Imagine your company gets swallowed up by a larger competitor. I know, that will never happen to you, but, when was the last time you went to a locally owned bank, a hospital that wasn’t part of a network, or checked into a hotel that wasn’t part of a conglomerate?
The New York Times wrote about Virgin Airlines customers lamenting the loss of the Virgin brand personality when Alaska Airlines finishes the takeover- the comments, the insight into what made Virgin flights different, coming from customers are a lesson for brand marketers:
“I like Alaska, I don’t love Alaska. But I love Virgin,” she said. “I think of it as a young, hip airline. Alaska is more of a friendly aunt.”
Travelers like Ms. Bansal are wondering what to expect from Virgin America under its new parent company: skinny jeans and stilettos, or sweatshirts and sneakers. After all, Alaska started in 1932 with a single three-seat plane owned by an Anchorage furrier, while Virgin America was founded by a flashy British billionaire less than a decade ago with a goal of restoring glamour to flying…
Although Alaska has been a perennial leader in best-airline rankings, its allure comes more from its reliability than mood lighting or funny safety videos. Like Virgin America, it inspires loyalty among customers, if not the same passion….
Alaska and Virgin have been ranked first and second in operational performance in a top industry list for two straight years, and Virgin America is a mainstay atop Travel & Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler’s readers’ choice rankings of the top domestic airlines…
“I always liked @alaskaair but I hope they learn how to fly like @VirginAmerica, which I #love,” @salsop posted.
Source: Virgin America Fans Ask if Alaska Airlines Takeover Will Mean Loss of Cool
If you have any question about why Virgin will be missed. Think back to the last time the safety video came on while you are crammed into coach. Did you want to watch it again? When Virgin did their inflight safety video, it had 5.8 million views on YouTube (in a dozen days) - by people, not strapped into their seats.
What’s interesting is that both Virgin and Alaska have worked with some superstar ad shops. Virgin with Crispin Porter + Bogusky and Alaska with WongDoody.
Note the origin stories for both airlines in the NYT piece- Richard Branson, the “flashy British billionaire” started an airline to “restore glamour to flying” as opposed to getting people from point a to point b. Maybe this is why Virgin is becoming another casualty of consolidation, but it shouldn’t be a deterrent to doing things differently than your competition.
For a while, it seemed like Apple wasn’t going to make it, but, now, even though it doesn’t have anywhere near a majority of the computers running their operating systems, they are doing quite well as the worlds most valuable company- in the mobile operating system space. They also were known to use a superstar ad shop- and the campaign that’s credited with turning them around- was “Think Different.”
Virgin thought different about air travel, and unfortunately isn’t going to stay with us- but, don’t let that dishearten you, is it better to go down with a crowd of fervent followers, or quietly and not really be missed? You decide.
Hopefully Alaska Airlines will try to assimilate the Virgin culture and attitude, so that when they get gobbled up, we end up with at least one airline you can love for more than cheap, easy or their frequent flyer program.
If you are spending money on advertising, and you don’t think you are getting your money’s worth, maybe it’s because your advertising is too conventional. Maybe, you think that your ads, should be like your competitors ads, only better.
Then you see what a young criminal defense lawyer did with his advertising and you start to understand that being like your competition just means you’re a commodity.
Daniel Buckley Muessig is a defense attorney from Pittsburgh, PA and yet he’s so much more. He recently uploaded an ad for his business, you know, like most lawyers might. But in less than 24 hours, the ad has gone super viral.
Why? Because if you’ve committed a murder or an arson or “even funny throwback crimes such as moonshining” and you live in Pennsylvania, he wants to be your lawyer.
“I may have a law degree,” he says, “but I think like a criminal.”The otherwise plainspoken 32-year-old Pittsburgh native and graduate of The University of Pittsburgh School of Law was formerly a battle rapper by the name of Dos-Noun. As Dos-Noun, he performed with the likes of indie rap heavyweights such as Slug, Atmosphere, before making the successful jump to a career as a criminal attorney a few years ago.
After uploading the video at 11pm Wednesday night, he’s been seeing his phone ring off the hook ever since.
Source: Are You a Murderer? Are You Guilty? Do You Live in Pennsylvania? Call Daniel Muessig
The folks at Crispin Porter + Bogusky used to evaluate if an ad was just an ad- or something special- “how would this work as a press release?” If it isn’t press worthy- it’s almost not worth doing. CP+B launched a body spray for Burger King- called “Flame”. Do you really want to smell like a Whopper? Nope. But, every news outlet wrote about it.
Here is the raw footage of Mr. Muessig being interviewed by the local news- about his “unconventional” ad- which is also 7 times longer than the normal lawyer TV ad:
This was cut down to a 2.75 minute news segment.
Remember, Muessig didn’t spend a dime on media, he paid some professionals to create the ad- and posted it on Youtube.
