Are agency employees truly empowered to make principled stands?

Recently, a Los Angeles-based Associate Creative Director sued her former agency for wrongful termination. Why? She was asked in late April to work on an assignment for a cruise line — to aggressively sell the idea that it was safe to get people back on cruise ships starting June 30. With COVID-19 raging and a CDC “No Sail Order” banning cruise travel in place, the ACD believed the campaign was unethical and refused to do the assignment. She was then pulled off all existing agency clients and ultimately fired. …


A closer look at the lure of a big-spending advertiser

I wouldn’t put him in my Top 3 preferred candidates, but I’m fascinated with Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign.

I’m fascinated by it because, with my media habits, I can’t avoid it.

I turn on the TV, he’s there. When I switch on the radio after I wake up, he’s there. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, he’s there. Display ads, yup. And so on. I can’t recall any advertiser put this much into a paid ad campaign during such a short period of time.

The Bloomberg campaign is pumping out a massive and…


Any assignment can produce great copywriting — if we let it

I found inspiration buried deep inside a blister pack.

Lord knows, we’re living in a world surrounded by writing — both online and off. Some of it is creative, some of it is clever, yet a lot of it is dull and perfunctory. The explosion in content has seen a surge in reading material with virtually no clear demarcation lines between the good, the bad, and the merely average.

So imagine my surprise when I walked into Lowe’s and picked up a surge protector for no other reason that…


Does a business dependent on consumption need to rethink its purpose? Another Earth Day came and went last week, and we’re no closer to solving some of the environment’s intractable problems. Brands were there with their green-themed social posts to glom onto the occasion, but Mother Nature doesn’t benefit from a feel-good Instagram post. She needs TLC, not CSR. The fact is, it’s a fact: The climate is changing and our comfortable first-world lifestyles have kicked it into high gear. In America, our military knows it. Our insurance companies know it. Hell, our energy companies, deep down in their coal-fired…


Can talent be evaluated by past work? Depends on the judge A while back, one of my clients gave my name to a company in need of a copywriter. Ordinarily, there is no greater compliment for a freelancer other than a referral (or timely invoice payments.) But this time, it was odd. Unprompted and without any other introduction, the company sent me a lengthy outline of what they needed and asked for a detailed proposal. But they also included a vague PowerPoint of factoids and asked for a “one-page case study brief along with executive summary” based on the slides…


When borrowed interest doesn’t make for interesting commercials So, I’m watching TV. Live. Yeah, the way no one supposedly does anymore. All of a sudden, a quick burst of familiar string music comes on. And then, a voice known as the soulful heart of a million wedding first dances comes through the speakers: “At laaaast…my lo-o-ve has come along…” It’s Etta James. And the object of her long-desired affection, for the next 30 seconds, is Applebee’s new Neighborhood Pastas. I’m open-mouthed. Not because of the extreme close-up of melted cheese and rigatoni twirled around a fork, but because I simply…


Can brands today stay focused on a core group of consumers? Of all the words that were written (or rather, typed) about Nike’s decision to use Colin Kaepernick in its recent ad campaign, one argument kept sticking out. It was a variant of, “Well, old white men aren’t really Nike’s intended audience, now or in the future. So who cares if they burn their $40 bought-em-at-Payless sneakers?” In other words, the risk of pissing off one segment of consumers was worth the goodwill and sales that would be garnered by appealing heavily towards another segment. And a large segment of…


Why geography still appears to be a hurdle to agency — and creative — success Recently, Stan Richards of The Richards Group penned an open letter to advertising industry new business consultants. In part, he wrote, “From what potential clients are telling us, their experiences with agencies in New York or Los Angeles or San Francisco have yielded work that flies over the heads of what people call the flyover states. Not because the population in the middle of America doesn’t understand the advertising, but because they don’t connect with it.” Clearly, for an agency owner in Dallas it’s a…


How much should we question the image we create for brands?

“Did you ever wish you were a boy?” Well, I already was one. But I wanted to be Janet Champ, the copywriter who wrote that opening line in one of numerous awesome Nike ads. The ’90s brought a shift to Nike. While some of their ads were product-focused, the rest exhorted us to Just Do It — whatever “it” was: Be active. Pursue excellence. Get off our collective asses. Their advertising appealed across all sports and all segments of society — but very notably, young girls and women. They’ve…


Agency/client relationships are often opposing forces.

Too much work, too little trust — and that’s only the beginning “I heard one of [BRAND’s] ads on the radio today. It was forced, stilted dialogue and I think their company and brand deserve better.” That was, essentially, a tweet I sent to the world a while back and promptly forgot about it. Then a few days later, their marketing director emailed me out of the blue. “I saw your tweet about our radio ad and decided to reach out as we’re looking for some freelance help to create our future campaigns.” The note stunned me, because most marketing…

Dan Goldgeier

Seattle-based copywriter/strategist. Also @TalentZoo columnist. Buy my book: http://www.amazon.com/Killer-Executions-Scrubbed-Decks-Outside-/dp/1502992159

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