Category Archives: Advertising Watch

The Gatorade Propel Ad

Leviathan Gatorade’s Propel introduced a new ad on Monday during 24.  It shows a giant running through the streets of San Francisco.  The giant is a loose assembly of  traffic signs, post-it notes, taxi cabs, jack hammers, phones ringing, TVs on loud, people shouting, a baby screaming, a boss exploding.

Eventually the giant begins to break apart and things fall away, until finally he is an ordinary man running in a singlet and shorts.  He pauses, finally, drinks deeply of the Propel bottle and a voice-over says,

Fit has a feeling and a water.  Propel, the fitness water.

Propel, and the agency Element 79 Partners, calls this spot the "stress monster."

It’s easy enough to "reverse engineer" the marketing here.  Stress Monster is dedicated the simple proposition that exercise makes stress go away.  This is well established as an understanding in our culture. It’s well established as a reality in the lives of millions of Americans.   

Meaning management sometimes goes like this.  The idea is not to find a new meaning for the brand.  The idea is go after an existing meaning with new vigor and skill.  In the language of marketing, the idea is to "own" an idea that is already out there. 

When we say we "own" a meaning, we mean we have discovered it’s most essential, powerful properties and made these as our own.  This is hard to do well, but when it works the brand (Propel) and the meaning (stress reduction) are mutually presupposing.  When they’re done really, really well, it is now impossible to think about one without thinking about the other. 

And that’s the way, I think, to think about Stress Monster.  It is part of Propel’s effort to own stress reduction.  Does this ad succeed? I have to say they made a pretty good run at it.  (No pun intended.)  Pam and I were dozing when it came on, and we looked at one another and just laughed with wonder and admiration.  Look what just charged through the living room!

If I have a complaint, it’s that the ad insists on a certain literalism.  The stress is represented by showing things that cause stress.  And running is shown quite literally to make these fall away.  And the man takes a drink just as the voice over claims glory for the brand.  And the song we hear is the Queen and David Bowie version of Under Pressure. ("Pressure, pressing down on me, pressing down on you.") 

I shouldn’t complain.  Because all the pieces, and especially the song, work to perfection.  We might just as well say that these simple devices are good bones, and the stuff of a marketing clarity. Or, to put this another way, this literalism adds up to so much more than the sum of its parts, that we have no real grounds for complaint.

Someone who was trained in the anthropology of James George Frazer, and his great work, The Golden Bough, might want to point out that the composite man evokes several folkloric creatures, the Leviathan, the Golem, the Chimera, all of them, as he is, desperate, haunted figures, cursed by their complication, feverishly in need of release from same.  But then I am not trained in the anthropology of James George Frazer, so never mind. 

As I have tried to argue here before, we are compilations of influence, contacts, ideas, loosely assembled and not always well organized or articulated.   Stress Monster is the unhappiest face of this new form.   

References

Lazare, Lewis.  2007.  Element 79 waters down ad monster.  Chicago Sun-Times.  March 15, 2007. here.

There is one version of the ad from Propel itself.  Click on "Stress Monster" once you’ve gone here

There is a much clearer reproduction at ‘boards.  here.

Hats off the team responsible for Stress Monster:

Agency: Element 79 Partners
Producer: Tom Cronin
Creative Director: Doug Behm/Jon Flannery
Writer: Ron D’Innocenzo
Art Director: Doug Behm/Jon Flannery
Production Company: Harvest Films
Director: Baker Smith
Editorial Company: Lost Planet LA
Executive Producer: Betsy Beale
Producer: Romi Laine/Wade Weliever
Editor: Paul Martinez
Assistant Editor: Ryan Dahlman
Colorist: Stephan Stefan Sonnenfeld, Company 3 LA
VFX: Asylum
VFX Executive Producer: Michael Pardee       
VFX Supervisor: Mitch Drain             
Senior VFX Producer: Stepahanie Gilgar      
CG supervisor: Sean Faden               
Lead 3d Animator: Matt Hackett         
Online Artist: Robert John Moggach
Mixer: Loren Silber, Lime Studios
Sound Design: 740 Sound Design, Exec Producer Scott Ganary

Super Bowl XLI: ads evaluated

Tony_dungy_ii I watched the Super Bowl yesterday, resolving to grade the ads even as I watched the game.  Chicago’s early promise and eventual collapse made it hard to concentrate so it wasn’t until this morning that I went through the ads carefully.   I used 5 categories: 5 (best) to 1 (appalling). 

