Archives For Advertising

It’s been called the world’s worst ad.

I sure hope this ad helps East Hills Mall in St. Joseph, Mo. And it will. It’ll help the mall have a good August. Will the mall do better than last August’s back-to-school push? Doubt it. Will it have a great 2014 because of the ad? Doubt it. Will it hurt the mall’s brand overall? Yes, because people will remember “East Hills Mall = bad advertising” for a long, long time.

And I dream of a day when nobody ever asks anybody ever to ever, ever, ever to make a video for $300, AND when nobody ever says, “Sure, I’ll take $300 to make a video!”

Like that’ll happen. All week long, I bet businesses across the land asked if they could get a video made for $200.

And I bet half asked the video could also go viral.

Here’s a local news station’s behind the scenes scoop.

 

Advertisements

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?

It’s a really great ad. It’s shot, edited and acted flawlessly. (Way to go TBWA.) That’s Jeff Daniels with a perfect VO. The ending looks were perfect, despite them being totally fake and probably computer-generated because in real life the Williams sisters probably would have been much crankier, and something would have been tossed. Hey, a famous Williams grunt would have been funny too.

And as an Apple ad, it shows more sizzle than steak. Most Apple advertising, at least under Steve Jobs anyway, is all steak, showing nothing but features. This ad features just one simple and not-so-awesome feature, the Do Not Disturb button.

Regardless, it’s probably Apple’s best iPhone ad. Unfortunately for Apple, the feature that’s being promoted here doesn’t work for everyone. There is an iOS 6 bug because of the calendar switch to 2013 making the feature wonky. Apple is on it, saying this morning that it’ll fix itself January 7th. You’d think they would have tested the hellllllllll out of this before releasing a new ad. Huh.

I wonder if the Tim Cook era of Apple is more of a software philosophy of “release it now and we’ll fix bugs later,” versus a Steve Jobs hardware philosophy of “release only after you test the hell out of it – twice.” Because the tiny little buggy things seem to pop up more frequently with Tim than Steve. Maybe Tim’s all like “Don’t sweat it man, the iPhone 6 and iOS 7 are right around the corner!”

So is Tim more okay with buggy stuff than Steve?

SideBySideETC

Above: how we currently text. Below: how ETC technology will allow us to communicate more with symbols, images, and logos.

Happy birthday, text messaging. Today marks its 20th year as a communication form. So what a great day to pontificate on the next big thing in communications, which is right at our fingertips. Or, should I say, our thumbtips.

Imagine using pictures when you text and message and write online, in addition to words. It’s almost here, it’s cool, it’ll change how we communicate, and it came to me in a really neat way. Better grab a cup of coffee. This could take a minute.

I’m President of KW2, an ad agency in Madison, Wisconsin. We bought our building around 1990 from Towell Advertising, which was the longest-running ad agency in Madison. Three generations of Towells made ads here for long-time Madison businesses. But soon after we moved in, Towell Advertising changed its name to Roundhouse, and completely changed their business model to become a promotional agency.

Can you imagine? Here’s Bill Towell, all of 36 years old, telling his dad and grandfather he’s going to toss away the model they spent a couple of lifetimes growing. I bet that was an interesting conversation.

I’d known Bill over all these years, because a couple of good pals of mine worked at Roundhouse. Bill was always kinetic and intense and full of passion. His office was in a train car. They made their employees take a one hour lunch every day from noon to 1:00 PM on the dot. This is when I knew it wasn’t an advertising agency any more.

Well, Roundhouse worked really well, is still going strong, and Bill sold his share in the business a few years ago. In “retirement,” Bill drove around folks from the Porchlight homeless shelter for a year, mastered the art of lounging, and took a few classes at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I bumped into him on LinkedIn, and invited him to see what we’ve done to the building he said goodbye to some 20 years ago.

It was fantastic. So much history. The names of classic Madison advertising folks and brands and campaigns was great fun to hear about.

Then in the “see you later” home stretch of our chat, Bill kind of blew my mind. He told me about how he and a team of digital folks across the globe figured out how to get pictures seamlessly integrated into digital communications, in the places words would typically go. Wow.

