How to Avoid Choking Down Terrible Stuffing

 

Stove Top stuffing is not only the most popular brand of stuffing sold in the US, but probably the only recognizable brand as well. At least that’s what I’m going with since I can’t even name another one (Kirkland Signature and other store brands don’t count). The point is, Stove Top on a Thanksgiving dinner table is like seeing Nike polo shirts on Tiger Woods and it fits the confident tone of this commercial.

Thus, I’m hardly offended when the Pilgrim in this spot claims that Stove Top stuffing makes Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving. It may be a bit exaggerated, especially since I, personally, am not a stuffing connoisseur, but since I can’t think of any real competing brand then fine, Stove Top stuffing can hold it’s title of staple. I concede the point, even with the Pilgrim so incensed, he feels he had to escape this calamitous affair.

However, the advertisers couldn’t help themselves from getting weird with this spot. Since they already have a goofy David Cross doppelgänger dressed in Puritan chic they thought it would be great for him to imitate scurvy convulsions, being it was the en vogue disease of sea travelers in the 1600s. Unfortunately, to the average TV viewer that doesn’t study pathology of diseases no longer affecting the general populace, this action looks more like the Pilgrim climaxing on a vibrating chair, or pleasuring himself with a pencil sharpener.

Normally, I’d chastise this commercial for throwing such an odd punchline at the end of commercial, but I find myself befuddled, because the joke is disturbingly funny and doesn’t appear to hurt the brand. Sure, it’s weird as hell, but as long as that Pilgrim doesn’t lay any “scurvy” hands on my stuffing, I’ll probably indulge in the Stove Top myself.

City Folks Just Don’t Get It!

 

They’re right. Even though technically, I’m a suburbanite, I don’t get it from the badly mixed cut scenes of animals dubbed with human voices to the cartoon version of the subjects of American Gothic. It’s like the time my cousin hit a speed bump on his two wheeler and ended up with his nuts smashed against the cross bar; it’s a horrible wreck, but I’ll be damned if anyone is going to stop me from laughing till I pass out.

I can’t fault the basis of this website as creating more specific dating sites has become the in vogue thing in internet matchmaking. After all, if that beautiful buxom twenty-three year old cow herder turns out to be greasy, fifty-six, and a guy, at least he’ll be able to hold his own in a steamy convo about John Deere and combines. I’m sure that this website draws users like Christian Mingle gets the devout and gothic match.com grabs all the Robert Smith fans.

I just think if you want to convincingly attract users you don’t spend your marketing budget on TV spot that looks like some high school senior submitted it to barely pass his senior project or that some local access show rejected in the mid 90s. Rather than try to be clever, just put a banner on screen and overdub a quick audio of some farmer sounding type giving the site a shoutout. Hell, he can even remind us city folks of our inability to get it.

Best Worst Line of the Entire Spot (0:05):

“Do you think they will ever find us true love?” No Mr. Cow, because bestiality is illegal.

- Words by Stuck

A Walk in the Clouds

Back in the 1990s Airwalk jumped from a young, middling shoe company to one of most dominating footwear firms on the planet.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote about the little engine that could – their successes and failures – in his classic exploration of epidemics, The Tipping Point.

Airwalk rose on the back of focused messaging and edgy, gutsy advertising. Not long after, they slipped on the back of growth and all the hazards that come with trying to do too much, too fast. It makes sense. They had to come back down to ground at some point. Because, you know, gravity.

At the height of their powers, Airwalk was pumping out advertisements that did not just promote their brand but tapped into the veins of their target market. They struck a nerve in a big way. They took a look at what the market offered and what was missing. Then they hit all the right notes with risky, sexy, funny ads – print, television and otherwise – and climbed high in the apparel world.

For me the two big takeaways are: The only thing in this world that matters are people (and what they want) and trajectory matters.

Enjoy a few of Airwalk’s classic ads while you think about how you can not just connect with your audience, but improve their lives.

- Words by Jeff

 

 


My Sister Hooked Me Up With A Loan Shark

 

I have to admit, it’s probably hard to create a positive image for a company like Moneyrree. Most people are not stoked about having to take out short term loans in order to pay for unforeseen expenditures, while the one’s who are jacked up about it probably have some hard times looming in their future. Like car insurance or a can of bear mace, Moneytree is an option most people would be glad to leave in their nightmares.

While I understand the tough spot advertisers have when promoting Moneytree, I find the family theme they use in this commercial downright creepy. The image of children playing and this warm fuzzy atmosphere doesn’t mesh with any kind of financial pitfall. Then comes the line that haunts me the most is:

“…Family came to the rescue. My sister told me about getting a payday loan from Moneytree.”

Gee, thanks Sis, I just upped you to hero status for giving me the equivalent of an invitation to go as your plus one to a Corleone wedding. When I default on my house and CPS takes my kids away, hopefully you can suggest a good homeless shelter and social worker.

Maybe I’m crazy for thinking that coming to the aid of family in a time of need would constitute bringing some meals, watching the kids while they work graveyard during the holidays, or hell, lending them the money without interest, or even a payment plan, YOURSELF. Suggesting a high interest loan while sitting back and watching the situation grow potentially worse is hardly the act of a savior.

This ad scares me off Moneytree so bad that I’ll take my chances at a back alley dice game with my last 20 bucks before setting a foot in their offices, should my own financial situation become that desperate. Or, I suppose I could actually start building a savings account like I promised my mom I would when I moved out years ago. Maybe…

 

- Words by Stuck

 

Watch This

This ad for the Samsung Galaxy watch is a great little spot.

The evolution creates an emotional bond between the viewer and the product before it is even shown. We all have feeling attached to at least one of the watches shown, and probably to more than one.

