Posts Tagged ‘advertising taglines’

Content Comix #7

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Content Comix #6

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Content Comix #5

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Don’t Eff-up Your Content Strategy: #4 Know Your Audience

Thursday, October 30th, 2014


You know that old chestnut about selling ice to Eskimos? Well, if you know they prefer cubes and all they have are blocks, you may get a sale.


It’s all about knowing your audience—both who they are as well as what are their needs and motivations.


Because you’re not selling to everyone. More specifically, you’re not telling everyone the same story.

Technology is a great example: When a company is going to spend millions—or tens of millions—on technology, there are going to be a few direct stakeholders and dozens of other influencers. And each one has a different agenda.


  • Users need to know how it’ll make their jobs easier
  • Managers (LOB) need to know how it solves a business problem
  • Senior managers or executives need to know that its cost will be amortized by efficiencies, or better, by revenues and profit
  • IT needs to know that it will seamlessly integrate with existing systems
  • Developers need to know that it’s stable and manageable
  • Procurement needs to know that it’s features and pricing are competitive

How’re you gonna solve all that with a single headline?

You’re not.

What you need to do is identify and segregate your target audience/s.


Who are your most influential customers? They aren’t always the decision maker or check writer. Sometimes they are behind the buying decision. Your primary audience are the ones who gather info and insist on purchase.


Sometimes the ones who surround a buying decision are as important as your primary audience because their opinion weighs heavily. They can be strong advocates. Secondary audiences can also include outside forces like senior executives, general and industry media, analysts, bloggers and the public.

These can be the kids who want Mom to buy Lucky Charms—Mom’s the buyer, but kids are the target. The non-shopping spouse who wants something. A department that needs new … whatever.

Or the CEO who really doesn’t understand technology but thinks those ads were really cool.


You have to learn about your audiences. You need to do research.

What is their relationship with your general business category, with you, your product or service, with the competition. You need to know.

You need to know what they think and feel. What they demand and tolerate. What they expect and how they’re willing to compromise.

If you’re selling food, you need to know how it’s purchased, prepared and eaten. If you’re selling toys, you need to know who wants them and who buys them. If you’re selling vast enterprise computer systems, you need to know as much detail as possible about their company, their current solutions, their needs and their demands.

Of course it’s different for a $1 impulse item or a multi-million dollar whatever.

But it’s all about the target. You have to know them.

An excellent example is the research Goodby, Silverstein & Partners did for the California Milk Advisory Board. They learned that buyers didn’t need to know about calcium or freshness or vitimin D. All they cared about was having some milk in the ‘fridge when they want it.

Get it: got milk?



Here’s a model I started using a very long time ago to help clients visualize the manifold nature of communications.

You can see how every purchase starts with need, migrates through awareness and understanding, then advocacy, acquiescence, then purchase.

Doesn’t matter whether you’re selling $1 gum or $5 million tiered storage. The only difference is the level or decision-making and the time it takes to make it.


Before you sell anything—before you communicate anything about your product or service—you need to know who you’re talking to, what their needs are. Then based on that, craft a content strategy that positions you relative to the needs or expectations of your audience.


#5: Know what you need to say.

Don’t Eff-up Your Content Strategy: #1 Know Yourself

Monday, September 29th, 2014


There’s one single most-important piece of information you must communicate. No matter the media. No matter the audience. It has to come through implicitly and explicitly.

That’s your market position.

And it has to shine through every single headline, every word of copy.


It’s about who you are in the market: what needs you fill, what services you provide and what that means to your prospects and whoever may influence them. It guides your company on how to communicate everything from the brand to the product, and how to address both general and specific audiences.

Note this is not about the product, it’s about the company—although sometimes the two merge.


That comes later. A tagline is a more-creative use of language based on your position. It helps articulate it, but it is not a position unilaterally.

According to The Strategic Planning Kit for Dummies:

The positioning statement is the core message you want to deliver in every medium and everything you do.

You can turn your positioning statement into a marketing message in the future. If you need some inspiration, read through these positioning statements:

Wharton Business School: The only business school that trains managers who are global, cross-functional, good leaders, and leveraged by technology

BMW: We make the world’s best-designed vehicles

Southwest Airlines: The short-haul, no-frills, and low-priced airline

Avis: Being the second-ranked vehicle rental agency drives us to deliver better deals and service

Miller Lite: The only beer with superior taste and low caloric content


How you position yourself depends on what you do, but also where you are in your company history or product cycle. Then, to some degree, where you want to be.

A newly-formed company gets to choose who they are (or want to be) in the market based on their products, goals and aspirations. The 100 year-old juggernaut corporation has to recognize their current position and communicate that with integrity.

It can be aspirational. But it must be honest.

It starts by knowing who you are unilaterally and within your market, what you provide and why it’s unique, how it serves your customer and why they should care.


If your position is “We’re the company that’s easy to work with” all your communications have to support it. Ads have to be easy to get. Social media easy to read. Instruction manuals easy to get through.

Want to be easy, be easy. Want to be sophisticated, be that.

Of course, you can course-correct. But not on a daily basis.


Want to be #1? You have to earn it.


Last week, we looked at Oracle OpenWorld, a technology trade show that attracts 50,000 attendees and hundreds of exhibitors, including plenty of partners and competitors.

So positioning the event is more than just focusing on Oracle. Can’t just be about sales or networking. Or about technology at large. Or about a particular user type.

It has to be a place where the net benefit of attending is something that you take back and apply to you own situation, whatever that situation might be:

Oracle OpenWorld is the place where you learn to get greater business value out of your IT.

And you can see how that translated to one (of many) headlines.

Here are a couple more from my files:

Positioning: Working at IBM means you have access to the resources and opportunity for you to fulfill your vision and potential.

Positioning: CAPS leases shipping containers that are high tech, sustainable and reusable.

Positioning: Cambridge Technology Partners hires only the most intellectually capable people.

Positioning: Powersim turns vast amounts of data into meaningful information.

Positioning: TiVo lets you watch what you want, when you want to. (An example of when the company and product position are the same.)


#2: Know your product.

Richard’s 10 Rules for Totally Great Copy: #10

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

#10: Great copy can break the rules.

Of course, what I mean is that if your work works … then who cares how you did it.

You do have to observe cultural norms and manners—that’s part of communicating effectively. I could do the coolest ad in some arcane code or Martian glyphs, but who’d get it?

Juvenile, sexual, shocking, disgusting and offensive ideas certainly break through, but do they support a value proposition? History proves not.

That’s the art and craft of what we do. Content needs to break through. And the best way is to leverage or play with cultural norms. Tweak our understanding of what’s what. Make us think a little differently.

Rather than pontificating about it all, here are examples that I’ve collected:

This one just surfaced yesterday [08/05/14]. Not so much about breaking rules, but about breaking the wall between advertising and spectacle. Watch here. For TNT by Duval Guillaume, Netherlands.


No headline necessary, it’s the best possible demonstration of their product. Nobody busted the glass and apparently 3M got lots of press. I couldn’t find the agency, so if you know, please leave a comment.


I think this pretty much captures the imagination of the AXE customer. By Lowe Mena, Dubai, UAE.


They don’t have to say “don’t drink and drive.” You think it yourself. For the Association for Responsible Alcohol Use (ARA) by Publicis Johannesburg.


Normally I find sex-first ads sort of unimaginative in a lowest-common-denominator kind of way. But this ad shocked the living daylights out of the 90’s. It was called vulgar (that’s up to you) and child pornography (the model was not a child). But it did its job, got Calvin Klein a lot of attention and apparently sold a lot of underwear. By Calvin Klein in-house.


Any questions about the product? By Leo Burnett Belgium


So much more is implied than explained. We fill in the blanks. By local heroes Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners.


I’m guessing this is exactly what the Wonderbra customer expects. By Publicis Conseil, France


I don’t like ads that use violent or hateful imagery, even if their message is noble. The World Wildlife Fund often uses shocking or revolting imagery. But in this case they make their point using subtlety and even sad humor. I couldn’t find the agency that did these. If you know, please leave a comment.


And of course there, this gem for Reebok which was actually banned in the U.S. Watch it here. By Goldberg Moser O’Neill.

And setting the bar impossibly high …

I’ve showcased some of these ads before, but they’re the ones I like creatively and were successful:

This program violated every rule of polite recruiting: overt poaching, acknowledging that Cisco was popular and hot, inviting people to solicit jobs from friends. It was the first program of it’s kind of drive traffic to a web page. And it was fabulously successful. People in companies throughout the country had the full-page print ad [We know where your friends are!] pinned to their cubes, because it was true. Their friends were all flocking to Cisco. It scared the heck out of recruiters from Cupertino to RTP. For TMP Worldwide, art directed and designed by Russell Miyaki, shot by David Papas.

This is from a series of ads for O’Connor Recovery Center. Of course, the rule of such institutional—and delicate—advertising is don’t point out the problem, just the solution. That’s why there’s so much depressing “light at the end of the tunnel” stuff. But we felt this was more honest. It was super-cheap to produce and helped book their alcohol, cocaine and prescription recovery programs for months.

