Monday, June 26, 2006

Japanese Flood Tunnels

I have this fascination with architectural design on a scale of this size. These are some amazing shots. Sometimes I'm amazed at what the human race can accomplish.

Via Coudal.

Want to grab the consumer's attention?

It's Not About You, It's About Them

The link above is a wonderful article about connecting with people you are marketing to. Show how your product/service will fit into/impact their lives. The article goes on to compare advertising content with dating. If you go on a date and talk only about yourself, it's a complete turn-off (trust me on this one). Advertising is the same, if you only talk about yourself, the consumers will just roll their eyes and say "who cares?".

To take the dating theme further, you need to create some mystery with your marketing. This came up in a client meeting when we were discussing whether to put "0% Available" or just put the payment it would generate on a vehicle. Which would engage a consumer more?

Disclaimer: First I would rather find a way to show the consumer what they could do with the money 0% would save them, but that's not always what the client orders.

That said, I think the "0% Available" message would engage better. It creates mystery. When a consumer sees 0% financing, it may click in there mind, "hey, maybe I can afford that new truck at 0%."

Or, you can put $399 per month. That allows the consumer to make a snap judgment. Either I can or can't afford that price. If the answer is yes, you might get the call. If the answer is no, your ad has served no purpose other than to tell them they can't afford what they want. It has instantly turned them off to buying without giving your sales force a chance to work with them. Ads can't overcome objections in people's minds like a live human being can. Look through your ads before they run. Make sure you aren't giving people a reason to dismiss you.

Courtship is about mystery. It's about slowly getting to know a person inside and out. If you sleep with someone on the first date, there is no mystery and you can't build a lasting relationship based on that. Marketing is no different. You can't start any kind of effective, lasting relationship based on the power of $399 per month. 0% available creates some mystery which might lead to a phone call. Then you have a human connection, and human connections are something you can base a lasting relationship on.

Of course, if relationships are too much trouble, knock yourself out with $399 per month. You'll probably find a few people looking for a one-night-stand that will respond to the ad.

Original article via the always thoughtful Nick Rice

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Never Content.

This spot has been out for a while, but I love it more every time I see it. The little guys are always looking to be bigger, while the big guys are looking to be little. As an owner of a small business, it's always inspired me.

Now you too can have a disproportionately sized upper body

This reminds me of one of those toys from when I grew up. You know, the kind you just had to have and it worked maybe two times before it developed a hole. Looks like Superman has a bad case of elephantiasis (yes, it's spelled correctly). He should get that looked at.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

iPods as Cruel Messengers

I received an e-mail today from Apple promoting it's free engraving on any iPod. Apparently the copywriters in charge of this ad were in a cynical mood. The ad shows iPods with engravings like "It's not you. It's me." Honestly, if I wanted to say something like that to someone, I'm probably not going to put a $300 iPod in their hands to do it.

Friday, June 16, 2006

"No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die."

Here are some great photos of an abandoned Russian sub base. I can't read a thing on the site (it's all in Russian), however, it has some pretty great photos. I'm not sure why they are so great, but they do evoke images of a James Bond film, don't they?

Just something interesting for your weekend.

Via the always interesting Coudal Partners

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Widescreen Mail

If you are an Apple user with a fairly new machine, there is a good chance you have a widescreen display. Apple's Mail application has never been designed for widescreen displays. Thanks to Aaron Harnley, Mail users can now have a 3 column widescreen view. It works great and allows for much better display of e-mail messages. It's great if you spend as much time as we do reading e-mail every day.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Things, they are a rockin'

I thought I would pull out the agency crystal ball and give you a quick glimpse into some things we are doing behind the scenes at Image. First, we are working on having our first podcast for Can We Add a Starburst?! done by the end of the month. Assuming it sounds decent (notice I didn't say good) you'll get to hear it too. We are also working on a script for a short film to be shot in the middle of July. July 1st will also see the premier of Image Magazine. Stay tuned to the blog and our main site for details on that.

We have all this in the works (in addition to all the client projects we are doing) in order to do two things. First, is to engage ourselves creatively in ways we don't get to on client work. One thing we've discovered already is it's great to have final creative say, but by the same token, we are also our own worst client because we are so picky. The other reason is to learn about new mediums to help promote our clients. Everything we do is with the goal of later using it to extend our clients' brands. Nobody really wants to hear us talk on a podcast, but if we can get people to listen to us, we can certainly get them to listen to our clients (who are infinitely more interesting).

