Pure Content

Look at more stuff. Think about it harder.

What makes a Tagline?

My all time favorite tagline is Nike's "Just Do It." When I'm "in the zone" there are really no
other words to describe what's happening to me. Like on the tennis court,
everything fades away but the action. Every great shot hits before I know it. Do it.

What's your favorite tagline and why?


I wish I had posted this one yesterday. Nevertheless, I think it's beautiful.

"Life is deep and simple, and what society gives us is shallow and complicated."
— Mr. Rogers


God bless, Mr. Rogers. Thank you.


I came across an article entitled "Wolves in doves' clothing" written by Meg Carter on Mediaguardian.com.uk, that notes an upcoming theme in marketing to youths:

"'Give peace a chance' is the theme to expect from clued-up advertisers in coming weeks. For new research suggests that, far from avoiding any reference to impending war, canny brands will win the hearts and minds of younger consumers by weaving anti-war messages and imagery into their communications...A variety of current advertising campaigns show how far some brands have already gone. In one, a Spanish sportswear company promotes its red trainers with a war image through which is drawn a large white cross. In another, a French shoe company presents an Arab-style slipper decorated with the stars and stripes alongside the word "Peace". Levi's Europe, meanwhile, has just produced a limited-edition teddy bear complete with a peace symbol attached to its ear. "

Now, emotion has been used to sell products since I can remember, but this theme struck me. How does this ad theme get you? Will the consumer realize that the anti-war theme attatched to a certain product is still an attempt to market that product, and that the theme really has no relation to the product itself? Will people suddenly lose sight of that fact and associate with the ideal of peace and not realize what is really being sold? Or will people react as I did and seem removed, isolated, from this concept because it doesn't draw the product and the emotion together. It divides. I felt uncomfortable seeing this campaign idea. Using a serious issue to sell, to make me money, so directly--right in front of your eyes--seems strange, seems silly to buy something because the company uses anti-war strategy just to sell the product. Is it the strongest emotional response that a company can generate toward its product by its chosen means of advertisement critical to the success of that product? Anyway, this campaign seems wrong.


— Travis Covey


During my perusal of various branding articles, I came across some interesting information on the type of appeal advertisements attempt to sell to consumers these days. Alvin Tay's article, "Making an Emotional Appeal," gives an overview of Michael Newman's book, Creative Leaps: 10 Lessons In Effective Advertising Inspired At Saatchi & Saatchi . Here is an excerpt from the article that provides some examples of the shift to a more emotional appeal.

" I’m trying to point out that brands must make an emotional connection with their audience if they want to succeed these days."

“Advertising is seduction. But, as Marvin Fensky said, you can’t logic your way into someone’s heart."

“Nike didn’t get rich by marketing the stitching used in their shoes, or explaining about the glues or the strength of the rubber. Nike didn’t do it with rational product features at all."

“Instead, they sold emotion, drama, and attitude. Heart sell, not hard sell. "

“When Apple launched the incredible I-Mac, they didn’t market the logical features of the machine; instead, they sold its pure sensuality and aesthetics, with an ad showing all the different lolly colours that the computer came in, with a one-word headline that simply said: 'Yum.'“

After reading Alvin Tay's entire article, I noted just how much advertising has shifted from product-based to emotional appeal. I haven't seen a shoe comercial in the last two years that actually told me anything concrete about the shoe other than what it looked like (via having the shoe in the comercial). And it's not limited to shoes. Thus, I note the method as the way to go these days. However, my question is whether this is a good transition or if, in changing the the appeal from "Gatorade provides X amount of energy restoring vitamins" to "You will sweat green like Michael Jordan," we are some fundamental laws of advertising....Or, if we are all just so familiar with big name products these days that we no longer need any information about what the product actually is....


Despite their reputation for having zero cash flow, college students, the epitome of Generation "Y", are becoming more and more of a marketing focus. They are increasingly market savvy and are the base of an entire generation on the verge of entering the consumer world. In his article, "Big Brand on Campus," David Bluss details some simple yet crucial marketing techniques for attracting the college student and developing him/her as a long-term customer.

Following are the six basic suggestions Bluss depicts as essential to appealing to the college student:

1. "Take it seriously: Capturing the college consumer requires a commitment that more brands are willing to make because they realize the short-term benefits, such as the chance to fuel a buzz about an innovative new product as well as the long-term benefits, which often revolve around trying to win customers for life."

2. "Become part of their lives: Experts say that college students bond best with brands that extend themselves beyond conventional marketing tactics to attempt to appeal to them in some broader or deeper way. "The way to get loyalty isn't through just sampling or postering but to show some kind of connection to your audience," says Kevin Colleran, the 21-year-old president and co-CEO of a startup called BlabberForce Enterprises Inc., who consults with companies on college marketing."

3. "Harness the power of music: More than ever, it's the common denominator of the college experience and many, many brands look for ways to take advantage of it."

4. " Offer unique experiences: Music is only one way for marketers to provide memorable cameos that college students often will associate positively with a brand. CTN's Music Binge Tour includes a shower, suggestively called the Organic Experience, that is sponsored by Clairol for its Herbal Essence shampoo, whose past TV commercials have featured sex therapist Dr. Ruth. Playboy has sponsored an online video game tournament among college players for US$ 1,000. Volkswagen events have included a game called "Find Your Twin and Win" in which students must find their peer somewhere on campus who has the number that matches their own."

