What’s Better Than An Advertising Award?  

In the 1960s Doyle Dane Bernbach had the Mobil Oil account.

Their ads didn’t read like ads.

They read like public service announcements.

Nothing in the category had ever reflected public interest so strongly.

The long copy convinced you the company wanted to be a guardian for your safety.

People liked that. So the ads were read and read.

Everyone talked about them.

The art director, Len Sirowitz, said the newspapers called the agency with a request.

The ads were so good, they explained, they wanted to run them for free.

Sounds better than an advertising award, doesn’t it?


Kick Yourself If You Miss This Exhibit.

1938 Talbot-Lago T150C-SS Teardrop. It's from the ‘Rolling Sculpture, Art Deco Cars From The 1930s and ‘40s’ exhibit at the North Museum of Art in Raleigh. Built by the French company, Automobiles Talbot SA.
1938 Talbot-Lago T150C-SS Teardrop. It’s from the ‘Rolling Sculpture, Art Deco Cars From The 1930s and ‘40s’ exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. Built by the French company, Automobiles Talbot SA.

Yes, boot yourself more than once if you can’t get to North Carolina in the next few weeks — up until January 15th.

Stunning Art Deco motor cars await you in Raleigh’s North Carolina Museum of Art.

Fourteen shining examples, in fact, along with three motorcycles.

‘Rolling Sculpture, Art Deco Cars From The 1930s and ‘40s’ … that’s how this show is titled.

Go along and you’ll understand that gasping with appreciation isn’t discouraged.

We heard more than a few people audibly catch their breath. It’s that good.

Uncontained enthusiasm brought total strangers together to discuss the merits of the cars, streamline design and the crying shame that the era for these beauties has passed.

More than iPhone photography, Edsel Ford’s 1934 Model 40 Speedster had the Nikon brigade snapping shots from every angle. A serious attempt to capture all the art represents.

At shoelace level one enthusiast lay on the floor to capture a dramatic view of the 1938 Hispano-Suiza H6B ‘Xenia’.

Another was on both knees to shoot the 1933 Pierce-Arrow. Silver Arrow model.

For a preview of the cars and motorcycles here’s a link: ncartmuseum.org

Pictured above is a 1938 Talbot-Lago T150C-SS Teardrop.

Stunning only begins to describe it.

Ten years back a T150C-SS Teardrop sold at auction for $3,905,000.

Note the rich, earthy red color that completes a two-tone presentation.

We’re thinking it might have been inspired by the ancient Egyptians.

Reason for that lies with Howard Carter’s 1922 discovery of the intact tomb of Tutankhamun.

On the heels of the King Tut find ancient Egyptian art electrified the world.

It dominated the jazz age and carried on to the 30s and 40s.

Art Deco, in everything from jewelry to motor cars and skyscrapers like the Chrysler Building, was heavily influenced.

The famous Tutankhamun death mask features geometric lines with the earthy red color you see on the Talbot-Lago.

More than that it’s a color that runs through Egyptian art.

Was there a chance the head of Automobiles Talbot SA, Antonio Lago, was swayed by Howard Carter’s discoveries?

Many of his cars feature that earthy red.

The way it combines with the deep, rich silver paintwork is  …

Well … you finish the sentence with your own superlatives after you see the show.












Heroic Failures.

3500 Kilometers of racing. That's the Tour de France.
3500 Kilometers of racing in a space of three weeks with almost 200 riders. That’s the Tour de France.

The Tour de France.

Strange as it may seem the rider who finishes last wins a kind of notoriety.

He’s awarded the title of the Red Lantern, which refers to the lights on the last car of a train.

It’s kudos for a heroic failure.

Another heroic failure is Eddie the Eagle. Michael ‘Eddie’ Edwards to be exact.

As you may know, he represented Britain in ski jumping in the 1988 Olympics.

Untrained and with no skills for flying like an eagle, Eddie often bumbled down the ski jump track to land at the end with a splat.

In spite of finishing miles behind the other jumpers he became a celebrity.

Credit that to the fact that while he had no talent, he had pluck. Tons of it.

On to poetry and The Great McGonagall, as William Topaz McGonagall was known.

He aspired to be Poet Laurate of Great Britain.

His dedication to the art of poetry was immense but he was hopeless as a writer.

Bad only begins to describe his verse.

The title, The Great McGonagall, was ironic. A glaring contradiction.

As a poet he was judged to be the worst ever.

On visiting New York in the 1880s McGonagall wrote:

Oh mighty City of New York! you are wonderful to behold,

Your buildings are magnificent, the truth be it told,

They were the only things that seemed to arrest my eye,

Because many of them are thirteen storeys high.

Call it doggerel; these lines consign McGonagall to the heroic failure category.

One more heroic failure … or a possible one.

With drinks after work recently some of us felt ad agencies could become the next heroic failures.

