The Conversation

John Zimmerman, long-time ad guru, talks about making great advertising and selling solar power that makes economic sense.

By Joe O’Donnell

Photo by Liesa Cole

john zimmerman birmingham“The ad industry is sagging among the traditional companies. And the reason behind that is the overwhelming burden of overhead plus the layers and layers of internal approval and management. Today you have to be fast. Cost efficient and great. It is difficult for a classically run ad agency to deliver that consistently.”

Starting with that premise and following a long career in the ad agency world, including with O2 Ideas here in Birmingham, Zimmerman has created a new way of creating advertising.

“That is where the Aberdeen Coalition comes in. We are efficient. Everyone works independently, from creative to research. This delivers great economic efficiencies and speed plus global connections with the creative community. Once we put a team together on a project, everyone is senior and experienced at doing the work we know we should do. That makes us fast.”

The people we bring together are top notch. The research we did for Zoe’s Kitchen, for example, enabled them to grow while maintaining the character of their brand in markets where they had previously never existed. That is an example of how we pull people in from around the world, turn on a dime and produce great work that makes a difference.

“See, I think in advertising today creativity has given way to price promotion. It is less about attention, engagement and entertainment. Ads need to engage and entertain; then you are able to deliver a message because people have taken the time to read or watch the creative. Except for major brands during things like the Super Bowl, I don’t see it very much anymore.”

“I don’t think anyone does this intentionally. Everyone is trying to do the most with the least amount of money. This drives all of us to literalism versus imagination. I believe the latent creative power is there, but  it is being drained by marketers who are under tremendous stress to deliver results. With the Aberdeen Coalition, we create a series of functional units that serve client needs.”

Zimmerman has recently moved to New Orleans. Raised in Baton Rouge, he has a lot of family and memories in the area, as well as another wholly separate business enterprise that is taking up much of his time and imagination these days.

“I am the chief marketing officer for Posigen here in New Orleans. The heart and soul of this company is to allow people who need it the most to take advantage of solar energy. We are a renewable energy company focusing on solar panels, solar hot water, and energy consulting efficiency. With federal and state tax credits, we are able to offer extraordinary financial models to Louisiana homeowners with nothing down or a credit check. You just need a home, a power bill and a roof. The cost is $55 a month for 10 years and we have seen people drop their power bills from more than $400 to $125. This really helping people and it is so rewarding. It is blue collar solar.”

“Moving back down here and working in this way, it really feels like I’ve come full circle.”

2 Responses to “The Conversation”

  1. You are an amazing mind, John Zimmerman. We miss your creative spirit and energy and huge smile here in Birmingham. You make the world a better place every door you step through. Rock on JZ!

  2. T. Tillery says:

    JZ ,
    I loved the points you made about literalism versus imagination!!! I am so, so happy for your, “Blue Collar Solar” as you call it and what it’s doing for people.. Personal thought, power outage… No problem man, I got da panels!! Lol..
    Another homerun for the creative and thoughtful JZ!! Keep the brilliance comin ~
    Ur Pal,

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