He invented the next big thing. It was one of those that you hear about and go “duh” and you smack your palm on your forehead. Palmsmack! Of course!

It’s called Enriched Text Content (ETC). It allows people to insert images, pictures, images, logos, and graphics into alphanumeric text. Palmsmack! What took so long?

If you go to their site, baddonkeysocial.com, it would seeeeeeeem to appear that Kraft is one of the first big brands to jump on board. And given that Forbes has Kraft ranked as the #14 social brand in the world, well, this could indicate that one of the world’s largest food manufacturers thinks Bill is on to something.

This makes so much sense. We’re going more and more and more visual as a species. Instagram had 10 million shares just over Thanksgiving weekend. Do you think we’re a visually-driven bunch of mammals? Seems like it. Words are work. Pictures are not. Pictures are fast. Words are . . . less fast. Poor boring old word-based texts. They’re going to look like black and white TV next to high def, wide screen LCD TV.

Look at how just the last few years of digital evolution has already changed how we communicate. A cursor arrow. A trash can symbol. A colon with a parenthesis next to it. New shortcuts in communication are getting created and used all the time.

What are the long-term implications? I think this will significantly change things. Are we headed towards a visually driven language, or alphabet? Will new symbols be created to visually communicate?

There’s value to the user. In the time that it takes to text the word weinermobile, a texter could send an entire ETC message, like the one here. Reading messages with symbols is faster as well. Palmsmack!

The value to brands will increase. A text or email or blog post with logos in place of pictures will make those branded messages worth more, yes? Many logos will not work, and will have to be tweaked. Nike, the NFL, sports teams, and Apple will look great. Other brands like Harley-Davidson Motorcycles may need some identity work to get their logos “text logo” ready.

More symbols and fewer words in the future? Makes sense. We’ve always loved symbols. Thirty-five thousand years ago, some French communicator tagged cave walls with symbols of the giant creatures that they hunted. He (or she) didn’t graffiti the word “DINNER” or “RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!” on the wall, the caveman/woman made symbols. Then the Egyptians, over 5,000 years ago, invented symbols to depict words, giving birth to the idea of written language. Then there’s the 15th century sign in an English street that showed a symbol of a boot on it, indicating where a black plague survivor could pick up a pair of sensible Mary Janes.

And then there’s ETC, the technology that paves the way for more symbols being used more often in some of the most popular forms of communication in this era.

We’ve gone from pictures on cave walls to pictures on social walls. Pretty cool.

Old Spice and their ad agency Wieden + Kennedy have been cranking out some great ads. (“I’m on a horse.”) Here’s a new round of TV for their Odor Blocker body wash. They’re directed by Tim and Eric from Adult Swim’s  “The Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” on Comedy Central. (Why look, here’s a Tim and Eric film for Absolute Vodka, with Mr. Zach Galifianakis.)

Who’s creating consistently better advertising than Old Spice right now? Tough call, given all there is to dig about what they’re doing.

I dig the strategy, in that it uses manly exaggeration to sell the hell out of the beauty product. I dig that you KNOW what’s being sold here, and why it’s a good thing. I dig the manly tone of the manly copy: it “devastates” odors for 16 hours. I dig the director choice. I dig how they altered the Old Spice musical theme with the actor Terry Crews singing “pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-power!”

What do I dig most? These ads are funny, and funny leads to memorability for the viewer, and added word of mouth. You could watch `em 10 times and laugh 10 times. You’ll tell your pals about it while whining about your NCAA brackets. That, friends, is a very hard thing to do.

Bitching about the tactic of the yelling guy: it’s funny – but. Being in the edits, and in all the post production, and listening to Terry Crews yell and yell and yell certainly got to a point of “please punch me in the head with a log.”

Bitching about the category: body wash is a ripoff for consumers. Use soap. A bar. If Old Spice’s target audience really wanted to be manly, they sure as hell wouldn’t use a bottle of soap. Puh-leeze. Plus, compared to the manufacturing and packaging of a bar of soap, those damn body wash bottles are a massive environmental headache.

Bitching aside, they’re great ads.