Posted by Scott Dunn on September 23, 2008
An opponent called Lincoln a baboon and a senator hit another with his cane. Not too long ago we saw legislators duke it out in Japan, and Google reports statesmen’s physical bashings in Jakarta, Taiwan, and the Czech Republic.
Are those good ole days gone forever? The worst I’ve seen lately is, “My opponent’s campaign has reached a new low with his lies and half-truths.” Really—how about really low blows with the gloves off?
I’d favor capital punishment for attacks on anyone’s family. Otherwise, let it rip.
Aren’t you sick of hearing, “My distinguished opponent, with whom I have the highest personal regard, is somewhat misguided on this issue.” That is a non-Freudian slip. What he was thinking was, “He is a bumbling fool and I question his ancestry and the circumstances of his birth.”
We need a police force that enforces non-civility in all political ads. No gentility, only verbal body slams are allowed. Politeness is very boring. Good ads are intrusive. Old-fashioned boxing (under the Marques of Queensbury rules) is being swamped by Ultimate Fights, where the only thing it seems you can’t do is disembowel. Hockey fans want fistfights, Nascar thrives on wrecks. Gladiators win with blood, toreadors earn ears. Americans want a (fair?) fight.
I want to hear what they really think about issues, and what they know about the other guy’s deficiencies (read dirt). Here’s a format that will work for any televised debates:
- In an isolation booth with one mike
- Just the two of them, seated facing each other, three feet apart
- They take turns asking any question they choose
- The other one has one minute to answer, then the first one can shout over
- After five minutes a bell rings and the other guy asks his question
- Two hour limit
All’s fair in love and war. Why not in elections? Let’s fight!
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Posted by Scott Dunn on September 19, 2008
What are your favorite current ads? A lot of my young students answered that question with the Chic-fil-A “Eat More Chikin” campaign. (Others chose products and ads that I’m not familiar with. I guess those advertisers know who their target is not.)
I had to suggest my choice, and here it is, and why:
In case you are one of the few who hadn’t seen it—
- Yogi Berra is in the chair and admonishes the barber not to cut it too close—“Do you think I got that insurance?”
- The barber asks, “What insurance is that, Yogi?” A dialogue ensues between Yogi and the Aflac duck, thatincludes the memorable lines “The one that you need when you don’t need it,” and “And it gives you cash, which is as good as money.”
- The duck leaves the shop, with a trail of mystified customers.
I think this is a classic, because:
- It uses a recognizable and likeable celebrity. (It’s risky to use famous people, because they sometimes they fall from fame, some consumer groups don’t like them, or the connection with the product is vague.)
- The central point is the benefit of the product.
- The conversation is low key and short.
- It is funny. Why do I think it’s funny? Because I’ve seen people laugh.
- It lasts. This is at the least its third year.
Back to the “Eat More Chiken” ads. It has legs—tt lends itself to other related materials. It is centered on the benefit of eating chicken. It has a memorable charm.
We ask you to nominate the best of the current ads. (Or, if you prefer, What makes them click, what makes them timeless?)
Oh, before we forget. The Aflac/Yogi and the “More Chikin” ads have the most important attribute: they (at least apparently) have sold a lot of insurance and chicken sandwiches.
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Posted by Scott Dunn on August 28, 2008
- “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” French Proverb
- “The fundamental things apply, as time goes by.” Composer Herman Hupfeld
In every election time, the “out” candidates call for change. Changes in policy and ethics, but mostly for the people in charge—them replaced by us. (And often with favorable result—good riddance!)
Before we throw the baby out with the bathwater we should consider—
- Where exactly are we headed, and as far as we can tell,
- What are the unintended consequences?
Students in my advertising classes are certain that my generation (Mad Men) is obsolete. The internet and the ubiquity of social media wipes out all the old beliefs, and the old “rules” are silly. But when the cyber dust settles, what will remain?—
The wreckage of brands with no equity, and Innumerable files of failed ads with no benefits, no reason–why, no human contact.
No matter where technology leads us next, the fundamental things of marketing (and life) will still apply.
