Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chevrolet Cruze Cruises Across Dictionary.Com

Earlier today when I was writing yet another blog entry, I scooted over to Dictionary.com to check the meaning of a word. When I got there, I was greeted with the Dictionary.com box floating in the middle of a Chevrolet Cruze ad.

Truthfully, I have seen advertising on this website before, so that's not what surprised me. To be honest, it was the color scheme, as well as the fact that the car was hidden from my view. The headline - The All-New Chevrolet Cruze - drew me in just enough that I had to scroll down the page to see what this new car looked like.

It was pretty obvious to me that Chevy hired a damn good photographer (or a damn good graphic design artist) to create this ad because .... well, because the car looks pretty damn good.

The name's pretty tantalizing, too. It hearkens up images of cruising the strip in your Chevy, just like they did in Animal House.

And in these depressing recessionary times, who doesn't want to conjure up images of the kinder, gentler days of the 50s and 60s?

Al Harris Makes A Power Play

On November 8, the Green Bay Packers released cornerback Al Harris from the team. A knee injury had stopped Harris from playing the last six games of the 2009 season, as well as all of this year's games. Harris had dressed in green and gold every football game day since 2003, when he joined the team. He was a starter in each of the 102 games he played and was good enough to be selected to play in the Pro Bowl in 2007 and 2008.

While Harris was undoubtedly surprised with the Packers decision to release him, he handled the news with extreme aplomb, taking out the above ad in the Sunday Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ... an ad that says the following:


Thank you for always supporting me.
Thank you for making me a part of your family.
Thank you for treating my family like your own.
Thank you for making one of the coldest places the warmest place.
Thank you for making every single day I was a Packer a very special day.
To each and every one of you, 
Thank you for making my Packers experience simply amazing.
From the bottom of my heart, 
I thank and love you all and will carry you with me always.
Al Harris 

In a day when all we hear and see from professional athletes are cries of indignation, unsportsmanlike behavior on and off the field and court, adultery, refusal to come to camp, negotiations that turn ugly, and outright arrogance, Al Harris' testimony to his Packer fans is so incredibly refreshing that I actually get goose bumps every time that I read his words.

What an incredibly classy move from an incredibly classy guy.

I know this Packer fan thanks you, Al, from the bottom of my heart for all the touchdowns, yards, and Lambeau Leaps you entertained us with each time you stepped out on that field.

We all hope that your knee heals soon and that you have the opportunity to play the game you love once again. Thank you #31.

Hershey's Melts Your Heart

Hershey's is currently airing a series of television commercials that put the spotlight on their pure smooth chocolate and the simple happiness that a Hershey's chocolate bar can provide.
  • In their Ripple ad, Hershey's promotes family togetherness, as a family of five morphs out of the melted chocolate to hold hands with friends around the world. 
  • Their Swing & Drive ad sells you on the notion of pure simplicity leading to pure happiness, as a young girl enjoys a carefree moment on a swing and then dives into a rippling lake of chocolate.  
  • Hershey's Christmas commercial promises a "pure holiday" as a family sings a festive carol while chocolate snowflakes lightly touch down around them.
I love the simple honesty and goodness of this ad campaign.  The visuals are fascinating to watch as the chocolate morphs into charming images that leave you with an overall feeling of happiness.

Not only is this a good commercial but it's also a smart business strategy. Past history has shown that chocolate sales rise during recessionary times as consumers seek a touch of comfort in an otherwise unsettling time. According to Packaged Facts, U.S. chocolate sales in 2009 reached $17.3 billion, a new high for the category.

While M&M's may promise to not melt in your hands, Hershey's seeks to melt your heart this holiday season. All that for about $1.00 a bar.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

California Almonds: A Handful of Jet Fuel

Sales of almonds have doubled in the past decade. Surprised? 

Well, you shouldn't be. In recent years, almonds have been in the news for a whole range of positive health benefits. 

But, none of this would be possible without the media being told that almonds are packed with all this goodness.

In steps the Almond Board of California. Their website offers up a ton of great information for consumers, health professionals, food companies, and almond growers.

