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All while marketers have been exploring and, to a certain extent, benefiting from well placed buzz marketing, they have also had to contend with those who simply hate their brand for one reason or another. Dubbed "determined detractors," those who run these organized anti-brand efforts are just as passionate about destroying a brand as buzz marketers are about promoting the brand.
From ipodsdirtysecret to ihatestarbucks to Morgan Spurlock's Supersize Me movie, The New York Times Reporter Nat Ives examines how these determined detractors have locked horns with brands and how at least one company, Buzz Metrics, is helping brands fight back.
Someone's so enamored with the blond in the new Old Navy Holiday commercials he's started a weblog devoted to her. Old Navy can't be complaining. Of course the skeptic in us requires we consider the possibility Old Navy has a hand in this blog. But, for now, with the holiday season on top of us, we'll just steer our thoughts to holiday cheer and assume it's just an innocent fan site. She is kinda cute.
Spiderman star Tobey McGuire might be the next Ralph Lauren model. His girlfriend, Jen Meyer, works for the fashion designer and is reportedly persuading him to pose for an upcoming ad campaign.
Writing in the New York Times, Nat Ives gathers together several of the recent "unauthorized" ad campaigns that have contributed to the growing trend of consumer/fan/unofficial agency-created ad campaigns. Ives includes the recent Coke campaign and the upcoming Mitsubishi campaign by ad legend Harry Webber, the iPod ad created by teacher George Masters and the ads created and placed by Canadian agency Vaughn Whelan & Partners for Molson as a bid to win the account.
There are others and it's a certainty that this method of creating advertising will increase as creative people outside the walls of agencies become enabled by technology and motivated by brand loyalty.
Of course there's the notion that, one day, it will all go back to money as agencies begin to bid on this "not created here" work which, at times, will best what is or can be created internally. There's no shame in this method of doing business. It's akin to hiring a freelancer except there's no risk. The work's already done. Like it, buy it. Don't, don't. Hiring a freelancer or an ad-hoc group that hasn't yet done the work will become a thing of the past.
Bob Brennan rose to superhero status at Leo Burnett's Starcom group along with Jack Klues. Klues is still there; Brennan isn't. He was dumped a year and a half ago after having moved to out of media and into the top spot running Leo Burnett. Rumor has swirle he'd create his own super media shop once his non-compete ran out but MediaPost's The Riff suggests, with the renewed focus on full-service agency media departments, Brennan should return to Burnett as media director.
In the one of the Adrants Network forums, the question was asked, "Is truth in advertising dead?" It's a good question because one wonders if there ever was truth in advertising. Consultant John Morton thinks truth is alive and well and can be used as a powerful advantage over the competition saying, "Of course there's truth left in advertising. Good advertising, at least. I think truth and honesty in advertising is the secret weapon to reach our audiences today given the current landscape of hyperbolic ads that are out there."
Swivel Media Creative Director and International Experiential Marketing Association Director Erik Hauser thinks there's life left in advertising truism but the industry has an increased laise faire attitude. "Truth in advertising isn't dead, but the spotlight on the truth in most ads just keeps getting narrower and narrower by the minute." He feels advertising has become one big caveat that isn 't fooling consumers.
"There are too many asterisks in today's world of advertising. It will get back to basics when advertisers realize that people really do hear all of the harmful side effects of the medicines advertised on TV - no matter how soothing the voice is. Diarrhea is diarrhea."
One creative director points out truth and advertising have never been in close association. "One could argue that there really never was such a thing as 'truth' in advertising -- we're always presenting a colored version of the truth, casting our product in the best light, ignoring some of the, shall we say, less flattering things about the product."
Brand Central Station President and CEO Mike Bawden, noting media's contribution to the truth famine, thinks the rapid fragmentation and endless list of choices has yielded to content the audience wants to hear rather than what they should hear. "The rapid expansion of media bandwidth via the Internet, cable/satellite television and other channels has created a vacuum that has sucked up all the information available - fact, fiction and everything in between. This makes "the truth" almost impossible to define and, maybe more importantly, is conditioning audiences to only listen to the truth they want to hear."
