Category Archives: Advertising Tips

The 3 best Super Bowl commercials of 2014

Thanks to Mr. Media Training for inspiring this post! Read his, here…

This year, advertisers spent an average of $4 million per 30-second commercial aired during the Super Bowl, the most watched television broadcast of the year. Last night, 111.5 million people tuned in to watch the game.

That’s a CPM of about $35 (per thousand people), which is actually considered rather decent as far as primetime television advertising goes.

Do the commercials work, though? That depends on the goal. One analysis shows that the names of 70% of brands advertising are recalled by people after the game.  Only 30% of the ads increased purchase intent, while 40% of the ads increased brand exposure. Companies who advertise during the Super Bowl tend to see increased investments in the weeks before and after the game. Movies do even better.

So, the jury is still out on that one. But they sure are fun to watch, aren’t they? Here are the “official Fletcher Prince picks” for the best commercials of the night.

1st Place: Duracell “Trust Your Power” featuring Seattle Seahawk Derrick Coleman | Ad Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi New York

The best commercial of the night, by a WIDE margin, was the Duracell “Trust Your Power” spot featuring Derrick Coleman.  It was a triumph of an ad about a triumph of a person, with all the attributes of a great Super Bowl commercial: relevant to the game, inspiring, moving, and novel (how many of us knew this back story?) In short, it caught my attention, and its association of the brand with the deaf player’s courage and determination made me respect Duracell as a brand. I can honestly say I will be more likely to buy Duracell batteries as a result of this ad.

You know when a commercial can make a real statement, maybe even one that might change someone’s life, and still reinforce the brand, that is a dang good commercial. Awesome. Congratulations, Duracell and Saatchi and Saatchi New York, and congratulations, Derrick Coleman, on your Super Bowl win!

P.S. Here’s another cool thing Derrick Coleman did: distributing free hearing aids to New Yorkers before the Super Bowl…

2nd Place: Doritos “Time Traveler” | Ad Agency: None

Surprise! Raj Suri was one of two finalists who got to have their Doritos ad air during the Superbowl. Way to go, Raj!  Smart move, Doritos!

Raj, an Intel systems analyst and Virginia Tech grad, won $1 million for the ad, which he produced with his friends for $300. The ad was inspired by his friend/director’s son, who wanted to create a time machine after he saw Back to the Future, and yep, that’s the kid in the commercial AND the kid’s dog!

Our second favorite ad of the night was a funny one that manages to tell a story and a joke — well — in 30 seconds AND reinforce the brand. Nice. I thought it was quite original and it made me laugh out loud.  Quirky humor + little kid + dog. A hard-to-beat formula with a crunchy twist at the end.  The last line makes me watch it again and again.

And I thought all this when I ASSUMED it was produced by some hot-shot ad agency. It blows me away now that I know the whole story! Congratulations, Frito-Lay and Raj!

3rd Place: Cheerios “Gracie” | Ad Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi New York

Saatchi & Saatchi scores another touchdown on the Fletcher Prince score card with a commercial that, like Cheerios, is just the right amount of sweet.  You might remember “Gracie” as the adorable tyke that poured Cheerios on her dad to make his heart healthy.  Here, she deftly negotiates for a puppy. The direction, timing, and acting in this spot was just perfect. It had the “awww” cute-kid factor without sinking into saccharine territory.  Looking forward to seeing more like Gracie!

Kudos to General Mills for embracing diversity with this portrayal of an interracial family, despite some of the hateful comments they received when airing the first “Gracie” commercial in 2013. We applaud a major brand for their creativity, integrity, and vision. Congratulations, General Mills and Saatchi & Saatchi New York!

What were your favorite commercials of the night? Tell us in the comments!

Think Before You Speak (and comment on blog posts)

One of the great things about having a blog is that it gives me the opportunity to have a dialogue with my readers about important issues.

Today, I received a comment on my March 17 Ad Council post that was basically unrelated to my point, but gave me the opportunity to make an important point about my personal beliefs, as well as my company’s business practices.

