Archives For Advertising

The Rascals song “A Beautiful Morning” is great. Slapstick comedy is great. Fishing in Northern Wisconsin is great. The actor Robert Hays is great, despite his last great comedy happening 33 years ago. The Wisconsin director David Zucker of legendary Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker fame, he’s great. (He’s why I’m in advertising. Long story.) And by golly, the great state of Wisconsin is ridiculously, incredibly great.

What’s not great is when you put them all together. Then you get the new ad that Zucker directed for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. I don’t think it makes a vacation in Wisconsin look so great. I certainly hope I’m wrong.

You can see how this came to be. Zucker directed ads for Travel Wisconsin before. He’s our state’s biggest Hollywood name. I don’t get casting Robert Hays. Perhaps his Q rating is high, three decades after his last hit, “Airplane!” Certainly, this all gets good press.

But if you buy David Zucker, you’re buying slapstick. Strategically, that’s the problem. Zucker just did his job – directed slapstick. And he did great. The fish slapping at the end is really funny. But slapstick is Laurel and Hardy, the Three Stooges, and Jim Carrey. Right now, Wisconsin doesn’t need to be the Three Stooges of vacation spots.

The voice-over says, “It doesn’t take any special skills to enjoy Wisconsin.” Great. Hey you Minnesota dipsticks! We welcome you! It’ll be fun! We’ll smash some stuff! Come on over!

And the last line on screen is, “Fun. Courtesy of” Indeed, that’s what people want in a vacation. But what Robert Hays went through isn’t really fun. It’s funny watching zany, madcap stuff happen to a guy who was famous three decades ago, but it’s not exactly fun.

Again, I really hope I’m wrong. I hope flocks of people laugh at that ad, go to the website to book and enjoy a wonderful Wisconsin vacation. But next time, I just hope the ad can be as great as the vacation destination it represents.

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So there’s this small tavern in the small town of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin a few miles from my home. It’s called Paddy Caughlin’s Irish Pub. It’s wonderful.

Alas, I didn’t celebrate my Irish brethren there this year. (This photo was taken last summer.) But the photo shows an incredible idea for how you can put your customers first – let other customers buy them something. In this case, it’s a beer.

This simple “pay it forward” chart shows who bought a beer for a pal, and who has a free beer coming their way. This idea plays into the neighborhood hangout brand that they’re trying to carve out. It encourages word of mouth. And it means instant revenue for the bar; with 15 to 20 percent of gift cards going completely unused, it’s likely that this is a pretty profitable tactic.

Free beer? Great idea, Paddy.



I once had an advertising creative partner who loathed doing ads for P&G because they always demanded a demonstration of the product in action. My buddy felt that got in the way.

Apple on the other hand frequently uses “the demo” as the entire ad, not just a part of the ad. Apple and their agency TBWA are incredibly good at making the ad about the product, in a way that’s also all about the customer. In this familiar ad, which uses the same demo style as many iPhone and iPad Mini ads, it’s as if you, the customer, are using the product. Here, they sell, sell, sell by putting the customer first with these two ads that broke yesterday on their YouTube channel. The ad “Together” showed 11 apps in action. Uh, that’s a lot of demos.

It looks like some transit ads broke as well.

With 300,000 iPad apps to choose from, selling, selling, selling is a smart play.

Tonight is the first big live TV event in the US since last week’s Super Bowl. Are advertisers on stand-by, waiting for something to jump on, like an electricity malfunction?

Here’s a quick video asking you to predict the future. The “blackout ads” that appeard in social media as a result of the Super Bowl blunder paved new advertising ground. Advertisers took advantage of a one-of-a-kind opportunity to instantly connect with customers in ways that they haven’t before. These kinds of ads are going to happen again, most likely during the awards show season. So, this video asks, what is this new ad format going to be called from here on out?

Here is my annual day after the Super Bowl interview WISC – TV. It’s always great to talk about the ads with Mark and Susan. Thanks folks. And hey, I like horses. They’re our friends. But I’m not loving the Clydesdale ad. Check it out.

