Archives for the month of: March, 2013

Nike is a brand who truly gets their audience. One of the hardest things to do as a creative is to pare your message down so fine that the only way to describe what happens is magic. “Just Do It”, written by Dan Weiden and has agency Weiden + Kennedy have had a long relationship with Nike.

The success of Nike’s advertising has obviously led it to success in several different sports worldwide. “Just Do It” is a line that can exist in all sports. When an athlete is looking at the training that they have to do. That metaphorical mountain that is before them, one that they will never reach the top of, because they will always be setting the summit higher and higher. “Just Do It” becomes a mantra to them. One where no excuses are allowed. If it’s going to hurt, Just Do It. If you’d rather relax today, Just Do It. If you’re a little sore, Just Do It.


This ad captures it perfectly. If you can’t read it the copy says “Most heroes are anonymous”. It demonstrates that not every athlete is a professional one. It also goes further to connect to the audience because when the runner crosses the finish line that is not their only heroic moment. Instead the moments that are truly heroic are the early mornings and hours of training put in before a race. In those moments the athlete whether it is Steven Stamkos or you is a hero, because anyone who is an athlete knows that your success in your sport largely comes from the training you do before hand.

These ads by Nike demonstrate that. They recognize that their market is bringing their knowledge, struggles, triumphs and personal challenges to the table when they read the ad. These ads speak to t

nike_longcopyEnter the second ad in this post. Just doing it comes from you. You are the one who trains, lugs yourself to the gym and puts that extra 5 lbs on. No one else can do it for you.

I’m focusing on the tagline because that is obviously what everything comes back to. Knowing how the tagline is received and functions allows the writer communicate it best. However, in both of these ads “Just Do It” doesn’t appear. Does it have to? An important note here is that “Just Do It” has been around since 1988. By now it is most likely one of the most well known slogans in all of advertising. So plastering it on every ad is pointless in many ways. The audience knows it. The more creative way, which they do, is to use the tagline sparingly. This gives the line more effect.

Does the tagline have to be there in order to communicate the same message? In these cases no not really. The message is sustained in its tone. Most importantly it is the simplicity that allows the message to come through clearly. Yes having “Just Do It” would reinforce the message, but it would be redundant. Having the simplicity in the second ad allows the copy to be the hero. Arguably there is a headline “They will tell you no” and a subhead “You will tell them yes”. The body copy in this case acts the way that it is supposed to: to reinforce and clarify the headline, or technical headline in this case.

And I’ll finish off with a brilliant, and simple, ambient idea from Nike to further my point.



Sure viral stuff is fun to watch – at first. Then incredibly annoying when everyone and their 2nd cousin twice removed makes a video. The most recent example is the Harlem Shake. Ya sure an interesting dance, and fun to watch (if you’re in one). When people do the same thing over and over with no real twist on the orignal other than setting, costumes and theme. It gets boring. Really boring. Then the viral thing dies, at last.

Now viral is an interesting phenomenon that I find intriguing as to why it is viral. Largely a lot of the extensions and interest of something viral are because of the shear fact it is viral, and no other reason why. But why is it interesting? Catchy song? Probably the best answer. That would make viral videos the modern day music video: interesting at first, then sparks a phenomenon, then gets old and finally everyone begins to hate all references because it is outdated.

As for a brand a certain level of viral is nice. Getting people to watch your content is always good. Especially when they actively seek it out. However, going too viral is a bad thing. It gets old quick and becomes something people actively avoid. So tread lightly.

If you are going to do something viral, please twist it and make it interesting. So here is my example of that. We all know the Harlem Shake, here is Ryan Higa’s twist.

It always amazes me how in sync companies are with new trends. As soon as something becomes ‘in’ they all suddenly jump all over it. The recent “Greek yogurt craze” is a great example of that. I guess ever since pro-biotic’s popularity has come and gone they need something else to promote.

These systematic trends are obviously planned. They let the current craze run its course. Meanwhile companies are concocting the next one. Timing is everything in business. Wait too long and someone else will steal your thunder. But if you get too eager and you may steal the thunder from your own product. As every marketer knows: intrest drives demand.


Now I doubt that Greece actually gets a royalty from Greek yogurt sales, just like Italy doesn’t make any royalties off of pizza and pasta sales. It is also important to note that Greek yogurt isn’t anything new. Greek yogurt is really just a strained yogurt. This makes it thicker; as opposed to runny like American yogurt. This type of yogurt has been around for a long time, probably back to ancient Greek times. Now Greek yogurt on North American store shelves is nothing new. What I’m getting to is the full-scale branding and embrace from the major labels.

