Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Is it time for Flo to go?

Stephanie Courtney's character, "Flo" for Progressive Insurance made the front page of Ad Age this week where Ken Wheaton promotes how she made Progressive Insurance a household name.

In Flo's most recent spot entitled: "Flo's Family" Courtney plays all the characters. Sadly the whole spot falls flat. The jokes aren't jokes. The characters are only costumes and Flo comes across as a tired looking robot spewing nonsensical stuff that supposedly relates to her job.

The only insightful comment Wheaton makes is this:
 "In fact, as a stand-alone ad it almost fails entirely. Sure, it's funny in an Eddie Murphy or Mel Brooks or Martin Lawrence sort of way. But if you were coming to it cold, you'd be hard-pressed to tell me what it's supposed to be selling."

I do not agree it even remotely has any Mel Brooks humor or for that matter, any humor at all.

Then just what is this 30 seconds?

Well I call it a "Flomercial."

And I am predicting this as a thin ice,  dangerous step for both Arnold and Progressive.

Let's look at another spokesperson who really was a household name.

Remember Mr. Whipple???

Created by Benton and Bowles back in the 60's and 70's for P&G's Charmin toilet paper.
The Mr. Whipple campaign lasted for over twenty years.
His job was to "squeeze the Charmin" bathroom tissue and catch others doing the same.
Whipple squeezed enough Charmin to probably wipe the butts of every Northamerican.
And Charmin sold tons of this stuff thanks to Whipple.

The idea of trying to create a memorable benefit from a category so difficult as toilet paper even now boggles my mind. The answer to this was in Whipple being single minded in his message. And Benton and Bowles spent their days and nights concocting twenty years of variations on that one theme.

Here's the fundamental difference between Whipple and Flo:
Whipple represented the brand. Flo has become the brand.

In the spots you can see how P&G and B&B kept a tight reign on Whipple. They never let him get away from them.

But Flo has taken on a life of her own.

You see, there's a fine line between what-triggers-what in the brand vs. ad vs. consumers mind. Also, there's a world of difference between being a symbol for something vs. becoming the symbol. It's a tricky balancing act. It's even stickier when you begin to see which is growing faster...the product itself or the product's the mind of consumers.

And for this blogger the Flomercial is pointing in a purely speculative direction.

So stay tuned. Is Flo going to get her pink slip and spend more time with her family?

Or has Flo totally hijacked Progressive.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christimas and Monty ....

Monty has captured my heart
this season and it isn't even December yet. Directed by Dougal Wilson for the U.K. retailer John Lewis.

Old Navy could take its cue from these wonderful approaches. You don't need to cram "deals" and celebrities down customers throats. Give your watchers a taste of what the season should really be about and they will not only remember you but flock to your store because of the sweet insights and feelings you gifted them with in the spot. 

This hits all the right notes for me, musically, story-wise, editing, acting, directing, it's all there. 
Again from across the pond. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Business to Business...the place where creative can shine.

Jenga played big with two Caterpillar machines demonstrating their precision against the Stravinsky soundtrack used originally for March of the Brooms in Walt Disney's Fantasia....brilliant. Even though it seems a bit burdened with all the supers, the spot still works.

Isn't it amazing how some companies just get what advertising is all about! Up until now this has been a category only earth movers could ever love. But with brilliant thinking this very small niche market has learned how to bridge the gap and carve a place in even the hardest segment to reach which they probably didn't even think about : the general consumer.

This spot showcases how "delicate" these big, ugly and to us, the general population, monsterous machines can be. They have been taken from the "monster/scary" category to "playful and fun" category. And it is capitavating to see these powerhouses do this demanding and precise kind of dance.
As the music begins to go faster and faster it builds the tension that of course makes you wonder
when the guy in the hardhat is going to get crushed by one of these pieces.

It showcases their highly skilled capabilities of strength and agility without being pedantic and boring. It makes the work interesting and the demonstration holds your interest because you can see how heavy these game pieces are and that really this is no messing around here. It is precise and carefully orchestrated to prove a point.

Orchestrating this demonstration I am sure was very complicated. But it is made to look easy and simple. Another product benefit. And the music is perfect because it takes the demonstration to a more whimsical place. Imagine how boring this would have been with a "serious" voiceover, you know, the kind of videos you used to sit through in health class and the usual bland music, if any. Someone(s) at Ogilvy saw this as a chance to elevate this assignment and these machines benefits from the usual humdrum salesman's powerpoint presentation to a product demonstration that captures the imagination.

Ten stars to Ogilvy.

British Airways OOH "lookup" campaign...

British Airways always always does such breakthrough brilliant stuff, it's hard to keep up with them.
Using survellance technology they were able to create a magic OOH campaign where a child is crouched expectantly in the corner of the board. As a real flight crosses above the billboard, the child gets up and runs across the board, pointing to the real plane. His/her body reveals the tagline for which flight it is and where it is coming from.