- A handful of almonds adds 6 grams of energy-rich protein to salads.
- Whole almonds are a naturally high source of vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and potassium. 
- Almonds are a natural source of protein and naturally high in fiber, while being naturally low in sugars.
- Scientific evidence suggests that eating a handful of almonds as part of a diet low in saturated fat helps to maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels and a healthy heart.
- According to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, almonds rank strongly among food containing AT vitamin E. One ounce of almonds contains 7.4 milligrams or 35% of the Daily Value of this nutrient.
- A handful of almonds offers key benefits to anyone trying to shed a few pounds, namely satiety, fewer calories for more nutrients, crunch, and an undeniable, tasty flavor. In fact, a one-ounce serving (about 23 almonds) is an excellent source of three nutrients and 100% cholesterol free, all for a measly 160 calories. Not to mention the 6 grams of energy-packed protein.
- U.S. dietary guidelines recommend that the majority of your fat intake be unsaturated. One serving of almonds 28(g) has 13g of unsaturated fat and only 1g of saturated fat.
Beyond all this great dietary and nutrient information, the Almond Board of California has also launched a terrific print campaign. A simple message communicated quickly and elegantly: A Handful of Jet Fuel.
California Almonds: I'm nuts about your new campaign.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Glade Releases Holiday Magic

Glade brings the holidays to life in this charming holiday commercial.

The ad opens with a father and his young son building a snowman. Meanwhile, mom lights a Glade candle indoors ... and their home comes to life in magical ways. The reindeer cutout cookies get up off the cookie plate and fly away.  A ceramic Santa Claus slings a bag of toys over his shoulder and hops into his sleigh, only to fly away with the reindeer. As Santa flies past the window, you see the snowman created by dad and son come to life, waving through the picture window.

I love this ad. It brings a sense of childlike wonder to the holidays, helping to reinforce the message that a Glade candle can bring a touch of magic to your home this holiday season.

Thanks to S. C. Johnson and DraftFCB for ushering me into the holidays in a positively delightful way.

Let It Be ... On iTunes

That was the promise that Apple made to all of us on Monday, November 15, 2010.

I don't know about all of you, but I was totally intrigued by Apple's teaser ad. I couldn't remember another time when Apple had taken over their home page with a product announcement. So, to my way of thinking, this was going to be big news ... BIG news.

Then, came the earth shattering news ... Apple had finally inked a deal to sell Beatles music on iTune.
Disappointment set in.

I don't know about you, but I was less than wowed with Apple's "big news."  Now, don't get me wrong. I love the Beatles and I'm happy that I can finally get their music on iTunes.  And evidently, a lot of other people are too since iTune sold two million Beatles songs and over 450,000 Beatle albums worldwide within its first week on Apple's iTunes Music Store.

I guess if you think about this as a dollars-and-cents situation, it makes sense that Apple made such a big deal about the Beatles coming to iTunes. Frankly,  they made a boatload of money on the deal. But, in terms of exciting technological news for us ... not so much.

Clearly, to my way of thinking, the hype did not match the news. Like their own ad said, the Beatles have been a big deal since 1964.

Kashi's Surprising Owners

"Seven whole grains on a mission. It’s more than just a tagline — they’re the very words we live by."

Kashi was created in 1984 by by Phil and Gayle Tauber in La Jolla, California. Phil and Gayle were committed to creating nutritionally balanced breakfast options that fit their health-conscious lifestyle. Seven diferent whole grains and sesame formed the basis of their newly created Kashi recipe. Their first product - 7 Whole Grain Pilaf - became their signature product.

I recently learned that Kashi has actually been owned by Kellogg's since 2000.  Now don't get me wrong, Kellogg's is up-front-and-center about their ownership, clearing stating it on the Kashi website. Nevertheless, I was still surprised when I recently learned who owned Kashi.

Kellogg's claims that Kashi is run independently of Kellogg's.  But, I must admit that I struggle with that a bit. Why would a company that has a strong infrastructure and a well-established distribution channel not lend a helping hand to the Kashi brand? And is it believable that the company that manufactures and sells Frosted Flakes and Rice Krispies can also remain true to Kashi's natural and nutritious message?

Interesing food for thought.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Target Misses The Target

The other night I was watching TV when a commercial came on. Keith Urban was jamming in a room, playing his guitar and writing some new music. Then he began to make his way to the stage, a camera following him as he psyched himself up to welcome his audience.

As I followed his trek to the stage, I found myself wondering what this commercial was all about. Was he coming to town for a concert? Would this ad maybe take a turn and sell an iPod Nano? Was Keith maybe launching a new line of clothing?

Then he burst on the stage and began rocking out to his new song. It wasn't until the last few seconds of the ad, that the following visual came on the screen:
I must admit, I was really disappointed ... on a number of counts. I really wanted this ad to be about Keith and his music. I also happen to be a fan of some great advertising that Target has done in the past, like the one that aired during the 2010 Golden Globes. Or even the one that was used to announce the arrival of the Black Eyed Peas CD last year.

