A Glimpse Into My Mind

       Over the past few months, I’ve been studying a basic introduction to advertising course at Western Kentucky University. The course has given me a new appreciation for the intricacies of our current advertising world. Since the class began in August, I have learned much about different positions in the ad world; such as the account executive, copywriter, creative director, event planner, etc. and their distinct differences. What I found surprising was how effective radio advertisements are. I had no idea radio is still used as widely as it is today. All of my friend have Apple Music, Pandora, or Spotify. We’re all trying to find ways around hearing advertisements, but I’ve come to learn radio is still incredibly effective. While the trend is leaning away from traditional forms of advertisements and towards digital and interactive forms of media, such as twitter, google ad words, and microblogging.

WKU-Fusion-Logo_dark_RESZ_2.png         My predictions for the evolution of the way brands advertise and market to consumers is finding the best balance of both. While it’s no longer 1999 and panic has been calmed after Y2K, we are learning how to use the internet to advertise effectively. Google ad words, SEO, and branded content on social media have seen an exponential growth in usage, and as more companies adapt these current strategies, the market will continue flooding with banners and popup ads way past the point of over-saturation. The “next big thing”is already out there, and the first ones to capitalize on it will reap success greater than their imagination. Gary Vaynerchuck used google ads to grow his Wine Library business in the early stages of google. If the next game changing platform hasn’t been invented yet, it will be soon, and the first to effectively adopt that new platform in combination with both traditional and interactive digital forms of advertising will brew an unparalleled storm.


Digital/Interactive Media or Traditional? Battle of the ages.

It’s showtime! Who will win in a battle of the ages? The printing press? Television? Twitter? How about all of them? Totally! I love teamwork; however, like teams, let’s use a baseball metaphor, like baseball teams, integrated marketing campaigns need to cover all their bases. This way, a home run isn’t just a home run, it’s a grand slam. Each platform has a unique purpose. Find each purpose and start throwing jabs. Eventually you can throw that hook in there, get your grand slam, and continue working because money doesn’t sleep. It doesn’t need sleep. It needs constant pursuit of advertising strategies throughout several distinct purposeful platforms. Are you a cake company selling beautiful designs? Check out Pinterest. I heard the weather there is great this time of year. Are you a local store trying to attract local customers? Use location targeting through Facebook ads. Pretty simple concept. Let’s take a look at one brand who understands the use of digital/interactive advertising down to its’ core: Always.

With over 27.7 million views on their youtube video, Always has brought together traditional advertising with it’s digital/interactive counterparts. The global video is part of a campaign to tackle sexism, and successfully integrates the #LikeAGirl into their campaign allowing for it to trend on social media sights. In doing so, awareness is spread to audiences through traditional forms of paid reach such as television ads, but advertisers behind the campaign are also able to track mentions, listen to their customers, and have consumers of either the video or message go to our social media pages and advocate for gender equality, all while increasing brand awareness.

Such Strange Yet Marvelous Product Placement…

You know the pain you feel from watching an incredibly expensive Lamborghini get completely totaled? Yeah, well, according to Ad Age, Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” did just that. On purpose.

“The title character in Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” drives (and crashes) a $237,250 Lamborghini Huracán LP610-4. In another twist of product placement, he uses a smartphone from China: It’s from Huawei’s Honor subbrand, whose flagship phone sells for $399.99.” – Ad Age

Product placement is clearly at work here, but Lamborghini might not be the ones seeing the most success. The movie is geared towards 18-34 year olds, most of whom lack the funds to buy such an expensive vehicle. However, the Chinese cell phone Honor 8 is boldly challenging Samsun and Apple in the global market.

Here is where you can buy one: https://store.hihonor.com/us/honor-8

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Before The Flood & National Geographic’s Admirable Accomplishment

Start With Why.

In his 2011 book, Start With Why, Simon Sinek delves further into ideas regarding human inspiration and motivation. He provides a simple model explaining at the center of every action should be your why, your motivation, your purpose. If reading a book is too time consuming, click here to view his brief TED Talk furthering this concept.

Now, let’s analyze some businesses who actually start with why, then praise one champion for their recent victory.

