February 27, 2009

2 Latest Thoughts About Twitter

Last week I made a lot of readers unhappy with my posts (here and here) about Twitter.

It's not good strategy to antagonize your audience but, what the hell, it's only a hobby. Here are two more thoughts.

Latest Thought #1:

I have summed up my opinion of Twitter in the following way: It's how the narcissistic keep in touch with the feckless.

To bolster my case, I call your attention (thanks to David Burn of AdPulp) to a recent interesting piece in the The Sunday Times (of London.) The reporter asked a few really smart people about Twitter. Here are excerpts from what they said:

The clinical psychologist Oliver James has his reservations. “Twittering stems from a lack of identity. It’s a constant update of who you are, what you are, where you are. Nobody would Twitter if they had a strong sense of identity.”

“We are the most narcissistic age ever,” agrees Dr David Lewis, a cognitive neuropsychologist and director of research based at the University of Sussex. “Using Twitter suggests a level of insecurity whereby, unless people recognise you, you cease to exist. It may stave off insecurity in the short term, but it won’t cure it.”

For Alain de Botton, author of Status Anxiety and the forthcoming The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, Twitter represents “a way of making sure you are permanently connected to somebody and somebody is permanently connected to you, proving that you are alive. It’s like when a parent goes into a child’s room to check the child is still breathing. It is a giant baby monitor.”

Just because a bunch of psychologists and philosophers agree with me, doesn't necessarily mean I'm wrong.

Latest Thought #2

One of the great attractions of Twitter is that it is new. It is of the present.

It doesn't take any great power of observation to notice that as electronic communication has become increasingly pervasive, fads grow faster and die more violent deaths.

Perspective is the ability to separate that which is new and currently popular from that which is worthwhile.

In the parade of knuckleheads, the grand marshal is the one who believes the present always knows best.

By The Way...

TAC recommends two terrific books by the above-mentioned Alain de Botton -- Status Anxiety and How Proust Can Change Your Life.

February 26, 2009

If You Liked Borat You'll Love The Ukrainian Army

It's video day here at TAC.

First is a spot for the Ukrainian Army (along with a translation.) This is not a joke, it's a real spot. Apparently, in the Ukraine, they let monkeys direct and account planners write.



GIRL 1: Would you take us for a ride on your BMW?
BMW-DRIVER: Even to the end of the world!
SOLDIER: Hey, i’d like to drown some vodka, girls!
GIRL 1: Just a second!
GIRL 2: Where do you live?
SOLDIER: Right here- daytime at work, and at night in the clubs!
GIRL 1: Which work?
SOLDIER: Contract of course!
BLONDE GIRL: Contract?? Marriage contract or what?
GIRL 3: Army contract, stupid!
BMW-DRIVER: Hey, don’t you wanna ride on my car?
GIRLS: Forget it, take yourself for a ride!
NARRATOR: It’s about time for new heroes! With contract based service in Ukrainian armed forces!


And now, from the ridiculous to the sublime -- comedian Louis CK with Conan O'Brien. "The crappiest generation of spoiled idiots."

video

Shout out to Jimmy Cabral for this.

February 25, 2009

So Wrong For So Long

For almost 2 years now, we here at Ad Contrarian global headquarters have been ranting about the imbeciles in the press and in the marketing industry who have convinced themselves, and most of the ad industry, that television is dead.

I am very happy to gloatingly report to you today that television viewing is at its all-time highest point ever. EVER.

Regardless of all the bullshit you read, there have never been as many people watching more television for longer periods of time than there are now. NEVER.

According to Nielsen, the average American "now watches more than 151 hours of TV a month. That's about five hours a day and an all-time high, up 3.6% from the 145 or so hours Americans reportedly watched in the same period last year."

Kudos to the brilliant Susan Bandura, who wrote a guest post for this blog back in November of 2008 and totally nailed it:
...what’s really going to happen to TV viewing in the near future?

Let’s see … everybody has a TV … people are staying at home more … consumption of entertainment usually goes up when the economy is down… and now it's dark by the time we get home from work...

