Tag Archives: advertising

This blog is moving. This is my last post here. Gonna miss this place! SNIFF!!!

photo-6in line with our seemingly eternal website redesign, this blog’s address has to change.

the new web address is http://theescapepod.com/blog/ See you there.

RSS reader users should use this link to continue their intake of blog magic, or blogic if I may.
And just in case, here it is another way: http://theescapepod.com/blog/feed/

i know it’s a lot to take in all of sudden. have a drink. take it easy.

Same insightful thoughts and immaculate prose, great new location!

Sir Hegarty nails it again

Ever since he’s retired, John Hegarty has really been letting adland have it with both barrels and calling bullshit on an industry that is even more awash with bullshit than it ever has been. And that’s saying something.

Adland’s decade-long desire to appear like it “gets digital” has led to the most spectacular wastes of time and money. Desperate to appear cool and techy, advertising has wallowed in widgets and digital doodads for far too long now.

It’s been mostly a mirage. People care even less about advertising online. It just doesn’t belong there. Simple as that.

When will advertising people wake up and realize that we are in the business of moving people closer to purchasing the brands we advertise? It can’t come too soon. They should listen to Sir Hegarty. Got this from a Canadian marketing mag btw. They promise more Hegaliciousness soon.

What’s wrong with advertising today?

My theory about it is—and this is not just my opinion—there is empirical evidence from the audience we talked to that they feel the quality of what we are producing has declined. You can look back in history and you can see the same thing, when you have a significant piece of technology, a particular development like digital, what happens is there’s a sort of creative deficit as we deal with it. We’ve certainly had that for the last 10 or 12 years. I think we’re sort of getting out of that now.

Because nobody knows quite what to do with it, we become obsessed with the technology, so technologists rule the airwaves. And it isn’t until creative people begin to work it out and say ‘What you actually can do with it is this.’

Look at the Lumière brothers who invented cinema but didn’t know they had invented cinema; they invented a moving camera. It took another 15 or 20 years before somebody worked out you could write stories and film them. They, in fact, gave up on it. And Les Paul, the creator of the electric guitar, he didn’t make rock and roll. He was a technologist.

So the deficit in quality isn’t about a lack of talent?
Nobody is to blame; it’s just a reality, it’s what happens. I think we lose confidence in things, we lose confidence in other media because all of a sudden people go, ‘Well, television is dead and it’s all over’ and ‘Print is dead and posters don’t matter anymore’ and all that sort of rubbish. And the focus, the concentration goes into this new medium until we work out what it’s delivering.

Has the industry started to eliminate this deficit?
I do think there’s the beginning of the reality [where we are recognizing] what digital technology can and can’t deliver. But people rush into these technologies without really understanding what they’re delivering, how they’re delivering, because they think it’s the new cool thing to do and if you’re not doing it, you’re kind of dead and old fashioned. Rather than saying, ‘What is it delivering? Can we measure what it delivers? Do we have any understanding of what it delivers? Do we understand how it’s going to work for us?’ none of that comes into force. So you have this focus away from things that we know have value, to things that we don’t know how to value.

And one of the other problems I have today is people have retreated to the edges of advertising. You know, they’re happy to do some small little campaign somewhere or they’re doing something on the net that hardly anybody sees and they’re getting awards for it and everybody’s cheering. But they’re not changing the way people feel or think.

Ship happens!

Congratulations to former Escape Pod client Mark Andeer for approving this piece of ship.

What I love about this ad is that you can’t argue with it. And if you do, you’re a fool.

But what I really love is that it’s closing in on 15 million hits on youtube. Niiice!


I started my career in advertising on the media side of things. I sold airtime on ITV (Independent Television) network in the UK . The commercial counterpoint to the BBC TV network.

And it gave me valuable insight into how the advertising business actually works in real life. If nobody sees your content it may as well not exist. Hollywood knows this all too well.

I quickly realized that two things seemed to matter in media placement: money and money.

If you had tons of cash you could literally buy the attention of the nation like magic. And to a large degree you still can.

What made TV such a great advertising medium is that people were sitting comfortably and looking to be entertained in the broadest sense. They are looking for escape and their minds have been slightly switched off. They are open to suggestion. Their guard is down.

And the best TV advertising went with this flow. The worst was a jarring reminder that what you were watching was ad supported. This hasn’t changed.

One of the biggest flaws with advertising on the internet is that advertising just doesn’t belong there.

The internet isn’t a media property owned by Rupert Murdoch. It’s not an advertising medium. It does not enjoy a symbiotic relationship with brands in the same way that other media did.

That was the genius of Google. They basically co-opted the whole of the internet and leaned into what the internet does best: wish fulfillment. Not demand creation.

Demand creation can only be achieved through what amounts to seduction and your brand acting like it’s a real person establishing a relationship. Let’s face it, most people don’t actually NEED most brands. Most brands aren’t the object of anyone’s desire and have to fight to get actively considered by purchasers.

The Internet didn’t change this reality. And the fact that it doesn’t lend itself to demand creation isn’t a flaw with the Internet itself. It’s the flaw of marketers who choose to squint at the Internet and only see the eyeballs of an audience to be exploited.

It’s telling that online media vendors frequently talked in terms of “eyeballs” they could deliver.

