Category Archives: Thoughts & Musings

Hall Communications is Growing!

By Patti Hall

Twenty-one years ago, I was pregnant with my second child, my father was dying from cancer, and I was working long hours as an account executive at an ad agency whose values didn’t match my own. I decided to take a break from work, and spend as much time as I could with my father. Several months later, after the death of my father and shortly before the arrival of my daughter, two of my previous clients called me to ask if I would resume working with them. It was an easy and fast decision. It was the inception of Hall Communications, my efforts to help those clients find solutions to their marketing needs.

Since 1999, I have worked with clients of all sizes and budgets to use their advertising dollars as effectively as possible. I have helped clients create brands, open new storefronts and websites, develop campaigns and change product lines, plus I have freelanced for several marketing companies when and where they needed me. Most importantly, I have made many great relationships and stories along the way.

Now, I’m excited for this next chapter of my professional life…growing Hall Communications by expanding our service offerings in conjunction with the very experienced marketing pro, Chris Blair. I’m ready to help clients by providing even more solutions and telling more of their stories through elevated video and web production. Please feel free to share my contact with anyone you know who may need marketing, video or web support. While 2020 has been a wild ride. Here’s to brighter days ahead!

Integrity in Advertising and Strat-O-Matic Baseball

By Chris Blair

We often get calls from clients who think they need a particular type of promotional product or service, be it a new website, an instructional video, a print brochure, a television campaign, or a new logo. But many times after meeting and discussing their needs, it becomes clear the client needs something entirely different.

We’ve even occasionally recommended services that we don’t provide because they better serve the client’s advertising needs. After all, our job is to help clients communicate to their customers…not just take their money for something they think they need.

Unfortunately, not all advertising and marketing companies are that honest with their clients. I’ve seen it time and again during the 25 years I’ve worked in this business. Advertising agencies, TV and radio stations, newspapers and internet companies selling products and services that have little chance of helping their clients promote themselves.

I’ve never understood this mentality. It’s like convincing someone to buy an overpriced, overhyped product that doesn’t actually work as advertised. When the customer gets home and realizes they’ve bought a crappy product, they’re not only angry it doesn’t work right, they also feel like they were duped by the hype! This type of selling virtually guarantees clients won’t come back.  Continue reading

3D Television Networks: A Quiet Death

By Chris Blair

I published the original post below in July of 2010, saying I couldn’t imagine how 3D television networks could find an audience, and more importantly, lure enough advertisers to survive. Predictably, ESPN3D announced on Wednesday that it would soon be shuttered. Their official statement cited, “limited viewer adoption.” That’s fancy talk for, “nobody was watching.”

I was utterly villified in a forum thread on Creative Cow for my disparaging views about 3D back about the same time as my original post.

Most people took issue with the fact that I disagreed with the consensus that 3D in TV and movies was going to soon be the norm for production, and that if we didn’t all embrace it we’d be left behind. My argument at the time was that our clients weren’t even asking for (or using) HDTV, much less 3D. I also questioned how the economics of 3D television, even at the network level, would ever produce profits. Above are links to the now amusing threads in which many on the Cow predicted 3D television was “the future of broadcasting and production.”

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The Value of Time and Experience in Advertising Design

In the last 25 years the growth of computer technology and the internet have both fundamentally changed how companies market themselves. The early to mid-nineties saw the birth of digital production. Then in the early part of this decade, digital television and the internet matured. And in the last three years, social media came of age.

Obviously this technology has had many positive effects when it comes to marketing and advertising, but in my opinion that same technology has had some negative effects as well. Most prominent is a tendency for people to think that digital workflows are inherently faster and more efficient.

When used properly, digital tools can certainly speed workflow and productivity.  But two things that are still key to selling people anything is developing great ideas and producing compelling stories. Getting these right STILL requires the two things the best digital tools can’t deliver — time and experience. Continue reading

Learning from Dick Ebersol’s Resignation

Dick Ebersol resigned as head of NBC’s sports division on May 19th and just a few days later Joe Posnanski wrote a piece on Ebersol in Sports Illustrated’s May 30th Point After column. What struck me about the article wasn’t anything about Ebersol’s vast list of credits, or any claim about his influence on modern sports or entertainment programming. It was what Ebersol told Posnanski about the most influential thing he ever learned:

“The most important thing to me, was to tell stories.”

Ebersol said it was a lesson he learned from his first boss, the legendary sports producer Roone Arledge. Ebersol told Posnanski that television seems to be turning away from storytelling, with everything  becoming fragmented and announcers making radio calls shouting about every play.

I had to chuckle and agree. I turned 50 this year, and while I can probably pass for 10 years younger (on a good hair day), I can’t help but feel a little old sometimes when discussing content for marketing and promotional projects with many clients. The idea of storytelling seems unimportant to most. Yet I still believe that a good story trumps style and glitzy design every-time. Great production values certainly never hurt a project, but a non-existent or poorly written story can kill one. Continue reading

A Guide to Advertising & Production Costs

How much will that cost? That’s a question I’m sure every business gets almost daily. With some products, like a television or computer, the answer is relatively easy. Go online, find the model you want, compare specs and prices, and choose your retailer.

But for most things, figuring out the cost is much more difficult. From buying a car to getting a fence installed, the price can vary wildly based on factors too numerous to even think about.

So what does advertising cost? How about getting a video produced? What about having a website designed…or an interactive kiosk created…or…well you get the idea. There are no quick and easy answers, but there are some guidelines you can use for many types of projects.

Let’s look at websites. If you’ve ever gotten estimates for having one designed, the differences in price can be cavernous. I’ve seen website estimates vary by tens of thousands of dollars based on the same specs. How can this be possible? Some of the disparity can be attributed to differences in turnaround time, differences in how the site is programmed and built, the experience level of the designer etc. But more often than not, if there’s a huge difference between the lowest bid and the highest bid, it’s a good bet you’re looking at one severely underbid estimate and another severely overbid one.

Certainly there are many types of websites with varying levels of complexity, not to mention the growing need to build separate mobile versions. But for most sites, you could use the following guidelines to figure a range of what it should cost. Continue reading

Update on 3D Television Networks and 3D in Theaters

By Chris Blair

I ran across an interesting article this morning about the status of 3D in movie theaters and on television. You can read it here.

The gist of the article is that director Christopher Nolan won’t be shooting the next Batman movie (The Dark Knight Rises) in 3D, and that ESPN is questioning it’s foray into 3D with it’s ESPN3D network.

ESPN’s Senior Director of Technology, Johnathan Pannaman, recently told a European business conference that ESPN is “still not sure what makes sense for 3DTV, and we don’t yet see a proven ROI [return on investment].”

All this before Discovery Network has even decided on a name for it’s proposed 3D network, and still hasn’t announced a launch date, only offering “early 2011” as the proposed launch.

My prediction is if ESPN3d folds, Discovery 3D will follow, all before it ever airs a second of 3D content.

How Important is Creativity in Advertising?

By Chris Blair

Creativity is one of those things that’s hard to define, especially in advertising. Many ad agencies consider it the measuring stick for their work. So much so that they call the work leading up to production, “the creative.” But just how important is creativity in advertising and what exactly constitutes a creative ad?

This is a tough question and there are probably dozens of viable answers. But advertising history makes it clear you cannot judge an advertisement based solely on creativity. The reasons? Creativity is highly subjective and award-winning ads are not automatically effective ads.

A famous (or is it infamous) case in point is the 1996 Nissan ad campaign called “Enjoy the Ride. The ad that launched the campaign was an epic commercial titled “Dream Garage,” which first aired during the closing ceremonies of the 1996 Olympics and later during the 1997 Super Bowl. It opened on a group of kids playing baseball, one of whom was magically transported to a “dream garage” filled with vintage Nissans. The garage was helmed by a wise old Japanese character dubbed “Mr. K,” who along with his Jack Russell Terrier, became the face of the entire campaign. You can see the ad below: Continue reading