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I LOVE Advertising!

Posted on July 3, 2014

Wait, let me qualify that – I love GOOD advertising. Stuff that makes me think. Even better, stuff that makes me look at a product in a different way or that changes my mind about a person, place or thing.

Here’s one example. Maytag.

Charley, the Maytag Repairman (as played by Jesse White)

Before Charlie the Maytag Repairman made an appearance on my TV screen, I figured a washer was just a washer. If I had a brand in mind before I went to the store to buy one, it would probably have been GE just because they’ve been around so long. Or maybe I’d consider a Kenmore because, as a Sears brand, they were supposed to be affordable and reliable.

But then Charlie got me. You see, a non-working washer is my idea of hell. So the promise of no break downs was too good to resist.Even if I had to pay more for the washer upfront.Guess what? Twenty years later I still look at the Maytag washers first even though I know that the product’s quality is not what it used to be. But that’s the power of a brand that is connected with what consumers care about.

For me, the king of branding was, and is, Ed McCabe.

Ed was one of the founders of the legendary Scali, McCabe and Sloves agency in NYC and has been a hero of mine since I first became a copywriter. In fact, when I first saw “Mad Men,” McCabe was the guy I assumed inspired Don Draper. It’s not that he was a super handsome ladies’ man (although he was good looking in a sort of Al Pacino kind of way – see photo below), but his copy was simply brilliant. He was a genius at finding out just what his clients’ customers cared about and making that the foundation of their brand.

This morning, I Googled McCabe out of curiosity to see if he was still working and found an article on him from the New York Times. It was about his marketing Volvo by focusing on the car’s reliable construction and engineering in an era when everyone else was selling cars on how they looked.

Young Ed McCabe

I always thought the Volvo brand was about SAFETY.

But as McCabe explains in this piece, “‘It’s a common mistake to assume that Volvo’s advertising and marketing strategy had something to do with safety,’ Mr. McCabe said. ‘In reality, it was the durability-reliability strategy that built Volvo’s reputation for safety. The basic idea is that a well-built, sturdy car was one that you could depend on day in and day out, thus also making the vehicle intrinsically safe… It really wasn’t until there was a beginning for a mandate in Washington that we did an overt call out to safety. … Thus the headline, ‘It Shouldn’t Take an Act of Congress to Make Cars Safe’” followed this development in Washington. Great writing. Great thinking. Typical McCabe.

Have a great Fourth of July!




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