How Far Will You Go to Generate Response?

Great Work, No Matter the Platform, Will Make Heads Turn

By Published on .

Marc Brownstein Marc Brownstein
Advertisers, agencies and the media are stretching themselves these days in an effort to demonstrate response rates and ROI in a climate of accountability. Philadelphia Media Holdings, which owns the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and, made such an effort last week. The company performed a "stunt" by placing ads throughout their media properties for a fictitious airline, Derrie-Air, claiming to be the world's first airline to charge by the pound (of passenger weight, not luggage). It had all the makings of a hoax but, nonetheless, thousands of people logged on to the microsite,, to learn more.

What the visitors found was that they'd been "had." What the publications demonstrated was that print ads -- with some help from their digital cousins on -- still pull strong response rates if the creative is strong enough. (Or at least pique curiousity, if the business model is so unique.)

That brings me to what we do here at our agencies: incubate ideas. Hopefully not ideas that look and feel similar to others before them, but ideas that are so unexpected it makes your palms sweat just thinking about presenting them to your clients. Does your agency do that all the time? If not, why not?

We live in a time of heightened scrutiny of how our clients' advertising dollars are being spent. The only validation of our fees is work so successful it makes our clients tons of money.

You think Warren Buffett is a fan of great creative? Buffett, owner of Geico, backed The Martin Agency early on in its offbeat campaigns, which ultimately lifted the obscure insurer to unprecedented awareness and success. Buffett now sends new business leads to The Martin Agency whenever he gets the chance. That's what good response rates will do. But good response starts with great work.

There will be more stunts like Derrie-Air in the future, which set out to raise awareness of a brand, or make a point. But it's reassuring to know that in the cluttered media thicket we navigate every day, a special idea lies that will still make our heads turn.
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