Archives for posts with tag: John Wanamaker


Groupon’s IPO: We’ve wasted too much time, writing about Groupon’s problems, challenges, opportunities and internal machinations. I’m as guilty as anyone. The IPO filing moved the conversation from pundits to the market. As it should be.

2. Google+: Since we don’t have to focus on Groupon anymore, Google+ gave marketers more fodder to discuss the problems, challengesand opportunities of Google’s innovative social layer. The combination of SEO and a huge user base makes it likely Google+ will be a success. It’s not the new Facebook, but it’s a new Google.

3. Zombies cling to life: Just a few deaths of 2011: The Web, micro site, print, display ads, television (a golden oldie) and radio. I’m glad to see all these zombies looking pretty much alive. Some of them need some drastic procedures to move them back to a real healthy existence, others need a good rehab to reset their mission and vision. Still, they are alive, nobody died and no need to write more obituaries.

4. Josh Williams, Gowalla: It’s good to see a CEO pivot in the right way. He knew he lost the “check-in war” and changed the vision of his company from “I was here” to “I wish you were here.” Check-ins were always kind of stupid: marketing opportunities are limited (Since most people use location-based apps as personal branding tools, the opportunity for businesses to conquest seems minimal), and the user base was even more limited. Foursquare cornered that small opportunity and we’ll see if they can get traction outside of the geek crowd. Gowalla’s mission change to craft the narrative of your life is fascinating. I wish them well.

5. Content Marketing: Let’s be honest here: We didn’t feel needed anymore. People just blocked us out. Banner blindness, DVR, apathy, ignoring our messages. Content marketing gave us an opportunity to go back to our roots of communicating with our customers and prospects without selling. Instead of being the parrot-on-the-shoulder-crazy-colored-blazer-wearing pitchman, we can deliver now messages that make our buyers more intelligent. Beautiful.

6. Steve Jobs: Simplicity and purpose. A powerful vision for all of us.

7. The GOP primary: Some of the candidates remind us of marketing lessons we should never forget:

a. Rick Perry: Never overpromise and under-deliver. Always under-promise and over-deliver.

b. Herman Cain: Always be prepared for everything. You lose all credibility when you don’t know the basics of your profession.

c. Mitt Romney: It’s not good enough to look and act the part. You need substance.

d. Rick Santorum: Brand Awareness is important.

e. Jon Huntsman: If there’s no demand for your product, you need to create demand.

f. Newt Gingrich: Lies only get you so far. And they will always come back to haunt you.

8. John Wanamaker: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” We all thought this would change with the digital revolution. Not so fast, friends. Clearly, we still haven’t figured it out and John Wanamaker’s quote will be around for many decades to come. Maybe not, since some claim 90% of advertising is wasted.

9. Mark Zuckerberg: The inventor of the Zuckerberg dance: Introducing new features, protest dances by a minority of users combined with flaming threats of an even smaller minority to leave for good, Mark and his team dance the apology tango, retreating slightly with a waltz and the users go back to do the Facebook Polka. Thanks, Mark, for keeping us all in motion.

10. All the people that dedicate their lives to help people in real need. You have my deepest thanks. You do work that really matters.

Last but not least, thank you to everybody who reads my posts. I feel humbled and quite lucky to have the privilege. Thanks for being here, for making a difference and changing the world.

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This ad caught my attention almost 2 decades ago. Law degree in hand, I wasn’t sure what to do with myself. Copywriter for the best advertising agency in Germany? Why not? I wrote a 20-page screenplay about my life, 2 applications of thousands were invited for an interview and I got the job. The rest is history. Literally, since the once proud creative agency just filed for bankruptcy.

When I started at Springer & Jacoby, advertising was the most interesting thing around. Especially when you have a slight case of ADD. Who wants to toil with a screenplay for months and years when you can turn a commercial script into a 30-second spot in a few weeks? Would you rather improve business system processes over years to improve customer experiences or create great advertising that engages millions of people and helps the bottom line of the business? (Come on, be honest.) This made advertising so exciting. Our goal was to deliver creative advertising that sells. Art meets business. And we could use the canvas of urban living to make our vision come to live: billboards, screens, bus stops, urinals. That made it even more exciting. Well, maybe not the urinals.

Ultimately, our job was to take risks. We were the crazy uncle that shows up at the family reunion. The one everybody laughs at. And talks about. That was Springer & Jacoby’s goal: Create something entertaining that people talk about. Period.

Not much has changed. Sure, we have new technologies, new buzzwords (Social Media, Buzz Marketing, WOM, etc.) but in the end, marketing and advertising has to produce something people talk about. Or it’s just a giant waste of money. Even worse, a giant waste of creativity.

John Wanamaker said famously: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Here’s a little a secret: In today’s world of attention deficiency, more than 90% of your advertising is wasted. Just another Facebook page that looks like the other Facebook page. Just another commercial that could be from Brand A, B or even Z. Just another Twitter stream that floats by. And a radio ad that made absolutely no impact.

Nowadays, most big agencies try to mix art, science and business together. And most of their efforts are still a waste of money, time and creativity. They might have the metrics to prove me wrong. But, in their heart they know I’m right.

My former Creative Director said to me once: “Advertising doesn’t work when you want to share your idea with your parents and friends. Advertising works when you find reasons why it won’t work: the client will kick me out, the agency will fire me, I will live under the bridge). That’s when you hit magic.”

We need more magic in this world.