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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Ok. So you want to build a new brand, specifically one that competes with a global powerhouse. In a brainstorming session, some genius suggests giving away money. Who doesn’t want money? That would make people love us! So you pick a huge, overcrowded city and hide your signature vegetable in a public area, then release a press release telling everyone in this huge city to go and find the vegetable which will have cash attached. What could possibly go wrong?

Of course, the result of this colossally stupid idea is that mobs of people, seemingly desperate for a few bucks, rip the public area to shreds and attack the person who finds the money, sending him to the hospital and summoning the police to break up the riot. All of which is captured on video, posted on the new company’s global powerhouse competition, and the new company has successfully gotten its name out to lots of people who now think they are complete idiots. Worse, the event organizers leave the scene without cleaning up their mess (remember the time the raccoons got into your trash cans after a particularly big house party? You get the idea) and any possibility of good PR is lost.

A company representative is quoted saying, “Maybe next time, I would plan this better.” Brilliant!

Found on AdFreak.

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An article on AdAge recently discussed the results of a study about how price affects brain function. Apparently, if someone thinks they are getting something expensive, the pleasure center of the brain reacts at a higher level than if they believe they are getting something cheap or at a discount. It seems the message of this study is that if you want your brand to be sought-after, it’s best not to give out coupons or run sales.

Makes sense to me. I certainly have a better feeling when I shop at, say, Nordstrom’s rather than Wal-Mart. But if I shop at Nordstrom’s during a big sale and can actually afford to buy something, I have to say that makes me feel even better because the guilt factor is decreased. Maybe that’s something the study didn’t take into account – if those people sipping wine and being told they were drinking $90-a-bottle Pinot Noir were also informed that their checking account was being debited for each precious sip, they might not feel quite so fantastic about it.

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Ever wondered how some cultural staples came to be? The Slinky, Mr. Potato Head, Trivial Pursuit… all items that most households have at least one of. Today CNN features an article about how each of seven famous toys made it big, including the winners (not always the inventor) and the losers (sometimes being cautious & doing your research doesn’t pay off). It’s a fascinating look at how often circumstances beyond control can be manipulated into gold with the right amount of creativity and courage.

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Ok so this isn’t quite fair… it’s not exactly about advertising, and I’m posting it mainly because I am totally addicted to this show. But anyone who has kept up with Lost for the last few years knows that it’s returning at the end of this month. While my significant other is making it a point to avoid all the teaser previews (think fingers in the ears La-La-La kind of avoidance), I am looking for any scrap of news that will give me my Lost fix until the season premiere.

So it’s not exactly cheating if I find one of those scraps on another advertising blog, is it? Earlier this week AdFreak posted an entry about a new promotional game called Find 815. It’s based on a set of characters that are not recognized from the show: a guy who used to work for Oceanic Airlines, and his search for his girlfriend who was a flight attendant on the doomed airplane. Her name is Sonya and I can’t remember if she was one of the survivors or not – but if the writers want to tie in the game to the show, they never hesitate to pull out some random new character and claim that they were extras the whole time. So of course I’m now checking in on this online flash game every day, playing the little puzzles, clicking on pictures and searching for all the little hidden goodies that no doubt someone smarter than me will find a lot quicker.

One clever advertising move – often the game spits you out onto their partner network site (ABC) to play one of the puzzles. Of course this increases traffic to their website and offers a chance to advertise other shows. Not all is lost when entertainment can pull double-duty like that.

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Burger King prank

Ok. This I do not understand. Burger King apparently thinks it’s a great idea to conduct experiments on their loyal customers by lying to their faces, telling them that the Whopper has been discontinued, causing mass confusion and anger in people who chose Burger King for their lunch because they like Burger King. They also did the old switcheroo on some other customers, who ordered and paid for a Whopper and got instead a Wendy’s or a McDonald’s burger in their bag, and then were accused of trying to pull one over on the employees. Somehow this was made to seem ok because in the end the “boss,” i.e. The Creepy King Himself, offers the offended and angry customer a Whopper on a plate with a big plastic grin.

