Category Archives: Copywriting

Learn to make sacrifices

There are an infinite number of things you can say.

It’s the curse of being experienced, cost-effective, all-new, groundbreaking, fully-customizable, scalable, all-natural, and fat free.

But you can’t be all that, even if you are. It’s too much for our brains to process, takes too long to explain, and we’ve been lied to so much we wouldn’t believe it anyways.

Your brochure, your resume, your website’s sidebar, your tagline, your ad — there’s no room for anything that distracts the audience from your core idea.

This is admittedly very difficult. We’re proud of all of our accomplishments and all we have to offer. But great storytellers know how valuable attention is and how expensive wasteful content can be.

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The Snuggie phenomenon

From an article I just saw over at AdAge:

Marketing’s New Red-Hot Seller: Humble Snuggie

That’s right.

The blanket with sleeves is one of the hottest selling items these days. Selling more than 4 million units in the past three months, Snuggies has made just under $40 million in retail sales.

There’s even reports of customers swamping stockers and grabbing all the Snuggies before they even reach the shelves at Bed, Bath & Beyond or Walgreens, the first two retailers to carry the blankets.

Imagine that, people trampling one another to get a blanket that has sleeves on it.

Why?

Well, I think the 200 videos on YouTube that are parodies of the product’s goofy commercial might have something to do with it. This one has nearly 150,000 views.

I had a feeling that Snuggies would succeed, despite their lame storytelling. Should be fun to watch how this trend plays out, but I’m still thinking they missed an opportunity to be huge.

I think the lesson here is that for some products, the story is so obvious that no matter how bad you screw up your marketing, the world will step in and show you how to really tell it.

Odds are though, you’re not that lucky.

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Just add sleeves!

Have you seen it yet?

Someone created “Snuggies.” The blankets with… sleeves.

Complete with an incredibly cheesy infomercial. Check it:

But when I watch this, I can’t help but have mixed feelings. Honestly, a fair part of me admires the simplicity of the idea. It reminds me of the classic Homer Simpson line after his brother shows him his invention that translates baby talk:

“Oh, I dunno’ Herb. Couldn’t you just have taken an existing product and put a clock in it?”

But c’mon folks.

Adding clocks and sleeves isn’t enough. What’s the story here? I think snuggies missed it.

The story (in reality) is probably:

Holy shit, what a brilliantly simple, sorta’ goofy idea we had one day. We like to lounge around, use a laptop, drink some coffee, and we’re sick of fighting our blankets.

You feelin’ us?

So we invented something pretty damn revolutionary: A blanket with sleeves.

But nooooooo.

Snuggies tries to convince us that these things are socially acceptable at sporting events.

The irony of course is, had they been upfront with how ridiculous the concept is, everybody would be asking to print their sports team on the damn things.

C’mon folks. Now, more than ever, adding sleeves isn’t enough.

More Bacon Salts. Less Snuggies.

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The lessons in lyrics

I’m listening to some random music and realized that there’s some potentially significant nuggets of wisdom that could really apply to marketing.

I’m not here to misrepresent an artists intentions, but the best stories are the ones that we can apply to ourselves. Here’s what I mean:

Modest Mouse: Missed the Boat — “…our ideas held no water but we used them like a dam…”

Bad ideas are the dams of progress. This reminds me of companies that still scoff at social media.

Buffalo Springfield: For What It’s Worth — “…singing songs and carryin’ signs / mostly say, hooray for our side…”

Marketing is about connections. Stories that fail to create connections, well, fail. If all you do is say hooray for yourself, we’re not listening. We can’t relate to that.

Cross Canadian Ragweed: Brooklyn Kid — “…a simple life ain’t that hard / no, a simple life ain’t all that hard..”

Fundamentals and simplicity often win. It’s amazing how difficult we can make success feel. Be honest. Be nice. Try hard. If you do those three things every day, you’re already in the top 10%.

How about you? Got a line of lyrics that speak to you?

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Hyundai reminds us that boring doesn’t sell and that safe is still very risky

Ad Age is reporting that Hyundai is parting ways with its agency.

A major reason? The disappointing launch of their high-end Genesis, backed by an $80 million campaign which included two Superbowl spots.

Hoping to move about 2,000 models a month, the automaker has sold a total of a little more than 1,800 since the launch.

I could end this post with an I told you so

But the lesson deserves another mention. Simply, $80 million isn’t nearly enough to convince us to think of a Hyundai when spending $35k on a car–especially this car. It’s a product that from the beginning was boring with a boring mission (cheaper than BMW and Benz) and no wonderful copy or fancy commercials can save a story that is fundamentally boring.

The Genesis looks similar to its perceived competitors. It’s not remarkably cheap. They didn’t dump a gigantic motor in it or a hire a team of engineers to make it handle remarkably better than any other car.

Instead, they went for a car that blended in, and in that sense they’ve succeeded marvelously.

The problem for Hyundai is that there’s no room for Genesis-like products in our hyper-saturated markets. So rather than talking about Hyundai’s boring sedan, the auto industry is buzzing about Chevy’s hybrid (which is two years away!).

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Night Ranger and the power of saying what we’re all thinking

So last night I rocked out to a concert of two bands older than I am.

Night Ranger opened for Foreigner, and to put it into perspective, Night Ranger’s Sister Christian and I both turned 24 this year. Even better: Foreigner’s tour is sponsored by AARP.

And here’s the thing with any classic rock concert: We were all there to hear the songs we knew.

So when Night Ranger said they were going to play a song off their new album, only the most grizzled Night Ranger evangelist left their seat to cheer.

And in the same breath as announcing their new album, frontman Jack Blades said something refreshing (paraphrasing):

I know – I know what you’re thinking. New music? Play the hits! Play what we know! But I have to tell you, as artists, creativity is what drives us. It’s what keeps us going. And in my view, that’s what the American way is all about, right? Right? Thanks for listening and sharing in our creativity.

It was that simple.

In just a few words, Jack connected connected himself, Night Ranger and all of us in one of those very human moments.

He had the microphone, he could have said anything. He could have said nothing. He could have made the ridiculous claim that Night Ranger was somehow relevant again because they had a new album. But instead, he talked to us like a grateful friend.

And judging by the crowd’s standing cheer, I’d say it worked.

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Talking about beer

I’m a bit frustrated here…

I was going to share some great copy with the world here, but I can’t find a copy of it online anywhere.

It comes from Schell’s. They’ve been brewing beer up in New Ulm, Minnesota for about 150 years and today represent the second oldest American brewery, behind only Pennsylvania’s Yuengling. I saw it while touring the brewery (awesome experience, by the way) up in Minnesota over the past weekend. The copy was on both a poster and a T-shirt, supplemented with an 1860’s era photo of some of the original brewers at Schell’s. The copy went something along the lines of…

They endured winter, starvation, an outbreak of cholera, ravenous locusts, outdoor plumbing and bad shoes.

Brewing was so much simpler back then.

And then the copy gets juicy, describing how it requires balls, dedication and a little good fortune to survive in today’s highly commoditized and mass marketed beer industry. It made me downright thirsty for a bottle of Schell’s in tribute to the brand.

The best I can do is find this pixelated photo of the shirt for sale on their site. I could buy it, but I guess the copy isn’t that good.

Unless Schell’s is monitoring the blogosphere or someone out there happens to have the shirt, you’ll just have to take my word for it on the copy. That is, of course, until I go back for another tour.

Bummer.

 

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