Archives for posts with tag: marketing

…copywriting of course.

I stumbled across this gem while on YouTube. It’s selling the oddest product, but with some great writing it makes a splash. The second video is the now infamous Dollar Shave Club.

Although these aren’t the 1/2 hour infomercials that grace cable’s airwaves in the middle of the day. They are very similar containing product demos and a strong pitch to drive you to click on through to the check out.

As always its about the relationship, fostering it, caring for it – like a child – if you constantly make your presence known they’ll resent you for it and want you out of their lives. So use a light touch so that each time they see you it is a enjoyable one.



YouTube: a place of endless cat videos and tutorials on everything. My most recent binge-watching spree has found itself on YouTube watching DigitalRev TV. This YouTube channel, set in Hong Kong is hosted by a charismatic Chinese 20-something with an elegant British accent who simply goes by Kai. If it were not for his antics, you’d think he was a British photography-scholar. They do camera reviews, compare certain aspects of photography (like prime vs zoom lenses) and hold challenges to professional photographers (or Pro Togs) in their “Pro Photographer Cheap Camera Challenge”. Episodes include Chase Jarvis trying to take skateboarding photos with a Lego camera.


It wasn’t until the 15th some odd episode I watched that I realized DigitalRev was bigger than just a YouTube channel. Previously I had admired at their office thinking “Wow, they got a nice office for a YouTube channel”. Later I realized that DigitalRev is an online retailer that sells camera equipment (not one of my brightest moments). Their site has an attempt at a social community that is focused on photography. But where this really wins out is that their YouTube channel doesn’t overtly advertise in the way of “Buy! Buy! Buy!” It is more subtle. At the end of each episode it has the classic and innocent “For more information check out…”

What this channel did do for me as an amateur photographer was that it got me interested in photography again. It encouraged me to try new things with my camera. Furthermore, I feel that I have a source of trusted information about photography to go to.



Now the reasons why I’m playing up DigitalRev is because how effective this form of marketing is. Consider this: it’s YouTube so it’s free for both the viewer and company, it’s filmed in Hong Kong which is nowhere near where I live thus reaching a worldwide audience, it made me want to try new things with photography (such as exposure techniques) and I feel that I’m better for having binge-watched most of their videos. As companies are still trying to figure out how to market to the Internet user; DigitalRev demonstrates one simple philosophy: don’t ram the message down the viewer’s throat. To more clearly illustrate what I mean. The host Kai breaks more camera gear then he praises. The only brand he clearly loves is Leica, which is drastically out of 99% of his viewer’s price range. On more common and financially achievable camera equipment like Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony and so on; he is honest about what he feels. He gives pros and cons and tests the gear out in unique ways.

What this company does is a lesson to anyone wanting to have a successful YouTube channel is that there is effort put into it. The host, cameraman and production assistant (who also make appearances) all understand photography. They’re well versed in the plethora of technology used in photography. Secondly, it is entertaining, unlike most of YouTube reviews. And last there is a production value to it. Which yes does matter.

There are of course many other channels that employ these ideas. However, there are more channels that don’t. If you want to sell products and gain a loyal audience on the Internet: don’t ram your call to action down their throat. Because lets face it, there are several other places people can venture to on the world wide web to find out the same information.

Criticism sucks. As do the hours and constantly redoing things. Which begs the question: how did I end up here?

It all started by me paying attention during commercials. When every one else would be paying attention something else when the ads would come on, I didn’t. My younger self would wait for them when the break would come on. Like how one would wait, fingers crossed, for the DJ to play their latest favorite song on the radio. I would wait for my latest favorite ad.

And that’s exactly why we do the things we do, because we want to become what impresses us the most. So bring on the criticism and long hours, because I want to make something that will impress people the way these ads did:

Oh the beloved #. It is actually called an octothorp, by the way. I’m not sure where hashtag comes from. Although a quick read of wikipedia will tell you.

Mainly associated with Twitter, it is found on several sites. Most notably Tumblr and Facebook. It is useful for sorting information. For example the best uses of this come from sports leagues. I was watching the MLB All-Star game this week and all I had to do was follow #asg and I had all the intel I needed to know.

Apparently there was a guy who dared Twitter people (or I guess they’d be called Tweeters? Or Twitterers?) that if they re-tweeted his tweet 1000 times he would run out onto the field. The only way anyone who wasn’t at the game knew about this was via Twitter #asg. A whole new dialogue came out of this experience. Pictures from fans made their way on the social network.