So what are they trying to prove here? That Burger King customers actually came to Burger King because they like the food? Really?? I always go to fast food restaurants because I’d really prefer to have gone to their competition next door, but I was just too lazy to drive the extra 20 feet to their driveway.

According to the over-dramatic voice over, this experiment proves that the Whopper is America’s most beloved burger, and when deprived of this most necessary sustenance, the loyal public will revolt. Actually, I think what it proves is that when someone goes to a burger joint and orders their food, they want it quick and as expected – however squashed or soggy it normally appears – or they will complain. Thus is the nature of the fast food eater. And when some whiny, underpaid flunky behind the counter tells you that you, the customer, is wrong, it makes you mad. That’s quite the social experiment there… on par with scientists discovering that water is good for you or that sticking one’s hand into a vat of molten metal might not be a healthy thing to do.

From a marketing perspective, it really makes no logical sense. Take a happy group of loyal customers, make them really really mad, take away the reason they came to the restaurant, and then tell them it was a prank. Yup, that’ll make them rethink their next visit to the drive through.

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AIGA Charlotte recently held a panel discussion with the women of Charlotte design. Speakers included Shannon Bone, spec rep from Xpedx Paper; Christy Vannetta, client service with StudioBanks; Carolyn Colonna, art director at Birdsong Gregory; Kara Hollinger, art director at Ginger Griffin; and Terry Cox, president of BIG Council.

The questions ranged from topics like what challenges they face as women in business in Charlotte, whether they thought Charlotte is a more or less challenging place to be a woman in business, what advantages they have over their male counterparts in the design industry, and how difficult it has been to overcome the southern tradition of male-dominated business.

The panelists had a lot to say. Their responses were mostly positive, with most agreeing that in our particular industry, they had not noticed a heavy bias toward men. They all agreed that Charlotte is a growing city with a huge opportunity for business, and for the most part (barring the occasional “little lady” comment) is open to women in business just as much as men. They were upbeat about the design community as being open and welcoming, as opposed to some other cities where the fear of competition keeps friendliness at bay. One panelist mentioned that, as the only woman in her small agency, she found it difficult only when the guys held their semi-annual beard-growing competitions, when she had to convince her clients that the company wasn’t being run by a bunch of hobos.

The discussion ended on a lighter note with the panelists being asked what kind of shoe they would be. Flip-flips, sneakers, black heels and Gucci loafers were the wide-ranging answers, which reflects the style of the women of Charlotte business – from comfy to classy, from no-nonsense to slightly decadent, women in Charlotte come in all kinds, and all are finding their pace.

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wedding tv spot

A new spot in being shown in California shows a beautiful girl getting ready to walk down the aisle. The footage is sepia, the girl is radiant. Her father comes to escort her to her groom, but along the way they meet a series of obstacles: a locked door, tightly parked cars, cans, a broken heel, a low-hanging tree that snags her veil from her head, a clingy flower girl. Just when we think she can shake it off and go marry her handsome man, a guest sticks a cane into her path, leaving her sprawling on the ground, as her groom leaps to try and help her but he is restrained. It’s a heartbreaking scene, and we wonder why it happened – until the end titles tell us “Every day, gay and lesbian couples are prevented from marrying the people they love. Support the freedom to marry.”

Well done, I say. One of the most difficult things to do sometimes is to see life from someone else’s shoes, especially for people who already have their minds made up about something. This spot may not change minds instantly, but perhaps it will cause a split second of empathy, of doubt, which could someday blossom into a greater understanding and acceptance of those who live their lives differently than we are used to.

Love is one of those things that has never been stopped by the boundaries that society tries to put on it. The son of the rich man falls in love with the maid. The Montague falls in love with the Capulet. And yes, throughout history men and women have fallen in love with people of the same gender. Marriage is about commitment, acceptance and love – not the rules that have for so long made it available only to those who fit the mold.

Found on Ad Age

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