Tag Archives: commercials

Smack them hard on the bottom

Companies haven’t figured out the whole user-created paradigm yet. They know it’s hot and they want to get in on it, but when they try it’s as awkward as someone’s mother trying to hang with her kids’ friends.

Take this example from Tim about Heinz Ketchup.

They asked customers to create ketchup commercials. The winner gets $57,000. — (bet it took 8 brainstorming sessions to turn out that brilliant number) — But it turns out that the commercials are awful (see some here) and there’s been a massive push back from consumers. And now Heinz has spent way too much money and time to get crap.

Here’s the deal. It’s not just letting people run free and do your advertising and marketing for you. The entire new world of marketing involves GUIDING THE CONVERSATION not just throwing something out there and hoping something comes back.

And as with most good marketing ideas these days, businesses are going to look at user-generated campaigns like this and the Chevy Tahoe SUV debacle and never get in on the game. But as with most things, when it’s done right, it will work.

Fewer Unpopped Kernels

You’re an agency and you’ve just landed the Orville Redenbacher popcorn account. During the brainstorm session, someone says “Let’s have Orville Redenbacher in the spots!” Don’t let the fact that he died 11 years ago stop you.

CP+B apparently aren’t content with just having the Burger King creep you out while watching the teevee. Now they’ve re-animated Orville Redenbacher.


Yes. Re-animated. They’re using “cutting edge technology” to stick him in the spots. Apparently, it’s the same technology Andrew McCarthy used in “Weekend at Bernies”

There’s a backlash…and here…and here…and here…and basically all over.

Using a “real” person as the core of your brand will eventually hurt you….because while the company may live forever…people don’t.

The company that has pulled off a “re-animation” is Kentucky Fried Chicken. While John Y Brown milked The Colonel for all he was worth while he was alive…Pepsico, Tricon, Yum!, etc really used him up. The cartoon-hipster-Randy-Quaidish Colonel image is nothing like Harland.

And that’s eventually what will happen to Orville Redenbacher…and Dave Thomas….and Dr. Z…oh…wait.

Hummer Escape

I have such a cynical advertising eye that rarely does an ad impress me on first view. It happened tonight while watching NBC’s Sunday Night football.

Sure, I don’t know if any of these guys actually make enough to afford a Hummer (or even the gas for one). But the ad is something that you don’t see very often anymore…entertaining creative that actually delivers an advertising message.

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Dr. Z flops

I blogged a few weeks ago that the “Dr. Z” commercials featuring DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche were so bad that they were good. In reality, they were just bad.

Ad Age reports that Dr. Z is a flop. Here’s what $225 million of ads bought:
80% of consumers believed Dr. Z was a fictional character, rather than DaimlerChrysler’s living/breathing top executive.
–50% of consumers said they had trouble understanding Dr. Zetsche’s German accent.
–Most consumers didn’t notice the employee-discounting message that accompanied most of the commercials.
–Chrysler sales are expected to be down 17 percent in July compared with last year

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Wanamaker finally gets it

–In stocks, it’s “Buy Low. Sell High”.
–In weather, it’s “not the heat, it’s the humidity”.
–In advertising, it’s “I know half my advertising is wasted, but I don’t know which half.” It’s a quote attributed to John Wanamaker who owned a department store in Philadelphia in the early 20th century. In one of my marketing keynotes, I throw his quote up on the screen and tell my audience if they don’t know which half is working, they’d better stop advertising because they’re wasting their money, time, consumer attention, brand equity, etc, etc.

Marketing is sometimes seen as an art, (which it is to an extent), but businesses take that too far. Are you too far? Apply your marketing philosophies to another aspect of the business…
–“I know half my customers are not paying me, but I don’t know which half!”
–“I know half my employees are stealing from me, but I don’t know which half!
If it doesn’t make sense in the other parts of the business, it doesn’t make sense in marketing either.

The trouble is tracking. Most companies (especially smaller ones) don’t track their marketing investment at all. Most that do track are doing it wrong. It’s no wonder that half (or more) of the marketing doesn’t work.