All of these factors say “more TV watching” as far as I’m concerned.
Susan was quoted by the LA Times yesterday in this story about the surprising (to those who have drunk the "tv is dead" Kool-Aid) strength of tv viewing.

Here are some more contrarian ideas about the "death of television" and the "death of advertising" you can expect to be reading about here soon:
  • Despite all the bullshit you read by digital maniacs, there will soon be a study that shows that tv is still the dominant medium for reaching every demographic group, including young people.
  • Despite all the "advertising is dead" nonsense, a study will soon be released showing that even with clutter, fragmentation, TiVo, digital media, etc, tv advertising is as effective as it has ever been (see Update below.)
  • Despite all the golly-gee web bullshit, you will soon read that a higher proportion of on-line searches are driven by television than by on-line display (banner) ads.
TV ain't dead. Advertising ain't dead. The only thing that's dead is the credibility of the trade press and the trendoid, self-promoting pundits who've been so wrong for so long.

Update:
Before the electrons were even dry on this post, Adweek published an article entitled "Study: TV Ads More Effective Than Ever."

February 24, 2009

Nobody Gives A S*** About Your Philosophy

You know that big new corporate branding campaign you're planning? The one where you tell the world about your company philosophy so they'll finally understand how nice and virtuous you are?

Here's a tip: Nobody gives a shit.

Nobody gives a shit that...
  • you believe people are your greatest asset.
  • you believe one person can make a difference.
  • you think the world needs to be more connected.
  • you think we need to preserve our precious resources.
  • you think the children are our future.
If I might be allowed to summarize... they've heard it all before and they don't give a shit.

Here's what they care about:
  • What are you doing, bub? Show me. Be specific. Convince me it's not a gimmick or pr ploy.
  • What have you got for me? How much is it? Why do I need it? Why is it good?
The underlying principle here is this: In advertising, generalities are worthless. Specifics are gold.

February 23, 2009

Social Media Is Like A Husband

There are days when this blog takes over my life. Having a "social media" website is like having a husband:
  • It needs constant care and feeding
  • If you don't prod it, it will just sit there and do nothing
  • After a while you'll wonder why you ever thought it was exciting
  • All your friends think it's stupid
  • It smells up the bathroom
Before you embark on a social media project, take a close look at the worst husband you know.

Do you really want one of those?

India...
is the new Australia. America's sweethearts.

February 22, 2009

The Envelope Please

Last week we held a survey on the following subject: Which dead people, if alive today, would be Twitterers?

The brilliant readers of The Ad Contrarian have decided that among 20 famous dead people the one least likely to have had a Twitter account is Eleanor Roosevelt. Most likely was Andy Warhol, followed closely by Marilyn Monroe.
Would this person have had a Twitter account?

Andy Warhol --------- 73%
Marilyn Monroe ------71%
Princess Di ------------61%
John Belushi ----------56%
Hitler------------------ 50%
Elvis ------------------ 46%
Cleopatra -------------45%
JFK --------------------45%
Lenny Bruce ----------38%
Kurt Cobain---------- 35%
Freud ------------------34%
Karl Marx -------------31%
Joan of Arc ------------29%
Billie Holiday ---------27%
Marcel Proust -------- 24%
Einstein ---------------20%
Jackie Robinson -----19%
Churchill ------------- 18%
Gandhi ----------------18%
Eleanor Roosevelt ---10%
TAC Predicts:
The lamest Academy Awards show ever tonight. And that's not easy. Thank goodness I'll be on an airplane.

Always Remember:
What is the aptitude these people are being glorified for? Pretending. They're good at pretending.

February 20, 2009

The Old Ball Game

Next week, spring training begins in earnest. So let's take a day off from the horrors of advertising and focus on something pleasant: a true baseball story.

Last year, a player in the San Francisco Giants organization developed a strange ailment. Three fingers on one of his hands suddenly turned blue because of a circulation problem.

The ailment forced him out of action in June, and he missed the entire rest of the season.

In order to get his circulation back to normal, doctors put him on a regimen of baby aspirin, anti-inflamatories, blood thinners, and Viagra. Viagra, it turns out, was originally developed to treat circulatory problems, until someone noticed its other salutary effect.

