Three Ways to Keep Advertising ‘Magic’

I concur with Steve Novick’s concerns about the excessive control and rigidity of advertising today [March 11]. In particular, the frame-by-frame objectives story is all too familiar and chilling.

I would add that the “magic” of advertising happens in three ways clients tend to forget:

1. The power of the ingoing advertising idea, and the insight behind it. For example, the strength of Volkswagen’s “Drivers wanted” campaign is that it springs from a simple yet fabulous target insight: There is an important segment of the target audience who are passionate about their cars. With that as a framework—or, if you’ll forgive me, road map—everything becomes “easy.”

2. The gestalt or totality of the particular execution. While overall communication objectives must be agreed upon, “overcontrol” of execution specifics will damage the end result. It has to. Communication is art, not science.

Take, for example, the classic Oscar Meyer commercial with the little boy singing “B-O-L-O-G-N-A” while sitting on the end of a dock. The daylong shoot went fine—ahead of schedule and projected film needs. Get what you’ve promised to get first. And as the little brother of the boy who was cast had been asking all day for a chance … well, he got to try. One take. And magic was born. You don’t get that through scene-by-scene objectives or overcontrol.

3. Brand character or personality. All too many briefs boil down this crucial element to a couple of words that haven’t been given enough thought. This is an agency problem. Which then becomes a client—and consumer—problem. In fact, the personality of a brand (existing or desired) is the second most crucial component of a strategy. A brand is a living thing, and its personality is what defines it for consumers and separates it from the competition. Failure to recognize this will lead to inconsistent communication and a damaged brand.

Alan L. Rose

Vp, business development

Entertainment Marketing


For the record: Local Communications Inc., a unit of Interpublic Group’s Universal McCann, will continue to do spot buying for General Motors under a new structure in which IPG sister GM Mediaworks manages $800 million-plus in GM local broadcast buying billings [May 20]. GM wants a dedicated management team to supervise its growing use of the medium. In “Classroom Creatives” [May 20], Eric Brunt and Lindsey Stava’s names were misspelled.