DraftFCB’s Dow teaser ad labeled ‘mathematical poem’

Tease. Tease. Tease.  It’s a familiar tactic in the advertising industry to whet the public’s appetite for what’s to come.  And DraftFCB/Chicago is doing just that in a big way via a 46-foot-tall chalkboard now visible on the side of a building in Soho in lower Manhattan.

Passersby at the site this week will see a gentleman writing out a lengthy, puzzling mathematical equation that, we’re told, combines mathematics and numbers that relate to significant aspects of human achievement.

Draft has labeled the chalkboard presentation a “mathematical poem.”  Mathematicians, we suspect, will relate most immediately to what is on view in Soho. To us it looks merely perplexing.
The mathematical teaser is intended to herald the debut of a new ad campaign from DraftFCB/Chicago for Dow, a client.  The agency is mum for now about other details of the campaign.

But at the chalkboard site, a banner with what could be the tag line for the upcoming campaign — “Solutionism. The new optimism.” — is displayed as well. A DraftFCB spokeswoman would not confirm whether that is indeed the campaign tag.

Whatever it is, we wish Draft had steered clear of using “solutionism,” which comes off rather awkward and way too academic-sounding. But perhaps the fully-fleshed-out campaign will make it seem at least slightly less so.

In any event, almost every ad campaign breaking today — even teasers — must have a social media component.  This effort for Dow is no different.  The Soho chalkboard has a twitter handle (@giantchalkboard) and a Website.

And rest assured, dear readers, DraftFCB and Dow do not intend to leave their perplexing equation unexplained.  It will all be spelled out, or all those who want to know, on Friday on the dedicated Web site and the chalkboard itself.


The past decade has not been an easy one for the airline industry, including British Airways, which has long served London’s Heathrow Airport nonstop from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.

The very British carrier, which once upon a time maintained it was “the world’s favorite airline,” has experienced its share of problems in recent times, including terrorist-related issues and contentious relations with some of its employee unions.

But through it all, BA has tried hard to maintain an image as a class act in an industry that increasingly has lost all its trappings of civility and dignity.

To underscore its heritage as a premier international carrier, BA and its ad agency BBH are launching a new brand ad campaign this week to remind the traveling public of what has been its mission from the beginning, namely “To Fly. To Serve.”

Those words are the carrier’s longtime motto.  They can also be seen on the BA corporate crest that is at the heart of the airline’s brand identity and on the uniform of every BA captain.  The crest with the motto also will once again be part of the livery on every BA aircraft.

That grand corporate crest has been subtly refreshed for the launch of the new ad campaign, which, in true British Airways fashion, aims to make viewers believe that great customer service is the essence of the British Airways flying experience.

The debut video aims to connect the great, daring aviators of the past with the cockpit crews who command British Airways planes today. With its portentous voiceover copy, the spot doesn’t stint on the aura of nobility with which it tries to envelop BA pilots of yesteryear and those who fly today’s BA fleet.

British Airways may no longer be able to claim it is the world’s favorite airline. But it does have a rich history.  And at a time of so much uncertainty in the world, BA, like so many other brands nowadays, is smartly reaching back to its roots to remind customers of what it has striven to stand for from the beginning.


The September Nielsen TV ratings book is released today.  And in the hotly-contested local late news ratings competition, Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 continues to struggle.

Channel 32 had hoped all the changes made over the past couple of years would lift its flagship 9 p.m. newscast to a better place in the ratings.  But that hasn’t happened.

As of Wednesday, with one night to go in the September book, WFLD’s hour-long late newscast fronted by Bob Sirott and Robin Robinson was down half a rating point Monday through Friday, compared to the show’s rating a year ago.

Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9’s late news at 9 p.m., while down slightly year over year, looks as if it will end the September book nearly three full ratings points ahead of direct competitor WFLD.

At 10 p.m., the late news ratings landscape has not changed dramatically.  ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 still leads the pack, though its margin of victory over second-place NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5  narrowed a bit Monday through Friday.  And at 10 p.m., CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 still is in third place — a little more than a full ratings point behind WMAQ.

Contact Lewis Lazare at LewisL3@aol.com