I'm concerned with some of the advertising that I've seen in the past few months from Target. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw an ad a few days ago that featured a woman in a red sweat suit running through a Target store or the woman who hadn't slept in days as she waited for the two-day Target sale.

Bad advertising. I mean really really bad ads.

Dare I say it? Target seems to have lost their secret recipe when it comes to creating great ads.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

AT&T Brings You the 57th President of the U.S.

In their most recent commercial, AT&T brings you the 57th president of the United States. When one considers that President Obama is #44 and that each president serves a four-year term, AT&T is offering the promise of a president 52 years from now.

And just how are they doing that?

Through AT&T technology, of course.  A smart telephone allows a young man - who happens to capture the gaze of a beautiful woman on a train - to quickly change his tickets and to join her on that train ride to ... who knows where?  Through a series of flashbacks, that meeting blossoms into love, a wedding, a pregnancy, birthdays, and happy family times with a young boy who turns out to be the 57th President of the United Staes.

I have seen this commercial at least five or six times and I still smile every time I see it.  And the funny thing about this ad, is that it actually could happen.  The right technology in the right hands of the right person at the right point in time, and voila! a life is irreversibly changed.

Nice job AT&T.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Is A $3 Million Super Bowl Ad Irresponsible?

The final numbers are in ... the cost of one 30-second television commercial during this year's Super Bowl XLV is $3 million. (Reuters)

$3 million is quite a bit of money during the best of times; but in today's beleaguered economy, when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics gauges the current rate of unemployment at 9.6%, it may feel irresponsible to some.

The Super Bowl is not just a football game … it is a cultural phenomenon that reaches far and wide within the United States. Last year’s game was watched by over 106 million people (Huffington Post) and 20 million attended a Super Bowl party where they consumed 28 million pounds of potato chips, 1 billion chicken wings, 53.5 million pounds of avocadoes and 325.5 million gallons of beer (Despardes).

Clearly, the Super Bowl is big money; money that many advertisers believe is well spent. But, the value of investing $3 million on Super Bowl advertising this year may be considered irresponsible when one considers the health of our current economy.

One might ask: How could we use that $3 million in a more humanitarian way? Below are a few ways that advertisers could redirect those ad dollars to extend a helping hand to our neighbors.

• Feed 21,000,000 men, women and children facing hunger (Feeding America)
• Collect and care for 5,000 marine birds after an oil spill (Discovery News)
• Screen 30,000 women for breast cancer (Cost Helper)
• Introduce the joy of reading to 1,500,000 children (First Book)
• Provide 3,000,000 people clean water for one year (Charity Water)
• Support 20,000 young men in Boy Scouts for one year (Boy Scouts)
• Offer food and shelter to 60,000 people for one day (Red Cross)
• Train 150 guide dogs to assist blind individuals (Service Dog Central)
• Save 52,930 acres of Amazon Rainforest (Ecology Fund)
• Grant 600 students a $5,000 scholarship

With 14.8 million U.S. citizens out of work, is an advertiser being irresponsible when they buy ad time during the most expensive time slot of the year? 

Many might argue yes.

Check out the Super Bowl infographic at: goo.gl/vbdoA

EFFEN Has Gone Too Effen Far

We all know that EFFEN Vodka intended to communicate a double entendre when they branded their vodka with a name that could easily be misinterpreted as the dreaded F-word. Admittedly, with a brand name that is a little off-center, there is an expectation that their advertising will be a bit off-center too.

But, when EFFEN's most recent advertising goes so far as to say, "There is nothing more satisfying than EFFEN on a plane" or "Everyone enjoys EFFEN in the Penthouse," they aren't pulling any punches. And, I'm afraid that it makes a sad commentary on what has become acceptable in our society.

I grew up in an era when George Carlin pushed the limits of what could and couldn't be said on television. Looking at the words from his Seven Words You Can Never Say on TV, you realize how much has changed since the 1960s. While there are still words that are banned from television, there are a bevy of colorful words that have become so commonplace that we don't even bat an eye when we hear them broadcast from our television sets. 

And our children are exposed to visual images that have come a long way from the days of the "I Love Lucy" show, when married couple Desi and Lucy (both on the show and in real life) slept in separate beds, or from that family-oriented show, "The Brady Bunch," who never once showed a toilet in their five years on television.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am a passionate believer in the first amendment of our constitution, which states, "Congress shall make no law ... prohibiting ... the freedom of speech ..." But, I believe that advertising like this is symptomatic of something much bigger underfoot in our nation. In my opinion, we have taken the inalienable right to freedom of speech too far. We use it to disguise the desire of some Americans to be crass and inappropriate, all in the name of freedom of speech. 