The question is whether anyone in America is now making ads the way Tony Dungy makes football teams.  Well, yes, the Super Bowl ads showed a few moments of class 5 genius.  And there was work that ranged from the capable (4) to the competent (3).  But there was also quite a lot of bad work (2), proving yet again that the agency world cannot protect itself (or the client) from rank incompetence.  And yesterday, there were a couple of absolute stinkers (1), demonstrating that some agencies are still able to persuade the client to  fund the public destruction of their brand equity.

That there should be good work should not surprise us.  The agency world has always been skilled at the task the corporation is only now attempting to master: how to get everything out of the way of a great idea and then how to get everything out of the way of a great execution of that idea. 

This is spectacularly difficult process at the best of times, but now the agency is tormented by the idea that they must include the consumer in the process, to allow for a process of cocreation of brand meaning and equity.  The secret of agency genius has always been to keep consumers, the corporation and other civilians out of the brainstorm.  Now the question is how to let them in…and still engage in good meaning manufacture.   Yesterday’s experiments prove how tough this is going to be.

That’s the internal challenge.  The external challenge is how to hold one’s own against the proliferation of new media: the internet, social networks, product placement, video in-game advertising, guerrilla marketing, cell phone ads, Google line ads.  But all of this is all little advertising, frequently concept and creativity free.  The Super Bowl, then, comes as an opportunity for an industry to reassert its primacy, to showcase the state of the art, and to stun the competitors into silence.  On the whole, I don’t think yesterday’s effort will have that effect.   

Ok, here are my ratings.   I arrived at them using an incredibly complicated algorithm that weighed spectacle, intelligience, creativity, wit, strategy, execution, theme, and vivacity.  (All of this in my head!!!)  If there is a bias here, and of course there is a bias here, it is an anthropological one.  My real question: with what imagination, intelligence, and economy did the agency use the cultural materials at its disposal.  More precisely, how well did the agency make brand meaning out of cultural meaning?

5 stars (best)

E*TRADE –  One Finger
BBDO New York
for the adcritic replay of this ad, click here

Agency:
BBDO New York
Chief Creative Officers:
David Lubars, Bill Bruce
Director:
Paul Middleditch, HSI Productions / Plaza Films
Production Company:
HSI Productions / Plaza Films
Editorial Company:
Beast

Coca-Cola – Happiness Factory
Wieden & Kennedy/Amsterdam
here.

Agency:
Wieden & Kennedy/Amsterdam
Executive Creative Director:
Al Moseley,
John Norman
Creative Director:
Rick Condos,
Hunter Hindman
Agency Executive Producer:
Tom Dunlap
Agency Producer:
Darryl Hagans
Production Company:
Psyop/NY
Director:
Kylie Matulick,
Todd Mueller
Director of Photography:
Ray Coates
Executive Producer:
Matt Buels,
Tim Nunn
Producer:
Boo Wong
Sound Design:
Amber Music
Sound Designer:
Bill Chesley
Music Company:
Human/NY
Live Action Production Company:
Hungry Man/NY
Live Action Director:
Peter Lydon
Mix Engineer:
Hillary Kew
Executive Producer (Design):
Justin Booth-Clibborn

Sierra Mist – Karate
BBDO New York
here.

Client:
Pepsi
Agency:
BBDO New York
Chief Creative Officer:
David Lubars
Copywriter:
Jim LeMaitre
Executive Producer:
Hyatt Choate
Senior Producer:
Amy Wertheimer
Executive Music Producer:
Loren Parkins
Production Company:
Hungry Man – New York
Director:
Hank Perlman
Director of Photography:
Joe DiSalvo
Editorial Company:
Nomad Editing Company, Inc
Editor:
Tom Muldoon
VFX/SFX:
The Mill
Music:
Alexander Lasarenko / Tonal

4 stars (better)

E*Trade – Robbery
BBDO New York
here.

