Top of mind

Nothing deep, just things on movies, advertising, tech and games

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.

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Posted in Advertising, Cool | Leave a Comment »

Owen Wilson does – You, Me and Dupree

Posted by topofmind on August 12, 2006

you-me-and-dupree-posters.jpg There are movies that should be made, and then there are movies that shouldn’t. I went to see the latest Owen Wilson fare with little to no expectations, and came back pleasantly surprised – not much, but it was enjoyable.

Now if you have seen most of Owen Wilson’s other movies, he plays the “lovable f@#k up,” that he has played in so many other of his movies, so nothing really new there. As much as I liked it earlier in his career in Shanghai Noon to Wedding Crashers it is getting old by now.

It is obvious that he can play other type of characters like he did in Behind Enemy Lines. I mean the writers must have had him in mind when they had him say that he was a “lovable f@#k up,” during one of the emotional scenes. Admittedly they needed such a character and they found the perfect fit in Wilson. While he was doing the same old thing here, there were some genuinely funny moments in You, me and Dupree.

The plot revolves around how such a lovable f@#k up crashes the newly wed life of Matt Dillon and Kate Hudson with hilarious results, then things go downhill, tears are shed, hurtful words are said, and an un-necessary chase ensues, and the marriage nearly breaks up. But in the end, Dupree manages to fix it all – and finds his calling in life. I doubt that I am giving too much away of this formulaic plot.

Having just said that there are some quite humorous lines and scenes in the movie – especially when Dupree had just moves in. Then there is a pretty funny discussion between Michael Douglas who plays the father-in-law and Matt Dillion about hyphenating Dillion’s character’s name, or the one with the vasectomy. And I found myself laughing out loud along with the rest of the audience in the theater in such scenes. And yes, there was an un-necessary scene with Hudson in heels and a bikini and Lance Armstrong (don’t ask)..

Matt Dillion played the emotionally repressed Carl who is losing his “Carlness.” Not a great performance, but it works. Kate Hudson plays the smart school teacher who works with inner city kids – come on!! can’t there be other nice professions that a women can have in these romantic comedy movies?

But the most notable performance came from Michael Douglas who plays Carl’s pushy father-in-law, who thinks Carl is a wuss; only because he was just reading his lines here. While I am a fan of Douglas, he was bought in for no other purpose than his star-power.

Don’t expect intricate plot lines, don’t expect great character development, but expect to see some genuinely funny moments, competent actors playing shallow characters and a movie that just allows you to tune off the world for about 90 minutes, then you got your movie right here.

There are movies that should be made, and then there are movies that shouldn’t. This movie falls somewhere in-between – if they didn’t make it, no one would have missed, but now that they have – give it a try, you just might come back, unexpectedly entertained.

Posted in Movies | 1 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 »

Movie Review : Miami Vice

Posted by topofmind on July 28, 2006

miamiviceposter.jpg I never really watched Miami Vice on TV, heard a lot about it, but was busy watching other shows, so this is where my review is coming from.

Why they wanted to call this movie Miami Vice is beyond me, it could have easily been called Another Kick Ass Movie From Michael Man and I would have been perfectly happy with it. Make no mistake, this is Michael Man through and through, and it is all good.

If Collateral appealed to you in any shape or form, then you will like this. It has shades of Collateral throughout the movie, especially with it’s grainy, monocromatic look and feel. Unfortunately it is missing Collateral’s dramatic tension – where you are really rooting for the Tom Cruise character, but feel that you shouldn’t. That kept that movie going.

Miami Vice on the other hand almost plays out like a TV show where the cop goes undercover, falls for the wrong women and at the end .. I will not spoil it, but if you are familiar with the undercover cop formula, then you can guess how it ended.

But then that is not why we go and see Michael Man’s movies, is it? We go there for the cool action scenes, the shoot-outs look realistically nasty and noisy, we go there for the perfectly framed shots – Sonny in the background, on a speedboat, hair streaming, Rico, in the foreground looking worried, another scene – close up of Jamie Foxx’s face as he is caught in a standoff where his girlfriend is being held, a panoramic shot of the Miami skyline at dusk. Visually it is as distinctive as Collateral was, although the tone and manner is not as consistent.

Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx do their thing and they do it well. They are believable as Crockett and Tubbs, but the only problem I had was how their characters were too similar. Both can be bad asses when they want to be, and be Mr. Sensitive the next, but there was noting that really differentiated the Crokett and Tubbs characters..not in a tangible way that is.

Gong Li, despite her previous work was spectacularly, unspectacular. Perhaps because she was playing against Farrell, or perhaps the way her character was written. She does add some color, so to speak, but that was all she did. And somehow the chemistry was missing between the her character and Crockett despite the screen time.

Another quibble; somehow the bad guys don’t seem that bad, perhaps they were a bit too understated!! SO yes, there are things that bother me, but overall I enjoyed it.

Ultimately is it worth seeing? Fans of Collateral should not miss it, fans of good action movies should not miss it either. Let me put it this way, of all the summer’s movies, this is the one with the attitude, and for that it is worth seeing.

Posted in Cool, Movies | 1 Comment »

Will Microsoft Zune be the Apple iPod Killer?

Posted by topofmind on July 28, 2006

303317.jpgWho coined that ridicules clichéd “iPod Killer” term to being with anyway?

The tech blogs are abuzz with the confirmation from Microsoft that they will be launching Zune by the end of this year or some time around that. Anyway here are things we should know about the whole hullabaloo.

iPod cannot be killed. It already has a mass following, and they are fanatical about the iPod. Short of nuking it from orbit; just to be sure, it cannot be killed. It can be hurt – a little, maybe a small .. er prick. Besides, iPod will not sit still as Zune enters the market.

iPod literally popularized the digital music player, and made it attractive and cool to the masses. They know what they are doing when it comes to digital music. Yes, Creative was already there with it’s Zen players, but they never really attained the cult status of the iPod, even with a “open” music format. iPOD made it a success despite the fact that they had a “closed,” music format which everyone thought wasn’t so nice.

Having said that, what about Zune?

Zune, comes from Microsoft. Now that is a very bad thing – if you believe what the tech blogs are saying, mainly because it comes from Microsoft. Oh, and because it also is a “closed,” or proprietary format – which will not Play on other WMP devices.

Zune comes from Microsoft. Now that is a very good thing – for Microsoft. Other than some elitist views on all things tech, who by the way are very vocal, the general population of Tom, Dick and Harry will not really care if it comes from Microsoft or Apple.

Microsoft is an extremely valuable brand and Zune will definitely benefit from it, and also from the deep pockets that Microsoft has for mass media campaigns.

Zune is not just a digital music player, and we are not quite sure what it is. Rumors are flying around that it will allow you to share music, got Wi-Fi, watch videos, even hook-up somehow with XBOX. See a nice analysis here and an insider’s view here.. It would be cool to be able to do all of that, but then what the heck is a Zune? A Jack of all trades, and a master of none.

Personally, if this is the case, Microsoft is approaching it ass backwards. iPod started off as a simple, but extremely cool digital music player, then diversified into other things like video. It is generally easy for consumers to accept a product that does one thing well first, then expand functionality. Kinda like mobile phones, started off as a phone, then an address book, then a PDA and now a camera – but we can still choose to buy just the phone if we want to. Consumers don’t like confusion and that can hurt Zune.

So will Zune be the iPod killer when the time comes?

Most likely scenario is that Zune will repeated the PS2 Vs. XBOX fight. It will gain shares over-time against iPod, but the market dominance of iPod cannot and will not be overturned – unless in the extremely unlikely event that Apple decides to close shop. In time, it will become a respectable player in the category – just like the XBOX.

Personally I see another player (or more) entering the Mobile Digital Entertainment fray,whether it is Creative remains to be seen, and Zune will have to fight it out with that third or forth player.

Posted in News, Tech | 1 Comment »

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest Reviewed

Posted by topofmind on July 9, 2006

If you liked the first one, then you should see it. If you enjoyed the character of Jack Sparrow – excuse me, Captain Jack Sparrow, then it is a must.

depp.jpg

In some ways this is “just” another pirate movie – with buried treasure, dastardly pirates, ship-to-ship battles, mysterious strangers and spectacular swordfights. But this movie is so much more because of the different but really cool characters that inhibit the movie.

There are some returning characters and we find out so much more about them in this movie. They are as compelling – which makes us want to see the third movie, simply because we want to know more about them, what happens to them.

