Friday, August 31, 2007

Sue A&P rappers, gain 20,000 YouTube views

You may have read this morning that A&P is suing two former employees, who, under the name Fresh Beets, made a video (embedded above) called "Produce Paradise" which features some NSFW actions being taken with some of the wares in the produce section. As of Mediapost's coverage of the lawsuit this morning, said video had 60,000 views during its first three weeks on YouTube; now it's up to almost 80,000. Smart move, A&P. THE LATEST: As of about 6 p.m. on Labor Day weekend, total views were closing in on 94,000. And you'd think that during the last weekend of the summer, people would have something better to do.

Borg, McEnroe compete again for Tesco

Like my buds over at AdFreak, I'm a sucker for aging tennis icons this time of year. They reference this spot this morning for Tesco featuring John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg in a game of competitive grocery shopping. I find the very idea of John McEnroe shopping for produce funny, but this commercial also has other moments.

McCann most powerful chick in advertising

Forbes is out with its list of the World's 100 Most Powerful Women, and the most powerful woman in the agency industry's neck of the woods is not Shelly Lazarus. It's Renetta McCann, CEO of Publicis' Starcom Mediavest Group, coming in at a respectable #41 (although last year she was #27). Lazarus barely makes the list, at #96. With the proviso that such lists shouldn't be overanalyzed, you have to wonder whether the fact that McCann actually controls client money—while Lazarus doesn't—contributes to the huge disparity between the two. Or maybe it's just that Lazarus has held her job for since 1996, making McCann, who has only been CEO since 2005, more newsworthy. Picture from Starcom MediaVest web site.

Geico spots featuring those other cavemen

Best I could do in terms of finding the new Geico spots was this link to the Flintstones commercial on Adweek. Surprisingly, there's no mention of those other cavemen in this spot, which, like a similar one featuring The Beverly Hillbillies, is presented as a, um, mock-u-mentary uncovering how each fictitious family could really afford certain aspects of their lifestyle. (In Wilma's case, it's that necklace made of huge rocks.) Of course, the answer is by buying insurance from Geico. I don't think the Flintstones spots are any match for the earlier caveman spots, but, as you may have noticed if you're a regular reader, the Geico spots continue to fascinate. The campaign's singular achievement, I think, is that it's really a bunch of campaigns running more or less concurrently. I can't think of any other advertiser that runs four or so completely different efforts and still makes the message so memorable that no one ever mistakes the geckos, cavemen, Beverly Hillbillies and those ads featuring Little Richard and the Movie Voiceover Guy as being for any other company. Having a big budget helps, but much of it has to do with The Martin Agency's idiosyncratic approach to crafting a campaign.

Maurice Levy with Charlie Rose

I wouldn't normally post clips of 55-minute interviews, but what the hell, it's the Friday before Labor Day, and anyone who is in the office needs something to do besides really working. Thus, with a tip of the hat to AgencySpy, which unearthed it, we present a 2004 interview of Publicis chief Maurice Levy with Charlie Rose. For some reason, there's a cameo appearance by the Money Honey. Maybe she digs his alluring French accent.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Is Yahoo ad sales purge going too far?

Here's a look at the staff memo (WSJ online subscription required until Rupert opens the floodgates) distributed to Yahoo employees yesterday about the latest reorg, which buries the lead that Greg Coleman, the former Reader's Digest exec who was exec vp/global sales, is leaving the company. The specific passage about Coleman is the usual corporate pablum: " ... we mutually agreed that Greg would leave Yahoo! to pursue other opportunities. We are fortunate that he will continue to assist us in this transition through February, closely advising the team ... " The departure of Coleman is hardly surprising, but I keep wondering whether this throwing-out-the-baby-with-the-bathwater approach Yahoo has been taking with its ad sales team and top management will wind up being a mistake. Changes need to be made, certainly, but the whole reason the Coleman/Wenda Harris Millard team was brought in under former CEO Terry Semel was to help mainstream advertisers become comfortable with advertising online, and so they used old-fashioned Madison Avenue methods, such as hand-holding and inspiring creatives to create decent online ads, to get the ad deals rolling in. Advertisers are more comfortable online than they were six or so years ago—when the Terry Semel era began—but there are plenty of advertising and media people, with huge budgets, that still appreciate the old-style approach. For Yahoo's sake, let's hope that Hilary Schneider, the former Knight-Ridder exec who will now largely be in charge of Yahoo's advertising relationships, plans to continue some of what the former team built.

So, who are Paul Lavoie's Facebook friends?

