Showing posts from 2009

SAAB, Venerable Swedish Brand, Dies at GM's Hand

Don't you hate mornings where you wake up to learn from the New York Times that yet another intrinsic part of your youth has died?

with a narrow, though loyal, customer base focused on Sweden, Britain and the American Northeast, Saab has proved too small to lure the world’s big automakers, many of which are seeking tie-ups to increase economies of scale.

For me, learning that SAAB would be closed by the feckless GM demons who became their master left a big hole in my heart. Why? Because a 1972 SAAB Model 96 was the first car I ever bought with my own money. It was my first automobile-based personal brand statement. I was a budding iconoclast, and could think of no better way to show that to the world than to drive around in this funny looking foreign car.

The ignition on floor. The handle under the dashboard that you could pull out so the car would freewheel at highway speeds, settling the car into an eerie quiet as the motor shut down to idle, and the little upside-down bathtub th…

Swiss Perfection

Here's a nice ad I came across for Swiss tourism:

The self-deprecating humor is good, something of an antidote to all the bad press the country has been getting lately as a result of the shameful minaret ban.

Yelling "Tiger" in a Crowded Theater

The sponsors are stampeding for the exits. The agency execs are fleeing from their private boxes, glasses of scotch left behind by the frenzied departures.

From today's New York Times:
Accenture is the first of Mr. Woods’s many sponsors to withdraw its support completely. Gillette has said that it would remove its Woods-related advertising for now and other sponsors, like AT&TPepsiCo and Nike, have said they will wait to see when and how Mr. Woods returns to golf before making any permanent decisions. EA Sports, which has a line of best-selling Tiger Woods video games, is also standing by the golf star.
In response to Accenture’s announcement, Mark Steinberg, Mr. Woods’s agent, said, “We are disappointed but respect their decision.”
Accenture’s decision is another example of how risky it can be for corporations to base their marketing efforts on individual celebrities in an age when blogs, camera phones and the digital footprint left by the celebrities themselves can quickly e…

Even Online, it's Location Location Location

Dean Donaldson writes in AdAge Digital about how that old-school marketing maxim - Location, Location, Location - still holds true, even in the new frontier of online advertising:

Historically, we create ads in an assortment of shapes and sizes and stick them everywhere, only to find ourselves surprised when the same creative generates a range of results across many environments. It's relatively obvious, actually: Surely the impact of a piece of creative that works effectively in one in environment will differ -- sometimes radically -- when placed in another.

This article has a great set of guidelines for where you should try and place your online ads, depending on what you want the viewer to do.

I'd Watch Forever if They Made it Last that Long

We've seen a lot of innovation around ad length in the past couple of years, from Miller's 1-second mini-spots to this three-minute adventure from Chanel.

I have to say, give me a good story with compelling visuals, like Chanel has done, and I'll watch forever. Perhaps Miller is best left doing those fivers, because I can't imagine they could ever come up with material to sell cheap beer that could ever compare to this:

Imagine, an ad so compelling I willingly replayed it several times over. That's the power of creativity.

Advertising will Unchain Us from Our Desks

In Ad Age today:

Paul Leys, director of Ignition Factory East at Omnicom Group's OMD, said agencies and marketers alike have gotten a lot of mileage out of what's happened in the smartphone sector and believes e-reader will soon be offering up the same opportunities. "The platform is showing a lot of innovation for the print industry -- how you can read magazines and how social can be integrated," he said. "Just imagine being able to read GQ and see someone else on the other side of the country reading the same article at the same time and being able talk to them about it. Suddenly there's a different social aspect being added to e-readers. We don't know exactly what this aspect will be yet, but we are excited as there continues to be innovation in the platform."

I have long believed that some sort of flexible, portable, and highly useful eReader would eventually come about, and with it a revolution in how we lived and worked. I've always imagined…

Don't Anger the Ad Gods

From the Lede in the NY Times:

Last year, when Roger Federer failed to win a medal at the Beijing Olympics, I asked in a blog post whether he, along with Tiger Woods and Thierry Henry, may somehow have offended the gods of sport by appearing together in [a] television ad for Gillette...

As I noted in a previous post, the real problem is marketers who rely on the "gods" of sports to represent their brands, and who are always surprised when these gods and their hubris end up damaging the brand. 