That’s why I’m encouraged by this news from Nielsen. Beginning this November, they will not only report TV program viewership, but also advertising viewership.

People have been preaching the death of the 30-second ad for some time now…(some better than others). I have always agreed that the change was on the horizon, but knew that old habits die hard for business. We’re now at the tipping point.

Today in the early 21st century, you have more tools and more opportunity than ever (and it’s growing everyday) to find out “what half of your marketing is working”. Why does your marketing still reflect a quote about a department store in 1912?

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Look at me

Ad campaigns that feature the owner of a business are like a horrific car accident. You want to look away, but your primal nature wants to see the carnage.

It happens a lot in local ads. When I worked in radio, there was a constant stream of small business owners coming in to read their copy…which, on the air, sounded like they were reading their copy. TV is even worse. Some of these people don’t know any better. And some are just doing it because they like the attention.

Local ads like this usually last a long time because the owner personally sees the results. People come up to them and say “I saw you on TV!” The owner is constantly reassured that people are seeing the commercial…so they buy more. This is one reason these types of ads are so prevalent…media salespeople know that vanity spots are usually good for an extended run. An ad that doesn’t feature the owner (or heaven forbid – his kids/grandkids/etc) is probably just as effective. But since most businesses have no marketing tracking whatsoever, vanity spots are seen as “effective” by the gut check of the owner.

OK. Small businesses don’t know any better. What about larger companies?

Well, when there was a fungus among us in contact lens solution, Bausch & Lomb trotted out their CEO who looked like he was making a hostage tape.

Bill “I’m related to Henry” Ford has all the personality of Al Gore when talking about the innovation and “exciting things” happening at Ford.

Sometimes the owner is so non-camera-compatible that it becomes a hallmark of the ads…and becomes good. Case-in-point: The late Dave Thomas at Wendy’s.

And we’re about to have another instance of “bad becomes good” with the current “Dr. Z” commercials featuring DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche. (I’m actually appalled at one of these spots where Dr. Z and another guy crash…and walk away. The disclaimer is not big enough here.)

The point is that sticking the CEO out front in an ad is not always the best option. Actually, it rarely is. And a good leader/manager/owner will be intelligent enough to realize their own limitations…and decline.

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Mac Vs PC

I’ve been meaning to post about the new Apple TV campaign. The one where a cool guy (the Mac) and a nerdy guy (the PC) stand in front of a white screen and converse about their differences.

I like the ads…and dislike them too. With such mental dichotomy, it’s been hard to craft the proper blog post. Luckily, I didn’t have to. Slate writer Seth Stevenson and his Ad Report Card sum up almost everything I have thought about the ads.

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4 8 15 16 23 42

TV commercials are 99% pathetic. For the most part, they’re boring. And the most horrific part…they don’t sell anything.

No wonder TV ads are losing effectiveness….and watchers prefer TiVo….and companies are doing evil things like this.

The secret is to make people want to watch the commercial breaks. ABC did a great job with this on Wednesday night with a fake commercial for the Hanso Foundation. Many LOST fanatics who are Tivo users missed the spot. I bet they will now start watching the commerical breaks with the same intensity that they watch the show.

It’s not about the offer. It’s not about cool creative. It’s about making your message RELEVANT to the people you’re talking to.

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Death of TV ads

Two options for talking to the public…

1) Speak honestly to them. Sometimes they’ll be interested and listen. Sometimes they won’t and will tune you out. Not going to buy this time?….Well, maybe next time.

2) Take out a gun, point it at them and say “You’re going to listen.”.

The first option makes the customer want to have another conversation with you when it’s time to buy something.

The second doesn’t.

Philips has created a technology that could let broadcasters freeze a channel during a commercial, so viewers wouldn’t be able to avoid it. (See full story here.)

My favorite quote?

“Philips acknowledged, however, that the anti-channel changing technology might not sit well with consumers and suggested in its patent filing that consumers be allowed to avoid the feature if they paid broadcasters a fee.”

If this technology is deployed, it will work for a short while…and then the 30-second spot will fully die.

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