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Bits & Pieces?

Bits & Pieces

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.

consumer preference for mobile web versus mobile apps

Consumer preference for mobile web over mobile apps depends upon activity

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.

More ads served on mobile web than mobile apps

More ads served on mobile web than mobile apps

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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I’m involved in a couple of professional groups that are big into mentoring, which has me reflecting on how lucky I was to have great mentors and role models in the early, formative years of my career. Let’s face it, the ad/agency/marketing industry is not exactly known for excellence in mentoring and training programs; the phrase “trial by fire” comes to mind. So, I thought I would share a few of the lessons that were shared with me early on, in hopes that they might help some young ‘uns new to their advertising or marketing careers. (Gayla, Lisa, Peggy and John, this one’s for you.)

You exist to make your bosses’ lives easier. There are times when challenging authority is appropriate, even necessary. And we certainly don’t want “yes people” who never question anything. But more often than not, you need to be really listening to and acting on the input you are given and asking how you can help instead of putting up roadblocks. Chances are, as a young person in the industry, the people you report to are much, much, MUCH busier than you. So I recommend that you do all you can to help them. It’s how you will advance.

[Tangent: I wonder if the “Millennials” reading this will be offended at the suggestion that they have bosses and hierarchy? Trust me, we want and value your opinions, and social media has trained us all to be more democratic, but work is not a democracy. Not really. I hope I’m not coming across as condescending here, but I have observed a potent “You’re not the boss of me.” vibe in some – not all – of the “Millennials” with whom I have worked. Bonus points to anyone who can help me truly understand this generation and how they work – enlighten me in the comments. I beg you.]

Underpromise and overdeliver. This is the best piece of client service advice that I ever heard and the same holds true of managing your supervisors’ expectations. Never, ever make promises that you can’t keep. Not keeping commitments kills trust faster than you can say “unemployment.” Conversely, setting expectations that you exceed wins every time.

Check your work. Then check it again. I started my career on an airline account, where if there was a typo in a fare ad, it could be a seven-figure mistake. Sloppy work is just not acceptable. No one is perfect (see below), but job hunters, I’m telling you right now that if there are typos in your resume or email, you are done. *Poof*. In the bin. No chance of employment. We don’t have time to correct your work so you need to demonstrate that you care enough to do great work in the first place.

Don’t try to hide your mistakes. Check your work as you will, you will still make mistakes. In cultures of innovation, it is actually encouraged. In servicing clients, not so much. Yet, it happens, particularly in the trial by fire scenario mentioned earlier. Fresh out of college, I failed to cancel a $75,000 ad placement on time; I simply had no clue about space closing dates and when the ad had to be cancelled. Shortly thereafter, there was a cease and desist order on an ad that hadn’t gone through legal. I was absolutely horrified and for a time, I’m pretty sure I actually hid the file under my desk in hopes that it would disappear. In a lesser organization, I might have been fired. But my mentors understood that I simply didn’t have the information and experience at the time to have possibly known any better. If you are in a gig where you feel like you have to hide your mistakes, you should probably look for a new one.

Toot your own horn. In the wonderful new-ish world of social media, we’re not supposed to talk too much about ourselves. In our careers, though, it is essential. Your boss may well be too busy to take note of your hard work and your accomplishments, other than maybe at your annual or semi-annual review. Therefore, as long as you doing it with tact, it is a good idea to merchandise yourself to them now and then. If a client praises you, pass it along. Update people on your progress. If you are functioning as an island, and no one knows what you are doing, it may seem like a good thing. Trust me…it’s not.

If you can do those five things, you’ll build yourself a nice little suit of kevlar to get through the trial by fire. An advertising or marketing career is not an easy one; but it can one of the most multi-faceted, creative, challenging and fun ones. Don’t be scared. : ]

What about you? What have you learned so far?

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‘Tis the season for holiday advertising. Most of the advertising is retail. Most of it is fairly predictable. How many biggest sales of the season can there be?

A friend sent a link to this ad created by St Matthews-in-the-City Church in New Zealand. Its honest portrayal of real emotions was refreshing after seeing too many contrived jewelry store commercials. (Who has money for a diamond necklace the day of signing on a new house? People who shop at Tiffany? Maybe. But Kay? Come on.)

One of the things that makes this ad remarkable is it takes something familiar and makes you see it in a slightly different, deeper way – a hallmark of great advertising.

