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January 2008
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March 2008

Using Spokesmodels - Be Very Different...

Cp_6x10 Several years ago we hit on the idea to use a waitress, "Flo" to become the spokes-model for our agricultural input company, Calcium Products.

Everybody thought it was nuts.

"What does a cafe waitress and a theme like that have anything to do with Ag inputs?"


"What do you mean we're going to use a waitress?  Why not use a farmer?"

In the end we convinced the client we knew what we were talking about.  It's now been three years and while we're reducing the amount of ink "Flo" gets she remains part of all our marketing media.


Because it's now recognizable and "Flo" could get away with being edgy.   In other words this "smart talking, gum smacking cafe waitress" can say things to the end user another farmer could not.  And that's exactly what the client needed to get noticed.

Sales_book_cover_2 "Flo" has appeared in nearly every magazine ad, direct mail piece and hand out we've created.  And, she's even attended a couple of trade shows.  Doing what she does best...cause people to notice and do a "double take".

It's all about getting noticed.  And if it's different so much the better.

Take for example the gecko that does Geico.  I swear, it's become so much a part of their brand that the gecko hardly says a word about insurance anymore.  How powerful is this spokes-model?  Hardly a word about insurance until the very end when we get the voice over.

And it sticks.

Cp_6x10lowres Remember, we didn't just "come up" with the "Flo" persona.  It was calculated.  If you've spent any time in Rural America you know how important the cafe is to producers.  It's the place where the stories are told, where the prices are discussed and where the gossip centers.

We simply wanted to be part of that talk.  And it worked.

Could we have done this without having a knowledge of the culture of agriculture?  Nope...and that then becomes the real value when dealing with your agency.  Knowing is always much better than guessing.

Flo_cutout_crop So, now we've got this brand on our hands...and she's even traveling.

Gosh this advertising/marketing stuff is fun.   Got a story to share?  We'd love to hear it.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations thanks for reading!

Banning Our Way To Financial Freedom

Iowa_capitol The Iowa Legislature is in session.  You can tell that from the way we are forging our way to financial freedom as our elected officials seek to ban just about everything.

It started a couple of years ago.  I have no children in the public schools but I understand that there are bullies out there.

So, our legislature banned them.

In 7th grade I had a similar experience.  Andy Kampman was a bully.  He had flunked two or three grades and was constantly taunting me and others.  I complained to my father.  He said, "Kick him in the groin." (Actually, Dad used a different term to describe Mr. Kampman's anatomy.)  I did and never heard another word out of Andy.  He just sort of "went away".  We're now much more civilized so we have a law banning guys like Andy and our personal wealth has skyrocketed.

Queer_eye_cast We also have a law that says you can't say, "That's so gay."  While those terms are not in my middle-age lexicon I understand that we have a ban on saying it.  It's a good idea...interior design shops are springing up like's good for the economy.

A couple of weeks ago the Iowa Legislature brought up the idea of banning cell phone use for teens who drive.  This week the idea was expanded to include all people.  In other words, ban all cell phone use in cars.

It's not a bad idea.  I mean, do we really have to call somebody about the sweater we bought on sale at Kohls and then go into a discussion of "what's for dinner" while doing 70 mph on I-235?

But the "ban" doesn't go far enough.

Amish_buggy We should simply ban driving.

I've looked it up.  The Amish have very few automobile accidents.  Unless they get hit by somebody driving a car into their doubt while discussing the evening meal on a cell phone.

We need not get into all the particulars of how this will save us thousands of dollars in car payments, gas, repairs, and three car garages.  Let's just do and watch the money pile up.

Iowa_logo_university The University of Iowa...the school my son went to for two years + racking up points in "social activity", has decided to ban smoking on campus.

I might suggest to them that banning underage drinking and recruiting thugs to play football and basketball might be a better move.  But, there are some bullies we like.  (Aaron did graduate...from UNI.  Whew)

Maybe they should ban the idea of amassing huge piles of cash in their foundations and use that money to pay down the continued increase in tuition and fees? It's a thought and more smart kids means more cash for Iowa.

The Iowa Legislature wants to ban American Flags made in any place other than the United States.  It seems lots of US flags are made in China, a country that in all honesty owns the United States, and that bothers some folks.