The issue today was a public service announcement sponsored by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network).  You may have seen these.  They are part of the “Think Before You Speak” campaign created by the Ad Council for the nonprofit organization, and they  discourage the use of the word “gay” as a negative adjective.  The commenter thought the PSAs were funded by the federal government and that they were possibly infringing on his right to free speech. The campaign is not funded by the government; it’s funded by the nonprofit organization.  Also, no PSA, federally funded or not, can take away a person’s right to anything, because all a PSA can do is influence someone to change their behavior.  It can’t compel, intimidate, or penalize a person for not responding to the call to action.

He also called the advertisements “gay.”  Although that usage tempted me to delete his comment, as I will delete comments I find abusive, I let it stand so I could inform him of his mistake, and also my point of view.

The public service announcements are particularly targeted at students, and the campaign is designed to raise awareness about bullying and harassment  in schools.  I find it notable as an advertising vehicle because it gives teens the words to use so that they can confront their peers who engage in hurtful speech.  So I think it’s an admirable use of call to action.

For the record, Fletcher Prince supports safe and affirming schools and workplaces for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.  And we never use, nor do we support the use of,  the word “gay” to mean something negative or derogatory, in our personal or business practices.

Nationwide, schools will be observing a day of silence on April 20, 2012 to recognize the importance of respect for all students, regardless of sexual orientation, including the 90% of LGBT students who have been harassed at school for being who they are.  Please take a moment today to watch and share the public service announcements.

Follow @GLSEN on Twitter

Bet you didn’t know: the Ad Council and public service campaigns

Ad Council

Image via Wikipedia

Do you sometimes see or hear a public service announcement that is produced by the Ad Council for a nonprofit organization or a government agency?

Did you assume that the nonprofit organization or agency received that public service announcement  for free?

I did.  Until this week.  But I was wrong about that.

The Ad Council takes credit for these campaigns, and the public perception is that the Ad Council is responsible for them.  For example, NPR just recognized them for 70 years of “Ad Council campaigns.”

But the truth is, the campaigns are initiated by other nonprofit organizations or the federal government; advertising agencies (such as BBDO and Arnold) contribute the creative at no cost; and the advertising space is donated by publishers that can’t sell the space (the leftovers) and broadcasters, who are mandated as a condition of their license to allot a certain percentage of their broadcast time to airing public service announcements.

You won’t see these nonprofits, government agencies, and advertising agencies getting much credit from the Ad Council on the Ad Council Facebook Page, however (at least, not until I mentioned it yesterday!)  The Ad Council claims the campaigns as their own — and they also take credit for the impact.  And I don’t think that’s right.

So if the Ad Council doesn’t come up with the idea, execute it creatively, or pay for advertising space, what is the Ad Council’s contribution?  And is it fair for them to claim these campaigns as their own, as well as their impact to the community?

Well, the Ad Council does make a contribution, for a price.  It actually charges some pretty hefty fees to federal agencies and nonprofit organizations for “managing” the production and distribution of PSAs.  In most cases, this “sponsorship” amounts to many thousands of dollars.   The agencies and nonprofits are expected to assume all costs of production (which the Ad Council expenses to the IRS – seems odd to me!).  The nonprofits and agencies also pay project management fees paid to the Ad Council.  For example, Autism Speaks paid the Ad Council $844,000 in fees in a recent year (as reported to the IRS).

Maybe that’s a great price for what Autism Speaks received that year, I don’t know.  But I’d be curious to know what exactly they were paying for, if the creative and space were already donated.  Stock photography?  Or maybe it helped pay for the Ad Council president’s $862,000 annual compensation package.

Did I mention that the Ad Council was a nonprofit organization?  How do you feel about a nonprofit organization paying its CEO $862,000?  Still consider them benevolent?

In their most recent tax report, the Ad Council claims that it received nearly $32 million in program revenue from nonprofits and federal agencies, as well as nearly $9 million in donations and grants.

What is your opinion now of the Ad Council?  And do you think they should take credit for these public service campaigns?

Advertising Tips from Fletcher Prince

ADDY Awards

Image via Wikipedia

This year, as you make your marketing plans, I hope you are allocating money for advertising.  While advertising may be the most expensive component in the marketing mix, it is often highly effective.