Yes, that’s what you offer. We also need hearts and minds unfortunately.

Mobile advertising = annoying people on their phone

Common sense tells us that annoying people with advertising on their phones is a bad idea.

Your mobile phone is a treasured private space.

Remember how despised telemarketers were and are?

They were despised because they were violating personal time and space.

They were uninvited. They were unwanted. They just didn’t belong.

Spam phone calls were the tool of bottom feeders and shady types.

Some tactics are just abhorrent and counter-productive.

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

Marketers would be well advised to remember this.

UPDATE: tangentially related topic. Big data. The latest tiresome topic of the bullshit/marketing axis of tedium. The legendary John Hegarty weighs in. Great read. Read it here.

Once again, just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.

A genius cat food ad campaign

Cats are all over the internet. Everybody loves a kitten. Just a fact.

And apparently Henri the French existentialist cat is the pick of the litter.

It’s genius idea. A bored French guy’s VO narrates the inner thoughts of deep thinking feline.

And Friskies cat food has just hired this cat to do a series of hilarious ads.

I just love this idea. It’s another great example of advertising harnessing something that has energy in real life. And it’s a great fit.

My favorite ad of super bowl XXMXXCCLVIII

I thought this was a brave change of tone (ie, not comedy) that made sense for the brand, the viewing environment, and let’s face it, the semi-drunk audience.

Apparently the VO was done years ago by ABC radio broadcaster Paul Harvey. Nice adaptation by Texas agency The Richards Group.

What the Volkswagen folks could have learned from Anheuser-Busch, the kings of the super bowl.

Volkswagen is getting a lot of stick for its “Jamaican” super bowl ad.

And rightly so, in my opinion.

It was a hamfisted and charmless attempt to suck on the lowest common denominator straw.

I have no problem with pandering to the lowest common denominator. It worked out pretty good for JRR Tolkien. And Spielberg too. Just make sure your execution is charming enough to offset the obvious potential problem with your idea: it’s very basic.

Where VW messed up was assuming there was a benign one-dimensional culture out there, called Jamaica, that doesn’t really give a fig about how it’s portrayed in American culture.

Well that exists only in your heads guys. And maybe Volkswagen made a calculation as to what this might cost them in the big picture. “Let’s say Jamaica hates us tomorrow, what does that cost us?”

But I doubt they did.

This is what I call “great boardroom comedy”.

It plays really well to an audience of high powered executives in a boardroom when it’s delivered by the agency presenter monkey. but less so in the real actual world. when the megawatt shine of public opinion comes into play. and the baser decisions come into sharp relief.

Suddenly it ain’t so funny any more.

I remember we did a spot for Budweiser set in a sushi restaurant.

It was based on my partner’s real life. He was big guy and he loved sushi. All the sushi chefs in LA loved Justin.

And it felt like a great idea. And then I started to worry about how Japanese people might feel about being portrayed in sucha uni-dimensional manner. Your culture = serving us sushi!

The client felt this too so they met with the Japanese-American society and showed them the spot. When i heard this my heart sank. I loved the spot and felt no good could possibly come of showing it to people who we knew were sensitive to the issue.

Surprise! They loved the spot. But the weird part was this. They loved it because they were just happy to finally have Japanese-Americans included in a Budweiser commercial. I thought that was rather pathetically cute and poignant. Poor widdle Japanese people!

This was the spot.

Hats off to the Church of Latter Day Saints

I never thought I’d say this but you have admire the Mormon Church for having the perspective and guts to take out three full page ads in the program for the musical THE BOOK OF MORMON.

I saw the play last night. It was very funny and, coming from the creators of South Park, a bit rude. And more a satire of religion in general.

But what surprised me most was the LDS going all in and playing a joke on the jokers, basically.

Wouldn’t you love to have been in the meetings in Salt Lake City when this idea was sold. I would.





What a big idea is. What a big idea does.

I read this online and it annoyed the crap out of me.

I’ve heard this notion promulgated a few times before and it’s always bandied about by the exact same person: a digital advertising exec who has never had a big idea in his/her life. But has nonetheless decided that big ideas are a bad thing (never met a marketing person who shares this opinion btw) and that instead “something digital” is clearly the way forward at all times. Oh and TV is old. And taglines too.

Aside from the fact that this was basically a poorly written press release for R/GA, it displays a singular and embarrassing ignorance of what a big idea is and what it does.

I think the author of this is the new biz guy there, so you have to expect a certain amount of hyperbole, but this guy clearly hasn’t got a clue what he’s talking about. But that doesn’t stop him does it? Oh no.

I learned big thinking from a guy who thought very big indeed. And I have been fortunate enough to be involved with and around big advertising ideas.

Big ideas make everybody happy. That’s what they do.

Consumers are happy, clients are happy, agency folks are happy.

Big ideas have energy. They go everywhere. Everybody wants a piece of them.

Big ideas have real value. They are an actual asset.

Big ideas are the result of big thinking. Ambitious thinking. Occasionally big ideas are the product of luck, but usually not.

Big thinking is a pain in the arse. This is why you see so little of it.

It’s not so much that very few people can have big ideas, it’s just that the amount of effort and energy and focus it takes to conceive and execute them (and maintain them) is frankly wearying.

There’s a reason big thinkers tend to be very energetic people.