Monday, September 23, 2019

Canada is so in right campaign for Skip the Dishes

The corny but clever campaign delivered by Mad Men actor Jon Hamm puts Hamm as a hopeful
immigrant awaiting his Canadian citizenship, while his trusty American millennial factotum Brandon scurries around doing for Hamm and is the setup man for Hamm's lines.

Toronto and Halifax agency Arrivals and Departures has been handling the creative assignment. The evolution of Hamm as a character and iconic spokesperson for the brand has seen him go from elite Hollywood actor to now claiming Canadian citizenship complete with maple leaf sweater, mug, throw and anything else on-set that bears a red and white maple leaf.

It's always interesting to watch a brand mature and evolve and creatively carve out its place in the market. And I think Arrivals and Departures are now on to something with this new direction.

Hamm is a great choice for Skip the Dishes. He embodies the male GenX pov that I am sure
reflects the biggest user target. While Brandon reflects the secondary and equally lucrative
male millennial user.

It has a real 'bro' tone of voice while not being too sappy or corny....but it's on the edge. And
for a big bunch of bros watching Hockey Night in Canada, this scores big I'm sure.

Lots of room for this story to develop and stretch and play out I would think. If Arrivals and Departures take a page from Progressive Insurance's Flo character, they could build on this
for years.

Proud to say Jeff MacEachern is CCO at Arrivals and Departures and a former OCAD student of mine. Good on ya Jeff.

Here's the second ad in this developing campaign.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Bjorn Borg's Brilliant Idea: A RAGE Gymn workout....

WOW is Bjorn Borg onto something here. Not only is the idea that people need to take out their frustrations and vent in our everyday stress-filled lives a no-brainer, this could be the magic pill
needed to replace all the rage that seems to be epidemic worldwide.

The ad is powerful because it's testimonials from everyday folks from walks of life that you normally just take for granted have fairly 'easy' jobs with a lower stress level. Not so.

The ad aside from testimonials is powerful in its darkness.

We view rage as something dark, secretive and not something to ever share, for obvious reasons.
The results as we read every day are abusive relationships, self-harm, inner-hate, outer hate which if left untended, can lead to extreme situations of shootings, hate-crimes, and killing.

The ad is powerful in that it addresses the issue of inner rage in a most accessible way by being non-judgemental. But recognizing there is a place for this type of 'workout'.

It's a powerful ad linked to a powerful idea. Lots of supers help explain stats and findings about anger and frustration which also make you feel like expressing this kind of pent up whatever is better doing it in a private workout where you can 'vent' than in public or at home.

From Bjorn Borg who was a brilliant Swedish tennis player and probably as a competitor knows how rage can affect your game....especially the game of life.

I give this idea a 10++++  and the ad the same.

It's the type of 'workout' that needs to get to NorthAmerica asap.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Celebrity misuse is rampant in this year's SuperBowl Ads

So much waste of money on celebrities that bring nothing to the products they are hawking.

Best example:  Stella Artois with The Dude and Sex in the City mashup became a messup

and this total dog for Colgate: what a waste of Luke Wilson's talent

one winner because both the celebs and the products were beliveably self-deprecating: 

and one more winner because Hanks is used as a powerful voiceover:

and as Daffy Duck would say:    that's all folks!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Gillett #TooLateMovement or better #P&GOpportunist movement

Once again P&G has decided to go beyond selling a product or service and has stepped up on their soapbox.

Their newest target is men. And with a very heavily overloaded anthemic approach are now trying to 'teach' men how to be role models for the next generation of men. There's no mention of a product,
no demonstration of a product. It's like some kind of voice over coach in the locker room of life telling a bunch of dad's what they and their parents failed to do.

This is supposedly kowtowing  to the #metoo movement.  A sort of Gillette mea culpa.
P&G  kind of ventured into this arena a while ago (see my earlier blog post about it) with a feel-good commercial about young girls self-esteem and Always. However, it wasn't as overt as this Gillette commercial.

