Posts Tagged ‘Brand’

Post Game Post: Teams Are Classic, Spots Were Not

The brute force that is part of the game of football seemed like just about the only thing that many ads had going for themselves. Spots like PepsiMax (assaulted jogger), Doritos (dog, sliding glass door and man) and Snickers (leveling Roseanne Barr) went out of their way for what might have otherwise been well executed.

Once again the game was better than the spots. What a novel concept.

Without further ado, here are the ground rules that I have used in previous reviews:

The spots had to be, quote unquote, Super Bowl ads: ads imbued with enough creativity to compel you to want to watch them again. They should stand on their own for pure entertainment value. Being aired for the first time, clock stoppers, buzz creators. And they must build the brand, create memorable awareness or introduce a new product in an engaging way.

I avoided previewing ads on YouTube and other sites so as not to watch them out of context. I wanted to experience them with the full impact of seeing the spots for the first time in all of the communal anxious anticipation of a Super Bowl commercial break.

By the way, I understand the pluses of leveraging YouTube and other social media and the increasing pressure to do so. Some advertisers and their agencies made a good argument that only millions and not tens of millions would see any of the ads before the game anyway. Fair enough.

If you really want engagement, and people’s attention throughout the telecast, then set up more contests where pros and amateurs alike compete to create an ending to a commercial with the winning entry airing live. Maybe even offer the winner a new job. These would-be creative directors, and their friends and family, will be forced to watch every minute to see if their creative wins and they become Marketing Guru Action Figures.

Incidentally, this is not at all unlike the excellent Chevy ad in the fourth quarter with the voice over of two guys planning the casting and the storyline for a commercial.
Speaking of car ads, and there were a ton of them, other than a couple of top-notch pieces by Chevy and Volkswagen, few moved me. (More on these later.)

I did like the anachronistic images in the Hyundai ad suggesting they too represent a technological milestone. Great visual metaphor: guy on the street with ear buds and a record player. KIA was close but no cigar as admirers were compelled to hijack the car. More special effects than affect.

Mini Cooper’s “Cram It In The Boot” needs to be mentioned, however crass many grown-ups may have found the spot. They tempted the censors by actually using double entendre to fight against the image that those cute little cars might not be able to carry much of a payload. (Just so you know, there were spots that were kept off the air. Some may have been designed that way on purpose to create a buzz and drive traffic online. Okay now I have to tell you–because I brought it up and you are now curious–one was about extra-marital affairs and one was about vegetarians and their sex life.)

For whatever reason the best work for me was not slapstick this year–as much as I found merit in spots like that in the past. So with that noted the ones that stood out to me were more on the clever and warmer side.

Three that come to mind: The self-effacing humor of excessive product placement of Bud Light was refreshing. One for the Chevy Silverado, “Tommy”, was a great spoof on the melodramas that are truck commercials. It evoked the Lassie movies and television series with its “come to the rescue” themes; ending this time with the hyperbolic: “I didn’t even know this town had a volcano”. Volkswagen Passat’s “The Force” with mini Darth Vader was extremely well balanced with just the right amount of cute, clever and convenience of the car.

Excellent use of the dating theme included the realistic mind reading in PepsiMax’s “First Date” and the brutal honesty about the unromantic side of men and their need for an email florist like Teleflora.

Honorable mentions go to: Best Buy and its new cell phone return policy making good use of chronically befuddled Ozzy Osbourne. CareerBuilder cannot be faulted for scraping the exterior off of the discomfort of being squeezed in a job where no one listens to you or “feels your pain.” Coca-Cola’s “Border Patrol” replete with uniformed border guards was quiet, cute and typically heart warming; working well to support its “Open Happiness” campaign. Doritos’s reincarnation of grandpa played off the broken urn in “Meet The Fockers”. CarMax also went to Hollywood for a good use of borrowed interest. Adrien Brody singing for his Stella Artois. Chrysler’s “Born of Fire” using Detroit’s homey Eminem and his city to evoke pride in heritage.

