Last weekend, I saw one of the most creative TV commercials I’ve seen in a long time.
And it was for a Traveler’s Insurance, usually a pretty risk averse industry 🙂
(tip of the hat to AdRants for the link to the commercial)
Disclosure: my sources in both instances were women bloggers who were involved in the development of the respective projects, Nellie Lide for Chevy and Toby Bloomberg for Gourmet Station, and god bless them, they were asking for my opinion. Lucky for them, I’ve gotten my cranky post out of the way for today (see earlier "Forget Things Remembered"), so they don’t have to be too worried about getting what they wished for.
So, here’s the thing I find absolutely the most interesting thing about the two contests. Aimed at similiarly aged audiences — Chevy directly at college student, Gourmet Station at 20- and early 30-somethings, the approaches are very different. Now, of course, some of this can be laid squarely at budget. Chevy has lotsa bucks, Gourmet Station, not so much. In fact, the need to stay to a tight budget was acknowledged by the folks who developed the Get out of the doghouse campaign for Gourmet Station.
Chevy’s contest asks college students to develop a TV commercial to "to reignite the love affair between Americans and Chevrolet." It is supported by a standard format blog and a Web site. Chevy will produce the winning commercial and air it during the Super Bowl. Pretty cool idea. The PR effort used both the standard format press release, and a "social media press release," and you can read Nellie’s thoughts about that on the New Persuasion blog. Net: this contest is a good execution of a creative idea using a combination of new and old techniques, but it’s not revolutionary.
Still cool though and I’m very much looking forward to seeing the winning commercial since that’s the only reason I watch the Super Bowl anyway. Yeah yeah, I know, un-American. Your point?
Gourmet Station’s Get out of the doghouse campaign, on the other hand, is a grassroots marketing campaign. Folks are asked to create and submit YouTube videos talking about a time they were in the doghouse, and how they got out of it. The connection to Gourmet Station is the idea that a gift of a gourmet meal is one way to get yourself out. The contest site is on MySpace and they’ve worked with comedians active on MySpace to attract a younger audience. Props to the company: they are also contributing to Borzoi Rescue as part of the program. So we’ve got a real revolutionary "smash-up" — YouTube, MySpace and Gourmet Station’s Web site.
I give Toby and Marianne Richmond, her partner in the project, credit for trying something truly new and definitely understand the desire to reach out to the MySpace audience. I hope the MySpacers enter the contest. However, I find the site distracting and am not sure it does justice to the creative idea. The format is just too confining. Which is amusing, given how so many are using MySpace to express their individuality 🙂
I wish Gourmet Station had the budget to do a Web site for the contest that communicated the idea more clearly and effectively. They could still have used MySpace to engage the community, but not to tell the whole story. The MySpace site just feels too jumbled.
Now, I will be honest. I do not get MySpace. At all. Am I old and cranky? Perhaps. But it just doesn’t seem like an efficient way to convey information. It just reminds me of Web sites in the early days (94-ish) with or without <blink>.
My .02. YMMV. Possibly especially if you are younger 🙂
Registration for the Chevy contest is closed, but the Gourmet Station contest is still open until early October. Check it out.
PS: Good Technology still hasn’t contacted us about the phone number problem.
Rocketboom. Today’s was particularly funny, especially Broke Mac Mountain
Wikipedia. Dr. Myra and the congressional staffers (and Marty Meehan is my rep to boot), and all the other recent transgressions. Don’t these people get it? You cannot screw around with a shared, global resource like Wikipedia. You will get caught. And outed. Apply your no doubt significant skills in some other fashion.
The G- D—y Super Bowl commercial. Incest isn’t funny. And that is all I can think about when I remember last year’s commercial: the G- D—y bimbo shaking her boobs and butt saying the inevitable. It is just yucky. No links. No more discussion. If the commercial comes on while I am (sort of) watching the game, I’m going to take my bathroom break. Seems appropriate somehow. Added: Tip of the hat to Media Orchard for a link to the putative schedule. Now I know when I can safely pee and not miss some play that my husband wants to "discuss." Yawn.
Okay, I cannot be the only person on the planet who finds the latest Gawker media venture a wee bit disturbing. Am I? Just about every blog I read it on today (lots) reported it matter-of-factly or with relish. I’m just thinking, eeww.
Advertising seems to be the topic de la semaine.
Bob Bly posted Is Madison Avenue Advertising a Total Fraud. While I am not sure I’d say total fraud, one of the points he makes is that agencies value creativity more than sales, which is not in the best interests of the client. Now, not all agencies are clueless about the need for actual SALES RESULTS, but I do agree that awards and "cool ads" seem to be more valued than the perhaps less exciting but maybe more effective ad that actually drives response. As I said in my earlier post this week, the message and getting the prospect to take action are the important elements. Art and design help get the message across, they aren’t the goal.
Jennifer Rice (What’s Your Brand Mantra), commenting on an earlier Bly post about the Madison Avenue Branding Rip-Off, makes some excellent points about advertising and branding:
IMO, there are two core issues here: first is the fallacy of ‘brand advertising’, and the second is that agencies are usually not well-suited to do brand strategy.
