Friday, October 29, 2010

Taking parody to the next level

Chevron and their marketing partners aren't very smart.

At least they're not very aware of the sophisticated tools available to its critics, and they greatly underestimated the extent to which they'd be used against them when they created their new campaign.

This brilliant parody campaign created by a group called The Yes Men, shows just how far a committed opponent is willing to go to undermine Chevron's message and sabotage its marketing.

Parody ads have been around since the first ad was written. They were a staple in the issues of Mad Magazine I read in my youth. Now, with the distribution provided by YouTube and message amplification outlets like Facebook and Twitter to help spread the word, parodies are fair game in political discourse as well as a way for disgruntled consumers to get back at brands they perceive to have failed them. One only needs to watch this video for proof.

If you do not plan for your critics' rebuttals when you're creating your next campaign, prepare to be skewered.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chevy runs quietly

There's no bravado. No all-star line up. No bold statement. Just a series of 'truths' about the brand and our relationships with our cars in the new Chevy campaign from Goodby, Silverstein and Partners.

As evidenced by the copy and images in this spot for trucks, it's not about features or functional benefits. This campaign's objective seems purely to make people smile along with Chevrolet at these simple human truths.

Advertising is about setting expectations and managing perceptions. Its job is to put Chevy on the consideration list and get people into the dealership for a test drive. By that measure I think this campaign does a good job. It is understated and simple, but passionate. There's a genuine sense of caring that I get from these spots. The images feel real.

When people drive the Malibu, Cruze or Silverado they won't be disappointed because they weren't promised the greatest driving experience this side of Indy. And that's really the issue. Chevy's problem isn't (and has never been) an advertising problem. It's a product problem.

Up and down the line, the cars Chevy makes are as good as they've ever been. They'll do what you want efficiently and last a long time. But drive a Malibu then drive a Sonata. Drive a Silverado then an F-150. Chevy needs to win these battles and in my opinion, it just doesn't.

The ad strategy is perfect for the current line up. I just hope the line up improves quickly to a point where the brand wins at retail as well as on TV.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The end of innovation

I heard someone say the other day that everything we need has already been invented. Yeah, right.

Back in the stone age someone invented the wheel, then sat back and said, "Life is perfect now. I have everything I need." Until winter arrived and it was decided that heat might be a good thing, so fire was invented.

From the beginning of time, people have assumed that everything necessary has already been created. Walking through the aisles of a superstore like Walmart or Target you might assume that to be true.

But innovation is problem solving and as far as I can tell, people still have problems.

So if you want to invent something new, figure out what the real problem is first then find a way to solve it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Reality check

Recently the Parents Television Council released a statement condemning GQ magazine and the cast and producers of Glee for their recent editorial photo shoot, saying it "borders on pedophilia."

Note to PTC, the actors aren't really high-school students. They're all 20-something adults.

I'm sure the producer's of Glee are happy for the controversy, the extra headlines, the buzz it's creating and the extra viewers who will tune in thanks to your little tantrum.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Spongebob doesn't really live under the sea. He has a nice bungalow in Santa Monica.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A hero falls

It would be hard to estimate just how big the Brett Favre brand was in the state of Wisconsin at the height of his popularity. Maybe this paean written in 1996 before the Packers won the Super Bowl will give you some idea.

Our Favre
Who art in Lambeau,
Hallowed be thine arm.
Thy bowl will come,
It will be won,
In New Orleans as it is in Lambeau.
And give us this Sunday our weekly win,
And give us many touchdown passes.
But do not let others pass against us,
And lead us not into frustration,
But deliver us to Bourbon Street.
For thine is the MVP, the best of the NFC,
And the glory of the Cheeseheads,
Now and forever.

For 17 years, Favre led the Packers and put everything he had on the field. The fans appreciated and cheered every touchdown, every scramble, even the inevitable interceptions because he played with such passion and joy.

Yesterday there was no joy. He appeared to be an ancient warrior fighting to hang on, his decaying body betraying his will. His off-field indiscretions tarnishing his fame. And for the first time in 20 years when he ran onto the field in Green Bay the boos outweighed the cheers.

It's hard to imagine that his brand could have fallen so far, so fast. His particular combination of arrogance, ignorance and egotism had reached a point where the good people of Green Bay who spent thousands of dollars over the years to watch him play finally had enough.

There is no disgrace in trying. There is no disgrace in failing. But you cannot take advantage of and lie to your fans, expecting them to hang on forever. And in three short years, he has gone from beloved to reviled.

A lesson for brands everywhere.