Branded Experiences: An Introduction

A coffee can of post-its sits on my desk, and it fills as fast as my current can empties. To be creative, one must listen. Lines at the bar, young lads on the dance floor getting shot down like fighter planes and taking back off again for a shot at another target. It wasn’t their fault; the dance floor was too large, and the ladies felt isolated and out of their comfort-zone. The environment was not conducive to that physical contact and close-conversation intimacy for the guys to last longer than a few lines of small talk.

When asked at a leadership conference how best to lead productive conversation, one college senior said ‘smaller tables.’ “He gets it,” I thought. Not that I get it. Not all of it, anyway. But smaller tables create more intimate conversations and a feeling of togetherness. Baristas and bartenders face their customers during their mixology at every chance they get in hopes to foster a relationship, a “customer experience.” A similar effect can be found in the mood of a meeting can be determined not by its content, but by whether the constituents sit side by side or across from each other. We share coffee across small tables, yet we eat meals across tables that feel like the Grand Canyon. Who knew six inches could be the difference between your conversation’s life and death?

We share beers side by side while sitting at the bar. Maybe that’s why drinkers make friends at bars so quick. Maybe.

I think we can all be a listener of sound, of structure, of human interaction if we choose to. Why not turn what you hear to solve problems. The sole purpose of a brand, of business, is to solve a problem. To provide a solution. How you solve the problem is the fun part.

The problem I think most brands have is most of them stop solving their customers’ problems after the first problem is solved. They create a product that solves a problem, the problem, and they stop. But these same customers continue to have problems. They wake up and their jeans don’t fit. They get stuck in traffic. They get dumped. They get lonely. They feel useless, they feel the same as everyone else, they feel left out. They die. And they fear dying.

So why stop with just creating a windshield wiper that cleans the windshield when there’s road rage, unforgiving parking meters, and inconveniencing weather? Why stop inside a gym’s four walls when there’s twenty times more people wasting away outside them? Why stop with bike locks when there’s nowhere for cyclists to stash all their stuff before a night on the town? And why stop with jackets and gloves when people still freeze their faces off outside?

Branded experiences can reiterate the feeling you receive from using a brand’s product more times than when the product is used. A Thule bike lock gives the parked rider peace of mind. So does a bike pod storage bin. Not only is it additional brand recognition, but that brand helped their target audience in an additional way. The brand did them a favor. And usually, people return favors.

Especially ever-green favors. I understand event-marketing. Sometimes I love it. The Indy 500, the Final Four convention center, the Budweiser Made In America Tour, the Outside Lands concert festival booths all were a blast and I willingly participated in their experience (I can’t say some of it wasn’t for research, but they were worth it). But while the memories remain, most of those five and six figure experiences last a few days, and they provide sometimes a much needed form of excitement. I think brands need to create experiences with a longer lifespan that are woven into society. Similar to Leo Burnett’s community art museum or the Duracell bus stop. Longer lasting, more meaningful branded experiences that solve an audience & community problem.

In the days of social media and digital interaction, we crave physical communication. Branded experiences offer the opportunity to create grounds for human-to-human connection. They address those psychological needs like fitting in and being appreciated for who you are. And with enough experiences, they create a snowball effect that eventually births social change.

Trying to Be Someone You Might Not Be: Jim Beam

Jim Beam’s been around two centuries, huh? When celebrity endorsements have graced the marketing industry 50 years or more, it’s surprising Beam chose Mila Kunis as their brand ambassador. Long term ambassador at that.

Ambassadors have long been successful ways for your audience to aspirationally connect with your product, when the celebrity’s personality aligns with the brand and its audience. You can imagine how that might get tricky. But David Ogilvy supported celeb endorsements in the ‘50’s, saying “Testimonials from celebrities get remarkably high readership… The better known the celebrity, the more readers you will attract.”

Kunis is well known, and she’s “liked as much by guys as girls,” claims Chief Marketing Officer Kevin George in a recent Ad Age article. Can you please elaborate on that? I’m pretty sure the reasons guys like her and girls like her don’t line up.

I will argue that men don’t aspire to be Mila on an every day basis. Ogilvy also said “people take more interest in movie stars with whom they can identify” and “men don’t like the same kind of girls that girls like.” Perhaps the strategy for the $13-a-fifth brand found that Kunis’s recent movie roles and demeanor are attractive to men and women. Maybe Kunis is the kind of girl that guys like, and some girls like her too. The ad does mention fashion and staying true to who you are, which I can see both men and women relating to.