The dot-com boom of the ’90s convinced most of us that there is a new ball game in investing—the substance and longevity of new issues were irrelevant. Yes, it changed, to our regret. Now we’re back to sanity.
In marketing we should view change as incremental, not revolutionary. Technology is a tool, not an end. What is the (hidden) worth of a product, and how can technology make it easier to use?
Hamlet said it best— “And makes us rather bear the ills we have. Than fly to others we know not of.”
Students are masters of dazzling power point presentations. Sometimes, somewhere in them is a germ of an insight, a telling fact. But most of the dazzle is blowing in the wind.
I say, beware of change merchants. What are they really selling? If they say, “Hey, buy this product because it is something different, not like the old stuff.” Shouldn’t your reaction be, “All well and good. Now show me why I should believe it.”
By George Lemmond
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Posted by Scott Dunn on July 24, 2008
The only true mission of any organization is survival. Companies where “excellence” is embedded in its culture are invariably in the spotlight, run by overachievers and are candidates for hostile takeovers. Companies that live by tidal trends will sink or swim, and frequently drown in the undertow.
But our computer simulations prove that survival correlates best with unobtrusiveness, and all major trends are doomed to collapse from their own weight. Survivors coast under the radar.
Therefore, we are pleased to offer these “Guides for Cautious Executives” who yearn to stay in the back of the pack. Mediocrity, once achieved, cannot be denied. It will carry a company through thick.
We asked what organizations are truly mediocre models. Our average panel voted these companies, brands and entities to be unexceptional:
- The Pirates
We examined them carefully, and concluded that they will probably live long lives, unconcerned and oblivious. Can you think of some more living mediocrities?
Cautious managers are not in the limelight. We have a process that identifies nega-trends, based on the Principle of Omission. We studied whatever is not in the news, what is not a fad. We have proven that nega-trends, once identified, can be used to justify the most comfortable course.
Combining the habits of the most mediocre institutions with nega-trends, we’ve come up with eleven immortal “Guides for Cautious Executives,” If you observe them dispassionately, you can achieve everlasting indifference.
Here are the first five. We don’t want to overburden you cautious ones, so we’ll save the last six for the next issuance.
1. Innovation: There’s nothing new under the sun. Innovators are degenerate boat rockers. The patent office should have closed a century ago, because there is nothing left to invent. New products are for high rollers; you should “Know when to fold ‘em,” and that’s now. Don’t try anything new and risky.
2. Human Resources: The touchy-feely black hole. People are the way they are and you can’t change them. You shouldn’t try. Watch out for today’s fads, such as “Talent Management” and “Succession Planning.” These are the fruits of the educational “Self Esteem” movement and, heaven forbid, could lead to “Social Computing.” Don’t try to understand people and change them.
3. Solution Selling and Customer Relationship Management: No match for a shoe shine, a cigar, and a smile. If your salesmen talk like psychologists, they will drive you right to the couch. Good ol’ boys are the way to go. Your customers should just buy your products, not you.
4. Strategic Planning: Contemplating the Corporate Navel. Mediocre planning must be pure, uncontaminated by mention of implementation or accountability. We must fight the alarming tendency to shorten the time-frame of planning. Forget about the next three years and concentrate on the far future, when things should calm down. Remember:
- Planning should be done only by planners, not doers.
- Any plan of less than a ten-year vision is an exercise in expediency.
- Communication of the plan should be limited to those empowered to revise it. Broader exposure can cause corporate unrest.
5. Corporate Culture: A Bias for B.S. Action is the natural enemy of mediocrity. Therefore, a company that has a bias for action will operate in the high-risk mode. Fortunately, action can easily be diverted into pointless activity, and activity diffuses into B.S. When this becomes ingrained, managers need not worry about such ugly phrases as “task orientation” or “management by objectives.” Some tips:
- Preach and live the doctrine that contemplation is the highest calling.
- Leave no stone unturned. If all are turned, turn them back. Further study is prudent.
- Always play for the tie.
Think about these five Guides. Start to slow down. Next time we’ll reveal more.
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