Friday, October 5, 2007

Deutsch, Kirshenbaum, in the 'Observer'

Haven't checked out The New York Observer much lately, but two stories this week caught my eye: one bemoaning the loss of glamour (and alcohol and cocaine) in the ad business titled "Why Have Admen Lost Their Mojo?" and another about Donny—"Can Former Adman Donny Deutsch Help CNBC Hold off Fox?" Of the two, the "Mojo" story is more apropos since Donny because, of course, Donny has departed for TV, where there's plenty of mojo to be had. Still, it neatly sums up "The Big Idea" having discovered a focus--on entrepreneurs--instead of being the amorphous talk-blob it once was. The "Mojo" story, which quotes Richard Kirshenbaum heavily and points out a factoid about him that even I didn't know--that he was recently named one of the 25 Most Stylish New Yorkers by US Weekly--does a better job than most stories written by outsiders at accurately reflecting the business. For instance--bravo!--it points out how the decline of the 15 percent commission has had a lot to do with the industry's decline. Too often, the industry's malaise is wracked up to other things, like those nasty clients actually demanding results. On the other hand, the story says that David Ogilvy--who, like, totally had mojo--retired to a castle in the South of France, but his chateau, Touffou, is actually about halfway up the country, and to the west (see map). I can elaborate in a story I'll tell at a later date, but let me just say for now that if he had been living in the south of France I wouldn't have missed my opportunity to drink wine with the man back in 1994.

Lazarus no. 34 out of Fortune's Top 50 women

Not to put too much credence in the Fortune and Forbes lists of the most powerful women, but the power of advertising is dropping. Ogilvy CEO Shelly Lazarus made Fortune's just-released list—as always—but she's dropped from no. 30 to no. 34. In an attempt to sum up Lazarus in 50 words or less, the magazine claims that the Dove "Evolution" video, produced by Ogilvy Toronto, has had 400 million views, which has an air of, um, bogosity, to it. Hard to tally where all those views happened, but on YouTube, it's had about 13 million views ... meaning there would have to be another 387 million views out there somewhere. Not on the Fortune list at all: Starcom Mediavest Group CEO Renatta McCann, who came in way ahead of Lazarus on Forbes' recently-released list of the most powerful women in the world.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Click here for the Sony Bravia bunny ad

For those of you who lie waiting for the next ad in the Sony Bravia campaign, here it is. For my money, this is much better than the paint commercial shot in Glasgow, and certainly up there with the original, with the balls bouncing in San Francisco. The use of the Rolling Stones, "She's a Rainbow," in this spot doesn't hurt either. Only quibbles are that it may be just as good an ad for Play-Doh as it is for the Sony Bravia, and the end is somewhat reminiscent of some British Airways work, but really, those are just quibbles. Via Gothamist and created by Fallon London, assuming you didn't know that already.

Did you know Seinfeld is appearing on 30 Rock?

Anyone who doubts that the Internet is a reach medium hasn't seen these banners advertising Jerry Seinfeld's guest shot tonight on "30 Rock." I practically can't think of a major site I haven't seen them on. But, like the Pavlovian Internet dog I am, I did click on a version of the ad I saw early in the week directing me to a preview, even though I've never seen the show. The outtakes were actually the funniest, including the one here —scroll forward to scene #4—where Alec Baldwin begs Jerry to approve his "SeinfeldVision" promotional stunt. "I've got nothing ... I've got nothing ...," he says. "I've already sold the ad time!"

Goodson wins Golden Boa—whatever that is

Little did I know that my birthday coincided with MediaBistro's, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary today (shameless birthday plug!). Anyway, as one of a bunch of birthday-styled things going on on the site, MediaBistro has honored ten people in the communications industry with its first annual Golden Boa Award, with StrawberryFrog's Scott Goodson being the honoree in advertising. Whatever this means—a discount on an AvantGuild membership, maybe?—at least it's a list you'd want to be seen on; other winners include Stephen Colbert, Adam Moss and Craig Newmark. Oh, according to Scott's blog, one prize is that he gets to eat lunch today at The Plumm.