I am cynical about the real motives here. P&G may be lean on awards for the men's products categories and this is a way to get some instant hardware for the agency. I am sure that's part of the reason for this piece. And I have a hard time even calling this a commercial. It isn't a commercial.
This is like some kind of Dad giving his son a dressing down for his bad behavior. Grey New York is the AOR for this and is responsible for this piece.

Personally, I don't think any company has the right to lecture and moralize behavior. Gillette and P&G are assuming ALL MEN ARE BAD APPLES. And this simply isn't true. And I would venture to say that this piece will be seen by men who already have integrity and the right stuff to be excellent fathers and role models. So it will alienate those males who are already converted. And that could definitely affect sales and share. What this also says is that there is an undercurrent, a kind of
secret male club that throughout generations of men, has developed this deeply embedded, male dominance over men and women. Well in fact, that is true. It is part tribal, part king of the mountain
alpha male stuff that is EMBEDDED in their DNA as a survival instinct. Will this ad change things?
No. Will this ad make men more 'aware' of putting a lid on this alpha urge?  mmmm I think the people this message speaks to are well aware of it by now. Will this change the constant exposure all kids have to game and movie violence? Easy availability to guns and drugs?
No. All in all this is a political/moral/integrity stew that no tidy bro-ad about men needing to be role models and raising their boys differently isn't going to fix in these politically charged times.

In truth,  it is P&G appearing to take a high road and advantage of a women's movement and division on many levels to make themselves look good.

But much more important is this:

What Gillette and P&G have missed entirely is a whole other larger, needier group. And because P&G is so careful in what they project as a moral statement it's always waaay too late in being topical. I am sure they tested this premise and focus-grouped whether or not this would fly as a statement and by the time it's reached the public, it's old news and has no effect. Which is exactly what P&G wants. It wants to seem like it's on top of social issues, yet would never really risk addressing anything that's too ugly or too close to the bone. And certainly P&G would never do anything to affect their share.

What Gillett should have addressed is a target that probably doesn't even buy their product.
And that is the growing poor segment of the world as the middle class divides more and more into rich or poor.

Especially in the U.S. Much of the bullying, the lack of respect, the gangs and fighting, the savagery
towards women comes from the number of boys (and girls) being raised without fathers, in boken homes, a parent or parents doing time and some even being raised without either parent. These kids have no moral compass, no boundaries, no love. How can they? If their mothers are with them, they are absent having to work remedial jobs and leave the kids to their own devices because they can't afford care for them. And their relatives, if they have any, are in the same boat. And so it goes on and on. And I am not talking just Black kids. I am talking all kids...

These are the kids of tomorrow. They are the deep inner-city kids. They've been abandoned and forgotten....even in this 'clean, middle-class, nice Dad white-bread P&G version of #metoo. Don't forget, the #metoo movement was started by Black American women because as a group, these women suffer most from male dominance and abuse.

These inner city kids need the real help. And any money from this Gillette effort should go to them to improve their lives...not some safe Boys Clubs and Girls Clubs who are already supported.

So basically P&G just wants press. Wants to be seen as having a brand like Gillette that it can make a big statement and it will have an effect.  And Grey (who never wins any awards for creativity) is very very hungry for attention at award shows.

UPDATE:  Seems this ad was a salvo to other razor suppliers and may be the first in a RAZOR WAR.
Here's how HARRY'S has responded to Gillette:

I would categorize this as #TooLate or #P&GOpportunist movements and give this a 1 out of 10.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Merrry Christmas or Let's make a show in a barn!

Most holiday advertising begins to be created in the early summer. While it’s 90F outside and
people are looking forward to a summer vacation, ad people are knee deep in winter
thoughts. By the time Fall rolls around no sooner is the Halloween stuff displayed before it’s
vampired by Christmas shelf space. As we all know it’s no small holiday. And for many many retailers, it’s a make or break time of year.

