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


OMG U R So Watching the Same Movie as Me

4 12 2007

communal tv watching

“if you pause this again I am gonna kill you!”

There is an article on Tech Consumer today that describes a new HD DVD feature for the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix home release. It’s called “community screening,” and according to the article it will utilize the Ethernet connection built into each HD DVD player.

Here is how “community screening” technology works. The host invites others to watch the movie, and then can simultaneously watch while, “chatting live with your friends while you watch.” Only the host can control the viewing of the movie (play, pause, etc).

I am beyond perplexed about the attractiveness of this feature. It just doesn’t seem completely thought out.

From the official release site:

“Invite other owners of the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix HD DVD to simultaneously watch from their own internet-accessed players and text with your remote, PC or cellphone.”

Just a quick note to the movie studio….communication has been available through your PC and cellphone before this feature became available. So you have added texting through remote, which I see absolutely no one taking advantage of.

space jam pic

Maybe I’m out of touch with the youth market, but I just can’t see this catching on. I can’t think of a time I have ever wanted to watch a DVD simultaneously with someone else who wasn’t in the room with me. Except, of course, when Space Jam comes on TBS and I call all my friends so we can watch it together.

If I’m marketing this, here is where I’m selling this feature: constantly traveling or divorced parents. You would call your son or daughter up, and you could watch a movie ‘together’, even if you are apart. Or maybe job training or education DVDs, where you could coordinate a class and then the instructor ‘hosts’ a simultaneous viewing. But that would necessitate lots of people owning HD DVD players, and that just isn’t happening – yet.

So this feature may just be ahead of it’s time. But I hope executives aren’t pushing this as a feature that will put HD over the top of Blu-Ray. If so, they could be in for a looong holiday season.

Andre Still Has a Posse

28 11 2007

Obey Image

Today I took the brand new Karmaloop TV service from Karmaloop for a spin today, and it definitely has a lot of promise. I always dig an ‘insider’ look at an underground-type of industry. My favorite segment so far is an interview with Shepard Fairey, artist and founder of Obey. It was a Fairey experiment that produced the famous image above, which you probably recognize if you were skating in the mid-90’s.

Before I get to the content of the interview though, let me just say that Karmaloop CEO Greg Selkoe clearly should not be interviewing people. He is eating the microphone, his questions are pretty dumb, and he introduces himself with aliases? Who does that besides Sal Masekela and Sway? It detracts from the person you are trying to interview and just doesn’t look very professional. I admire him because he has been pretty successful, but leave the interviewing to someone else!

Once Shepard Fairey took over the interview, it became very insightful. He spoke on his humble roots and how the whole ‘Andre the Giant has a posse’ meme came about. Fairey really goes global when commenting on his reaction to the growth of the ‘Andre’ image:

“…it really opened my mind to the ideas of an image in public sparking a reaction that is something that is outside of advertising and the usual signage that you see that raises people’s awareness about what’s going on around them.”

I had just read something about influential street artist Banksy and his exhibit here in New York. Fairey’s comments got my mind rolling on the whole awareness idea. In advertising, we really inundate the public with ‘awareness’ campaigns that are trashed and forgotten almost immediately. Today one of my clients sent out almost two million direct mailings to consumers. They are hoping 95-98% of recipients don’t trash the piece immediately.

Comparatively, Fairey’s Andre image was first published on a sticker in 1989, and almost twenty years later his art has grown into not only a full business, but has influenced many people to look at the world in a different way.

All we have to do is take some time and create real creative work for our clients. More than just words on a page describing policies and legal. Make them feel something as well. This can be accomplished just as thoroughly with art as a traditional print or TV campaign. But make it something rare – make it something your target will seek out and obtain, rather than have it stuffed into their mailbox. Only then can we create influential works to last over time.

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.

What’s ‘All-New’ Mean Anyway?

14 10 2007

all new

I was watching the Eagles-Jets today and those annoying ads for Cadillac came on. You know which ones I’m talking about – the tag is “when you turn on your car, does it return the favor?” I’m sure running those ads during every single break in the action will increase sales exponentially. But I digress.

When the commercial break was over, the announcer ran through the list of sponsors, including Cadillac, who “invites you to drive the all-new 2008 STS.” And for some reason this really struck me for the first time.

