at the intersection of brands, media and culture

Archive for March, 2008|Monthly archive page

Brands, Advertising and Culture

In advertising, Branding, Brands, communications, Consumers, culture, strategy on March 31, 2008 at 9:39 am

We talk a lot more about culture and context in branding these days. And while a few very special brands have created cultures in their own right (BMW MINI, Brand Jordan) it is getting harder and harder to do it because consumers don’t really need new brands. (although they still want new experiences)

Existing brands are starting to dig deeper into culture to find human truths and connect with an existing culture. For example, I started seeing this ad for Toyota around the time of the Super Bowl. Looks like fun right, Big Wheels down a crazy hill? The nice part about it though, is that it actually happens. The spot doesn’t rely on creating a made up scenario but rather about figuring out what is already going on in the world that appropriately reflects the brand culture and attitude.

Toyota commercial here:

Video from Little Big Wheels 2008 SF

My Better Is Better

In advertising, agency, Branding, Brands, communications, Consumers, culture, strategy on March 24, 2008 at 1:36 pm

Love this work for capturing the competitive spirit of Nike and making me want to be an athlete again. Besides, I can’t get that bloody song out of my head but funny enough I don’t mind.

AKQA, Please Stop “Referencing” Other Agencies Work…

In advertising, agency, Branding, Brands, communications, Consumers, culture, strategy on March 24, 2008 at 1:24 pm

Am I the only one who thinks these ads are awfully similar? It’s not like Wieden didn’t win a Gold Lion for the Honda work and AKQA didn’t notice. Moreover, at least W+K’s work for Honda had to do with the product, what does this spot for AKQA have to do with beyond some nice visual effects?

The original Honda Ad from W+K:

Pot Noodle from AKQA:

Additionally, Ad Age is becoming worse than its brethren Ad Weak when it comes to honoring creative. And yes, I say that both because they like this ad from AKQA as well as the pro-leprocy/violence Skittles work from Chiat.

Cyber Command Requires Camouflage

In Branding, Brands, communications, market research, marketing, strategy on March 22, 2008 at 5:01 pm

The U.S. Air Force has a new campaign out focusing on their Cyber Command unit. An interesting move away from the Top Gun/Tom Cruise image of the Air Force and toward the tech savvy world of national security. Strategically, I like it. National security through cyber command instead of the flyover bombing of towns? All good. But my question is …do they really wear their camouflage uniforms in the command center? I mean, I get the uniform thing but if they’re going to be in camouflage shouldn’t they at least be disguised to look like a computer so they can blend into the Cyber Command Center?

Note: they should also work on their website. If they’re going to run ads on the Cyber Command Center then we should be able to type in Cyber Command on their site and get a result. It’s always the little things of integration that get overlooked.

The Death of the W Brand

In agency, Branding, Brands, communications, Consumers, marketing, strategy on March 17, 2008 at 6:48 am

Sofa or bed? _W Hotel
Originally uploaded by K.W.

I’ve stayed at a dozen or so different W’s in my professional career which have ranged from the amazing (Mexico City) to the run down (Atlanta) to the downright not trying anymore (NYC midtown) which I’m staying at now on what has become a recurring bi-weekly trip to NY. The disparity between properties is alarming and even more so in light of further expansion plans for the brand into places as far flung as Africa and New Jersey.

I’ll admit that I was originally charmed by the W brand. Modern, metropolitan, design-oriented hotels built with the creative class in mind… but where did those brand attributes go? Early on I started to see chips in the dark wood desks which seemed to allude to the veneer that surrounded the brand. It wasn’t a deep brand, it wasn’t substantive– but that was okay, I wasn’t going to let a couple dings get in the way of a great hotel experience. Besides, they along with Schrager helped to create the bar-as-living room concept and how much time was I really going to spend in my room anyway?

Well, now I’m at the hotel on Lex and 49th which is going through a renovation that will change out the dirty carpet (ever notice how hotels dim the hallway lighting as the carpets get soiled?) and hopefully replace the chipped desk but the chance to wow me with their famous service has passed.

