Friday, March 28, 2008

Company celebrates Earth Day by killing trees

One of the great things about working from home is that my life is now (almost) blissfully free of weird come-ons from PR agencies. With that, a friend who still works in an office and gets these come-ons writes: "Just got a FedEx, marked urgent, from a company in North Carolina called McNeill Communications Group. So I opened (and discarded) one medium FedEx box, transported from NC to New York. I removed (and discarded) some packing paper that was securing a cardboard box. I opened (and discarded) the cardboard box to find a plastic box wrapped in styrofoam. I threw out the styrofoam and opened the plastic box to find more paper packaging, a plastic bag of styrofoam peanuts, a plastic swizzle stick, and a three-page press release. The title of the release? "TharpeRobbins Celebrates Earth Day by Leading the Way with Environmental Initiatives." The gimmick is that the styrofoam peanuts dissolve in water. My jaw just dropped. I feel like this might almost be a joke.The best part is that I have never heard of TharpeRobbins before, and the release gives no indication of what the company is, does, or sells except for the boilerplate at the end: "The privately held TharpeRobbins was created through the February 2007 merger of The Robbins Company, founded in 1982, and the Tharpe Company Inc., founded in 1981. Customized programs include products ranging from personalized jewelry to fine art, electronics, sports equipment, and outdoor merchandise. The company also offers rewards through local and national services, entertainment and recreation." Clear as mud. The other three pages of the release are dedicated to TharpeRobbins' environmental initiatives and awards. So essentially, what this boondoggle of a press kit did was to bring TharpeRobbins to my attention and provide no information about them except that they appear ludicrously hypocritical, by announcing their commitment to environmentally sustainable operations with a really wasteful mailing. Nicely done, McNeil Communications Group!

Well how viral is your video?

Just saw an ad at for the First Viral Film Festival to be held on April 28th at The Dolby Screening Room in NYC. You can upload your viral smash hits at this link. Here's the conundrum: the videos will be judged, but shouldn't a viral film be judged on how many views it got? Not everything that intends to be viral is viral you know ... that's a pretty deep thought for me on a Friday.

Get ready for the new Macy's commercial

Here's the latest in JWT New York's star-studded Macy's campaign! Featuring Mariah Carey and Carlos Santana! With cameo performances from Martha Stewart and Donald Trump! Best part, actually, is when Martha tries to show her soulful, sensuous side. She doesn't have much of one.

See how you do on the corporate logo quiz

I have no time for stuff like this today, but if you do, there's a corporate logo quiz over at AOL. Guess one of these Dole logos is fake.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dr Pepper's funniest marketing idea ever

You gotta love this new, promotion-or-whatever-it-is, for Dr Pepper. In case you haven't heard, Dr Pepper is promising a free can of Dr Pepper for everyone in the U.S. if Axl Rose can just deliver his long-awaited (well many of us have stopped waiting) album during this calendar year. When I was reading about it this morning on Mediapost, I couldn't help but laugh when I saw that the director of marketing's name was Jaxie Alt, which seems almost like an Axl Rose word scramble. Then there's this classic quote attributed to a company spokesperson: "It took a little patience for us to perfect Dr Pepper's special mix of 23 ingredients, so we completely understand and empathize with Axl's quest for the perfect album." No word from Axl's camp, far as I can tell. Then again, it's probably hunkered down in a dark closet somewhere.

Amex Open Forum open for small business

Cool idea here from American Express for its Open card targeted to business owners—an Open Forum which is both a discussion thread and resource for small business owners. I cruised around the site—and even registered—this morning after seeing the banner above at The solicitation for the Card was extremely subtle and easy to get past, which is a good thing because the last thing I need is another credit card. Still, it makes me feel warm and fuzzy about American Express. Great combination of marketing coupled with content that users want.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Citi never stops blowing up buildings

Funny video on - Pig
You sure couldn't have shown this commercial right after 9/11.

People actually do still like Starbucks

Hi gang. So my latest Mediapost Social Media Insider column is out, and people are piling on me like Tom Brady during a Giants game. The column is about Enjoy.

Tangerine Toad's take on Twitter

Tangerine Toad wrote a post the other day that jumps deep into the heart of the weirdness that is Twitter. My favorite item on his "10 Things I Hate About Twitter" was this: "8. I WISH people would realize how odd it sounds to twitter about how you are currently playing with your children. Children are sentient beings who get that Mommy or Daddy can’t simultaneously be playing with them and typing about it on Twitter. Not to mention that (to paraphrase Chris Rock’s famous routine) you’re a parent: You’re supposed to be playing with your children. This is also true of people who twitter about how they are currently at dinner with various friends and relatives. All I can think of is 7 other people sitting there aghast as you blithely type new Twitter updates throughout the meal." I have a question for Tange or anyone else who can answer: if you have more people following you on Twitter than you are following, does that make you ego-centric? If so, I've got work to do.

Free at last! Tony Granger may be free at last!

Ad Age is reporting that Tony Granger may finally be emancipated from his cell at Saatchi & Saatchi to finally take that job he signed on for over at Young & Rubicam. (You know, the one where he's the creative chief?) True, Granger had a contract, and Saatchi CEO Kevin Roberts seems to have been hell-bent on holding him to it. On the other hand, at a certain point, it's just time to settle, particularly with his replacement, fromer TBWA/Chiat/Day CD Gerry Graf walking the halls. Can't be good for the smooth running of an agency to have a guy who's made his intentions clear to get out of there hanging around.

