Bits & Pieces?
1. CG and special effects have infiltrated advertising and it’s not a good thing. All the complaints about feature films apply now more than ever to the medium of the commercial — with companies falling into the big explosion / historical biopic / action sequence formula. In the end, story — along with poignancy — is lost. The Kia dream spot is the perfect example — lots of money, lots of effects and a resounding thud of stupidity. In this spot an alternate universe is depicted in which a guy, in a dreams, sees a group of women in bikinis and just drives by.
2. Unfortunately, the 80s are back. Ferris Bueller, The Cult, Echo and the Bunnymen, John Stamos … and I’m probably leaving a few others out. What’s next, a Howard the Duck remake?
3. Copywriting is still king. I know, I’m biased here. But among my peers the hands down best spot was the Chrysler Clint Eastwood spot. Why? It’s well written — in a way that makes you feel something — and the brilliantly-shot film doesn’t get in the way of the message — it enhances it. Nice job tying the timing of the spot — halftime — with the actual theme of the spot, too.
4. A C-RV is not a Ferrari. A lot of people really like Honda’s Ferris Bueller spot. And there are a lot of good things about the spot. But I can’t help but think of the huge risk Honda took by putting their car in a place that was once occupied by a vintage Ferrari. That was Bueller’s great appeal and the thing that created tension in the original movie. While the C-RV is a nice car, it is the symbol now of ho hum forty something adventure riding — an “adventure” that leads to carnivals and museums.
4. Sometimes the client wins. I liked the Chevy Silverado “2012″ spot until one of the guys asks “Where’s Dave?” and a guy answers, “Dave didn’t drive the longest-lasting, most dependable truck on the road.” It’s about as ham fisted as it gets. It FEELS like the client wrote it. I have to believe there isn’t a creative person anywhere that would suggest the line and I could picture them begging — “can’t it be type on the screen?” “I’ll compromise — how about an announcer read?” “Isn’t seeing the product drive out of an apocalypse-ridden city proof enough that it’s dependable?”
5. The truth always wins out. The new VW Beetle spot featuring a fitness-crazed dog paled in comparison to last year’s Darth Vader spot because it simply doesn’t ring as true. A kid in a Darth Vader costume is human and resonates on an emotional level. A dog that works out just to make a point has the “cute-dog factor” — but isn’t nearly as entertaining, or as endearing. Great looking car and on the bright side, they do a great job of keeping things simple. Which leads me to ….
6. It’s incredibly hard to keep it simple. But when you do, good things can happen. Take the Toyota Camry spot that stays on point with the “reinvent” theme. It’s a great spot because it uses a simple concept to get across not just an idea about the car but about their philosophy as a company — and it works. You’ve got to love a spot that ends with “you’re welcome.”
7. Whether you like it or not, Coke must be recognized for being the only company that has a strong “brand.” I’m not a big fan of the polar bears. But they’ve got a theme and they’re sticking with it. It makes Coke stand out and get a little more brand recognition than others. Can you tell the difference between a Hyundai spot and a Kia spot? Or a Best Buy spot and a Samsung spot?
8. When done well, a simple, tried-and-true testimonial still works. Take GE, which has its employees tell the story. Well shot and nicely executed, these spots aren’t groundbreaking by any means, but they do a great job in what by all accounts should be a tired formula by now. I think it speaks to authenticity when a company’s employees can tell the story — it feels more “real.”
9. And lastly, for us ad folks, the game feels like a mediocre commercial for the NFL. All the buildup, all the hype, all the chatter about the game — and when it’s over it was just that — a game. This year it wasn’t extraordinarily well played, and the miscues overshadowed the big plays. I guess that describes the state of the commercials too.
So what do you think? Did you have your favorites? Do you agree or disagree with me? Let’s hear it.
I love “not knowing.”
I love writing songs because generally I have no idea what that song is going to sound like when I’m done. I love taking little photo journeys, wondering what kind of shots I’m going to get. And in my job in advertising, I love the next creative opportunity and wondering how I, along with the team, are going to solve it. The “not knowing” is part of the thrill of the chase.
But if you’re creative, like me, you run into brick walls periodically. For me the brick wall is usually fortified with some kind of impenetrable force that stifles my enthusiasm, desire, and willingness to try harder.
As you grow as a creative person, the brick wall is perceived as a number of different things: the reason to quit your job, the reason you suck, the reason advertising may not be your calling, the reason to stop searching Some of these things may or may not be true. Generally, based on my experience, they’re not. (And really, we should never stop searching.)
But I have figured out the reason the brick wall exists. It exists because, generally speaking I “know too much.”
Let me explain.
As creative people, over time, we take on baggage. When you first start a creative endeavor, the only baggage you have is your own tendencies as a creative person, your past experience, and the things going on in your life. Your baggage, as far as your work is concerned, is relatively light. When a new client or opportunity comes along all things seem bright — you have a new challenge and you’re excited to see what your creative output is going to be.
Then, over time, baggage starts to build up. Client meetings. Rounds of work. More meetings. Dead concepts. Corporate machinations. A victory here and there. You begin to know the client, their taste, and their goals very well. You begin to see what the limits of your creativity can be within a certain context. It’s like going to the same location to shoot photography over and over again. Or writing songs with the same band for years — there is a good reason songwriters make solo albums.
When the definition of insanity starts to creep in — you know, the whole “doing the same thing over and over again” thing — you’re in real trouble. The wall begins to build.
This baggage corners your creative psyche inside your brain armed with a knife, threatening to stab and kill it.