Admittedly, I anticipate Christmas ads more than even Super Bowl ads. Often the economic climate can be gauged by the creative we see pre-Christmas. And for me, it’s like waiting to unwrap a package impatient to know what’s inside. Lately, more and more I have been disappointed. It’s not because my senses have been dulled or overindulged or over stimulated by holiday white noise. It’s mostly because a lot of Christmas ads have lost the heart and essence of the season.

But wait, what just caught my eye?

Why Santa of course and he didn’t even have to try.

Out of a small indie shop in Poughkeepsie NY called Ashworth Creative, they are busy as elves
making ads and seeming to have FUN doing it.

The minute I happened on this tale of Santa tapping out his own Christmas list I settled in to see a tired, beleaguered Santa facing yet another glass of milk looming large in the foreground. And I realized how poor Santee’s tummy must be reeeeeling after his 9 billionth glass of this stuff. So, I began to sympathize and wonder who and what Santa could possibly be making HIS wish list for.
Turns out Santa was wishing and writing for a nice hot cuppa…. tea that is from Harney and Sons Fine Teas.

And who wouldn’t after a night like his. At last, we see Mrs. C making The Great Man his tea as he appreciatively pats her paw as a thank you.

Ashworth and Harney and Sons Fine Teas chose a classic Christmas approach that reminds me of a black and white 1939 movie with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney (you have to be a real film/Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney fan to know this) who eagerly and spontaneously decide to put on a show in a barn. It’s about family, fun, friends, festivity and the ingenuity needed in getting it produced. And so it is at Ashworth with Harney and Sons Fine Teas where there’s no apology for it being a clear celebration of Christmas. There’s no apology for featuring Santa, who is resplendent in costume and demeanor. And it leaves a good feeling at the end just like the Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney film and a nice hot cuppa tea does.

The ad is simple and sweet. A classic Christmas choice that isn’t trying to be too clever. And it is putting a show on in a barn.

And what do I mean by that?

This ad will run only on social media:  YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. It was shot with a local small production house and took one day. The set was the home of one of the owners. And Mr. and Mrs. C ? Agency and family. From getting the assignment to uploading on social media, maybe it took six weeks. It was a collaborative effort by both Ashworth and Harney and Sons. All in it cost less than most big NYC ad agency Christmas parties.

When you see behemoths like JWT and Wunderman having to merge, who haven’t done anything fun or creative or insightful or risky for over fifty years you can see why they are endangered. They stopped having fun. They stopped taking risks. They stopped being an ad agency. They stopped making a show in a barn.

Harvey and Sons Fine Teas headquarters aren’t far from Poughkeepsie. They are family owned and run, as is Ashworth Creative.

More and more it’s little shops like these beginning to mushroom with handling solid, local businesses and established not for profits. They are actively pitching and getting and doing bigger and bigger assignments. Why? Because they are lean, local, smart, nimble and accommodating.

So my new advice to agencies for 2019 is: Make a show in a barn!

From time to time I am going to feature smaller agency work that works. Because these shops are the new reality teeming with positive energy, teaming with openness to new work, new approaches, and fresh ideas that attract supportive clients that inclusively believe in them.

To view more of Ashworth’s work, here’s their website:

If you’d like to be considered for my review, send me your stuff.

Giving this sweet Santa spot a cheerful 8 out of 10.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

This is WHY we have advertising agencies ....

Apparently, over 6 million people have viewed this 'advert' on Facebook and have declared that John Lewis should hire this guy to do their next Christmas ad.


First, this isn't an ad about Christmas.

This is an ad about a guy who has a serious Oedipus complex.

Second, this is about a Millennial guy who probably went to some film or art school and needs a job.

Third, this is so maudlin and sappy it's ridiculous, ludicrous and completely bad taste.

Fourth it has nothing to do with Christmas and everything to do with Millennials wanting to turn Christmas into some PC 'meaningful' Gwenneth Paltrow-esque GOOP ridiculous madeup significance about the true meaning of love.

Give me a barf bag.

Look all you snowflakes, advertising is about selling. Not about some severely conflicted bearded guy who so dotes on his Mother that it borders on clinical and represents something really really more for a Public Service ad for a Helpline.

And apparently, there are over 6 million people out there that need that helpline phone number.

I give this a -10.....

Goodluck in your job search fella.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Annual John Lewis 2018 Christmas Ad

John Lewis pays tribute not to Christmas, but to an institution about as revered in England: Elton John or Sir Elton John as he's now referred to.
This is a two minute very glossy retrospective of Sir Elton John's career and how he started it by being gifted a piano-the implied message being it was purchased at John Lewis-when he was but a young boy.

I am a North American who honestly doesn't find Elton John's music as iconic as the Brits do.
His canon of work has made him a superstar and made him exceedingly rich...hence the Sir before his name, and obviously John Lewis feels Sir Elton John's 'story' will touch the Brits enough to imagine their own little Elton or Eltoona banging away on a piano purchased from John Lewis....which by the way is a product John Lewis has just started carrying since this ad launched. John Lewis hadn't sold a piano in 70 years apparently until this ad dropped.

So instead of "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" it's been goodbye to John Lewis' usual charming, highly anticipated and festive Christmas ads, to embracing a storyline about Elton John which reads as fictitiously as "The Night Before Christmas." This is an ollllllddd chestnut they have roasted here for a story of Elton John. It's the "A Star is Born" short....starring Elton John....glitzy, glossy, syruppy,
sappy, over art directed, the mum is sooo stereotypical, noooo dad in sight, uptight little and bespectacled prim and proper Elton at a local recital and a choppily edited mixed bag of real and photoshopped and setup shots of John's easy/fast/spectacular "A Star Is Born' rise to mythicalness in 120 seconds.

Perhaps Sir Elton John has purchased the John Lewis stores? Or is now the major shareholder? Or
is planning on flogging his own line of Elton John pianos? Dunno.

But this is one weird ad. And it's one of two Christmas ads John Lewis has done in a row now that are a complete 'swing and a miss' for me who so loved the store's ads in years past.
This is just too much of a tribute to Elton John than a universal Christmas message for my taste.
It's indulgent and panders to a level of fame made mythical with this fictional tale of Elton John's life.
The underlying message being he's a boy who came up from nothing and so might you. And it all began with a gift...welllllll it just doesn't have the universal charm or the emotional connection most of the John Lewis ads have had in the past. It's just all about Elton John.

And now that Sir Elton is himself into his 70's he's become maudlin. But instead of reviving his band like so many of his era are trying to do, he has chosen to co-opt John Lewis into revisiting his past through those big round rose colored glasses he used to wear at all his performances and now has forced John Lewis customers to wear them as well.

I for one just am not buying it. And I wish John Lewis hadn't either. Pity.

I give this ad a generous 2 out of 10.  And hope John Lewis can shake these last two years off and  get back on track for Christmas 2019.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

"Honestly, it's not for everyone."

John Ricks goes to great lengths to explain the thinking behind the new slogan and campaign. This strategy and creative came from Nebraska ranking last of all the states for a desireable or even top of mind place to visit.  Ricks is the Nebraska Tourism Executive Director and has held the position for under two years. He is from Colorado and was formerly the Director of Colorado Tourism. The agency he chose to develop this creative positioning is also from Denver called Vladimir somethingor other I might add. Which makes me cringe to think that he has shown favoritism to a Colorado agency that has little knowledge of Nebraska or anyone who has probably ever worked or lived there.

The last campaign slogan was: Nebraska. Nice. or Visit Nebraska Visit Nice, something lame created by Bailey Lauerman. But at least it was a Nebraska ad agency creating that mess. I commented on the absolute lameness of the campaign in an earlier blogpost here last year.

Ricks justification for this campaign is "self-deprecation" is gonna drive people here to see us out of pity. This sounds like something repeatedly said from the agency powerpoint presentation as their smoke and mirrors buzzwords for this again horrible campaign. 

Some advice: Nebraska, fire Ricks. Nebraska, fire the Colorado ad agency. Nebraska, start saving your tourism money. 