Furthermore the better brand uses of the hashtag (because this is a blog about advertising) was during the Home Run Derby the day before. Fans could follow the players involved in the derby, or the other players/journalists who were at the event. MLB provided fans clips of interviews with the players about the events that were taking place.

Both these examples, planned and unplanned, brought the experience closer to the viewer, hundreds of miles away. Twitter has always been seen as a conversation medium, and people generally do. Twitter, or better yet the hashtag, are ways of organizing and finding information on a mass medium that is over saturated with content.

This is important to note because people generally won’t adopt a hashtag just because a brand tells them to. They do it because they want what ever it is that they are writing to be read. If there is an event going on like an All-Star game. Then by MLB promoting #asg is a good idea. It encourages people to use the # and get involved with MLB.


As tablets take over the world, their capacity to challenge the desktop & laptop for supremacy is widely debated. In many ways tablets are a cheap and easy to use. For those folks who only want to check their emails and post status updates, a tablet is perfect. It even works well if you need a half-decent word processor, and there are no shortage of them.

What I would like to bring up is the changing use of design software. There are several apps that use photoshop-esque techniques. Which in turn make it so one could alter the colours and filters of a photo while sitting on the sofa with their feet up. These techniques would take a skilled designer the better part of an hour to try out several effects. Now changing effects comes at the swipe of a finger. There are also several other apps that incorporate other aspects of graphic design. Adobe has a series of mobile apps that tap into every aspect of design, web or graphic. This change gives everyone the ability to become a graphic designer. With more people using these tools to alter their photos several things are happening.

One is that the use of filters is quickly becoming the norm and annoying. I hate sepia.

Another is that the bar is being raised quickly. What used to be able to get you a job (a snazzy portfolio) is not the norm anymore. Although the industry is adapting, it is taking a while. Soon knowing how to do something is not going to be the case anymore, because everyone will know how to do it. For example, I know how to string a few sentences together, does that make me a copywriter? What the industry will soon be calling for are people who have an understanding. Creatives will not just need to be able to come up with witty headlines and fancy graphics, but strategy and understanding of our dear friends marketing & business.

I’m optimistic that this will raise the level of advertising, and in turn make it more strategic and successful. This will benefit both advertisers and the audience. I’m excited that my career is beginning as this trend is.


A screenshot of Adobe Ideas

Pixlr-express-effectA screenshot of Pixlr Express

No its not Ogilvy or Bernbach. There actually is a patron saint of advertising. Saint Bernardino of Siena, aka St. Bernardine.

Yep, this former catholic priest hailing from 15th century Italy is the patron saint of advertising. As well as communications (which makes sense), gambling and respiratory problems. I’m not sure how the previous two fit into the mix.

What is interesting about St Bernardino is that he was around at a time when print was becoming very popular in Europe. It was becoming more accessible to more people. Since he was a well known preacher at the time his image was represented on several documents and works of art. This is most likely what lead him to becoming the patron saint of advertising. So this really is just a classic story of being in the right place at the right time. Then again he did help a lot of people… which explains the Saint status.

Curiously enough there is also an ad agency in Vancouver that carries the name Saint Bernardine.

If you wanna learn more about this lad check out the source of all knowledge: wikipedia. Sorry Google.



Feedback is always a good thing right? Having your ideas tested always makes better work, and a more anxious writer too. It is always when working by yourself that your mind slips into a self-described fantasy that rationalizes all the fine details that a skilled eye will easily point out.

So, how to break out from this fantastical perspective? Get opinions of course.

Yet, what if the work isn’t quite at that point to be reviewed? Leo Burnett has published this app (for Android, I’m not sure about iPhone) called HumanKind. It uses a scale that Leo Burnett has developed which measures how effective an idea is. Now since it is only an app you have to use your discretion.

I would say to just keep the idea focused. Guidance is key, this app helps, but you’re the writer in the end. Write it the way it needs to be written – then get feedback.

2 3

Apps, you gotta love ’em. There are apps for almost everything. Probably sometime soon there will be one for heart surgery too.

One of my favorite apps is The Simpsons Tapped Out. If you have never played it, don’t. It’s addictive. So addictive that you might even end up writing a blog post about it. The premise of the game is that Homer blows up Springfield and he has to rebuild it. So basically it is a Simpsons version of The Sims.