All these feelings derive from the fact that the strategy is after men, of course. If Jim Beam wants to use Kunis to win more of the female whiskey audience, that’s great. But the second you turn feminine on a historically masculine product, I feel they’ll lose male marketshare. And maybe Jim Beam is okay with that. Maybe they’ve been losing male marketshare for awhile now. I need more numbers.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the “long-term partnership” and how it develops as Mila’s character identities continue. Will they bring in a guy to repair the damage if it fails? Or will they just let it fail straight into the ground? Or, will it succeed?

All I know is that I still identified with Jason Segel in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, despite Mila’s more attractive laid back, sensitive, tough girl attitude compared to an immature Segel with his life being in all sorts of shambles. And I definitely will drink whatever Frank Sinatra drank over a current day actress, or probably any other celebrity for that matter… as long as I can afford the $150 price tag.

Mila Kunis Jim Beam Make History Ad

Mila Kunis my Jim Beam rep? Not quite feelin’ it.

Sidenote: Frank Sinatra edges Mila Kunis in the PPC ad battle. Kind of helps to have your own line of whiskey products to make Product Listing Ads. Keep an eye out for more PPC ads driving queries to branded media pages. Sometimes a brand struggles to beat the ad and news websites to the top of the white space (organic) listings, and the brands have to pay for the ad in order to be seen.

jim beam mila kunis serp Frank Sinatra Jack Daniels Serp

Image source:


Ogilvy, David. “Confessions of an Advertising Man.” London: Southbank, 2004. Print.

Predictably Irrational: Why People Do What They Do

Predictably Irrational Summary Notes Print

The first book recommended to me by an advertising mentor was “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions” by Dan Ariely. Ariely’s backstory is incredibly interesting and worth researching, but it’s best to know he’s become a keen observer of people’s behavior and has written several books covering his experiments. Within a year after listening to this book during bike commutes to work, it’s arisen in numerous conversations and has given reason to why I and others behave the way they do.

Yes, these tactics can be used in advertising, but they can also be used by the consumer. For example, if you understand the concept of the anchor and how your first experience with a product (ex. – your first car) becomes your measuring stick for the next product, you won’t settle for anything less than your first car. Following your second purchase, you’ll then want an equivalent or better car, and so on. Thus, it’s important to remember the reason you made your first decision. If that was three cars ago and you’re now with a newer, nicer car, chances are your standards have changed even though you claim you’re the same person deep down inside. Each point can help you understand why you’re about to make a decision, and perhaps help you reconsider if the motive behind your choice is why you truly want what you do.

Many of these concepts should be familiar: Fear of Loss, Sex Appeal, The Price of Free, and perhaps a few more. One fascinating point about the price of free is that people are more willing to do something for free when the effort is exchanged for something related to social norms and cannot be defined by monetary value. For example, your friend says he’ll help you paint your house if you help him move this weekend. The answer is most likely yes. But if the friend says he’ll give you pizza and beer for helping him move, you then associate the pizza & beer with a cost of $20. Compared to a the salary of a moving company, $20 for a day’s work leaves a sour taste in your mouth and leaves your friend to find another mover. To make things even more interesting, a friend is more likely to help by treating it as a goodwill / friendship deed than offering to pay them less than a) what they make at work or b) what movers make, which would be their anchors.

I could go on about the others, but the one that’s changed me the most is the point about perception. I’ve thought that if something’s overly described as positive, it will end in letdown because it did not live up to the hype. And that may be true when taken to the extreme. But when you continuously focus on the positives and what’s going to be great about something, you convince yourself to make it great. Based on a get-together or two throughout the year, I can attest that this notion does indeed work.

Predictably Irrational Summary Notes

Click the image to print a 11″ x 8.5″ version from your browser.


Five Printable 5×7″ How To’s of David Ogilvy’s ‘Confessions of an Advertising Man’

Confessions of an Advertising Man David Ogilvy

by Nate Schrader

Confessions of an Advertising Man David Ogilvy


It’s tough to know where to start. There’s just that much to talk about.

To sum it up, you can benefit from reading David Ogilvy’s Confessions of an Advertising Man. Ogilvy wrote it primarily as a recruiting tool for attracting new business and new talent for his advertising agency, but I imagine he also wrote it because:

  1. he was fed up with poor advertising, (you’ll get that vibe when you read it)
  2. he wanted to help people advertise better, and
  3. he probably wanted to write his thoughts on paper to reach a new understanding of his craft.

