Tag Archives: ddb

a strategy statement come to life

I have been meaning to comment on DDB’s new spot for McDonald’s coffee since I saw it a few weeks ago, but…well, but this work thing is pretty busy and things with the Pretty Account Supervisor have gone better and quicker than I expected and when you put the two together I end up with a lot of things that I want to write about but never actually get to. Luckily, Agency Spy posted on the spot and that is the impetus for finally getting to it.

Agency Spy thinks that the spot is terrible, divisive and lowest common denominator:


I think that the spot is just a far too literal execution of the brief, the strategy statement in :30 of moving images.

I don’t go as far as Superspy in thinking that this truly appeals to the lowest common denominator…I caught a little bit of a wink and a smile in how hammy the actresses were that would like speak what is surely a well-researched target group that thinks that Starbucks really is for hoity-toity Apple-oid hipsters and isn’t a brand for them. It’s not an anti-intellectual spot, but rather one that pokes fun at those who take themselves too seriously.

That said, watching the spot is like reading the brief.

The opportunity – there is a significant group of regular people that find Starbucks coffee and the whole experience around it too elitist and look for something that is more down to earth, more on the go and, simply put, more regular. Just like they are.

The strategy – shine a white hot light on the delineation between the stereotypical condescending faux intellectualoid Starbucks denizen and the no need to pretend to be anyone but yourself McDonald’s coffee drinker who wants good coffee without having to worry about not fitting in or mispronouncing “venti.”

The problem with a spot that shows the brief so obviously is that it is, well, obvious.


it doesn’t have to be a tv spot to win an emmy

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has officially entered the modern world…they have recognized that advertising doesn’t just exist on TV. Bottoms up to that. Or, seriously, bottoms up to whatever happens to be happening at the moment because it’s Advertising Week here in New York and everyone’s already drunk so why not celebrate DDB/Chicago’s Emmy win?

Exactly, let’s celebrate away, and not just because it’s a good ad:

Let’s celebrate because it’s nice to know that a spot doesn’t have to air on something as passe as television to bring home an award for sweet, advertising-y goodness.

That’s right, the “Swear Jar” spot has never once aired on television, not even after more than 12 million film views.

Is it Emmy worthy?

In many ways that is debatable…I mean, creating ads to sell something like beer, which is all about fun and image and occasionally taste, is considerably easier than selling your classic parity product. Sometimes you wish that there was a degree of difficulty score multiplier at these award shoes to recognize the truly great work, the work on tough products, difficult brands and with challenging clients.

But there isn’t. So at least it’s good to know that they’re not restricting awards to simple TV spots anymore.

i really wanted to like this…and kinda do

I swear, I really did want to like this self-promotion piece by new Los Angeles-based agency Inform-Ventures. No, seriously, I wanted to like it. I wanted to like it more than I wanted to like Indiana Jones.

Both had a lot of promise…especially Inform-Ventures, whose self-promotion piece opened with what can only be called a breakthrough image:

Of course, I could neither take a screengrab of the mailer nor could I copy it as an entire image, but I was willing to overlook that and give them a chance because I like small agencies who make fun of big agencies to the tune of a mailer that reads:

Old World Agencies,
Stop the fleecing of our clients! Stop the heavy taxation! Stop isolating our clients from the truth for profit’s sake! It not only hurts our clients, it undermines our industry and makes us collectively less competitive.

We do not live in a time where efficiency and authenticity can be forgone for control and greed. We live in a New World. Our clients need to be closer to the source… closer to the ground floor where the information, ideas, and execution occur.

Be honest about your strengths and when assistance will make a profound difference. Do not appropriate ideas from those on the ground floor. It is a disservice to the creators and our clients, and rarely goes unnoticed. The people and the press are too smart for that type of practice to succeed for long.

Empower your clients with new alliances. Allow them to be unencumbered by the ideas of the Old World. It will make our clients stronger and you more valuable.

With warm regard,


Then the let me down a little bit with that agency name. Inform Ventures. Really? Really?

