I support freedom of choice





About sales [events]

12-18-2011- 3

 This is my mother, Julia in 2011 at age 90. She’d be 102 now. At Christmas she gave us money because she didn’t understand how her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren navigated life. The price of things astounded her. As did the new technology, and the speed at which things come into and go out of fashion. It all became too much for her towards the end. Interestingly, when she asks her children what she should get their children, they were not so sure either; they too are amazed, but in a different way, by the changes, and the speed of the changes, in their lives.

The children, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren have one thing in common: they all enjoy the money my mother gives them because they can do what-ever they want with it. 

My mother doesn’t think giving money is a gift because it takes no thought or insight. She believed that a good gift should be a creative revelation for the recipient.

Segue to Frank Wehrmann on the subject of Creative Design and Branding.

When I’m asked to design an advertising campaign or comment on one, I ask to see the consumer U&A research first. 

If the client doesn’t have any but is prepared to do some, great! 

There’s hope. 

If not, odds are that I can’t really help the client.

Like my mother, the people at the top are not in touch with what’s going on at street level. They just pretend to be. They see people shopping and see lots of stores having sales. And when some stupid ad agency tells them they need to do a sale as well, they’re more than willing to blindly jump on the band wagon and run one as well. Follow the leader – like little lemmings into the sea.

Like my mother, I don’t think giving away money or margin is creative or smart. Actually, I think it’s a pretty stupid [race to the bottom invented by short sighted marketers]. If they were smart, they would add to, rather than chip away, at their brand’s fragile value proposition and use their profits to make brand improvements that increase their brand's quality, loyalty and sales.




A thousand-word picture





All we are singing is . . .


 We found these all-occasion cards at the AGO store in Toronto. 



Creative Influence


Attend any award show and the majority of the recipient’s acceptance speech will focus on all of the people they want to thank for making their special moment possible. It sounds so banal and contrived. But it isn’t once you’ve seen how a fresh outside influence can dramatically change the course of the creative process, or product, in real time.


A few weeks ago I attended a concert at Massey Hall featuring Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. I went because I love Massey Hall and hoped that I’d like some of their music. “Well, it filled the hall” is about as effusive as I can be about the band’s first ½ hour.


Enter guest star, Tarra Lightfoot. A singer \ songwriter with a folk vibe that I wasn’t familiar with, but she has a great alto voice that complimented and rounded out their sound. 




Enter guest star Serena Ryder. Another singer \ songwriter. This one with a classic rock style. Her voice + style didn’t compliment the Rodeo Kings as much as it encouraged me to notice all of the different voices and instruments on stage.




Enter guest star Daniel Lanois. World renowned singer \ songwriter \ producer. He changed everything the moment he walked on the stage. 10 seconds in to their first collaboration and I was listening to Daniel Lanois and his back-up band; Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. The evening quickly went from a 5 / 10 to a 9 / 10, not because I knew all of Daniel Lanois’ music, but because of the broad range of experience that he brings to any stage.


Game changing.


A similar thing happened in the more progressive ad agencies that I worked for. 

Every few years they’d bring in a new creative director to “stir things up”. The first time I saw it happen I was young, ignorant and didn’t understand it. I thought the agency was messing with the status quo . . . which . . . it was. Along the way I learned that that’s what good ad agencies do and good brand stewards expect because it ensures the brand’s image reflects the times. 


Working with a pool of freelance strategists, copywriters, designers and media planners and buyers is a great way to bring fresh perspectives to a brand - ensuring the it remains relevant.


The greatest challenge you'll face: the gatekeepers in your shop who don’t like change.