Advertising & Practical Thinking
The advertising profession is cold and cruel. The power of practical thinking is a perfect antidote.
A couple of days ago, I read about a creative marketing execution – going way beyond “traditional” thinking. My reaction, “Wow, this is positively brilliant!”
The winter of 2008-09 has played havoc with the streets of Chicago (and many other cities across the U.S.) There are potholes galore and driving is hazardous and on occasions painful on the wallet as tires and wheels have had to be replaced in thousands of vehicles. Townships and cities have been struggling with their budgets and Mother Nature – as soon as a few potholes have been temporarily patched-up, new ones have erupted.
Colonel Sanders of KFC fame is coming to the rescue with a “pothole refresh” program. The following is from Crain’s Business (for the complete article, please visit http://www.chicagobusiness.com/cgi-bin/news.pl?id=33478):
Don't be surprised if you see Col. Sanders out filling potholes. In an unusual cause-marketing push, KFC is tackling the pothole problem in Louisville, Ky. in exchange for stamping the fresh pavement with "Re-freshed by KFC," a chalky stencil likely to fade away in the next downpour.
While KFC seems more suited to pot pies than potholes, the company is likely to build a reservoir of goodwill among the general population.
"This program is a perfect example of that rare and optimal occurrence when a company can creatively market itself and help local governments and everyday Americans across the country," said Javier Benito, exec VP-marketing and food innovation at KFC. Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson noted in a statement that budgets are tight for cities across the country, and finding funding for road repairs is a dirty job. "It's great to have a concerned corporation like KFC create innovative private/public partnerships like this pothole refresh program." In addition to the Louisville project, KFC has issued an open offer to U.S. mayors to tell them about the state of their city streets and request assistance. The chain will select as many as four more cities at random for pothole assistance. The restaurant has not yet been contacted by the city of Chicago, but has received request from Austin, Texas; Somerset, Texas; Chattanooga, Tenn. and Greenville, Miss.
Every now and then, I read about something that makes me wonder, “Who came out with that idea?" And then I tell myself, "I would like to shake his/her hand!" To the person who came out with this idea I say, "I want to shake your hand."
Now that I have written this, I think I will head out to the nearest KFC and order a couple of extra crispy pieces of their world famous chicken. No, I will make it a KFC Pot Pie. What the heck, I'll make it a KFC Pot Pie and two extra crispy drumsticks. A positively brilliant idea!
Put to bed the last time.
On Tuesday, March 10, 2009, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer was put to bed the last time, after 146 years of publishing. Seattle residents are left with one newspaper, the Seattle Times.
In February 2009, the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, Colorado, was also put to bed the last time after nearly 150 years, leaving the city as another with just one newspaper, the Denver Post.
I personally experienced the death of a newspaper nearly 30 years ago. The Morning Courier of Champaign-Urbana, after a 102-year history, published for the last time on March 31, 1979. Champaign-Urbana used to be a two-newspaper town. The Morning Courier was a client of mine.
The Courier and the News-Gazette were both afternoon newspapers; however, declining circulation numbers forced the Courier to rethink its survival strategy and they switched to the traditional morning mode. Unfortunately, the twin cities could support only one newspaper (in addition to the University of Illini student-run newspaper the Daily Illini.)
My mornings are incomplete without reading the print editions of my copies of the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times. Most days, I have already read the web editions of other news publications before sitting down with my newspapers and a cup of green tea or black coffee. Pure bliss!
I am an avid reader of newspapers. Wherever my travels take me, I buy the local paper(s) and immerse myself in the read – one of the easiest ways of gaining a knowledge and understanding of the local customs and get a flavor of the city and its populace.
In the last few years, I have been to Seattle a number of times. The Post-Intelligencer was a part of my daily diet while there. Somehow, I don’t believe I will be visiting their web edition to get my dose of Seattle the next time I visit that beautiful city.
That was the headline of the Chicago Sun-Times’ Terry Savage column (aptly titled “The Savage Truth”) on Monday, March 9, 2009. Ms. Savage wrote:
“The fear factor is taking over the markets, the economy, and the public psyche. And no matter what programs, speeches, or photo ops the new administration stages, it won't help restore public confidence.
This is not to say that "positive thinking" can turn the stock market around, or restore jobs, or create incentives for business to expand production, or even for consumers to start spending again. That would require real incentives -- things like lower tax rates on risky investments or capital gains. Or tax breaks for entrepreneurs to create businesses and expand hiring.
But a little positive thinking could be just what the country needs right now.
One of the great motivational books of all time, The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale, was written 75 years ago. The "secret" was this: "We become what we think about!"
And all we think about and talk about these days is economic failure. The latest headlines about unemployment are just the latest example. Yes, more than 8 percent of the population is unemployed, but that means 90 percent are still working.
This is not meant to be a paean to Pollyanna. But it is a request that we start putting all this bad news in perspective. Especially the media, and the administration.”
Ms. Savage concluded: “We can't let fear rule today. Let's try the power of positive thinking, for a change. Let's think about prosperity. Yes, we need sensible tax and spending policies to get us there. But let's stop looking down, and start talking UP! At least we'll be thinking in the right direction. And that's the Savage Truth.” The complete article can be accessed at: http://www.suntimes.com/business/savage/1467089,CST-FIN-terry09.savagearticle#
Thank you, Terry Savage. May your tribe increase!
Uncommonly Common Service
It is human nature to talk about negative experiences, especially when it comes to customer service. Seldom do we acknowledge, at least publicly, some “uncommonly common service” we received during the day. So here I go with a couple…
I have ordered contact lenses from www.1800contacts.com for a few years, usually a six-month supply each time. A couple of weeks ago, it was time to reorder. Instead of using the Internet, I placed a call to 1-800-CONTACTS. With my previous order I had received a couple of damaged packs, and I wanted to make sure the company was aware of this.
My call was answered on the second ring with a most pleasant voice. Within a few seconds, she had my order history in front of her, listened to the problem I had with my previous order, said that she would not charge me for four packs, and my new order would be shipped the same day.
The same day, the soft water conditioning equipment at my home was malfunctioning and the water was unbearably hard. It was a Thursday afternoon, and I called DuPage Water Conditioning (the company from where I was renting the equipment) and the lady who answered the phone said that the earliest a technician could come in would be the following Monday. I gave her my cell phone number and said if there was any way the service call could be expedited, I would be most obliged.
Within ten minutes, I received a call from the owner of the company. He just happened to have overheard the lady answering my call. He said that he was on his way out for the day, but would come by my place and repair the equipment right away. Wow!
All of you who provide “uncommonly common service”, I salute you. You are a most refreshing breath of fresh air, and may your tribe increase.