Effective Advertising

February 10, 2016

by Kim Stangle

We’re all too familiar with the junk that floods our Facebook timelines.  I scroll almost subconsciously past anything that resembles advertising in search of something meaningful from a friend.  And, occasionally, something pops up that breaks through the clutter and stops me in my tracks.

This time that credit goes to the Surfrider Foundation, a grassroots nonprofit organization whose mission it is to protect the world’s oceans, waves and beaches, for an effective ad showcasing how plastic is destroying our waters. 400393_10150536150633305_285777870_n

It’s a simple, but clever image and an even simpler message that hit home.  Is your advertising breaking through the clutter?

Can Pinterest Find Amy Dunne?

September 12, 2014

by Kim Taylor

We’ve all seen movie trailers or celebrities on the talk show circuit promoting their latest film.  And, it’s not uncommon for a big movie to have a website totally dedicated to its characters, the soundtrack, related promotional material—anything that might incite more interest and sell tickets.

So how do you stay fresh, stand out and build buzz when reports are indicating that fewer people are going to the movies?  You have your movie’s main character create a Pinterest page.

Why a Pinterest page?  Well, Amy Dunne, the main character from the upcoming movie “Gone Girl” turns up missing in this mystery-thriller.  The main plot of the novel-turned-movie is finding her.  Her Pinterest page, then, might hold clues about who she is, what her interests are, and most importantly where she might be.

If Ben Affleck doesn’t get you to the movies for this one, maybe this extra level of creativity will.

Taking a Risk on a Played Out Trend

September 10, 2014

by Kim Taylor

Flash mobs were all the rage a few years ago.  Well-orchestrated mobs have garnered millions of views on YouTube and gained worldwide attention.  Then, poof!  They faded quietly into the background.  To assemble a flash mob now—in 2014—would be inviting praise’s ugly cousin, mockery, to your doorstep.  Or, would it?

Kudos to the Orlando Shakespeare Theater for taking a chance on a played out trend and performing a spectacular Les Miserables flash mob at The Mall at Millenia to publicize the show’s opening.  With nearly 100,000 views on YouTube, coverage on NBC’s Today show and CBS Sunday Morning and more press than they probably imagined, they hit it out of the park.

Delving a little deeper into why this worked:

  1. They nailed the element of surprise.
    Actors in plain clothes carrying shopping bags and Starbucks cups don’t exactly draw suspicion.
  2. It was well-planned and executed.
    Perhaps by technical terms, this wasn’t a flash mob.  We can assume the Mall knew well in advance the performance was going to take place, and it likely wasn’t a spontaneous act, but rather a calculated performance for publicity.  However, flawless execution was a big factor for success here.
  3. Direct promotional tie-in.
    Orlando Shakes wants to sell tickets to the show.  They brought a glimpse of the show to a crowded mall, many of whom may’ve been unaware of the show’s opening.  What better way to sell than to let your buyer sample the product? 

Sometimes the reward is worth the risk.

Effortless Messaging

June 10, 2014

by Kim Taylor

Have you heard of Zingerman’s?  If you haven’t, you’re welcome.  If you have, you probably already know that as a brand they just “get it.” I’d rank them alongside brands like Ben & Jerry’s and Life is Good.  Cool products and a brand story that works.  They know their audience and their messaging is custom-made for them.

Speaking of custom-made messaging … I couldn’t help but giggle when I saw this email:


I can’t say for sure if the demand for their Reuben Kits caused an issue with their site, or if they’re just maximizing promotion of their Father’s Day gifts.  Either way, their message was clever enough to make me reconsider my own dad’s day purchase.

If you truly know your audience, messaging really can be effortless.

Dating Websites Are Social, Too

February 11, 2014

hkeroesby Heather Keroes

While I do possess a certain affinity for particular brands (Macys!) over others, I have never asked one to marry me.  But, when some of its Twitter fans popped the question to Pizza Hut, the chain saw an opportunity.  Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Pizza Hut has signed up for a profile on dating website OkCupid.

Pizza Hut is searching for “The One” and through a smart social campaign asking fans to submit their most creative proposal ideas; it will pick the fans of its dreams to receive free pizza for life.

The campaign is really clever and the profile is cute (come on, Pizza Hut lists its height as “Tall Enough” and it has a “Ph.D in Delicious”).  I guess you can say they’re looking “outside the pizza box” when it comes to social media.  Get it?  I’m hilarious.

OkCupid - PizzaHut

In all seriousness though, why box yourself into “traditional” social media?  It’s easy to determine if you need a Facebook-type presence for your brand.  It’s more challenging and notable to explore alternative ways to reach your audience.

