Friday, July 20, 2007

Al Gore talks to ad industry ... eats foie gras?

AdFreak has noticed that Al Gore's speech at Cannes has just been posted on YouTube, in three parts. You can stream part one above. The other two parts are available here and here. Haven't looked at it much myself except to notice that Gore's hipster black suit, fully buttoned, looks like a strategy to hide all the foie gras he seems to have been eating. If I watch the speech later, maybe I'll post more about it. Then again, maybe I won't.

Burnett borrows back credit for 'Simpsons Movie' promo

Props to Leo Burnett for calling another agency on reappropriating one of its ideas, which just happens to be the greatest idea of the year: the conversion of some 7-11's into Kwik-E-Marts, complete with real-life Simpsons products, to promote The Simpsons Movie. The story didn't get the prominent treatment it should have on Adweek's Web site, but it goes like this: Reed Collins, a senior vp/creative director at Burnett, says that the agency pitched the idea to Fox during a new business pitch for the movie last year. Further, it shared the ideas with the agency which won the business—FreshWorks/TracyLocke (which, I'm wondering, should be hereafter known as StaleWorks/TracyLocke?). Said Collins, who wishes the parties involved could have come to "a nice, amicable solution" rather than Burnett having to go public in this fashion, "This was the straw that broke the camel's back. It's happening far too often and something has to be done about it."

Take a look at "Mad Men"

Seeing that the reviews were excellent, my husband and I watched the first episode of AMC's "Mad Men" last night, which, if you haven't heard, follows the exploits of a Madison Avenue creative director in the early 1960s. (A preview clip is above.) It packed an awful lot into the first episode: references to the emergence of birth control, the growing realization that smoking kills you and the creative director's search for a tagline that somehow persuades people that cigarettes really aren't all that bad. Even if the advertising part isn't fascinating to those of us who've been in the biz, what's ultimately engrossing about the show is how steeped it is in its particular moment in time and completely unapologetic about what today we would see as flagrant political incorrectness.

This Honda goes on quite an Odyssey

This current spot for the Honda Odyssey minivan completely baffles me. Set to a soundtrack by (I think) Parliament Funkadelic, it portrays the Odyssey as a groovin' trip machine, as if the mothers who actually drive them use theirs to go out partying and picking up men on Saturday night, when every Honda Odyssey I've ever known is used to haul around young children. (That said, it's clearly the "it" minivan of Westchester County, New York.) It's all good fun to dress up the Odyssey in psychedelia, and outfit it like a disco ball, but that is so far from the car's purpose that it's as off-kilter as setting a Polident commercial to "Rock 'n' Roll High School." OK, you could say that advertising isn't necessarily truthful, but it is aspirational. But do suburban Moms really aspire to being funkmasters? Even if the soundtrack made any other kind of sense, it's also off in that the music it uses—which, from my recollection, dates from the 1970s—would target people in their late 40s and 50s. Minivan owners tend to be families with young children, the parents often being in their 30s. So, unless they were aggressively into funk as toddlers, they don't even get the reference.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What if Google saved the newspaper business?

Given how rampant fear of Google is, it would be the biggest irony ever (well, ever in the history of the Internet) if Google were to save the newspaper industry through its newspaper print sales program. The company has just rolled it out to more newspapers, now covering 50 percent of newspaper circulation in the U.S. Of course, none of the newspapers involved is seeing anything but incremental revenue at this point, and it's unclear if they will eve see more than that. But, no matter what Google's intentions, you have to admit they are one of the only companies trying to find a real solution to print's current quagmire.

Take a trip with Wieden Tokyo

The post below reminded me to check in on whatever it is that Wieden + Kennedy is posting on YouTube these days, since they have a habit of throwing stuff up online. What I found is this trippy video from Wieden Tokyo. It's sort of Yellow Submarine meets ... uh ... I don't know.

Wieden explores why body washes are better

This is far from being Wieden + Kennedy's best ad ever, still it's an excellent, if disgusting, depiction of the most compelling reason to use a body wash instead of soap. Via Mediapost.

This time, it's not the smell ... it's the noise

You may remember the story about the bus shelter advertising in San Francisco that smelled like milk-and-cookies, which was stopped before its time? In another attempt to, um, "engage" people why they were waiting for the bus, Bacardi undertook an ill-fated bus promo in Edinburgh, which loudly played disco music as the background for a series of 20-second ads. The noise was so loud, according to this story, that people avoided the shelter even when the weather was bad. Maybe outdoor advertisers should consider just doing a straightforward ad every once in awhile.

