Friday, November 2, 2007

Jerry Seinfeld hand-signals the joys of H-P

Above is the new Hewlett-Packard spot starring Jerry Seinfeld, the posting of which I'm timing perfectly to get in on the hype surrounding the premier of Seinfeld's "Bee Movie." (If you don't know what it's about by now, you're hopeless.) The commercial has all of the eye-catching techno-tricks that make this campaign so watchable. Thought the joke about having to mention the upcoming movie twice in the commercial a little lame though. Feel like we've heard that joke so many times before. Yeah, this spot is from Goodby.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Some more thoughts on Biegel vs. Dentsu

Had to spend most of yesterday concerned with working for people who pay me, so only now have I gotten to read and digest the complaint in Biegel vs. Dentsu, not to mention posting of the now-infamous crotch shot. Of course, none of us, except for the plaintiff Steve Biegel and the defendant, Toyo Shigeta, were there in every instance, but here are a few things I keep coming back to: why would someone file a suit of this salacious magnitude unless he--and his lawyer--felt they had a very strong case? Particularly a man suing for sexual harassment, a situation pretty much guaranteed to garner a lot of headlines? Another thing it's hard to escape: having now read the complaint from cover-to-cover, is the level of detail, which no doubt fed into why Biegel feels he has a strong case. One thing you learn after reporting a lot of stories: talk is cheap, but details are, well, priceless. Yes, there are two sides to every story, but the side with the most detail generally is the most accurate. Even if the photographer behind (beneath?) the Sharapova crotch shot is hard to prove, there also seem to be, by Biegel's account, a lot of witnesses: Ron Rosen, Neal Gomberg, Scott Weitz, Doug Fidoten. Dentsu is saying that Biegel, and partner Ron Rosen, were let go in the aftermath of the hiring of Tim Andree, as part of a typical purge following the appointment of new management. Maybe that will make it harder to prove there was wrongful termination since that so often happens, but Biegel also outlines how Shigeta shunned him and threatened him when he told Shigeta that he almost complained to human resources about Shigeta's behavior. Shigeta, the suit says, tells Biegel, "If [Biegel] ever did register such a complaint with human resources, defendant Shigeta would see to it that he would be fired." After that, the suit says, Shigeta ignored him. The timing of all this, of course, couldn't be worse for Dentsu. Having been so secretive in the U.S. for so many years, the agency seemed to be holding a coming-out party of sorts recently, with a cover story in Adweek, and, then, last week, with the purchase of the well-regarded Attik. Now, with this suit charging sexual harassment with cultural differences being used as a cover, the mysteries of Dentsu only deepen.

Maybe it's a great time to buy a home

Maybe I find this commercial intriguing because I recently got my real estate license. From the National Association of Realtors, it's not because the commercial is a piece of great advertising--it's because it says that now can be a great time to buy; it's a much more pointed message than you usually see in smiley-happy real-estate ads. The commercial is very careful to hedge just a bit: one woman, presumably a Realtor (that's what members of the National Association of Realtors are called, and trust me, it'll be on the exam!) says it's the best market in years "in terms of choice." Of course, whether people find the commercial believable is another matter entirely. The few comments accompanying this version of the ad on YouTube, were--what's the word?--skeptical.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Looks like Dentsu has skeletons in the Attik

