It started with shows like Survivor, Big Brother and the Amazing Race. Not just the reality TV business, but the lines between the TV season and the land of re-runs are getting, well, a bit dirty.
But now the recently settled writer's strike may help further blur the line. The NY Times is reporting that the giant ad agency holding companies are looking for a year-round television season. The rationale is that September is full of hyped shows that usually don't make it to Christmas.
The other system that the agencies would like to change (and the networks almost certainly would not) is called the "upfront"-- a May period in which the advertisers pre-sell their new shows. According to the article, the media buyers still want to buy ahead of time, but they don't want to have to make all their bets during the same month.
A lot is changing in advertising and in television broadcasting. In an era when college football is now on virtually every night of the week, all those weeks when there is "nothing on" represent lost opportunities. You can safely bet that those opportunities won't stay lost for long.
We all know the Super Bowl is just as much about commercials as it is the game. And last night's parade of marketing efforts had some hits (Tide "Talking Spot") and some misses (SalesGenie....AGAIN!). But rarely does the big game serve up a treat like we got -- a great game, and a spot that will be remember for years with the Coke "Parade Balloons!"
If you somehow missed it (what were you doing, laundry?), and if you haven't seen it yet, then you must watch it right now!
There are so many amazing things about this spot I don't know where to start, but here are just a few: 1) the great association with an iconic/emotional American event, 2) great music, 3) NO VOICE OVER!, 4) incredible "shots" -- note the inside view of the balloons hitting the building 40 seconds in, 5) what the little girl is holding as she looks up at the sky, and 6) the lovable loser who finally get the prize.
Yes, the Giants won the game, but in my mind Coke and their agency Weiden + Kennedy scored the biggest victory. This one goes in the trophy case right along side the Mean Joe Greene spot and "Hilltop" (I'd like to teach the world to sing...).
Anyone and everyone who works in marketing should be inspired by this spot. I know I am!
What do you think? What was your favorite spot?
I flew Southwest Airlines from Raleigh to Los Angeles this week. It's been a while since I flew the LUV airline. I've always admired them because of the way they understand what a brand is.
To paraphrase from "Brogan on Branding":
A brand is not a logo. It is the totality of all thoughts and feelings that people associate with your organization.
Southwest gets that. A brand is a belief system, an experience, and it exists for better or worse regardless of your marketing. Marketing can and should support it, enhance it and promote it, but the organization has to live it.
One simple thing a flight attendant said brought it all back to me. Here's basically what she said:
"We don't have cleaning crews that pick-up between flights here at Southwest. It's just the flight attendants. So if you could help us out and gather any trash in your area, we'll come pick it up now. That will help us keep costs down and get the next flight out as quickly as possible."
Wow. That's so simple. Ask me nicely. Explain the benefits to me, and make it easy for me. And, best of all, be human.
That's what Southwest always strives to be: human and efficient, plus fun.
THAT, my friends, is what branding is all about.
Cheerios and Pampers are the new horse and carriage--they go together. Not as back-to-back stand-alone 15-second spots...not as the secondary product you get free when you buy the primary...but as an integrated, fully-shared 30-second TV spot.
First you see Dad diapering "mama"-spouting baby for bedtime, futilely encouraging the little ankle biter to say "dada." Cut to next morning at breakfast table with baby gobbling Cheerios. And gleefully saluting "dada."
Yep, it's a cute spot--and it got my attention. But more importantly it's a spot that advertises two different product categories from different manufacturers. Questions abound: Does the same ad agency represent both products? (Nope.) Was it their idea or the manufacturer's? How much will this save the advertiser in media expense? But most importantly, what other pairings are we in for --and will they work as well as this one? Spanx and Levis? Hummer and Maybeline? Grey Goose and Pepto Bismol?
What's your reaction to this combo :30 concept? Is it going on all the time and this is the first time it has penetrated my consciousness? Is it a fluke? Or is it a whiff of things to come?
I saw the Whopper Freakout TV commercial for the first time last night with my teenage sons and it had us all in stitches. Talk about break-through. Imagine Candid Camera at Burger King. It starts with an ultra serious announcer..."We stopped selling the Whopper for one day to see what would happen..."
Innocent customers doing the most normal thing in the world to them - ordering their beloved Whopper - are told by workers (actors), "We're sorry, but the Whopper has been discontinued." Total disbelief, disorientation, outrage and sadness are captured via hidden camera as people react to this obviously distressing news.
"You can NOT be serious."
"I want your manager at the window when I get there please."
"I could cry..."
"It's a huge mistake. It's the best burger nationwide."
People go on and on about the burger, recounting their childhood and years of tradition. Vignettes of folks of all ages and gender literally "freaking out" makes this a strong seller for a diverse target. The announcer concludes with "What happened was people freaked."
The call to action, whopperfreakout.com, is a mini-site with a 7- minute video showing more in depth emotional reactions. Like Candid Camera, the video includes a happy ending, whereby customers are told the truth by a dressed-up Burger "King" who presents them with a Whopper. Whew!
Way to go Burger King. It's the best burger spot I can recall since Wendy's "Where's the Beef?" ads. Really different, really entertaining and brilliantly effective in communicating the "cherished Whopper" message. Check out one of the spots below or see the entire campaign at whopperfreakout.com. Let us know what you think.
