I recently had the pleasure of staying at The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove in Miami, Florida. Within the pages of one of the magazines in the room was this ad for The Ritz-Carlton. I love the visual suggestion of a cityscape created out of vintage and retro style product placement. It’s a strong and very masculine visual instantly recognizable as a skyline before your eye is able to deconstruct the image into it’s various parts of bottles, clocks, paperweights, flashlights and all other manner of recognizable and non-descript elements. The imagery is so powerful I kept flipping to the page with the ad just to decipher more of what made up the various forms. This was my favorite ad in the series, but not the only one that included the clever use of forms. Check out more here.
What’s the first thing you think of when you see this billboard? I thought – “huh, that’s weird. I wonder what they mean?” After all, definitions for a “foursome” range from the sexual to the game of golf, but I get the feeling this billboard is not some kinky reference or about leaving your golfing buddies alone and lifeless on the links. Thinking through the various definitions of a foursome and how it could relate to a hospital it finally dawned on me that it might relate to the anatomy of the heart. There are in fact four chambers and four valves within the heart – That’s it! Now I’m tired and my brain hurts; that was a lot of work to understand a witty billboard.
A lot of work it was, but I got it. More importantly, I remembered it. And I have a feeling that’s what BFW, the agency responsible for the campaign, wanted. I remembered not only the billboard, but also the location of the billboard just so I could stop and get a picture of it. It is no small feat to remember a single 14’ x 48’ billboard while on a 220 mile round trip drive filled with …billboards! So I guess that’s a testament to the marketing force behind the idea.
The agency reports on their blog that “The first day these two billboards appeared, they generated 474 hits on the hospital’s website (that’s huge in their market). And, according to our client, they’ve continued to generate more buzz for the hospital than any other billboards in recent years.” I have to admit, it drove me to their website and I live 50 miles south of this billboard. Whoever designed the hospital’s logo go it right, too. The “B” reinforces the name, the heart is self-explanatory, and the style, font and color choice reinforce the healthcare aesthetic. So, I guess, job well done on all accounts. …Now where did I leave that SA Node?
What happens when you release 100 cats into an IKEA for a night?
The final cut:
Is it just me or does Christmas keep getting earlier every year? No, not the actual day, – that’s hasn’t changed much in roughly 1500 years – but the commercialization of Christmas starts earlier every year. Yesterday I noticed a JCPenny decked from mall entrance to parking entrance in winter holiday décor, and a Target that already had their Christmas salutations flying – THE DAY AFTER HALLOWEEN!
Remember when Christmas would not even be thought of until the day after Thanksgiving? Now it’s like our fine pilgrim friends never existed. No more turkey decorations, or pilgrim hats. No cornucopias filled with a bounty of veggies and gourds that no one really eats. For the first time a Hallmark Holiday has actually trumped a Hallmark Holiday. What will we see next year, kids dressed as Santa, elves, and Chanukah Harry for Halloween?
Today I actually saw a tent selling Christmas trees. For those of you in states where the temperature drops below 50˚ F for more than two days a year it might not be that uncommon, but for us in South Florida where at 11 pm in early November it’s still nearly 80˚ with 70%+ humidity. I don’t care if you call them evergreens, those trees aren’t gonna last 2 months.
I miss the days when Christmas was just fun. Now it’s more burden than anything else. I understand that businesses are trying to promote early savings on gift buying in this new economy, but c’mon, with every passing year the holiday season becomes less fun and more like a chore. Marketers, advertisers, and promoters of holiday cheer; I implore you, please give the holiday season its soul back.
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.
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.
What is with the creepy commercials recently?! The latest commercial to haunt our TV screens and disrupt our sleep is for the Palm Pre. These commercials center around a very pale, soft-spoken woman who shares stories that are completely unrelated to phones. They remind me of someone who just got totally baked and now wants to share an in-depth story about how something works.
The best description of this commercial’s unsettling nature was found in a blog post by Roberto Baldwin on Maclife.com: “The script isn’t soothing either. Bing, bing, bing, has officially replaced the Freddy Kruger nursery rhyme in my nightmares. If you’re goal was to frighten people, mission accomplished. I can’t even look at a Pre now without ending up in the fetal position under my desk mumbling about green lights and flow.”
Of course this series of commercials are not the first to put out the creepy vibe. Who can forget the King from Burger King. Created by Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CP+B) in 2003 to put a new spin on the original King from the 1960’s and 70’s. Having worked on set with “The King,” I can tell you he’s just as scary in real life.
Another one of CP+B’s creepy cast of characters came with the resurrection of Orville Redenbacher. Ken Wheaton of Adage.com has a great post relating the CG Redenbacher to a “dead-eyed zombie.”
One of the most controversial beer ads came about in 2007. It shows a fembot who produces a Heineken mini keg from her torso. This ad has been named by some to be the creepiest beer commercial of all time, and by others as the sexiest – I’m going with creepy.
We’ve had vampires selling smart phones, disturbing royal effigies pimping burgers, resurrected the dead for the sake of popcorn, and created a robotic flapper to serve us beer. I can’t wait to see what new and exciting ways advertisers will think to scare us away from their products in the future!