Hammering the point home humorously is ad vet Harry Webber who explains the two faces of truth in advertising: Mobile and Absolute. "The objective in advertising is to appeal to a version of Mobile Truth or the Truth of the Marketplace. In other words, the truth that defines a given market segment's unmet wants needs and desires. We ask a sample of 1500 respondents their version of the truth about bad breath, dandruff or financial security. They give us 1500 opinions. We stoically proclaim that we now know the truth about what the consumer wants. We then craft our products and their selling messages to appeal to that Truth of the Marketplace."
Webber claims it's not a question of whether truth in advertising is dead. Webber says truth and advertising are entirely unrelated. "What we do has nothing to do with the truth. What we do has everything to do with what we assume our target consumer believes is the truth. To us, their perception is reality. And our perception of what those 1500 people believe is the truth is 'the truth.' 1500 'truths' out of 90 million."
Truth is a strange concept. Rarelt is it an absolute. In many instances, particularly in a capitalist, commercial society, truths are twisted to suit goals driven by financial objectives. "Truths" will be told, or ignored entirely, to insure actions occur that positively benefit the entity doing the telling. So what if too much beer causes a state of inebriation. In commercial society, drinking the right beer gets a guy the hottest girl. So what if the making of perfume might cause harm to animals. In a commercial society, smelling right gets a girl the hottest guy.
To promote its show Women and The Badge, a "compelling series explores the lives of real women on the front lines of law enforcement," Oxygen Network has launched a weblog called Officer Dubina's Blog.
It's an inside look at the life of Jan Dubina, a Phoenix Police Department Special Assignments Unit member, who's also featured on the show.
Dubina minces no words when it comes to her job and the lives of those she comes into contact with writing, "My job is often as a negotiator, but its not always like it seems to be in the movies. Actually, much of my time is spent negotiating with possible suicides in an effort to keep them alive. I cant say how successful I am because if a person decides to kill themselves is that a failure? I dont look at it that way. There are people who are determined to kill themselves no matter what, and some want us to kill them." OK, then.
Sort of like Hollywood where it's all about remakes, retellings and outright usurping of previous ideas, some companies have found that dusting off old brands rather than inventing new ones is the clearer path to profit. For example, the meat-in-a-can turned email marketing blight Spam brand is making a comeback in Britain and will be the focus of a new broadway musical called Spamalot based on the 1975 movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Or take Old Spice. Who knew your Dad's favorite deodorant would now be the choice of today's cool kids. An interesting new campaign and a gaming sponsorship with EA's NCAA 2004 have made the brand the number selling deodorant with a 20 percent market share.
Back in the day when stay-at-home-moms where quaintly referred to as housewives, there was a popular cleaning product called Comet. P & G gave up on the brand in 2001 selling it to Prestige Brands who, rather than letting it die, returned it to the number one selling household cleaning powder with an aggressive low-cost retailer distribution strategy. Perhaps now, with the return of Comet to top spot and the success of ABC's Desperate Housewives, the political correctness of the whole stay-at-home-mom thing can be ditched, playdates can go back to being called "having a friend over" and househusbands can hold their head high.
Snapple, which seems to have all but disappeared from convenience store shelves is making yet another comeback.
The beverage company is bringing back Wendy Kaufman who appeared in early 90's ad campaign and then again in 1997 for a short time.
Debuting on January 17, Cliff Freeman & Partners has created a new television campaign featuring Kaufman interviewing fans about the brand and then interviews others about those fans. Similar to the original campaign, Cliff Freeman & Partners Chairman and CCO said, "The concept of returning a favor is a welcome message today. People find the tone appealing." The campaign will also include an under the cap promotion offering a chance to win a VW Beetle convertible.
New York-based Catalano Lellos & Silverstein has served up yet another funky holiday wish with Happy Holidayoke in which members of the agency, or rather, their heads attached to illustrated bodies, cavort in holiday settings while doing their best to sing holiday songs. There's the Sound of Music-esque "A few of My Favorite Things," a fat Elvis-style Santa doing a rooftop jig, Graphic Designer Alice Anda and another staffer doing that hillbilly banjo song while trading barbs about fake boobs and butt size, a Twin Peaks style recitation of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" by agency partner Frank D'Angelo, a country/Mexican style song about some guy's pants catching on fire and another Elvis-themed ditty about a sad little reindeer.
Be sure to also check out the agency's other holiday offerings from year's past.
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