Blake Snow

content advisor, recognized journalist, bodacious writer-for-hire

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Tagged advertising

The meaning of life: 13 things I learned from the world’s greatest thinkers

I don’t always study philosophy, but when I do, I make it count.

Case in point: A friend and I were recently discussing the human condition over email. Exhilarating stuff, I know. I’ll skip to the best part.

Basically, we decided that humans struggle to internalize both complex and simple realizations. Complex ones because they’re harder to grasp, and simple takeaways because we’re usually too distracted by temptations, desires, and pleasures to see them through, even if we believe in them (or so argues Aristotle; more on him later).

At this point, I asked my buddy, “So if humans struggle to comprehend both complex and simple ideas, what in the HELL are we good at?”

His reply, “Entertainment. And nothing else.” Full stop. The gravity and strategic double periods of his remark made me do this:

MGM Studios

MGM Studios

At which point I enrolled in a 36-course undergraduate class from Smith College. Not exactly. But I did download the audible version of the classThe Meaning of Life: Perspectives from the World’s Greatest Thinkers, from Amazon!

Having already graduated (go, fight, win!), I did this solely for my own enlightenment. Little did I know how much impact professor Jay Garfield’s masterful curriculum would have on my worldview, existential outlook, and shared beliefs with others.

Here’s what I learned:  Continue reading…

Ad of the year: “Find your greatness”

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I’ve grown up with Nike. I’ve watched them stir emotion with their commercials for decades.

The above ad — broadcast during the summer Olympics — is the latest in a long line of powerful advertising. It transcends mere sales and results in the thought of: “I like the company that made this commercial.” Of course, that ultimately leads to increased sales.

Brilliant.

Doubly so coming from the global goliath of sports apparel that has acutely managed to stay cool for all these years, largely due to great copywriting.

Clever ad: Turning the tables on obsessive geek culture

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Using iOS is still less of a pain than using Android. That is, the form is still better.

But that doesn’t change the fact that the attached ad is incredibly effective in speaking to the majority of smartphone users who don’t appreciate, nor do they want to associate with, the millions of off-putting Apple fans parodied above.

In any case, wouldn’t it be great if phones could go back to being useful tools rather than modern day golden calves?

This is a great ad for “computer-like objects”

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The video could use a little editing, but it does an effective job in selling Google’s version of cloud computing. So much, in fact, I predict these “computer-like objects” will be a lot more relevant than tablets, but only if they come down in price. The reported $350-500 launch models, available June 15, are too much.

See also: My Chromebook is a fast tablet with a faster keyboard

Think your clients are unreasonable? Imagine dealing with this on a daily basis

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My brother-in-law works in a Manhattan commercial music studio, producing jingles and licensing original music for use in advertising. Apparently, he deals with this regularly. Favorite line: “That is insulting. We would go out of business if we agreed to terms like that.”

More proof that unrealistic buyers are everywhere. (Although I still think there is value in licensing consumer music in advertising, which this video seems to discredit in an effort to sell more commercial music. What’s more, if demand is this high for “rip off” commercial music, I imagine a supplying studio could really clean up.)

See also: I’m sorry we can’t make a deal. Please don’t heckle me.

“Be interesting, don’t be boring,” says Most Interesting Man in the World

ncf_g_goldsmith01_400ESPN this week interviewed Jonathan Goldstein, the man behind The Most Interesting Man in the World. My favorite quote:

“It’s every guy’s fantasy to be like him — including mine,” he said. “I hope our viewers can get a chuckle, but also get good advice. Be interesting, don’t be boring.”

Awesome advice.

When your celebrity endorser becomes the town bycicle, it’s always best to dump him

tigerwoodspgatour10_coverAfter Tiger Woods took “extramarital affairs” to new lows this year, numerous sponsors canceled their contracts with the once role model, including Gatorade, AT&T, General Motors, Accenture, Tag Heuer, and Gillette. Out of all his major sponsors, only two “stood by” his sleaziness, including Nike and Electronic Arts.

Today, the latter is wishing it hadn’t. Continue reading…

Fine print: “Investment products may lose value”

In case you didn’t know, I don’t like Wall Street. It’s not that I think the stock exchange is wrong, but I don’t like how its description went from being “speculation” to “investment” in the last 50 years. And I don’t like how it’s primarily sold to the uninformed public.

If you watch TV, chances are you’ve seen numerous investment commercials for Prudential, ING, Pacific Life, Merill Lynch, Charles Swab and countless others. What you might not have seen is the fine print during all this commercials: “Investment products may lose value” and “Investments involve risk.”

This of course is neatly tucked away at the bottom of the screen while some voice over promises an increase in wealth, a secure future, and guaranteed retirement. It’s yet another reminder that what these people are really selling is speculation.

In other words, know your stuff before playing the game, or stick to what you know if you want to protect and grow your principle.

Is anyone overwhelmed by Google search results?

YouTube Preview ImageMicrosoft thinks so. And they’re newest commercial says so: “I can’t pick a restaurant in all these links,” an indecisive women using Google replies, when asked “What’s taking you so long?”

I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ve never felt overwhelmed by Google results. It’s not information overload if I find what I’m looking forward on the first results page, second at most. It’s almost as if Microsoft is confusing relevance with lack of choice.

I’m all for keeping Google on their toes through competition, but build a better mousetrap if you want to compete.

The best quote on influence, persuasion, and advertising you’ll ever find

william-bernbach

“The truth isn’t the truth until people believe you, and they can’t believe you if they don’t know what you’re saying, and they can’t know what you’re saying if they don’t listen to you, and they won’t listen to you if you’re not interesting, and you won’t be interesting unless you say things imaginatively, originally, freshly.”—William Bernbach, famed American copywriter

In sum, to be interesting you have to say things in ways other people don’t—but can still relate to. To be heard, you have to say interesting things as often and in as many places as possible. To be understood, you have to communicate clearly. And to tell the truth, you have to tell the truth, which can be found in everything. For example, Satan is undeniably “the most evil man in the world,” so if you are ever hired by the devil to sell more immorality, brand him as such in a creatively loud way and you’re gold.

Top 30 facts about The Most Interesting Man in the World

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I’m a teetotaler. But I can’t stop laughing at The Most Interesting Man in the World, the fictional celebrity endorser for Dos Equis beer (similar to Chuck Norris Facts). As usual, the new ad spots are proof positive that beer advertisers are the funniest in the world.

But I digress. I’m not here to talk about beer ads. I’m here to name the most interesting facts about The Most Interesting Man in the World. They are as follows, according to reputable researchers, top scholars, and his contemporaries: Continue reading…

Help wanted: Smooth Harold seeking advertising help

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In an effort to grow a handful of consumer websites that I publish, I’m seeking the help of a business manager (independent or otherwise) to hawk ad inventory for me. The biggest property, pictured above, generates 85,000 unique visitors per month and reaches 13,000 RSS subscribers. I also have a handful of other properties I’d like to monetize. If you or someone you know might be able to help, please email blake@griffio.com so we can chew the fat. Thanks! Now back to regularly scheduled programming.

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Pepsi should fire their creative agency. Here’s proof.

New Pepsi can with new and old logos

At the very least, the team responsible for making the hideous new logo look like a Pepsi-fied version of Strong Sad. Why didn’t the company just refresh their packaging without the logo change? The new cans, and even the “Pepsi” logotype, look slick — I’ll give them that — but they would’ve looked much better with the original, classic logo. Here’s a mock-up I made to prove the point. But what do I care: Coke tastes way better, no?

See also: YouTube: The rebranding of Pepsi

Video games being used as corporate recruiting tool

Mozy rock band ad

I was driving home last week heading south on I-15 in Salt Lake City when I saw the above billboard for Mozy, an online backup company.

The ad is esoteric but brilliant, because it appeals to the precise type of people that Mozy seemingly wants to recruit: young, sociable talent who share a common interest — good music, multiplayer, and Rock Band in the afternoons instead of mindless meetings.

Well played, Mozy. I’m sure they’re not the first company to use video games to entice young talent, but more tech companies would be wise to follow suit. Perhaps being well-versed in Nintendo is more valuable than it once seemed.

Again, if it sounds too good to be true…

Last night while playing Putt-Putt with Lindsey, I heard a radio ad over the loud speaker that went something like this:

In debt? Variable mortgage rates got you down? Then call us today to find out how to pay off all of your debts, including your home, in less than fives years, without ever increasing your payments or income!!! The “Debt-To-Wealth System” has already begun working for home owners in your area [insert bogus, bad acting customer testimonials here].

Why didn’t I think of that!?

Edge: Top 10 taglines in video games

Videogames have seen their share of forgettable taglines over the years. In 1993, Atari challenged prospective buyers to “Do the math” when considering an upgrade to their not-quite 64-bit console, the Jaguar. Gamers “did the math,” weren’t impressed, and decided to wait another year or so before upgrading to a PlayStation. Similarly, Nintendo told gamers to “Get N, or get out!” while promoting their third-generation console, the Nintendo 64- to which most people “got out” when compared to unit sales of Sony’s competing system.

But the industry has also seen its share of amusing, intelligent and effective taglines. Here are Next-Gen’s top 10 pics:

Continue reading at Edge…

Casual blogging not just lunch money now


The AP reports: “Zach Brooks pocketed $1,000 this month blogging about the cheap lunches he discovers around midtown Manhattan. The site, Midtownlunch.com, is just a year and a half old and gets only about 2,000 readers daily…”

Without soliciting ad space, I averaged $575/month ($19/day) in 2007 across my two blogs (the other being Infendo). They garner a combined 3,000 daily readers. (Casual time spent keeps me operating at a loss, however.) Note: I don’t use Google AdSense because Tribal Fusion and Value Click pay better in my experience.

By my calculations, then, I make lunch money fit for two. Not rich, but then again, I didn’t start blogging to make money (believe it or not) — I started blogging because I’m opinionated and like writing.

