Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What's become of the baby?

Why is there a new baby on E-Trade commercials? Why does he have a new voice? Why is he less funny?

Don’t ask E-Trade. They’re pretending it’s the same kid, with the headline on their landing page announcing “The E-Trade Baby is back!”

Here are some possible explanations:

1) They didn’t shoot enough footage of the original baby before he turned big and uncute.

2) E-Trade got a new CMO who wanted a baby who was “on his team.”

3) The original copywriter left Grey and is now an ECD somewhere.

4) The original copywriter was also the original baby voice.

5) Somebody thought it would be a good idea to “optimize” the campaign as it headed into its second year.

My guess is the answer is some mix of all of the above. Really wonderful ad campaigns truly are lightning in a bottle, much more so than anyone associated with them would ever admit. Change even one element of the mix, and the spark is gone.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The speech is free. The media buy's gonna cost you.

I get paid to turn the business priorities of large companies into messages that influence how people think.

It puts bread on the table, children through college, and the occasional smile on my face.

So you’d think, when the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 this week that corporations were entitled to the same First Amendment rights as individual citizens, that I’d be as happy as Newt Gingrich.

I’m not.

For Justices Kennedy, Alito, Roberts, Scalia and Thomas, let me point out some differences between people and corporations.

People have feelings, beliefs, hopes and fears. Corporations do not.

People have families. Corporations do not.

People have morals. Corporations do not.

People are mortal. Corporations, properly managed, can live forever.

People speak their minds in barber shop or blogs. Corporations buy TV commercials.

Do you really want to give an entity that has no obligation to do anything in this world except make money the right of free speech?

When I write an ad, I can’t lie. I can’t say using the competitor’s calling plan leads to genital herpes. Why? Not because it’s not true. Not because my client company doesn’t like telling fibs. The reason I can’t make stuff up is because my client can get sued and lose a boatload of money. Corporations don’t like getting sued.

But now any company or trade group with the money can pour millions of dollars into baseless lies about “issues” and candidates with no fear of legal or financial exposure.
Nice job, Supremes. Nice job.