Category Archives: Advertising

The Championship Ads of the Super Bowl

My pal Robby invited me to a super bowl party that his friend was having. “There’s going to be really good food there,” he said, “and lighting.” He had me at “good food,” but the lighting sealed the deal. Good lighting is how ladies of a certain age ensure looking like ladies of a certain younger age. And yes, I’m referring to ladies in their 30s looking like ladies in their 20s.

The food was indeed good. In fact it was great. I spent so much time around the buffet table (and bar, I confess) that the only thing I saw of the Super Bowl was the halftime show, or as we all called it “WTF was that?” Yeah, we’re not Black Eyed Peas fans.

At some point during the game, someone said, “Hey, you’re in marketing, probably all you care about in the game are the ads.” At which point I said, “Oh @#$* I forgot the ads!” Yes. I forgot about the ads. Good food (and wine) can do that to me.

So when I came home I spent a couple of hours looking at the Super Bowl ads online. Most people at the party, those who actually watched the game, my boyfriend included, liked the Go Daddy ad the best. I thought it was cute. Funny Super Bowl ads are a staple of the big game. The ones that stand out in my mind, though, are the miniature movies that are anthemic in scope. The first one that comes to mind is Apple’s famous and futuristic Super Bowl ad “1984.”

So for me, as I watched the commercials, the one that made the hair prickle on my arm and will be engrained in my mind a decade or two from now is . . . the Eminem commercial for Chrysler. Beleaguered and battered Detroit is the star, and 40 seconds in, we see the car–with Eminem behind the wheel. He drives up to what looks like a grand old palace, and walks inside. We see a choir on stage. He turns to face the camera, and with his iconic angry glare points at us and says, “This is the Motor City. This is what we do.” Now all of a sudden I love Detroit, and suddenly think of Chrysler as cool. That’s a great commercial.

A few other commercials stand out for me, too. From a copywriter’s perspective, I love the Mini Cooper “Cram it in the boot.” It really struck a chord with its double entendres and over the top gleeful writing. It left me wondering how this slipped by the sensors, but I admired the clever way they took a potential concern for the small but fierce car–space–and demonstrated in a very engaging and effective way that you can just cram it in the boot.

Then there was Bridgestone’s “Reply All” ad. This commercial works because it’s a fear we all have: writing an inappropriate response and accidentally hitting the Reply All button. The creators very cleverly managed to connect with us, in a harmless and humorous way, by our fear. If Bridgestone tires could let me tear around time snatching up computers of people I accidentally sent an email, too, then where’s my local Bridgestone retailer?

The Audi-“Release the Hounds” ad is another favorite. The satire of rich white guys was hysterical–especially that they like Kenny G. I had never really thought about it before, but I have met one or two insanely rich, old white guys who, oddly, did like Kenny G. Talk about truth in advertising. I also liked the implication. Mercedes is old-school luxury; Audi is luxury’s new face. Again, I think there is some truth in advertising there. I’ve noticed that more of my wealthy younger friends are buying Audi–not BMW, not Mercedes. Part of this could be design: Audi is doing a great job. I don’t have stats to prove it (but will look for them) but I’m guessing Audi’s research knew this ad would resonate with their base.

Next up, who let the dogs out? No seriously. For every car and potato chip ad, there was a dog. I predict that by 2020 all Super Bowl ads will star only canines, no humans. My pick of the pack was probably your favorite–it seemed to be everyone’s: Doritos–Pug Attack. A pug one-ups a smart ass. What’s not to love? Well . . . what does it really say about the brand? Not much. Audi said something about their brand, Mini addressed an issue, Bridgestone found common ground and Chrysler made us feel good about not just a company, but an industry–and a city. Doritos just made us root for a pug. That’s okay. It’s a fun ad, and it gets credit for that.

Of course, the VW Passat ad is getting a ton of buzz. Yes, it went for the “human story” angle, but, sorry, I just didn’t love it. It was too safe for my taste. The only “great” moment was the father’s very subtle and well-timed eyebrow raise. I preferred their Beetle ad–we never even saw the car, but the bug, symbolic of the newly designed 2012 Beetle, took us on its own wild, energizing ride and the tease at the end was just the perfect snippet to create anticipation of the new design.

If you want to watch all the Super Bowl ads, you can do it here. Which is your favorite?

