We all remember the required classes in high school in college - the ones that some sadist decided every student has to take if they want to graduate. These are the classes that elicit bemoaned cries of "Why do I have to take this class? I'm never going to use it, anyway!" (I'm looking at you, Calculus.)
I still remember hating it every time I had to take one of those required classes, so I... more
"The fold." It's an old newspaper term, but websites have them too, and as a web designer, I hate the fold - the line that separates the part of the website that's immediately visible from the part that visitors must scroll to see.
The biggest challenge of designing for the fold is trying to make the most visible portion of the site engaging. Modern websites have gone from "above the fold" designs that are... more
Josh Duhamel was a natural choice to do the voice-over for North Dakota tourism. Not just because he is a North Dakota boy with star power but his approachable, friendly, all-American sound is perfect for this year's "Legendary" campaign. He really gets it and loves his home state. His sound is very genuine because he is very genuine. You can't sell what you don't love and he loves North Dakota! We are so fortunate... more
Ad Age recently asked, "What's the best book on creativity you've ever read?" Have you read any of their choices, and if so, what do you think of them? What books have inspired you, or what would you recommend to your co-workers or anyone in need of creative... more
As an advertising writer and producer, I know a couple of things for certain: good advertising works, and time travel does not. At least I never thought so. As an ad guy, I didn't have to take that class in college.
So I was a bit surprised to have a quantum leap of sorts during a commercial production in November. I was working with a crew from Video Arts Studios of Fargo, shooting a new commercial... more
Dr. Pepper's new ad targeting men is getting a lot of attention, and not for the right reasons. You can view the ad, called "Dr Pepper TEN," at this website.
While some online commenters have called the ad offensive, it just was over-produced, under concepted, cheesy and, worst of all, not funny. It smacks of a creative director wanting to shoot in some exotic location rather than wanting to sell the product.
I just received a direct mail piece that was pretty good except for one major gimmick that completely insulted my intelligence.
It started off exactly the way direct mail should. This one was from an insurance agent offering a quick, free review and estimate that could save me money on my car insurance. (I won't give him the credit or blame for the letter; it was obviously created by the insurance company and not the agency.)... more
We talk a lot about what makes an ad good. What makes an ad bad? Today Consumerist posted a slate of nominees for the worst television ads in the country. What do you think of the list, what ads drive you crazy, and what do you think makes some of these ads so... more
This one seems simple. But do you know what that thing is, or why you need it? Do the words and picture make you feel warm? What do they mean by "Redefining heating all over again"? Oops. You're already three blocks farther down the street.
Today I was noticing billboards. That is, I was noticing how most of them are so unnoticeable. The moral of the story? Keep it simple and meaningful.
Depending on whom you ask, billboards should have a maximum of seven words. Or a maximum of five words. Or a maximum of seven elements, including each word, photo, address or telephone number. To complicate them even further, now we're even seeing things like "Find us on Facebook" logos.
Corona has a new approach to their commercials, and I think they're messing up a good thing.
In the latest ads, a couple is sitting (a little too upright) in their beach chairs. In one spot, a bikini babe walks past; the man conspicuously watches her and his significant other shoots him in the eye with a lime slice. In the next, the woman watches a hunk walk past; her guy shakes up her beer and... more
With all the buzz about the iPad, only the folks over at Blendtec are answering the question they ask about so many new products: Will it blend?
Yes, they shoved an iPad into their blender, and why not? Over the years they've also blended an iPhone and an iPod, along with a video camera, golf balls, a bag of marbles, laser pointers, hockey pucks and more. After all, just about any blender (except my... more
Yesterday, Jeanne Nelson was in Fargo shooting a commercial that I wrote. That's part of the magic of Odney: specialization.
Here's a little window into how we work.
The process started with both of us becoming familiar with the product and project goals. I spent a few solid days thinking, staring at the ceiling, thinking and writing. In jobs past, I would have then completed the production and direction - to be a jack of all trades... more
You've got the message right. Now you need the right messenger. The right on-camera talent with the right look, presence and attitude.
