Thursday, February 19, 2009

Why not give a serious thought to create an ad-campaign during this season …?

Calvin Warr who is a marketing pro in Singapore wrote a good article in his blog on how to tackle the economic downslide and how clients can use this time to strategize and develop their advertising campaigns: Facing the Economic Recession by Calvin Warr

I felt like just mulling over what these ad-campaigns are all about superficially and, want to share few thoughts and experiences of mine over making of it, and how clients generally feel about it. What are the pet peeves of copywriters and art directors too?

Ad campaign –is like introducing oneself to the readers

An advertising campaign will have a series of ads which talk about the various facets of the product or the service. If the ad-campaign is about a launch of a new product, it is preceded by a couple of teaser ads which drum up some curiosity about the product and the launch. Or, if it were to be a mere promotional campaign it builds up on the response and success of the product, which once again reinforces about the benefits of the product or the service. Often these ad campaigns are akin to formal introductions to other prominent people or guests - we do introduce with great panache without hurrying up and annoying our esteemed audience. In this case to a stark stranger (very prominent) who looks way too preoccupied with his own life.
A series of ads released will catch the attention and live in the minds of the readers along with some promotional activities.

“If you ever have the good fortune to create a great advertising campaign, you will soon see another agency steal it. This is irritating, but don't let it worry you; nobody has ever built a brand by imitating somebody else's advertising”. David Ogilvy

One at a time

The main campaign if it were a new product and being introduced will talk about the biggest benefits (the USP) of the product. In Logan (an automobile sedan) ad-campaign the car has the widest body –the space in the car is quite huge and can give you maximum luggage space too. Hence that is the biggest benefit: the wide body. This benefit was explained in different ways with combinations of different other benefits. Each ad should mainly highlight about one benefit in the headline. That makes the reader to identify the benefit and the product easily. (After all, the readers will never have so much time to read the body copy of your ads to know what it is all about!)

Cut the clutter

Some clients want everything at one go. If they are releasing a recruitment ad or any product/ service ad, they are in a big confusion. Should they say everything about the company or the product (most of the time the client has so much to say and don’t know which is first and how!) in each ad in one go; or not. The clients out of so much confusion, anxiety, and utter lack of knowledge about the whole thing (customers’ mindsets) make the marketer and the creative team –especially the copywriter- exasperated and leave them in a chaos. The result: the ad appears like a crammed mess.

Allow the copywriter to do the best job (‘cause, he is preoccupied with how to catch the attention, as its his cuppa). Cross check it if the ad is in sync with the strategy or not. In 99 out of 100 cases the copywriter if he is worth the years of expertise would match up to the strategy and wow every one. If not, hit on further brainstorming session with a renewed angle till fresh brief is prepared to work on.

Ferment it

For wine to get the requisite and the desired taste and flavour, it needs to be stored in a place for quite sometime; similarly the copy and the creative too needs to be kept aside for a period of time to see if they really resonate with the strategy or not. Usually for that to happen it takes minimum of a week’s time; if kept for longer time there maybe better results too.

But reputed ad- pros can churn awarding winning copy at a shortest time possible. But they too swear by the minimum requisite time to see if their rush of adrenaline which spilled onto their copy and ideas does make any sense at the end of the day. For sure, our mind reacts –especially a copywriter/ art director’s after a modicum of understanding of the product or the service of the company - but in most cases that may not be adequate. And we’ll be left lamenting that something better could’ve been done given some little time to breathe. Hence ample time, energy and preparation is needed to come out with a good advertising campaign

It’s like how we introduce ourselves to a guest with a dash of reverence and genuine love towards the other person. You won’t over do it and maintain the status quo with the reader, and yet tell him what you’re all about without mincing words (with few rehearsals!).

Monday, February 9, 2009

Take it out of the inner recesses of your mind – the idea, that is

This post is an extension of the thought initiated by Vivienne Queck of in the post – Farmer and hunter during economic winter

Past many months, if there is one word that is over used, printed or discussed: it is recession. A cousin of mine who is in software industry brings home many stories of his colleagues who lost their jobs due to downsizing and adds that some of them got recently married not expecting this impeding danger. I’m also severely underpaid by clients who get work done giving the same excuses. I too get many rejections when I quote a reasonable price; and I believe every other professional too faces a similar situation.