“Pretty Hurts” Christmas Card

Ten years ago, I used to get cards in the mail. Now, I get very clever video and flash holiday cards in my inbox. Rand Rusher sent me this video card and I just had to share. When you click on the photo in the card, it takes you to a video. Rand, who makes the women of Beverly Hills look fresh and youthful, will be starring in a reality show called “Pretty Hurts.” This clever video playfully makes fun of, well, botox, while promoting the show. Congrats to Rand. I guess this means his rates are going to skyrocket now, ladies.

Jerry vs Meg: who has the better ads?

I don’t normally like to talk politics on this blog–it’s mostly marketing here. But like any other Californian, I’ve been watching the ads in the gubernatorial race, and I have an opinion. I’m a bit jaded, though. Political races are marketing in motion. It may have not always been that way, but I can’t think of any races in recent history where this wasn’t the case. It’s usually bad marketing, too. The ads in the California race are a great case study.

So who gets my vote in the ad race? Jerry Brown’s team does. It’s not so much what his team has done right with the ads, but very often what Meg’s team has done wrong. I’m really surprised, and honestly, disappointed. I think Republicans are usually the better marketers–Karl Rove is proof of that (at least he was in the 2000 election). When they make a misstep, though, they go all out. Meg has gone all out.

In this ad, “A Lifetime in Politics, A Legacy in Failure,” the argument is made that Jerry is a career politician and has failed miserably at it. This could have been a persuasive ad if it weren’t for the fact that when I watch it, I’m immediately taken in by the music playing over images of a very young and good-looking Jerry Brown. The music is great, it’s appealing, so I’m listening to it, enjoying it and not really paying attention to the words, but, I tell you what else I’m doing: I’m watching those images of a young Brown, looking all hip and happening and I’m remembering how cool California once was, especially when Jerry was in office. Powerful images, powerful music–so powerful that I’m not noticing what the announcer is saying. I’m stunned by this misstep–it violates some very basic rules of advertising. Don’t overpower your message with all your other elements.

Jerry counters Meg’s ad by turning her own words against her in this ad “Thirty years ago, when I came to this state, anything was possible.” A title card comes up: “Who was governor thirty years ago?” Yeah. Jerry was. Ouch. Again, what was Whitman and her team thinking? This is a huge oversight.

Her ” Job Killer” ad misses the mark, too. There are a few of these ads featuring a woman’s voice. The narrator tells us about Brown’s failures. She never uses the term “Job Killer.” In this ad, we hear a man’s voice describing Jerry’s failed tactics, and ending with the phrase, “Job killer.” Catch phrases are important, but this one panders to the lowest common-demoninator in way that strikes me as an obvious intention. Also, “job killer” sounds downright comical. I can almost hear it in an SNL skit. The narrator fails, too, with his tone. I can’t take the seriousness of the message serious. The voice alternates between smug and “faux-spooky.” It’s another interesting case study in aligning all the elements in your ad, balancing them, and keeping everything in check. You’ve got an out-of-whack ad here.

I do want to give Meg kudos on this ad. She’s talking about what she plans to do, she is appealing on emotions (though some might say she’s playing on emotions and trying to do scare tactics, but I don’t agree). I wish she had stayed on track and on-message throughout the campaign. I think she may be coming back around to this, but let’s see what’s unleashed from her arsenal in the last few days.

Meg has gotten a lot of flak in this week for not agreeing to take down her negative ads. Brown said he would if she would–he’s ahead in polls; this is a generosity he can afford. I frankly think her refusal is overblown. She is in for the fight of her life and she needs to do what she needs to do to win—but she needs to do it right. That’s why her ads are so crucial. For all the people who do not go out and see the candidates stumping, this is their primary exposure to them.

Jerry Brown did a few ads really well. Notably, message boards and social networks are buzzing over the one comparing Meg and Arnold> The very first time I saw this ad, I thought, “Yep, he just won the race.” I would have to put that one, and the one above with Meg saying “That’s why I came to California thirty years ago,” as the most powerful and effective ones of his ads.

The polls are theoretically tight enough that Meg may pull away, but as of this moment, it’s looking like Brown leads the way. California has problems. We are ahead of most states in unemployment, then there is the budget and debt issues. Most people in the state are anxious to see what happens with Proposition 19, and most people I have spoken to do not think either candidate is going to make a difference. Nearly every Democrat I know wanted Gavin Newsom to be the candidate, not Jerry Brown. I’m just a marketer who loves good marketing. What do I know about politics? I leave it alone, until I start seeing some bad marketing come my way then I speak up. I consider it my duty as a law-abiding marketer, um citizen.