Then I went to their website…which has neat and expensive-looking Paper Vision Flash but ended up getting me stuck on a page and unable to click back to Home. A cardinal sin.

Such a cardinal sin that, coupled with their miss on the mailer and the agency name I was about to write a sarcastic post the vast wrongitude of their self-promotion attempt. And then ask them to please stop.

When everything changed.

Or at least most of it did.

Before I ruin it for you I want you to go to their website. Go now. Okay, now sit through intro. This may take a while.
I know, it’s kind of ridiculous how long it takes…
Okay, now click on “Old World” and let the pop-up box happen. Everything will be okay. Then click “Proceed with Caution” and let everything be wonderful.

I laughed out loud when I saw JWT’s site pop up…and just for shits and giggles I reloaded it again only to find the link point to DDB. I tried it again and it went to <a href=”http://www.deutsch.com”>Deutsch and then Ogilvy and then laughter got in the way of me clicking through the whole thing any more. What a classicly awesome smack in the face to the BDAs.

It made up for everything.

I really wanted to like this…and kinda do.

subaru’s lemon & the power of advertising

I was walking around town yesterday when, while patiently waiting at an intersection, a Subaru Tribeca passed directly in front of me. Leave aside for a second that the Tribeca is one of the least attractive cars being sold in America today:

The Tribeca was covered with graffiti, presumably applied by the owner, that said “Subaru’s [sic] suck,” had a big picture of a lemon and included, on the other side of the car, additional anti-Subaru slogans that I couldn’t read but am sure were of the same level of discourse.

That’s not quite what “it’s what makes a Subaru a Subaru” is supposed to invoke.

At a certain point there are always going to be people who make purchases that they may end up regretting…and all the advertising in the world is going to struggle to convince people who have regrets and those that trust the opinion of the consumers with regrets that the brand in question is a good brand.

No amount of messaging tweaking or innovative media placement or outreach will really help, though those things may make it harder for people to be convinced that the brand is bad if the advertising is strong.

Take Apple, for example, which sold me a lemon of a MacBook (it has been serviced by Apple twice in three months and just crashed again this weekend, erasing my hard drive and, in a fit of pique, my external hard drive that I had connected when it crashed). Even as I write of this frustration, Mac users are happily considering me an anomaly.

Now imagine if the computer in question were a Dell.

Or I was talking about cars like I was before…and the brand was Toyota instead of Subaru.

My brother used to work summers at a Dodge dealership near our house and the running joke when that the clutch could actually fall out of a Toyota and consumers would think that it was just regular maintenance but if a Dodge needed an oil change consumers were bitching about what a crappy car Dodge was.

And that is the power of advertising.

she reminded me of this ad by ddb

I met an old friend from college this morning…she and I had been really close while we were at school and immediately after but, though we both live in New York, we’ve gotten lazy about meeting up. We IM and occasionally e-mail, but that’s been it. Until this morning, obviously.

She has not been lazy in the rest of her life. In fact, she looks great…she sort of leaned back to stretch and he shirt sort of came up and she has informercial abs (those almost unbelievable abs that people in informercials who are trying to sell you a workout machine have). I should have stayed in closer touch with her. Literally.

Her abs may or may not have been actually as hard and flat as marble, but they looked damn close:


Ad by Verba/DDB for Fisic Fitness Centers from i believe in advertising.

the corporate social responsibility bandwagon

Companies that take a stand are all the rage now. It used to be that the limit of corporations’ social ambitions were to make a lot of money, thus keeping people employed, returning profits to stockholders and helping the economy as a whole. For better or worse – and there are arguments on both sides – that has all changed.

That corporate social responsibility is in vogue is not new news…and that fact alone means that it was only a matter of time before the whole idea, or at least of advertising the idea as a point of differentiation for your brand, jumped the shark.

