Great vs. Good

This is the presentation Simon Law, planning director of new True Worldwide gave here at Miami Ad School Europe. His key point was that today, as the advertising industry has evolved into a mature business, has learned and mastered many things, most of the work actually is good. (Or not as bad as it used to be.) In this environment only great work will stand out and it harder to achieve than ever.

I liked about his presentation that it did not bring up only the usual suspects of great work, but a few older and not exhaustedly reblogged examples. And some with very interesting angles.
Of course, if you are expecting a formula or recipe for instant great, there is no such thing. Only hard work, sweat and tears, mastering the craft, brutal honesty with yourself and most importantly: resisting the temptation of good.

Adding intangible value

Out of nowhere I ran again across this small section of Rory Sutherland’s “Life lessons from an ad man” talk at TEDGlobal 2009. I had forgotten how interesting and brilliant, filled to the brim with awesome it was. If you like this small section, you will enjoy all the highly recommended 17 minutes.
Rory Sutherland’s blog at Brandrepublic

The Au Strikes Back

I started thinking about the earlier post some days ago and nodded very loudly to Rob Campbell’s observation that “Strategy Stops Stupid”, which I hereby recommend.

To conclude my argument, here is what happens when you let creatives alone in a room secluded from normal people for too long:

Now, if you look past all the CGI and terrible directing, what do we communicate if we show that nature preserve we want people to rescue as a terrible danger straight out of a horror movie?

I, for one, need to buy a chainsaw, matches and a canister of gas.
Someone needs to stop the stupid.

Sometimes I like Direct Marketing

Sometimes there are moments that make me realize why I started to work in direct marketing. A few days ago I went to an optician to have my glasses repaired.

I handed them the glasses, they checked customer data and I was told to come back some days later to pick up the repaired item. Not even five minutes passed after leaving the store I received this short text message (translated and paraphrased):

Exclusively for YOU in April!
FREE spectacle frame (max. €99,90)
with your purchase of new glasses
at your XYZXY store until 04/30/2010.
This short text message = voucher

Clearly, turning in my spectacles for repair had triggered the text message. If my glasses hadn’t been a sad little backup set, I probably would have turned back checked out the glasses at their shop.

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The Clutter, Visualized

Dutch Design studio STUDIO SMACK has created this video to demonstrate “the immense scale of the visual bombardment” we encounter every day. Sure, in theory we have all heard the numbers of the many thousands of messages we encounter everyday, but what does it mean? In the video, all texts, logos, ads competing for our attention are highlighted white, everything else is black.

That’s quite some clutter to break through and to paraphrase PSFK, it makes you think how visible advertising really is. (btw, the video is Creative Commons licensed, very useful for presentations)



Let’s be clear what we are talking about…

Last week this commercial for the Austrian Lotteries went on air. I actually like it. It has a good idea, the main protagonist is perfectly cast and it is amazingly subtle and still funny – for Austrian standards.

Last year’s “Dog” was also a good idea in my eyes. Got Lowe GGK showered in awards, but internationally only shortlisted (i.e. Cannes). 

Yet, despite being brilliant ideas and quite successful, I believe these ads could look a lot better if the agency would be clearer about what they are talking about.

These commercial have a looong history: Along with the tagline “Alles ist möglich” / “Everything is possible” they have been showing the depressing status quo of a person contrasted with the glorious golden future of that person being a lottery winner.

These two commercials have completely left that look-at-that-terrible-job-you-are-in-now-and-the-lottery-will-get-you-out-of-there strategy and tell a much clearer message:

Play the lottery because it will you make so filthy rich that [insert commercial idea here]

I have my doubts that there has been a true strategical decision towards this message. Rather good ideas that were pressed into the old corset. The execution is still stuck in that old tradition of how these spots must be made.

So in “Opera” they spend 15 seconds telling nothing of relevance, because that was the way we have always done it. It makes no sense, does neither help story nor punchline, and it costs extra money each time the ad is aired. And it will go no further than the Cannes shortlist.

Just my two cents.

Google Zeitgeist 2008

Google has published Google Zeitgeist 2008 this week. This yearly summary of the year’s most popular searches at Google. So what is interesting here? 

Google Zeitgeist 2008

The results for the most popular searches in Austria are odd: youtube, orf, ebay, hotmail, wikipedia, herold… Not just Austria, all over the world people seem to mix up address bar and the search field.

This implies a few things: first, this seems to be a basic design flaw in internet browsers. Of course, the address bar is commonly placed on top, but for most people attention is drawn to the all important input field in the center of the start page. (Or, if I recall correctly, in Internet Explorer people’s inputs in the address bar are redirected to a search engine when no website is found)

Whatever the cause one can’t help but notice, secondly, people (the significant majority) are nowhere near internet-savvy. In some countries more, in some countries less. Really successful in the web business are the people who really acknowledge and exploit this fact: hackers, phishers and spammers. On the legal end of the spectrum, most internet advertising and market seems to just talk and connect to the experienced internet user segment.

Thirdly: Why bother printing your web-address on ads? Or, if you are internet service like or Why bother confusing your clients with adresses? What has to stick is the brand name, and then you have to make sure you own the search results when it is entered.

And lastly, it probably pays to buy yourself into the searches for names of your competitors. Say someone wants to get to eBay, googles eBay and as first result gets the paid ad for, an Austrian auctioning site. Admittedly, eBay know their stuff too well, but for most other brands you can position yourself right in front of your competition’s gates.

New Amnesty International commercial: “You Are Powerful”

Usually, I am not a big fan of the commercials made for AI or other human rights groups. Most of them feel like lion bait with lots of emotion, shock etc. instead of seriously trying to win people for the cause.

But I do like this new commercial for Amnesty International. I like that it dramatically visualizes what I believe Amnesty is about (and why I am a member): normal people stepping in when human rights are violated. You might discuss the effect that effort has in reality, as in the YouTube comments. But without Amnesty and all the people engaging, the world would be a much worser place.

Edit: Agency is Mother, London.