Category Archives: saatchi & saatchi

jwt happy with marco & fun in fairfield county

Harvey Marco is getting settled into his new job at JWT here in the city and though it is early, it sounds like the self-styled biggest agency in the country has pulled off quite the coup in enticing Marco back east.

From what I hear, the creative team is happy. The clients like him. And the man has a trail of success that goes back years.

Of course, even coming from Los Angeles, he is going to be in for a bit of sticker/culture shock…just check out this article in the Wall Street Journal about how the recent economic turmoil has hit Fairfield County, CT (where Marco lives):

Local Democrat Ned Lamont, in one fell swoop compared Greenwich’s money woes to the Japan malaise, Asian tsunami and the New Orleans flood.

“It really is a financial tsunami, and it could go either way,” said the multimillionaire telecommunications mogul who ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006. “It took Japan 20 years to recover from their buying binge. How long does it take us to work through excessive leverage? That could take years not months. This is our Katrina.”

That’s right. He compared the recent economic issues to Katrina.

I know that a few big investors lost a lot of money (like $700 million dollars of money by one guy alone), but I struggle to see how that is in any way comparable to the swath of destruction and misery that Hurricane Katrina wrought in Florida, Alabama and Louisiana.

Marco, an unflashy regular guy, may need some time to adjust to a place like Fairfield County, a place where coddled rich folk consider losing money as tantamount to a large-scale people-killing natural disaster.

That said, it’s nice to know that you can still make a pretty darn good living doing this advertising thing.


harvey marco goes cross-country

The last time that Harvey Marco worked in New York, so the stories go, he threw a desk out a window in frustration/anger/creativity…lest that little tidbit make him seem like a dickhead, I have yet to run into anyone who has worked with or for him that has anything bad to say about the man personally. And his work speaks for itself.

A legend and a nice guy? Who would have thought it?

The New York story is relevant because the former ECD at Saatchi LA is on his way back to New York City to run things at JWT.

A strange move considering that he had moved to Los Angeles in the first place because of family ties – he and his wife are from southern California – and the fact the it’s JWT that we’re talking about, but he surely knows what he’s doing…I mean, were I to get a call inviting me to work at JWT with Mr Marco I can’t say that it would be easy to say no.

fallon taps foster as new ceo

Fallon, one of the most decorated creative shops on the planet (with one of the most effective internal PR departments – they always keep the agency in the news and on the blogs through thick and thin…it’s damn impressive), has found itself a new CEO. Chris Foster, a Canadian globetrotter recently of Publicis/SSF Group sister agency Saatchi & Saatchi will take the reins of the Minneapolis shop.


Foster is moving from Saatchi New York where he was Executive Vice President (cool), Global Equity Director (what?).Whatever the last part of the title means, hopefully it gave Foster the experience he will need to help pull the shop, which has fallen very publicly on hard times, back to its former prominence…even the press release alludes to how bad it has been at Fallon recently, saying “[Foster’s] first action will be to work with the Fallon management team on a renewed purpose for the company.”

Under Foster’s watch Saatchis hauled in a Grand Prix for Tide and seven Lions in the Laundry category at Cannes last year, which isn’t bad. If you’re into that sort of thing.

It does beg the question, with a Saatchi-ite taking the reins so soon after the formation of SSF, is the Fallon name is long for this earth or if Publicis will combine the two agencies under one moniker a la DDB Needham. Time will tell.

scaring teens until they stop smoking

Anti-cigarette ads are tough to pull off well. After all, the primary target for the anti-smoking message is primarily a younger, teen consumer and, as we well know from our own experience, teens aren’t all that concerned about the future. They are invincible, you know. As a commenter on my earlier post about Saatchi & Saatchi’s excellent anti-smoking ad says, the strategy of showing the grim effects of smoking on a person are easily ignored by a target audience that just isn’t affected by that sort of message.

The Saatchis ad was still excellent as an ad. It was visually arresting, definitely stands out and it delivers the “same old” message far better than others before it. And others after it, like this ad from Soria&Grey at Ads of the World:


It’s scary all right. And sort of weird. But mostly scary.

The issue is that it and its messaging is nothing that hasn’t already been tried before. The Saatchis ad makes the same old messaging interesting, at least. This is just a re-tread and is hardly going to be effective based, as it is, on a flawed strategy and otherwise creatively uninteresting.

Smoking is appealing for teens primarily, I would guess, because it is cool in a Rebel Without A Cause sort of way.

A good strategy for anti-smoking ads would be to target the reason why kids do smoke and change their belief, resulting in a behavior change. Scaring them straight has been tried and, on the evidence in front of us, hasn’t worked.

saatchi will scare you straight

I am not a smoker. I never have been, either. It’s just one of those things that I naturally don’t have a taste for which means that I am not militantly anti-smoking either. Sure, it’s not great for a person, but neither are lots of behaviors that ordinary people partake in that don’t have governments all around the world advertising against.

And, it’s important to remember, the death rate will always remain at 100% no matter what we do.

