Archive for August, 2012

Louis Vuitton Ad Deserves a Gold Medal

August 20th, 2012


There’s an absurd mini-controversy brewing about whether Michael Phelps will be stripped of any of his medals because some Louis Vuitton ads in which he appears were leaked before the Olympics.  (This will soon blow over, as it’s clear that neither Phelps nor Louis Vuitton intentionally violated the ban on pre-Olympics advertising.)  Lost amidst all this needless angst is the fact that the above ad is absolutely brilliant.

When I saw it in last Thursday’s Wall Street Journal, I was was struck first by the elegance of the photo, and then by my curiosity over the “mystery woman” pictured with Phelps.  When I read the fine print and learned that it’s Larisa Latynina–the woman whose record for 18 career Olympics medals Phelps broke–I could not have been more impressed.  Talk about a classy idea…and a classy execution.

In almost all cases, I’m critical of ads that require you to read the fine print, simply because almost no ad is capable of getting a meaningful percentage of readers to do that.  I’m also critical of ads without large, clean, creative headlines and, even more so, ads without prominent mention of the brand name or logo.  However, when you have a stunning, provocative photo–and when that photo prominently features your highly recognizable product–it turns out you can be effective without a headline and without a large logo.

Please don’t try this at home, however; unless your product is as distinctive as a Louis Vuitton bag, and your art director and photographer are as gifted as the people who created this ad, going without a strong headline and strong logo is a sure route to a complete waste of your advertising dollars.

So just sit back and appreciate the above ad for being as much an exception to the rules of advertising as Michael Phelps and Larisa Latynina are to the sports of swimming and gymnastics.

Progressive Management Anything But

August 19th, 2012

As I’ve said many times before, your brand isn’t about what you say; it’s about what you do.  And based on this story (courtesy of Seth Godin‘s blog) of how Progressive Insurance treats its customers, it’s hard to imagine a company doing a more inept job of brand management.

I realize that a lot of people like Progressive’s “Flo” advertising campaign. (I can only assume these people are also big fans of Gallagher and Carrot Top.)   Not only have I never been a fan of the campaign’s low-brow, unsophisticated humor, it’s always led me to suspect that the people running Progressive’s marketing department have questionable judgment.  Sadly, those suspicions have been confirmed by this story of how Progressive has treated the family of Katie Fisher.

This story tells you two things about Progressive: they’re heartless, and they’re stupid.   Heartless because of the way their actions have dumped salt on the emotional wound that Katie’s death caused her family.  Stupid because the $75,000 they’re trying to save pales in comparison to the cost of the deservedly horrendous publicity they’ve generated for themselves.

Here’s hoping that Progressive’s management will wake up and not only decide to make good on the money they owe the Fishers, but throw in an extra $100,000 or $250,000 as payment for the badly-needed wake-up call.

It would certainly be the progressive thing to do.