A Rare + Brilliant Ad


This is the best Financial Services advertisement that I’ve seen in years. It’s the kind of ad that comes around maybe once every ten years – and makes me wanna scream and say; Fuck! I wish I had designed and written that ad!

Most ads in this category say nothing worth while about what the company can do for you. They'll try their luck with come-ons like; “Call us for a free consultation. Our experts can show you how to grow your returns while reducing your risk.” 


They’ll probably offer you a free coffee, tell you to reduce your debt, open a TFSA account, and top up your RRSP to reduce your taxes.  

Admittedly it’s tough when most of the financial services and products you’re selling don’t come with a fixed ROI.

Admittedly it’s a lot like Advertising where two ads in the same medium can garner dramatically different response rates.

And at a time when there are a dozen or more cheap Apps and free YouTube videos making all sorts of (unattainable investment achievement) promises it’s tougher than ever to explain, to the uninitiated why anyone would pay an (ongoing) professional service fee.

Well kids . . . that’s where this ad for MAWER is simply brilliant and brilliantly simple. 

My hat’s off to MAWER + Company, their ad manager, ad director – and especially their copy writer. 



About love and brands


A while ago the lunch time conversation with a group I work with took a romantic turn and it became a great metaphor for better understanding brand romance dynamics.

When Mary asked Adam “when did you know you were in love?”, the first thing that shot through my head was: “Which time?”.  I bit my tongue, silently listened to the group – fascinated by their emotional triggers and remembered some of the emotional triggers for those who were attracted to a brand named Frank Wehrmann:

  • Ann-Marie liked the way I dressed.
  • Pam liked the way my loyalty to her revealed itself in tough times.
  • Susan loved my quirky smarts.
  • Pauline liked my earning potential.
  • Inge valued my "Canadian outside - German inside" cultural mash-up.
  • Michelle liked the fact that I was a single father. She likes kids, but not babies and never wanted to go into production.

Brand Lesson #1:

People fall in love with brands for a wide variety of reasons - often it's not one of the obvious ones. You can help them fall for your brand by watching and listening to them rather than just telling them how great you are. Look for ways of making them feel that you are accommodating their individual needs while you court and accommodate millions of others. Think “MASS INTIMACY”.

Brand Lesson #2:

People love (or hate) well defines brands. This applies to where they are, what time period they represent, what social status they support, etc. Accordingly, some brand managers create spin-offs in an effort to cover more of the waterfront. This strategy usually doesn't work well.

Brand Lesson #3:

What you plan for and what happens are two very different things. Keep an open mind.

While I’ve had some very strange relationships in my time, they have all contributed to the rich tapestry that is my ongoing journey of self discovery. Master Gurudev taught me to become aware that every decision I have made in in my life has led me to where I am today.

Think about that last sentence before you read on.


Lesson #4:

We are the sum total of all that we breath into our brands and allow them to become. That required an intimate understanding of how they are loved or left – and why.

A brand is a partner on our journey – just like my wife, my son and our dog.




Goggle (self serving) Best Practices


Here’s a screen grab of a typical Google Best Practice deigned to help me optimize my Google Ads account. This ones all about ad testing (or research):

  • Test one variable at a time.
  • Use a 50/50 split to reach statistical significance faster.
  • Avoid making changes while the experiment is running.

This (elementary) advice is so biased and self serving it’s painful.

  • While testing is the best way to improve the poor online advertising response rates (and ROI) many companies experience, Google does NOT tell you that you should have done a lot more homework before setting up your online advertising campaign. Before you turn to any media vendor, you should already have research at hand that tells you which medium or media will provide you with the most effective response rate – not the cheapest one. There’s a difference.
  • The Google Best Practice advice is, by any professional standard, entry level advice – good enough to get you started but not insightful enough to help you win the race. Google’s Best Practices are not the profound or insightful musings of an advertising research director. Most are really not worth reading - unless you're just starting out. And if you're starting out, this stuff will stunt your growth and education. 
  • Google’s Best Practices help keep Google top of mind by giving itself another seemingly legitimate reason to send you a push notification – encouraging you to think about using more Google products and services.

