Wednesday, November 29, 2017

More than the Grinch has stolen Christmas......


The newest entry from Sweden's H&M features Nicki Minaj and Jesse Williams. We find Jesse now the proud father of a young daughter who can't seem to get to sleep. So dutifully Dad goes up to tell his daughter an 'extemporaneous' story of Santa's bad brother.

Of course we are transported to the story as both Minaj and Williams are interesting but useless fairies in helping the young girl find the bad guy.

But the storyline loses me because the tale is weak, the art direction and costumes overdone and the effects while visually interesting don't hold me long enough.

In a word it's: Boring.

And again while top dollar was paid for Minaj and Williams, both were wasted as talent for this spot.

It just doesn't make me feel anything towards anything. And part of that reason is because it's more about female empowerment and going after a bad guy than regaining the spirit of Christmas.

And honestly that's what has happened in most of the tv ads this season for the holidays.

They don't have a real Christmas theme in any of them. Are we so PC now that Christmas is banned?

Can Christians not be recognized now?  And the Christmas celebration? Is it to be brushed under the bed and replaced with female empowerment as here or with a crass movie trailer dressed to look like a Christmas message like Paddington?  Or a watered down version of Sesame Street characters lurking under kids beds instead of Christmas?????

All these ads add up to ZERO for Christmas.  Shame on these retailers.

This gets a .5 out of 10. It's pathetic.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Paddington Bear Xmas pitch from Marks & Spencer "Spend It Well" hohoho


This sucky insipid Paddington is an imposter...with his severely  pointy nose and little beady eyes  short fur and severely angular face which resembles more of a stoat.  He doesn't hold a candle to
the original, sweet faced and cuddly Paddington I know from the story illustrations and bedtime cuddling of my Paddington.

Also this Paddington furthers my imposter theory with a voice that is too old, too Shakespearian Theatre tone of voice which is cloying, irritating and syrupy which backfires into one more giant step away from any endearment factor.

Like the John Lewis' MOZ who is a commercial cross between a Maurice Sendack creation and Sesame Street Cookie Monster this film version of a Paddington Bear who looks totally like a small-time stoat, just doesn't wash. This character was specifically developed for a Paddington bear knockoff movie...so he is a franchised character. Consequently this Paddington is a cover of Paddington not even a good one. However his creator Michael Bond's estate is probably laughing all the way to the bank.

For retailing now is the biggest, most commercial time of the year. And this year in particular Britain's old established stores that normally don't go to this commercial extreme are spending millions on their TV spots. That's not new. And usually they are wonderful. But this year you can almost feel the desperation.

Sadly this is my second disappointment so far for the holiday season of 2017.

In this ad Paddington helps a new modern shorn "Santa" deliver gifts in London. Again this 'Santa' looks like another imposter. And part of the 'hook' is his disavowing being Santa.

The music soundtrack has huge symphony swells that seem overwhelming and too cinema-esque for me. It throws the ad even further off-balance. And I am beginning to get the sense that this really is just an elaborate trailer for the new knock-off Paddington movie that is being released I think at Christmas time.

The female voiceover delivers a powerful line: "This holiday spend it well."
Which of course in retail parlance translates as: Spend it at Marks and Spencers. But doubles and triples as a phrase meant to take the edge off the crass blatant spend message.

On a more positive note, like the John Lewis ad, there is no audio mention of the retailers name.
And American holiday ads could take a lesson from this page of the British playbook.

Again big money has been spent on production values but the cinema makeover of both Paddington and Santa just doesn't do it for me.  I see this bear as an interloper and imposter and the fake Santa is just too hipster for me.



It's another swing and a miss for me....3 out of 10 for this one.

Friday, November 10, 2017

The 2017 John Lewis Christmas Ad



Each year I eagerly await the new John Lewis Christmas ad...like a little kid does Christmas.
This year it's all about the classic 'monster under the bed'. Moz the monster of course befriends the boy and they become playmates but there seems not much more to them.

It's directed by an Academy award winning screenwriter Michel Gondry of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the music cover is the Beatles Golden Slumbers from Abbey Road performed by a rock band:  Elbow.

John Lewis spends millions.

However, it just doesn't have the emotional firepower or anticipation of previous ads. There's no real feeling of it being Christmas either. It could be anytime of year. He did a wonderful 'year' scenario with Monty and the penguin. Nor does it seem particularly 'special' and I am talking about emotively special between the boy and MOZ.

It's just a bland synopsis of a kid having a monster under the bed. Christmas is aluded to when the kid gets a haircut and again suddenly when a badly wrapped gift (from the monster of course) of a starry nightlight that seems to calm his fears and lets him sleep. The 'monster' has now disappeared.

Usually when I see and hear a John Lewis Christmas ad I watch it over and over and relive the action, the emotion, the arc of the story always being emotional....but this year sadly it wasn't there for me.
And I had two thoughts:  1.) is this a plug for a plush monster toy being sold this year called MOZ and 2.) Will John Lewis also be selling the starry nightlight?

In all the years I have been watching these Christmas confections from Lewis I have NEVER thought about it commercially like I did this time.

The monster reminded me of a hybrid character cross from the Maurice Sendak classic kids story:
Where The Wild Things Are and a larger than life Sesame Street cookie monster.

Neither the child nor the monster were endearing to me. There wasn't enough there to make it endearing because the premise wasn't emotional.

And the music was completely wrong for this I thought. Usually the music in the Lewis adds contributes greatly to the emotion of the spot....not this year....it seemed totally out of place.

Of course the production values were top drawer...I mean come on with that budget at least that worked.

But in the end it didn't leave me with the same warm hearted feeling I usually get with a John Lewis ad. Maybe it's because the 'monster under the bed' is a cliched theme that just doesn't work at Christmas.

What it really lacked was heart. There just wasn't any heart in this one. It wasn't really about desire or love or longing which is what the Christmas season is all about. And is usually done so well by Lewis.

And yes, the Lewis ads are usually very cookie cutter from the standpoint of structure and premise.
And yes, they are schmaltzy....no question...but so is Capra's It's a Wonderful Life and everyone always watches it each season and cries in the same places....But that's a large part of what the holiday season is all about. It's at this time of year we have permission to be schmaltzy and be in touch with our deepest emotions...to be maudlin and reflective...to be childlike...

but not so this year from Lewis.  John Lewis spends big in hopes of earning big for this critical season....as do all the retailers. Especially now with malls and brick and mortar shops closing or threatened with closing, in favor of Amazon and other online shops. And sadly this year is even more chancey for them.

But you know NOT every year is the same.

Expectations run exceedingly high for this ad. And it's hard to keep raising the creative bar each year....

but this time it definitely was an emptier stocking.....

I hope this isn't a premonition for the Christmas season.

I give this a sad 5 out of 10 unfortunately.  And will look at my other John Lewis ads from previous years instead.  Three are here on the blog if you feel like I do.

