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In my travels….adventures in other peoples’ advertising

by Wendy Riches

I do alot of driving. And because we offer creative services, I’m always attuned to noticing other peoples’ advertising efforts. So often, when I’m stuck in traffic or just out and about, a piece of advertising jumps out at me, and I just have to snap a picture of it – usually to send to Rod to say “Hey, look at this!”. It’s what keeps us fresh and excited about what we do.

Below are a few “snaps” from out on the road:

Plumbing advertising made fun.

1. Mr Swirl Plumbing – Fixed, Swirled, Plunged…..Amazing!
Gotta love a company that makes shit look fun, literally. The 50’s comic-style illustrations, fun typefaces and casual, friendly copy voice make plumbing seem a little lighter and brighter, and not so stressful. Trust me, we had plumbing issues this summer! I hope these guys mail drop local neighbourhoods with brand consistent flyers too.

Catchy photo and headline.

2. Two Rivers Meats
I couldn’t even tell what this truck was advetising at first, but the  catchy headline and huge photo caught my eye right away so I had to check it out further. Good thing I took a photo, as their url wans’t quite big enough for me to catch (maybe just because I was too busy taking the photo in traffic). My photo told me they were purveyors of fine, sustainable, ethically produced meats. I have no connection to this company, but I took the time to look up and link to their website above because I think they deserve some play for their great Outdoor advertising! And the bald guy on their home page is quite cute. 😉

These two examples illustrate the fact that good Outdoor advertising can be really effective. They make you look. Just be careful not to put too much information on your outdoor ads. They become cluttered fast and no one will get the actual info they need – your name and MAYBE your url.

Advertising crap to kids.

3. Finally, I couldn’t help it, I had to include a bad one. I was in the toy aisle of Superstore and found this gem of a product. That’s right, “Crib Life”. Positioning line: “Born Awesome”. Complete with cell phone, soother and bling – targeted to 5 year olds. Enough said.

MacDonald Creative is passionate about marketing and advertising. We’d love to help you make your product or service stand out to your target audience.

Rebranding a recession-proof client

by Roderick MacDonald

Close to 20 years ago I wrote a profile of entrepreneur Ken Hallat for the cover of Business in Vancouver. At the time, Ken was president and CEO of Savolite Corporation, makers of industrial cleaning supplies.

It’s a good thing I checked my facts and used my spell-checker because he’s gone on to own several other significant companies, including our favourite brewer, Okanagan Springs. And now he’s become a client.

In April we were offered the opportunity to pitch a proposal to implement the rebranding of Ken’s company, Janitors’ Warehouse, to PlanetClean. The central question was this: How can we cost-effectively transition from one brand to another across 15 locations, each with a variety of stakeholders.

Our short answer: Keep it simple and work a critical path.

The JW / PC rebrand is a lovely piece of business not just because there are 15 locations across western Canada or because the business is relatively recession proof. (Everything from hotels to hospitals has to be kept clean. Janitors do the work and Janitors’ Warehouse – make that PlanetCLean – supplies to the janitors.) What makes it more exciting is their commitment to create a healthier, safer and cleaner environment.

So here’s to PlanetClean. And a mutually beneficial long-term relationship. Cheers!

Read more about the importance of a critical path on this blog post

Real estate rebound? We’re optimistic!

By Rod MacDonald

For years we’ve specialized in the creation of marketing materials for major real estate developments. Yes we work in other categories (it keeps us fresh AND it’s simply necessary these days), but real estate branding has been our bread and butter. Then this fall’s financial meltdown turned the tap on our pipeline almost all the way off.

But wait a minute. Suddenly there are signs of life. We’re seeing SOLD signs on single-family homes in our neighborhood. The stock market has risen four days in a row, and they say it leads the rest of the economy by something like six months.

And today we landed a condo-conversion project in Arizona. Our client says some of the bailout billions will be used to bring first-time buyers into the housing market. So he’s rolling the bones. And we’re going to do everything we can to make their project a marketing success.

If you’d like help with your marketing efforts, just let us know.

What’s in a name? A thoughtful approach to the name game.

By Rod MacDonald

Although I’ve been a creative director specializing in real estate marketing for the better part of 15 years I often get stumped when people ask what I do for a living. It’s hard to be brief. So I tell them I name buildings.

One of my favourite clients has a device – a wheel within a wheel – that has two sets of names and a window where different pairings appear. Stone – Ridge. Not so good, spin the wheel. Cedar – Gate. Not much better. But hey, how about Stone Gate? Kinda stuffy. Or Cedar Ridge? Hmmmm… heard that one before.

So how do we thoughtfully approach the naming game? The first thing we do is research the competition. Then we look for ways to differentiate. If competing projects are named after places or things – like Cedar Ridge, for example – we might anthropomorphize our project; give it a person’s name.

One of our clients needed a name for a loft project that was edging into a traditional single-family neighbourhood. The neighbors were not happy. If we gave the project a name like Stone Gate, something that sounds harsh and imposing, the sales environment would have been tougher than tough. So we named the project Simon. Like a kid in the neighbourhood. Someone who wears shorts to school and has skinny legs and knock-knees. Has a cowlick and wears glasses. What’s not to like?

Here are three more names and their accompanying logos.

The shortest name ever. Target market: DINKS. Double-income no-kid yuppies. AKA young urban professionals. The project was designed to be all about them; their needs and their wants. So the name we used was: I. The tagline: live here. The shortest name possible. An urge-to-action tagline. And a super-memorable package.

Collage: This client was building a row of new homes in a tight formation on a shared foundation. With this name we turned a potential negative into a probable work of art.

Dexter: This was one of the first and largest new rental projects in Seattle’s emerging South Lake Union neighbourhood. Paul Allen’s Vulcan group was the dominant player in the area so we made a strategic decision to use our name and tagline to “own” our street, our location and our key benefit: lake union living.

If you’re serious about name development, click here to drop us a line.