There are two upcoming opportunities to expand your knowledge about advertising opportunities in the DC area.  One is the local ADDY awards, which will be presented by the DC Ad Club in mid-March.  This is the perfect occasion to scout out the agencies that are producing award-winning work.  The other is DC Ad Week, which will occur in mid-September.  You have the opportunity to hear from nationally known experts in advertising at DC Ad Week, and learn about the latest trends and best practices.

Of course, David and I hope you will work with us this year.  As you consider your advertising options, here are some “Do’s and Don’ts” to keep in mind . . .


  • Integrate your marketing, public relations, and social media campaigns to complement each other.  We can help you plan your integrated campaign.
  • Examine where your competitors are advertising, and the frequency.
  • Invest in professional graphic design for display advertisements.
  • Use cost-effective email marketing.  It has the highest ROI on the dollar of all marketing channels, according to the Direct Marketing Association
    • Email marketing: $40.56
    • Internet, search: $22.24
    • Internet, display: $19.72
    • Social networking: $12.71
    • Mobile: $10.51
    • Catalog: $7.30
    • General advertising: $5.24
  • Use search engine advertising, especially if you have numerous competitors.
  • Target workday commuters with drive-time radio spots and Metro bus/rail ads.


  • Skimp on advertising!  This is the most common mistake we observe.
  • Assume Twitter and Facebook updates can replace the results of paid advertising.
  • Run small, lower-price ads in many outlets.  Larger ads get noticed.

Get your entry ready for the DC ADDY Awards…

The Advertising Club of Metropolitan Washington (DC Ad Club) has announced its call for entries for the 2011 ADDY® Awards, recognizing creative excellence in advertising.  The early deadline for entries is Friday, December 17, 2010 at 5:00 p.m.  The regular submission deadline is January 7, 2011 at 5:00 p.m.

The member entry fees are $99 for single entries and $130 for campaigns. Non-members may enter single entries for $130 for campaigns for $155. Students may enter the student portion of the competition for $25 for each single entry or campaign.  Entries submitted by the early deadline of December 17 are entitled to a $10 discount per entry.

In this video interview with Mary Fletcher Jones, RP3 Agency Creative Director Jim Lansbury explains how to create a winning ADDY Award entry.

A distinguished panel of advertising creative executives will gather to select the winners from an anticipated 700 entries. To be eligible for consideration of an ADDY®, all work must have been published or aired between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010.

Entering the DC Ad Club ADDYs is the first step toward winning a national ADDY®.  Winners from the local level compete in District Two (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Washington, DC); those winners go on to compete in the AAF national competition.

The 43rd Annual DC Ad Club ADDY® Awards presentation and reception will take place on Tuesday, March 15, 2011 at the Almas Temple, Washington, DC.

More information is available at

How to manage online review sites associated with your business

Good online reviews can make your business, and bad online reviews can break your business.

If you listen to anything I’ve told you about marketing your small business, let it be this: proactively take control of your online reputation, as much as you can, now.  Sometimes there is damage that cannot be undone later.

We all know if you are in business for any length of time, someone you deal with is going to be unhappy.  The amount of damage to your reputation that can result from that unhappy customer (or ex-employee or competitor) depends on how much disaster mitigation you put into place before the negative review is posted online.  And that requires some planning (which is where I often come in).  Here are four ways you can mitigate for the worst:

  1. Publish as much content online for your business as possible. This should be an ongoing effort. Create a Facebook Page for your business, a Twitter account, Flickr photos, and a YouTube channel.  Create a LinkedIn Business Listing and claim all your listings online.  If you get a negative review — and that’s all that people see about your business when they search for you online — you’re in a bad place.  But if you’ve taken the time to deliberately market your business: collecting and publishing testimonials, publicizing good reviews when you receive them, uploading images and video, writing a blog or managing a Facebook Page — then you are in a much better position.  Then, the negative review may not be the first thing a person sees in the search engine results, and the good content will balance the bad.
  2. Don’t let your customers leave unhappy; fix the problem now. Constantly check in with your customers before they have the chance to write a bad review.  Don’t wait until your guests check out of your hotel or bed and breakfast to ask them how things are going — call the first night and make sure everything is to their satisfaction.  If you manage a restaurant, make sure you walk the floor and ask each and every customer, every day, every meal, if everything is completely to their satisfaction.  And if it isn’t — do anything you have to do right then to make it right.
  3. Make it easy for people to review your business online. You can prevent fallout from negative online reviews by encouraging online reviews.  To do this, post links to review sites on your website, blog, and Facebook Page for example, so people can easily find your listings and read other reviews.  Most online reviews tend to be positive; Yelp claims that 85% of their reviews are 3 stars or higher.
  4. Develop a way to keep track of your customers so you can promptly respond to complaints posted online, whenever possible. For example, if someone makes an appointment for service, you probably have their phone number.  If you then discover that the person has written a negative review, you can contact that person to learn more.  In some cases, the person may go back and revise their review! It is worth almost any effort to turn that situation around. Monitoring your reviews are key; you have to have business listings with review sites and Google Alerts in place to quickly respond.

