Friday, August 17, 2007

Adverganza's going on vacation!

OK, so I plan to spend most of the day packing for the family's annual week-long trip to Cape Cod. Usually this poses no sort of dilemma, but now, to paraphrase the Shakespearean actors in the Wendy's commercial (look two posts down), I must ask myself the deep philosophical question: "To blog or not to blog?" To the extent that Adverganza has a business plan, to my surprise, we're ahead of schedule—it was in Adverganza 2.0 or 3.0 that I would have someone fill in for me when I went away. But instead, many more of you have discovered this little experiment than I thought would. Which is a long way of saying thanks, and declaring that I'll try to put up a post or two while I'm gone. If the broadband connection at the vacation house works. And if I feel like it. Later, folks.

Dave Morgan on why CPMs might be slipping

Have your Web site CPMs been slipping downward lately? In a funk because it looks like your site's ad revenue won't grow by 50 percent this year? Dr. Dave Morgan explains why in his Online Spin column on Mediapost. Silliness aside, Morgan (as usual) provides an interesting take on the subject, and this being online media, the answer to why parts of the online ad market are softening isn't as simple as you think. Morgan specifically focuses on the plight of destination sites, noting that there's been a shift on the part of marketers from "higher-priced contextual pages on branded destination sites to much lower-priced inventory aggregated by networks" (like his own Tacoda). But what should be concerning across the board is that we're beginning to hit that wall called "there are only 24 hours in a day." As Dave says, online usage in the U.S. has been pretty much flat year-to-year, and ever more fragmented. My guess is that we all live online as much as we can or want to, and so usage can't travel inexorably upward. Anyway, go read Dave instead of some silly blog. Picture via Mediapost.

Wendy's red wig guy now in freezer

Starting to like this Wendy's campaign more and more, particularly the ads that feature "red wig guy" (though I'm not sure he's always played by the same actor). I guess I'm hung up on RWG because using him as a device is inspired in a Monty Python sort of way, and also, looking at it from a marketing perspective, RWG obviously ties back into the brand. The latest in the RWG series is contained in this "Best Ads" reel I found on YouTube—unfortunately I haven't been able to find it broken out separately but figuring it's a Friday in August, if you're really interested you can fast forward to 2:17 on the tape to see it, or not fast forward and see ads for new 5 gum and Campbell's Soup, besides! Anyway, this time around, RWG finds himself in the freezer at a Wendy's restaurant. On the Wendy's Web site is another version of this commercial (click on the visual all the way to the right), only when the Wendy's trainee opens the door of the freezer this time, he's confronted by a trio of Shakespearean actors instead of RWG. Lines like "Pray tell trainee nave," are funny, but the Shakesperean actors are no match for RWG. Keep up the good work, or Lovemarks, or whatever, Saatchi.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Those Sony Bravia bunnies sure are popular

Looks like I'm a little late to the Bravia bunny party, so I'll spin this in the best way I know how: Gee, it's amazing, a few days later, how many blogs picked up on the fact that Sony (and presumably Fallon, London), have been shooting a new Bravia commercial in NYC featuring bunnies made out of Play-Doh. Sixty-seven at last count (oh, including Adverganza, make that 68). Pictures via Gizmodo and

John Osborn hopes clients keep experimenting

It's a bit unsettling to think of BBDO's John Osborn being held up to the rest of the world as the poster-boy for alternative advertising, since no other agency has quite the allegiance to the 30-second spot as BBDO. Nonetheless, Osborn's gone and told Reuters he hopes advertisers don't cut back on their experimental budgets if the economy really tanks, and about that, he's right. "In tight economic conditions, some of these new mediums are exactly what we should be looking into. I think they are incredibly targeted," he said. Still, the story contains some of the naivete people in the ad business have come to associate with mass media stories about advertising, claiming that unnamed "industry watchers" think that, in an economic downturn, advertisers might forgo new media because "it doesn't have the track record of TV commercials." Doesn't have the track record for what? Being difficult to accurately measure? I would argue—and hope—that in this point in the evolution of digital media (eschewing stuff that's still considered experimental in the U.S., like mobile), an economic downturn will actually move dollars to non-traditional media. It's cheaper, it's far more accountable, and, most importantly—unlike a few years back—marketers actually believe in it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Never forget Phil Rizzuto for The Money Store

I'm a Mets fan, but what the hell, thought I'd post a Phil Rizzuto commercial for The Money Store, in light of his passing. I now realize the guy could have had a great career selling sub-prime mortgages.