This player had to take Viagra every day. He became somewhat of a heroic figure at his local pharmacy, where it was thought he was buying it for the usual reason.

“I’d clean the place out,” he said. “A few times, I took all they had.”

Now here's the fun part. The player's name?

Brian Bocock.

No, my friends, you can't make this shit up.

Shout out to Josh Nichol for this story.

February 19, 2009

3 New Thoughts About Twitter

It has come to my attention that there were a few readers who I neglected to insult or antagonize in my rant about Twitter the other day. Consequently, more ranting is called for.

New Thought #1:

A number of commenters about my previous Twitter post assumed that I am either anti-technology or protective of traditional advertising. I am neither.

As a former science teacher, I have a great fondness for technology. It is not the technological aspect of Twitter that bothers me.

Nor am I protective of traditional advertising. It doesn't need my protection. Advertising is like an insect. It will be here long after we're all dead. I've been around long enough to have heard all the baloney about the death of advertising five times over.

In my lifetime advertising was going to be killed by:
  • cable TV
  • generic brands (an oxymoron?)
  • the VCR
  • the computer (Remember? Clients were going to make spots on their desktops!)
  • Wal-Mart
  • digital cable TV (Remember? During programs, we were going to click on products that were placed in “content” and be taken to “long form” info-somethings and then order the product through our TV! Golly!)
  • the internet
  • TiVo
  • Google
  • social media
Advertising never has been and never will be killed by technology. It will co-opt anything that gets in its way. The only hideous atrocities that can do serious damage to advertising are bad economic conditions and account planning.

So what's my gripe with Twitter?

It's a colossal, embarassing waste of time. Yes, I'm sure there is some component of what happens on Twitter that is valuable to people. Maybe 5%. The rest is moronic circle-jerking disguised as networking and narcissistic me-ism masquerading as "social" interaction.

It is mostly wasted time that could be spent doing something valuable. Like reading a blog.

New Thought #2:

I've always loved the promise implicit in the magazine Us.

Who is Us?

Brad and Jen and Angelique and Paris and Oprah and Brit and You. Yes, you! You are part of one big connected group of celebrities. Don't think you're special or important? Think you're a pathetic loser? Nonsense! You're one of Us! Come over here and let me give you a hug. Oh, and while you're here, that'll be 4 dollars, please.

Twitter is digital Us. (T=dU)

New Thought #3:

It's easy to imagine lightweights on Twitter. It's hard to imagine people with a seriousness of purpose.

Would Churchill have had a Twitter account? Would Gandhi? Would Updike? Here's a game, just click to play: Twits or Not Twits?

Results on Monday.

Okay...
...anyone left I haven't insulted?

Don't Forget To...
...Twitter this link to your friends.

February 18, 2009

Interactivity Takes Bold New Step



Thanks to DOTAC for this.

Unclear On The Concept

According to The Buffalo News in Buffalo, NY...
"Muzzammil Hassan is the founder and chief executive officer of Bridges TV, which he launched in 2004, amid hopes that it would help portray Muslims in a more positive light."
Last week Hassan was arrested for beheading his wife.

I think you're on the wrong track here, Hassan.

February 17, 2009

6 Thoughts About Twitter

Thought #1:
Last week in New York City there was something called Twestival -- "fun people who are passionate about social media and changing the world." (Think I'm kidding? Check it out.)

It was a gathering of Twitter maniacs who got together to celebrate...what? Sending stupid little messages to people they don't know? Oh, and saving the world.

Apparently, many of the people at Twestival didn't have the social skills to say "hello" and instead communicated with each other at the event via Twitter. Which they could have done equally well by not going to Twestival.

The organizers claim there were over 150 Twestivals all over the country. Which, if you ask me, is a compelling argument for not traveling. I'm betting the bulk of them took place at a table at Starbucks.

Thought #2:
Social media are inherently anti-social.

Or, more precisely, they are telesocial. The prefix 'tele' means 'happening at a distance' -- as in television, telegram, telecommunications. Social media are pseudo-personal interactions happening at a distance.

What could be more anti-social than people forgoing face-to-face interaction in favor of electronic communication with other people who are at the same gathering?