The DMACS 2010–Honoring the Best in Digital Media

I’m really proud, honored, thrilled and slightly overwhelmed that I get to be part of a burgeoning event in the Los Angeles Digital Media Advertising scene, the DMACS–Digital Media Advertising Creative Showcase. The fifth annual DMACS Awards ceremony is tonight, and here’s a look at the nominees, all who come from top talent at the leading studios and digital media agencies. It’s the best-of-the best in entertainment marketing that uses rich media to promote movies, TV, games, home entertainment and You Tube creative. To view highlights from the nominees presentations, visit the DMACS YouTube page.

The ceremony is going to have some big names in digital media and entertainment on-hand, like comedian Adam Carolla, who is a pioneer in podcasting and has a healthy Twitter following, the producers from Castle, and other top executives at Google/Double Click (the sponsors), Disney, Electronics Arts, Lionsgate, Fox, and so many more.

It’s a thrill to see what is going on in the emerging world of digital media advertising, and how these cutting edge creative talents are using leading-edge technology, melding art and science and coming up with some pretty awesome rich media.

I’ll report more on this after the awards, but if you are on Twitter, you can follow the DMACS tonight @DMACSAwards and look for #DMACS2010. Good luck to all the amazing nominees.

Presenters Announced for 5th Annual DMACS: Adam Carolla, Andrew Marlowe & Terri Miller, Janina Gavankar Among Presenters

The DMACS Awards announced the presenters for the fifth annual Digital Media Advertising Creative Showcase (DMACS) Awards Ceremony, which will take place Thursday October 14th at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles. The DMACS recognize the best digital marketing creative for entertainment titles and interactive games released between September 15, 2009, and September 13, 2010. Marketing campaigns from six different entertainment release categories compete for Awards. Guest presenters at DMACS 2010 are:

Multichannel Cross-Media Campaign: Adam Carolla (Podcast Pioneer/Radio Host/Comedian)

Television Rich Media Campaign: Andrew Marlowe (Creator/Executive Producer ABC’s Castle) and Terri Edda Miller (Producer ABC’s Castle)

Video Game Rich Media Campaign: Janina Gavankar (Actress The Gates, The L Word, The League, MsDewey.com and avid gamer)

Home Entertainment Rich Media Campaign: Gordon Ho (Business Development Consultant for iTV and Digital Media, former EVP of Global Marketing at Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment)

YouTube Creative Award: Jamie Byrne (Head of Marketing Programs, YouTube)

The complete list of nominees can be found on the official DMACSAwards.com website. Winners will be announced live at the awards ceremony. The evening will kick off with a panel of digital experts discussing “TV Goes Tech: iTV, 3D & apps” hosted by Kevin Winston of DigitalLA. Advanced copies of Adam Carolla’s book, “In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks,” (releasing Nov. 2) will be available for guests.

The event will be attended by 150 leading entertainment marketing decision-makers, digital design creative teams and rich media technology experts. In addition to honoring the most cutting-edge talent in interactive digital advertising, the showcase will explore leading trends in digital marketing. The event is sponsored by Google/DoubleClick and is presented by Susan Lambert & 134 West.

About the DMACS: The Digital Media Advertising Creative Showcase is dedicated to recognizing the best in digital and rich media marketing for the entertainment industry. Founded in 2006, the DMACS Awards was the first event dedicated to the best creative in interactive advertising for movies. The DMACS Awards has since expanded to recognize cutting edge creative efforts in digital advertising around multiple categories, including movies, TV and video games.

For further information: DMACSAwards.com. For a DMACS Awards invitation: info@dmacsawards.com

Mad Men’s Old School vs. New School Power Scene

I’ve been thinking all week about a scene in Mad Men’s last episode: at the end, hip-chick copywriter Peggy goes out into the lobby to meet her hipster pals who have come to take her to lunch. Peter, Roger, Don et al are in the lobby, ready to wheel and deal with some clients from Vicks. The hipsters are just outside the glass lobby wall; the old school is inside. I reserve the phrase “breathtaking” for Bruce Springsteen concerts, but this was a breathtaking moment in TV. It was Show, Don’t Tell at its finest. The hipsters, or the new school (for that time) were at the gates, and they were on the brink of invading, as the old school, as they are apt to do, didn’t notice.

