I Love Advertising: My Once A Year Self Indulgence

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Some people use Thanksgiving as a once a year excuse to over eat and watch too much football. Then there are those who only go to church on Easter or synagogue on Yom Kippur. I've even read that tens of thousands start a diet on New Year's Day. So, if you'll allow me, I will use my once a year indulgence opportunity to write about ads I love. This week, the advertising industry converges on New York to celebrate Advertising Week, the nation's largest gathering of advertising professionals. There will be seminars and workshops all over midtown as top-level industry executives discuss the state of the industry and best industry practices. I thought it would be a great time to celebrate the thing I love most about the business: the advertising.

I want an IPad. Not because I need one, even though the commercials have convinced me I do. The spots are so good; I have to hide my shoes to keep from running out and buying one. The interface for the Apple IPad is cool and there are a lot of Apps (all of which run on other devices); but the commercials make you want one. Everything just looks so easy. You get the feeling that if you buy one your life will change instead of the more likely scenario which is that it will be under you bed in 18 months. But for now, those beautiful spots make me want to go to an Apple store and propose to the IPad.

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A confession: I take financial advice from babies. Another campaign I love, is the one for Etrade, featuring the talking, smart aleck baby. The spot where he gave his middle-aged golf buddy a "beat down" and called him a shankopotamus or the one with his buddy, the African American baby singing Mr. Mister's Take These Broken Wings make me laugh out loud. For the record, I do use Etrade and the points they make, taking control, value and research tools resonate with me but mostly, it's the entertainment value.

Snickers has a very simple proposition: Snickers is a perfect between mea snack which will curb your hunger. This insight has been the foundation for many great ads for Snickers over the years. You're not you when you're hungry with Betty White—love it.

The Old Spice "Look at Your Man, Now Look at Me" spot that went viral. I confess in front of all of America, I wish I wrote it. I also showed it to my wife. That's when I realized that while I was laughing at the spot she was also enjoying the spot but in a different way and that helped explain the phenomenal success of the spot.

I love the "Real Men of Genius" campaign for Bud Light and I don't drink beer but I relate to the many "geniuses" they feature and I am enamored of the simple formula they have developed to keep us laughing.

My favorite print campaign is one for a European job search site called jobsintown.de. Its spot on imagery of dead end jobs is spectacular and if you've found yourself in a dead-end job their depictions of people cramped inside of machines actually doing the jobs the machine does, is particularly motivating.

What I love most about advertising is what happens when you are successful in solving a communication issue with creativity. You are able to reduce an entire business or service to the most important idea to reach a consumer emotionally and then deliver it in 60 seconds or less or in the case of print or outdoor with the impact of a picture or a sentence.

Some claim to love advertising and some to loath it. The truth is people who claim to love advertising have advertising they hate and people who claim to hate it can name those few spots that keep them from pressing the channel button on the remote, and puts a smile on the face. Me, I love advertising that does its job. Advertising that entertains while it informs, educates and in many cases creates desire. Good advertising makes me hate bad advertising even more than I already do and there is plenty of bad advertising. In fact, unfortunately a lot of what is finally produced falls short of the expectations of not only advertising agency and client but consumer as well…but that's another story.

Larry Woodard is a director on the Advertising Week board and chairman of the American Association of Advertising Agencies' New York Council.