I now am completely embarrassed to say Nebraska is my home state. And perhaps now readers you can understand why anyone in advertising worth their salt left Nebraska to be able to pursue a serious ad career.

Nebraska just doesn't get it. 

This campaign is worse or as bad as the others. It isn't even self-deprecating. It's embarrassing.
And the media play they are getting from this is in ridicule, not in support. It will blow over as fast as it started with no revenue benefits.

They should just take their budget and do something for their state other than try to promote it.
Because what they are doing is a total waste of money. 

Why not do something with the budget that will maybe protect a special area of wetlands or some historical sites or restore some places in Brownville or somewhere like it or something that will be interesting enough to bring people there. 

Showing people on rocks, little blonde kids with oversize glasses, people sitting in cow water tanks is NOT unique or interesting or even remotely enough to bring people there to spend their time or money. Oh and one other painfully obvious faux pas (mistake) you Nebraska numbskulls made is using the state in red....believe it or not, not everyone associates or is as enamored with Nebraska "go big red" football as you guys which isn't an attraction per se either, especially lately. And it also looks like Nebraska is a completely Republican state, which it is, but if you are trying to attract people and not repel them, this isn't the color to represent Nebraska then...and it can be misconstrued as being a state only welcoming to those interest groups and rednecks. So I would ax that symbol color immediately....Just sayin....and at no charge for those professional observations.

Nebraska, save your tourism dollars. Invest in your state's attractions and I don't mean theme parks and the same shitty stuff every other state has....find something, anything that is unique to the state, spend some time and money on restoring or enhancing it over the next 5 years or so and then maybe just maybe you might have invested enough to bring a few people there....

And use Nebraska agencies for this. Don't use outsiders unless they're from Nebraska and really know and can relate to why people never go there.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Frampa. Makes buying oil filters fun....

Fram is an American auto aftermarket oil filter company that's been around for over eighty-five years.

The tagline: "Filter out the nonsense.The right place with the right filters at the right price."

The newest member of the Fram team is a spokesperson they call: Frampa and should look familiar to anyone who has ever watched Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul's "Mike" the brilliant Jonathan Banks.

Banks is a perfect spokesperson for this brand. He extends his already well-known character who in both series of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul embodies the hardscrabble, rough-edged retired cop and has seen and done it all. In many of the episodes, Mike is seen as a handyman fiddling with cars and setting up complex ways to outwit bad guys with simple tools and hardware improvised by years of having to make do.

Frampa is the everyman you see spending hours in aftermarket auto stores rooting around for this n that. We all know a Frampa.

In this ad series, cleverly written to the borrowed interest of Mike's no b.s. authoritarian character, we see Frampa, the old wise-guy in the auto aftermarket segment popping up and making sure the young pups know what's what when it comes to oil filters.

Frampa is no Mr. Whipple caught creepily and vicariously squeezing the Charmin.

He's in your face with no apologies for young male millennials ignorance about keeping a car or truck properly lubed. And he's completely irreverent about their lifestyles. He sums this up by his great tag line: "It's the orange one, numbnuts."  Which again slams home the vacuousness of the male millennial life.

The only part of this campaign I find 'cheesy' is the opening sting which is a vocal: "He's Frampa!"
I suppose it's meant to be cheesy and if you're making your seagrass smoothie in the next room, hearing this will bring you to watch the ad. However, I find it a bit of overkill. But I am sure the client loves it.

For a very niche market segment that used to only be seen in auto body/car trader ads, this is a prime example of how cleverly an obscure brand can become a household name.

The brilliant choice of Banks and using the borrowed interest of his well established Mike character is perfect for this product. Spokespersons are a dime a dozen and an old-school form of reaching your target. The critical factor is matching the product with the right spokesperson and writing to that character. So often this approach doesn't work because you sign the right person but you don't let the character of the person or the character they are famous for, carry it. And this is a brilliant example of how well this works when it's done right. But this can also be a Catch 22 for the same reasons.The caution for this campaign and I am sure they tested for this was the fact that most of the target would always see Frampa as Mike. But maybe in this case, given how obscure the product segment is, that's ok too.

