Oh, the humanity!

Bottom line: I feel better about the Walgreens brand based simply on this seemingly minor customer service tweak.

Bottom line: I feel better about the Walgreens brand based simply on this seemingly minor customer service tweak.

I’m about to place a national brand in a positive light. But in the interest of full disclosure, our agency has not, and never has had, any relationship with this brand. In other words, we have nothing to gain by pumping up this brand within the hallowed halls of the ab+c blog-a-teria. So now that we have that straight, let the games begin!

The other night, I visited my local Walgreen’s pharmacy. I bought two greeting cards and a gallon of 2% milk. As the clerk handed me my receipt she said, “Thanks — and be well.” On my way out I thought, “Did she just say ‘be well’?” Suddenly, a warm, life-affirming feeling washed over me — just as it does when those cute little yorkies scamper across the floor at the Westminster dog show. What happened to the standard “Have a nice day,” I thought. Or even the beloved “Take ‘er easy”?Read full post...

Disclaimer: your results may vary

The breathtaking action is then followed by a line of microscopic type at the end that states, “Stunt driver on closed course. Do not attempt.” Hey, I’m going to fight the urge!

The breathtaking action is then followed by a line of microscopic type at the end that states, “Stunt driver on closed course. Do not attempt.” Hey, I’m going to fight the urge!

Every weight-loss TV ad worth its salt has a “results not typical” disclaimer at the end of it. You know what I mean. You see a newly svelte man or woman standing inside a pair of giant jeans that once housed their enormous frames — with the disclaimer, “Results not typical.” If these “results” aren’t typical, why in the world are they showing them? Oh yeah, it’s advertising.

While I’m not an attorney by trade, my copywriting background has made me proficient at crafting disclaimer copy. The disclaimer has been described as those few seconds of legalese at the end of an ad designed to take all the fun and fantasy out of what you’ve just witnessed. (Actually, that was my description. See? I told you I was a writer!)

Some of my favorite TV disclaimers: You’ve seen the fast-paced spot that feature 57 seconds of an exotic sports car wildly careening down a snowy mountainside or racing on two wheels around the rim of an active volcano. Let’s call it glorifying some form of death-cheating behavior. Read full post...

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Oh, what a feeling (to work in Toyota’s PR department)!

Toyota relies on brand legacy during times of trouble

Talk about a summer of discontent. It seems that almost every week, another Toyota vehicle recall is announced. And it feels like no make or model year has dodged (pardon the pun) the recall bullet.

For instance, in April 2010, 50,000 Toyota Sequoias were recalled to reprogram the stability control system. In July, more than 400,000 Avalons and LX-470s got the hook for faulty steering column components. The latest recall involves a potential stalling problem affecting 1.3 million Corollas and Matrix cars. (I love it when a company spokesperson states the recall repairs will be performed “at no cost to consumers.” Oh, the generosity!)Read full post...

Are you bad enough to sink my brand?

How will a scandal impact your brand?

How will a scandal impact your brand?

Ben Roethlisberger. Michael Phelps. Tiger Woods. When these sports celebrities submerged themselves in various depths of hot water, did the brands they endorse feel the heat? Not as much as you might suspect, according to a recent Adweek Media/Harris Poll. It left researchers wondering if survey respondents were understating the degree to which scandals grab their interest. Or, it could be that a person’s indifference to a lot of marketing may help insulate brands from collateral damage.

In other words, how could you think less of Titleist golf balls after the Tiger Woods scandal if you didn’t know Tiger was endorsing them? It’s interesting to note people age 55 and older were especially unlikely to alter their view of a brand (81 percent said so versus 72 percent of younger folks). My favorite group of respondents is the 1 percent who said they feel “much better” about a brand when the celebrity endorser is involved in a scandal!

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A writer who never learned to type

How ironic - a writer who can't type.

How ironic - a writer who can't type.

There I’ve said it. The fact that I have 20-plus years of writing experience and never learned to type with any more than two fingers is hardly a point of pride. To me, watching someone type with ten fingers (without looking down at the keyboard) is like witnessing someone spinning a basketball on a fingertip. It’s a wondrous, magical skill. I realize that I could learn to type like a normal person, but then again I could also learn to fingertip-spin a basketball. But let’s face it. I’ll never be a Harlem Globetrotter.

My latest personal revelation is tied to the “Ultimate Typing Championship,” which took place on March 14 in Austin, Texas. Let’s call it “March Madness, nerd-style.” (Who lines up for tickets to an event like this?) The winner, Sean Wrona, broke the world record with a speed of 163 words per minute. First-place prize? $2,000. The event has a website that dares you to match your typing skills against America’s most fleet-fingered folks. (I’d suggest going into battle with all ten digits.)

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We’re only scratching the surface.

Things have really changed in the online world.

Things have really changed in the online world.

I’ve become a big fan of the publication Mediaweek, despite the fact that I’ve never planned nor bought any media — ever. Yet, for some reason, I’m sent a copy of this magazine every week, so who am I not to read it? It’s funny how certain publications find their way to your mailbox. For example, I also look forward to my weekly dose of Modern Manicurist. There’s nothing quite like an article centered on the finer points of nail sculpture.

But getting back to Mediaweek, their recent “Best of the Decade” issue offers some interesting statistics about online-related trends over the last ten years. I love interesting statistics. (Perhaps Mediaweek realizes this and that’s why they’re sending me their magazine.) Here’s the first online fact: “Americans who said they used the Internet in 2000-01: 53%. Americans who use it today: 75%.” That’s three people out of every four. Not totally surprising. How about, “Total daily time Americans spent online in 2000: Less than 30 minutes. Time they spend on the web each day now: 4 hours.” No wonder we’re all so chunky! What were we doing with the extra 3? hours not spent online in 2000, power-walking? And perhaps the most astounding online statistic of all, “Number of text messages sent in 2005: 5.4 billion. Estimated number of text messages sent in 2008: 1+ trillion. That’s “trillion” with a “tr.”

Next up: I offer some hot tips on the do-it-yourself reverse French manicure.

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I am not a crook.

Which occupation do you trust?

Which occupation do you trust?

When I’m at a social gathering, and people ask what I do for a living, I say I’m in advertising. And the standard response is, “Oh, really? Have you done anything I may have seen?” It’s tough knowing how to answer that one. But I’ve never felt ashamed of my chosen profession — until now.

A recent survey by GfK Custom Research revealed we advertising types are not to be trusted. People were asked how much they trust various professionals. As you could probably guess, firemen finished first (95 percent), followed by military personnel (85 percent), doctors (83 percent) and schoolteachers (83 percent). Bankers took the biggest hit in this year’s trustworthy tally, falling from 63 percent last year to 44 percent today.

But even sadder to me is the paltry number of folks who trust advertising people — 24 percent — or marketers — 27 percent. Of little consolation, politicians finished even lower on the trust totem pole at a dismal 21 percent. Casual research indicates that this distrust of advertising practitioners is a continuing trend. So what can we ad people do to polish up our eternally tarnished image? I’m thinking of starting an agency staffed entirely by firemen.

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Whatever happened to “talk amongst yourselves?”

Where is today's face-to-face communcation?

Where is today's face-to-face communcation?

Much of what you read here in AB&C Blogland relates to technology. We offer our thoughts on the latest developments, trends and leaps forward in the rapidly advancing world of web connectivity. Things have reached the point where you can’t go too many places without spotting someone staring down at some sort of handheld device. Even my travel plans have been affected! It used to be that long car trips to client meetings meant there’d be time to catch up on the latest office gossip.Read full post...

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“Be Prepared” for this one

boys-life-logo

Boys' Life Magazine

The following paragraph may be lost on you — unless you are a former (or somehow current!) Boy Scout of America. Let me explain. I was in the dentist’s office this morning and spied a copy of Boys’ Life magazine in the rack. Seeing as this was a doctor’s waiting room, I fully expected this particular issue to be at least 30 years old. Imagine my surprise when I saw “June 2009” emblazoned on the cover!

With so many long-standing print publications meeting their demise these days, it gave me great comfort to unearth a current issue of a magazine that had such a profound effect on my boyhood years. I quickly thumbed through this latest issue to get a sense of how much scouting must have changed in America since yours truly roamed the woods. Amazingly, I found a number of Boys’ Life columns and comic strips that have somehow survived the past several generations. (Here comes the inside stuff for “scouts only.”)

Do you remember “The Wacky Adventures of Pedro?” What about “Pee Wee Harris,” the bumbling boy scout? And who can forget the always-dramatic “Scouts in Action” or the classified section called “Tradin’ Post?” Yep, they’re all still kickin.’ And it appears the very same cartoonists are still cranking out the ideas on a monthly basis. I may have long-since forgotten how to tie a square knot, whittle a Pinewood Derby® race car and successfully treat snakebite, but it’s nice to know some new kids are picking up the slack, thanks to Boys’ Life. Go get ’em, boys.

Dreams for sail: A vacation observation

The reality of cruises

The reality of cruises

Think of any Caribbean cruise TV commercial you’ve ever seen. Most likely you’d envision endless “beautiful people” cavorting in sky-deck swimming pools, working out in floating fitness centers and toasting each other in seagoing gourmet restaurants. After spending a vacation day aboard a well-advertised cruise line ship, I’m here to tell you: Nothing could be further from reality. During the last week of February, I attended a wedding aboard a colossal pleasure craft that sat docked in the Port of Tampa, which gave me a few fleeting hours to drink in the surroundings. The ship was about to set sail and wedding guests were granted temporary access to witness the ceremony.Read full post...

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