Initially, Google stays true to themselves. Google wants to organize all of the worlds information in a useful and accessible way. They don’t have any ads on their home page, it’s simply “Google” “Google Search” and “I’m Feeling Lucky.” That’s it! Google, good!

Stay With Why.

Now that the idea is clear, let’s talk about National Geographic’s most recent admirable victory. Before The Flood.  Making sure as many people see this documentary as possible is essential to the people behind this film. The documentary is free to watch for everyone and doesn’t have any ads or interruptions. Their why is more powerful than pocket change or extra millions potentially filling elite pockets. Their why is climate change. Their why is in line with their actions, and in less than two days has over 4 million views on youtube here. National Geo, great!

End With Why.

6 Things to Take Away From the book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

             Authors Chip Heath & Dan Heath sure wrote an incredible book applicable for teachers, advertisers, storytellers, and anybody else with a message they’re trying to convey. There are 6 core ideas you need for SUCCESS. Simplicity. Unexpectedness. Concreteness. Credibility. Emotional. Stories. Chip & Dan use questions to give readers an idea of the type of content to expect in each section. I’ll provide both the questions, and answers, saving you some valuable reading time you could actually spend reading this book because it would be worth it.


1. Simplicity. 

“How do you strip an idea to its core without turning it into a silly sound bite?”

What’s the bottom line? “If we do nothing else during tomorrow’s mission, we must ______” OR “The single, most important thing that we must do tomorrow is ______” Be simple. Find the core of your message and get that across.

2. Unexpectedness.

“How do you capture people’s attention…and hold it?”

Don’t be so predictable. Think of Nordstrom. Here are a couple examples of Nordstrom workers being amazing, “The Nordie who ironed a new shirt for a customer who needed it for a meeting that afternoon.” “the Nordie who cheerfully gift wrapped products a customer bought at Macy’s” AND “the Nordie who refunded money for a set of tire chains – although Nordstrom doesn’t sell tire chains.” 


3. Concreteness.

“How do you help people understand your idea and remember it much later?”

Stick to the core. Stay grounded. “Biology students try to remember whether reptiles lay eggs or not. Biology teachers think in terms of the grand system of animal taxonomy.” Essentially, if the test question is ‘Reptiles lay eggs: True or False?’ abstract thoughts such as that of taxonomic classifications are not concrete enough. “Novices perceive concrete details as concrete details. Experts perceive concrete details as symbols of patterns…They want to talk about chess strategies, not about bishops moving diagonally.”


4. Credibility.

“How do you get people to believe your idea?”

“The researchers carefully tested the arguments with and without vidid details to ensure that they had the same perceived importance.” Basically, the details were not relevant to the function of the story, yet researchers were testing their role in argumentation. “Even though the details shouldn’t have mattered, they did…They boosted the credibility of the argument.” If you can see a picture, it’s easier for you to imagine the scenario, thus making the message with vivid details more believable and thus, stick!.


5. Emotional.

“How do you get people to care about your idea?”

Think of Mother Teresa. No, not my grandma! The one who said, “If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.” Chip & Dan describe, in a request for charity donations for the well-being of children world-wide, a more effective advertising campaign would be to share the story of one young child rather than a statistic. This way, we can relate to one rather than trying to understand the whole.


6. Stories.

“How do you get people to act on your idea?”

Jared from Subway.


The Battle of Your Minds


          For DECADES marketers and researchers have been conducting polls, surveys and questionnaires either online, over the phone, or face to face, etc. However, newfound research in neuromarketing has been suggesting what people say is only a logical rationalization of how they feel, and since humans are emotional beings and acting on instinct precedes logic, simply asking a sample – or even a population in its’ entirety- is no longer the most accurate strategy for conducting consumer research. While online research methods likely comprise the majority the cheapest research methods, fMRIs along with EEGs give researchers a clearer understanding of the biological basis for consumer decision making. Simply put, using a classic example, when asked on the street or even in a twitter poll, “Coke or Pepsi?” a trend of answers suggest a preference to Coke because of taste, even though blind taste tests suggest otherwise.

“The Reptilian Always Wins.” – Patrick Renvoise

In his 2013 Ted Talk, Patrick Renvoise (as shown above) details to consumers what experts know about the brain, ranging from the neocortex, requiring effort, logic, and slower to process, to the middle brain (our emotional selves), to our reptilian brain, or instinctual self which has the greatest impact on influencing our final decisions. In his words, “the reptilian always wins.”