That said, were I a smoker, this ad from Saatchi & Saatchi in Romania would positively scare me straight:


With its Medieval/Black Plague style look, the ad definitely breaks through. And the wretched humans at the end of the cigarette scrambling not get ashed into the ash tray is reminiscent of any number of paintings that show humans desperately trying to escape from hell. And, when you think about it, dying of lung cancer or other smoking-related diseases certainly does sound like hell.

This ad communicates that message well. Even though it will now haunt my dreams.

fire bob garfield, first in a series

I used to just ignore AdAge’s resident ad critic Bob Garfield…but then he had a very public temper tantrum because Adrants disagreed with him and I started reading the baseball blog Fire Joe Morgan.

Why is that second part relevant? Because Bob Garfield is the advertising industry’s Joe Morgan. He is an increasingly out of touch crotchety old man who says things that are simply ridiculous and yet is somehow the resident critic at the primary trade magazine of the industry. Also, Fire Joe Morgan has inspired me to go through Garfield’s articles to point out just how tremendous they are in every way.

Let’s start with his article from today:

Just Imagine How Trump Would Have Looked in Wendy’s Red Wig

I would rather not, but since you insist: he would look awful.

You know that Super Bowl commercial with the cavemen?

There was a Super Bowl commercial with a CAVEMAN in it?!?!

They were having trouble transporting a case of beer to a party, so they invented a wheel, carved out of a boulder.

That is so racist, homophobic and otherwise offensive to my delicate-as-lace sensibilities.

But they didn’t put it on an axle and roll it; they used it as the world’s heaviest tray. “Wheel suck!” they grunted.

Ha ha. Wheel not suck. Wheel good. But caveman not understand what they had.

Ha ha. Still offensive, though. Not offensive because it is bad to make fun of cavemen, even though it like totally is haven’t you even seen the Geico spots, but offensive because these lines are the set up to a tortured metaphor that will reappear at least once in an article that is really talking about a different commercial.

I can’t believe that you do this writing thing professionally.

Same goes for Wendy’s, and Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, and the red wig…Alas, the campaign did nothing to improve Wendy’s flat same-store sales.

Well Bob, that’s not exactly true. Though Wendy’s originally announced that same-store sales were down, by the time you wrote this piece you may have noticed that they revised those numbers…to show a 1.4% increase in same-store sales (which compares favorably to the 0.6% increase in 2006). By the way, they also reported that income from operations increased 134%. That isn’t a typo. They are up 134% on the year.

Quick question: Do you do any research before you write a column? Do you read the news? Or do you prefer to just write whatever comes into your head no matter how out of date your information because it’s so much easier (and anyway you’ve spent years doing it without being called on it because the democratization of media hadn’t happened yet)?

Just asking.

The franchisees said, “Red wig suck!”…and now the wig is gone, replaced with an utterly innocuous campaign from Kirschenbaum & Bond that would be instantly forgettable if it were noticeable to begin with.

Oooh, burn!

By the way, I hate it when I agree with you.

Poor burger slingers. Poor Neanderthals. The red wig was the freakin’ wheel. They just didn’t understand how to work it.

The first four paragraphs set you up for this? If you were a joke writer for Carrot Top, not to mention someone who is actually funny, and submitted this, you would be fired (though Pauly Shore might keep you around).

Saatchi’s spots, with the silly headgear as their centerpiece, never had to be otherwise silly themselves. But they tried to be absurd and offbeat and self-consciously goofy…only to seem just odd and off-putting.

Except to the consumers who powered Wendy’s to earnings and revenue growth that, in the words of CFO Jay Fitzsimmons, left the business “stronger today than a year ago.”

But what if the wig had simply appeared in otherwise ordinary slices of fast-food life, noticed by others with squints and sidelong glances but not by the wearers themselves?

If that happened, it would be boring.

It would have been fabulous on celebrities, for instance — especially ones famous for their hair (or no hair). Donald Trump comes to mind.

Great idea! There is nothing a consumer would like more than Donald Trump in a red wig, getting squints and sidelong glances from bystanders, talking about a hamburger. That would be hilarious.

Why don’t you open an agency?

In that way, it would have been not only a brand symbol but part of an continuing, escalating story line. And the commercials might have been funny, too.

No Bob, in that way it would have been only a brand symbol because the red wig as you use it would have had no more to do with the brand message, positioning or point of difference than it did when originally conceived.

Look, I was never a huge fan of the campaign. I don’t disagree with your not really stated but sort of read between the lines point that the red wig was used to be merely off-beat and didn’t do anything for the brand, didn’t do anything to sell. I just disagree with the ridiculous idea that putting the wig on a celebrity would solve any of the issues with the campaign.

(I also think that you should have researched a bit so you knew the facts. But we covered that.)

As a final though, the campaign could possibly have been saved (in terms of aligning the spots closer with the brand message and the comfort zone of the franchisees) with additional executions that took less emphasis off of the absurdity of the spots, more on the brand message/difference and perhaps relegating the wigs to more of a mnemonic. The numbers are good. The advertising did its job.

The real question, and the real discussion point, is did Saatchis deserve to get the axe for a campaign that generate sales even though it made the franchisees unhappy?