When will Gillette realize that what they need is some ne'er-do-wrong gecko, caveman, bunny, or duck to represent their product, instead of a real human being with only the temporary veneer of god-dom?

Sigh. Never.

One of Our Most Successful Brands Seen on TV

I'm always glad to see one of the brands we help create do well. In this case, it's our client, RoliRoti, who came to us eight years ago as "Swiss Chicken." The WESSLING Group did a total rebrand, from the new name (think Rolling Rotisserie) to the logo, website, and brand strategy. RoliRoti founder Thomas Odermatt was featured on View from the Bay recently, where he was called "the Grandfather of Gourmet Street Food."

Wow. Does that make me the "Grandfather of Gourmet Street Food Branding?"

You can see the video featuring Thomas and RoliRoti here:

His part is about 2/3 of the way through.

Twitter's Ghosts

From AdAge today:

Twitter is not dead, but nobody really cares that I put milk on my cereal this morning.

Taddy Hall, of Meteor, suggests that while still a revolutionary tool, Twitter's value is declining because the value of your followers is declining, too:

The currency in Twitter is followers. Fine, but one of the essential attributes of currency is that it is either intrinsically valuable (gold) or a proxy for value (greenbacks). And what we have with Twitter is a currency (followers) of little or no value -- intrinsic or implied.

What we have all realized is that the best way for me to get you to follow me -- more "currency" for me -- is for me to follow you. I scratch your back and you scratch mine. That neither of us pays any attention to the other's tweets is a trifling concern.

My advice for businesses using Twitter: Make your tweets relevant and useful. Link back to a relevant page on your website or an equally relevant blog post. Don't tweet everything…

Don't Put a Tiger in Your Tank

As I saw Tiger Woods in an online ad for Accenture the other day, I couldn't help but think "Why the hell didn't they pull that as soon as they heard the news?" 
From AdAge:

The squeaky clean image of golf's greatest player and the sports world's most lucrative endorser took a hit over Thanksgiving weekend -- no pun intended. Mr. Woods was involved in a single-car accident, but the timing, the circumstances, the aftermath and the ever-churning rumor mill quite possibly have endangered his own brand and his estimated nine-figure annual endorsement deals with several blue-chip companies.
"I think this incident ultimately will have a negative effect on the Tiger Woods brand," said sports marketing expert Robert Tuchman, exec VP of New York-based sports and entertainment marketing company Premiere Global Sports. "Regardless of the facts, there are brand marketers who might pass at looking at him now. I think as this situation unfolds and how he handle…

Lighten Up for the Holidays

From Stuart Elliot of the NY Times

With the third season of “Mad Men” concluding as the characters advanced to December 1963, how long will it be before they meet other familiar Madison Avenue figures of the period like Darrin Stephens and Larry Tate of the McMann & Tate agency on “Bewitched”?

Stuart is having some gentle fun at the expense of the advertising industry in his piece, but given what a difficult year we've all had, I wasn't able to muster that much mirth, with the exception of the quote above. I think Darrin Stephens is the real reason I went into advertising...

The Crowd was Stacked with Ad Pros

From AdAge:

Unilever's meat snack brand Peperami has announced the results of its crowdsourcing experiment, awarding a $15,000 prize to two professional advertising creatives with 50 years experience between them.

Kevin Baldwin, a copywriter from London, and Rowland Davies, an ex- creative director from Germany, were both chosen as winners and will have their ideas combined to form the brand's new campaign, due to launch early next year.
I find crowdsourcing to be an interesting concept, but if the winners are veteran Ad Men, then aren't they essentially just inefficiently sourced freelancers? Think of the sheer volume of submissions they must have had to plow through just to get down to choosing the ones with significant experience learned at an agency.

Perhaps someone should rethink this strategy...

"Natural" Representation of Asians in Advertising Advances

Living in multicultural, coastal cities such as San Francisco, the "natural" inclusion of Asian characters in advertising doesn't seem like a big thing. But for mass advertisers to give the middle of the country something other than karate experts and Chinese laundrymen is certainly a step forward.

