Jump to content
Mike Friedman

Is it better to be relevant or RELEVANT?

Recommended Posts

You probably think that title is a typo. It is not. 

I have done a lot of advertising over the years for my own businesses as well as businesses owned by others. 

Whenever I sit down to write a new ad, whether it is an online or offline ad, I ask myself that question.

What do I mean by it? 

Is it better for this advertisement to be relevant to the business and line of work or relevant to the times and what is going on in the world or a particular community?

I posted an example of what I mean about being relevant to the times a couple of weeks ago. It was a brilliant, but simple ad done by Hefty playing on people's emotions in regards to the upcoming election.

Sometimes, an ad needs to be serious and just focus on the business. For example, if I was doing work for someone in the field of depression, that is a very serious ailment, and not something I would joke about in an advertisement.

But there are times where you can let your guard down a little more and run an ad that shows your business has some personality.

I still remember one of the best print ads I ever ran. It was in April and May of 1999. I was working for a marketing company where my primary responsibility was to recruit and train salespeople. I ran two variations on the headline (always be testing), and the results were pretty much identical. The headlines were

Are you the ONE?

Neo, are you the ONE?

This was of course at the popularity of The Matrix movie. Calls from the Washington Post went up about 75% and calls from a small circular I advertised in called The Pennysaver went up 220%. 

We also saw a dramatic increase in calls from flyers and business cards we handed out and plastered in parking lots. Those were a little harder to quantify because I was relying on numbers reported from the people who handed them out (and they almost always lied), so I did not track them as closely.

This is a perfect example of an ad being relevant to the times. If I ran those ads today, I might see a slight increase in interaction out of intrigue of what the heck it is, but I would not get the same pop.

Obviously, AdWords was not around at that time. I would have loved to see what ads like that would have done on Google.

Don't worry. You don't have to be creative to utilize these kinds of ads. People around you are doing it all the time. You just have to be paying attention.

There is a local roofing company near me that gets a good bit of press because the business is female-owned. I love them for their marquee. They run some great ads. I just drove by this morning and noticed right now the marquee says

Back by popular demand, Pumpkin Spice Roofing.

I'm sure they have had that up since the beginning or middle of October. What a great way to play off the whole pumpkin-spice-everything in the fall. You are damn right I am going to steal that idea. (already did)

You can use these sort of things in PPC advertising, signature links, Facebook headlines, Twitter posts, etc. Whatever you are doing online to bring in traffic.

Constantly be looking in newspapers, magazines, bookshelves, and online for what other businesses are doing. When you drive around your community, pay attention. Sometimes there is a social issue it makes sense to latch onto (the election). Sometimes it is a movie (Dr. Strange is out there now. Rogue One is coming in a month and will have a HUGE media blitz). 

If you see an interesting ad, write it down, snap a picture, or make a note of it in some app in your phone. Whatever you need to do to not forget it. Even if you cannot think of a way to use it right now. Keep it. Something might trigger lately.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Web Hosting

That reminds me of the mosquito control company we hired the first Spring in the new house.

When I got the mail, there was a flyer on the box and it read something like this...


Just itching to have your yard rid of mosquitoes?
Hire Mosquito Joe’s and get your first application free.
Any bites? Call xxx-xxx-xxxx today .


I thought it was clever and hired them over the company we always used at the old house.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I love this post Mike! 

I'm always watching for clever ads, I love the idea of taking a picture of them and I really should write it down!  LOL! ... if you saw my desk and the notes on it.  :angry:

I just saw an ad for "going back to college".  A waitress quits her job, starts walking out the door and on her way out, takes a bite out of everyone's food, then throws her apron into the air.  Made me giggle!


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Since what  you are talking about is "timely" ads, I would think they are an awesome idea.......but should be a part of  a solid advertising campaign with a portion that is more centered on branding.  A timely catch phrase is going to lose its effect after the short run "trend" and you'll still want something out there that catches the long term ethos. 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

As Sal says, if the section also included discussion on current ad campaigns and branding issues, it could be worthwhile. Perhaps merge it with the Content Marketing section which doesn't seem to be getting much action at the moment. After all, current events, cultural happenings and anniversaries are great content prompters. They can also help kickstart a piece of copy. Plus, latching on to an anniversary or imminent event is a neat way to theme a promotion.

There are plenty of online resources for finding out about forthcoming events. For instance:


features a day-by-day list of historical anniversaries


focuses more on pop culture anniversaries, while


has a list of some rather off the wall occasions.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Some are timely events that have a definite shelf life (The Matrix example above).

Others can have a recurring shelf life like the example I listed about the pumpkin spice. Probably would not get much kick from it right now, but it is something that can be filed away for next year.

The other thing is that sometimes an ad which is past its expiration date might prove to be a trigger for someone for a new idea.

I'm still thinking just a single thread would suffice versus an additional discussion area. It also could include creative ads that people find intriguing. It doesn't just have to be ones tied into events or to pop culture.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Annual special occasion ads can be recycled yearly - but since social ethos changes pretty rapidly these days, not sure how many years you can squeak by with the same catch and stay relevant.  

That airlines ad - now that's a good ad. Won't brand them, but it will keep the clicks coming, I would think.  

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

If anyone is interest and acts quickly, the song "Easy Street" is going viral and the song title is perfect for marketers. The song was in last week's episode of the Walking Dead (used to torture Daryl) and even though the group (The Collapsable Hearts Club) is unknown, it's hit the top 100 on the UK charts. 



It's actually a catchy tune and who knows? Everyone wants to be on Easy Street, right? 


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I guessya could argue how time is the only true crucible for relevance, otherwise we would all still be writin copy for 2-FOR-1 VIKING HELMET OFFER!!! type stuffs.

Currency got value in that sense — but there are clearly limits.

Anyways, be good to have a kinda momentgasm dump for examplesa super contemporary takes on relevance.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/15/2016 at 5:04 PM, Mike Friedman said:

I'm wondering if there would be interest in an ongoing thread for members to post ads they come across that they find interesting. 

Could be a good brainstorming thread for anyone to peruse that is working on some advertising.

I like this idea a lot. I think it would be great for shooting ideas around.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.


Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.