Trend: people dressed as inanimate objects

Yeah, people dressed up as fruit/animals/food has been a staple of advertising practically since the dawn of time, but I feel as though we're seeing an alarming resurgence of this type of ad. Of course, there are Crispin, Porter + Bogusky's spots for Burger King, with people dressed up as BK sandwiches. Then there's this commercial for Verizon, in which Mom has to dress as a taco and hand out fliers to pay the kids' cell phone bill, and now this commercial from TBWA/Chiat/Day for Jimmy Dean D-lights, which I found yesterday on Mediapost, where people are dressed as the sun, a cloud and a rainbow. What does this all mean? Probably just that I watch too much TV. I'm sorry this post isn't all that pretty, but I guess my artistic aspirations are just way beyond Blogger's capabilities.

Here's what a Facebook ad looks like

If you've ever read descriptions of Facebook's fledgling ad model, then you've probably walked away scratching your head—it's all a little hard to picture unless you spend enough time using the social network that is allegedly worth a bazillion dollars. Found the ad above on my Facebook page this morning, an extension of Hewlett-Packard's current campaign with Gwen Stefani that was sprinkled within my "News Feed" of what my Facebook friends are up to today. It links to this page on the HP site, and as the icon in the upper right hand corner says, it can be shared, just like other Facebook content. All in all, the ad is in keeping with Facebook's—subtle-compared-to-MySpace—vibe, but whether ads like this and a few other potential revenue streams support contentions that the service's market value might be $15 billion is another matter entirely.

Arnold focus groups "1984"; finds it dreary

Almost everyone in the ad business has spent countless days, hours, weeks bemoaning how focus groups denude commercials of their original creativity. So what would've happened if Apple's classic "1984" was focus grouped? Arnold found out, by asking people who'd apparently never seen the spot how they'd change it—and it involved putting Apple logos on the t-shirts of the huddled masses, and the recommendation that the spot: "Use real people, preferably without gas masks. Make fewer references to Nazism" and so forth. Only one focus group member thinks the spot should be produced at all. Arnold produced this as the intro film to the Boston Ad Club's Hatch Awards, which were held last night, but that's incidental.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Subaru ad so green it's sickening

So, I think an edited version of this short Subaru film has been out for a few months, but I just saw it for the first time, and think it's too earnest, by at least half. For the most part, it's the guy who appears in the spot at the beginning that's so bothersome—his delivery is so cloying that I kept thinking the commercial might just turn into an SNL spoof—but, instead, he just kept jawing on about "deer, and rabbits, and blue herons" hopping around all the auto parts. I'm all for cleaning up the environment, but ... yecch. I think this is from DDB New York, but if I'm wrong, I'll correct it.

P&G makes TBWA PUR

Account switches don't usually catch my (jaded) eye, but it's worth remarking upon today's news that TBWA/Chiat/Day has joined the Procter & Gamble roster to advertise the company's PUR water filtration systems. Such a move would have been unthinkable a few years back; now it's practically a necessity for even companies with the huge budgets that P&G commands to think outside the box about what shops deserve to be on their agency roster. As the Adweek story I linked to above points out, TBWA isn't the first agency with a strong creative reputation to land on P&G's roster of late—Wieden + Kennedy has been working with P&G since 2005.

Kaiser Permanente depicts one way to thrive

Barbara Lippert did a (typical) nice job critiquing this Joe Pytka-directed commercial, "Thrive," from Kaiser Permanente yesterday, which is timed to coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Thought it was worth a stream here.