I’ve shown this one before. Rather than the usual threats or scare tactics, we just remind women that they need a breast exam, so why not get one free. We thought a little charm would be much more convincing than some awful statistics or whatever.

Finally, for Cambridge Technology Partners, rather than pleading with people to check out jobs, we challenged them. Maybe you’re not good enough to work here, we implied, but why not find out. It peeled candidates out of their corner offices and plum technology positions to apply for jobs. For TMP Worldwide, art-directed and designed by Russell MiyakiScott Kim created all the puzzles.

So the point of all this, of this whole 10 rules thing is that marketing communications—advertising, blogging, posting, tweeting, pinning and every other new channel that arises—is about people.

It’s not about copy points or client strategy. It’s about getting through meaningfully.

My 10 rules are not rules at all. They’re reminders about communicating. Keeping things fresh and alive and focused.

And anyone, including myself, who tells you there are rules to follow or a way to do things is full of it. Ignore them. Ignore convention. Ignore the style guide.

Nobody cares what you have to say. Yet you as the communicator need them to hear you. You must remind them of an itch and tell them how to scratch it.

Messages that say “Do this” or “Do that” or “We have this or that” or “Compare our this to their that” is not advertising at all. It’s just posting information in a commercial setting.

Great copy does much more than that. It tells something important to someone. It makes them want to know more or take action. Sometimes without even asking.

An invitation is much more compelling than a command. It makes you want to take action.

And that, I believe, is what great copy should do.

Richard’s 10 Rules for Totally Great Copy: #8

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

#8: Great copy transports the reader.

An ad that can transport you is very special thing. It requires creating hope and imagination that your life could be different—better—because you use a certain product or service.

You have to be picked up where you are now. Acknowledged that you don’t live a fantasy, don’t care about the advertiser and their effing ad or whatever it is they’re selling, and you don’t want to go anywhere with them. And in spite of that, still be transported.

You can’t trick someone into it.

You have to seduce them. Take them by surprise. Sneak into their awareness then set your hook.

The classic, if ham fisted, example is “Calgon, take me away!” Of course, it’s very literal and promises more than the ad itself actually delivers.

But that said, I’m guessing you knew just the campaign I was referring to. And judging by all the memes based on a 40-plus-year-old ad campaign, being taken away is a powerful desire.


You got Calgon cats


Calgon scribbles


Calgon fashion ;^)


And Calgon Commanders-in-Chief


And then there was Paco.

This campaign for Paco Rabanne men’s fragrance came out in the mid-80s. It seems so tame compared to what we see today. But at the time, it caused quite a controversy. Better still, it transported the reader.

He gets a call from his eager and satisfied lover who says she stole his cologne and plans to rub it on herself tonight when she’s alone. Yow.


He gets a call from his eager and satisfied lover who says her mother would never approve of what he and his cologne did to her. Woof!

No headline. No product description. Just the smoldering afterglow of a passionate evening.


I wanted to be that guy. I wanted to have that conversation. I bought the fragrance.

BTW, I can’t find who actually created those ads. If you know, please comment.

The shimmering icon of transporting your audience is from Mad Men. It’s Don Draper’s amazing  “Carousel” presentation to Kodak.

Back to reality

Here’s a campaign we did for Hill & Co., a San Francisco real estate broker who sold the highest-value residential properties in the City. Their clients were the wealthiest. Their inventory the most prestigious. Many of their agents were the scions of wealthy SF families.

Research revealed that elite buyers want their own bit of the City. And, of course, to be recognized for their power and influence and treated accordingly.

So the sell wasn’t about the nuts and bolts of real estate transactions or saving a few bucks. It was about knowing every inch of San Francisco. About helping you get your multi-million-dollar slice of SF with a glass of champagne on signing.


Contrary to popular opinion, there is only one hill in San Francisco.

Geography. That’s not what we’re talking about. Not a map of the City. It’s the map of your heart. The one that shows the way home, wherever that may be. There are lots of neighborhoods. Lots of houses. Lots of places to live. But when it comes down to it, to any San Franciscan, there is only one hill. A private hill. Your hill. And we’re here to help you find it.


Lots of houses speak for themselves. None sell themselves.

Ever hear that a home just spoke to someone? Ever had one speak to you? Did it say, “Haven’t you (ungh) outgrown it here …” or “C’mon … you can afford me …” We’re not here to confirm or deny the phenomenon. Just to comment that all the compelling chatter happens in a place distinctly different from the one where pricing, open houses and contract negotiations occur. That’s a place where only a highly qualified real estate agent can help you. So the next time you strike up a conversation with some residential property, remember, you don’t need a therapist. You need us.