I believe the freedom of speech pendulum has likely swung too far and that it's time that we all become a bit more respectful of each other and a bit more careful about the words, images, and innuendoes that we pass on to our children.

Alright, time to get off my soapbox. Thanks to listening to my rants.

Yellow Tail: Can You Gobble Wine?

I have been a fan of Yellow Tail's advertising for years. Its virtual simplicity and its consistent execution through all mediums has effectively helped to make the Yellow Tail brand iconic.

Whether it be the print ads shown here, or TV executions like Godzilla, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing what item was going to be sporting a yellow tail next.

So, it's disturbing to me that Yellow Tail made such a departure from their iconic advertising. It would be nice to say that Yellow Tail's most recent Thankssgiving commercial just fell a bit flat. But, in truth, it filled me with a sense of loathing for the brand.

Plus, it didn't even make sense. The ad's tagline, "Great wine. Great Price. Gobble it up." left a question circling in my mind: Who the heck gobbles wine? Dicionary.com defines the word gobble as follows:

To swallow or eat hastily or hungrily in large pieces.

Get it Yellow Tail? To gobble means to eat not to drink.

Maybe it's time to re-hire the agency that brought you the wonderful yellow tail advertising that made you the best selling import wine in the U.S.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Volkswagen Does the Tango

I don't know about you, but I'm about saturated with car ads. Just how many different ways can you show me how fast, how tough, how safe, how comfortable, how elite, or how powerful a car can be. Every time I see a traditional car ad, I think about the wasted ad budget that went into creating and airing that ad.

Oh, don't get me wrong ... there are certainly times that auto makers have found a way to break through the clutter. I've previously blogged about the Honda Civic chorus and the Volkswagen Jetta ads and their ability to serve up cars in a whole new light.

So, when an auto maker finds a way to tell the viewer about their new auto in a truly disruptive way, I really listen.

Such is the case with the new campaign from Volkswagen for its new Polo.
Let's be honest here - if the above print ad is all I saw, I wouldn't really have reason to pause and contemplate what the Polo has to offer. After all, what automobile hasn't told us they are tough or beautiful, right?

But, VW really broke through the mainstream when they launched the Polo TV campaign.  Through the art of the tango, they bring a sense of tough and alluring intrigue to the brand. There is no mention of the sponsor of the ad until the final seconds, when your eyes first feast on the new VW Polo.  Instead, you are drawn into the fluidity of the dancers, the promise of passion, and the sensual tension between the two dancers.

Throughout this ad, you occasionally find yourself wondering ... what is this? Who is this ad for?  And then, the payout. Three words flash on the screen. Tough. Beautiful. Polo.  Just like the tango dancers.

Thanks to Creativity Online for sharing this terrific ad with me.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Glee Says Be a Humanitarian ... Not a Sue

Alright, it's time for a confession ... I'm a Gleek. I love Glee. I really do. The characters are totally engaging to the point where I feel their pain, their happiness, their anger. Like the episode this past week when Kurt was being bullied. I actually teared up a bit, realizing how mean people can be just because someone is different ... too tall, too short, too heavy, too skinny, too gay, too smart, too naive. Chances are that most of us have been bullied at some point in our past.

That's what I truly like about Glee - that they are not afraid to tackle contemporary issues head on. Each week, they deliver a message to all of us. Yet, they do so in a way that we are totally entertained while being educated.

I really didn't need another reason to like Glee, but they provided me with one anyway when they teamed up with American Express in the Members Project. Not only is this effort truly humanitarian, but it is also a wonderfully executed campaign, which they have brought to life on Facebook, YouTube, television, banner ads, on a user-generated site, through a sweepstakes, and on their own web page.  The advertising is written, directed and produced by the Glee creative team and, not surprisingly, features all of the actors and actresses we have come to know and love. Ads are masterfully woven into previews of upcoming episodes, as well as during the show itself.

The goal?

To get every Gleek out there to work together to do good in their community. As they say in all their materials, "A small step can make a big difference."  At the time of this blog, 1,159 people had shared their stories.  Oops - change that to 1,160. I just added one of my volunteer stories to the site.

So, go out there and do something great. It doesn't have to be huge; it just has to be something that has the capacity to brighten one person's day ... even if only for a fleeting moment.

As I am often prone to saying:

Change the world ... one person at a time.

Harvey Nichols: Fun For Fashionistas

London-based Harvey Nichols launches a charming print campaign that plays off their line of fashion accessories. The campaign includes six print ads, but two particularly struck my fancy.