The watches included in the timeline all look cool, especially the Dick Tracy time piece.

The one error is including the Predator arm band. That thing is way more awesome than anything anyone could ever make.

Other than that, I love this spot. Which is saying a lot, considering Samsung is due for another lawsuit from at least Apple, if not Google, for thieving ideas that lead up to their new futuristic watch.

— by Jeff Osborn

Movie Trailer Tuesday – Gravity

Gravity, and it’s first weekend box office success, illustrate the value of building suspense.

Not hype. Not buzz.

Drama.

Through giving away just enough but not too much of a brilliant idea, Gravity’s trailers, posters and internet presence built stress and suspense so wildly emotional and contagious that movie goers this weekend did not merely want to see it as soon as they could. They needed to.

Using another example, try to imagine how many people would have been excited to see The Avengers without the tie-in films, Iron Man, Captain America and Thor. That film is a box office flop regardless of how good it is without the build-up.

The characters created an emotional connection – between the audience and the film they were waiting for, as well as between the audience and the comic book versions of the characters they grew up with. The anticipation for how the Avengers film would tie them all together is what made the film a success.

With the exception of the first Iron Man, those films were terrible. They looked cool and there was a ton of action, but the writing and final product mattered less than getting them out and setting up the big payoff, which was good. They were all ally-oops for The Avengers’ emphatic slam dunk.

Gravity created a similar feeling of anticipation using different – less expensive – tactics.

The filmmakers stated with a fantastic premise, made amazing trailers, added interactive website and social media experiences and skimped on nothing.

So why do both of these approaches work? Would they work with anything? The answers, respectively, are, because there is one common trait they both share, and no.

Both of these films have something many films lack: A compelling story.

The Avengers is a timeless tale  with strong characters and Gravity is only the most terrifying premise for any film you have ever heard of. Without the strong and necessary backbone of substance all of the buzz, hype, drama and suspense in the world cannot save you.

— by Jeff Osborn

Ron and Dodge

Dodge Durango and Ron Burgundy have teamed up to sell you an SUV.

These ads and campaign are great on the surface.

They are funny.

They make fun of car commercials and the stupid features they shout about.

They tie in the product and one of the best Hollywood characters in recent memory in a natural way that makes sense.

So this is a perfect, win-win little campaign, right?

Wrong.

This campaign is cute and entertaining for exactly the 90 seconds it takes to watch the three 30-second spots. After that, it floats away into the atmosphere.

The upcoming Anchorman film cheapens itself by plainly seeking out corporate partners. Selling itself to move Dodge trucks does nothing positive for the film and it’s aims at a franchise. In fact, fans may be turned off.

And on the Dodge side of things, do they sell any more trucks because of this ad. Or, do they simply continue to brand themselves as the goofy car company that advertises with a laugh track (a la Geico).

— by Jeff Osborn

First Aid

It is Friday, so I will try to make this as brief and light as possible.

Warning, do not watch the below U.K. advertisement from St. John Ambulance if you do not feel like tearing up.


Just as this article notes, this advertisement utilizes the freedoms of the internet by shocking audiences and providing solutions.

This is a cause worth getting attention over. The success of this campaign is that it does not just shock, it informs and educates. The reality behind the advertisement is horrifying: We are not prepared to handle very realistic situations involving our loved ones that could arise any moment.

The main strength of this spot is the build up of suspense and tension in a short period of time. The terrifying ending is brutal and enlightening. A happy ending does not elicit the same kind of reaction.

Finally, I like this spot as an example of marketing at it’s best. There are such negative connotations around marketing and advertising, as though lying, selling and sliminess come with the turf. The truth is that if every marketer thought like the souls that put this spot together, we might have already ended hunger, stopped war and cured cancer.

Marketing can create meaningful social change, which is why I am so eager to condemn it when it falls short (sadly this happens often) and rave about it when it is used to its potential.

Freedom Pt. 2

Remember advertisers, the freedom that the Internet provides to you and your audience means that they have the freedom to walk away, turn you off or simply ignore you.

Pop-up ads, ads before You Tube videos and banner ads are old thinking, worthy of the television era.

Keep spending money and resources on that old thinking if you want, but nobody is talking about your AM Radio-esque 15 and 30 second spots interrupting Hulu presentations. Instead, everybody is talking about Chipotle Grill, Back Country Dot Com, and Poo-Pourri.

Embrace your new-found freedom instead of clinging to old, ineffective ways. Stop beating audiences over the end with boring ads like they don’t have any other options. You are free to make art. So make it.

Freedom Pt. 1

This post is a quick break from my normal format. Rather than critique and analyze a specific spot or campaign, I want to talk briefly about the freedom of the Internet. (Though this post is the result of watching the below add from www.backcountry.com.)

 

Television advertising is awesome. If it is your only option.

Advertising on television was still the best option until the past few years when brands and marketing firms realized the full freedom the Internet provides.

The quality of some of the Internet -only ads we’re now seeing are stunning. Foregoing television saves you money (so now you can hire the director, create the production and shoot in locations you could not afford), allows you to make your spot as long as you want, lets you include explicit content and encourages creativity in making a truly interactive campaign.

Television is the big, slow giant that can no longer guarantee the audiences it used to be able to deliver. The Internet has taught organizations that if they push hard and make something remarkable, they will get noticed. Despite all of the noise and yelling, the internet not only provides freedom for advertisers, but it also provides freedom to audiences to decide whether or not an ad is worth their time. Television, for decades and decades, had such large audiences compared to other media that it could demand big money from advertisers and attention from audiences. The beauty of the age of the Internet is that (even with more and more regulations being imposed) it provides everything and dictates nothing. Art and freewill are encouraged here, and I love it.

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