Friday, October 12, 2007

Adrants hopping mad at 'Mad Men' review

Despite his blog's name, it's not all that often that Adrants' Steve Hall goes off on a true rant, like the one he posted today about Bart Cleveland's critique of AMC's "Mad Men." The critique, posted on the Ad Age site, admits from the get-go that Cleveland actually only watched ten minutes of the show, which is much of Hall's problem. How can a guy who watched ten minutes of a show truly critique it? Good point there, Steve. So, I went and read the Bart Cleveland thing, and I guess what it's meant to be is a diatribe on why a show about advertising can't really be about advertising, but instead is a show where "a lot of frustrated housewives gossip about one another." The guy actually thinks that people would watch a show about advertising; he wants to see scenes wherein, there's " ... a passion for creative that causes men to live like monks, not adulterous lechers making passes at their secretaries." Only problem with that, Bart, is that you'd be the only one watching.

Now Kodak is out of the Olympic game

By my count, Kodak is now the second major company to decide not to keep sponsoring the Olympics, following General Motors, which made up its mind in August. Like GM, Kodak is a troubled brand, and it's quite possible the company won't successfully make the shift to being a digital company, but there are other factors at work here too other than saving money—otherwise it might be worth it for Kodak to use the Olympics (the deal ceases after Beijing) as a launching pad for its great rebranding. The Olympic Games just aren't the draw that they used to be, which, whenever it becomes time for NBC or some other network to negotiate the broadcast rights, could be a watershed in terms of determining what mass media properties are worth in a fragmented media world.

Finally, John Cleese gives advice on spam

God knows why John Cleese has an endorsement deal with Iron Mountain Digital, but, glad to see the guy is still good for a laugh. In the videos presented at, Cleese dresses as a barrister, in a white lab coat and performs "an interpretive dance," the dance video being, according to Adweek, the best of the bunch. My favorite is Cleese's lengthy diatribe about spam (click on the "Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam!" link), which is, of course, a nod to Cleese's days in Monty Python, and includes shots of Spam-a-sized products such as this can of soup. Sorry, don't know the agency.

ANA study: Media, creative should re-marry

Cool report just out from the ANA conference in Phoenix: 60 percent of those who were polled think media and creative belong back together. Sixty percent. But lest you think this means that, say, Mediacom should just get it over with and tie the knot again with Grey, that's not exactly the kind of marriage the respondents are looking for: they think "partnerships between media companies and media agencies would become more important than traditional full-service agency partnerships going forward," according to this story in Adweek. (I haven't been able to find the full report online yet.) Personally, I'm lying in wait for the creation of OMD/ABC/Chiat.

Here's the new BusinessWeek cover

After 18 months of intense study, BusinessWeek's new redesign, from Modernista, is out today, and it involves—drumroll, please—block letters. Changing the logo, in the case of a magazine, is usually done as a piece of short-hand signaling to the reader that much else has changed, as is the case here. You can read the explanation of the redesign by editor-in-chief Steve Adler at the redesigned Web site here, but I'll give you a quick synopsis as to why BusinessWeek embarked on this redesign: you're very, very busy.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Coulter vs. Deutsch: Donny wins

Adweek got Donny Deutsch on the phone about what I guess was Monday's interview with Ann Coulter on Deutsch's show. The one in which she says that everyone should be Christian, explaining, ""We [Christians] just want Jews to be perfected." Donny, who I don't usually defend, keeps his cool admirably, especially given that he's Jewish, in my mind winning the argument simply by not showing any sign that what he really might have wanted to do is strangle her. He actually gives her an extra minute or two to attempt to explain herself after a commercial break, but, as you'll see if you view the clip here, that's a task even she isn't up to. As for Donny, he told Adweek, "I was offended. And then, and this was interesting, she started to back off and seemed a little upset ... I think she got frightened that maybe she had crossed a line, that this was maybe a faux pas of great proportions." As for Coulter I'm sure she just views it as another marketing stunt.

Unilever can't have its vixen and decry it too

OK, this was bound to happen. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has gotten on Unilever's case about the current campaign for Axe (above), saying that it "degrades young women." But it doesn't stop just with asking the company to pull the campaign. The group has made sure to put the disconnect between the Axe advertising from Bartle Bogle Hegarty and the new "Onslaught" effort for Dove—which decries media images of women—front and center. Unilever's response to this, predictably, is that the Axe ads are spoofs, but, seriously, folks, what a cop-out. How long are educated people supposed to buy that explanation, as though the pre-teen girl portrayed in "Onslaught" would see one of the Axe ads and even understand what a spoof is? This issue is going to put Unilever in a conundrum it can't easily squeeze out of, and my guess is that the company is eventually going to have to decide one way or the other where its best interests lie. It's great that on a corporate level Unilever decided several months ago that it would stop using women under size 2 in its ads, but if that woman is depicted in an Axe commercial writhing around while meeting the future in-laws, it doesn't matter what size she is.