Other ads that shouldn't become TV shows

This isn't meant to be the "Cavemen" series sucks special issue of Adverganza, but—what can I tell ya—I'm only posting about what I see out there. Anyway, New York magazine ran a list on its site yesterday of "Ten Commercials That Would Make Even Worse TV Shows Than the Geico Cavemen." Predicting that the show will die within the next two weeks as a preamble, here is the list, in reverse order:

10. Lifecall (aka the "Mrs. Fletcher" show).
9. Imodium Advanced (starring Kelsey Grammer as, um, the sufferer).
8. The LL Cool J Hotline.
7. Mars Blackmon (well, if it starred Steve Urkel instead of Spike Lee).
6. Iron Eyes Cody (aka "The Crying Indian"—although, in the series, turns out he's an "environmental vigilante").
5. Freedom Rock (swearing to God I never saw this commercial).
4. Bad Idea Jeans (this one was off an SNL parody I vaguely remember).
3. Lamisil Nail Fungus Treatment (enough said).
2. Stanley Steemer (based off a commercial where a dog drags his ass on the rug).
1. The Geico Lizard (Their words, not mine. I guess that whoever wrote this doesn't realize the whole reason Geico uses a freakin' gecko is because it sounds like Geico? Whatever.)

Just thought I'd mention that having seen the series last night—I, myself, didn't watch—New York thinks the premiere was "actually pretty good." Now let's green light that "Mrs. Fletcher" pilot.

Predictably, "Cavemen" series disappoints

As you may have noticed, the Geico-commercial inspired ABC show "Cavemen," which debuted last night, got some withering reviews. "Zero Stars!" shouted the New York Daily News. "It's a flop. A major flop. The kind of flop that makes Steven Bochco feel okay about 'Cop Rock' again," said TV Squad. With that, you should play the 15-second commercial above, a spoof—and a bad one—from a Chicago furniture company called Walter E. Smithe. It stars what I've gathered are the three Smithe brothers, who are dressed, predictably as cavemen. (The brothers have a number of films online, including ones that take off from "The Apprentice.") The ad was posted on YouTube just yesterday, which suggests that they were looking to get in on the "Cavemen" hype. Alas, there isn't any.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

This month's most liked commercials ... with links

So Ad Age has once again published its list of what the IAG Research says are the most liked spots over the last month (Aug. 27 to Sept. 23, to be exact), and once again, I'm publishing the list with links to as many ads as I could find in case you'd actually like to see them. No one said my blogging job was easy (or profitable, for that matter).

1. Subway: Fresh Fit Meals." (Embedded above.)
2. Listerine: Whitening Quick Dissolving Strips." (Couldn't find.)
3. Listerine: Mouthwash." (Couldn't find.)
4. AT&T: "Hollyyorkizonasouthameriland."
5. Campbell's Soup: Chunky Soup. (Go to this link and click on "A Call to Eat.")
6. Benadryl: Perfect Measure. (Couldn't find.)
7. Burger King: Spicy Chick 'N' Crisp.
8. Yoplait: Yoplait Light.
9. Campbell Chunky Fully Loaded: (Go to this link and click on "Mud Bowl.")
10. Red Lobster: Endless Shrimp.

Is there a way to turn this wallpaper off?

I'll be kind here and say that this Newspaper Association of America wallpaper, which I just found as background on the Mediaweek home page, is one way to get people's attention. On the other hand, it's making me dizzy. No surprise, somehow, that it comes from an old-school organization.

'NYT' to ad execs: off with your heads!

