Dec 14 2012

Stalled, Stuck or Stale?

Why Your Company Isn't Growing - Infographic
Infographic from McKee Wallwork Cleveland – revitalizing stalled, stuck and stale brands.

Nov 3 2012

10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer

10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer
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Mar 25 2012

Informative Content

The More Informative Your Content ...
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Mar 24 2012

1,000 Words Can Make You Immortal

1000 Words Can Make You Immortal

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1000 Words Can Make You Immortal
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Feb 18 2012

Why I love judging ADDY shows

American Advertising Federation "ADDY" symbolIn the last month, I’ve judged three ADDY shows—one in Fargo, North Dakota (arctic cold with warm people); one in Great Falls, Montana (boasting a bar where mermaids swim…I swear it!); and Reno, Nevada (casinos and lots of characters). In my estimation, judging the ADDY’s is one of the most rewarding aspects of being in the ad biz. You get to see great work, which oh by the way, happens EVERYWHERE. And meet the greatest people EVER.

In March at my local show in Phoenix, I’ll be passing my “2011 Advertising Person of the Year” mantle and plaque on to this year’s lucky winner. It was an honor to receive it. And even though I’m getting older (sigh) my desire to do great work hasn’t waned. In fact, attending all these ADDY  judgings is so inspirational, it just makes me want to go forth and create! I see work being done at every budget level from next to nothing (student work)…all the way to big bucks (casinos)…and it proves to me that big ideas aren’t always dependent on big dollars.

Jan 15 2011

We need more women in advertising

According to, 85 percent of all brand purchases are made by women. But incredibly, only three percent of advertising agency creative directors are women. That means men are doing most of the advertising to women.

Pick up any Communication Arts magazine “Advertising Annual,” a compendium of the year’s best advertising in the US. When you look for the creative teams developing the work, it’s about 90 percent men. They’re selling women feminine hygiene products, makeup, clothing, jewelry, pregnancy products…you name it.

How can they possibly know and understand the female mindset? Sure, they get tons of research to help them craft compelling messaging. But when it comes to actual female emotions, I really don’t think they have a clue.

So why don’t more ad agencies staff their creative departments with women? The female writers I know can concept a headline and write motivating text  just as well as any man. Ditto for the female art directors I know.

Is it the ‘Boys Club’ mentality? Is it fear of being one-upped by, horrors, a girl? I judged an ADDY’s show a few years ago with a talented creative director from Minneapolis. I asked him if his firm ever hired women copywriters. He said, “Oh, we had a client specifically request a woman writer this year, but we couldn’t find anyone.” Really? I mean, really? In the whole country?

I told a male writer friend in Phoenix that his creative department had too much testosterone. “We’ve been talking about that with our creative director,” he said. But that was months ago. They still haven’t hired any women.

I think the facts speak for themselves. Women make most of the buying decisions in a household. Therefore, it stands to reason that women are uniquely qualified to advertise to other women. Ad agencies take note: hiring women creatives could be the smartest thing you do this year.

Sep 10 2010

Lip Service

What happened to customer service?

Everybody talks about providing great service. But nobody actually does. I find it interesting that there are so many books and seminars dedicated to the subject of customer service today. Is anyone reading them? Is anyone attending them?

Here’s an example: When I walk into my doctor’s office, no one looks me in the eye, smiles and says hello. Instead, I’m expected to sign a clipboard, take a seat and wait to be called to provide my insurance card and co-pay. It’s cold, impersonal and I don’t like how they waste my time. Then I’m taken to a patient room where I, once again, sit for quite awhile, waiting to be seen.

Through my marketing business, I had an opportunity to counsel one of my physician practices about their shoddy reception desk service. The doc’s all agreed that something needed to be done. They told their front desk staff to provide better customer service. But nothing changed.

I pondered this and came to the conclusion that customer service can’t be ‘caught’ – it must be ‘taught.’ A training program with a behavioral modeling component needs to be put into place. Will they ever do this? Probably not. It will require time, and maybe, money. But if they did, just think how their patients would feel – not just under their care but actually cared for.

I’m not picking on medical practices, it’s just one of many places I visit where the service is less than stellar. I can find the same shoddy treatment at any retail store, restaurant or auto repair shop in any neighborhood. The good news is, I’m resolved to avoid their mistakes when dealing with my own customers.

Aug 20 2010

Creative Departments Need More Women

1. Women are innately in touch with the emotional benefits of a product or service – they easily identify with the feelings it evokes

2. Women are excellent presenters – they can relay a conceptual idea to a client in a way that’s highly articulate and persuasive

3. Women enjoy dirty jokes just as much as men (at least some of us do)

4. Women bring a different perspective to the table – they solve problems differently from men. Often this is more intuitive than rational, which is what all great advertising campaigns are based on.

5. Women write in ways that men often cannot – for example, writing for the luxury market requires a more eloquent, upscale voice that women seem to master more easily.

Jul 17 2010

Are advertising slogans still relevant?

I say yes! A well-crafted advertising slogan, or tagline as it’s more commonly referred to these days, sums up a company’s or organization’s unique selling proposition in a way that’s personable, memorable, original, simple, and most important of all, believable.

Unique selling propositions:

  • Contain a benefit
  • Offer something the competition either cannot or does not offer
  • Move the masses

Taglines incorporate elements of the unique selling proposition to leave the key brand message in the mind of the target audience. They’re universal (everybody likes them) and they stand the test of time. The really good ones create buzz…remember “Where’s the beef?” Taglines are the sign-off that accompanies the logo. They say, “If you get nothing else from this ad, get this!”

Here are some examples of great taglines:

  • M&Ms melt in your mouth, not in your hand.
  • Does she or doesn’t she? (Clairol)
  • We try harder. (Avis)
  • Just do it. (Nike)
  • The quicker picker upper. (Bounty)
  • Don’t leave home without it. (American Express)
  • Got milk? (California Milk Processor Board)

Apr 28 2010

A great idea, poorly executed.

These days, everywhere I go I see good ideas executed poorly. Today at the park playground (my dogs like to play there!) I saw a height chart attached to the jungle gym. A great idea, right? Little kids love to see how much they’re growing. But this particular one started at the 3-foot mark and went up to 5’6″.

Most of the kids that play here aren’t even 3 feet tall yet. And I’ve never seen a 5’6″ kid get anywhere near the place. They’re typically sitting at a picnic table smoking. Who designed this chart? Why did this person arbitrarily or consciously choose these particular heights? Does he or she have kids? It just doesn’t make sense to me.

That seems to be case with a lot of design projects. Websites that are difficult to navigate. Signage that goes up with no usability testing. Products that manufacturers say are easy to assemble, but only if you’ve got a Ph.D. in structural engineering.

It makes me wonder why we don’t build more planning, usability and testing time into our process? Maybe it would keep a lot of great ideas from turning into crappy ones.