Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pike Place Market: revisited

That Pike Place Market project from a couple posts ago has morphed into a more general guide to Seattle project. But one directed to those (like me) that are not fond of crowds.

It's become support material for, and a site containing, regularly updated webisode guides to some of the areas best attractions and how to enjoy them with minimal hassle. Plus, viewers can participate by uploading their photos of tourist spots. (A guide to places mentioned in the webisodes is likely in the future.)

(Click on any image to see it larger)

Here's a "Brochure" for the literature racks:

Here's the "blast email" directing people to a website:

Here's a simple website containing a Homepage, a page for people to upload their photos, a page to contain an archive of past webisodes, and an about me page.

And finally, here's a script for a 3 minute webisode "The Pike Place Market Photo-op Tour."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

An obligatory post, post.

Guess it's time for another post.

If you explore food reviews you probably already know about Yelp.com. It's actually about more than food. It's about whatever people want to review. For a quick in-class writing assignment I wrote about one of my favorite fish & chips places: Jack's Fish Spot in the Pike Place Market. (It's a favorite more for it's ambiance than strictly it's food.) Anyway, visit Yelp and you'll find my reviews sprinkled among the much better written ones by other people. Have a look.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pike Place Market: "Take One"

A challenging class project to sell one of the most popular destinations in all of the State of Washington: Seattle's Pike Place Market. Well, technically not sell the destination, but rather direct people to a website where they can learn more about it.

My take about the Market is if you don't like crowds, don't go. Or better still, plan your visit to best see what you want and minimize that bad part of going.

Like any marcomm project I start with a brief. Here it is:

With the brief done and the idea articulated, it's time to write.

(Click to see larger)

Now, what have I done here? Seems I have used my "default voice," the FKA (Friendly Knowledgeable Authority). I fall into this voice when I do things in a hurry. It's a useful voice for selling many things and I'm comfortable enough with it for it to be OK in this project. (You have no doubt noticed I use it a lot in this blog.) If I had more time I think I'd try some variation.

No matter. Now this project has changed. Watch for a future post.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Something short about something long (get your mind out of the gutter)

George Demmer (who I don't know from a painted stick) did me a great service in putting together in one article the value of the long-copy ad as put forward by David Ogilvy, John Caples, Claude Hopkins, Maxwell Sackheim, Victor O. Schwab, Bob Stone, Walter H. Weintz, Robert W. Bly, Gary C. Halbert, Craig Huey, Jay Abraham, and Jay Conrad Levinson. (Famously successful copywriters each.) If you only advocate short copy ads perhaps you should give it a read.

"Do long copy ads work?"
George Demmer

(Caveat: Don't write long to write long. Write as much as your reader is interested in reading. But not so much you bore them.)

Another interesting post on the long/short copy issue relates the experience of a split testing experiment. If you are interested in looking at the issue from this angle: Long Copy vs Short Copy Tested (And if you REALLY want to get into the topic, follow the additional links bellow the article.)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Are you an interesting retailer?

Writing for retail is tricky. Describing what someone can clearly see for themselves provides no value. Brand messages are communicated by your writing, your design, by everything about your presentation. When your presentation has no personality guess what that says about you.

Brooklyn Fare (Grocer, Catering, Cafe)

JAQK Wine Cellars (Online Wine Retailer)

Base Camp (Project Management Software)

20 x 200 (Limited Edition Art Prints)

Mia and Maggie (Products for pets)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Rewriting history {or Butchering a classic}

If one is going to rewrite a paragraph of marketing copy, one might as well rewrite something that was worth reading in the first place. The following is my attempt to rewrite a classic Howard Gossage ad.


{The question isn’t should billboards be allowed to block your view, the question is should billboards be allowed at all.}

Billboards have been around for so long we’ve grown used to them. Most argue about where they are placed, or what is on them. No one thinks to wonder why they are allowed period.

Why is this? How have billboards acquired a right of way across our minds like they have over our views? Somehow outdoor advertising has become such an institution it requires conscious concentration to remember they have the same objective character as graffiti or other forms of vandalism. But while those messages are given the shrugging tolerance we grant juvenile delinquents, outdoor advertising is accorded the respect of an established industry. And it's become un-American to question them.