Life Outside of Advertising #1

Outside of my life running the agency, I serve as the children's pastor for our church. If you are a minister or part of a growing church I would highly recommend Confessions of a Reformission Rev. by Mark Dirscoll. It's a great book about the pitfalls of ministry and the ways around the challenges we face every day. It's a very entertaining read. I'm about half way through it after just a few hours and it's highlighted like crazy.

Thanks to Perry Noble for the recommendation.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Things We're Proud of #3

This is the design for the t-shirts for the Bruner Motors 3rd Annual Classic Car Show. They'll be available the day of the event (June 24th) but only in limited supply.

UPDATE: Not sure why blogger is showing the art with an orange background. It should be blue. Anyway, the shirts will be blue. If you like the orange better ... sorry, you're out of luck.

How do you make washing machines interesting?

Washing machines are not the most interesting of products to market. I'm not sure if they just did the production for came up with the concept as well, but this commercial for Ariston washers is from BUF in France.

Click here to enjoy the commercial.

Via Ad Blather.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Could the iPod be beat by good marketing?

The iPod kingdom has been built on two things. Phenomenal design with integration into iTunes and even better marketing. When it was first introduced, everyone looked at it and saw an instant failure. Who would pay $500 to hold 1,000 songs? Plus it was only available to Mac users at first. But guess what. It sold. Then they opened it to Windows and it sold even more. Last I heard Apple commands something like 70% of the MP3 player market. No one has been able to unseat them. Many have tried.

Now it's Sandisk's turn. They are marketing the new Sansa e200. I like how they are marketing it, however. Through the website It's a call to all those who don't want to be a sheep. Those who don't want to have white headphones like the rest. It's an interesting approach. No corporate ads. Just a website and some guerilla marketing targeting a younger crowd. It's really inciting a revolution against the iPod phenomenon. There are even some nice features the e200 has that the iPod doesn't. So why won't they win?

Three reasons.

1.) Despite the anti-corporate revolution message, most people are smart enough to know this campaign was thought up by the fine people at Sandisk and their ad agency in the very corporate halls of their headquarters. The conference table they sat around probably cost more than the average e200 buyer's car. That doesn't exactly scream "REVOLUTION!" does it? There's nothing wrong with that, it's just hard for a corporation to put out an anti-corporation message. Plus, if the e200 really took off and they sold tens of millions of the players, then your revolution would turn into a large group of ... you guessed it ... sheep. That's always the irony of using anything corporate to show how unique you are.

2.) They can't put the Apple logo on the e200. As much as they might hate to admit it, Apple has the market cornered on cool. And they didn't do it by saying they are cool. They just are who they are, and if you think that's cool, great. If not, they are cool enough to not care what you think. Like it or not, Apple seems to be firing on all cylinders these days.

3.) SanDisk does not have a player that integrates seamlessly with it's own online store and jukebox software. At least not one as good as iTunes. I'll use myself to prove how important this is. I was never a huge music person before the advent of the iPod. Christmas of 2003 rolls around and I buy my wife our family's first iPod. She loves it, and I love it. I found myself listening to music more than usual but not a lot more. Still it was a great gadget. Then the iTunes Music Store appears a few months later. This was the hook. Four iPods and 3,000 songs later and I always have something going. The iPod in and of itself is great, but the music store is what hooks non-music people like me. Sandisk doesn't have this, and that is the single greatest reason this is a losing battle.

All that being said, I really do like their new campaign. It's an interesting approach that I haven't seen from the companies that have stepped up to try to compete.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Design does make a difference

More great thoughts from Mr. Rice on some recent studies.

While these studies talk more about the design of specific products, I think it also applies to the design of your business' image and branding. More and more, people are noticing great design. I think Target's focus on design over the past few years has done amazing things not only for the brand, but for sales as well. When people walk into your store, they need to see a consistency of design that makes them feel good about doing business with you. The design of POP needs to match the design of your advertising which matches the design of your employees uniforms which matches the design of the sign out front which matches ... I could go on. A focus on good design shows that there is thought put into the customer's experience, not just a bunch of random crap thrown on a shelf to make money.

Not to sell ourselves, but this is where keeping a design shop on roster puts you ahead of the pack. We are focused on the experience people have with our clients. Right down to the tags on the products. Sure, we want to design the tags, and even sell you the printing. But the point is that it will help create an integrated brand for you. Not to make a few bucks printing a tag.

