While test market pilots proved Procter & Gamble's word of mouth arm, Vocalpoint, is a success and increases sales, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association and Gary Ruskin's Commercial Alert are not pleased with Vocalpoint's army of 600,000 moms who spread buzz about P&G products and others because Vocalpoint does not require its "connectors" to disclose who they work for, a key tennet in the Word of Mouth Marketing Association's Code of Ethics.
While disclosure certainly appears to be the ethical thing to do, the debate as to whether it affects success can be debated until Paris Hilton can remember the name of the product she's hawking. Vocalpoint CEO Steve Knox says the company takes what he calls the "high road" adding, "We have a deeply held belief you don't tell the consumer what to say." Ruskin calls Vocalpoint and other word of mouth marketing efforts hinder trust and are causing a "commercialization of human relations." WOMMA Founding Member, Nielsen BuzzMetrics CMO and former P&G Brand Manager Pete Blackshaw adds, "There are a lot of word-of-mouth programs in play now, many of which are unsavory. As the leader in the industry, P&G has a higher obligation to set the right standard."
In the ongoing saga of documenting marketers' and outdoor companies' seemingly care free attitude regarding an modicum of common sense when it comes to positioning competitive advertisers, our eye on street, Bucky Turco, sends us yet another awkwardly placed set of outdoor posters. This time, two watch companies vie for attention on the same public phone booth. While we can't imagine anyone still uses a public telephone, that certainly hasn't stopped people walking past them. Wake up and smell the competition you knuckleheads.
Copyranter points us to Gawker today where the New York gossip site has, with the click of a button, allowed its readers to banish all ads from the site except for evian water who is sponsoring a detoxed version of the site for two weeks. Once the button is clicked, all ads disappear except for some subtle mention of evian, some soothing snow-capped graphics and a means for those who publish an RSS feed of their site to "detox" their own RSS feed. The sponsorship was done in partnership with Mediavest and Feedburner. This is what the Adrants RSS feed looks like "detoxed."
Leveraging consumer generated content, or whatever silly buzzword you want to throw at the notion of people creating stuff - as if that were something new, ViTrue Inc., following its acquisition of video sharing site Sharkle, is formalizing the process of random people created ads for specific brands. ViTrue, which has been playing in the people-powered ad space for some time, will introduce a process where marketers and their agencies can post a creative brief, solicit work, review and approve the work which will then appear on Sharkle and, perhaps on television.
On one hand, one could say it's just dumb to outside the industry to find new creative because no one outside the industry could possibly understand what makes a great ad. On the other hand, one could say our industry is an insular, ego-infested closet full of whack jobs who have been following the same lame formulas and creating the same boring ads for so long simply to win awards rather than sell product, anything would be an improvement. We're kinda thinking the other hand has the right idea here.
A couple years ago, UK telephone company Talk Talk ran a commercial that used people to form words. This month, a commercial for Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad did the same thing? Some would calls this a form of plagiarism. Others would call it an effective visual element. After all, British Airways did it. Countless others have including out all-time favorite, Carlton Draught's Big Ad, itself, a knock off of the British Airways ad. Certainly these two ads are very similar but are there really any new ideas left? Does it really matter if one ad uses the same visual element as another? Does anyone care?
Ray Del Savio has launched a weblog in an effort to drum up support for getting the word "concept" added to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary as a verb. Of course, all of us in the business who've been using the word to describe the act of coming up with an overall ad or campaign idea have been using the word as a verb forever. Savio's blog cites the Dictionary currently only recognizes the word as a noun and adjective.
The blog links to a petition that asks everyone to get behind its proposed addition to the Merriam-Webster listing of the word "concept." The proposed addition is al follows:
to con cept (knspt) - co cepted (knspt-ed) - con cept-ing (knspt-ing)
1. A process whereby ideas are generated for the purpose of creatively solving a problem: "The team set aside some time for concepting in order to flush out some plausible directions."
There are 56 signatures so far. We're all for it. What about you?
As we mentioned back in January, Pirelli would be releasing a BMW Films-style long form commercial. Well, it's out. Directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring John Malkovich and Naomi Campbell, it's got everything you'd expect from a Hollywood-created long form commercial: pretentiousness, overly dark and moody lighting, slowly mounting tension, credits that roll almost as long as the film itself and even humor. In the film, Malkovich must excorcize demon Naomi Campbell out of a suffering car that has tires that won't stop squealing and just aren't up to the job of controlling the car's devilish powers.
If you can keep yourself from laughing while Malkovich throws water at the devil-car while screaming "the power of Christ compels you" Exorcist-style only to have the car nonchalantly cast the holy water off with its windshield wipers, you'll appreciate the final scene in which Malkovich solves the cars problems by...well...just watch it. The entire film, whether it sells any tires or not, supports and aligns perfectly with the Pirelli tagline, "Power is nothing without control." You can view the film here.
Adrants reader Sanj points to this Joystiq commentary about an ad that appeared in the April 2006 issue of PC Gamer promoting the game Hitman. Joystiq wonders if the ad is too edgy and makes note one of the gaming site's readers suggested the ad goes down the "rape/murder fantasy" road. Perhaps we're just way too jaded and desensitized to take issue with any advertiser that spreads a women across the page as if she were anything other than a fantasy born out of the minds of agency creatives and high fashion photographers in love with their own assumed creative brilliance. And besides, it's fantasy game so of course the ad should connote fantasy. People read way too much into this stuff.
In what would appear to be a serious clash of brand personalities, Adrants reader Ryan tells us seemingly low brow beer Pabst Blue Ribbon is sponsoring seemingly high brow NPR on its show All Things Considered. One might assume this is just a dumb media buy. But if you think on it a bit, you'll realize a brand's personality is nothing more than what it's creators strive to make it. PBR is a beer that's lived in all corners of culture from blue collar to white collar, from hip to square. It would seem the folks behind PBR would like to take the brand in the direction NPR connotes and we think that's just fine.
Over at MediaShift, Mark Glaser is asking what kind of advertising people would actually like to see. I've always thought a return to simplicity would work wonders. In other words, toss aside all the over-produced, poor-excuse-for-entertainment commercials we see today and just explain the product. Tell the viewer what's being sold, who it's for, why they'd benefit from it and where they can buy it. Sounds simple but rarely does a commercial accomplish those simple goals. I'd be happy if all the commercial consisted of was a spokesperson standing in front of a white background delivering the information.
Consumers don't need to be lured into viewing a commercial with brainless entertainment. They need to be presented the facts quickly so they can determine whether or not the advertised product is for them and then move on. Too many commercial and ads leave one scratching their head wondering, "What the hell was that?" Or, they try to force a message or product on someone who clearly has no interest or need for the product. I mean how many times can you say "keep it simple stupid" before someone actually heeds that advice?