'Business 2.0' gets more friends

Didn't get to say anything yesterday about the whispers of the possible death of Business 2.0, but now that Nat Ives at Ad Age has uncovered a new angle--that there's a "Save Business 2.0" Facebook page--it's time to enter the discussion. As of when Ives first noticed it yesterday morning it had 160 friends; as of this writing roughly 36 hours later, it has 337. Not bad. But not enough to save a magazine. To add to the list of friends on Facebook of Business 2.0 that Ives compiled for his story, here are a few more: Kara Swisher of The Wall Street Journal, David Kirkpatrick of Fortune, Philip Elmer-DeWitt, Josh Tyrangiel of Time and, of course, a whole bunch of flacks. This is more interesting as a social (network) experiment than an actual cause, to me anyway. One could debate all day whether or not Business 2.0 should or shouldn't die, but as with every other magazine born during Web 1.0, the ad pages never came back when the Internet did, and it doesn't look like they're going to. On the other hand, if this Facebook group makes a difference (and four more people joined while I was writing this post), then it'll be more proof of the power of social networking. Whatever the end result, it's something to keep an eye on.

And now, even less kiddie advertising

I'm going to always try to be honest on this blog about when I've predicted something correctly, and incorrectly, but glad I can start with something I got right. Ahem, as predicted, a number of other companies have followed Kellogg's lead (and going back to 2005, Kraft's) in limiting advertising to children. (Though, admittedly, the fact that there was an FTC hearing scheduled for today on the issue certainly helped these companies make some decisions.) The companies include General Mills, PepsiCo, McDonald's, Cadbury Adams USA LLC, Coca-Cola; Hershey; Unilever, and Masterfoods USA.

New Ray-Ban viral video not so viral

Here's the new Ray-Ban video "Bobbing for Glasses" but so far Cutwater and Ray-Ban aren't impressing me with their viral distribution strategies. Took me half the morning (OK, exaggeration watch) to find it. I know that Cutwater and Ray-Ban are trying to get beyond mere advertising with these videos, but it's still weird that this wasn't tagged Ray-Ban, particularly after the success of the video where the guy catches glasses on his face. Oh well, enjoy.

KISS' Ace Frehley creates Dunkin' fireworks

Thanks to jamccor on YouTube, for posting this new Dunkin' Donuts spot from Hill Holliday that broke on Monday, featuring Ace Frehley of KISS. (There's another one out there starring Naomi Campbell, but haven't found it yet.) Anyway, while this isn't quite as good as last year's summer effort with music from They Might Be Giants, it's still an outstanding example of what makes Dunkin' Donuts advertising so good—it's just plain silly.

Two stories out to kill viral marketing

Twice in the last two days, I've seen a story that appears to squash assumptoins notions about the power of viral marketing. The first was this story in Ad Age, which interviews Columbia University professor Duncan Watts. His theory is that the influentials—those people who follow others, lemming-like, when they wear the latest sunglasses, or partake in some other new brand—aren't all that influential. Then, Nielsen BuzzMetrics yesterday came out with a study saying, "high blog interest, or buzz, around new product launches is tightly linked to paid media spending." The graph at left illustrates the premise. Once there's a third example out there about why viral marketing isn't so powerful after all, let's call buzz a wrap. Kidding.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

American Express, um, Open to Crispin

Quite intrigued to read that American Express has handed its Open account, targeted to small business, to Crispin, Porter + Bogusky, an agency that isn't exactly known for business-to-business advertising. It's been quite some time since Amex really broke out from its usual habit of sticking with Ogilvy & Mather (which had the business), and Digitas, which, like Ogilvy, has been a long-time direct response/digital shop for the client. Putting Crispin on board shakes this little ship up, particularly when you consider that in Digitas and Ogilvy, American Express has two of the most cutting-edge shops—digitally speaking, that is—already on its roster. But what Crispin does, arguably better than anyone else, is come up with compelling, media-agnostic ideas, and neither Digitas, nor Ogilvy, has cornered the market on that.

'WSJ' picks David Lubars

No real surprise over who won the right to being the next creative director profiled in The Wall Street Journal's resurrected Creative Leaders series: it's BBDO's David Lubars. And they needed a Web site, a load of nominations and a panel of past WSJ Creative Leaders to decide this? Sheesh, they were so busy dealing with all that flotsam and jetsam that the folks running the contest haven't even updated the contest's Web site to announce the winner yet. Sorry to be such a curmudgeon, David. Uh, congratulations.

