Small Stunt – Big Laugh


We really liked the Big Ad. Not only did we laugh at it but it provoked very big, very deep, very profound (and we wished, very expensive) thoughts.

But amongst the folks at Studio Muscle, it provoked an outbreak of sarcastic creativity. According to them:

“What can you do with an idea that is so good, it is impossible to make it better? Make it worse…”

You have to check it out – it’s called small ad and it’s funny.

Via Scoble:


Big Ad. Big Budget. Big Laugh. Big Sales?

I recently joined the ranks of millions, billions, trillions, maybe kazillions who are raving about this ad (click hereto view) for Carlton Draught.

If you haven’t already seen you should. It is not only just plain funny, it has also become a bit of phenomenon in it’s own right. It pokes fun and the whole concept of big ads with big budgets trying to capture people’s attention for stuff that isn’t really that exciting by itself. And doing so on the internet generate huge buzz – and actually tons of impressions (and blog entries, see below for a selection) – before it even aired on TV.

I don’t mean to be a stick in the mud – I love the ad – but what does it really accomplish? I get that it broke through and generated attention, but what does it say about the brand, beyond it being playful? What does it say about the product? Yeah, it’s “made from beer” which is a heck of a lot more honest than lots of other beer ads but beyond that? And what does it do for real demand – although I loved the ad and was tempted to give the beer a try just for the heck of it – I can’t buy it in Washington. And finally, what does this whole thing say about the state of marketing today?

This got me puzzling on multiple levels. This whole thing feels very zen:

  • If the medium is the message – which is the medium? expensive broadreach TV or the relatively free web/blogsphere?
  • But is the marketing of marketing actually marketing?
  • This is a stunt about how silly marketing can be (and I think about how incredibly hard it has become to do packaged goods marketing). But is the stunt the substance? (speaking of substance – I love the tagline “Made from Beer”)
  • Beyond the stunt what does this really say about the product? Are high production values the same as real product value?

No answers from me but a lot to think about.

Here’s a selection of some of other sources and opinions:

  • The Business Network highlights how the ad is already viral (this post a case in point) although it only recently aired.
  • Brand Republic lauds how “Carlton & United Beverages has broken the rules of advertising spend secrecy”
  • Ad Rag highlights all the classic elements and shares our hope that “this big big ad sells many many pints of Carlton Draught.”
  • Chris Busch and Blog that shouldnt be are a few of the places I found this in the first place.
  • has a whole forum on this, with a great statement: GO ALCOHOL
  • Duncan’s TV Ad Land gives great background on the directors
  • Polaine highlights how viral works.
  • Charles highlights two more Carlton ads that are very funny


VC Pitch Tips (reprinted with permission – from myself ;-)

powerpoint disability.jpg

We talk a lot about messaging here, well in our day jobs as Venture Capitalists, investors are a key marketing target just like any other. A while ago we wrote a post on another blog (NW Venture Voice) translating some of the Playbook concepts into tips we have really seen work in making investment pitches. A bunch of folks asked us to repost, so here it is:


The most important thing in having a successful pitch to a VC is to have a great business and a great team, but even if you have both it doesn’t hurt to have a super crisp, logical, compelling pitch. Here are 5 basic tips that I have seen really work.

1. Outline
First, have an outline. Be organized. The best top level outline I have heard it from one of the super masters of presentations, Jerry Weissman. Before you focus on all the snazzy charts, make sure you do the following:
• Tell them what you are going to tell them: Show them where you are going to take them, on the title slide.
• Tell them how you are going to tell them: Have an agenda slide and stick to it.
• Tell them: make sure the body of your presentation always reinforces your opening point.
• Tell them what you told them: wrap up, recap and go for the close.

2. In a nutshell
One great tool for making this organization stick is what I call the “in a nutshell” slide. This is using your agenda slide to tell the skeleton of your whole argument. When presenting to Steve Ballmer it often happened that you never got off the first slide after the title, so make sure it really works for you.

