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Spanning Continents

April 15, 2010
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Great idea, great execution, no copy needed. I wish I could call these ads my own. The best ads are always the most simple that can tell you a story. And these ones could not be more simple. One Fedex employee handing another a package in another country simply and quickly.

Agency: DDB, Brazil
Creative Directors: Rodrigo Almeida, Renata Florio, Sergio Valente
Art Director: Max Geraldo
Copywriter: Aricio Fortes
Photographer: Manolo Moran


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Mark Your Spot

March 8, 2010
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While watching a few episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia I caught glimpse of a new campaign put out for Calvin Klein. This campaign is helmed by Laird and Partners, featuring two actors and two athletes. I know that fashion ads are not know for being overtly clever, but what in the hell…? The commercial spots are so annoying that they may lead me to never again buy Calvin Klein apparel of any sort. I also have to ask what demo this campaign is geared to? It can’t be straight men, because anybody I’ve shown this commercial too in that demo have been completely turned off.

The four actors featured are Twilight actor Kellan Lutz, aka Emmett Cullen, Japanese soccer star Hidetoshi Nakata, Mehcad Brooks, who played “Eggs” Benedict Talley on HBO’s True Blood and The Deep End, and Spanish tennis star Fernando Verdasco. While the print ads don’t really express the ridiculousness of this campaign, you can see how freaky this is with the commercials. And while the spot below is a 15-second spot, the ones featured on Hulu are 30 seconds of that. You can actually find all four spots at X Mark Your Spot.

I can understand women and gay men being very intreged by this campaign, as I usually love Victorias Secret commercials. But is this going to attract any straight men that buy underwear? I’m not sure, but certainly not this guy. Calvin Klein actually just lost any future purchases from me, as I think these commercials are horrible.


Promoting the Mad Hatter

March 3, 2010
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Movie posters are simple in their purpose, to create interest in the movie and to ultimately get as many people as possible to see it. Since the dawn of the digital age the ways to promote a movie have increased to far more than just a creating a poster. But sticking to just the poster, there have been several design phases that movie poster designers have gone through; from illustration to copy heavy to simple photographs. Today however, movie poster designers are going with the theme of individual character posters.

More and more movies are going with specific character posters to advertise their movies. This approach diversifies the designs that film studios can take when promoting a new movie. If a man tends to identify more with Johnny Depp than Orlando Bloom, then that person can see the Captain Jack Sparrow poster. This also leads to far more sales opportunities, I know I’ve personally purchased a few character driven posters in the past.


Toyota’s Problems

February 8, 2010
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As some of you may know, I recently applied to the School of Visual Arts Masters in Branding. For the application, I was required to write a short essay where I chose a brand and discussed it on several levels including; relevance in the market, history and creative. Here is what I came up with.

“Toyota has always been known for their dependability and their clean reputation. More than likely if you see a car still on the road from the 80s or the early 90s, its a Toyota. Or if not, than thats the perception and that’s all that really matters. They are known to last 200k miles, and are also priced for the middle class driver. When students graduate from college, they look to get a vehicle that is dependable and that they can afford, and Toyota is typically at the front at that list. However, in 2009 and the start of 2010, Toyota has recalled over 4m vehicles for safety problems. Ranging from brake problems to sticking accelerators, Toyotas came off the streets faster then they went on to them in the past year. Because Toyotas were known for being the most dependable brand on the market, this recall has dramatically tarnished their brand equity.

The current Toyota logo was introduced in 1989 and went into wide release in 1990. Toyotas logo is the graphical representation of their company philosophy, with three ovals combining to form the Toyota “T” and the open space in the background representing the open possibilities for the future for the brand. They do a good job at expressing this through the rest of the outlets, with the future being a prominent motif in their marketing. Being a Japanese brand has also helped with this image, as the American brands are seen as old-fashioned. Everything about a brand contributes to its image, and that has worked out in Toyotas fashion.

Toyota has been at the forefront of the “Green” automotive revolution since it started. The Prius has been thee ‘it’ car not only for the green revolution, but also for any Hollywood celebrities who wants to be seen as environmentally conscience. The emergence of the Prius has allowed Toyota to manage the green movement to their own devices, pitching the Prius as the car that will save the environment. And while Toyota is not the only car to have a hybrid, the Prius is the standard and you can see this echoed in their commercial and their marketing material. However, even the Prius can not escape bad publicity when it hits. A solid number of Prius’s were recalled for problems and in the near future you are going to see the sales of the vehicle decline I believe.

The future of the Toyota brand is not going to redeem itself based solely on interviews or press releases. The company is going to need to analyze several things. Where do customers see the brand now? Where does the brand want to be thought of? How do they get from their current positioning to their desired one? Their current positioning is not one that is desired, it is one of damage control and crisis management. I believe that to get out of their current state they need to once again demonstrate to the public that they are the most dependable brand on the market. Put out marketing material on their stellar safety record, create commercials that deviate from their current campaign and that remind the public that Toyotas are the safest car on the road, and increase the incentives to the 25-34 year old demographic. Like I stated earlier, Toyota is the chosen car for the recently out of college and that is the one demographic that wont be affected by a recall or a little negative press. They will remember the Toyota that their family had for 17 years, the one their neighbor had for 15 years, or the one they drove cross country in after the graduated.