It's fun. It's irreverent. It's well written and well delivered, production values are good and overall it must be totally building this brand with those snowflake millennials.

Cudos to Laughlin Constable an Indie agency in Milwaukee.

I give this campaign a 10 for 10.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Race to the Bottom Last in a series of amazon2

Still no word on what city is going to be chosen for the new Amazon2 Headquarters. Presumably 
Besos and his teams are deep into due diligence on the final ten, twenty???? However many cities are still hoping to be the chosen one.

For a huge corporation like amazon to initially have made this a public free for all by announcing any city interested amazon would look at is typical of large corporate HR hiring policies when you think about it. 

Big corporations like amazon publicly run in their 'want ads' the jobs needed to be filled and accept any and all applications. Once they have weeded out the crackpots and chronic psycho applications then they get down to the business of finding a few that actually qualify. And this is from the public slush applications which they are required by law to waste their time on. In the meantime, the real hiring, the real choosing is done behind closed doors and either with a professional search team or is an inside hire from internal ranks or from a long time associate who knows someone (inside networking).

And so too is the amazon team following this mundane, corporate playbook in choosing the real next city for amazon2. It's not nearly as exciting or as original or as groundbreaking as Besos wants everyone to believe. Nor is it equitable. But neither Besos nor other big corporations care a whit about that.

Basically, it was a smoke and mirrors, dangle the bait tactic all along that again, many many large corporations do to entice potential candidates for lots of things like contracts, employment, tenders and so on. 

And the general rule of thumb here, if you want to really figure out who the next amazon2 city will be, is this:  follow the money. I am sure bookies have odds on each city and are just waiting but pretty much have an idea who is going to be chosen.

The saddest part of this whole exercise (yes, there always is a sad side) is seeing how many cities in the US are desperate for an injection of commerce to bolster their futures. And there are many. And we have seen only a few. 

Besos exposed the underbelly of these cities. How? By offering them HOPE. And some of these cities certainly need more than hope to run on. Cities like Detroit, Newark, Indianapolis, Columbus and yes, even Chicago are on the brink or have been bankrupted. These cities, going on the slim promise of Besos public announcement, pulled out all the stops to try to capture this golden ticket.
Not just by promising Besos free reign over their cities tax and development incentives, but by a desperate need to do anything to get a stronger heartbeat happening for cities that have been long abandoned by other businesses.

Besos is no different than previous robber barons who once wielded an immense economic stick. However, the chances for small business startups like Besos rising and succeeding in the US are one in a zillion compared to what they were a century ago. Besos business is not in being innovative as 
a maker of things. Besos created a humongous shipping pipeline from one computer to another. He capitalizes on logistics. He capitalizes on consumerism and hunger. 

He is a leader of the employment movement for 'precarious work' where people live from paycheck to paycheck, have no job security, have no benefits and basically are enslaved by a system that no longer works or cares to work to improve the common worker's lives and help provide a middle-class existence the US.  

Already he has raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour but he has also taken away any chances for employees to hold stock in the company, which ultimately was and is worth far more over time. Besos treats his employees badly both in the workplace and in principle having almost no regard for any employees well being. Since amazon's inception, he has routinely insisted on grueling work conditions with absolutely no consideration for employees making a livable wage or having any semblance life/work balance.

By Besos increasing the minimum wage he makes working at amazon look attractive while smaller, independent companies cannot begin to match that hourly wage. Thus Besos is forcing small companies to either meet the wage hike or deliberately drives them out of business.

Besos biggest move now with the second amazon headquarters is just another monopoly piece on his takeover board.

My guess if I was a betting person would be around the Washington D.C. area. Besos seems to be gearing up for some kind of political puppet mastery beyond his company. 

However, I also can see him selling or stepping aside very soon.

So where amazon2 or even if amazon2 ever happens, is still anyone's guess.