Category: Blogging

The Best (And Worst) Super Bowl Ads


If you missed Friday’s blog post, I talked about how money can’t save an ad if it doesn’t have a sound strategy. Last night’s Super Bowl ads are further proof that money doesn’t make a good ad. Here’s the best and worst Super Bowl ads as well as a few that fall somewhere in between.

The Good

M&M “Sexy and I Know It” – Laughed out loud at this ad. Kudos to Vanessa L. Williams as the sassy brown m&m.

Volkswagen “The Dog Strikes Back” – Though not as good as last year’s “The Force” spot by VW, this ad is by far one of the best ads this year.

Toyota “Connections” – I love getting to see all the different Camry owners and their stories. Not necessarily a new idea, but a good one nonetheless.

CareerBuilder – I know the apes have been around a long time but they’re still funny. Plus, the apes make me think of CareerBuilder, just like cavemen make me think Geico.

Chrysler “Halftime” – With this ad, Chrysler reminds us that it’s as American as we are, and like all good Americans, it will survive.

Chevy “Happy Grad” – This ad was hilarious. Plus, it puts focus on the car without screaming ‘I’m a car commercial.’ Just a great ad all the way around.


The Mediocre

Bud Light “No Pants” – While the situation is funny, it was more of an ad for LMFAO’s halftime show than for Bud Light.

Hulu Plus – I loved Will Arnett since he was on Arrested Development but this ad just isn’t as good as the earlier ones with Alec Baldwin.

Kia Optima – This ad is way more of a nightmare than a dream. The only reason it’s not in the ugly section is due to the tiny sandman.

H&M “David Beckham” – David Beckham’s hot, so what else is new? Next time show some creativity, H&M.

Acura NSX – In my previous post, I said this ad was mediocre. That feeling hasn’t changed.


The Ugly

Go Daddy – Congratulations, Go Daddy, this ad is terrible. You’ve officially hit an all-time low in advertising.

Doritos “Sling Baby” – Out of the thousands of entries into Doritos ‘Crash the Super Bowl” contest, the fact that this one was chosen to air during the game is frightening to me.

Samsung – I applaud your effort to challenge the iPhone. Unfortunately, you failed. Now you’ve proven Apple has a better product and better advertising.

Honda CR-V “Matthew’s Day Off” – Ferris Bueller, funny in 1986, not so funny in a 2012 Honda commercial.

Have an opinion about the Super Bowl ads? Vote for your favorites on USA Today’s Super Bowl admeter.

Does More Money Equal Better Ads?


Every year, I look forward to Super Bowl Sunday. Not because of the game, but because of the ads. If you’ve ever watched a Super Bowl ad, you know why. They’re supposed to be the best advertising of the year – pure entertainment, very little sell, and plenty of money poured into production. It’s no secret that companies spend a ton of money creating a Super Bowl ad and that’s before they pay the media cost – up to $3.5 million for a 30 second spot this year.

But, does lots of money really make for a better commercial? Ideally, it should – more money should get you better writing, acting, editing and so on.

For instance, money definitely came in handy with Volkswagen’s “The Force” commercial which featured a tiny Darth Vader and Star Wars music. In addition to the estimated 111 million Super Bowl viewers, the ad received millions of extra views online before the game. And, people kept watching after the game too – the YouTube count is now at almost 50 million views. The ad’s success is undoubtably the reason Volkswagen chose to mention it again in this year’s Super Bowl ad.

However, more money doesn’t always guarantee a great ad. An example of this is the new Acura NXS spot that’s airing Sunday. The commercial features Jerry Seinfeld, one of the funniest men on the planet, and yet the ad falls flat. Sure, there are a few parts that make you laugh but that’s due to Jerry, not the script. The spot uses a cliché scenario – the old ‘I’ll trade you awesome things if you’ll just let me have the sponsor’s product,” and goes on too long. After 20 seconds, I found myself asking, “why isn’t this over yet?”

In the end, Acura spent a ton trying to create something really brilliant and all they got was a mediocre commercial.

The truth is, when it comes to advertising, strategy matters more than budget. A good strategy can shine on a shoestring budget just as a poor strategy can cripple a multi-million dollar campaign. A good ad agency should be able to think creatively whether they’re given $50,000 or $50 million.

Enjoy the game and the ads. If you’re like me and can’t wait until Sunday, you can watch the ads now.


What Halloween and Marketing Have in Common


Halloween is just another excuse to eat lots of sugar, play pranks and dress up like Rambo or sexy nurse #3. But, the holiday actually gives us some good insight into marketing.

