Sunday, July 12, 2009

10 Most Ironic Ads of All-Time

I know, it's been a while. Sorry, I've been busy feeding my other blog on social media marketing. But this post by the Consumerist is too funny not to share.

Called the "Top 10 Ironic Ads of All Time," it's a great look at Cellophane wrapped babies, the 1960s Corvair, and ads made ironic by later devastation.Check it out. It's worth a quick look.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

2 very clever supermarket ad campaigns

In-store advertising is particularly popular in an era of DVRs. After all, what better time to reach someone than during the buying process?

Here are two examples of very creative advertising campaigns done in supermarkets. One is for feeding the hungry, the other for Western Union.

Now, how are you NOT going to donate a can of beans or two after you see those images?

I'm not sure who wires money anymore... perhaps this is still the popular way to transfer funds in developing nations. But it's a very effective ad positioning for those folks nevertheless.

Hat tip to Dark Roasted Blend, and Catherine S., for the head's up on these ads.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Secret's Out, I'm Running for President

I guess my earlier blog post about the nation owning $9.5 trillion inspired some people, but I never expected a groundswell for my candidacy for president. I mean, really, thank you, but this is a little out of control, particularly the billboards.

It's not that I don't think that a moderate candidate is just what this country needs, but even with all this chatter, it's going to be tough to break through into the mainstream. I suppose we can keep trying, but anyway, watch the video below.

What's really behind it is evident at the end of the video. It's exceedingly clever, but will it accomplish the business objectives of the sponsor? Not so sure about that, but I'm pretty sure you're thinking about making your own right now.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Is Anyone Else Concerned About Owing $9.5 Trillion?

I don't usually write about client stuff, but I must admit that I'm a little miffed. I'm not sure how we've let this happen, but the U.S. government now owes a LOT of money. About $9.5 trillion dollars. And there are TENS of trillions more that we owe people in promised Medicare, Social Security, etc.

There's a new movie coming out on Thursday, called I.O.U.S.A. It's a documentary, being compared to SuperSize Me for the financial world. Here's the trailer.

I'll keep it short, but it doesn't matter if you're a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green Party, Apathy Party, Ignorance Party, whatever. At some point, we've got to pay this money back, and we've got to stop spending money we don't have.

This Thursday, August 21, in theatres nationwide, I.O.U.S.A is going to be shown, followed by (and this is pretty cool), a live panel, featuring Warren Buffett (the world's richest man), Pete Peterson (chairman of the Blackstone Group) and Dave Walker (who resigned as U.S. Comptroller General because of the debt).

Yes, the people putting on this show are an Ignite Social Media client, but what really matters in this case is that people stop asking candidates to spend more, and start asking candidates to figure out how to stop spending money we don't have. Ok, I'm going to get off my soapbox now, but I'm genuinely concerned about this and hope that after this movie, others will be too. (If you are, you can grab the trailer, podcasts or badges on the I.O.U.S.A MySpace page.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Spot Runner: Now it's likely the investors who are running

UPDATE: I just hung up the phone with Rosabel Tao, who contacted me after she read this post. She's the VP of Corporate Communications with Spot Runner and wanted to let me know that the ValleyWag posting is largely inaccurate.

According to Rosabel, the company actually laid off 50 people, not 100. They are still committed 100% to the local market that they were built to serve, but as they are getting into other platforms, they found they needed people with different types of skills.

I have no way of knowing the whole story clearly, but I was impressed that Rosabel found this post and reached out, so I wanted to get her side of the story included. I'm sure there's more to come...


I have to admit. I thought SpotRunner was on to something. Offer small biz easy access to decent looking TV spots. Most local TV advertising is fairly affordable (you can buy a 30 second spot on Judge Judy in Raleigh for around $100), but getting decent creative is expensive. (The average 30-second spot in the U.S. cost $303,000 to make...)

Here's their CEO explaining how it should work.

SpotRunner has raised $111 MILLION to get rolling.

But now ValleyWag is reporting that SpotRunner is laying off 100 employees. Not just because business is slow (not sure if it is), but apparently because they are going to try to compete in a new space, involving search engine marketing.

I thought this was going to be transformative. Apparently, it's really hard to do what they were trying to do...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Oreo Dips into Mall Marketing

Just came across this great video of an in-mall marketing campaign that Oreo ran. Take a look:

I'm not a big fan of a lot of the "interruption advertising" schemes people try, but this one is beautiful. Here's why:

  • It's subtle;
  • It's absolutely 100% on brand;
  • When you see it, you feel like you discovered something and want to share it, just like I'm sharing this video with you.
  • It's only one of many things Oreo marketing is doing.
Very nicely done. I want some Oreos.