Game On: Positioning (The Battle For Your Mind)

A Response To The Classic Novel: Positioning by Al Ries & Jack Trout

I get it now. Positioning. Positioning happens in the mind of the consumer, no where else. To successfully position oneself, whether a product, idea, person, etc., you must have a dependent to position against. Think football players. If you had one player standing in an empty field, he isn’t doing anything. Add an opposing player standing in front of him, and the two now have relative positions. The battle in our minds begin. Do we want the home team or the away team? Do we want the brand we’ve been loyal to or do we want the new kid on the block? Positioning is a relative game played in consumers minds. It’s like chess, but without the board.


The book finally clicked for me when I read about how automobiles were first introduced into the marketplace. If we’re continuing with the football analogy, think back to when that first player was standing alone in the field. There was no game. There was no excitement. There was nothing happening. No competition. No sales. No profit. Now instead of being introduced as a new player on an empty field, early advertisers positioned automobiles as horseless-carriages, taking a familiar construct in the consumers mind, such as the understanding of a game of football, and adding a new player on the visitors side.


If you’re the first to fill a marketplace, you’ll likely dominate that segment for the foreseeable future. The book describes how we’re in love with first. Who’s the first person you’ve ever kissed? Who’s the second? What’s the first movie you ever watched? What’s the second? While being the first is often times a blessing, Avis used their second place position to their benefit. “Why go with us? We try harder.” Thus, when Avis attempted to claim the number one position from Hertz, they faced opposition. What worked for Avis was their positioning as second, not being the best. Or think 7-Up as the “uncola,” positioning itself as an alternative to either Coke or Pepsi.


Positioning is all around us, and the battle for our minds are played by marketers world-wide. Are we the masters of our own destiny, or are we simply puppets on strings?

The Theory Shattering Pre-Conceived Ideas of Advertising.

“This changes the long-held belief that the role of the ‘creative idea’ in advertising is to gain attention. Instead, the ‘creative’ parts of an ad can serve to help lower our defenses and cause us to pay less attention to the message, not more…” – Daryl Weber “Brand Seduction”

When Volkswagon first launched their infamous Darth Vader Super Bowl Commercial (as shown below), they shattered their audiences expectations, not-so-forcefully. While Darth Vader may have mastered the Force, VW has mastered cognitive dissonance. The first expectation of ours they break is when the creatives behind the ad decided to put the kid in the Darth Vader costume. Usually kids want to be a super Hero – not villain.  This initially creates interest from the viewpoint of the audience because right of the bat, a cute kid, a known villain, what could possibly be happening?

The next notable decision was to have the kid use the force on objects around the house. Both the audience and the creators of the ad know the force is strictly fiction, as of now, but think it’s cute the kid keeps trying. The audience is captured by the story of a cute kid in a Darth Vader mask repeatedly failing at an impossible task. Suddenly, the force works! How did that happen? The kid’s parent started their VW parked in the driveway from the keys in the kitchen as the kid uses the force on it. The kid thinks he started the car, but the viewers are aware the keys were able to start the car. VW then entertains the viewer, while getting across messages of family, innovation, and safety.

A final note worth mentioning is Volkswagon’s choice to release the advertisement on youtube prior to its airing at the Super Bowl. In this way, with hundreds of thousands of views, much of the audience was sitting in anticipation for this commercial, a feat VW was able to accomplish heroically.

“…The story can entertain the viewer, making them more relaxed and less focused on picking apart an overt claim or message. This means that even if explicit brand or message recall are low in consumer testing, the relevant associations may still be getting through, even if only subconsciously.” – Daryl Weber, “Brand Seduction”

Super Bowl commercials used to serve to get across a certain claim or message, now, their purpose is to provide brand recognition and “seduce” their audience towards their product. In his 2016 novel “Brand Seduction” Daryl Weber describes, even if we simply see an ad, “enjoy a fleeting smile,” and get on with our day, our perception of Volkswagon changes, even if just subtly, by viewing this commercial. The only left to say is… Well done VW. May the force be with you, always.

A glimpse into “The Future of Advertising”

This post is a direct response to Danielle Sacks’ 2010 article, “The Future of Advertising” nearly 6 years later.

There’s no doubt the advertising world is changing, our entire world is rapidly evolving every second at speeds that used to be deemed unfathomable. The article basically details how trends in advertising are evolving, and a lot of people are falling behind. The article gives them excuses, saying that because the advertising industry is changing people are out of jobs. I disagree. I think those people are either too lazy, close minded, or unequipped to handle the change in reality. The book “Paradigms” by Joel Barker gives this great graph (as shown below) which demonstrates the slope at which change occurs in the business world.


The only catch is, due to the internet, the slope has gotten much steeper, and there are more. Essentially, if the small circle in the lower left hand corner of the chart was the creation of mobile phones, twitter, email, youtube, the first few who understand how to use the platform correctly will see massive success. Gary Vaynerchuck, who’s website you can access here (or by clicking on his name), started his youtube channel “Wine Library” only four months after the launch of YouTube. He saw the potential. He saw the paradigm shift. Anyone complaining and not working doesn’t have a winning mindset, one comprising of what it takes to build a brands awareness in an extremely overcrowded marketplace. While his new book, #AskGaryVee is absolutely incredible, one of his earlier ones, “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How To Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World” explains just that. If I were to choose to take my advice from either someone who’s out of a job because they’re a “digital immigrant” or Gary Vee who’s an actual immigrant about to buy the freakin’ New York Jets, I’ll take Gary Vee any day of the week..

I’m 20. Hence, I wasn’t alive in the 1960s and other eras that seem to have occurred in black and white in my head. Y’all, that must have been a very boring time for advertising. The entire creative process of making an advertisement was set up like an assembly line. There was a whole system to follow, and a step by step guide each person, whether an executive director or account manager would step up, fill in, and wait for the next one. You could do the same thing at a McDonald’s drive through. One person takes the order, the next hands it, then you wait for the next customer to pull up to the window. Luckily, times are changing. New titles are appearing thanks to new advancements in digital technology. The book “Growth Hacker” by Ryan Holiday actually discusses ways in which advertising budgets were able to maximize ROI by finding alternative ways to earn free media and consumer attention. At the end of each outgoing email from a user’s account, Hotmail added a little tag saying “Get your free email at Hotmail.” They leveraged existing users along with existing digital technology, and didn’t have to spend a cent. You may now recognize the “Sent from my iPhone” tag that followed suit.


Thanks for reading this. If you found any value in it, please share it along. If you’re Gary Vaynerchuck, I’ll take an internship please!!! I’m not sure if you know if or not, but you’re definitely a huge mentor of mine.

Michael Rizzo. Email with questions or inquiries: mikeyrizzo.rizzo@gmail.com


Are You Paranoid? Be Careful.

       Time travel? Sounds fun! How about back to 2009 when Christopher Locke, David “Doc” Searls, David Weinberger, and Rick Levine collaborated to create “The Cluetrain Manifesto” with a long list of 95 Theses I don’t suggest reading through. But, since I have, I’ll share number 52/95, which most certainly underlies the remaining 94.

“Paranoia kills conversation. That’s its point. But lack of open conversation kills companies.” – The Cluetrain Manifesto

       Humans are creatures of habit, led by emotions. Our brains don’t want to work. They want to keep you alive, fed, and reproducing. Thinking just gets in the way. Thinking is the first cause of paranoia. Being scared, being afraid, not knowing the outcome is totally acceptable. It’s totally okay to not know the unknown. Nobody does. Get together with a group of people who all have 100% unconditional trust in one another and nothing is impossible. Have open conversations. Be trust worthy. Put your trust in others. You can always trust someone’s intentions. If your group, your squad, your company, all has a goal they’re trying to reach, any open conversation in line with that goal will push your organization forward. What’s to lose? What’s to be afraid of? If you can have open conversations with your customers, with your employees, with your friends, neighbors, relatives, you won’t just survive. You’ll flourish. Get paranoid and that conversation was dead before it started.

In short, The Cluetrain Manifesto is very long, and if you were to retain any information from it at all, let it be this: “Paranoia kills conversation. That’s its point. But lack of open conversation kills companies.”


M. Rizzo