I feel obliged to mention E*TRADE, too. People love them. I don’t. Even though the spots don’t bug me anymore, I am now convinced that our spokes baby is burying the lead. Also, I’m pretty sure some people of Italian descent will not be using E*TRADE any time soon.

OK, because you want it, here are three that missed far to the left of the uprights: The GoDaddy spot, “The Contract”, offered the not-so-subtle suggestion that Danica Patrick and Jillian Michaels bare more than they have in the past. Not inventive. Not funny. Not happening. Yes, I know, the idea is to drive traffic to the Website, but their internal agency could have tried a little harder as they did with their first half spot, featuring a practical joke with Joan Rivers joining the GoDaddy Girls.

Skechers tripped and fell in their effort to have Kim Kardashian (and her followers) focus on something other than herself. The people who worked so hard on this probably could not imagine a spot with her could be so flat. But worse by far than that, or any other spot I have seen in a long time was for Groupon. The “commercial” with Timothy Hutton in a Tibetan restaurant was just downright tasteless.

Let’s wrap it up on a positive note. I’m not sure Verizon needed a Super Bowl presence given all the publicity (and Apple spots) about the iPhone coming to a new service provider. However, “I can hear you now.” was beautiful in its simplicity and felicity to its own branding.

Bridgestone Tires scored several times with decidedly different approaches. The beaver spot was an advertiser’s dream. A feel good story with visuals of the brand name. Finally, because it may have touched the greatest number of people, was their “Reply All” spot. It was guaranteed to resonate with anyone who had a pulse and an Internet connection. Great emotional hook, clear connection to the benefits of the product and funny to boot.


When Does A Person Become A Brand?

Shortly before Thanksgiving, and well before Tiger’s bogeys, I started this post because I was kinda miffed at what I think is the overuse of the word “brand” when applied to people. It seems every time you look around the media and even “the man in the street” is wielding the concept of branding.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was my beloved Sunday New York Times where no less than two separate articles in the same issue declared that both Malcolm Gladwell and Megan Fox were brands. Being a best selling author/essayist or the current “It Girl” does not automatically give you status as a brand. Not to worry, the word is regularly bandied about in a way that is condescending, dismissive and pejorative.

If you’ve spent as much time as I have in the marketing trenches you know that creating and building a brand is not as easy as people think and tainting one is actually easier than running over a fire hydrant and crashing into a tree.

So what are the requisites? “A brand is a promise,” I once opined while sitting on a panel at USC. A tried and true test is the ability to successfully extend the name to other products and ventures. You may be famous. You may be a spokesperson. Being a celebrity is not enough. Nor are lucrative endorsements. Even being a super star does not a brand make.

I sat down and proceeded to make a list of people from all walks of life. I asked friends, family and colleagues to weigh-in. After further review, as they say, I decided on who was and who was not a brand. (Please post or email your votes.)

Unequivocally nominated to my short list were Oprah, Martha and Tiger, quintessential examples of a person as a brand. These three are so powerful they need only their first names. You knew exactly who and what I was talking about. The person and the brand.

As I was procrastinating – I mean researching this piece and building my list – okay sleeping off my Thanksgiving – the Woods family was up in the wee hours: Tiger debating the downside of night putting as the Mrs. was working on her nocturnal short game.

As we know, things have gone quickly from the need for some damage control on the dented front end of the Tiger Woods brand to a full blown sex scandal that brings a whole new meaning to body shop.

With all due respect to the Woods family, this piece is about branding. Brands live in the hearts and minds of people. The crucible of public opinion creates its own tiered value system where excess vanity is soon forgotten, insider trading is forgiven and even infidelity may find redemption. However, the continued revelations of the number and type of so-called “transgressions” are each blows to a formerly pristine brand.

Please remember what I said earlier – “a brand is a promise.” Beware the perils if you become more of a brand than a person. The rewards are great but so are the risks.

Gotta go. I have an overwhelming desire to make some Newman’s Own Popcorn and watch the news.