Tom Connor heads the creative and production efforts at Weinrib & Connor in Mount Kisco. His columns on advertising and marketing will be regularly featured in the Business Journals.
Right now, TikTok is red hot if you want to reach teens and Gen Z. It’s a gold rush. The University of Texas now mandates no TikTok usage. South Dakota is dropping their successful tourism campaign. Federal scrutiny threatens TikTok, yet, not one advertiser is balking. They sure are putting the kibosh on the endless conundrums Twitter has self-imposed. I never liked the tweets for marketing purposes. We don’t want people who like our products or services, we want people who love them. Why promote opinions? That doesn’t sell, nor do many an Amazon recommendation, either. So, you want fame? Hire a celebrity. It’s a proven tactic. We’re crazed by celebrities of every ilk. They move a lot of boxes, time and time again.
If you don’t have the big budget to hire a celebrity spokesperson, focus on the little stuff. You must work at it to get through to your publics. Public relations (PR) is the more cost-effective approach, but, yesterday’s news gets in the rearview mirror fast. I had a boss, a superb salesman who flaunted his ignorance of current events. His thesis was that “time is better spent focusing on the clients.” In ad agencies, that focus tends to be sales, sales, sales. Despite what the “creatives” extol about their executions (TV spots, other videos, billboards, paid social posts) the agreed-upon strategy preceded the first swipe of a sharpie on a sketch pad.
We did a college marketing program for several years including a video designed to reach college students who were going to retail stores to buy cellphones. Then, the client learned that college students were not going to retail stores on their own to buy phones, they were accompanied by their parents. So, we adapted the video for parents to watch. Time was, very few households had parents who were as technologically savvy as their kids. Covid ramped up that.
For evening relaxation in so many households, the delightfully passive activity of watching the tube is a video candy store with content flooding in via streaming, YouTubeTV, cable (for sports-focused households, a must). TV commercials, the coin of the realm to “move boxes” and minds, caught Covid, too. Inflation now is driving people to eat at home, as restaurant prices can be exorbitant.
Turns out, restaurant chains fared better than independents nationally these past few years. The category is known as “QSRs,” quick service restaurants. Let’s face it, they are far cheaper than most takeout. In a bygone era, at a Burger King senior management dinner at the Queens Boulevard store, we were on the docket for review of new menu item promotion. Have you ever sung a jingle to a client before? The lead client asked if I knew why we were there. Without answering, he said, “It’s all about asses in seats.” Not so sure they would say that today. Blunt talk between client and agency is an art form, right up there with the great rhetoricians of their day, from the ancient world, to my new fave: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, a man of few, but emphatic words; especially refreshing these days as we try to countenance the endless rhetoric of politics vs. things actually getting done and improving.
Fast food and salty snack consumption are two things in social media that consumers don’t like to admit having a strong or weekly connection. I’ve done potato chip social media. But the sales increase in this ADI (Area of Dominant Influence), DMA (Designated Market Area) or more regularly tossed around, The Metro Area, was attributed to TV spots. Almost 20 million strong, in our tri-state arena, you know campaign “take” when it happens: web hits go up, possibly app enrollment elevates, lead development and sales rise. Organic social media, which is fine, will not get invited to this dance. Clients, especially sophisticated ones, do not rely on nuanced results from their agency team. Either there is boosted traffic during the campaign, or it’s good-bye. How can they be so harsh? Their cash registers and sell-in orders prove an effective campaign. Covid put a lot of this blunt grading on hiatus.
No celebrity budget, focus on the little stuff before you contemplate the spend stuff. You must work at it to get through to your publics. PR is the more cost- effective approach, but, yesterday’s news gets in the rearview mirror fast. Sure, you can have a “wow” placed story, but readership is on the decline. I had a boss, a superb salesman who flaunted his ignorance of current events. His thesis was time was better spent “focusing on the clients.” In ad agencies, that focus tends to be sales, sales, sales. Despite what the “creatives” extol about their executions (TV spots, other videos, billboards, paid social posts (vastly different than organic), etc., the agreed-upon strategy preceded the first swipe of a sharpie on a sketch pad.
You might write copy on a computer, and you might art-direct a terrific look and feel, or give a video energy that drives the :30 [seconds] of a commercial home. Try brainstorming out loud, with harsh critics. Nobody originates any big idea futzing first with photoshop or illustrator. It must be in the collective minds’ eyes. Rough sketches work in these sessions. Faster than any Mac, too.
Sam Walton started with one “five and dime” store, which is what Walmart today, is, only on steroids. He said it best, asking his customers, “did you find what you were looking for, was it at the right price, and were you treated well?”
Digital solutions in the workplace can become branded shortcuts. If the product or service you’re selling isn’t ironclad and constantly improving, and its image is pared down by do-it-yourself creative, whatever your brand may be, it’s going to be a figment in only your true-believers’ imaginations. The public at large will be way more disinterested. The goal of the majority of ad campaigns is steal business from your competition, and gain market share at their expense. Market share gains are the only way to get a 4.0 as your advertising GPA (Grade Point Average) for the year. These are the rules of our road, and welcome to driver’s ed.
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