Fire Your Advertising Copywriter

Is it time to fire your advertising copywriter? OK, I am just kidding. I like copywriters. In fact, many of my best friends are copywriters.

OK, OK. I recently played with an AI writing tool called Talk To A Transformer. From the website:

Built by Adam King (@adamdanielking) as an easier way to play with OpenAI’s new machine learning model. In February, OpenAI unveiled a language model called GPT-2 that generates coherent paragraphs of text one word at a time.

For now OpenAI has decided only to release three smaller versions of it which aren’t as coherent but still produce interesting results. This site runs the largest released model, 774M, which is half the size of the full model.

Play with this. It just might write your next novel… or headline. (Yes, that is Bill Bernbach in the pic.)

Go here to see Talk To A Transformer.

Need More AI Copy?

Ad Age recently wrote about another AI writing tool.

Here is what Ad Age wrote:

Which ad copy for a banking service is more effective?

A) “Access cash from the equity in your home.”


B) “It’s true—You can unlock cash from the equity in your home.”

If you answered B, you are correct.  It did better with Chase Bank customers than A did.

Answer B was written by a machine learning language model developed by Persado, “a New York-based company that applies artificial intelligence to marketing creative.”

Kristin Lemkau, chief marketing officer of JPMorgan Chase, noted that machine learning can actually help achieve more humanity in marketing. “Persado’s technology is incredibly promising,” she said in a statement. “It rewrote copy and headlines that a marketer, using subjective judgment and their experience, likely wouldn’t have.”

Chase plans to use Persado for the ideation stage of creating marketing copy on display ads, Facebook ads and in direct mail, according to Yuval Efrati, chief customer officer at seven-year-old Persado. He says that the AI company works alongside Chase’s marketing team and its agencies.

By The Way – I’m A Genius:

I put this copy into Talk To A Transformer: “Peter Levitan is a marketing genius.” Here is what I got back.

Levitan’s marketing plan for this film is genius. It should’ve been called The Greatest Marketing Plan Since The Great Depression.

This film should’ve debuted on the Oscars, but they gave it an A. It should’ve been called The Greatest Movie in Hollywood History.

Maybe with this tool, even I can become an official advertising copywriter.

The Ultimate Advertising Agency List

How Do Clients Find Your Advertising Agency? Think List.

I just reread this 2018 post and I laughed when I realized that I had left out a couple of ways that clients find advertising agencies. Both of these highly-searched websites require that you have a master plan for how to leverage their unique platforms. The platforms?

Google and LinkedIn.  Passive marketing does not work for either.

OK, back to the original post. There are multiple ways that a prospective client will find an advertising agency. These range from very aggressive agency outreach to highly intelligent outreach (yup, two different approaches) to your inbound program to your agency reputation to being on the radar of search consultants to simply getting found on the day that new client wakes up and says, “How can I find my new advertising agency” and locates an advertising agency list.

While you should have a very intelligent account-based marketing business development program, you must be available when a client searches via an advertising agency list.

There is an extra benefit of my list. Use the list to find your competitors and their best marketing practices. These lists will help you find the winners.

The List Of Advertising Agency Lists

Here is a quick look at the advertising lists you should be on. Some will be easy, some will require a bit of work. But, you need to be able to be found.

Wikipedia’s List of Advertising Agencies. This list is not just the big boys.  An example, Tombras group from Knoxville is on the list.

AdAge’s A-List. Look, there must be some way that AdAge finds these agencies. Maybe you should think about letting the editors know that you are alive.

AdForum. Hey, this is what they say and I’d imagine that clients pay attention… “AdForum’s Global Directory of Advertising Agencies is the advertising industry’s premier resource for learning about agencies in the USA, Europe, Asia, Oceana, and MENA. Our interactive map identifies agencies according to region and core competencies – ranging from digital marketing and social media
strategies to mobile app development, brand engagement, and product design.”

AgencyList. Why not be here? You have to dig this fact… “Agency List has 1st page Google exposure in over 45 major cities.” Read More »

Top Advertising And Design Awards

A List Of The Top Advertising Awards & Why Winning Should Be Part Of Your Business Development Program

Note: This advertising awards list gets updated. Most recently on October 5, 2019. I updated The One Show listing and added the Ad Stars Awards. Let me know if I am missing an award.

Note, Note: The only way to add the right new accounts to your agency is to run a 24/7 business development program. Let’s get real and call it what it is…it is a sales program.

This sales program should be driven by a marketing plan, be supported by management and it should use the latest, smartest sales techniques – including winning awards so your future clients receive some third-party proof of your excellence.

Need the best plan? That’s where I can help. I am the most experienced ad agency business development consultant.

OK, the award list and a bit of advertising awards objectives and strategies

Why Enter Award Shows? Do You Have Business Objectives And A Strategy?

Winning the right advertising awards is good for business and agency and client morale. Just make sure you know why you are entering. Too many agencies don’t approach the award process with a plan or objectives beyond the search for ego fulfillment. This can make the whole effort a bit too C R A Z Y. But, you know that. Or, do you? Go here to hear an advertising award judge on his less than optimal experience reading agency entries.

I have a memory about the power of awards from my first day at Saatchi & Saatchi London way back in the 1990’s. I walked through the creative floor and noticed a tall glass case randomly stuffed with lots of creative trophies. This haphazard display delivered two messages: 1) Saatchi wins lots of awards and 2) they don’t take these too seriously. Of course, the second point was bull shit. Saatchi was always about looking like a winner and the award case proved that point in a cheeky manner. It worked better than the usual and obvious shelf of awards that sit behind the ad agency receptionist’s head.

