Top of mind

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Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

Beers, Free Content and Tattoos : Building brands on the Internet

Posted by topofmind on September 8, 2006

Painful Viral Infection

I have recently been writing about Virals, especially how companies are desperately trying out new ways to be relevant to their target consumers. Ways to reach consumers have been changing, and advertisers are slow to catch on, but some are figuring that they gotta to something, anything. So what do you get? Well you get a whole lot of crud and you get some that just make you go “huh?”

My focus is mainly on the consumer goods and not on the Internet brands like Google or eBay or Newsvine.

Television, as we know it, is dying – oh it’s going to be painful, it’s going to be long and it’s going to be filled with false hopes. At one point, someone will have to redefine Television, but until that time, it will be bleeding viewers daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. It is losing the young viewers, and this is where the companies feel where the future of their business is.

The Internet : A series of tubes,

Tubes or not, advertisers chase where the young ones are going, and research is telling them that the young ones are going to this thing called the Internet, with all the social-what-you-might-call-it and that nasty myspace.com. So what do they do? Crate “Content.” and there is this thing called “user created content.”

Well, here are two examples of it.

Make It a Bud.

bud-tv.jpgThose in the industry have known for a while, but Budweiser is launching “A NEW GENERATION OF ENTERTAINMENT” here at Bud.tv in or around Feb 2007. 30 million US$ in investment, Bud.tv will feature “humorous” content created by their in-house studio. Read more details here.

Now, the thing is not even launched, and I have no crystal ball, but the popularity of recent “social websites,” is mainly because novelty of the new medium that allows people to connect with each other. Advertiser created content can be attractive, but isn’t that what Television was all about, don’t they call it soap operas because soap companies used to sponsor the lame content?

If what Bud.tv is planning to do is to bring Television onto the Internet, then that is 30 million down the tube (excuse me). If I want to watch TV, I can watch it on my 50 inch Plasma sitting on the couch with a Heineken, not crouched in front of a key board, watching grainy footage. Besides, if I don’t like Budweiser, just because I saw something funny on Bud.tv will not make me change my mind and that watered down excuse of a beer.

Can Tattoos help sell games?

crusty-demons.jpgThis is for a Video game called “Crusty Demon.” for the PS2. If you know what that game is all about great, you are part of the target audience. If you don’t know what that is, just take my word that it is a video game. If you absolutely must, visit the site here.

Sufficient to say the main target audience is male teens, or so the makers of the game think so. This is semi-user-created content – the kind of thing you will share with your buddies. There is a portion of the site where you can put tattoos icons and text on various parts of a women’s body. You can try it yourself or check out my .. er efforts here .

Ahh, interactivity. I am sure the site will get decent hits, but will it help sell the video game? Not so sure, but it is certainly a way to attract attention, I only hope that the game is worth it.

The Internet certainly is changing the way companies reach their consumers, it is a high risk game, but the stakes are high and their traditional-media ship is sinking fast. They are jumping ship, but are they doing the right thing to “build,” their brands?

Or can brands still be “built,” by the manufactures anymore?

Posted in Advertising, Business | Leave a Comment »

Coke sues Coke Zero : The Viral

Posted by topofmind on September 6, 2006

Coke sues Coke ZeroAt a time when building web-creds is getting more and more important in connecting with their target audience, Coke Zero launches this website that they hope will go viral, and hope bloggers like me write about it and give free exposure and buzz.

The website has videos where they bring in several lawyers and ask for their opinion if Coke can sue Coke Zero for “taste infringement.” Apparently some are real lawyers and others are actors, playing a lawyer. The reaction on some of them are priceless.

And some of them corporate lawers are plain scary, except for the bewildered immigration lawyer who got lost and ended up in a viral…

While many will undoubtedly dismiss this as a lame attempt, Coke Zero will get the coverage, they will get the buzz and they will get a free link here because this is indeed the type of thing that a web-surfing, short attention spanned, instant gratification, cool hunting pro-sumers are looking for. On top of that, they get the message out in a clear and convincing way – that Coke Zero, unlike Diet Coke, doesn’t suck. That is of course, if you are a Coke regular.

While the website has some issues – the color (yeah, I know it is based on the Coke Zero colors) and the flash heavy interface (sigh), it is worth congratulation the team who came up with the idea, and the clients who had the guts to approve such an execution. Tip; get a new web-designer for the next project.

Oh, and the TV ads they have on the site? Not half bad, but the fake calls to the supposedly “real” Coke customer service line are hilarious.

Posted in Advertising, Cool | Leave a Comment »

When Internet Virals go astray and ways to avoid it.

Posted by topofmind on August 26, 2006

subway.jpgVirals are called Viral because they take a life of their own and either mutate into something cool or something really really nasty. Early in August I posted the misadventures of how agency.com’s Subway pitch Viral gone bad and how that it generated unwanted publicity for agency.com as well as the client Subway.