NFL – Hard to say goodbye
NFL
here

Bud Select – Just a Game
Cannonball
here.

Nationwide – Rolling’ VIP
T:M Advertising
here.

Toyota – See – Saw
Saatchi & Saatchi LA
here

Toyota – Ramp
Saatchi & Saatchi LA
here.

Coca-Cola – Especially Today
Widen Kennedy Portland
here.

Bud Light – Fist Bump
DDB Chicago
here

Budweiser – Clydesdale Spot
DDB Chicago
here.

Coca-Cola – Videogame
Wieden Kennedy/Portland
here.

Bud Light – But He’s Got Bud Light
DDB Chicago
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=b4d51164

3 stars (good)

GM – Robot
Deutsch/Los Angeles
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=4f2a6054

Chevrolet – Ain’t We Got Love
Campbell-Ewald
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=b5c8d8ea

Taco Bell – Big Game
Draft FCB/Irvine
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=425d6acc

T-Mobile – Icon
Publicis West – Seattle
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=2e4e17b2

Emerald Nuts – Boogeyman
Goodby, Silverstein & Partners
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=92e8e1d2

Hewlett-Packard – Orange County Choppers
Goodby, Silverstein & Partners – San Francisco
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=0ec7b725

IZOD – In the Snow
In-house
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=ff399dcd

Honda Slalom
RPA
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=b341cd6c

CareerBuilder.com – Darts
Cramer-Krasselt
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=37c98ef5

CareerBuilder.com – Promotion Pit
Carmer-Kasselt
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=fc783f2a

Bud Light – Great Apes
Mortar
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=36ab11ce

Spring – Connectile Dysfunction
Publicis Hal Riney
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=b0407b09

Doritos – Checkout Girl
Kristin Dehnert
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=38835277

Sierre Mist – Combover
BBDO New York
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=d71c0aa8

Pizza Hut – Poparazzi
BBDO New York
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=2c33620e

2 stars (not so good)

Bud Light – Rock, Papre, Scissors
DDB Chicago
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=9234aa74

Blockbuster – Mouse Click-Click Away
Doner
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=9ac640c5

Bud Light – Classroom
LatinWorks Marketing
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=75bd1609

King Pharmaceuticals and American Heart Association – Heart Attack
Glowworm
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=f8363328

Bud Light – Reception
DDB Chicago
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=8c907fc1

FedEx – Moon office
BBDO New York
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=b6f8c04b

Van Heusen – A Man’s Walk
In-house
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=0c95ad95

FedEx – Not What It Seems
BBDO New York
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=3912a98f

Flomax – Biking
Grey Worldwide
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=eb42252a

CareerBuilder.com – Performance Evaluation
Cramer-Krasselt
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=a1c0a188

Snapple -Wise Man
Cliff Freeman and Partnrs/NY
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=fa1a775e

Honda -Elvis
RPA
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=1b1e8a0c

Budweiser -King Crab
DDB Chicago
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/category.php?search_criteria=Super%20Bowl%20XLI

FedEx – Not what it seems
BBDO New York
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=3912a98f

Chevrolet – Car Wash
Campbell-Ewald (consumer created)
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=13417a09

GoDaddycom – The office -Marketing
In-house
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=12c0b8d1

Doritos – Chip Lover’s Dream
Jared Cicon, consumer created
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=ec2d10c4

Doritos -Duct Tape
Joe Herbert (consumer created)
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=c126b0f2

Doritos – Live the Flavor
Dale Backus (consumer created)
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=a40a5dfb

Pizza Hut – Herd
BBDO New York
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=35b9c376

1 star (please)

Garmin – Maposaurus
Fallon
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=6248e838

Snickers – Mechanics
TBWAChiatDay New York
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=45b118d5

Salesgenie.com – Pierce-Bostt
Vinod Gupta
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=e6275844

Doritos – Mouse Trap
Billy Federight (consumer created)
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=5c7a3c80

Acknowledgments

Thanks to www.blackprofs.com for the picture of Tony Dungy.