Certainly the agency-client relationship isn’t what it once was.

While agency CEOs aspire to be invaluable to their clients, Facebook, Google and Apple appear to be eating their dinners.

Madison Avenue could be losing ground to Silicon Valley.

As a result a number of creative people have already jumped ship from agencies to work for companies like Apple and Samsung.

Our group decided it might be smart to send a resume along to Jonathan Ive, Apple’s driving force for creativity and design.

It could turn out to be a career-saving move.

A move that could save agency creatives ending up in a splat.

Like Eddie the Eagle.




Why Should There Be a Divide Between Marketing and IT?

It's hard to sneak up on a Zebra. They'll hear you and run.
It’s hard to sneak up on a Zebra. He’ll hear you and run.

Zebras. Their hearing is sharp. It’s highly acute to warn against approaching animals or people.

Giraffes. Necks that go up and up forever lead to long-range vision to detect trouble before it can get dangerously close.

 Zebras and giraffes are wholly different but they often herd together.

 It’s thought they cooperate to guard against being attacked and eaten by lions.

 One group acts as an alarm system for the other.

 Read about this in On Trails by Robert Moor. Your interest will be rewarded on every page.

 On the subject of cooperation (and its opposite), in more than a few companies we’ve worked with there are two different animals.

 Marketing and IT.

 You don’t need me to tell you they come from dissimilar worlds.

 They think differently, they’re educated differently, their goals are unalike and they often exist in silos.

 Actually, at times those silos can be more accurately described as fiefdoms.

 Instead of working to advance the overall performance of a company, Marketing and IT often compete.

 Who’s more effective, who’s more valuable … those questions underlie battles for supremacy.

 To hell with the overall progress of the organization.

 It’s estimated billions are lost with strife and inefficiency that kills communication.

 What’s a CEO to do?

 Could education be the answer?

 Maybe marketers need to become geekier. Maybe they should hit the books and benefit with tech learning.

 Justly, maybe IT needs to read into the wee hours, as well.

 Maybe they can learn more about brands, product differentiation and ways to create the moment someone buys.

 Let’s hope there’s a way for marketing and IT to come together to ditch the silos and support one another.

 Because failing to do that opens the door for one thing.

 Competitors who pounce like hungry lions.








Those in Decline.

Glenda Jackson
Glenda Jackson

Drinks after work are revealing when it comes to personal opinions.

Recently we heard complaints about both young and older people ad agencies.

‘Young people in the business are not trained to a high enough level. Few know how to write.’

That got an affirmative nod.

‘Yeah, tell me about it’, one guy said. He’s fairly young himself, but successful.

Then seniors were in the crosshairs.

Energetic, open-minded, risk-taking, provocative — not!

More to that, we heard, ‘those in more senior positions are in decline and s%!t when it comes to effecting change.’

‘Pass 50 and you’re passed it.’

A bit harsh, of course, but maybe it was the Jack Daniels talking. In any case, someone said it’s no wonder clients are unhappy with agencies and business is shifting to consultants.

The thing is, why complain if you don’t have a solution. It’s just ear bashing.

So, how about better training programs? They’re bound to help young art directors, writers and account people. Agencies could invest more in courses to bring staff further along.

But what about seniors, those who could be well set in there ways and not exactly open to change.

The imperative could be ‘remake yourself, make a clean, new start’.

It’s easier said then done, but a model for that is Glenda Jackson.

Remember Glenda Jackson?

The great actress is coming out of retirement to play King Lear in an Old Vic production.

A woman in the King Lear role is intriguing as a re-imagination of Shakespeare.

But gender swapping is not unheard of in Shakespeare productions.

Women have played Hamlet.

And in the role they’ve come across as virile, manly and tough. Especially Sarah Bernhardt who played the role in Paris and London in 1899.

We’re wondering if a man could play Joan of Arc as well in George Bernard Shaw’s play Saint Joan.

Chances are you know Glenda Jackson’s work. Academy Awards for Best Actress, Emmy Awards … the list of her abilities is as long as your arm.

But imagine giving all that up to follow your political convictions.

Jackson did just that.

She retired from acting to stand for election to the House of Commons in 1992.

She became Labour MP for Hampstead and Highgate, served as a shadow minister and was appointed as parliamentary under secretary of state by Tony Blair.

No doubt we’re forgetting half a hundred other accomplishments including railing against Margaret Thatcher’s policies in order to redress the problems of unemployment.

Now Glenda Jackson is back.

She opens as King Lear on October 25th.

For those in decline, here’s a thought.

The Old Vic box office is open. So fly to London.

It’s bound to be inspiring, motivating and more to head for the Old Vic to see Glenda Jackson stage.

She’s a living example that you don’t have to be in decline and s%!t past 50.

Did we 50? Glenda Jackson is more like 80.





Do It The Way I Picture You Doing It.