Or click here for a compendium of John Lewis Christmas ads:

https://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/london-life/john-lewis-advert-heres-all-of-the-previous-christmas-ads-from-the-store-a3687271.html





Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Innocence of Creative



Dove is a brand that found its niche years ago around the platform of 'female empowerment'. And like most of these CPG soaps they struggle for awareness in a very crowded shelf. But Dove has been using this strategy for some time now and very successfully.

And it's because of this ongoing success this 'controversial/racist/finger pointing' ad was bound to happen sooner or later.

To be absolutely honest as a female Creative Director who has worked on CPG I know how difficult
it is to get any good yet alone great creative done for these brands. And the due diligence on a brand
like Dove with this type of position in the marketplace I am sure is very very stringent. Both the client and the agency would be checking this for PC friendliness all around.

However, here's the irony:  I can see what the creative team was trying to show. It was a creative trick used as a 'cut' to go from one woman to the next, from one skin color to the next....it has nothing to do with being racist. It isn't meant to be a racial comment about one being 'dirtier' than another or
one washing away one's color or anything like that at all. And everyone on the teams of this brand
at Unilever and the agency I am sure saw this as the visual trick it was meant to be. And here's the rub:

Everyone saw it except the consumer.

And not just any consumer.

These are the PC police, the pc brown shirts who have no imagination other than that fostered by their own diligence about one thing only: in this instance it's racism....
they live, eat, sleep, racism.....and they see it in everything, everywhere and it has blinded them and made them impervious to any alternate perception.

They are dangerous. Dangerous to brands. Dangerous especially to creatives. Dangerous to people who have no hidden agendas. Dangerous to the world actually mending itself around these issues.
And it isn't just racism. There's the gender neutral group that attacked GAP Kids which I wrote about.
There's PC police for every nuance, every casting decision, every word, every creative execution.

And honestly, I do believe most people in the advertising world today in all fairness are really atuned to the sensitivities that exist around all these myriad issues. And trying to navigate the creative in this atmosphere where people are so eager to be myopic and fanatic it is impossible to second guess them.

The PC police are how a few dictate and hold hostage the many. The PC police prevent any real understanding or dialogue because they are difficult, dangerous and hold extreme views and if you don't agree or bend to them, it is you who are shamed or shunned or boycotted.

This has to stop. It is divisive. And our tolerance, our inclusiveness, our fear and our shame for our ancestral past is their feast.

We have nothing to be ashamed of here. There is nothing in this ad that is remotely racist.

But they are the harpies that we invited in and encouraged and now those who honestly have no interest in any real dialogue, in any real understanding or mending of points of view are hell bent on taking us down.

They lay in wait.

You can choose to be ruled and dictated by these things or not. These PC police will never back down.

What as brands, as creatives, as people are we to do around this out of control repression?

We need an answer in the ad community. Because when an angry mob of a few like this take over
it becomes a brand lynching.





Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A little girl talk or when a brand tries to 'protect' its user group....

The Always brand's "Like a girl" series has tried over the years to be progressive and creating dialogue about some of the innermost fears young (and getting younger) pre-menstrual and early menstruating young girls face. They have addressed issues like: fear of failure, social limitations, girl power etc.etc.

Meant to be inspiring and uplifting and encouraging their most recent effort addresses the sad statistics of: 50% of girls feel paralyzed by fear of failure during puberty and 75% of girls agree that social media contributes to girls' fear of failing during puberty.

I worked on Always for years in the Canadian market. Feminine hygene is one of the toughest packaged goods categories. And most creatives shy away from it because it is so demanding in some respects yet limiting in others.

What Always fails to talk about is the drastic shift in the age a girl now becomes pubescent. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the age a girl's body starts to change has plummeted to less than 13. A huge shift from the beginning of the twentieth century where the age an average American girl began her period was 16 to 17. This shift is attributed to the epidemic of overweight children and a greater exposure to pollution, which does bad things to developing bodies and accelerates the timing of a girl's first menstruation.

What doesn't keep pace is her thinking/reasoning and emotional maturity. We are talking about little girls trapped in bodies that are maturing far far too quickly. These are young adult bodies with little girl brains and emotions.

Is it any wonder then these young girls exhibit such extremes emotionally and mentally and feel completely at odds with themselves and who they are?

And if you are still not even a 'tween' (usually 11 to 12 yrs.)  but ten years old emotionally and intellectually,  you still want to do little girl things, you still need to do little girl things.
And they should be treated and encouraged to still be the little girls they still are.

Consequently, this is where Always falls down.

Instead of acknowledging the two extremes happening with these young girls their campaigns never go there.  They use slick monologues with older young girls as the actors. The messages are plentiful with positive platitudes but the main subliminal message is constant: buy us as your first product for protection.

The bigger, riskier challenge would be to take the high road and speak to these little girls as little girls and to let that be ok. To not push them. To not treat them as older than they really are or wiser than they really are or hipper than they really are or cooler or more sophisticated than they really are.

Instead, the slick, sophisticated messaging is ultimately about having to grow up fast.

Marketing to girls age ten, eight, seven as if they now are expected to act and behave like they're thirteen, fourteen, sixteen (and in kid years those are gigantic leaps in themselves) in maturity level has become the norm....as advertisers constantly pound these kids with products, fake social lifestyles and premature aspirations way beyond their understanding and abilities. Kids have no say in this.
They accept this messaging blindly because honestly it's what's presented to them.

So marketers like P&G's Always are posing as champions of feminine empowerment when in reality they don't really address the true nature of what these little girls are feeling or thinking. In fact they skip that part altogether and jump right on the bandwagon of the cool and aspirational along with everybody else. Because at the end of the day P&G is selling a product, just like everybody else.

And Always knows the only way to grow their brand is to get them while they're young.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Wipe that smile off your face Vanity Fair !


It's a slow summer here in adworld. So unfortunately for them Vanity Fair Napkins is getting reviewed.

Vanity Fair has just launched a new video campaign hoping to increase it's share of the
paper napkin market. Their biggest everyday competitor?  You guessed it: Bounty paper towels and probably every other paper towel truth be told.

Vanity Fair is perceived as a premium paper product and I am sure premium priced when compared to the paper towels. Most consumers prefer the good old handy paper towel to do a utilitarian mouth wiping mealtime job when it comes to everyday use.

So now their agency Figulio & Partners is tucking this video into places like Instagram and other sites I would assume although I had to copy this URL from another source.

Now onto the ad itself. The production values are terrible. The lighting is dark, the acting is wooden and although I think they are trying to be "ironic" it just plain doesn't work.

The seedy looking dad fishing for crumbs in the kids bib is just a total stomach churner and quite disgusting...and not in a funny way....it is just nasty. I know they probably sold this to the client as a
funny "ewwwwww" memorable moment but honestly, it doesn't fly. All the actors are mute which also doesn't work. There's no ambient sound, no wife interfering with the husband's invading the babies bib and quite honestly it plays like some ridiculous, very local high school student attempt at a tv commercial. The idea is lame. There is virtally no writing and what there is is lame...it's just sad.
And the closeup of this nasty dad wiping the corners of his mouth after eating the slop from his kids bib is again just revolting and contrived and almost evil. The casting is nasty, the cheese factor just makes the product seem cheap and the whole thing needs a redo....wipe this up and start over.