I have always had mixed feelings about advertising awards. On one hand, they are, like winning an Academy Award, i.e. ridiculous. No one ad, digital program or actor is the “best.” On the other hand (the one with the wallet), they are way expensive. As an agency owner, I often cringed when a creative director came to me with his hand out asking us to spend hundreds on award entries.

However money aside, advertising awards have some very big advantages for agencies, clients, and creative-class workers:

The awards celebrate creativity itself. Creative strategies, art, copy and the media platforms that deliver the work.

They help our most talented people get noticed.

They help smart well-designed agencies get noticed by occasionally confused clients who need second party confirmation when selecting an agency. To me, this is a very important point and one that makes writing those increasingly expensive entry checks worth the cost. Awards should be a big part of an agency’s business development program – not just an ego stroker.

To put all of this go-for-it into context, I wrote about the Portland agency Pollinate a few years back that has done very well (!) by hammering Advertising Age’s Small Agency awards show. The blog post, “How To Win The Ad Age Small Agency Award? Twice?” is a demonstration of the value of entering and winning an award that has meaning for prospective clients because it is delivered via an industry-leading publication. Check it out.

Last point before the list. Award judges have told me that around 30% of agencies do not know how to create an entry that is designed to win. Poor copy, poor strategy, even typos. Many agencies rush through the process at the very last minute. Do you? Do you have an annual award plan? Who is in charge?

My 13 Favorite Advertising & Marketing Awards

Read More »

The Advertising Agency CEO and Marketing Data Analytics

I recently had a couple of conversations about the increasing use of marketing data analytics in advertising, design and, of course, digital marketing.

A Big DUH!

The conversations led me to a DUH! A Duh! I am sure you are living through.

Data rules marketing these days (good or bad) given where we are in 2019 marketing. But, these conversations also delivered agency warning signs – and an opportunity.

The opportunity? Agency CEO’s and managers better learn how to use and discuss marketing and advertising data analytics with their current and future clients. I mean, really be able to sound smart.

I’ll tell you how below. But first, some marketing data analysis related insights from people who talk with clients all day long.

1. The Association of National Advertisers

Michael Donahue of The Association of National Advertisers pointed out that every size agency must make the use of advertising data analytics an integral part of their work. Period.

2. Ad Age

Lindsey Slaby in my recent post, “Ad Age Small Agency Podcast”, said the following — followed by my thoughts:

Lindsey: So we need to have the people at the top of some of those agencies that understand what data and analytics really means. It’s not putting one person in a corner to go work on this. Right? So I think that consultancies have really learned, and they’ve always played a part in looking more at the business in terms of revenue and bottom-line profitability, and they get in there and they have access to that information, and now they’re simply saying, “Well, now that we know all this about your consumer, which is so important, and the data, and what they’re listening, and what they’re talking to, and what they want from us, we would like to connect that to the actual advertising and create a benefit station.” And that makes sense to me.

PL Thoughts: The main point here is that in many agencies, especially in ‘creative/full-service’ agencies, management and staff do not fully understand a client’s complicated/complex sales spectrum. Much of today’s sales process is rooted in understanding, processing and leveraging consumer and market data. Unfortunately, in many agencies, data management has been relegated to a back-room function. Because of this, we have a bunch of agency leadership that simply is not schooled in data management and therefore in understanding the entire sales funnel.

Consultancies get this and deliver on the deliverable that they, and their MBA-fueled staff, are schooled in sales-oriented, high ROI solutions.

Agencies that rest on the singular idea that they deliver cool creative and a barrage of content ideas is not a very strong, stand-alone concept.

The Solution: Go To Columbia, Wharton Or Columbia

I am sure that sitting in the corner office, or even out in the sea of open office desks is not where you will get an in-depth understanding of data analytics. I think that this is a subject for proactive agency management. I know that the new consultancies eating big agency lunches get this.

Here is a good idea… Three online schools offer courses in marketing analytics. YO CEO: Why not take one of these courses and you can then tell your clients, future clients, and staff, that you now seriously get marketing analytics.

Head over to edX and see what Columbia, Wharton and Berkeley offer.


Want even more learning? Let’s talk about growing your business. I mean how to build a real sales and agency management plan.

You are in a hurry, right?

Contact me now and take me up on my impossible to refuse 15-minute Vito Corleone offer. 


How Small Advertising Agencies Can Win Big Clients

A recent interview in Ad Age’s Ad Lib podcast reveals the insight that even large clients are now very attracted to small agencies. I’d imagine that this might not be a big surprise to you. Expert smaller agencies that deliver specialized services have been on the radar for a few years.

However, you might not know about serious client angst that comes along with working with specialists.

Take a read – in a new window: Ad Age Small Agency Conference Podcast.

A Bit Of Set Up To “How Small Advertising Agencies Can Win Big Clients”

The book, “What Do Women Want? Adventures in the Science of Female Desire” by Daniel Bergner is a best-seller.

The title and reviews like this from The Atlantic, “…Shatters many of our most cherished myths about desire” got me thinking about what the new clients you want desire from an agency. Understanding this can help small agencies win big clients.

So… What do the big clients want to see from smaller agencies and is your agency set up to deliver it?

Mondelez-ImageHuge Client Mondelez And Small Agencies

Maureen Morrison’s AdvertisingAge article, “How a Small Agency Can land A Big Client Like Mondelez” sheds some light on this universal question. The article is an interview with Mondelez International’s agency scout Deb Giampoli. Deb shares her tips on the do’s and dont’s of how to get her attention.

The Truth: Small Advertising Agencies Can Win Big

Here are Deb’s tips and my take on her perspective.   Read More »