What were your favorite and least favorite ads?

Fifty five ads, up to $4 million a pop for airtime, watched by 111 million viewers, plus all the internet traffic before and during the game made for a big night. But it was a small bit of engagement that took Tide and Oreo to the top for me.
The big lesson for advertisers and businesses out there: we’re NOT in the business of advertising! We’re in the business of engaging with customers.
All in all, the best of the best ads were better than in the past, but there were more flat-out duds than I remember in recent years (including Wonderful Pistachio, Blackberry, E-Trade, PepsiNext).
This is the year pre-game ads we’re supposed to be the big story. Before the game, VW and Budweiser got great traction and numbers with Get Happy and the Clydesdales, and other brands eked out teasers. So as the game played out, it looked like it would become a battle between the Surprise ads that we saw during the game for the first time (like Ram, and Tide) vs. the Hyped ad that we already saw online.
But then there was a plot twist, just when you thought there were no new Super Bowl ad formats.
Drumroll please…the blackout! Within 5 minutes Walgreens tweeted “We do carry candles.” Boom. Then Oreo and Tide released social media based ads that lit up the internet. THIS was the big lesson for advertisers – we are in an era when we can use tools like never before to ENGAGE with customers, in real time, not just yell at them with our message. Big lesson. We’re on for our customers 24/7.
My favorite TV ads during the game.
1. “Miracle Stain” for Tide. Classic Super Bowl ad: over the top premise, great comedy, a celeb, and a great ending story twist. If people start talking about Miracle Stains this week and beyond, the win will be even bigger.
2. Oreo. Hilarious Super Bowl slapstick for this first time Super Bowl advertiser. Great comedy.
Other great ads –
“Farmer” for Ram. A brilliant ad. But it was stolen from But Ram will give “up to” a million bucks to, so the theft is…uh…okay. So wha-wha, the creators can’t be feeling tooooo awesome about not being able to come up with a great original idea, but America totally loved it. It was a great idea that really stopped viewers. This was my favorite ad because it was just so different by taking the courage to really say something: “We owe farmers, our classic American underdogs, a huge debt.” Man, I wanted this to be the best ad, but if it’s stolen, nope. Dang!
“Get Happy” for VW. Sells something, it’s funny, and will get cultural buzz around the water cooler, mon.
Bleeeeeeechhhhhhhhhh –
Clydesdales for Budweiser. USA Today’s winner. I really disliked the ad because it doesn’t sell beer, it’s totally ridiculous and not in a hilarious SuperBowl way, and sure enough, America loved it. We are total suckers for the animal ads and the sentimental “awwwww” story. The ending’s “name the baby horse” schtick was totally horsey to me, but good for fan engagement.
The ultimate winners –
Tide and Oreo, for very strong ads that actually sold something, AND for engaging with customers real in real time by creating those ads that integrated their products with the blackout. Brilliant. They engaged. THAT is what great advertising in 2013 is all about.

Clydesdales What?

February 3, 2013 — Leave a comment

Wow Budweiser! “Landslide” what? Are you selling something what? Then a name-the-baby contest what? Terrifically bad, but it’ll score well, that’s what.

Oreo, Tide and Walgreens are all taking advantage of the world’s most awkward power outage with some smart advertising.Walgreens

TideBlackout OreoBlackout

Walgreens just put this on Twitter. Brilliant. Walgreens

It was blah as an ad, but brilliant as a business strategy: introduce a new product with the first ad position in the Super Bowl. Big idea. Although stealing share from great craft beers, like we have here in Wisconsin, will be a lonnnnnnnnnng uphill climb for a company whose flagship brew is bad beer. Good luck with that In-Bev! We’ll see if Black Crown will be around for the next Super Bowl.

The M&M’s ad was fun. I bet Meat Loaf is laughing. Seems like the more lame the song is, the more funny the ad can be.

Audi and Mercedes must use the same research. They’re both pandering to the high school reverse-asperation phenomena reserved for brands like Axe. Bad form for such prestigious brands.