Marketing trends like this are always interesting to watch. Some trends live and some die, and it all depends on so many factors (too many worth listing). What I struggle to understand is the purpose of this. As you can see in the picture above there are many brands that have recently been promoting their Greek yogurt brands. Now as this cluster of brands all try to advertise their new Greek line extension they all do what doesn’t make any marketing sense: they’re creating clutter, not breaking away from it.

Over the course of my educational career I’ve always been told to “break away from the clutter”. Not run towards it. Now if one of these brands went out and totally raised the bar and made Greek yogurt their own then great! Activia did this on the last yogurt trend, but maybe I’m failing to see the advertising that is going on.

At the end of the day I’m curious to see who will come out on top, or will it just be a deadlock tie.

Sir John Hegarty, the ‘H’ in BBH.

A memoir by a personal ad hero of mine. So there might be bias here. “Hegarty On Advertising: Turning Intelligence Into Magic”.


Just like a typical memoir, Hegarty goes through his career and the lessons he learned along the way. The point of reading this book would be to learn those lessons. I’d say them here if I wasn’t worried about copyright infringement. So instead, and like always, I am going to talk about the purpose of this book.

Hegarty had the fortune of being apart of some great agencies, most notably Saatchi & Saatchi and of course BBH. He believes that great creatives have an entrepreneurial spirit about the brands they work on. Once upon a time back in the days of Rosser Reeves marketing a product would be based on its unique selling point. Now with so many brands in the marketplace it is hard to establish a brand. Sure there are unique and slight differences between one brand over another, but is that enough to set it apart? Not really. So in many ways it comes down to salesmanship. How one brand pitches itself against its competitors to its audience.

In an interview he gave (which is linked at the bottom) he talks about how creatives need to think ahead of the trends. The ideas need to lead the pack, not go with it. He talks about how the ad industry is making a worse product. How we are “not coming up with the ideas that are game changing”. Now certainly some are game changing. Like the latest McDonald’s truth campaign. No one saw that coming. However, Hegarty has a point. The majority of creative isn’t game changing. But what is the ‘game’?

The game itself is changing so fast. Mobile phones are getting more and more futuristic, TV is changing so fast that networks are struggling to keep up, everyday the world is becoming more globalized and smaller. So in many ways brands are just trying to hang onto the changing tides that the consistent bombardment of new technology is bringing into this world. The curious question is, will it ever stop? slow down? or will it speed up? History dictates it will speed up, but how fast can innovation really go before people just settle into certain things that work for them, because there are only so many new technologies one can adopt and use daily.

I agree and respectfully disagree with Hegarty. As an aspiring creative I try to stay on top of the trends out there and think of how I can reach the audience better. Sometimes new technologies, trends and ideas work well, but on the other hand sometimes the old ways work well too.

In the book Hegarty gives many other insights into what it takes for a creative to succeed in this business. It is important to note that he stays active in the goings-on at BBH. I won’t give his ideas away here because those are his. What I will say is that he is all about thinking of things differently. The same boring thing never sells, and creatives have to be, well, creative. Or another way of putting it: tear down the old ways of thinking and put up new ones, new branded ones.

Copy’s fate has long been doomed. So claims some people. However, I disagree. No not because I would have to rethink my chosen career, but because that is not the way communication works.

Communication is done through media. Media vary in purpose and methods of delivery. Such as Twitter vs Instagram. Both media operate in the same way however. They both communicate thoughts packed into messages delivered via media. This means that words are a method of communicating. Therefore copy will live as long as we can see. Which at that point we will have to rely on brail or telepathy.

So as a result there are some ads and media where copy is purposeful. Conversely there are media where images and images in motion are better. Both serve a purpose, and both are visual media. Which leads me to what copy or language actually is. Words are pictures themselves. I know, not a profound statement. However it is important to note. This is because of what I believe the copywriter’s role actually is. Their job is not reliant on whether there are words to write, but whether there is a message to communicate. Seeing as how advertising can be defined as a method of communication, and media as the delivery of messages, copywriting is purposeful.

So in short: it is only the media that is changing, not communication.

It’s annoying when people throw up their arms and say “It’s the end!” Those who succeed in any business look down the road and learn from the past, rather than throwing up their arms in defeat. Recognizing patterns helps you know what will most likely happen. So keep you ear to the ground and your eyes open to new ideas entering the marketplace. Social media is a copywriter’s dream. Finally a set of media that engages conversation, which is what advertising is when it works effectively.