OK, folks. It's time for number three in our series investigating whose friends with who on Facebook. We think we've got the right Paul Lavoie, based on the percentile of his head pictured on his profile page (registration required) and pictured here. As to why we picked the founder of Taxi, this investigative series is entirely random and since a source close to Adverganza's thinking mentioned Taxi this morning, we haven't been able to get the bald one out of our (beautifully-coiffed) head. OK, that pre-amble was quite long enough. Here are Paul's Facebook friends: Fallon (we think) art director Adrien Bindi, Jonathan Careless, a Toronto-based copywriter, ad-guy-about-town Bryan Chiao, Goodby's Mike Geiger, The Barbarian Group's Benjamin Palmer and Rick Webb, the Ontario College of Art + Design's Sherry Martin, MTVu's Ross Martin and many, many more.

HSBC has to face(book) the music

This story is extremely cool, if you're a consumer, that is. If you're a marketer, beware—or at least listen up. The National Union of Students in the U.K. has successfully mobilized against HSBC on Facebook, after the bank suddenly started charging overdraft fees to students. (Let's not get into whether the bank should be able to charge such fees to those who can't balance their checkbook. Apparently, that hadn't been HSBC's previous practice with NUS members.) The Facebook group had grown to 4000 members, which has caused HSBC, "to freeze interest on 2007 graduate overdrafts up to £1,500, with future policy subject to review. All those recent graduates who have been subject to additional interest charges this August will be eligible for a refund." By agreeing to this, HSBC was able to stop a real-world protest slated for Sept. 4 at its headquarters. While no company wants picketers outside its door, it's getting so that, as compared with a Facebook protest, it might be the lesser of two evils.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

John McEnroe mad for American Express

Unlike Andy Roddick, there's little doubt about whether John McEnroe knows where his mojo is. Maybe that was the thought behind this new American Express campaign centering on the Card's dispute resolution services, timed, of course, for maximum exposure during the U.S. Open, which draws on McEnroe's long, confrontational history for both a commercial (which you can see here), and a fairly amusing film on "The Art of the Dispute." It features McEnroe commentating on some of the baddest tennis behavior of all time--including his own. I'm not sure how much better AmEx's dispute resolution services are compared to competitors, but by putting McEnroe at center stage of the campaign, they are differentiated, at least, because they become more memorable. Another nice touch: the Open's 30-minute twice-daily highlight show is available on demand on the American Express site.

Romney tries out a CGM campaign

Good thing you can always count on a presidential candidate to jump on a new media bandwagon long after it's left town. Yes, electorate, Mitt Romney has launched a CGM contest--or maybe this should be called voter-generated media--per this item at Entrants can create their own campaign using content provided by the campaign and their own content. Of course, the item points out that this idea isn't even that original within political circles, noting Hillary Clinton's shout-out to supporters to help her pick a theme song and John Edwards' initiative to let people add to his TV spot on YouTube. The Romney contest has a deadline of September 17th. If the voter-created spot above is any indication, the prize is a plaque in the Cliched Political Ads Hall of Fame.

Despite death of Bud Pong, beer pong lives!

The Wall Street Journal has a helpful free article and video this morning on the expanding market for beer pong product, despite Budweiser's disastrous experience at trying to market the sport under the "Bud Pong" moniker a few years back. (People thought, since the game forces your opponent to drink if the ping pong ball you've thrown lands in his cup of beer, that it might inspire binge drinking. Ya think?) Anyway, Budweiser to one side, it's quite the entrepreneurial opportunity, inspiring custom balls, tables, and even apparel, um, apparently. Though my experience with beer pong tracks back to the old-fashioned version of the game, in which people played ping pong and tried to aim the ball with their racket into the glass, it would be great if someone came up with ping pong ball sanitizer. Let's just say that the ball lands a lot of places it shouldn't before it actually lands in a cup of beer, which ain't exactly sanitary.

We'll be old before Young Guns video is over

Some of my fellow ad bloggers covered this site for the Young Guns awards yesterday, and while, it has its moments, it also, ironically enough, represents much of what's wrong with online advertising creative: it assumes too much interest on the part of the intended user (or in this case viewer). After taking forever to load (I agree with you on that Agency Spy), and a brief intro by a daft, fat, male angel, the first excerpt in this "awards virgins" contest—accessible at—takes the form of an (intentionally) bad high school musical, except, maybe, for the sexual innuendo. There's a wee bit of fairly meaningless interaction, some singing and dancing, and a special appearance by Alex Bogusky (above, appearing as an angel/genie/fairy godfather), but ultimately, one has to ask the question, why is this little sketch going on for almost five minutes? It'd be unusual to find an advertising creative who isn't interested in entering an awards show, so even if it's fine to have some fun along the way to the entry form, this much preamble just isn't necessary, and doesn't respect people's time.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Did Della Femina outdrink Allen Rosenshine?

