The Hired Hand – Not just another blah-blah-blog

May 29, 2014

February 4, 2014

Tag(line), you’re it – the ultimate mix-‘n’-match game

Filed under: Advertising — Darcy Grabenstein @ 12:11 am
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by Darcy Grabenstein

With the Super Bowl ads only hours behind us, I couldn’t help but turn my thoughts to some of advertising’s most memorable – and some perhaps most questionable – taglines.

One of the more questionable that comes to mind is “RAID kills bugs dead.” Isn’t that a bit redundant? As my sons would say when one of us unsuccessfully tried to one-up the other with a joke, “You killed it.”

Let’s take a look at some truly killer ad slogans, but with a twist. I’ve assigned them to brands that I think would be much more appropriate.

After all, industry experts would tell you that a great ad slogan shouldn’t be generic. In other words, you shouldn’t be able to simply insert any company name and the slogan would still be applicable. Of course, Nike turns that theory on its head with its famous “Just Do It” campaign. You could, in fact, substitute just about any other company and the phrase would work equally well. Alka-Seltzer. Just Do It. … Expedia. Just Do It. … XYZ Grad School. Just Do It. I rest my case.

So if you’re ready for some post-Super Bowl fun and games, let’s get started.


Got milk? (California Milk Processor Board) —-> Evenflo® Breast Pump

Don’t leave home without it. (American Express)
—-> Hardware store duplicate keys

Where’s the beef? (Wendy’s) —-> Chippendales Male Revue Las Vegas

You’re in good hands with Allstate. —-> Massage Envy

You’ve come a long way, baby. (Virginia Slims) —-> Hospital Birthing Center

We bring good things to life. (General Electric) —-> Cryogenics facility

The quicker picker-upper. (Bounty) —-> Red Bull

Take it all off. (Noxzema) —-> Nudist colony

Just do it. (Nike) —> Just Dew it. (Mountain Dew)

And my personal favorite:

We try harder. (Avis) —-> (drum roll, please) —-> Viagra.

Can you think of any ad campaigns you think would be better suited for another company? If so, share them here.

Let the games begin..

April 17, 2013

The importance of copy

Filed under: Advertising,Branding,Writing — Darcy Grabenstein @ 10:03 am
Tags: , , , ,

Hawaii ad mock-upIn the season opener of “Mad Men,” Don Draper is pitching a print ad to his client that promotes Hawaii.

The mock-up shows a beach shoreline strewn with a man’s jacket, tie and shoes – with footprints leading into the ocean. The headline reads: “Hawaii: The jumping off point.”

Like Don’s client, I immediately thought of suicide. Then I realized that it was the copy that led me to that conclusion.

Instead of “Jumping Off Point,” if Don had used a headline or tagline of “Hawaii. Shed your cares,” I’m guessing his client would have bought the concept.

Not only does this episode emphasize the importance of copy, it also shows how graphics and copy must work together to create a clear, cohesive message.

We all know Don has a dark side to his character. Apparently, he let his personality cloud his copywriting. This also illustrates how agency creatives must listen to their clients, even when they think they’re right and the client is wrong.

Me? I’ll take a fact-finding junket to Hawaii any day.


Check out Darcy Grabenstein on Google+

October 14, 2012

You can take the girl out of copywriting… but you can’t take copywriting out of the girl

After a copywriting career spanning more than 20 years, I decided to make a move to the account side of the business. I’m now managing email campaigns for a division of one of the world’s largest beauty companies. It’s stimulating. It’s challenging. It’s a learning experience.

It’s not copywriting.

I’m not saying I have regrets, but I am saying that I still need to feed my creative juices.

I can’t help myself. It’s the way I’m wired.

I’m one of those people who watch the Super Bowl not for the gridiron greats but for the 30- and 60-second advertising spots. I actually like to receive commercial emails in my inbox. I flip through magazines, giving equal time to headlines and clever ad lines. Most people record  TV programs so they can fast forward through the commercials. Or flip from one radio station to the next, in an effort to avoid the on-air advertising onslaught.

Not moi. I actually hit the pause button on my DVR so I can capture all the ad details. I sign up for text alerts not to receive the special offers but to see how they’re crafted. I make a mental note of billboards that not only catch my eye but capture the essence of a brand. I click on banner ads to see if they really click with their audience.