Thought #3:
Two bloggers I admire, the wonderful AdBroad and the brilliant Alan Wolk, were at Twestival. I give them both passes.

AdBroad was there to get an award. Shit, I'd go to the Grammies to get an award. Okay, maybe not the the Grammies, but the Oscars. I'm sure Wolk was there for research. He's an expert on this stuff and he needs to know what these maniacs are up to.

Thought #4:
I spent the Christmas holiday skiing with my daughter and some of her ultra-hip, ultra-tech-savvy college friends. Not one of them had even heard of Twitter. I can't help but believe that Twitter is strictly for the middle-aged and the prematurely middle aged.

Thought #5:
From Twitter founder, Biz Stone in New York magazine:
“Twitter is not about the triumph of technology. It’s about the triumph of the human spirit.”
Give me a fucking break.

Thought #6:
I stick by my initial impression of Twitter: It's how the narcissistic keep in touch with the feckless.

Okay, One Good Thing About Twitter
When someone writes about Twitter all the Twitter maniacs Tweet or Twit or Twat (or whatever the hell they call it) each other, which results in lots of visits to my blog and lots of snarky comments. I love you guys. Now subscribe.

(3 more thoughts about Twitter, here.)

February 13, 2009

TAC Scoops NY Times Again

In a post from last August called "Would TV Please Die Already", TAC said:
People with low reading comprehension -- and online maniacs who can't stand the idea of people using any medium other than their precious web -- read the hysterical reports in the press...and think that means everyone has stopped watching television.

Just to set the record straight, since the year 2000, when all this "tv is dead" bullshit started appearing, tv viewing is
up 7%...

To give yourself a sense of how mesmerized the press (The People Who Always Get It Wrong
) are with the "death of tv" storyline, trying finding the +7% fact in the press somewhere.
Apparently, The New York Times has finally caught on, and published a piece last weekend called "Why Television Still Shines in a World of Screens."

Here's a quote from that article:

In the quarter ended Sept. 30, the typical American watched 142 hours of television monthly, up about five hours from the same quarter the previous year.
Some more TAC posts on the supposed death of television:

February 12, 2009

Silver Bullet Seduction

Marketers are always looking for a silver bullet, a magical answer.

And yet most business success is not the result of quantum events, it is the result of incremental improvements in products and services.

McDonald's, perhaps the most maligned company in the world, has had 55 consecutive months of same store sales growth, an 80% increase in profit, and a 6% growth in its share price last year -- when the stock market lost 1/3 of its value.

How have they done it? No silver bullets. They've focused on doing everything a little better.

Which leads me to the great "silver bullet" of this generation: the overselling of everything digital. Listen to this.
Adweek, Feb 8, 2008:

Forrester Research believes today's ad agencies are not well-structured to take on tomorrow's marketing challenges, needing to move from making messages to establishing community connections.


... it believes shops need to be organized around communities, not disciplines. What it is calling "the connected agency" would not only know certain communities but also be active members of these groups. Pushing messages would give way to encouraging voluntary engagement, and ongoing conversations would replace time-based campaigns
Can you imagine if McDonald's had listened to this baloney 55 months ago and pulled its "time-based campaigns" (advertising) and, instead, "encouraged voluntary engagement, and ongoing conversations"(social media.)

You want to be more successful? Do everything just a little better. Train your people; improve your products; clean your stores; provide more value; make better ads.

Don't be seduced by flavor-of-the-month silver bullets.

February 11, 2009

Advertising And The Economic Stimulus Package

I'm no economist. I can barely make change for a twenty.

But I have some questions about the "stimulus package" being hammered out in Washington.

It starts with Seth Godin. Seth wrote a very interesting post a few weeks ago, which I commented on recently. The post was called "Do Ads Work?" It made a very thought-provoking point.

If advertising works i.e., if it returns more money than it costs, why do you have an ad budget? Why don't you spend all your money on advertising? If you could trade one dollar bills for five dollar bills, wouldn't you trade all of them?

Using the same logic, if the economic stimulus package is going to be effective it has to create more wealth than it consumes, right? In other words, it has to show a profit.

