Thursday, January 14, 2010

All Access Guest blogger

(a post from guest blogger Jim Kipping)

...and make it creative. Four of the most vague and really cliché words in creative today. Make it creative. To whom? Who are we talking to? What is the outcome the client wants to see? Are they wanting to move product? Are they talking about general imaging and branding? Are we doing this to enter it in a contest to show how creative we can be without regard to the client's wishes?

Make it creative. That's enough to make any producer, sound designer or scriptwriter pull their hair out ... again! Oh, THAT'S why I see a lot of peers in the industry with no hair! I have known plenty of "creative spots" before, but the funky chinchilla puppets the sandwich shop Quizno's used in their campaign a few years back didn't make me want to go get a $6 sandwich.

Last April, Val Maki of Emmis asked if I was interested in sitting in on a national webinar series with a bunch of other creatives, to talk about making better creative commercial content. I was, of course, very honored to be asked to do so and proceeded to join the weekly class for six weeks. The webinar was graciously hosted by Jerry Lee, owner of B101/Philadelphia and a consummate radio creative advocate. It featured the likes of Dan Hill, author of an amazing read on advertising called Emotionomics. Dan is also President of Sensory Logic, Inc. ( ), a company that pioneered the study of emotions and how to incorporate them into marketing and the decision-making process. Dan and his firm also consult Fox TV's "Lie To Me" series using their proprietary "facial coding" technique for determining true emotional response to various stimuli.

Let me just say without going into much detail on how the webinar series unfolded, it's amazing to realize that the face doesn't lie! That's why when people do business, the preferable method is belly to belly, looking into your client's eyes. This is no different when it comes to marketing, according to Hill. The basic idea is play a spot ... in this case, radio spots ... record the face while listening to it and through mapping the face and tracking the movements of each of the facial muscles, we can garner the true feelings of the listener by recording various peaks and valleys of their likes or dislikes. Instant results without having to "ask" what they thought of the spot, or having them turn a dial one way or another.

Being a stat-and-numbers guy, I instantly fell in love with the idea of data being collected just on mapping the human face and watching the reaction during a playback of a spot. Truly amazing! The weeks rolled by and we viewed many sessions that delved into many aspects of the data ... and what was and what wasn't a bad spot by way of "emotional" response both we, the webinar panel, and the test subjects displayed on each session. By the end, we were taken on an extensive journey into the minds of the listeners of our respective mediums. With that in mind, I asked about the makeup of us in the class -- 13 ad agency types and 3 of us from radio. I found this amazing, with the vast about of local direct business radio does that there weren't more of us.

Even before being asked to join the panel, I for one have always tried to play with emotions in my copy and spots. One that comes to mind is the smell spot I wrote for a car company a long time ago. " you sit in traffic today, like right now, take a good long ... sniff. (sniff sfx) ... how does your car smell? Does it smell like French fries the kids lost under the seat last week? Or the dirty, smelly gym bag in the hot, dark trunk? Wouldn't it be nice to have a new car with that new car smell? (sniff sfx). At XYZ Autoplex, we have over 300 new car smells to choose from." The script went on about the smell of each car they had on specials on the various "models" of smells, etc.

This is so far away from "ad speak" ads, which are so prevalent in that category, that it really freaked out a lot of clients because it wasn't "the norm." What norm? The norm of yelling at people to purchase a $25k+ car? It did generate great results for the one brave account that finally used it. It truly used EMOTION to sell something and not just bark a list of "Why we want to be the #1 new car dealer in Dallas!" Yeah? So? What's in it for me?

The six weeks spent with my fellow creatives and Dan Hill during the "Why and How Emotion Rules" seminar were indeed memorable and beneficial. It reinforced and bolstered my desire to help change the industry by selling with emotion ... and not just a laundry list of stuff in an ad. As a consumer, appeal to my emotions and you have made a sale. The one benefit of the shakeup of the automotive industry is we all have heard less and less "SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF OUR LUNGS" CAR ADS! and more one-on-one conversations with car listeners or potential buyers. For me? This sells. "There is nothing better getting into my new car with leather seats on a hot summer day. It's like driving my favorite leather couch, or pair of shoes. Yes, I like the new leather in my new Chevy ... it's like wearing an old friend, but it's new! ...."

"Creative" is subjective. It can be proven that you can get an emotional response from someone. The question is, does every response generate a sale for your client(s)? Does our industry on a local level leave adequate time to develop and use emotions in our ads? Or is it a rush to just get something on - and you promised your client you'll get something produced for tomorrow? THAT is not always a good thing. That's next time.

Jim "Jimbo" Kipping is Creative Services Director for the 6 station cluster for Emmis Broadcasting in Austin Texas, and heard on national campaigns for Netflix, Sunny D, Amtrak California, Kreg Tool Co, Gold's Gym, Geraldo at Large and hundreds of other regional and local spots in Austin and around world from his studio in the Texas Hill Country. He can be reached at

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