BBH presents New York, the theme park

You may have noticed that New York City launched a new $30 million tourism campaign yesterday themed, "This Is New York," a fanciful look at the city that's about as far from the French Connection-style city many of us secretly love as Tottenville is from Riverdale. You can view the spot here. Ad Age argues, that as such, it doesn't represent New York at all, I think because New York is many things, but it isn't made up of live action sprinkled with animation. I kinda know what they mean, but the spot is much fun to watch even if it is ironic enough that its presentation of New York-as-theme-park comes at just the point when the city's famous amusement park, Coney Island, may soon succumb to the wrecking ball. Created by Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Saatchi online gallery a success ... maybe

Forgot to link yesterday to this free story in The Wall Street Journal about what appears to be success at Saatchi Online, the online art gallery run by Charles Saatchi. The story says that in two polls the gallery has conducted with some of the artists who have uploaded work for sale to the site, collectively the art they've sold has rung up $30,000 a week and $88,280 respectively. That's not bad, although one wonders how those numbers would pan out if everyone who received the poll had replied. Who wants to admit their work isn't selling? Another problem with the story: Saatchi is quoted as saying that the site "regularly" receives 50 million hits a day (that includes page views and other new images). Meanwhile, Media Metrix says the site g0t 894,000 unique users in August. Doing some crude math, if you divide 894,000 by about 30 to get a rough number of daily visitors (29,800), and then take 50 million and divide it by 29,800, that would mean that, on average, each unique visitor is looking at more than 1675 pieces of art when they go to the site. Fifty million hits a day? I doubt it.

Rothenberg (sort of) stomps on standards

You may not want to read every word of the latest, lengthy entry on Randall Rothenberg's IAB "clog," but at least the guy has the cojones to question the need for industry standards on the same day that his Interactive Advertising Bureau released guidelines on how to measure rich Internet applications and a status report on interactive ad platforms for video games. But Rothenberg thought it was the right time to open up a discussion about when standards help--and when they hurt. "Our members want us to establish standards for the best of reasons: to make markets" he says. "But standards established in the wrong way or the wrong time can hinder dynamism. ... In my 10 months leading the IAB, I have been struck by how frequently we are asked to develop industry standards in areas ripe with innovation, and bubbling in utter ferment. Digital-video insertion standards, mobile advertising creative standards and, most recently, widget size standards are among the requests that have been made to our various committees. In most cases, I believe such standards are premature and inadvisable."

Modernista brings you BusinessWeek

If you like the redesigned print edition of BusinessWeek which launches on Friday (the picture at right is not it, repeat--it launches on Friday), you can thank Modernista. According to Keith Kelly's Media Ink column in The New York Post, the agency helped BW art director Andrew Horton with a reworking with the magazine that has been in the works for 18 months. And you thought the agency just did Hummer ads.

Eat Godiva, be skinny supermodel

On the one hand, you have Dove trying to protect little girls from the media messages that pressure them to be perfect in "Onslaught." On the other hand, you have this campaign from Godiva, which tells women they can be amazingly beautiful, not to mention skinny, by eating chocolate that is apparently as big as their heads. Well, at least in this one, the model has the good sense to wear a tent dress (a la J. Lo), as opposed to the other two, which you can see here and here. Via Mediapost, which credited the ads to Sugartown Creative.

Intel, outside of the (TV) box

We all are accustomed to hearing that clients are shifting money to online, but what separated Stuart Elliott's ad column today in The New York Times from most other things I've read is that it cited actual client budget numbers. The ones that really counted came from Intel, which said it would be spending more than half of its $300 million annual budget online in two years from only 15 percent two years ago. In addition, the company is requiring the companies that participate in its co-op advertising ventures to spend 35 percent of the money that Intel kicks in in online next year. Of lesser import—but still fairly telling, given the product—is that the American Egg Board said it will spend at least $1 million, and maybe $2 million, of its $10 million budget online. Products with Intel Inside may be high consideration products; eggs, decidedly not.

Foster's finds out if Pure Blonde is more fun

Even if the women in this spot for Foster's Pure Blonde are there purely for their sexy, if virginal, appeal, it's still pretty funny, even to a chick like me. Launched almost week ago with the hopes of being viral, it supposedly has about 60,000 views so far, which the client back in Sydney says it's fairly pleased with. Still, as the story says, it's no Carlton Draught's Big Ad.

Who are Colleen DeCourcy's Facebook friends?

Been awhile since I gave you guys a peek into someone's Facebook friends, so, since she's been much in the news lately, thought I'd focus on TBWA's Colleen DeCourcy. Without further ado, here are friends I thought were interesting: Mike Murphy and Tom Arrix of Facebook (hey, is that the same Tom Arrix I grew up with?), AKQA's Lars Bastholm, R/GA's Mariana Bukvic, JWT's Justin Crawford, Peter Grossman, Marc Grunberg, Matt MacDonald, Claire Morrissey and Hussein Dahjani, Ad Age's Matthew Creamer, the ubiquitous Avi Dan, ad-journalist-about-town Tobi Elkin, Sapient's David Coffey and Benjamin Feist, Universal McCann's Quentin George (a former Organic guy), Goodby's Christian Haas (also former Organic), Organic's Ranae Heuer, Clare Meridew, Eve Neveau, Amanda Van Nuys, Matt Rosenberg, Dan Sicko (is that a real name?), Chad Stoller, Dave Sullivan, Dave Silvestre, Adam Turinas, Adam Wilson, Camas Winsor and Scott Lange, the also-ubiquitous Joseph Jaffe, Avenue A/Razorfish's Kristin Landgraf and Gordon Montgomery, Adweek's Brian Morrissey, Digitas' Michael O'Brien, high-profile ex-Wal-Mart employee Julie Roehm (but you knew that), WPP's Trish Shortell, and VideoEgg's Troy Young (also former Organic). You'll notice the dearth of TBWA/Chiat/Day employees on this list. Then again, if I had recently jumped ship to their I wouldn't necessarily being advertising who my "friends" were there either.

How much did you pay for Radiohead's album?

Since Radiohead's new album, "In Rainbows," is being released today, it's the official start of the Great Content Experiment of 2007. I decided to pay $12, ear unheard. (The graphic at right shows what your shopping cart looks like before you input the price you want to pay.) I've heard that some people think that $10 is about the right price, because of the iTunes model (.99 x approximately 10 songs), but this isn't just any old band. And, though I don't lie awake at night worrying about whether Thom Yorke has a roof over his head, I do worry that this whole experiment will turn into just another example of people really thinking their content should be free. Anyone who wants to comment about what they paid, feel free in "comments."

A close-up on Lego brick films

The other day I referenced a Wall Street Journal story on "brick films,"—films made entirely using Lego. It's not a new phenomenon by any stretch—I seem to remember getting sent a link to one re-enacting Michael Jackson's video "Thriller" some time ago. Still, thought it worth posting one for the uninitiated. The above, "Grace," like many brick films focuses on the struggle between good and evil, or, maybe, good plastic vs. bad plastic? Not every marketer has such a cadre devoted to its product, but, wow, when it comes to people spending lots of time focused on your product experience, you can't beat this for engagement. This site is said to be the biggest hub for all things brick film.

World of Warcraft fans will watch anything

Looks like the folks at Toyota and its agency, Saatchi & Saatchi, are all hot and bothered about the traffic they're getting on YouTube to a video that inserts the Toyota Tacoma into the game World of Warcraft (above), but really, if you look at the traffic for all sorts of inane World of Warcraft videos, it's not that exciting. I was looking for the commercial in question on YouTube, and it's amazing to contemplate what WoW fans will watch. More than 6 million people have watched this boring ten-minute video called "World of Warcraft GM Power," (no relation to the car company), 4.2 million for this one showing WoW characters dancing to "Saturday Night Fever" and "Can't Touch This," 3.5 million for this one called "Guild Wars vs. World of Warcraft." Since these people obviously have no life that exists in the real world, even if they are watching the Tacoma video, it's doubtful they ever actually get in a car.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Judann Pollack to boomer marketers: stuff it

Refreshing column in Ad Age this week by Judann Pollock that I somehow missed when I scanned the headlines yesterday. Basically the gist of it is how incredibly patronizing it is for marketers to now say they've discovered the baby boomer is alive and well, and actually worth being marketed to. The data supporting the fact that baby boomers aren't exactly over the hill has been around for just about as long as the term itself, Pollack notes, saying " ... it's kind of galling that just now marketers have woken up to boomers' value." I'll say.

