Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Milwaukee Wave Makes Sports History

This past year, the Milwaukee Wave Indoor Professional Soccer Team did something that no professional sports team has ever had the inspiration or the courage to do ... play an entire season without a home jersey.

Now, why on earth would the Milwaukee Wave want to do such a thing?
The answer to this question just might surprise you ... 

During each home game, all of the Milwaukee Wave players wore a custom-designed soccer jersey that honored one of 11 local or national charities. During the featured charity's home game, auction bids were collected for the jersey of each Milwaukee Wave player. At the end of the game, the autographed shirt was literally taken off the back of each player and presented to the highest bidder.  (Interestingly, all season long, only two bidders accepted the Wave's offer to launder the jerseys before claiming their prize!)

In the inaugural year of this program, the Milwaukee Wave raised over $40,000, providing a wave of hope for the MACC Fund, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Go Pink!, the Autism Society, Boys and Girls Clubs, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation/American Diabetes Association, the Ronald McDonald House, United Way of Greater Milwaukee, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Special Olympics and the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Thanks to the Milwaukee Wave's generous owner, Jim Lindenberg, the Wave of Hope will continue this philanthropic program during the 2011/12 season, helping Wisconsin children live fuller, healthier and more productive lives. 

Hopefully, the Milwaukee Wave's Charitable Jersey Program will encourage and inspire other professional athletes and sports teams to be philanthropic pillars in their own communities.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Tree That Rained Skittles

Experience the Rainbow...

Prior to the invention of that wonderful little candy, Skittles, we only had the opportunity to "experience the rainbow" when the raindrops dried after a sultry summer storm.
Then in 1974, a British company found the proverbial pot of gold when they unlocked the magic of a new candy called Skittles. Five years later, it made its debut in the United States and the hard coated colored candy wormed its way into the hearts of people coast to coast.

But, that's not where the fairy tale of the Skittles story ends.

Through years of brilliant 360 degree branding, Skittles has invited all of us - young and old, friendly and curmudgeon, introvert and extrovert - to join the revolution and to experience the rainbow through their website, print advertising, TV advertising and Facebook

But, by far, the coolest of all branding efforts falls into the category of nontraditional advertising. And my favorite in this category resoundingly lies with the Skittles Gifting Tree.

According to Evolution Bureau, the genesis of this nontraditional campaign was this: Skittles fans - over 5 million fans strong - were given three choices: 1) A Skittles Gifting Tree, 2) An Elevator Mariachi Band or 3) a Moon-Walking Tubesock. 

"After a fierce 72-hour battle,
consisting of over 46,000 votes,
there was a clear winner.
The agency had 24 hours to create a Skittles Gifting Tree. 
The entire production was shot, edited and redistributed 
through the Skittles community on Facebook."

Sure beats the heck out of raining acorns, doesn't it?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Chevy Camaro Offers The Fountain of Youth

Have you ever noticed that your concept of age is directly correlated to your physical age? As the birthdays begin to pile up, your definition of what middle age or even old age is seems to effortlessly float upward. Plus, we've all heard that saying that was surely written by some 90 year old in search of the fountain of youth:

You're only as old as you feel.

Chevy taps right into that mindset when it targets the Baby Boomer generation with its latest Camaro advertising. Their new Camaro promises that whether you are 65, 75 or 85, a ride in a snappy new red Camaro will make you feel young again.

No question, this is a contemporary and relevant message with the Baby Boomer generation, who fall within the age range of 47-65, and make up 13% of the U.S. population.

What's not to like about this ad ... especially if you are a Baby Boomer?

Let's all recite it together: 70 is the new 50.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Southwest Airlines Makes The Right Call

Opening night of the NFL season.
New Orleans Saints versus my beloved Green Bay Packers.
You can feel the sizzle in the air.
You can see the anticipation of the spectators in the stands.

In some ways, the anticipation for the advertising on that first night of football was almost as exciting as the game itself. (Okay, that is a bit of an overstatement, but I was looking forward to the ads.)

