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Posts Tagged ‘Advertising’

Killing a tree for Christmas

November 9th, 2011 1 comment

It will cost Americans fifteen cents more per tree killed this Christmas, according to The Heritage Foundation.

When the headline hit my Facebook feed, the tree-hugging-Californian in me, with a fake tree stored in a Kansas-basement, was jumping with joy that Obama was taxing Americans for killing a tree!

I’ve honestly never understood why it was necessary for a one-day celebration. Particularly from those of us just fitting in with society’s rituals. (I do it for my kids! .. and the cookies.)

As an advertiser who has attempted to convince franchisees to agree on a cooperative marketing campaign, I am flipping-out-jealous of Obama.

A “tax” for marketing, where any seller of 500+ trees is forced to opt in? And they can’t even really argue about it because it’s not even their money that’s being spent on the campaign, er, “new image!”

Brilliant! .. No .. Umm .. Commanding?

Not even the biggest advertising agency has the opportunity to sell in a plan like that to win Agency Of Record.

I wonder if he’s getting some sort of fee or percentage of budget like we would for making that happen?

Because, last I knew, Christmas trees were sorta tied in with a little religion called Christianity. And I really thought we had rules about a separation between church and state in this country.

Heart

September 6th, 2011 No comments

I’ve been reading “a lot” from a little book named “Heart,” given to me by my favorite advertising agency (as far as those I’ve worked with, anyway), Barkley.

Every day, as I brush my teeth in the morning, I open the book to any random page, and read both sides.

Each page hits straight to .. well .. my heart.

Today’s Reading:

Left Page: “The outward work can never be small if the inward one is great, and the outward work can never be great if the inward is small or of little worth. There is your life and there alone you live and your work lives.” – Meister Eckhart

Right Page: “Quality is not just a chart, or a standard, or a specification – it’s a state of mind, a commitment, a responsibility, a spirit. It’s a way of doing, being and living.” – Don Galer

Welcome back to work, y’all. Make it a productive and fabulous day.

The Fall of the Billboard

August 2nd, 2009 No comments

If a billboard falls in the middle of a field, does anyone notice as they’re speeding past?

Driving across the middle of the country, kids and husband finally sleeping, I had time for my favorite long drive activity: looking at billboards.  As I started searching for those ridiculous headlines that you see so often in the middle of nowhere, I found the scenery to be more frightening than humorous.  Sign after sign posted variations of, “Your Ad Here.”

As a lover of media and advertising, I felt a cold shudder.  It was like driving through my childhood neighborhood, turned into a ghost town.  For the first time since my own bad news and layoff, I felt true fear.  I found myself wishing that my kids’ whining was still a distraction as I held my breath through the graveyard.

On the upside, among all of the empty space, I still found a few of those nutty little advertisers that need our help.  For instance, after being served a 3-board teaser message about Jesus, we were delivered to the doors of the XXX Adult Video Store and Massage Parlor.  At least God and porn still have budgets.

Fueling Magazines’ Failures

July 20th, 2009 No comments

As September drop-deads are upon us, I’m hearing a lot about tumbling circulations and ad pages continuing to fade from magazines.  While it’s true that advertising budgets are trending downward, we have to remember that this started long ago.  Before big government bailouts, unemployment surges, mass foreclosures, and the fall of the auto industry, the once booming magazine industry has been quietly suffering.

The strength of magazines didn’t take such an immediate pummeling from things like the mass adoption of the internet as it’s printed sibling newspapers did.  But as more consumers’ dollars were allocated to cell phones and broadband connections, magazines began to see circulations decrease.  In early desperation, some publications falsified audit reports or inflated verified circulations, dumping titles in unnecessary public places.  They began to lose the faith of their advertising partners, and some began to close.

Planners paying attention began demanding cleaner circulations along with deeper discounts, free space, premium placement, product integration, cross-platform opportunities.  With the negative press, they had to deliver greater ROI to clients.  Even titles which had historically refused to negotiate began making “special exceptions” and “finding loopholes.”

While a great value for clients and making the negotiator look like hot-stuff, the additional decrease in revenue only fueled magazines’ woes.  Combined with the economy’s hard fall, titles both young and old began to announce last issues.  Those same planners once considered savvy are now finding themselves knocked for buying “cheap space” in a title that didn’t survive.  (Shameless Plug: Check out Magazine Death Pool for more dirt.)

Today, clients are uncertain of budgets, don’t trust signing annual plans and don’t know which title is going to be cut next.  Their lower budgets are still forcing even higher ROI expectations, yet the lack of commitment means positioning can rarely be negotiated, decreasing the medium’s value.  Of course, that means they’ll need to balance that loss with even bigger discounts and more free pages.

As a media planner, I jokingly used to say that I was a “media fundraiser” to folks not in advertising.  (Lest I be asked, again, if I write the commercials.)  Today, I wonder if I should’ve spent more time focusing on getting those funds approved, and a little less time doing multiple rounds of negotiations with titles I was forcing out of business.

It’s not my mother’s fault that I’m addicted to television

September 13th, 2008 No comments

When you ask most anyone if they watch tv, you’ll either hear, “a little” (followed by a list of programs they like) or a little more rarely, “no” (also, oddly enough, followed by a short list of programs that they like). While not many are admitting to being viewers, if you talk about a show, you’re likely to get an opinion (good or bad).

