Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Say “Bye” to a Decade of Bovine-Featuring Ads? Have a Cow-less 2010, Man.

When the Huffington Post revealed that new “Happy Cows come from California” ads will be filmed in New Zealand instead of our own West Coast, it became clear that 2009 really has been a year of change, change, change. Maybe it’s time we ad professionals put aside cows altogether – use some other of God’s creatures in the new decade ahead.

It’s going to be tough. One hardly expects Chick-Fil-A to get along without them. The now-iconic nature of this restaurant’s spokes-moos – and one of America’s most enjoyable websites, too – is hardly dented by the odd Chick-Fil-A® Bowl coming in January at the Georgia Bowl, whatever that is.

I’m not precisely guiltless in regards to using cows for advertising purposes, either. I created my first one (an ad with a cow that is) back in the early ‘70s, for Nutrena Feeds. My latest you know about, part of the print series for Lactrol® antimicrobials that I blogged about here.

I guess the Beginning of the Fall for bovines (or cow-tipping-point) began with the UK’s Cravendale Cows a couple of years back – a wonderful series of “TV Adverts for Cravendale Fresh Milk, which has a hint of something sooo good, the Strawberry Cows want it back.” It was a Sixth Sense concept that was suspended because the campaign supposedly frightened children. Wonderfully funny, though.

And finally, today, the real reason is revealed in the cartoon strip “Pearls Before Swine ” by Stephan Pastis. I did NOT expect this revelation at all.

So this affirms my resolution: No cows in ads this coming year! Or at least, not ‘til February. Happy New Year, everyone.

“Pearls Before Swine” © 2009, United Feature Syndicate, Inc. All rights reserved.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Season’s Greetings from Signalwrite: Hugs and Kisses Come Standard.

This past year calls for comfort food. Since I can’t package meatloaf, it’s got to be chocolate. That’s why the special Signalwrite Snowman comes filled with chockies to help see this bad old year out and a bright new one in.

I have a real belief that life is sweeter because of good clients, good colleagues and good friends…like all of you. One more time, I’m reminded of the rewards of amiability.

Thanks for making the year more like chocolate and less like, say, spinach. Not that there’s anything wrong with that except how would it look, spinach stuffed in the Snowman Mug? (At least it, too, starts with “S.”)

To the recipients of the actual gifts” “Enjoy!” Eat them up yourself – it’s difficult to ration them this time of year. Or share them with friends if you are feeling especially generous. And thank you most of all for your continued faith in me.

For those who did not, by reason of distance or absence, get their hand-deliver holiday chocolates (Hershey’s Kisses, Hugs and other such-like yummies) – ‘zounds! Just let me know. Like the adventures ahead for next year, there’s more where these came from.

Best of the season from Signalwrite Marketing Communications. (C’est moi.)

Very Merry and Extra Happy all of these: Hanukkah (which began 12/11 – now over); Christmas Eve on 12/24 as usual. Kwanzaa starts Saturday, 12/26. Remember “Festivus for the rest of us” added by Chuck Curtis. And "Merry Chrismakah, Hannumas" from Mark Lipschitz. And another “Thank you” to Prism Design for the this year’s Snowman tag design.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sherman by White: Portrait of the Artist as a Young(ish) Man.

Great minds think alike, I don’t remember whether you said it first or I did, “That’s a photo!”

I’d seen artist Howard Sherman in his working duds. Frank White the Photographer, whose studio is next to Sherman’s at the Docks here, has seen Howard paint-covered as well. Still, when Howard walked out onto the loading dock with us, I guess we had to be together for the idea to pop.

We both knew it. White went on to take the photo:

There are many different approaches to capturing expressions of people. When I shoot people for myself, I go for the toe-in-the-water shot. I have found that if I am ready when the person comes in the studio, and can immediately capture an image, the first shot is usually the best…the cutting edge expression has to be quick.

This was the first image that I took of Howard. I probably shot about 30 images, but after this one, none of the others had this cocky, “Aren't I hot” look. They all looked too nice. We had fun, but those subsequent captures could not compete with the first one.

Photo: Copyright © 2009, Frank White Photography. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Promotion: How Zytrel XP® Becomes the World’s Official Santa-tizer.

Of all the health-risky hands-on occupations during this H1N1 flu season, the top job’s got to be America’s professional Santa Clauses…the Christmas holiday laps for thousands if not millions of kids. That must turn the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention utterly white.

As of today, though, there’s a fun and public-spirited holiday promo, sent as a “special to Signalwriter” from Jack Goldenberg at Biodefense Solutions:

For as long as anybody can remember, Santa Claus has been the world’s greatest gift giver. We think it's about time that Santa got a gift. This holiday season, if you’re a working Santa Claus in the NY tri-state area (NY, NJ, or CT), we’d like to give you a gift, a free bottle of Zytrel XP®, the world’s first extended protection hand sanitizer.

The Zytrel Santa-tizer opportunity came along (like a lot of promo concepts) at the intersection of several events. This is where you envision me holding up my fingers in sequence, right?

One. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been vigorously advising clean hands as one of the best ways to prevent infection in the face of regular flu and H1N1 viruses this year. CDC even says, “Remember: If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based gel to clean hands.”

Two. No less a group than AORBS called out the dangers of Swine Flu at a early-November conference in Philadelphia. The AORBS – Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas™ – is a genuine organization, founded in 1994. In Philly, the professional Santa group lobbied for priority in getting H1N1 vaccinations plus urged its members to use hand sanitizer. Read all about that right here.

