Tuesday, April 26, 2011

An Adoption Can Turn A Life Around

If you're anything like me, you really respect all the people out there that open their homes and their hearts to adoptive children. Such is the mission of Adoption Resources of Wisconsin, a nonprofit organization that "operates from the belief that all children, regardless of their needs, have the right to a permanent family."

In order to help spread the word that adoption can help "turn a life around," Serve Marketing is turning billboards on their heads throughout the state of Wisconsin.

This outdoor campaign is being revealed over time ... with phase one showing upside-down images of an adult and child. On May 2, those images will be flipped right side up and will be joined by copy which appropriately reads, "Turn a life around." Drivers will be directed to fosterparentsrock.org to learn more about how they can become an adoptive parent or a foster parent.

According to Gary Mueller, from Serve Marketing:

"Nothing is right when you live in that world, 
so we've taken the upside-down world of kids
and applied it to every part of the campaign 
to create an emotional connection and 
inspire more adults to become foster parents." 

As an adjunct to this campaign, Serve and Adoption Resources of Wisconsin encourages you to filip your own profile picture upside down on Facebook.

So, go ahead, flip out! And change a child's life forever.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Flash Mobs Offer Unexpected Delight

UW-Madison Yes + Yoga Empowerment Flash Mob
As of late, flash mobs have become ... well ... flashy.  They seem to be materializing all over the place.  Well known brands like American Airlines, UPS, Wells Fargo and Sears have all taken their brands to the streets through flash mobs.

Maybe you're not all that familiar with flash mobs. Well that's not terribly surprising ... especially if you don't live in a somewhat larger city.

Well, let me help educate you. According to the most trusted of all sources, Wikipedia, a flash mob is defined as:

  "A group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place,
perform an unusual and sometimes seemingly pointless act for a brief time, 
then disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment and/or satire."

Of course, those of us that make a living by working in the field of marketing or advertising, know the truth behind most flash mobs. They actually are not "seemingly pointless acts." Rather, they have a point and that point is to heighten awareness of a brand or to get consumers to look at our brand in a whole new light.

Flash mobs fall under the category of nontraditional advertising, along with a whole cadre of different vehicles.  But, of all the different methods of advertising that exist - both traditional and nontraditional - I must admit that flash mobs are quickly becoming one of my favorites.

I love the unexpected delight they offer to unsuspecting bystanders.

I love the energy and passion that unfolds on the otherwise sedate streets.

I love the smiles that seem to creep on to the faces of those watching.

I love how much fun they can bring to a quiet, dull day.

When all is said and done, what's not to like?

Fanta Surprises College Students

Do you remember those all too familiar words:

Smile, You're on Candid Camera!!

Back in the 1960s and 70s, Allen Funt entertained millions of fans by placing cameras in hidden spots, catching spectators in compromising and embarrassing situations, shooting film and then making the unsuspecting actors national TV stars for a brief moment in time.

Recently Fanta soda took a page from the Candid Camera annals of time when they hid cameras in elevators on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. What better place to stage their playful antics then at one of Playboy's Top 10 party schools?

After teasing elevator riders with techno-created voices and colorful laser lights, the ride ended with free Orange Fanta and a cascade of orange balls falling down all around the college students.

What a wonderful way to remind students that Orange Fanta makes a great mixer for that upcoming block party on Miflin Street!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Is Old Spice Ditching Mustafa?

Old Spice is up to their antics again with their latest manly man TV commercial, where the macho guy walks through quicksand, ignores a large snake wrapping itself around his body, gets knocked off by a truck, is bitten by a crocodile, immerses over his head in water and still miraculously ends up at a beautiful woman's side ... where he is told that he smells and looks amazing.

But there is something about this ad that is dramatically different than recently aired ads, where Isaiah Mustafa convinced women the world over that he was "the man your man could smell like."

That difference? Mustafa is no longer the star of the show.

Within the past year, Mustafa has helped to completely reinvent and re-energize the Old Spice brand, which has been in existence for over 70 years. Previous images of the manly sailor whistling the Old Spice melody as he walks the dock with a beautiful lady on his arm have firmly been supplanted with a younger, more contemporary man who smells and looks terrific, no matter what he faces in life.

But, just what who is this new guy and what has become of Isaiah?

No one seems to know.  Ad agency Wieden & Kennedy is willing to talk at length about how the commercial was shot, but the name of the new Old Spice man seems to be heavily guarded.

One may ask why Old Spice looked a gift horse in the mouth, but as my undergraduate students who presented an Old Spice case study told the class just this week, it's smart to not put all your eggs in one basket. Celebrities like Tiger Woods, Brittney Spears and Brett Favre, to name only a few, have shown that it can be dangerous to stake all of a brand's advertising around one key celebrity.

Maybe it's this sense of caution driving P&G to create another Old Spice persona ... or maybe they just knew we would all talk about this ad because Mustafa was not in it, serving to reinvigorate the brand buzz.

Lead actor aside, I like this ad even more than the previous ones. The stint at the end with the skeletal legs actually got me to laugh out loud.

No matter how you look at it, Old Spice is one of the few great brands that has managed to completely reinvent themselves. It's a case study for the records.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Clam Shell Packages Are History With Pyranna

While I'm not typically prone to heralding new products on this blog, there are times that I have to give KUDOS for an invention that addresses a real consumer problem.

If you're anything like me, a tough clam shell package can make you shriek in horror ... possibly even purchase a different brand that is easier to open. You wonder, how can I get this darn thing open without hurting my hands or damaging the product nestled safely inside?

In steps the Pyranna, a cool new gadget to slice right through those impenetrable packages. History professors take note: With the Pyranna, struggling to open hard shell packages is now a thing of the past.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Heineken Gets Glowing Recommendation

In early 2011, Heineken launched a familiar - yet unfamiliar - package into the Milan market. The new aluminum package looks like a bottle but feels like a can.

But, that's just the start of its coolness. The new Heineken package actually glows in the dark.

According to Cool Hunting, the graphics are "printed with invisible ink that, when exposed to UV light, reveal an amusing shooting stars pattern."

What a great concept and a fun way to get club goers to light up the night with Heineken.  I see the underpinnings of some great Heineken storytelling here.

Truth.com "Splodes" With Deadly Message

This must be a Red Bull ad.

No wait ... it's a Mountain Dew ad.

Or maybe it's a Monster energy drink ad.

No, no and no.

It's an ad for Splode ... a dynamically charged new soft drink that satisfies even the most daring of daredevils.

I must admit I was drawn into this ad last night, thinking that Red Bull or Mountain Dew was being challenged by a new energy soft drink.  Just what we need, right? Another highly caffeinated drink to provide that necessary boost of energy at those times when we feel most lethargic.

The ad opens with a group of young people bungee-cording from a bridge, attempting to plan their jump perfectly so they can grab a can of soda perched on a rock below.  As they reach the rock, they grab the can and take a massive hit of soda. Person after person reveals their expertise at taking the perfect swan dive towards the can.

The final person grabs the soda. The camera zooms in on the product. Ahhh ... the name is revealed. New Splode soda!

The person is pulled back up towards the bridge in a wide-reaching arc and then .... explodes?

I stopped what I was doing and looked at the TV screen to try to comprehend what this ad was trying to tell me. In its final frames, the following message leaped on to the screen:

It turns out this ad had nothing to do with soft drinks, getting an energy boost or attempting bungee cording. It was an ad by the Truth campaign. A message that pointedly tells viewers that tobacco kills one-third of the people that smoke it.

For me, this ad was a surprise from beginning to end. In some ways, it reminds me of their earlier Shards 'O Glass Freeze Pops ad, but in other ways it felt more realistic and more effective at grabbing my attention and delivering the punchline.

Maybe it's the fascination of watching someone do something that you would probably never do yourself - throw your body off a high bridge, with only 8 inches of cord separating you from sure death. I mean, after all, isn't that why so many people go to the races - to see if there will be a crash? Or the reason why they go to a boxing match - to see if there will be a knockout? Or even go to a hockey game - to see if a fist fight will break out on the ice?

So, now they have our attention. But, it always comes back to that age-old question, doesn't it?  Is this ad effective enough to encourage someone to toss their cigarette pack in the trash?

My guess is that they already know all the deadly statistics associated with putting that cigarette in their mouth. But, for a whole bevy of reasons, they haven't wanted to - or haven't been able to - quit.

But, truthfully, that doesn't mean that Truth.com should stop trying.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Kahler Slater Asks, "What's Your Story?"

I recently had the opportunity to hear an architecture and interior design firm - Kahler Slater - speak at an American Marketing Association luncheon in Milwaukee.

If you're an avid fan of this blog, you have probably become accustomed to reading an analysis of CPG advertising - on TV, in magazines, on the internet, on billboards, in stores. So, you may wonder why I've chosen to discuss an architecture firm. Well, the truth is, that Kahler Slater's operating philosophy fascinated me.