Secondly, the cheesy butler could have stolen the show but instead is played straight which is another huge mistake here....

Sometimes cheesy works. Sometimes it doesn't and in this case....it doesn't ....And for a premium napkin trying to be appealing to cro-magnons like this guy it completely backfires. Everything about this ad seems white trash to me.

If you want to extend your usage and still be thought of as a premium product this isn't the answer...

I haven't seen the other videos but I sure hope for Vanity Fair's sake they are a lot better than this.

You can see by the sad cheap sad sad production values this was done on a shoe string budget.  And if it wasn't then Vanity Fair needs to get a better agency.

In fact, I think they should start shopping now.

This is a -5 on my positive 10 point scale.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The NRA call to arms ad

Ackerman McQueen has been the agency of record for the NRA for over 30 years. Originally the NRA was an organization formed after the Civil War to help train better marksman. And it held marksmanship tournaments. By 1940 there were more civilian rifle clubs than there were golf clubs.*

However today the NRA has become a political hotbed of "them vs. us" "red vs. blue" "conservative vs. liberal" "winner vs. loser" in the fight for the right to bear arms and various other gun policy.

The latest salvo being this highly controversial recruitment ad:

which has garnered over 3 million views and caused a big backlash among liberals and NRA members both.

It is a shocking ad. It is a divisive ad. It draws a line in the sand and comes close to being a NRA
declaration of civil war.

Then when a tsunami of disgust, anger and disbelief was unleashed against this ad, and come'on, you can't tell me the NRA didn't expect this....of course they did.....they then shored up their position with this additional propaganda piece shown on NRATV....didn't know they had their own TV channel...wow.

Ackerman McQueen is obviously working overtime here. They actually have people from the agency onsite at the NRA headquarters so their boots are on the ground and dug in with the NRA as they craft, create and shoot these highly politicized propaganda hate pieces.

It's bait tactics to draw response and get lots of awareness and it's a strategy that's working.

But one must ask: what's the real goal here?  What is the real benefit to the NRA?  What are they hoping to gain by bashing anyone who doesn't walk, talk and think like the NRA?....and by pointedly and deliberately creating a further divide in the general population's perception?

You begin to wonder: Is this recruitment ad for the NRA more than just a recruitment ad for the NRA???

And aren't these NRA propaganda ads in fact a form of political anarchy? Which is just as deadly as the very things they criticize and point at and are saying are causing all the country's problems and dissension?

Have they turned the media into their public beer hall?

It makes me wonder if NRA membership now comes with brown shirts and jackboots. Because more and more these ads are resonating with dark, threatening, heavy handed Mussolini/Hitlerian tactics and overtones.


*Time magazine, 1940.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Cannes had a thin lineup of "creativity" this year....

When a gimmick like Fearless Girl wins the majority of Cannes Lions it's a red flag (note the similarity to a red cape used in bull fights) to me,  that all is not well in the creative departments of today's agencies.





This 3-dimensional Latina Disney character is so PC it makes me gag. And the spin of this being representative of women occupying a place within Wall Street boardrooms or any boardrooms, again makes me roll my eyes and gag.
This "character" isn't going to change anything for women. The fact that it's "known" in every country doesn't mean anything either....that just means it went viral as many bad, stupid and "timely" things do. It also got lots of p.r. which was placed probably by McCann or their media affiliates. And if "timely" was the criteria....than the "break dancing gorilla" on youtube that has more awareness than this Disney Fearless Girl character would have been a real contender at Cannes too had it been entered.






I am sure all the male Cannes jurors that voted for this are patting themselves on the back. They've filled McCann NY's trophy case as well as given an official nod to the women in business aspect of business.
Now all the men in the adgame are hoping that at last this hot potato has been placated by having been gratuitously and politically awarded up the yahzoo. The adboy players can once again congratulate themselves in having done their part for acknowledging the little ladies attempt at trying to break into the bastion of corporate boardrooms. And can now get back to the real business, the manly ad business. And this will all go away.

In the meantime, this vapid Fearless Girl Disney cheesy David n' Goliath metaphor will now only be  collecting bird guano and yes, be forgotten. Oh but wait... it will be good for selfies....mustn't forget that...

What is amazing to me is ad people just don't see this as a gimmick. And that is the only real category this should have been entered in at Cannes. It should actually be a new category at Cannes because it would make a lot of money for the show....as most of the entries would fit here.

But I guess the millennial creative people don't know what a "gimmick" is. So all you millennial's
that call yourselves creative here's the meaning of gimmick that's relevant to you:

"a trick or device used to attract business or attention."

So no matter how you are spinning it out there....Fearless Girl is a trick....and yes, it got attention....

but I thought great advertising creative was also supposed to ..... really make a difference like actually moving the needle for measurable business results.

But what do I know....I'm just a woman.



Monday, June 12, 2017

A look at the work of the Young Agency Creatives whose 'work is ahead of its time"

First let's look at Tim Nudd the writer of the article I am going to write about regarding Young Agency Creative Work that is ahead of their time that appears in Adweek.

Mr. Nudd is the creative editor for Adweek. He comes from a journalism background. He was at People magazine before joining Adweek some eight years ago. Tim Nudd has never worked at an ad agency. Tim Nudd has never written advertising copy or contributed to any advertising creative development in all of his journalism career.

Yet Tim Nudd is making creative judgements and crowning who will be the next creme de la creme
in the advertising creative departments of the future.

I don't believe a thing Tim Nudd writes because basically he has no expertise in the advertising field
other than what he just does or doesn't like.

Yet he has been put into a position of determining career paths and promoting creative individuals
in the advertising creative field.

It's kind of like when I see People magazine's: The Sexiest Man Alive covers. I always used to wonder what or who or how it was decided who was to be the sexiest this...the smartest that etc.
I wonder now, did Mr. Nudd used to make that decision too?

One must question what his criteria was for this particular article that touts how the new crop of young creatives are generating work "ahead of their time".

I looked at this work and these young creatives and while I see work that has generated a lot of PR,
I don't necessarily agree that it is "ahead of their time."

Nudd first declares the statue of "Fearless girl" to be forward thinking.  It was in fact commissioned by State Street Global Advisors and if these two creatives came up with this idea, then I sadly question their idea of empowerment.  And it's a gimmick confronting another gimmick. As a woman I find this is anything but a symbol of female empowerment. Frankly it's insulting to me. It says to me: here's a child who hasn't got enough sense/maturity/brains to get out of the way of an aggressive animal. But it got a lot of attention. So did the dog peeing on her leg that was placed there by Di Monica, the artist who created the charging bull. But that didn't get a mention by Nudd.

Now let's look at the Evan not for profit ad. First let me just say that historically, not for profit work is done pro bono....and it offers creatives a chance to really do work that can be provocative, startling and generate sympathy or action more often than not through fear. Also not for profit ads are used as a chance to add some creative hardware to your trophy case and an opportunity to showcase your creative firepower as an agency.

More than ever there seems to be a ton of not for profits for every imaginable cause, so agencies can also 'cherry pick' the cause du jour for their shop. Often the creative will only have to run once on public media at some obscure early morning hour to qualify for award shows.

This effort is for Sandy Hook Promise "know the signs" not for profit.




This campaign about spotting the signs of possible gun violence seems creepy somehow.  It's promoting fear, spying and reporting someone you "might" think is a possible nut job killer. Or if you have it in for somebody at your school, an idea planter for reporting them ....  This is all about Sandy Hook. The subliminal fear piece is like a bad "where's Waldo."

It ticks off the laundry list of signs the Sandy Hook group has developed one by one to spot a shooter and is demonstrated by another student behind and over the shoulder of the main person you have been tricked into watching. It isn't until after the silly frontman is finished that the ad recaps what was
going on behind Romeo's back while he was defacing school property.
I think it's corny.
Now I totally understand why the creativebros decided to use this technique because it
heightens the surprise and answers the laundry list brief....however, is it Pencil-worthy?  Again it just seems corny and very very thin creatively to me. It's kind of like watching the boring school health 'use-a-condom' movie playout over the shoulder of this other kid.

For me, as a working Creative Director it's always about effectiveness. How well did this really raise awareness? How well did this contribute to ending senseless gun violence. So it goes beyond the executional action or storyline when I evaluate these initiatives for long term awareness.

The chances of a school shooting taking place in a US high school in any given year is 1 in 21,000.*
The chances of a school shooting taking place in a US elementary and middle school in any given year is 1 in 141,463*.

The odds for dying in a car crash are much much higher.

If I were Mr. Nudd I would just YouTube a few really empowering campaigns that are effectively working.
Like DDB's Water is Life campaign. I think those creatives need a shout out for the fabulously effective work they are doing to raise awareness about a REAL problem. So kudos to whoever the creatives are on that initiative.

Here's one of their ads.
The real shock here comes from the truth of life expectancy in 3rd world countries. It has integrity.
That's a quality that Mr. Nudd seems to have overlooked in sighting the Sandy Hook campaign.
I think he chose it because it went viral.

The "yes.good." idea using social media feedback again has been done and better. The most famous one being the competition for Doritos Super Bowl ads.
Then there is the Starbuck's white cup contest, the Lays "Do us a flavour" campaign etc.etc.
I find the position line of: "Yes Good" to be one of the most dummied down positions I think I have ever heard of. It resonates at about a 5 year old level.

Then there are chat-bots and mom bots, video games and more techno gimmicks....

And for all of these ideas only ONE that Mr. Nudd mentions has any originality and brings a fresh point of view..again it is for a not for profit. It was Jessica Toye's new alphabet design for the News Literary project. Her brilliant approach turns the alphabet into warning symbols. And the unusual idea of turning the letters is a brilliant double entedre for "twisting the truth." Kudos to Ms. Toye, JWT NYC and finally to Mr. Nudd for finding ONE really great idea that's timely not ahead of its time.

Here it is:   http://www.adweek.com/creativity/these-ads-about-fake-news-make-you-work-a-little-just-as-you-should-before-sharing-stories-online/

samples:




Mr. Nudd  obviously knows how to write a lead article be it good or bad. But for me, he sadly lacks the genuine credibility needed to make such a determination of talent, whether the work they are producing is  "ahead of its time" which really doesn't mean anything other than an attention getter as a headline.

Maybe the typeface needed for his article should be Ms.Toye's. Or maybe Mr. Nudd should go to work as an ad agency copywriter for a few years before he is given to such proclamations.



*http://www.psychlawjournal.com/2012/12/school-shootings-what-are-odds.html





Friday, June 9, 2017

Dos Equis, I hate to say "I told you so....but"

Dos Equis has dropped the agency that created The Most Interesting Man campaign and is moving the account over to Droga5.







My blog post of October 2016 gave Dos Equis second attempt at launching the grease ball guy campaign, what I called the Revamp part 2  the abysmal attempt at being the most interesting man in the world a total BOMB review.

In that posting I knew then it would be the end of the Dos Equis/agency relationship. I am just surprised it has taken this long to be announced.

Both the original campaign which was one of the most successful and this dull, horrible mediocre
attempt at a refresh...not once but twice up to bat with the grease ball were created by EuroRSCG
now HAVAS.

It's a sad ending to what once was a niche beer that carved a real presence in the tough tough beer drinking market built on the advertising alone and actually was a brand that was as popular for the advertising as it was as a brand of beer. Unheard of.

Jonathan Goldsmith was the cult leader of this brand. And not many brands can claim or will claim a spokesperson actually can make or break a brand. But in this case, it's true. He's been copied, memes by the ton have been written around his character....it just goes on and on.

And Goldsmith must feel some vindication now. They parted ways over a contract dispute. And how
EuroRSCG now HAVAS,  must be forever kicking themselves about this....

HOWEVER, this is all beer under the bridge now.

And again it will be an interesting exercise to watch what Droga5 does for this brand. Hopefully
they will walk away from the greasy guy and start with a clean shot at creatively coming up with a whole new way of looking at Dos Equis.

Part of the problem will be satisfying Heineken, the owners of Dos Equis. The Most Interesting Man in the World campaign first launched in 2006. It catapulted the brand to enough success that Heineken noticed and bought the small Mexican brand in 2010.

Goldsmith carried the brand as spokesperson until 2016...a good ten year run for him and the brand.

It hasn't taken long for the brand to tank. Like everything, it takes much longer to get a brand to a winning share than for it to fall.

Droga5 has a lot at stake here as a creative shop. Whether they have the talent to save this brand is yet to be seen. Beer drinkers are loyal despite what the advertising may be most times. However,
with this particular brand, much of the cache came from the Goldsmith association. Sounds silly.
But this is truly a case study for how powerful advertising and brand building can be.

I offered my point of view on how I would have coached a creative group to approach this brand with any new ideas. And it still stands.

However, Heineken is a very traditional company (I know, I worked on the brand). It is classic  CPG 101. And getting around this monster obstacle will require masterful handling. It will be interesting to see if Droga5 can do this.

I wish Droga5 well and they have my sympathy. This will be a make or break assignment for their creatives.

Fasten your seat belts and lets head for Mars!

To be continued.....





Friday, June 2, 2017

How Dunkin Donuts is becoming a me too "Bro/Pro Brand"

As a creative director I often peruse ad agency sites. It's most revealing. And I happened upon the campaign for Dunkin Donuts from Hill Holliday.

Hill Holliday is the long time agency of record for Dunkin Donuts. I am a Yank living in Canada where the franchise doesn't exist or even have a chance up against Tim Horton's.

