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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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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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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