Sure, there are some customers that will never be satisfied, but heed my advice: take your online reviews seriously.  Negative reviews — approached the right way — can be a positive thing for your business!  They are not a forum for excuses, but they can be an opportunity to tell your story, and to turn things around, even get advice.  They can help you identify trouble spots and service issues that can keep your business from getting more negative reviews.

Here are five important online review sites, plus strategies for dealing with them.

Yelp Reviews

Last month — in one month — 38 million people visited Yelp, which features reviews about  everything from dentists to realtors to restaurants (see chart for breakdown).  If you do not have a business listing on Yelp, you can create one. If you do have one, you should go ahead and claim it (it is free), and upload as much content as you can: upload photos, logos,  special offers  You can also monitor activity on your listing — all for free.  You have the option of responding publicly or privately (or both) to reviews on Yelp, and Yelp provides excellent guidelines for handling both negative and positive feedback from reviewers that I recommend all business owners read.


TripAdvisor attracts 35 million visitors monthly who read the restaurant, hotel, and attraction reviews.  If you have a restaurant, hotel, or attraction, you MUST claim your TripAdvisor business listing and take full advantage of the free features it offers business owners, including the opportunity to respond publicly to positive and negative reviews.  You can also upload images and video on TripAdvisor.  Think about that: you could upload video testimonials.  TripAdvisor is tremendously influential and provides a way for you to enter the conversation.

Google Maps/Google Places

You may have a business listing for Google Maps or Google Places.  If you do, you should claim it (it is free).  If you don’t, you can create one for free, and I recommend that you do.  Unless you are a very small business, chances are one will be created for you eventually, if you do not, and this is a listing over which you want to have as much control as possible.

The bad news is you have virtually no control over the the reviews posted on your Google listing, which includes both reviews posted directly on the site, as well as reviews found on TripAdvisor and elsewhere online.  It’s hard to tell who the reviewers are, and you cannot respond to the reviews, publicly or privately, and there is no real way to remove a listing, unless it was fraudulently put up.

Yahoo Local Reviews

Yahoo Local doesn’t wield the power of Yelp — it appears to receive about 11 million views per month — but it does offer free business listings.  It is possible to comment on the reviews that are posted there.

Facebook Page Reviews

If you have a Facebook Page, you have the option of putting a Reviews tab on your Page.  Should you do this?  In my opinion, no.  Facebook Page reviews are not that searchable.  I think you should have a tab for reviews on your page, but you can create that manually with FBML and add your reviews, list style.  Then you can add a link to Yelp or TripAdvisor to encourage your Facebook Page users to visit those sites and review your business.

Should you pay for online reviews?

I hope you know that the answer is no.  You should not hire someone to do this, or ask a friend or family member (unless they identify themselves as such) to write online reviews for you, or reward people for good reviews.  People see right through that.  Good thing, too, as ex-employees and competitors are not above writing fake negative reviews to sink a business.  Sylvia Rector, a restaurant critic, has identified several ways that she and other savvy review readers may suspect the veracity of a review:

  • The reviewer only has one review.
  • Several reviews are written in one day.
  • There are few specific details but extreme opinions.

Has your business been reviewed online?  How did you respond?  What are  your plans for managing online reviews?

Time to start thinking about your DC Addy entries

August is a little slow in DC.  So…

NOW is the perfect time to start looking through your portfolio to see what you would like to submit for the DC Addys in December! There are dozens of categories, including ones for video, social media, self-promotion, pro bono work, you name it.

