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Advertising included.

Imagine… you were still watching television. Do you remember a single cool ad for the iPhone? One that you just have to tell your friends about? An emotional 60 second spot you just have to give a Gold Lion in Cannes?

The iPhone barely needed any creative advertising, because the perfect ad was built in: By an innovation obsessed CEO. By excellence in craft & design. By an emotion-causing brand. The advertising was so simple, bar any creative surplus, that a monthlong depression should have been the least result of working on it.

A product demo over elevator music! These spots would not have sold a single Zune. (To be fair, I don’t know what would.)

Successful campaigns like this signal a problematic situation for ad agencies and their clients alike. Lousy products or low interest categories have little sway in the attention market of  social networks. No matter how much you spend. The blogosphere fails reliably when it comes to advertising something else than free beta software or sexy gadgets. Webspace marketing expert Seth Godin advises companies to make better products or else:

“The goal is to create a product that people love. If people love it, they’ll forgive a lot. They’ll talk about it. They’ll promote it. They’ll come back. They’ll be less price sensitive. They’ll bring their friends. They’ll work with you to make it better.”  (Seth Godin blogging at http://bit.ly/KCyC9)

Once the product becomes the new Superhero on the Block, we should’t be surprised that a new bunch of ad guys emerged, who want to support clients in coming up with products that stand a chance in dialogspace. Or -- clients unwilling -- who simply will create cool things themselves. Quite a risky idea, as it leaves behind the well-known lakes of the service industry and sails into the torrentous ocean of actually making stuff.

One of those agencies felt so much mental resistance when it started in 2004, its founders named it Anomaly (www.anomaly.com) -- ironically hoping to prove the name wrong. Others who ventured in similar directions: the BBH-supported rulebreaker ZAG (www.zaginvention.com) and the Brooklyn Brothers (www.thebrooklynbrothers.com).

All of these agencies have been brought into this world by hands experienced at making creativity work. All of them must have felt that following the usual agency model would be harder than clearing the path for a new one.

And indeed, the idea of helping nerdy product designers to a healthy dose of creative gut-feeling is not only emotionally tempting, but also convincing on paper. However, results may vary. It has yet to be seen whether this idea has the stamina to make a sustained difference in the real world or whether it spends most of its time writing evangelical press releases.

The incomplete sample is made up of:

  • The organic luxury chocolate bar “Fat Pig Chocolate” by the Brooklyn Brothers. Lots of hoopla for the design, but mostly distributed online (really ???).
  • “Pick Me” by ZAG, a line of preservative free packaged veggie meals. The healthy fast food is currently listed big time by 600 Tescos in the UK.
  • And “By Lauren Luke”, a line of make up products created by Anomaly and named after YouTube phenomenon Lauren Luke who sometimes rakes in over 2 million hits by demonstrating in unedited videos how to copy celebrity looks. Again, the press is all over it, and US cosmetics retailer Sephora has decided to pick up the line in their stores online and offline.

As the first results of the new strategy have hit magazines and shelves, three conclusions can safely be made.

  1. It is possible to succeed with niche products.
  2. It is possible to succeed with fast products.
  3. There is only one Steve Jobs.

Quite unfairly, I won’t show or mention the heaps of excellent advertising done by these companies. Because it just doesn’t follow the “new” model. However, if you have to, here are their websites. It seems, thinking more about what the people out there really want from a product helps make great “normal” ads, too.








2 Responses to “Advertising included.”
  1. Karma Matuck says:

    I would suggest doing content marketing, let me explain

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    This post was mentioned on Twitter by ideaswilltravel: Neu auf IWT: Was kommt eigentlich raus wenn #Werbeagenturen den Job der Kunden gleich mitmachen – und Produkte erfinden? http://bit.ly/XC9N1

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