September 30, 2010

Is The Pendulum Swinging?

I'm sure web maniacs must be having a hysterectomy over a piece in the New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell called Small Change.

Gladwell challenges some of the nonsense of social media zealots about the web's power to affect important social changes.

I am not going to waste your time by writing a crappy abbreviated version of it. Instead you should read it.

Also, I suggest you read "The Rise of Skepticism" by Stuart Thursby on the Applied Arts Wire.

Thursby writes very cogently about how finally some people within the advertising and marketing community are starting to question the new orthodoxy.

I hope Thursby is right, but I'm afraid he is a little too optimistic in his expectation of a "tipping point into stability."

I think the trend toward unquestioned faith in new age marketing doctrine is actually gathering momentum and those of us who question it will be further marginalized.

Nonetheless, it's nice to see that there are people who are starting to ask questions.

Win A Free Drink...
Speaking of Stuart Thursby, a free drink to the first person who can identify Floyd Thursby. No Googling!

September 29, 2010

Take Me To Your Head Of The Office For Outer Space Affairs

Mazlan Othman, a Malaysian astrophysicist, is head of the UN’s Office for Outer Space Affairs. According to published reports, Ms. Othman is going to be responsible for co-ordinating mankind's response when extraterrestrials land.

Now, if you ask me, when the little green men come calling, they're going to talk to whomever the hell they want.

While the naive plans of the bureaucrats at the U.N. are beyond silly, they do raise a serious question.

One thing we know for sure about the universe -- it ain't nothing like what we thought it was just a few decades ago.

The universe is enormous beyond any human ability to comprehend. To say that our little planet is a speck of dust is to exaggerate its size a billion fold.

By the time the next decade is over, I believe science will have found reasonable evidence for life elsewhere in the universe. It may just be a bacteria-like organism on a meteorite, or remnants of a virus-like form somewhere else. Or something else we have no clue about.

Regardless of how simple or tiny it is, it will create a crisis for theologians.

How will this fit into contemporary theology? How will the world's religions interpret and explain finding life elsewhere?

It's going to be interesting.

September 28, 2010

The Results Are In

Here are the results from the poll we did last week. The results are listed in descending order from most surprising to least.

Question: Which of the "Top 10 Double Secret Facts" surprised you most?

1. (17.35%) TV viewers are no more likely to leave the room during a commercial break than they are before or after the break.

2. (16.69%) Baby boomers dominate 94% of all consumer packaged goods categories. 5% of advertising is aimed at them.

3. (15.90%) 96% of all retail activity is done in a store. 4% is done on line. 

4. (12.05%) DVR owners watch live TV 95% of the time. 5% of the time they watch recorded material. 

5. (9.88%) 99% percent of all video viewing is done on a television. 1% is done on line.

6. (8.19%) Since the 1990s, click-through rates for banner ads have dropped 97.5%. 

7. (7.71%) TV viewership is now at its highest point ever.

8. (5.30%) Since the introduction of TiVo, real time TV viewing has increased over 20%.

9. (5.06%) The difference in purchasing behavior between people who use DVRs to skip ads and those who don’t: None.

10. (1.93%) 99.9% of people who are served an online display ad do not click on it.

Thanks for voting.

As you'd expect, a couple of web maniacs have had fits over this. They think that any reporting of facts casting doubt on the magical properties of the web is an attack on them. The interesting thing is that the facts about web advertising seem not all that surprising to most people. 60% of the votes went to 4 facts that have nothing at all to do with web advertising.

Personally, the fact that surprised me most was that 95% of the time homes equipped with TiVo watch live TV.

Also, almost a thousand people have printed the sheet we provided that listed these facts.

In a recent post..
...called The Amazing Blindness of Marketers, and in other posts over the years, I  have commented on the stupidity of marketers whose knee-jerk target audience is always "young people." For an interesting piece on this topic, I recommend this.

September 27, 2010

The Religion Of Marketing

Societies go through cycles of tolerance and intolerance. We see this phenomenon most clearly in the areas of politics and religion.

The cycle is often magnified in highly stressed systems, like the old Soviet Union. There would be periods of Stalinism followed by periods of glasnost.

One of the interesting aspects of the phenomenon is that the most severe forms of intolerant orthodoxy are often imposed by former radicals. It is no great insight to note that people looking to overthrow oppression have an alarming tendency to become oppressors themselves. The Iranian revolution is about as perfect an example as you'll find.