In an article posted on industry publication AdWeek it seems that agency.com is pulling out of the pitch for the Subway business, citing conflict of interest, although they would not name what that conflict of interest is. Whatever the real reason of the pullout, here are four very important things to remember about Virals – well, there are more, but if you know these basics, you are pretty well covered.

Virals cannot be made

Duh. One thing that advertisers and marketers, locked in their air-conditioned ivory towers with their Starbucks Fraps, seem to forget is that you cannot “make” a Viral. This is Web 2.0 in action, it is all about the Internet user deciding what is cool, or newsworthy or not, this is the mob in action baby. Ever heard of Digg.com, Deli.cio.us, Newsvine.com anyone?

If an in-experienced agency or client did a Viral and get it wrong, other than getting laughed at their efforts on-line, it wouldn’t be so bad. For a well known on-line agency to make that mistake – that would explain why they got mobbed in the blogosphear.

There is a conceit that agencies can indeed make real virals. Well, they can, but success stories are few and far between. In fact it was quite come up with good examples. But here is one from Budweiser, which I think is the original or the early Whassup that started it all – although the whole thing didn’t start out as a Viral until people picked it up and passed it around..

Virals mutate

Yes, that is why they are called Virals. Once released they take on a life of their own. You cannot control it, you can only do damage control – but then it would be too late.

If you want control, run a print ad or a TVC or print a leaflet and hand it out yourself. If you are running a Viral, be prepared to relinquish complete control.

Worse, you end up with are spoofs of your Viral by some wise-ass fifteen year old kid or rivals from another agency. Believe me, they will more than yank your chain.

Virals got to have some value

Virals become Viral because there is something worthwhile for the target audience to share. Even a good laugh is of value and most of the early Virals got spread this way. Star Wars Kids , Numa Numa guy anyone? Content is king here. If you have something of value to your target audience, and they do actually find it useful, then they will spread it… or not. But it is important to be relevant and of value to your target audience.

Not all exposure is good

There is a old belief that any and all exposure is good, it’s up to you how you spin it. Well I disagree, not all exposure is good. Perfect example comes from the music industry. Did your perception of Michael Jackson change before and after the scandal? This type of thing cannot be spinned any other way and on one will want to touch it with a 10 foot pole.

I came across this video from goviral.com that does a way better job of explaining how and what is necessary for a good viral campaign, from Cannes 2006. Check it out here.

Posted in Advertising, Blogs | 1 Comment »

Lights, cameras, sex and advertising

Posted by topofmind on August 24, 2006

Sooner or later you are bound to find all four in the same place. Using sex to sell stuff from softdrinks to home entertainment systems is as old as advertising, so why not use it to sell cameras. Sex, digital cameras .. now somehow that seems to have a very natural fit. Cameras and sex.. a match made in ad heaven.

Here are two executions from the great minds of advertising. One is from Olympus Camera, and the other for Canon. Both use sex to somehow sell their brands. Call me old fashioned, but I feel that advertising has to have at least some form of message – how the brand is different, or better or even a obnoxious “Buy Now” call to action would do.

Just like the women in the old Wendy’s ads says; Where is the message??

The Canon TVC seems to say that with a Canon Digital Camera, you can make your ugly wife look better or even sexier. And is the way the dorky guy reacts supposed to be funny? Yes, there is a line at the end of the TVC that says that “With Cannon, You Can”. Aside from the cheesy line and bad acting, nothing comes out about Canon. If anything, it did more damage to the brand than anything.
A bit of advice for Canon, you need a new storyboard, new production house and new actors. Oh, yes, while you are at it, a new advertising agency would also help. Either that or probably too many Marketing MBAs stirring the pot.

Olympus TVC. Firstly, even with the grainy video from You Tube, the production values come through, and it does look great in black and white. While the branding is somewhat subtle at the end it does seem to say that Olympus is cool, trendy and sexy. But it all ends there; other than the coolness message, nothing else seems to come through about the brand Olympus. As far as getting the viewer attention, the TVC worked, but now that the viewer is somewhat paying attention, why not say something interesting about your brand? Better yet, say something that will get him interested in the product. Unless of course they want to say that the whole artsy thing was actually shot by an Olympus (riiiiight) and so can you if you use an Olympus. The thing is that they doesn’t even bother to say that. A wasted opportunity.

Did Olympus actually pay several hundred thousand dollars or a couple of billion won for this TVC? Guess they must have, what with a celebrity like Jeon Ji Hyun in it. Come on guys, image helps, but not if the message is missing about your brand.

I don’t know if those two ads worked, but both Canon and Olympus should ask for a refund from their respective agencies or fire whomever approved storyboards. And by the way, by now you should know that sex will most likely get you the attention you want for your brand, but you also got to have a worthwhile message.