Wow, that did sound an awful lot like selling ourselves.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Image + Image makes for a good team

We are proud to announce our new client Preferred Image Salon Suites. Jackie and Sandra are about to open a state-of-the-art 5,000 square foot facility in Joshua, Texas. Our first project was a new logo, and now we are working on various collateral pieces for the new shop. Our first public work will break in late July for the Grand Opening event. We have lots of great (and some charitable) things in the works for the Grand Opening, so stay tuned for more details.

We look forward to a great future helping make the Preferred Image brand famous.

Things We're Proud of #2

Creative Brief: Update the design of The page serves as a very simple launch pad to the two factory sites from GM, and Dodge. It is also a place to find information on upcoming events or sales. Very simple, just the way we like it.

Disclaimer: We know there is a starburst in the design. No, this was not requested by the client. Yes, it was our decision. We thought it was appropriate for the design. Yes, we feel a little dirty.

Coming Soon: Can We Add a Starburst?! Podcast

We are in the planning stages of a podcast for Image Marketing and our Can We Add a Starburst?! blog. We'll be discussing marketing issues for small market clients, national campaigns, and pretty much anything we feel like. It's guaranteed to be the one thing we do that probably isn't great, however it may be fun. We hope to record the first episode in the next couple of weeks. We'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Things We're Proud of #1

Rather than update our "Services" section of every other day, we decided to use the blog to showcase projects we are working on.

The creative brief for this one was for an ad featuring the Chrysler 300 for a very high-end magazine format. The concept was to present a series of ads that took an upscale almost artful look at the 300. It took a day of photography, and lots of digital trickery to get the look of a photograph with a shadow matte cut into it, but we think it turned out nicely. Roger Williams Auto Mall is a client we do occasional project work for.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Speaking of junk on YouTube

I just posted about the amount of crap on YouTube when I discovered this little jewel of a video. I especially love the ominous warning before it starts. Then you get to marvel at a guy jump over a fence. A very short fence. Maybe I was wrong about the whole "savvy audience" comment.

Great thoughts about online video marketing.

Nick Rice's Blog

Nick makes a great point about the emergence of online video as a more precise way of reaching consumers. For all businesses out there, you NEED to have something great on YouTube to promote your business. I'm not saying take your :30 spot you're running on local cable and stick it on YouTube. I'm saying develop a strategy to reach a different audience. Honestly, a more savvy audience. I spent a few hours on YouTube the other day just exploring what was out there. Let me tell you, there was a TON of crap. But, there was also some really great stuff that people are willingly seeking out and watching.

If ever there was a forum to promote your brand, this is it. Develop a series of entertaining spots that promote your brand. Make them as much entertainment as commercial. Make them great. You have an entirely new way to not only engage an audience, but have them seek you out. If it's good, it will spread.

It's also not something you need to dedicate a massive portion of your budget to. Not right now anyway. If you can produce something entertaining/informative the budget is not as important as on network TV. Just don't shoot it with a cell phone camera and you'll be good. The real key is having a strategy to go with the spots. Know who you are trying to reach, how they'll react to the content and start spreading the word.

What's really interesting to me is using something on a global scale like YouTube to promote local or regional brands. That's a little trickier than something like Coke posting a great video. You can buy Coke anywhere. This leads to your online component. Even if you are a small local business, make sure you have a great website and if at all possible, facilitate a purchase online. I realize not every business is conducive to online commerce (ours included) but if it can happen, make it work.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Site Updates

We made a minor update to the agency site today. Should load faster and look a little slicker. Enjoy.

Fleet Street Scandal

Artists Kevin Dart and Chris Turnham have just opened their new site, Fleet Street Scandal. Their art is phenominal. You'll probably see a couple of these prints hanging in the Image studio as soon as UPS can get them here. Great stuff.

New Chevrolet Campaign

Follow the links below for the new Chevrolet campaign out of Canada. This will probably appeal pretty well to the younger crowd. If you got "Napoleon Dynamite," you'll like them. They present the new Chevrolet cars along with three life lessons learned by Johnny. My favorite would have ot be "Principles." It's always nice when the nerd gets the girl(s).

Thumbs up!

Peer Pressure
Bad Crowd

Thanks to AdRants for the heads up.

Click here to smile.

This is some pretty creative animation. If you can watch this without smiling, you're probably a robot. Enjoy.

Thanks to Coudal Partners for the link