Bill Imada makes note of this with some good examples in his recent AdAge article:

AT&T, Priceline, Walt Disney and IKEA are just a handful of the many marketers who have included Asians in their commercials. And unlike the past, these Asian actors have roles that don't perpetuate or accentuate some of the tired stereotypes that have plagued Asians and Asian Americans for decades.

I particularly enjoy the Priceline ad, in which William Shatner continues to amuse us by sending up his own bizarre self, and leaving the viewer to identify completely with the other characters in the ad, regardless of their ethnicity:

Ho Ho Hum. The "Doghouse" is Back

There's a reason Tootsie Pop waited nearly forty years to rerun their classic "How many licks..." ad on TV again.

Too bad somebody from Tootsie Pop wasn't advising JC Penney, which has decided to run it's very popular "Doghouse" viral video again this year (from AdAge):
Regardless of whether the ad critics liked JC Penney's "Beware of the Doghouse" viral video last year, the masses did.
The idea behind the film was that men who gave their wives lame holiday gifts, such as vacuum cleaners, would be dropped down a rabbit hole called the doghouse to be judged by a jury of scathing, scorned wives. The campaign racked up millions of views in its quest to promote JC Penney's jewelry department -- jewelry, of course, being the ticket out of the doghouse.
I very much enjoyed the original, even though it was long (why does everybody have so much trouble with good things being longer than stupid things?), but I have to say I was barely able to mana…

Richard Branson Predicts the Death of TV

From an interview in AdAge yesterday:

Ad Age: Virgin America doesn't use much TV or print at all, so what are your thoughts on the future of the more traditional advertising mediums?
Mr. Branson: Conventional television obviously is dying as an advertising medium and will continue a slow death, whereas obviously the web and other forms of new media will continue to grow.
It will clearly be sharing its grave with radio, newspapers, magazines, billboards, posters, and the like, right?

While I admire Mr. Branson immensely, I think making such broad and unsupportable statements is a bit beneath his integrity.

He also announces here that he will be moving Virgin into banking in the coming year. The brand's future brand essence is "People's Champion, Slayer of Giants" so I think that fits in quite nicely with the Virgin ethos, don't you?

McDonald's Goes Green: Insanity, or Brilliance

From the "This has to be a hoax" department:

McDonald's is going green — swapping its traditional red backdrop for a deep hunter green — to promote a more eco-friendly image in Europe.
About 100 German McDonald's restaurants will make the change by the end of 2009, the company said in a statement Monday. Some franchises in Great Britain and France have already started using the new color scheme behind their Golden Arches.
"This is not only a German initiative but a Europewide initiative," Martin Nowicki, McDonald's Germany spokesman, told The Associated Press.
Dropping more than a half-century's worth of branding in favor of a consumer trend towards "greener" products? Has McDonald's gone mad?

...or is it branding genius? Since so many of their competitors (Wendy's, BK, In-n-Out) have the classic red/yellow color combo, could they be leveraging part of their massive brand equity to disrupt the fast-food market landscape?

I have to say, I…

What Color is Your Social Marketing?

From the Economist:

In professional networking, argues Dan Serfaty, Viadeo’s founder, having local depth is better than signing up a narrow slice of the highest-powered people around the world.

Viadeo is a business social networking site that is popular in France. In Germany, Xing is the thing. Go over to China, and you'd better be on Tianji.

Will there ever be a gold-standard, global business social marketing site, or will local always be the most important and valuable aspect?

AOL Brand Overhaul: DOA, SOL, WTF?

What to do when you've got a stinker of a brand that hasn't kept up with the times? Revamp. Rebrand. Reposition. Just Reanything, if we can get a pulse out of the damn thing!

Actually, I agree with the reasoning behind AOL getting a brand revamp, as we often find that works well for our clients whose brands have fallen behind the times. But they usually have a product or service that still has relevance.

Does AOL have relevance, or is it too little, too late? Also, how did they know all us Ad Men would immediately don our "Snark Hats?"

From the NY Times:

Whatever AOL does or does not do, Ms. Marquess said, there will be gibes from critics, whom she called “the snarkies” after the snarky comments they invariably make.
“We need to give people a reason to care again” about AOL, she added, which is worth drawing swipes from the sidelines.
Gabe Fried, chief executive at Streambank in Needham, Mass., a financial advisory firm focused on intellectual property assets, said the ne…

Nothing Sweet About the Business of Chocolate

From Ad Age this morning, Ferrero in talks to acquire Cadbury:

Cadbury is the chess piece that could determine who leads the world's confectionery market, depending on whose hands the company ends up in.