I had an epiphany the other day while watching TV. I came to conclude that there must be only one guy who is paying too much for his car insurance. Because consider this:
- State Farm can save you up to 40% on your car insurance.
- Geico can save you up to 40% on your car insurance.
- AARP members save hundreds on car insurance.
- Progressive can save you money on your car insurance.
- Allstate can save you money on your car insurance.
Seeing a theme here? When everyone says they can save you money on car insurance, can anyone really?
State Farms newest ads have left the "good neighbor" theme and are going on price (with some service undertones).
I recognize that auto insurance is a competitive marketplace, and I recognize that it's price sensitive. Nevertheless it is dangerous to position your brand as cheaper than the next guy, regardless of what industry you're in.
- Positioning on price creates a race to the bottom. Your margins will be increasingly sacrificed in the name of revenue.
- Innovation (which is fueled by profit) suffers.
- Branding on price encourages the customer to think of your product as the same as everyone elses. In essence, you commoditize your product.
- Like any brand positioning, only one company can really own "price."
In auto insurance, I would argue that price is owned by either Geico (who started as discount insurance for government employees with really good driving records) or Progressive (who invented the online comparison shopping model, which was brilliant).
But now Allstate (which owns the word security, as in "you're in good hands with...") and State Farm (which owns the phrase personal service, as in "good neighbor") are now joining this race to the bottom. The ads (with the exception of Geico's) all run together and the distinctions are blurred.
Whatever you sell, do everything you can to avoid positioning on price. It's not a stable place to plant your flag...
A great client of ours forwarded this along. It's a very fun, festive, tongue-in-cheek holiday message. If you've ever worked in an advertising agency or worked with an advertising agency, I'm sure you'll enjoy it. (As long as you can laugh a bit at yourself.)
Full credit to World Wide Wadio for the creativity. I mean, the writing is good, but the effort to assemble a choir to sing it and to find that footage... That makes it priceless.
Thank you, to our great clients, for making 2007 so exciting, and almost never, ever actually asking for your logo to be bigger.
~Your Pals at Brogan & Partners
They seem to begin earlier every year. You can tell they are starting because there is usually a “jingle bell” sound incorporated in the music and the dark background in the spot is lit up by holiday light coming from a house, a fireplace, candles, or a tree. Sometimes you just get glimpse of a black shiny boot or a red velvet jacket. Oh, and the music is somehow addictive in nature – sort of like Starbucks. You're on to them.
Not three seconds into the commercial, someone in the room makes a comment regarding how outrageous retailers are in airing spots so soon – for crying out loud, you haven’t even begun putting a dent in the candy bowl from Halloween. There is still at least 10 bite size Snickers left, rolls of Smarties, 2 pairs of wax lips, lots of banana Laffy Taffy, and you can’t even see the peanut candies wrapped in orange and black that no one wants slowly melting at the bottom of the bowl. Yet, by the time the end of the year arrives, you find yourself humming the tunes played in these “too-early-to-air” spots and according to a study conducted by BIGresearch for the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association, they actually create revenue as they drive consumers to stores and web sites. The survey showed that 17.1% of consumers were persuaded by their favorite holiday ad to shop with a specific retailer. Interesting as well is that young adults were much more likely than other shoppers to say that holiday television ads sent them to specific stores (27.3% vs. 17.1%). Target, Wal-mart and Macy’s were included as favorites. So, who is your favorite holiday advertiser?
Here's a great quote:
The advertising person's role on any side of the business is to help a company understand its customers and their needs better; to help a company respond to and speak to those needs, efficiently and effectively. Advertising is an honest business, a noble business, the engine of the American economy.-Bob Lauterborn
Lauterborn, James L. Knight Professor of Advertising a the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina, can take a complex concept and condense it to its most brilliant and concise truthfulness. Really, the guy creates intellectual diamonds.
So what does that quote mean to us in the advertising business? Simply said, everything in advertising starts with the customer, involves the customer and ends with the customer. The minute advertising becomes "to" the customer instead of "about" the customer, it begins to be a waste of time and money.
Look at the best advertising: it tell the customer more about THEMSELF than the PRODUCT. Every aspect of the message addresses the customer and the customer's need.
When you see an advertisement that you don't get, know that you are NOT SUPPOSED to get it. It isn't about you and it isn't for you. And then try to figure out how you happened to see the message... are you a 60-something watching MTV?
"Know thy customer" is worth repeating. And Bob Lauterborn explains why so well.
The other day, I was asked to speak at Robert Lauterborn's class at UNC-Chapel Hill. He teaches a really interesting class on how to be a good client. Last year after I spoke to the same class, I wrote ten ways to be a good advertising client on my other blog, Life Is Marketing.
This year, Bob passed out an article by Lee Anne Morgan where she talks about the relationship between clients and agencies. She makes some excellent comments, including:
Many advertisers no longer perceive their agencies as partners but as vendors. There are differences though between being a partner and being a vendor. And these differences affect motivation, inspiration, dedication, truth, skin-on-the table…and an environment where creativity is easily birthed.
Lee Anne understands that agency-client relationships are not all about analytics. Check out this comment:
Every time an agency is fired, every time an advertiser feels it is not receiving value for their investment, and every time an advertiser and agency split asunder before taking all the steps they can towards partnership retention, then some ‘thing’ more intangible than metrics and profits, yet equally yoked, is at stake: that fragile space in which human values and creativity are cradled.
Well said, Lee Anne.