Get out of the way

I have frequently noticed that the best advertising (and design and film-making etc) is frequently the product of simply getting out the way of the product or subject material. And literally simply letting the true voice of the the product come through.

The best advertising always has an air of the inevitable about it. Can you imagine a better tagline for Nike than “Just Do It”? I can’t. Why? Because it’s the ONLY thing worth saying in that category. I know. I once toiled on Reebok. Their tagline wasn’t “Just do it”. Problem! it was like advertising a battery whose competitor “owned” the longer-lasting battery brand territory. Sometimes there’s just one thing worth owning in a category and the fact that a competitor is perceived as “owning” it is immaterial. Adidas realized this and basically started doing Nike advertising. Brilliant!

An alarming number advertisers (and ad agencies) resist doing the obviously smart thing. The obvious has gotten a bad rap over the years.

My first boss, a ferocious ad legend whose name must not be mentioned for fear he read this and comment, used to say that advertising’s job was: “to help brands realize their destinies”. At the time i thought it was a bit high-falutin’ but now realize how right he was. What is the best possible outcome for your brand? That! Let’s do that. And only that.

And time after time he just did the obviously smart thing for whatever product he was advertising. . And consequently his campaigns ran for years. Decades in some cases. Some are still running.

Let the product speak. Get out of the way. Success will follow.

12 responses to “Get out of the way

  1. The new iPad advertising is a perfect example. Doesn’t even need words (except “iPad”).

    I like this much better than the “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” nonsense.

  2. agree phil in iPad. very confident.

    but mac/pc campaign was brilliant. right thing at the right time. kicked mic

  3. No doubt it was effective, otherwise they wouldn’t have run it into the ground. I liked the campaign, but I think the later executions started to embody the worst aspects of Apple fanboyism. You’re probably right about it being what was needed—I didn’t need convincing, I like Apple. Just not the fanboys.

  4. Sometimes a brand’s destiny is to die in a gas station toilet with a meth pipe in its cold white hands.

  5. Also true ben. and a good campaign can only hasten their demise

  6. Howie at Sky Pulse Media

    I have seen some really bad commercials recently. Like the Agency needed to consume the rest of the budget or give the money back.

    As long as the product can meet the expectations get out of the way indeed. But notice Frank didn’t show his chicken? And while Nike has a great tag line I don’t buy their gear because their shoes don’t last. But I do know their tag line and not the tag lines for the shoes I do wear!

  7. Howie at Sky Pulse Media

    Speaking of simplicity. This was posted by @adbroad on her blog. I think you will love it Vinny.

  8. howie, having worked on reebok i know that serious runners don’t wear nikes. but the rest of us wear them coz they look cool. And Frank Perdue looked likc a chicken. how great was that?

  9. Howie at Sky Pulse Media

    I grew up with Frank Perdue and looking like your product sure does help. Some folks look like their pets, some like their chickens. Which has me thinking, turns out a ranch in Vermont is raising Yaks to sell their meat…..

    And I agree with the Nike point LOL. And I sure can not knock on their success.

  10. ben, i think reebok was one of those meth addicted brands. they had no idea who the hell they were. no momentum. no ideas. no direction. painful for all concerned.

  11. Yeah…odd, they had some great ads from Lowe over the years then definitely died in the toilet with those strange Jay-Z image ads. Not sure how they were regarded in the States. The Pump must have given them a shot in the arm, but what happened after that? Sneakers either need to be cool or functional, otherwise, what’s the point?

    I remember running in the ugliest Sauconys. I also remember going into a sneaker shop and asking the assistant about some leather Nike’s and how good they’d be for running. He looked at me like I was mentally ill then explained, ‘You don’t run in them’. That told me.

    Also, there is the old saying, ‘Nothing makes a bad product fail faster than good advertising’.

  12. Great post Vinny, agree with everything you say there.

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