It also happened in the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution. In early America, the Puritans came to America to escape religious intolerance, only to institute their own brand.

For the first time in my experience, we are going through a period of unhealthy parochialism in advertising and marketing. It's hardly the kind of nasty oppression you find in political or religious fanaticism -- and the good news is that nobody is being guillotined or burnt at the stake -- but the bad news is that our new brand of orthodoxy has an uncomfortably low tolerance for dissent.

One has only to attend a conference on advertising or marketing to hear the same endless feedback loop of dogma repeated ad nauseum with virtually no dissenting opinions. And if you dare to challenge this orthodoxy in a public forum, like a blog (now who would be foolish enough to do that?) you'd better be ready for a barrage of vitriol from the defenders of the faith.

Why this should occur at this time is not surprising. The advertising industry is a highly stressed system. It has gone through a revolution. Not long ago it was an industry characterized by smallish, entrepreneurial organizations. Today it is an industry dominated by four or five enormous global corporate enterprises. Not long ago it was an industry run by craftspeople. Today it is an industry run by financiers.

New gods require new mythology.

The new orthodoxy is not good for the industry. But more importantly, it can be personally hazardous. It is a dangerous time to be a dissenter.

While a lot of what you see and hear on a daily basis may stimulate your gag reflex, my advice to you, gentle reader, is to remember that discretion is the better part of valor. The new high priests of marketing don't like wise guys.

September 24, 2010

Good News Friday

It's Friday and I have good news!

Good News For Gals
In case of emergency, just take your bra off!

This week a great new product was introduced called the Emergency Bra. It's a bra that turns into a gas mask.

That's right, you can't make this shit up.

"You have to be prepared all the time, at any place, at any moment, and practically every woman wears a bra," said the inventor of the patented device.

The Emergency Bra website says, "The goal of any emergency respiratory device is to achieve tight fixation and full coverage (and who doesn't like tight fixation and full coverage? --TAC). Luckily, the wonderful design of the bra is already in the shape of a face mask and so with the addition of a few design features, the Emergency Bra enhances the efficiency of minimizing contaminated bypass air flow."

Okay, but I don't care what they say, I am not going to wear an Emergency Jock.

Good News For Murderers
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that San Quentin has unveiled their beautiful new "lethal injection center" this week.  "Lethal injection center" is my new all-time favorite euphemism. It sounds so much pleasanter than "chamber of death."

According to the Chronicle...
"The spacious $853,000 center has three brightly lit witness viewing rooms, and each gives a considerably better view than the cramped gas chamber's lone, poorly illuminated viewing room."
Didn't you just hate that cramped old viewing room? If there's one thing I can't stand, it's getting all prettied up for an execution and then being stuffed like a pimiento into a dingy old viewing room. It can take all the fun out of the darn thing.

This is going to be so much better. Now all I need is a large popcorn and some Raisinettes.

Good News For America
The recession is officially over! That's the word out of Washington from the National Bureau of Economic Research. Not only is it over, it's been over for 15 months! I must have been napping.

Meanwhile, Warren Buffett said that by his own "common sense" definition, the United States is "still in a recession."

Common sense? In Washington? Warren, wake up, dude.

The Most Unnecessary Words In The English Language
"Please ignore previous email"

September 23, 2010

Analyzing Everything And Understanding Nothing

Sometime in the near future, advertising pundits will look back at the current era and reach the conclusion that we blew it.

They'll say we were focused on everything but the problem.

We had dashboards and metrics and click-throughs and webisodes and branded entertainment and a whole galaxy of new and used media outlets...but what we didn't have was very good advertising.

It seems silly to have to say this, but our industry has reached a point of such grotesque confusion that I'm going to say it anyway -- the business of the advertising business is advertising.

If the advertising isn't very good, what difference does the rest of it make?

We analyze everything and understand nothing.

We have forgotten that some of the best advertising ideas weren't the result of algorithms and analyses. They were the result of someone sitting on the toilet with a yellow pad and coming up with a great idea.

I'm not advocating throwing caution to the wind and doing whatever the hell sounds like fun, but I am saying that we need to temper our arrogant belief in our analytical abilities with the realization that there is a great deal about how advertising works that is about imagination, not facts.

Our clients may think they want dashboards and data, but what they really need is ideas.