The business of confectionery is big, big money, and if this deal goes through, Mars will no longer hold the top spot in the world of schoggi (that's Swiss-German for chocolate, my friends).
Now, will this mean that the quality of Cadbury's candy bars will improve? One can only hope.

This is Why We Have Art. And Advertising.

Offered without further comment:

Luxury Brands: Lost in the Woods?

My previous post about luxury retailers "getting online religion" was countered this morning by an article in the very same publication, the NY Times. Of course, the roadblock ad that came up before they would show me the business section was one for Bulgari watches. How appropriate...

“What’s luxury retailing about?” Mr. Sadove said. “It is about a scarcity of supply.”

Well, if luxury retailing is about scarcity of supply, then why are so many luxury brands looking to go the route of online retailing, which promises the lowest price and immediate availability?

I think there's some confusion in the cabal luxe about the collective message they should be sending to consumers. That having been said, I was in Barney's just yesterday, and the salesman told me of a pending "secret" price reduction, but cautioned that this was going to be it, and that inventory was so low, there probably wouldn't be much left for after Christmas bargain hunters. 

Get it now! Limit…

Are Leads Gathering Forms Actually Deterring Prospects?

I've been struggling with this one for a while: You get someone to your site. You want them to see your demo so they can fall in love with your product. But in order to get a peek, they have to give up some data.

Now, certainly we would want only qualified buyers to be using our bandwidth and seeing that expensive web demo...or would we want pretty much anyone to see it, and look for an upside to the brand value and expect to see a rise in overall sales as a result?

I haven't seen a definitive study on this yet. I see lots of good conjecture, but has anyone found a reputable data point that says we should get info first, give goodies second, or is vice versa--free goodies, asking for info later--the better approach?

Over at there is a good discussion of all this and some good articles, but no study. I found a claim from a 2006 paper given at the MarketingSherpa's Demand Generation Summit that 94% take a look at the form and then leave, but there was no …

RIT Finds Consumers Queasy About Online Tracking

A study by the Rochester Institute of Technology finds a majority of Americans don't wish to have online ads personalized to them, especially if that personalization comes about as a result of websites tracking their movements:

"The desire by a majority of Americans not to be followed for the purpose of tailored content comes at a time when behavioral targeting is a fast-growing advertising practice upon which many content providers have staked their businesses ... Americans’ widespread rejection of relevant tailored advertising is particularly startling because it flies in the face of marketers’ consistent contention that Americans desire for relevant commercial messages justifies a variety of tracking activities. When three contemporary forms of behavioral tracking are highlighted, rejection of tailored ads is even more widespread. The finding applies across all age groups, including young adults, a cohort that media executives have insisted cares little about information pr…

Luxury Retailers get Online Store Religion

What does luxury mean in a world where anyone, it seems, can readily purchase "luxury" goods. Does a Rolex watch still inspire awe? A Jil Sander suit?

From the NY Times:

Not long ago, said Federico Marchetti, the founder of Yoox, a company in Milan that runs retailing sites for luxury brands like Valentino, Emilio Pucci and Jil Sander, “there was a lot of skepticism.”
“Now,” he said, “it is the opposite.”

How can advertisers of luxury products differentiate when one of the key tenets of luxury is exclusivity?

Is Print Greener than eMarketing?

Interesting new paper out from the Print Council showing that traditional print is greener than eMarketing. In the Fall 09 Blueline, the PINC (Printing Industries of Northern California) newsletter, Frank Romano (an industry "guru" according to the newsletter), noted:

"We are trying to replace paper with electronic forms of communication," Romano says. "Eliminating paper is not green. I'm sorry, the world is not going to be any better off...Electricity comes from a plant somewhere and in order to get electircity, you have to burn something, usually coal. That's what goes into the atmosphere...There is a a cost for all of the electronics. We grow trees and we can plant more trees."

Are marketers, consumers, and advertisers all making a big mistake?