But Dunkin Donuts has obviously taken a page or two or twenty from Tim Horton's playbook here.

A little background to the Tim Horton franchise before Dunkin Donuts:

Tim Horton was a hockey player way back when. All males who have any interest in hockey know this in Canada where hockey is the National game practically. Tim Horton started his small chain of donut/coffee shops after he retired from hockey. It didn't do well. It was on the verge of bankruptcy when the American food franchise consortium for Wendy's bought the ownership for very little.
Here's an early TV ad for Tim Horton's after the Wendy's group first owned and reconfigured it.



Wendy's group not only resusitated the brand but made it into the most desirable franchise in Canada.
Then it went back into Canadian ownership, then back to the Wendy's group and now has been
purchased by Burger King and their food group.

The Tim Horton's  brand and franchise is a whopper now. It has solidly carved out the whole middle class,  hard working, National Canadian hockey loving position from the start and has built it's brand around that proposition from its very beginnings.

Tim Horton's  agency of record is Horizon Media. And the BurgerKing/Tim Horton's group is slowly penetrating the U.S. market with the Tim Horton's franchises and brand position.

Here's a sample from Tim Horton's current campaign.



Now we go to Dunkin Donuts. Beginning with Fred the baker and his: "Time to make the donuts"
position that ran for over 15 years. People loved it. The emphasis was always on the donuts. And this was the TV ad that was on air about the time the early Tim's ad from the Wendy's group was playing that you see here.



But Hill Holliday has recently changed the direction and focus of the brand. They decided to go for the coffee and use hockey as their way in. Identical to Tim Horton's. Coffee is a big money maker. The margins have to be a lot bigger than donuts. So Dunkin and I am sure along with Hill Holliday have recently cut a deal with the NHL as the "official" coffee.
To go along with that,  they are now producing macho hockey ads to seal the deal. It's a smart move on Dunkin Donuts part because seeing that Tim Horton's is making inroads into the US market, they want to be able to make the hockey connection appear to be their positioning first.

Here's Dunkin Donuts hockey commercial last year...


 and here's the newest Dunkin Donuts commercial to date:


And while Hill Holliday hopes NO ONE in the US will ever see or even
taste a cup of Tim Horton's coffee, that may have been their rationale to try to copy and usurp the position of Tim Horton's brand but...

Tim Horton's has developed and owned the hockey position forever, no matter how many agencies they work with. And they have the ad history to prove it.

Despite Tim Horton's having as many agencies as Dunkin Donuts has had brand positions.

But as the old saying goes: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

And while Tim Horton's is almost an unknown brand in most of the US, it's sure to be an interesting competition once these two have to face off. Plus Tim Horton's has a powerful food group behind them.

So we will see where this will lead to in the US market.

I think Dunkin Donuts may be skating on thin ice here.

For me, this is a much more interesting game to watch than hockey. So let me just get my Tim's double double and get ready for the games to begin.....

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Speaking of Swedish....Ikea has it in the bag....

When Ikea saw the new designer handbag by Balenciaga that looked identical in color, shape, size to their signature Ikea Frakta bag but at a much different price point, Ikea was on it.

Urged by their agency partner Acne, the Ikea in-house creative group quickly came up with a brilliant ad "outing" French fashion house Balenciaga for shamelessly stealing their iconic bag design. And in Ikea's inimitable fashion, they set about to make sure anyone who was in the market for a true fashion
statement bag, knew the true original from the copy.

                                                       

The print ad reads:
How to identify an original Ikea Frakta bag
1) Shake it. If it rustles, it’s the real deal.
2) Multifunctional. It can carry hockey gear, bricks, and even water.
3) Throw it in the dirt. A true Frakta is simply rinsed off with a garden hose when dirty.
4) Fold it. Are you able to fold it to the size of a small purse? If the answer is yes, congratulations.
5) Look inside. The original has an authentic Ikea tag.
6) Price tag. Only $0.99.
Balenciaga's bag goes for $2,145.

Again and again Ikea as a big box retailer turns that stigma on its ear with its wonderful, imaginatively playful yet strategically strong and right advertising.

I have written about other Ikea ads from around the world and each agency or creative group that handles this account handles it with such wonderful whimsical fun advertising. At every level you find this both in-store, out of home, TV, print, across the board they consistently get it right.

If places like Target, Sears, and some of the other fading retail shops could just do the same thing.
Find your groove and really mine it. Get people to buy into who you are really. Target had it for awhile. Then they overreached, got cocky, failed in a big way and then got scared.

You can't afford to play small in retail now. You can't afford to think small or think to plug the hole in the damn. When the leaks start you have to really pull out all the stops and just jump to a higher plain.

Ikea has never faltered. Never apologized. Never overreached. Never tried to reinvent. And it's because of wonderful fun, cheap products that serve a utilitarian purpose but in a most lighthearted way.

10 for 10 again.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Swedes do it again!

 Sweden's next tourism campaign has turned itself into one giant Airbnb! hahahaha They are so CLEVER!

                                                                               


I have worked on Tourism Boards for various countries and states and I bow down to Sweden who is
just shameless at coming up with brilliant ideas on how to entice tourists and using such insightful and delightful ways of doing it.

In 2012 the Swedish tourist board garnered a Cyber Grand Prix award for turning over their countries Twitter account to a different Swedish person each week. Allowing that Sweden has many voices to be heard in their country. This came from a group called Volontaire.

One thing that isn't different in Sweden, like most tourism accounts they are 'switched' to different creative shops every two years or so...to be equitable and fair. Most countries, states do this as well.

This year the campaign is aimed particularly at Americans. The idea comes from agency Forsman &
Bodenfors. I mean, the Twitter idea was setting the bar pretty high and this is what makes these kinds of accounts so challenging. When you have an open and agreeably smart marketing group from the client side, like the Visit Sweden group...they know that each new campaign has to aim to go beyond the last. It's a great position to be in for the tourism board, a daunting but exciting task for the agency.

The idea of turning a country into one giant Airbnb listing comes from their notion (and a very civilized notion I might add) that people should have the right to public access. The right to respectfully roam, walk, discover, sit on a promontory and have a light picnic lunch kind of discovery of a place. It's the Freedom to Roam. It is guaranteed by the Swedish constitution. It allows for
any person to roam Sweden and enjoy all its natural wonders without any disturbance. The term for it is "Allemansratt." So yes, you can 'wander' onto a farmers field, a breathtaking promontory of a private estate, across the lapland, coastlines, mountains to soak in nature and its wonders. And to enjoy the beauty of the terrain and for the sheer joy of walking as a way of discovery. But with such graciousness comes the responsibility to respect that right and to not disturb or destroy.

And why did they aim this at the Yanks? Turns out this idea is pretty foreign to Americans.
As exhibited by the link below, turns out more than Trump likes to erect walls and fences....

https://www.treehugger.com/culture/why-it-illegal-responsibly-walk-freely-most-us.html

There's just something wonderful and bracing about a good walk. Leave the cellphones, leave the city, leave your car, lift up your head and enjoy the walk.

The Swedes in partnership with Airbnb offer up this gentle reminder:

"The things you leave behind are your footsteps, and the things you take with you are memories."

It's a grand, sophisticated, inviting and eloquent idea. Let's hope their target group will think so too.

10 out of 10 for this marvellous idea...

Monday, May 15, 2017

Lululemon's "This is yoga" should be entitled: "This is bologna"

Lululemon's new global two minute  video expose of their idea of what yoga means in the everyday world uses trite descriptors superimposed over even more trite situations. Their 3 big words are:


Meditation. Breath. Self-discipline. which now become what I call the new bologna-yoga catchall spin against a bunch of visuals like: surfing, clubbing, checkers, drawing...and on and on with various shots of these same.

This creative execution sadly has all the earmarks of  a client/agency group grope. Imagine this scenario:  Everybody who was sitting in on the brainstorm session either held at Lululemon's corporate office or half attended at the office and the other half (the agency half) via Skype. but every person from the client side gets something on the whiteboard just as an idea which becomes the laundry list we see for these two minutes as the  Lululemoners describes what a yoga experience outside of yoga is to them.

So now of course the agency creatives take all these white board suggestions and turn them into this hodge-podge mishmash collection of verbal and visual cliches.

And what we as the viewer are really being exposed to is the Lululemon group hug.

I can just imagine the giggles and delight the Lululemoner brainstorm attendees had when they were shown the final cut of this thing. Why I bet they were  just tickled pink as they each recognized their own 'creative' contribution.

Is this aspirational to the consumer? No.

More importantly, is this going to make the cash registers sing?  No.

Just imagine these words over the visuals:

Meditating about that dog with sauerkraut now that you are doing a downward-facing dog?

or

Self-discipline is being cool about your butt crack hair showing while in the extended puppy pose?

Because the visuals were so stock boring you could put ANY words in there.....and it would have the same impact.


All in all this is sub parr junior level work.

This is just a fluff piece and seeing this kind of thing being the gold standard for places like Lululemon and The Body Shop and all those other semi-hippy retailers is just so BORING and
PREDICTABLE that it will prove once again to be just another expensive reason for this retailer to blame poor returns on the advertising.

Out of Brooklyn... a place called Virtue (how Lululemony to pick such a place with this name) Worldwide....

I give this sad attempt a point five (.5) out of 10...


Friday, May 5, 2017

What does Progressive Insurance and Colonel Sanders have in common? CHEESE CREATIVE.

Seems the new ad fad is to be ridiculous, meaningless and totally unconcerned about selling your brand.

Perhaps the exhaustive research on Millennials has turned up what we all know to be true about them:
Mainly that they are or know they are ABOVE advertising. Nothing you can say or do reaches them. Millennials were saturated little consumers before they were even born so brands shouldn't even try to break-through that level of entitlement!

What does get to them?  ABSURDITY. Complete and utter ABSURDITY. Anything vapid, kitschy,
anything that can be scorned, laughed at or bullied on social media yet is still PC-ably mundane.

And from this is born the new Progressive ad that mocks in a Millennial-friendly sound bite the kitschy, corny and mind-numbing daytime SOAP OPERA. Bad acting, bad lighting, badly written dialogue, bad clothes, a tacky set, the whole thing is one big satired sound bite of what your mother or nanny or grandmother was addicted to when you were just an ity bitty millennially small kid...
COMPLETE with alternate endings....

Cut to another big brand, this time Colonel Sanders and not only have they chosen Rob Lowe as the new "Colonel" but THEY have decided on using pulp fiction, dime store romance novels with
cheesy writing, cheesy cover, while creating the Colonel as the ultimate romantic hero...you can check their efforts out here:

http://creativity-online.com/work/kfc-tender-wings-of-desire/51701

Quite honestly it makes complete sense. I mean how many times do you need to hammer away at what Progressive Insurance can do for you....the message is so simple and been repeated ad-nauseous
only too too many times with poor Flo....who even now is shown as the "maid" who briefly delivers the sell message in a monotone flat "I am really supposed to be a silent character here" mode....cue the laughter.

It's like watching the Gong Show .... surprised no one isn't using that...yet....

And both the Colonel's greasy chicken and Progressive's cheesy kitschy approach to grabbing any kind of eye time from these totally sarcastic oversaturated Millennials is from a Creative standpoint
and Branding standpoint....a risk....a high high risk.

There exists an overtone of "we can out-smug you attitude" dressed in kitschy costumes and funny dialogue and cheesy illustrations and corny storylines developing from these brands that Millennials might begin to see through...not intentionally but more than likely by accident...picture this scenario:

Imagine that out of sheer boredom they read the back of the Macaroni and Cheese box while waiting for the water to boil kinda thing....and while waiting for the water to boil time waster realize the product they're going to eat,  actually sucks. The nutritive value is zero. The actual "ingredients" are not real and even the powdered "cheese" is a ghastly famous yellow phony chemical additive. Yes it tastes good. Yes they have grown up with it. But one day, when they really stop laughing and poking fun themselves and begin to use their little Millennial brains.... who think they all have BIG BRAINS cause that's what mommy and daddy always said to them....they might just begin to put two and two together....

and their big discovery behind all this "fake drama" is maybe a ...... an equally fake product....just like on the back of the macaroni and cheese box.




Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Mark Wahlberg vs. Matthew McConaughey

Let's look at the difference between two famous spokespeople for major brands. First Mark Wahlberg for AT&T's newest attempt at regaining customers.

The ad is crammed. Crammed with too much copy. Too many visuals. Too much in too short time. The verbiage is lost because all Mark is doing is a laundry list of add-ons and bundling of your AT&T services. The writing tries to be cool using common 'hip' 'cool' semi-millennial-speak....which falls flat with the see and say visuals. It's boring and makes me want to head as far away from this as I can.

Even though he is getting a $10 million dollar payout, Wahlberg reminds me of an actor that has sunk to doing dinner theatre.



I give this a 3 out of 10.


Now let's watch another A-lister. Matthew McConaughey for Lincoln.

This is a powerful ad.
This spot blends Matthew McConaughey with a moody music track, rich nightime lighting and copy that reminisces about "going back".... it's poetic and brilliantly delivered with real feeling and depth.
Not one mention of the product name. Not one mention of any attributes of the car he is driving. But you the viewer are riveted by the power of this idea. And it is respectful of McConaughey as a person of intelligence, taste and most of all about emotions. This is brilliant, evocative, emotive and memorable. I want to listen and watch this. I am riding with McConaughey in that car.
McConaughey is speaking to me.

AT&T could do this. Wahlberg could do this in his own way...embrace us as we embrace you.

I know this has been parodied but the next batch has McConaughey saying nothing and letting the car say it all. This is the collaboration between McConaughey and Gus Van Sant via ad agency Rouge.

10 for 10 here.