So, who are David Verklin's Facebook friends?

OK, I'll admit that David Verklin is no Julie Roehm, but when I said this Adverganza investigative series would uncover the Facebook friends of anyone who popped into our heads, I meant it. So why Verklin? First, he's a CEO (of various and sundry units of Carat). Second, he's the kind of CEO who would actually have a profile on Facebook, and while it would be (will be?) loads of fun to uncover which ad and media CEOs don't social network, for now we'll stick with likely suspects. OK. So who are Verklin's Facebook friends? JWT's Toby Barlow, AKQA's Tom Bedecarre and Molly Parlsey (hmmm ... what's the connection there?), Microsoft's Joanne Bradford (a Roehm friend as well), ex-Carat exec Ron Belanger, Carat execs Sarah Fay, Scott Sorokin, Paul Santello and Adam Cahill; Masha Geller and Jack Myers (also Roehm friends), and Steve Newhouse. Feel free to suggest who else you'd like me to investigate for this series. All I've got is a red comfy chair, one laptop and the truth.

Dude, this Crispin Wikipedia entry is lame!

OK, I'm taking back my earlier assertion that the reason so many boring Midwestern agencies have such boring Wikipedia entries is because they're boring, and from the Midwest. Take a look at Crispin's, would ya? Nah. Don't even bother. This is all it says, "An advertising firm responsible for the VDub commercials, Burger King's snake commercial, and 2007 advertisements. It's [sic] main office is located in Miami, FL in the Coconut Grove neighborhood. The agency has other locations in Boulder, CO and Los Angeles, CA." Not even the Subservient Chicken or Alex himself made the cut.

Coke goes for class action, not class

It probably goes without saying that this campaign, which promises people can join a class-action suit over confusion between the taste of Coke and Coke Zero, is from Crispin, Porter + Bogusky. The site for what appears to be an ambulance-chasing law firm is here, and hell, call the phone number if you've got nothing better to do. It's fairly funny and it's also a long, long way from polar bears. Via Mediapost.

GoDaddy Super Bowl promo starting already

Not sure you could go wrong considering everything that comes out of the mouth of GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons as being promotional in nature. So, I'm going to chalk up his contention on his blog the other day that the company might not advertise on the Super Bowl next year as a negotiating ploy. Says Bob, "Advertising during the Super Bowl is 'super' expensive. Consider that a 30 second spot is $2.7 million. Then figure 2 or 3 spots, then add another few million or so to produce several commercials — we never seem to get the first couple approved — and then include the cost of concurrent promotions, the total cost will exceed 10 million dollars." Also, consider that those spots that never get approved are, um, self-induced. AD-DENDUM: So, GoDaddy tried to reach me by phone and email this afternoon to see if I'd seen Parsons approach. What was that I was saying about everything he says being promotional? It's not that the folks at GoDaddy read Adverganza (yet). It was because of a story I wrote about blogging CEOs for Adweek earlier this year.

Take a look inside the "Happiness Factory"

Hadn't seen this "documentary" about the shooting of the Coke "Happiness Factory" commercial from Wieden + Kennedy and Psyop before, but Brentter posted it in the last day or so, and two earlier YouTubers posted it in the last six weeks. OK, enough of the logistics. If you haven't watched all six minutes of it, take a break and do it. Amazingly, it keeps the quality of the original spot going throughout, and you can definitely attribute the time you spend watching it to "research." This is how it's done, people.

Kohler gets philosophical, not scatological

Kohler ads seldom disappoint, but this spot, "Dilemma," which has been airing again recently, asks the philosophical question, "How do you hide something behind a toilet ... when you don't know where the front is?" Last I knew, the agency for Kohler was GSD&M. Please correct me if this is not its work.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

So, who are Julie Roehm's Facebook friends?