While you might not be able to tell today, since I don’t get to watch much (any?) tv outside of Sprout, I’ve always been a super-fan. Okay.. An addict, even.  And you’d never know it by my recollections of commercials, programming, jingles, and theme songs from my youth, but it was actually a challenge to watch tv in our house when I was growing up. 

Being better parents than I am, mine tried their best to restrict my and my sister’s viewing habits. They went to great lengths to try to keep me in check, but I’ve always had a knack at getting around obstacles. As any normal kid, that included finding ways of getting around my parents’ disapproval of my first vice.

Before the days of parental controls built into televisions (and equipment), my mother watched closely as we selected programs and monitored how much time we spent with the box. When she went back to work in my youth, my parents actually put timers on the two TV’s in the house to keep them off before they returned from work. A good idea in theory, except that they were external timers, so my sister and I just unplugged them. (Note to parents: even the short, young kids with sweet, innocent faces aren’t dumb.. or innocent.)

Before I started school, the only shows I remember watching are Sesame Street, Romper Room, Mr. Rogers or Pinwheel (ok, I only remember the theme song) in the morning. Of course, we also watched M.A.S.H. after dinner. In elementary school, my parents became relatively early adaptors of cable. We got the equipment once lines were secured underground in our neighborhood (maybe, to my skeptical and conservative-spending father, finally making it not a fad and worth a look-see). But at basic entry in the early 80’s, it really added nothing memorable for a kid to watch for a few years (lots of cartoons and infomercials, but nothing unique or original..). Nickelodeon changed that when it brought “You Can’t Do That on Television” south from Canada, but I was in the 4th grade when that happened (which maybe says a lot about my “nothing unique or original” memory).

I remember when that program started in particular, only partially because of my life-long addiction. Having unplugged the timer so many times and seen a thousand promotional commercials, I was excited to see the first episode but knew that the timing of the first-air (during homework-time) was something that my mother would never allow. So, I told her it was homework: to watch this ground-breaking new series! (Maybe I was foreseeing my future?) But even though she had to have known I was lying, for some unfathomably uncharacteristic reason, she let me watch it.* (Maybe she was foreseeing my future, too?)

I wasn’t as lucky when a few other favorite programs launched. While my parents watched “Family Ties” with my sister and I, I was also sneaking off to watch a few extra shows on the TV in their room. There I was, crouching by the tv, the volume turned down nearly to mute, watching “Cheers” or “Bosom Buddies.” They were both forbidden in our house, of course. Why? Because my parents didn’t want us to think anyone spends that much time in a bar (we had a wet-bar in our living room), nor wanted me to think that men dress up as women (we lived just outside of San Francisco.. and, again, I was allowed to watch M.A.S.H., so Jamie Farr/Clinger had already gotten me over any oddity of that).

So, yes, kids.. It can happen! A little vice turned into a passion that actually became a career. (Media and television, not cross-dressing and drinking.)

*Thanks, mom.

Marie’s spotlight

September 13th, 2008 No comments

I’ll admit it: “Marie Claire” fell off my radar for a while. After they had some circulation woes that put them under a microscope a few years ago, we (media folk) kind of talked them to death. We love drama, but it was almost too much negative. After a while, I lost interest. 

Today, their circulation headlines aren’t looking much better. Looking at first-half 2008 numbers, they’re down significantly in newsstand sales (-12.1%!) which is almost 30% of their circulation. Although their % of paid subscriptions is climbing through initiatives they’ve invested in (a gift with purchase program with a major beauty brand and online subscriber notices, beyond transition from newsstand to subscriber growth with inbook cards). It could be more organic, but still, not a bad tactic on their part. They only missed their 950M rate base once in the last six months according to their most recent ABC statement; again, not bad, considering the “less down is the new flat” theory floating around magazine circulations these days.

So when they came to KC for a visit a few weeks ago, I was interested to hear an update.

I got the general overview of the book and the vast changes that have happened since I’d picked it up last. It looked good. But it wasn’t the page layout or the section headers that caught my attention. There was something hanging out there that struck me: the magazine’s pick for a new fashion director, Project Runway’s and ex-“Elle” Fashion Director/Editor-at-Large, Nina Garcia.

Celebrities sell; it’s an obvious truth demonstrated by the number of not only celebs on covers, but directly in titles (Oprah, Martha Stewart, Rachael Ray). Garcia’s no Paula Abdul (just in size of fame.. in other ways, Abdul’s no Garcia!), but she’s still known for her judging skills on “Project Runway.” (That’s what I’ve heard, anyway. I’m, admittedly, not a viewer of the show.)

Garcia only started after Labor Day, and already, “Marie Claire” has put on the gloves. While “Elle” has the CW Network working on “Stylista” for an October debut, “Marie” now has “Running in Heels” set to premier in March 2009. It’s a weekly reality show that will follow 15 fashion editors and staff of the magazine and air on The Style Network. It’ll be interesting (for us media geeks) to see how they compare in ratings once they both have had a few weeks of air time (with “Stylista” having a slight Broadcast advantage over “Running”).

Being more of a magazine consumer (personally) these days than a television junkie (a sad side-effect of having kids; I no longer watch much programming that I’m interested in. ..No offense to SproutTV), I’m more interested to see if there is a halo effect that helps “Marie Claire”‘s circulation. I wonder if it will help rebound newsstand sales or if this does anything to help their subscriber base increase more organically. While not many publications have released editorial calendars for 2009, I suspect that their editorial plans will include some sort of self-promotions.

This’ll be my kind of “March madness.” Can’t wait!