So what do you do? Because knowing too much can kill the creative desire to discover, you need change. A new account. A new lens. A new photo location. A new musical instrument. Heck, move around your office to get a new perspective. Agencies can shift creative teams to new accounts. Change keeps things fresh and change brings new things to discover. It can also bring you back to where you were blocked with a whole new perspective too.
It’s good for agencies to recognize those who have hit a wall and help bring about the change the staff needs. What do you think? Are you driven by not knowing?
Marketing geniuses may have missed the Green Bay Packers announcement that they were going to begin selling shares of the team again to the public. It hasn’t happened since 1997, when they sold 120,000 shares, raising 24 million dollars which was used to cover stadium renovation costs.
For those that don’t follow the NFL, or those that live under a rock, the Packers are the NFL’s only publicly owned team. Fans own shares of the team.
The new shares of team stock, which went on sale December 6, are $250 dollars per share. In the first 11 minutes of the sale, 1600 orders were placed online. It stands to reason that people would want to own a part of the team they love so much. Who wouldn’t? Green Bay fans are some of the most dedicated fans in the world.
But there’s an interesting paragraph in an article on ABC news’ web site that actually digs into a deeper emotional connection between fan and team that most brands would salivate over. From the article:
“The sale marks the fifth time in the Packers’ 92-year history that the publicly-owned team has offered stock, though it’s really not an investment in the traditional sense. The value doesn’t increase, there are no dividends and it has virtually no resale value. But it does qualify the buy as team owner and conveys voting rights. It also qualifies the holder to attend the annual stockholder meeting at Lambeau each summer before training camp begins. They also get access to a special line of shareholder apparel.”
So, in other words, fans of the team are so dedicated and committed that they are willing to drop 250 bucks on a share of stock that gives you absolutely zero ownership in anything. It’s just a piece of paper that allows you to attend a shareholders meeting. That’s it.
How many brands would love to be in a position to offer their brand evangelists such a thing? The idea of fandom has an air of irrationality about it, but the idea that the Packers can sell pieces of paper to their fans for 250 dollars a pop is the mark of a brand that has a following that goes beyond the loyal to the absolute cultish. It’s what every brand aspires to be, yet so few actually get there. The sale of Packers stock marks the sale of something in which the benefits are 100% emotional and 0% rational. In tough economic times, it’s incredible that people can justify such a purchase. But if you have a brand like the Packers, you can pretty much get fans to do whatever you want.
What do you think? Would you spend 250 dollars on something you really wanted, from a brand you really liked, even though it gave you virtually nothing in return?
I have to admit I was pretty excited when I heard the Fiat was coming to America. It put my “Italian-ness” in full gear (no pun intended). I couldn’t wait to see what the car looked like and, knowing that possibly within the year I would be in the market for a car, I put the Fiat at the top of my list, even sight unseen.
When I saw the car I liked it, even tough maybe it was a little tiny for my taste – but still kept it in my consideration set. There’s an inner battle that goes on when it comes to making a decision to buy a car. First, there are the real world concerns of space and gas mileage and options that you want the car you drive to have. Secondly (and maybe I’m a little shallow, but whatever) I want the car I drive to have an image that is in line with my personality. In other words, for me, the advertising matters.
VW does a great job of portraying the image and features I am interested in. So does Honda. Then I saw the Fiat commercial, and frankly I hardly noticed the car in it at all. Instead all I could see was Jennifer Lopez.
It takes everything in me to not put a question mark at the end of her name.
As celebrity endorsements go, this one is a real head scratcher. Her appearance immediately turned me off to the car, and apparently I’m not alone.
Recent reports say the 2011 sales goal of 50,000 units is way off, having only sold 16,000. Workers at the plant have been laid off because demand isn’t there. And now the commercial featuring Jennifer Lopez is under fire because it celebrates her getting back to her “roots” — implying that the streets in the commercial are that of the Bronx. But no, they were filmed in LA.
There has now been a shakeup within the top marketing brass for Fiat as well.
In the old days they used to say Fiat stood for “Fix it again, Tony,” and I can see why the car would want to steer clear of that baggage. But then again to completely ignore the Italian heritage of the car and the “cool” factor behind Fiat really stumps me. When they introduced the new VW Beetle, one of the charms of the campaign was it’s subtle nods to the car’s storied past. But the marketers behind Fiat have denied the car of it’s truly authentic self and are paying the price. Call me crazy but this Italian car has to be injected with a little bit of Italian-ness.
What do you think? Is J-Lo right for Fiat? Or is she turning you off to a car that identifies itself with a judge on American Idol?
I recently saw this posted on Facebook and it made me smile. In what’s being called “Christmas Creep,” the marketing universe is trying to push the boundaries of exactly when the Christmas season begins. Retailers keep stretching the calendar. But everywhere you go, you hear people complain and voice their disgust at the presence of Christmas trees and holiday lights around Halloween. It surely disgusts me.
But Nordstrom gets it. And in one genius move, their corporate culture embraced the idea of making Christmastime Christmastime again. What’s even better, they probably threw together these posters, simply laid them out on 8.5 by 11 paper and made copies for their stores. They understand their customer and had to know that their policy would be met with a round of applause.
It’s one amazing example of how a retailer can win customers, not just with low prices, but by echoing their sentiments, and aligning with their customer in a more profound emotional way.
I’d love to know what you think. Is “Christmas Creep” getting out of hand? Or is Nordstrom’s taking too big a risk with this?
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