The best thing you can do for yourself, your agency and your clients is to learn to think for yourself. To sort out what’s most important for the brands that you represent and to do so by exploring all viable communication options – not just the cheap and convenient one – the one that’s just a few key-strokes away.


REMINDER . . . Alexa is not your friend – she’s owned + operated by Google.     



Charlie the philanthropist


While any ball was a good ball as far as Charlie was concerned, he did prize some balls more than others. On our morning walks he just loved to hunt for abandoned tennis balls at our local tennis court. One summer he found over a hundred balls which, as his ball-account grew, he shared with his dog-friends in neighbouring parks. Dogs who were less able to hunt for their own balls. 

Charlie taught me how much joy there is in finding little treasures. Bringing it home, having it for a while, and then giving it to some-one who needs it or will enjoy having it as much as, or more than, we do.

Sometimes it's just a beach pebble or a piece of driftwood. That doesn't matter.

What matters is the emotional state that's elicited. Philanthropy is a wonderful state of mind because the act of giving to others generates ripples of goodness + kindness in the lives of the giver and the receiver which then radiate outwards to touch the lives of others, prompting more and more acts of random kindness.




Imagine having 30 years of proprietary data

Google’s search engine was launched on September 15, 1997. It is now the most widely used search engine on the web, with over 92% market share as of June 2019, handling more than 5.4 billion searches each day. In the early days no one worried about page rank and SEO because most webs were Brochure sites, which a company’s sales team referred prospective clients to “for more information” - just to demonstrate that they (and their ad agency) knew how to utilize this new medium. In April 2004 Google introduced (free) Gmail and in November 2005 they introduced the world to their game-changing Google Analytics™ service. Analytics was a game-changer because, to most small to mid-size businesses, Google's offer seemed like the ultimate value proposition: a lot more (and a continuous stream of) data for free . . .  with no obligations. It seemed too good to be true. It was, and, it still is. While the offer didn’t come with any apparent limitations per se, there was one very important restriction that most people didn't pay any attention to: while Google Analytics provided you with some new + interesting information about your company’s online behaviour, you learned nothing about the competition, your business category or the prevailing business climate in your trading area. Importantly, the FREE data service addicted users to Google’s online performance data and blinded them to other valuable research tools. Around the same time a wide variety of online data interpretation service providers sprang up, promising to help busy organizations interpret data, that Google discreetly mined, for insights into to the client’s own marketing programs. Website organization + optimization, PPC and display advertising campaigning strategies and tactics as well as social media buying tactics (on Google’s ever expanding media monopoly) can all be improved with this data. The objective of all data mining strategies is the same: to put more of my client’s ads, emails and push notices in front of you. Then the world changed again: In 2014 Canada enacted the CASL legislation. It was launched and promised to reinforce best practices in email marketing, combat spam and related issues like identity theft, phishing, and the spread of malicious software, viruses, worms and trojans. In 2018 US Congress proposed + passed a comprehensive data privacy policy as well. In a nutshell, the Canadian, American (and European) privacy legislation has led Google to close most of the data (mining) loopholes that were being exploited by independent online message optimization consultants. The changes have stopped data mining companies from supplying their clients search engine derived data interpretations that have give them a competitive business communications edge (in the past). Except this change in data privacy laws does not affect those business that have made it their own ongoing business to have a robust proprietary data collection and interpretation policy and program (even if that program represents just one part-time student).

Consider this . . . 

The companies that began collecting, tracking, comparing and analyzing their own data when all of this online stuff started in the late 1990’s, would now have THIRTY YEARS OF PROPRIETARY (ONLINE) MARKETING DATA to work with. 

Those who own 30 or more years of proprietary data today made just one decision that the others didn’t: they did not stop collecting their own data just because Google offered them a nicely organized + presented data stream for free.