Normally, I like to see In A Nutshell slides that act as a template. On one side they highlight, even number the key elements of your story/pitch/argument and in parallel on the other side they give the top support points in summary. As you then move through the deck you keep the left hand template to reinforce the whole argument and help people remember where you are in it.

3. Clear, simple case
Show why your company/investment should exist in the first place. Do the simple case using what we call yourABCs or situation/gap analysis. Where:
• A = Today: the current situation in the market/big growing
• B = Tomorrow: the place the market should be/juicy opportunity
• C = Gap: what’s missing to get to B/the special play you are poised to make to fill it and win

4. Simple positioning and proposal
Then tell why your way of filling this gap is better than everyone else’s. One simple outline for this is what we call the XYZs – “We are the only X company/product that solves Y customer problem in Z unique way,” where
• X = your category: critical for VCs, we need to put you in some box, to make comparisons; never invent a category, improve one.
• Y = the target: the buyer, the person who actually writes the check, great if you actually have some.
• Z = your differentiation: your advantage, or the key positive distinction you have over your competition.
It also helps if you can back all this up with real support, like your team’s track record, customer traction, a real competitive analysis (their ABCs), etc. A demo is not enough. Proof is better than claims.

5. Best foot forward first and strongest
Tune the organization of your story to the stage of your company. And always put the strongest stuff upfront.
• An EIR: It’s all about YOU and the market opportunity/competitive gap.
• A seed: It’s all about initial market validation (quotes from friends with important job titles in your target customer’s industry), then about the product spec, the team and the above.
• A round: It’s all about initial customer traction and economics – some demonstrated willingness to try and pay – show the best real numbers you have, then about the product itself relative to others, then the above/
• B round: It’s about momentum – show the sales numbers, the trends and the economics, then all the above.
Then of course have a well thought out and aggressive enough ask.


Here are some other resources and inputs on VC pitches:

  • Cliff Atkinson’s Beyond Bullets. Very nice stuff on how to have the maximum impact with PPT.
  • Brad Feld with a wide set of thoughts on The Torturous World of Powerpoint and 15 questions you need to ask in making the pitch
  • Marc Hedlund with a pretty funny powerpoint on VC funding for geeks (also has some good insights about not needing money as the best way to get it, and how raising money really is a full time job)
  • A VC referring to an interesting/funny elevator pitch podcast by Eric Lunt, CTO of FeedBurner
  • More on podcast pitches from David Hornik
  • Startup Law Blog referall to a Businessweek article on the topic by Allen Morgan
  • Allens more complete thoughts on this, especially commandments 456 and 7, emphasizing the importance analogy, no more than 13 slides, and knowing the audience
  • Seth Levine with some excellent does and don’ts that sound basic but so few seem to follow, and
  • Nick Morgan with a bunch of guidance of how to grab your audience’s attention and tell them an emotional story.

Note: Cartoon courtesy of Les Posen’s CyberPsych blog


Marketing Manifestos


I like Change This. The whole idea of a place where you can find some communal inspiration and “call to arms” on doing things differently is cool. The manifestos there run the gambit from environmentalism to marriage to Ben and Jerry’s. I took a quick cruise through “manifestos” about marketing. Below is a sampling:

Marketers of the world unite, you have nothing to loose but your production budget.