So if large spending programs create more wealth than they consume, why are they arguing over the size? Instead of 800 billion, why not spend a trillion? Or two? Or five?

And why wait for a crisis? Why not do it all the time?

But if they don't create more wealth than they consume, why spend anything at all?

Anybody out there have answers? Or change for a twenty?

Best Idea Of The Day

And speaking of the economy, here's the best idea I've heard -- from Tom Friedman's column today in the NY Times:

“All you need to do is grant visas to two million Indians, Chinese and Koreans,” said Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Indian Express newspaper. “We will buy up all the subprime homes. We will work 18 hours a day to pay for them. We will immediately improve your savings rate — no Indian bank today has more than 2 percent nonperforming loans because not paying your mortgage is considered shameful here. And we will start new companies to create our own jobs and jobs for more Americans.”

February 10, 2009

George Parker, Beat This

Here's a great little film. Every swear ever uttered on The Sopranos, in order.


the sopranos, uncensored. from victor solomon on Vimeo.

Thanks to S. Krinsky for this

What If We're All Wrong

Everybody agrees that the advertising industry is in the crapper. Everybody agrees it has to change. But nobody seems to have a vision of where it has to go.

There are two prevailing visions of the future for ad agencies.

First is the "everything digital" vision. We've all read about this a thousand times: advertising is dead...conversations...communities...engagement, blah, blah, blah.

Second is the "everything creative" vision (espoused by yours truly here.). This vision proposes that the only unique benefit agencies provide is the creative one, and that everything else is available elsewhere.

Both of these hypotheses focus on the creative aspects of the agency business as the linchpin of the future.

But what if both of these visions are completely wrong? What if the future is not nearly this sexy, but is really mundane and frightening? What if the real future for agencies is to morph into client marketing departments? Follow my logic here.
1. Marketing departments are expensive.

2. The amazing disappearing economy is going to put enormous pressure on client companies to reduce costs.

3. Which makes marketing departments vulnerable.

4. There is tremendous duplication between what marketing departments do and ad agency account service departments do. Every account manager will be happy to tell you that mostly what she does is her client's job.

5. There are, likewise, enormous quantities of time and money wasted in meetings, presentations, unnecessary re-dos, and un-dos between agency and client marketing people before advertising reaches the real decision makers.

6. There are plenty of examples (trade associations, franchise co-ops) of clients who have minimal or no marketing staffs and do just fine with the agency handling the marketing chores.
What if the agency of the future is not at all what we think it's going to be, but instead is a company that does both the marketing chores and advertising for clients?

It's practical and it makes economic sense for both sides.

Is this just a nightmare? Is it possible?

February 09, 2009

Holiday Gift Giving

I'm having a bagel.

Normally, I have Horizon Organic cream cheese with my bagel. First, because it's a client, and second because it's so much better than anything else. (This is not pandering. Try it, you'll see.)

My grocery was out of Horizon this morning and I had to get Kraft Philadelphia cream cheese -- not nearly as good, but acceptable in a pinch.

So I'm opening the package and on the wrapper I see a plug for their website -- creamcheese.com.

Being a cynical bastard, the first thing I do is laugh. I say to myself, why in the world would anyone in his right mind waste good minutes of a brief and precious life at creamcheese.com?

So, naturally, I go to creamcheese.com.

I find the usual nonsense: idiotic videos; recipes; better living through cream cheese; "cheesecake customizer" (whatever the hell that is); and a cream cheese widget (how did I live without that?)

But the truly amazing thing is that one of the featured items is about holiday gifts made with cream cheese -- "Holiday Gift Giving. Heartfelt Gifts that won't Break the Bank."

Now, I have nothing against heartfelt gifts -- even if they're made of cheese. But Mr. Kraft, it's February! What's with the Holiday Gift Giving? Haven't you internet people heard about "internet time?"

Can you imagine Kraft running a tv spot in February about Holiday Gift Giving?

It just reinforces my opinion of corporate websites. Companies spend zillions to create them with great urgency. Then they let them sit around and smell up the room like last week's lox.

February 06, 2009

You Owe Me Bigtime

Let's be honest here.

I work my ass off writing this blog every day (okay, maybe not every day, and maybe not my whole ass.)

