We thought the Microsoft Butterfly was kind of nifty. The guy in the BlackBerry suit? Not so much. Giant plush costumes are so deceptive in their frozen state of cheer and rarely work outside Chuck E Cheese and college football fields, where they can be ridiculed at leisure by their own peers.
The requisite BlackBerry Mascot MySpace, as if we care.
Why? Why? Why? Why do brands launch these massive campaigns, spend all this money and make ads that don't say a thing about what the company does? Are there people in agencies that still think "branding" without meaningful substance works? Apparently, not after one of those day-long, mind-numbing vision, mission, essence, position self-serving mind fucks. After that, they're all sipping the Kool Aid without realizing the consumer wasn't in that meeting all day and has no idea what the hell the resulting brand messaging is trying to convey.
Sure, this Mobius award winning Bart Domination campaign for Kaiser Permanente will certainly force the company's name into the conscious and subconscious mind of everyone within eye sight but will they walk away having any idea what the company does? Oh wait. Yea. There's this thing called the Internet. Oh wait. There's no URL in the ad. Oh wait. There's this thing called Google. It helps you find stuff. Oh wait, Kaiser's name is impossible to spell. Even if one does find their way to the site, it doesn't even tell you what the company does. Not until you click in several levels or visit the far more helpful Wikipedia listing. And yes, we have heard of Kaiser Permanente before and many people in California, where the campaign is running, have as well but that's not the case with most other marketer's that go this route.
So why? Why? Why make your potential customer work when you only have a split second of their time? Why paint pretty pictures that are devoid of commercial messaging. This isn't art. It's advertising. Wallow in the beautiful non-descriptiveness of this campaign here (PDF).
Oh, and the explanation for why those tree trunks and their copy look fake: "Apparently the photos taken of the installation were not very good and someone thought they could be improved by photoshopping the copy that was on the pillars onto the already poor quality photos."
The next time you're in the grocery store walking down the soda aisle and your six year old daughters asks, loudly, "Daddy, what are hooters" for all nearby shoppers to hear, you had better quickly blame Hooters, the restaurant chain, lest you be stared down by fellow shoppers who wonder exactly what sort of language you teach your child at home. As you turn to your daughter and tell her quietly so other shoppers can't hear, "Well, honey, you don't have to worry about that for about six years. We'll talk about it then," an internal debate suddenly overwhelms you. Oddly, you can't seem to reconcile why hooters are on the shelf in the grocery store when they're usually attached to females and supported by a bra. Or, wait, are hooters just owls?
Suddenly, you forget why you're in the store in the first place. You take your daughter out of the cart, leave the store, walk to your car in which your wife is waiting and blurt, "Honey, your daughter wants to know what hooters are." Your wife stares at you and wonders how in the world a conversation about hooters would begin in the middle of a grocery store. Oh wait. The whole point of this story? Hooters is now selling Hooters-branded soda. And creating embarrassing moments for all.
It's no secret that the US's slow divorce from oil dependence is a transition frowned upon by some. But to joke about it? Publicly? Quel faux-pas.
That's why we dig Toyota Prius' ballsiness. This ad, put together by Saatchi & Saatchi in Poland, throws an ice breaker into the discourse. It doesn't make the Prius any prettier, but it certainly makes the brand more appealing.
Something about the sheikh's despondent expression brings to mind those sad westerns in which ways of life get torn asunder, and natives cruelly displaced, by the new guys in town. Oh sheikh, don't mourn too long for the past. We'd pat your shoulder, but we probably wouldn't recognize you through the tinted windows of the gold-encrusted Hummer.
We suspect Levi's puts its design cash toward licensing fees for the awesome songs they use in ads that keep us trying, year after year, to find a cool pair of Levi's jeans, even if history tells us this will never happen. Lame denim fits aside, the ads are sensory pop art.
We love -- love -- the Dangerous Liaisons ad for their 2007 line. At first we thought it was the usual booty-call striptease bit, because we've seen that gimmick a thousand times, but as the spot wore on we realized something more interesting happening.
In the Bartle Bogle Hegarty masterpiece, a couple undresses to reveal layers of decades suggested in clothing, demeanour, style and even background noise. It moves fluidly from the rough-and-tumble 19th century workjean years to 2007's waifish verge-of-tears emo period. All to the haunting and playful tune of "Strange Love" by Little Annie Bandez.
Time for another futile trip to the flagship store.
Everyone knows the Duck. Everyone's seen the Duck. Everyone's heard the Duck. Ben Affleck shared The Tonight Show couch with the Duck. The Duck has 85 percent brand awareness. But, what the hell does the duck stand for? That's the very question New Aflac CMO Jeff Herbert is dealing with right now. He claims the Duck has gained the company awareness for awareness' sake but hasn't done a good job supporting Aflac's brand messaging. He plans to lessen the Duck's role in future marketing and, surprise, actually explain what Aflac does. Gee, now there's a novel concept. Tell people what you actually do.
