Saturday, February 25, 2006

Rock Chalk Hip Hop

Kansas plays Texas tonight in Austin, and there is a lot on the line. So today is the perfect time to comment on a hip song about the KU basketball team. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

Last year a local company called B and B Media Media Services (you might have heard their Celsius Tannery Song) produced a hip hop song about KU basketball. It spread with all the force of a viral. This year they've done it again with "
Crimson Blue II" (Samples, Track 12).

This year they started selling the song because demand for it was so great last year. They even advertised on the local radio station that broadcasts the KU games. The one thing they haven't figured out about virals is that they spread like wildfire because everyone can get them for free. Charging $8 for the song isn't going to make them famous or earn them money.

I've heard no buzz about the song this year, except for the ads on the radio. I have to think that a better promotional approach for their viral would have made another huge impact.

Remember Dan and Dave?

I was 8 years old when Reebok launched their "Dan and Dave" campaign before the 1992 summer Olympics in Barcelona. Yet I still remember the commercials, and I still remember the subsequent flop when Dan O'Brien failed to qualify for the Olympics. As I remember, the commercials were good, but Reebok's investment clearly didn't pay off when Dan failed to qualify.

I'm not blaming O'Brien. I'm confident he did everything in his power to qualify for the games. I'm blaming Reebok for taking a risky gamble that didn't pay off. History proves that athletes backed by big bucks and big campaigns don't do well after all the hype. See's Athletes who fell after much marketing hype for proof.

This year's winter games in
Torino proved no different. Bode Miller, hyped up by Nike, Michelle Kwan, backed by Coca-Cola and Visa, and Lindsey Jacobellis, pumped up by Visa, failed in their quest for gold (Bode has one chance left, but so far he is 0 for 4). In fact, Jacobellis was the only athlete of the much touted triumvirate to medal. However, her legacy won’t be winning silver. She’ll always be the hotdog who gave up gold.

All these much ballyhooed athletes reflected poorly on their sponsors because they didn't triumph. The marketers are at fault here. Instead of waiting to capitalize on athletes' success after the games, they tried to pick athletes who were sure things. When the sure thing wasn't, the marketers looked foolish.

These marketers should learn from the success of Disney. No one ever said, "I'm going to Disney Land" before they won the game. Disney capitalized on this at this year's Super Bowl by showing the guys from both teams practicing saying their tag line before the game. This prevented embarrassment for both sponsor and athlete and further engrained that tag line as an essential part of the Super Bowl.

(For Reebok's take on their Dan vs. Dave campaign, check out the bottom of page 79.)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Gamekillers Taking the Show On the Road

Gamekillers has turned to lecture series, featuring comic Mo Rocca, to spread its gospel of gamekilling. The tour will hit 10 college campuses throughout the country to promote Gamekillers, and in turn, Axe Body Spray. The tour kicked off at Michigan State University and will come here to the University of Kansas, March 4. I found a flyer on the ground announcing this today.

Check back soon for more insight and snarky comments on this topic.

Olympics = $$$$

Everyone knows that the Olympics are a big deal. The best international athletes in the world compete on the largest stage with gold on the line, and money in the air. The Olympics are supposed to be special because athletes have the honor of representing their countries. This is actually a big deal to most, but so is the opportunity to profit from their efforts. These athletes have worked for years without pay, so their few moments in the spotlight are their chance to cash in.

My favorite sponsorship plug comes from the skiers (notably aerials and ski jumping). After the completion of each run, most athletes are quick to get one ski off and up on their shoulder. Getting the sponsor's name into the spotlight and putting money in the athletes' pockets.

The Olympic creed states that, "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."

For the athletes in these Olympic Games it seems that cashing in is just as important, and frankly, I don't blame them.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Gotta Love the King

There's not really a lot to say here. Just the King taking creepy to a whole new level. It's amazing how something so bad can seem so good.
The King's Peep Show

Sunday, February 19, 2006

NASCAR, Show Me the Money!

Everyone knows how big Supebowl advertising has become but not many people how much money there is in NASCAR, particularly in the Daytona 500. Daytona is hands down the biggest race of the year and also the first. So it gives all the advertisers a chance to debut their NAScar commercials to a huge audience. Fans can even go online to see all the commercials and vote for their favorite.

NASCAR fans are fiercely loyal to their drivers and the companies that sponsor them. No self-respecting Dale Earnheart, Jr. fan would ever drink any beer not made by Anheuser-Busch, Earnhardt's primary sponsor. And no Rusty Wallace fan would ever drink a non-Miller beer, Wallace's longtime sponsor. There is huge money in NASCAR products alone. For example, Jeff Gordon now has his own cologne, Z24, available at Wal-Mart. Laugh if you want, but there's no better place to sell it, and they had a hilarious radio commercial for the product. In fact it's one of the best radio commercials I've heard in a while.

Anyway, most of these commercials were great. The Gillete Fusion commercials were much better than their Super Bowl spots, which wasn't very good and didn't even reference all of the noline stuff they did to supplement their traditional advertising.

Monday, February 13, 2006

McDonald's Wants To Be "King"

Some of McDonald's new television spots for the Olympics feature a statue of Ronald McDonald sitting on a bench and people interacting with them. The explanation for this seems simple: McDonald's saw the success of Burger King's "The King" campaign, which was created by Miami based Crispin Porter & Bogusky, (which has turned out some absolutely phenomenal work) and decided they had to have one. These spots go completely against the grain of the urban and minority focused campaign that McDonald's has been hammering on for a while.