If you’re in marketing, I don’t need to tell you what you’ll appreciate in these tips. And even if you have nothing to do with advertising, you’ll now know a few of the tricks advertisers use to get you to the cash register, and what a bad ad might look like!

Before you get reading though, remember, OGILVY WROTE THIS BOOK IN 1963. Times have certainly changed, which is why you won’t find anything from his chapter on creating TV commercials. The economy is different, people’s buying behaviors are different, and their attitude toward a brand’s role and that brand’s advertising in their life is different.

So, take these tips for what they’re worth. Most still ring startlingly true today.

Chapter II How to Get Clients

Ogilvy Advertising Tips Poster How to Get Clients

(click to print in your browser)

#7 describes why is One Click Ventures’ best property – they have a low unit cost, people everywhere NEED reading glasses, and they are in frequent purchase because owners lose them all the time.

Chapter III How to Keep Clients

Ogilvy Advertising Tips Poster How to Keep Clients

(click to print)

Number three is quite interesting. Ogilvy may mean figuratively sitting on the same side of the table, but it really does help soften things if you do physically sit next to the person rather than across from them. I always thing it’s interesting all tables for two are set up with the seats set across from one another rather than beside one another. If you’ve had a bad date, blame that.

Chapter V How to Build Great Campaigns

Ogilvy Advertising Tips Poster

(click to print)

Number one can be discouraging if you’re in the art world, but it is important to remember the message and purpose matter first. I really wish more advertisers had families with kids to act as a conscience, as in #9, and I think #7 can be a good guide to getting things done efficiently.

Chapter VI How to Write Potent Copy

Ogilvy Advertising Tips Poster How to Write Potent Copy

(click to print)

This little guy is a good reminder for anybody wanting to earn readership. Headlines arouse curiousity, and should promise a benefit. Hopefully you wanted to know what Ogilvy’s 5 How To’s were or to print these graphics. Otherwise, I’ve misread my audience. Rand Fishkin at SEOMoz closed his speech with making the internet a better place. For me, that gave advertising a purpose. Whether you educate, entertain, or inform about a product, it’s imperative your content provide value to the reader.

Chapter VII How to Illustrate Advertisements and Posters

Ogilvy Advertising Tips Poster Illustrate Ads and Posters

(click to print)

Again, we hear substance is more important than form, but one may argue that form may get people to actually stop to read the substance. My favorite is #10 – count just how many billboards on the interstate you absorb that have more than six words. Did you catch the message? Did you know who or what it advertised? What billboards do you even remember, right now? Of course, street corners with stop lights are different, as are subway line graphics. It’s important to remember the needs of the immediate audience from an environmental standpoint and not just a psychological one.

And there you have it. You can now advertise like a genius in the 1960s, and with a little digital education, today as well. I hope this helps you become more aware of your communication and business approach, and that you read Ogilvy’s book. As another internet marketer and SEO friend of One Click Ian Lurie (Portent, Inc.) said in this post back in 2006, it’s a great tool to “return to it often for a renewal of purpose.” The book covers the basics, reminds you to tell the truth, and tells you to provide value to other people. Those things alone are worth the read.

Business Cards & Stationary for Kyle Bender, TFA Corps Member 2012-14

Modern teacher's stationary front 1

Awhile back, my good Lafayette area friend and past college baseball teammate Kyle Bender and I ran into each other. Kyle said he was with Teach for America and his school didn’t have any business cards. So, I made him some.

Of course, I played it safe with the standard traditional format, but I had to take a gamble and do something a little different. Those business cards seem to be kept the longest and remembered the most in my book – the ones that don’t always head straight to the top of the dusty deck in your desk’s bottom drawer. For the unique cards, I tried put the card viewer into a setting like Kyle’s to really appreciate what he’s doing. Kyle chose the standard, most affordable card which probably feels the most professional coming from an educator following a handshake. If the client’s happy, I’m pretty happy.


