Saturday, June 24, 2006

Why Even Bother?

Another direct mail piece that arrived today. Check out the disclaimer for matching competitor coupons. It's on the left side under the photo. You may have to click on the image to enlarge it.

Lazy Advertising = No Deal

I've been at home sick for the past three days. I hate summer colds. But what I hate more is lazy advertising. You know, the kind of ad you see where you just think to yourself "Did they really think that was the best thing to do?" or "Man, they really didn't spend anytime thinking about that did they?".

Today I received two pieces of direct mail that caused me to pause and ask "What were they thinking?"

One was from a local Nissan dealer. We used to have a Maxima so we had taken our car there in the past. We've bought cars from their Honda dealership in the past too. We have been pleased with both the sales and service relationship at the dealership so it was not surprising to get a direct mail piece from them. We've gotten them in the past. It wasn't even surprising to see the caliber of the creative. It is what you would expect. Not good.

The second piece was from Time Warner Cable. We do not have cable. In fact Time Warner Cable is on my list of companies that if given no other choice I still would not do business with them. Long story, but let's just say that they wanted to charge us $10,000 to cut down trees so they could get a line to the house. All of our neighbors have cable and didn't have to go through that. Okay... feeling a rant coming that is going to get me off topic... so back to the ads.

So we got an ad from a car dealer and an ad from a cable company. And what message did they choose to use? They both stole/borrowed/used with creative license from the TV show Deal Or No Deal. Here are the ads for each:

I expect a car dealership to add to the messaging clutter that's out there. I even expect them to rip off their message from a game show like Deal Or No Deal. I do, for some reason even though I won't do business with them, expect more from Time Warner Cable. Maybe it's because I know they can hire a big time agency to do the work. Maybe it's because I've seen some of their communication efforts that have been of a higher quality in the past. Maybe it's because when I see a car dealership do the same thing I think that Time Warner Cable has really hit rock bottom.

Now, that's slamming Time Warner Cable a lot, but perhaps I should say a thing something about O'Neill Nissan contributing to the clutter too. C'mon guys! You can do a whole lot better. In fact if you want to really stand out do not take an idea that anyone can think of and slap your name on it. Think about your customers. You must have reams of data on us. There has to be something there that you can use to develop an insightful communication. What about your sales people? Did you talk to them? They surely have some insight you could have used. Instead you were lazy and added to the clutter.

So the message here? It does not matter what size your company is, what industry you are in, what your advertising budget is... you too can produce bad advertising. All you have to do is... not think.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Scarred For Life

I have a scar on my head. Two actually, but only one I can see. I also have a scar on my elbow, on my left foot between my big toe and its neighbor, on my stomach, three on my shoulder, one on the middle finger of my right hand and one on my left wrist. Those are the ones that have not faded. I can still see these. Some are from surgeries. Some are from accidents.

There is a story to go with each scar. Life lessons that I am reminded of every day. Here is what I've learned from each:

Scar on middle finger of right hand: Let sleeping dogs lie. Especially if they are hung over.

Scar on left wrist: Only a licensed physician should remove a ganglion cyst. There isn't a bible big enough, nor is Gram strong enough to smash it to smithereens - though she really wanted to.

Scar on foot by big toe: Some people are inconsiderate and won't stop to help even though the damage caused was because of their actions.

Scar on elbow: recycling can be dangerous and a some politicians can be real and nice.

Scar on stomach: people who love you will make sure you are taken care of when you cannot do it yourself

Scars on shoulder: not everything can be fixed.

Scar on head: Gram, at times, has a very disturbed sense of humor.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Lindsey Mulligan Where Are You Now?

Tonight I was looking through some of my old notes and letters I received back in my Wienermobile days and came across one of my favorites. I never met the person who wrote it, but I imagine now that she had a personality somewhat like my eldest daughter. Here is the note she left on the windshield of the Wienermobile while Jeanne and I were eating dinner at a nearby restaurant:

When we returned to the Wienermobile and read the note we immediately packed up two wiener whistles, a watch and a hot wheels Wienermobile and left them in the mailbox for Lindsey. It was the least we could do for a fan.

I remember people asking me why we smiled all the time when we drove the big dog around. Letters like this are the reason.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

From Normandy to Kentucky

I've been on vacation for the past two weeks. Some of the things I've done while away:
  • took three guided tours
  • visited one cemetary
  • visited one abbey
  • swam in one lake impounded (built) by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • fell off a jet ski eight times (six times on purpose)
  • went fishing with my daughters (they caught six fish - three each)
  • attended a family reunion
  • spent sixteen hours in the Odyssey driving with the family
  • got sunburned twice (two different continents)
  • took four rolls of film, filled one compact flash card with photos
  • played one game of checkers
  • went swimming in both an indoor and outdoor pool
  • ate at McDonald's twice (two different continents)
  • listened to the girls watch 102 Dalmations three times; Barbie Swan Lake twice; The Worst Witch once
  • saw the world's longest tapestry
  • played sixteen holes of golf
  • walked on beaches in two different continents & found seashells at both
  • spent twenty six hours in airplanes, airports and on tarmacs
  • visited the home of Monet
  • played Trivial Pursuit
  • fixed a flat tire
  • called into the office once... officially (calling Sam's cell phone twice doesn't count does it?)
  • went to the top of the Arch in St. Louis
  • went two weeks without watching tv or reading a newspaper
  • played Sodoku and got addicted
  • read The World Is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman
  • came up with three new business opportunities, ideas for two new paintings and a video to make for the girls
  • attended a going away party for a former colleague
  • made plans to buy a kitten for the girls
  • shared a chocolate bag with Mary and Gram
  • thought up reasons to explain why I haven't posted in over three weeks and then decided to get the point across with this list
I'm sure there is more that we did, but I cannot recall all the details now. We had a wonderful time with family and friends over the past two weeks. Though it was refreshing and fun I am glad to be back at home in my own bed tonight.

Now to catch up on some sleep. Good night!