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.


Continue Reading...

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.



Continue Reading...