Bits & Pieces?
For years, retailers have been putting up in-store holiday displays earlier and earlier. It’s not uncommon to see fully decorated trees weeks before Halloween. This year, the holiday creep has spread to on-air and online advertising. Target is jumping ahead of the rest of the retail industry with its TV and video pre-roll ad that features its Bullseye dog and a promise that “The holidays are coming, and they’re gonna be big.”
This early holiday push is in contrast to the retailer’s strategy in years past. According to an Ad Age article, in 2010 the company postponed running holiday-themed ads until the week after Thanksgiving. The article quotes then Chief Marketing Officer Michael Francis: “Guests really tire of these messages when they’re started too early in the season, and it doesn’t align with where they are in their lives. They look at Thanksgiving as family time … and aren’t yet ready to get into the frenzy that defines the Christmas shopping season.”
What changed in two years? The economy for one. In another Ad Age article, Target’s CEO Gregg Steinhafel said: “Guests are feeling better about finances and are more comfortable considering larger purchases.” Feeling bullish about consumer confidence and ability to spend, Target is further tempting shoppers with REDcard discounts, Free Shipping, Holiday Price Match and Easy Returns –– all in hopes of capturing more of consumers’ holiday spending.
Time will soon tell if Target’s holiday advertising strategy is a success. I wonder if this early push for Christmas sales will be at the expense of Halloween sales. Christmas gets a lot of attention from retailers, but Halloween spending is no joke. This year, it’s estimated that consumers will spend $8 billion getting their spook on.
What do you think? Will early holiday advertising cannibalize or boost Halloween spending at Target?
And do you think these early ads will influence you to shop earlier (Target sure hopes so)? Or does all this premature holiday talk have the reverse effect and make you want to avoid the perceived hassles of holiday shopping for as long as you can?
Does something feel a little off or not quite right?
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In just a few days, Mad Men is (finally) returning with new episodes. As we get ready to travel back in time to the 1960’s, I started to think about what’s changed in the world of advertising and what’s stayed the same. Has the advertising world of Mad Men ever really gone away?
The rise of billable hours
In the 1960’s, advertising agencies made most of their money from media commissions. Today, agencies increasingly depend on billable hours to keep the doors open and paychecks from bouncing. Which leads us to…
You can’t do a full day’s work after a three-martini lunch. That’s not a big problem if you get big media commissions. It is a problem if agency revenue comes from billable hours or value/performance-based billing
The elements of a campaign
The very act of reading this blog on our agency’s website illustrates a fundamental change in advertising since the 1960’s –– even since the early 1990’s. In the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Creative Department, a campaign consisted of television, radio, print and outdoor. Today, our campaigns have all of those mass media elements plus online components, social media strategies, smart phone apps, experiential marketing and guerrilla executions.
Don and Peggy were creating one-way communications that pushed information out to people. Today, thanks to technology, we are creating two-way conversations. Now, we both create content and curate content created by consumers.
When we first entered the world of Sterling Cooper, everyone in creative and account service had a secretary. (Can you picture Don Draper making copies?) Today, it’s increasingly rare for even a partner to have a personal assistant. It’s the DIY era.
Thankfully, overt sexism has gone the way of Joan’s girdle. Today, women aren’t let go when they get married or have a baby, and the majority of us are not called “Sweetie.” Now, women of all ages and family status make valuable contributions in almost every agency in every discipline, and some agencies have women in top leadership positions.
Advertising has made huge strides in improving gender equality, but, like every industry, it still needs to improve. For example, women are not equally represented in the top creative leadership roles or in judging panels at award shows. This equally applies to minorities.
What’s stayed the same?
Advertising is still a competitive field that attracts some of the same personality types represented on the show. You’ll still meet Pete Campbells who will do just about anything to get ahead. We still have Joans who understand the system and masterfully work every angle as much as they can. We still have Peggys –– young, ambitions, smart women who defy traditional gender roles. And, as the grapevine can attest, we still hear whispers of illicit affairs. (Then again, what industry doesn’t?)
I found a conversation with Berny Brownstein, Chairman and Chief Creative officer of the Brownstein Group, about what’s changed and what’s stayed the same since the Mad Men era.
At the most fundamental level, advertising hasn’t changed. Berny Brownstein said it best: “Our job is still to motivate people. We motivated through creativity, emotional copy and dramatic graphics. That is still prevalent today.” Hear the whole interview at:
I think this is why so many of us in this industry connect so deeply with the show. Our bond with all the people at Sterling Cooper is our work. Just like Don, Pete, Peggy and Roger we are all in the business of selling good ideas that are based on truth and authentic emotions.
How do you think advertising agency life has changed in the past half century? How do you think it’s stayed the same? We’d love to read your comments.
We all come up with good ideas and executions all the time. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t make it in advertising for very long. Every once in a while, good work becomes great work. That’s the work that wins awards, grabs the attention of the media and may even become a part of pop culture.
What factors differentiate the merely good from the great? A lot of variables affect the outcome (client relationships, agency culture, budget, attitude – just to name a few), but two play a larger role in success than all the others: the idea and the execution.
You can have a fantastic idea and an OK execution, and your final product will be good, not great.
Or you can have an OK idea and a fantastic execution, and your final product will be good, not great
You will only have a great final product if the idea and the execution are both outstanding.
Here’s an example. Dolly Parton had a fantastic idea for a song.
Her execution of the song was good, but it wasn’t great.
(I may not have loved her version of this song. But that doesn’t mean I won’t always love Dolly.)
It took Whitney Huston’s execution to elevate the song to new heights.
By collaborating, Dolly and Whitney achieved success that went beyond what each could have reached alone.
This song is a lot like advertising. Except in our field, the person who most often gets all the credit and glory is the one who comes up with the idea. But, as we’ve just heard, the idea is only half of what makes something exceptional. Even if you don’t come up with the idea, it’s important to remember that the execution is just as important. You can take a great deal of pride in what you can do to transform good into great.
As you get your next assignment, be inspired by Dolly and Whitney. (Just don’t sing to your partner too much. I’ve been told that’s annoying.)
Given two studies on preference for mobile web versus mobile apps, I stand behind my previous post’s conviction: the mobile web is where brands need to be.
Consumers and advertisers slightly prefer the mobile web.
Consumers are pretty evenly divided on the debate when polled. It comes down to what they’re doing online. When shopping, searching and being entertained they gravitate to the web browser. Apps are preferred for gathering information and connecting, presumably with friends over Facebook and the like.
Advertisers slightly favor the mobile web, based on volume of ads served. Likely, because it’s been a more widely supported and stable ad platform to date. I imagine that when Facebook’s mobile ads start to run in March, the scale will likely tip back towards apps with Facebook’s 845 million global active monthly users, 425 million of whom are on its mobile version.
What’s a brand to do?
As I posted previously, the mobile web provides significant advantages for brands when it comes to development, management, cost and control of a brand experience. That said, brands do need to weigh these against the ability to deliver the best consumer experience.
Given the lack of a strong preference by both consumers and marketers, plus the significant advantages to brands, I reiterate my position: not to app.
Where do you stand?
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