You might say Volvo ads these days are at the exhilarating end of cheerless. At best they’re just okay. But in the past the ad above and other Volvo work set creative standards for automotive as well as all product areas.
You might say Volvo ads these days are at the exhilarating end of cheerless. At best they’re just okay. But in the past the ad above and other Volvo work set creative standards for automotive as well as all product areas.

There’s a loaded expression for you, Do It The Way I Picture You Doing It.

 It’s how some marketers direct the creative work of their agencies.

Anything counter to their thinking hits a snag.

With inflexible beliefs or inexperience, any chance of progress is squashed.

It’s not exactly a great recipe for creativity, is it, when you start with preconceptions and boundaries.

We were wondering about this when it comes to Volvo.

The company is going from strength to strength with their cars.

The new S90 sedan is a wonder of automotive thinking according to car reviewers.

The V90 wagon, soon to be introduced, should put the German manufacturers on notice when it comes to excellence.

Volvo has come a long way.

But it looks like the opposite is true for Volvo advertising.

Many say it’s become ordinary.

So what’s happened to Volvo’s ability to do great ads?

Not too long ago they excelled not just in the automotive category but they stood as examples of how good advertising can be.

What’s holding Volvo back, is it the Do It The Way I Picture You Doing It thing? Or is it the agency?

Maybe Volvo engineers should have a say in the ads.

That way the work could become as good as the cars they build.



The Shaming of the Civilized World.

Here four gas chambers put 6000 people to death a day. As a Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel started the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity and won the Nobel Prize. Here four gas chambers put 6000 people to death a day. As a Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel started the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity and won the Nobel Prize. Here four gas chambers put 6000 people to death a day. As a Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel started the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity and won the Nobel Prize.
Here, four gas chambers put 6000 people to death each day. As a Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel started the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity and won the Nobel Prize. The most important moral voice of our time. That’s how world leaders saw him.

That shaming …

It’s evident in the tattooed number the Nazis put on Elie Wiesel’s forearm in Buchenwald.


Nelson Mandela had a number as well. A penitentiary number. A government dehumanized him as 46664, locking him away for 27 years.

You know how the 46664 story turned out, of course.

Prisoner to President. It’s a tribute to rights and justice.

Lesser known may be Wiesel who passed away yesterday (2 July) at 87.

He survived the Holocaust to write Night. A 127-page book about death in the concentration camps.

Smoke from the chimneys carried away the innocent faces of children. That’s his image, his memory.

At 127 pages Night is short but terrifying. It’s hardly bearable.

Many agree that it’s good that it’s alarming.

Still, Wiesel left us a message about that.

He said, ‘Because I remember I despair … because I remember I have the duty to reject despair’.

There’s an abiding faith in humanism and the future in that.

Optimism … even after wreathes of smoke spilled from the chimney tops.

Maybe that’s why Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama looked to him for inspiration.

Many will now read and re-read Night. Many of the unborn will come to read it as well.





Improvement. And Improvement.

One area where the Panthers are still up there. But next year on the field we're looking for one thing. Improvement.
One area where the Panthers are still up there. But next year on the field we’re looking for one thing. Improvement.

A third grade teacher sweeps into the classroom throwing out a question to her kids.

Good morning, children, tell us, what’s the smallest room?

Like a well-trained chorus the class responds as one: a mushroom.

Well, of course it is.

Pleased with the answer, the teacher continues.

Now, children, tell us, what’s the largest room?

The answer comes with enthusiasm as thirty kids shout: room for improvement.

There you have it in a story that comes from the English writer Laurie Lee. The point, of course, is that we can always do better.

The possibility of improvement never leaves us.

More to that, if your marketing and advertising is already excellent, you can always aim for one thing better.

The high side of excellence.

Just about every coach of a sport is probably drilling that into the heads their team. Making it second nature.

On the topic of sport, it’s been a few  weeks since the Super Bowl.

So let’s hope those marketers who bought spots — whether great, just okay or rubbish — are well into doing more.

Going for the high side of excellence, so to speak.

Not just with TV, but across all channels.

Let’s hope they’re planning to do wonders with everything from trade shows to emails, podcasts, Web, white papers, out-of-home ideas and more.

Even with the smallest job there’s always room for a big idea. Bill Bernbach said that.

Business sense tells us the Super Bowl shouldn’t be the one time of the year people get interested in brands.

Happily, that brief interlude can be extended with a bit of creative thinking.

After all, why limit improvement to just one cold Sunday in February.

Why not go for communications that rivet people no matter what date is showing on the calendar.

So, how about starting right now?

Aren’t you planning to impact your target audience before heading home from the office tonight?

You could manage it with an Instagram or a Tweet.

All you need is a brilliant idea; something to stop people.

Maybe you could use a happening that comes from today’s news.

The best agencies are always on the lookout for timely ad opportunities.