Thanks to Adage.com and adcritic.com for coverage of the Superbowl ads.

My “top 10” ads for 2006

I don’t say these are the best ads of 2006.  They’re the ones that impressed me as great pieces of marketing. 

There is a good deal of chatter about the "revolution" taking place in advertising as a result of new media and new messaging.  But I believe we have yet to understand the cultural content and power of the more traditional venues, and especially the 30 second TV spot. 

Here’s my salute to my favorites.

ad:                          RosieRosie_in_volvo_ad_2
client:                  Volvo
agency:               Euro RSCG Worldwide
for more details:
Meet Rosie, scourge of the new advertising (here).

ad:               Light It Up           
client:      The Coca-Cola Company
agency:    Foote Cone & Belding New York
for more details:
Lighting it up at the Coca-Cola Company (here).Lebron_james_as_jpeg_2

ads:                    The LeBrons
client:              Nike
agency:           Weiden + Kennedy
for more details:
The LeBrons (here).

ad(s):                  All the Geico spots running in 2006
client:                 Geico.com
agency:              The Martin Agency
for more details:
Craig Ferguson (brand exemplar?) (here).
Smithbarney_2

ad:                    Working Wealth
client:            Smith Barney
agency:         Hill Holliday, New York
for more details:
Parsing the symbolic language of the Smith Barney ad (here).

ad:                    Where the bloody hell are you?
client:            AustraliaAustralia_ii
agency:         M&C Saatchi, Sydney
for more details:
Marketing Nations: Good News From Australia (here).

ad:                     Intel chips inside
client:            Apple
agency:         TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles
for more details:
Branding Brilliance from Apple (here).

ad:                      Peyton Manning as a fan
client:              Mastercard
agency:           McCann-Erickson New York
for more details:
Peyton Manning: The man and the brand (here).

ad:                   My Life, My Card: M. Night ShyamalanAm_ex_shyamalan_1_1
client:           AmEx
agency:        Ogilvy         
for more details:
Branding, Cocreation and Amex Theater (here).
Oscar advertising (here).

ad:                        Chevy Cocreation website
client:                Chevrolet/General Motors
agency:             Campbell Ewald
for more details:
Chevy cocreation (here). 

Meet Rosie, scourge of the new advertising

Rosie_in_volvo_ad_1 Volvo and Nissan both have ads on TV at the moment.  One recalls the greatness that was advertising, the other gives us advertising’s dismal present. 

The Nissan ad is called "Seven Days in a Sentra" and it features a young man spending a week in his car. At the end of the first spot, Marc Horowitz looks into the camera and says, "this could get interesting." 

But it never does. There was a time, 10 years ago, when this idea was fresh and funny.  Now it is an exercise in the obvious, right down to Marc’s garden gnome, that object of the college prank transplanted to the mainstream by the movie Amelie and then forced into over exposure by those tremendously bad Travelocity ads.

Now the odd thing is that the campaign is adored by Barbara Lippert, Adweek’s brilliant judge of advertising.  So maybe I’m wrong.  But I can’t help feeling that the creative team sat down and decided to "get a little crazy" in pursuit of a younger consumer.  One of the new rules of advertising: don’t ever patronize your market, especially when they enjoy acute sensitivity to contemporary culture in general and marketing in particular. 

(It is perhaps too easy to blame the agency [TBWA\CHIAT\DAY, Playa Del Rey].  Ever since Carlos Ghosn moved the Nissan marketing team to Nashville, we have had to wonder what the costs might be.  Maybe this sort of ad plays in Nashville.  More probably, when you live in Nashville, it’s hard to see that it doesn’t play on the coasts.)

Lippert likes the Sentra campaign she says because there is "genius…in the casting." 

Horowitz’s good-natured, quirky, inventive and flexible approach to life is delightful to watch.

But in an era of really gifted comics and satirists, people capable of interrogating contemporary life until the seams burst and the lining tears away (think Jon Heder [Napoleon Dynamite] or Sasha Baron Cohen [Borat], ) this ends up looking "indie lite," or agit prop with the "agit" excised, or performance art turned into dinner theatre.  (When your average frat boy would have been wittier, you know you have a problem.) 

