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Bart and Copy

How We Do That Thing We Do

“1st Principle: Nobody Likes Advertising.” Puzzled looks filled the classroom when I put up that slide. I was in Eric Wilson’s advertising copywriting class at WSU’s Elliott School recently, speaking about, as you might suspect, writing copy. This is a great exercise for a copywriter, having to figure out how you do what you do so that you can teach it. In the academic study of a creative discipline (not an oxymoron, whatever you may think) your instruction manual’s issued to you on orientation day. And then you struggle to relate the principles to what it actually takes to create something out of nothing. At least that’s what I was going to tell Eric’s students. But I revised this. It’s never something out of nothing.

Good Headlines Don’t Come Sheep

A copywriter’s never working with a blank page. Nor is the audience working with a blank slate. We’re full of common experiences. And almost all advertising copy starts with something familiar. I showed the class this year’s Kansas State Fair campaign to make the point that even something as off the wall as “Sheep Thrills and Raving Bull” relies on familiarity with the common phrases and popular culture. Certainly, the advertising creative is always walking the line. How far you can stray from the commonplace and still have enough people connect with the reference? Hard to perfect that in a classroom, but it’s learn-able.

Listen to the Man With the Beard

So, I told the students my first principle of good copywriting is “Nobody Likes Advertising.” Just ask anybody at work. Do you watch TV commercials? Of course not. But you’ll overhear the same person in the break room repeating lines from “The Most Interesting Man in the World” Dos Equis spots. Because it doesn’t register as “advertising.” It’s a story, a character, a joke. It’s inside your head and your heart before you know it. Somewhere Aristotle is saying, “I told you so.” Because he described the phenomenon 2,400 years ago to his own students, and we’re still employing it.

The quality of the thinking in Eric’s classroom – their thinking, not mine – impressed and encouraged me. Clearly, I was being ironic with the “Nobody Likes Advertising” principle. But I’m pretty sure it got their attention, made them rethink and maybe convinced/informed/motivated them. And that’s how we do it.


Google Sees Online Ads in Your Future

Have you checked out Google’s predictions on the future of online advertising? Fascinating insights. Here are a few from its crystal ball.


Google prediction: 50% of online ads will include video by 2015.

Video is the future of online advertising. In fact, 24 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute. It gives users choice and control, and online users demand that.

For advertisers, video presents the opportunity for a very effective measurement tool: per-view advertising. Instead of cost-per-click or cost-per-impression charges, the advertiser only pays if a user views its video. People are engaged and want to see these videos, which in turn offers a viral marketing opportunity.

Banner Ads

Google prediction: 50% of all display ads target to a particular audience using real time advertising by 2015.

In the future, the context of an online ad’s video, text, image, and tone of message can be selected based on previous sites visited, weather, time of day, etc., instead of using one-size-fits-all creative.

Let’s say you’ve recently Googled SUVs and shopped online for women’s shoes. And right now it happens to be snowing in your area. You come to a site and see an SUV ad targeted to women, talking about its great performance in winter driving conditions. In other words, targeted to you, based on your online behavior and your location.


Google prediction: Mobile is the #1 screen by 2015.

Mobile is the future of digital and we must now design for mobile first.

We already can search the web using Google Goggles with our smartphones. In the future, Google Goggles will recognize print advertising. Mobile users will use their Google Goggles to take a photo of a print ad, the goggles will recognize it as a print ad, and within a click, the user can pull up the ad’s website/offer online. This is called media bridging — using tools such as Google Goggles to bridge the offline and online worlds.

Google is also experimenting with the ability to use Google Goggles to create a 3-D image of a photo (such as a photo of a specific car model in a magazine), allowing the user to interact with the image and pull up more information online using only the Google Goggles image as the search method.

Online Measurement

Google prediction: At least five new metrics more important than the click by 2015.

In 2010, the click is still the leader in online measurement. Within the next few years, several new methods for online measurement will come to the frontline. Some of these already exist:

1. Video views
2. Interacting/engagement (social advertising)
3. View through conversions
4. Web search results
5. Sentiment analysis (how sentiment changes as a result of display efforts)
6. Foot traffic (ability to measure foot traffic and sales as a result of online ads)

Social Advertising

Google prediction: 75% of ads will be social enabled by 2015.

Users will be able to share, comment on, provide feedback, etc. ads. This allows display advertising to move from a one-way communication channel between the brand and consumer to an always-on two-way communication channel.

Rich Media

Google prediction: 50% of display ads will feature rich media by 2015.

Only 6% of ads that ran over the past year featured rich media, but it outperforms static, which is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Combined with the above-mentioned tools, it creates a rich user experience and provides opportunities for brand and social engagement like never before.

The Future Google’s final prediction: The display advertising industry will be a $50 billion market by 2015.

As Google says, we’re still in the early days of online advertising. Stay tuned. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Marc’s Picks for Final Friday – October 2010

Idology at Go Away Garage

In “Freudian Slips,” the first Idology show since 2006, David Christensen, Chris Frank, Greg Johnson, Ted Krone, Greg Turner and Mark S. Walker pull out all the stops in a fine show that’s heavy on sculpture and object-oriented mixed media. And it includes special guest artists Charles Baughman and Dustin Parker.

Go Away Garage, 508 S. Commerce, 6-10 p.m.

New Abstractions at Walnut Street Gallery

“New Abstractions” will bring you back to two dimensions with concept-driven prints by Scott Brown and paintings by the masterful Brian Hinkle, John Nichols and Craig Klinedinst.

Walnut Street Gallery, 112 S. Walnut, 6-11 p.m.

