Dr. Pepper 10: No Man’s Drink

A miraculous event happened a few Sundays back. I sat in a crowded bar full of football fans awaiting a 10:00 AM kick off when a waitress came over and started to take drink orders from me and my fellow boisterous brutes. Wanting to get the party started before all the glorious gridiron mayhem, I ordered a Mimosa as did the burly specimen to my right. A rather svelte, but dapper guy teetotaled with some water at the other end and a bearded fellow procured himself a Coca Cola. Surprisingly, one of our fold must have felt rather effeminate, for he chose that wussy excuse for a cola, Diet Coke, and for this I prepared for all onlookers equipped with a phallus to draw and quarter him for such an egregious offense to all things masculinity, but alas, no challenge was made to his weak choice in beverage and the offense was left unpunished.

The only conclusion I can draw is that the stigma surrounding guys drinking diet soda, so it is extremely puzzling that Dr. Pepper insists on marketing a ten calorie drink on such an assumption. I mean, seriously, I can’t even remember the last time I had my balls broken for ordering a diet drink. Is there some dark ass backwards part of the country where people still treat the purchase of a diet drink like its a request for castration? When did adding ten calories to a diet drink become a sign of virility?

Unfortunately, this ad is as phony as the stigma it believes still exists for men who drink diet soda right down to the fake Josh Brolin they recruited to star in it. One day, big cola companies will understand that rather than judge ¬†people on the calories they ingest, they should actually make a soda with a bold flavor instead of adding 10 calories to a diet drink that they have not improved and, shockingly, that is enjoyed unabashedly by, “manly,” men in every land!

— by JR Stuck

Style Never Goes Out of Style

I am a big fan of the products Toyota delivers, but I cannot remember the last time I they had their advertising on track.

They constantly try to insert awkward celebrity features and as recently as August they were running these horrible little spots, featuring a Juno-esque soundtrack that made more people want to bang their heads against a heard surface than buy a Toyota.

Toyota’s most recent campaign for their Corolla, Style Never goes out of Style, complete with variations on the below and some alternate spots, is totally baffling.


This ad is bright and colorful. It has cool music and lots of people having fun. So why do I have a problem with it?

The goal is to sell cars, right? I don’t have a problem with ads, even car ads, using other types of storytelling to sell products. It happens all of the time. But if you are going to focus on something that is not directly related to the car it had better, at the very least, make sense.

This campaign is confusing, disjointed and effortless. Toyota has been around while styels change around it. Great, we get it. So has almost EVERY OTHER CARE BRAND OUT THERE. Now tell me why Toyota will make my life better. Show me why I will be happier if I own a Toyota. Because if the best you can give my is that flash-mobs will break out around me when I drive it, you are going to have to try again. That just sounds annoying.

What Works?

Last week, the below spot from Grey New York for Canon won the Outstanding Commercial Emmy. Let’s watch it and discuss what “works” about this commercial and why.

Some elements that “work” in this fantastic spot are obvious. Passion, creativity, ambition, dedication and hard work are all traits each and every one of us desires to embody, and they are all exhibited by the photographers. Simple and brief. Maximum impact with zero fat. No extras and no filler.

Any Mad Men fan will tell you about another element of this ad that “works.” They put the correct music for the mood alongside the right images and topped it off with killer copy. That formula is still the same, for sure.

But with the two examples above I would argue that while they “work” they do not make you stand out from the rest of the noise. There are a lot of things this ad does successfully that are not particularly artful or difficult for the industry. There are a million ads that can do most of what makes this ad “work.” But it’s that extra 1 per cent, that additional effort that builds tribes, creates lifelong users and wins advertising Emmies.

Canon and Grey managed to incorporate the things we love about full length films and other long forms of storytelling into 61 seconds. First, the audience sees people doing ridiculous, risky, scary things with their cameras. Instantly, we start forming questions and answering them. How will this end? What will the photos be like? We start imagining and longing for the end of the commercial, just like we do with a great book or film. We are invested in the characters and the outcome (no small feat for 61 seconds). And just like the best book you ever read, you are rewarded for investing your valuable time and energy in the story (and the product). The payoff are the incredible photos at the end of the spot.

This is not the only advertisement to achieve this effect, but we rarely get to see this done so efficiently with the core of the spot still being the product. You would be surprised at how lost one can get in the journey from concept to execution, even for a 60-second story.

This “Inspired” advertisement truly is. Above all things it is an excellently told story. After all, that is all an advertisement is: A very well-told, focused story with the goal of getting you not to invest in a human’s personality (like your favorite friend’s incredible yarns are), but to get you to invest in a thing as if it were a person. Great storytelling gives life, regardless of who or what the storyteller is. Canon wins because they made their audience feel.

It is not very hard to pay a great video person and fantastic lighting and editing team to make your product look good. Showing your product to your audience is the easiest part. Instead, you should be thinking about how to make your audience form a relationship with your product (brand, service, startup, band, painting).

So the answer to the question “What works” is simple. Putting in time and effort and really (no, really) caring about what you do and who connects with it has always and will always work.

lobster and seafood salad subs

Subway and and Quiznos must be trying to outdo each other in a self-imposed “disgusting looking sandwich” competition.

Until a few days ago, it was difficult to imagine a more revolting sandwich to look at than Subway’s new line of avocado disasters.

Quiznos obviously saw those sandwiches as more than a series of unappetizing poor-judgement calls. The big Q saw them as a challenge, one they could not let slide by without responding to.

One reason I did not include the T.V. ad I first saw is that it might make you vomit on your keyboard, ruining it forever. These images, I hope, will get across the horror that is Quiznos’ newest sub. Just know that the T.V. spots are only more effective in that after viewing, you will want to eat one of these sandwiches even less than you do right now.

I am not just disappointed by two fast-food chains I used sink a lot of money into making menu and marketing decisions bad enough to be indicators of a total lack of understanding of what (eternally hungry) people would like to eat. I am disappointed even more by the fact that the companies that made Jared and fuzzballs with teeth household names are now producing marketing this out of touch.

Since Subway and Quiznos have apparently abandoned the age-old, battle-tested marketing stance of “trying making your product look good” for the less-traditional approach of “trying to make your product look as terrible and as undesirable as possible,” here are better T.V. spots from both:

Final Comment: I don’t always complain about the marketing direction taken with sub sandwiches, but when I do I harp on the same point tirelessly.


Is there anything worse in the marketing world than the ongoing Geico gecko campaign?

Why are you still here?


Geico has been ripped for these ads because they are all about making “six-pack Joe” laugh and not at all about sharing real, concrete reasons why their insurance is better.

But that is not my problem with these ads. My second biggest problem (I’ll talk about my first biggest problem in a minute) with the gecko ads is this: They are not funny.

Humorous commercials used to bring attention to your product or service serve an important purpose.

Humor is an important marketing tool. Laughter, after all, is one of the main ways human beings connect with one another.

Think about your best friends. Chances are the memories that keep you closest to those people are either somber emotional ones or goofy, fun, riotous moments of uninhibited, uncensored laughter.

The same is true with brands and products. Great marketing campaigns make you feel emotions that bring you closer to the product, brand or service being touted.

Geico’s gecko campaign is a slowly dying horse that no one has balls enough to put down.

All of that said, my biggest problem with Geico’s gecko campaign is that they have never done a Gordon Gekko spoof with Michael Douglas. With all of the lazy, crappy ads with bad jokes¬†(a few of them are below) I just cannot believe Geico never did a Gordon Gecko spot or two. Tsk, tsk.





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