Social Media in Advertising – Know When to Hold, Know When to Fold.

October 21, 2009 at 11:41 pm (advertising, commercials, marketing, social media, TV advertising, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Is your company cool? Is it cool enough to try to work social media lexicon into it’s advertising. Apparently two companies thought they were. I’m sorry to report they were wrong.

The first advertisement in question is part one of the multiple-part Twix Get The Girl series. In this delightful ad we have two people conversing at what appears to be a party of some sort – I don’t know if it’s a college party in a big room, or if a bunch of people broke into the local ZGallerie and decided to throw a party. Our “hero” character, who bears a resemblance to Bluto from Animal House, is listening to a cute, way-out-of-his-league, girl rant on about some political issue that, in his current state of inebriation, he obviously doesn’t care about. As soon as he stumbles upon a nearly cohesive response to her banter the inevitable “…I know, right? You want to go to my apartment?” comment slips out. Then the announcer comes on in a “meanwhile, at the hall of justice” moment and our hero discretely sucks down an apparently sobering Twix in order to shoot back with some half-witted comment about “blogging about our ideals, but…” And of course our female friend “loves blogging.” as if it were an activity one would perform at a regular social gathering. In this context it sounds more like she would be saying “oh, bowling, I love bowling” or “oh, pie I love pie!” instead of an online publishing tool.

The next commercial is even more awkward in its attempted use of pop-culture name-dropping. Bud Light’s The Breakup is a great commercial. It puts a couple driving in a car with the girl breaking up with boy. The first pass she’s too nice with the comment “we’ll just be together a lot less, like separate” as a means of breaking up. On the second go round when he asks, “are you breaking up with me” she shoves him out of the moving car. This commercial is great! Fantastic, move on, cut to the product shot – sold. But wait there’s more! As our recently discarded guy pulls himself upright he yells, “I’ll Facebook you.” Really. Really! If this couple were dating would they not already be connected, if not “in a relationship with” each other on Facebook. Even in the context of a Facebook Message this does not make since to me. If they broke up in such a violent manner I think she would unfriend him, thus making him unable to “Facebook her.”

Both of these ads had potential until they started trying to be cool. It reminds me of Dr. Evil in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery when he tries to do the Macarena to show Scott that he’s “Hip” (minute 6:50). One of the best commercials for dropping the fashionable lingo of today’s youth was the Palm Pre Now Network ad series (especially the first one). Why was it so good – because it was relevant and didn’t try to be anything that it was not. It had up-to-date topics, and was ahead of the curve by citing “26% of you viewing this have no idea what [twitter] means.

Here’s some advice to our advertising execs out there: Don’t drop in some awkward attempt at connect to a demographic that you don’t understand. If you want to appeal to a new demographic do your research, hire some competent consultants, and don’t just throw around buzzwords to make yourself feel better. It just makes you look distant and out of touch.

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Amp Up Before You Score – There’s an App For That

October 13, 2009 at 7:01 pm (advertising, Branding, commercials, Design, marketing, News, technology, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Carbonated beverages are no stranger to outlandish and controversial behavior, however this might be new terrain for the non-alcoholic variety. Pepsi owned energy drink Amp has released an iphone app to give anyone in need of a female companion a competitive edge, it’s been nicknamed the iFornicate.

The app, Amp Up Before You Score, has been the topic of much controversy the last few days. In fact the twitter hashtag #pepsifail is a virtual cornucopia of comments ranging from support to disgust. My favorite blog post title so far is: Douchebaggery: There’s an App for That. Here are some tweets from both sides of the aisle:

“Can’t even believe how amazing the Amp App is… Now I know why I prefer Pepsi to Coke”

“Pepsi scores plenty of buzz by offending 50% of the population with new app. No such thing as bad press?”

“Interesting article abt #mobilemarketing gone wrong great app tho LOL! #Pepsifail apology does more harm than good”

Here’ a another fun tweet, and corresponding blog post, by @laureni “#Pepsi suffers memory lapse, forgets it’s not Burger King: [link]” The post points out that this kind of stunt would be expected by CP+B not R/GA, who designed the app.

