Posts Tagged ‘TMP Worldwide’

Don’t Eff-up Your Content Strategy: #3 Know What You Want to Accomplish

Friday, October 17th, 2014


Every message—every post, blog, banner, print ad, email, billboard, TV commercial and video, bumper sticker and coffee mug—should be in place to accomplish something.


You need to decide in advance what you want to accomplish, or you won’t accomplish anything.


Of course you’re trying to sell more. But that isn’t a content strategy it’s a business goal.

So ask yourself:

  • What are the barriers to trial or purchase?
  • Where are opportunities?
  • Are there misperceptions in the market?
  • What do we need to say to prospects, customers and influencers?

On the strategy worksheet I share with clients, we call this: Problems communications must solve.


Here are some typical reasons for communicating:

  • Increase brand awareness and equity—this can include vision and position statements, sustainability and corporate responsibility messages
  • Clarify, focus or re-position your company
  • Introduce or support an existing product or service
  • Overcome misunderstanding of how your product or service works
  • Drive inquiry, trial and sales
  • Gain market share


NOT: Customers don’t understand what we do.

BUT: Help customers and prospects see our value to them.


IBM—the international powerhouse, the “nobody gets fired for choosing IBM” company, the inventors of significant technology and (at the time) #1 PC company—used to arrive on campus with pizza and free laptops and nobody showed up.

They couldn’t sell a computer. And couldn’t get students to consider working there.

Research showed everyone thought IBM was stale, conservative and unimaginative—with technology to match. Students were terrified of leaving the wide-open spaces of campus, then getting stuck in a navy suit and left in a cube to rot.

But in fact, the IBM workplace was actually exciting and challenging. And their laptops were fast, well-constructed and affordable.

So the problem communications must solve was: Re-brand IBM the company, its products and careers on-campus to excite young consumers and job candidates.


Our solution—which I’ve discussed in this blog—was the Nth Degree campaign. The premise was that no matter who you are or what you want to do, IBM has the vision, momentum and resources to take it to the Nth degree. To take yourself to the Nth degree.

Teasers set it up:

Posters, (online and physical) banners, and numerous non-media tools introduced the program:

Print ads told the stories of university hires who went on to great achievement:

I’m willing to bet this is the only ad by a Fortune 50 high-tech company that starts with “Yo! Bonjour!”

This program included every conceivable element: a dynamic interactive presentation and loads of presentation support materials, sales brochures and job folders, collateral for recruiters, posters for bookstores and department offices, key chains, Frisbees, t-shirts, hackysacks, glow-in-the-dark stickers … and gobs of pizza.

And as a result IBM computer sales in bookstores went up 300% to LY and they achieved 130% to their recruiting goal. This program was the only variable.

The whole program was designed for TMP Worldwide by Dennis Mancini and art directed by Robert Gray.


You have to know and clearly identify what you want your content program to accomplish. Doesn’t matter if it’s the most general brand awareness or very specific product promotion. But you must be able to focus and direct your media, creative and editorial into a single, clear direction.


#4: Know your audience.

Richard’s 10 Rules for Totally Great Copy: #9

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

#9: Great copy leaves the reader understanding

I’m sure you’re thinking, “Of course the reader should understand.” My challenge is this: understand what? Because they should understand more than your tactical message. Buy this. Do that. Not good enough.

They should understand you—and why doing business with you is better.

Buyers purchase cachet not just product. They buy a brand.

Why buy an iPhone when Samsung is so similar? Because it’s cool! When I buy that iPhone I’m buying a little piece of the Apple legacy, of Steve Jobs. Damn … I want all that and I’m willing to pay a premium.

In my last post, I moaned about losing a bunch of ad samples.

Well I found a couple that make this point perfectly.

The first is by Oceanworks, a Berkeley mechanic. It was a small-space ad that ran more than 20 years ago in the East Bay Express. I’ve been inspired by it ever since.

It doesn’t say anything about rates or factory authorization. No coupons or specials. Just a sweet, simple message that conveys an idea bigger than the words.

I talked to these guys after I first saw the ad. And while the shop got booked for weeks in advance, I heard how everyone started telling them car stories. How their car speaks to them, too. And how they felt like these guys must be trustworthy based on a car’s gentle review.

Right? People took it seriously. I’m sure not literally. But what they came to understand is that this is a mechanic who cares, and that their car will notice the difference.

The next is from a campaign by Chiat/Day San Francisco for UC Berkely, by art director Mike Moser and copywriter Brian O’Neill (who went on to create Goldberg Moser O’Neill). It’s one of a series they did for alumni magazines and related media.

This may be a perfect ad. The headline is arresting, but honest, not hyperbole. We learn the science building at Cal is full of scientists who are mad at the conditions they work in. Call to action: contribute now and stop the madness.