Kyle Bender Vertical Business Card by Nate Schrader

Traditional horizontal with possible backside:

Teach for America Corps Member Business Card

Kyle also asked for stationary to write thank you’s, notes, and other networking whatnots. After a few emails, I came up with the front of a few cards…

purple templated stationary by Nate Schrader

aged label stationary by Nate Schrader

Note Card Stationary by Nate Schrader

Modern teacher's stationary front 1

Modern Teacher Stationary Front 2 by Nate Schrader

followed by the style he wanted, a one-sided graphic on which he could hand-write:

Professional Stationary Notables by Nate Schrader

All in all, I think it turned out pretty well. Amidst busy schedules and a few emails, we should’ve conversed over the phone or met in person to really understand what the other was thinking.

If you need cards or stationary, don’t be afraid to ask. I’m happy to help where I can.

Advertising Tips: David Ogilvy’s 11 Commandments for Building Great Campaigns

Click here for Ogilvy’s 11 Commandments along with how to get clients, keep clients, write potent copy, and create illustrations.

Something I wish I could’ve done more of in college is morph books into useful, memorable graphics. I’m wrapping up a few books right now, and so follows these quotes from David Ogilvy’s Confessions of an Advertising Man. Some claim it’s a bit outdated, and I will agree, there is quite a contrast with the way an advertiser approaches the consumer today. There really isn’t anything in the book about campaigns that help people other than having helpful messages, but the 1960s were a different time. Still, I think all of these points ring true today.

Click the poster to print, if you like. You may have to zoom in the new window first!

Ogilvy quotes on how to build great campaigns poster

#12. Click this, print it out, and tell all your friends where you found it.

Prepare yourself for a few more of these…

Cannes 2012: Droga5 Knows How to Save a Life with Help Remedies

Help Remedies save a life explanation
Help Remedies save a life explanation

Life saver. Seriously.

On December 10th, Adweek announced agency Droga5 as the US Agency of the Year. They credited Droga5 with the award after Droga5 won the Cannes Grand Prix for Good award this past year for their bone marrow donor campaign for Help Remedies along with another gold Lion for its Prudential campaign. Oh, and don’t forget about their departmental expansion of adding analytics, PR, and strategy departments plus their digital tools development project, De-De. With such growth, it may not surprise you that they increased revenue by 43% at $41 million. While they were at it, they raised another $1 million for Unicef’s Tap Project that provides nonsustaining countries with clean drinking water. Not too shabby financially for some award winning-advertising.

Later in the article, Adweek mentions the financial success of several brands, like Newcastle’s 5% YOY sales jump and Honeymade’s 17% sales increase. However, they fail to mention anything about Help Remedies’ or Prudential’s sales increases. I’m completely for a bandage campaign raising money; helping others is my favorite type of advertising. I just like it when an agency shows their campaign is good for the client so more of it will continue. (After watching the video, sales went up 1900%. Probably not much to start with, but still, that’s a big jump!)

Financial stuff aside, this campaign is absolutely awesome. Help Remedies‘ audience clearly cares about health if they’re willing to buy premium bandages, which makes me think they’re likely to donate to a good cause when their pockets, er, hearts feel like it. I’ve been reading Leo Burnett’s HumanKind after finishing Ogilvy’s Confessions of an Advertising Man. Basically Burnett’s current mindset  is to participate with their audience and solve their audience’s problems, not just the single problem the advertised product solves.

And that’s exactly what Droga5 did: they solved a giant problem for their brand’s audience. A problem bigger than a single cut. With those extra departments they added, Droga5 could’ve discovered one way or another that bone marrow donation blood samples were tough to get. Then, they did a little more than just say, “Hey, why can’t somebody do something about making donor registration easier and more well known?”

Help Remedies cartoon guy

Yeah. We solved the problem.

Droga5 found a solution, or found the people with whom to create the solution. They put a simple & quick registration form inside a bandage box WITH THE BANDAGE. The donation solution is so close to the Help Remedies consumer; you’re already cut and bleeding, the perfect time for a swab sample! The best part in my mind is that after having bone marrow deficient patients on your mind plus your dainty little cut, you just might put on the bandage and think, “Wow. This is nothing compared to a bone marrow transplant.” Then, you might feel guilty or appreciative of your own life and send in your completed donor form… To save a life.

Help Remedies swab sample

The perfect time to give/get a sample.

That’s not advertising. That’s not an attempt to win an award. That’s just making the world a better place.

And by the way – check out Help Remedies’ website. It’s a great example of something that’s interesting and clearly shows their brand just wants to help people. Even if it means showing them with which fork to eat your salad.

image source: The Help Remedies campaign video via Droga5