Bits & Pieces?
Does something feel a little off or not quite right?
Maybe it’s time we looked at your brand. Bring your brand positioning statement and strategy statements along with some samples of work, and in one hour we’ll give you one humble and honest opinion. We’ll tell you if we think your brand positioning is in alignment with your work, and we might even brainstorm some new marketing ideas.
Send us your contact information, company name, and how we can help to email@example.com, and we’ll give you a call to see if we might be a good fit.
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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.
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?
Here I am, heading home from a pretty big still shoot for a national client—something I do often and something I still can’t believe I get paid to do—when I get an e-mail from Jen Kuhn, “Wanna do a TV spot?” it reads. “Sure,” I reply, “how do I do that? I’ve never done one.” That simple e-mail, coupled with my love for Jigsaw through a past project, was all it took.
So the journey begins. I had heard about TV shoots. And some big ones, with directors from @Radical Media, the company that represents me. Through that connection I had a lot of impressions of what I thought shooting TV would be like. This post is about my ideas on what I thought a TV shoot would be like and the reality of creating something wonderful out of almost nothing (a tiny budget). A trait I respect (not the budget part) from my friends at Jigsaw.
Day 1 - I think, “Shooting TV is going to be glamorous.”
My plane lands at Milwaukee International Airport on a cold November morning where I am expecting to be picked up by Kinkka, Steven Wold’s stunning, Icelandic personal assistant. Then we’d take the Jigsaw helicopter back to the agency for a pre-pro. Well, I guess expectations were high. It is actually Kip, a local PA who picks me up. We drive back to Jigsaw in his beat up Subaru. I am wondering if it has floor boards or not under the tattered floor mats. I start to get the picture, we must be putting all of our money into production, not pampering the director.
Day 2 - I think, “TV shoot days are long so I’ll be in my personal trailer quite a bit.”
For the first time in my career I am late for a crew call. I place the blame squarely on Jigsaw for booking us into a sketchy hotel and not giving me a personal assistant. But, instead of heading to my trailer for a latte, the next 14 hours pass by in a blur, because we don’t stop moving. In order to maximize the somewhat limited budget, the producer has scheduled almost everything today. So we arrive at a location, I take my camera out of the bag, and the producer tells me we have to move to the next location in 15 minutes. It being that this is my first commercial, I take it all in stride and pretend I know what I am doing. I don’t. But somehow, we get the shots. Including an awesome time-lapse of some high school students spelling the word “hope” out of luminaries set among the bleachers at their stadium. It is really, really cold outside, I am left wondering why anyone would want to live here now that Brett Favre is gone. Oh yeah, I never see anything resembling a trailer all day.
Day 3 – I think, “In TV they can “fix anything in post.”
Somewhat more manageable than day two, we only have to stuff a ten hour day into five hours. But we run into a little road-block. One of the shots is of a bicycle messenger with a tattoo of a wheel chair on his calf. Trevor, at the agency, has designed an awesome wheel chair logo which they have printed with an ink jet printer to make a temporary tattoo. At least that is the idea. But it’s not working, it’s backward. When I ask where the tattoo expert is, Steven points at Jen. When I ask where the art department is, Jen points at Steven. When I ask who the hell is responsible for this mess, they point at each other. When I ask, “Can we fix it in post,” they both say, “not on this budget.”
Day 4 – I think, “ TV Directors are respected and even feared.”
Hey, it’s my first spot, I am excited. And I went out and bought new toys just for this shoot. Like my new “Cineslider,” that allows me to shoot small dolly moves with pans. It’s kick-ass. But you know how you get that new sweater, or pair of shoes—and you want to wear them all the time? By Day Four I knew if I said, “bring me the slider,” one more time, I was going to have to be able to digest it, because one of these guys is surely going to shove it down my throat. So much for being respected and feared.
Day 5 – I think, “TV production is filled with experts for everything”
We’ve got some shots to pick up, so we drive to a park to scout a location. Not only do I not get a driver, but Jen’s driving now, because I was fearing for my life with Wold behind the wheel. We park and go find our spot. Coming back to the car we are surprised to find the driver’s door wide open. In a crowed parking lot. Jen says, “Hey, but it’s locked!” Now I start to wonder if I am safe with either one of them, driving or standing still. Later I get my confirmation when we come back to a parking structure and Steven can’t find the car keys. Ahhh… but the keys aren’t lost, he just left them in the car. This time it’s unlocked. With all my equipment. I don’t know if it is proof of their incompetency or proof that Milwaukee is an honest town. Well, one I know for sure.
Day 6 – I think, “Wow, that’s not the way I thought it was going to be.”
On the trip back home, I ponder about what I thought doing TV was going to be like and what it was actually like. My expectations were big and elaborate and I expected there was only one way to do it. But this was different. The production was small. The extravagance was replaced with passion. The pomp and circumstance was replaced with camaraderie. When I thought about it, I hadn’t just learned the way to do a TV spot. I once again experienced “The Jigsaw Way” where there isn’t one way to do something, where it isn’t the same way as everyone else’s way. For instance, who the heck would hire me to shoot a TV spot? Well, Jigsaw did. “The Jigsaw Way” is a pathway that twists and turns, and even doubles back on itself sometimes, but always takes you someplace wonderful and magical. And I can’t wait to go that way again.
Thank you Jen, Steven, Madonna, and everyone else for a great trip. Enjoy watching the spot as much as we enjoyed making it.
Michael Prince is a prominent photographer who has had solo exhibitions in Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. His work is in the Library of Congress, several museums and many private collections. In 2000 he began shooting commercially, quickly gaining a broad clientele. Although this is Michael’s first TV commercial, he has been experimenting with video for the past year. Michael currently lives near Boston with his wife and two children. For some strange reason he loves Jigsaw. We are not sure why.
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