French_flagWe really should be banning the flag from the state of Texas.  There is no solid reason, of any kind, that anybody who lives within the borders of Iowa should fly that flag.  Instead we should make it a law that Iowans must fly the flag of France.  Hey, it looks like our state flag...and the new First Lady of France is hot.Carla_bruni

It could do wonders for wine, cheese and bread sales!  (And this was another great excuse for including a Carla Bruni photo.  OK, she's not Kate Walsh...but some of you have complained I use her photo too often.)

I've got lots of ideas...this is just the tip of the iceberg...


Iceberg_lettuce That's another thing.  We should ban salad bars at restaurants.  They encourage over eating and over eating causes two things to happen:  1)  We spend money rather than saving it. 2)  Fat people sleep more so are less productive.  (Wait a minute...I take offense to that remark!  I'm almost as productive at 240 pounds as I was at 190...It's just that I also like a nap at 3pm!)

Ban salad bars...and count the cash!

You get the drift...let's ban wait.  Let's Band together and ban more stuff.  We'll all be better off.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where we promise we'll get back to advertising and marketing right away.  It's just that I've been holding this inside for too long.

Getting Paid For...Thinking?

Brain My friend Drew McLellan and I had this interesting discussion about what we get paid for:  "Doing" or "Thinking".

It's a common issue among first time advertising agency clients.

They often just don't see the value of...thinking.

When, in fact, that is most of what we do.  You see, we're in the business of advertising and marketing.  We're NOT making cars, boats, farm machinery, or cell phones.

While we could be, and folks who make that stuff would do well to listen to what we might suggest BEFORE they create something they "think" will appeal to the consumer. 

But some don't. 

And, frankly, that is the difference between success and failure.


Often first time users of advertising agencies see us as "creators" and not "thinkers".  The call comes in and the client says:

"We need a magazine ad for 'Do Dah Quarterly send it to Billy."

Any moron can do that.  Really!  In fact...many do.  I should know.  I once worked for a firm that not only SOLD the advertising space...but also "created" the ads.  At no extra charge!

And you know what the advertiser got?  An ad that was created without thinking. 

Thinking about the reader, the target audience, the message being sent, the effectiveness of the media, the cost of the ad, how it worked into branding the image of the company...

We were selling space...not ideas!  And, frankly the more time we spent on ideas the less time we had to sell space.

It's kind of like an accountant and tax time.  Anybody can slap numbers onto a tax form.  Anybody.  You don't have to think much to get that done....

" want me to make these numbers work for you?  Well, that will cost extra."

Sure we "do" but the real value is in the thinking...

What do you...think?

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications...where we think first and create a moment later.

Iowa Power Farming Show - A Wrap...

Iowa_power_farmers Thousands of farmers, agribusiness people, acreage owners and others braved the cold and snow this past week to attend the annual Iowa Power Farming Show held at the Iowa Events Center, downtown Des Moines.

According to the Iowa - Nebraska Farm Equipment Dealers Association, the show producer and owner, it was a large success.

The 567 exhibitors and the thousands of attendees helped seal the deal.

In the three days we were there on behalf of our client Calcium Products we met lots of people and came away with the feeling that it was not only a great show...but that we've got some hard working folks that really seem to enjoy their job.

Bus_1 Calcium Products paid to sponsor the free shuttle buses that took people from several parking lots nine blocks south of the Iowa Event Center to the front door of the Wells Fargo Arena.

Every twenty minutes we deposited farmers twenty yards from the arena door and saved them $6 to $10 in parking fees.  Enough to at least buy lunch.

Windstar Lines out of Carroll, Iowa owns and runs the buses we used.  And, while any company can run a bus takes the people driving and welcoming the passengers to really make the experience sparkle.

We got lucky.

Bus_4_karen Karen and Randy drove the same route dozens of times a day for three days.  I rode with them at least 40 - 50 times and they were excellent, helpful, encouraging and willing to do whatever it took to make the experience pleasant. 

They spoke to each person getting on, answered questions and even gave directions to local sites...when asked.

Bus_3_randy It was an excellent customer service experience...and we told them so.  More than once.

I doubt that many will point to this service and think it really made the show.  But, as the company paying for the service and listening to the comments from the attendees I can tell you it mattered.

Customer service is like matter if you are driving a bus or selling a product.  Most times it's the little things.

Iowa_power_junge Finally a tip of the seed corn cap to Tom Junge who is the show manager for the Iowa Power Farming Show.  Tom has been at this gig for a long time and he's got it right.   He went out of his way several times to be assertive to us and to our client and we're grateful.  He no doubt did the same for 566 other exhibitors...

Thanks Tom...

And, yes, we'll be back...

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications