Tag Archives: marketing

Forget all the bells and whistles, just be human

Throughout the years, I’ve received countless pieces of advice from people from all walks of life. I’ve been educated by average Joes, preached to by self proclaimed innovators, and absorbed bits of wisdom from a scattered group of individuals who fell somewhere in between. All that said, I’ve always found the best advice comes from accidental mystics.

My father once told me “You can be anything you want; if you want to be a shoemaker, be a shoemaker… just make sure you’re the best damn shoemaker that ever lived and you’ll be all right”. At the time I just laughed. 

A close childhood friend once told me “If you want someone to like you, make sure you talk to them and more importantly make sure you talk to them—about them”. After hearing this, I looked at him quizzically and tried to understand why?

I once asked a former co-worker how she appeared to know everything about everything? Her response “I don’t, I just tell people I can do anything they ask me and then I just figure it out along the way.”

What do all these seemingly unrelated education bits share in common? They were all honest, genuine and most important, they were statements that came from the heart.

Although all these individuals have profoundly inspired me as a designer in some way, the most genius piece of creative advice I’ve ever received didn’t come from a person I know…It came from a group of people I’ve never met nor probably will ever meet. The culprit: FCB, the folks responsible for the awesome ad campaign you can watch below.


So what is this human element anyways?

The human element comes in all shapes and sizes. Whether it empowers you to make a change, causes you to tick like a time bomb, or makes you want to lock yourself in a room and have a good cry, if done correctly – the chances are the ad’s creators have successfully incorporated at least one of these key components.

1) The “human element” allows us to pause life and recalibrate our social compass.

Let’s face it, as we grow older, no matter how carefree and young at heart we are, as we age, we become hardened. While a little bit is absolutely necessary for day-to-day survival, the problem is sometimes we forget to stop and enjoy life’s simple joys.

A great example of this is demonstrated in this McDonald’s “Dia Del Niño” ad in which adult customers where made to feel like kids again…the result was awesome, check it out.

2) It delivers a simple message that is easily transmittable from culture to culture.

Living in America, we tend to take a lot of things for granted. We forget how in some areas of the world, simply stepping into a neighboring country can be a life-threatening experience. I know I am constantly beating the Coca-Cola drum, but their ads reach people the way few others do. This ad, from Leo Burnett, demonstrates that while ads can’t bring us world peace, they can certainly help individuals find common ground and understanding through visual communication.

3) It makes you think about the ad…long after it’s gone

A good ad that connects with its viewers leaves a lasting impression

Think of how many ads you see in one day? Need a little help? While the number is often debated, the consensus opinion is as consumers, we view between 1500-3000 ads per day. All the more reason an ad needs to stand out. A truly great ad needs to leave its viewers with a message to carry back to other consumers.

So what does all this mean for an advertiser? It means a hell of a lot of pressure, that’s what. But fear not, with the help of the “human element”, you can create an ad that is simply priceless.


American’s aren’t drinking as much pop and Coca-Cola’s taking it personal

By now everyone has seen Coca-Cola’s latest ad campaign or, like a lot of people I know, own their own personalized bottle. The success isn’t by accident, as Coca Cola is no stranger to producing the stuff of legend. Last year, with the help of the team at Leo Burnett and the World Wildlife Fund, Coke turned its traditionally red cans white to save the polar bears. The white cans then turned to green-roughly 2 million dollars of it, to be exact. Their latest attempt at advertising gold hits a bit closer to home, as they attempt to reverse the slide of soda consumption by asking customers to come back and drink more Coke…literally by name. The initial roll out has proven effective, but it’s how they’re doing it that’s truly something to behold? Let’s examine:

We are currently living in an era where physical fitness and exercise has become a staple of American culture. You could even go as far as to say health and nutrition are enjoying a bit of a renaissance, need proof?

2013 was somewhat of a milestone for H2O as it marked the first time in over a decade, in which Americans consumed more water (58 gallons per year), than the 44 gallons per year average of the popular sugar stacked beverage. Realizing the sharp decline in soda drinking, Coca-Cola along with Weiden and Kennedy (who handles Coca-Cola’s Coke and Diet coke product lines) enlisted the aid of what you will commonly refer to as the human element. The result? Personalized bottles for everyone…well almost everyone. If you aren’t lucky enough to have a fairly common name, you’ll have to settle for the “family” bottle.

But why is it so successful?

1) The “Name Game”

Coca-Cola is a smart company that knows who its existing and potential customers are, so what have they done? They’ve reached out to us…by name, which resonates on a stronger emotional level. Think about the way you feel when someone calls you by name. What happens? You feel good, you feel important and a sense of trust is created without you even noticing. Why? Because it connects with you on a level, in a way something like a simple “Hello” or “hey you” cannot. By doing so, Coca-Cola is speaking directly to us. The result? We’re eating it up (or drinking it up) to be more accurate.

2) It adds a bit of excitement to an otherwise trivial task of selecting something to drink.

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. If you haven’t already been to a store that features the new bottles, head to a local grocery or convenience store and try to resist the temptation of looking for your name at a display–It’s hard, trust me.

3) It encourages the lost art of sharing.

Long before the word sharing was relegated strictly to your Facebook newsfeed, people actually did physically share things and enjoy a personal connection when doing so. Coca-Cola has revitalized this idea and it’s working.

4) It’s making people want to buy Coca-Cola that normally wouldn’t

Last, but most important, the folks at Coca-Cola have done something that truly separates a good company from a great company: They’ve found a way to sell their product to those who normally wouldn’t buy it… and their doing so in droves.

So, while it’s still early on, early indications are the “Share a Coke” campaign is working and aside from the minor drawback of people constantly turning over display racks when searching for hard to find names, Coca-Cola’s appears to have hit another home-run and judging by the initial popularity I’ve seen, the momentum shows no signs of slowing.

So Cheer’s to you Coca-Cola, I may not be a soda drinker but you’ve definitely caught my attention.