In the first ad, Harvey Nichols warns you to buy a bottle of altitude sickness pills if you buy their leopard print mega-high heal shoes. With spikes this high, you may just need those pills.

If you buy the stylish coat pictured in ad #2, a can of pepper spray is suggested to ward off all the admirers that will flock to your side.

In case you are not particularly familiar with Harvey Nichols (as I was not), a look at their website quickly educates you on one clear fact: their designer clothes and accessories are not cheap.  A pair of high heeled leopard shoes ring up at 600 pounds, roughly $967.  And a coat that's similar to the one shown in the ad - about $959. Clearly, they're out of my league.

But, the high prices of their clothing and accessories only make this irreverent ad campaign all the more alluring to me. The playfulness of the ads suggests that Harvey doesn't take themselves too seriously; in a word, they're not fashion snobs. 

Something tells me that if I was playing in the same league as them, I might just be intrigued enough to take a gander through their stores ... online, of course, since I don't often find myself in London!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Request to Corona: Bring Back the Beach

For over a decade, Corona has made the beach their home. And the rules on this beach appeared to be iron-clad:

- No faces
- No music
- No rapid movement
- No voice-overs
- Only the sounds of nature

But, recent advertising has taken a decidedly interesting and bold turn away from this decades-long tradition, illustrating to viewers that your beach can be wherever you choose to create it.

The ad opens with soft instrumental music singing "Meet me by the sea."  The camera moves from scene to scene, showing a group of people enjoying Corona beer on a golf course, in the Grand Tetons, in Alaska, on a city deck, and in a field. It finishes with a traditional Corona moment ... on the beach ... with a challenge to Find Your Beach.

I both like and don't like what Corona has done. Let me explain.

I agree with the notion that the beach should be defined by whoever happens to be drinking Corona. Let's be honest - few of us ever have the opportunity to enjoy our Corona while lazily soaking up the sun in the Caribbean.

But, I must admit that I like the imagery of the beach, even if it is only in my mind. Since I do happen to be a Corona drinker, I'll tell you this ... if it's a wintry, blustery, 20 degree January day in Wisconsin and I choose to crack open a bottle of Corona, I don't want to think of that couple in Alaska with their stocking caps and parkas on. I want to transport myself to a beach in Cancun, where the sun is shining brightly, the palm trees are rustling in the breeze, and I can hear the roar of the ocean. 

I never looked at the Corona Beach as a physical place that I needed to recreate to enjoy my beer. I looked at it as a metaphysical place that I could go to in my mind. A place that would make my experience with Corona just a little smoother, a little softer, a little more enjoyable.

I also miss Corona's sense of humor. I liked the rug-pull that always seemed to catch me by surprise whenever I watched a Corona ad. I'm happy to see that it was still alive and well in a Corona ad that aired earlier this year.

Hopefully, we'll see a bit more humor and beach in the months ahead.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Ladder to Refreshment

Coca-Cola delivers its refreshing message simply and poignantly with its latest outdoor campaign. It beckons you to climb that ladder to take a sip.  But, wait ... the bottle is empty. It looks like someone beat you to the punch!

While I loved the above billboard, I didn't find the other three to be nearly as clever. Unlike the ladder execution, in which communication was instantaneous, it took me a bit longer to absorb the intent of the following ads.

Do Zippo Scents Make Sense?

What are some of the first things you think of when I say the word Zippo? Maybe you think of a lighter, a flame, or heat. Or maybe the words genuine or the Real McCoy come to mind. 

For me, those words are butane fuel.  I instantly get the sensation of a toxic, chemical smell that permeates my sinuses. It's not necessarily an awful smell but it definitely conjures up images of danger and the need for caution.

Given these visceral images, would it surprise you to know that Zippo has decided to introduce a men's cologne?  You know, a cologne that men put on to create an irresistible aura which attracts women to their sides like flies?

What? Really?

Yep, see for yourself. It's even packaged in a Zippo-like container.

While some may find the ruggedness of this brand alluring, my brain doesn't quite go there. I literally think of a man dousing himself in the smell of butane. Even this romantically-inspired new commercial doesn't help me draw the link between Zippo and men's cologne.

But, as I think about it, Zippo's intention may be to create a sense of danger with their new cologne. And, I must admit, I am curious .... curious enough that I may just take a gander through the fragrance section of Macy's to catch a whiff of this new cologne.

So maybe, Zippo has accomplished exactly what they intended to accomplish after all.
Sue Northey - Find me on Bloggers.com