Upon his death, a selection of Hal Riney spots

Thought I'd start the morning with a selection of Hal Riney commercials, because, if you haven't heard already, he passed away yesterday at the age of 75. Best obit I've seen so far is at, written by Jeff Goodby. First, a Bartles & Jaymes ad that played off the "Bo Knows" Nike commercial from Wieden.

Here's the famous 1984 Reagan commercial, "Morning Again in America," narrated by Riney.

Here's a two-and-a-half minute clip from a documentary about Henry Weinhard breweries, which includes a Henry Weinhard spot. Not absolutely sure this is Hal Riney's voice, but it's definitely patterned after him. No doubt about that.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dumb: exclusive holding company contracts

Even though it's been known for awhile that BankofAmerica was going to cease doing all of its business with Omnicom, seeing the client pick a winner yesterday in its media review—Publicis Groupe's Starcom—makes it fresh once again to discuss how wrong-headed these exclusive agency holding company contracts with clients are. Inevitably, they fall apart, when there's a new CMO—and we know how frequent that is—or the client in question finds out that the agency holding company's services aren't all they were cracked up to be during the halcyon days of the review. It wasn't all that long ago (2002, in fact) that BofA gave its exclusive contract to Interpublic. Then it cycled through Omnicom, and now, although the marriage to Omnicom still, basically, exists, they're carrying on on the side with Publicis. Are you listening Da Vinci?

Paul Tilley and the irresponsibility project

Wake up people! Amazed that this post on AdFreak hasn't garnered more than one irate comment. Here's the news: Liberty Mutual has actually bought the keyword "Paul Tilley" to link to a site it's calling, allegedly an exploration of "what it means to do the right thing." Those who click on the ad will be confronted by a post once again dredging up the speculation about what role bloggers may have played in his death. As the writer of this post has no more insight than any of the rest of us outsiders do about why Tilley committed suicide, isn't it more than a little irresponsible to continue the speculation and try to enhance traffic about it by buying a keyword? Seems pretty obvious to me. Feel free to leave your comment below the post on the Liberty Mutual site, and don't make your comment anonymous. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE: A source points out that Liberty Mutual also bought the keywords of the two blogs most involved in the controversy: "Adscam" and "AgencySpy." LATE AFTERNOON UPDATE: Liberty Mutual has pulled the links. Also I should have credited the Tribble Agency which started this whole gosh darn thing.

The stats so far on Goodby's "One Gallon Axe"

I'm getting confused about what qualifies as a viral hit these days, but Goodby Silverstein's "One Gallon Axe" by the fictitious band White Gold for those California milk people is up to 221,000 YouTube views in a week. On MySpace, its influential friends include Dave Grohl (does he get paid for that?), and there are a total of almost 3000 of them. The "single" has about 6000 plays so far and the profile has been viewed over 19,000 times. On Facebook—admittedly not filled with this campaign's target demo—White Gold has a measly 73 fans. Less than me! If I were giving out grades—well I guess I am—I'd give the YouTube views tally a B, the MySpace stats an A-, and the Facebook stats a C-. As for the music video, to me, it's a bit long. Seems to be straining for new jokes by the end. The chorus of people dressed in, well, milky white is a nice touch.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Adverganza's Monday morning picks, 03.24.08

Wherein I scan the Monday morning headlines so you don't have to. (Hope I get through them all during this round. Who heard of kids having three days off from school for Easter?):

From Advertising Age:

—Hey marketers! Come cozy up to the recession! And another story about marketing in a recession.
Starbucks, the social network.
—Ashley Dupre needs to get a move on. Kinda.
—Did you know that last week was "Water Week"? Sorry for drinking all that Diet Coke.
—Speaking of which, Coke has been helping Darfur, no matter what Jill Savitt said.
—New Sprint commercial makes Bob Garfield dizzy.

From Adweek:

Switching to C3: The aftermath.
How Magna Global's Steve Sternberg would like to see C3 evolve.
Why Group M's Rino Scanzoni thinks C3 will be around for awhile.
—Guess what? Social media metrics aren't perfect yet.
—Brian Morrissey's long-awaited prom dress story. (OK, that was an inside joke.)
—How many people have been watching TV on Web portals.
—More on Crispin's equity deal with AmericaFree.TV.
—Good God. Focus group hypnosis.
—Now PHD is going green. St. Patrick's day was last week.

From Brandweek:

VW to launch campaign featuring talking car named Max. Scary.
—The good and the bad about Coldwell Banker's new campaign.

From Mediapost:

—Gatorade launches its Tiger Woods campaign. Some sort of contest, etc.
—New Balance focuses on high-schoolers and triples its ad budget.
—LinkedIn to do company profiles with BusinessWeek.
—Media buyers want sports programmers to move over to C3, but they don't.

From The New York Post:

—MySpace may launch its digital music venture with record labels as soon as this week.

From The New York Times:

—Recession? What Doubledown Media worry?
C'mon everybody, let's haggle! (OK, this link is from Sunday, but ya gotta read it before you pay list price on that flat-screen TV.)
—Now that we're all gonna learn what "rickrolling" is, it'll be uncool by tomorrow.
—Scion devotees can make their own logo.

From The Wall Street Journal:

Election-themed spots from mainstream advertisers. Happens every four years. Free.