The Blake Project, the brand consultancy behind Branding Strategy Insider, delivers interactive brand education workshops and keynote speeches designed to align marketers on essential concepts in brand management and empower them to release the full potential of the brands they manage.
The purpose of an agency pitch is not to sell what you do. It’s to explain in the clearest terms why someone should look forward to doing business with you. And while you’re explaining your story, you can bet that every other participant in the pitch will be telling theirs.
It’s well worth surmising where your story lies and what their story/stories might be:
1. The authority – the trusted source of knowledge. This is a brand and credentials story. It focuses on being the market leader and on the ability to take matters in hand and deal with problems efficiently and effectively. The emphasis is on de-risking and delegation. Works wonders with clients looking for someone to take charge.
2. The safe bet – the best pair of hands. This is a reassurance story. It focuses on the proven and time-tested partner, diligent, hard-working, who always hits targets. Not necessarily the most exciting answer or the most original, but a choice that most will be more than happy with. Works well with clients looking for someone to shoulder the heavy lifting.
3. The price saver – the budget option. This is about getting the work done at the best price. Works well when the work itself is not particularly valued, the organization feels budget-conscious or there is scrutiny (and therefore repercussions). Even if this participant doesn’t get the work, chances are their pricing will form the basis for negotiations post-appointment. Works well, as expected, with clients looking to get the work done for the least investment.
4. The creative answer – the wild card. The lateral play. This approach scrutinizes the problem from another angle and comes back with an answer that is bound to take everyone by surprise. This approach can be particularly effective in situations where the people calling the pitch feel hemmed in and are looking for a different approach. Done properly, this pitch can be magical – but it can just as easily fall flat on its face. Works well in crowded pitch situations where you need to get cut-through. However, don’t hold your breath, if you do get appointed, that many or any of the ideas you suggested will be taken up.Read More
The category killer of advertising was invented a long time ago. It still rules. It’s called TV.
One of the longest-running predictions in the history of marketing is the death of TV, a prediction that has been wrong decade after decade. TV has enormous staying power.
TV’s death knell chronology is instructive. From the very outset of broadcast TV to this day, lowest-common-denominator content and consumer resistance to advertising have been proclaimed as nails in its coffin. Remote controls were going to kill it by ending attention to ads. When I was a neophyte researcher in the early 1980s, cable was heralded as the end of networks and thus the end of TV as we knew it. The next batter-up as TV killer was videotaping. After that, pay-per-view, premium cable, satellite TV and videotape rentals.
By the late 1990s, the Internet was in full flower, with streaming and small screen videos being touted as the end of TV. Next up was video games, especially because it took away young men. Then TiVO. Then piracy. Then online video. Then DVRs. Then smartphones. Then cord-cutting.
On and on goes this belief that TV has hit the wall. But take another look at this chronology. What you see is not the emergence of TV killers but, instead, the evolution of TV. TV evolves. The business model of TV has gotten more complex and more sophisticated over time. TV is a robust medium unique among other media in its ability to morph its content and sources of revenue to stay current.
Henry Blodget of Business Insider wrote last year that TV would crash into a wall just like newspapers because of fundamental, underlying changes in consumer behaviors that have antiquated its business model. Blodget warned that newspapers looked great until the very moment they went off the cliff. That, wrote Blodget, is why the current success of TV is not a relevant guide to the future. But Blodget is not clear on what he means by TV because TV is not, nor has it ever been, any one sort of content or business model. TV has always responded to shifts in its competitive environment by changing. It will do so yet again.Read More
Karl Heiselman, CEO at Wolff Olins, thinks that advertising is destined to become a hyper-aggressive, transactions-focused battlefield. His vision is very similar to what I once referred to as “The Doomsday Brand Scenario.” Heiselman believes that transactional advertising will be balanced by tangible brand building activities, but I am not so sure.
Unfortunately I have little doubt that Heiselman’s vision for advertising is going to prove at least partly correct. You only have to look at the way online ad targeting has evolved to see that access to deeper data profiles on individuals will enable more specific behavioral targeting. Heiselman puts it this way:
We will see advertising that is contextual to our actions and designed to encourage a specific transaction. Searching for a lawnmower? Here’s a deal for that. Eating at the same restaurant regularly? Here’s a deal for the one next door. Friends who like a certain store? Here’s a discount for you to try it too.
This is why Heiselman thinks that advertising will become a sales tool not a brand building one. The only way to clinch the deal is to offer a deal, and that is my big concern. If people are constantly bombarded with special offers, they will soon become sensitized to them. Worse still, they will learn how to game the system to ensure they get the lowest price on their purchase. In my 2007 post, I wrote:
If consumers learn which behaviors will get them the best price, then I think brand preference and loyalty will become a thing of the past–particularly since increased price and promotion activity will hide eroding base sales in a tumult of wildly fluctuating sales volume. Bye-bye, brand value, hello, lower margins and increased volatility.
