Tag Archives: advertising

A Business Card You’ll Hang On To

Look at the business cards Lego employees get to hand out

As most of us are just big kids at heart, I can’t imagine too many people getting rid of this “card”. Instead, I imagine most of us would keep it on our desk, maybe even bringing in a few other Legos to supplement the fun.

Lego must be a great company to work for….

Read the full article here.


Ridiculous Ad Idea

Scene: Chaotic flash of events, a baby crying, bills stacked high on a table, man pulling his hair out in exasperation, a couple arguing violently, image of bad fast food job, teen reading pregnancy test

(Cut to bedroom scene where two young people are getting kissing passionately)

Boy: Hold on (runs to bathroom, pulls out box from under sink)

(Black screen simply reads “Trojan”)

Sending the wrong message?

(First of all, let me apologize for the terrible quality of the photo below. Not long ago I traded in my antique mobile for a new one, one of the perks of which was supposed to be a better camera. And well, while my new phone may have lots of bells and whistles, it still takes terrible photos. Maybe it’s user error….)

Last weekend I was in Chicago and, as I was flying Southwest, I flew  out of Midway.  While I was waiting for my flight and having a sandwich in the food court, I couldn’t help but notice this advertisement:

The grainy text reads: “Chicago (Midway) to New York (Newark)”

In the bottom right corner it says “non-stop”

What I found particularly amusing about this piece is the fact that it displays an empty baggage cart (train?). To me this sends the not-so-subliminal message, we’ll get you to New York without stopping, but your bags aren’t going to be there.

And while I like the visual, I can’t help but wonder why no one else, either at the agency (possibly GDS&M from Austin, I really don’t know), or at Southwest caught this.

I hate you, but you’re so effective

Do you know Flo? Of course you do, she’s that horribly annoying, over-the-top bubbly woman from the Progressive commercials.

This is her:

I hate her. I mean I really, really, really despise her. Played by actor and comedian Stephanie Courtney (who’s not funny in her own right, I’ve seen her stand-up), she’s horrible and annoying. In fact, most of the time when I see a Progressive commercial in which she’s starring, I decide that it’s a good time to get a glass of water or let the dog outside.

But you know what? As much as I hate her, she is effective. I mean, after all, I know what product she’s hawking don’t I? What’s more, I know that they let you choose your own price and have discounts for multiple policies. That means, as much as I would love to see Flo disappear from our cultural landscape, as much as I despise her, she’s part of a successful campaign.

It’s funny how that works. When I was a kid growing up in St. Louis, I remember watching television with my grandma. There was a local Chevrolet dealer, Don Brown Chevrolet (see? I still remember the name) that had similarly excruciating commercials.  And every one of them started with the dealership’s namesake at the beginning of the commercial saying “Hi, I’m Don Brown”, to which my grandmother, being the cantankerous lady that she is would respond, “Hi, you’re stupid”. Annoying, obnoxious, but effective.

Why does this work?  I’m no psychologist, but it seems to me that this type of advertising is effective because we love to hate things. There’s nothing Americans love more than something to get the blood boiling, get us all riled up, and make us feel superior. And ad makers are smart people – they know this. Thus, rather than give us a ton of classy, cool, and/or funny spots, they sprinkle our television viewing in with a few ads like Flo or pretty much anything from Taco Bell

So the next time you’re watching television or listening to the radio and your senses are assaulted with one of those commercials we all hate, don’t get mad. Just remember, that’s what the goal is – to irritate you so much that you can’t forget the product or service. It’s a devious trick, but one that works really well.

Groupon’s SB spot, or There’s no such thing as bad publicity

If you live in the United States, you probably watched the Super Bowl. During the course of this, you were no doubt inundated with tons of TV spots, some clever and entertaining, others not so much.

One of the most memorable commercials, was Groupon’s Tibet spot featuring Timothy Hutton. (If you didn’t see it, I’ve inserted it below) Basically, the premise of this commercial was that Tibetan culture is in danger of dying (thanks to the unmentioned threat of Chinese homogenization), but that in spite of this, Tibetans still make a fantastic fish curry.

Now if you’re the Chinese government, you saw this spot as a cheap shot. If you’re a bleeding heart, you saw it as exploitation of the downtrodden Tibetans. I really didn’t have a problem with either, but my main issue is that it was really lazily researched. A simple Google search would have revealed that eating fish is considered taboo to Tibetans, and outside of the Sino-ized cities it is almost never consumed. Thus referring to a “Tibetan fish curry” is really sloppy, and plays on the assumption that Americans are ignorant towards Tibetan culture.

But all of this aside, what I really wanted to touch on was the effectiveness of this commercial. Yes, it received a lot of negative feedback (Marketing Profs rated it at a 12.96% negative response rate), but negative feelings aside, it did its job. That is to say, it got people thinking and talking about Groupon. While a Super Bowl ad is sure to promote brand awareness, the fact that this spot was so controversial is probably the strongest part of it. Otherwise, it perhaps becomes lost in mix with the Cowboys vs. Aliens movie, or the Adrian Brodie Stella spot.

So what’s my point? Just that this  proves the old adage, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”.

Great Ads: VW & Darth Vader

This is an awesome TV spot by Volkswagen that has been going viral lately. It really has everything you want in an ad: funny, cute, tells a story.  Check it out…

Friday Bonus:

Just because it’s almost the weekend, here’s a bonus video from Seattle’s Blue Scholars. Considering the storms most of the country had this week, I thought it was fitting. Hope you enjoy it.

Comparing and Contrasting

(Yes, friends, I’ve decided that now is as good a time as any to resume blogging after a long, and perhaps unnecessary hiatus.)

So recently my wife’s cousin came to visit us from Ukraine.  Though she’s an accomplished world traveler, with more stamps on her passport than anyone I know, this was her first trip to the US. So far it seems she’s liking it (let’s be honest, life is easy here), but in a conversation over ridiculously large American portions, she raised an interesting point, one I’d never thought about before: You see, in Ukraine, the laws of advertising are much stricter than they are here in the States, and one thing that shocked her was how one company’s advertisements were allowed to mention a competitor.

In Ukraine comparison advertising is strictly forbidden.  According to a 2004 law (remember Ukraine is a fairly young country, only achieving real independence in the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 90s), companies are not allowed to “Imitate or copy text, image, musical or sound effects, which are used in advertisements of other goods, if otherwise provided by Ukrainian intellectual property laws. (source)This also applies to trademarks, names, slogans, etc.

So what’s my point? My point is that this whole thing got me thinking about how different the advertising landscape would be if we had a law like this, and by proxy, how different cultures have different values when it comes to this sort of thing (genius insight, right?)

Comparison ads are old hat to us.  We’re used to Burger King comparing the Whopper to the Big Mac, or Chevy telling us how much better their trucks are than Ford or Toyota, Tylenol vs Advil, etc. In fact, some products have made their entire brand on this concept (“Choosy moms choose Jiff”, Taco Bell’s “Think outside the bun campaign”, etc). It’s actually a pretty common and effective means of getting your point across.

Can you imagine our world without these type of ads?

No comment from me on the ethics of this type of advertising or their accuracy, I just find it interesting to consider how Apple would be selling their computers without highlighting their advantages over PCs. Just something to tickle your imagination…