“When a ball dreams, it dreams it's a Frisbee." -Stancil Johnson
Content for the win | Vol. 3, No. 6

June 2014

David Ogilvy encouraged his fellow direct marketers. "You have it in your power to rescue the advertising business from its manifold lunacies," he said. One of the lunacies he speaks of is the desire to entertain. The legendary ad man believed there was no place in advertising for entertainment, only for persuasive selling. Have you ever noticed what sour pusses some of these direct marketers are? Ogilvy built an impressive agency and he lived in a castle. I don't know if he had a sense of humor.

My friend Bob Hoffman also built an impressive agency. Thankfully, he does have a sense of humor. Hoffman also loves to poke and to provoke. He did so recently with his list of advertising clichés to eliminate, one of which was "storytelling."

"Enough with the fucking stories. Advertising needs more than stories. It also needs persuasion."

I agree. Well told stories do persuade. Stories well told also romance the reader and invite them into a world, which is hopefully highly entertaining. The world can be branded, or non-branded, a complete fantasy or hyper real. The point is we are hardwired for stories, particularly of the oral variety. It's the human condition.

I think the problem with direct (and a lot of bad TV) is how pushy it can seem. If you watch the Ogilvy video, he is rather pushy in his presentation, and elitist. We can learn from him, but it's crucial to think for ourselves and evaluate what is right.

Gary Vaynerchuk talks about how "everyone's in a rush to close." Thankfully, brand builders know they're in it for the duration—that a temporary sales lift may be needed, but at what expense? Direct mail and TV commercials are intrusive media. People allow these intrusions, but that's hardly a signal that intrusive media is a good answer.

Advertising is evolving at a rapid rate, and innovators will find new and better ways to make a client's pitch more meaningful and acceptable. For instance, people are thirsty for Red Bull's content because it is some of the best content available anywhere, and that's the way forward. The challenge is to stand out by standing up and delivering a never-ending series of compelling stories and live events that truly involve people and allow them to become customers and fans.

  1. Great news for wine merchants. Millennials drank 25.7% of wine by volume in the U.S. in 2012. 
  2. Explore the "Seven Deadly Sins" in a digital context.
  3. Michael Wolff wrote an interesting lifestyle piece for Town & Country on the old school media titans at Time Inc.
  4. "To make deliberate practice work, you must not only tolerate unpleasantness but learn to seek it, like a bodybuilder seeks muscle burn." -Professor Cal Newport
  5. Americans are rich. The net worth of U.S. households rose in March to $81.8 trillion, the highest on record, according to a report by the Federal Reserve.
  6. Seattle's even richer. The average worker in the Seattle area earned $28.36 an hour in May 2013, which is 27 percent higher than the U.S. average.
Bonehook is a guide service and bait shop for brands. We help you find, shape and share your best brand stories. To book, call 503-970-3862. 
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