The Oreo ‘Blackout’ Tweet is an example of that.

The result of a timely ad benefits you in two ways.

You can outshine the competition and create a better brand experience for your customers.

Think about it for a moment. Isn’t there room for improvement on both counts?

Share with us. Leave your comment below. Thanks for reading Whybetonto.com. Regards, Steve Ulin. LinkedIn: http://bit.ly/20Imgh3


Bright Or Brilliant? Smart Pills May Make All The Difference.

More aspects to the mind. Greater perspective. Can smart pill do that?
More aspects to the mind. Greater perspective. Can smart pills do that?

Many say techies and business people are getting brainer in Silicon Valley.

Or should we say Silicon Valley of the Dolls?

‘Dolls’ is code for pills as in Jacqueline Susann’s book, Valley of the Dolls.

But this time we have smart pills sling-shotting intelligence higher in the Bay Area and beyond.

One smart pill is Modafinil. Prescription only, it was developed for narcolepsy.

You could run across it as Alertec, Modavigil, and Provigil, as well.

Here the benefit is increased cognitive ability that comes with an impressive checklist:

Mental consistency.

Sharper memory and the ability to concentrate.

An easy way to solve complex problems.

Online reviews come with revealing quotes:

‘Brilliantly awake’.

‘You’ve got new purpose, direction and will.’

‘Brain 2.0’.

‘What’s interesting suddenly becomes fascinating. You’re in gear; any inability is airbrushed away.’

Those remarks make you wonder, don’t they?

The thing is with Modafinil, neurotransmitters in the brain gain an unfair advantage. Science becomes your genie.

Now for a definition …

Wikipedia says Modafinil is a Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitor, whatever that may be.

We’re thinking it’s an upper of sorts.

Maybe your kids can tell you.

By more than a few accounts high school and college students use Modafinil to ace tests.

Getting a 91 is good, but a 97 gets you closer to Summa Cum Laude.

It’s said the Army was smart-pill-empowered in Iraq.

We’ll, an Abrams Tank is mighty, however it’s even better when manned by a brilliant driver, right?

But hold on a minute, the lights are turning amber on smart pills.

The reason for writing today is to pass on a caution.

A marketer we know purchased Modafinil on the Internet.

The result was nil, no effect.

He bought fakes.

But that’s not as bad as ingesting something that could play havoc with your health and wellbeing.

There’s counterfeiting with Modafinil and other pharmaceuticals. Forgeries extend to medical devices and hospital equipment.

Maybe the fake Rolex watchmakers are looking for new revenue streams.

Of course, there’s risk involved with fakes and maybe the real stuff. No long-term studies have been done on Modafinil.

Still, if Silicon Valley starts wowing us even more than usual we can hazard a guess at one thing.

Someone’s neurotransmitters are getting extra help.

Share with us. Leave your comment below. Thanks for reading Whybetonto.com. Regards, Steve Ulin. LinkedIn: http://bit.ly/20Imgh3


First, A Little Music …

Ground Control to Major Tom Ground Control to Major Tom Take your protein pill and put your helmet on. -- David Bowie
Ground Control to Major Tom
Ground Control to Major Tom
Take your protein pill
and put your helmet on.
— David Bowie

Nobody spits at the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

They’re pretty great no matter what your religion may be.

An American icon … that describes them.

But the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing ‘God So Loved the World’ is fully expected.

Nothing new about that.

It confirms what we already know and believe about them.

So to widen interest and engagement how about something a bit more surprising.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir doing Space Oddity, Ziggy Stardust or Life On Mars?

It’s the MTC meets David Bowie, so to speak.

With a bit of enlightened orchestration the Bowie pieces could be musically remarkable.

Well, don’t laugh just yet; the Daily Mail reported last week that the Archbishop of Canterbury is a Bowie fan.

The point here for business people is maybe we should begin to think beyond accepted beliefs and avoid what’s predictable.

Too many absorb the thinking in their work environment and run with it – no questions asked.

More’s the pity because those individuals aren’t exploring their own potential.

The likelihood of discovering something better remains pretty small.

What was it Steve Jobs said?

We don’t hire smart people and tell them what to do.

We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.

Of course, that can change everything for a brand.

So can ideas.

Remember ideas?

One negative of advertising today is that the technology is modern but the ideas aren’t always so.

Which is why those who go for the unexpected get attention.

Old Spice, Snickers and the Honda work in the UK succeed with strong ideas.

Space Oddity, which you probably heard several times last week, still gets your attention despite the fact it was written ages ago.

The reason is that it was a good idea in the first place.

It endures.

If you happen to be the choral master of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir you might want to make a mental note of that.

Share with us. Leave your comment below. Thanks for reading Whybetonto.com. Regards, Steve Ulin LinkedIn: http://linkd.in/1Bey3Jl