Tag Archives: McDonalds

Local Need Not Equal Yokel

August 4, 2016 by

As a child of not-the-90s, I grew up watching reruns of Leave It to Beaver, The Andy Griffith Show, and Get Smart on the local UHF channel. Which means most of the commercials interrupting my quality time in the Cone of Silence were for local businesses. And while some were memorable, few were good. Every car dealer had a goofy huckster named Boots or Sonny, while everyone else had a horrific jingle (I still haven’t cleansed my soul of the USA Baby ditty “she’s having a baby and you think it’s kinda neat, but you better decide where the baby’s gonna sleep!”). But there was, at least, a half-valid reason why these ads reeked of low-budget dollar stretching—they were shot on legitimately low budgets. They couldn’t afford to shoot on 35 mm film with a 20-person crew, followed by weeks of post-production like the national brands could. And that production value gap showed.

It wasn’t just the production values that separated the local remodeling company’s commercials from, say, those of McDonald’s. Nor was this difference limited to expensive broadcast productions—it invariably extended to all parts of the brand and its marketing. (Disclaimer: I freely admit there are more than a few good local ads and more than few hideous national campaigns, but space will only permit for so much wonkish deconstruction.) Even as a nascent writer who sometimes felt like a nut and sometimes did not, I could tell that these efforts were a few steps behind the conceptual curve. It was as if the ads’ creators were content to produce something that looked like an ad without worrying about little details like effectiveness, memorability (in a good way), or long-term brand building. They were not just producing TV spots (and radio ads, and billboards, and direct-mail pieces, and telemarketing calls) that looked or sounded bad—they actually were bad.

It need not be so. Not then. Not now.

Compared to even my first days in the industry, the production budget gap has shrunk immeasurably. While it still costs actual money to produce something of aesthetic value, it is possible to get a well-made spot or video without begging the CFO for an advance on the next decade’s marketing budget. This is the easiest thing to take care of in winning the game of advertising called Who Doesn’t Want to Look Like a 1980s Soap Opera?

But before you spend the money for adequate production values (which you absolutely, positively should, regardless of which media you choose), you need to invest in an idea worth producing. Which means investing in the people capable of both coming up with such ideas and also executing them. Which means treating the creative manifestations of your brand like the investments they are instead of the expenses your procurement department may wish them to be.

Such people do exist in this town. People who can take your brand to the next level without ever once using a cliché like “taking your brand to the next level.” People who will give you a unique identity, marketing materials that do not look like they came out of Print Shop for Mac circa 1993, and ads that neither bore the viewer with marketing doublespeak nor look vacuously pretty.

The trick, of course, is finding these people and then letting them do what they do best—making your brand look good and driving sales. You cannot do that when you treat all creative firms as though they produce the same caliber or style of work. This is not a commodity industry where the lowest bidder should get the gig. The agency that says it can give you seven things for your budget will probably be less effective than the one that says it can produce four things. Judgment must be exercised.

Great ideas have real value in time frames both short and long. The good news is that, while great ideas properly executed often do cost more than lower-quality work, that cost is not nearly as high as most marketers fear. More importantly, the return on investment tends to dwarf any cost differential in the long run.

It’s up to you. You can go the standard route and show happy people, happily using your product as they happily go about their happy lives while consumers happily tune you out; or, you can invest a little more money, a little more time, and little more courage into making your brand as unforgettable and irresistible as possible. B2B

Jason Fox is the founder of AdSavior.net and the chin behind @leeclowsbeard.

Jason Fox is the founder of AdSavior.net and the chin behind @leeclowsbeard.

Jesse Wilson

July 27, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

This article appears in 2015 August Her Family.

Four-year old Jesse Wilson is like most boys his age. He loves Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and McDonald’s French fries. But one thing sets him apart.

In his short life, he has undergone 20 surgeries to help correct the birth defect hypospadias. It means that his urethra is in the wrong spot. Normally, this type of defect is fixed through surgery, but Jesse’s case is rare.

Jesse’s skin heals too quickly, subsequently undoing the work of each surgery. “If he didn’t heal in a way that he does, it would have been fixed a really long time ago,” says his mother, Jill Wilson.

In the year Jesse was 2, he had surgery once a month. It’s hard to imagine. “He has been a champion. He bounces back so quickly and he handles it. He’ll just sit there and let the doctors do their thing,” Wilson says.

They have strong support from family and friends. “My mom has never missed a surgery. She’s always there.” Wilson is thankful for the prayers from her mom’s friends on Jesse’s behalf. “I love hearing that and I appreciate every single one of them.”

He was also born eight weeks early, so he spent some time in the neonatal intensive care unit at Methodist Women’s Hospital in Omaha.

He has had two full reconstructive surgeries. Out of 20 surgeries, the majority of them were an attempt to correct his hypospadias, while others were for different issues. “A lot of them were just attempts to keep his urethra open,” she says.

“Luckily, the nurses and doctors at Children’s Hospital are phenomenal. Everybody has made him feel really comfortable.”

They are continuing the search for a solution and are in Texas this month for a surgery with one of the nation’s pioneering pediatric urologists, Dr. Warren Snodgrass of the Forest Park Medical Center. Snodgrass is responsible for creating a new method for hypospadias repair that has become the most widely used operation for this condition.

“The doctor said that he’s never had a child that has scarred the way that Jesse does, and so he’s hoping that when he does the surgery, he won’t. But there are no promises,” Wilson says. They will travel with his dad, James Wilson. Jocelyn, 20-months-old, will stay home with grandma.

Jesse has a favorite stuffed giraffe he takes with him to the hospital each surgery. Gradually, his giraffe was joined by an army of bears that he earned one by one from the hospital after each surgery. “He has an extensive collection and those were always his favorite to cuddle with after he got out.”

Meanwhile, Jesse, the continual fighter, is singing his way through the days. “He always sings. He loves ‘The Wheels on the Bus.’ Anything he hears, he repeats and he sings it,” Wilson says.