Clients & Problems & Solutions, Oh My…

Mary Wells Lawrence
Advertising legend, Mary Wells Lawrence

“When a client comes to us with a product, he is, in effect, giving us a problem to be solved. … Some of the biggest advertising mistakes are people who imagine they know what the problem is, or they’re not even thinking about it; they’re just coming up with that brilliant idea and trying to force the problem to fit it.” (Mary Wells Lawrence)

What a great, insightful comment from legendary advertising executive, Mary Wells Lawrence. Lawrence was the founding president of Wells Rich Greene (WRG), an agency known for its creative, innovative, and revolutionary work. A bit of a revolutionary herself, Lawrence was the first female CEO of a company listed on the NY Stock Exchange. By 1969, she was reported to be the highest-paid executive in advertising. She was the youngest member to be inducted into the Copywriters Hall of Fame and inducted into the American Advertising Federation Hall of Fame in 1999. Back in the day, major WRG clients included American Motors, Cadbury Schweppes, IBM, Pan American World Airways, Procter & Gamble and many others. Lawrence stepped down as CEO in 1990, and WRG officially ceased operations in 1998.

2000px-I_Love_New_York.svg-1If you haven’t heard of Ms. Lawrence, you’ve surely heard of some her agency’s notable campaigns, including: “Plop plop, fizz fizz” & “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” (Alka Seltzer), “I ♥NY,” “Trust the Midas Touch,” “At Ford, Quality is Job 1″ and “Flick your Bic.” 

But we digress. Back to the point of her comment! Lawrence keenly noted one of an agency’s biggest potential mistakes: failing to recognize the client’s real problem that needs to be solved. Maybe it comes by failing to truly listen to the client and her needs. Or maybe, as Lawrence points out, we think we know what the real problem is. Or we simply champion our own creative “solutions” and try to shoehorn the client into our work, instead of letting the work truly stem from an authentic understanding of the problem to be solved.

PACE_problem-solution-chalkboardAt PACE, we’ve learned that if we invest the time to truly listen to a client’s needs and challenges, we will understand the real problem that needs to be solved. If we invest the energy to look deeply enough into any project, we will uncover the defining essence or distinguishing vision that differentiates it, drives its activities, and provides the basis for a targeted campaign and creative solutions that match the client’s objectives and ultimately solve the problem at hand. Consequently, rather than reflecting our agency’s style, our work reflects each individual client’s vision and identity.

PACE_listenOver the years, we’ve developed client relationships that are earned, long-term engagements, because our efforts are devoted to achieving our clients’ objectives and exceeding their expectations. As a result, we have enjoyed many client relationships that span decades; a true rarity in the world of advertising.

If you have a branding or marketing challenge that’s keeping you up at night, or blocking your growth and potential, we’d love to talk with you, to listen, to get to heart of the problem – and to begin developing strategic, creative, and authentic solutions to help your company succeed.

What makes a good agency? Good clients.

It takes good clients to make a good advertising agency. Regardless of how much talent an ad agency may have, it is ineffective without good products and services to advertise.” (Morris Hite, Former Chairman, President & CEO, Tracy-Locke)

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Morris L. Hite, Former Chairman, President & CEO, Tracy-Locke

What a great quote from one of the ad industry’s giants. Back in the day, in the golden age of advertising, Morris Hite built Tracy- Locke into the preeminent advertising agency in the Southwest, with a client list that included Frito-Lay’s Doritos Tortilla Chips, Dr. Pepper, Haggar Slacks, Borden Dairies, Mrs. Baird’s Bakeries, Texas Instruments, Comet Rice and Imperial Sugar. Hite is a member of the Advertising Hall of Fame and you can read more about his life and career here.

Mr. Hite’s unique thinking and philosophy helped Tracy-Locke pioneer a number of distinctive accomplishments for clients. Working with E.R. Haggar, Hite coined the word “slacks” in 1940. He helped bring Elsie the Cow to life through television advertising for Borden and helped Frito-Lay build the Doritos brand.

His perspective on clients is right on the mark. Hite’s quote shows that he realized something vital to the success of any agency: we’re nothing without our clients. Good clients. Over the years at PACE, we’ve worked with a number of leading publicly traded and privately held companies across a variety of sectors – and we’ve been fortunate to work with some of the best in the business. In fact, many of our client partnerships have spanned decades – a true rarity in the world of advertising. We do well to never forget that it all begins with good clients, offering good products and services. That’s what makes a good agency. Thanks to all those we’ve had the honor to work with and serve for over 65 years now!

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How Do You Know if Advertising Works?

PACE blog_John-Caples
Legendary ad man John Caples

“There is no better test of an advertisement than whether or not it actually sells the product! In fact, it is the only true way of determining if your advertisement works.” — John Caples, Advertising Hall of Fame

Truer words have rarely been spoken in marketing circles.

John Caples was a legendary ad man (Mad Man) who is probably best known for writing one of the most famous advertising headlines ever when he was a young copywriter in 1926:

”They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano but When I Started to Play!”

The copy that followed was long. Several hundred words long, designed to solicit students for a correspondence course at the U.S. School of Music. And the ad was an instant and classic success, inspiring many imitations over the years.

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The ad that changed an industry

Caples went on to become an expert in direct-response advertising. According to his obituary in the New York Times:

Mr. Caples was credited with pioneering many aspects of advertising, including copy testing and extensive research. He debunked humorous advertising copy, saying that ‘only half the people in this country have a sense of humor, and clever ads seldom sell anything.’ He also advised copywriters to ‘use words you would expect to find in a fifth-grade reader’’ because ‘the average American is approximately 13 years old mentally.’

Mr. Caples was elected to the American Advertising Federation’s Hall of Fame in 1977 and passed away in 1990. But his pioneering thoughts and practices about advertising live on.

At PACE, we adhere to some of Caples’ big ideas about advertising – including the quote above. What’s the point of advertising if not to sell product? To move people to action? In fact, it’s a philosophy we’ve adopted in one of our own agency taglines:

At PACE, we move people.

Another time, in a more cutesy way of conveying this and to reflect our agency specialization in working with real estate clients, we said:

 PACE brings faces to spaces and places.

In other words, the ads and marketing campaigns we create at PACE are strategically developed to get results. To move people. To bring faces. To generate real traffic. Real results.

We’ve been doing this for over 65 years now: providing successful, results-oriented marketing solutions for our clients. The tools have changed over the years, but we remain adept at moving people through targeted marketing strategies, compelling creative, and meticulously executed campaigns across a mix of marketing channels. Simply put, we moving consumers to take action. Getting them from their place to your place. Actively engaging with your business. And buying. Some call this “direct response.” We prefer to call it action-oriented marketing. And it’s at the heart of every campaign we develop.

We’d like to think that Mr. Caples would be proud.

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