Now to the good news: a Volvo ad called "Rosie" that features a little girl chattering away as her Dad buckles her into the back seat of the family car. 

This is advertising as we used to make it.  Someone sat down and thought about the value proposition of any car from a father’s point of view (something like "safe passage"), the standard feature of the Volvo value proposition ("really safe passage"), and then looked for a way to propose this proposition in a manner that is interesting and powerful.

Sweet Jerusalem, they hit this one so far out of the park, it’s still traveling.  Rosie, a little girl of about 5, is talking, talking, and talking (as above, complete with visual aid).  We can’t tell what she is saying.  She could be reporting a story, she could be making one up.  (Actually, it’s hard to tell: is Rosie telling the story, or is the story, with its calls for dramatic gesture and exclamation, telling her?)  Dad hesitates to close the door for fear of interrupting, but it’s clear to us (and to him) that there is no interrupting this great spill of detail, enthusiasm and fluting talk.

One of the things I love about the ad is that "Dad" is played with restraint.  It would have been easy to have him "mug" his reaction or signal how achingly sweet this moment is.  But, no, that would have been patronizing.   Rosie is plenty because Rosie is everything.  We know exactly what is going on here.  No additional indexing, no additional "viewing instructions" are necessary.  What we get from Dad, at the end of the spot, is the littlest smile as he drives away.  Rosie, of course, is still talking.

Rosie’s talking jag is the sort of thing that one parent might report back to another.  It’s possible that the grandparent’s might hear about it. But it is also the sort of thing that is so deeply implicated in family life that, chances are, it will not stay in memory.  After the fact, Dad might say, "yeah, that Rosie has always been a chatter box" but the treasure of this moment will not make it into the family’s "oral tradition," into the scrap book or into the attic.  It is evanescent.  It is gone.

Someone at the agency went and recovered it.  (Did they get it from research?  Did it come from a brainstorm?)  And they seized on it as a way for us to think about "really safe passage" and the value that Volvo creates.  Left to their own devices, the automotive engineers will wow us with side impact tests and braking stats.  And we can communicate these to the consumer with promises of "safety."  And, bless them, even in a focus group, the consumer pretends to be interested, because, hey, who isn’t interested in safety?

But when the pitch is about safety, the particular gets lost in the general.  Yes, we all believe in safety, in the way we all believe in motherhood or iPods.  But for God’s sake, safety does not work as a brand proposition, and it isn’t something Volvo can claim for itself, unless it is made vivid, actual, human, and urgent.

Rosie is safety made vivid, actual, human and urgent.  It is when we see a little girl telling a story from her Dad’s point of view that see how much safety matters.  Now it’s clear.  Now it’s clear that Volvo is worth every penny of the price premium, and the styling shortfall, that Volvo obliges us to pay for it. 

There are several ways to express the value augmentation, the meaning manufacture, taking place here.  Here’s one: Rosie’s story > (augments)  Rosie’s charm > Rosie’s vulnerability > Dad’s responsibility and solicitude > Volvo’s safety. Actually, we could parse it a couple of ways.  And this too is the measure of a great ad.  It has a kind of semiotic redundancy built into it.  We can see it several ways but we always up back in the same place. 

But enough about the anthropology.  What about the advertising?  It turns out we can choose.  We can choose between agencies that chase after new segments with palid recitations of the kind of thing the consumer can do better while sleepwalking.  Or we can tell human and branding stories with such power that the world comes to us.  If advertising (and marketing and anthropology) learned anything in the 1990s, it was this: don’t play your consumer, don’t patronize.  Do what you do as well as you can do.  Find the value propositions and tell its story with all the creative power and cultural knowledge the agency has at its disposal.  Or, as we might now put it, find the Rosie within. 

References

Anonymous.  2006.  Nissan’s Long Haul To Nashville.  BusinessWeek.  July 3, 2006.  here.

