19 Jan 2016, Posted by Bill Winters in Blog, 0 Comments



Ford sought to increase the variety of images in the vehicle photo galleries on ford.com quickly and with impact. I was on a small team that recommended hiring new photographers with significant Instagram followers to shoot the vehicles and post the shots to their feeds.


After we sold the initial concept to clients, I audited the existing photo galleries to identify the vehicles most in need of additional photography. I helped select the models and colors of the  selected vehicles and I collaborated on brand information for the photographers to follow in the field.



We received an exciting new style of photography to augment what was already on the live site. We brought storytelling aspects to the galleries that added life and interest to the display. Every photo we chose was shared with the photographers’ followers, garnering “likes” from people not yet shopping for a new car.


As a champion for the photo galleries — the most heavily visited site section in the discovery phase — I helped bring variety and impact to the photo displays. In so doing, we brought a level of storytelling to the vehicles and addressed a customer “pain point,” showing entry-level models of Ford vehicles — in action with real people. And, instead of simply adding photos to the galleries which would be noticed by shoppers, we shared them with a wide audience, introducing new Ford cars to people who may not yet be fans of the brand.

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05 Feb 2014, Posted by Bill Winters in Blog, 0 Comments Tagged , , ,

I am Guilty of False Advertising! And I’m Proud of it!

One day I arrived at my desk to terrible news. The Better Business Bureau had outlawed the ad I had conceived on behalf of my client. The ad had been challenged by a competitor and shown to be false advertising. If we could not prove the ad was accurate, we would have to cease running it.

We took the ad down. We were guilty.

Here’s how it came to be. And why it’s one of my proudest moments in advertising.

In the Outdoor Power Equipment industry, Chipper/Shredders were the all the rage. My client, Simplicity Manufacturing of Port Washington, Wisconsin, attempted to capitalize on the trend by buying a smaller company that manufactured them.

They gave us all the materials the company had historically used to promote their chipper/shredders and asked us to promote it.

We retouched the chipper/shredder in the photos to include the Simplicity logo and I pored over the print materials to figure out how to advertise this new product.

Deep in the print materials I came across the fact that led to all the trouble.  In my Eureka moment, I singled out the 20:1 reduction ratio claimed in the promotional materials. As I dug a little deeper and compared the fact to the competition, it was clear we had a strong competitive advantage.

I took the 20:1 reduction ratio to the creative team I had assigned to the project and asked them to build an ad around that fact. Because the media plan could only accommodate one half-page print ad, they artfully put together the ad you see above. Doreen Consiglio put together the compelling visual to convey the fact. Chris Hill gave it the clever headline you read.

Nicely done. It conveyed the primary consumer benefit – turning waste into mulch – and the primary competitive advantage – the 20:1 reduction ratio – in one concept.

The problem? It wasn’t true. One of the competitors, who had mentioned their own 9:1 reduction ratio in their materials, took exception to the fact that Simplicity was advertising a better statistic. They tested the product on their own and discovered that the chipper/shredder we were advertising had about a 9:1 reduction ratio – virtually the same as theirs.

They contacted the Better Business Bureau. Who contacted my client.

Alas. The competitor was right. We took down the ad, guilty of false advertising.

Of course, I’m not proud of breaking the rules. So, why am I proud of this story? Because the original manufacturer of the chipper/shredder had been advertising this fact FOR YEARS and no one had ever noticed. They had included the 20:1 reduction ratio as part of their advertising materials without impact.

It wasn’t until my creative team and I got ahold of this fact and turned it into a compelling print advertisement that the public noticed, the competition noticed, and eventually the Better Business Bureau noticed.

Did we learn from the experience? Sure. Fact checking is very important. Insisting to see and use a product before you advertise it is good practice. Never sacrifice good business for “speed to market.”

Is it the best ad I was ever involved in? No. It’s not the kind of ad that would win any trophies in advertising award shows. But I do hold it up as proof that when you get the product positioning right and turn it into a compelling creative concept you get attention. Even if some of the attention is the kind you don’t want.


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09 Dec 2012, Posted by Bill Winters in Blog, 0 Comments Tagged , , ,

Breaking Barriers

One of the most exciting roles of today’s Content Strategist is the task of breaking barriers. As digital technology finds its way into our lives, those employed in the world of digital communications must transform roles and constructs to respond to the audience and their needs.

This most often is led by the Content Strategist.