In his vision, Heiselman proposes that brand builders will not be disadvantaged versus discounters, because access to enhanced information profiles will enable them to build more value into their products. Brand builders will be able to innovate with confidence that what they build will be met with consumers’ approval. The mechanisms suggested all involve creation of tangible value: delivery of superior experiences across all touch points, locking consumers in with product and content ecosystems.Read More
Apple’s remarkable rise, coupled with Steve Job’s recent death, has prompted quite a few people to reflect on the historical impact of the “Think different” ad campaign and the “To the crazy ones” commercial that launched it. There have been a lot of different accounts of how the work was created, who conceived it, and how it was presented to Jobs, so I thought now was a good time to share my perspective and give you an inside look.
How do I know what took place? I was there—right in the thick of it. I was Creative Director and managing partner at TBWA/Chiat/Day working on the Apple pitch alongside CEO and Chief Creative Officer, Lee Clow. Together, Lee and I headed up and actively participated in all of the work done for the pitch. I was also in every agency meeting with Jobs throughout the process—pre-pitch, pitch, and post-pitch.
In writing this story, I’ve drawn from hand-written, dated creative journals I’ve diligently chronicled throughout my agency career as well as files I saved from the 1997 Apple time period—being a packrat often proves useful. In these journals I found countless pages of notes and concepts I jotted down during our process of trying to bring Apple back to prominence. I also found the original “To the crazy ones” television script I presented to Jobs and a plethora of rough drafts.
While I’ve seen a few inaccurate articles and comments floating around the internet about how the legendary “Think different” campaign was conceived, what prompted me to share this inside-account was Walter Isaacson’s recent, best-selling biography on Steve Jobs. In his book, Isaacson incorrectly suggests Jobs created and wrote much of the “To the crazy ones” launch commercial. To me, this is a case of revisionist history.
Steve was highly involved with the advertising and every facet of Apple’s business. But he was far from the mastermind behind the renowned launch spot. In fact, he was blatantly harsh on the commercial that would eventually play a pivotal role in helping Apple achieve one of the greatest corporate turnarounds in business history. As you’ll learn later in my account, the soul of the original “Crazy ones” script I presented to Jobs, as well as the original beginning and original ending of the celebrated script, all ultimately stayed in place—even though Jobs initially called the script “shit.” I’ve also read a few less-than-correct accounts on how the “Think different” campaign was originally conceived. While several people played prominent parts in making it happen, the famous “Think different” line and the brilliant concept of putting the line together with black and white photographs of time-honored visionaries was invented by an exceptional creative person, and dear friend, by the name of Craig Tanimoto—a TBWA/Chiat/Day Art Director at the time.
I have read many wonderful things about Steve Jobs and the warmth and love that he gave his wife, children and sister. His Stanford commencement address is one of the most touching and inspiring speeches I have ever heard. Steve was an amazing visionary and comparisons of him to some of the world’s greatest achievers I believe to be totally deserved. But I have also read many critical statements about Steve and I must say I saw and experienced his tongue-lashings and ballistic temper first hand—directed to several others and directed squarely at me. It wasn’t pretty. While I greatly respected Steve for his remarkable accomplishments and extraordinary passion, I didn’t have much patience for his often abrasive and condescending personality. It is here, in my opinion, that Lee Clow deserves a great deal of credit. Lee is more than a creative genius. In working with Jobs he had the patience of a saint.Read More
My colleague, Graham Page, passed me a copy of USA Today’s January 21st edition and suggested I might want to read Michael Wolff’s article, “Don’t write print ads off just yet.” In the article, Wolff decries the state of the print advertising art and seeks to pitch the medium’s strengths versus the allure of TV and digital. Unfortunately, I don’t think that in the process Wolff does print advertising or himself any favors.
Wolff was roused to take a stand for print advertising by the quality of submissions to USA Today’s competition to encourage creativity in print advertising. In an amusing turn of fate, the $1 million in advertising space ended up being awarded to an ad produced by Google Creative Labs. And a good ad it is too. It is simple and creatively focuses attention on the benefit of the Google+ Hangout.
Wolff, however, dismisses the overwhelming majority of the competition’s submissions as:
…not just wretched, but deserving of some grand public humiliation for the ad business.
He goes on to ask:
This is what you can do? Hundreds of confusing, puerile, ugly, slap-dash semi-illiterate ads?
Why does Wolff think this is the case? Ad agencies, Wolff suggests, are incentivized to follow the money rather than deliver against their client needs. TV and digital are more profitable to an agency than print. Besides, he states, vast numbers of creative people choose video over print because they “have trouble mastering language skills.” Ouch!
But Wolff is not some old fogey making an argument for the written words on cultural grounds (or so he claims). No, he believes the written word delivers a more meaningful, lasting and persuasive message. He states:
An unwritten world turns out to be a significantly less successful and less communicative place, where it is harder to make a message lasting and meaningful and, on top of that, harder to move the merchandise.
As far as I am aware, there is absolutely no basis for this assertion. And making the case for print as being better than other media is futile and misleading. All the CrossMedia Research we conduct finds each medium to have an important role in the media mix. And as James Galpin, Director of Millward Brown’s Global Media Practice in Asia Pacific, states in this Point of View:Read More