Yesterday's story about Facebook in Ad Age, not to mention yesterday's cover story about Facebook in Newsweek, begs the question of not only who has profiles on Facebook, but who those people's friends are. Thus, we'll begin studying this topic by taking a closer look at Julie Roehm (her Facebook photo is at right), followed, in later additions of this special investigative Adverganza series, by whomever else pops into our heads. (One proviso, of course, is that a "friend" on Facebook is not the same as a friend in the real world. Unless you can't stand someone, it's pretty bad form to turn down a request to be somebody's friend.) OK. Sorry. Back to Julie. Here are the friends of hers we recognized: Stewart Alsop, Microsoft's Joanne Bradford, Internet gal-about-town Susan Bratton, Ad Age's Matt Creamer, who, BTW was the writer on Ad Age's Facebook story this week, Avi Dan, JWT's Colleen DeCourcy, The New York Times' Stuart Elliott, Mediapost's Joe Mandese and Nick Friese, Joseph Jaffe, Jed Savage (who, last I knew, was at eBay), and Organic's Chad Stoller. It also shows you the limitations of Facebook that people you might suspect are friends of Julie Roehm's are not listed, such as Sean Womack, and don't hold your breath for Howard Draft, either.

SNY posts its Geico Cavemen spots

Crap. I'm heading into some severe caveman territory here, but they are becoming increasingly impossible to avoid. Above is one of the two "Caveman" spots for SNY promoting the cable net's Geico Sports Night. Now that SNY got around to posting them, you can also see the other one here.

Andy Roddick's mojo is a caveman

So in preparation for the upcoming ABC series, Cavemen, that leftist rag the Village Voice has devoted many column inches to an interview with the actor—who, as we've said repeatedly, is not in the Geico spots—who will play the starring caveman in the series. His name is Nick Kroll, he compared the early attempts at putting on his caveman makeup to "rubbing fiberglass on my face" and his commercial claim to fame was playing Andy Roddick's mojo in the ill-fated American Express campaign from a few years back. Above, is the second "Mojo" spot, after Roddick had been bounced out of the U.S. Open in the first round. (The first one isn't posted anywhere I could find.) I guess maybe we could call this whole caveman/mojo thing six degrees of David Ogilvy.

With McAndrews ascension, whither Joanne Bradford?

I've read four stories since last night about the appointment of aQuantive's Brian McAndrews to head the new advertiser and publisher solutions unit at Microsoft, and not one of them has mentioned what's going on with Joanne Bradford, who, last I knew, was Microsoft's chief media revenue officer. Is there something I'm missing here?

More "Cavemen" spots from SNY

The Mets cable net, SNY, which has a nightly program called Geico Sports Night, has cavemen mania, airing two spots that feature the cavemen, per The New York Post. Haven't been able to find either of them online, including on the SNY site (for shame, SNY! for shame!), but if anyone out there knows of links to them, let us know. In the meantime, found a promo on the video site at in which lucky Mets fans can go watch a game with a Geico caveman, though, much as I love the commercials, I'm a little unclear on the allure.

Here's Hillary Clinton's first TV spot

So, looks like Hillary Clinton's first TV commercial is now airing in Iowa, and on the home page of her Web site. For The New York Times' analysis of the spot, which pits her against President Bush instead of other Democratic candidates, click here. As for my analysis—should anyone care—it's not a bad commercial, but hardly a departure from political advertising as we've come to know it. UPDATE: It's now also available above. Thanks AdPulp.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Westin getting the ads it deserves

I find this Westin campaign from Deutsch interesting for other reasons than it's interesting. (Stole this picture from Mediapost, which did a nice, extensive take on how the hotel chain redecorated the Times Square shuttle as part of an effort to create "places of renewal.") The reason I say this is, that, far as I can tell, Westin has been an underrealized brand which deserves more recognition and more of a brand image that truly sets it apart than it's been getting. Until now. OK, I'll admit that I don't travel that much anymore, but I did find myself and the family at the Westin La Cantera outside of San Antonio in July and my husband and I were shocked to discover just how great a hotel it was. Definitely up there with some of the better hotels we stayed at while watching members of the 4As—what's the word?—bloviate. In our current state of life, it was a huge plus that it was kid-friendly. Not only did the kids receive gifts upon our arrival, but no member of the hotel staff ever seemed to mind their sprints to and from the elevator banks, or their sixteen trips to the breakfast buffet in the morning. With a three-year-old it was impossible to take some time to play one of the two golf courses, but the pool, to coin a cliché was the stuff of which memories are made. It meandered throughout the hotel's backyard and featured waterfalls, a water-park worthy slide, plenty of shallow areas for young children, nets for water polo, a creatively separated adult-only area, the requisite hot tubs, and enough pool toys and warm towels to make even a curmudgeonly grown-up happy. In short, our whole family has turned into advocates for the Westin brand, which, before our trip, I thought was just another big hotel chain, no more exceptional than a Hyatt or a Marriott.

