The 2018 Winter Olympics have been a blast! As I’m enjoying the Olympian commercials, I’ve found myself ruminating on all things advertising-related. After Cartoon disbanded in 1984 from full-time gigging, I was fortunate enough to be hired by K.C. Murphy of Murphy Communications, where I served as Office Manager until I left for Boston in 1986. This was an inspiring job thanks to a group of mega-talented graphic designers, artists, writers, mentors; the BIG-idea thinker and keen-eyed photographer/dynamic Creative Director and his vital 2 nd in command who was devil’s advocate, sales manager, and calming voice at the agency.
Here are some things I came up with:
1. My favorite idea was a TV campaign for Staples Office Supplies. To the tune of Santana’s Black Magic Woman, I wrote these lyrics: Got a black magic marker/Got a
black magic marker/I got a black magic marker, got me so psyched I can’t see/Got a
black magic marker and it’s gonna make an artist outta me.
2. Remember the “Un-Cola” campaign for 7-up? Imagine a TV commercial with a wedding
scene: preacher, church full of guests, and the couple speaking their vows. Cut to the
reception dinner where the groom stands up with a flute glass full of 7-Up, the soda
bottle strategically placed nearby. He turns to his new wife, raises his glass in a toast,
and says “UN ‘til death do us part!” The soda company said they didn’t accept unsolicited marketing ideas! Too bad.
3. I wrote to Johnson & Johnson and suggested that they stop making Band-Aids with that
stupid little red pull-string used to open the strip (maybe you’re too young to remember
those damn strings!). I told them it was unreliable because it didn’t always work as
intended, and it would be increasingly difficult for an aging public (with aging hands) to
manage. I suggested that they could develop and promote a new way of opening their
strips. They wrote back and said they did not accept unsolicited ideas since they already had creative and product-development teams! Not terribly long thereafter, they unveiled the type of pull-apart strip packaging we all enjoy today. You’re welcome! Where are my royalties?
4. Think Kleenex. (Think a Seinfeld routine here). When you open a new box, have you
ever noticed that 2 tissues almost always pull out at once, even though you only wanted
one? Also, think about the little square 80-count boxes. About half way through these
boxes the pop-up feature invariably stops working, and you have to reach in and pull up
several tissues to get the pop-up feature to work again. What do you do with the extra
tissues? (Toss ‘em? Use them, even though you only needed one?) Think of this
happening across the world with millions of boxes every day…and all the extra,
unwanted tissues that come out of those boxes – none of which was really needed, and
some of which may well be simply discarded. A conspiracy theorist might conclude that
Kleenex was trying to hurry us through those boxes so we have to buy more!
To this day I love thinking about advertising and promotional strategies, and products that could be improved. Thanks to K.C., Christian, and the whole crew at Murphy Communications! It’s fun thinking of you all in this context!