I know I read this on some blog or other yesterday, but it's worth repeating here. Neil Genzlinger, a staff editor at The New York Times who was given the task of reviewing "How Starbucks Saved My Life" by former JWT creative Michael Gates Gill, calls it "one of the most scathing indictments of the advertising business to appear in a long time." To elaborate: "Gill, with the grating babe-in-the-woods persona he adopts in this book, would have us believe that top advertising executives like him have no idea that there are black people in the world and that some of them run small businesses; that every weekday thousands of people gather at places like Grand Central Terminal for a ritual known as rush hour; that an overwhelming majority of lives are lived in the service of train schedules and bill collectors. If the rest of Madison Avenue royalty is as clueless about the real world as Gill makes himself seem in this book, off with their heads." Actually, though I'll admit to generally liking the premise of someone finding they like a simpler life better, the fault for this portrait of ad execs lies squarely with Gill. First, as someone who grew up in Bronxville, a commuter town if ever there was one, Gill should be amply aware of the commuter's life, even within the upper strata, since the median household income in Bronxville in 2000 was around $200K a year. And, anyone who rides Metro-North into Grand Central can attest to seeing top ad execs riding among them. The only way Gill could not have known that is to hide behind the fact that he was working for JWT in L.A., but, since he was an east coast native, that just doesn't wash.

Let's hear it for Pacific Northwestern stereotypes!

This campaign for Pemco Insurance is targeted toward people in the Pacific Northwest, but even people on the east coast will easily get the joke. It ingeniously focuses on a number of different Pacific Northwestern stereotypes, like "Ponytailed Software Geek" pictured here. Though the TV and radio ads can be viewed at, which is also the campaign's tag, it's more fun to scroll over the different personae, and read the details about each one. In case you can't read the profile of the geek here, one of his accolades is that he "De-fragged White-Bearded Bainbridge Architect's hard drive." (Not that defragging is such a big accomplishment.) White-Bearded Bainbridge Architect, meanwhile, who listens to NPR, doesn't merely doodle on napkins, he's actually sketching out "a self-sustaining geodesic dome." Wish I knew who the agency was.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Nokia asks open questions about iPhone

Having spent most of last week in Manhattan, I doubt I'll be doing anything of the sort this week. Apparently I just missed seeing this guerilla campaign that Nokia is doing to combat the closed system that is Apple's iPhone. (Well, maybe it's not that guerilla—to me that should mean that it's so below the radar that it's hard to make out who the advertiser is.) Anyway, that this effort will simply be one among many trying to take potshots at Apple. Not that it'll work. Via which got it from Engadget which got it on Reddit, and so on.

Dove takes flight with new real beauty video

Dove has just come out with the latest video, above, in its "Campaign for Real Beauty," and as a fortysomething female, I'm relieved to see it, even if the entire 60 seconds is meant to be seen through the eyes of a pre-teen girl. Called "Onslaught," it features just that—an onslaught of images destined to make even the most perfect female among us feel imperfect. Not only are some of the images of women writhing in bikinis; it also includes every body improvement "technique" currently in use, up to and including plastic surgery and vomiting away that nasty food. (Only the toilet is shown.) I'm not entirely sure I would've picked up on the fact that this is to be seen through the eyes of the girl that we see at the beginning of the video had I not read some of the press about it, but at its end, when Dove urges women to talk to their daughters before such media imagery gets the best of them. the ultimate point is quite clear. I feel a little bit better-looking already. Created by Ogilvy Toronto.

Obligatory Advertising Week post post

No, there's no typo in that headline, it's just time to do the post-game wrap-up where I'll do what everyone else is doing: say what I'd change about Advertising Week if it were up to me. Having decided to blog the thing, and having attended more panels then is good for anyone's health, here are my suggestions:

As I said before, don't advertise events that are sold out as sold out. In the final analysis, they won't be—unless you don't advertise them as sold out. Are you following? Better to turn people away at the door then to scare people away by saying something is sold out before they even leave their desks.
Pick one (or maybe two) venues with multiple theaters for panels. Now, Advertising Week organizers will point out that with an alleged 60,000 ad people in town, such a thing is impossible, but since the biggest event I attended was the Monday night opening gala—which probably had 350 people, max—please permit me a bit of skepticism about that 60,000 people figure. There are two reasons limiting the venues would make sense. First, even when the streets of New York aren't filled with foreign potentates and Uzi-toting cops, New York is a schlep. And no one likes to schlep. Second, it would give the event a whole new level of buzz, with people moving in and out of panels, chatter in the hallways, impromptu drinks at a nearby bar and the like. That's why in terms of buzz, there was no comparison between the Interactive Advertising Bureau's MIXX conference last week—which had a lot of good, old-fashioned interpersonal interaction—and walking into the Paley Center, which always seemed forlorn, except for what was going on down in the basement where the panels were. And even some of those, from an attendance standpoint, were disappointing, because (chorus) no one likes to schlep.
Get more bigwigs involved. Ad Age has already harped on this one, but, really, truly, it struck me last week. Besides the people who appeared on Stuart Elliott's panels, how many big names in the business were up at the dais?
Have a theme. Actually you could do worse than having the industry push its efforts during the week to a pet cause or causes. That's starting to happen, but except to people who observe the industry closely, it's not apparent.
Make the Web site more interactive. Maybe this point isn't as important as some of the others I've listed here, but having an active Web site would convey that there was stuff happening that you shouldn't miss. The WADV radio station is a good start, but can you believe that the Advertising Week 2007 home page still has a picture up from Advertising Week—2006? Puh-leese! Where are the video outtakes from the conference? The live conference-cam of doings around town? Advertising Week, the blog?

OK, enough said. Except for this one last thought: in the brief history of Adverganza, I've been fortunate enough to do a couple of posts that merited some real discussion. But for all the posts I did last week about Advertising Week, I've gotten a grand total of two comments (not including my response to someone's query). Two. It's quite possible my posts weren't very interesting, but it's also possible the event itself wasn't very engaging. Well, at least I got to pass out a lot of business cards.

Adverganza's Monday morning picks, 10.01.07

Wherein I scan the headlines so you don't have to:

From Advertising Age:

Grey's Anatomy is the most expensive show on TV. Ad Age's full pricing survey is here.
—Sir Martin Sorrell ... he's oh, so digital.
Plummer leaves ARF, unable to engage engagement metric.
—Advertising Week was better than those that have gone before, or so say some people. Oh, and here's a link to video content from Advertising Week. And here, a dissenting view.
—New Cadillac spot starring Grey's Anatomy's Kate Walsh makes Bob Garfield want her to have his children.

From Adweek:

Adweek says it's American Idol, not Grey's Anatomy that is the highest-priced series on TV.
Those damn DVRs, screwing up TV ratings again.
—If you were to do an industry conference, what would it be like?
—Exchanges to sell online advertising gain (a little) ground.
—Barbara Lippert on Nissan's multi-platform campaign for the Rogue SUV which multiply references to that great game, "Labyrinth" that I was so damn good at as a kid. No links to the YouTube videos she references at—which are a little bit catching sunglasses with your face— but you can see them here and here. You can also see the 60-second spot here.

From Mediapost:

Citi doesn't want to socialize.
—The Times launches a campaign called, "All the News that's Fit to Click." Amazed that line hasn't already been used.
—Diane Mermigas on what former AOL chief Jonathan Miller and former News Corp. digital chief Ross Levinsohn are doing together.

From The New York Post:

—The luxury retail market may be slowing down.
iWon goes through a redesign.

From The New York Times:

—Can Nitro reignite the grilled cheese sandwich? One way it'll try is through a contest, starting in a few weeks here on MySpace. So far the only friend of the "happy sandwich" is Tom.
—Who still reads magazines? Rich people.

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

Radiohead will let its fans choose the price they want to pay to download the band's new album. Really.
—U.S. advertising expected to slow for the rest of the year.
—How to keep commercials from wearing out (free).
—Dockers is doing trunk shows to lure women, believe it or not (free).

What we hear about this week's Delaney Report:

—Is Outback Steakhouse, currently at Kaplan Thaler, about to go into review?
—Also potentially in review: Callaway Golf (currently at Y&R), and Burt's Bees (currently at Martin).