Lippert, Barbara.  2006.  Living la Vida Nissan: TBWA’s inventive campaign stars a man, a car and a life.  Adweek. October 23, 2006, p. 26. here.

For a YouTube version of the Volvo ad, here.

Hats off to the authors of this ad:
(details courtesy of Euro RSCG Worldwide)

Title of campaign – Volvo “Who Would You Give a Volvo To?”

Network – Euro RSCG Worldwide

Office – Euro RSCG Worldwide

New York

Advertiser – Ford Motor Company

Brand – Volvo Cars

North America

Product Category – Automotive

Launch Month/Year – September 2006

Geographical Area –

North America

AGENCY credits-

Global Chief Executive Officer: David Jones

Chief Executive Officer, NY and San Francisco: Ron Berger

Executive Creative Director: Jeff Kling

Creative Director: Nick Cohen

Art Director: Julie Lamb

Copywriter: Risa Mickenberg

Contributor: Sharoz Marakechi

Director of Broadcast Production: Joe Guyt

Director of Broadcast Production, Business Affairs: Cathy Pitegoff

Associate Producer: Becky Burkhard

Group Account Director: Ian Marlowe

Account Mgmt: Edward Yu, Caroline Jackson and Amy Richardson

Business Manager: Deborah Steeg

Talent: Dawn Kerr

PRODUCTION credits

Production Company AND City: Furlined,

Los Angeles

Director: Pekka Hara

Director of Photography: Joaquin Baca-Asay

Executive Producer: David Thorne

Producer: Rob Stark

The death of modern advertising

SaatchiThere a couple of ways to look at the future of advertising.  With clarity or with panic.  Lord Saatchi has chosen to panic.

In the pages of the Financial Times, he warns of the death of advertising.  Lord Saatchi believes that advertising has been extinquished by a change in culture and commerce:

nowadays only brutally simple ideas get through. They travel lighter, they travel faster.

WhatI am describing here is a new business model for marketing, appropriate to the digital age.   In this model, companies compete for global ownership of one word in the public mind.

This is "one word equity".

In this new business model, companies seek to build one word equity – to define the one characteristic they most want instantly associated with their brand around the world, and then own it. That is one-word equity.

Lord Saatchi believes that the work of advertising is now clear.  It is to find the one word,

the word that guides everywhere. And once it is found, never to forsake it. How do you find that   word? There are 750,000 words in the English language. How do you know which is the right one? It is difficult.

The pain comes from the ruthless paring down of the paragraph to the sentence and the sentence down to the word. One-word equity is the most priceless asset in the new world of the new technologies. Discover it and you have the route to salvation and eternal life.

To call this stupid, well, is this really the one word I’m hunting for? Moronic?  Brain damaged? Sorry, that’s two words.  Insensate?  There is one priceless word for what Lord Saatchi has written, but I need to do a little more paring.  I’ll get back to you.

In the meantime, let’s examine Lord Saatchi’s claim.  He believes that the hunt for the one, true word is driven by a change in culture and the consumer. Culture has got faster and more complicated.  Check.  The consumer is now a digital native who thinks in new ways.  His branin has rewired itself, responding faster, recalling less.  Check.  The consumer suffers CPA "continuous partial attention."  Check.  So advertising is dead.  Check, please.

The premises are sound.  The conclusion is insane.  Lord Saatchi peers into the future and loses his nerve almost immediately.  Hold, Lord Saatchi, might the new consumer offer new life to advertising?  After all, this is a creature who can monitor several media, detect tiny messages, accomplish acrobatic acts of analysis thereupon.  The evidence collected by the likes of MIT’s Henry Jenkins points to the emergence of a consumer with extraordinary powers of assimilation and understanding. 

But of course, advertising cannot remain unchanged in the face of this consumer.  But it is not clear that it has died, nor that it should now be confined to the capitivity of single words. I think that the new consumer releases the agency from all that old USP [unique selling proposition] and KISS [keep it simple, stupid] nonsense  I believe that if we could climb in our Rocky and Bullwinkle time machine and ask the adverisers of the 1950s London and Manhattan if they might like to have the new consumer or the old one, that would be unanimous in their enthusiasm for the new.

