See Like An Artist without Starving

For Fresh Ideas, Look Like an Artist

Maybe it’s more important if I look at an ordinary overcoat as I never
saw it before, then it becomes as fit a subject for painting as on of
Titians purple coat.

Ben Shahn

Nope, you don’t have to don a beret and live out of your car. We’re
talking about "seeing" like an artist, and turning what you see into
fresh ideas.

This starts by stopping the way we usually think. Our brains survive
the daily onslaught of information by simplifying and labeling what we
see. Grass is green. Brick is red. Sky is blue. Seeing creatively,
finding nuance, and making associations depends on shutting this
mechanism down. Practice by looking and observing. Watch the sun set
over a stand of pine trees. What might appear as bright green in full
sun turns to grey green with bark lined with deep purple edges. Can you
look at your problem or your product as you’ve never seen it before?
Describe its temperature, texture, shape, and sound. When you see
clearly, you can create.

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50 Percenters are Losers – Bad Ass Marketing

Welcome to the Bad Ass Marketer,  In today’s post, we’ll exam how one famous quote transformed advertising into a cesspool of laziness and lack of accountability.

Our story begins with John Wanamaker, born in Philadelphia in 1838. John monkeyed around with a few retail store concepts before founding the first department store in 1872.  Wanamaker, badass marketer thru and thru, understood that he could do a maximum hose job on his customers by centralizing a wide variety of goods and services under one roof.

In his precursor to the modern Shopping Mall, Wanamaker put everything from a Ford dealership to the world’s largest pipe organ. The man had a flair for promotion, and he was swell to his employees.

So what the hell went wrong?

Wanamaker said the following 17 words, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” He invented the excuse advertisers and marketers have used for decades to explain away their weak assed results.

Two observations: 1. It’s hard to believe Wanamaker was just wasting half his money. Those ads were dogs. And 2. The power repetition, not necessarily based in fact, has to wear down our intellect, like  “we’re making progress in Iraq,”  “I did not bet on baseball,”  and “tree hugger nut jobs invented global warming.”

Badass Marketers understand the power of repetition and manipulate it. That’s ok as long as the thing being repeated isn’t stupid. Now Wanamaker was a badass marketer, but he didn’t have Arbitron data, or Nielsen ratings to target his ads to factory workers, housewives, or farmers.

Back then, flushing  just 50% of his budget down the crapper  made him hot stuff.

But here’s the rub: it’s not freaking okay now, so stop quoting Wanamaker, and making the guy redline rpms in his pine box. Today’s media has easily measurable components: click thrus, downloads, time spent with a game, repeat visits, or ROI from ecommerce. If you aren’t engaging this information in a meaningful way, and you aren’t driven to improve those numbers, go to Wal-Mart and become a freaking Greeter.

It’s time for a new mantra for a new age in marketing,

Like, “50 percenters are losers.”

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Ad strategy with Sun Tzu, Shaq and Phil Jackson

We love using war and sports metaphors in marketing. “Hey, Ted, let’s
blow away the competition next quarter.” Sure, and on the weekends
he’ll organize an Amish terrorist cell to take over an Arby’s.

Everyone wants to “beat” the competition. That’s human nature. But
is it wise? And how will you do it? And can you do it without
splattering your budget all over the wall.

Possibly the greatest warrior in history based his strategies on
avoiding conflict. Sun Tzu (ca. 500 BCE) was no wuss, but he considered
war to be wasteful of the empire’s human, cultural and physical
resources. World leaders have been slow to catch on, but Phil Jackson,
who led the Laker’s to three consecutive championships, certainly
hasn’t.

One of Sun Tzu’s central precepts was that the army with the
greatest force at the critical point would win. That point for Phil
Jackson is an 18-inch in diameter hoop, 10 feet off the ground, known
as the basket. Based on this fact alone, Back when the Lakers had Shaq, Sun Tzu would have predicted
the Lakers victory before the season began. At
7’1″ and 315 pounds, Shaq is an unmovable object that is closer to the
basket than anyone on the floor. Jackson knows that nobody can stop
Shaq, and as long as the rest of the team understands the strategy, the
Lakers win. When they don’t, they lose.

You need a strategy. A simple one. And everyone in your company has
to understand it. One that clearly defines the area where you can bring
an overwhelming force to bear. In other words, pass the ball to Shaq.