How many times do you hear the term “all-new” just stuck onto a product, as if it is completely different? I would be willing to bet the 2008 Cadillac STS looks pretty remarkably like the 2007 version, and also looks a bit like most other Cadillacs. It’s a car, after all.

There is no need to try and blow people away with every new model – we’ve come accustomed to the fact that in 2008 there will be a new model of car from every car company. Just introduce the car, give us the reasons why we should want to purchase it over the next car, and then move on. No need to beat us over the head with it, or try to pretend like you reinvented the car for this model.

And that is happening everywhere, in all kinds of different markets. We look at simple tags and feel like there must be one more word, one more adjective we can fit in there. ‘All-New’, ‘totally redesigned’, ‘first of it’s kind’, ‘revolutionary’. Most of these words are stuck where they just don’t fit at all, like for a Cadillac. And I think as reader’s and listener’s we have come to tune them out completely.

And if they are being tuned out, then they aren’t being effective as marketing messages.

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: windorphins

12 09 2007

This is a post that most surely will be edited, revised, re-written, added on to, addendum-ed, fixed, etc. in the months to come. Basically, this was the catch-all title for my rants on different topics. Today’s topic (well, I’ve been thinking about it for the last few days) is advertising on the MTA, or the New York City Subway.

So let’s begin with what I, and no doubt everyone around me on the subway, hate. WHY oh why is every inch of most trains covered in the exact same ad? Just yesterday I rode on the Justin Timberlake train, followed by the Budweiser train, and then finally the hated Windorphins train.

windorph_subway.jpgSeriously, I hate these Windorphins. No idea what they are, and don’t want to know (although if you do, fellow blogger Syposphere did some research). I just want them gone.

I would probably be hooked, or interested, if the ad wasn’t played to death all over the train. Maybe one ad on the train, maybe two to be sure and cover most of the car. But every single panel? What is the advantage of that? Haven’t any of you ever ridden on the train for more than 5 minutes? You do a lot of looking around, and not just at the people (that gets creepy fast) you really DO look at the ad panels. So change it up a bit (and not just the already annoying copy).

But note what I said there – I DO look at the ads. I do notice them. So the Subway is a good place for ads – no, its a great place for ads. There I am, stuck in a train, listening to some music and just looking around for a good 30 minutes. I am ready to be inundated with advertising messages. But for the love of Mike Staub can you make them interesting? (or at least humorous, as this was)

It’s incredible (but not necessarily surprising) to me when a singular individual, with a tiny tiny ad budget, does better advertising than most professionals in the subway. A few days ago someone had posted their rap group’s flyer over the Justin Timberlake ads. All the flyer included was the name of the group, a website, and then the copy: “(famous rapper) would approve!”

That was it. Was it great advertising? No. Do I remember the group name or the website. No. But someone probably did, and it cost them nothing to make a few hundred paper copies of their flyer. I wish I had taken a picture to provide.

So what can a company do to make an impact in the MTA. Well, a long long while ago I covered a great example of just that (read that post here). The short answer is, make the experience memorable, make it innovative, or give the commuters something to smile about and take with them the rest of their day. ANY of those would work, and a combination just makes it better. And none of those are particularly hard with some thinking.

So don’t just take the JT ad from the magazine, stretch it to fit the subway panel, then send it out. Nope, that sucks.

Instead, create a new concept for this media, base it on the same big idea and appearance, and send it out.ds-subway.jpg Or, if you are going to completely inundate subway riders with your ad content, make it interactive. I was riding yesterday and thinking…what if Allstate replaced subway seats with giant hands…”you’re in good hands…” Run that for a month on a few select train cars, get people laughing, giggling, taking and sending their friends pictures. Then, when the event is over, put brand new benches in the hands’ place. This provides a lasting benefit for the riders – and believe me they won’t quickly forget that.

And yeah, you are going to weird some people out. You might annoy some. But as long as your advertising isn’t inherently annoying like the windorphins, you are good in my book.

Or how about a ski mountain ad running above the swinging hand holds over the seats? Unlucky people who are stuck holding them will appear to be taking a ride up to the top of a mountain. Have I designed it? No, but someone can. Replace the handles with ski grips and you are good to go. A water skiing school or wakeboard gear shop could benefit from this idea as well.

As an industry, we should be working towards making people’s days happier, more enjoyable. Call it a rosy view, but if we all had that as one of our goals, I believe we would be more successful.

I guess the best place to start is getting rid of those damn windorphins.

More links to come over at the scary basement.