I'm always suspicious that Jerry Della Femina inflates everything by half, and this story that ran in The New York Post on Monday does nothing to change my perception. It asks the central question that's been plaguing every overworked, stressed out person in advertising since the launch of "Mad Men": did ad people really drink, smoke and have that much fun (sex) back in the day? According to Della Femina, who claims that a colleague used to chug a huge tumbler of scotch every morning at 8:30 a.m., the answer is yes. However, Rosenshine (former BBDO chief, which even you young 'uns should know), in his classic curmudgeonly style, describes the show as “a total fabrication ... I won’t deny that there was drinking, but it was never like that. And if anybody talked to women the way these goons do, they’d have been out on their ass.”

Polls are open for best mascot and slogan

Note to Sunshine, Sachs & Associates: before you send out releases about Advertising Week's annual vote for a favorite slogan and mascot, make sure the release contains the right URL. OK, now that I've gotten that off my chest, you can vote for your favorite icon and slogan here. This year, your mascot choices include the Geico Caveman, Little Debbie (help me out on that one), Orville Redenbacher (the dead one), and many others. As for slogans, "Got milk?", "This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs," and "What happens here stays here" are among the candidates. As for what this all means, I've no idea.

Clearasil spot makes sex message clear

This Clearasil spot from Euro RSCG New York is getting a bit of a following. The kids may love it, but if the mothers like the one depicted in the spot are any indication, they might reach for another acne brand for their teenager next time they're in CVS.

Who really stands a chance in AT&T review?

Perusing the stories about the just-revealed AT&T media review, it's a little odd to ponder the rather disparate roster of incumbents that are said to be pitching the chance to win the consolidated, really big account: Digitas, GSD&M, Initiative, Mediaedge:cia and OMD. Now really, is any client going to give this business to GSD&M or Digitas without a little help from their holding company friends? Of course not. So GSD&M will partner with OMD and Digitas will partner with Starcom or Mediavest, depending on such issues as client conflicts, and then maybe this thing can be a full-on, all-agency-holding-companies-on-deck review full of the rumors and rampant speculation which are the only things that make these reviews interesting. And if I'm wrong, I'll write a post about how screwed up my speculation is. (BTW, Adverganza is not a place where you'll see billings figures, because they are such an antiquated, inaccurate way to express what's really at stake here in terms of revenue. If someone wants to throw me a few ideas on what a reasonable average ratio of billings-to-revenue is for a media review, I'll concoct my own formula for the size of this account.)

Story about ad vehicles all the road rage ... ha!

Not exactly surprised that yesterday's New York Times story, "Your Ad Here, on My S.U.V.? And You'll Pay?," is currently No. 2 on the newspaper's most emailed list. I mean, who can resist a story in which people get paid as much as $800 a month to wrap their cars in advertising, sometimes from national advertisers such as Verizon Wireless or Procter & Gamble? Makes me want to get on the horn (no pun intended) to FreeCar Media, a Los Angeles-based company that allegedly has a database of a million consumers who are willing to pimp their ride in the name of an advertiser. (People who misrepresent the brand by engaging in road rage incidents need not apply.) The story also points out, by inference, what chumps we've all been in letting our cars be free advertising vehicles (OK, maybe this pun was intended) for the dealers from which we've bought our cars. My family is running around in a Mazda MPV minivan with a huge frame around the license plate that promotes ADZAM in Bedford Hills, NY (get it? Mazda backwards) for four years now, and yet the money continues to flow in their direction instead of ours. Something's wrong here, people.

An idea for what Advertising Week could be

I don't share Advertising Age's obsession with the pros and cons of Advertising Week, but I sort of agree with Jonah Bloom's assertion of a few weeks ago that perhaps a cornerstone of the week-long industry self-congratulation-fest should be to do something for the greater good. But here's where I would direct the industry's efforts: to better advertising's image among the general public, which has always seemed like a no-brainer to me, but alas, never happens. I was reminded of my fondness for this particular soapbox last week when YouTube unveiled its new, allegedly intrusional ad model. (Click here, and you'll see one roughly 20 seconds in.) Whatever the merits of that particular ad model, it's dismaying to once again hear consumers doing the usual: whining loudly, threatening to boycott, and so forth, as if it has never occurred to them what media would be like without advertising to fund it. Always makes me feel like saying, "Hey, ad people, stand up for yourselves dammit!" Maybe the idea of the industry spending the week trying to find a way to sell itself sounds awful—like so much more bellybutton pondering, but it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, it's hard not to see the benefit of consumers being more conscious of how the content they consume is funded. OK, I've just jumped off the soapbox. What a relief for all of us.