It is so amazing. This is the ultimate use of OOH and can't help but grab you. It is so simple on the one hand, using the children makes it whimsical because it captures their total fascination with airplanes to remind us how magical flying is. Yet  it's realistic because that's what kids do: when they see a plane they are totally transfixed. And it says: lookup. What a great powerful thing to say.  On many levels it says so much about the brand, the experience, the optimism and positive-ness of it.

I was stunned when I first saw this. British Airways is so always ahead of everyone else in this highly competitive category. And to think up utilizing survellance tech for this is way beyond anything anyone else is doing. I am sure this was not cheap. But British Airways never spares the pounds when the idea is right. And that's why they are so effective as well. No cheap tricks. No gimmicks.

To me it is one of the most fabulous uses of OOH I have ever seen. It's simple, it's direct, it's elegant and magical. The kids point to the product. The kids sell the obviousness in a totally interesting and innocent way.
This is as good as it can get for me. This is Ogilvy again....from across the pond...


Friday, June 6, 2014

And Detroit Shall Rise Again...

Chrysler is launching a new campaign from The Richard's Group out of Dallas touting the new mid-size sedan as being handcrafted, full of "swagger and soul." From people who have ideas, intelligence and are "born makers."

The TV spot is perfectly voiced with Detroit's own Kevin Yon.  His gritty delivery of  "strong backs" and "calloused hands" augmented by strong visuals of tatoos and hard hats, makes you feel the sweat and labor quotent.

It's anthemic, of course, as all the Chrysler spots have been. But now it feels less heavy handed. This 200 entry is up against imports from Honda and Toyota of course, who lead the pack. But this mid-size may be biting at their heels. It is sleek and looks impressive seen winding through the streets of Detroit.  It's an attractive looking mid-size sedan, a category Chrysler needs to seriously occupy.

While the mood and tone definitely speaks to the male skew, I think women will also be attracted to this   car ad with its own "swaggar" as they say.  The copy is rich and descriptive. The tag is now: "America's Import" which takes over from the previous: "Imported from Detroit"...which I loved. But this new tag is bigger and more inclusive and definitely more anthemic.

The spot is musically supported with a new rendition of Bob Dylan's "Things Have Changed". It's a well done rendition and doesn't vampire the spot by being too loud, vocals by Detroit singer MoZella, who subtly supports it. This is what music in TV ads should do. And it is well mixed and delivers
additional richness to the tone and manner plus subtly reinforcing the idea that Chrysler is a new idea.

I really like this spot. I think it's right on the money for the brand. It made me watch twice and
I think the overall execution is such that unlike most car spots where you can't wait to hit
the mute, this will have a longer, bigger appeal.

Richard's Group won the assignment over Wieden & Kennedy, Doner and Global Hue.

I am all about watching Detroit rise again and re-invent itself and be about "making things" which is what this country is founded on and needs to get back to. This spot says this in all the right ways.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Why is Advertising obsessed with finding the

It seems ad agencies are constantly trying to find the ever elusive next big thing that will be THE ANSWER to all advertisers woes, the magic elixir that will up sales and part the waters of flat gains. Let's see, first it was the internet, then it was email blasts, then it was Facebook likes, then Twitter, then SEO's, then QR codes, then flash mobs, then crowd sourcing, now it's phone apps, every kind of data mining, now the storytelling bit, YouTube hits gone viral and the list just goes on and the end it's all so pathetic and more akin to buckshot than any silver bullet.

Why can't we just sit back, take a deep breath and begin to realize that North America is one big saturated market. It peaked waaaay back a long time ago. To be relevant you cannot constantly tell people they need more STUFF to already over-stuffed people by peppering them with half-baked bad gimmicks parading as ads at every turn.

Just look around. It's everywhere.  Fractured, unfocussed and unregulated messaging has gone viral. This epidemic has lost its BALANCE. Advertisers rush to try the newest silver bullet at the cost of other much more important basics that are needed to keep a brand top of mind.

It's time to go back to the basics.


One of the ways I measure the effectiveness of an ad campaign is by my unconcious level of  ANTICIPATING when and what the next ad will be. Yep, you read that UNconcious
level of anticipating when and what the next ad will be. In other words, my curiosity or my "like"
of the current ad is strong enough that I look forward to, or am anticipating, the next one.

What that means is: I have resonated deeply with not just the ad, but also the product it represents.
And that means, I have formed an impression. I have a good feeling for this product and how it is
represented. It doesn't presume a sale...not yet...afterall we are just at the flirting stage. But it makes me feel good when I see the ad. Makes me dream. Makes me project. Makes me want. But I still might need a bit more encouragement. Yes, please, give me one, because I want to be sure...