Just when it looked like Dentsu was joining the ranks of agencies that were viewed less for their nationality than for their advertising acumen, Steve Biegel, a former New York creative director at the agency, has sued it for sexual harassment. But this suit probably isn't what you're thinking. Biegel, in a suit that was filed—somehow befittingly—on Halloween, says that his male Japanese boss, Toyo Shigeta, the head of Dentsu Holdings USA, forced him into visiting brothels, distributed lewd pictures of, among other females, tennis star Maria Sharapova (specifically of her crotch), which Shigeta took on a Canon shoot in October 2004 and also insisted that Biegel and others hang out nude in a hot tub with him, which, the suit says, left Biegel "offended and humiliated by this outrageous, sexually degrading experience imposed on him as a condition of his employment." Biegel, after complaining, was fired in November 2006, roughly six months after the bath-house incident. Dentsu so far is only saying that they haven't seen the suit. But there's a lot more to this story—among other things, the crotch-shot of Sharapova has been entered into evidence. Trust me. There's much more to come. UPDATE: Dentsu has since released a statement, which I found on Ad Age's Web site: "Steve Biegel is a former employee who was terminated almost a year ago. When Dentsu refused to yield to Mr. Biegel's unreasonable demands, he made outrageous allegations which the company has refuted. He has now filed a claim to obtain money to which he is not entitled, for incidents he alleges took place over three years ago and which he never complained about while an employee of Dentsu. The company intends to counterclaim that Mr. Biegel has libeled Dentsu and defrauded the company. We look forward to the opportunity to vindicate our company in court."
MORE UPDATE: I talked to Andy Dwyer, the lawyer for Steve Biegel, who says that Biegel did complain while employed at Dentsu, to both Toyo Shigeta and Ron Rosen, who was Biegel's boss. In addition, Dwyer said that Rosen has confirmed that Biegel complained to him. A Dentsu spokesperson said, "I know nothing about Rosen at all," and, concerning the picture of Maria Sharapova, said, "We expect that Maria's agent will weigh in on this in support of Dentsu."

Hard to drink Bud Light with no head

I'll end my posts today with what I think is an old But Light "Headless Horseman" spot. (Wow...just noticed that headline is a double entendre.) Happy Halloween!

Would you get a mortgage from Countrywide?

I guess that even with the subprime mortgage crisis, the show must go on. Still, I was a little taken aback to get a piece of direct mail yesterday from Countrywide Home Loans advertising a 40-year home loan. "Catharine, call for one of the lowest monthly mortgage payments available!" it implored. Uh, maybe not today.

Robert Goulet, R.I.P.

In case you haven't heard, Robert Goulet died yesterday. Other generations may think of him as "the dashing Lancelot in the original 'Camelot' in 1960," but to most of us he was best known as a pitchman. Above, one of a lengthy series of ESPN spots he did to promote college hoops. The opening line: "My idea of a romantic evening? Me watching hoops and you keeping quiet." And, of course, who could forget his ... unusual ... star turn in the Super Bowl commercial for Emerald Nuts? Here was a guy who understood he was pure camp, and reveled in it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Patron tequila gets to bottom of, uh, stuff

I'm a little disappointed in this effort for Patron Tequila, since, unlike the new campaign from its competitor, Partida, it contains no tales of binge drinking. Anyway, the m.o. is that some things—like the perfection of Patron Tequila—are not debatable, while other things, such as "Mac vs. PC" and "The Beatles" vs. "The Stones" definitely are. The theme is carried out in a series of ads, and also on the Web site, where people are allowed to debate the merits or demerits of each protagonist, and they seem to be doing that. Interestingly, I saw a copy of one of the spots on this compilation video from BestAds on YouTube, and the point/counterpoint was "Truth" vs. "Truthiness"; the version on the site, however, says "Animal House" vs. "Caddyshack," so I wonder if the Colbert camp got to them. If you choose to visit the Patron site, don't do it while under the influence of tequila, or anything else. The navigation is giving me the spins, and all I'm drinking is VitaminWater.

Honda Odyssey spot must boggle young minds

Once again, I'm just not getting a Honda Odyssey spot. (Click here to view.) The last time I whined about an Odyssey commercial it was because the company was using a Parliament Funkadelic soundtrack—or something close—to advertise a mini-van meant for soccer Moms who are probably young enough to think George Clinton is Bill's long lost brother. This time around, the soundtrack is Heart's "Barracuda," accompanied by all of that silly mystical imagery that was all the rage back in the 1970s. (Blame Yes, if you want to.) If you have no idea what I'm talking about, then I bet you also never knew that Ann Wilson used to be skinny. Oh, right you probably don't even know who Ann Wilson is. Here, I'll help you out, but I think my point is made.

