end up with advertising that doesn’t suck- the kind that actually brings in the big bucks- without costing big bucks.
It’s taking what you have- and turning it into something that is a bit more than advertising- it’s a conversation that you just can’t turn away from. It’s a battle cry that resonates and won’t go away- be it “Where’s the beef” or “Whazzzup” it sticks in your head like peanut butter to the roof of your mouth.
When you are in the business of advertising, and know a good ad from a bad ad, you can tell when you do something great- because you can’t get it out of your head either.
So, here’s the latest in the saga of pulling rabbits out of the hat for the Dayton Bombers- a client that no matter how vexing the time frame, budget, material to work with- brings out the passion from us at The Next Wave.
It comes from two things: we love ice hockey and, we love it when underdogs are kicking ass and taking names. The Bombers are in Florida right now- about to play the first 2 games of the semi-finals before heading back for 3 possible games at home. We were asked to put together a poster for the games- over the weekend- so far, everyone who has seen it has loved it. We hope you do too.
Come to the Game Saturday night- and maybe you can get one too.

Dayton Bombers playoff poster by The Next Wave

When ads work.

Other than editing out the personal information- this e-mail was received by the Dayton Bombers:

I have a number of health and physical problems, at age 72, and need to laugh more. For the first time tonight I saw your “Rumanian” ad on TV with Yannick Tifu and had a good one. Does his “cup runneth over”? LOL! Good work by whoever came up for the idea for that ad…it does catch one’s attention. Some “soft” adult humor, like this ad, flies right over the heads of kids, so no harm done. It made me want to attend a game, or maybe regularly.

I no longer drive and sold my car last December. Does RTA stop AT THE DOOR of the Nutter Center? I walk with a cane and easily get winded. What is the number of that RTA line? (Cabs cost a FORTUNE now.) I live at the Oakwood-Kettering line between Far Hills & Ridgeway Rd. and use #5 or #14 for trips to CBD.

What is the lowest cost for a single game ticket? Are they always available on game dates at the Nutter box-office?

What is the lowest cost for one seat at a series of home games bought in advance (for different game counts)? Five games, ten, etc. Is there a seniors’ discount? Golden Buckeye card?

What is the temperature in the stands? Us old folk chill easily so would I need a sweater or jacket or is it always very warm in the stands?

When does the season end? Please mail me some general brochures.

I guess I’ve BOMBARDED the BOMBERS with enough questions for now. I know…that is NOT funny and you hear it all the time. Thanks!

The spot that the new, 72 year old, hockey fan saw?

It was aired on broadcast TV- and was enough to get an old guy, in poor health, motivated to seek information on how to ride the bus to the Nutter Center (not an easy trip from where he lives).

When was the last time your advertising did that? Especially a spot entirely in Romanian?

Of course, they also got a call: “this is America, you should do your commercials in AMERICAN!” (see our post on Casa d’Ice and their signs for more on this subject:

Why you should never let the newspaper do your ad

This before and after ad example will never win any awards, but, it could make the difference between being looked at- and being ignored.

The call came at 6pm tonight: Can you take this ad and make it better? In an hour?

This isn’t how to run a business, or how to get the best possible work, but it’s often the reality in advertising: you can have good, fast or cheap- pick any two.

The original isn’t really an ad at all. It’s an announcement. There isn’t really any type of call to action, or anything that would speak to the consumer emotionally. In fact, it’s mostly about the client- “the first place Dayton Bombers.” The ad was done by the ad department for a previous paid placement- you buy the space- we’ll have a flunky design something.

This is what we had to work with- plus the Kelly Cup logo. Some information could be stripped out- it wasn’t important to the customer: AA Hockey- well, there isn’t another team in Dayton, 1st place- doesn’t really matter in the minors as much as the majors, and the flow of white space is just all over the place.

Dayton Bombers ad done by the Dayton Daily News.

So- take the elements that they have used all season- and try to make them work. The visiting team logo is only important to the hardcore fans- no one is coming to see the visiting team play so we can make that smaller. The McDonalds promo isn’t happening- so we loose that too. We’ve looked at the audience- and know that this is a NASCAR, WWF, Tough Man crowd- that loves to see fights- and to taunt the other team- so making the word “Fighting” a key part of the ad- may get some attention.

Dayton Bombers ad done by The Next WaveIn less than an hour- this is the result. Not an award winner- but, at least bold, clean and making some sort of appeal to the emotional side of the fans.

What do you think?

We also threw together a low-budget TV spot to promote the game. Since we had no existing game footage to use (and couldn’t count on any great stuff in one game) we had to construct a concept that we could control. We were told the leading scorer spoke Romanian (not true) and thought we could have fun with a Borat style low budget spoof. The idea was to do something that would cut through the clutter of local ads (none have ever aired in Romanian in Dayton OH) and get people to look to their sets to see what’s going on. We also posted it on YouTube- where it has received over 600 views in 24 hours. The translator obviously knows less Romanian than we did.