No one really knows a lot about Mary. Many of us have heard her story what feels like a million times. But in all the telling and retelling, it still doesn’t feel like we have any sense of what she was like as a person. What we do know makes her seem different and distant. She lived over 2,000 years ago in a country many of us have never even visited. Where’s the common ground?

This ad succeeds because it overcomes differences and finds a common link that connects women throughout the world and history. Any woman who sees this ad, especially those who have experienced a Clearblue Easy moment, can imagine what she’s thinking and empathize with her. I’m going to be someone’s mom? It’s freaky. It’s overwhelming. It totally rocks your world. And we see all that in her expression.

The use of the pregnancy test in this ad doesn’t so much make her seem modern as it makes her emotions feel timeless and universal. The years, cultural differences, distance and unknowns melt away, and we are in that moment with her.

The outdoor board has no copy. It doesn’t need it. It’s just a simple visual solution that, in mere moments, makes an emotional connection with the viewer. And that’s what great ads do. They uncover a universal
human truth. They find common ground. They make us feel something real and true.

Now, if only someone could tell that to Kay…

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It’s not new news, but most of the time, even in our changing world—many advertisers still want to talk more about themselves than their consumers. In their version of the advertising strategy, features outweigh benefits in key messaging platforms. Especially with limited dollars, “more bang for the buck” comes with cramming every nook and cranny of a spot with something to say about the product. I’m not casting judgement. I get it—with the pressure to succeed, and success ever more tied to ROI, it’s tough to be a marketer. But I urge us all to still focus on the consumer. Something I think we did well (along with our client) in these recent spots for HSHS (Hospital Sisters Health System) in Green Bay.

You may have read a post here months back, on a 60 second spot we shot with Michael Prince for the brand. Well, these are the harder-hitting siblings of that spot. What we’d call the “service line” spots for cancer and orthopedics. These spots carry some pretty heavy loads—boasting that “we provide the most treatment options,” that “we beat national survival rates” and that “we are among the nation’s best” when it comes to cancer. Product features, not benefits. But notice how the facts are surrounded both visually and verbally with “life”, “hope” and “a new belief.” Things I believe every person with cancer wants as much as the latest and greatest treatment.

By identifying that what we see in a cancer patient is a path to new life, we brought context, benefit and a personal connection to what would be a list of ingredients. Kudos to the team and the client on recognizing the fine balance between logic and emotion, especially when it comes to our health.

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I have to admit I was pretty excited when I heard the Fiat was coming to America. It put my “Italian-ness” in full gear (no pun intended). I couldn’t wait to see what the car looked like and, knowing that possibly within the year I would be in the market for a car, I put the Fiat at the top of my list, even sight unseen.

When I saw the car I liked it, even tough maybe it was a little tiny for my taste – but still kept it in my consideration set. There’s an inner battle that goes on when it comes to making a decision to buy a car. First, there are the real world concerns of space and gas mileage and options that you want the car you drive to have. Secondly (and maybe I’m a little shallow, but whatever) I want the car I drive to have an image that is in line with my personality. In other words, for me, the advertising matters.

VW does a great job of portraying the image and features I am interested in. So does Honda. Then I saw the Fiat commercial, and frankly I hardly noticed the car in it at all. Instead all I could see was Jennifer Lopez.

It takes everything in me to not put a question mark at the end of her name.

Jennifer Lopez?

As celebrity endorsements go, this one is a real head scratcher. Her appearance immediately turned me off to the car, and apparently I’m not alone.

Recent reports say the 2011 sales goal of 50,000 units is way off, having only sold 16,000. Workers at the plant have been laid off because demand isn’t there. And now the commercial featuring Jennifer Lopez is under fire because it celebrates her getting back to her “roots” — implying that the streets in the commercial are that of the Bronx. But no, they were filmed in LA.

There has now been a shakeup within the top marketing brass for Fiat as well.

In the old days they used to say Fiat stood for “Fix it again, Tony,” and I can see why the car would want to steer clear of that baggage. But then again to completely ignore the Italian  heritage of the car and the “cool” factor behind Fiat really stumps me. When they introduced the new VW Beetle, one of the charms of the campaign was it’s subtle nods to the car’s storied past. But the marketers behind Fiat have denied the car of it’s truly authentic self and are paying the price. Call me crazy but this Italian car has to be injected with a little bit of Italian-ness.

What do you think? Is J-Lo right for Fiat? Or is she turning you off to a car that identifies itself with a judge on American Idol?


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