Blogs: Opinions are like aresholes.
Everyone has one.
Read, or feel free to download or steal as you see fit. Each article here is a viewpoint about an advertising or marketing subject that interests me. You may find some more interesting than others. Some may be enlightening, controversial or old hat. I have long been both a collector and a purveyor of information, useless or otherwise. You are encouraged to read, download, or steal according to your whim. Comments and feedback welcome. Simply email me: john@sharperpencil.com

Some pieces are are short – only 1 page. Others are larger – up to 5 pages. You can preview the first few pages of each by clicking on the ‘Read more’ link.

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UNADVERTISING The trouble with most advertising is that they are ads. They look like ads. They sound like ads. They wear advertising’s uniform. They say from the very start, ‘I am an ad.’ So before they can begin to deliver the advertiser’s message, they have to overcome a veritable wall of inherent consumer wariness. ….read more

CADBURY AND THE GORILLA There is a theory that if you’re a brand leader, you can’t afford to run risky advertising (for risky, read interesting, entertaining, witty). Certainly Cadbury UK has beenmassively riskaverse until the Gorilla commercial. What sparked the change of direction?Beside the glass-and-a half of milk, Cadbury’s products were found also to contain salmonella during 2007. When news of a salmonella outbreak began to be associated with Cadbury ….read more

LEXICOGRAPHY: WHO HAS THE LICENSE? Imagine being licensed to use words. What if you were allocated a number of words that you could only use within a fixed time after which they were no longer available to you? Would you be more considered how they would be used? Would you invent new words or expressions? How might copywriting be affected? Listening to Trump’s press secretary and later, his Communications Manager dispute reports about the number of people attending his inauguration in 2016 this ….read more

ZERO ADVERTISING FOR 175% SUCCESS. HOW? A woman in a wheelchair wheels (I almost said ‘walks,’ but that would be a malapropism, yes?) into Nordstrom in Los Angeles to buy a shawl. Due to her dependency on a wheelchair, she wanted a shawl without a long fringe since a fringe risked becoming entwined in the spokes of the wheels. (I have immediate and not very funny visions of Isador Duncan). The Sales Assistant set about looking for a shawl sans fringe. After some time, the Assistant returned to ….read more

CAN YOU PRE-MEASURE LIKELY ADVERTISING EFFECTIVENESS? Of all the issues facing advertisers today, perhaps it is the cost of their advertising that is the most contentious. It begs several questions. What is the worth of strategic insight? Or an incisive piece of copywriting? What is a fair price for a piece of cleverly constructed graphic design? Does a Marketing Manager have any idea of the worth of good typesetting? What is a reasonable film production budget? In short, how can production costs be kept under ….read more

REMEMBERING COMMONSENSE A book by Canadian, John Ralston Saul called ‘On Equilibrium,’ advances the hypotheses that because we have elevated reason as the pre-imminent human characteristic, we have lost our equilibrium. If we were to value all our human characteristics equally – intuition, creativity, imagination, memory, ethics, and commonsense, we might regain our balance. We could operate more effectively as individuals, as citizens, and in corporations and governments. He rails ….read more

STORE WARS AND TEN STRATEGIES TO WINNING THEM. There’s a wonderful market research tool that tells you immediately how effective your retail advertising may be. It’s called a cash register. But what retail strategies may be employed to make a difference? Retail advertising requires a special understanding. First, it must be recognised that there are three fundamentals to retail advertising. Potential customers can no longer be won simply by advertising the product, the price and the location. All advertisers ….read more

THE CRYSTAL GOBLETT [1939] Imagine that you have before you a flagon of wine. You may choose your own favourite vintage for this imaginary demonstration, so that it be a deep shimmering crimson in colour. You have two goblets before you. One is of solid gold, wrought in the most exquisite patterns. The other is of crystal-clear glass, thin as a bubble, and as transparent. Pour and drink; and according to your choice of goblet, I shall know whether or not you are a connoisseur of wine. For if you have no ….read more

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