The Case of the Amazing Shrinking Media

The Case of the Amazing Shrinking Media

SEPTEMBER 28, 2018

In advertising bigger isn’t always better.

In the past when we essentially had only TV, Radio, Billboards, Magazine Ads, and Direct Mail as our media options, bigger WAS usually better: full 60-second TV commercials, 60-second radio spots, giant billboards, full spread ads (or better yet multi-page inserts), and dimensional mailings.

Not any more.  With the proliferation of devices and media--especially the internet and social media--the marketing options are endless.  There’s been a paradigm shift in scale, scope, and size especially. Size is down to minuscule proportions.

Look at FB ads: a single image and a handful of words.  Website column ads: smaller than the palm of your hand. Google ads: the fewest of persuasive words. App banner ads smaller than your pinky: teeny tiny image and a couple words.

This shift presents a whopping communication challenge:  the smaller the space the more critical the words and the image.  Everything has to count.  No wastage. No fluff.  If you think saying something important in the most minimum of words is easy, think again.  Let alone finding a graphic that’s actually going to break through and grab someone’s attention…in a nanosecond.

My son is a digital marketing guru.  He has a degree in Creative Writing…specifically poetry.  I know what you’re thinking.  “What kind of job can you get with a poetry degree?” Well…he majored in it specifically because he knew he was going into advertising.  And probably be doing digital marketing. So he wanted to hone his skill at saying the most with the least words.  In a creatively unique way.  Pithy so to speak.

Case in point: I was on a walk with my neighbor who has an iWatch.  He was looking at Facebook on it—which meant he was looking at stamp-sized ads.  If you watch Black Mirror, you know we’ll probably have ads delivered via chips in our eyeglasses, in our contacts, heck straight into our heads for that matter.

The paradigm shift even applies to experiential marketing.  Here’s a non-pithy example: a friend of mine is a clothing stylist who does fashion presentations—live, in person—imagine clothes, women, trying on outfits, chaos.  A client came in to work with her in her home and said, “My girlfriend in London loves my clothes and wants to see these. So I’m going to FaceTime her and you can show her the clothes!” So essentially she did a fashion show on FaceTime via a small iPhone screen, while the woman watched and commented on an equally small iPhone screen from the other end, all the way across “the Pond”. Unexpected. Impromptu. Improvised. But easy, fun and not to mention profitable.

So basically, we’ve got to be open to ANYTHING, because EVERYTHING is changing and there will be constant new communication options available to us.  A constant need to learn and adapt.

It all really comes down to the words.  The images.  And the idea.  In the age of small the value of a big idea will never go away.

America Runs on Donuts!

America Runs on Donuts!

SEPTEMBER 21, 2018

I have been noticing a trend starting, particularly in the service industry.  Businesses are looking to re-brand to generate social buzz and avoid pigeonholing themselves. Sounds like a bold claim, right? Hear me out first, I have three examples for you.

Exhibit A:

Image result for ihob

Now, we've already discussed the IHOb stunt in a previous post, but it is indeed a strong start for my argument.

Did it create buzz? Yes.

Did it sell burgers instead of pancakes? Definitely.

Did it work? Well...

The problem is, now that the campaign has ended and all the IHOb talk is over, I feel I can safely assume that no one is running to IHOP for one of their crazy burgers. That being said, if the objective was just to get the word out, I'd consider this, albeit temporary, re-branding stunt a successful idea. Which brings me to-

Exhibit B:

Logo of Domino's

I'm sure you've already read our article covering Domino's recent marketing antics. Rather than roll out the new brand with one marketing campaign (i.e. IHOb), Domino's ran several campaigns. None of them were very good.

But did it create buzz? Meh.

Did it sell something besides pizza? Possibly.

Did it work? Technically.

Dropping the "Pizza" was kind of a no-brainer because I'm pretty sure everyone was already calling them "Domino's" so there's very little room to backfire.  Moving on to our final example...

Exhibit C:

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for a fresh label on an old business. It's a great way to stay relevant and up to date with a growing industry. This, however, is the first example of a re-brand that I believe will fall flat on its face.

Dunkin' Donuts is considering dropping the "Donuts" and testing it out on about 50 stores across the country. They have yet to make a final decision, but I have a feeling America will be running strictly on Dunkin' come next year.

Now, I understand that Starbucks is a big competitor of theirs and I like that the name "Dunkin'" does better associate with coffee, however, I don't believe any one is going to stop saying "Dunkin' Donuts" simply because everyone appreciates alliteration.

Furthermore, Dunkin' Donuts is the oldest company to use the phrase "donut". How many people don't know how to spell doughnut because of Dunkin'? That's a pretty valuable word to toss away.

I refer to this recent re-branding spree as a trend because I really do think this is only the beginning. Before you know it, we'll be ordering pizza from Hut and eating burgers from King. I suppose only time will tell.

The Myth of "Going Viral"

The Myth of "Going Viral"

SEPTEMBER 14, 2018

According to Derek Thompson, Atlantic senior editor and author of "Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction", nothing “goes viral.”  There is a calculated reason why some of the worst films become cult classics, while masterpieces can fade into obscurity. The same idea can be applied to the marketing industry. Even the most impressive advertisements don't go viral. It takes more than a great knowledge of color and design to create an impressive ad. Let’s see how to go viral!

The first key to having the most effective advertisement is "exposure". The popularity of a book, song, person or  ad, is about more than quality, it’s about How, Where, and When does the consumer encounter your ad?

The next key is to always innovate.  Raymond Loewy, a Franco–American industrial designer who achieved fame for the magnitude of his design efforts across a variety of industries, believed that, “The adult public’s taste is not necessarily ready to accept the logical solutions to their requirements if the solution implies too vast a departure from what they have been conditioned into accepting as the norm.”

In other words,  to create a new product whether, it is music, a movie, or a commercial, you need to combine new and advanced ideas with things that are familiar to your audience. Things that they feel attached to, but with a new twist. Having a successful design means balancing between these two things.

So, to be seen in the age of digital media, you need to know How, When and Where to present your product. Also, the best designs are not the ones that are too creative and ahead of their time, the BEST designs are the ones that engage their target audience.

Why Is This Donut Fresher Than All Other Donuts?

Why Is This Doghnut Fresher Than All Other Donuts?


Because it came from a kosher Dunkin Donuts. Kosher Dunkin Donuts? Who knew??

Skokie Illinois is home to a sizable Jewish population. At it’s peak in the mid-1960’s, 58% of Skokie’s residents were Jewish (thanks Wikipedia!). Skokie hosts a large number of synagogues and Jewish schools, with many neighborhoods in proximity for families to walk to services together. And so, perhaps not surprisingly (although I was still surprised), the Dunkin Donuts located at 3900 Dempster Street in Skokie keeps kosher. As such, they serve only vegetarian meat-substitute in their breakfast sandwiches, no pork or other meat items. And they have the…Freshest. Donuts. Ever. I’m not sure if there is any correlation between the kosher status and the freshness of the donuts. Perhaps the additional care and oversight of the menu items? Whatever the case, these donuts are so fresh, that they truly do not taste like the same thing you’ve had elsewhere. AND if you can get there in the morning before they sell out, they offer Apple Fritters. Not those trying-to-be-jelly-donuts-but-with-apple-pie-filling donuts. Real Apple Fritters. So! Drop what you’re doing & head to Skokie for a soft, fresh, perfect doughnut. You can finish reading this blog later.

Are you back?

The moral of my Donut Story is this… Even if your business or product has an attribute/component/aspect that you think is primarily appealing to a particular type of person, don’t let that narrow your customer base.  Expose and educate your potential audience to enlighten them as to why your way or your widget is worth trying!

In a former lifetime, I was part owner of a BBQ restaurant. We specialized in Soul Food. We branded it as Southern Comfort Food so as not to intimidate the white folks (fyi…I’m a white folk, so I can say that). Black people know that “Southern Comfort Food” is code for Soul Food, so there was no worry of losing that audience. And most black people and southern people would agree that this same traditional cuisine has a deep history of being prepared and enjoyed by both groups. But we wanted to introduce this food to the masses, confident that most everyone would enjoy it.

So, the point is, if you have a specialized product or service that you believe could/should be enjoyed by everyone, go for it! Find a way to enlighten and delight-en your potential customer base. They’ll thank you for it, become repeat customers, tell their friends and you will find that you can expand your reach without losing your core customers.

(Now I’m going to go grab another donut…)

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