Slinging Delight. For me that phrase conjures up images of an old diner, where they used to sling burgers etc. Slinging Delight — it’s like slinging beans and hash, but in an advertising/e-commerce way. And it generates a lot more results. A lot more.
In fact, Slinging Delight is the Willy Wonka Golden Ticket to creating any kind of commercial communication. Or to rephrase the words of the guru of gurus (yet again, sorry Howard Gossage wherever you are) — “People don’t read advertising, people read what interests them and sometimes it’s an ad.”
Even if something is: depressing (much public service work), boring (much business to business work), or dumb (much package goods work) — you better find THE DELIGHT in it. So, sugar coated corn flakes get a giant tiger who roars, “They’re Greeeeaaaatttt!!!” Delight. A computer goes from being beige to bright white (or even rainbow colors) and says “Think Different.” Delight.
Delight doesn’t mess around. You know it when you feel it. You know it when you create it. And, if you’re trying to connect people with stuff they aren’t really looking for IT IS THE ONLY GLUE THAT WILL MAKE THEM PAY ATTENTION.
Think about it. Feel about it.
And start slinging some delight yourself. (Can you refill my coffee while you’re at it?)
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not some privacy conspiracy theorist. I have nothing to hide (kind of). I will trade private data for information like a blind lemming going over Mt. Everest. Especially if the wonderful Internet machine delivers me information or offers or entertainment that I really like. Unfortunately, it’s not really working out like that. Instead of getting news about a new Sun Ra album coming in to a record store I’ve never heard of that’s just six miles from my home, I get more Facebook feeds alerting me to the wonders of Bonobos. Instead of getting an update on a new Indian restaurant that has hand made mango chutney and a reasonable all you can eat curry lunch, I get more news about Bonobos. Instead of big brother telling me about a cheap flight to a great family vacation spot in Martinique, you get it — Bonobos.
The Facebook has become like watching Days of Our Lives in 1982. Full of ads for stuff I hate. That makes me hate both The Facebook and Days of Our Lives.
And makes me wonder how much more I’m going to be willing to open my kimono wide to every data mining pirate out there who has the galleons to buy, beg, or steal my clicks?
Can they just toss me something that is remotely relevant — news, say, of a free-form uke jam session at a bar with single malt whisky?
Oh, and by the way, what is a Bonobo?
I don’t expect this blog post to get many hits.
Mentioning the word “account executive” is like mentioning colonoscopy — poison. It’s a traffic killer. (Even worse would be mentioning “account man,” but even I have my limits.) Nevertheless, that iconic “man in the gray flannel suit” is the missing link it today’s ad world. IMHO.
And this is coming from a creative director – me – who was trained from my earliest days in the business to HATE the suits.
But think about it. Creatives? Well, everyone’s freaking creative these days aren’t they? We’re all latte sipping iPhone surfing Android obsessed hang-gliding Tom Waits-listening hipsters, aren’t we? We are all liberated geniuses, right. (If you detect something snarky in that last sentence you are paying attention.) At any rate, based on what I’ve been seeing in the business lately, I have to ask one question: “Who is minding the store?”
Truly, the lunatics are running the asylum. When everyone is a genius, who is around to make sure the client gets what they need, when they need it, and how they want it? Or even better, get what they need, even better than they want it?
I’ll tell you.
I can count the truly great account executives I’ve worked with on the fingers of one hand. And each of them has gone on to run a SUCCESSFUL huge agency. Some have even bought pubs in Ireland as a result, just for fun. They are the people who are grown-ups, but who also GET creative.
They are magic. They are much maligned. And boy do we need them these days.
Miracle Whip is a product with troubles. It tastes weird. Always has. It ain’t Hellman’s Mayo. BUT — if you are the agency charged with working on it…WHO CARES??? You have a job to do. Make this stuff palatable, at least in the mind. And whoever is working for it is doing a pretty darn nice job — especially in the much maligned medium of radio. They are breaking some new ground using a kind of wry, kind of Patton Oswalt/This American Life humor approach. Dry. Deadpan. Channeling a sort of Gen X person having an imagined dialogue with some French Fries. Very engaging — and even more delightful for me, well cast, well written. And then they top it with a refreshing line, “From the Twisted Minds of Miracle Whip.” I like. It is twisted. And since they acknowledge it, I might accept that it is a funky tasting alternative to Mayo. So I go to their website, to see if the fun continues there — AND IT DOESN’T!! It looks like a corporate site!! It links to a Facebook page (of course!) that has some kind of unconnected video. I’m sorry, I don’t have the time!!! And worst of all, IT HAS A TOTALLY DIFFERENT TAG LINE. “Keep and Open Mouth.” Not a bad line. But why two of them??? I am confused, as a consumer. And as someone far smarter than me once said, “people don’t study your ads.” So, you do all this good positioning and creative work, and then you shoot yourself in the foot???