Interviews in Esquire, Slate, Vice, the American Bar Association Journal, Complex, Inquisitr, Deadspin, Wonkette. When was the last time people even watched your 3.5 minute ad? Never mind interviewed you about it?
We always remind clients, we can create interest, but it’s still up to the client to close the deal and follow up. The old adage that nothing kills a crappy product faster than great advertising still holds true.
If Mr. Muessig’s phone really did ring off the hook, he may never need to do another ad, since this ad will always be relevant. No sale, no call before midnight tonight (in fact, he’s ok with you calling him after midnight). People who don’t think it’s professional (other lawyers) or that he doesn’t looks “lawyerly enough” aren’t his target audience. He says he thinks like a criminal in the ad, and since thinking like your clients is one of the fundamental keys to good advertising he’s nailing his advertising since his customers are criminals.
Learn from the X-rapper lawyer. Don’t do ads that aren’t worthy of press coverage or watching twice.
Update- Mar 8 2022- apparently, not only did Daniel Muessig think like a criminal- turned out he was one.
A former defense attorney who became known for his satirical ads offering his ability to “think like a criminal” will spend five years in prison for his role in a large-scale marijuana ring.
Daniel Muessig, 40, of Squirrel Hill, was sentenced Tuesday by Senior U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab to the mandatory prison sentence allowed.
He pleaded guilty in November to conspiracy to distribute marijuana and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
Source: Former Pittsburgh defense attorney gets 5 years in prison for marijuana distribution | TribLIVE.com
As I sit at home, writing this post (too many interruptions at the office) I realize that when clients are choosing an ad agency, many have no clue on what they are really choosing. In most cases, the overworked and under-recognized copywriters aren’t given a whole lot of thought. One of the first questions for the creative director/CEO/President/Chief Creative officer is to find out where they started in the agency business? The answers should tell you a lot about the agency- if it’s a former copywriter or art director the agency focus will probably be on great creative, if it’s an account planner- strategy may be their lead strength, if it’s a finance person- run, and if it’s a account executive/bag man/sales professional- I’m sure the presentation will be charming.
When it comes to the giants of advertising- and the guy you would want running your ad agency, David Ogilvy belongs on the top of the list. Even though the book is dated, I required all employees to read “Ogilvy on Advertising” for the first 20 years of The Next Wave. I still recommend it- but instead want them to read the excellent “Hey Whipple, Squeze this” by my friend Luke Sullivan first. Ogilvy was a brilliant writer and a consummate ad guy. He understood that you had to eat, sleep and breathe your product in order to do it justice. One of the requirements for working at Crispin Porter + Bogusky according to their employee handbook is that you are an ad person. Ad people are tuned into everything about the business- what accounts are where- and who is doing great work. If you aren’t an ad person you have a job- if you are one- you have a career.
When I stumbled upon this letter from David Ogilvy I knew things hadn’t changed much in the world of advertising. Great ads comes from people who immerse themselves in the work. It may be your most important indicator of what kind of agency you are about to hire:
Source: The Unpublished David Ogilvy: A Selection of His Writings from the Files of His Partners;
April 19, 1955
Dear Mr. Calt:
On March 22nd you wrote to me asking for some notes on my work habits as a copywriter. They are appalling, as you are about to see:
- I have never written an advertisement in the office. Too many interruptions. I do all my writing at home.
- I spend a long time studying the precedents. I look at every advertisement which has appeared for competing products during the past 20 years.
- I am helpless without research material—and the more “motivational” the better.
- I write out a definition of the problem and a statement of the purpose which I wish the campaign to achieve. Then I go no further until the statement and its principles have been accepted by the client.
- Before actually writing the copy, I write down ever conceivable fact and selling idea. Then I get them organized and relate them to research and the copy platform.
- Then I write the headline. As a matter of fact I try to write 20 alternative headlines for every advertisement. And I never select the final headline without asking the opinion of other people in the agency. In some cases I seek the help of the research department and get them to do a split-run on a battery of headlines.
- At this point I can no longer postpone the actual copy. So I go home and sit down at my desk. I find myself entirely without ideas. I get bad-tempered. If my wife comes into the room I growl at her. This has gotten worse since I gave up smoking.
- I am terrified of producing a lousy advertisement. This causes me to throw away the first 20 attempts.
- If all else fails, I drink half a bottle of rum and play a Handel oratorio on the gramophone. This generally produces an uncontrollable gush of copy.
- The next morning I get up early and edit the gush.
- Then I take the train to New York and my secretary types a draft. I cannot type, which is very inconvenient.
- I am a lousy copywriter, but I am a good editor. So I go to work editing my own draft. After four or five editings, it looks good enough to show to the client. If the client changes the copy, I get angry—because I took a lot of trouble writing it, and what I wrote I wrote on purpose.
Altogether it is a slow and laborious business. I understand that some copywriters have much greater facility.
Yours sincerely, D.O.
via Letters of Note: I am a lousy copywriter.
