Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

Everyone just chill

People love to get their feathers ruffled. I think it gives them something to do. They can post on blogs, rant to their friends, exclaim “Can you BELIEVE that???” with lots of question marks and capital letters. But more often than not, they end up backing themselves into a situation where the forest becomes obscured by all those annoying trees. Two articles found today on Advertising Age seem to illustrate this point. Neither article is long-winded, but the list of comments goes on and on and on… with people inciting flame wars and getting all bent out of shape over some very silly details.

The first: a comment about the new “we/me” logo for Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection. The article itself skewers the logo as a highly unoriginal recycling project. Featuring a leaf green circle with the word “we” spelled with an upside-down “m,” I admit it’s nothing earth-shaking, but it communicates the point and the use of the tail on the lower-case m does a nice a subtle job of cuing the viewer to flip the letter over in their mind. I can think of a lot more heavy-handed ways to communicate the same simple message. And so it’s green – of course it’s green, what do you expect? For good or bad, “green” is the buzzword of the day. It’s tough to communicate that idea effectively with, say, a red logo.

Ok, so the “brilliance” of the logo aside, there are 10 comments in response with everything from comparisons to the WE TV logo (it’s green, and it says we… that’s about where the similarity ends) to Gore bashing to support for the logo in defiance of the article. There’s even a mock suggestion that M&M should sue for infringement due to the green candy-shaped circle with an M on it.

Continuing to read through the articles, I run across a brief explanation of how the pro-Mexico Absolut ad caused the company to issue a public apology… and it was all due to a woman browsing a magazine in Mexico City, seeing an ad that she thought was amusing, and eventually posting it on her blog with surprisingly strong results. There was an article about this same ad earlier this week on AdFreak with its own flood of comments. Everyone getting their panties in a bunch because an ad that was meant for a country-specific market dared to suggest an alternate outcome to the Mexican-American war. The horror.

All I’m saying is, there are better things to get riled up about. It reminds me of the cliche of the “Mothers Against Anything” groups, clusters of squawking busybodies who have nothing better to do than sit around thinking of things to get outraged about. Seriously, people. Just chill.

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The BBC loves an April Fools Day prank, and this year they wanted penguins to fly. Take a look: 

And of course, the “making of,” which doesn’t go into a lot of detail but does show how much effort went into this fun spot, which did dual duty as a prank and as a promotion for their iPlayer. Fun stuff.  

Found on AdFreak.

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In a fascinating experiment with the phenomenon of too-much-info movie trailers, a movie critic writes his review of the movie “21” based solely on the movie’s preview. Using only the information released by the studio (including the characters’ names found on imdb.com), he was able to review the entire story arc, take a well-educated stab at the ending, and make a plausible argument for the quality of the flick. Then, the following day when the movie was actually released, he watched a screening and then posted an update to his critique with anything he may have gotten wrong.

Sadly, the review of the preview was actually more complimentary than the one of the movie itself, and was pretty darned spot-on as to the plot details. With a few minor revisions which seemed to be due to deliberately deceptive editing in the preview, the two reviews are the same except that it appears we got the better version of the movie in the trailer.

This method of getting people to go to the theater and watch your crappy movie seems so obvious, so pathetically transparent and so easily avoided that I wonder why the studios are still doing it. Anyone who watches a trailer like that might thing, “Hey, that looks like a fun movie. Maybe I’ll go see it.” Then when the movie comes out, wait one day or less and read a review or two, find out if the trailer was being manipulative or not, and then make a decision about whether or not to plop down ten bucks to watch the thing. A boring, badly-made movie isn’t going to be made into a blockbuster by a faux-exciting trailer, and no matter how much the studio plasters the trailer across websites and cable stations, it can’t hide behind the trailer when it is released in all its redundant glory.

Worse is when a preview for a comedy comes out, and you laugh your head off for the 60-second duration, and when it’s over you realize that you probably got every laugh out of the movie that you’re going to get. Cheap entertainment, yes, but sad to think that this valuable form of advertising has been watered down into nothing more than misleading freak show teasers – see the horse with its head where its tail should be! Of course, it’s a horse standing in its stall backward. What a letdown.

Found on AdFreak.

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Last year on this blog, while writing an article about ways that companies and agencies are trying to make a difference, I mentioned the amazing and inspiring results of Sydney, Australia’s effort to bring attention to climate change. For one hour, the city turned out the lights. 2.2 million people participated, and corporations got involved. Their goal was to reduce carbon emissions during that hour by 5%, but the enthusiasm for the attempt resulted in a 10.2% reduction.

This year, the Earth Hour movement has gone global. All across the world, cities and individuals are getting involved and turning out the lights on March 29 from 8-9 pm. Every person counts! Get involved in this event – have a candlelight dinner, watch the stars or have a “lights out” party with your neighborhood. Turn out the lights in your business’s building. Spread the word to everyone you know, and let’s make an impact: Lights Out on March 29!

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An article today on AdAge bemoans the continual loss of correct spelling and grammar from everything from personal messages to resumés to professional documents. I’ve found this to be quite the touchy subject since typically people don’t like to be corrected, especially on things like spelling and grammar which are often seen as rather petty subjects. However, the importance of these subjects is underscored time and again when people on the receiving end emphasize that a misspelled word or a typo can automatically disqualify a prospective employee or applicant, regardless of their other qualifications. It demonstrates an attention to quality and detail, and it shows that the writer is educated enough to care about how their written communication is perceived.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve intercepted a document or email going out to a client from a coworker, riddled with common mistakes that would have easily been caught by a proofreader or helpful friend or even a spellchecker. Why is it so difficult for people to admit a common weakness in this area and seek help? I know my arithmetic skills are by far my weakest point, and so I carry a calculator with me everywhere I go to double check my math. An incorrect sum can be costly and often embarrassing, and I’ve been burned enough times to know I should take steps to prevent these mistakes. But drive down any city street and there are public signs on every side proclaiming “theirs no better deal” or “don’t loose time.” It’s generally considered impolite and nit-picky to correct someone on these errors. Why is that?

Call it a pet peeve, call it a rant – but the art of writing correctly is a skill that is highly valued, even if it’s often subliminal.

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Here are a couple of tv spots that caught my attention today. The first is a Guinness commercial from 1999 that I’ve never seen, but seems iconic enough to hold a spot near Apple’s 1984 commercial.

The second is a very cleverly done Volkswagen commercial – it’s always nice to see a car commercial that does something different. Enjoy.

Found on AdFreak.

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The recent 3-hour closure of Starbucks stores around the country was intended to show consumers that the chain was dedicated to improving the quality of their beverages. As a PR effort, one would think it was highly successful, since news and media picked up the story and made sure that everyone knew they wouldn’t be able to get their grande skinny decaf iced frappucinos for those three hours, and that desperate caffeine addicts would have to get their fix elsewhere. However, the message faltered in that only about 50% of people surveyed knew WHY the stores were going to be closed. This grand gesture of selfless quality enhancement went right over the heads of about half of their consumers. Rather than try to make a spectacle of the event, they might as well have held the training during non-business hours and saved themselves 3 hours worth of business income.

I wouldn’t call it bad enough to be a failure, but when it comes to PR, the message has to be absolutely clear, because people are way too impatient to read more than a few words.

Found on Ad Age.

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