New Chipotle series did not exactly burrito bowl me over

Farmed and Dangerous

Chipotle brands themselves brilliantly across multiple channels. This includes the little things from their napkins to cups to bags to the simplicity of their menu. They are super responsive on social media (Hi Joe). And the advertising they’ve run has been high-minded and stunning. Remember the ScarecrowThey stand for something. Something I can get behind. 

I love Chipotle. But I don’t have to love everything on their menu.

Recently, they launched their “Farmed and Dangerous” series on Hulu. Great title, by the way. But I’m afraid that’s where the appeal ends for me. I get their message just from the title. If they just made a fictitious trailer, it may have been enough. And they would have saved a ton of money. Money which could have been donated to responsible farming causes. That would most definitely have been in their brand character.

I watched the first “Farmed and Dangerous” episode. The whole enchilada. As a fan of Chipotle and a curious advertising professional, I forced myself. The key word here is “forced.” The whole thing felt forced. The writing, the acting, the “humor.” Unlike their food, it wasn’t awesome. AND, the episode was interrupted by several pods of ordinary commercials. So it’s a commercial message interrupted by commercials.

But I stayed with it. Curious ad guy was willing to invest twenty odd minutes yet was quickly getting bored.

No spoiler alerts here. I’m not going to discuss the storyline. But I see no reason to watch the next episode. Exploding cow viral video or not (oops, sorry).

One of my favorite marketing truisms is “Nothing can kill a bad product faster than good advertising.” Well in this case, Chipotle is giving us the opposite. This series is not likely to harm the brand. In fact I completely applaud the risk of trying to create their own content. Yet for all the money they must have spent, I’d have been content with some free guac.

Seriously, can I get some free guac? Joe?

– Rob Schnapp

How To Go Viral by Daffy Duck

Every now and then I’m in a room when someone suggests we make a viral video. It’s a cringeworthy request. Although in fairness, it’s really more of a naive request.

My respectful response is always: “We can’t make a viral video. But we can make a really good video.” My more venomous reply, if I know the people well, is: “Sure. How about we light you on fire?” Then maybe, just maybe it will go viral.

And even you if are successful, you can probably only do it once. Just ask the late Daffy Duck.

That’s all folks.

– Rob Schnapp

30 Years After 1984

Apple1984 TV

The most famous Super Bowl commercial of all time is now 30 years old. It only ran once and I have to admit that I missed it. That is, I didn’t see it during the game in its paid placement. But this spot went viral before we had a word for that. The gutsy decision by Steve Jobs and Chiat/Day to run it just once paid off big time in earned media.

Looking at Apple today, it doesn’t seem so surprising for them to have made such a bold decision. But this was the introduction of the Macintosh. They were not yet a leadership brand. This was a sink or swim moment for Apple. And while the Mac didn’t swim like an olympian right away, it managed to stay afloat (sorry for the metaphor but 1984 was also an Olympic year).

These days of course, you can watch the spots all you want on YouTube. Some brands take the opportunity to preview their spots ahead of the game to create buzz. It’s a debatable strategy among advertising and media pros. VW did it with great success in 2011 with “The Force.” By the time the spot aired during the game, millions of people had already seen it. That spot was so good, however, that you couldn’t wait to see it again. When it came on, I imagine people at Super Bowl parties were shushing each other to pay attention to it.

What I’m looking forward to this year is to see how advertisers will try to make their spots converge into the digital world. Sure, some will use a simple onscreen hashtag to try to create a conversation. Some have bigger plans. I’ve read that H&M is going to enable viewers to actually buy merchandise featured in their spot using their remote (if viewed on a Samsung Smart TV).

TV advertising is alive and well and evolving. It’s just not the only game in town anymore. So when making the huge investment in something as big as the Super Bowl, you have to take the 31st or 61st second into consideration. And that’s exciting.

– Rob Schnapp

Google does Search Engine Marketing on TV

Let me begin by saying that I’m a firm believer in the power of digital, social, earned and owned media. SEO, SEM, CRM and other initials are here to stay (or more accurately, evolve).

Google, no doubt, has revolutionized the entire advertising industry. But when they want to reach a mass audience such as everyone with internet access, they still turn to “traditional” (hate that word) advertising.

So what are they selling? A browser. This tells me that when you use Chrome, they’re the ones doing the real browsing – into our lives. Hence those Warby Parker ads following me wherever I go. But that’s okay. I’d rather see advertising that’s relevant to me.

Instead of TV, they could just place the commercial right on their own homepage. I don’t have the data, but I’m going to guess that Google’s homepage gets a gazillion views a day. Perhaps they didn’t want to clutter their own property with crass, self-serving marketing efforts. Or they know those old school GRPs still have some value.

This nice clean simple demo spot doesn’t sell hard. They’ve taken a page from Apple’s playbook. There’s no call to action unless you count the subtle presence of the Google Play and Apple’s App Store logos at the end. It’s the attitude of a leadership brand.

There’s no click through. No data on who’s watching. Nothing but a brand impression. And a good one at that. Wonder how they’ll measure the ROI.

– Rob Schnapp

Houston, we have a problem that needs creative thinking


I love this scene from Apollo 13. It’s the creative brief in its purest form. The team knows exactly what needs to be done. No time will be wasted trying to figure out what the heck they’re supposed to be doing. They can jump right into the task at hand to come up with the best solution.

Creative Process Essentials

creative process

My creative process starts with asking lots of questions and lots of listening. The more I understand, the better I can communicate.

It’s called the creative process for a reason. There are certain steps needed in order dream up ideas that are not only captivating, but relevant. Nothing is quite as liberating for a creative professional as a well conceived strategy and brief.

If you know what you need to say, it makes it a whole lot easier to find creative ways to say it.

– Rob Schnapp


Curly from the classic movie “City Slickers” wasn’t just a cowboy, he was one helluva brand planner.

As a creative director, few things annoy me more than creative briefs that aren’t singleminded. A piece of communication, in a sea of other communications vying for your attention, should not be expected to convey more than one idea.

Just because your product or service has multiple attributes doesn’t mean you can convey them all effectively at one time. You insist? Send in the shit wagon. That’s the vehicle into which you cram in all your benefits. It may satisfy the marketing person who wants to check off boxes, but it’s a waste of media dollars.

That’s not to say you can’t execute against various attributes that all ladder up to one overarching, higher order benefit. You can. But it takes numerous singleminded executions to get you there.

When I write a brief, or collaborate with a planner who writes it, I insist on keeping it to one target, one insight and one promise on one piece of paper.

One thing.

Yes, I’m from the Curly school of brand planning.

– Rob Schnapp

The Energizer Bunny from the get-go.

Here’s a quick look at the long-lasting Energizer Bunny campaign from Chiat/Day.

The original drumming bunny toy was actually from Duracell’s campaign.

Energizer was a new product line from EverReady with their eyes focused squarely on market leader Duracell.

Chiat turned the Duracell campaign on its rabbit ear and went for the throat.
It pretty much started out as classic side-by-side competitive advertising. But that lasted all of about 30 seconds.

Then came the breakthrough that made the Energizer Bunny a household name.

After seeing the convincing-but-ordinary Energizer commercial, another commercial appears. Some typical commercial for some typical product. But that commercial is suddenly disrupted with the Energizer Bunny who is “still going” strong long after his commercial ended. This went on for years.

When you least expected it, the bunny showed up.

This was not a cute campaign. This was a tremendous idea. I wish I thought of it. Completely disruptive. Energizer snatched their competitor’s equity right out of their paws and made it their own.

Easter eggs for ad geeks:
The © for the allergy commercial says Clow Laboratories, Inc.
© for the wine spot says Sittig Vineyards.

– Rob Schnapp

Skip this ad? Yes please.


As someone who creates advertising for a living, I occasionally feel guilty for using a DVR. But paid media at the whim of an advertiser, even if the ad is my creation, doesn’t automatically deserve your attention.

In the digital world, ads often ask for your permission. Is it out of politeness or low self-esteem? I’m not sure. Of course I will pretty much always skip it. Pretty much. 

Ads, or actually any content, require you to opt in. That’s true in any media. A print ad that doesn’t interest me gets the same reaction as an uninteresting banner ad – yes, that’s most banner ads.

This may seem obvious, but things that interest me earn my attention. That could be in the form of a movie trailer or a direct mail piece. Ads that believe that I owe them my attention are living in the past. Content that is relevant and/or entertaining to me is always welcome.

– Rob Schnapp


Found a blog that features an ad that I worked on. The blogger apparently sees female genitalia in a wood grain surface.

Yes, you caught us. The photographer and I searched the world over to find a wood table with just the right cracks in it. (dripping with sarcasm) 

Pace’s Pepper is Ready for Action

stud pepper

“We’ve Got A Secret Weapon For Breeding the Perfect Jalapeño,” says the headline in this ad for Pace Picante Sauce. Then they talk about the “Stud Pepper.”

The image shows a bowl of chili and a pepper on a wooden table. But the table isn’t the only wood in the photo—the real secret weapon in this ad is the pepper doing double duty as a man-sword, ready for action, and pointing to a large crack in table.

If you think this is just an accident, take a look at this. I’ve traced over the area you should be paying attention to:


But surely an advertiser wouldn’t be hiding sexual imagery in an ad? Well, sorry, but it appears that they have. I’m not aiming to become the new Wilson Bryan Key, but it doesn’t take a genius to see what they’re trying to do here.

Whatever. But hey, thanks for noticing the ad.

– Rob Schnapp