So what would an app do that causes such controversy? I mean its not shaking babies. The app allows the user to determine which type of female he will be targeting that evening; he has 24 to choose from. After her denomination has been determined – sorority girl, twins, Out-Of-Your-League Girl, etc – you can find out what that person might be in to, what to talk about, how to approach her, pick-up lines, and whatnot. After you finish the evening you can add her name to a list and broadcast the details out through twitter or facebook.

This app oddly reminds me of last weeks episode of The Big Bang Theory where Howard and Raj decide to dress Goth and go to a Goth Club to pick up women. They even checked wikipedia for information – ahh, how art parallels life.

Although Amp apologized through its twitter page by saying “Our app tried 2 show the humorous lengths guys go 2 pick up women. We apologize if it’s in bad taste & appreciate your feedback.” many people feel this apology wasn’t enough. In the course of all this publicity, negative or otherwise, the app is remaining available for download – at least for now. I’m sure there will be more news on this in the following days, I here NPR has even picked it up.

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AmEx – Turn That Frown Upside Down!

October 4, 2009 at 11:17 pm (advertising, commercials, Design, marketing, TV advertising) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I think this new spot from American Express is both clever and fun – I mean, who doesn’t like anthropomorphosised products? I know when I look around I see faces on many different products, and it looks like I’m not the only one. American Express took this idea and added a story around it. I like the frowning shower curtain and how the hanger is swinging in the “…they can be stolen” shot, as if the item was just taken. Toward the end of the commercial there are two shots are nearly perfect – one is a smiling chair (0:33), the other is filmed on a boat (0:45). Not all the images are clearly faces, at about 48 seconds in to the commercial there is an image of a baggage claim, which is a little too obscure, it took a few viewings to determine where the face was hiding. The music, an excerpt from Suite for Cello No.1 in G Major by Johann Sebastian Bach, was perfect as it can conveys both a somber tone and happy tone equally.

This ad has stirred a little controversy since it came out last month. Many praise it for the simplicity of the imagery, beautiful tonalities of the music (excerpt from Suite for Cello No.1 in G Major by Johann Sebastian Bach?), and simple message, but some are crying foul. The photographic duo of brothers Francois and Jean Robert have produced 3 books – Face to Face (1996), Faces (2000), and Find a Face (2004) – which show everyday objects appearing as faces. There are individuals who are claiming that this ad is a blatant plagiarism of the Robert’s photographic genius; the brothers are not a part of these accusations at this time. Below are images from both the commercial and the works of the Robert brothers – remarkably similar I must admit.

Whether you look at this spot as a beautifully simple expression of everyday objects set to a story, or as an offensive piece of derivative commercialization, you have to admit that the use of such pedestrian objects in a creative way is well done. I enjoyed the commercial; it has entertained me, and even if it is not an intentional piracy of Francois and Jean Robert’s work it has at least introduced me to it, and for that I am grateful.

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Window 7 – So Easy, Even You Can Launch It

September 24, 2009 at 7:51 pm (advertising, Branding, free, networking, News, social event, Social Events & Networking, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

In order to launch Windows 7, Microsoft isn’t sending out reps to address the masses, there’s no pomp and circumstance, and no caucus of bald men dressed as Dr. Evil marching in formation like Macintosh’s 1984 commercial would lead us to believe. Instead they are taking a queue from Tupperware and candle sales. That’s right, they are having a house party – several house parties to be exact.

To prepare for the main event there is a page on houseparty.com to get you pumped up about having your very own Windows 7 launch party. I love the introductory video, which invites you to the festivities and tells you how great it is to host a party. After all you are “just throwing a house party with Windows 7 as an honored guest. Sounds easy, and it is…” All you have to do is load Windows 7 onto your computer, clear off anything you do not want everyone perusing, double check your photo files – just incase your boss or preacher show up, and hope that no beer gets spilled on the keyboard by the guy who talks with his hands.

According to the video our four hosts got to have their parties a little ahead of schedule, and feel like dispensing some awkwardly scripted advice while feigning camaraderie. The video is even shot with cuts and camera zooms as if it was a home video done by someone who almost knew what they were doing. I enjoy the personalities of the four hosts – retiree, housewife, average young professional, and quasi-computer geek, who of course led three activities during his party instead of just two. I like that they tell you show the “help” section as a kind of last call to help wrap up soiree. And remember, “Part of the fun of a launch party is seeing what you already know and what you can figure out.” This gives me visions of my AutoCad teacher in college; everyday in class he would find himself telling us “well, this worked yesterday.”

