John Kuraoka, freelance advertising copywriter
(619) 465-6100
Ad Blog: news and views about advertising, branding, marketing, and copywriting
March 2010

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March 11 2010
The bean counters have crunched their numbers and totted up the results, which prove that branding has value. Ayup. Here’s the story, from Forbes:
Advertising copywriter blog link

This is all basic stuff. But I will add this: in fast-changing industries, there simply isn’t enough of a record over time to reveal what I call brand tippability. For instance, it wasn’t all that long ago that AltaVista dominated search; it tipped over like a porta-potty when Google gave it a hard nudge and then kept pushing. In web browsers, the past few years have seen Netscape Navigator give way to Microsoft Explorer, which is itself now facing hard nudges on multiple fronts from Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox. In rapidly evolving industries, there is a high tippability factor.

That begs the question: what constitutes a rapidly evolving industry? Example time: forty, even thirty years ago, the world of personal portable audio was stable: it meant the transistor radio. Brands were plentiful, and differentiation came in the form of design and gimmicks. FM radio came along and shook things up a bit, as did the advent of the 8-track and cassette. But still, the world stayed pretty stable. Then along came the Sony Walkman, and rapid evolution struck this once-stable category like a meteor; the dinosaurs (Admiral, Philco, Realistic, Silvertone, Zenith, et. al.) staggered off to die slow deaths. Then along came Apple and the iPod. Wham!

Innovation breeds innovation; it also incites brand tippability. I think a lot of automobile brands are tippable right now, as are most Internet brands, including Amazon, eBay, Facebook, and, yes, Google. And, tippability being its own factor, that’s true regardless of assessed brand value.

To arrive at a brand valuation, you look mostly back. To determine brand tippability, you look mostly forward. Which happens to be the direction real life goes.
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March 10 2010
Oh this is too cool. In partnership with Google, Popular Science has put its entire 137-year archive online. And here it is:
Advertising copywriter blog link

You can search for any innovation, company, or advertiser, then browse not just related articles and ads but entire issues of Popular Science, including product reviews and more ads! Now that’s a Wayback Machine!

It’s also a massive time-suck: I dived into a quick initial search on submarines and the next thing I knew it was two hours later. In its defense, however, it is infinitely more inspiring than tweeting. A lot of those good ideas from 50, 100 years ago .... you know, they’re still good ideas. And the ads themselves are a real time capsule. Very, very cool!
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March 8 2010
The tough economy has coupon-clippers going full-bore and hard-core. Here’s the story, from The Wall Street Journal:
Advertising copywriter blog link

Okay, first disclosure: I once walked out of a grocery store with five boxes of Cheerios, a gallon of milk, an eight-ounce package of California cheddar cheese, coupons for more free boxes of Cheerios, and three dollars in profit, thanks to coupons and a store loyalty card. So I clearly have no problem with extreme couponing.

What I find appalling is that this money-saving tactic has transformed into consumerism in disguise. Look at the pile of processed packaged foods in the photo. I don’t care how free it is, no one, no one needs pudding cups. Also, no one addresses extreme couponing’s environmental impact: the energy it takes to manufacture, distribute, gather, freeze, and store those pallets of loot.

There is nothing wrong with saving money. But also, there is nothing wrong with buying just what one needs when one needs it, and working to limit consumption as well as spending. Heresy!

Which brings me to my second disclosure: I have become, for the most part, a reformed couponer. I’ve simplified our grocery shopping to two stores (one of which is within walking distance, has great prices on minimally processed foods, and doesn’t accept manufacturer’s coupons) and a local organic CSA drop site. That, combined with fruit trees and a vegetable garden, keep our family of four sensibly fed and washed for less than $100 a week. That’s not exactly cheap, so what do we save by deliberately stepping off the coupon-go-round? A little time. A little privacy. And a little ball called Earth.
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March 5 2010
Consumer review site Yelp is accused of manipulating reviews to favor advertisers, according to two proposed class-action lawsuits. Here’s the story, from my hometown San Diego Union-Tribune (CA):
Advertising copywriter blog link

Either there is something explicitly fishy going on, or an awful lot of people don’t understand how Yelp flags and filters out fake reviews. In going through the FAQ, it sounds as though one-off reviews – such as those that would be the natural result if a business actively asked its customers to register and review it – are suppressed as potentially fake. After all, anyone could go in, register as a new user, and post a rant or a rave; credibility comes from established reviewers. Yelp says its algorithm is proprietary, and refuses to release details about it.

Of course, Google is similarly closed about its algorithm, so secrecy isn’t the issue. Neither is transparency: Google’s cloak is notoriously hard to penetrate. And it would be hard to argue that a review site like Yelp has a business impact comparable to that of Google.

Still, this does taint the credibility not just of Yelp, but of all review sites that accept reviewed businesses as advertisers. Also, it points up a real credibility gap in wiki-esque consumer review sites, because it’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff.
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March 1 2010
A city council in Ohio is considering legislation that would prohibit sign spinners, sandwich boards, and other forms of advertising on city property, including sidewalks and medians. Here’s the story, from the Sun Messenger (OH):
Advertising copywriter blog link

The city council says it’s a “health and safety” issue because the sandwich boards and dancing mascots distract drivers. Nah, those drivers don’t notice; they’re too busy talking on their cell phones to notice dancing mascots, banners, or pedestrians.

(Personal aside: when I run, perhaps one driver in ten actually takes enough notice of me to stop at a stop sign. If I wore a reflective bear suit and carried a neon-yellow sign, that number would probably double. To two out of ten. Of course, things in Ohio may be different from California.)

All this proposed law will accomplish, is to move the hot spot a few feet away from the street and into the parking lot. The problem, assuming such advertising is a distraction, is that the distraction will worsen when a driver’s eyes are pulled to something several feet out of the traffic zone. Simultaneously, the proposed law denies local businesses a cost-effective way to promote themselves.

Suddenly, having extra-wide driveways and nooks at the corners of the parking lot will become strategically important considerations in choosing a business location. Something to think about, as more cash-strapped municipalities start considering more laws that produce income from fines.
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Backwards in time to February 2010

My experience as a copywriter.

Main page | Advertising portfolio | Brochure portfolio | Consumer goods | Eco-friendly products | Food services | Healthcare | Hospitality & tourism | Internet | Manufacturing | Packaged goods | Real estate & construction | Retail & restaurants | Service | Technology

Answers to frequently asked questions.

Why should you hire me as your advertising copywriter? | FAQ

Advertising & marketing advice.

Advertising strategy and other lies
An advertising copywriter’s bookshelf: recommended books
Brands and branding: a white paper
Do you make these mistakes in advertising?
Free (yes, free) advertising copywriting resources
Four ad copy traps that ensnare even experienced copywriters
How to become an advertising copywriter
How to take your copywriting portfolio to the next level
How to write a brochure: advice from an advertising copywriter
How to write better ads
Long John Silver on writing ads
More career advice: what’s it like being an advertising copywriter?
Napoleon’s advice to entrepreneurs, Part I: starting the enterprise
Napoleon’s advice to entrepreneurs, Part II: the entrepreneurial character
Napoleon’s advice to entrepreneurs, Part III: growing the enterprise
The economy (and what to do about it)
The Tightwad Marketing project
When you should consider hiring a freelance copywriter
Advertising copywriting mentorship
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Me, me, me.

Awards & honors | Curriculum vitae | Services

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Phone and fax: (619) 465-6100

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John Kuraoka, freelance advertising copywriter
6877 Barker Way
San Diego, California

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