Monday, 31 October 2011

the ads that Jim fixed...

Sir Jimmy Savile, who passed away on Saturday aged 84, will be remembered most for making children's dreams come true, but also goes down in ad history as the man who encouraged a generation to get on the train.

RIP Jimmy.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

R.I.P. Steve Jobs - the best adman of his generation.

There has been, and will continue to be, a lot written about Steve Jobs and quite rightly - he was a true visionary and a genius.

Everybody knows the groundbreaking products that his company has introduced over the years. And for most of us they are now an indispensable part of our life. But what a lot of people don't know is what a truly great advertising man he was.

This article sums it up far better that I could...

Steve Jobs knew what his company stood for and didn't care what you thought. He assiduously avoided every false turn in the "marketing fad of the month" playbook. Reportedly, the only research he ever did was to ask himself whether he liked something or not. 

In his own way, he taught us everything we need to know about advertising. The only problem is, most of us are too blind or too stupid to learn. The thing about magicians is, you see it with your own eyes and you still don't know they did it.

Here's what I learned from watching Steve.
  • The best way to build a brand is to sell a product. Apple rarely did "branding" advertising or "line" advertising. An Apple ad is about the features and benefits of one specific product. Not about "you the consumer." Not about how the brand intersects with your life. Not about how the brand saves the world.
  • Creativity is simplicity. Apple ads always look like Apple ads. They are simple. They are direct. A white background, a product right smack in the middle of the page, and a line or two of copy. They rarely changed this formula. Once in a while they'd have a person along with the product, but no idiotic "lifestyle" crap and no art school visual puns.
  • Trend-jumping is no substitute for principles. From what I can tell, Apple still doesn't have an official Twitter feed or Facebook page. They don't jump from one gimmick to another. They are not desperate to hop on every fad that comes along. They are the most successful technology company in the world, yet they understand that communication is best done human-to-human. They do a great job of utilising the web for all their "below-the-line" materials. But they lean heavily on traditional channels for advertising. They have built the most powerful social network in the world without doing an ounce of social media.
  • Be who you are. Apple's public personality -- its advertising voice -- has never changed from day one. When Microsoft was winning, it never tried to be the second best Microsoft.
Steve Jobs was the best adman of his generation. Those who want to learn would do well to study what he did.

Thanks again to The Ad Contrarian for another great article.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

First's new TV ad says buses are the future

While the ad is nice, lighthearted and fun and they should be applauded for trying something new and different, for us TV advertising and bus travel aren't a good fit.

To find out why, read our latest newsletter, for free here.

Monday, 3 October 2011

what will the franchise merry-go-round bring?

As the next round of rail franchises draws ever closer, will customers see TOCs making realistic promises with a view to securing their future as an operator? 

The East Coast and West Coast London-to-Scotland lines are among those up for renewal and many TOCs are turning to specialist research companies to determine what would make the train more attractive to customers.

Would providing bicycle racks on platforms, expanding car parking and making stations into attractive community hubs get people on the trains or is it the two things that are largely out of the TOCs control - punctuality and price/value for money - that hold the key?

Either way, with franchise periods reportedly going to be around the 15 year mark there's going to be a lot of promising going on.

Only time will tell whether TOCs can deliver on them.