5. "Recognize where you are: Colleran, a student at Babson College in Wellesley, MA, stresses that brand marketers must understand that every college campus is a bit different from the rest, with its own personality, and shape a campaign to account for those differences. Another major imperative for marketers is to acknowledge that a college or university is an autonomously governed environment that isn't the same as the "open society" off-campus."

6. "Deploy peers: The most effective on-campus marketers, brand owners say, are people who seem like college students. That's why Sprint PCS's "field-marketing" team is mostly 20-somethings who visit campuses during class registrations and other important moments and wander an area in front of a student union or other landmark hawking the mobile-phone service. "Kids shy away from salespeople who are much older than them or who don't look like them or talk like them," says Vernon, who is with Greenville, South Carolina-based Leslie Agency, a marketing communications firm."

As a person having just been through four years of college myself, I can verify that the new and different are the way to go. The only way to hold a college student's attention is to offer him/her something that hasn't been seen before -- something creative that sparks a "hmm...that's neat" or a flat out "wow!" At the same time, Bluss' advice about taking it seriously and becoming a part of their lives will make a college student feel like you are treating him/her as an adult, rather than a child. So those of you hoping to tap the Gen Y market, try the Bluss method and go get 'em!


As graduate student at the International Center for Studies in Creativity I was required to write a definition and philosophy paper on creativity. During my research stage I met Marci Segal and read her book in which she included An Anthropologist's Definition of Creativity: "Dr. Nash," I asked. " As an anthropologist, how would you define creativity?" She looked at me, placed one hand on her hip, and smirked. Then she replied, "Well Marci, creativity is bad manners." "What?" I responded, shocked to hear her answer. "What do you mean?" "Simple. Imagine doing something creative at the dinner table. What happens? You get your hand slapped. That's what creativity is ---- bad manners." With that, she shook her head and walked away.

There's a truth in there speaking to us, don't you think? New ideas often get slapped for being different. I think all of us have gotten our hands slapped for doing something differently. What if being different comes naturally? What if "different" is who you are? What happens when you're "slapped" for being who you are naturally? Who do you become? What does an idea become? Creativity and Play...hmmm....Playing with your food = bad manners, playing at work = bad manners, playing arround = bad manners, how many more examples can you think of? No wonder some people have such a hard time learning to PLAY


so what's the difference between work and play?

In doing some research, I ran across the following article from June, 1941: "Observations Concerning the Phenomenon and Origin of Play" by Walter Blumenfeld in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. Here's an extract:

"From the phenomenological standpoint it is remarkable that one cannot decide by objective criteria whether or not a certain activity is play. Children imitate the serious occupations of their parents, sometimes in play, sometimes in daily work. Whether they have at a given moment an awareness that they are playing, one can scarcely determine by observation. The amateur who plays a sonata considers his occupation to be play, while the professional pianist who does the same thing--perhaps not even as well--feels that he is working. The chess master regards his participation in a tournament and preparation for it as work; while a game with a casual traveling acquaintance he would be likely to regard as play. We see then that neither the activity nor the person engaged in it is the decisive factor in determining its character as play or work."

So what's the distinction between work and play in your mind? Is there such a distinction? Blumenfeld goes on to propose an answer--and his answer is one that I think a lot of folks would disagree with (it was a different era, after all). What's your answer?


creativity training

A little over two years ago, our clients began to ask us to teach them our creative models, tools, and processes. In response, we developed Play's Creativity Training. The two day session addresses the 4 M's (Mood, Mindset, Mechanism, Momentum), helps participants explore their creative tenets, discover our five-part process for creative thinking, and acquire concrete tools they can take back to their organizations.

We're offering a two-day creativity training session on April 22nd and 23rd. If you (or someone from your organization) are interested in attending, e-mail me for more information.

Some of the companies that have gone through Play's Creativity Training include: Mattel, Sara Lee, Boeing, Capital One, Kayser Roth, JP Morgan Chase, the Almond Board of California, the Virginia Police Corps, Lego, BMW, Dial, Disney, and the Children's Miracle Network. To add your name to the list, send me a note.


get your learn on

The Kaospilots, our friends and partners in Aarhus, Denmark, have released their latest curriculum. For the uninitiated, the Kaos Pilots is "a three-year bachelor-level education in the creative process, project and business design." They also throw fabulous parties. This specific document, what they call their "curriculum" actually has a lot of solid information about their program, and has a lot of good insight that current businesses should benchmark and learn from.



the popular little movie about the short sad life of an ad idea, has been too popular for the server. If you're looking for it again, it's now to be found at:


who / what / why

At Play we create brands, strategies, new products, and better cultures for Fortune 100 companies. Our formula for creativity: "Look at more stuff. Think about it harder." Pure Content is one place where we do that, daily.

the cool kids' table

Ben Domenech
(politics, football, and a boatload of know-how)

Creative Generalist
(if Pure Content had a doppelganger ...)

Heath Row
(punk + business
+ creativity = Heath)


go go gadget google:

stuck in an airport

A Pattern Language

Creative Company
Orbiting the Giant Hairball
The Ultimate Book of Business Creativity

The Little Prince

Wittgenstein's Poker

The Dancing Wu Li Masters

The Tipping Point

new to you

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see our neighbors
Comments by: YACCS