The best storm-trooper costume the world has ever known. By Geekamongus.

#1 Go for Variety.
As a kid, it wasn’t a successful Halloween unless I had a huge variety of candy at the end of the night. The same goes for marketing. The best ad campaigns use multiple media to reach a target audience. Each medium presents the same message, thereby reinforcing the campaign’s other media vehicles.

#2 Don’t Chintz on Treats.
Back when I used to trick-or-treat, I hated the houses where people would pass out apples or dental floss instead of candy. On Halloween, kids want candy. Give them anything else and they’re disappointed. While you may think you’re doing customers a favor by giving them what they need, says successful brands try to give customers what they want.

#3 Team Up.
At Halloween, it’s unusual to see single trick-or-treaters. That’s because it’s more fun to travel in packs. In marketing, being part of a team is just as important. You get better results when you work with an ad agency that understands your brand and has the resources – creative, media, research – to help your brand grow.

#4 Don’t Play Tricks.
We all know most practical jokes don’t stop after just one prank. The person you pranked has to prank you back and then you have to prank them again and it never ends. Similarly, if your company makes false claims, i.e. you said you were a green company then you’re seen dumping toxic waste into the river, it can cause irrevocable damage to your brand. Transparency is key. Without it, even the best marketing falls flat.

#5 Check for Razorblades.
It just makes sense to skip unwrapped candy or that brownie from the weird guy down the street. For companies, not every medium will be right for the message you’re trying to send. Using the wrong media can dilute your message. For example, using a 30 second TV commercial to tell people about that extremely complex technology you’ve just developed will only serve to confuse your target audience. If you’re unsure about which media to use, find an agency that understands media (cough Echo-Factory cough).

Happy Halloween, kids. Hope it’s filled with plenty of sweet stuff.

Why Your PR Strategy Needs Facebook


A good public relations strategy doesn’t just involve sending out media releases. In fact, media releases are just a small part of an effective pr campaign. According to Brian Solis, author of Putting the Public Back in Public Relations, public relations is about engaging and relating to your target audience. Simply put, to get good pr, you have to focus on building and maintaining relationships with current and potential customers.

This is where Facebook comes in. Facebook encourages open communication between you and your target audience. By participating in the social network, you allow consumers to think of you as a friend and less as a cold, faceless corporation. But, to keep this friend status takes work.

You have to come up with relevant content. Small Biz Trend Blogger Lisa Barone writes that a company’s success on Facebook is directly tied to “creating new content designed to get a reaction.” The best status updates are those that get people to comment. To get comments, Barone suggests you: Ask questions. Make a statement and ask people to “like” it if they agree. Or, create a poll so people can click their preference.

Use Contests. People like winning stuff. So do their friends. Hold a contest and automatically you’ve got more people checking out your company’s page and what you’re all about. Contests can also get you extra media attention. In August, one of our clients, Altura Credit Union, ran a Facebook contest via status update. The winner posted on Altura’s wall, thanking Altura and saying he had given his prize (two tickets to a Taylor Swift concert) to his sister, who had supported him when he was going through a particularly bad time. This month, an article about the winner and Altura was featured in Credit Union National Association. It’s great pr for Altura and all they had to do was create a Facebook contest.

Act like a real Facebook friend. People won’t trust you unless you interact with them and allow them to interact with you. Part of that interaction means accepting criticism. You can’t delete every negative post or make it so people can’t post on your wall. You have to be willing to share the negative as well as the positive. And, as long as you respond quickly to negative feedback, you’ll be able to diffuse the comment before any real damage is done.

Finally, Make time for Facebook. Using Facebook as a pr tool is pointless if you don’t update content regularly. People will cease to care you exist if you’re not constantly creating new content and reacting to feedback. If you don’t have time to update, hire someone to do it for you.
The next time you’re developing a public relations strategy, don’t forget to throw Facebook into the mix. Oh, and friend Echo-Factory. We’re building relationships too.

Great Ad Campaigns Push Boundaries


Most people have a hard time stepping outside of their comfort zones. When it comes to advertising, companies are the same way. At Echo-Factory, we do our best work when clients give us freedom to step outside of the comfort zone. We end up creating ads that are unique, ads that get people talking and lead to big results.

The most recent case for creative freedom is our work with the city of Upland. Over the past year, we’ve worked on two major projects for the city: the Upland Farmer’s Market and the Upland Lemon Festival.

Advertising for farmer’s markets typically consists of a close-up shot of a fruit and/or vegetable along with the date, time and location of the market. These ads are safe, they tell you what you need to know but they aren’t memorable. They don’t stir up excitement. To promote the new Upland Farmer’s Market, we wanted to do something different from those fruit and vegetable images so we came up with the High Five a Farmer campaign. Through radio, television, print, direct mail, outdoor, social media and promotional giveaways, we encouraged people to support local farmers by buying food at the farmer’s market. Because the campaign emphasized the market as a community where local farmers are your friends, it made people want to go to the farmer’s market instead of a grocery store. Though the campaign was way different than the city’s past ad campaigns, Upland loved it and so did the target audience. People came out in record numbers during the market’s opening weekend in October and they’ve kept coming back ever since. This positive response is further proof that High Five a Farmer is not only creative but memorable too.

After the success of the farmer’s market, Upland asked us to help them create another memorable campaign, this time for the annual Upland Lemon Festival. Instead of giving them stock illustrations or photography of people having fun, we came up with the No Limes Allowed campaign, a campaign that focused on the lemon-lime controversy. Each ad features a smiling lemon and an unhappy lime. The lime is sad because he’s not a lemon – he knows the Upland Lemon Festival is three days where lemon is king and he’s dying to get in on the fun. Though the festival hasn’t happened yet (it’s April 29 – May 1), the ads have already generated a lot of buzz and excitement about the festival. We’re proud we got to do something different with this campaign, and more importantly, so is the client.

The best way to jumpstart your company or brand is to leap out of your comfort zone. Mix it up. If you’re used to filling your ads with copy, do a campaign that’s visually-driven. If you’ve always advertised on the radio or on TV, why not try advertising on Facebook or a little SEO? Go with a concept that’s edgy, a concept that makes you a little uncomfortable – often, these concepts are the ones people remember. 

Echo-Factory Profiled in the Business Press


We made it into the newspaper!  The Business Press — the business unit of the Press Enterprise — was kind enough to profile our agency.  They talked about our growth, the fact that we’re an agency run by creatives and discussed our focus on new media and the web. 

In fact, they were so nice that Mike’s completely forgiven them for misspelling his name twice, two different ways, in the article’s first two paragraphs.  Of course — to be fair — they published the article back in February and we’re just now giving it a mention on our blog.  We all make mistakes. 

Our personal shortcomings aside, you can check out the entire article on the newly rebranded BizPress (nice logo by the way) site. 

Five Qualities to Look For When You’re Choosing an Advertising Agency


The truth is, there are good agencies and bad agencies. And beyond that, there are agencies that could be good for one business, but a horrible match for another business. So, as a business owner, how do you find the right agency?

Here’s a list of the top five things we think you should look for when you’re choosing which agency to hire. If we missed one, let us know in the comments.

5 – Good References

If past clients love working with an agency, there’s a good chance you might as well.  But all references are not equal.  You should expect more than just a written statement or forwarded email from a “happy client.”  Instead,  ask for the phone number of current clients you can call – and call them. 

Chances are, in a couple conversations with an agency’s current clients you can learn more about that agency than all the pitch books, RFPs and websites in the world could tell you. 

We’ve found that our happy clients are our single most valuable source of new business.  Our pitch books get us in the door, but if we can get a potential client on the phone with one of our current clients, nine times out of ten, we’ve got ourselves a new client.

4 – Costs That Fit Your Budget

The greatest agency in the world won’t do you any good if you can’t afford ‘em – and conversely – if your budget demands more resources than the agency can provide, you’re going to be disappointed. 

The solution is to ask.  Some more traditional agencies have client minimums, e.g. – they refuse to take on clients who spend less than $xx,xxx per year, or more often $x,xxx,xxx per year.  Ask for average pricing on a couple projects you’re considering.  That should give you a pretty good idea if the agency you’re considering is at, above or below your price range.

3 – The Capabilities You Need

Nearly every advertising agency in the world has a focus, something that’s at their core.  Some agencies excel at media buying but have poor creative.  Other agencies can put together a fantastic PR campaign, but couldn’t create a website to save their lives.  Make sure you pick an agency that has a proven track record of creating the type of work you need.

The other side of the capabilities coin is industry experience.  Some agencies only work in one industry.  At Echo-Factory, we’ve very consciously chosen not to.  We’re afraid that limiting ourselves to a single industry could force us into a creative rut.  The downside of this decision is that every time we get a new client in a new industry – we have to invest a significant amount of agency time becoming experts in their field. 

While this can often mean that we might not make a profit on the first few jobs we take on from a new client – we feel that the creative benefits outweigh the practical challenges. 

However – this is something you should discuss with any agency you’re considering.  If they haven’t demonstrated work in your industry, make sure they’re willing to invest the time they need to truly understand what you do. 

2 – Work You’re Jealous Of

If you look at an agency’s portfolio and aren’t filled with longing for some of their work – look for another agency.  Sure – you don’t need to love everything they’ve ever done – but you want to find an agency with a sense of creativity that matches yours. 

All the awards and critical acclaim in the world won’t guarantee that an agency can create work that you’ll be happy with, and your customers will be happy with.  So make sure you see examples of things that make you say “wow.” 

1 – People You Like

Pick an agency you’d like to go out for drinks with. 

Our best client relationships are with clients who are our friends.  We like working with them, and we know they like working with us.  Truth be told, we probably do our best work for them. 

So, if you find a great agency, but don’t get along with the people there – move along.  They’re not the right agency for you. 

Our Niche In Energy Efficient Advertising


We’ve always thought of ourselves as a green agency.  We like the environment, and we try to do things in a sustainable way.  But, beyond making sure our RedBull cans end up in the recycling and trying to convince our clients to use sustainable printing practices – there’s not too much of an environmental impact we can have in our normal in-house operations. 

If we – as an agency – are going to have a significant environmental impact, it’s going to be through our clients.  Lucky for us, we’ve been able to carve a niche for ourselves in advertising for the energy efficiency industry. 

Precision-Paragon [P2]
Precision-Paragon [P2] was one of our first clients.  Headquartered in Yorba Linda, [P2] makes energy efficient lighting for commercial and industrial buildings.  They estimate that their products have saved more than 12-Billion Kilowatt Hours of electricity.  And, using the energy-savings calculator we built in to their website, you can see that savings translates in to the CO2 emissions reduction equivalent of preserving more than 64,000 acres of forest. 
P2 Energy Saving Equivalency

American Lighting
Through our early work with [P2] we were introduced to American Lighting, a San Diego company that performs energy-efficient lighting retrofits.  In 2009 they were awarded for creating more than 27.7 Million Kilowatt Hours of electricity savings in the San Diego area alone. 
American Lighting Stimulus Package

The PEERS Alliance
In mid-2009 we worked with NALMCO and [P2] to create the website and branding materials for the PEERS Alliance – a nonprofit industry association that is going after federal funding for energy-saving commercial and industrial retrofits.  The proposed program has the potential to hugely reduce our country’s energy consumption. 

In January we did a bit of lobbying work and set up meetings between PEERS Alliance board-members and some receptive congressmen in DC.
PEERS Committee Members Meeting With a Congressional Representative

Every Watt Matters
A few months ago we began to work with Every Watt Matters, a company that provides home energy audits and energy efficient retrofits.  Since their launch in March Every Watt Matters has already moved into three California markets (Yucaipa, Claremont and Sonoma) , and they’re poised to go national. 

According to a recent study, retrofitting a single 1960’s era California home with the type of energy saving upgrades that Every Watt Matters performs could save 8.5 Tons of CO2 emissions.  Applying that figure nationally gives some staggering results.
The Average American Home Wastes The Equivalent of Nearly 500 Gallons of Gas A Year.  That's Enough to Drive from LA to NYC and Back. In a Hummer.

A Sustainable Place
Greenwashing is an all too popular trend.  But our energy efficiency clients are doing real, significant things that directly reduce energy consumption.

No advertising agency wants to be typecast in one industry, and we do have a wide-range of clients in other industries.  But, if Echo-Factory is going to gain a reputation for working in a niche – one that has such a positive impact on the planet isn’t such a bad role to be cast in.

Echo::Factory Has Moved


We’ve moved.  Packed up our desks and left Upland for the verdant office parks of Rancho Cucamonga.  The truth is, we ran out of space.  So to get some more, we moved in to a new office park that more than doubles our office space and lets us bump up the size of our photography studio.

Our New Address:
9360 Santa Anita Ave.
Suite 100
Rancho Cucamonga,
CA 91730-6151

Find Us On Google Maps

The Email Announcement We Sent Out:

Mike Gets His Flickr On


You’d think with an in-house photography studio, we’d be masters of Flickr.  Sadly, this has been far from the case.  But today, Mike remedied our lack of Flickr participation with a batch of behind-the-scenes photos from some of our recent projects.  You can get a brief taste from our Mike’s Hard Lemonade session below, and plenty more in our flickr gallery.