Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Julian Koenig, writer of the best print ad I've ever seen.

In 1999, Ad Age ranked VW's "Think Small" campaign as the top advertising campaign of the century.

Julian Koenig, the ad writer who gave birth to the campaign while at Doyle Dane Bernbach, passed away last week at 93, according to a NY Times obit.

To me, the brilliance of this campaign cannot be overstated. It was a different time - the Mad Men days. One of the ads in that campaign is, in my opinion, the greatest print ad ever written. The "Think Small" ad got the whole thing rolling, but the "Lemon" ad was the ballsy one. Can you imagine a client having the courage, at that time, to allow their product to be shown over that one-word headline? This was 1959!

But it also told a meaningful story. If you were willing to read past the headline – and of course you were – you read about how this particular beetle "missed the boat" because it didn't pass VW's rigorous quality control inspection. While the "big three" domestic car makers were battling it out to see who could make taller tail fins or crank out more horsepower, VW was talking about quality. If you'll indulge me another Mad Men reference, Koenig's work did what Donald Draper famously advised – it changed the conversation.

So take a minute to look back at that campaign and smile.

Julian Koenig later became the "K" in "PKL" with George Lois. Shortly before he passed away last year, my dear friend and creative partner Don Adamec scanned these two images from PKL's 1963 Annual Report. The shot of the Art Dept. features Don (at far left) and Mr. Lois. The COPY photo, of course, shows Mr. Koenig with his team.

If you have a copy of George Lois' book, Damn Good Advice, look at #84. He says, "In 1959, Think Small was the big idea that sold a Nazi car in a Jewish town in a New York nanosecond." And he reminds us that six months later, he convinced Koenig to join him in leaving DDB to start up PKL.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Running GIFs on TV? What is Fiat Thinking?

Chrysler CMO Olivier Francois likes to take risks. That has never been more evident than
now – that  a GIF-driven ad campaign featuring twerking rabbits and horse heads has reared its ugly head. Ok, that’s a bad pun. But after my initial ‘WTF’ reaction, I thought about the wisdom of this campaign. It’s quirky, very cheap to produce, and might just resonate with the Fiat 500’s target. Let’s just say their target is the same as Honda Civic – and you know how I feel about their latest effort – and Kia, the cool hamsters’ chariot of choice.

As reported in Ad Age, it's crazy, and weird. And if this strategy pans out, there may be some very unhappy producer/director folks out there who make a living creating expensive traditional TV spots. Stay tuned.

Penguin Random House's Smart Logo Solution

Sometimes you just have to spell it out. And that's just what Penguin Random House has done with their graphic identity makeover.

It's a simple, elegant, two-part system that makes very clear what could have been a real mess. I like it. Designed by New York design shop Pentagram, it uses a font called "Shift." Very cool. And it really does the job.

Take a look at the system in this Bloomberg BusinessWeek story.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Putting On The Ritz, Six Words at a Time. Campaign celebrates human experiences not the trappings of wealth.

When Ernest Hemingway was challenged to write a story in six words, his reply was, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Marriott International’s Ritz-Carlton brand is now borrowing from an Internet meme for its new campaign by Team One, called “Six-word wows.”

The chain of luxury hotels and resorts is extending a marketing effort that celebrates the accumulation of experiences and memories, rather than the trappings of wealth.

The campaign, which began last month, is for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company division of It is intended to expand upon ads that Ritz-Carlton and its agency, Team One Advertising, introduced in 2011 with the theme “Let us stay with you.”

The new campaign, also by Team One, is called “Six-word wows,” after a popular online creative exercise known as six-word memoirs and six-word stories