We generally start with a rough idea of the type of person we want: an energetic, upbeat 20-something woman, a successful, upscale middle-aged businessman, a warm grandmotherly type. On camera, age has nothing to do with years and everything to do with how the individual's face "reads." I've auditioned people in their 20s... more
There were the usual "what the heck was that" moments in the Super Bowl ads, and lots of pantslessness, for some reason. One ad that I thought really worked was the one for Google. It told a story through the use of the product, showing how Google integrates seamlessly into your life.
What do you think? What stood out for being good, bad, or for not standing out at... more
The Super Bowl has become, yes, the Super Bowl of advertising, with thirty second ads this year going for $2.5 to $3 million. I understand there's also some sort of sporting event that's played to fill in the gaps between the commercial breaks. I'm not a football fan but I do pay attention to the ads. If I didn't, how could I possibly join in the water-cooler chat in the office the following Monday?
We definitely believe in honesty in advertising. It's the right thing to do, and it's the smart thing to do. The new Domino's Pizza ads are creating some industry buzz about whether they're too honest. The ads include comments about the poor quality of their pizzas: "Crust tastes like cardboard," "sauce tastes like ketchup," "void of flavor."
I blogged recently about great terrible ideas - ideas for ads that are clever, funny, entertaining, but don't sell the product. There's a television ad running now that strikes me as a good example of a great terrible ad. A man is seated at a table in a playroom with two young girls. He asks one if she wants a pony, and when she says yes, he gives her a toy pony. He asks girl... more
I recently got to be part of a presentation team telling a client why we believe Odney is unique among marketing communications agencies. Hearing each member of the team talk about his or her specialty was fascinating. It's clear that each intricately detailed piece forms an extraordinary picture when added into the puzzle.
Hearing how our PR department builds relationships with writers, how our media department reaches people with our message, how our interactive department truly... more
Lately I've been writing and directing a lot of ads. It's been a little stressful and here's why. Juggling everything lately means pumping up my level of free-flowing creative thought while at the same time forcing myself to become more organized and structured. Usually these things go together like strawberries and liver.
So I've been experimenting with maintaining balance through the help of vinyasa yoga. Sure, it sounds crazy. But it just might work.
As a writer, some people ask me where I find inspiration for writing. One answer is to get out and experience the subject. I'm lucky enough to work where I write about North Dakota's tourism industry. I'm also lucky enough to have a wife and kids who love getting out there with me. All within the past 10 days, I have grabbed the opportunity to:
•Catch catfish on the Missouri with my kids; •Pig out at a... more
Twice last week I got into two different conversations about snipe hunting. The first was at the lake when my father-in-law and his friend, Burt, were trying to talk my wife into going snipe hunting with them. The next was with friends who are active bird watchers.
The whole thing struck me once again as being a wonderful demonstration of the way language evolves.
Snipe hunting is a joke that gets played on unsuspecting souls, often while... more
So Billy Mays - the famous TV pitchman for OxiClean and other stuff I don't use - has gone on to the big commercial in the sky. With a crisply barbered beard and rolled up denim shirt sleeves, Billy used to yell ad copy at me with a smile.
I'll miss Billy. Kind of.
Sure, I like to think of myself as the kind of person who responds better to subtlety, reason and well played emotion in... more
A recent article I enjoyed got me thinking about the real graphic design artsy stuff that advertising agencies didn't do in-house back in the day. Back then, advertising was serious and strategic - a really corporate thing. Ads would have one great illustration and a headline with a block of copy. The illustration came from outside the agency because having artists in-house was way too artistic for a corporate environment.
I've been Googling Neil Armstrong's famous quote as he set foot on the moon forty years ago today. What I want to know is whether the "one small step" statement was prepared or extemporaneous. He was awfully busy preparing as a pilot of the landing module, did he take the time to prepare as an orator?
Forget the G-forces of liftoff in a Saturn rocket for a moment; I'm not sure I could have taken the... more
Nike's brand, "Just do it," has long been one of the best. It speaks to us on such a human level. It challenges us. It calls us to ignore those who might say we can't or shouldn't. It tells us that our own personal, individual motivation is good enough. And it calls us to be part of something bigger and more incredible. (And of course it sells us shoes!)
Along comes the new Nike commercial, "Driven,"... more