The Facebook doldrums—or dot-com bust 2.0

You'd think that Facebook getting a $240 million investment from Microsoft would be a good thing, but—if the posts I've been reading the past week or so are any indication—we've reached the beginning of the end, with Facebook cast as the canary in the coal mine for dot-com bust 2.0. Take this post by Micro Persuasion's Steve Rubel, who has gone and gotten all morose about the entire Web 2.0 phenomenon. He doesn't mention Facebook by name, but take an I'm-about-to-jump-off-the-cliff sentence like this one and try to think of anything besides Facebook: "Let's face it, we're skunk drunk and it's because of money. It's almost like we all need to enter Betty Ford Clinic 2.0 together." Let me go get some Kleenex and then do a CGM commercial of me crying and post it to YouTube! Then there's John Battelle, who says that the recent revelation that Facebook employees can see who is looking at any Facebook member's profile constitutes a lack of respect for privacy laws that might not make the company worth as much as the Microsoft investment would have you believe. "The privacy issues is [sic] a very real one for Facebook, because, well, it's the heart of how the company intends to make good on that $15bb valuation," he explains. Man, you folks are bumming me out. I think I'll go on Facebook and update my status to: "Boo-hoo."

Let's all sing about diarrhea!

As the mostly-unstated motto of Adverganza is,"Let no CGM campaign go unposted," here's the new Pepto-Star contest from Pepto-Bismol. It asks people to audition either in front of or behind the camera by singing that wonderful little ditty, "Nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea." If you're that desperate for fame, be my guest.

One Bob Nardelli, several viewpoints

You get slightly different views on the world according to Bob Nardelli, depending on which account you read of the new Chrysler chief's interview at the American Magazine Conference yesterday with Dennis Kneale of Forbes. (Strangely, I looked at and couldn't find its take on the interview.) Mediapost's write-up does a good job of pointing out that the interview was quite broad, including commentary about everything from Chrylser's dealer relations to overproduction problems. Ad Age focused on the main issue at hand for the audience: the ad budget, which Nardelli indicated wasn't exactly going to spike through the roof, even if he "said" this using hand gestures, which Kneale than interpreted for the assembled multitudes You can read Ad Age's story about Nardelli, and see video excerpts from the speech here. In talking about the breadth of his prior career, he compares himself to Walter P. Chrysler, because he, too, once worked in the locomotive industry. He says, "I'm still trying to get my chief engineer to get one of those 600 horsepower locomotive engines into one of these Vipers."

Monday, October 29, 2007

Is 463,000 Bravia bunny YouTube views good?

Been meaning to check into how the Sony Bravia bunny spot was doing, now that it's been out for about a month. My extremely scientific analytics device was to go to YouTube and count up views on all the copies of the commercial that showed up under the search term "Bravia bunnies", and I came up with 463,000 views give or take. Most advertisers would be putting out press releases about those numbers, but compared to the original ad in the series, "Balls" which is probably in the tens of millions by now, it's not all that great. I'm hoping Sony is smart enough to realize that it's almost impossible to beat the first success of a campaign such as "Colour Like No Other," but it's hard not to wish for that. Anyway, there's still time.

Need a personality test to buy a printer?

Kinda weird to see this "Epsonality" campaign launching two days after I finally went and bought a new printer. (I got an H-P.) Its goal is to look at the buying process from the consumer out, rather than, I guess, the features in, by putting people through a personality test to determine their needs when they visit the site. The commercial above--there's a whole bunch of others as well that feature the same couple--functions as more of a teaser. Adweek points to this review of the site on Techcrunch, which isn't exactly, um, glowing. It's no better or worse from a creative standpoint than a lot of stuff on the Web, but I dunno, by the time I walked into BestBuy the other day, I didn't need to be taking a personality test to tell me what I wanted. OK, maybe I was further along in the purchase cycle than people visiting printer Web sites, but even though the idea is that this quiz is supposed to be relatively personalized, there's something a little condescending about telling people what printer is right for them rather than the other way around. Via Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners

Bruce Springsteen seen crashing Red Sox party

I have (what I think) is a fairly reasoned approach to musicians and promotion. If a corporation buys a classic song, like, say, The Beatles' "Hello, Goodbye," to use it in its commercials that's bad. The artist doesn't really need more exposure for the song, and there's something just wrong about using the borrowed interest from a song that was created for a completely different reason to point out that your store has good prices. On the other hand, it's OK with me when an artist—even an established one—agrees to have their new music used in a TV show, or commercial. Depending on the radio or MTV to sell your new CD is much, much harder than it used to be, so you've got to think about your music's distribution creatively. But I did have a problem with the use of Bruce Springsteen's "Radio Nowhere" (frame above) at the end of the World Series post-game show on Fox last night. As is customary, the network wanted to scroll several minutes worth of credits, and it chose a format where clips were shown on the right, while credits scrolled on the left. There it was—the Red Sox big moment—and instead of solely sticking to images from Major League Baseball, there were interspersed clips from the "Radio Nowhere" video. It was completely incongruous. (The video isn't embeddable, but you can see it here.) It was like Bruce was stealing time from the heroes of the moment. He had no business being there.

Apple's sorta CGM campaign

Last night's World Series game was the launch of Apple's sorta-kinda consumer-generated ad for the iPod Touch since it used an ad posted on YouTube by a British guy named Nick Haley (above), after it had been reworked and polished to fit Apple's standards. The Apple version of the ad is here. Please compare and contrast. Kudos to Apple for just picking up an ad it liked rather than running some dopey contest. On the other hand, I think it would've been cool to pretty much run the consumer's ad, or at least give him credit in the ad that ran last night. Or would that be giving up too much control?

"Got Milk?" gal only has eyes for the milkman

Somehow these "Got Milk?" ads never get old.

The Red Sox endorsement deals have only begun

As the wife of a citizen of Red Sox Nation, glad to see the Bosox win their second World Series in recent history, and know that the days when the Red Sox in autumn meant agony are gone forever. One of my many relatives up in Boston sent me an email last week noting that in a recent plasma TV ad in The New Yorker, it was David Ortiz shown sliding into second base, rather than the logical baseball pitchmen of a few years back, such as Derek Jeter or Barry Bonds. Now that the Red Sox have won two, their time in the sunshine of endorsements would seem to have only just begun. Take the ad for Glaceau's VitaminWater above, also starring Ortiz, which went back on the airwaves in recent weeks.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Adverganza's Monday morning picks, 10.29.07

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

From Advertising Age:

Better Homes & Gardens tops the annual "A List".
—Adam Moss of New York is named editor of the year.
Facebook isn't necessarily the sum of its social connections.
—New Hummer campaign shows how Hummers come to the rescue. Would be decent if most the people who actually bought them fashioned themselves rescue heroes. (To see the spots "The Right Tool" and "Bandages" go to this link, click on "USA", scroll over to "Hummer World" in the top right and pick "TV Commercials" from the drop-down menu. After you've accomplished all that, go take a nap.)
That way cool Taco Bell free taco promotion if just one base was stolen during the World Series. Which it was.
—How catalogs have changed to be complementary to Internet shopping.
—Private equity guys love digital advertising.
—Bob Garfield hates the new CVS campaign maybe even more than I do.

From Adweek:

—CNN opens news outpost in Second Life. You'd think the network would have something better to do.
Dentsu buys Attik, and another independent shop bites the dust.
Men's Health tops Adweek's annual Hot List. for the entire list, click here.
A close-up of Adidas' new "Basketball is a Brotherhood" campaign.

From Mediapost:

JWT London launches "purity" effort for Smirnoff vodka.
—Kids breakfast food hasn't changed very much, apparently despite innovations like Yogurt Burst Cheerios.
—Circuit City to test "City" a smaller version of its big-box store.
Watch out for more red wigs; Wendy's to boost its advertising initiatives.
—Despite all the whining, Google thinks the DoubleClick deal will go through.
—McCain fighting Fox News over one of his ads.

From The New York Times:

—The goblins, the ghouls ... they're back!!
—Everyone knows about Current TV, but is anyone watching?
Can Hulu out YouTube, YouTube? (Personally, I think it's kinda doubtful.)
More than a million people join a Colbert for President Facebook group. Is this a great thing or just more evidence that America's time in the sun is ending?

From The Wall Street Journal (subscription required):

—Target will use holograms instead of models in a November fashion show.

What we're hearing from The Delaney Report:

—Is Pepsi unhappy with BBDO and DDB?
—Other reports of agency/client unrest: Ditech and Ground Zero, Canon and Grey.