To help you create a winning entry, the DC Ad Club will have some brown-bag lunch information sessions for people to attend, so put these dates on your calendar:

  • Tuesday, November 16, at 12 noon.
  • Tuesday, December 7, also at noon.

By then, you should be ready to submit your award entries by the early deadline of Friday, December 17.

Ross Putman with Student Addy Award
Ross Putman with Student Addy Award, 2009

Don’t forget: students can enter, too! One of our interns, Ross Putman, took home a Student Addy for his Fletcher Prince video in 2009.  They showed the entire video at the awards ceremony that night. We were SO proud of his achievement!

The story behind brilliant advertising campaigns

Kirk Souder

Kirk Souder (image: Advertising Age)

To understand the power of advertising, it can be helpful to look at influences from the not-so-distant past.  The story and creative talents behind innovative advertising campaigns, such as Nike’s “Just Do It,” Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef?” and “Got Milk?” are featured in Art & Copy, a documentary about the advertising industry.

The DC Ad Club is presenting a screening of Art & Copy, on Wednesday, April 28 at 6:30 p.m. at The Washington Post, 1150 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC (Metro: McPherson Square – Orange Line or Farragut North – Red Line). Kirk Souder, Executive Creative Director of Omnicom Group’s GMMB in Washington, DC — and one of the film’s producers — will present introductory remarks.  A question and answer session will follow the screening.

Here’s a trailer from the film:

Proceeds from the event will benefit the DC Ad Club Foundation, which sponsors scholarships for design and advertising students.

The event includes an hour of networking beginning at 6:30 p.m., and the film will be shown at 7:30 p.m.  There will be a cash bar.  Cost is $15 for Ad 2 DC members and full-time students, $20 for DC Ad Club members, and $25 for non-members

To register for the event, visit the DC Ad Club online

Is radio right for your brand?

The Nielsen Company released a report, How U.S. Adults Use Radio & Other Forms of Audio: an Observational Study.

The researchers discovered

• More than 90% of all adults are exposed to some form of audio media on a daily basis, on average 165 minutes per day.
• Broadcast radio dominates other forms of radio in terms of reach and daily minutes used.
– Highest reach and usage levels at home, work & car
– A high percentage of those who use other sources of audio, such as portable audio (e.g., iPods), also have high exposure to broadcast radio.
• Portable Audio Devices (e.g., iPods) reach just under 12% of the total sample in this study, increasing to 20% among 18-34 year olds.
• Among key “advertising-based” media platforms — including television, Internet (excluding email), newspapers, and magazines, broadcast radio (18%)  is second only to live television (67%) in terms of daily reach and minutes of use.

How-US-Adults-Use-Radio-and-Other-Forms-of Audio-an-Observational-Study-2009

The State of Newspaper Advertising

E marketer released finding today that state newspaper advertising revenues declined 16.4% in 2008 “The current economic situation is making things tough across all media, but newspaper revenues are falling more than in any other major medium,” says Carol Krol, eMarketer senior analyst.

The “State of the News Media” is a compendium of 2008 studies looking at every aspect of news media, including advertising. The reports identify several trouble areas for newspaper, the major issue being that people (especially young people) read their news online these days.

Craig’s List is hurting newspapers by eating into their classified advertising revenues, and online websites are replacing display advertising.

The troubled auto industry was once a significant source of advertising revenue for newspapers, as well. And in 2007, Macy’s decreased its newspaper advertising by nearly 25%.

Two notable businesses that increased their advertising are Sprint and Verizon.

What does this mean for small businesses and people interested in public relations? First of all, slowing revenues means editorial staff cuts at newspapers. Newspapers are turning to wire sources and freelance writers for content. So pitching a story is more challenging now than ever. It also means that newspapers are hiring younger staffers, with less knowledge about the community and their subject. Reporters cover may cover several beats, instead of just one. And most journalists report being under tremendous pressure to produce many stories for both online and print purposes. The end result is that readers may read less in-depth coverage of stories, and more mistakes. And, more than ever, reporters may rely on publicists to fact-check and provide background information for content.

It also means, while newspaper advertising is still quite expensive, that it advertisers are in a better position to negotiate deals and placement for display ads.

%d bloggers like this: