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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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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GEICO – Geckos, Caveman, and Kash, Oh My!

August 6, 2009 at 10:46 pm (advertising, Branding, commercials, economy, Florida, marketing, TV advertising) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

GeicoI doubt that when Leo Goodwin founded Government Employees Insurance Company, GEICO, in 1936 the thought crossed his mind that the company would produce such a hailstorm of odd characters as to make the Brothers Grimm jealous. No doubt it’s great to have an effective and well developed ad campaign for your company. Advertisements have life spans and like anything else once they have surpassed their usefulness it’s time to let them go. With this in mind, I ask myself “why is it possible that during a one our television show I can see three completely different and distinct advertisements for one company?” Why is GEICO going through such a spastic identity crisis?

To begin the journey through GEICO’s multiple personalities we have to go back to the last millennium to the Screen Actor’s Guild strikes of 1999. The Martin Agency came up with the idea of using an anthropomorphic Gecko in attempts to work around the strike. Originally voiced by Kelsey Grammer, the GEICO Gecko now has an English accent. After 10 years we’re getting a little tired of him, but Day Geckos can live for up to 15 year so I guess they’ll keep animating him at for least 5 more.

Since 2004 GEICO has been running the Caveman commercials. These commercials originally aired with the tagline “so easy, a caveman could do it.” The caveman ads proved to be so successful that ABC decided to make a sitcom based on the idea – it was the shortest-lived ABC sitcom of 2007, quietly sinking away into obscurity. Over the years the company has dedicated several websites in the caveman’s honor, all of them have been shut down. Even in their death throws the caveman GEICO commercials live on. The ad has been around so long that the tagline doesn’t even need to be present anymore – in the most recent ad we witness the caveman just running down a street to the song “Let me be myself” by 3 Doors Down. What does it mean? I still don’t know.

For a little while GEICO aired commercials featuring “real GEICO customers” telling their stories while celebrities embellished and narrated the tale. These featured celebrities like Charo, Little Richard, and Don LaFontaine to name a few. I actually liked these; they came, made their mark, and then left with dignity.

In 2008 we were subjected to a stack of money with eyes named Kash. The “googly-eyed” character reminds me of the old Florida Orange Juice commercial with a talking sandwich, just not nearly as cool (if that was even cool). The character for me is creepy and, frankly annoying. I get it, it’s a stack of money, his name is Kash, he follows people around to remind them they can save money – I just can’t get behind a creepy sales persona who stalks people.

So in 10 years we have had nearly 20 years worth of advertising space dedicated to GEICO – I think I saw that in The Butterfly Effect. It’s time that GEICO saw a therapist and worked through it’s multiple personality disorders. Let the Gecko live out his golden years in retirement, the cavemen should be allowed to party all night hassle free, and, please, put a restraining order out on Kash!

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Creepy Commercials

August 1, 2009 at 3:45 pm (advertising, Branding, commercials, Design, marketing, TV advertising) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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!

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Find a Cure – Bing.com

July 1, 2009 at 12:30 pm (advertising, Branding, commercials, marketing, TV advertising) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Have you seen the latest ad campaign for Microsoft’s new search engine, Bing.com?

I’m a fan. They take the simple premise that whatever you type into a search engine returns thousands of unrelated and unwanted results. They then apply this concept to normal human interactions and conversations.

One ad has a father and son in a TV store. The father asks the simple question “So do we want an LCD or Plasma?” to which the boy replies “plasma is an ionized gas.” Later in the spot we cut back to the father and son where other people have chimed in “plasma cutter,” “blood plasma,” etc. Each commercial ends on a black screen with yellow and white text proclaiming “WHAT HAS SEARCH OVERLOAD DONE TO US?”

TV Store

It’s a clever campaign reminiscent of a sketch from the Carol Burnett Show in which product placement comes to life and terrorizes our protagonist. The Bing.com commercials are successful in the way they provide memorable humor that connects to an everyday occurrence for web users. It also lends itself to cross generation and demographic flexibility, as demonstrated in another ad that features a couple getting ready for bed.

Couple

The commercials got me to try bing.com – at least to find their commercials. From what I can tell there are some good points, and some negative parts to their search engine. For right now I think I’ll stick with Google.

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World’s Most Interesting…

June 26, 2009 at 11:49 pm (advertising, Branding, commercials, print media, TV advertising) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Dos EquisHe once had an awkward moment to see how it feels.

He taught a German shepherd to bark in Spanish.

You can see his charisma from space.

It is said the sun comes up later on the 6th of May, in case his Cinco parties run long.

He’d never initiate a conversation about the weather, even in a typhoon.

He is The Most Interesting Man in the World.

Beer is one of the most competitive arenas for advertising. So when the creatives at Euro RSCG Worldwide were presented with a project for Dos Equis they wanted to take a new approach and set the brand apart.

Apparently it wasn’t enough to attempt the now-too-common viral video campaign, and clever commercials are funny, but not always memorable. The scenes of college-aged guys chasing after scantily clad girls are about as boring as they come, and most Mexican beer ads show pictures of beautiful beaches, blue ocean, or stereotypical Mexican flair.

Enter The Most Interesting Man in the World. He’s a seasoned, adventurous, and charismatic individual who performs amazing feats of interestingness and absurdity. Women love him; men want to be him. After all “the Mayans prophesized his birth.”

All the TV and radio spots end with “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis. Stay thirsty my friends.”

Whooaa!? He’s not even telling us to buy the product, just mentioning that he enjoys it sometimes! There’s a good article from Slate that discusses this phenomenon.

So did the agency meet their goal “to do more than just create awareness… by generating conversation among the target audience,” and “find a way to insert the brand into culture, to present Dos Equis in a way that would spark chatter and pique curiosity…”?

The short answer is, YES – by over a third in yearly total dollar sales! I’ve been telling all my friends, and now the world, how much I enjoy this campaign.

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