at the intersection of brands, media and culture

Posts Tagged ‘advertising’

The problem with digital media.

In Uncategorized on January 30, 2009 at 7:49 am

Or perhaps more appropriately titled, “The problem with people who work in digital media.”

Digital is a fantastic medium for doing some really interesting and creative things. The outstanding question though is whether it is indeed the equivalent of discovering a new galaxy or whether it is more like finding a pair of pants that you thought you had lost.

Follow me here for a bit. See, from my perspective digital media isn’t any different than traditional media in how consumers interact with it. For marketing it still breaks down to a few fundamentals:
• the appropriateness for the audience
• appropriateness for the brand
• the ability to get a message across
• and drive engagement and purchase

Within this realm of digital media we also have social media. Still conducted online the entire industry has been created by providing socially relevant tools and paying for them with advertising. But then marketers decided that they wanted to use these tools as well. But one can argue that they still don’t quite know what they are doing with these tools. They like to say that they are creating “brand engagement,” and some are, but others are attaching social media to existing plans like Frankenstein’s limbs. Twitter Wolf Blitzer anyone?

But on to the issue of “digital/social media” purveyors. I’ve sat through one to many conferences that feel like religious revivals. The self-appointed guru of media stands up, or more appropriately slouches, and says that “Obama is recreating the Presidency by reaching directly out to the people through YouTube” without taking time to understand that this has been going on since FDR started his fireside chats. That the only thing that has changed is the medium, not how it is being used.

Likewise, Razorfish has published a paper on how social media is influencing purchase behavior that is getting a lot of buzz. When I read the paper it seems to suggest that actually social media works just like regular media. Perhaps that the whole industry is still in the self validation stage and will start talking about real differences soon. I can only hope that it does and that it gets some intelligent voices in the mix as its champions.

hat tip: propagationplanning.com

Sprint, Stop, Sprint

In advertising, Brands, communications, marketing, strategy on November 17, 2008 at 4:37 pm

Nothing makes me sadder than seeing clients throw their money away, even if they aren’t my clients. In particular I’m struggling with the new Sprint commericals that have been innundateing me lately. The spots are beautiful in black and white, have some nice emotional background music and CEO Dan Hesse talking to the camera — that said, they seem completely off strategy.

Let’s start with Dan Hesse.  There are traditionally two occassions when CEO’s become spokesmen.  Firstly, when the company is in dire financial straights or have just wronged their consumer (see United and Jet Blue), the second one is when the CEO is an icon which arguably adds value to the campaign (Paul Newman, Bill Gates, Lee Iacocca). I think this may be a case of finanical difficulties trumping common sense.

Secondly, most of them don’t actually say anything that is differentiated. This is a problem beyond advertising for Sprint, but if you are going to interrupt people and ask them to pay attention to you, please have something to say or at least some entertainment to offer. These spots do neither.

Part of the problem lies at the feet of the business of course. Sprint was depositioned in terms of coverage by Verizon and at&t, they lost out on the iPhone to at&t, The Gphone to T-Mobile, they have lost their hold on push-to-talk to Verizon and then their all inclusive plan was quickly countered by everyone else on the market.

At the end of the day, Sprint is in some trouble. I’d take some of that advertising budget and put it into innovation/research in order to find a differentiating proposition for the brand, rather than simply rolling out Dan Hesse.  He must have better things to do with his time.

Budget Advertising: FinallyFast.com

In advertising, communications on November 14, 2008 at 12:22 pm

Budget advertising can be problematic. When done poorly it can denegrate a brand and confuse consumers. Take this ad for finallyfast.com, a computer optimizing software. At the end of the day it may be a failed concept, but it certainly isn’t going to help that the product only works on PCs and yet they show an Apple computer twice in the spot (three times if you count the keyboard). I realize that I may be slightly more saavy than the audience here, but showing an iBook going blue screen certainly isn’t the way to build up credibility as knowing anything about computers or how to make them work better

I feel the same way I do when I read a menu that mangles English…thinking that maybe if they would have taken 10 minutes and shown it to someone who knew what they were doing that they could have saved a lot of money.

Viagra simplifies its positioning

In advertising, Branding, Brands, communications, Consumers, marketing, strategy, trends on November 11, 2008 at 3:39 pm

Since Cialis entered into the market a few years back, Viagra has been searching for a new positioning. As Cialis started to talk about the mood using their “when the time is right” emotional language, Viagra started pushing masculinity and trotting out older celebrities to reinforce its credibility. As Cialis started being more about the relationship, Viagra became more about the man.

In the last month they seem to have tweaked their positioning again, this time more clearly marketing themselves as a solution to the mid-life crisis. While this positioning has always been available to them they seem to have avoided it in the past as either being too trite or narrowly defining. Indeed, in looking at the executions they seem to be rather obvious in taking the the traditional trappings of the midlife crisis and putting them in Viagra wrapper. The television spot that best sums up their new positioning is the recent execution when the guys shows up on a motorcycle to surprise his wife, although it is equally apparent in this spot when he gets the garage band back together.

When Brands Attack – Modern Marketing Trends

In advertising, Brands, communications, marketing, strategy, trends on October 27, 2008 at 5:50 pm

The economy is in the crapper, pocketbooks are tight, there are way too many brands in the world all competing for less money. The old terms like share-of-wallet only worked when the wallets were open and there was money in them ready to be sent out in the world to satiate our needs, wants and desires…if only temporarily.

As outlays shrink, brands HAVE to get more aggressive with their marketing to even maintain share. For that to happen, it helps if brands have been thinking about this all along.

In comfortable times, brands should still be managing their equities, building their customer base, creating loyalty and solidifying differentiation. This is all what really defines something as a brand. But as a great Warren Buffet quote goes, it is “in the times of low tide that you find out who has been swimming naked.” (Or something to that effect.)

The brands that are successfully playing offense are doing so on product differentiation. To simply scream louder and behave as a schoolyard bully will not win you points in this market. Playing the trump card that you have been holding will.

Apple is aggressively going after Microsoft by not just using product differentiation but now using Microsoft’s own advertising against them. Clever, witty, truthful and Apple has built up the equity and credibility over the last few years to play some hardball.

Progresso is going on the offense against Campbell’s with full page ads noting that they have no MSG, whereas Campbell’s does. Taking one product advantage, leveraging it and making it matter. This is how brands play offense. Campbell’s retort that Progresso tastes watery by comparison is subjective and sounds less authentic. Ironically, General Mills owned Progresso likely only removed MSG from their soups after previously being attached by Campbell’s sub-brand.

Dunkin Donuts is going after Starbucks with a taste test campaign touting its better tasting coffee. In this case the claim works better since the perception is that Dunkin Donuts is also cheaper. Whereby cheaper and better tasting always sounds better. Dunkin is also still perceived as an underdog which generally get more traction out of aggressive marketing.

Bottom line: when times are tough and money is tight you have to have clear product differentiation supported by a strong brand. Consumers aren’t going to take a lot of risks with their limited resources and therefore want to be more confident and have a clearer rationale for purchase.

Why yes, Scottrade, I am crazy!

In advertising, Brands, communications, marketing, strategy on September 29, 2008 at 11:34 am


Picture 9

Originally uploaded by distillerymedia

Digital ads are the wave of the future and here to stay. But there are still problems with placement and the ability to actively manage them when they are completely out of touch with what it happening with active content.

As an example, I’ve attached a link to a Scottrade ad that asks if I’m feeling great about the market.  The market is down 600. The answer is not so much.

Make yourself comfortable…but not that comfortable.

In Brands, communications, marketing, strategy on September 24, 2008 at 6:38 pm

Griffin pointed out this ad for Extended Stay hotels which stinks.  Or blows. Or, nevermind, just watch it.  I’m really quite concerned for whoever the ex-CMO (or soon to be ex-CMO) there is.  I completely get the strategy but it might be the worst execution of the strategy I’ve ever seen.  Would you want to stay in that room? Even if you had all the airfreshners in the world?

Who Cares That They Have Seinfeld…The Story is Gates.

In advertising, Brands, communications, Consumers, marketing, strategy on September 8, 2008 at 2:34 pm

The Interweb is abuzz about the new Jerry Seinfeld Microsoft ads.  Crispin has been working on these for awhile and there was much talk about how odd of a choice Jerry Seinfeld was and how it simply showed that they were are out touch as a company. Having worked with them for a couple of years I’ll say that to criticize Jerry Seinfeld is missing the point entirely.

The spots to date aren’t about Seinfeld, they are about Gates.  To me they are working to humanize Gates, Microsoft and deflect the goliath label they have been afixed with. All while pointing out that the future may well be created by those who have brought us here to date.  Yes Google has done some amazing stuff in a short period of time, but if we look at what Microsoft has pioneered it’s pretty incredible.

Badvertising: Ortega, Fire Your Son and Hire an Agency

In advertising, Brands, communications, marketing on September 3, 2008 at 2:49 pm

Leaked V2 Kindle…

In Brands, communications, marketing, strategy on August 13, 2008 at 9:01 am

…or a case of Verizon not propping it’s commercials well?  Let the debate begin. It does look a bit thinner than mine though, slightly gray and they at least pretend that it has a touch screen.