Monthly Archives: January 2012

why even buy Super Bowl airtime for ads?

None of my Ferris Bueller theories panned out. Jalopnik discovered the Bueller ad was for Honda. Honda released the extended cut of their Super Bowl the ‘big’ game™ ad.

It’s chock full of Ferris Bueller references (over two dozen, they say). It’s a clever way to incorporate the references using Broderick rather than the Bueller character so that John Hughes just does a partial turn in his grave. I’m saddened there’s not an Abe Froman reference.

But here’s a fun piece of trivia. The Super Bowl the ‘big’ game™ is still a week away. The whole “pre-buzz” idea for Super Bowl the ‘big’ game™ ads is getting out of hand. Pretty soon we’ll start seeing Christmas decorations in October … wait.

There’s also the possibility that your teasers could backfire. The social nets are now full of mal-informed Ferris Bueller fans who thought the Honda teaser was for a sequel to the movie. They are now in attack mode.

What do you think? Has the pre-hoopla outweighed the actual media placement? Is the spot in the game just an afterthought?

Bueller? … Bueller?

Well. It’s starting to seem like every ad in the 2012 Super Bowl the ‘big’ game™ will involve revisiting old movies. While I’ve said Volkswagen’s ‘The Bark Side” may have some troubles, this one I’m intrigued by…

While it does seem that “life has moved pretty fast” from the looks of Matthew Broderick, there’s not much more in the teaser that lets us know what this is about. I’m sure in the next few days (hours) the mystery advertiser will be identified (UPDATE: it’s for Honda. Update for Honda: A Honda is not analogous to a Ferrari.) , but for now here are some of my theories for what this could mean.

  • Ferrari is reintroducing the 250 GT Spider California to the market
  • Abe Froman is introducing a new line of healthy sausages during Super Bowl XLVI.
  • Ferris Bueller will break out in a spontaneous versions of “Danke Schoen” and “Twist and Shout” during the Madonna halftime show.
  • Ben Stein has bought time warning 2012 presidential candidates of the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act and voodoo economics.
  • Charlie Sheen announces his intentions of marrying Jennifer Grey (winning)
  • The CMA (Clarinet Manufacturers Association) wants to promote clarinet lessons
  • The sad reality is that it will probably be a Cialis or Viagra spot.

Incredible, one of the worst blog posts of my career and they never doubted it for a second. But what’s your theory (funny or real) on this teaser ad?

Another update: Honda has released the extended cut of the Bueller ad well in advance of Super Bowl the ‘big’ game™.

will volkswagen make super bowl lightning strike twice?

Without a doubt, Volkswagen’s “The Force” was the winner of the 2011 Super Bowl the ‘big’ game™ advertising contest. I would even go as far to say that, in terms of buzz, the ad was the best ad of 2011 overall.

But, as so often is the case, when business finds a winner they keep going to the well, killing the golden goose, etc.

VW has released a prequel / teaser of their 2012 Super Bowl the ‘big’ game™ effort. Watch it here or embedded below.

It is a clever creative execution. Each time I watch it I notice another detail. Ashamed to admit that I didn’t notice that each of the dogs corresponds to a different Star Wars character until my third viewing. I did get the Vader lab and the greyhound AT-AT immediately. (btw – there’s controversy because VW may have ripped off the greyhound AT-AT idea)

But why serve leftovers? Why center your biggest ad buy of the year on what you did last year which was based on a 35 year old movie?

Encores are nice. But they need to occur right after the show, not at the next performance.

The biggest danger for Volkswagen is that this 2012 ad WILL be successful. And it probably will be considering the reaction from last year and the American public’s insane attachment to canines. The video was uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday and already has over 3 million views and counting.

But VW could be like ‘that guy’ who tells a good joke which gets such a good reaction that he repeats the punchline over and over until no one laughs and it creates an uncomfortable atmosphere.

Volkswagen’s 2013 ad may also be Star Wars centric. I see an Ewok or Jar-Jar centric ad in our future. It won’t be long until they’re just producing a Star Wars parody spot each year with little or nothing to do with … you know … VW vehicles.

It happens alot with Super Bowl the ‘big’ game™ advertising (cavemen, monkeys, burt reynolds, betty white, godaddy girls, etc).

There’s also a huge PR danger that VW has opened themselves up to again with an unintended but sinister connection in these Star Wars spots. Volkswagen was originally founded by a Nazi trade union. George Lucas has said he based the concept and much of the visual imagary of the Empire in Star Wars on Nazi Germany. Volkwagen somewhat avoided mentions of this last year, but someone could make the Nazi connection go viral this year. 