I spend every Saturday sketching out the week. I'm up at 3 every morning writing. And what do I get in return? Nada. Bupkis. Zilch. (I mean, beside all the money and the super-hot nymphos.)

So you owe me. Once a year, we have our pledge week, and this is it. There are two things you have to do:

1. Go over to the side bar and press the orange button thing to subscribe. It costs you nothing and it makes me feel better.

2. Send The Ad Contrarian link (www.adcontrarian.com) to 3 intelligent people. If you don't know 3 intelligent people, send it to 3 marketing people.

Do it now. If you wait until later you won't do it. I know you.

Happy pledge week.

February 05, 2009

7 Lessons From Apple

The New York Times had a nice piece yesterday about how Apple has been kicking Microsoft’s ass in advertising for about a thousand years.

Here are some lessons from that rivalry.
1. Apple’s advertising is always about product benefits and differentiation. It is never idiotic “branding” like the Gates/Seinfeld atrocity, or “I am a PC.” No lifestyle bullshit, just clear differentiation between its products and its rivals’ products. And always done beautifully.

2. Apple knows who they are. Even though they have much bigger rivals, they are assiduous in not trying to be like them. They are content to be who they are and don’t pretend to be someone else. Their personality is clear, consistent and unapologetic. If you like us, great. If you don’t, so be it. This is an enormously important aspect of their strategy that most marketers are clueless about. It is never a good idea to try to be the second best Anything. It is far more compelling to be the best Something.

3. Steve knows good ads. Although I’ve never worked on any Apple business, I’ve heard that nothing important gets done without Steve Jobs’ approval. It is essential that a client organization has someone who can recognize good advertising in its early stages. It is perfectly clear that most CMOs can’t.

4. Bad names last forever. We are so used to the name Microsoft, we have forgotten what an alarmingly awful, cringe-inducing name it is. When you start with such bad taste, it’s hard to ever recuperate.

5. Everything starts at the top. I’m willing to bet that Apple’s marketing department is every bit as confused, screwed-up, and ineffectual as every other marketing department in America. The difference? They have Steve.

6. Great products make everyone a marketing genius. Duh.

7. Great agencies make everyone a marketing genius. Kudos to TBWA/Chiat/Day for its Apple work -- the longest run of great advertising in the history of the sport.
One last lesson: as Microsoft clearly demonstrates, you don't always have to make good advertising to be successful. Dammit.


February 04, 2009

I Watched The Wrong Super Bowl

I must have watched the wrong Super Bowl.

The one I watched had all the usual Super Bowl advertising stuff:
  • Dancing Aliens
  • Lovable Insects
  • Cars Screeching and Crashing
  • People Flying Out Of Windows
  • Really Big Explosions
  • Women With Very Large Breasts
  • Movie Trailers about Dancing Aliens, Lovable Insects, Cars Screeching and Crashing, People Flying Out of Windows, Really Big Explosions and Women With Very Large Breasts
  • Men Getting Hit In The Nuts With Stuff
  • Talking Babies
  • People Famous For Almost Nothing Endorsing Products Good For Almost Nothing
  • And, of course, Monkeys
Now here's the confusing part.

According the The Wall Street Journal from last Friday, this year was going to be completely different.

In an article entitled "Super Bowl Ads Try Hard-Sell" we were assured that this year's crop of commercials was going to "offer a stark contrast" to the usual Super Bowl silliness.

As a matter of fact we were told ..."This Year's Pitches Cry Out 'Buy Me'."

Just my luck to spend all day watching the wrong game.

February 03, 2009

The Hoffman Index

A few years ago I developed a theory* about how to balance imagery and information in advertising. I modestly called it The Hoffman Index.

The theory was based on the following assumptions:
  • All advertising contains both information and imagery.
  • Consumers use a different mix of information and imagery in making buying decisions for different kinds of products.
  • Getting the balance right for each kind of product can help us create more effective advertising.
The theory also proposed that we can draw a line - a continuum - on which we can place every kind of product based on whether it is bought primarily for image reasons or for logical reasons.