A large portion of the game is free. It is free to download, free to do almost everything, but of course there are things you can only get by converting real money into virtual money in the form of donuts.

What I’m here to talk about is the very very subtle form of advertising that exists in the game. No not the blatantly obvious form that everything in the game is The Simpsons. But instead what the sole purpose of this game is: to get people to watch The Simpsons. (As a side note there is a guy on WordPress who has an excellent blog about this game it’s called: The Simpsons Tapped Out Tips

Before downloading this game I hadn’t watched a Simpsons episode in years. I used to like the show in its early years, then the writing changed, Family Guy became popular, then redundant, and I just started watching other shows other than The Simpsons. In the game certain things happen to promote that week’s coming show. For example a week or so ago Moe gets a “new lease on life” and he is given a suit and tasks, and of course the gamer is given curiosity about that week’s show.

That is exactly how these kinds of apps should work, and to a greater extent how advertising campaigns should be. They should engage the audience in one medium and then point them towards another. In the case of The Simpsons, the primary medium is the television show, all other media they use to promote their show should encourage the audience to watch the show. Their Tapped Out game does exactly that. It encourages and intrigues people to watch the show, and it makes people who rarely or used to watch the show fall back in love with the characters and their antics.

In my opinion this is exactly the kind of advertising that is going to exist on mobile devices in the near future. Ads in content are annoying, although some are done very well. But a great use of mobile apps to promote a brand could really help drive people to it.

Writing is a process. Duh, I figured I’d point out the most obvious thing first. But bear with me.

Ideas don’t come to you. They are made, like people. When two ideas love each other very very much they decide that they would like another idea to come into this world. So they make a new idea. And that my fellow reader is how ideas are made. They are combinations of ideas merged together in different ways (like cooking for example) to create ‘unique’ things.

But that word ‘unique’ is a curious word. Also its cousin ‘originality’ is worse. Both words (according to the dictionary on my computer) mean “the first of its kind”. That obviously flies in the face of my definition of ideas. So I’ll defend: ideas cannot exist as something unique or original, they have to have precedent. If an idea was to truly exist on its own as something unique, then no one would understand it because we need the precedent knowledge to understand it, and create it for that matter (hope that makes sense).

So, no idea can exist by itself. It needs to come from somewhere, and have other ideas preceding it. Consider a laptop for example. It is a keyboard merged with a computer and then merged with a TV screen. It could have never existed without the previous inventions existing before it.

I bring this up because ideas don’t come to you. They are created. Also if you are trying to create something orignal or unique that “no one has ever seen before” good luck, but I doubt it’ll happen. Don’t think that I’m claiming to set the bar low, instead think of it as being realistic, literally.

How to create comes from being a mad (mental) scientist. Instead of chemicals you have ideas, merge them shape them differently and take them into unfamiliar places. That will make them seemingly ‘unique’.

As far as how you write, or how to learn how to write. No one can teach you that. You have to learn what works for you. Some work better writing in public areas, some in private places. Some (like me) work better talking to other people to spark the imagination, others like to read or be by themselves. There is no wrong way, the right way for you is your own way. So when ever someone gives you advice on how to write best, I’d say listen and be polite you may learn something, but if it won’t work for your process then it won’t work.


The book cleverly titled The Copy Book published by D&AD is a great resource. It has an extensive list of copywriters who have their work profiled and talk about their writing processes. The book itself is large in size, and inspirational for any writer. By reading all about the writer’s process then viewing their work, it gives you an interesting insight into how they do what they do.

As a young writer I’ve found that by reading and studying the approaches and processes of writers (copy or otherwise) I have a better understanding on how to deal with and approach new challenges. Seeing as how every new project is different; your process in many ways won’t be consistent throughout. Being able to adapt your writing as needed to each new project and each medium in my opinion is key for any writer.

This is a parent company map of the biggest parent companies in the world. There are however a few missing, like SC Johnson. Not to be confused with Johnson & Johnson, who did make their way on the map.

Probably the biggest surprise is Dr. Pepper.Who, according to the map is owned by Kraft. But if I want to buy a bottle of this tasty beverage (here in Canada) I would have to go to a Pepsi machine. Oddly enough if I was to visit Europe it would be bottled by Coca-Cola, according to the source of all knowledge: wikipedia.


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