Monday, March 24, 2014

"He once parallel parked a train..."Dos Equis beer campaign

I have been meaning to write about this marvelous campaign for some time. Having worked on both big and small beer brands, I know how difficult they can be.
And how challenging creatively they can be.

Here's a fabulously irreverent campaign that encapsulates every man's idea of a man. He is the "most interesting man in the world". How brilliantly insightful. This really is a man's dream. And Havas Worldwide saw the opportunity for a small, Mexican beer brand to come from out of the left field of nowhere and grab some serious market share with this gem of a campaign.

It's little brands like this that take big chances. And why not. They really have nothing to lose. Dos Equis knows it is a small niche brand up against mircros, macros, and everything inbetween.
So they came out of the gate with a position that mirrors their spokesperson:

Dos Equis. The most interesting beer campaign in the world.

It's every copywriter's dream. Every art director's chance to shine. What fun.

Everything about this campaign is right: the music, the tone of voice, the casting...and the line:

"I don't always drink beer.  But when I do, I prefer Dos Equis. Stay thirsty my friends."

It's perfect. 5 stars to Havas Worldwide.

**Let's hope as this brand begins to mature and build share (which it is solidly doing) it doesn't lose sight of that which made it so.  Now is the time for Havas to be ultra diligent in maintaining this brand'stone of voice and not making him slide into an ordinary corporate spokesman. I say this because there was also an Instagram message that although sprinkled with some of the verbage and tone of the most interesting man, began to weigh more into corporate-speak boredom.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Got Milk?......Not anymore...

This entry should be titled:  Why don't you just start over from the beginning and rerun it again?

I am going to make this short and sweet. Keep in mind the name of this blog:
Advertising Hits and Misses.
Here we see two launch spots. The ad on the top is the first spot ever run for the milk board with the
tag line: got milk.

The ad on the bottom is just out for the milk board with the
tag line: milk life.

Let's do a comparison here. You know, like the Pepsi taste test kinda thing:

First watch one commercial, then watch the other.

Then ask yourself:

Which ad tells the most interesting story?

Which ad has the strongest visual appeal?

Which ad would you enjoy watching again and again?

Which ad makes you smile?

Which ad makes you want a glass of milk?

If both ads were to run today, which ad would have a higher recall?

Which ad makes you think: I wish I had done that.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Zippo Wins Gold

Zippo is apparently being sued now because during the run-up to the Olympics the torches went out several times and in one instance, someone stepped up with a Zippo and lit it!

Fingers are being pointed because Zippo is using this to tout their flames which never go out.

Whether this was an extremely lucky win the lottery time... for Zippo or whether it was a well orchestrated guerilla advertising move, because of course Zippo was not an official sponsor...cudos to Zippo!!!

I love this kind of stuff. Zippo saved the day for the Olympic torch and so they should get recognized.
And if this was planned, then whoever thought of this should get a zillion dollars for the idea, the way it was pulled off and get a major raise in position.

What's so beautiful about this is how natural it is. The flame goes out, someone with a lighter steps up to relight. It's so ordinary a gesture. And it's treated as such....but for an extraordinary symbol.

They say: Timing is Everything. Well, this couldn't have worked out better for Zippo. And I hope they win against the IOC because it was a well meant deed...these torches had been going out all through
the run up to lighting the opening games. Even Putin's torch went out!

If I were the IOC, I would extend the laurel leaf and offer Zippo the opportunity to become a sponsor for the next Olympic games!

Where is the sense of "fair play" here?

Zippo certainly has lit the flame in my heart for them as a brand.

Go Zippo.  I 'm rooting for you.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Native Advertising, Prankvertising the old shell games...

Advertising is still viewed by many as 'smoke and mirrors' or 'selling snake oil' or 'subliminal seduction'. Just look at all the vast amount of technical garbage that now pops-up or banners or streaks across your screen or saps your battery power.

The holy grail for advertisers is to go viral.

And is it any wonder?

Instead of advertisers being bold and selective about their messaging, they've opted for pranks and tricks and Youtube counts as their yardstick for success. Companies don't seem to care about sales, no that went by the boards a long time ago, but by "views" and "likes" and "thumbs-ups".  Instead of real bottom line dollars in real sales, now everything is measured in projected values of views and times seen converted to dollar values.

If this isn't the ultimate smoke and mirrors, I don't know what is. And now it's the advertisers themselves who are being "punked" by  false stats on monetary value to a brand.

And it makes the brands seem so desperate. Desperate in finding a place. Desperate in finding any really sustainable message. Desperate to be seen at any cost.

Is this the idea? The old p.r. trick of any kind of press is better than no press?

When a brand's mandate to its creative and ad agency is: create something that goes viral...
it is the death knell for any real advertising.

Going viral doesn't mean anything.