Random thoughts, dubious rants, curiosities and worthy citations on the media, politics, marketing, music, inanity, and animals, among other things. Words and pictures and stuff, mostly from south central Wisconsin USA
We had a saying at the ad agency I worked at when it came to crappy advertising: "Behind every bad ad campaign, there is a client who approved it."
Sure, it's a cop-out. Ad agencies, PR firms and marketing communication consultants go to great lengths to convince clients to approve campaigns the clients themselves might be a little nervous about. The agencies use arguments like "Edgy is good!" and "Don't worry that you don't like or get it. You're not in the target, so you're not supposed to." Of course, often the folks selling the campaign aren't "in the demo" either, but they claim to be able to think as if they are.
Such may well have been the case when Drake University partnered with Stamats, a firm that allegedly specializes in higher education marketing, to create their Drake Advantage campaign. You might be thinking, "Drake Advantage? That sounds like it is a good thing... a positive thing." Apparently, so did Drake and Stamats when they decided to go with a graphic to capture this concept of the Drake Advantage: D+
Wait, what? D+? No! Really? Are you f***ing kidding me?
There are probably some really great reasons why Drake let its ad agency sell them on this idea. There had better be, since Drake quickly made national news -- and not in a favorable way -- over this campaign. [Update: Make that international news.] Faculty, staff, students and alumni didn't exactly react with great enthusiasm, nor do they seem to be lovingly embracing the new campaign. Maybe that might be due, in part, to the fact that the admissions folks failed to share the campaign's concept and materials with their faculty and staff before letting it fly. Thus the admissions team had to send out this letter trying to explain that...
hindsight, introducing the concept and the testing that was conducted
with the target audience may have minimized some of the concerns that
have been expressed, and we are very sorry that many of you were
caught by surprise as a result.
Oops. The people at the Stamats agency must have forgotten one of the most important rules in successfully selling a campaign to a large organization: seek internal buy-in first. If the client's own people -- beyond the immediate client contacts -- aren't supportive or at least ambivalent toward the campaign, you're in for trouble. You'd think this agency would be aware of this need for internal acceptance and understanding, since they suggest they are experienced in higher education marketing. But you'd also think they'd see a red flag with D+ regardless of what surveys and focus groups told them. I gather they didn't. And at the very least, Stamats should have anticipated some media razzing and been prepared to meet it head on rather than allow the university to quickly become the subject of ridicule. The headline writers had a lot of fun with this story. Agency FAIL.
The aforementioned letter goes on to explain all the reasons why the Drake Advantage campaign and D+ icon are all good things. Focus groups, copy testing, on-line surveys and all those other research tools suggest this is a "unique" approach that "conveyed that 'attending Drake would give me a distinct advantage
that might not be available from other colleges and universities,'
three-quarters of the participants responded affirmatively."
But it still screams D+ on the view book cover and on the admissions home page.
I have to wonder whether the admissions staff ever thought to take a walk over to Meredith Hall in the center of campus. That's where they would find the offices of the faculty of Drake's award-winning School of Journalism and Mass Communication. That would be the school that offers degrees in advertising and public relations. Most of the faculty have real world practical experience in things like campaigns, branding and the like. I'm not sure, but I am willing to bet they would have been willing to consult... maybe even for free. At the very least, I hope a few of the PR professors are helping the admissions people fight their way past the waves of alumni and staff anger and embarrassment not to mention the media folly over this campaign. But I doubt they were asked.
One Drake alumnus opined that high school students smart enough to get into Drake would appreciate the irony of the D+ campaign. (Incoming freshmen reportedly average a 27 ACT and a 3.7 GPA.) I hope so. I am just picturing certain parents who may see the campaign and think: "Finally, a real university for our idiot child!"
I probably wouldn't give this any more than a passing laugh if Drake wasn't my alma mater, where I earned a bachelor of arts degree... in advertising. When I finish my PhD, Drake is actually a school whose faculty I would love to join. I want to teach really smart students. As such, I hope Drake's D+ campaign proves all the critics wrong. Stamats Inc. hopes so too, since this has become their leading case study, whether they like it or not.
Too funny. De Facto Republican leadership at FOX News and the Tea Party folks have done what the Democrats have not been able to do in 70 elections. They essentially lost the seat by forcing out the locally chosen Republican candidate in favor of a third-party conservative.
The list of supporters of Doug Hoffman includes Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Neal Cavuto, Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson, the Dick Armey, Rick Santorum, Geroge Pataki, Newt Gingrich and many more all lined up to trash regular Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava. They called her all kinds of things beyond just being a RINO, and backed the otherwise unknown Doug Hoffman.
Now, you know, this was a victory for real Republicans. Real Republican Michelle Malkin says so...
Hoffman may have lost narrowly, but NY-23 is a much
broader victory for conservatives who believe the Republican Party
should stand for core limited government principles ....This is a
victory of principle.
Better a donkey in office that acts like a donkey than a donkey in elephant’s clothing making a complete ass of the GOP.
NY-23 is a victory for conservatives who refuse to be marginalized in
the public square by either the unhinged left or the establishment
right. A humble accountant from upstate New York exposed the hypocrisy
of GOP leaders trying to solicit funds from conservatives by lambasting
Pelosi and the Dems’ support for high taxes, Big Labor, and bigger
government — while using conservatives’ money to subsidize a
high-taxing, Big Labor-pandering, bigger government radical. The
repercussions will be felt well beyond NY-23’s borders. Conservatives’
disgust with the status quo has been heard and felt. They have been
silent too long. They will be silent no more.
OK, Michelle. And you guys don't care about this stupid seat anyway. Forget about how the de facto leaders at FOX News harped on how important this election as, and how it would be proof that the Tea Baggers were now calling the shots and that's how the Republican party is going to reclaim the throne they so rightly deserve. That was before. Before Hoffman lost.
Jed Lewison posted a montage over at DK, under the headline Engineering Defeat, that is about eight minutes worth of the several hours FOX News gave over to promoting this race and their special candidate...
The last time NY23 was not held by a Republican, it was held by a Whig. Priceless.
It's not exactly a ringing endorsement of your sign company when you make to order a highway sign under state contract, only to misspell three out of the four words. Misspelled words include Business ["Buisness"], Rothschild ["Rothschield"] and Schofield ["Schofeild"].
David Vieth, Director of the Bureau of Highway Operations for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, was quick to point out that this was the fine work of the Decker Supply Company of Madison, and as such that firm would be replacing the sign at company expense. Vieth was kind enough to not bash the contractor when he commented, “We all make mistakes. But for most of us, they’re not put up for all the public to see.” Following the CYA manual, Vieth also noted that all the words were spelled properly in the DOT paperwork. ("Phew!")
I can see how maybe one of the town names may have been botched, as they are not common words (even though "field" is reasonably common in and of itself). But "Business" is a word that is pretty common, no?
The sign was actually installed by Arbor Green, Inc. of Portage. I gather their motto is "We don't read 'em, just install 'em."
Kudos, Decker Supply and Arbor Green for this fineFAIL!