The brand-advertising fallacy:
As a client, I was told by my (nationally recognized) ad agency: "no, we cannot do response-oriented advertising until we’ve run ‘brand’ advertising for at least 3 months." Sorry, but that sets off my bullsh*t meter. The imagery, tone of voice, tag line, copy… there are plenty of elements that can deliver the brand message in conjunction with a sales promotion. CFOs don’t have the patience for so-called ‘brand advertising’ anymore, and marketing is now accountable for results.
Absolutely!! Your advertising is ALWAYS brand advertising (even if you don’t realize it). Best to do a little selling as well. As well as realize that everything in the business impacts the brand. You can’t create a brand image separate from the reality of the organization or the product. It won’t work.
Which I suppose bring us back full circle. So much advertising DOES seem to try to create a brand image not grounded in reality that it is ineffective, leading to a conclusion that advertising doesn’t work.
On a completely different note, thanks to David Parmet (Marketing Begins At Home) for posting about this non-Christmas carol. If you are getting sick of Jingle Bells and Drummer Boys, you’ll get a kick out of it (even if the music itself isn’t your favorite genre).
Writing my post on advertising got me thinking about the representations of marketing people in the media. One of the many thoughts that crossed my mind was that the "ad man" [sic] is one of the most despised in popular culture. Along with the sales person and the publicist/PR person ("spin doctors’).
The stereotype: The ad guy is a bit of a trickster, perhaps a liar, who will tell you what you want to hear and make you like what you don’t … Wobbly ethics (if any). Slick.
Here are some of the fictional ad and PR people I came up with today. Please add your own.
Deceitful weasels: J. Pierpont Finch, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and pretty much everyone in Wag the Dog. I also remember faintly a British series set in an ad agency where just about everyone was pretty awful.
Unethical deceitful weasels: The tobacco industry. Example, the movie: The Insider
Positive but kinda clueless: Darrin Stephens, Bewitched (the TV show, not the recent movie) and two of the protagonists in the TV series Thirty Something. And both of those shows STILL had "bad/badder ad guys " as counterpoints to the more sympathetic "good guys."
Now, perhaps some advertising guys fit this stereotype, but no one I know. I guess that’s why we call it a stereotype 🙂 But, why do we have so little respect for the "ad man?" If TV and movies are anything to go by, we don’t believe a word of what we read/see in ads; we "know" they are lying to us.
But of course, that isn’t really true, is it? We do pay attention to ads, and sometimes — often — we purchase products as a result. But we can’t help wondering… did someone put one over on me?
Or the bane of my existence early in my career, the assertion from any and all that "I could have written a better ad than that…" In other words, no special skills required, anybody could do it…
All leading to no respect for the poor ad guy, even when she gets it right.
So my question is, does this cultural lack of respect for the practitioner and skepticism about the ad content contribute to the trend to less advertising (at least for small to mid sized companies)? Or is it just one of the symptoms? Are we quick to dismiss the form because we are so familiar with the negative stereotype that we easily convince ourselves that ads "don’t work?" Or is this negative stereotype just a manifestation of a world view that disparages advertising.
Now, really, the answer to these questions is pretty much irrelevant — the situation is what it is, and as practical marketers, we just need to get on with it. It’s just fun sometimes to wander onto more "philosophical" paths.
Next: my thoughts on trade shows.
Advertising. Small to mid-sized companies, whether B2B or B2C, want leads and buyers, not intangible awareness. As a result, they often decide not to advertise. They can’t track it, their sales people don’t probe inbounds for lead source, they have a limited budget and can’t run with any frequency, there seem to be better venues for their marketing dollars. And so on. There are all sorts of reasons (good and bad) why companies pull back from advertising.
Those that do advertise are increasingly pushing their agencies and in-house ad teams to prove that "traditional" advertising works. There are just too many choices for the promotional budget, and too many that CAN be tracked, for the dollars to flow quite so easily into huge media budgets.
It is perhaps more apparent in B2B, where direct mail and online marketing have really damaged the print media. In the technology sector, ad pages are way down from the heyday of 10-15 years ago, and quite a few publications have folded or gone online.
My belief: the right amount of advertising is good for the marketing plan. The key is figuring the right amount is for your market, your product and your situation. Where do we start?
First and foremost, always, is the marketing plan. What are your objectives? Under certain circumstances, an ad may be the best way to reach your audience. Here are just a few:
My rule of thumb: if a publication is of GREAT interest to you and your prospects –what we call a tier one pub for PR purposes — you should consider advertising. Not all the time, perhaps only in selected targeted issues. But you should support it, and take advantage of the editorial climate it offers to deliver a controlled message. When I was at SurfControl, we noticed that our direct mail responses (the staple of our marketing outreach) declined when we weren’t advertising. Clearly, the ads DID affect overall response, even if we couldn’t track it exactly.
So how do you maximize your ad expenditure?
I hope you find this information useful. I’d love to hear YOUR experiences and thoughts about how advertising fits in the marketing plan. Leave your comments or send me a trackback.** I’ll also do a summary post of any commentary in early January.
** call to action