Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Being a graduate of the “Mad Men Days” in theÖzel_Ödül_jpg-2 advertising business, I have a deep appreciation for great copywriting. In musing over the state of the ad industry, I began to think that this talent has become a rare commodity.

With the dearth of great print ads or outdoor, where is one to find moving copy that speaks to the consumer and makes them sit up and take notice? The answer strangely enough is to be found on the Internet.

In the early days, the only measuring tool was consumer response measuring in the old adage: “It’s not creative unless it sells”.

When one looks back at the greatest ads ever written, like Volkswagen’s “Think Small Campaign” it becomes obvious that brilliant concepts created brilliant sales. The funny looking car became a huge success all because the advertising was able to capture both the essence of the brand and the imagination of the consumer.

These same qualities can be seen in great home or landing pages on today’s Internet.

Just like yesterday’s sales results, clicks can provide a valuable measurement standard for any web-landing page. If the copy is great, the customer stays and acts and even puts up his or her money or email address. It’s the same kind of instant feedback and reward that would have made all those guys on Mad Men stand up, have a smoke and a martini and gleefully give each other hardy pats on the back.

What a wonderful world.



So, you wake up with a terrible toothache. Your head is pounding and feels like it weighs about a ton. You know that you need a dentist and you need one pronto.

What do you do?

You go on the Internet of course and look for a dentist to treat you for five bucks…

That’s the basic idea of Fiverr. It’s a wildly successful new website where creative people can offer their services for five bucks. Check it out and you’ll see there are copywriters who will write five hundred word articles for five bucks. The fact that their own posting has two spelling mistakes and enough grammatical errors to fill a textbook, heck it’s only five bucks.

Why spend good money on an ad agency to develop a strategic plan when there’s a faceless guy in India who will do it for five bucks?

Silly to get a jingle done by a great, experienced radio production company that has Clios lining their walls. No, go to Fiverr and for five bucks you can have a jingle done in China.

My point here is that you always get what you pay for. Whether that’s hamburgers or advertising advice, good quality costs money.


Every advertising or marketing agency needs new business. There I’ve said it.

The problem is that getting that new business is never going to be easy. The chances you bump into the president of some big company that’s itching for a new marketing partner and offers you a huge retainer to take on their business is about the same as winning the lottery.

The only way you are going to get new business is the painful way. That’s right, new business development is a painful part of growing your agency. That’s why so many agencies I meet with tell me they don’t have time for new business or they are hoping their new white paper or redesigned website is their new business tool.

Let’s face it they hate new business because it’s so damn hard to do. There’s the detested cold call. Picking up the phone and trying to pitch someone you don’t really know. You expect rejection (ouch), you and secretly hope they won’t answer your call because it’s easier on your psyche to leave a recorded message than actually have to pitch someone. Then there’s the dreaded warm call. You know the person you met or someone has introduced you to. You know that calling them demeans you in some way. Are you begging? Are you lowering yourself by asking them to consider using your services? So distasteful, so off putting…why do any new business scouting now, I could be working on a new piece of creative or planning some media….anything will be more fun.

Sadly, in the past few years new business has become as popular as cancer. Making a cold call is like a colonoscopy, you’d love to put it off but in the back of your mind you know that postponing it will not help.

So here’s what I want you to do.

I want you to force yourself to actively find a new piece of business in the next 30 days. Put that goal on a piece of paper and stick it somewhere prominently in your office. Every time you look at it, make a call, send an email, write a letter (yes letter writing is back and blows through the clutter of day to day emails). Swallow that pride and beg, plead or cajole someone to give you their account. Offer them free creative for the first 6 months. Tell them you will review their existing media plan and make recommendations absolutely free. Provide them with some public relations ideas at no cost. Do what you have to do. But do something. One win, one glimmer of hope will be the only reward you should expect within that first 30 days. And here’s the good news. If nothing works and no business comes in, you get to do it again next month.

Advertising Is No Joke

Posted: February 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

On my website I am pleased to offer a “Portfolio Review” for aspiring advertising creative people. Every month, I get a few brave young aspirants willing to endure the slings and arrows of cold hard criticism.

Of course I am happy to quiver my arrows and provide accolades as well should I find them worthy.

