In 2001, Pontiac introduced the Pontiac Aztek – an SUV crossover with a built-in tent that would later become one of Time‘s 50 Worst Cars of All Time. The article claims, “This car could not have been more instantly hated if it had a Swastika tattoo on its forehead.”
A lesson from Craig Ward.
Here’s a post from earlier this year. Please allow me to share it again.
“I don’t know what’s good anymore.”
We’ve all had this experience. We work on something so much, for so long, that we completely lose perspective. We’re too close to it. We can’t tell if something’s clear, funny, stupid, or so stupid it’s funny. At times like this, it’s good to have a few go-to people.
“Hey, what do you think of this?”
You need someone who’s smart, has good taste, and will be brutally honest with you. Sometimes it’s good to have a few of those people.
“One person I showed thought that the cat kind of reminded her of aliens, because this one time she had a dream about alien cats.”
If you focus-group an ad around long enough, you will get some pretty strange feedback. We all know the chronic focus-groupers. Sometimes they’re legitimately confused, but often they’re just fishing for compliments, or searching for the one person who will tell them that their crap ad is brilliant. Don’t be that person.
Have your few trusted brains. Use them as necessary. If they all agree that the ad’s not working, take that to heart. But don’t take every piece of thinking that you ever poop out and show it around to everyone. It’s annoying and, because everyone will have a different take on it, it will just confuse you.
As much as learning how to come up with a good idea, you need to learn to evaluate a good idea. Trust your gut. And when your gut is full, trust the guts of a few smart people around you. But don’t trust the guts of everyone in the school, or everyone in the agency. That just leads to a big, gooey, gross, gutty mess.
Jim recently posted a great piece on music. He mentioned the trap of demo love. Here’s a quick story on how very real this molotov cocktail can be.
- The lyrics, theme and feel of the music aligned with the spot. “Mr. Bluesky” sounded good, but had nothing to do with it.
- The album “New Magnetic Wonder” was barely a fortnight old. “Mr. Bluesky” had already been used in approximately 1,732 commercials.
- The album was getting great reviews, was a breakthrough work for the band, and the client could have ridden that wave.
- Most astonishingly, The Apples in Stereo were asking $50,000 for unlimited licensing. Jeff Lynne of ELO wanted $250,000 to use “Mr. Bluesky” for six weeks.