The longer we stay focused on gee-whiz technologies and media gimmicks while our creative work languishes, the more our value to our clients will erode.

With all the startling innovations in communication, technology, and media, one would think that creative innovation would follow as a natural offshoot. But it hasn't. Creativity doesn't work that way. It has its own timetable and its own mind.       .

Let's not forget why we're here.

September 22, 2010

I Heart NY

My favorite New York City joke goes like this:

A visitor to NYC is lost and walking down Broadway. He stops a New Yorker. "Excuse me," he says, "can you tell me where the Plaza Hotel is or should I go fuck myself?"

Last week, two of my partners and I were in New York for some meetings.

One evening, about midnight, on the way back to our hotel after a lovely dinner, one of my partners slipped on 6th Avenue and fell to the sidewalk. Instantaneously her ankle swelled up like a balloon and she was in great pain. We thought her ankle might be broken.

In about a minute there were people offering us help. Cab drivers stopped to ask us if we needed an ambulance. Passersby asked us if we needed them to call 911. A hotel security guard came out and helped us get her into a cab and off to a nearby emergency room.

It was a truly inspirational display of niceness.

As someone born and bred in New York, it made me proud.

The good news: A bad sprain, no break.

September 21, 2010

Just The Facts

Some digital genius in New York is trying to hitchhike his way to glory on the back of my Top 10 Double-Secret Unknown Facts About Advertising. He claims to refute "every one" of my 10 points.

What he is actually doing is not refuting the facts at all, but creating the usual excuses and explanations and digressions to account for the facts.

First he spammed my blog with a link to his brilliant post. Then he started sending out tweets saying I was wrong.

Like all of his ilk, he talks about everything but the point. He gives us his opinions and his analysis and tries to blind us with off-the-point sidebars and data that isn't quite relevant to refuting the facts I quoted. He accuses me of fudging.

Normally, I don't bother answering annoying gnats, but this guy accused me of cheating. I spent a lot of time on this and was painstaking in getting my sources.

For the record, just so people aren't taken in by this guy, here are the facts I stated in "Top 10 Double-Secret Unknown Facts About Advertising" and the sources for them.

Fact #1) 99.9% of people who are served an online display ad do not click on it.

Source: DoubleClick Benchmark Report 2009, Executive Summary U.S. campaign performance norms for 2009 across DoubleClick image,
"Flash, and rich media campaigns are as follows: Click-through Rate (CTR) 0.10%"
Fact #2) TV viewership is now at its highest point ever.

Source: NielsenWire, November 10, 2009
"For the 2008-2009 TV season, the amount of television watched reached an all-time high as Americans spent four hours and 49 minutes a day on average in front of the TV, up four minutes from last year and up 20% from 10 years ago. The average household watched eight hours and 21 minutes a day on average, also at an all-time high."
Source: Nielsen Three Screen Report 1st Quarter 2010
"The amount of time spent watching television is still increasing: viewers watched two more hours of TV per month in Q1 2010 than in Q1 2009"
Fact #3) 96% of all retail activity is done in a store. 4% is done on line.

Source: U.S Census Bureau News, U.S. Department of Commerce. May 18, 2010
"E-commerce sales in the first quarter of 2010 accounted for 4.0 percent of total sales."
Fact #4) DVR owners watch live TV 95% of the time. 5% of the time they watch recorded material.

Source: Duke University News and Communication, Duke Research Advantage, May 4, 2010
"TiVo households still watch the huge majority (95 percent) of their TV live, meaning few commercials can be skipped."
Source: Journal of Marketing Research, Dec. 22, 2009 "Do DVRs Influence Sales?"
"We find that 3,486 of the 70,389 shows watched (5%) were viewed after being recorded."
Fact #5)  99% percent of all video viewing is done on a television. 1% is done on line.

Source: Nielsen Three Screen Report, Q1 2010
Weekly Time Spent in       Hours:Minutes   
On Traditional TV                35:34
Watching Video on Internet  0:20
Fact #6) The difference in purchasing behavior between people who use DVRs to skip ads and those who don’t: None.

Source: Duke University News and Communication, Duke Research Advantage, May 4, 2010
"In partnership with Information Resources Inc. (IRI) and TiVo, Mela and colleagues from The University of Chicago and Tilburg University conducted a multimillion-dollar, three-year field study in which some households were given a DVR and their shopping behavior was compared to those without one. The authors tracked purchases of new products, advertised products and store brands across 50 categories as well as the viewing behavior of those with the DVRs.