  • The Customer Evangelist Manifesto by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba. There is a lot I love about this one that resonnates with a bunch of stuff we’ve been thinking about lately: marketing is not advertising, it is not budgets; word of mouth is key – but it comes not from stunts but from doing a great job; new customer acquisition may be sexy, but in the long term keeping and energizing existing is more profitable; and getting people (inside and outside the company) excited requires having a real cause (VISION is a big deal)
  • Does ANYONE know how to Market? (and will anyone care?) By Chris Houchens. Given that we wrote a book, I was at first a bit uncomfortable with his call to “Find all the marketing business books you can. Throw them out. Rinse. Repeat.” But I really agree that a lot of what you read is just extra noise and agree with Chris’ emphasis that good marketing comes from YOU and that no one cares about marketing – they care about their lives (some ads feel like the only benefit is the entertainment value of the ad itself). Seperately read his recent blog entry on how bad marketing by committee ends up being (I know I’ve done it).
  • Is the Truth the Next Big Truth? By Simon King and Piers Fawkes. Although, Thomas Jefferson once said, “The advertisement is the most truthful part of a newspaper” it seems that marketing lately has lost the whole idea of focusing on the reality of what you have to offer. So this manifesto is quite provokotive. It focuses on three truths: 1) business operations truth – exposing people to the wheels and gears of your business machine can have real benefits – see what Progressive insurance has done as an example; 2) brand history truth – all rather than denying your legasy both good and bad, acknowledge it first before trying to persuade, look at Microsoft’s Dinosaur Puppets and Your Potential… vs. security concerns and trust concerns (conversely consider the fantastic impact of Scoble being open about Microsoft’s issues and its competition); and 3) Yoga truth – pretty out there but I guess purity is good
  • What is Open Source Marketing? By James Cherkoff. Some additional great thoughts about how real openness and interactivity and participation of customers can have huge power. See also his very goodblog.
  • Effective Product Managers Know Their Market By Steve JohnsonBarbara Nelson. Some very good tips for marketing folks to cut through all the “market research” mumbo jumbo and reach out deeply learn who their customer is.
  • Do Less by the one and only Seth Godin. We couldn’t agree more with his points that focus wins and tighter teams do more.
  • LESS by Bruce Kasanoff. Makes a lot of sense to remove objectionable and meaningless obstacles from your customers path – true in product, in messaging, etc. Just look at Apple. I really like the idea of filling in this blank of what your customer might say: I want less __________.
  • Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson. A list of more or less crazy things you should look through to try breaking through directly to customers; and of course…
  • The Hughtrain, by Hugh MacLeod. Just love the way this guy thinks. You have to look at Gaping Void. Believe in what in what you are selling. Sell that belief. Products are conversations. A brand is a place, not a thing. Write (copy) like you mean the words (see above that truth might be a good thing). And a bunch of good advice about what kind of job to have. It’s up to you. Be Nice. Be Honest. Listen. HERE HERE!

Other Marketing Manifestos not on Change This include:


Soy Milk for President


As I was eating my cereal (at the office) for breakfast recently, I started reading the carton of my Silk Soymilk – and I was blown away.

It read like a stump speach for the Organic Party of America’s 2008 Primary Convention:

America Was Built with Achievement and Energy, Determination and Will. And It all Began with One Thing: BREAKFAST.Yes, breakfast. Can you cross icy mountains without fuel? Can you build railroads, cities and bridges without physical energy? We fed dreams with breakfast and soon they developed into reality.

But as America grew up, things happened faster. Our lives got busier. Breakfast – the most important meal of the day – became the last thing we grabbed as we ran out the door. Well, it’s time to take breakfast back.

Not to the big breakfast of the past, but to a better breakfast: a leaner, simpler foundation for your day. With less cholesterol and more laughter. Less fat, more idealism. And more time to think about what the day might bring – and what you might bring to the day.

This better breakfast exists right now, fueling the days, the hopes and the achievements of millions of Americans.

It’s Breakfast Again in America. Silk. Rise and Shine.

Wow. Pretty inspiring – and over the top – stuff (watch out Karl Rove and James Carville these Soy foklks are hot). And it doesn’t stop there.

Elsewhere on the carton they cover Foreign Policy (reaching out a double edged olive branch);

“Legend tells us soy was discovered in China by two bandits who survived in the desert by eating soybeans.”

Energy Policy:

The whole thing is powered by Wind Power

Social Security, Taxes and the Deficit:

It’s Free! Silk Soymilk is free of lactose, dairy, cholesterol, gluten, eggs, casein, peanuts, MSG and worries. You still have to pay for it though.

And they seem to understand Get out the vote – Chicago Style:

Shake Well and Buy Often

Not sure how much more Soy this sells but it sure is fun reading.