In small realms, such as an individual web page, in the construct of a web site, and broadly to a brand’s digital identity, barriers are coming down, led by content strategy.

Death of the Page

Right now, it is popular to talk of the death of the page. The web page today is not limited to the confines of the computer screen, typically scrolling indefinitely. More importantly, today’s web page often contain elements tagged for insertion upon the user’s profile. In other words, the page may display different elements based on the user’s geography or any number of definers. The “page” may look very different – and may be a very different size – based on the user who is viewing it.

Site Seeing

Beyond the individual page, a web site looks often looks different to different users. Depending on the device used to access a site, different elements will be displayed. Typically, a Content Strategist leads an organization toward Responsive Design, where the site automatically responds in look and feel to fit the device. Sometimes, the assets will even change out to fit the size of the device used. I have been involved in projects where a photograph switches out to have fewer elements and a block of text changes from paragraphs to bullet points depending on whether the user is on a personal computer or a mobile device.

Digital Brand

Content Strategists guide the development of content that builds and supports a brand. Today, that content is not necessarily hosted on the company’s web site. More and more, we are developing content that fits into a broader web presence. It lives in a YouTube channel or is distributed on a company Facebook page. Or it’s simply a tweet.  But these digital assets may be as important as what you find on the brand’s traditional web site. They build a brand in creative and targeted ways and they are accessed by the audience in the realms in which they choose to view them, making them stronger and more personal.

It is difficult for me to believe that we’ve reached the stage already where we consider the web site to be the traditional manner of thinking. But I believe we’re there. The more I’m asked to guide the messaging of my clients’ social media and the more I guide the development of digital assets that may live well beyond the confines of our web sites – often in places we haven’t even placed them, the more I feel like my real job is helping the organization break down barriers. And that’s an exciting role to take in any organization.



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02 Nov 2012, Posted by Bill Winters in Blog, Uncategorized, 0 Comments Tagged , , ,

Client List

Most of my experience with pure digital strategy has been performed on behalf of Ford Motor Company. The ford.com site is the web presence most often affected by my guidance. But many clients and entities have benefited from my strategies and ideas.

In relatively chronological order:




Ford Credit

Ford Fleet




Enterprise Consulting Partners


Eastern Michigan University

Johnson Controls, Inc.

Michigan Virtual University

Ingram Books

Burlee Web Hosting



Simplicity Manufacturing

Citizens Insurance


Wacker Silicones

Little Professor Book Centers

Society for Vascular Surgery


Jonathon B Pub

Vista Verde Ranch

Jervis B. Webb

Heritage Federal Savings Bank

Merillat Cabinetry

The Dearborn Inn

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25 Oct 2012, Posted by Bill Winters in Blog, Uncategorized, 0 Comments

Turn off and return on

At Adobe’s Digital Conference in March, Arianna Huffington spoke on the need for naps.  She recommended not using one’s cell phone as an alarm clock.  In general, she spoke of the importance of getting away from technology.

I have lived this for years. Early in my married life, my wife signed us up for backpacking lessons with the Sierra Club. I learned the tips and techniques to successfully survive in the wild with only what I carry on my back.

As my career has evolved in the digital space, connectivity has become more and more ubiquitous. Which has made getting away more and more essential. 

I’ve made regular sojourns into the wilderness. And, now that I have young boys in my family, I have made visiting the wilderness a regular part of my life.

Before kids, I spent weeks in Montana’s largest wilderness area, surrounded by Grizzly Bears, and crested both the Sierra Nevadas and Rockies on different trips. With my sons, I have enjoyed sites in Michigan, the Smokey Mountains and returned to the Rocky Mountains.

It is a thrill to wake up far from civilization and have plenty to eat and drink. Or to survive a hailstorm at 11,000 feet in plenty of comfort. And, of course, it’s a thrill to witness wild animals that lead full lives in the mountains and forests of this country.

But, these days, it’s also a thrill to go for a week without a cell phone on. Without getting a text. Without reading an email. 

I come back from these trips rejuvenated. And I’m glad I can share these experiences with my sons.

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23 Oct 2012, Posted by Bill Winters in Blog, Uncategorized, 1 Comments Tagged

Content Evolution, Chronicling the Dawn of Content Strategy

Introducing Content-Evolution, a website that chronicles the dawn of content strategy and one professional’s development from a copywriter to a leading content strategist. It offers case studies that demonstrate examples of digital and content strategy success in the current business world. It also includes the popular blog of Bill Winters.

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