Shameless recycling of wonderful advice from "Ordinary Advertising."

I recently finished reading "Ordinary Advertising. And How to Avoid It Like the Plague." If it's not clear from the title, this is a book about making good advertising. The author is Mark Silveria, who started his career at W+K in the early days (jealous) and went on to work at Ammirati & Puris and Ally & Gargano and Scali, MCCabe, and Sloves. Needless to say he saw a lot of good and bad advertising during his career.

While the book is great to read for creatives it was really written for clients. If I owned an agency I would buy enough copies of this book to give to every account person and client I work with (a small expense if the trade off is everyone looking to produce great work). But since I don't own an agency but think people could still get something from the book I've decided to replicate some of the best parts. 

One of the strong points of this book is how painfully clear it makes the road to good work. The material is extremely approachable and should be understood by anyone who reads it. (A benefit of having a copywriter as the author.) These may be well-trodden thoughts for many people but maybe they will act as a reminder of what advertising is trying to do.

Let the shameless recycling begin!


p. 62 When you finally have the opportunity to being a conversation with this target, you will under no circumstances begin by shouting at the top of your lungs: "BABY, I'M WHAT YOU'VE BEEN SEARCHING FOR SINCE THE FIRST TIME YOU OPENED THOSE BIG BLUE EYES!!!" (Unless your goal is to ensure that your gene pool never makes it to the next generation.) Yet that's precisely how a lot of advertising comes off. Loud, obnoxious, self-centered bragging. Talk with the average marketing or advertising person about promoting a product and they can't understand "why we're screwing around here instead of just coming out and telling people why to buy our stuff". Shift the paradigm to getting a date, and they all get it. "Oh yeah, I guess we need people to like us a bit and want to listen to us before we can convince them to do anything."

ON THE WORTH OF SMALL ASSIGNMENTS (my favorite type of assignments because they provide the most freedom.)
p. 120 - 121 "But because these hangtags represented 75% of Columbia's marketing communication's budget, our boss, Bill Borders, insisted that these be the most exceptional hangtags ever created. Which in this case proved to be prescient. Because it was out of this drive to create the world's most extraordinary hangtags( and the small print ads that went with them) that the "Mother Boyle" idea emerged--i.e. casting the wife of the Company's founder and the mother of its CEO as a relentless taskmaster when it came to quality. Which combined with brilliant leadership, great product design and getting their gear on all the commentators at the Winder Olympics drove Columbia Sportswear to 10x sales growth and turned this formerly private company into a public one with a market cap of $1.27 billion. Not surprisingly, it is now BP&N's largest client. Pretty good for an account that started with hangtags, but try getting doe big agency all worked up over an account whose initial, annual revenue promises to be five figures."

p.78 "But here's a confession: neither of the above campaigns is entirely true (this is advertising, not divinity school). Nikons don't take the world's greatest pictures; great photographers take the world's greatest pictures (mostly using Nikons). And VISA isn't everywhere you want to be, it's just accepted in a lot more cool places than American Express. MasterCard could have (and probably wishes it had) said the exact same thing. But then, as my boss on BMW, Tom Thomas, once pointed out: BMW was never really "the ultimate driving machine" either. Not to anyone who knew cars. Ferrari or Lamborghini or Porsche were more entitled to that claim. But a) we weren't selling to true car aficionados, we were selling to yuppies, and b) no one else was making the claim. So in industry parlance: "fuck 'em". What important is that your truth ring true and be defensible, not that it be truly true.
p 107 "If you simply listen to your audience and observe people carefully, interesting insights into their live and the realities of their world (note, not your world) will surface, allowing you to put them to great use. They don't even have to be true. They just have to meet Tom Thomas's "test of common sense".

p. 143 Similar patterns exist in the world of advertising, and it's important to be aware of them before you make the conscious choice to toe the line or go your own way. Take the advertising typically done by car dealers. It's all terrible, right? All that screaming and yelling about "low, low prices and financing". How could anyone consider that na attempt at creating communications that connect with an audience? Beats me, but it seems like every time some car dealer is visited with a sudden burst of good taste and tried to do some more classy advertising, it fails.

...why is this? My hunch is it's because we've inadvertently trained consumers to look for this form of message, these semiotic triggers, when they re truly about to purchase a new vehicle. they may actively hate the stuff or ignore it for years at a time, but suddenly when they decide it's time to replace the old clunker they tune it in. Because this is the auto dealer's semaphore for a good deal.
p.146 "Retail advertising doesn't have to follow tired old conventions or die in the La Brea tar outs if category semiotics. It can make great connections with its audience--entertain and engage them. And when it does, it does something vital for the retailer: It creates a relationship with the brand that is not as high a risk of term

p. 125 
1. The best clients are brutally honest. 
2. The best clients don't expect research to make the tough calls. 
3. The best clients fall for the idea, not the execution. 
4. the best clients are always fighting this war, not the last one. 
5. The best clients don't se their agency as a partner (or a vendor [because agencies don't have enough skin in the game]). 
7. the best clients don't take themselves(or anything else) too seriously."

Let's circle back to number 3 for a second. Since I dogeared that page. "Further complicating this process is the proliferation of tools that allow agencies to make presentation pieces that appear to be finished commercials or ads. In other words "ripomatics" and "computer comps". There was a time when all advertising idea had to be presented in rough form which forced the client to use his or her (not necessarily abundant) imagination, but it also endured that what the client responded to was the idea."