One of the first ads of the night was a storyline we've heard before ... at Southwest Airlines, bags fly free. Like the other ads in the campaign, this one focused on the baggage handlers out on the tarmac acting like the Gestapo, hunting down those big, bad airlines that so boldly and blatantly charge their travelers up to $120 round trip in baggage fees.

There was a bit of a twist to this commercial, however, in celebration of the opening NFL season.

A group of three handlers, with orange and silver striped vests (as opposed to the customary black and white striped referee shirts), throw a yellow penalty flag on the tarmac ... stopping an in-transit vehicle in its tracks.

The group quickly huddles, eager to decide the fate of the driver. Their call?

Unnecessary bag fees.
That's a low blow.
(ba dump bump)

Even though this campaign may be close to reaching its wear-out, I still got a kick out of it (get it? a kick, as in football?). And, all corny kidding aside, I love the fact that bags fly free on Southwest Airlines. That message will never reach its wear-out.

Where Nike is Going, They Don't Need Roads

In 1985, a movie called Back to the Future would entertain audiences by posing the question:

Would you have been friends with your mom and dad
if you grew up with them?

The film went on to steal the top grossing film of the year slot, with $380MM in box office receipts. Back to the Future (followed by Back to the Future II) became a classic, with awards and honors too numerous to count.

We all grew to love Michael J. Fox, the actor cast as an iconic 1985 teenager who was transported back to 1955 when his parents were in high school. We got to know him better as Alex P. Keaton in the TV series, Family Ties, and later as Mike Flaherty in Spin City. His boyish charm wiggled his way into all of our hearts.

But, perhaps the most critically acclaimed role of Michael's life occurred in 1991, when he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. As his symptoms worsened, he chose to go public with his illness in 1998 and later to begin the Michael J. Fox Foundation in 2010 to help raise both awareness and money to fund research on Parkinson's Disease.

Now, Nike has joined forces with Michael and his foundation to help raise those all-important dollars.

Nike designer, Tinker Hatfield, and footwear innovator, Tiffany Beers, have recreated 1,500 pairs of Nike Air Mags shoes ... the futuristic shoes that Marty McFly wore in Back to the Future II, when Marty was transported forward in time to the year 2015. 150 pairs of Nike Mag shoes are being auctioned off on eBay each day for 10 days, until September 18 when the bidding ends. Current prices are in the range of $2,500 for each pair of shoes being auctioned.

In a recent interview on Late Show With David Letterman, Fox said:

“This brings together three populations of people with major Joneses. The sneakerheads, the Back to the Future people, who, believe me, are out of their mind … in a good way! Thank God for them. And the people in the Parkinson’s community who have an interest in research.”

We can all hope that at some point in our lives, we can look "back to the future" and find no remnants of Parkinson's Disease.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Corona Finds The Beach Again

On November 4, I blogged about the latest Corona advertising, imploring that they "bring back the beach." Around that time, they had diverted from their decades-long advertising strategy of always being set on the beach to a new campaign centered on the notion of "Find Your Beach." While it was a bold move, the commercial seemed to fall short of the magic of their previous campaigns.

On opening night of the NFL season this fall, when the Green Bay Packers dominated the New Orleans Saints, Corona Extra returned to TV with a new "Find Your Beach" campaign. All visages of the previous year's campaign were pleasingly absent, with the sole exception of the tagline. Instead, the brand found an interesting and effective way to straddle the old campaign, while injecting new life into the brand.

The ad begins in a very traditional manner for Corona. A man is relaxing on a beach, lazily enjoying his Corona, when a woman appears, pulling a drink cart across the sand. Suddenly, she magically morphs into a flight attendant who rolls up to the man, now seated on an airplane, and asks, "Are we doing okay here?" As he confidently replies, "absolutely," the flight attendant turns her attention to the woman directly across the aisle.

The woman, definitely taken with the calm demeanor of the gentleman, tells the attendant to bring her a Corona. As they tip their bottles against each other across the aisle, they magically transport from the airplane back to the beach. Super comes up: Find your beach.

I believe Corona has successfully extended their brand beyond the beach that had somewhat pigeon-holed them over time. It's nice to see that Corona is acting like the leader they are.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Can Your Life Be Significant Without Ottawa?

Have you heard the recent radio commercials for Ottawa University? You know the ones that tell you to "prepare for a life of significance" by getting your degree from Ottawa?

Is it just me or do you find these ads mildly insulting? It's almost like they're saying that if you don't have a degree from Ottawa University, your life can't be significant. 

Now, it's important to understand that I'm not lashing out at Ottawa because I am not college educated. On the contrary ... I actually have a BBA and MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (which I am very proud to own) and I teach as an adjunct professor at Marquette University.

Rather, I am insulted by this ad for two reasons:

1) I know plenty of people that never went to college that live very fulfilled and significant lives.

2) When I am looking to hire new employees, degrees from schools like University of Phoenix, Ottawa and Kaplan just never measure up to those from other universities.

I must be honest here ... I have previously lumped Ottawa into this same pool of for-profit universities that place more emphasis on turning a dime than on enriching their students.

However, I must give credit where credit is due. This blog encouraged me to check out Ottawa University a bit more and I actually discovered that unlike the University of Phoenix, Kaplan University and Strayer University, Ottawa University actually is a nonprofit university.

With this new information, I'm a bit more likely to view Ottawa in a slightly more "significant" light in the future. But, I still take exception with their tagline...

Saturday, September 3, 2011

"Tour de Farms" Bike Ride Misses Opportunity

There is a widespread U.S. phenomenon to lean local when it comes to buying produce. Farmer's markets have sprung up around the country, with an increasingly larger percentage of consumers helping local farmers by serving their families fresh produce. At the same time, fresh local produce helps our environment by transporting produce a few miles as opposed to hundreds of miles across the U.S. or even thousands of miles from foreign countries before being served at your kitchen table.

Braise Restaurant in Milwaukee, chose to marry America's love of local farm food with a call to action to participate in a healthy and educational bike ride called the "Tour de Farms." For $75, bikers had the opportunity to tour a number of local farms, learn about farming operations and sample freshly grown local food.

Cramer-Krasselt offers up some interesting print ads, which combine bicycle parts with fresh vegetables. The ads are clever and engaging. They quickly and eloquently communicate the intended message.

But, despite C-K's efforts, there is a gargantuan missed opportunity with this campaign. Surprisingly, there is another ride called "Tour de Farms" which took place a few months earlier in neighboring state, Illinois.  The whole purpose of this bike ride was to benefit the National MS Society. 

It seems like a giant misstep that the same event name was used and that Braise Restaurant missed out on a stellar opportunity to extend their locavore lifestyle towards helping their community.
Overall assessment? Great print ad campaign, but missed social marketing opportunity.

Sears Eyes Up Raccoons

The spot opens with a woman in her backyard, dressed in a bathrobe, calling for her kitty. Over and over again, she calls out, "Kitty. Here Geezer. Kitty."

A raccoon appears from the fringe of her yard. As it saunters towards the woman, she declares in a childlike voice, "Just come snuggle with mama," ushering the cat into her home.

As your mind is wondering what this ad could be about, the scene shifts to a super that reads:

Missing something?

Ah...the light dawns.  Sears Optical is the sponsor of this rug pull.

The viewer is treated to a scene of the woman snuggling in bed with the raccoon nestled at the foot of the bed. The final super reads, "Sears Optical: Don't Miss a Thing."

I love commercials that deliver an unexpected surprise and that's what this ad did for me. Unfortunately, however, the intrigue and humor of the ad did little to convince me to shop at Sears Optical for my glasses ... even if you can buy two pairs for $99.99.

Sorry Sears.
Sue Northey - Find me on Bloggers.com