The one ad that is the most remembered from the previous Superbowl is Oreo’s. Their media buy was $0, and yet it was the most effective, the most talked about (especially outside the ad world, where it counts) and the most remembered. It worked because it was timely and relevant. It connected the brand brilliantly with the power outage, and the conversation that was taking place on social media. The core of the ad’s message comes from the line of copy that linked the brand to the event.

Copywriting isn’t dead. It is just evolving, like everything else in our world all the time.


“Likeable Social Media” by Dave Kerpen

Like many business-esque books they have an elaborate subhead that describes the book, and this one is no different. “How to delight your customers, create an irresistible brand, and be generally amazing at Facebook (and other social networks).” That pretty mush sums up what the book is about, which allows me to discuss other things.

Likeable social media

The book’s purpose is to educate its readers about social media. Today many people use social media, but how many use it properly? The main and obvious message about our times and one that Kerpen highlights is that the Internet is a two-way medium. There are many companies who understand this, and many who don’t. This book demonstrates how success for a company will be determined in the future. Branding isn’t going to necessarily going to be determined by whether a person engages with your company, but what they think about it.

Now what did I mean by that last comment? Take my relationship with Mozilla, more specifically Firefox. I like Mozilla’s brand and what they offer to the marketplace, however, I don’t use Firefox or any other Mozilla product for that matter. Therefore although I don’t use the brand I think highly of it. Is that a bad thing for Mozilla? No, not really. Mozilla benefits from me thinking highly of them. I will in turn talk about it in a positive way to friends, and I might even mention them in a positive way on a blog post. Although they don’t have me directly as a customer, they have me as an influence. That as I understand it is social media’s role. Being likeable is primary. Sales will follow crowds.

Dave Kerpen goes into this extensively in his book Likeable Social Media. He also has released another book called Likeable Business. I have yet to read it however so I won’t comment on whether it is good or not. Instead I will just post a picture.


Dave Kerpen owns a company cleverly called Likeable Media. They specify in social media and helping their customers learn how to engage their audience in this newish medium.

They have a great blog about social media on their website, as well as an informative Twitter feed @LikeableMedia

Alex Bogusky and John Winsor both of Crispin Porter + Bogusky. Although they have moved onto other things, the work they did while at CP+B.

“Baked In” by Alex Bogusky and John Winsor

In short this book is a product design book. Alex and John propose the thesis to their book with the subhead: creating products and businesses that market themselves. From an advertising perspective the brands that have their marketing baked in will win over those brands who have to fake their way through business. The authors give several examples of products and the resulting marketing.

The last chapter of Baked In is really worth reading. I won’t ruin it, but Alex and John give their prospective on what they believe will come  in the future. This in turn leaves me excited about the future of my profession and how lucky I will be to be apart of the process.


John Winsor has a great blog on his website, fittingly enough on marketing product design:

Alex Bogusky has some great videos on YouTube worth checking out. This one corresponds nicely with Baked In. Although it is more focused on social media and its future, the message is the same.

“Pick Me: Breaking Into Advertising and Staying There” by Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk

This book can be read straight through (I had to for a school assignment). However, when I originally bought it I only read the first three chapters because they were relevant to me at that time. I like to think long term, but I figured I should focus on getting an internship before I start to consider whether I want to move up to the CD role or not. That is both the upside and downside to the book. For some the entire book will have useful knowledge, and for others some chapters might be skipped. Pick Me acts more like a resource rather than a cover-to-cover read. Its true value is something that is referred back to at points in one’s career.

Pick Me acts like a giant ‘heads up’ for any young creative looking to break into the ad industry. Nancy and Janet take their successful column on called “Ask Jancy” (Janet + Nancy), and turned it into a book that provides their reader with career insights and advice at all the major points along the way. They also recuit advice from several ad greats: Bob Barrie, David Droga, Neil French, Rick Boyko, Shane Hutton, Mike Hughes, Sally Hogshead, Mark Fenske, Tom Monahan, Chuck Porter, Bob Scarpelli, Brian Millar, Chris Staples and Lorraine Tao.

All in all it is a great book for young creatives and advertising students. The book is written in a Q&A format in some parts, and other parts the featured ad veterans give their two-cents on a variety of topics. If a young ad student or junior has a question that they may feel nervous about asking, this would be a good place to turn to first. Also “Ask Jancy” would be a good place too:


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