In the United States, we've been hearing a lot about the liberal media and we've been hearing it for a long time. How the major networks, Time and Newsweek, and virtually every mainstream newspaper in the country are firmly in the grip of the left.
But if that's true, how to explain the fact that a new spot for the United Church of Christ, admittedly one of the most liberal churches in America, has been rejected by all three networks?
Mark Wnek's column in the Independent this week discusses the separation between winning awards and being creative when it comes to real clients. Here's an excerpt:
Awards competitions are the last bastions against the intrusion of business, where creative people can lionise their "art" unconstrained by commercial considerations. Criteria for victory have now become eccentric if not esoteric, removed from the real world in which advertising is supposed to function and be commercially effective.
Advertising with tiny or absent product logos does well in awards competitions. Ads in which the product barely appears do well. Stuff which is cool and groovy and young does well. Work which is original for the sake of originality alone does well. Commercials directed by directors with Hollywood or underground cachet do well. Advertising which is antisocial or offensive does well. Work which is little more than a sponsored joke does well. Work which is wild and crazy and incomprehensible does well.
Nearly all of the above advertising has as its sine qua non a would-be avant-garde but in reality highly narrow-minded aesthetic of cool - narrow-minded because it's not designed for anyone above the age of 24. That's leaving out quite a lot of people with quite a lot of money to spend. Like the whole of Middle England (and Middle America) for instance.
Product placement is the latest recently revived rave, which has actually been going on since forever but regaining popularity now. (No, the reeses in E.T. were not the first instance of it, rather the Gordons Gin in African Queen was). Even bloggers can do product placement these days, bloggers are already getting paid to blog about Marqui. Not wanting to miss out on a cash cow, I mean a good thing(tm), Deutsch has formed a product placement unit which will "provide more strategic product placement for our clients and reflects Deutsch's results-based orientation performance that is measurable and accountable".
The childrens movie A Series of unfortunate events, has a suprise cameo of the AFLAC duck, and will also be featured in a series of ads for the movie. Director Brad Silberling sought out the insurance company mascot as a comic releif device in the movie. He won't be shouting his trademark "AFLAC!" in the film, but the insurance company has agreed to spend $5 million to promote the film. We didn't know kids were target market for insurance. ;) Probably the parents who watch it with their kids are, but still.
We keep hearing in the United States how much radical Islam hates our culture and how it's poisoning the world. To some extent, I could see where they were coming from. We've pushed the envelope pretty far sometimes. Some people think that's a good thing, of course. Freedom of expression and all that. But poison? I didn't think so.
But now comes JFK Reloaded and I'm beginning to smell the hemlock. My question is this. Are there such places as creative no-fly-zones? I think there should be. But obviously, not everyone agrees. Art should know no bounds, it's argued. The creative mind must be free to wander at will into every dark and dangerous cranny of the human experience.
It's official folks, you can't run, you can't hide, and you certainly can't Tivo away any ads. TiVo Will No Longer Skip Past Advertisers. Nopesiree, now they're the latest in market research tools and even planning to rollout a "couch commerce" system that allows users to purchase products and answer surveys using their remotes. We knew this was coming: Tivo - advertisers best friend. Coupled with some news that wordsmith Holger brought to my attention today, it looks like it might soon become illegal to not watch ads! Keep reading!
According to Naomi Watts, author of "No Logo", (excerpt here) consumers are like roaches. They've been sprayed so much, they're beginning to develop immunities. Can't argue with that. How else to explain the emergence of alternative branding tactics of every ilk, everything from experiential marketing to product placement to television programming developed around brands.
I don't know if epolitix is anything more than a glorified tabloid but there was a quote in it today in regards to that old junk food ads aimed at children might get banned story that set off my nitpick-gene, and I just have to scratch it.
Advertisers say a ban will have no positive benefit pointing to Sweden which has the same levels of obesity despite a long-standing prohibition.
Why am I finding so many things wrong with this quote?
Glenfiddich has a new campaign running in the US featuring an imaginary man named "Brock Savage". Who is this man of mystery? And more importantly why should we care who he is? In the November 11th issue of Print Critic, Mark Teasdale, SVP-marketing of William Grant & Sons said, "There are 30-plus single malts sold in the U.S. with a name beginning with 'Glen.' This campaign simplifies it all for consumers, especially those ordering Glenfiddich for the first time."
But what does it simplify? Apart from trying to get people to order a "Fiddich", what does this campaign say about the whisky? Is creating such a character an effective way to stand apart in the realm of whisky and alcohol advertising?
As Howard Stern would undoubtedly testify, the media times they are a-changin'. Well, boohoo for Howard and hooray for every poor schlub who ever had a creative conscience and a desire to do great work.
I mean, regardless of what Naomi Watts and Adbusters think, a lot of us in the business have been embarassed for years by the crap that passes for advertising. Especially on television. But come on. Other than getting a couple of chuckles as an awards show judge before we throw it out with greasy pizza boxes, well, what could we really do?
But now comes groups like Dads And Daughters and as it turns out, these folks are doing a lot. Their latest target? Verizon. Specifically, that DSL spot where the bumbling dad gets chastised by his wife for hovering over his daughter's computer, with this look on his face like any second he's going to break out with, "Shazaaam!!!"