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Visions of a Cheeseburger

The best ad I’ve seen in the past 12 months wasn’t on the Super Bowl or any advertising agency awards show. It was sitting in front of Tower Records about a block away from San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center. The creative director, himself, a dragged out homeless person, sat on the sidewalk and the displayed the ad. The convention traffic bustled past. The headline, scrawled on a beat up hunk of cardboard, read “Visions of a Cheeseburger.” The homeless man’s tin box nearly overflowed with dollar bills.

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Choosing an Ad Agency

Here’s a shocker, there is no shortage of advertising agencies. In the Cincinnati ADI alone, there are hundreds of shops. Oddly enough, these agencies all lay claim to things you hold dear. They deliver results. Their creative product has Schezam. They are all full-service. And they are experts in your category, because 5 years ago they created a brilliant Power Point presentation for the president of Toyota North America. Yeah, we did that, and we still can’t get our foot in the door at Lexus.

So how do you sort through this mob? Ask questions, including a few to yourself. Do you need an agency to handle overflow from your internal marketing group, help launch a new product, create a new business unit, or work with you to reposition a brand?

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Bernie Madoff Mentors Santa

• Bag the reindeer and get a Hummer
• Shorten route, and narrow focus on on neighborhoods where idiots still believe in Santa.
• Fire the elves and move all toy production to China.
• Climbing down the chimney is inefficient. Just drop the gifts and run.
• Better yet, stop lugging that silly bag around. Dole out Gift Cards that must be redeemed by EOD on Christmas.
• Eliminate the competition. Send all the Mall Santas to Third World Countries.
• Start a Santa Licensing Group and make millions from everyone who uses your image.
• Copyright “Ho, Ho, Ho” and hire lawyers to sue for copyright infringement.
• Make kids pay a dollar to sit on their lap, and tell them you’ll give them $100 back on Christmas Eve sometime..

Feel free to add your suggestions below!

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Brands Wobble Off Pitch


Imagine your brand is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
The choir is singing a big,
ripe chord, and it’s so “in tune” that it makes your head vibrate. Then
member 292, a bass, starts thinking about his cactus terrarium
and his voice slips a quarter of a step. No one in the audience
notices, but a few of his choir mates shoot disapproving looks. Soon,
291 seems to think 292 has the right pitch. The conductor’s ears start
twirling like radar. The new
corrupted pitch starts to spread like wildfire. Now the whole bass
section has adjusted to the corrupted pitch. The conductor has gone to
Devcon 5. Wolf Blitzer and Barry Manilow have taken over the CNN’s
Situation Room for ongoing coverage of the crisis. And the audience
grows restless. They start to wander out, like disappointed fans at a
football game where the scores screams futility. “Guess the MTC
isn’t what it used to be.”

Planned dissonance can help spark new life in a brand, but sour notes can just as easily suck it out. Ask Susan Abramovitz for more
about Harmonic Brand Stickiness, or email us your name and address to receive the Harmonic Brand Stickiness brochure.

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The Voter’s Paradox: Get Over It

One of the most common reasons given for not voting is “my vote doesn’t make a difference.” This view must be pervasive as 60- to 75-percent of the electorate sits out any given national election. The Voters Paradox by Leon Felkins and Mack Tanner presents these non voters as having made a rational decision. According to the Tanner-Felton paradox, the importance of any single vote declines the more people vote. The flip side is that when fewer voters turn out, the influence of their individual votes goes up. It’s kind of like a slightly off pitch violinist playing a solo, or as part of an orchestra.

So although, non-voters may think their vote doesn’t count, they’re giving up their voice to the voting elite; the minority that chooes to vote.

There’s another, and I feel, equally important reason to vote: It’s a symbolic affirmation of our democracy. And, if we all turn out together – red, white, blue, black, brown, yellow – voting will give us a unity as we express our differences through voting.

So get over your paradox, and get your ass to the polls.

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Fashion Industry Militates Against Real Beauty

A short film on Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty website shows the transformation of a real-life young woman into a fashion icon that ultimately gets plastered on a billboard. The delves into the broader issues of how such stereotyping negatively affects women emotionally and physically. Aren’t real people good enough?

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Ads on Grocery Converyor Belts

Thanks to the Envision Marketing Group
of Little Rock, Ark., you will soon be assailed by advertising printed
on the conveyor belt at your local supermarket. The concept is
currently in test by Target and Kroger. Frank Cox, CEO of EMG, appears
to be driven by the desire to obliterate to obliterate all of the
world’s stationery or moving white space and sell it. Tell me, what’s
next?

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