One of the most disturbing trends I have noticed over the past few years is that copywriters seemed to have decided that ‘If it isn’t funny, it doesn’t sell”. In my opinion nothing could be further from the truth.

Great advertising lies in understanding and fulfilling a consumers deepest needs. Sure, entertainment is a vehicle to reach that goal but comedy is not always the surest route to your target’s heart.

For one thing, comedy is subjective. What one person finds funny, another finds boring, or offensive or just down right boring. Humor is a dangerous weapon that can easily backfire.

I am not saying that a brilliant turn of a phrase should not be used to create an attention getting headline. The point here is that making jokes about the product or the consumer is not always the most effective way of earning market share.

So here’s a piece of advice for all the aspiring Don Drapper’s out there. Have a look at your book, if it reads more like a Mad Magazine than the New Yorker, give it an edit.Funny-Jokes-Cover1

Every year I try to look back at the marketing landscape and devise a list of New Year’s Resolutions. With the arrival of 2015 I once again put flying fingers to computer to compile my Top 5.


Number One

No more client directed copywriting.

Over the past few years as the ad business became more and more competitive clients seemed to have started to really push their agencies’ around. You can blatantly see it in the copywriting. As a Senior Creative Director I can spot client directed copy from a mile away. It’s always flat, uninspired and speaks not about the personality of a brand but rather about what the brand does. It has no place in modern advertising and should be left to corporate white papers and bad handout brochures.

Number Two

Stop Talking For Yourself.

Nothing says, “I just couldn’t think of anything”, more succinctly than TV and radio commercials where the owner, manager, sales manager or invento

r does his or her own commercials. In the early days of TV it was kind of entertaining, nowadays it’s just plain unprofessional and irritating.

Number Three

Call centers need to be banned.

“Hi it’s Steve, I’m calling from Acme construction with a special offer”. These unwanted calls are now coming at you from Bangladesh, India and who knows where. They usually come at dinnertime or when you are in the middle of hanging wallpaper or taking the dog for a walk. You never want them, they keep calling and it drives everyone nuts. Who in their right mind told the folks at Acme this idea would help their business?

Number Four

Outdoor advertisers need to drive by their ads.

Outdoor advertising is one of the best vehicles for notoriety around. It’s targeted, effective and relatively inexpensive. The problem is few advertisers seem to know how to effectively use billboards. Here’s a tip, next time you create a billboard, drive by it at 30 plus miles an hour and see if you can read and comprehend the darn thing. Pass this simple test and you will be on your way to using this media properly.

Number Five

No more New Year’s Resolutions…

My New Job Title: Doula

Posted: December 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

In the past few years I’ve found that a number of my new clients are baby boomer entrepreneurs launching a second, third or fourth career. Each comes to me with an idea. Some are in the conception stage and they want my input early on. Others are further along and have or about to launch their concept, usually on the Internet.

The playground that is the World Wide Web allows anyone with an idea to bring his or her notion to market at a reasonable price. Most of these idea jockeys have years of experience in business and bring some great enthusiasm and experience to bear.

Some have chosen to launch a new venture in an area they are familiar with of have had some kind of previous experience. Others have chosen to get involved with a business that has always been a personal passion.

Whenever I encounter another pioneer, I insist that the first step we take is Brand Birthing.

Just like delivering a child, a brand needs preparation and planning. As a “Doula” I am charged with taking both the guesswork and fear out of the birth process.

My preparation starts with the completion of a Brand Birthing Brief. It’s a simple one page document that forces the participants to agree on brand basics such as: brand personality, brand essence, selecting the target consumer, the brand voice…. all of which contribute to the development of a succinct brand strategy.

Over the last 2 years I can happily declare that I have become the godfather to a number of successful brand concepts in categories that include law, marketing and data mining. There’s even been a breakthrough retail concept.

My role as a Doula, has taught me that pre-planning and focus are the keys to successfully launching any new concept or venture. So my suggestion for those of you considering creating a new business is to find yourself a business midwife to help you through the process.brandbirthing

I was happily driving in my car the other day listening to CBC as I often do. As the hour changed the CBC hourly break recording came on and the announcer said: “Canada lives here”. I thought for a moment as I pondered the fact that it had been almost a decade since I had written that line. It brought back thoughts of the day I presented the concept to the power’s that be at CBC. I had offered them a list of 5 or 6 lines and there was no question in my mind that “Canada lives here” was the way to go.

