See our annual rankings of the most celebrated work, marketers and agencies, plus insights from the winners.
July 09, 2007
Two disparate events -- the subprime-mortgage debacle and the children's food showdown -- could provide welcome relief for beleaguered Wal-Mart. The company everyone (except its loyal customers) loves to jump on has a big opportunity to do good for a big swath of its shoppers while also doing good PR for itself.
June 11, 2007
As Mr. Murdoch pursues Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal, superstar business tycoons should start to wonder whether their after-hour exploits will be fair game. Could "Stray Rod" turn into "Immelt-down," for instance, especially as Murdoch's Fox Business goes up against GE's CNBC?
May 28, 2007
If you want a scary look at how magazine ad volume in the U.S. will hold up to new digital media, go to Korea. New-media advertising grew 21% in Korea last year vs. 1.2% for magazine ads -- and new media outpaces magazine ad volume $840 million to $495 million.
May 14, 2007
Rupert Murdoch is used to getting his own way. He once tried to bet me $1 million that I couldn't name the source for our story that his TV Guide was up for sale. That's why I'm betting on Rupert to prevail in his takeover bid for Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal. Moreover, I will submit that Mr. Murdoch will be good for the Journal. Dow Jones is in a cost-cutting mode; News Corp., his $25 billion media goliath, never is.
April 30, 2007
We heard lots of discussion at the recent American Association of Advertising Agencies' conference about ROI. But how can you even discuss ROI -- return on investment, ideas or involvement -- if you've already conceded advertising is out of your control? Why bother to exert your authority when consumer-produced TV commercials score better on the Super Bowl than lavishly produced ones from your ad agency?
April 16, 2007
Maybe there wouldn't be so much bad advertising if ad-agency compensation were still based on the commission system.
April 02, 2007
The first wave of baby boomers turned 60 last year, and they are preparing for their retirement years much differently than any generation before them. You'd think this onslaught of newly freed-up money would be cause to celebrate on Madison Ave., but Barron's noted in March, "It's something the advertising and marketing industries will have to come to grips with, something they're not too enthusiastic about." The ad business is woefully out of touch with baby-boomer buying power.
March 05, 2007
The image I have about too many of today's ads is a pie thrown in our faces, not to provide a little sustenance, but to create a good old-fashioned food fight. The sole object, it seems, is to get your ad talked about, positively or negatively (it doesn't matter much).
February 19, 2007
What's with all the inanimate objects suddenly starring in their own TV commercials? The Staples Easy Button burst upon the ad scene two years ago, and now Office Depot is giving us a spooky "helping" hand to solve office workers' supply and organizational needs. And General Motors introduced a cute and pathetic little robot who dreamed of committing suicide because he (she?) messed up -- if ever so slightly -- on the factory floor.
February 05, 2007
Jon Fine, in his BusinessWeek "Media Centric" column, said marketers need to "relax about getting weird" in web ads. But it's my contention most marketers don't -- and shouldn't -- incorporate weirdness into basic brand-building strategy. All the work to come up with the next Subservient Chicken is diverting attention from marketers' main job of building strong brands.
January 08, 2007
One of Gerald R. Ford's most enduring legacies was definitely not his Whip Inflation Now campaign launched by the Advertising Council. The WIN ads and buttons were derided by talk-show hosts and newspaper columnists, and caused two members of an anti-inflation group called together by Mr. Ford to resign.
December 10, 2006
Do you think that people reach their limits when it comes to looking at advertising, and anything over those limits has a negative effect? My theory is that people don't object to advertising when it appears in places they are accustomed to seeing it but they resent ads when they intrude on their private spaces.
November 26, 2006
It doesn't matter if China and India surpass us in producing what "The World Is Flat" author Thomas L. Friedman calls "low-cost labor and high-cost technology." What we are most adept at is building strong brands in greater numbers than anybody else. But we also have the capacity for citizens to buy those brands in greater numbers than anybody else.
November 12, 2006
October 29, 2006
The last line in General Motors' TV commercial on its new 100,000-mile warranty caught my attention: "The best coverage in America from the biggest brand in America." Is GM now a brand? Does GM think that its various car brands need a lift from the mother ship? And is GM -- the company -- in any position to help out?
October 15, 2006
Here's a question that came to mind as I sat through the recent Association of National Advertisers' confab in Orlando: With all this talk about consumers taking control of brands, how do you get control back again if you decide to change direction? Or once you open the gates, is your brand's destiny out of your hands forever?
October 01, 2006
The big problem with the U.S. health-care system is that there are few incentives for keeping people healthy. Doctors get paid for finding out you're sick; hospitals get paid for letting you in their beds and conducting tests on their expensive diagnostic machinery; surgeons get paid for operating on you; drug companies get paid for selling you their pills. Nobody gets paid if you stay healthy.
September 17, 2006
We flew into Prague eager to "Czech it out" as the T-shirts there invited, and we found the citizens of this normally tranquil Eastern European capital ready to storm the barricades. Causing the uproar wasn't age-old tensions with Hungary or Austria, but a promotional event staged by Louis Vuitton for Madonna as part of her European tour.
September 03, 2006
In 1960, the year I graduated from college, the late Ted Levitt published an article in the Harvard Business Review titled "Marketing Myopia." In it, he criticized U.S. companies for taking an overly narrow view of the businesses they were really in. Most famously, he argued that railroads had lost out to other movers of people and goods because they perceived themselves to be in the business of running trains rather than in what they really did -- providing transportation in whatever form customers wanted.
August 20, 2006
I wish BP still believed it was in the oil business. If it did, maybe it would have paid a little more attention to its pipeline. But the company was way out there, beyond petroleum, and I guess the oil business just wasn't cutting-edge enough to warrant its attention.