Psychologist Carl Jung originally coined the phrase collective unconscious. More recently, John January and Tug McTighe, of American Copywriter fame, use this phrase to describe the idea that two agencies working independently can come up with the same idea. This is not what happened with these McDonald's commercials. Some McDonald's executive probably decided the way to match the clever Burger King spots, was to imitate them using their own hamburger hero.

In addition to ripping off BK, the spots are also very inconsistent with the urban and minority targeted campaign they have been running for some time now. I really hate going to negative town on other people’s work because it’s easy to criticize and much harder to create. Granted, McDonald's have had statues of Roger on that bench for years, but they haven't used him in their advertising for about a decade. I know that the creators of these spots worked their butts off to put them together, but the idea they executed is just too close to one of their biggest competitors and is too far away from the direction they have been going to be coincidence.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Impressionable Young Minds

In church this morning, a group of children were asked what they could buy for a penny. The reverend's 8 year-old son responded that he could play the penny slots at the Argosy Casino for a penny. Everyone else laughed. I didn't, because I knew exactly where he got his answer. Advertising.

I guess the young boy's response was no surprise because children are incredibly impressionable and the pull of advertising is so strong. At what point do children differentiate advertising from content anyway? Young kids watching the Disney Channel probably don't flip channels during the commercials because are meant to be entertaining and maintain the same tone as the show they are watching. There is no question that this is effective, but is it right?

Clearly it is wrong to market cigarettes, alcohol and gambling to children, but as that little boy proved, they still soak up those messages. I think it is easy to forget how much advertising can affect people. It is a powerful tool, and we must remember that and respect it.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The OC Is goNNa B gR8

In a world where every 15-year old has a cell phone, FOX is on a mission to with all of them. A friend of mine gets text messages from Fox every Thursday to remind her to watch The OC that evening. Fox really takes it to the next level by trying to use what I'll call "text message speak." Here are two of these messages:

"FOX: Marissa tries 2 get reacquainted W her ltl sis, bt Kaitlin jst stRs up trouble 4 the gang as she preparRz 2 cLebr8 her 15th bday on the OC, 2nite, 9/8c"
-sent Jan. 27, 5:47 pm

"FOX: The OC Kaitlin brAkz opN the luv triangle & Marissa finalE telz Johnny how she truly fElz on The OC, 2nite, 9/8c"
-sent Feb. 2, 6:03 pm

I can just see some poor copywriter trying to piece these things together. Maybe calling their 15-year old niece or hanging out in AOL chatrooms to make sure they get it right. The text messages also feature interactive content, games and behind-the-scenes gossip.The sad thing is that it is probably working. The language they use is the language of text messages, and it gives them another way to connect to their audience. They might not be able to get lots of money out of their target demographic, but the've done a great job of winning their unflinching loyalty.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


A new show called Gamekillers premiered on MTV tonight. The show is a collaboration between Axe and MTV that promotes Axe's new product, Axe Dry.

It is a reality-type show that is so different, I couldn't help but watch it. I still don't know if the events were real or staged, but that intrigue drove me, and likely many others, to the internet to get more information. Granted, I wanted to know who made it because it reaked of advertising, but the pull to generate traffic on the Web site was still there. You can find out a little more about Axe's plans from Confessions of a TV Maven.

In my mind, this show is a harbinger of this to come in the industry. Finding new and unique ways to create content is the future of advertising. Although tonight was not the first time I have seen this pulled off on a national level, it was certainly the most directed and focused on selling the product to the target market.

Unlike shows like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, which is a highly successful walking and talking plug for Sears, Gamekillers had no product placement or noted affiliation with Axe during the show. In fact, the only plugs for Axe throughout the whole thing were two commercials, which aired during regular commercial breaks and featured characters from the show.

Overall, this was a clever and pretty effective way to reach Axe's target audience. A show on MTV at 11 p.m. that demonstrates how to overcome obstacles and get girls pretty much hits home with the young males Axe is trying to reach (Trust me, I'm in their target demographic). So props to Axe for taking risks and doing a pretty good job pulling it off. Now if you can only make products that don't smell like Indian food in a diaper...

Stay tuned for Super Bowl rants and a special message from Fox and The O.C.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Top 40 Super Bowl Commercials

I saw a show tonight on CBS that named the Top 40 Super Bowl Commercials. Needless to say, I'd been waiting my entire life. Unfortunately they weren't ranked by effectiveness or strategy. They are simply the favorites of advertising experts Greg Gumbel, Shannon Sharpe, Boomer Esiason and Dan Marino from "The NFL Today" (Somewhere a copywriter is sobbing). The expert panel could come to a consensus on the top three, so online voters came in for the assist. Here are the top five.

5. Anheuser Busch 2005 - "Skydiver"
This ad featured a nervous skydiver who wouldn't jump out of the plane for a case of Bud Light. The twist and humor comes when the pilot comes out of no where and leaps out the door after the case of Bud Light without a parachute.

4. McDonald's 1993 - "Michael & Larry Play HORSE"
Michael Jordan and Larry Bird play a game of HORSE in this classic spot, in which the winner gets a Big Mac. "Through the window, off the scoreboard, off the floor, nothing but net, winner gets the Big Mac."

3. Apple 1984 - "1984"
No explanation needed, this is probably the most famous commercial of all time.

2. Reebok 2003 - "Terry Tate, Office Linebacker"
The first spot showing Terry Tate, Office Linebacker made me fall out of my seat laughing. The sequels brought raucous cheering, hoots and hollers from the entire room. However, the commercial really brought no benefits...but some how, still number two.

1. Coca-Cola 1980 - "Mean Joe Green"
Probably the second most famous commercial of all time features Mean Joe Green having a Coke and a smile. Classic, just like Coca-Cola.