2009 Super Bowl Ads Were Super Duds

While the Super Bowl game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals was super, the Super Bowl ads were not.

I admit it. I’ve been in the advertising/marketing game a while. Maybe I’m just getting old and cranky (I’m definitely not in the coveted 18-34 demographic), but, overall, I found last night’s lineup of Super Bowl ads to be uninspired. They didn’t strike me as clever, smart, or funny.

Sometimes I wonder how they get made. How do the concepts move beyond the conference rooms where they’re pitched?

I read in USA Today that the average Super Bowl ad costs $2 million to produce and $3 million for the ad buy. So corporations pony up $5 million to run those 30-second spots. Amazing.

If they’re phenomenal (“Herding Cats” comes to mind), then they’re probably worth the hefty investment. But, for many, there are probably much smarter ways to use $5 million to build brand awareness and market products and services.


Stanley Rygor: Iron Man of Advertising

It’s a new year. We all have a lot to do and 343 days left to do it. We all hope our efforts will make a real difference.

If the mountain looks steep, look instead at Stanley Rygor for inspiration. Rygor is quite possibly the Cal Ripken Jr. of advertising.

For those unfamiliar with Ripken, the Baltimore Orioles shortstop played in 2,632 consecutive Major League Baseball games, breaking Lou Gehrig’s record. Ripken was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. But maybe Cal Ripken Jr. is the Stanley Rygor of baseball. Let me explain.

Continue reading “Stanley Rygor: Iron Man of Advertising”

The Funny Truth Behind FedEx’s ‘Nordic Tuesday’

FedEx TV spots are popular. I can tell by how many folks arrive at this blog in search of “Nordic Tuesday,” a new commercial I posted about in recent days. Watch it here:

“Nordic Tuesday”

One of the things that makes FedEx TV spots so popular, successful and just plain funny is that they often expose a truth about corporate life and then apply a playful poke in the ribs.

Companies of all sizes and stripes often implement something new (outlandish example: “Nordic Tuesday”) and then pretend it’s for “fun,” or for the good of employees, when it’s actually for a basic business reason: to save money.

As the FedEx tagline in “Nordic Tuesday” says: “We understand. You need to save money.”

Love the guy in the men’s restroom under the hand dryer. My daughter and I laugh every time.

How to (Not) Deal with Bad News

It’s there everywhere I turn. I’m talking about bad news. Very bad news.

When I scan my usual list of sources for blog and e-newsletter material, what I see is many versions of “The sky is falling.” When I open those quarterly statements that come in the mail (or are sent via email), the numbers are a downer, literally and figuratively.

So, on most days, I choose to ignore (or immediately forget) the bad news. I choose to not open the quarterly statements. Not in a head-in-the-sand kind of way, but simply for self-preservation.

I know I can’t do anything about marketing budgets, advertising spending, the stock market and unemployment. I am content to keep my head down and work my plan. I have to believe my own small efforts will bear fruit and we’ll all come out the other side of this economic calamity.

English poet Thomas Gray wrote, “Ignorance is bliss.” Maybe so. It at least keeps one from focusing too intently on a highly disagreeable business situation.

FedEx Spots Focus on Small Business Issues

“Dad, football games have the best commercials.” My daughter isn’t a big football fan, but she knows a smart, entertaining TV spot when she sees one.

FedEx aired several spots during last night’s Orange Bowl game. “Nordic Tuesday,” “Dorm,” and “Butkus” focused on saving money, reducing overhead and going international.

View FedEx TV spots

Their tagline: “We understand.”

Of course, all spots get their message across in a humorous, memorable way.

5 Tips for Writing Good Ad Headlines

Advertising legend David Ogilvy once said, “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents out of your dollar.”

Obviously, writing good ad headlines is important work if you want your ads to succeed. I emphasize the word “work,” because it’s harder than it looks.

Here are five quick tips for writing good ad headlines:

1. Don’t settle on first efforts.
They’re often not as good as they first seem.

2. Give yourself time.
Unless you’re writing a text-heavy ad, spend most of your time on headlines.

3. Write a lot of headlines.
Don’t edit (at first), just write as many headlines as you can.

4. Try different headline types.

Direct, indirect, how to, news, question, testimonial and more.

5. Polish your best efforts.

Pick the most promising headlines and try to make them better.

This process should produce some workable ad headlines.

Think One

“Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.”
– Leo Burnett

In the last post I discussed the need for space, white space, in marketing communications. But how do you reduce clutter and create more white space?

The best way is to keep clutter at bay from the outset.

While working on some ads a year or so ago, I was reminded of the power of a single, meaningful image. One thoughtfully selected photo or graphic can do a lot of the work of getting attention and telling the story. Think one image.

Accompanying that one image, add one clear, compelling headline. The headline might comment or expand on the image. But the headline shouldn’t mirror the image. Rather, it should complement the visual. Think one headline.

I’m not suggesting ads and other marketing communications have to be limited to one image and one headline. But they often can be — especially in ads — which allows for a focused message that’s executed without unnecessary distractions and detours.