Three. Biodefense Solutions thinks those Santas need extra protection and according to everything that Goldenberg has sent me, Zytrel XP delivers exactly that. Traditional alcohol-based sanitizers, like J&J’s Purell product, don’t seem to offer Santas (or other users) long-lasting protection because they only kill germs until they dry, about 15 seconds. The alcohol is part of the problem: Once these older-formulation sanitizers evaporate, they’re done.

Zytrel XP has what its makers calls an “Active Defense Period” of up to four hours – it not only kills 99.99% of germs on contact, it keeps on killing germs for the entire four-hour period.

I’m no Santa. Biodefense Solutions has sent me a bottle of Zytrel XP to try anyway. I’ll report back on my observations, even though there’s a certain amount of faith involved: I’m not going to be lab-testing my hands every day. More important though, the company extended the offer of a free bottle to the pro Santas of the AORBS. The two outfits have shaken hands and Goldenberg emailed me:

I am proud to announce that as of midnight tonight, December 10, 2009, Zytrel XP is the Official Santa-tizer of the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas.

That’s a neat seasonal promotion. If Zytrel XP helps keep America’s Santas germ-free and healthy, it’s a gift that’ll keep on giving.

Top photo: “Department Store Santa circa 1956.” A Christensen in Santa's Lap – when nobody had even thought of marketing a hand sanitizer. From Wikimedia.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Clue One: Snow Summons Harbingers of Signalwrite Client Gifts.

How could anyone imagine they’d be lurking in such numbers? Yet at the first sign of snow, here they come, their shining faces ready for the next critical step in the Signalwrite Marketing holiday gift program. Coming soon to a pair of welcoming client hands nearby: Hanukkah a week away and Christmas just around the corner.

What’s this year’s gift? Clue Two will be on Prism’s Use Your Bean blog on Monday. Maybe you’ll guess lucky and get a double helping of Something Special.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Noyu Authentic Asian Tea Brand: Mangling a Metaphor for Marketing.

This isn’t the first time that a Signalwriter™ post has started off in one direction and ended up somewhere else. Not the first time I’ve written about beverage marketing, either. Just let me get the rant out of the way first:

Attention, brand managers: Don’t mix your metaphors. Even if your customers don’t notice, someone will and make fun of you. (Much like this post.)

Noyu Teas has a sturdy concept for a very crowded category – a whole world of ready-to-drink (RTD) teas brought to America from the leading regional source of outstanding tea: “Joyful infusions of Asian fruits and freshly brewed estate grown whole tea leaves from the mountains of Taiwan.”

This one, the all-natural Mandarin Ginger Oolong Tea, is called Samurai Defender. Samurai = Japan. Product source = Taiwan. A mixed metaphor and a cultural mishmash in six words.

No one’s going to realize it. I know this. You have to dig into the company’s website to understand that the “defender” part of the fortified tea comes from 18 therapeutic herbs and other healthy ingredients that are supposed to aid in immune system defense. Maybe this copy is on the reverse of the PET bottle.

But once I get over the huff of the Creative Purist (that’s a laugh, eh?), I’m charmed by the apparent self-mockery of the website’s headline: I Wanna Noyu. The products are not available in Texas. The company appears to have skipped over mid-continent distributors on its way to New York and New Jersey from the Left Coast.

I wonder if Viet Hoang at Yellow magazine knows about this brand? So listen, Noyu founders. You ever sashay into Houston, I’ll rustle you up a tasting panel. Dad-blamed if we can’t turn tea sampling into a multi-cultural brand experience. Sayonara, y’all.

Thanks to Beverage Spectrum magazine for bringing this brand to my attention. Following its beat is always a treat.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

FT Article about Creative Paddy Power Advertising Adds Force to Fast.

The World Cup match was over – France defeated the Irish national team. Two weeks later, on November 25th, Ireland’s largest bookmaker rolled out more than 40 backlit posters in Dublin airport’s baggage hall, each with the headline:

Paddy Power welcomes you to Ireland…unless you’re called Thierry.

(On videotape, it’s appears that French striker Thierry Henry handled the ball which is a major no-no, even I know that. So the Irish feel like they wuz robbed.)

I don’t follow football. I haven’t walked through anything so exotic as an Irish airport. I found out about the campaign in the most neatly crafted seven column inches of newspaper copy I’ve read in years, a small article called “Ad deconstructed” by Gautam Malkani in today’s Financial Times.

Given the author’s writing background, it’s not surprising he’s a fine writer. What I enjoyed was how quickly he pinpointed the main points of these boards’ appearance. First, this is advertising that’s humorous without being bitter – utterly topical and timely. Second, the Paddy Power company got the creative done fast and in place fast: “Following Ireland’s defeat on the Wednesday, the creative was agreed on Friday and the posters were displayed on Monday evening.”

Malkani’s spot-on conclusion is in his article’s last sentence, “…even when dealing with traditional media, advertisers need to quicken their game.”

Quicken the game. Shorten the timeline. Get inside the stakeholders’ decision cycle. All these phrases mean that sometimes it’s critical to get your messages to market faster. Now Paddy Power is a national institution so it’s very well known in Ireland. Still, the nature of its business – sports betting – means attracting topical attention in a big way and right quick too.

We all know creative ought not to be rushed. But once in a while, like at Dublin Airport, there’s an example of nifty creative done really fast. BOOM it’s right there in front of everybody*, even traveling Frenchmen.

I bet you can’t show me that combination applied in our B2B realm anytime soon.

*Average Dublin Airport passengers: 60,000/day. Photo from Betzoo with thanks.