Archive for the ‘marketing’ Category

September 14, 2017


“Yes, I’ll have a TV spot, some VCM, 2 schedules of radio, a direct mail piece … oh, and refresh my web site with some new SEO.”

“Very good, sir. I’ll be right back.”

If an ad agency were a restaurant, it might go something like that.

But it’s not.

Forgive the restaurant metaphor, but it seems so appropriate. Clients shouldn’t be selecting from a menu, yet there are still agencies that attempt to sell “today’s special”. Isn’t every advertising problem unique?  Shouldn’t it be cooked to order?

While I have been in small market advertising all my life, surely the philosophy is the same no matter if you’re in a diner or a white tablecloth establishment. Clients need to trust that you are preparing exactly what they need. They should feel your passion, concern, interest, and enthusiasm. They deserve lavish communication and want direction!

Clients – and customers – are gold. They come first. Always. It should be the underlying philosophy that drives every agency action.   

And everyone in the agency needs to understand that. Before any programming, coding, writing, shooting, editing, or media placement begins, every creative person who touches the project needs to know the goal of the client. And, just because we have a special on lamb chops doesn’t mean we should serve them to everyone. If you’re trying to sell the thing that will be the most profitable for your agency, then you’re doing it wrong.

Finally, everyone likes to dabble in the kitchen, but there can be only one chef. That’s the Creative Director, who is responsible for serving up a final course that translates into client success.  Even if it’s something that is not on the menu.



Big Desk

August 14, 2017


It’s an attitude that’s everywhere … and one that needs to stop. Especially in the advertising business.

Big Desk.

You know these people and you’ve seen it in their body language. You’ve heard it in their tone of voice. A “Big Desk” attitude is showing up to the meeting with that “I’m here because I know everything you need to be successful and I’m gracing you with my presence because I’m so busy and important but I’ll make a little time to try and help you.”

I remember the ad girl who was chastised BY THE CLIENT for endlessly checking her phone instead of listening in their meeting.

The young ad novice who leaned back in his chair, laced his fingers behind his head, looked up at the ceiling and said, “Well, Mr. Smith, we’re here to help you.”

Then there’s the client who used to work for our agency. We were calling on him. In his sharply pressed new suit, he sat down behind his desk in dramatic fashion, brought his hands together and said in a steely tone, “What do you think you can do for my company?”   As his former boss, if I could have fired him right then and there, I would have. (By the way, he didn’t last long in that job.)

Whether you’re buying or selling, arrogance isn’t a good quality and there’s a lot of it in the ad world. Advertising is not a “one and done” business. Relationships are vital because trust is everything. Trust solidifies your business. Trust takes time to build. In my 32+ years of small market ad work, I built my business by spending time with my clients and learned what kind of people they were. I tried to anticipate what they needed and give them solutions to the problems they faced. And most importantly, I did it sincerely because I gave a damn. In the process, many of them became close friends. Even better.

A real winner in the ad business doesn’t come across as a used car salesman. Being sincere, genuine and vested doesn’t cost a thing. Take that extra step to make your relationship extraordinary, even if it means losing a buck or two.

Besides, Big Desk is just plain rude.

Why I Sucked at Owning an Ad Agency

June 13, 2017

I started my agency before I was 30 years old with no college degree, no real experience other than selling radio time, and a passion for writing. I wanted to exercise my creative muscle, produce commercials, work with clients to make their business better. All lovely notions.

People typically go into business for themselves with their one skill. But they lack the other critical traits it takes to avoid heartache and failure. For example, I had no idea how to read a balance sheet or a profit and loss statement … I figured I had an accountant for that.

I had zero management skills. My old boss used to tell me, “Managing creative people is the hardest thing you will ever do.” How right she was! Your employees are working for completely different reason than you. It’s not a family. It’s a business. I thought if you cared for employees like family members, nurture them and provide what they needed to be successful and do good work, we would all live happily ever after.


My codependent approach to managing staff was my undoing in the end. My naïve, yet well-intentioned method in handling people ended up in several misunderstandings and broken relationships. I trusted too much and trusted the wrong people, leaving my faith in humanity shattered.

After 32 years as an agency owner, I sold the company almost three years ago. I started in a spare room and ended up with Emmy nominations, Telly awards and other recognitions. I made a living, was responsible for livelihoods of 7 other people, and worked with an incredibly diverse roster of clients. Most of the creative now is “cut and paste”, which saddens me, and much of my work is still out there, which is a compliment to my talent and passion that started it all.

Business ownership is not for soft-hearted, pie-in the-sky thinkers. It takes structure, discipline and the ability to “know what you don’t know”.

Lesson learned.

Why didn’t I think of that! As Seen on TV

April 20, 2009

picture-3The Obama Chia?  WTF?

Check out the CNBC story!  This is BIG money in our economic downturn. Think of all the production work-the logos, the layouts, the web sites, the videos – lemme at it!  It’s not Peter Arnell work, but hey, it’s paying work and we’ll do a better job for a lot less than I’ll bet they’re paying!

As seen on TV products are all the rage-from Snuggies to Slapchops, these products are being ordered up faster than small town gossip (I love that line).  The A to Z listing is pretty extensive. The upside down tomato planter…ingenious. Lucidal, the Cognitive Preformance Enhancer that eliminates Brain Fog….ad agencies across the country should be ordering Lucidal by the pallet load.  

 There’s even a BLOG!!!!!



      The Obama Chia…somebody get me one!  




The Zippity Poo-Da was pretty clever, too.  


But who can forget the grand master of As Seen On TV?

The Language of the Idea

February 27, 2009

When you’re trying to sell your ideas, it really comes down to the wordsmithing, doesn’t it?   We spend so much time developing the work that we forget about the most important work, the presentation!    Gotta get the client to see what we see, damn it.   In Hooterville, we don’t have a lot of time to prepare this kind of work but we realize its importance just the same.  When it comes to the new Pepsi Logo, maybe Peter Arnell had TOO MUCH time on his hands.

Thanks to Musings from an Opinionated Sod, I just got a look at the Breathtaking Presentation Peter Arnell presented to Pepsi.  Mr. Arnell has been dubbed a “Fucktard” George Parker, who is right on (What exactly IS a Fucktard?).   This Arnell guy is one great salesman to have gotten Pepsi to believe all this gobble.  I realize MUCH has been written about this already, but if WE made a  presentation like this to the common folk in Hooterville, we’d be laughed out of the room.   

We’ve been passing this around, really trying to understand it…I mean, my God, it’s PEPSI!  One of our designers said: ” What a horrific collection of utter bullshit.  And in the blueprint section they leave out the Fibonacci sequence, the natural phenomenon of ALL inclusive  design and only invented by  GOD (discovered by Fibonacci), and replace it with more bullshit. That’s inexcusable, but probably pandering to the Godless masses of  humanity who gorge themselves on this high fructose corn syrup laden  product.That’s why I drink Coke”          

I Love This Guy!

Trying to get a client to understand WHY you want  to do something is as important as the creative you developed.   It’s like John Madden said:  The most important member of a football team is the owner.   So, in turn, the most important player of our creative team is unfortunately the client, who does indeed have the right to make the wrong decision.

You know, just because you work in Hooterville doesn’t mean you’re a dumb-ass.


Peter’s body language suggests pouting…

Nobody likes my new logo!!

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