Monday, June 16, 2008

What if your brand changed, and you couldn't do anything about it?

Smokestacks offer a simple lesson in brand building that the auto giant Hummer is now painfully aware of.

Back in the day, smokestacks stood for progress, job creation and a vibrant economy. They were coveted and wooed by economic developers everywhere. Seeing one go up in your town was a reason to celebrate.

Today, the same exact "product" offers a completely different message. Now the reaction is pollution, global warming, an old fashioned economy.

But the smokestack didn't change. (If anything, it got a little cleaner.) But our perception of it changed 180 degrees.

That's what's happening to the folks at Hummer right now. A few years ago, I drove a corporate Hummer, an H1, for about six months. Bright red. The military style beast, just like this picture. It was considered cool. Arnold Schwarzenegger had one. The fact that it got 9 mpg only bothered a few people. Most people laughed. Hummer sales were robust. It was a profit machine for GM.

Now, GM reports that Hummer sales in May dropped 60% (ouch) from a year ago. The number of people considering Hummer is at an all time low. GM is even openly talking about selling the brand entirely. What a difference a year makes.

Remember, your brand is not what you say it is. It's what the public says it is. And in this case, when it would cost you $128 to fill the Hummer's 32-gallon tank, the public says the brand isn't working for them.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

New Starbucks Logo: For Better or Worse?

So, is the new Starbucks logo better than the old Starbucks logo, or does is it just more suggestive? Decide for yourself:

New logo:

Old logo:

Apparently the original Starbucks logo was even more revealing than the new one, so this is a return to tradition for the retailer. One group is calling the company "Slutbucks", which seems a bit over the top to me.

I'm mostly confused as to why she's got two tails. I've never seen that in any Disney movie. Hmmm...

What do you think?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Fire Your Ad Agency, then Crack Open an MGD

If it weren't sad, it might be funny. A brand in decline. Sales slipping.

"It must be the advertising. Fire the agency. Get a new tagline. Get a new ad."

Yeah, how's the working out for you, Miller Genuine Draft?

Four agencies and eight taglines since 1991, yet sales continue to decline. The problem isn't the "creative." It's that you don't know what you are, what niche you serve and how to pick one position and stick with it until it resonates.

Below, courtesy of Ad Age, are the themelines for MGD for each year, followed first by the name of the agency that did the work, and then by the percentage market share MGD held that year. Strap in:

  • 2001: "Never miss a genuine opportunity"--JWT--2.6%
  • 2002: "Pure MGD"--JWT--2.2%
  • 2003: "Keep what's good"--Ogilvy--2.2%
  • 2004: "Good call"--Ogilvy--2.0%
  • 2005: Various themelines--Martin some, Ogilvy some)--1.8%
  • 2006: "Beer. Grown up."--Martin--1.6%
  • 2007: "Experience is golden"--Y&R--1.5%
So shipments of MGD are down 41%. Guess what they're doing to fix it in 2008? Testing two new themelines!

Yeah, that'll work. Usually I would blame the product, but MGD isn't that bad. In this case I think it's the lack of any sort of brand identity. Calling it MGD was a horrible idea in the first place. And then failing to carve out a brand niche and stick with it is the kiss of death.

Good luck with your new themeline guys. I'll look for the big turnaround...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Less is More with Transparent Billboards

I love great marketing, particularly when it’s someone who does something both new and elegant and creates an attention grabbing campaign. The marketing idea behind this is brilliant. Amnesty International must have considered (rightly, I suspect) that people would care more about things happening around the world if they could imagine them happening where they live.

The marketers then had a brilliant production idea. Make the billboards transparent, other than the central image. By doing that simple thing, it would look like the activity was happening right on the street in that neighborhood. Genius. Take a look at this campaign, called “It’s not happening here, but it is happening.”

Amnesty 1
Amnesty 3Amnesty 4Amnesty 2

Amnesty 5

I originally put this post on my company blog, at

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

My Brother Starts His 3V Volcano Climb

UPDATE: Yes, he survived. Actually did the three volcanoes in about 34 hours, which he pointed out to me is less than 2 days, not three days. He also said he was surprised at how hard it was and how often they climbed hunched over on slippery, gravelly footing.
As of right now, they raised over $75,000 to the Smith Foundation. Thanks for letting my digress from the marketing discussion briefly, and thanks for donating!