Dull midwestern Wikipedia entries, stealth disco

As all of you ad types are being incredibly dull this week, figured it was time to go back to posting stuff about different agencies' Wikipedia entries, and then I got to the C's. As for Campbell Ewald, let's put it this way—an agency that's been around for 96 years can be summed up in 104 words. Whoever wrote Campbell Mithun thinks advertising is simply a matter of coming up with catchy taglines, as in "Brilliant!" for St. Ives. Meanwhile, there's an opening for someone to write up the history of Carmichael Lynch, although no one has thought it necessary to spend quality time on that project so far. Lastly, Cramer-Krasselt's main contribution to the universe (according to Wikipedia, anyway) is that it created stealth disco: "Stealth disco (or SD) refers to the act of being videotaped dancing or rocking out behind or near someone who is doing something serious and does not notice." Bet you didn't know any of that, did you? OK, now that I've gone through the Wikipedia entries of four Midwestern agencies—if they existed at all—I've come to the sort of conclusion that only a snob from New York (or San Francisco) could make: midwestern ad agencies are way too behind the times to have noticed Wikipedia, except for those happenin' stealth disco creators.

Drinking Heineken better than Heineken site

Somehow, this Heineken Draught Keg site, that's being heavily promoted on YouTube, just isn't doing it for me, even though, strangely enough, I was drinking a Heineken when I visited it. Even with the amazing synergy presented by my drinking the product as I visited its site, I couldn't escape the feeling that we've all seen sites that let us upload our friends' pictures and have them do electro-dances before.

Kids not buying what Ronald McDonald is selling

Like most mothers I like to think of my kids as having wisdom beyond their years. Still, I was surprised to discover that my 9-year-old son completely understands the irony of Ronald McDonald telling kids to live a healthy lifestyle. I'll admit that this came in the context of a quick stop to Burger King yesterday on our way back from a weekend in Massachusetts, but, he paused for a moment before ordering his plain cheeseburger (he eschews french fries ever since his first grade teacher told him they were bad for him), and said, "Mom, I saw this commercial the other day where Ronald McDonald was telling kids to eat healthy. That's pretty stupid since McDonald's is the least healthy restaurant in the whole country." Touche, little one. Now if I could just find a fast-food health-food store for those trips back and forth to Massachusetts.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Adverganza's Monday morning picks

Wherein I scan the Monday morning advertising headlines so you don't have to.

From Advertising Age:

—In shocker of the year, insurers don't want to advertise on Cavemen.
—Advertising types discover Facebook, to increase distribution of the brand called themselves. Here's a video about it, and, while we're at it, did you know I'm on Facebook and want to be friends with all of you?
—Jonah Bloom with yet another suggestion of how Advertising Week could actually prove meaningful.
—Oh, good. Scott Berg of Hewlett-Packard doesn't like mobile advertising.
—Bob Garfield uses Colgate Simply White.

From The New York Times:

—In yet another shocker, NBC Universal discovers buying iVillage wasn't all that smart.

From Adweek (subscription may or may not be required); no print issue this week:

—A close-up look at Naked's plan for full-frontal U.S. expansion.
—Tim Arnold explains why he loves the blues.
—Could it be true? Is Interpublic actually turning around?

From The Wall Street Journal (subscription required, for now):

—How to make video advertising better. Example from pictured at left.
Victoria's new secret: athletic wear.

From Mediapost:

—Pringles, now available in stick form?
—Does using the eBay ad auction system mean you're putting your cable net up for sale?

From The Delaney Report. Tom's hearing that:

—Visa media might go up for review.
—Sony isn't necessarily happy with its work from BBDO.
—There's some Fisher-Price business on the loose in the wake of the closing of Maiden Lane.
—The honeymoon might be over between Cadillac and Modernista!.