Thanks to http://www.sillycorner.com where I first came across the TVCs.

EDIT : Upon further investigation, looks lilke there are 2 versions of the TVC. Here is the properly branded version. Can’t embed, so click here.

Posted in Advertising, Tech | 4 Comments »

How Coke got it’s Mojo back.

Posted by topofmind on August 18, 2006

lg_new_coke_logo.jpgPerhaps a bit of an “over claim,” but is Coke finally back? Is Coke finally connecting with the younger crowd that is has been trying desperately to reach since mid 80s?

Well after “I want to buy the world a coke TVC,” things kinda went downhill as far as it’s brand image goes. Of course being born in the late 60s, I never really appreciated the ad, but in the advertising circles, execs talk about this ad in hushed tones and reverence. Sticking a bunch of people who could be part of the 60s version of the United Colors of Benetton on a hill, while singing a sentimental song was not my idea of a great ad. In comparison, the “Where is the beef?” grandma was great!!

After many years of struggling around with Polar Bears and Max Headroom, Coke seems to have gotten it’s Mojo back.

How?

Three letters : G.T.A.

If you went huh??? then you are not the target audience and shouldn’t bother checking out the commercial here.

But for those you know GTA : Grand Theft Auto and have actually experienced it, you would probably go – cool. Starting off like a typical game of GTA, accompanied by a somewhat corny song and sappy ending with the the most recent tagline of “The Coke Side Of Life,” this ad manages to do what Coke ads haven’t done in a long time. It has managed, once again connect with it’s youth target audience.

Using games as an advertising has been done to death before, but GTA as a game is not only cool, but has a bit of anti-establishment attitude (and content). If it was Zelda, it would have been cool, if it was Lara Croft, it would have been hot – but only GTA can bring an attitude. While I personally never finished the game, I spent long hours exploring the various virtual cities, jacking cars, going on rampages and making insane jumps. I am too old for this, but somehow the ad appealed to me, just because of that.

Whatever insane amount was spent on sponsoring the recent World Cup, this ad is worth many times more in connecting with it’s target audiance. Now, I only hope they have enough budget to support the media side of the campaign. Admittedly I have not had the chance to see all the Coke ads in the last couple of years, but if any ad can re-connect Coke with it’s target audience, then what better ad than this one.

Posted in Advertising, Cool | Leave a Comment »

A Viral is not a viral, when you have to say it is a viral

Posted by topofmind on August 2, 2006

Video On You TubeWhat do you get when you put big agency egos, with the pressure to win new business, along with a need to be cool and hip? You get the following “viral,” from agency.com on YouTube. Some times you really do find some funny videos, but other times, you get videos like this.

Personally as someone who currently works in advertising, and as someone who views YouTube quite often, it is far too long and subject matter is boring for the non industry types. A tip to ad agency types who feel the urge to be in-front of the camera – for the sake of all that is holy and sacred, please don’t! Of course I will not mention the fact that there was no strategy planning other than going around with a video camera taping Don King look-a-likes in orange suites. I mean, is this guy for real??

Now all of that wouldn’t be so bad; it would have been mearly a misguided attempt to show the client what type of agency it is – it would have just been another lame YouTube video that would have disappeared into the great digital abyss, until users started posting extremely positive one line comments.

The hardcore and savvier YouTube audience quickly caught onto the fact that almost all of the positive comments were made by new users, who signed up on YouTube, about the same time the video was posted. Hint. you can check the user’s profile by clicking on the user’s name and checking out when he signed up and what his favorite videos are etc…..I clicked on a few and found that the new users were just commenting on this video only.. How is that for having street cred on the Internet? Checkout the other user comments..

And of course the other users are ROFLMAO with the whole thing. Like the man said, if you roll, you roll big. I hope they got the account after all the ridicule that they are gonna suffer..

Otherwise this could also go into the books as how their innovative Web 2.0 Initiative was successful. “OMG, we got gazillion hits and links to our video and a trillion gullible bloggers covered it.” Knowing agency types, this is what will happen most likely.. and they just might get the account.

Unfortunately this “viral” just reinforces the public perception that ad agencies are shallow, all flash and no substance. I hope never to see Part 2 of this. And what’s with asking consumers what new tag line should be?

Guys get a grip, you are in the communication business, a Viral is not a viral, when you have to say it is a viral.

Posted in Advertising, News | 3 Comments »

Why Advertising Should Not Suck

Posted by topofmind on May 8, 2006

Why buy an expensive Plasma TV, when all you get are lame ads??

Welcome to my blog on advertising, communications and whatever is on the top of my mind. Here I will provide my twisted brand of commentry on advertising that happens to cross my path.

I hope you will get the same kind of twisted pleasure I get from “commenting,” on poor defenseless ads. I also promise not to descriminate against different media types – in fact I will be media-neutral in my offending commentry.

Posted in Advertising | Leave a Comment »