For starters, they approach each new design project with a few rather unusual questions for their clients:

- Does your environment help you achieve your business goals?
- Is your workspace a reflection of your company culture?
- Does your company's workspace inspire your employees?

To answer these important questions, Kahler spends a great deal of time getting to know the company and its employees ... before they ever put pencil to paper. 

They do a deep-dive into the company's employees and what motivates or inspires them.  They intricately understand the mission of the company and its reasons for being. They brainstorm with employees and learn what their hot buttons are. All their efforts lead to the answer to one critical question:

What is your story?

Only then do they begin to design the work environment ... a work environment that encapsulates the entire corporate experience ... from the statement the entryway makes upon entering the building to the personality that is portrayed by the visual images surrounding the office. The workspace becomes a complete manifestation of the corporate brand and culture.

So much has been written as of late about the art of brand storytelling but I must admit that I have never seen a B-to-B brand use this strategy so effectively. It is absolutely brilliant in its simplicity.

Kahler Slater has demonstrated their willingness to share this epiphany with others through the presentations they make, the book they have written ("Better Make It Real") and the white paper they have researched and written on the topic of how culture and work environment can contribute to being selected as one of Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For by the Great Place to Work Institute.

So, I ask you, what's your company's story?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Hampton Restores A Small Piece of Americana

In the last few weeks, I've had the opportunity to stay at a Hampton Inn several times.

As the elevator doors closed on that first late evening in Chicago, I began to read a story about how the Hampton Save-a-Landmark campaign had preserved the world's largest buffalo in Jamestown, North Dakota. 

Yes, you heard me right ... the world's largest buffalo.

I thought to myself, "Why would anyone want to save this large ugly statue of a buffalo?"

Okay, I'll admit it - I'm a bit of a sucker for those kitschy tourist traps, like the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, the largest ball of twine in Cawker City, Kansas or the Field of Dreams in Dubuque, Iowa. These places are usually located in cities that are off the beaten track. Part of the fun is just getting there. Often, you look at the goofy building, statue or phenomenon for a grand total of 15 or 20 minutes and then you retrace your steps back to the highway you came from ... to go back on your merry way.

So, I was a bit intrigued as to just what Hampton Inn was up to.

I was surprised to discover that the Hampton Save-a-Landmark campaign has actually been in existence for awhile ... I just hadn't heard about it before. According to its website, Hampton has been honoring "the world's greatest roadside attractions" since April 2000. Some of the unforgettable projects they have worked on include the:
  • Odell Standard Oil & Gas Station in Odell, IL
  • Rail Depot Museum in Troutdale, OR
  • World's Largest Shoe House in Hallam, PA
  • Robert Frost Farm in Derry, NH
  • Clover Belle Street Car #30 in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
  • Uncle Sam Statue in Ottawa Lake, MI
Now, granted, these sites may not be as vast as the Grand Canyon, as dazzling as Times Square or as magnificent as the Redwood Forests of California, but to small towns like Hallam, Troutdale and Derry, they are as important as any of the aforementioned national treasures.

Hampton Inn has staffed each of over 50 restorations with employees who have volunteered to bring the luster back to these sites. Plus, they have contributed to tourism to these little burbs of towns by sharing the news with people that may never have found some of these hidden or lost treasures.

While the campaign is what initially grabbed my attention in that hotel elevator a few weeks ago, I was even more captivated with Hampton's efforts once I visited their website.

Kitschy. Cool. Charming. Fun.

Words I would use to describe Hampton's campaign to restore a small piece of Americana.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Smirnoff Engages With Peelable Packaging

Smirnoff, the world's #1 vodka, has launched a special edition series of textured "peelable" bottles in lemon, passion fruit and berries that make you want to buy their vodka just so you can peel the bottle.
“To launch the new formula of the flavors of Smirnoff Caipiroska, the Brazilian drink that is popular worldwide, we created bottles with the texture of the fruit for the flavors lemon, passion fruit and berries and a diagonal perforation, so that consumers could feel the unique experience of peeling a drink made of fruit. And we even sent the bottles in wooden crates to a select mailing list, just like the fruits are transported in large produce markets in Brazil.”
Brilliant. Simply Brilliant.

Smirnoff has made both the purchase and the usage of their Caipiroska line of vodkas a totally sensual experience.
 Is anybody out there still questioning the power of packaging?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Kotex Adds Flair To Underwear. Period.

Kotex is taking the concept of a consumer design contest to a whole new level in their new campaign to add a little excitement to ... well, plain white maxi pads.

Partnering with Sex and the City designer Patricia Field, Kotex is hoping that this contest will help young ladies feel just a tad bit better about Aunt Flo coming to visit each month.

