Archives for posts with tag: Commercial

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.

Smrt.

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

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Sweet n Salty Breakfast Goodness

The late-for-work breakfast of champion dads everywhere.

Like most of you, I typically don’t have time for breakfast Mon-Fri – hit snooze twice, took longer to wash with that sliver of soap, kids not cooperating, rush to get them to school – so I tend to carry myself through to lunch on coffee and, if I remember to grab one, a Sweet ‘n Salty bar.

Come the weekend, I’m all about breakfast. Brew a pot of joe and weigh out what I’m going to tuck in to: bacon and eggs, pancakes, or my private guilty pleasure, a big bowl of Cap’n Crunch. Damn I love that stuff! My wife doesn’t like it when I come home from shopping with a box because she doesn’t want the kids eating the sugary junk, but if I see it on sale (or even if it’s not), I can’t help but pick me up some.

Here’s the thing: Cap’n Crunch tears the crap out of my mouth each and every time I eat it. And bacon? Bacon just hurts. Pancakes are painless but I almost always burn myself on the pan somehow… But despite all of that, I keep coming back for more Cap’n. And why? It actually hurts to eat it. The roof of my mouth, the gumline behind my bottom front teeth, the inevitable bitten cheek, it all adds up to pure unadulterated discomfort for the rest of the day, and yet I still love it.

Gotta love the Cap'n!

Why?

Nostalgia? Not really.

Because I get some kick-ass prizes in every box? Not a one.

Those ingenious mazes and puzzles printed on the back? Um…

It’s just that good? Well, yeah! I guess…

My point is that even though there are hundreds of other cereal choices of equal and greater sugar content, I would gladly pass them over (on sale or not) to grab a box of Cap’s chunks of chewy glass. Does that qualify as brand loyalty? It does in my books. And if anyone were to ask me, “What’s your favourite cereal that you would sacrifice all other cereals to have?”, I would sardonically reply with more than just a vote for the blue-suited skipper, but would highly recommend it to said inquisitor (and even footnote the endorsement with the caveat regarding the oral lacerations to come).

Would your customers do that for you? What would you have to give them to get that kind of sponsorship? What about you? What will you suffer through even though an alternative exists?

If you’re like me, grab a bowl of those crunchy, stick-in-your-teeth, scrape-the-shit-out-of-your-mouth, corn-based barrel-bites of awesome and skip on the hot sauce and lemonade for the day.

I’ve been chewing on this since I caught some of Barbara Walter’s 10 Most Interesting People of 2009 a week or so ago, and have to say that the entire show was a total sell out.

It’s shows like that where the focus rests solely on the celebrity flavour of the month/year that perpetuates the coffers for the loathsome paparazzi.

Let’s go through this list of potential Darwin Award Winners:

  1. Jacko’s Kids

    ... creeeepyyyy ....

    • I’ll give her this one – these kids, and the life that they’ve led to this point is fascinating…
  2. Jenny Sanford
    • A senator’s wife who found out her husband was cheating on her. Holy shit! Seriously?! My God, what is this world coming to!!? Unheard of!! How the frick is this fascinating? So not only has she been in the American national spotlight as “that poor woman”, now she’s involved in an in-depth interview to probe and expose her emotions and her take on it? Talk about rubbing salt in a wound… Come on, Bahbah, that’s weak… but wait, it gets weaker…
  3. Brett Favre
    • Again, what the hell is fascinating about a guy who can’t retire? He had his time, he’s still good, done. Why the hell do I care about why he didn’t want to retire? Next year will Jay Leno make the list? Lame.
  4. Sarah Palin
    • Ahh, Sarah. Brunt of SNL jokes for months, water cooler subject at american offices, spank bank entry for any number of political pundits, Palin is(was) fascinating, but not for what Bahbah interviewed her about. She was fascinating because she said the most ridiculous things in her quest to become Vice President and didn’t seem to learn how to NOT do it over and over again. Think about it, this woman not only wanted to be, but came pretty damn close to becoming the second-most powerful political figure in the world, and it was through endorsements and support from the general public!! THAT is what is fascinating! So, ok, there’s two out of ten… what next?
  5. Adam Lambert
    • Whatever. He can sing. He’s come out publicly. He wears too much eye makeup. He’s the Freddie Mercury of 2009 but sorry, Adam, you’ve been done before. The only reason Adam was on the list is because of the controversy around his rise to “fame” after not being chosen as THE IDOL. Yeah? What about Clay Aiken, or better yet, that dude that lost in the first season to Kelly Clarkson? Surely he’s up to something more than tuna sandwiches and bus rides! Get him on the phone!
  6. Kate Gosselin

    What's the point?

    • If I hear the name Kate Gosselin one more time… well, I won’t do much more than rant about it, but Sweet Christmas give it a rest already! Once again, a woman finds herself the victim of infidelity and the whole world is forced to sit through her pain and strength, her sorrow and her bravery, her … whatever. She treated her husband like an employee on national television, in an extremely stressful family situation, with an ever-present film crew, making money hand-over-fist, and now that’s coming to an end and mother’s everywhere are at a loss for something to do from 8-9PM Wednesday nights… You want fascinating? How about Octomom and the shit she’s pulled to get her share of the spotlight? She’s WAY more crazy than Kate, and has more kids in a weirder situation.
  7. Tyler Perry
    • Who? Must be an American thing… never heard of him. Sounded like he had a pretty average upbringing, now he’s an actor. Bravo. Next?
  8. Glenn Beck
    • Finally! Somebody who actually fits the criteria! He was a nobody until he started bitching about politics, and now he’s infamous for it. He’s got his own regularly scheduled show with tons of traffic, he gets lamb-basted and takes it, he dishes it out too. I thought Beck was the only LEGITIMATE entry on this list.
  9. Lady GaGa
    • Get lost. Lady GaGa is fascinating? No, Lady GaGa is a character played by a girl from New York. I call bullshit on that one. It’s an act! It’s a show! Of course she’s going to be different and unique, that’s what gets noticed! But that’s not fascinating! Bullshit.
  10. Michelle Obama
    • COME ON! Way to kiss ass, Bahbah. She’s the first lady, so what?

Sure, Lady Ga-Ga is a weird person and Adam Lambert could be called unique, but honestly, who gives a shit? Ever heard of shock factor? These people do what they do because they know it will get them press! That doesn’t make them interesting? No, it makes them glory-hounds! And the worst part of it is that BahBah fed into their megalomaniacal egos by showcasing them on her show!

I must be retarded because I just don’t see how Kate Gosselin or Brett Favre are more interesting than, say, you or me. I’m sure you’ve done some weird shit in your time, you still manage to do weird and fascinating shit now (although you might find it mundane, clearly Bahbah sees things differently) and honestly, REAL life – not the above listed celebratrocities – hands out way more interesting stuff.

I was just in Charlotte, NC for an extended long weekend that encompassed Black Friday and three thoughts stuck with me for the duration of my trip:

  1. Americans really know how to put on a sale.
  2. How does the U.S. stay in business?
  3. I’m getting fleeced by retailers at home.

I live just outside of Toronto and have a couple friends/co-workers that live in the states who continually comment on how expensive things are here. Living here you don’t notice because it’s the norm, but now I couldn’t agree more, especially after spending a stupid amount of time with my mouth wide open in the wine & beer section of a grocery store in Charlotte.

I cannot for the life of me understand why a bottle of Crown Royal, a CANADIAN rye whiskey, costs twice as much here as it does in the States. And how the hell can the Canadian government justify charging $36 for a 24 of Alexander Keiths (again, made in Canada), when 40 minutes from my house, in Buffalo, it’s $23.99 – AND IT’S AN IMPORT!? So let’s turn the tables – a case of Sam Adams Boston Lager in Buffalo runs about the same as Keiths $24, but here in Ontario where it is listed as an IMPORT, it’s $45. Cripes!

Nike Structure Triax

I'm making a run for the border

To the point of how can America stay in business, I am a runner and need new shoes. I went to my local Running Room and tried on a pair of $150 (pre tax) Nikes. Nice but pricey. I walked out of Dick’s Sporting Goods in Charlotte on Black Friday with the exact same pair of shoes for $48.69.

Black Friday or not, the regular price for the shoes was more than $70 less, add a $20 sale tag, plus a coupon for the weekend (not even tied into Black Friday), and I got me a new set of kicks for a steal. WTF?!

What kind of mark-up is that? What sort of import tariffs and taxes are Canadian retailers forced to pay in order to carry similar items in their stores? More to the point, why the hell is everything in the States so much cheaper? Volume discounts for retailers is one thing, but what if it’s a cross-border company that buys en masse to stock their shelves in both countries (Chapters, Best Buy, etc)?

Buying shoes (or any number of other items, for that matter) online just isn’t an option for me without first having tried the shoes (item) on – the whole “box of chocolates” thing – so shopping at the brick and mortar is a necessary first step…

I also wear glasses (yippee) and recently had a visit with a local optician, looked through their frames and was quoted $500+ for a new pair. Go online, the same pair is $210, lenses, coatings and shipping included. This scenario makes sense! The online store doesn’t have to worry about the brick and mortar overhead, the human capital costs, etc. But these exceptions don’t apply when you compare apples to apples, or storefront to storefront.

This is an issue we are facing at my current employer where we also sell to both Canadian and American clients (B2B) and are now revisiting our pricing and packaging strategies to target a different niche in our market. We don’t want to get burned by offering one person a better price than another because we know for a fact that someone somewhere will share this information to their peers and we’ll be up the creek.

But at the same time in order to appeal to this niche we need to take a different price/pkg approach… and this niche is on both sides of the border but is linked to the rest of our clientelle via word of mouth and industry contact. Sonofagun – so do we offer our product to one group at a lower rate or in a different package/configuration than the other just to tap this market niche, full well knowing that the new package is probably all the original purchaser wanted in the first place but wasn’t an option at the time of sale? How do we handle the potential flood of existing customers who will then want the base package because they feel it would save them money in the short term even though the product they have is functionally superior to the new package? Guess we’ll see soon enough…

For now, I don’t think I’m going to be buying anything soon on Canadian soil – sorry folks, but that’s the way it is. I just hope none of the Xmas gifts I’m going to pick up on Military Rd in Buffalo will need to be returned… Better idea, give a goat!

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.

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.