Rooms haven’t added amenities but they have added adjectives. I was pleasantly surprised to get an upgrade from a “wonderful” room to a “spectacular” room but it only made the let down bigger when I got to my shabby shoebox.

And a note about the Starwood points thing: I get the fact that you want people to book through the W site in order to get points. The fact that I saved $100 a night over a 5 day stay may be annoying to you, but I’m a Gold member and I’ve been Platinum in the past so evidently I do go out of my way to stay at Starwood properties. One indication of such “loyalty,” perhaps, was how I paid for the first night with an exhorbatant 20,000 points. So please don’t get surly with me and say that if I wanted points I should have booked through your site instead of Orbitz (“because it’s a loyalty program”) when I ask if you have my Starwood number linked to my reservation. If it were a loyalty program you would bother to note that I’m still choosing to pay more to stay at a Starwood property– but it’s more truthfully a marketing program, isn’t it?

And I guess that’s what the root of my issues come down to. W is trying to gloss over their brand issues with slick marketing, adjective-laced naming and dim lighting. The big problems are in the service and facilities though, not in the marketing, and that’s what they need to understand if they really want my loyalty.

Chiat Day Uses Leprosy and Violence to Shill Skittles

In advertising, agency, communications, youtube on March 13, 2008 at 9:19 am

I’m not sure I have ever seen a more unappealing ad for candy, seriously. I’m sure it was funny when everyone was high during the concepting phase but it just grosses me out.

(I am not the target. I am not the target. [gentle rocking of the body] I am not the target.)

Hat tip to brandflakesforbreakfast.

How Much Better is This Than Reality TV?

In culture on March 12, 2008 at 5:25 pm

NBC, Bravo, Fox and other reality TV shillers could learn a thing or two from the entertainment value Brought to You By a few hundred prisoners in the Philippines. The guys in the orange jumpsuits who first earned international fame through their incredible ability to enact both choreographed dance moves to “Thriller” and heinous crimes against the community are back at it again. This time with Soulja Boy and MC Hammer. And no, you can’t touch that.

Hat tip to the ever interesting psfk.

Penny for Your Thoughts…Actually Less

In Consumers, market research, marketing, strategy on March 11, 2008 at 3:01 pm

Confused Sign
Originally uploaded by kudaker

So, I got this email a couple of minutes ago from Synovate, a reputable firm, who is working on an online survey with Wells Fargo. I got the whole, “we are going to donate to charity on your behalf” thing. Which is sort of like the fake Christmas presents that say someone donated to X charity on your behalf, also known to recipient as “the giver doesn’t give a crap about you but wants to look good” gifts.

But why is Wells Fargo doing it? Are they simply planning to pocket the non-profit donation and write it off against their taxes? Do they have such a small budget for the project that they thought giving people $5 would look too cheap but giving it to someone else would be okay? Why the altruism? (Can’t be for altruism’s sake.)

Yes, maybe I’m a bit cynical and over-intellectualizing this, I’ll cop to that. Read it yourself and see what you think. I quothe:

Dear Wells Fargo Customer,

In an effort to improve products and services, Wells Fargo is inviting a select group of customers to participate in a survey. Synovate, an independent market research firm, is administering the survey on behalf of Wells Fargo.

In appreciation of your time, Wells Fargo will make a $5 charitable donation for each completed survey, up to a maximum of $15,000. Later in the survey, you will be asked for your choice of one of six charities where you would like your donation to be allocated. Thank you in advance for your time and feedback.

About this survey:
The survey will take about 15 minutes to complete.
blah, blah, blah

Is Bose the Worst Marketed Brand in America?

In advertising, Branding, Brands, communications, Consumers, marketing on March 11, 2008 at 9:38 am


Originally uploaded by uzzran

Sometimes I wish I were still working for an ad agency because I’d really love to help out Bose. They have phenomenal products but the sad tendency to market them in magazine versions of infomercials. And while they’re still able to attract customers through their 1950’s style product advertisements, I think they could do so much more business by bringing their marketing into this decade.

I’m not suggesting they need to be flashy, that’s not what Bose is about. They’re an engineering brand full of audio scientists making the best stuff on earth (or so they seem). But adding a little bit of relevance would be nice.