Archives for posts with tag: Advertising

Those of you who work in media buying, pay attention – this post might be about you.

Have you seen Jamie Oliver’s new show “Food Revolution” yet?

It’s an interesting concept: teach people how to NOT kill themselves – and their offspring – with crappy, frozen, convenient food, and instead, teach them how to start eating right. Novel idea (shaking my head).

On his website, Jamie has a pdf that speaks to a lot of issues with the food that is being served to kids in school on a daily basis, and the show really highlights how incredibly stubborn people can be when it comes to implementing change.

Dipping sauce? Oh, yeah. Big fan.

In one episode he debunks the theory that buying prepared, frozen food is faster and cheaper than making the same meal fresh. He took a box of frozen chicken strips for $8 and then bought fresh chicken and breading for under $5, made it from scratch and to the table in less time than it took to cook the frozen ones.

Here’s the real kicker: he used 6 ingredients. On the box of frozen ones it lists more than 10. He goes on to talk about preservatives (sodium phosphate) and additives (monosodium glutamate) and all the other chemicals that go into frozen food to keep it from rotting.

The underlying theme for the show is this: YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT, SO DON’T EAT SHIT.

So, I’m watching this thinking that I’m going to have to take a look at the sides of the boxes of shit in my freezer, when they break for commercial and I see an ad for pre-cut, pre-washed, ready to boil chunks of potato to help us busy-folk make mashed faster – fresh from your grocer’s freezer.

Nice work on THAT media buy, dipshit. Oh, I get the demographic workup and the target base, but how about WATCHING the program to see if your product fits the theme? Why not look at the synopsis for the program before just buying ad space based on specialty channel viewer profiles? Jamie Oliver just finished telling you how prepared food is bad for you and making it yourself is just as easy… but no, by all means, tell me more of your fantastic, time saving, pre-washed/cut/cubed/sodium-phosphate-enriched, frozen-in-a-bag staple.


PS – here’s a link to a wikid chicken strip recipe from Black Health Now.


Either marketers are getting smarter or people are getting dumber.

I vote for the latter (as dually self-deprecating as that sounds), and one reason is all the bullshit surrounding hybrid and fully electric cars.

Hybrid cars are pricey and nobody is 100% sold on the financial overage vs. environmental evangelism. So what do the auto-makers work on? Electric vehicles, like the Chevy Volt.

The Chevy Volt

Where do you think electricity comes from, numb nuts?

Sure, it boasts ZERO emissions from it’s electric engine that you charge by simply plugging it into any regular socket in your wall. Great! No more lining up to pump liquid gold into the tank! But wait a minute…  it still has a small gasoline engine inside that kicks in to generate electricity when the battery is low to keep the thing rolling… Huh? So, I still need to feed this “fully electric car” with gas from a pump?


To get around this apparent contradiction, GM says that the gas-powered engine never actually propels the vehicle, but that it just generates power for the battery.

Ooooh! I see. Well, shit, that was close! I thought for sure you had pulled one over on me there, GM! I mean, I bought this car so as to alleviate my dependence on carbon-producing fossil fuels… and then you tell me it still needs gas, even though it’s electric… hang on (and here’s where the people-are-dumber part comes in)…

Where does the power that goes into the battery (streaming out of my wall) come from?

Oh, that’s right, FOSSIL FUELS.

So where’s the freaking environmental savings there? What’s worse:

  • emissions from burning gasoline,
  • or emissions from burning coal and oil to produce electricity?

The Volt marketing message reads: Charge the battery, change the world. Honestly, people, is this what we’re swallowing now? I’m not blaming the marketers at GM – they’re doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing: convincing the market that their product is going to solve problems and make their consumer’s lives better.

No, I blame you, the consumer for not thinking.

Lode of coal

Don't kid yourself - coal powers everything.

88% of all the coal in the United States is used to produce more than 57% of the Country’s electricity. Oil produces a further 40%.

Therefore, 97% of the electricity pumping out of your walls, and into your emission-free-electric-world-saver is produced from burning fossil fuels (unless, of course, you’re one of those lucky folks who have their whole roof covered with solar panels, each corner of your house has a wind turbine swooping away , and instead of a chest freezer in the basement you’ve got yourself a small fusion reactor).

Where the Jeff are the environmental savings there? There go all the carbon-footprint-reduction points you might have scored by upgrading your furnace and A/C for those new ones (at twice the price), and that new on-demand tankless hot water heater (that isn’t really all that great anyway, is it?), and even trading in your filament-based light bulbs for all those CFL bulbs – way to go, champ! Sure, your energy consumption may be down a few percent from last year, but try plugging in your CAR overnight and see what happens to your bills.

And isn’t THAT where the emphasis for supposed environmentally conscious consumers really lies: the dollar saving?

