Power of Ketchup

2 12 2009

CALM Ketchup Packet

now THAT is an image (click for larger pic)

created by Publicis Mojo for the CALM: New Zealand Campaign Against Landmines, this is exactly the type of creative – and creative product experience – that makes you sit up and take notice.  This is definitely a risky placement – how many people really want to think about blood while eating ketchup? – but it’s exactly that type of risk that makes it memorable.

Listen everyone knows that these landmines can be absolutely devastating.  Those of us who don’t live in these areas are so lucky to not have to worry about this during our daily business.  But what more powerful and timely message about this subject could we have, then when we are safely chowing on some fries at a local fast food joint?  Here I am worrying about if they remembered to remove the onions from my burger, and this comes and smacks me on the forehead.  It’s disruptive – but in a good way.

first seen over at Eric Barker’s blog, but coverage also at wrongingrights


Practice Makes a Perfect 30 Seconds

25 11 2009

Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, posted the latest ad from Toyoya’s Hybrid Synergy Drive. While loyal reader’s will know I’m not a fan of automotive ads, this one is different for a few reasons:

First, there’s no car. Really, no one has designed a car that is different enough to require us seeing it again and again in a commercial (except maybe Tesla).

and Second, this ad took an incredible amount of work and practice. You can see this was all shot in one take, which means hours and hours of coordination, planning, and rehearsal. I doubt that is what’s happening in the “professional driver, closed course” ads.

Finally, this ad is a really good way to show off the hybrid concept. I mean everyone gets what a hybrid means, but it is still fun to see it in a real world application. Really well done, although I hope for their sake they don’t have to shoot a sequel!

Total Gibberish and the Geniuses that Use It

26 11 2007

street selling

There is a guy who sells food for a diner down the street from our offices. I say it in these vague terms because I have absolutely no idea what this guy is selling. I know he is out there, day and night, yelling about the special deals the shop has that day. But what he is yelling…it’s not words.

It’s not another language either. It’s total and complete gibberish, a la Don Vito of Viva la Bam fame, or recently that guy on (edit: Mr. Wise) I Love New York 2 who cannot speak english.

But yet somehow…it just works. People actually take samples off the platter he shoves in your face, samples which look a little bit like 2 week old bagel bites covered with cheese sauce. He hands flyers out by the dozen, while others struggle to get a few tourists to take their pieces of paper.

And he has become an icon around here. In doing a bit of research for this post, I asked around the office, and EVERYONE knew who I was talking about with little or no explanation. Try describing a popular ad placed in the middle of prime time television. Some people know it, but even fewer will know what product it is for. That placement cost millions. This guy, for minimum wage (probably) stands outside a small diner and yells words that are literally not understandable. And people love him.

Does it sell more food? I’m really not sure. But they have created a buzz-worthy character with little to no spending. They could have wasted all their money on a stupid billboard or an ad in the paper. Heck, they could have really beat their marketing campaign to death and posted ads inside the Subway.

But they didn’t, and it’s been a real success. To top it off, their ‘advertisement’ is totally interactive. Not sure he will answer my questions in a real language, but I’m willing to give it a try. That’s marketing genius, brought to you by your local hole in the wall.

image via Flickr member Goran Anicic

Maybe Mr. T is Pretty Handy With Computers

21 11 2007

This ad is fantastic. Like the kind that makes you want to go buy the product. The kind that makes you laugh until the guy two desks over asks you to stop. The kind that makes you wish the A-team would get back together for one more reunion special. The kind that makes you…I guess that’s enough.

For anyone who has ever gotten totally obsessed with any game like World of Warcraft, Mr. T portrays the feelings perfectly. And he has probably never played the game in his life. Or any video game, for that matter. I’m pretty sure if T really tried to play a video game, he would smash the controller, console, TV, coffee table, and walls if he got frustrated.

So either he has never played, he has played and is the best player ever, or he has Home Depot on speedial (to repair the holes in the walls, of course). I’m like a quarter of his size, and I’ve put some controller-sized holes in walls after a frustrating game of Madden.

Anyway, the spot is great, better even than the Toyota Tundra WoW spot. Please enjoy.

kudos to Kotaku for the heads up

More Than Popcorn

16 10 2007

movie pic

Brandweek just released in a report that in-theater advertising has experienced a 15% increase since 2005. I’ve never really thought much about in-theater advertising, but clearly it will increase in popularity and importance with film budgets ballooning and the threat of busts increasing.

The truth is, we have become pretty darn good at picking a flop when we see it. Sure, some well received movies still flop (see Shawshank Redemption and Grindhouse as my favorites) but we’re rarely fooled by junk such as The Heartbreak Kid (Ben Stiller seriously needs a new character type) and the biggest loser, The Adventures of Pluto Nash.

But another part of the problem is, we just aren’t as motivated to head out to the movies with the ticket prices still rising. I know if I’m borderline on a movie, or just don’t feel like making the time, I’ll wait for the DVD. And even then, if a friend says it sucked then I won’t even put in that much effort.

So the challenge then is to drive people to the theater. Make the experience memorable, and customers will go and line up during opening weekend. Give them an added on performance to go along with the movie, and maybe they will be happy to shell out the $30-$40 it can cost to have a date at the movies.

I’m not a marketing genius, but I do know that studios are shelling out millions to place their movies in every available media slot and open space outside of the theater. I literally just watched “The Comebacks” sponsor a spot in the intro to the ALCS game four. And I know Transformers was sponsoring NFL football this weekend (now where was the tie-in there?)