So, for example, if we draw that line, cigarets will be way over on the left because they are bought almost exclusively for reasons of image, and all the way on the right you will have toothache remedies which are bought solely on their efficacy.


It's no great insight that image and information play different roles in advertising for different kinds of products. The question I was trying to answer was, is there a way to quantify this and apply it to all products?

The idea of The Hoffman Index is that every product will fall somewhere between the two extremes, and knowing where it falls will help us create advertising with the proper balance between image and information.

My hypothesis is that there are three factors that determine this:
1. Privacy: Is the product consumed in private or in public?

2. Perceptibility: Are its differentiating characteristics easily perceived?

3. Utility: Does the product do anything useful?
The higher a product scores on these three factors, the more information an ad should impart. The lower it scores, the more you want to favor imagery over information.

Let's start with the toothache remedy and see how the index works. Each of the factors above is rated on a 0 - 10 scale. So, 0 to ten points for privacy, 0 to 10 for perceptibility, and 0 to 10 for utility, for a maximum of 30 points and a minimum of 0. In the case of the toothache remedy:
  • It is used completely in private, but a spouse or partner might know about it, and so I give it a 9 out of 10 in privacy.
  • It is quite easy to discern if it is works or not, so it gets a 10 in perceptibility.
  • It has high utility. In fact, it is never used unless absolutely necessary. So it gets a 10 there, also.
Adding those three scores up, the toothache remedy gets a Hoffman Index of 29 and is placed way over on the right side of the continuum.

Now let's look at cigarets.
  • Cigarets are highly public. Everyone can see what brand you carry around. It gets a rating of 1 out of 10 in privacy.
  • The differentiating characteristics of cigarets seem quite low to me. I assume in blind tests smokers would have a difficult time discerning the difference between Camels and Marlboros. I am going to give it a 2 on perceptibility.
  • As for utility, unless you are trying to commit slow motion suicide, cigarets have none. I give it a 0 on that criteria.


As the above chart shows, I have created a scale of 30 points, with each of the three factors having a minimum score of 0 and a maximum score of 10 points.

Low scores mean more imagery, high scores mean more information. This is not meant to be a precise determinant of how much imagery and how much information, but a general guideline. The hypothesis is that we can place any product along this contuinuum and have a pretty good idea of how to balance imagery and information.

I'm not sure if I have anything useful here, or just an arcane way of demonstrating the obvious. Your thoughts, please.


*Shout-out to Roger Lewis who reminded me of this.

February 02, 2009

One Last Super Bowl Thought

Seventy-seven percent of the wealth in America is controlled by people over 50. Exactly which Super Bowl spots did America's marketing geniuses direct at these people?

Explosions, Monsters, Crashes, Aliens

Random notes on the Super Bowl:
  • Please Give It Up Already: Drinkability
  • Best Names: #1: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie; #2: Clancy Pendergast
  • Best Score (Of The Musical Kind): Coke insects spot
  • Biggest, Dumbest Spot: Audi
  • Same Fantasy Idea Twice In A Row: Doritos & Go Daddy
  • One Star, One Joke, No Idea: LeBron James/State Farm; Conan O'Brien/Bud
  • The "Someone's Got To Use Monkeys" Award: Castrol
  • Fun Couple: Bob Dylan & Will.I.Am
  • Cringe Factor: Ed McMahon
  • Mean Joe Green Update: Must have sounded good in the conference room
  • Only Reason To Use Sprint: If Roadies Ran The World
  • Only Spot That Will Motivate Me To Do Something: Free Grand Slam Breakfast. I am so there.
  • Spot That No One Will Talk About But Will Be Effective: Avon
  • Really Bad Spot That People Will Like: Sobe
  • Really Funny Till The Last 3 Seconds: Hulu. Did I miss something?
  • Liked It In Spite Of Explosion: MacGruber
  • Every Kid Will Want To See: Up
  • Two Imbecilic Spots In A Row: Bud Light Lime; Go Daddy "Enhanced"
  • Their Last Super Bowl Gasp: Budweiser
  • Whatever Happened To: Simplicity
  • As Usual: Production was far superior to concepts
  • The Game: A
  • The Spots: C+
  • The Boss: A