Original Post
Thanks to those of you who donated to my brother's fundraiser. As of today, he starts the climbs. Three volcanoes in three days. I'll let you know how he does.

Just saw that he was featured in Village Voice of Australia. (Who knew they had a Village Voice down under?) He's the one on the right. They're still taking donations if you've got a soft spot for disadvantaged kids with cool Aussie accents.

Here's the text:

Three Vaucluse locals are undertaking a tough task this week - climb three volcanoes in 36 hours.

What started as a fundraising idea among the neighbours has turned into a full-scale excursion to New Zealand's North Island where Paul Tobin, Michael Brial and Mark Patterson have set themselves a gruelling challenge.

The driving force behind the adventure is Paul Tobin, chairman of Aussie Farmers Direct, a food home delivery business.

"We decided to do it as a fundraiser - the 3V Challenge - and set a goal of raising $100,000 for The Smith Family, which will help 300 disadvantaged Australian children get the most out of their education.

"We have about $60,000 raised, but would appreciate any donations to this cause through," Mr Tobin said.

While the trio does not have any mountaineering experience, they have been in solid training for a few weeks and are all fit and determined.

They will scale Mount Tongariro, Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Ruapehu - two of which are active volcanoes - on March 13 and 14, and aim to get as close to the summits as possible.

Mr Tobin hopes they will make it an annual event. He stressed they were funding their own trips, and that all donations would go to The Smith Family.

Stephen Gallagher, the charity's national event manager, said there are 700,000 disadvantaged children in Australia, and that 27,000 of them are students now receiving financial support from The Smith Family.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Testing the Power of Word of Mouth Marketing

So, we know this is a blog about marketing, and we know that word-of-mouth marketing is the most powerful kind of marketing, so I'd like to put that to a small test.

The Smith Family is a foundation in Australia that helps disadvantaged kids in lots of ways. Apparently, it got it's name when anonymous donors who started it kept saying their name was "Smith" in order to stay anonymous. It's got a great reputation helping Australian kids, sort of like "Make-A-Wish" goes Down Under.

My brother (who lives in Sydney) is part of a 3-man team trying to raise $100,000 (Aussie $$, which is currently almost exactly the same value as a US $) to help 300 kids who need it.

And get this, they are climbing 3 volcanoes (two of them active) in 36-hours to do it. Yes, 3 actual, real volcanoes.

As of this writing, they've raised about $20,000 of their $100,000 goal.

I'm telling you, so maybe, ya know, you can kick in, donate, and help these kids, too. Word-of-mouth (or maybe, word-of-blog) marketing. But it's for a good cause.

If you can help these kids, I'd appreciate it. And if my brother falls in to any of these volcanoes, I'll try my best to post some photos of that... My brother is the one on the right.

Monday, February 25, 2008

TV may no longer have seasons

It started with shows like Survivor, Big Brother and the Amazing Race. Not just the reality TV business, but the lines between the TV season and the land of re-runs are getting, well, a bit dirty.

But now the recently settled writer’s strike may help further blur the line. The NY Times is reporting that the giant ad agency holding companies are looking for a year-round television season. The rationale is that September is full of hyped shows that usually don’t make it to Christmas.

The other system that the agencies would like to change (and the networks almost certainly would not) is called the “upfront“– a May period in which the advertisers pre-sell their new shows. According to the article, the media buyers still want to buy ahead of time, but they don’t want to have to make all their bets during the same month.

A lot is changing in advertising and in television broadcasting. In an era when college football is now on virtually every night of the week, all those weeks when there is “nothing on” represent lost opportunities. You can safely bet that those opportunities won’t stay lost for long.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Tom Cruise Has (Allegedly) Lost His Ever-Lovin' Mind

I'm not sure how long this video will stay on YouTube, but it's so bizarre I just had to share it. (I know this is a marketing blog, and this post has nothing to do with marketing. My apologies for the diversion...)

I've read a couple of Scientology books. They don't make a lot of sense, but at least you can follow them. All I get from this video is that Tom is not just (allegedly) crazy, he's like Michael Jackson crazy. I mean, he's (allegedly) living on a different planet.

Whoa. I'm surprised he's not wearing a red cape and blue tights, leaping tall buildings...

His last good acting job was Risky Business. In this he's just acting delusional... I mean, allegedly.