Toyota has been the most dependable car company on their American market for the entirety of my life, and while the company is fighting a 4m car recall and a massive amount of bad press, I know it is nothing that the brand itself can’t handle. Toyota, prior to this incident, was ranked the 19th healthiest brand in America according to Business Week. Bad press can only do so much when you have a brand that is managed well and kept as healthy as the Toyota brand has. When you think brand killers recently, Tiger Woods has to come to mind. Sex scandals are hard to get past. However, when you build the foundation of an extremely healthy brand, they can withstand a lot of scrutiny when it comes their way. Forbes Magazine just ranked Tiger Woods the top athletic brand in the country. With that single example, it is evident how important building and maintaing a strong brand is. If Tigers problems had happened to any other golfer, they would never golf in the professional arena again.”

It’s interesting, because about a week or so after I wrote this I saw :30 tv commercials announcing how Toyota was working as hard as possible to gain back the consumers trust. Disappointingly, I can’t find any copies of the message online. But I think Toyota is making a good first step in airing these messages.


Search On

February 7, 2010
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The following are the three best ads, deemed by me, during the Superbowl. In order of favorite from 1-3. Enjoy.

1.

This is the first commercial I have ever seen for Google, and that is because they have never spent heavily on advertising for their search engine with commercials. Google owned almost a complete marker share in the search engine industry until the introduction of Bing. And while I still don’t know a single person who would use Bing over Google, they got 10m hits last month. But this commercial was beautiful, illustrating perfectly the essence that is Google. Being able to find anything and telling a story in the process. I watched the Superbowl with a big group at a friends apartment and when the copy “Assemble a crib” came up, “Awww” was all you could hear. That’s the power of advertising, turning a search engine into a heart warming story. Amazing.

2.

Doritos flooded this Superbowl with ads, which annoying to me, were all submitted by fans of the brand. While that’s impressive in the sense you can get interested spectators to submit ads, it takes away work from the professionals who could have come up with something just as good I’m sure. But alas, I did love this ad. It’s simple and America seems to love kids who take control. And oh yeah, hysterically funny.

3.

This ad spoke so simply to its targeted demo, and so effectively. What do men have? Get up, go to work, sit through work, come home, do chores. For men who didn’t end up doing what they really wanted to do, this is the car for you. A way to keep your manliness. After watching that commercial, I really do want one of the cars. I’m pretty resilient to advertising being in the industry myself, but all these ads were extremely impressive.


Word Of Mouth Against AIDS

February 1, 2010
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Agency.com has delivered a new and slightly disturbing ad for AIDS prevention in Italy. The one-minute spot shows the close-up of a man with a latex condom on his tongue, his eyes intense, and somber music in the background. Superimposed copy reads: “Protect the people you love. Use it. Say it. Spread the word.” I’ve had experience designing for events or companies dealing with sensitive topics, having done a poster campaign for a play titled ‘Dying to be Thin’, which dealt with bulimia. My belief is that when you deal with important, controversial topics, you need to be provocative. Possibly even straddling the line of offensive. This not only gets people’s attention, but it gets them talking about the problem. I believe this accomplishes this.


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Mancrunch Denied by CBS

January 31, 2010
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I don’t know how many people have heard of the situation, but heres what’s happened so far. Mancrunch, a gay dating site wanted to air a 30-second commercial on CBS during the Superbowl. Besides large speculation that Mancrunch can come up with the steep $3m price tag for a 30-second spot during the most watched event of the year, CBS is having  what I’m going to call “morality issues” with the spot. It shows to men watching a football game rooting for opposite sites. However, when their hands meet in the chip bowl, they start making out.  You can check out the spot below.

It is far less risque than most beer ads I’ve seen run, including the ad where two women wrestle in a fountain in their underwear. However, CBS denied the spot, saying that they would be willing to work with Mancrunch to come up with an alternative answer to their problem. But what is it about the Mancrunch spot that disagrees with CBS? As you can see for yourselves, there is nothing particularly risque or dirty about it. If it were a regular dating site and a man and a women were kissing there would be no problem. You tell me.

What inflames the situation even further is Tim Tebow and Focus on the Families Superbowl spot with is distinctly anti-abortion. Tebow, known not only as one of the most popular and best college players of all time, but also as a staunch catholic who thanks God after every game. Being as this is my blog, I’ll state plain and simple that just like Church and State, I believe that Church and Sports should have no place together. However, I digress. Woman’s rights groups are outraged that CBS is allowing Tebow’s commercial to air during the Superbowl. And while I think all commercials should be allowed to air, including ones with viewpoints I don’t agree with, I think CBS is hurting their partners by denying Mancrunch and allowing Tebow’s commercial to air.

The NFL has always tried to keep it’s league above all political arguments, as the league has enough on its plate without having to worry about anything. Just this past season there was a group of people who wanted to buy the St. Louis Rams, and among the group was notorious conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh is known for having made several racist comments and just generally being a hated individual. And because the NFL is 70% black players, Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL, decided it was in the best interest if Limbaugh had absolutely no affiliation with the organization.

This is the position I believe the CBS should be taking in regards to its commercial usage. Don’t associate you’re organization with messages that are going to tarnish your image; brand management 101. But how does CBS handle the aftermath of the situation? Will it go away, as does most PR nightmares with the short attention of the American public? Or does this linger in CBS’s key demographics? By denying Mancrunch their commercial spot, are they jeopardizing their gay audience? I guess only time will tell.


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