Is it a lame spot? Oh yeah, absolutely. Is it worth thousands of irate viewers writing letters in to Verizon demanding that they yank the thing? Probably. I mean, how is this different from that perky housewife bouncing around from room to room with her new Swiffer magical dust remover? Help me out here. Is it me or is what we need to get away from isn't dads with oatmeal for brains or moms with a dust rag fetish. It's sterotypes and the hacks who love them.
"[This] ad shows a mob of AOL customers massing in front of the corporate offices, demanding to be heard. There are so many problems with this. 1) Why would I sign up for a service when its users are so intensely dissatisfied that they're storming corporate headquarters to beg for improvements? Wouldn't I prefer a service whose users have no pressing complaints and are sitting contentedly at home, perhaps whiling away the hours with a few pleasant games of online Boggle? 2) That shot of the endless mass of AOLers reminds me that this is a gargantuan corporation and as such is pretty damn unlikely to deliver the highly responsive, highly personal service these ads are promising."
Have you heard? from the Chicago Tribune brings up a few worries about word-of-mouth-marketing. (Remember back in the day when it was just called word of mouth, and something marketing set out to achieve? Now they are calling it a new discipline in itself.)
Ads on television and in print are clearly identified as such, but viral marketing is a form of stealth advertising... - wait, is this statement really true? When Katharine Hepburn's character in "The African Queen" played Boston tea party with the Gordon's Gin and threw it all overboard, did the viewers realize that this was a product placement, that is an ad? And when millions of Hotmail emails were passed between friends carrying that annoying little line at the bottom in the late nineties was that stealthy, or clearly interpreted as the 'ad' you pay for using the stuff for free?
John Hegarty discusses how agencies must change their ways over at the Media Guardian (free reg req). His article this week discusses the role of advertising in the marketing of junk foods and issue of obesity which the UK government has recently jumped on. He claims that it's wrong to blame the advertising - instead it should be placed with the manufacturers. I think it should also be placed on consumers as well- since no one is forcing them to purchase or eat foods that are bad for them in mass quantities.
We shouldn't be surprised that our industry will be in the front line when blame is being apportioned. Throughout history, the messenger has always paid a high price. But in this case, can the messenger also bear some of the guilt? Possibly, so much advertising is so boring, unrewarding, unwelcomed and clichéd, it so easily becomes the scapegoat. We always have to bear in mind that nobody asks us to interrupt them. We impose ourselves on people. This carries with it a responsibility. A responsibility to communicate in a way that not only enhances our message, but also the consumer's experience. Just as companies have to now look beyond the coredelivery of their product to see how it impacts on a broader, more social scale.
We have to see our communication as part of a bigger picture. We constantly talk about advertising moving from the era of interruption to one of engagement, but it seems to me that very few marketers take that thought on board. Instead, there are knowing nods when it's voiced and then actions that go in the opposite direction.
His points are right on. And I can't understand why marketers do not get this. It seems logical to me. Turning away from this concept is going to be detrimental to brands that do no follow. Especially with products like TiVo and consumers being more savvy about messages they tune into and which ones they block out- it is imparitive that we bring engaging and relevant messages to the public- rather than just boring, cliche crap that no one connects with except maybe the CEO.
While doing my daily search through the news for interesting things to post I came across a press release from Stoli for their new multi-million dollar "Frozen" campaign starting this month, created by Publicis NYC. The campaign aims to inform people that Stoli vodka is best served ice cold.
The odd thing about the press release is that it states that the ads were previewed at Cannes this year- and won Bronze Lions in the outdoor/out of home category. But how were these ads eligible for a Lion if they ads are just breaking now?
There is something in advertising that has been bothering me for ten years. On movie posters, in TV commercials, even in newspaper articles, everywhere there is always a rather large "small print" that states the AOL keyword for whatever is advertised or written about.
Am I the only one who feels this is like giving up a chunk of your own adspace to AOL? In the case of newspapers reporting on some website , declaring the URL of that website makes sense, but then they also print the magic words "AOL Keyword", and AOL gets mentioned more often than Dubya Bush.
Talk about clever branding. "I know" they must have said to themselves, "lets invent a browser without a location bar, and force people to mention our brand name all the time, even in their own ads!"
Pepsi spends a million dollars on a commercial, and happily throws a few seconds of it away on a lousy "AOL keyword" super. With so many people not on AOL - and the dawn of a AOL browser that actually has a location bar, isn't it time to cut them off the free advertising ride?
There's a fairly comprehensive article at Ad Age on the potential for backlash against "ad creep," the Mr. Hyde name for guerilla marketing tactics that push advertising into untraditional spaces.
The article cites a lot of examples of what I would call media buy expansions rather than "guerilla marketing"--the expansion of ad buys of block long scaffolding billboards is an expansion of traditional media rather than a true guerilla tactic. The studies they cite regarding public outcry are probably a bit overblown--people say they don't like TV ads either, but that doesn't stop them from watching them.
Part of the problem is that much of the ad creep is uncreative. People don't mind happening upon an ad, but it has to be subtle and make it worth their while. Ads don't HAVE to creep to be effective. And they aren't effective just because they creep. Bad advertising in new spaces is still bad advertising.
You'd think that with such premium space, they'd make sure that the claim "the worlds first perfectly balanced vodka" be spelled with proper attention to possessive apostrophes.
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