The humility of Ogilvy’s letter is quaint. I’ve met other great copywriters and they’ve run the gamut in personality traits, but generally everyone of them is fascinating and perfectly capable of doing many different things. However, I’d beware of those who are really frustrated authors- because if you are writing ads to pay the freight while working on the “great American novel” you probably aren’t really an ad person.
If you are an aspiring copywriter, see number 6 and realize 20 is a low number these days. Another great copywriter who I’ve had the pleasure of working with, Sally Hogshead once wrote 800 headlines for her client, BMW Motorcycles. So get writing.
The other key is to write daily. The day you run out of ideas is the day you die if you are a real copywriter. Blogs make it much easier than it was in David Ogilvy’s day to test your writing chops and get feedback. Real copywriters can’t stop writing- which may explain why I’m sitting at home, writing this post on a Saturday afternoon.
There is a reason we’re not “The Next Wave Advertising” or even say we’re an ad agency (unless forced into a corner so that people know what little mental box to check off). It’s because back in 1988 we knew advertising was already dying.
What they taught us in “marketing” and in “advertising” was that it’s all about deliver a product to match up the consumers needs with our products and services. Only one small problem in our eyes- consumers who had unlimited choice and the entire globe to buy from- and an abundance of information aren’t rational- they are emotional.
The nice science of the “4p’s” didn’t work. It wasn’t Product, Place, Price, Promotion” - it was what makes me happy. Selling was out- stories were in. People activated when charismatic leaders put on great performances- just look at what Steve Jobs did with Apple- and has refined over the years.
That Apple computer had a position called “Evangelist” was the writing on the wall- not a VP of sales- but a fracking Evangelist. Which would you rather have on your business card?
We thought the most cogent explanation of business to date was one from Peter Drucker- that business only had two tool- marketing (in the broad sense) and innovation- hence our name.
But our methodology was all Apple- it was style with substance. It was stories and sales. It was more about “In Search of Excellence” - the first mega-business best seller book by Tom Peters and Bob Waterman, than about marketing and advertising- we wanted customers to delight in the process of buying things.
One of our hero’s is still David Ogilvy, the founder of Ogilvy advertising- and even though he died in 1999, with the epitaph “I’d like to be remembered as a copywriter who had some big ideas” his firm lives on- and is still generating big ideas for big clients.
Recently, they posted their new take on the 4ps- which they believe as given way to the 4E’s- and we concur:
from Product to Experience
from Place to Everyplace
from Price to Exchange
from Promotion to Evangelism
EXPERIENCE Discover and map out the full Customer Journey on your own brand – in your own country.
Develop your knowledge of new media and channels the way a chef masters new ingredients. Try new things – do something that doesn’t start with TV or print.
EXCHANGE Appreciate the value of things, not just the cost. Start by calculating the value of your customers – and what their attention, engagement and permission are worth to you.
EVANGELISM Find the passion and emotion in your brand. Inspire your customers and employees with your passion.
via The 4Ps Are Out, The 4Es Are In | Ogilvy & Mather.
The reality is that even the best advertising only brought customers to your door- you still had to do the final sale. The best ad agencies in the world now tell their clients- we’re not only going to do your ads- but we’re even going to tell you how to ask for the sale- how to answer the phone. It’s why Burger King has finally found an ad agency in Crispin Porter + Bogusky that’s delivered the kind of growth that BK hadn’t gotten out of the traditional agencies they’d worked for previously. Pull through the drive thru- and the voice on the speaker will say “nice order” after you finish. Crispin has even helped with product development- typically not a part of what an ad agency does.
The move from a media creation and buying agency to one as partner and consultant has been difficult for many agencies and clients alike. With the overload of media and messages that the typical customer experiences everyday- there is one thing that will always outperform any ad: an amazing experience with your product or service.
So before the next meeting with your ad agency- instead of asking what the next ad is going to look like- maybe it’s time to discuss what the next customer should experience- because that’s where the money changes hands if it’s done right.
We live in an attention society. Everybody wants it, few get it, and all of us give it.
Advertising legend Howard Luck Gossage said “People don’t read ads, they read what interests them and sometimes it’s an ad.”
In today’s marketplace, people watch and share the outrageous. The question is, is it outrageous in a way that extends your brand message? Is it something that helps you make your point about why brand X is better than brand Y?
Evian, a company that sells the most commoditized product in the world- water, gives us an entertaining ditty with babies roller skating to the track of “Rappers Delight”- anyone 40 and older- their core market, remembers this song, and thinks babies are cute. This ad will get a lot of positive spread.
Then, there is an ad, probably done by the bad boys of advertising, Crispin Porter + Bogusky for Internet Explorer 8 and it’s private browsing feature. You’ll watch this- go, eehhwwwwww- and then tell 10 friends. O.M.G.I.G.P. or “Oh, my god, I’m gonna puke”
If given the choice, which would you prefer represented your brand? And, if trends continue, the puking woman is outscoring the babies in views on YouTube by a landslide, so think carefully.