Yay, happy Earth ad!

In honor of Earth Day, here’s a very very happy ad for the Discovery Channel.

Called “I Love the World,” it begins with a conversation between two astronauts hovering over Ol’ Blue. “It never gets old, huh?” says one. “Nope.” comes the reply. And then they break into song, which is carried by a wide variety of happy people, from Bear Grylls (from Man vs. Wild) to Stephen Hawking. A few of my favorite moments include Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs crawling through some kind of disgusting pipe, singing “I love real dirty things,” and Adam from Mythbusters casually setting Jamie’s sleeve on fire while merrily singing the “boom-di-a-da” refrain. Like a preview for Mamma Mia, it just makes me feel happy.

I’m a huge fan of the Sony Bravia commercials that feature brightly colored randomness in public places (San Francisco bouncy balls, exploding paint barrels on old apartment buildings, claymation bunnies in downtown New York City). I’ve even reported on an apparently local effort for the same effect, colored string on a pyramid. But a good advertiser should know when it’s been “done” and move on to newer things.

Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be the case. A new TV spot goes back to the big “balls” success, now attempting to wow its audience with streets filled with soap foam. People play in the foam. They photograph the foam. They get hit in the face with foam. And overall, the spot comes across as a dry attempt to cash in on past success. 

It’s quite sad, really, but it’s a reminder to advertisers out there who are tempted to return to the same old ideas that worked before – a new idea only works when it’s new. Creativity doesn’t run out, people just get lazy. The last thing a client wants is an audience rolling its eyes and saying, “Next!”

Found on AdFreak.

A few months back I discussed how men are being used in advertising as the ultimate fall guys. When comedy is needed and someone needs to look stupid, ultimately it’s the guy in the spot who has to act the part. Fathers and husbands especially are the clueless “Homer Simpson” types who can’t do the simplest task without being correctly by a patient and amused wife, or even the exasperated kids.

It seems that this view is beginning to gain steam in the advertising community, as demonstrated by an article found today on Advertising Age called Men Are Not Idiots. I say it’s about time. I’m all for comedy in advertising, and taking these messages with a grain of salt – but equal-opportunity bashing is called for here. When was the last time an ad was shown where the bumbling, clueless character was the cute-as-a-button little girl in pigtails?

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.

Flying Penguins!

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.

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.

Earth Hour 2008

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!