Herbert has reorganized Aflac's marketing department and plans to alter the company's media mix. relying less on television.
UPDATE: Aflac to media: Damn you, you trigger-happy journalists! A recent press release pumped out rom Aflac today states, "Contrary to recent media reports, Aflac has no intention of abandoning its use of the Aflac Duck." Herbert said, "Like all of America, we love the Aflac Duck. It is as central to our marketing efforts today as it will continue to be going forward." Um, Jeff, we never said the Aflac duck was disappearing. Ad Age said its wings would be clipped and we said it would take a backseat. OK, so maybe that was misleading and we (well, at least us here at Adrants) apologize if we misconstrued things.
However, we do think your brand needs to be identified with something more than a duck. You've achieved great awareness. We still don't know what you do. Maybe we're dumb but your advertising and that of many other's could stand to be a bit more descriptive and a bit less cute. After all, you do want people to hand their money over to you? They can't do that if they don't know what you can do for them.
Everybody who's anybody needs to have an online presence if they have any hope of being recalled offline. The only question is how to make that online presence engaging without doing something everyone else did already.
To solve this riddle, Mini Cooper looks two decades backward and brings 3D back with Turbovision. We're still waiting for our 3D glasses to arrive in the mail, which is annoying, but it makes us feel like kids again. When was the last time you received something as awesome as 3D glasses in the mail? Plus, after receiving free stuff from somebody you're always more inclined to check them out on the internet, so maybe this one's a winner. It's too soon to tell.
In any event a pair of red and blue specs will serve us in more ways than just one. We have every intention of wearing them as we walk down the street. Collars up, of course. We just need to find our ghetto blaster.
There's something totally classy about blowing coke up your nose with a McD's coke spoon. It ties you to America somehow, and to cheeseburgers, and to childhood.
In the '70's, McD's strange-looking stirring spoon gets adopted by the white powder cult. Panicked about becoming accomplices in the empire of blow, family-friendly McDonald's discontinues the multi-faceted units.
But this kind of thing doesn't die quietly. Artists Tobias Wong and Ken Courtney bring the hot spoons back - plated in 18k gold, disco-fever style. Pissed at their insolence, McD's released a cease and desist.
Oh come on. It's every fledgling brand's wet dream to be appropriated by some enthusiastic subculture. And who doesn't want the designer drug users (possibly now enthusiastic - and wealthy - pop-art consumers)? They define trendy.
Plus, coke-heads are generally skinnier than the obese protesters long courting the golden arches. They make natural retaliatory press. Getting fat? Forego the baked apple pie for a spoon. It's free! (Magic dust sold separately.)
While we're used to Google garnering residual PR for retooling old media for new ways to advertise, we're pretty unused to seeing Google actually advertise outside of sanctioned Google space or some kind of cross-brand. It's a card the uberbrand rarely pulls.
Shortly after deciding to make Gmail public (really this time, except not) Google's decided to start marketing for it too. And who did they tap as the vehicle to do the job? Youtube.
Nodding to critiques about big names doing bad at guerilla, Google makes sure we can't accuse them of getting too slick. The video takes place in a cubicle farm, is narrated by a 20-something and demonstrates Gmail's unique features with hand puppets made of office tools.
Clever, Google. They have a cavalier way of hawking great services by demonstrating none too shyly how much fun they're having. And even as VC's shake their heads in disgust at the grinning Googlers sipping smoothies, you have to admit few companies are willing to let their minions put their deskside office art on air. Maybe one day we'll be getting credit for our low-key talent as origami bird makers.
We pride ourselves on our unsurpassed potty-mouthage, so we feel a little outdone by this new Earth Day campaign that's kind of sponsored by Greenpeace.
The naughty prints are only "kind of" sponsored by Greenpeace because Exit3a copywriter Tom Mullen admits to AdCritic they haven't told the organization about the print series yet. "It's probably not legal, but there's too much paperwork, meetings and phone calls involved to get the campaign approved in time for Earth Day," he explains. "I figure Greenpeace is too busy getting sued by conglomerates to bother suing a few people who are trying to promote the cause. They can always officially deny the vulgarity."
If fortune favours the brave, perhaps that grace extends to those disinclined to ask permission for slapping mom-fucking ads out into the open and signing it Greenpeace.
We call this the conjure-bonds-by-insulting-the-source technique. This strategy occurs on the playground all the time, except it's done in crayon and usually ends in tears or angry phone calls. We have a feeling Greenpeace will be getting a few of the latter.