People We Should Know? Ya think?

Ashley Bowen Cook?
Ashley Bowen Cook?

This morning we looked in the Thursday business section of The Eagle under “People You Should Know” and said, “Hey, they’re not kidding. Who did we just promote to associate vice president?” Apparently giving Ashley added power at GG has already really changed her. So much, in fact, that nobody recognized the blonde woman in the photo. We’re sure she’s perfectly qualified, though. So, while we sort this out on our end, hope you’ll enjoy the tweets we’ll be sending out at Ashley’s expense (not to mention at the expense of blonde people everywhere). In the meantime, send your congratulations to Ashley – or – whomever. We don’t know who the person in this photo is, but she’s really growing on us.

National Business Aviation Association 2010:Reflections and Rejuvenation

Sonia/Ashley NBAA 2010

As we stepped off our jet at DeKalb Peachtree Airport, the smell of business and airplanes filled the air at the 63rd annual NBAA convention. The sold-out static’s 93 aircraft and supporting corporate chalets plus 1,083 exhibitors at the Georgia World Congress Center welcomed close to 25,000 visitors. We’re not saying that the boom days have returned, but we did sense a definite upward shift.

Standing-room-only crowds at Tuesday’s opening session. A packed house for Flexjet President Fred Reid’s talk “Evolution or Obsolescence.”Long lines to check out everything from Bombardier’s new long-range Global Express to Piper’s VLJ single-engine Altaire. Everyone seemed eager and ready to move forward.

Visit our Flickr page for photos of the convention.

What’s the Matter with Kansas, Indeed?

William Allen White “Sage of Emporia”

During this time of revolutionary change, we need journalists as never before. Our very democracy is predicated on the once-radical notion that the American people are capable of governing themselves. But how can we if we’re not informed? We need accurate facts and critical thinking skills to process them. We need our world to be put in context. We need wisdom and understanding.

This joint letter comes from members of the Wichita State University Elliott School of Communication Advisory Boardas a response to the Kansas State Department of Education’s recent decision to cut off funding to high-school journalism and yearbook courses.We take issue with the department’s reasoning that these programs don’t lead to high-demand careers.

Our board serves as a case in point. Our members represent a broad range of communication professions: publishers, editors, general managers, corporate vice presidents, managing partners, directors of public affairs, program officers and public information officers. We work in newspapers large and small, TV, radio, government, corporate America and ad agencies.

Many of us trained as journalists. And we all view ethics-based, high-quality journalism as vital to our community, state, nation and world. Is journalism a profession in transition? Yes. As are manufacturing, education, finance, agriculture, healthcare, retail and almost anything else you can think of. New technologies allow us to reinvent ourselves while global pressures demand we do so. Core skills demanded by our current information age include research, synthesis, writing and message production.

Good reporters don’t do our thinking, but they prod us to think. They unearth the unknown. Shine light into dark corners. The Fourth Estate arms us with information critical for a wise electorate, savvy business dealings and sound investing. A strong and vibrant press was deemed so essential by our Founding Fathers they gave it special protections under the U.S. Constitution. In a world that bombards us with messages every waking moment of our day, we seek out trusted journalistic sources.

To the State Department of Education we say, restore this critical funding to our high schools, encouraging our youngest journalists. Now.

*Note, a version of this letter appeared in the Oct. 12 issue of The Wichita Eagle.

By Deanna Harms, Wichita State University Elliott School of Communication Advisory Board Chair and Greteman Group EVP, and board members Tammy Allen, VP Marketing & Communications, Allen Gibbs & Houlik; Susan Armstrong, President/CEO Armstrong Shank Advertising; Joan Barrett, President/GM KWCH-TV/KSCW-TV; Jarrod Bartlett, Director of Communication, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems; Tom Bertels, Managing Partner, Sullivan Higdon Sink; Tami Bradley, Managing Partner, Bothner & Bradley; Al Buch, Retired, GM KSNW-TV; Sherry Chisenhall, VP News, The Wichita Eagle; Kent Cornish, Executive Director, Kansas Association of Broadcasters; Tom Glade, GM/VP for Marketing, Clear Channel Radio Group; Bonita Gooch, Editor-in-Chief, Community Voice; Nancy Martin, COO Emergency Services, HCA Wesley; Eric McCart, GM, Journal Broadcast Group; Mark McCormick, Director of Communications, Kansas Leadership Center; VP Communication, Kansas Health Foundation; Steve Randa, Managing Partner, Jajo; Bill Roy, Editor, Wichita Business Journal; Dave Seaton, Editor and Publisher, Winfield Daily Courier; Lynn Stephan, Retired, Stephan Advertising Agency; Dan Wall, GM, KAKE-TV; Van Williams, Spokesman, City of Wichita; Jackie Wise, VP/GM, Entercom Radio; Carter Zerbe, Retired, Publisher, Augusta Daily Gazette

A Documentary for People in Advertising

If you work in advertising or if you’re simply interested in big idea messaging, add Art & Copy to your Netflix queue right now. This compelling documentary from filmmaker Doug Pray features a host of interviews with some of the biggest names of the last few decades. My personal favorites: the work of Mary Wells on behalf of Braniff Airlines; the infamous launch of Apple Computer’s 1984 Super Bowl commercial introducing Macintosh; “Just Do It,” the Think Small Volkswagon campaign; Hal Riney’s Morning in America videos for Ronald Reagan; I want my MTV; and the exuberant creative of the brightly colored iPod campaign. The most amusing creative personality in the film was George Lois, although some argue he takes credit for work that isn’t his.