Be honest, it isn’t really about saving the environment, is it? How can it be if you’re only swapping gas for coal as an energy source? It comes down to reducing the “apparent” amount of money you spend month to month.

How do you calculate the MPG of an electric car that runs on coal- and oil-produced energy (and still needs gas anyway)?

I call bullshit.

I hope, but I won’t bet, that people will get smarter and start thinking before lining up for a “green” vehicle.

Looking for a real green vehicle? Try carpooling. Or better yet, get off your ass and engineer a transporter for Pete’s sake!

Star Trek teleportation

If people are so smart, why the hell do we still drive cars?

Donkervoort D8 Bullet

Honey, how much could we get for one of the kids?

I love cars. I just wish I had the money (and damn good reason) to get me a kick-ass little sports car, like a Donkervoort or an Exige S. You know, nothing ridiculous, just a toy.

I really love going to Car Shows too, although I haven’t made it out to the Canadian International in a couple years (kids and all, see?), but I’m going to try and make the next one coming up in February. There’s something about seeing a brand new model under those lights all shiny and quietly awaiting the open road that makes the crowds and the shitty food acceptable.

But that’s once a year. The rest of the time I get my fix by google image searches, YouTube searches, 5th Gear (hilarious show), and the boob tube just like everybody else.

I’ve often wished I was the dude throwing the M3 around the turns or the CTS rocketing down the salt-flats, but lately it seems that auto manufacturers are looking to cut costs by cutting their drivers out of the spots in favour of CG models and impossible environments… I think that sucks.

It’s like comparing Return of the Jedi to Revenge of the Sith! Oh sure, Sith had some amazing backdrops and incredible effects, but there’s no way Jedi would have anywhere near the following (even today) if Yoda wasn’t a puppet (I also believe Mark Hamill couldn’t have pulled off such a heart-wrenching performance watching his master fade away if he had to fake it – grin).

It’s not too long now that a company will figure out how to render CG so seamlessly with live footage that we won’t be able to tell the difference (I expect that Avatar may come close), but until that day, I wanna see cars on the street, cars in the dirt, cars bouncing up boulders and drifting around corners.

But when that day comes, what will befall our wonderful drivers? Will they become obsolete? Will automakers leverage technology to reduce insurance and production costs for their new lineups? What other helpless souls will be cast aside as expendable legacy system redundancies?

Will you?

Will current CRM marketing automation one day turn into pay-as-you-go automated corporate-scale marketing strategy inferred from social behavioural analytics, cloud-logged purchase history and geo/persona-targeting from web leads captured through intelligent forms that will put us “marketing types” in the unemployment lines right beside our beloved Professional-driver-closed-course buddies?

Are we too going to be replaced by code-writers and free widgets? For me, I’ve already got a background in computer animation and post production effects compositing, so I should be ok, but the rest of you are screwed.

Maybe I’ll tip a bit of my Starbucks out the window of my Donkervoort as I pass… You know, respect for my homies.

I can’t wait for Iron Man 2 to come out! Have I mentioned that I’m a comic-geek? In fact, I get stoked whenever I hear about another super hero movie coming out. And if it’s anywhere as cool as the first one, well…. ssshhhhyaww!

Being born in the early-70’s primed me to be one of those uber-excited chumps who salivates at seeing a preview for an upcoming superhero movie, courtesy of Mr. Stan Lee and his Marvel Universe (have I mentioned that I’m a big nerd?).

Billy Van as Grizelda the Ghastly Gourmet

Billy Van as Grizelda the Ghastly Gourmet - my fave charater from Frightenstein

In an earlier life I was an extra on a number of TV shows, movies and commercials, and also helped the agency that represented me by working in their office assisting with casting. I got to meet a couple really big stars (Adam Sandler, Tim Allen, and the immortal Billy Van [RIP]) and some then-not-so-big stars (Jim J Bullock, Monika Schnarre, & James Marsden on the set of Boogie’s Diner to name a few) and got to understand the importance of continuity – ensuring that people, props, environment and storyline are consistent from shot to shot, and from camera setup to camera setup (i.e. Same amount of milk in the glass in the right hand from cut to cut – you get the idea).

Which brings me back to Iron Man.

WARNING! If you haven’t seen the movie, well, I don’t give a shit. It was really good and you’ve had plenty of time to see it before now, so tough noogie.

Near the beginning of the movie, Tony Stark (Iron Man) is injured in a terrorist explosion and wakes to find himself a hostage in a cave with a big glowing, humming, metal thing implanted in his chest attached to a car battery. The nuclear physicist/doctor/surgeon who put it in (also a hostage), tells him that it’s an electromagnet that is preventing the shrapnel in his body from entering his heart and killing him. Ok, sure, whatever, it’s a comic book story and that’s totally acceptable in my books and besides, the glowing chest thing is part of Iron Man’s identity, part of his brand, part of his story and reason for becoming Iron Man.