{how to look at billboards}

Howard Gossage

While it is easy to see billboards, it is hard to look at them objectively without getting bogged down in trivial or secondary criticisms; nevertheless let me try.

It is so strange that billboards exist at all that the current controversy about whether outdoor advertising should be allowed along federal highways achieves the unreality of a debate on whether witch burning should be permitted in critical fire areas. Apparently no one has thought to wonder just what in the hell billboards are doing anywhere.

Why do you suppose this is? It must be that billboards have somehow acquired an easement across our minds just as they have gained squatter’s rights on our visual air space. They’ve been there–everywhere–for a long time and we have grown used to them. It requires a conscious effort to recognize that a billboard has the same objective status as a “Jesus Saves” scrawled on a culvert of men’s room poetry; it is there by public sufferance. But there is this difference: while those other gratuitous messages are accorded the shrugging tolerance that we grant to eccentrics, outdoor advertising has come to be regarded as an institution like any other overtly respectable industry. This is where the confusion starts, for if one accepts this premise all sorts of preposterous assumptions seem worthy of consideration; indeed, it would be positively un-American to question them.


how to look at billboards

Monday, October 5, 2009

How to get people interested in your blog without wrapping it in bacon.

This is supposed to be "5 examples of good web writing". My only real problem was narrowing things down to 5. Good writing is good writing and the following are writers and sites I suggest are a "must read" for anyone interested in capturing a readers attention and presenting a message.

1. Nothing else like him. Neil French. The man can write. This site has great writing in two places: First in his introductions to the work he's presenting, and second in the work itself. You won't go wrong studying this work.

The Neil French Site

One of my favorite pieces (click for the larger version)
And one of my favorite campaigns

2. Ken Segall is a long time Writer and Creative Director that's done some amazing work. He's the master of simplicity and focus. And he's brought that to IBM, Apple, and Intel (among others). His Blog "Observatory" is a insightful look at technology and marketing. And it's well written too.

Ken Segall's Observatory

3. Do you read the Onion? You should. It's not just funny, it's well written. And once you start reading it's hard to stop.

The Onion

4. Do you write? Well, if you do here's one blog you don't want to miss. It's a collection of writers each bringing their own thoughts on a variety of issues related to writing for the internet, most specifically geared to the world off blogging.


5. Apparently I have a soft spot for grumpy old advertising men. George Tannenbaum is a great writer that draws you in with nearly every post. This is a personal blog, but he covers sooo much territory.

Ad Aged


And a few runners up:


Mark Fenske is a legendary Wieden & Kennedy Copywriter and advertising instructor at VCU AdCenter. He had a great blog that seems to have disappeared for the moment. Anyway, if you find more examples of his work, study 'em. Closely.

Here's what he can do with an infomercial: (27min long)

Bob Hoffman writes "the Ad Contrarian" and he's "fucking amazing". He mostly writes about advertising, but he sometimes writes about other stuff. Read him. Now.

The Ad Contrarian

Gerorge Parker is another one of those "old guys" that tells it like it is. He's a blast. AdScam

Hayes Thompson (The Naked Copywriter) doesn't actually take his clothes off. Instead he "strips ideas bare" and presents them for your enjoyment. Enjoy his blog here: The Naked Copywriter

Sally Hogshead is a great writer. Period. She's largely moved into the world of offering career advice. Here's her blog: Radical Careering

The Hidden Persuaders not only has a great blog, they have a fantastic blog roll. Check it out: The Hidden Persuaders

Oh, and for foodies, those that hate them, and anyone desiring a good read: check out the Surly Gourmet :)

OK, I think that's enough for now.

They laughed when I sat down to write..

My goal isn't to become funny. The headline is from a famous ad (by John Caples) that ran for years and made the makers of mail order piano lessons very rich. Try as they did, they never came up with a headline that brought in more response.

In advertising there are (or I should say, seem to be) two schools of thought about copy writing. 1. The brand building school 2. The sell something school

On occasion you find something that bridges those schools. It both makes the brand likable AND makes you want to give them your money. THAT is the kind of writer I'd like to be. Skilled enough that whichever type of writing is required for a project I can bring the other kind along into it.

So, I guess this is my "copywriting blog". Feel free to bash the posts all to hell in the comments (but please try to make the comments actionable. "you suck" doesn't give me much to work with.)