Ad Placement: How to Ruin a Good Design in One Minute!

Ad Placement

How to Ruin a Good Design in One Minute!

JUNE 29, 2018

A key tool used to add overall quality to a company is graphic design. Clever logos, trending ads, and creative banners are instrumental in getting the people's attention enough to search more about you. However, as many entrepreneurs know, getting your ads noticed is no easy feat.

“We never know where the consumer is going to be at any point in time,
so we have to find a way to be everywhere. Ubiquity is the new exclusivity.”

- Linda Kaplan Thaler, Chief Executive at the Kaplan Thaler Group

Now, from billboards to bus benches, there is an ad wherever the eye can see! But is it worth it simply to "get in where you fit in"? I'd argue that poor ad placement can highhandedly ruin an ad.

Just the other day, I was driving through downtown where I saw the following ad that made me say “Eww!!!"

It had nothing to do with the design. The ad itself was actually designed clean and simple, the portrait photographed really well, and the color and layout were chosen wisely. It also had nothing to do with the fact that the ads were installed on garbage bins all over the Chicago Loop.

What made this ad so appalling to me, as you may have already deduced, was the unfortunate facial piercings used to screw the ad on. Perhaps this would have been effective for an ad about facial warts, but sadly that is not the case here. Poor ad placement such as this distracts entirely from the message the ad is trying to communicate.

Let's imagine Disney World is your ad and the weather is your ad placement. It would be pretty hard to enjoy the trip if it were pouring rain the whole time, right? While on the other hand, Disney World thrives on a sunny day. That's the effect ad placement can have on an ad.

When it comes to graphic design, it is important to always remember that, in order to have the best impact, a good design must not only be good but it must also launch at the right time and in the right place.

Consumer Behaviors in South Korea

Consumer Behaviors in South Korea

JUNE 22, 2018

I have been studying the Korean language, culture, and economy for some time, and have been interested in understanding their consumerism and buying habits and how that may differ from the United States. The mixture of collectivism and increase of wealth in Asia have influenced the South Korean market greatly and promoted a mass influx of luxury buying in the country.

South Korea is a homogeneous country with a very heavy focus on collectivism. They prefer interdependence over independence and follow group patterns. Consumer-wise, they prefer to follow the same trends and buy the same things. They don’t like to stick out from the crowd or differentiate themselves from others too drastically. For example, Hyundai Motor Company reported that nearly 90% of cars purchased by Koreans are white, gray, or black. Of those, most are Hyundai and Kia cars.

Similarly, there was a trend in South Korea in which everybody wore a long black winter coat. Almost every single person on the street had the same coat on. Well, almost the same. The only difference was the brand of the coat. While, in the United States, brand logos are on the front of the jacket, so you can see it when you look into a mirror, in South Korea brand logos are on the back of jackets so other people can see what brand you are wearing. They want to display a prestigious brand to tell people that they can afford a luxury coat just like the next person. This is both a way to compete with their neighbors and show a bit of uniqueness without having the risk of standing out too much.  

The increase of desire for luxury products can be attributed to the steady rise of the country’s wealth as well as the increase of global influence on South Korea.  Displaying a brand that is both luxurious and globally recognized is the pinnacle of so western brands have been making a huge impact in Korea. Only 5% of Koreans feel guilty about buying luxury goods - compared to 15% in other developed countries -  and only 22% think it is in poor taste to show - compared to 45% of Japanese people.

Department stores are the main place where consumers are making their purchases. Lotte and Shinsegae are just a couple of the huge shopping centers where over 70% of customers are buying their luxury goods. For those who cannot afford the higher prices of these centers, about 10% of consumers frequent the luxury outlets that the larger department stores have created, or simply find a local street vendor who offer mock luxury items.

The South Korean consumer market is substantial, and with over 25 million people living in the Seoul-metropolitan area, large numbers of people are getting exposed to foreign goods and trends. As the country further develops and its economy continues to grow, so will the consumer market. Tastes may change, but for now if you are a company looking to sell in Korea, have one clear brand and don’t get too crazy with your marketing or your style.  

Guerrilla Marketing: Is the b for bananas?

Guerrilla Marketing: Is the b for bananas?

JUNE 15, 2018

IHOP recently announced that they will be changing their name to IHOb (flipping the P upside down). After leaving everyone to speculate what the "b" would stand for, the International House of Pancakes revealed that they will now be the International House of... Burgers.

A bold, yet brilliant move. Bold, because not a lot of people eat burgers for breakfast. Brilliant, because it is an impressive use of guerrilla marketing.

Guerrilla marketing can be defined as an unconventional ad campaign that generates enormous social buzz for little to no money. Examples range from breaking a world record to creating your own holiday. But how does it work? And does it work?

It is important to note that all guerrilla marketing campaigns, like all marketing strategies, have a risk of failing. What worked for one company, may not work for you. In fact, it could backfire entirely. In 2007, Todd Davis, the co-founder of a fraud protection company called LifeLock, advertised his social security number to prove his company could protect him from identity theft. Todd's identity was promptly stolen thirteen times.

There is a such thing as bad press. This is why primarily bigger businesses find the most success with guerrilla marketing. Successful companies can afford to step out and take that risk. The purpose of IHOb's campaign was to promote their new line of seven Ultimate Steak Burgers which includes: The Mega Monster, The Big Brunch, and The Classic with Bacon.

So, was this publicity stunt a success?

Let's take a look at some of the results thus far. One IHOb customer had only good things to say about his experience.

Reviews like that, are signs of a successful guerrilla marketing campaign because now consumers are praising a product that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Although, there can be some backlash-  people have been suggesting that even the critical acclaim is part of the stunt.

Other companies, such as Burger (formerly Pancake) King, tried to jump on the bandwagon, and IHOP got it right with the response. Their competition is noticing, and other major brands are wondering if they should adopt a similar campaign, or just participate as much as possible through association while this continues to create a viral sensation.

All of this attention only enriches IHOb's campaign, exactly as intended, and we all know that attention is the first stage of a good communication campaign.

But was this media grabbing, re-branding idea worth it in the end?

Simply, it's a gamble. The executives at IHOP knew that, and signed off on this stunt with the hope that it pays off in a big way. Ultimately what matters to IHOP executives is seeing an uptick in sales on burgers and other items, preferably as a long term growth strategy vs. just a short lived spike that eventually falls flat, or worse, drops off completely.  So far, the stunt has been successful at achieving step one: attention/awareness. Will this lead to a strong enough conversion from awareness to adoption to make a big impact for the restaurant chain?  That remains to be seen. And don't forget that depending on the outcome of the next 3, to 6 months, IHOP executives will have to review the data and also ask themselves, "would a simple commercial have accomplished the same results?"

It's difficult to predict the future in marketing, and IHOP took a big chance. So far the awareness stage is paying off and they have gained significant recognition from their customers, competitors, and marketers. Let's hope for their sake that it continues to be a positive move.

One thing's for sure, it did inform people that IHOP sells more than breakfast. Which is exactly what you thought the b stood for- be honest.

Ads That Catch Our Eye

Ads That Catch Our Eye

JUNE 12, 2018

Though most of us try to avoid commercials at all costs, there are some out there that demand attention and are hard to forget. Here are a few ads that caught our eye:

1 | Iphone 8 Red - Apple

Apple has had a long standing reputation for creating eye catching, and music oriented ads that showcase their products. At some point or another, everyone has definitely noticed an iphone ad for some reason. In this case, I was caught slightly off guard, as I noticed the music the movement and imagery, but wasn’t immediately aware of it being an apple ad. For a moment I thought “wow, someone else has made an ad that rivals iphone” but of course, then I realized what I was watching was in fact an iphone ad. The music, movement and imagery give the audience as sense of sexiness, of desire and intrigue. And, it works for the iphone. Well done. As always.

2 | #putashirton - Fruit of the Loom

This is just funny- pure and simple. Fruit of the Loom has made itself relevant to the current culture of selfies and Instagram by calling out the shirtless selfie- and it’s brilliant. This ad is both engaging, and sarcastic which, I admit, is a perfect combo for me to like something. It even encourages the viewer to use the hashtag, and suggests that they themselves are doing so as well- thus increasing their Instagram engagement through real actions. Simply brilliant.

3 | Our Blades Are F***ing Great -

Another funny one that may be old but still sticks in my mind as one of the most memorable ads. This video prompted 12,000 orders in a two-day span after it's release in 2012, and has generated over 25 million views as of June 2018. Pretty impressive if you ask me.

4 | Rocket Mortgage - Quicken Loans

Love this series of commercials by rocket mortgage. Really entertaining. The only thing is...when I went search for them on YouTube I first searched "quicken loan commercial"--uh oh!! I think they're going to need to do something to reinforce the name "rocket mortgage"

5 | Facebook Here Together - Facebook

I was actually touched by the recent Facebook ad: it rings true and is certainly why I started using it (and continue to) in my non-obsessed-once-or-twice-week way. Love the change of pacing it uses too. And the choice of narrators voice: he is "a good guy".

6 | At Last - Heinz Ketchup

I love it when a really good commercial does not need to have a really big budget. Picture a bottle of Heinz Ketchup against a white background. The bottle begins to tip into a pouring position. Cue two of the most recognizable musical notes ever. Etta James singing, “At llaaaasssttt….” Except that this time, the second note holds on an impossibly long time, “At lllaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasssstttt….” because Heinz Ketchup is SO rich & thick, it takes that long to come out of the bottle. Simple. Effective. Nice!

Basements and Advertising: Less is More

Basements and Advertising: Less is More

JUNE 8, 2018

I’ve been going through my basement for weeks. Clearing out, organizing, deciding what is garbage…give away…save. It is an overwhelming deer-in-the-headlights process. Hard at times to know where to begin, what to do next, will it ever end? The temptation is to quietly tip-toe backwards out of the basement, up the stairs, softly close the door and carry on with an innocent expression of “what basement?”

It occurs to me that a cluttered basement can have the same impact on a viewer as cluttered advertising. There may be really cool stuff in the basement or really cool information in the ad, but if every possible nugget of information is crammed into the ad, the viewer will tip-toe away like the aforementioned basement-retreat.

When you stuff too much into an add, it becomes visually and informationally congested and hard to take in. Your viewer is likely to glaze over and move on to something that is more succinct in look and content.

The goal for most advertising should not be to educate the viewer on everything there is to know about a business/product/service, but rather, to compel them to take that next critical step: pick up the phone, look up the website, read a review. That is accomplished by making the advertisement clear and compelling enough to cause enough intrigue to explore further.

We want the viewer to think, “Wow! That’s a really cool rocking horse… There must be other AMAZING things in that basement! I want to explore further!”

Less is always more when it comes to advertising. Inspire your viewer to explore further. Not do the backward shuffle away from an over-cluttered advertisement.

Marketing Vs. Advertising

Marketing Vs. Advertising

JUNE 1, 2018

Although used interchangeably, there is in fact a difference between Marketing and Advertising...we wont even get into the difference between these two disciplines and Branding, Communications and Public Relations - we'll save that for another post.

The reason these disciplines are confused or interchanged is because in practice they are designed to do essentially the same thing. So let's look at the definitions. First, I'll give you the formal definitions:

Marketing: is the activity, set of institutions and processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. (The American Marketing Association)

Advertising: The placement of announcements and persuasive messages in time or space purchased in any of the mass media by business firms, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and individuals who seek to inform and/ or persuade members of a particular target market or audience about their products, services, organizations, or ideas. (The American Marketing Association)

Now, let me break it down for you and tell you what the deal is in some plain 'ol fashioned real words:

Marketing is all the things that you do to let people know about your product, service or solution to make them want to get it into their hands. Advertising is simply one of those “things” that you do, to make that actually happen.

So in short, this particular “thing”, Advertising, is really just a component of Marketing. It's pretty easy to think of other things or components of Marketing, especially those that align very closely with Advertising, like Social Media, Mobile Marketing, and Content Marketing to name a few. But there are many other components as well, that don't come to mind as readily as Marketing, but they certainly are. A few examples of these “things” or components of Marketing would be:

  • Sponsorships (think branded names & logos on Nascars, at events, etc.)
  • Naming Rights (think of any sports arena, or here locally – The Bank of America Chicago Marathon)
  • Exhibiting at Tradeshows
  • Even brands that have signed deals to be the official uniform or shoe provider for professional or NCAA D-One sports is a component or type of Marketing (think of the explosion, traction and adoption of the Under Armour brand in the consumer market, in comparison to the amount of actual brand “advertising” you have probably seen)

It is a certainty that Marketing and Advertising will continue to be used interchangeably, and it won't be the end of the world by any stretch knowing that that will be the case. But it will be worth knowing and noting the difference, especially if you are fighting the good fight with Company Leadership to maintain, increase, or definitely avoid reductions in your marketing budget.

If Leadership is saying that the spend in Marketing is too much or doesn't need to be increased, but she or he is thinking of Marketing only in terms of Advertising and is not considering these many other initiatives that fall under the umbrella of Marketing, that could be a problem.

Now however, you will be able to go in armed with an easy-to-explain definition of the difference between Marketing and Advertising, and be able to make a very strong case for your budget. Hopefully it's an increase, and hopefully you will consider working with the Black Rhino Marketing Group to help make the most of that budget and get the maximum return on your marketing efforts.

BINSTA: Your Business Instagram

BINSTA: Your Business Instagram

JUNE 1, 2018

With the rise of social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest where photos are the dominant material, businesses are having to get more creative. They can’t throw up a blank picture with 20 lines of copy as the caption; they need to create captivating, exciting pictures with engaging captions to show what the business is about. This article includes advice and hopeful motivation to optimize your presence on Instagram and promote your business well.

Name and Bio

The username of your Instagram (the @xxxxxx that appears at the top of your Instagram) should be as close to the name of your business as possible to allow people to find it easily. The name on your Instagram should also be your business (that is the bolded name that appears on your main page). Your bio could have a short sentence about what your company does, it could have the location of your business, when you were founded, or anything else related to your business. If you have one, ALWAYS include your website in your bio. Here are a couple examples for inspiration:

Who to Follow

You don’t want to follow too many accounts - as following 10,000 people but only having 500 followers doesn’t look very good – so start by following about 100 accounts similar to yours and grow from there. Look at your competition and see who they are following for a good starting point. You do not have to follow back everyone that follows you. There are many spam accounts out there, so you want to make sure to only follow accounts that will promote growth. Like and comment on people’s pictures as much as you can to get your name out there and further promote growth.

Layout of your Instagram

One of the most important projects to focus on with a business Instagram is the layout of the dashboard. When someone clicks on your profile, what does the layout look like? Are the pictures monochromatic? Are they heavy with patterns or faces? Are they colorful or all white? Each theme says something different about the company, so pick one that works best for your business. Here are some examples of businesses with strong themes:

AIRBNB does an amazing job at capturing what the company can give you in just a couple pictures– breathtaking and beautiful experiences. As you can see, they focus on the atmosphere of the places rather than the material items in those places. They use natural colors in many of their pictures to enhance the earth feel of the brand.

Madewell uses a lot of soft blues and tans on their Instagram that gives the page a light, beachy, breezy feel to it.  The consistent use of colors intensifies those characteristics of the company. They use pictures of items other than their products to maintain the color story, braking up the monotony of product pictures as well.

Pictures and Content

Now, it’s time to look at what the content of your pictures are. While it’s nice to break up a chunk of product with a different picture, it’s kind of odd to just have a picture of a lemon pop up on an Instagram dashboard. This is why you need to focus on individual pictures as much as overall aesthetic. Take a look at the examples below.

The Honest Company’s Instagram shows what they care about: babies! This company has tons of quality products for new moms and their Instagram will attract that exact market. While the overall aesthetic of this Instagram is great, each picture can hold its weight as a standalone post. The picture of the babies is super adorable – attracting people to click on it – but also shows what they care about as a company (babies!) as well as one of their products (the diapers). The donut picture is also great because it is visually appealing and quirky (perfect for Instagram) and it has product placement in the bottom right corner.


Captions are a lot more important then you would think on a social media about pictures. Captions can add an explanation or humor to pictures, as well as give information about your business. You can use then as a place to announce information about a sale or a new product arriving, or you can just say something funny to make people laugh. Also, add tags! They make posts a lot easier to find, especially when you are first starting your page. Here’s a couple examples of captions:

Instagram Influencers

Using Instagram influencers is an increasingly popular marketing method that companies have been doing. There are databases in which you can find influencers that match the brand of your business, and you pay them to promote your product. You can also post their pictures on your business Instagram to further promote your products.

Hopefully these tips and examples help you discover how you want your BINSTA to look like and what you want it to say about your company.