Captain Jack Sparrow : Depp does it again and this time it’s better. Because this time he gets to expend his character – he is still the quirky character from the first one, but you now see some dept to him. In the first one we always get the impression that he can be a “good man” but in this movie we see more evidence of that. But I do have to say that making “Jack” into a “good man,” might not be a good idea. We loved him in the first movie because he was such a scoundrel. Besides, in this one, we get to see some really evil characters and I am not referring to Davy Jones either. Either way Depp delivers and we look forward to having his character on the screen.

Elizabeth Swann : What can I say about Knightley that hasn’t been said before. She gets don breeches and gets to kick some dead-pirate butt. While I wish there was more, in a movie filled with interesting characters, she got some good screen time and mostly at the right moments.

Will Turner : Bloom also does his character well, but he is overshadowed by the other characters, especially the other male leads. But we learn some interesting things about him also and can look forward to whether he gets to keep his promises that he made in this movie.

Davy Jones & His Crew : The effects are well done and Jones and his crew are totally believable. If you think that the “Black Pearl” was cool the “Flying Dutchman,” is awesome.

There are other returning characters – some expected, and well loved, others unexpected and still well loved. The actions scenes are also well done and can be quite amusing. But you have to see them for yourself.

The movie, obviously sets it self up for the next movie and it does have a cliff hanger. We do want to know what happens next, but that is will not be the only reason that will bring us back to the cinema when the third movie comes out. Kinda like “I am your Father,” type of cliff hanger, we want to know if it is true, but we also want to know what happens to Han, Leia, etc..

Pirates is a very different type of movie from Superman Returns, but it gives you plenty of action, laughs and interesting characters to keep you amused for the rest of summer.

Posted in Movies | Leave a Comment »

Superman Returns on IMAX 3D

Posted by topofmind on June 29, 2006

Glorious 3DJust saw Superman Returns at IMAX 3D. Let me say that whether you are a fan of superhero movies, or adventure movies, you should go see it. If you have IMAX 3D in your area, drop everything you are doing – including reading this review, and see it now.Glorious 3D

Singer manages to bring back the magic of seeing the first movie. While I have seen a lot of different “wow” movies since then, I still felt goose-bumps when the opening credits rolled with John Williams theme. Yes, the theme has been redone for Return, but the opening was essentially the same. The end credits also ends the same as the first movie – except without Superman looking into the camera and waving/winking.

Daily Planet – while I haven’t seen the first movie in years, strongly reminds me of the first move – along with that rotating door into the building, where Clark Kent is always getting stuck/bumping into the door.

Jimmy Olsen is even more Jimmy Olsen than the one in he first one. Although the Olsen bit was overdone, I liked it.

Lois Lane. Well, all I can say is that Kate Bosworth is definitely not Margot Kidder in how she plays Lane. Somehow she didn’t feel like Lois Lane (even Terry Hatcher’s Lane feels like Lane) if that makes sense. She is more of a prettified Lane, but the spunk that Margot Kidder or even terry Hatcher showed as Lane is missing entirely. It’s almost like casting for Katie Holmes in Batman Begins – just doesn’t work.

Clark Kent/Superman. Because Brandon Routh spookily and strongly resembles Christopher Reeve, it made me feel that I really am watching Superman 3. I almost expected to see Margot Kidder opposite Routh in the movie. In fact he plays Clark Kent better than he plays Superman. While I think that Singer overdid the extreme close-up of Routh’s heavily pan-caked face, I am still reminded of Reeve. I guess that is a good thing.

Lex Luthor. I am a big fan of Kevin Spacy, he had some good moments in the film – like the very first time he takes off his wig and hands it to a little scared girl, but such moments a few and far between. They could have written Luthor better.

The Plot. Make no mistake about it, it is a chick flick, cleverly dressed up as an action adventure movie. The whole movie revolves around the different relationships – the one between Kent and Lane, Superman and Lane, Lane and her son and Richard, and the love triangle. There is a bit of a surprise late into the movie, although I kinda expected it from the trailers, which will (when there is a new Superman movie) bring a whole new side to Superman/Clark Kent.

3D IMAX

So how was the overall experience? Because it was IMAX, visually it was stunning – everything was BIGGGGG, I mean, I have to turn my head around to take in some panoramic scenes – Metropolis, the Kent Farm etc.. and it was good, all good. Sound was great as well – both, of course, are expected at an IMAX.

