Friday, January 26, 2007

What kind of adman ARE you?

An advertising executive stood there and admired his work. He spent weeks on the proposal. It was his slickest piece ever - he was proud of his creation. He could hardly wait to present it to the client.

As the big "reveal" date approached, he could barely contain himself. His wife was sick of hearing him talk about this campaign. He fretted over his presentation.

When the big day arrived, he was pleased as he watched the client smiling at everything he said. It was in the bag.

As his pitch grew to a close, he watched in anticipation as the client gathered his initial thoughts. This was the moment for which the adman had waited - the moment when the client would swoon over his production.

The client lifted his head from his pose of deep thought, then spoke.

"This is great!" he began. The adman sighed relief. "But I am wondering something ..."

"Yes!" encouraged the adman. "What are your thoughts?"

"I was wondering if you could do something with dancing elephants."

Dancing Elephants?!? the adman thought to himself.

"Dancing elephants?" the adman meekly queried.

Bottom line was that the client was amused, and perhaps even somewhat enthused by the advertising company's product, but actually had something specific in mind from the start. He had failed to make his ideas known in the initial meetings with the company.

The adman was crushed. Dancing elephants. Well if dancing elephants was what the customer wanted, then dancing elephants he would get. Never mind if he never sold any of his product, this client would get EXACTLY what he had ordered - nothing less, and nothing more.

The greatest homepage ever

What was the motivation for this introduction? I was asked to create a website for my employer. I had never created a website before, so I acquired the web development software, learned it, and began developing my first homepage. It was great! It was flashy. It was dynamic. It incorporated many of the elements I enjoyed from other websites I had admired. Best of all, I believed it to be highly usable - no matter what you needed from my site, you could navigate to it with just a few clicks.

I presented it to my boss, (the "client,") and he was less than impressed. He said, and I quote, "It's a little 'busy,' don't you think?"

Never mind that I was reeling from the crushed feeling one gets from having ones work criticized by the boss - the fact that he asked me "don't you THINK?" really burns.

He went on to state his "vision" of what makes a good homepage - one that is simple, with very few buttons, and no "fluff" like pictures and stuff.

No Pictures?!? See, this is why company executives should never be webmasters. They can be clueless as to what makes a good website. My first inclination was to say to myself, "If the boss wants a simple website that will attract absolutely NO visitors, and no corresponding business, than that is what I will build for him."

Then I thought of the story of the adman. I asked myself, Do I want to be like the frustrated adman - so sure of himself and his product that any criticism of its greatness would be met with resign to provide the WORST results - in order to "prove" ones righteousness?

Not me. Instead, I told myself, "If this client, (my boss,) wants 'dancing elephants,' then I was going to produce the BEST website I could create with Dancing Elephants. I developed a homepage that somehow managed to incorporate nearly all of the elements of my original whiz-bang creation, but stayed within the guidelines provided, (albeit late,) from the boss.

So the question to you is, What kind of adman are you? Are you the kind that delivers the worst you can muster, due to some misdirected belief that no person's concept of good work can compare to that of your own, or are you the kind that can work with the client's ideas to create the best "Dancing Elephants" product on the market?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Magazine diet articles cause teen smoking

A story I read in our local newspaper told of research that suggested weight-loss and diet articles in teen magazines caused unhealthy practices such as extreme weight-loss measures as many as five years after reading such material, versus those who have never read such articles.

Of course, it is nothing new to associate teen mag diet articles and ads to extreme behavior. How this study differs is in the suggestion that these articles have a lingering effect - even when a girl is well past the teen years during which she read the material.

What I found particularly interesting was the following quote:

"Girls in middle school who read dieting articles were twice as likely
five years later to try to lose weight by fasting or smoking cigarettes,
compared with girls who never read such articles."

Diet articles cause teen smoking. And here you thought that teen smoking was just a peer pressure thing.

"Hey, Ashley, what's with the cigarette? Did other kids talk you into smoking?"

"Oh, Mo-ommmm. I'm twenty years old. I haven't caved to peer pressure since middle school."

"Then how do you explain this behavior, Ash?" (Pun intended.)

"Well, it was all the diet and weight loss articles I read in those magazines you bought me. I figured a good way to lose weight was to start smoking. After all, look what it did for Aunt Ida. She smoked all her life and got herself down to 86 pounds when she died at 45."

Parents, please! I don't know if things read in teen mags cause bizarre behavior or not, but if your daughter is so convinced she needs to lose weight that she is considering or has begun smoking, by all means get her the help she needs.