But then you arrive at the movie, and there is no special effort to connect. There is no reason to show up before the previews. If the only experience is the movie, then why NOT just wait for the DVD and watch it in your own home? Save some of the millions from stuffing your movie down our collective throats. With the power of the Internet, we’ve been reading about your movie for months. And even if we haven’t, the local paper and news reviews your movie before it opens.

iron man

I think some of the movies coming up have incredible potential. Slash Film, an awesome preview and review film blog, recently posted their 55 Must See Movies of 2008. Movies like Cloverfield, Be Kind Rewind, Jumper, and of course Iron Man look like sure-fire hits. Couple the movie with something unique, some free schwag, something that says, “we gave a damn that you specifically came to the movie.” I’m thinking a glossy book of pictures from shooting, or a comic that supports the storyline. The more interest the movie studio shows, the more we as viewers will return.

In the end, the movies can be a welcome escape for a lot of people. The movies captivate our attention in the way few other things do (sports and musical performances come to mind). But with the expansion of the home theater, it takes something extra to get us to choose the movies for our night out. But as the numbers show, in-theater advertising is a channel that has serious growth potential, both economically and creatively.

UPDATE: The Movie Blog author John has written an article on why commercials before movies are worse than piracy. Makes it even more important to have a relevant, creative, well connecting idea for marketing to filmgoers.

Rabbits are Awesome!

4 10 2007

Just saw the new Sony Bravia ad, it’s awesome. It’s had so much hype and build up, I can’t believe that it totally delivered. I really enjoyed it, I think you will too. The graphics and music are really fun and work together so well.

Great for Sony, I hope this results in a whole bunch of sales so we can see more ads like this!

Also, here’s the “making of” they did on this commercial – so inspiration for somebody like me (and you too):

Open Letter to Ad Execs, re: TV Sponsorships

2 10 2007


This is a bit of an ongoing series, as I try to understand the bone-headed moves some ad campaigns make. To read my first installment, on eBay’s “windorphins” and advertising on the NYC Subway, click here. Today, I’m going to tackle TV content sponsorships: where they are now, and where I think they should head in the future.“Studying Again” by Pan-ga on Flickr!

I was watching Top Chef the other day, one of my favorite shows on TV. For any of you who live under a rock, Top Chef runs on Bravo on Wednesday nights. The finale of Season 3 is this week. The series pits chefs against each other in a series of challenges to determine one “Top Chef”.

When the chefs arrived at their ‘quick fire’ challenge, they were greeted by not a chef, but a Bombay Saffire mixologist. What the heck? The challenge here was to create a dish to go with a mixed Bombay Saffire drink. There were huge Bombay logos everywhere in the kitchen, and the different flavors of Bombay were extensively covered during the challenge. It was then I realized…Top Chef has sold out.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the show, I still love the content. But this type of sponsorship is a slippery slope. When the sponsors, and not the producers, have the control of the challenges in the show, the show takes on a completely different (and commercial) tone. Judges lose their power as sponsors begin to chose who stays and who goes on the show. The entire premise of the show begins to fall apart as it sells it’s soul to commercial sponsorship.top chef logo

This is nothing new for Top Chef. They have been touting “the Glad family of products” and the “Kenmore Elite” kitchen the chefs work in since day 1 of the series. But this season they have turned a completely new corner. Failed TV chef Rocco Dispirito brought his new line of frozen meals to this season, with a spot during EVERY commercial break, and an episode where he acts as guest judge. I really enjoyed the “breakfast” challenge episode, except for how many times Padma referred to the Breville blenders the chefs were using.

This blatant, over-the-top type sponsorship is to me not only a growing problem, but a total waste of money. Oh, I believe in sponsorships, but it has to be done right. Did sponsoring ’24’ increase sales for Ford or Toyota? Not in a way that rationalizes all the money they spent on it. And it definitely wasn’t worth it for us 24 fans, who had to watch the Ford trucks logo pushed into our faces again and again.

Obviously this onslaught of branded entertainment is not worth it, nor is it going away. Instead, agencies have to find a way to support the content of the show, not alter or disrupt it. And just stop pushing it our faces already! Subtle sponsorship and support of content can go a long long way.

It seems to say somewhere in the “sponsorship handbook” that if you sponsor a program, you have to shove it down consumers throats or they will forget. It’s just not so.

The introduction of blog buzz has made that strategy obsolete. Instead, a subtle underlying sponsorship can reap you huge benefits as bloggers spread word about your supportive action and how it helped the event/content happen.

Take Top Chef for example. The sponsorships they have are relevant, they are just too blatant. If instead of mentioning Breville blenders a million times, let the consumer be the one to ask. Let them get on the blogs or forums and say, “man, I want one of those blenders! Where can I get one?” Let Tom Colicchio, a trusted source and head judge of Top Chef, provide an HONEST review of your knives, or blenders, or other products. Which you provided to the show, free of charge.

I know after every episode of the Sopranos or Entourage, I would go online to find out what music was playing in that episode. There are more consumer touch points to reach the target than just in the middle of the show itself. A smart sponsor will find where they can assist the participants or the viewers and position themselves there. Relevantly.

bravo TV online forumsWhatever you do, make the media where the sponsorship is inherently interactive. I mean make it on a blog, a forum, somewhere where the viewers can provide their honest feedback. Making the consumer seek it out, instead of shoving it in their face, makes them more likely to remember your brand and brand message.

I know, it’s harder and requires more thought than just throwing a bag of money at a show. This is supposed to be the challenge of our business. But don’t be afraid to try and be creative with your sponsorships, then let the show itself and the bloggers do the work. Watch your brand message spread quicker than any ad campaign could, and you are doing a good deed in the process!

Have other examples of good sponsorships? Feel free to comment below and tell us about them!

Flickr images provided by Pan-Ga’s Photos and FngKestrel. Thanks a lot!