I do have to commend Windows for adapting multi-tier marketing strategies to a multimedia product. It seems like a smart move in the current economic times, because no one can scream foul about them blowing access money on a big campaign or party. The ROI has to be nearly perfect, and as a buzz marketing case study it will hold value …but are they really only trying to put the product in the hands of the consumer, or really trying to save money – you be the judge.

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Mad Men Gets Wet

September 17, 2009 at 12:20 am (advertising, Art, Branding, commercials, Design, marketing, photography, print media, TV advertising, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

I got this video from my friend’s blog over at Clasiq Designz (from August 14) – Clasiq Designz creates great work in photography and graphic design. See for yourself.

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Fatherhood Never Seemed so Funny

September 13, 2009 at 8:37 am (advertising, commercials, Florida, marketing, TV advertising) (, , , , , , , , , , )

To borrow from Steven Colbert‘s “Tip of The Hat, Wag of My Finger” segment …A tip of my hat to Fatherhood.org for their advertising campaign. This particular commercial is not new, but has not been shown in my market segment. While visiting Tampa I had the pleasure of viewing it – I like the humor combined with the simple message. According to the Ad Council website “The new television PSAs emphasize to fathers that “the smallest moments can have the biggest impact on a child’s life.” The PSAs conclude with the tagline, “It takes a man to be a dad” and direct fathers to visit www.fatherhood.org or call 1-800-790-DADS to learn how to become better dads. Actor Tom Selleck lends his voice to the PSAs.

Good job and happy 10th anniversary to Fatherhood.org! This campaign is very funny and gets the point across without jamming it down your throat. I like it so much, here’s another commercial in that series:

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Disney Exhibit Moves the Norton to the Music

August 29, 2009 at 11:46 pm (advertising, Art, Art Event, Education, Florida, Gallery Opening, News, South Florida) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Disney-Music

Disney: The Music Behind the Magic 1928-Today, an exhibit held at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida, “explores the integral role that music has played in every facet of Disney’s success, from animation and film to TV, radio and Broadway, as well as the record label’s key songs, composers and performers, and their impact on popular music and culture.”

The exhibit starts with the earliest musical works from Disney including the “birth” of Mickey Mouse with his debut in Steamboat Willie on November 18, 1928 and covers the 80 years since then. Through the exhibit you will see (as described by the Experience Music Project in Seattle, Washington):

More than 65 rare artifacts, including animation storyboards, musical charts, rare recordings, sound effects equipment, Mickey Mouse Club outfits, and costumes from theatrical productions such as Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King.

Five interpretive films, all of which are being made specifically for the exhibition and feature Disney artists and experts with excerpts of Disney films to illustrate key points:

  • The first film explores Disney’s innovative musical storytelling in its early animations, from Steamboat Willie to Bambi.
  • The second film examines the critical role of music in Disney’s animation renaissance in the late 1980s, starting with The Little Mermaid; it features filmed interviews with composers Alan Menken and Phil Collins, film critic Leonard Maltin, and other Disney historians.
  • The third film looks at the music and making of Mary Poppins, the pinnacle of Disney’s live-action musicals. It includes interviews with the film’s composer, Richard Sherman, as well as other Disney artists and experts.
  • The fourth film considers Disney’s musical legacy, exploring its influence and impact on popular music and culture
  • The fifth film is a 15-20-minute overview of Disney music shown in our theater and introducing visitors to the exhibit themes and narrative.

Four exciting interactives designed to create hands-on experience for visitors of all ages:

  • Name-That-Disney-Tune is a game show in which four contestants or teams test their knowledge of Disney melodies, lyrics, composers and performers.
  • Sound Effects Challenge has four visitors work as a team and use Foley equipment to create and record the sound effects for one or two Disney cartoons, then watch the results to judge their future as sound effects experts.
  • Remix Disney Hits is a chance for visitors to remix hit songs by Walt Disney Records artists and then compare their mix to the original release.

Wonder Mine did a great job in designing this traveling exhibit. It was laid out nicely, created some good background visuals for the experience, and was very informative –  Did you know that in 1937 doctors warned parents that watching the color cartoon Snow White would damage their kids eyes permanently? If you want to experience this exhibit, hurry, it closes at the Norton on September 6th.