Catch O'Reilly/Hardee's clip while you can

Don't know how much longer this clip of Bill O'Reilly interviewing the CEO of Hardee's and Carl's Jr. about that "Flat Buns" ad (above) will be at this link, so better take a look at it now because I couldn't find it elsewhere. It's rather, um, revealing from both sides of the hotseat. In O'Reilly's case it's for taking a commercial about a teacher showing off her accoutrements and immediately skipping to scandals involving teachers molesting children. While the commercial certainly doesn't help on that score, what about starting with the fact that it's in bad taste and that we don't need to encourage 16-year-olds to think of their teachers as sex objects? Those were the first things I thought of, anyway. On the side of Andy Puzder, the CEO of parent company CKE Restaurants, the clip is telling for his insistence that the whole thing was meant as a parody, and that, while the teacher may be gyrating on her desk, "There's no physical contact" between the teacher and students. Puh-leese. Of course, Hardee's/Carl's Jr. has re-edited the spot so as to omit the teacher. However, in the have-it-your-way ethos that typifies media-to-order these days, the company doesn't seem to have petitioned YouTube to take the old spot off its servers.

New iPhone ads go to black

"Hey, our Mac vs. PC ads are shot against a white background, so let's shoot the new iPhone ads against a black background!" Was that part of the creative process that led TBWA/Chiat/Day to these new testimonial-style iPhone ads? I dunno, it's just the first thing that occurred to me when I saw them. (In addition to the one above, the other two are here on the Apple site.) Seriously, though, you have to give this campaign credit for being simply straightforward. No need to hype what is already beyond hype.

CVS? Caring? Not from what I can see

I see that CVS launched a new campaign yesterday with the theme line, "For All the Ways You Care," using a fanciful, animated technique to make the local CVS seem as warm—and fuzzy—as the fuzzy logic behind the campaign. Just as it is with so many campaigns for health insurance companies, attempts by a company like CVS to portray itself as caring simply don't pass the truth test. CVS holds a near-monopoly where I live, and the effects of not having any real competition are obvious. The stores are perpetually understaffed, the staff at times downright rude, and the customers usually left to fend for themselves. Often, as I've been standing in another long line—the one at the pharmacist's counter is often five or six deep—I muse about why companies like this invest money in ad campaigns when putting money into staffing issues seems like a more worthwhile investment. The agency for this campaign is Hill, Holliday—not that I blame the agency for the client's faults.

Meth campaign really starting to spread

As chilling and disgusting as the Montana Meth Project's campaign is, it's working, and it was the worthy focus of a special report last night on ABC's "Nightline" (there was also a short feature about it on the "ABC Evening News"). I had read over the last six months or so about the campaign moving into some other states; now the Office of National Drug Control Policy is picking it up to run in more states where meth use is particularly high. As the "Nightline" report pointed out, the graphic campaign is a long, long way from the "This is your brain on drugs" metaphor-ism of the "Just say no" error. That effort now looks incredibly wimpy by comparison.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Adverganza's Monday morning picks, 10.08.07

Wherein I scan the Monday morning headlines, so you don't have to. (I'll be off with the kids most the day, so this may be all you get.)

From Advertising Age:

—So Steve Ballmer says Microsoft will be an ad giant. Hey everybody, the company has been saying this at least since its Financial Analysts Meeting last July.
—Bottled water is great, except for the bottle.
—Ha! "Mad Men" with no ads.
—At Unilever, young folks help out old fogies.
—This year's Power Players. (Yeah, they're mostly white males.)
—Bob Garfield gives Dove's "Onslaught" four stars, while simultaneously pointing out that Unliever also makes Axe and that Dove agency Ogilvy also does the advertising for the Barbie doll. No one ever said life was simple.

From Adweek:

Advertising on social networks: Marketers aren't always accepted with open arms.
—Peter Drakoulias finds it strange that Domino's doesn't perceive Burger King also being at Crispin as a conflict.
—How hiring Michel Gondry as the director for a Motorola spot put Cutwater in Moto-limbo.
—Like Garfield, Barbara Lippert gives Dove's "Onslaught"a thumbs-up. No word on whether that thumb is manicured.

From Mediapost:

—Burger King is getting set to market downloadable cell phone games.
—And now, Crayons, the drink.
—Sanford C. Bernstein analyst says Yahoo would be worth more broken up or sold.
Magna's Steve Sternberg on what the early network TV ratings really look like.
U.S. News & World Report launches comprehensive rankings site called

From The New York Times:

—The lowdown on Google's top-secret mobile phone initiative: the GPhone.
—Headline I never thought I'd see: "'Kid Nation' Slips in Viewers but Gains in Advertisers."
—Toyota giving away a new game, featuring the Yaris, free to XBox users.

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

—Welcome to the world of "brickfilms," videos featuring characters and scenes made out of Lego. Free.
—A look at ads at tie-in ads to combat TiVo.
DKNY perfume sprays the sidewalk outside Bloomingdale's.