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Archive for April, 2008

Are You Influenced by Political Advertising?

April 28th, 2008 by Bob Bly

According to an article in the Daily News (4/28/08, p. 8), the two Democratic front runners have spent a record $110 million on TV commercials — $70 million for Obama and $40 million for Hillary.

I know next to nothing about political advertising, but it seems to me these ads can influence voters in 3 different ways:

1–Give the candidate more air time — so he or she is always on the voter’s mind.

2–Present the candidate’s views — so that voters who support those views will vote for him or her.

3–Communicate the candidate’s personality and values — to make voters like him or her.

Do the TV commercials for Obama and Hillary have these or any other effect on you?

Or do you form your opinions of the candidates based on input from other sources — and if so, which?


Category: General | 159 Comments »

Interruption vs. Self-Service Marketing

April 22nd, 2008 by Bob Bly

In an article in DM News, Tom Rapses, a creative director, divides marketing into two separate categories:

1. Old-school response marketing (although Rapsas does not use the term, this is often referred to as “interruption marketing” because it intrudes into other activities such as watching TV or sorting your mail).

2. “Self-service” marketing — including word of mouth advertising, blogging, podcasts, and social networking sites such as Facebook.

“Self-service marketing is all about putting content where people will find it,” writes Rapsas. “It makes sense to go where the customers are.”

On the surface, the notion of putting content where the customers are looking for it — instead of forcing it upon them when they AREN’T in search mode — seems unbeatable.

However, if it works so well, why is so much more money spent on magazine, newspaper, TV, and radio advertising — which are intrusive — rather than on Yellow Pages ads, which once were the primary medium for self-service marketing?

Rapas suggests that you need multiple channels — a combination of traditional direct response with non-traditional self-service marketing — to capture more attention, traffic, leads, and sales.

Do you agree that both old-school direct response and new school interactive marketing have their place?

Or do you think the continued use of intrusion marketing in the 21st century makes one a dinosaur?

Source: DM News, 4/21/08, p. 10.


Category: General | 102 Comments »

Geico’s “False Bonding”

April 21st, 2008 by Bob Bly

“False bonding” refers to advertising that seeks to create a bond with the prospect, but does so in an illogical or insincere — and therefore ineffective — way.

A good example is the recent radio spot for Geico offering homeowner’s insurance to people who rent.

It begins (and I am paraphrasing): “We think renters are cool! Why? Maybe it’s all that cool stuff you own….”

The copy then suggests you need to insure your cool possessions with a Geico homeowner policy even if you rent instead of own.

The insincere notion is that “We think renters are cool!” The illogical notion is that renters own stuff that’s cooler than what homeowners own.

Think of the differences between renters and owners. There are many. But does the word “cool” pop into your mind? I didn’t think so.

And it’s stupid to say renters are cool because they own “cool stuff.” They mostly own the same stuff that homeowners do. What renter-specific possession is “cool”?

I would have taken a different tact: “As a renter, you own a lot of valuable stuff. But if it’s stolen or destroyed, who would pay for it? Not your landlord! That’s why you as a tenant need ‘renter’s insurance’ just like homeowners need ‘homeowner’s insurance.'”

Geico’s “cool renters” radio spot is yet another example of how advertising built around an incorrect premise is doomed to fall flat.


Category: General | 105 Comments »

An Ode to Logic

April 16th, 2008 by Bob Bly

Copy has to make logical sense, so readers may be a bit confused by the direct mail promo I received today from Ode magazine.

The order card gives two choices. You can select either “payment enclosed” or “bill me.”

But in all-cap red letters, the copy says “DON’T SEND MONEY.”

If I am not supposed to send money, why are they telling me I can enclose payment?

I think what they MEANT to say was something like “You need not send money now. We’ll bill you later, if you like.”


Or do you see absolutely no disconnect between “payment enclosed” and “don’t send money”?


Category: General | 55 Comments »

Is Spelling Overrated?

April 9th, 2008 by Bob Bly

“Spelling is overrated,” said a caller to my favorite NYC morning radio show today. “As long as you get the point across, who cares how it’s spelled?”

The host replied, “Because the point you get across when you misspell words is that you’re stupid.”

One reason for poor spelling is increased reliance on spell-check software, which as we all know, is far from infallible.

The other is texting, where one types “cu” instead of “see you.”

Spelling skills are declining, but do you agree that readers readily accept this decline and are no longer bothered by spelling errors?

Or do you agree with Marilyn vos Savant, arguably one of the world’s smartest people, who says spelling errors “nearly always cause the reader to form a negative view about the writer’s inherent abilities, and they certainly cast an unflattering light on the written piece as a whole.”


Category: General | 99 Comments »

DM Dead? Not by a Longshot.

April 7th, 2008 by Bob Bly

Lots of pompous pseudo-intellectual new media advocates talk almost daily about the rise of YouTube, Facebook, blogging, podcasting, RSS, and other electronic social media — and the demise of what they derisively call “intrusion marketing” — mostly direct mail, commercials, ads, and the like.

So to these young geniuses, I pose a question.

If social media and other forms of electronic two-way communication are making traditional “dead tree” media obsolete, why hasn’t direct mail — perhaps the most intrusive of the paper-based marketing media — disappeared?

According to the Winterberry Group, total U.S. direct mail spending in 2007 was $58.4 billion, an increase of 18.2% over the $49.4 billion spent in 2004.

What gives?

If “no one reads direct mail anymore” as one blogging consultant told me recently, why are advertisers spending more than $58 billion a year on it?

Are they insane? Do they love to throw away money?

Or is someone in this electronic era actually (gasp) opening, reading, and responding to advertising (intrusion marketing) sent through the U.S. Postal Service (an archaic, old-fashioned channel)?

Source: DM News, 3/31/08, p. 8.


Category: General | 47 Comments »

The Last “Detail Man”

April 2nd, 2008 by Bob Bly

In the old days, sales reps for drug companies were invariably middle-aged men, known in the trade as “detail men.”

The average detail man wore a downtrodden appearance and demeanor, no doubt from years of shabby treatment by the M.D.s who were his prospects — and treated him as a second-class citizen.

The detail man is a vanishing breed, largely replaced today by the “detail woman.”

Increasingly, these drug reps are bright, ambitious, well-dressed, highly educated, and usually drop-dead-gorgeous women — mostly in their 20s and early 30s.

Is this merely a sexist observation on my part?

Or is it a deliberately sexist sales management strategy carried out by drug company executives to get middle-age male physicians to prescribe with their gonads instead of their brains?

I have, by the way, noticed that male doctors are MUCH nicer to these pretty young women today than they were years ago to the detail MEN — worn-out salesmen who haunted their waiting rooms, waiting sometimes hours for a chance to peddle their wares.

Will I burn in the underworld for saying this out loud? Or am I right on the money?


Category: General | 259 Comments »