No matter how the researchers looked at it, DVRs did not affect what people bought. This conclusion astonished the researchers."
Fact #7) Since the 1990s, click-through rates for banner ads have dropped 97.5%.

Source: Li, Hairong; Leckenby, John D. (2004). "Internet Advertising Formats and Effectiveness" & DoubleClick Benchmark Report 2009

Fact #8) Since the introduction of TiVo, real time TV viewing has increased over 20%.

Source: NielsenWire, November 10, 2009

Fact #9) Baby boomers dominate 94% of all consumer packaged goods categories. 5% of advertising is aimed at them.

 Source:  Marketing Daily,  July 22, 2010
  "Nielsen's research says Boomers dominate 1,023 out of 1,083 consumer packaged goods categories...Nielsen estimates that only 5% of advertising dollars are currently targeted toward adults 35-64 years"

Fact #10) TV viewers are no more likely to leave the room during a commercial break than they are before or after the break.

 Source: Council for Research Excellence, May 10, 2010
 "A similar pattern emerges with room changes: 19% change rooms in the four minutes before a commercial break; 20% during; and 21% in the four minutes after programming returns."
Once again, let me state what I've stated a thousand times already. I have nothing against the web. As a matter of fact I am a web junkie. What I try to expose in this blog are the outrageous claims and  misleading data of web hustlers.

There are very few activities more hopeless than trying to talk dispassionately to a true believer.

What Surprised You Most?

Last week, we ran a post called Top 10 Double-Secret Unknown Facts About Advertising. It was quite popular and was tweeted and re-tweeted a lot.

I am curious to know which of the facts surprised you most?

Please take a minute to click on the facts you found most surprising. You can select up to three.

You can also send this poll to others by clicking on the "Share This" button near the "Vote" button. Thanks.

I'll report back with results later this week.

September 20, 2010

Wankfest 3000

If you're like me, you get about 5 emails a day imploring you to go to some horrifying conference about The History of Search Engine Optimization or some equally terrifying subject.

Usually, these conferences are produced by amateur bullshit artists like the 4As, and feature speakers who are also amateur bullshit artists -- like agency CEOs and digital masters of the universe.

But what if professional bullshit artists put on an agency conference? That's right, I mean bloggers!

If ad bloggers put on an advertising conference imagine the fun.

It would be like a toga-party version of a 4As convention. I even have a name for it (which I stole from the great George Parker) Wankfest 3000.

We'd have it at some dreadful sink-hole in Las Vegas. 

We could have expert panels on topics like...
  • I Got Your Digital Solution Right Here
  • Social Media Consultants: Is Waterboarding Enough?
  • 5 Surefire Ways To Nail The Receptionist
    I think we'd kick it off with a little parade. Then we'd have a "come-as-your-favorite-agency-holding-company" party. Next we'd have an account planner pie-throwing contest.

    Finally, we'd gather up everyone in the industry with the word "Global" in their title and make them walk down to Dairy Queen in their underwear and bring us back Blizzards.

    Then everyone could get shit-faced and spend 2 days sleeping it off. And it would all be tax-deductible!

    Who's in?

    September 16, 2010

    Top 10 Double-Secret Unknown Facts About Advertising

    As all AdContras know, the marketing and advertising industries have been hijacked by web-addled digi-maniacs who don't know a fact from a fart.

    Those of us who like to operate our businesses on the basis of facts, not "buzz"' and baloney, are in an ongoing state of war with web marketing hustlers and their endless feedback loop of misleading information.

    So, as a service to my loyal, long-suffering AdContras, I have put together the Top 10 Double-Secret Unknown Facts About Advertising. It is a little crib-sheet to help you fight the forces of ignorance and trendiness wherever you may find them.

    Top 10 Double-Secret Unknown Facts About Advertising
    1) 99.9% of people who are served an online display ad do not click on it.

    2) TV viewership is now at its highest point ever.

    3) 96% of all retail activity is done in a store. 4% is done on line.

    4) DVR owners watch live TV 95% of the time. 5% of the time they watch recorded material.

    5) 99% percent of all video viewing is done on a television. 1% is done on line.

    6) The difference in purchasing behavior between people who use DVRs and those who don’t: None.

    7) Since the 1990s, click-through rates for banner ads have dropped 97.5%.

    8) Since the introduction of TiVo, real time TV viewing has increased over 20%.

     9) Baby boomers dominate 94% of all consumer packaged goods categories. 5% of advertising is aimed at them.

     10) TV viewers are no more likely to leave the room during a commercial break than they are before or after the break.
    If you would like to print a nice, clean copy of this list and pin it up on your boss's wall, you can find it here.

    Here are my sources:
    1. DoubleClick, Benchmark Report, 2009
    2. Nielsen Three Screen Report, Q1 2010
    3. U.S. Department of Commerce, Q2 2010; Nielsen Three Screen Report, Q1 2010
    4. Duke University, Do DVRs Influence Sales?
    5. Nielsen Three Screen Report, Q1 2010
    6. Duke University, Do DVRs Influence Sales?
    7. Li, Hairong; Leckenby, John D. (2004). "Internet Advertising Formats and Effectiveness". Center for Interactive Advertising. And DoubleClick, Benchmark Report, 2009
    8. NielsenWire, Nov. 10, 2009
    9. Marketing Daily,  July 22, 2010
    10. Council for Research Excellence, May 10, 2010

    September 15, 2010

    September 14, 2010

    Ad Contrarian Sells Out

    The other day I did a little calculation of the benefits I have accrued from writing this blog.  Here's how it turned out:
    • Dollars earned...........................................................0
    • Clients won................................................................0
    • Fabulous tables at elegant restaurants.....................0
    • Invitations to be on "expert panels".........................0
    • One-nighters with super-hot nymphos....................0
    • Nasty looks from my business partners............8,812
    As a result, I've decided it's time to drop my pretensions of integrity and sell out.

    Now, honestly, I've been trying to sell out for years, but nobody wanted to buy. Consequently, when Adweek called and asked me to adapt one of my posts for a column for them, I thought, "Hello, golden goose!"

    Images of dollar signs, and beach houses in Hawaii (I'd love to have you join us, but there just isn't room) went dancing dreamily through my mind. Fantasies of elegant meals on Park Avenue and cocktails with Barbara Lippert (I've always imagined she'd drink Bombay Sapphire martinis, straight up, with an olive) appeared before me, making me giddy or woozy or dippy or one of those silly words.

    Then, like a bucket of cold water, reality reared its ugly head.

    Not only do they pay bupkis, they don't even have a beach house in Hawaii! Cheap-ass bastards.

    But I have a plan. It's essentially the drug dealer strategy applied to publishing. I'll give them the first column free. When their readers scream for more, or my readers bombard them with glowing comments (which I would never encourage, but certainly wouldn't want to stand in the way of, if you get my drift) then I'll really stick it to 'em.

    Here are some of the non-negotiable demands I'm thinking of making:
    • A new magazine called Adcontrarianweek.
    • A guarantee that they'll publish my next book, which has been sitting on my desk for a year like a dead moth turning to dust.
    • Drinks with Barb
    So be sure to look for my column Advertising in the Age of Hysteria in the online edition of Adweek tomorrow.

    After years of wallowing in the putrid puddle of blogging, I'm gonna get everything I deserve!

    September 13, 2010

    The Amazing, Invisible TiVo Effect

     "...advertisers and television programmers must devise new strategies for combating the potentially disastrous effects of ad skipping." Jupiter Media
    No technological development has created more hysteria and hand-wringing in the ad industry than the adoption of the DVR.

    Over the past few years, the science department here at Ad Contrarian World Heaqdquarters has tried to counterbalance the intemperate ravings of pundit/lunatics by introducing some facts and perspective into the discussion.

    In my most recent post on the subject, I calculated that as a result of time-shifting and ad-skipping only about 3% of total spots were being missed. A recent study, however, leads me to believe that this may be a gross exaggeration.

    In fact, the true number may be as little as 1.2%.

    In a 3-year study by Duke University, in partnership with Information Resources Inc. (IRI), TiVo, and The University of Chicago, a sample of 1,588 households were studied to see, among other things, how they used their DVRs.

    What made this study different from other research done on DVR usage was that it measured actual behavior, not self-reported behavior. As you know, self-reported behavior is highly suspect and almost always turns out be inaccurate.

    According to Duke, the results of the study "...astonished the researchers."

    One of the key findings of the study was that 95% of the time people with DVRs were watching live TV. Only 5% of the time were they watching time-shifted TV.

    If this is true, the number of total spots being missed as a result of ad-skipping is ridiculously small.  Here's the calculation:
    (Homes with DVRs)  x ( Frequency of Timeshifting)  = (Total Programming Shifted)
                                                          35% x 5%  = 1.7%
             (Total Programming Shifted) x (Incidence of Ad Skipping) = (Percent of Spots Missed)
                                                          1.7% x .70 = 1.2%

    Let me explain in simple terms in case any art directors are reading this.

    About 35% of households have DVRs. If they're time shifting 5% of the time, then the total amount of programming being time shifted is 1.7% (5% of 35%.) If they skip ads while time shifting 70% of the time, then the total percent of spots being missed is 1.2% (70% of 1.7%.)

    Now remember, TiVo was first introduced in 1998. While all the wailing and panic about DVRs has been going on, TV viewership has increased. As a matter of fact, according to Nielsen, TV viewership has increased 21% since 1998.

    So, if the Duke study is correct, here's where we stand 12 years after the introduction of TiVo. DVRs are causing people to miss 1.2% of TV ads. Meanwhile, greater viewership is causing them to watch 21% more TV ads.

    The positive effect of more viewing is almost 20 times the negative effect of ad skipping.

    Why does no one report this?

    Later this week in "The Amazing, Invisible TiVo Effect, Part 2" we'll talk about what effect the DVR is having on consumer purchasing behavior.

    September 10, 2010

    Friday Is My Day

    Okay, But What Will The Fourth Half Be?
    At some big Google supergeek festival yesterday, Master of the Universe Sergey Brin said he wants Google to become the "third half of your brain."

    More Eco-Scammers
    Last week we wrote a post called The Eco-Marketing Scam about the hypocrisy of "green" corporations. Well, they're not alone. Our civic leaders are apparently equally capable of eco-hypocrisy.

    While on a trip to Detroit last week to promote green jobs, Jesse Jackson’s car was stolen and stripped of its wheels. His car? A Cadillac Escalade SUV.

    Ready? Three...Two...One...Duh
    "Anita Elberse teaches marketing at the Harvard Business School, and is interested in how the Web is changing the ways companies reach customers... It turns out that things are changing less than is commonly believed. The new world of social media may be a lot like the old world, if not more so...
    The correlation between online trailers that were popular and the movies or games with the biggest budgets was very strong, Elberse found. In effect, the videos that got watched the most on the Internet are those that bought their popularity through traditional offline advertising, especially on TV. "
    Hmm, seems like I've heard that somewhere before...

    Nitpicking As A Lifestyle
    Every once in a while I get an email from someone asking me to publish my whole blog post via rss feed rather than just the first few sentences.

    Is it too much freaking trouble to click your damn mouse? Is that too much of a freaking burden? Am I being too demanding?

    I spend hours (okay, minutes) every day dreaming up stupid crap to keep you entertained and what do I get for it? Diddly. Nada. Bupkis. The only satisfaction is watching the numbers pile up on Statcounter. And if you don't click, I don't get numbers. So quit complaining and click your goddamn mouse.

    By the way, what are nits?

    September 08, 2010

    Yet Another Crank Theory

    If you've been alive more than 45 minutes you've probably noticed something -- people do really stupid shit.

    I don't mean stupid like misspelling February. I mean stupid like shooting meth, or piercing their eyelids, or watching Entertainment Tonight. The kind of stupid that can kill you or turn you into a zombie.

    If you look deeply enough into any one person's life, I'm pretty sure you can find something stupidly destructive they're doing.

    The question is, why?

    I guess Freud would say it has something to do with penises or the absence thereof.

    But I have a different opinion. I have a crank theory about all this.

    I think it's about boredom.

    I think people will do anything to avoid boredom -- they'll jump out of airplanes, they'll wrestle alligators, they'll go to social media conferences.

    It doesn't matter how stupid it is, if it relieves or impedes boredom, people will do it.

    It's the only explanation I can come up with for line dancing and rock climbing and golf and Twitter.

    I'll finish this later,  I'm bored.

    September 07, 2010

    Same Clowns, Different Circus

    First I need to say that I don't know a thing about the break-up of Carmichael Lynch and Harley-Davidson.

    Next, I'm going to pretend that I do.

    Carmichael Lynch resigned the Harley-Davidson account last week. They had done terrific work for them for decades.

