Once upon a time there was a fantastic campaign against tobacco. To discourage young people from smoking, the campaign visuals displayed some parents in the act of smoking cigarettes. The super incisive headline said: “How can it be so cool if your mother does it too?” (or “your father” depending on the image).
Maybe it’s my “advertising” way to think, but I’m pretty sure that today, that campaign, could be used for Apple products. I imagine a picture of my father with an iPad in his hands (I could do it easily, indeed) while the headline says: “How can it be so cool if your father has it too?”.
To get to the point, another advertising example. Are we really sure that Apple users, today, are still able to think different? “Think Different” declaimed one of the most renowed Jobs slogan. And it meant a lot of things, but above all, it was an invitation, almost an imperative, to not homologate. Now, have you ever been inside the New York City subway lately? Homologation is nothing! The challenge is trying to find someone that doesn’t have an iPhone in his hands. This is why we can say that today the “Think Different” slogan could be easily used by the competitors towards Apple (and I hope that Steve Jobs can’t hear me).
Yet, I think I’m not really far from the truth. Even the first Apple tv commercial (Macintosh 1984), the historic one in which all equal people moved like androids, today rings nearly like a mock. Because today, seeming all scary equal, are exactly Apple customers. Too much, everyone: fans and not, professionals and not, capables and not, honest to God and not, young people and not, lovers and not. Expecially not.
The real problem is that Apple is becoming addictive. We must look around and start creating Apple rehabs. Weird that nobody did it yet (or maybe yes?). Because, let’s tell the truth, how can it be healthy that in just one family – or worst – that just one only person owns at the same time four Apple computers, one Apple Watch, two iPad, three iPhone, two iPod, all more or less mini?
Riding this addiction, by now, every six months (faster than humans), Apple gives birth to new versions that push into suicide the older ones (however still immaculate) and induce compulsive purchase of the new ones – (please watch this!) – without any need or, at least, one minute of healthy remark. “I must have the latest” seems to be the new obsession. And, above all, I must shout to the entire world (that is “I have to tweet”) that I just bought it. It’s not anymore “I have the biggest” (if often the opposite) but “I have the latest”.
Come on, people even sleep outside Apple stores, on the hard paving, just to… buy. In the past we used to do that to see the Beatles. Could there be something more sad than this? Or noxious?
The truth is that tomorrow, the one who will have the courage to return to sender the next mini, air or iPhone, will be able to say “I think different”. For real.
I always hated brainstorming and finally more than somebody** agrees with me. Come on! Brainstorming doesn’t work at all. I saw the worst ideas coming out from brainstorming.
People (yes, also creative ones) need time to think. They need to focus. They need concentration. And how can they do that in a meeting full of people? “Creative meeting” is a paradox, it doesn’t mean anything: at the end it’s just a useless, stupid, huge time loss.
Do you know what really happens (I saw that with my own eyes for almost 15 years) in that situation? Great minds don’t speak, because they need time to consider, to ponder, to think. The others open their mouths (often too much) and just say…craps!
Let’s clarify: craps and creative ideas are not the same. On the contrary they are two really really different things. Otherwise everyone could be a creative and that’s not the case.
Well… brainstorming is the homeland of the fake creatives. The real ones just want to stay in their office thinking. Alone.
*Susan Cain (author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking“) wrote:
“40 years of research has repeatedly demonstrated that our performance gets worse when group size increases. So, if you have talented or motivated people, encourage them to work alone.”
**Jena McGregor on “The Washington Post” wrote:
“We’ve all been there. The boardrooms with flip charts at the front of the room and candy on the table. The all-hands emergency meetings to come up with ideas to fix the latest mess. And of course, the offsites in drab hotel ballrooms that are supposed to somehow spark creativity. Such efforts at brainstorming are well intended, of course. The problem? They rarely work…”
Carlos Casas, a young spanish entrepreneur, launched near Barcelona El Prat airport a new way to publicize a product: the “ecological advertising”.
It’s a sort of “ecological guerrilla marketing” that takes advantage from the surroundings to realize the message to be delivered. In this case, precisely, the farmland near Barcelona El Prat airport, a field really well visible especially from the 600.000 passengers that every month land in Barcelona.
The advertisement we are talking about is related to “Red Hat”, one of the most renowned American software company that is engaged in providing open-source software products to the enterprise community. “Red Hat” advertising, in this case, doesn’t consist as usual in a print ad, a tv spot or a poster. Not at all. “Red Hat” is now talking to his target through a field plowed in a way that the grass deliver his message: a message – sorry for the wordplay – highly legible.
So, beyond the brand and the product, “ecological guerrilla marketing” is a new form to consider advertising: a 100% natural approach that doesn’t alter the landscape in a negative way like traditional outdoor advertising media normally do. And uncontrived is “timing” too, because times are determined, once and again, more from nature than people. In the “Red Hat” case, for example, according to “Fly and Flowers” advertising agency, the ad can stay “alive” till the end of November.
At the end, if it’s real – like Henry Ford said – that “advertising is the soul of business” at least now it’s finally a more natural one.
I always asked myself how would have been watching “OC” if you live in Orange County or “Gossip Girl” if you really are a rich Upper East Side teenager. Following “Er” or “Grey’s Anatomy” if you work as a doctor or “CSI” if you are a cop. But I know for sure what does watching “Mad Men” means if in your life you are one of them; yes if you are an ad man. Specifically (without taking any credit) I was and I am both a Peggy and a Don Draper. I dealt with more than a dozen of Pete Campbell and helped me a lot of Joan (in some cases as much as busty). I did a hundreds of presentations, created a lot of slogans, spent as many – too much – week ends and festivities in the agency. I spent a thousand nights for as many pitches and dealt whit any kind of clients.
Everyone talks about “Mad Men”. About how much “well done” it is. But, I ask myself, how can they judge? Which standard uses who doesn’t know this world from the inside? Following “Grey’s Anatomy” I never understood if what I was seeing was the truth or a series of really well done bullshits. Namely, interns live really that way? And are they really treated like that? Do that kind of procedures really exist? Is it really possible that a 16 weeks fetus can stay in an incubator and survive? I had to ask my cousin, a real doctor, to clear my mind. After all, how could I know? That’s the point: the same is about “Mad Men”. Because in this case it’s me, whit a few others but not all, who can guarantee. And here I am doing it: believe me, there is no bullshits, it’s not a fiction. In a few words doing this job, in every single role, aspect and detail, was and still is (maybe just in a less cool way) exactly like this. In the good or in the bad it’s something that you too can judge.
For the last four years I entered a creative writing contest (Brevis). I won the first place just one time. The other three times I won the second place. Of course I was annoyed about that: why am I not able to reach again the highest spot on the podium? – I asked myself. Then I remembered the famous, great Avis campaign made in 1962 by Bill Bernbach: “The Avis number two” campaign.
In 1962 in the United States Hertz was the car rental leader. Avis called Bill Bernbach at Doyle Dane Bernbach. Bernbach put art director Helmut Krone and writer Paula Green on the project, and they created …a masterpiece.
“Avis is only No.2 in rent a cars. So we try harder”. The truth inside this idea was absolutely powerful: Avis had to do everything better than Hertz to win customers. Because when you are not the greatest, you have to. You can’t take anything for granted. You can’t make mistakes. “The No.1 attitude is: Don’t do the wrong thing. Don’t make mistakes and you’ll be ok. The No.2 attitude is: Do the right thing. Look for new ways. Try harder.”
Now I’m happy to be a number two. Thanks, Bill. I’ll try harder.