It reminds me of an elderly executive I worked with a few years ago, who told me that Web 2.0 was over-rated, and that social media would be a passing fad. He was laid off about a two years ago, and has been unable to find a job since. His skills are of the Mad Men variety, and no doubt, in his hey day, he was a bright shining star. Unfortunately, he didn’t grow and adapt his skills to the market, and worse, he was obstinate about any new marketing change, preferring instead, to strictly adhering to the basic 4Ps of marketing–which have grown to 7ps to include People, Process and Physical Evidence.

People refers to, in a vague way, the social networks. Marketing used to be about you and your customer, but now it’s about you, your employees, the media, the customers–and a whole myriad of people. The opportunity is that you have forums to provide rich messages that delivers more value to your customers.

Process is really all about relationship building. It’s the added value–the experience. Think about your day spa. They probably offer you cool water with lemon slices or mint in a beautiful glass. Somehow the water at my spa is just better than when I try to do the same cocktail at home. When I make an appointment at the spa, I look forward to going, for little reasons just like that. It’s part of the process.

Physical Evidence refers to what a customer sees and knows about your brand before they are ever a customer. I have never owned a Rolls Royce. I’d like to own one, because it’s a big, lumbering, fancy car with nice-smelling leather. Call that my physical evidence of the brand. If I go to a Rolls Royce dealer with a wad of cash to buy the car, they will treat me like I’m the Queen of England. That will be my new physical Evidence of the brand.

Like any respectable Mad Men crazed fan, I love Don Draper. It’s interesting to see the barbarians approaching the gate, though, and the ways they are going to rock his world. I think often about the senior executive I once knew, and how I’d like to connect with him and talk about the show, to see what he thinks. Hmmm, if only he were on Facebook or Twitter. . .

Politically Incorrect Friday

If you are missing “Mad Men,” or feeling nostalgic for the ads of yesteryear when doctors promoted smoking, then check out this retrospective from the Las Vegas Sun of politically incorrect ads. My friends at The Firm, Public Relations and Marketing in Las Vegas posted it today and I had to share. I’ve seen the one with the cigarette-smoking doctor many times, but the husband spanking his wife is a new one for me, as is the one that asks, “Is it ever legal to kill women?”

All the sexism and soda-guzzling babies (you’ll like that one when you see it) comes across as simultaneously malicious and artificially innocent, like Roger Sterling hitting on the secretary pool.

40 Great Conceptual Print Ads

I just saw this from graphic design blog and had to share. These are truly stunning ads and so clever that my creative juices have turned green with envy that I didn’t come up with some of these ideas first (as usual). Click on each photo and you’ll see the ad agency and other relative info about the different concepts. I love the straw coming out of the cup idea, but am quite disturbed by the final ad. As my teenage neighbor would say, “OMG, WTF?”

Mad Men Barbies

Christmas is a long way away, but here’s a gift idea for next season for your favorite Ad Man or Woman: Mad Men Barbies. Joan looks a bit too skinny, and Don looks like he just saw the ghost of an ex-mistress. It’s a great idea, and yes, it is from Mattel.

The Super Bowl Goes Epic

According to Ad Week today, Electronic Arts, which has been promoting the upcoming videogame release Dante’s Inferno, with a campaign telling gamers to “Go to hell.” However, this will change on Super Bowl Sunday during the EA Commercial: it will instead inform viewers that “Hell awaits.”

The company had to tone-down the tagline so that CBS would green light it. The network felt the “Go to hell” tag was too controversial for the broadcast.

Dante’s Inferno is due to hit stores two days after the Feb. 7 Super Bowl.

According to the Ad Week article, Consumer research showed that people have heard of the 13th-century poem, “Dante’s Inferno,” but don’t know the story line. Therefore, EA and the agency (Wieden + Kennedy) decided to focus the advertising on the game’s setting. The action-adventure title casts each player as an armor-clad Dante, encountering the nine circles of hell to save the soul of his murdered love.

The clever campaign even featured an EA-orchestrated fake religious protest outside E3 Expo last year. In November, EA launched a “Go to hell” Facebook app that allows users to send people to one of the nine circles of hell. It’s like Farmville for the literary set.

Some critics have pointed out that “Hell Awaits,” is actually more scary-sounding than “Go to Hell,” which sounds more rude than anything (what’s next, “kiss my ass”?) but pretty much all pundits agree that the PR momentum EA is getting out of this is flying as fast as, well, a bat out of hell.