The “Got Milk?” Man, Chartreuse, & Liz Singing in Harmony

Where We Live and Breathe

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Advertising has a responsibility to act like a thing that is going to be unavoidably in the environment, where we live and breathe. And we have a responsibility to make that work in such a way that it is welcomed and not scorned.

–Jeff Goodby, Goodby Silverstein & Partners, of “Got Milk?” fame as quoted in BusinessWeekonline, Advertising Advice from the “Got Milk” Man

When a guy knows what he’s talking about, almost everything he says is worth quoting. That’s how I felt reading BusinessWeekonline Managing Editor, David Kiley’s interview with Jeff Goodby, the guy behind such famous advertising as the “Got Milk?” slogan. I wished that Mr. Goodby was required reading for every designer that I ever met or would meet. But then all of the good ones already subscribe to what Jeff Goodby was saying.

Mr. Goodby was talking about how the audience gets to pick what’s good.

I suppose it’s crystal clear already that he and I agree completely, but that’s not what this article is about. This article is about a three-way conversation that’s been happening on three different subjects, in three different places, the same thing has been being said.

The “Got Milk?” Man, Chartreuse, and Liz

Jeff Goodby, Chartreuse, BETA, and Liz Strauss. What do we three have in common? A clear vision of how to reach and keep one. On three slightly different notes, we three each say things that sound a lot alike. Heck if we were on a street corner, we’d be doing some great harmony and collecting some serious cash.

Jeff Goodby said

Our job is to come up with more advertising that people actually seek out. It’s the same way with successful design. When you design something right, people don’t just accept it, they seek it out. And then they tell their friends about it or show it off.

Chartreuse said

Look at Overture (now Yahoo Search Marketing).

These are the most profitable advertising business models around, because consumers tell advertisers what they’re looking for first, rather than advertisers telling consumers what they should buy and hoping for the best.

I said

Everett knew that being who you are is a bond with the community. It the basis on which all relationships are forged. Being any less and you’re only a bad facsimile of what you could be. Your personal brand can be the strongest advantage you bring to your business life.

Be brand YOU and you’re the only one. No one can compete with that.

Three separate takes on the same subject–Henry Ford you had a great idea, but your work is done. Rest in peace. The assembly line has lost its promise, and one-size-fits-all now fits no one.

Analysis–What Are We Saying?

Content is king, but the king reports to the Emperor. The Audience-Emperor knows damn well whether we’re wearing clothes and which designer made them too. We already decide what is relevant content to us and we tell advertisers by the way we use search engines. We already decide what ads work by the products we spend our money on. Jeff Goodby gets that, that’s why he respects us and voices a responsibility to keeping our environment filled with advertising we enjoy. He realizes he is one of us.

Advertising we seek out. There’s a concept–a simple wonder, a basic what if. The advertisers who get it will be the ones who are us, not the ones who think, “They versus us.”

Strategy–To Promote Your Business

None of us are partners in a fabulous San Francisco Advertising firm. Though I’d love to work for Mr. Goodby, I don’t suppose he’ll be offering me a job soon. I’m guessing you’re probably in the same place as I am. So how might we push this analysis into strategy for our brand and our businesses?

  • Be authentic, practical, and nice. Don’t promote your business on its glorious, high falutin’ intangible values. Do needs-benefits selling. Know me and what I need and show me how you provide it better, with more-invested, gentler service than the other guy ever could.
  • Make it fun to work with you. No matter what you’re involved in, it should be something that adds to the world of enjoyment. Fun is magnetic and always feels free. It’s hard enough to find these days. Jeff Goodby says it has to be simple and interesting to the consumer in the way the cowabduction spoof he did for Milk Producers was, if you want folks to seek it out. If you offer that kind of creativity to me, you can bet, I’ll not only seek it out, I’ll forgive the occasional slip.
  • Let me be who I am. Don’t try to change the way I do things. Trust that I know my needs better than you do. Show me how I can do what I already do more easily. That will win my loyalty. That will get me to talk about what a good relationship you have with your customers.
  • Let me be smarter than you are. and sweeter too. Chartreuse says, “Treat the smart girls like they are pretty and the pretty girls like they are smart.” Believe me, it works for boys too. That is the key to customer relationships and to building customer evangelists. That is the intangible value-added, making the customer the center of all you do.
  • Know the upside-down nature of the Internet. Understand that it will move out into the real-world environment, not the other way around. Make something so good that folks will seek you out to find it. We find what works well and stick with it. We will keep looking until the one worth sticking with is found.
  • Offer a product or a service that fills an actual need I have. I put this last on purpose. The changes in the world are happening so fast that needs are opening at an unprecedented rate of explosion. Some will close right back up again by getting filled or expiring. Think through the product or service you offer. Make certain it has staying power, be sure that I am willing and able to pay what it will cost you to make it available. Then add that you include the unique BIG IDEA of your brand so that I will only want YOU to do the work for me.
  • The power base has slowly shifted to the audience-consumer. A busines without customers is not a business. I have that tatooed where you cannot look.

    More MSM Unhappiness

    Until now control of the distribution channels and advertising markets, limited what the consumer could access, but with the WWW shopping mall, I can search the world over to find that little store that has the “just right” item I am looking for. I no longer need to settle for one-size fits all.

    Chartreuse and I know this. We see it in our friends and ourselves. Smart advertisers, such as Jeff Goodby, are well aware of this too. Those who cannot see it–the telcos, Internet providers and the Mainstream Media–will fight to save the old world way of doing business. They want to keep those advertising dollars that Jeff Goodby sees turning into entertaining Internet websites that advertise as well as delight.

    There is significant money involved and significant changes to life styles should Jeff Goodby’s vision of advertising–one that Chartreuse and I also see–become the future. Were I the Mainstream Media, I don’t think I would want to lose control.

    Everyday the world gets smaller. At the moment, you and I get larger and more powerful. Some folks don’t like that idea.

    Personally, I do.

    It would be hard to break out into a chorus of “Blue Moon” under a streetlight in Chicago with Chartreuse and Jeff Goodby, if someone else were around telling us what to do.

    –ME “Liz” Strauss

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