Everything I Know, I Learned from Advertising

I admit it. I’m an ad geek. All of us at Imagine Marketing are. Some of my earliest memories are of watching TV commercials (60 second black and white) on our old Zenith console. I can still recite the words to the Cracker Jack jingle or sing (off-key) the Rice Krispies song (“I insist that pop’s the sound…”). A well-written tagline, to my way of thinking, is more eloquent than a haiku. And it sells a lot more product.

The best TV and web-based spots are like little movies. Problem, solution, pay-off. All in a tidy 15 to 60-second package. Trust me, it’s harder to write short than it is to write long.

Sometimes ads can touch on universal themes that go beyond the product or service. A classic local Las Vegas campaign is for Al Phillips the Cleaner. Owners Phil and Mel Shapiro ended each commercial with this interchange:

Phil: “Mel, I want Al Phillips to clean every shirt in Las Vegas.”
Mel: “How do we do it all?
Phil: “It’s easy when you know your business.”

Think about that for a moment. “It’s easy when you know your business.” Sure, it’s hokey. But that doesn’t make it any less true. Whether we’re talking about dry cleaning or orthodontics or, well, marketing, it sure helps to know what the heck you’re doing. Product knowledge. Customer relations. Communication skills. Industry trends. Internal systems and processes. Money management. The list goes on and on.

It’s like the best baseball players. Guys like Ken Griffey, Jr., make everything look easy. That’s because we don’t see all the sweat, hard work and endless hours that went into perfecting their craft. By the time we, as consumers, experience the final product, all we notice is how effortless it seems.

It’s a simple but important lesson. Know your business. And I learned it from a series of low-budget local ads. I’ll have more examples in blogs to come.

Brian Rouff is the Managing Partner for Imagine Marketing.
Contact Brian at


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