In this article, CNBC writer Darren Rovell uses convoluted logic to ask what consumers, in their childlike naivete, are supposed to extract from relationships between athletes and the brands that sponsor them. (And their trainers. And their trainers' websites.)
Here's the puzzle the column poses: say you're a kid, and you want to be the next LaDainian Tomlinson. Tomlinson is part of Nike's SPARQ training program. He also wears Nikes on the field. But Todd Durkin, Tomlinson's trainer, has a website sponsored by Under Armour.
Assuming you're wack enough to think this will fundamentally alter your destiny, what do you BUY? Nike trainers or Under Armour's? The author's so stuck on this that he's even taking a poll. (Who would you follow: athlete or trainer?)
We'd laugh this whole thing off, because it really is ridiculous, but then we got to thinking. Do sponsored associations between people and products really mean something?
In conjunction with Fuel Industries, McDonald's Europe is launching digital "toys" for Happy Meals through April and May.
The "Fairies and Dragons" universe (for girls and boys, respectively) can be accessed via CD-ROMs inside old-school McD's Happy Meals. The campaign and associated characters are original creations by Fuel (for mommies who get moody about rampant product placement).
DegreeRookie.com's hosting a sweat-inducing six-part mini-series based on 24. It won't have any of your favourite characters, and indeed has nothing to do with the show's primary plotline, but we're sure nobody'll notice as long as 24 is visibly associated with whatever's streaming.
But that's not all Degree Rookie's serving up. Try balance. And freshness. It's Degree Absolute Protection.
Story Worldwide helped input GPS capabilities, imaging and nav in the site. The Unilever-sponsored series is part of a collabo between Fox and Brightline.
Check out the JellyBeats, which are like jellyfish you can alternately identify with and fantasize about eating. Each is themed with a genre of music (folk, easy listening, acid house -- wouldn't it be funny if that whistle was a pacifier?) and comes equipped with its own playlist.
The JellyBeats represent Aardman and Digital Outlook's attempts to cash in on the 14-18-year-old crowd. They launched on Bebo last week. Individual JellyBeats come with film shorts, downloads, special dances and lingo. And they're all embeddable on other social networks. ('Cause if you can't be everywhere at once, you FAIL.)
For interior design site mydeco, TAMBA put together a swanky Facebook app for all the users that are getting too old to cash in on their .edu cachet.
The My Dinner Party widget enables users to create a "dream dinner party" with famous and fictional characters, as well as actual friends. (Then again, everybody's equally actual and fictional when they can all appear on your Top 8. Which is also an app!)
And because no inet offering is worth anything unless it comes with opportunities for validation, friends can change seating arrangements, organize private fetes and rate the dinner parties they attended. How fancy. These days, any plebe can play blue-blood. Who'd've guessed that Wonderland would be so ... democratic?
Imagine The Warriors took place in present-day Manhattan. But replace the vicious gangs with refugees from Flashdance.
Before you virtually bitchslap us and go, "Why would we EVER do that?!", be forewarned: somebody already has.
Can -- you -- dig -- it?
The client: MTV.
Rehab, the cats behind Gap's Sound of Color effort, just produced a series of videos for Kenneth Cole's most current campaign "We All Walk in Different Shoes," put together by Kenneth Cole's in-house creative crew.
As always with Kenneth Cole, the campaign exploits the language of fashion to raise awareness for popular social issues. (Or maybe it's the other way around.) At left is the creative for Regan Hofmann's HIV video. See other shorts -- including stories about a Sikh businessman and a duo of Israeli and Palestinian film directors -- at KennethCole.com/Thinkers.
And here's the campaign blog, Awearness, which generated winces all around with the all-caps tagline, "To be aware is more important than what you wear."
We dig Rehab's audio/visual spin on an old Kenneth Cole agenda. But we can't say we're crazy about using tacky puns like "Awearness" to generate trendy cause mojo.
While we're not sure what making a bed has to do with a hospital's ability to successfully perform a hip replacement or being ranked tops among all hospital responding to a heart attack, we do like this new commercial from Boston-based Winsper for Exeter Hospital. Oh wait, we get it. Attention to detail. After all, a well made bed is certainly as important as performing open heart surgery.
OK. We jest. We get the analogy. Besides, the spot is just very soothing and who doesn't want to be soothed when faced with a nerve-racking hospital stay? Not us. We've been there.
Penny Denialer, the well-preserved materfamilias of Mackenzie Investments' "Denialers" campaign, began appearing in rich media ads on popular Canadian websites last week.
See her on Sweetspot.ca (you'll have to scroll way down). When engaged she'll say something decidedly wise like, "Whoever said money can't buy happiness was obviously shopping at the wrong website. Look at that." Then she'll stare with vacant Valley awe at the content of the page.
The ad invites traffic to burnrate.ca, where they can meet the Denialers, watch money burst into flames, and find out how to keep theirs from going up in smoke.
Put together by Lowe Roche, Toronto.
According to Collective Intellect, which tracked brand lift for advertisers before and after the Academy Awards, Dove outdid 10 other major advertisers, elevating its position 500 percent with pre-show buzz.
Consistency, and refining an old model, were probably key. Dove rehashed last year's campaign strategy: appealing to audience members to produce and rate ads for its Cream Oil product. The winner was a woman named Celeste Wouden, whose spot lacks the slapstick, paging-Cartoon-Network! feel we've come to expect from UGC efforts. In fact, it looks like a stock Dove commercial (and for WAY less money).
Watch the ad at DoveCreamOil.com. Runners-up can be seen in the gallery.