Monday, April 10, 2017

How Creative is Social Justice?..or What's this got to do with advertising....

Creativity posted an article about JWT Amsterdam's Executive Creative Director Bas Korsten, creating an initiative of starting a school in India for young girls who were or are child prostitutes.
They have started a school called: School for Justice.

http://creativity-online.com/work/free-a-girl-movement-school-for-justice/51477

This school intends to train these young girls law to empower them to prosecute the people who force them into this type of work.

Starting with 19 students, they will receive free tuition, education, and mentoring. Then when they are of university age they will go on to attain a law degree.

Now this is quite the program. And there's no mention of who or what is funding this initiative. And
it certainly goes beyond the scope of most awareness campaigns for other not for profits done by all ad agencies as a part of the agencies giving, that struggle along with the usual pro bono ads and air time they can muster from the agency representing them.

It reminds me of the not for profit: Kids with Cameras foundation that filmed the award winning documentary:  Born Into Brothels  in 2004 based on photographer Zana Briski's initiative to give kids
point and shoot cameras and free-reign to photograph everyday life in Calcutta. The documentary follows Briski into the squalor of the red light district and these children's lives. Living with drugged fathers and abusive mothers whose hopes for money lie in the children becoming prostitutes like themselves, is hard to watch.

Even with the children earning International recognition for their photos, in the end, only one
pursued the opportunities they had to attend school which Briski went to great lengths to attain for them and try to elevate their lives beyond the lower caste (more like outcast) system they and their families for generations before them were born into.

In this new School for Justice program, studying law for any person requires special abilities and certainly a higher IQ. And the expectation that these girls will go beyond basic knowledge of their legal rights all the way to being recognized as lawyers in India is a huge expectation on many levels;  the girls, their families and for the social caste system entrenched in the Indian culture in general.

In theory it sounds fantastic. And in reality, it seems like these nineteen have won a lottery. But only time will tell.

The Kids with Cameras Foundation, which has now evolved into another iteration called: Hope House, A Safe Place Away from the Red Light, is now offering a safe haven
for young girls from Calcutta, to live, learn and realize a better future.

http://headfirstdevelopment.org/hope/

In any event, it will be interesting to see an update in a year or so as to how this School for Justice is doing. This goes way beyond not for profit pro bono work normally done by agencies and it will be something to watch.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Pepsi's recent creative presents a strong argument against weak in-house agencies.




What do you get when you combine a Global Brand like Pepsi with a Household Name Kendall Jenner and mix it with a ridiculously stupid anthem and love in march that's supposed to replicate
some kind of real "movement" only with very expensive production values that only a Global Brand like Pepsi can afford?

If this is as good as it gets the agency should be fired. This was done evidently by an in-house agency.
And often times young creatives want ads to be "relevant" beyond the benefit of it being a soft drink
or whatever. Hence this sad attempt at trying to interject some kind of link with some kind of nondescript love-in peace march as symbolically representing how important a role the brand could play in this kind of scenario....which is lame and dangerous.

This is where the need for a very level headed Senior Executive Creative Director should have ended this 'creative' before it ever got beyond the storyboard stage. Not every in-house ad agency has a Senior level CD with enough power to veto these things if account management's in favour of a particular creative execution. When you work in-house, you are working 24/7 for one brand with many iterations. It's myopic and very difficult to stay objective and rise above or be the lone voice of rational dissent when some creative goes off the rails.

Most in-house agencies usually handle the below the line advertising that follows the guidelines setup
by the outside ad agency. And this sad piece represents a classic reason why.

Agencies know how to conduct due diligence. Agency creative is layered with many checks and balances. And agencies spend big money to make sure they have a crack team to handle the strategic
creative direction of a mega brand like Pepsi. This is not for the faint of heart. And whoever assembled this in-house agency with the cost cutting idea that agencies overbill and this overbilling
would look better as a bonus in their own personal account rather than the agencies...might possibly be the real driver here.

Whatever the real story is this has been a big lesson for all those brands out there who feel they know their brands better than anyone in a proper ad agency could should really take stock of who is running the creative ship. Usually when it's in-house the creative is completely controlled by the account service side. And the creative department is just a factory that churns out materials at the bidding of the account side. And those in the " in-house creative department" are treated like they are drones.
I've seen it in many in-house agencies for big brands. Frightening.

And here's my advice to them: for brands to not have in-house agencies that haven't the experience or ability to produce top notch national ad campaigns. If you do have an in-house agency, hire your creatives  from top ad agencies and pay top money to get top creative and let the creatives be the real drivers for the creative and get the account managers or marketing managers back where they belong, on the business side.


Can you understand that?


Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Views ARE Different Here

JWT Toronto just released the new Toronto Tourism ad. And while it pays homage to the requisite tourist traps it also tries to send a message of

"The views are different in Toronto. A city where all flavours are welcome, where beauty has many faces, where it's okay to let your guard down. "

Of course the language is accompanied by many quick cuts of people, dining, art, streets, supers etc.etc.
the usual. Admittedly the editing is good for the spot.

But to me there is a fatal flaw and political pandering going on here by singling out and showcasing "Drake" in concert. It's pathetic that Toronto acts like he is the only game in town and he is our ambassador only because he is recognizable outside the city. With his lame "We the 6" which has added remarkably to his bottom line for T-shirts and other paraphernalia,  he may not have much talent as a rapper but he sure knows how to market himself. People forget he is half Jewish and came from money. And he certainly has "branded" himself as Toronto's authentic street guy.  All this flies in the face of the reality that Drake is building that huge gauche monster house where already he has illegally ripped out many many old old beautiful trees to make room for it on the Bridle Path. Pathetic.

For all I know, Drake was consulted for 'creative input' on this tourism effort....he is so able to mention Toronto as much as he can in his lyrics, why Toronto has made him their
liberal and open embracing of diversity mascot....which seems to fit right into Toronto's theme.

And my disappointment as always, is the irony that Drake "plays" Toronto to his financial advantage
and the creatives at JWT can't see that, don't want to see that or are too immature to see that.

I give this a 4 out of 10. Nothing new and different here tourism-wise for making Toronto "different" in the way of this creative execution.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Biggest Ad Winner Post SuperBowl Is.......


Who'd of thought. Avocados from Mexico wins the best overall response from it's SuperBowl placement.

Now I wonder why?


Door #1
Perhaps the clever situation of a bunch of secret society actors with their
sitcom banter?

or

 Door #2
Or perhaps that 10th beer needing a quasi-substantial slider on a chip, aka avocado dip?

Whichoneyagonnachoose?

There's nothing quite like a timely suggestion....a suggestion that is easily satisfied. It's not like
you have to save up to buy that avocado....not like a Lexus or BMW.....

And making a mean avocado dip is right up there with great bar-b-que. Isn't it?

Avocados from Mexico....has a nice ring to it.

And in the quick banter one of the great selling points slid in there about it being a healthy fat.
Maybe that was it.

Of all the millions of dollars of ad buy and production costs and actor heavy endorsements this one
ad wins the day overall.

