On Tuesday, a film about the Milton Hershey School was screened at Tribeca Cinema. The director Cynthia Wade and the producing agency ArnoldNYC walked a fine line with their closed wall client to come up with a documentary that would be both compelling and serve the clients' needs. Together, they solved a big problem. They stretched a thin budget, recast client suggestions, and took cameras outside the school walls. Trust and vision let the film meet its mark.
In Detroit, an even bigger problem needs to be solved: “America’s most struggling city needs to attract business and talent.” To help, Time Inc. invited agencies with Detroit offices to develop campaigns to encourage young and creative people to consider Detroit as a place to live and work. The result? Pretty conventional. Yet, no barriers were placed on the agencies. With skies wide open, why hold back? Has the nature of advertising in general become to create: oatmeal?
Think about it. The problem with Detroit is an American problem, not a regional one. We've been quick to let our cities sink into the sea once they're tarnished. What makes cities work is intensity. To revive their spirit means to conjure up that intensity.
In Detroit, you have a city that once sold its soul to the auto companies. It couldn't hold onto many of its own. Consider Detroit's Class of 1984. scenarioDNA's own Tim Stock (aUniversity of Detroit high school grad), Majesty Crush's Odell Nails (now a lawyer and with Mahogany in NYC), Philly artist Michael Frechette, NY film maker John Walter who cut his teeth in Detroit on Evil Dead II with Sam Raimi's Renaissance Pictures and Mark Crilley creator of Akiko who went around the world before choosing to settle in an outlying Michigan city, not Detroit. Has anyone ever thought to ask them why they left and how to strengthen bonds to bring them (or those like them) back?
Powerful stories exist within the city, as well as among all the ex-pat Detroiters, who never dress the city down while the rest of us sweep where we come from under the rug. Now that's compelling. There is a dialog to leverage from those ex-pats to those living and breathing within the city limits.
Detroit is a narrative that extends beyond the city and its suburbs. It lives in New York. It lives in Arizona. It lives in LA. It lives in Philly.
Sadly, unimaginative thinking among those charged with pushing the message of Detroit will further erase the troubled city from the states if we don't all pull together. To bring the city back to its glory, all the narrative threads need to be identified, organized and brought together. We can't get bogged down by politeness and mired in consensus. Don't erase Detroit. Tweet your Detroit stories with the hashtag #erasedetroit. (Photo: Abandoned house by smooveb)
I've got a question. Why are all of us enlightened social media/Web 2.0 gurus picking on David Ogilvy lately? More than once during yesterday's Business Development Institute conference on The Social Consumer, David's name was brought up in "then vs. now" scenarios. Yet, in 1962, Time called him "the most sought-after wizard in today's advertising industry." (Maybe David Ogilvy did preach to a gullible public, but at least it was interesting and compelling.)
For sure, now we need to connect; we need to listen; we need to -- ENGAGE (there's that word again). But we also need: the wizards, the curators, the maverick renegades to lead the way. Inspiration never comes by consensus.
Perhaps, Ogilvy's now seemingly heavy-handed method worked then because he knew how to hear without the spiffy tools we have helping us today. I think we're losing sight of the dynamic combination necessary which is ever-more critical now that the gullible war-trodden consumer is gone.
Years ago, I worked for a brilliant editor by the name of Phyllis Sweed (although I don't think at the time I appreciated exactly how brilliant she was). When Ms. Sweed was asked by our publisher to survey our readers to ask what they wanted. Her response was "They don't know what they want." And, as publishers do, he persisted and money was spent to discover that the readers didn't really know what they wanted. In fact, it was more powerful that Ms. Sweed and her crew had developed long-standing relationships meeting and hearing their readers. And always posing the question "What if we did this?" That's what gets a b2b print publication closer to its 100th year.
So let's promise each other that there's always something more inspiring, more provocative to be accepted if it just gets pushed a bit. And stop using David Ogilvy as a scape goat. The man worked for the British Intelligence Service for heaven sake's. I'd assume he knew how to listen first before he slammed it home.
Poking fun at recession fears — getting laid off, watching the 401(k) slide into the abyss — can sometimes make the unthinkable, at least for a time, bearable, some marketing experts said.
Laughter is communal and brings people together, so humor can be marketing gold for a company when it is done right. But it can also backfire if it crosses the line. With black humor, that line can be razor-thin, experts agree.
“There are times black humor works, but it has to be done well,” said Marie Lena Tupot, co-founder of scenarioDNA, a New York consumer behavior research firm that helps companies build their brands. “In these volatile times, when people are being laid off without notice, an advertisement or gimmick that plays on the recession can turn negative and be in poor taste.” Read more
According to Brand Week, Radio Shack recently launched a creative review. Going forward, we envision Radio Shack taking it old school. A place powered by electronic modders. Sort of Apple's Genius Bar meets Best Buy Geek Squad meets Circuit Benders. Then best them all with the likes of the smart girls at TekServe--a new Radio Shack should be gender neutral. Wikipedia reports the company was started as Radio Shack in 1921 by two brothers who wanted to provide equipment for the cutting-edge field of amateur, or ham, radio. Curious to see who gets to be the chosen one after the review process ends in March. Will incumbent Arnold hold on?
Hyundai's new "Assurance Program" allows new-vehicle buyers or
those who lease to return their cars for up to a year after purchase if
they lose their income due to a job loss. Here's the official policy: Hyundai Assurance.
Not so sure exactly how I feel about that one. One, if you lose your job...you'll desperately need that car to get back in the saddle again and start interviewing. Two, how high is the threshold of pain that you must muster to actually bring the car back. And how do you explain that to your friends? "I'm so down and out, I had to turn my Hyundai in..." In an era where social credibility among peers can make or break a person, this sounds like lip service. Now, if Hyundai wants to put its money where its mouth is, how about: If you lose your job, they suspend your payments until you land a new position...or some pre-determined amount of time.
You keep your car, your pride and you just might get that slim next job.
Hmmm...kind of reminds me of another insurance policy. Last year, when we bought our daughter an electronic panda, Sharper Image told us we could trade it in whenever we wanted as long as we purchased a Replacement Guarantee. Our thought was that within six months (or hopefully before the company started bankrupty proceedings), the kid would tire of the Panda and much prefer a kneading massage cushion...yeah right...we still have the panda. He gets played with just enough to warrant him staying in our home. I suspect we'd hold on to a Hyundai too as long as he was worth his driving weight.