Robert Downey as Tony Stark (aka Iron Man)

See? There it is! It's the only thing keeping him alive! And it was built and installed in a cave!

Trouble is that was the ONLY time in the movie that shrapnel-part was mentioned. Later on, Stark upgrades this unit a couple times and even unplugs it at one point, but in doing so the only side-effect is a slowing heart rate (or so the audio illustrated)… no excruciating pain from little bits of metal being pumped around his veins or anything! And sure, he could have probably had all the pieces removed, but again, that wasn’t covered, and if he DID get them removed, why does he still need the chest thing at all?

That’s an inconsistent message and at the end of the movie, it stuck in my mind as something I didn’t quite like. It felt like they threw in the whole shrapnel thing to explain away why he has this thing in his chest, and then forgot they said it.

Now you might be thinking that this is a bit trivial and nit-picky and one of those things that the serious comic-book-geeks would get their mom’s on the phone to rant about and get the support they need to make a posting on the Marvel Complaint Board or some damn thing, but my point is this: if the thing in his chest was put there for a reason shouldn’t that reason be consistent throughout the story?

And that got me thinking about marketing messages and advertising. Notice anything lately that has struck you as being inconsistent with a brand or incongruous with what their brand stands for or that just plumb didn’t make sense?

Take Bell’s new-ish (ok, 2007-ish, but it still sucks) advertising and branding: wtf is with the words ending in er? It doesn’t make sense. It’s not tied into ANYTHING. So what’s the point? Where’s the link? Why do I have to think about the point or the link? And where the hell is this going? As with Iron Man’s chest thing, it looks like Bell just wanted to get a new something out there and forgot to explain it to the rest of us.

Compare that to Harley Davidson. They’ve been making bikes for over 100 years and they haven’t tried to tell anybody anything different or obfuscate their core message one bit. They create loud-ass, kick-ass, time-tested, well-built bikes and their evangelical tribe is fiercely loyal. Sure, they’ve dabbled into other verticals (take Buell, for example), but even then they still maintain a consistent and familial message, voice and theme.

Harley Davidson Iron 883

"Honey! How much room do we have on the line?!"

If there’s a reason for saying what you’ve said in an ad, great, but please don’t make me try and figure it out. And if you’re going to create a string of ads leveraging this same concept, even better! Repetition works, David. Repetition works, David. But again, please make it tie in somehow to your product/brand/solution/company/industry/tag/washing instructions, anything!

Look at your website, your ads, collateral, sales tool-kits, slide decks and anything else with your logo/brand on it and ask yourself this question: Does it all go together? Is there a consistent message or theme? And if there isn’t, where and when did the train leave the tracks, and how much damage did it cause?

Memories may be short for most things, but if you’re hoping for loyalty and return business from your customers, bank on that memory extending past the last 6-12 months worth of ad messaging (or in HD’s case, decades).

The last thing a company needs is a customer coming back to them with an invoice in their hand saying, “Remember when I bought this you said…”.


To completely discredit this post, I plan on seeing Iron Man 2 opening night. I’ll be standing next to the guy whose shirt says: “I’m with stupid”

Long live Stan Lee.

I hate traffic. I hate traffic more than almost anything. I say almost, because I’m sure there are 2 or 3 things that I would sell my soul to be rid of before traffic, but it’s up there.

My only saving grace is singing along like a moron to my favourite CDs (Kings of Leon, Diana Krall), whatever the latest Top 40 pop-crap is playing, and getting to some really great radio ads. Yes, I am one of the 13 or 14 people who actually listen to the ads, and lately I’ve been pleasantly surprised by a few of them.

BMW has a couple of light-hearted ones about their Pre-Owned cars and how the uninitiated can’t tell the difference between a used and a new bimmer. The latest has a girl and guy on a first date and she doesn’t understand what pre-owned means, even after several attempts by the guy, so when she asks where they’re going for dinner he mutters under his breath “Probably somewhere fast,”. Funny. I actually laughed out loud the first time I heard it and still chuckle over it.

On the serious side, OnStar has got some really powerful spots that clearly outline the reliability of the service versus your cell phone. The one I heard this morning had a 7 year old boy push the OnStar button because his mother, who was driving, kept closing her eyes and was driving erratically. The operator directed police to the car and one can only assume it all ended well, but for those of us with kids, hearing that little boy in such a drastic situation really shook me. But then my inner cynic pipes up and I think, “Was that a re-enactment? I think they said it was audio from an actual call, but there’s probably a loop hole somewhere… Damn! Was I just duped?”

That last part is the sad part – where we, as a society, are so bombarded with so-called Reality TV and sensationalized news stories that we are programmed to automatically discount anything that sounds legitimate because it’s probably some marketing ploy.

