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?
Following up his not so positive opinion of ABC's move to offer shows online for free, Todd Copelvitz (yes, you will be hearing a lot more from him) offers ABC five suggestions on how they could have, and still can, make the offering better and more inline with people's media consumption habits. For Copelvitz, as it is for us, it's about choice. Provide people choices. Todd says ABC should offer their programming in multiple formats. Not just ad-supported online of pay-per-download from iTunes but provide a full gamut of choices from pay to free, from TV to cell phone. Let the consumer choose to pay for ad-free TV or ad-supported TV. Let them choose the sponsors they want to hear from as Weatherbug does. Adding to that, make the commercial specific to the medium through which it is delivered. TV gets bog bold production. Cell phone gets smaller, more interactive version.
In reaction to ABC's announcement it would provide advertiser-supported free programming online without the ability to skip ads, Todd Copelvitz suggested ABC check out these things called DVRs and Slingbox which allows a person to access their DVR from anywhere in the world...and skip the ads. Now, Todd has a guest writer who likens the industry's missteps 100 years ago with the advent of radio to current missteps by broadcaster faced with the possibilities the Internet provides.
The writer wonder about ABC's mindset here writing, "...does anyone really believe that if you force me to sit through a commercial while watching one of these shows online that I'll really pay attention to it? Nope, I'll be checking my email, having an IM conversation and paying my bills online. Because that's how I use my broadband connection and any advertiser trying to get my attention has to understand that."
On this week's episode of The Apprentice, Donald Trump, with his usual "listen to me speak because I don't give a sit what you say" style, fired home builder Bryce, pretty much the most level-headed, well-grounded apprentice in the bunch. His team lost a challenge in which they had to develop a jingle for Arby's new like or natural chicken sandwiches. While we're not so sure why that's such a differentiating factor since we've never met an unnatural chicken - except perhaps in a bucket of fried KFC, the Arby's execs wanted to drive home the point their chain is the only place to get natural chicken. I wonder if they's ever heard on Boston Market or any other restaurant that serves chicken. Now, if they mean organic, hormone-free chicken that isn't slammed against a wall to kill it like PETA so loves to show us in its videos, that might be something to hang the "only" strategy on.
Because News Corp. is salivating over the potential millions in ad revenue advertisers eager to reach 60 odd million MySpace members may dump in its lap, the company is cleaning up MySpace, removing racy profiles and "offensive" images. It may all be for not as teens and twenty something will likely say "screw it" to News Corp's attempts at cleanliness and move to other social media spaces or create ones none of us has heard of yet. MySpace became a guerrilla overnight. It could fail overnight too. These days, it's too easy for people to gravitate to a place where they feel comfortable rather than put up with corporate censorship simply to please advertisers. It's the advertisers who will have to adjust rather than the corporations.