My favorite TV shows are (no surprise here) Mad Men and The Pitch.

Call me crazy. Call me whatever you want – but call me a copywriter.

Check out Darcy Grabenstein on Google+

March 27, 2012

The blog that wasn’t

My blog disappeared in cyberspace. One minute it was there, the next it wasn’t.

So I’ve found a new home for my blog, and I’ve been furiously re-creating it as best I could. Thank goodness for the Internet Wayback Machine.

Now that “Mad Men” is back on the air (hooray!), I’m sure I’ll have a few snarky comments from a copywriter’s perspective.

Stay tuned.

Check out Darcy Grabenstein on Google+

BP to Gulf Coast tourists: ‘Y’all come back now, ya hear?’

Tar ballOriginally posted in December 2011

As someone who grew up in the Florida panhandle, I viewed the entire BP oil spill disaster with more than just mere distaste. I viewed it as an assault to my home, my memories, and to some of the most beautiful beaches around.

I visited Pensacola Beach in the summer of 2010, just a few months after the disastrous event. Telltale signs of the oil spill were everywhere. Docked in  Pensacola was a huge contraption, what appeared to be an oil-removal system. It was a sobering symbol of the spill. The Escambia County Health Department posted signs at the beach warning beachgoers of tar balls and more. From atop a lighthouse, we saw oil booms and rigs galore. The fresh fish and seafood I so longed to eat was in short supply, thanks to the oil spill.

Tourism, along with the commercial fishing industry, is the Gulf Coast’s lifeblood, particularly in Florida. According to an analysis by Oxford Economics, the BP oil spill is projected to impact Gulf Coast tourism for at least three years, and cost the region $22.7 billion.

According to the BP website, “BP has committed a total of $92 million over a three year period for the states to use to promote tourism.” Of course, the section of the site devoted to the recently launched ad campaign, “Best Season,” never once mentions WHY the company is sponsoring the tourism ads. Out of the goodness of its own heart? Out of guilt? Fear of further lawsuits?

The ad campaign does more than tout Gulf Coast tourism; it indirectly – yet blatantly –  promotes BP itself. You see, the BP name and logo appear at the end of each spot. Sort of like a tar ball on pristine white sand.

If you ask me, it’s a bit self-serving for BP.

You can see the BP ads here.

As for the ads themselves, I like the fact that they feature people who actually live and work in the area. Now that I live in the Northeast, I miss that Southern drawl.

As for the motivation behind the ads, I’ll say this to the folks at BP: Y’all should be ashamed of yourselves, ya hear?

Check out Darcy Grabenstein on Google+

Ford puts the brakes on ads in gay media – a PR faux pas?

Ford logoOriginally posted in 2005, an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender) news site, has reported that the anti-gay American Family Association (AFA) called off its threatened boycott of Ford Motor Co. A Ford spokesman confirmed that the company will stop advertising its Jaguar and Land Rover brands in gay publications but insisted it was strictly a business decision.

Detroit carmakers are facing tough economic times across the board, according to the spokesman. The Wall Street Journal reported that Ford plans to shut five North American plants employing 7,500 workers. The company says its total U.S. vehicle sales in November ’05 fell by 15%.

C.J. O’Donnell, Jaguar executive vice president of sales and marketing, earlier told Brandweek that Jaguar is retooling its media plan. “We are pulling away from mass media in general toward more targeted media such as PR….”

Well, in the aftermath of Ford’s decision, investing more in PR might not be such a bad idea. A bit of damage control might be in order. While Ford’s decision to pull the ads may indeed have been based on the bottom line, the timing couldn’t have been worse. So what’s a business to do?

First of all, a business must anticipate potential repercussions of its decisions. If Ford had pulled ads from mainstream publications at the same time, then its decision to pull ads from only gay media would probably not be in question.

In this era of increasing diversity and acceptance, Ford’s initial effort to reach out to the LGBT community has backfired (pun intended). Ford reportedly entered negotiations with the AFA; perhaps it should have consulted with the publications and/or members of the LGBT community as well. It looks like it’s going to take Ford a while to get on the road to recovery, PR-wise.

Check out Darcy Grabenstein on Google+

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