    While the client didn't say, "the world is changing and these guys can't give us anything new," and the agency didn't come out and say, "these knuckleheads don't even understand their own brand," my guess would be that these were the issues behind the break-up.

    Reading between the lines, it sounds like there was arm-wrestling over the brand personality. It sounds like Carmichael was fighting against diluting the Harley brand by trying to appeal to a "broader audience." In other words, the usual stupidity of trying to be everything to everyone. Or, more accurately, nothing to no one.

    The problem an agency faces when trying to protect a brand from itself is that it is labeled "incapable of coming up with something new and fresh."

    The more the agency tries to protect the client from tin-eared yahoos who are unwittingly determined to undermine the brand, the more they are stuck with this tag. This is particularly true when sales are lousy and advertising becomes the scapegoat.

    If, as I suspect, Harley tries to "broaden its appeal," what we will see is an instant replay of Saturn.

    An agency invents a brand. It protects and nurtures the brand. There is a bump in the road. The client panics. A new agency is brought in. The brand can't figure out who it is anymore. A funeral is held.

    In this case, however, the agency built such a strong brand, even tin-eared yahoos probably can't kill it.

    September 03, 2010

    Everything Is Backwards

    The Value of Education
    A study by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in the state of Indiana revealed that drivers under the age of 18 who took a driver's education course had nearly four times the number of car crashes as those who didn't.

    Good Thing Obama Didn't Run For Middle School President
    According to ABC News...the Nettleton (Mississippi) Middle School has a policy in which...
    "... only white students could run for president. In eighth grade black students could run for vice president and reporter. In seventh grade blacks could only run for secretary-treasurer, and in sixth grade only for reporter."
    According to the principal of the school, who is black, the policy was mandated by the courts 40 years ago apparently in some harebrained scheme to achieve racial "equality."

    The policy was brought to the public's attention last week when the mother of Brandy Springer, a half-white, half-Native American kid, became distraught when she couldn't run for class office because according to the policy, only black and white kids could hold office. 

    Boom Times For Bloggers May Be Over
    As everybody knows, the internet is a can't-miss expressway to big money. This is especially true for bloggers.

    While the rest of the 不客气 country is in a deep recession, bloggers are rolling in dough.

    However, the party may be over. In a very distressing development, the city of Philadelphia has started taxing bloggers.

    According to blogger Marilyn Bess, the 请 city wants $300 for a business privilege license, plus they want her to pay a wage tax, a business privilege tax, and a net profits tax. You can see why Philly would want a cut of Bess's action. In the last few years, she's made almost $50 blogging.

    Blogger Sean Barry is also 再见 steaming. Philadelphia wants him to pay a corporate profits tax on the profits he's made from blogging. In the last two years Barry has showed a profit of $11.

    Don't worry about the 不舒服 old Ad Contrarian, though. I'm outsourcing all my blogging to China.

    Saying The Unsayable
    "Maybe it's time that someone says the unsayable--that online advertising just doesn't work. A Web site turns out to be a not very good advertising vehicle." Michael Wolff in Vanity Fair.

    September 02, 2010

    The Eco-Marketing Scam

    Here at Ad Contrarian World Headquarters, we bow to no man in our appreciation of ducks and trees and beavers and lilacs and swamps and mud and bunnies and oxygen.

    However, we also harbor deep suspicions about people who make a public spectacle of their supposed dedication to environmental purity. As far as we're concerned, the philosophical underpinnings of a virtuous life can be summed up very briefly -- do it and shut the fuck up.

    Consequently, we are more than a little annoyed at the burgeoning movement toward environmental grandstanding by corporate America. We are happy that corporations are starting to feel responsible for the messes they create. But we are of the mind that cleaning-up after yourself is a fundamental responsibility, not an extra credit project.

    Of all the eco-bluster currently in vogue, the kind that really fries our eggs is the kind that hijacks the language of environmentalism, but has nothing at all do with it.

    On your right you will see a little bit of cynical eco-babble we found in a Westin hotel last week. You probably can't read the small print, but what it says is that by not using the double-headed shower apparatus they have installed we can "restore our world."

    So here's what I want to know. If they're so concerned about restoring our world, why the fuck did they install these wasteful, unnecessary shower heads to begin with?

    Because they're phony, cynical bastards who are trying to have it both ways? I would never say such a thing, but a less magnanimous person might certainly draw that conclusion.