Friday, January 15, 2010

Help All You Can

I know this is a departure from my usually Friday post. But I can't ignore what's going on in Haiti. So I thought my idea this Friday would be to make it a little easier to donate money to organizations that are working to save lives and restore some sense of normalcy to the people there.

The images and stories coming from Haiti are horrifying. The devastation in Port-au-Prince is unbelievable. Help is arriving from all over the world but in this poor country basic supplies – food, water, clothing, shelter, medicine – are in short supply. Here are links to ten organizations that are already there, working to save lives.

Thanks for helping and please share this list with anyone you know who is looking for a way to aid those suffering in Haiti.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Attention Is Easy. Awareness Is Hard.

It's easy to get attention, as is proved by this billboard from an outdoor advertising company in the U.K., just be loud, offensive and stupid. I promise people will notice. But don't expect them to like you.

This billboard is one execution in a campaign designed to "prove" to advertisers that outdoor is an effective medium. On the surface, it appears to have worked. Hundreds of women were offended and registered their outrage on a popular website for working women. So clearly they noticed. The problem is, it's a false test. It doesn't create awareness for anything but the poster. There's no brand to connect to here. No product to sell. It's just "made you look!"

Great advertising, like this board for Mini, grabs you by the collar and then tells you something about the product. Why are so many ads are either invisible or irrelevant? It's hard to find the balance between getting noticed and selling your product. Focus too much on selling and you're a shill. Focus too much on getting noticed and you're Paris Hilton. And nobody wants to be that.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Truth Hurts, But Will It Set You Free?

Just before the new year, Domino's went live with their new pizza recipe and kicked it off with a campaign that shows actual customers describing the pizza in brutally honest terms. It's a bold move for any company with millions of satisfied customers to tell them that the pizza they've been enjoying for years actually sucks.

If the goal of the campaign was to create buzz and trial, it seems as though they've succeeded. But judging by the comments on Domino's Facebook page, it's pretty clear that not everyone is enamored with the new recipe. And many of the comments use words a lot worse than "cardboard."

I like that Domino's took a "go big or go home" approach with their product and the marketing. I've always believed that it's better to kill your current product and replace it with something better before your competition does it for you. I've tried the new pizza and personally think the spicier sauce is a great improvement. As for the campaign, no one would have blinked if they had introduced it with an ad that said "our great pizza is now even better."

The challenge Domino's now faces is managing expectations in a world where everyone's a critic (witness this blog) and people feel that the anonymity of posting online gives them license to drop all civility in their commentary. To their credit, Domino's isn't censoring comments on their website and Facebook pages. If it keeps up for long, however, they may yearn for the days when people said, "their sauce tastes like ketchup."

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ikea Makes It Look Easy

One of my first blog posts was about the lame web tv show that American Family Insurance was sponsoring in a failed attempt to deepen and strengthen its relationships with its customers. My beef wasn't with the form, a web-based series, but the execution. What it boils down to is quality. Or in AmFam's case, the lack thereof.

Apparently one company that gets it is Ikea. Their web TV show, Easy To Assemble, works on a lot of levels. First, it's well written. The short episodes are funny, the dialog is sharp, and the premise is solid. Second, the brand is organic to the concept. The creators didn't shoe-horn Ikea into the show. They built a show around Ikea. It also doesn't hurt that it stars Illeana Douglas and Justine Bateman and features others like Ed Begley, Jr, Jeff Goldblum and Kevin Pollack.

Great, you say, it's funny, it has stars, and it showcases the brand, but does it work? Easy To Assemble  has over 5 million viewers. That's more people than watched ABC's Shark Tank and Fox's Doll House last Friday night. And unlike those shows, you know who's sponsoring this one.

So the question isn't if the web is ready for prime time. It's, Is prime time ready for the web?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Coincidence? I think not.

Just a quick Monday evening question...

Do you think the creative team that produced this video for Axe...

...are fans of SNL and Alec Baldwin?

Hmmmm. Ya think?

Desperate Times in Auburn Hills

Just when I thought things at Chrysler couldn't get any worse, they do this. With no real news to announce at this week's Detroit Auto Show, they've decided create some by putting lipstick on a couple of their less desirable pigs.

To commemorate 10 years of that automotive abomination, the PT Cruiser, they add a bad paint job, slap on a little chrome and voila, we have the "Couture Edition." I'm not sure what's couture about putting two-tone paint on a car that rivals the AMC Gremlin for the title of ugliest automobile ever, but I don't think this will be gracing the runways of any of the fashion houses anytime soon.

And because one bad idea clearly just isn't enough, they will also unveil the Dodge Nitro Detonator. Detonator? I get it. But I'm not sure anyone wants to strap themselves into a vehicle whose name suggests a fiery explosion. A couple of stripes on the hood and a body color grille will not overcome the stupidity of that decision.

I know there's a lot of pressure for car companies to unveil cool new stuff at the auto show, but if you don't have the goods, don't try to fake it. Lay low for a year, get your act together and come out swinging when you really have something. Otherwise, it's likely to blow up in your face.