Oh well, half-right (or should I say half-write) is better than nothing.
Or is it???
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I noticed a squib in the paper over the weekend that caught my eye. Seems like the Gekko is about to overtake Allstate as Number 2 in auto insurance. This struck me for a couple of reasons. 1) I would have thought Gekko was Number 1 (but of course it’s the one zillion year old State Farm) and 2) I would have thought that the Gekko had demolished Allstate aeons ago. This despite the Mayhem Man and the might of Allstate. So I paid some attention to the car insurance ad wars of the weekend and learned something else. The paper had pitted Mayhem Man against the Gekko as the duelling critters of insurance, but in fact, Mayhem Man isn’t the car insurance campaign for Allstate. It’s something else, another campaign where people mouth the deep voice of the actor who is the spokesperson for Allstate — a lame, forced, invisible series of rather unfunny commercials. And a light went off in my sleep deprived brain. Of course — Mayhem ISN’T the voice of Allstate Car Insurance. No wonder the Gekko is cleaning its clock. The message is muddled. Even the newspaper put Mayhem Man forward as the image of Allstate. If only Allstate would.
Which is a long way of saying — in communications it’s all about the story. Alignment, truth, veracity, the product — most of that stuff doesn’t mean anything. The best critter and the best story wins out in our cluttered, addled minds.
Or as Jimmy Stewart said in John Ford’s classic film, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence,” — “when the truth disagrees with the legend — print the legend.”
Or, to put that into an advertising context, forgive me if I repeat (and no doubt mangle) my second favorite Howard Gossage quote: “The purpose of advertising is not to sell your client’s products, it’s to scare the hell out of your client’s copywriters.”
Happy Monday to you.
In the ongoing Shakespearian tragedy that is the marketing saga of the JC Penney company (see my March 1 post), a new ad I saw last night is truly breaking new ground in the industry. As you must know by now, in an epic market, well, kerfuffle is too kind a word (2 billion lost sales or something, whacked C.E.O., zillions out of work, head of Apple Stores brought low, etc.) this department store chain has finally done something creative. They have apologized for their boneheaded marketing thinking and are begging people to come back to their stores. On TV.
I couldn’t believe it. As a student of the business, this is like the discovery of a new species of lilac is to a botanist. Why?
Where other companies have used the “we F-d up” copy strategy recently — most notably Dominos coming out and saying they were making cardboard pizzas with traces of poison in them, or something like that — those were usually unintended screw ups they were apologizing for. Or, as your four year old might say, “It was an accident!!! It’s not my fault!!”
Where Penney takes this to a whole other level is where they say — “we did it, we thought we were being smart but we were being STUPIDO.” And then, they top it by BEGGING people to come back and see them.
And, as an extra dollop of pitiful, they do all this with a slew of images from the previous commercials that put them in all this trouble in the first place. So, if those people who hated the ads in the first place just happened to see them without paying too much attention — THEY’D THINK THEY WERE SEEING THEM AGAIN!!!
Maybe they should have just shown a shot of a broken vase with a kid sucking his thumb.
The genie is out of the bottle. Anyone with a phone can take pictures that look like they should be hanging in the Museum of Modern Art right next to the Ansel Adams and Irving Penn’s. Right?
Kind of right. And herein is something to try and understand about what all this new technology is doing with art and craft. Let’s look at the good news. Zillions of junky snapshots that would never be looked at of Uncle Tim or Aunt Betty or your workmates from that job five years ago are now bearable to look at due to the range of filters, cropping devices, and looks you can get digitally.
The bad news — they are still dumb snapshots of those people. Or places.
And here’s the big news. Technology gives everyone the ability to do B or B+ quality work with no work at all. But it doesn’t give them the ability to do A work. That still takes some guts and heart and soul. Some forging into the new, rather than just borrowing polish from the old.
So, what we have is the visual arts version of a dishwasher. A dishwasher is a machine that makes life better by making sure lots of dishes are really clean. Instagram is a tool that makes sure that lots of snapshots look ok. Maybe even better than ok.
Life’s better. Great. But for those who really want to push it and take it to the limit, Instagram ain’t gonna do it. Forging into the unknown, getting out into the street, messing up your mind with the stuff of life — that will.
Just ask Kodak.