Monthly Archive: October 2011

Let’s Get “The Art” Back In The Art of Advertising

Brands and their agencies often turn to noted (and emerging) film directors for their TV advertising needs. Spike Jonze, Spike Lee, Errol Morris, Ridley Scott, David Fincher, Wes Anderson and Terry Gilliam have all made significant contributions to the short form.

Have you ever wondered why brands don’t also seek out “real” artists and writers to help shape their messages? Of course, brands do rely heavily on writers and artists today, but the function is in-house at the agency where writers are not writers, they’re copywriters, specialists at creating brand communications. And the artists aren’t artists, they’re art directors and they too specialize in making brand communications.

I’m suggesting that the challenge presented by the gaping content hole every brand faces in today’s voracious media environment can be met, in part, by partnering with authors, poetry slam winners, sculptors and so on. Not just to appear in the brand’s next ad campaign, rather to be featured in special section of the company’s site, in a series of books or records or in some other configuration. Why? Because customers will respond to brand as curator, brand as editor and brand as exhibitor.

There is a well established precedent for this, as many of the ads of the 1920s, 30s and 40s are clearly endowed with a more artistic sensibility than the crass commercialism that passes for advertising today.

Want To Communicate Brand Value? Hire The Best Poets And Philosophers You Can Find

One of the best things about pursuing online content as hard as I do, is the opportunity I get to meet like-minded people, both online and in real life. New Hampshire-based author, speaker and consultant, Tom Asacker, for instance.

I have yet to meet Tom in person, but we’ve had a handful of fruitful phone conversations and many emails. The fact is Tom is a lucid thinker with a no-nonsense delivery, and I enjoy that. Let’s look at a sample from his blog:

Clarity should be the guiding principle behind every marketing effort. Clearness of thought. Clearness of appearance. Clearness of purpose. Clarity should inform every campaign, drive every question, and rationalize every dollar spent and every piece of data captured and analyzed.

Open your eyes marketers! Your marketing plans are a smorgasbord of expensive and misguided tactics that collectively fail to add up to a clear and compelling idea–a reason to believe and to choose.

Of course, advice like this can be easy to grasp but difficult to execute. Companies are often complex places with lots of competing ideas about who and what they are. Can you boil your company down to one clear and compelling idea and then turn that idea into actionable marketing campaigns?

Don’t fret if you said “no.” Seeing the whole, weighing the parts and finding the one thread that runs through everything may sound like analytical work, but in my experience it is a poet’s job.

Now back to Tom (the philosopher in this story)…

It’s 8 a.m., Are Your Traps Set?

Because we have an active fishing metaphor built in to the Bonehook brand, I’m pleased to discover the following hunter/gatherer story from Jack Connors of Hill Holiday, as told to Rance Crain of Ad Age.

“There are trappers and there are skinners. To be a trapper you’ve got to put on snow shoes, you’ve got to go out in the cold, you’ve got to set those traps, and then you’ve got to go back and see if there’s any animals in them. And it’s cold out there.”

Most people sign up to be skinners, Jack said, because you can stay warm and you don’t have to be tramping about. But he characterized himself as an old fashioned trapper. I love the hunt.

Naturally, we do not want to hook our client’s prospects any more than Connors wants to trap his prey, not in any literal sense. We shape the stories this way because hunting and fishing stories are primal, ancient forms and proven archetypes. They work, and that’s what brand building is about–creating a solid foundation for a company’s deep story, whether it’s our own company or a client’s.