The contest - affectionately titled Ban the Bland - is open to boys and girls, age 14 years and older ... although I can hardly believe that any 14 year old boy is going to be knocking down the doors to publicly admit that he has a stellar new design for a maxi pad. 

Those interested in entering the contest can use design tools that are available on UbyKotex.com, a site Kotex launched last spring to help empower young women and to educate them on feminine hygiene.

Three winners will be selected to help Patricia Field design come cool new maxi pads. Winners will also attend Fashion Week in New York City later this year. Working alongside spirited Patricia Field will likely be an experience unto itself. As she recently commented, “I don’t know a thing about white. I see a world that’s very colorful and textured with, like, ice flying through it.”

Marissa Festante, public relations rep for Kimberly Clark's Kotex, explained the company's rationale for this contest:

"We see a future where women can choose to think differently
and talk openly about periods and vaginas and are
self-empowered to take control of their personal care." 

Isn't this how it all begins?

We start out with a topic that makes us feel uncomfortable. Then, someone nudges open a door and lobs out the first comment. A few more people begin to talk about it. The idea gains momentum. Pretty soon, fewer and fewer people wince when the topic comes up. Eventually, the masses become more and more comfortable and the stigma disappears. In my lifetime, I can recall when no one would dare bring up the topic of a woman dying her hair, going through menopause or admitting she was over the age of 50. Today, those topics are commonplace.

The only question I have is whether there is a need out there for young girls to publicly talk about their period and what kind of cool, new pads they use to stem the flow.

Ouch. That was mildly uncomfortable for both me and you.

Milwaukee Health Department Creates Bionic Babies

I was driving in to work this morning when I noticed a billboard informing motorists that a breastfed baby is a stronger baby. While the message surely resonated with me, the visual images taunted me as I drove by. 

Muscular babies doing push ups, kick boxing and flexing their ripped biceps left me wondering ... just who had bioengineered these super babies?

After a little research, I discovered that this campaign is sponsored by the Milwaukee Health Department. Their goal is to encourage young mothers to adopt healthier behaviors with their babies, ultimately lowering Milwaukee's infant mortality rate. Links to other government sites help educate moms about smoking cessation, breast feeding and immunizations.

I love the premise of this campaign - healthier behaviors lead to healthier and stronger infants - but admittedly, the babies creep me out a bit. They just look so unnatural, almost plastic-like.

While my first reaction is to question the visual images used to portray these stronger babies, a part of me hesitates ... after all, what are the odds that I would have blogged about this campaign if I had not had a visceral reaction to these babies?

These unusual images of babies definitely made me stop and pay attention, suggesting that this visual device broke through the clutter and entered my consciousness. They made me listen to the messages being told. But, what about the other half of the equation: Will these ads be sufficiently motivating to new mothers to change their current behaviors?

Only time will tell whether the infant mortality rate in Milwaukee will decline. One can only hope that is the case.

Monday, April 4, 2011

1,000 Cranes Carry Hope to Japan

On March 11, 2011, an earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter Scale violently shook the northeastern coast of Japan. The tsunami waves that followed caused severe damage to Japan, leaving approximately 21,000 dead, injured or missing. As the residents of Japan grieve their losses and bury their dead, they struggle to deal with a lack of electricity, safe water, food and transportation.

Many organizations, like the Red Cross, the International Medical Corps, UNICEF and Save the Children have rallied to raise funds to help those in need. Volunteers and fundraising efforts have sprung up all over the world.

Interestingly, one common thread appears to string its way through many of these efforts - the powerful vision of hope portrayed by 1,000 origami cranes. According to Wikipedia, the crane is viewed as a mystical and holy creature by the Japanese. Legend holds that folding 1,000 paper origami cranes will make a person's wish come true.

One group -  1,000 Cranes for Japan - has taken this message to heart. They encourage visitors to their website to type a message on a virtual origami crane, fold the message and then join a community of well-wishers in sending a message of hope and healing to Japan.  Currently, the site has completed three strings of 1,000 cranes.

Those that would like to offer hope in the way of a financial contribution are encouraged to donate via a Google Crisis Response website that has been set up to aid the victims of the deadly earthquake and tsunami in Japan. This website is linked to the 1,000 Cranes for Japan website. 

These efforts reveal that the world is largely comprised of kind and generous people who do not hesitate to extend a helping hand to those in need. Brothers and sisters that may speak different languages, but yet still understand the language of hope and caring.
Sue Northey - Find me on Bloggers.com