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Friday, July 10, 2009

Advertising: TAC's PSA from Down Under leaves you stone cold sober

I first heard about this very compelling
PSA commercial that's currently running
in Australia from a friend who's a
high-ranking executive in the advertising
industry here in the U.S.

That's actually the sort of job that I
always imagined for myself while I was
North Miami Beach and then at IU,
back when I routinely and devoutly
devoured Advertising Age and the
late Dunn's Business Monthly like

(Today's amusing AA online headline:

BK Will Forgo Sex in Exchange for

Cheeseburger

Promises Franchisees to Tone Down

Advertising if Value Menu Is Approved)


(For the record, back then, my back-up
career plan consisted largely of being a
savvy and influential Media Analyst for
Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, now
part of Credit Suisse, and eventually
forming a VC (venture capital) company
of my own specializing in media properties.
Then, eventually parlaying some of the
profits of those enterprises in owning
a minority ownership stake in a MLB
team in South Florida that I helped
create and would market to make it
both dynamic, appealing and
profitable.

Now that you know that fact, perhaps
some of you out there in the blogosphere
will better appreciate where I'm coming
from in my past and future criticisms of
the Florida Marlins ownership and
marketing operations, a few posts of
which I've kept in cold storage since
last year, ready for use on a rainy day.
Well, I think it'll be raining next week!)

Getting my hands on those particular
magazines back then wasn't an easy
task and required time and commitment
in the form of a trip from NMB a few times
a month to a small magazine shop off
of S. Dixie Highway, south of the U-M,
that was one of only 2 or 3 places in
all of South Florida that even carried
Ad Age back in Ye Olde Times.

Back before there were plenty of clean
and well-organized Barnes & Noble
and Borders stores in upscale retail
outlets to satisfy those specialized
reading needs of mine.

That desire to be part of the challenging
and VERY competitive artistic and
creative side of business life is what
led me initially to move to Chicago
in 1985.

That, along with my many friends
from IU beckoning me to move there,
who thought that I'd just love spending
afternoons at Wrigley Field and
nights along Rush Street and would
fit right in.
They were right!

And as it happened, my first year
there was Andre Dawson's first year,
an MVP year which I saw in person
about 15 times that year at the
Friendly Confines.
Well, to be honest, their collective pull
of attraction plus the always sage and
practical advice of Jack Hanrahan,
then a Media Director at Leo Burnett
and a great and loyal IU alum who was
always such a tremendous help to me
when I was at IU and part of Student
Alumni Council.

That was especially true when we
needed a truly dynamic speaker to
speak to students at one of our big
annual events about life AFTER
Bloomington.

Jack Hanrahan never disappointed
in all those years I was there because
he doesn't know how to tell a bad story,
or ever fail to keep a promise, a great
combination.

He's also someone who can consistently
tell what at first seems to be merely
an amusing anecdote, but weave it
into a compelling, over-arching narrative
that paints a much larger picture than
at first glance.
Of course, that's part of why he was
so great at his job

After Jack spoke to us one year at
an event that got a great turn-out and
was a big success, he kept in touch
and was always quick to share a clever
suggestion or two that he thought
would help make our/my efforts more
successful.
Thanks to him, they usually were.

After I got to Chicago, I met with Jack
and some other folks at his office, and
after it became rather apparent within
a week or so that nothing was going to
open up that summer at Burnett,
Jack made a few phone calls around
town, selling my potential and personality.

Thanks to his efforts and I'd like to think,
a small amount of my talent, a week later,
I met with an important VP over at the
one-and-only J. Walter Thompson.

It actually looked for a bit that my future
was going to include working at JWT,
then the world's largest advertising
agency.
Unfortunately, that was the summer of
my advertising discontent, since that
summer, Saatchi & Saatchi was on
the prowl in a big way for American ad
agencies, and every agency in Chicago
responded by shedding or trimming
or shredding newly-hired personnel
to make themselves appear more lean
and financially taut.


This very powerful PSA below that was
done by Grey (Melbourne) for client TAC,
the Transport Accident Commission
in Melbourne, is one you'd never see
the likes of in the squeamish U.S.

Like so much of the very best advertising,
it works because it's 100% true and plays
into consumers basic beliefs about behavior
amd personal responsibility.



For more information on this ad and others in the
series, see

A particularly effective TAC PSA from two years
ago called Young Cops causes the very same
anxiety to wash over you, because you know
what's coming but you still end up watching.

Video URL:



Another innovative marketing approach
that TAC's taken in trying to reduce auto
accidents is their Yellow Card program,
which consists of people rebuking their
own friends and family in a very tangible
way, like a soccer referee giving a public
warning, that probably couldn't work here.

-----------------------
Sydney Morning Herald
Blurred Vision
Richard Blackburn,
August 23, 2007

Drugs cause more fatal road crashes than speeding and twice as many
as alcohol but NSW authorities have been slow to adopt random roadside
----------------
I'll have a lot more to say about the
advertising industry in future posts
here, including some amusing
fact-filled anecdotes about marketing
campaigns involving South Florida
and Chicago, as well as national
campaigns.

Because I read so many books and
magazine stories about the dynamic
figures behind the agencies in NY
and Chicago, including the classic
Olgilvy on Advertising,
I still recall the old names of the ad
agencies before countless mergers made
them both larger (yet dimmer!), and harder
to understand what the letters stood
for, -if they stood for anything at all.
And I still recall who was a longtime
client of whom.

Eastern Airlines, The Wings of Man.
Yes, that really is the voice of Orson Welles.

--------

------
Concluding with my favorite all-time PSA,
for Radio Free Europe, a commercial that
left an indelible mark on my consciousness
as a kid.

"Peter was a boy when he left Hungary..."

You can never go wrong with Ben E, King
and the Drifters singing On Broadway...


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