Amazing isn't it?










Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Heart of Advertising




Back in the pre-internet days advertising messaging was delivered either by 1. Word of mouth 2. Print like newspapers, magazines, billboards, flyers, mailers, coupons posters anything on paper 3. Radio and 4. Television.

Simple.  

And easy to see where the 'creative' demarcation lines were. Also it was fairly rudimentary how effective ads were. Data collecting was in its infancy and elementary at best. And while data 
was important information both pre and post creative, creatives for the most part hated being dictated or reigned in or held to this information.



Now with all the digital world and internet and data collection the perception of "creative" has changed markedly. Especially in ad agencies where the never ending search for that magic bullet
that is going to tip the paradigm for ads and save agencies is always the quest. 

So for the most part, the 'creative' is now not the advertising ideas themselves....the ideas the copywriters and art directors work on to position and shape perception of a benefit to the end user. Now the 'creative' has become how many 'likes' or 'followers' you have or 'hits' on a website or Facebook, Twitter followers and Snapchat and Pinterest and Instagramers a product has. 

And with all that the 'creative' is now measured by how clever or gimmicky or substance-less a website is while your actual product or service goes searched on Amazon or Groupon for the deal
that sidesteps almost all 'creative positioning' about your product or service. 

And for all the data 'matrixes', insights and measurements, not  mentioning how
it can so easily be slanted for a predictive outcome, this is what 'creative' lives or dies by and creatives bend to now.

When the smoke clears from all the 'stories' littering .com's (which is millennium speak for testimonials) what you have is:


Word of mouth.  All dressed up to look like something else but it's plain old Word of Mouth.

Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and all other social connections are just Word of Mouth.

And as any junior advertising person will tell you, Word of Mouth is the most effective form of
advertising anywhere, anytime, anyplace. It is golden. And it is basic.

So really the digital realm has not moved the advertising creative needle one bit. Yes, the delivery is faster, there's more room for more messaging crammed into the internet than any other media delivery system to date. Clogged actually. But it hasn't created a new creative. It has created a new
DELIVERY SYSTEM for an old form of advertising.

Yes the Millennials have created their own "digital speak" that helps them think they have reinvented the ad game. And yes, they do give more money, more time and thought and effort into how they can create new delivery systems to promote old delivery methods.

The new "creatives" of this brave new world aren't the creative department copywriters and art directors. It has become the coders. Coders who haven't a stitch of design or copywriting study or craft. But they have become the new idea of what is meant by 'creative.' Ad schools are putting more emphasis on mainframing and coding than creative thinking.

Coding, wire frames, UX design now reign over thinking and ideas.

The copywriters and art directors are now harnessed like oxen to the wheel of data. Driven by "insights" be they real or not, this is the new overseer for the creative department.

And again nothing has changed because because data is the anathema for creative thinkers
who want to speak to the real human condition.

So what is advertising and advertising creative left with?  Work that doesn't work. Broken work. Creative executions that makes people scratch their heads and go: " huh?" or more often "ugh!"

There's always been bad advertising. It dominates the field. But given the glut of misinformation, slanted data collection, fake ads, fake everything....when you come right down to
it, it makes total sense that you rely predominately on word of mouth for any kind of validation.
And we are doing it for everything, even to validate ourselves.

Driving all this behind all the numbers and fancy overdone sites is TRUST. We trust the word of others.  We believe hard numbers like you find in data and in coding. It's easier.



We do not trust emotions. Generally we are afraid of emotions. We are all jam packed full of them and I would argue that is in large part what makes up our individuality and is that unique combination of emotions we all have that acts as triggers for response. But therein lies the rub. We just don't trust them. We don't trust the emotions in ourselves or in others. And when we don't trust something,
we don't want to understand it. We block it.

 For example:  a person will trust that a laundry soap gets out wine stains because that has no direct impact on their emotional makeup. Going a step further,  when you try to sell the idea that the same soap will remove the grease from an oil spill on birds and save their lives that emotional level is ok because the birds stand as a metaphor for themselves so we can handle that and feel some empathy towards the birds. But if you were to try to sell that soap as a way to clean human bloodstains, then you begin to skate on thin ice.

Things like music, movies, poetry, books, art all are there to open our hearts.

And the idea of advertising being an art form or bordering on an art form capable of opening our hearts is the very essence of what great creative is about. And that cannot be done with cold numbers and statistics. It cannot be created without looking deeply into the very hearts of what we long for
as human beings.

We are not robots yet. Not quite. But the march to sameness and loss of individuality in our being constantly nose to nose to a cold flat screen deadens our feelings. Our feelings are being stolen pixel by pixel.

And this is the real creative battle. To make us feel something that will touch us and resonate in our hearts. And to ultimately lift our thinking to a higher plane.

This is the silver bullet advertising needs and which scares almost everybody.














Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Power of Diversion

Budweiser's Super Bowl ad about a German immigrant, Adolphus Busch making his way to St. Louis and lamely showing a drawing of what looks to be a pretty current bottle design from today to a Mr. Eberhart Anheuser, his future partner (how fast that connection happened) has become the fodder of supposed controversy. Not about the bottle design...that's my thing as an ad person but about of course the current political travel bans to the U.S.




This is great free PR for Bud as if they need it, but hey it's FREE. And it creates a Diversion away from the real political dramas that are unravelling the U.S. currently.

Since everyone is focussed on the beer commercial, I am going to focus on how Diversion can be a handy tool in a hotbed of politics where like a magic trick, you Divert the "mark" in this case, the US public with one thing: i.e.: this Bud spot, while something else is being changed or "the switch" is happening right in front of our eyes.


This is a great technique and is used for politics worldwide. And in this case, the Bud spot helps the U.S. political machine tremendously in softening the blow of the extreme measures current and  yet to come. The bonus of this is it allows for a whole bunch of Superbowl fans to harmlessly vent and decry the political landscape of the travel bans during the commercial breaks from the comfort of their couches while the little woman compliantly replenishes the wings, nachos n chips and of course their Buds.

What is interesting about all this is the general public really isn't all that interested in the real politics that are going on. And when I say 'real' I mean, for example, the fresh appointment of a new Supreme Court judge, which now takes a back seat and sub-space headline in most media news with the Bud ad being the big 'scoop' and top story of the day.

Again, Divert the public with something mundane or unsolvable like the Bud ad while President Trump chooses a Supreme Court judge that tips the balance of the court tremendously against many existing laws that have been hard fought for and passed years ago and that now, in light of this pick, could very soon be in jeopardy. Fundamental individual rights are at risk of being lost before our eyes with the implications of this judge sitting for the rest of his lifetime as a Supreme Court Judge.

While we are Diverted to grouse about a Bud ad that will be forgotten in a week instead of getting up off the couch and really finding out what rights will be taken from us with this Supreme Court pick, we just worry about whether we have enough Bud and nachos to last the Super Bowl game.

You tell me who's winning this bigger game.