Rebranding the Pig

April 9, 2013

by Kim Taylor

We all know pork as “the other white meat” … the hugely successful ad campaign from the 80s still resonates today.  But, not enough I guess for consumers who apparently still fumble when trying to decipher the pork chop from the butt.  I’ll admit, when I’m selecting pork chops, it comes down to two things:  bone or no bone.

If the National Pork Board (yes; it’s is a real thing) has its way, the pig will take a page out of the cow’s book leaving consumers with a whole new menu of choices using an already familiar nomenclature—Pork Loin Chops become Pork Porterhouse Chops and Pork Top Loin Chops become Pork New York Chops, and so on.

The Pork Board has done its research and is providing retailers with a whole range of tools to encourage success including a labeling system that takes it one step further by telling the consumer the best way to cook their particular cut of meat—another nod to the beef industry—after all, who doesn’t know the best way to cook a filet?

Only time will tell whether this naming campaign is a success, but for now there’s only one thing left to say … that’ll do pig, that’ll do.

Unintended Message

December 17, 2012

by Dan Ward

By all means, insurance company Zurich should celebrate its 100th anniversary today. It’s an impressive milestone for a solid company.

But let’s not celebrate the failure to edit banner ad copy in the wake of Friday’s tragic mass shooting in Newtown, CT.

Nearly every news site in America is leading with stories and photos from Newtown, so “Today we celebrate” is not the best message to send at the top of a news home page. In the case of The Wall Street Journal, the banner ad ran above a photo of a hearse. The image is jarring, and certainly does not send the message that Zurich intended.


As communicators and marketers, our job is not just to sell products and services, but also to protect the reputation of the companies and clients we serve. Sometimes that means making last-minute changes to advertising and communications plans based on events that are outside of our control.

How Tina Fey Can Improve Your Brainstorming Sessions

November 23, 2012

by Kim Taylor

Last weekend during a road trip with friends I read Tina Fey’s book, “Bossypants.”  Hidden on the pages between the stories of her childhood and her days at “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” were her Rules of Improvisation.  And, since I have no plans to leave C&P for a career in stand up, I thought it’d be fun to apply these rules to a brainstorming session.

Let’s take a look:

Rules of Improv

“1. Agree. If your improv partner launches a set with “Freeze, I have a gun,”* you don’t break it to him that it’s really just his fingers he’s pointing at you. IF you do that, you’ve just ruined it for everybody. Agree to play by the rules just set forth. He is holding a gun.

First Rule of Brainstorming:  There are no bad ideas.  In other words, when an idea is presented during your brainstorming session, agree.

“2. And … ? Once you agree to agree, it’s not enough to just say “I acknowledge you hold a gun.” That doesn’t get us anywhere, does it? Agree, and then add something of your own. “Freeze, I have a gun.” “The gun I gave you for Christmas! You bastard!*

Maybe it’s not the best idea, but what if you employ the “and …” tactic?  Will it help develop the idea further or flesh it out more?

“3. Make statements. If all you do is ask your improv partner questions, you’re not contributing. “Why are you holding a gun?” Doesn’t cut it. Be bold.

Effective brainstorming is all about participation.  Make a statement.  Believe it.  How else will you convince others it’s an idea worth presenting to a client?

“4. There are no mistakes. Your partner misinterprets your setup? You don’t break the scene by stopping to explain and start over. You roll with it. There is no wrong.

See No. 1 and the first rule of brainstorming.

So, thanks, Tina, this part of your book was even more enlightening than learning what it was like to grow up as a wide-hipped, sarcastic Greek girl with short hair permed on top.


July 31, 2012

by Roger Pynn

I so wish I had coined Dow Chemical’s word “Solutionism.”  Dow’s “Solutionism. The New Optimism.” makes for brilliant positioning and each new effort to build the company’s brand as one providing solutions just seems to get better.

As a worldwide Olympics partner, Dow created a fun and meaningful commercial titled “Hopeful” just for the Olympics as part of its ongoing campaign to tell the story of how the company provides solutions for agriculture, energy, infrastructure & transportation and consumers and their lifestyles.

The full campaign is great storytelling.  It is inspiring and clearly aimed at the public’s aspirations.  Sometimes a theme just resonates broadly across society and I think this one does.  This blogger for a Kansas City home renovations company saw some of her work in Dow’s tag line and “began smiling.”

Advertising Age raved about this spot that tells the story of a transportation solution.  In fact, you’ll find links to Dow solutionism stories all over the Web.

This isn’t just about advertising or PR.  It really is about rebranding.  Dow will always be a chemical company, and chemicals aren’t necessarily something we all like or relate to … but solutions are something else.

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