That sucks on two levels:

  1. That marketing and advertising cannot be trusted.
  2. That I am a marketing and advertising professional.


So I start to think about what I do trust from a marketing/advertising perspective and how I’m either contributing to increasing trust from consumers or detracting from it. Are my messages focused on helping people or are they focused on extolling the virtues of extra leg room and a DVD-based nav system? Am I being true to my customers or to my ROI?

In his book “The End of Marketing as We Know It”, Sergio Zyman suggests, and wisely so, not undertaking a campaign if you cannot forecast a positive financial ROI from it. But what about those intangibles that we marketers also have to deal with? How can you forecast the ROI from word of mouth advertising or a worldwide rave? How can you confidently pre-quantify the increase of sales attributed to your $200 video that gets viewed 300,000 times on YouTube? You can’t.

Somebody will chime in and talk about viral this or social that and tracking codes and all that is fine and dandy, but AFTER the campaign has started. Where do you go when you’re planning the campaign? How do you budget for it? What do you say to the guy who signs the checks when he asks what he’s going to get from it? How do you know you’re not about to blow a wad? If you’re good at what you do and you agree with what I’ve written above, the answer is easy. The answer is trust. Trust that the campaign you are planning is actually focused on your customer’s success/happiness/health/finances/family/security/future and not that your product now comes in a green box with a prize inside.

This leads me back to my inner cynic and the OnStar ad. Whether it was scripted, re-enacted or an actual excerpt from an emergency call is a moot point because it caused me to react to a situation I could relate to. It resonated in me. It spoke to solving a problem I thankfully don’t have yet, but could at any time by way of bullshit luck. Will it ultimately influence my next car purchase? Perhaps. Did I go online to see what models come with OnStar? Yes. Am I writing about it now? Will this blog get read and passed around and linked to? I hope so. I trust that it might. And I find that I trust the benefits outlined in the OnStar ad as genuine benefits that could help me.

What do your ads say to your customers? And what did those words cost you to say? Was the copy/media/reach worth the price?

Know how you can tell? If you have gained the trust of your customers, the guy signing the checks will know.

If you haven’t seen it yet, this post is a SPOILER, so be forewarned!

I caught the latest entrant into the liquor advertising Colosseum last night and couldn’t help but shake my head in wonder.

It was for 1800 Tequila, a fine brand, I’m sure, but seriously, I challenge you to find someone who honestly, legitimately, cross-their-heartily LIKES tequila. And it’s not like I haven’t been around the Agave block – I’ve even got a couple of expensive bottles in my collection, so don’t look at this post as a reason to complain about the stuff… it’s the ad that got my goat.

It features Michael Imperioli (Cousin Christopher from the Sopranos) talking about how his bottle of 1800 “just poured me a shot” because of it’s nifty, wham-bang kick ass perfect-shot-measuring-top… tip the bottle upside down and the top fills with a shot (nothing earth shattering about that). He then turns to the bottle next to him (which is clearly a bottle of Patron), and basically accuses it of being lazy because it can’t measure out a shot of itself in it’s top.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t there a part of the North American Global Man’s Creed that states where any person claiming to be a man must own at least one shot glass that he has either a) stolen from a bar, b) bought at Ron Jon’s Surf Shop or some other beach/party college/H.S. getaway, or c) received as an apartment/residence warming gift? Why the hell do I need my bottle of booze to measure me out a shot? And more to the point, when it comes to dispensing tequila (or ANY other booze for that matter) what self-respecting man is going to get their manties* in a knot if they’re pouring a little heavy?

And then what do you do with the shot in the top? Are you gonna shoot it, the jam it back on and pass it over to Steve so he can pound one back? Or do you transfer your perfectly measured shot to an actual shot glass for shooting, or a snifter for snifting, or simply pour it over the rocks ready for mixing? I kinda get it, really, but seriously?

If this is what it takes to sell more 1800 then I wonder what other companies could promote in the way of added conveniences…

Why not make a pen with somewhat erasable ink because scratching stuff out with a line is so 1885?

Or how about creating a key-chain-sized digital photo frame so you can take hundreds of ridiculously small pictures with you everywhere you go in a subtle attempt at ruining the eyesight of anyone and everyone you know?

Maybe a camera company can come out with a point&shoot that has a little mirror or screen on the front of it so that when I want to take one of those uber-flattering arm’s length self-portraits I’ll know it’s a beauty. Oh, wait a minute…

Whatever the reason behind the measured pour top (also called a jigger – sadly I have one on my bottle of Gibson’s…) I’d be interested to see if it was the novelty in the market or the star power of the advocate that sells more tequila.

But then again, as I said earlier, nobody really likes tequila anyway.

* Kudos to Scott for the manties reminder.