Now here is the thing on the 3D part. Only some select scenes are rendered in 3D and generally they picked the right ones. I only wish they had picked the opening credit – where Krypton explodes. The “put on the 3D glasses” is a bit distracting as I keep wondering if I should put it on now or not. They have discrete, but easily visible “put the darn things on” sign flash seconds before the scene begins, which cues you to it.

While the 3D added to the overall movie, some fast cutting scenes were a bit confusing – don’t know if it was my glasses, or they were not positioned properly or the sync was off, things get a bit blurry when a lot of elements are on the screen – especially at the first one at Kent’s Farm where Clark, as a young teen, was running through the field. Other than that, it was a good experience that added to the overall movie.

Conclusion : This is perfect summer movie to see, not too heavy, not too light, with just the right amount of action, romance and wow.

Posted in Movies | Leave a Comment »

Wii Evangalize – Creating Buzz that works for your brand

Posted by topofmind on June 22, 2006

Well this is not exactly about advertising…

How much is goodwill and positive buzz worth for a company?

I would say a lot. Way more than they know. Consider the last E3. Another year, another E3 and as usual there were bombs and da bombs. There are two companies that I want to focus on. After a month or two after E3 I was expecting the tone of the coverage and fanboy reaction to change, but fortunately or unfortunately it didn’t.

Sony – The Cool Goliath

No brand name is better known for it’s consumer electronics than Sony.

At E3, PS3 bombed by most accounts. Of course it is not fair to judge and make a call on a Console that is not even out yet, but already here are several strikes against it. The price at appx US$ 600, the seemingly ripped-off controller and the prerendered game demos. And some unfortunate quotes from the head honchos of Sony about – how the revolution will not start until Sony says so – or something to that effect.

Even after a month or so after E3, Sony continues to receive negative coverage – from the claim that we don’t need PCs, when there is the PS3 or the news that allegedly says that we cannot resell our old PS3 games, or an earlier news that PS3 has been downgraded less USB, a crippled CPU. Now some of it is news and most likely true, others are probably rumors.

All of that has generated some negative buzz on the net. While any PR is good PR, in the case of PS3, it might not hold true. Now they need some serious damage control to correct that or somehow turn it to their advantage. Besides, read anything about PS3 these days and you will see that it is negative.

But will PS3 fail? I doubt it, purely because of the number of PS fanboys out there. You heard it here first!!

Wii – Will it really rock?

wii1.jpgPeople seem to think so, sometimes perception is reality.

Wii – this is Da Bomb. Despite or because of the weird sounding name that came out a couple of days before E3, it has already generated enough Buzz, discussion, word of mouth interest on the net – and that type of exposure is all good for it.

Then people got to see the controler in action – or like me saw it on Google Video or Youtube. More than anything that is also another “talk,” point. And from what I have seen, it is mostly good.

And the type of games they are offering – while graphically will not be competitive to PS3 or the 360 – also received good feedback – mainly because people do believe that they will offer better gameplay and pure fun, that has been missing from the Consoles in the last couple of years. While this remains to be seen, another plus for the Wii.

And did I mention the price? Did someone say US$ 200? Wasn’t PSP selling for US$ 150 earlier?

That all adds up to the benefit of Wii. Somehow, there sure is a lot of positive stuff on Wii on the net, and somehow Wii managed to get gamers to create good buzz about their product. Now that is pure Word Of Mouth Campaign (kinda like the banner ad that we now seem to have on the Vine)..

Verdict

The only thing for Wii to watch out for is to keep the pressure up and not make any silly gaffs like Sony did. Of course the PS3 apologist are saying that Sony, which is a company known for it’s marketing savvy will not make such silly mistakes. Perhaps Sony simply underestimated fanboy response.

Personally, I think that Sony could have done better at E3. It was a great opportunity missed, and Wii somehow managed to steal PS3’s thunder – not to mention that of the 360.

Of course the real test will be when the products ship – will Wii disappoint or create even more buzz? Can PS3 somehow manage to make a comeback and once again be the king of the hill? I just can’t wait to see!!

Oh, I forgot to answer my own question of how much goodwill is worth to a company….

PS3 priced at US$ 500 expects to sell about 6 Million units by March 2007. Wii also has the same target but at a much lesser price of US$ 200. Doing the math, Sony will stand to win or lose 3 Billion US$, while Wii will be about 1.2 Billion US$.

How is that for chump change??

Posted in Games, Tech | 4 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 »