Ad poetry.

Better still, it’s not just a whiny, institutional call for donations. It’s cheeky and wry. Helps the reader understand there are people who need my support, not just a stalwart school that wants my money.

Here are a couple of my own campaigns.

I discovered that sushi lovers all have their favorites, so this campaign focuses on that sublime pleasure. The reader understands that it’s more than just sushi—it’s the peak experience of enjoying what they love.

 The wonderful illustrations were done by Steve Lang, before he became an award-winning fine artist.


This campaign for St. James Hospital and Health Centers in Chicago was meant to remind women to get a breast exam and to remind their partners to remind them about it.

Sorry in advance for the crappy scans that follow.

This was for women’s magazines throughout Chicagoland.

This was for men’s magazines.

We could have just said, “Make your free appointment today.”

Instead, readers understand there’s more at stake than a long afternoon in the clinic. It was a bold departure because it didn’t pose a threat, but rather presented an opportunity.

It’s worth mentioning that these were presented to  a panel of nuns.


Lastly, a campaign for Oracle recruiting. I’m a little mixed about this one. After seven years working there, it’s a little hard to look at these without being cynical.

The Oracle workplace has always had a bad reputation. Oracle eats its young. Only the strong survive. Getting noticed equals getting fired. Etc. We turned those things into a positive and helped Oracle far exceed their university and professional hiring goals, even in the midst of an employment boom.

Because we helped readers understand there’s a method to the madness. That there’s something to do that’s so important, so vital that it’s worth the grind.

Semi-truth well told, I guess. These were done for TMP Worldwide, art directed by Gary Buck.

In all these cases, the net take of the ads is greater than the concept or the words on the page. They communicate implicitly that there’s something bigger, more important, more urgent than a product or offer.

Which is exactly 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.


Richard’s 10 Rules for Totally Great Copy: #3

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

#3: Great copy is present and active

While developing a voice for my sister’s company Claudette, we reviewed dozens of lingerie brands, campaigns and ads. The classic Maidenform campaign kept floating to the top: I dreamed I was [something] in my Maidenform bra.

It’s a genre of advertising I generally don’t like. But the women in our groups liked the ads a lot, and it’s clear why: they showcase the product in an interesting way.

Made me think.

Present means arresting.

You have to deliver a message that shatters the reluctance to be engaged. It should sustain the brand voice and push forward brand values.

The Altoids ad by Leo Burnett tells their whole story in a quick and charming way: Get a really strong mint.


This Porsche ad by Goodby Silverstein & Partners tells the story: Get a really fast car.

Active means compelling.

Great copy delivers meaningful information in an irresistible way. I chose these—both by Fallon Worldwide—because they’re headline-driven, emotional, funny and entirely unexpected.

It takes great thinking.

It’s not about copy, per se. It’s about an underlying idea and how that’s expressed.

 [Richard on soapbox]

A concept is very different than an idea. An idea is just something that comes to mind. An ad concept is a relationship between elements. Copy and visuals work together to create a message that is greater than the sum of its parts. Ideas are easy to come by. Concepts are not.

A concept involves your reader/user at multiple levels. Your audience is present because you are: you involve them in the moment. They’re active because you are: your idea comes to life in their imagination.

 Here are a few more examples.


“Fat/Fit” was a school project by art director Lauren Hom. It may look easy and obvious, but I’m willing to bet it took hours of work. It’s very skillful ad concepting.


Comedy Central, done by Grey Advertising in Argentina, reinforces their brand explicitly and implicitly.


The ad for Prince pasta sauce by Fallon Worldwide is a classic. Mona Lisa communicates Italian authenticity. The whole thing elevates the message out of ingredients and freshness and into an attitude of enjoying good food.

You don’t have to think about these things, nothing requires explanation. They work completely in that precious moment you get to engage your audience.

Again, setting the bar impossibly high …

Here are a few of my own ads that I’ve always liked for their quick read and clear relevance.

CAPS rents high-tech shipping containers. The industry was accustomed to buying and trashing single-use containers. This was art directed by Candice Kollar for Kirshenbaum Communications.



 The Oracle security ad makes it clear what security means and illustrates how it works, without technical metrics or jargon. Glen Abrahams was the art director.



This JB Hunt recruitment ad I did with TMP Worldwide ran very successfully in military media for many years. It flatters the veterans JB Hunt likes to hire and positions truck-driving as an honorable, meaningful job. This was art directed by Dennis Mancini.

Present and active.

To me that means the relationship with the reader/user is happening in real time, while they’re engaged with your advertising. Copy can be long or short. It can be serious or funny. Copy heavy or visual.

But it’s engaging. It draws someone into your ad then releases them having learned something.

It’s what makes great copy great.