Monday, October 16, 2006

"I think a great ad campaign will make a bad product fail faster." William Bernbach

Simply profound. One of my favorite quotes from the estimable Bill Bernbach.

Here now more classic Bernbach...

"I want to say...that I think the most important element in success in ad writing is the product itself. And I can't say that often enough. Because I think a great ad campaign will make a bad product fail faster. It will get more people to know it's bad. And it's the product itself that's all important and that's why we, as an agency, work so closely with the client on his product - looking for improvements, looking for ways to make people want it, looking for additions to the product, looking for changes in the product. Because when you have that, you are giving the people something that they can't get elsewhere. And that is fundamentally what sells. Now if you add to that a very skillful way of conveying that advantage, you're ahead of the game. But no matter how skillful you are, you can't invent an advantage that doesn't exist. And if you do, and it's just a gimmick, it's going to fall apart, anyway."

"So we never kid ourselves about the magic of advertising. The magic is in the product. And that's why we think clients are so very important; we think we are fortunate with the clients we have. And I want to add further, we don't care who makes the ad better. If a client says to use something we never thought of and it makes a better ad, we more than welcome it. We're not arbitrary, at all. We just want the greatest ad possible. Because in the long run that's what counts. You sell merchandise and everybody's happy; you could have the greatest service in the world and if that merchandise doesn't sell, there's going to be dissatisfaction."

Failure to launch: Air America's apparent failure to manage the toplines of ratings and revenue is made far worst by their inability to capitalize the enterprise (or in the least live within their means). The failure of Air America does not indicate the true potential of progressive radio, it only serves to confirm the considerable problems of their approach and ultimately the failure of their leadership. $20 million is a terrible thing to waste. Read pages from the Chapter 11 filing via The Smoking Gun, here. All involved would be wise to consider the counsel of the late, great Dr Hunter S Thompson "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."

Run that by me one one time: Mark Cuban who made his fortune by selling a company that never made a dime is critical of the Google purchase of a company that has never made a dime?

The wood, the dirt, the Lloyd: Lloyd Grove shares tales from the gossip dodge...

"The most satisfying gossip column offers a dollop of drama, conflict and misbehavior, along with a dash of hypocrisy and humor. It views this complicated world through the prism of personality — and makes things, if temporarily, accessible and comprehensible. It also — and here, arguably, is the socially redeeming part — is the great leveler, demonstrating that the rich and famous have as many foibles as the rest of us. And it shows that we're all in this together as members of a human community, even if it's whispering behind someone's back." Read Lloyd's LA Times piece here

At least 149 iPod killers have failed to make a dent. A review of the bidding by Richard Menta looking into the iPod Killers for Christmas 2006 here

Q scores name Rachel Ray most likeable: King World commissioned study of 1,800 folks puts Ophrah's latest find in first place. Ty Pennington of Extreme Makeover fame ranks second. Miss O ranked 6th. Others making the cut include foodies Paula Dean, Giada De Laurentiis, and Emeril. Others named - Sean Hannity and Dick Clark. Release here

More topline more often: Fred Jacobs and Saga's Steve Goldstein offer their take on the Arbitron/Coleman study "The Impact of Commercials on the Radio Audience" here

Few things worse that bad research: UW-Madison NewsLab has failed the smell test again producing a flawed study. The solution is simple - transparency, now. Three step solution...

  1. Circulate drafts of Q design for comment, suggestion
  2. Circulate details of sample design and methodology for comment, suggestion
  3. Circulate raw data captured for comment and analysis
NewsLab is a great idea. The flaws indicated in the B&C opinion writing, here, are simply beyond the pale. The wonderful news here - there is a quick and honorable solution that begins with opening up the process. It's the right thing to do. Kudos to B&C and NAB for bringing deserved light to the obvious problems with NewsLabs' work product. The Bernbach quotation heading this post is relevant here because editorial trumps paid space. (Closed circuit to NewsLab, drop me an email using the contact me link on the right column of this page, I'd enjoy working with your team to correct these issues - your mission, your work is important and needed).

Another killer weekend: Following the weekend in Spring Green, a weekend in Lake Geneva. The Abbey has been reborn, very nice, while The Grand Geneva (former home to Hef's Playboy Club & Resort) remains in fine shape. On the wkend before last - We do miss the bar that once overlooked the Wisconsin River just outside Spring Green - it has become the FLW information center. Wyoming Valley is one of the most beautiful places in the state. We passed on the food offered at the info center and headed to The Shed for some good tavern grub and an update on the Pack.

Cass Sunstein: Surveys have advantages over experts. Prediction markets have advantages over surveys. From Amazon...

"Prediction markets aggregate information in a way that allows companies, ranging from computer manufacturers to Hollywood studios, to make better decisions about product launches and office openings. Sunstein shows how people can assimilate aggregated information without succumbing to the dangers of the herd mentality--and when and why the new aggregation techniques are so astoundingly accurate." Interesting new writing by Sunstein Infotopia: How Many Minds Produce Knowledge

Karnitschnig & Delaney are on it - the YouTube copyright issues, writing at WSJ...

"YouTube looks to be on relatively firm legal ground," said Fred von Lohmann, a lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco. But, according to John Palfrey, an intellectual-property professor at Harvard Law School, media companies will argue that YouTube shouldn't fall within the safe-harbor protections of the copyright law because, among other reasons, YouTube is deriving direct financial benefit from the infringement. Read Media Titans Pressure YouTube Over Copyrights via WSJ (sub req) here

Very cool idea - pay your staff to blog: Josh Quittner the editor of Business 2.0 says...

"We're doing something that is novel for Time Inc. Our bloggers will be directly remunerated on the basis of their traffic. They'll be paid a modest CPM. Time Inc. will sell advertising on the individual blogs. So the bloggers will get to participate in the revenue they generate."
Read the Patrick Phillips' Quittner interview via IWM here. Bravo Patrick, another job well done. Hats off to Josh for a practical solution that rewards performance.

Solution, the counterfeit coin puzzle: Weigh coins 1, 2, 3 and 4 against coins 5, 6, 7 and 8. If they balance, weigh coins 9 and 10 against coins 11 and 8 (we already learned from the first weighing that 8 is a good coin). If they balance, we know coin 12, the only unweighed one, is the counterfeit. The third weighing indicates whether it is heavy or light. However, at the second weighing, if coins 11 and 8 are heavier than 9 and 10, either 11 is heavy or 9 is light or 10 is light. Weigh 9 with 10. If they balance, 11 is heavy. If they don't balance, either 9 or 10 is light. Assume that at first weighing the side with coins 5, 6, 7 and 8 is heavier than the side with coins 1, 2, 3 and 4. This means that either 1, 2, 3 or 4 is light or 5, 6, 7 or 8 is heavy. Weigh 1, 2 and 5 against 3, 6 and 9. If they balance, it means that either 7 or 8 is heavy or 4 is light. By weighing 7 and 8 we get the answer, because if they balance then 4 has to be light. If 7 and 8 do not balance, then the heavier coin is the counterfeit. If, when we weigh 1, 2 and 5 against 3, 6 and 9, the right side is heavier, then 6 is heavy or 1 is light or 2 is light. By weighing 1 against 2 the answer is gained. If, however, when we weigh 1, 2 and 5 against 3, 6 and 9, the right side is lighter, then either 3 is light or 5 is heavy. By weighing 3 against a good coin the solution become evident.

Bonus: Repetition is learning dept. A Dave Winer writing worth reading again here