Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

Poof Goes the Ads

November 25, 2007

When they finish the process of better and better targeted advertising, that’s when the whole idea of advertising will go poof, will disappear. If it’s perfectly targeted, it isn’t advertising, it’s information. Information is welcome, advertising is offensive. Who wants to pay to create information that’s discarded? Who wants to pay to be a nuisance? Wouldn’t it be better to pay to get the information to the people who want it? Are you afraid no one wants your information? Then maybe you’d better do some research and make a product that people actually want to know about. Dave Winer

After reading that quote from Dare Obasanjo’s recent blog entry, I was floored by its pregnancy. The best advertising—like the best sales tactics—is invisible: it is about matching someone’s needs perfectly. You’re no longer selling to them, you’re helping them and they can’t buy your product fast enough. What has the progression of advertising been but a long, slow march towards better and better targeting?

I think the end of advertising, this withering away of the message, occurs when the consumer tells the advertiser exactly what advertisement he or she wants to hear. At that point, it really is just information. For me, an excellent example was the fad of the late 90s: the personal agent. Back then, the vision was that people would create “intelligent” agents to go out and do their bidding. The consumer would say “tell me about flights with window seats going from Phoenix to LA leaving December 3rd around 4ish” and the agent would come back with details and ticket information. In reality, that’s the pinnacle of marketing—if the airline conceived the agent. Otherwise, it’s really more like a search engine or travel agent.

Like Dare, I think this is the future. The agent was an idea ahead of its time; the breathless contemporaneous accounts read more like science fiction when compared with the available technology. Technology has caught up, though, and this user-generated marketing is going to be big.

Heard on the Radio

September 14, 2004

I just heard the following advertisement from 1948 on a CD of old radio programs:

And in our brief intermission, there’s just time to consider a matter of utmost importance to every cigarette smoker. How mild can a cigarette be? Smoke Camels and see!

Prove for yourself what noted throat specialists reported about Camel mildness in a coast-to-coast smoking test. In this test, hundreds of men and women smoked Camels—and only Camels—for thirty days, an average of one to two packs a day.

After making weekly examinations of the throats of the hundreds of men and women who took part in this Camel test (2,470 careful examinations in all), the doctors reported not one single case of throat irritation due to smoking Camels. Yes, the doctors reported not one single case of throat irritation due to smoking Camels!

Make the Camel mildness test yourself. Test Camels in your “T” zone: “T” for taste and “T” for throat. If at any time you’re not convinced that Camels are the mildest cigarette you’ve ever smoked, return the package with the unused cigarettes to the makers of Camels and you will receive its full purchase price plus postage.

Amazing.

Leggo My Logo

July 24, 2003

Top 250 logos as rated by readers over at goodlogo!com. This is interesting to me because my employer just settled on a new logo. I’m not sure how much I like the new one (which I can’t unveil just yet) but it’s a far sight better than the current one. (The site also pointed out the arrow in the FedEx logo that I had never seen before: it’s in the negative space created by the “E” and the “x” below the baseline. Way cool!)

Clever Advertising

July 3, 2003

You’ve probably seen the commercials for Axe body spray—I think that means deodorant, but I’m not exactly sure—where use of the product results in random women accosting you. I thought that they were well targeted and moderately clever, but they’ve outdone themselves with the latest creation.

One of the guys at work brought in a copy of Axe’s new guide entitled Coping With All the Ladies: The Axe Wearer’s Handbook. It’s a mock book along the lines of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook except that it features how-tos for men who suddenly find themselves overrun with women. I know that it made the rounds in my department and even brought a chuckle to a guy who’s completely inured to advertising.

There’s long been talk about how the future of commercials is making them more clever so people will want to watch them or embedding them into the shows themselves so people can’t fast-forward through them, but I think that this sort of marketing tool is very effective. I don’t know how commercials can get any better—the top commercials, obviously—without devolving into the Calvin-Klein, what-the-hell-is-this-commercial-even-for style.