When McDonald’s, via agency DDB Stockholm, is touting the morality of its hiring practices because it sees a business opportunity in positioning itself as a moral company you know that what was once a trend is now firmly mainstream:


Body copy: “Nor Swedes, South Koreans or Norwegians. We hire individuals. We don’t care what your surname is. Because ambition and determination have nothing to do with your nationality. McDonald’s is one of the most integrated companies in Sweden, with as many as ninety-five nationalities working for us. Join us at mcdonalds.se.”

Forget the Economist-esque treatment that Adrants rightly has a little fun with, the point of this ad, which is running as a full page ad in major Swedish newspapers, is not to recruit for McDonald’s stores – they would hardly use such an untargeted means of recruitment were they really struggling to find workers – it is to convince Swedes of McDonald’s social goodness.

It’s tangental to the product offering…it’s trite copy that is kinda familiar…it’s something that McDonald’s thinks will get it new business.

If every company is touting how wonderfully superb they are to the world at large, and The Economist says that most companies are, then is that really something that will make your brand stand out? Or has it become mere cost of business these days?

Either way, Fonzie’s strapping on his skis as we speak.

paul tilley dead of apparent suicide

Paul Tilley, ECD of DDB in Chicago, is reported dead at age 40 of an apparent suicide. Tilley apparently jumped from the roof of Chicago’s Fairmont Hotel at around 6:25pm on Friday night and, though Chicago authorities have not yet identified the cause of death as suicide, the word on the street is that it was.


The thoughts of the Daily (Ad) Biz go out to Mr Tilley’s family, with special thoughts and prayers to his wife and two daughters. Any premature death is a tragedy, especially an apparent suicide and particularly in this case as it robs a family of its husband and father.

The Daily (Ad) Biz did not know and has not posted about Mr Tilley, but a death like this of a man so high up in the industry will surely open the door to condemnation of any number of assumed reasons behind his death, even though suicide, by its very nature, is an unreasonable act. We cannot know what drove him to jump on Friday, but we can do our best to direct the inevitable inquisition into the right direction.

Agency Spy, who has posted about Mr Tilley recently, is dealing with commenters who would pin some, if not all, of the blame on those blog postings. This is asinine and dangerously misguided.

This isn’t about blogs. This is about the personal demons and struggles of one man.

Blogs bring transparency to the industry and, while that is not always pleasant to those who would prefer to operate without it, it is, on the whole, a good thing. Those intra-agency e-mails that make it out onto the blogosphere are nothing more than the leaks from government agencies that you might read about in the papers that give citizens an idea of what is really going on in their country. Having a mechanism for uncovering the politics and bad work environments and other issues of the industry only helps those who are in it. Information is a good thing.

Of course, blogs can be deliciously nasty and it is understandable that those who are on the receiving end of a negative post may not like either the post or the fact that it often comes from an anonymous blogger. But most of the people featured by name, for good or for bad reasons, in blog posts are at the top of the industry heap. The Maurice Levy’s, the David Droga’s, the Bob Garfield’s and, yes, the Paul Tilley’s have made it in the industry to the point that they are public figures. Criticism dogs public figures when they do criticizable things.

And if the criticism from those anonymous bloggers is unfair, the comments section is there to let said bloggers know about it.

One needs only to look at the posts about Kansas City agency VML to see how the comments section allows those who disagree with a post to give their opinion and to level the playing field. Blogs are a conversation, a two-way street and when engaged correctly they are a great tool for the industry (even with the acid tongue of some bloggers).

The death of Paul Tilley is a tragedy. But it is not a tragedy that involves blogs like AdScam or Agency Spy or any other that comments on the public figures in the ad industry. Mr Tilley did criticizable things and was criticizes for them. Sort of like politicians are. And sports stars. And business leaders. And other public figures.

Criticism happens. To blame Mr Tilley’s death on mere criticism is to demean the man and his character and to give too much power to blogs that, while not un-influential in their way, certainly do not have the power to drive a man to his death.

The focus of the questions surrounding this terrible situation should be firmly about Paul and his family; namely, what can we as an industry do to help them through this and what can we do as an industry to give support to people like Paul who are in high-pressure environments and struggling under the strain.