 I may be wrong. (shocking disclaimer: I have been wrong before.) Super Bowl the ‘big’ game™ advertising is a different animal that doesn’t correspond to the normal rules. But I say bask in your victory and then go into another battle.

UPDATE: They should have stuck with the barking dogs. The actual Volkswagen Super Bowl commercial stinks.

the unwritten kodak bankruptcy post

Today’s news (that we’ve seen coming for weeks) is that Kodak is bankrupt.

I’m sure the SEO hungry Monday morning quarterback business and marketing bloggers living in their mother’s basements have had a post in draft mode for weeks just waiting to pounce. But if you’re late getting to the trough, here are some specific points to use in a blog post to advance pagerank on the backs of others’ misfortune.

  • Compare Kodak to other legacy industries (record companies, newspaper publishing, etc) who face the digital transformation and how none of them “get” it.
  • Since you have no skin in the game and have the advantage of 20/20 hindsight, point out where Kodak went wrong.
  • In a tsk-tsk manner, make the profound point that Kodak thought they were in the photo business when they were actually in the memory preservation business.
  • Specifically point out that Kodak could have gone digital early (they actually invented much of digital photo technology) and been dominant in the market because of their strong brand, but didn’t want to undermine it’s main revenue source (film).
  • Make sure there’s a Paul Simon / Kodachrome reference in your post.
  • End the post with a look the future. By shedding financial obligations in the bankruptcy, Kodak can now focus on rebuilding with new technology.
  • Encourage readers to leave comments or tweet the post.

brand strategy lessons from zappos cyberattack

Online retailer Zappos has been attacked via one of their servers in Kentucky. (yes, we have servers and electricity in Ky.)

Anyone who has spent any amount of time following me or listening to me speak knows I love to use Zappos as an example of great customer service. I even used them as a case study in Brand Zeitgeist. And once again, they are showing some smart reactions to a bad situation. Just a few important points to learn from this event:

Cyber attacks are a reality. If you have sensitive customer information in digital format, it’s not a matter of “if” this will happen to your organization, but “when”. Do as much as you can to prevent such attacks, but also have a plan ready of how you will respond when it does happen.

Communication is important. The knee-jerk reaction for most after an event like this would be to communicate with customers … which obviously is important. But a more important first step is internal communication. Customers will ask your employees questions. Employees need to know how to respond to those questions. CEO Tony Hsieh sent out an email to employees prior to the customer email going out.

They’ve gone to emergency mode by taking the call center offline and just using email as a single point of communication. They have pressed each employee into service as a customer service rep during this crisis. Most companies couldn’t dream of doing this. But, because of the unique culture at Zappos, even the janitors know how to respond to customers.

The social media lesson is that, even though they’re focusing on email, they are actually responding to each individual post on their Facebook wall and each tweet on Twitter.

Today, there are only the quick and the dead. Zappos didn’t have numerous meetings to only post a weak response a few days after the event. They worked quickly and decisively by resetting all passwords and initiating the first point of communication about the problem with customers. The first storyteller frames the narrative.

Well built brands can take a hit and recover. Much of what they’re doing with this reaction couldn’t be done if they had not spent the last several years creating a great corporate culture which bled through to a well-developed brand strategy. This is probably the most important lesson for brands to learn. You need to build your boat before you get to the water.

UPDATE: They’re even responding to the postive feedback:


branding in the carolinas

I rarely post about specific speaking engagements because they’re typically closed corporate events, but I wanted to alert you to two open-to-the-public events coming up in South Carolina later this month.

I will be doing the evening keynote at the AdFed in Greenville, SC on January 17.

Then I’ll head down I-26 to speak to the AAF of the Midlands luncheon in Columbia, SC the next day on the 18th.

If you’re anywhere in western South Carolina (or southern North Carolina), make plans to come to one of these events. Click the links above to find the specifics for each event.

I’ll be talking to both groups about branding … from what a real brand is (and is not) to developing a brand strategy that works with my three essential elements of any marketing strategy. I’ll have a few copies of ‘Brand Zeitgeist‘ for sale, but I’ll also be happy to sign any copies that people want to bring in. (Actually, you’ll probably find them cheaper on Amazon anyway.)

And if your group or business needs a corporate business speaker in 2012, I’d love to speak to your group. Please visit to find out more.