Your house may be a lot of things. A realtor isn’t one of them.

As everyone who has sold or bought a house can attest, the house itself is what makes the sale. (Is it the closets? The kitchen?) But there are a few things even the best house can’t do. Like price itself. Or market itself. Or negotiate a contract. Or share perspective earned over 40 years of working with San Francisco’s most prestigious residential properties. Which is fine, because that’s what we do. Call us, and we’ll do it for you.


The campaign was designed so beautifully by Candice Kollar and shot by Thea Schrack. It was meant to be a bit poetic and flatter the reader.

What it did was cause a major eruption in the local real estate ad market. Everyone noticed. Everyone called Hill & Co. All of a sudden, every brokerage had to have a dreamy ad. We were interviewed by the local media and won several awards. The campaign bumped Hill & Co.’s lower-cost homes and rental business even more than the prestige business.

Why? Because the ads were knowledgeable and honest. We met the reader where they were then took them where they wanted to go. The ads transported readers to a place a bit more special than usual, but accessible enough to relate.

Which is what I think great copy should do.

Richard’s 10 Rules for Totally Great Copy: #7

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

#7: Great Copy Flatters the Reader

All advertising should say what it wants from me—or has for me—and how that’s going to help. But great advertising should elevate me. Involve and fascinate me. Flatter me.

 We once did an event for Cisco and the invitation did exactly that. We told the CTOs of top telcos they are the “Modern Masters of Technology.”

 The copy reads:

Their medium was paint.
Their palette was color.
They were the Modern Masters.
They saw what everyone else saw … in a whole new way.
Your medium is the network.
Your palette is information.
You are among the Modern Masters of Technology.
Come see internetworking technology in a whole new way.

Flattery will get you everywhere. It was spectacularly successful—100 percent participation—and won a bunch of design awards. It didn’t hurt that each invitation was hand-delivered and that we gave away Paul Klee artwork. Every hotel room had a modern art goodie-bag including a Picasso tile puzzle. I love that puzzle.

Hypocrisy 101

In general I do not like ads that tell me who I am or what I think. “You’re the kind of guy who …” or “You must be thinking …” Ugh. Just tell me what you have to say. So I guess it’s OK to speak to me collectively as long as it’s with the best and brightest ;^)

Involvement Is Flattering

Here are the top 10 of what some consider the most influential taglines of the last 70 years. The first six are focused on the customer or their experience. Only the last four are about the product. And I could argue “We try harder” really reads “We try harder to serve you.” And “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands” is about your experience.

  1. Got milk? (1993)—California Milk Processor Board
  2. Don’t leave home without it. (1975)—American Express
  3. Just do it. (1988)—Nike
  4. Where’s the beef? (1984)—Wendy’s
  5. You’re in good hands with Allstate. (1956)—Allstate Insurance
  6. Think different. (1998)—Apple Computer
  7. We try harder. (1962)—Avis
  8. Tastes great, less filling. (1974)—Miller Lite
  9. Melts in your mouth, not in your hands. (1954)—M&M Candies
  10. Takes a licking and keeps on ticking. (1956)—Timex

None of these say, “hey, you’re the smartest guy in the room …” or “damn, you’re blowing it …” or even “we’re #1.” In one way or another, they all say, “your life can improve.”

That’s pretty flattering.

Here are a few of my own examples …


Cambridge Technology Partners needed uniquely skilled, extremely high-level engineers and analysts. Research revealed their best prospects responded to games and puzzles. So we based the whole campaign on brain teasers. The tone both challenged and flattered the prospect. This was a multiple-award-winning campaign that generated excellent response plus international media attention. And yeah, we did this long before Google. For TMP Worldwide, art-directed and designed by Russell Miyaki. Scott Kim created all the puzzles.



TiVo asked us to raise awareness of the service while promoting their online magazine. Rather than dwelling on the technology or magazine content, we focused on the #1 reason anyone would ever use TiVo: To see what they want on TV. It instantly lifts both message and reader above commerce and into understanding customers’ needs and wants. This was art directed and designed by Russell Miyaki.



Failure Analysis (now Exponent) is a company that specializes in forensic disaster research. It’s a company run and staffed by Ph.D.-level engineers and physicists. What do say to someone like that? You can’t tell them how smart they are … you have to be that smart or a little smarter. This series of ads—which were extremely cheap to produce—generated tremendous response. For TMP Worldwide.

In each case, the prospect is elevated, as if they’re among a very special group of people who get it. And each time, they’re rewarded with a fun, twisted little bit of logic. In just a few words, these ads create a relationship that’s based on admiration and respect.

And that’s something I think great copy should do.