Is Bob Mould or TIAA-CREF selling out? is jawing on this morning about the TIAA-CREF spot that's been out for a few weeks now featuring Bob Mould's "See a Little Light." The issue this time isn't artists selling out, but advertisers, I guess, selling in. The story asks, "Advertisers claim to revel in being creative and original. How does repackaging someone else’s artistic efforts for their own sales pitches accomplish either of those goals?" Not a bad question, except that advertisers aren't generally in the business of making music. If they were, they'd be in the music business. And although the story goes on at length about the potential silliness in positioning TIAA-CREF as a "dot-org" and therefore above the commercial fray, at least the Mould song isn't being used to bolster the profits of Citibank or Bank of America, which has its own storied history of repurposing meaningful rock songs.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Heinz puts the contrived in CGM

Once again, a CGM commercial contest has been taken over by people who know their way around commercial production. I took the time to screen all 15 semifinalists in the the Heinz "Top This TV" challenge, and, no matter what you think of the concepts or theme lines, all of them are professionally produced, right down to staging the ketchup bottle so that it gets long, lingering straight-on appearances in each commercial. (If you care to do that, or vote, click here.) Seen in succession, the ads look more like a reel spliced together of spec ads submitted by agencies for a new business pitch than real consumer ads. I Googled the name of the first semi-finalist, and lo and behold, it's Jared Cicon (pictured here), the wedding photographer who was one of the five finalists in the Doritos Super Bowl CGM contest. In case there is any doubt, these CGM contests have jumped the shark.

Ad guy time-wasting on YouTube

The only reason to watch the above--and it may be a really good reason--is because this is allegedly of an "Ad Guy Playing Unreal Tournament at the office." Nothing much happens, except that it would be much fun to figure out which ad agency this is allegedly taking place in. From what's out the window, it's fairly obvious this is taking place in midtown Manhattan--could it be McCann, or BBDO maybe? Anyone who wishes to guess, please post your theory below.

Who are the Taco Bell chihuahua's Facebook friends?

I really wasn't looking for this Facebook series I've been doing to delve into the personal lives of famous ad mascots, but thought I'd mention that the "I miss the taco bell chihuahua" group on Facebook has 41 friends. Fairly impressive given that the chihuahua's career ended in 2000. Yeah, it's a slow news day.

Rare close-up of Crispin letterhead

So, I got a mailing, on genuine paper from Crispin, Porter + Bogusky right before I went on vacation. As I'd already posted about the campaign in question, thought the most interesting thing was the letterhead. Here's what it says at the very top: "This is an official piece of Crispin Porter + Bogusky letterhead. There is something about a letter or memo written on letterhead that seems to make it carry more weight. It just seems to be coming from a whole organization, not a mere lone individual. In fact, sometimes that's true. Although most times it's just coming from some lone individual acting on their own and is in no way endorsed by any organization. Keep that in mind if you ever get any correspondence on this letterhead that is in any way offensive. It is probably not our fault. We didn't mean it. By 'we' we mean 'all of us' didn't mean it. It was a loose cannon acting on their and 'we' never really liked them anyway." Discuss. Personally, I think it could use a few more commas. (The picture above is of the official Crispin sandal. Really. You can buy a pair by going to and clicking on "CP+B Gear".)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Adverganza's post-vacation picks, 08.27.07

OK, I'm back from vacation and rarin' to go. God, I lie. Without further ado, here's my scan of the Monday morning headlines, so you don't have to:

From Advertising Age:

—Martha Stewart has faith in people over 50. Let's give her a presidential pardon.
Ad Age gets an exclusive on GSD&M's transformation into The Idea City. Or was it already one? UPDATE: It wasn't an exclusive, as it's also in the Journal today as paid content.
—How Procter & Gamble reaches African-American women.
—Hold your nose: the pharmaceutical industry tries out sensory branding.
—Bob Garfield gives zero stars to Berlin Cameron United's Heineken DraftKeg campaign.

From Adweek (no print issue this week, lazy bastards! Kidding;):

—A Q&A with Tom Carroll on the hiring of JWT's Colleen DeCourcy.
—WPP unit says that old media still are viewed as most effective among consumers. It must be that they're largely analog, she mused facetiously.

From Mediapost:

—If you're a baby boomer, Ann Taylor is looking for you.
—New Subaru campaign exploits a niche for every model.
—WSJ Digital rejiggers its management.
—Users react to YouTube's new ad model.
Consumer Reports offers up free crash-test videos. For hours of carnage-induced fun, point your browser here.

From The New York Times:

—One way to finance your SUV: get someone to pay to have it plastered with ads.
South Park creators cut a deal to get a share of Web ad revenue. Artists getting compensated? Who'da thunk?
—You mean advertisers don't want their ads showing up on "To Catch a Predator"?

From The Wall Street Journal (subscription required unless otherwise indicated):

—Web company pays bloggers to write about them. Oy. (Free content!)
—Famous Amos explains how to make a brand around a personality.