When you consider the incidental networking opportunities created by daily blogging, however (read: people who find or read your blog and offer high-paying gigs), I am a rich man. Not TechCrunch rich. But new rich at the least.

I shutter to think were I’d be today without blogging — personally, professionally, and financially.

Headline and image courtesy the Associated Press

Ads for Microsoft Office 2007 are futile


The latest wave of Microsoft Office 2007 ads are just lame.

Do I smile on my way to work because I get to use Gmail, WordPress, Dictionary.com, PhotoShop, Dreamweaver, iTunes, Bloglines, or any other technology? No. To suggest otherwise, especially with software as boring and commonplace as Microsoft Office, is comical at best.

The ads are unconvincing and go unnoticed (unless you’re critiquing their stupidity). One demerit for Microsoft’s ad agency.

General Motors scored Omega Supreme on free Transformers advertising

Despite its recent troubles, General Motors is the luckiest company in the world over the next few weeks according to Jalopnik. The car-loving blog — while heavily praising the movie’s entertainment value– says the highly-anticipated Transformers movie is basically a 144-minute commercial for GM. From the article:

“What makes this arrangement so amazing is that GM didn’t pay Paramount a single dime to get it done. That’s right — not a single penny changed hands between the big n’ beefy automaker and the big n’ beefy studio. Sure, GM provided some in-kind contributions of concept vehicles and the like, and of course they’ve got their own marketing budget running their own marketing campaign — but unlike other automakers, they didn’t drop a single pence into Paramount’s pocket for the privilege of having themselves featured in a movie [aimed at the coveted 15-35 male demographic, you know, the ones that buy a lot of cars] about cars that change into robots.”

Lucky…

NOTE: Transformers looks incredible! At first I thought the movie and its premise seemed too lame for the big screen, not to mention juvenile and over the top. But after seeing (and hearing) the amazing CG, cinematics, and deep sound, I cannot wait to see this film. “Autobots, transform. And roll out!” (spoiler-free review here)

5 reasons Guerilla Marketing isn’t Viral Marketing


6 Pins has some nice examples of guerilla marketing up today. I especially like the above. Regarding the topic of Guerrilla Marketing, here a five reasons I didn’t include it on my upcoming Connect article about Viral Marketing:

  1. Guerrilla Marketing has more to do with promotional advertising than strategic marketing, although Guerrilla tactics are strategic in and of themselves.
  2. Guerrilla Marketing doesn’t spread itself as easily as other viral campaigns outside of word-of-mouth
  3. Guerrilla Marketing tends to be more direct than viral marketing (though not always)
  4. Guerrilla Marketing is most effective in local and/or regional markets as opposed to the global reach of viral marketing
  5. At its core, Guerrilla Marketing campaigns are nothing more than rogue, very creative, advertisements for a fleeting memory, though enough to generate short-term buzz and curiosity

That said, I really appreciate the creativity of most Guerrilla campaigns. United’s Ted Launch was one of the best examples of Guerrilla Marketing I’ve read about.

And the best book on advertising is…


Juicing the Orange by Pat Fallon/Fred Sen of Fallon Worldwide. Not only has Fallon developed some of the most memorable ad campaigns in recent memory, these ad ninjas know how to leverage creativity to the fullest. And by that I mean driving trackable revenue. This book has heavily inspired my thoughts on creativity, messaging, and how to position my company before my competition does it for me. Highly recommended for any business professional. Black turtleneck optional.

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Hilarious Starburst commercial

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I realize this commercial is over a year old, but it still cracks me up. And you gotta watch it a second time for the full klepto goodness. But on an advertising ROI basis, I’m not sure if the ad increases Starburst’s bottom-line. It may only be memorable via its wittiness rather than its ability of creating an emotional impulse to buy more Starbursts. Regardless, it’s good stuff.

The Best Mass Advertisers

Pay-per-click, as many once believed, will not take over the world. Neither will pay-per-action. Reason being? A person’s evoked set. That is the brain being stimulated by previous bombardment of ads through either visuals, audio, or other media that the person isn’t actively seeking, but given the right time, will select one based on who’s advertised the most to them.

It’s the reason that I went to Geico several years ago for car insurance, though I’ve never clicked on their online ads. It’s the reason I (first) took my car to Midas to get fixed, though I’ve never signed up for a coupon or promotion with them. And it’s the reason if I ever need to find an old classmate, I’ll turn to Classmates.com, though I’ve never clicked on one of their ads. You don’t always have to click, or do something to spend your money, hence, exposure still has a price, and mass advertising still works. Granted, PPC allows me to earn some scratch on the side with a few of my sites, but once traffic gets high enough (250,000 page views/month), it’ll be all CPM (cost per thousand impression) advertising which is much more lucrative.

So with that, who are some of your favorite mass advertisers? I still love Geico commercials as they always seem to mix it up and leave me entertained, and the recent Burger King commercials (Big Hunkin’ Chicken) really crack me up too. And don’t even get me started on Red Strip (“Hooray Beer!”). Hilarious!