The meeting lasted about an hour and by the halfway point we had all agreed that my favorite was theirs as well. I remember how good I felt, sort of proud to have contributed such an important part of the history of Radio Canada.

As the days passed I heard nothing of my precious positioning line. Never a “hey nice work” nor a “way to go” not even a “thanks for your great idea”. I assumed that was just the CBC way.

Now these many years later and long since my freelance contract at CBC had expired, I still feel proud every time I hear that line. I also feel sort of ripped off, no thanks, no royalties, nothing.

In my eyes “thanklessness lives there”.th


While I was consulting with an ad agency, the president asked me if I had any time to sit in on an interview he was having with a potential creative director. Of course I jumped at the opportunity and after the interview I began to do some thinking.

The potential creative director had a great book but he gave bad interview.

For the entire 30 minutes he did nothing but talk about himself. What he had done, the awards he had won, the campaigns he had created. What he did was miss a great opportunity to talk his way into a great new job by asking some questions.

So, here’s my helpful list of questions any creative should ask at a job interview.

  1. Why do you think I might be right for this job? Answering this question help you understand whether the company is interested in you because of they key skills you have and want to grow, or maybe for other skills you see as less important to focus on and grow.

2.What will I learn from this position? Asking this question also shows the interviewer that you’re interested in self-improvement and growing with the company.

  1. Who will I be working with? This is a great question to ask because it gently assumes you’ll be getting the position.
  1. How will my success be judged? This is a great way to demonstrate that you’re interested in succeeding (not just punching a time clock) but it also gives you key insights into the expectations of the position and the culture of the company.
  1. Is there a skill set that I might be missing? This is a bold, gutsy question. Not everyone is going to be confident enough to ask it, which is going to set you apart from the competition. To the interviewer, it shows that you’re a bold thinker and demonstrates that you’re willing to fill any gaps that might exist.

With these questions in your arsenal, your chances of landing that new gig increase exponentially…..go get ‘em.

I do a lot of consulting with ad agencies and creatively driven organizations. A good deal of my time is spent helping them win new business pitches and re-structure their creative departments.

Growing your business is no easy task in this pressure filled economy. Agencies spend a great deal of time and energy in an effort to find new clients and pitch their business to varying degrees of success.

What I try to instill in them is that a great deal of new business can come right from your own client list.

Oddly enough many companies are willing to spend a great amount of effort in pitching clients when they are involved in competitive pitches where their chance of success might be one in three or four.

My advice is to spend half that amount of time and review your own client list. As agencies, we often fall into the trap of providing a service where the client requests work and we respond by providing them with thinking and executions based on their request.

Instead, why not try brainstorming new ideas for existing clients without their prodding. Take a client and invent a need for them. Maybe it’s a Thank You program for their customers. Or how about a local booster campaign to help your client stand out in their local area?

The project is less important than the attitude and culture is will develop in your organization.

New business costs money and time. Developing the business you have takes less of both and the results will only please your clients and endear your agency.

Gotta Give Wix a Wow

Posted: November 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

As a creative director, I had often been asked if I could create a website for a client. My answer was always “sure” but it is going to be expensive. After all, I had to hire a web designer and supervise their work, give them copy, page layouts and lots of direction. They in turn had to hire a web programmer who would usually hire a bunch of low paid slaves in some Eastern European country to actually do the programing. All of this would take weeks and eventually the client would get their website. The only problem was they would then have to hire a webmaster to make any changes or updates.

That’s all history, now that I am using Wix. Not only do I find Wix totally creatively based and simple. It’s incredibly intuitive and mind blowing in it’s ability to work with a less than nerdy creative person like me.

I’ve now created a half dozen websites which I have successfully turned over to my gleeful clients, who find administering their sites simple and fun. Wix is also incredibly affordable and I have found their customer service really great.

With all those accolades one might think that Wix is paying me the big bucks to promote their site. Not true, but should they want to shove a few bucks my way, I say go ahead.