Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Subservient Sales.

The NY Times (reg. req'd.) focuses on the growth of ad agency and media darling Crispin Porter & Bogusky. This is the firm that created the oft-discussed (disgust?) Burger King campaigns featuring a guy in a chicken costume and a guy in a king costume.

The BK campaigns have been innovative, WOM-friendly and very viral. Of course, I haven't visited a BK in about six months.

Before CP&B begins any campaigns for VW, let's remember ADV 101. The purpose of an ad isn't to impress marketers, win awards, or appear in the Times. The purpose ultimately is to move units. From the article:

"Our success with Burger King proved there wasn't a problem with the client, but there was a problem with the ad agency," [Andrew] Keller said. Burger King had used five lead ad agencies since 2000. But Burger King's franchisees have recently turned against the Crispin-designed campaign after sales slipped over the last few months, according to the trade publication Advertising Age.
That is one ugly paragraph. First, "there wasn't a problem with the client?" Are you kidding me, Andy? Since 2000, franchisees have been in a growing state of revolt against the BK corporate office. Their dwindling market share, atrocious quality, and hideous operations were cited for years in the QSR trades. But your ad campaign and that alone changed this overnight? It wasn't the hard work of the franchisees or HQ staff or their impressive new leadership? Wow, is that arrogant. And wrong.

Not surprisingly, the franchisees are again ticked because the ads they're buying aren't getting the job done. I work with franchisees and this is their livelihoods on the line. They spend 12-hour days fixing the deep fryer, coaching crewmembers and giving samples to their strip mall neighbors. They want -- and deserve -- results from the massive ad budget they fund.

When Subservient Chicken arrived, I thought it was brilliant... because I completely misunderstood its goal. At the time, I thought the groundbreaking campaign was aimed mainly at the media, embittered franchisees and shareholders to communicate, “hey, the BK brand isn’t dead yet!”

But based on their Dr. Angus campaign, the Hootie deal, the so-censored-it-became-irrelevant Coq Rock campaign, etc., it seems like they’re trying to create buzz about unconventional ad strategies rather than the BK experience. I’m not surprised that long-suffering franchisees are wondering if these expensive experiments should continue.

So, good luck with the VW account. Perhaps they can create a "Subservient Customer Service Rep" so angry customers can vent some frustration.

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