Lord Saatchi has two choices in the face of the new consumer.  One was to change advertising to give it new power.  The other was to kill it, first by declaration in the pages of the Financial Times and then with his new "one word equity" model.  Fine work, Lord Saatchi.  We will carrying on the revolution without you. 

References

Saatchi.  Maurice. 2006.  The Strange Death of Modern Advertising.  June 22, 2006.  p. 13.  here

BMW claims meaning for the brand

Bmw

The new "enemy of ideas" spot for BMW captures corporate citizens we all of us know too well.  These are the people who like to say "no," the ones who resist, resent, and refuse innovation. 

In the BMW ad, they says things like "Let me play the devil’s advocate," or "With all due respect, but" and the ad has us understand that this is the language of obfuscation, and they are the agents of orthodoxy. 

In another spot called "euphemisms," we hear a corporate citizen say "You’ve presented some very challenging ideas" and the ad offers a translation: "I am scared of your thinking."  "Keep that idea in your back pocket" is translated as "Your idea is about to die a slow death."

Brilliant.  This is an important new cultural territory.  It is now clear just about everywhere in the corporate world that innovation is the new order of the day.  BusinessWeek has said we now have an innovation economy.  As culture and commerce change in this way, new meanings open up for the brand, and I was wondering when someone’s brand would step up to claim it.  It looked for awhile as if HP might make itself a special friend of dynamism, but that campaign seemed finally to lose its way. 

Now BMW has seized the opportunity: "at BMW ideas are everything and as an independent company, we make sure great ideas live on to become Ultimate Driving Machines."  Apparently, BMW means to make itself the "Company of Ideas."

The campaign is by GSD&M.  I don’t have the names of the creative team at GSD&M or at BMW, but good on ya, mates.  This is good work.  Let us hope that it does as much for the corporation as it does for the brand.  I will supply these if I can, but right now I have less than a minute to press time. 

References

Anonmymous.  2006. BMW Unveils New Advertising Campaign.  The Auto Channel.  May 8, 2006.  here.  

McCracken, Grant.  2005.  Death by Committee.  This Blog Sits At the.  April 6, 2005.  here.

The new Passat ad II

Passat_ii_1 A Passat ad, discussed yesterday,  is now running on TV.  It features people shouting their insecurities from a megaphone.  One of these people, a man in a yellow car, says:

Because I am compensating for my shortcomings!

Because I am compensating for my shortcomings!

But the same ad on YouTube has this man saying:

Because mine is only about yeah big.

Because mine is only about yeah big.

In the image to the right, you will see the man in question gesturing with his hand, so to illustrate what he means by "yeah big." 

Now television has changed a lot in the last few years.  Explicit references to the male and female anatomy are not uncommon.  But I think it’s safe to assume that no one on the creative team actually believed that they would be allowed to run the "yeah big" version of the Passat ad.

So why did they shoot it?  Why did they keep it?  Why did they put it on YouTube?  I think the answer has to be that they were hoping for a viral effect.  They were hoping for the kind of notice that I am now giving it. 

What kind of virality is this kind of virality?  Making an "unauthorized" version of the ad, was this supposed to make us snicker like school children and send everyone a copy?  As in "look what I found!"  Were we being given the opportunity to admire the daring of the agency and/or the client?  Maybe. 

Or maybe we’re being played.  An ad was, I think, put into circulation quite deliberately.  It’s not a mistake.  It’s not an experiment.  It’s not private exercise.  To judge by appearances, it was made for the express purpose of being "leaking to the internet."  And that’s a little cynical, no.   

So we are left with a very strange combo, here.  The official version of the ad is, as I said yesterday, exemplary.  The unofficial, viral version is cynical and sophomoric. 

Um, I thought the viral ads were supposed to be more sophisticated, not less.  I guess we’re still working on this "new marketing" thing. 

References

Please see yesterday’s post for a fuller treatment of the ad, and praise for the "official" version. 

Acknowledgments

This blog originates in a conversation Pam and I had with Debbie Millman over dinner tonight.  Neither Pam nor Debbie should be associated with my bad tempered conclusions.