Though we can’t change the situation that is prevailing, I believe, we can change the way we think. I feel it’s a chance for all of us to learn many lessons: First, the need to save for the unforeseen; second, to get used to the lean phase and become strong mentally, and use this opportunity to see what other things we are good at. J

Mellow down the pleasure seeker

In times of prosperity and flowing wealth it’s natural to lose sight of the future and its sudden surprises. We overlook and indulge in many unnecessary expenditures – would have purchased a bigger car, instead of smaller one; could’ve joined in our children in a high-end schools rather than settling for a realistic one; must have taken way too many vocations and long ones; let our impulse run riot while shopping… than our mind.

This wisdom would never strike us if this lean phase hadn’t occurred and we would be for ever dreaming that every thing is hunky dory for ever and ever. Nothing is permanent; neither this menacing recession. Economy, like life, I believe, goes in perfect circles. It has to come back to normalcy; so is our insanity, for sure.

The farmer becomes a grocer, part- time trader …

The farmer will learn lessons of frugal and intelligent living; and see this opportunity to go for hunting, or go rear some cattle/goats to feed him with some milk/meat and sell to others (other business opportunities). Even most of the people who lost their jobs need to see what to take up otherwise: doing some odd jobs which are their hobbies – it is not so easy, though; but worth trying –who knows they may find lot of fulfillment in those professions and make a great career in that.

Recently, I saw in CNN, an advertising agency CEO becoming a steward in a restaurant and he said that the job of cleaning the place tidy gives him a lot of satisfaction than sitting in a cozy office; he said he wouldn’t leave this job even if he becomes a CEO again. Frankly I wanted to try one like him in my free time to work in another field…may be a steward… to get some insights and some extra bucksJ.

Finally, every difficult situation comes for our good. We know that nothing lasts for ever; what lasts is the experience to explore more on things which were otherwise thought impossible; and strengthens us as great warriors of life. Time to stand up and kick start anew!? Check out the post with other interesting posts on the same topic!>

Monday, February 2, 2009

I could see a potential opportunity with each encounter of a situation

Last two days I was working with an NGO which is doing phenomenal work for poor children, orphans and destitute children. They have AIDS rehabilitation and many other self-help activities in the rural areas with social workers. The organization is a famous one by name CCCYC.

Do you know how I got to know them, you’ll wonder if I tell you how. Six months ago, in one casual conversation with a friend I was remembered of one of our juniors who was with us in the hostel. Later, he left for another course in agricultural studies. But every one knew him because he was pretty handsome and a good cricket player and so…so…soft-spoken. His cat eyes made him very special in the hostel.

I immediately called him to know what he is and how he is doing. This is after 15 long years from the college days. We spoke to each other for a long while. After which there was no talk we got busy and forgot about each other.

Suddenly in the month of Jan he gave me a call in the night saying he is now well-placed in an MNC and has been promoted as a manager. He asked me to meet his good uncle in Bangalore who is heading a NGO and he might be of some help finding some work and get some good clients too.

Meeting a man of dynamism and compassion – Arun Kumar Bunyan, Director, CCYC

At last after dodging for a while I went to meet my friend’s uncle. It was as usual a long drive to his office and I was damn tired. When I saw him he said he would find some people who can help me to work with. Then I asked him if he had some work at the moment which I can do for him, for I was free that day with no work. And I came trudging all the way and didn’t want to go doing nothing.

He’s lost in a deep thought… (Must be thinking what this advertising guy can do for him)
He later said that he’s disappointed with several copywriters who promised him that they would work but couldn’t avail their services as they demanded quite a sum. And he said that the organization is celebrating its 50th year golden jubilee celebration and wants to felicitate all ex-foster children who studied in their orphanage homes and later settled in life.

He had about 50 odd people’s reports that came in from different parts of India, who wrote to him their experiences and wants me to write some punch lines and edit them, as he is too busy overseeing the formalities of the celebration.
‘But the time is very short because there are hardly three days left for us to travel to another place where the celebrations would kick start’, he said. He himself is a great speaker and orator and I was bit nervous to start off.

As I started reading each case study, I realized how important the homes were for the orphans and how they’ve been instrumental in transforming each life. As they narrate their experiences and reminisce their moments with great love and emotion… I just couldn’t stop thinking of them and deeply moved.

I could finish about 25 of them giving a punch lines and summarise the story into a small paragraph, the first day. I never did such sort of a rush job. I finished at least 35 case studies in the span of one and half day and felt a sort of relieved and also very exhausted.

All of them are children of lepers, children who lost their mom and dad as they were toddlers, children of poor widows, children abandoned in bus station and railway stations etc. The writing assignment came to me at a situation when I’m writing reviews of the book “Secret Door to Success”. And it gave me a feeling how lucky I’m, though, my parents were with me for a long time. They died very recently and their memories are so fresh in my memory. You can check out their website and do some help if you want to …