JetBlue execs back Mitt Romney and YearlyKos

Now I know what Bill O'Reilly was all hot and bothered about last night concerning JetBlue. (I was trying to make my way to HGTV as quickly as possible, so couldn't really follow it.) Anyway, it has to do with the airline's sponsorship of YearlyKos, an annual convention put on by the liberal-leaning Daily Kos folk. In the two minutes of The O'Reilly Factor I caught last night all I could figure out is that the airline's reputation got slammed in mid-February when many of its planes got stranded (knew that), that its founder had been kicked upstairs (knew that) and that O'Reilly found that whatever the new CEO did or did not say was full of shite, when he was stalked by Fox News concerning the controversy outside his Park Avenue apartment. It's interesting to see that right now JetBlue is by far the best-known sponsor of the August convention, unless one counts something like The Huffington Post, which would make news only if it didn't sponsor it. But, from a marketing perspective, what an odd idea. Even though the Dems would probably win the presidential election if it happened tomorrow, there's simply no point in big corporate sponsors putting their money where their politics lie—it should go without saying that the risk of alienating customers is simply too great. And once O'Reilly gets a hold of something like this, well, it knows no end. One wonders how long this sponsorship deal will last, and if current CEO David Barger even knew of the sponsorship. It certainly wouldn't be the first time that a CEO was clueless about his company's own marketing, and both Barger, and JetBlue founder and chairman David Neeleman have put money behind Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, according to the Web site Newsmeat. (Neeleman, like Romney, is a Mormon. For what it's worth, I don't know if Barger is.)

How long until 'WSJ Online' is free?

Speaking of Murdoch, now that News Corp.'s acquisition of Dow Jones seems a fait accompli, how long will it be before The Wall Street Journal Online becomes completely ad-supported? (Maybe with the exception of its archive and a few ancillary services.) There has been speculation about this all through this belabored Rupert Murdoch saga, but I'm betting it won't be long. As he has with The New York Post, Murdoch will do what it takes to get readership, and if opening up the site is the way to do that, it'll happen, since the Journal's revenue will become a mere rounding error compared to some of the other things on the News Corp. balance sheet. At one point I never thought we'd see the day when even the Journal's content became somewhat commoditized, but it's appeared, for some time now, that it has. It's fairly rare that one needs to see a story at so badly to be willing to pay for it, besides which, I've long been wondering how much of the daily content is still really behind the firewall anyway. People who've been blogging for awhile know that the site sends out daily emails of free content that it encourages us to link to. Today's haul alone contained, the story on the News Corp. acquisition, Google's new search service targeting cell phones, private equity tending to back Republicans, not to mention there's a pretty extensive version of the site open to people who don't subscribe. In a way, it'll be too bad if the doors open because it will be the last, dying gasp of building a subscription model on the Internet. If that had worked, the newspaper business would be looking a lot healthier these days.

Put your headshot into the Simpsonizer

Not sure how my picture, when Simpsonized, turns me from a forty-something mother into an almost hairless baby (at right), but who am I to judge the wisdom of this new online gizmo (from Crispin, Porter + Bogusky, I'm guessing), which allows you to turn your head shot into a Simpsons version? It's part of a Burger King promo for The Simpsons Movie, which better not suck after all this hype. Go here, and have fun.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Pepto-Bismol Max spot continues to scare

OK, looks like this Pepto-Bismol Max has been out there since at least December, but if you've never seen it, please watch this strange 30-seconds of 1960s Japanese monster movie meets stomach remedy. Odd.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Adverganza's Monday morning picks

In which we let you know what's really worth reading from Monday morning's ad news dump.

From Advertising Age:

Does the shuttering of Jane, and the, um, abortion of Cocktail signal a shift in female media consumption?
Sociology prof says viral marketing has caught a cold.
How Nielsen/NetRatings de-emphasis of page views changes what passes for popular online.
Advertising Week will embrace social responsibility. But this is the ad industry, people!
Apparently because nothing worthwhile was breaking nationally, Bob Garfield gives 3.5 stars to the long-running campaign for Sonic Burger. You can see more of the 115 spots in the series here.
From The New York Times:

Saturn Germany's "Stinginess is good!" tagline proves almost too successful.
Sheryl Crow gets lots of endorsements.

From The Wall Street Journal:

The TV networks discover Twitter.

From Adweek:

This is one of what they call a "dark week" at Adweek, where no trees were killed to give you the non-news that happens in mid-July. Or something like that. With that in mind, here are the niblets we could find on the site:

—Former Adweek reporter, and current JWT trendspotrix Ann M. Mack compares the presidential candidates to the cast of Gilligan's Island. Can a discussion of the parallels between Hillary Clinton and Alice on The Brady Bunch be far behind?

—Interpublic Group launches Ansible, a new mobile marketing shop, which will operate as a joint venture with a London mobile shop called Velti. According to Wikipedia, an "ansible" is "a hypothetical machine, capable of superluminal communication, and used as a plot device in science fiction literature." Someone's been watching too many Star Trek reruns.

From The Delaney Report:

—Is Ford's corporate advertising going into review? Maybe Tom knows.

From Mediapost:

—Couldn't we live without an Association for Downloadable Media?
—Riccardo Zane leaves OgilvyOne to head's New York office as president. Can't think of anything funny to say about this. Sorry.
—Aegis Group hires a chief information officer from News Corp., David Bulman. Whaddya want a bet hiring a CIO becomes the "it" personnel move in the ad industry this year?