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Where’s Waldo Meets the Real World

August 23, 2009 at 11:20 pm (advertising, marketing, News, social media) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

vanish_waldo

We’ve all heard about people going off the grid, or disappearing for a while. People do it all the time for reasons as varied as witness protection or to just getting away from it all, but what about for a contest? That’s right, in a Where’s Waldo type of hide-and-seek game Evan Ratliff, a writer for Wired Magazine, has gone on the lam. Best of all, if you find this elusive writer, and capture an image of him, you could win $5,000 and an interview in the magazine.

In this era of connectivity it’s harder than ever to truly disappear. In the past, separating yourself by a few thousand miles and grabbing a new name along the way was all it took, but today we are hard pressed not to be connected into the virtual social fabric that weaves around us. Investigators can search your social media pages and find your friends, location, and even personal information, like your bank account records and frequent flyer miles.

To aid in the hunt for Evan he has given the world a glimpse into his life – a much more intimate glance than most would allow. The magazine has put out his name, age, medical conditions, likes, and dislikes. He has even allowed Wired Magazine full access to his debit card for tracking – if he actually uses it over the next month. During his time on the run he will be staying connected through social media, to a degree, and will be monitoring the information about his whereabouts.

This contest is genius on the part of both the magazine and the author. They have created a real-world, multi-user experience that crosses geographic and media boundaries. Anyone can play, choose their level of involvement, and there is no guaranteed winner – it’s all up to the players. And did I mention the publicity? So far AOL has picked it up, and it’s moving through social media communities with blogs and twitter posts covering the action.

Wired Magazine may be onto a new version of sleuth game. Geographic hide-and-seek. The concept could involve cross-platform collaboration between social media sites and utilize new technologies and competitions like geo-caching and Microsoft Tags to enable players clues, maybe even live action role-playing 2.0. We’ll have to see how many news outlets actually pick up the story, but regardless, what better way to involve your target audience than bringing them into this game?

To keep tabs on the competition you can check out twitter with the hashtag #vanish or Wired’s website.

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How Does Social Media Affect You?

August 20, 2009 at 10:27 pm (advertising, Branding, economy, marketing, networking, social media) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

What is social media, how do people use it, why do they use it, and how does that effect you as a designer, advertiser, marketer, etc? Watch and learn:

Thanks @saribrooke for the link!

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AARP Joins the Fight with Canes a Swing’n

August 18, 2009 at 2:21 pm (advertising, commercials, economy, marketing, News, print media, TV advertising) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Amidst the debate of national healthcare reform, one television commercial really stands out. Regardless of your opinions on this controversial topic, this commercial has the perfect metaphor for AARP’s message; an ambulance running lights and sirens, getting cut-off at every turn – brilliant. I didn’t even listen to the words the first few times I saw the commercial, I watched the imagery and instantly got it. Maybe I connect with the spot because of my brief stint as a state certified Emergency Medical Technician and 8 years as a part-time health and safety educator, or maybe the symbolism is just that strong. Either way I though it was well done.

In the past few days this commercial has stirred more controversy than most advertisements ever will, here’s some comments:

From AARP.org on August 17th & 18th:
“My first impression was laughter.  I thought all of those cars were rich ambulance-chasing trial lawyers fighting to get a new client.”

“The AARP commercial looks pretty good – it takes on the myths and facts.  Take a look.

I love the comments about the use of American cars in the commercial (some people reallllllly have too much time on their hands to look for conspiracy theories.  They’re probably disappointed that black helicopters aren’t featured as well.)”

“WE WERE MASSIVELY OFFENDED by the commercial we saw tonight showing an ambulance being cut off by expensive cars at every turn. SHAME ON AARP for thinking that we are so gullible as to be influenced by such obvious tripe.”

I didn’t know the Dodge Caliber, the car most visible throughout the commercial, was considered an “expensive car”, but okay.

From YouTube on August 17th:

“This video is awsome it really shows how good the government has got at sponsoring propaganda!! 2 thumbs up!!”

“I hope AARP paid enough to make this commercial because I definitely think less of them after having seen it.”

Pretty strong opinions for a commercial sponsored by a non-governmental organization (and interest group). Whatever your feelings about the healthcare reform bill are, you have to admit that this is a strong commercial with unmistakable symbolism – people getting in the way of healthcare.

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