March 29, 2006

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

published this at 10:33 am

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?

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