Friday, May 27, 2011

The origin of a copy

If you've been watching any sports on TV lately you've seen this spot for Edge Gel.

Nice rip off, right? The agency and client are so proud that even after a month, they haven't put it up on youtube. I could only find this low-fi version that someone shot with an iPhone.

Here's how I imagine the meeting that spawned this gem going between the client and the agency...

Client: Well, thanks for sharing those storyboards with us. Those are really interesting ideas. Love them. But did you think of doing something like that Old Spice guy?

Agency: Well, they have carved out a unique position.

Client: Yeah, and we want a unique position just like that.

Agency: You can't do what they're doing and be unique.

Client: Right. We'll do it differently. Our guy will be white. And wearing a suit!

Agency: It's still the same idea.

Client: And at the end, we'll show him with a hot babe. Old Spice doesn't do that.

Agency: No they don't. But that doesn't make it different.

Client: We're not even the same category. They do body wash. We do shave gel. No one will care.

Agency: Yes, they will. We care. We have standards. Professional ethics.

Client: (after they finish laughing heartily) Look, bring us an idea like that or we'll find somebody else to do it.

Agency: (among themselves) How much is this account worth? Ten Million? (to client) We'll see you with a new board tomorrow.

Client: Excellent. Great meeting. You guys are the best.

And that, my friends, is how advertising gets made.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Is Facebook the next great advertising network?

Yesterday at the eG8 summit hosted by Publicis, Mark Zuckerberg made his case for Facebook to become the leading platform for advertisers when he said, "If you think about advertising, what’s going to be more effective than any advertising you show is something your friend says they Like."

Aside from wondering if they actually teach kids the English language at Harvard, this statement raises one big question.

If Facebook is going to take over the advertising world, who's going to pay for my TV?

I have some 900 channels coming through my cable box for which I pay about 75 bucks a month. But what really pays the writers, actors, directors, cinematographers, gaffers, grips and assorted other providers of that content is advertising.

Marketing dollars have been flowing to digital media, with facebook being a leading recipient, mostly at the expense of newspapers and magazines. Will this start happening to television? It hasn't yet. In fact, at this year's up-fronts where networks preview and sell their shows to advertisers and their agencies, they were asking and getting top dollar for their shows.

Facebook is now changing, and will continue to change how people communicate about brands and products. But until they find a way to bring mind numbing sitcoms, ripped-from-the-headlines melodramas, and reality-shows-that-are-anything-but to Facebook for free, Zuckerberg will just have to coexist with television.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Are there really 50 great car commercials?

Recently the online magazine Complex listed its 50 best car commercials of all time.

While there are some great spots on the list, most of their selections left me wondering if they had ever seen a good commercial.

Included are such gems as this juvenile effort for Dodge Durango, the hipster rodents for Kia, and their number one spot OF ALL TIME! is this horribly off-brand message from Audi.

Borrowing from pop culture doesn't make a commercial great. A dick joke doesn't make a commercial great.

What makes a commercial great is an original idea flawlessly executed. Here are three of my all time favorites.

All these spots say something relevant about the brand and product. They say it in a voice that's consistent with who they are and the personality they want to project. The Chrysler spot doesn't just borrow interest, it leverages it to force a re-evaluation of the brand – let's just hope they didn't fire that round prematurely, before they have the product to live up to the promise.

The mistake the editors at Complex made was trying to name 50 best car commercials, because it's pretty clear, there just aren't that many.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The right way

Conventional wisdom says there are only two ways to do things: the right way and the wrong way. But then, when was the conventional ever wise?

Apple built the most valuable brand in the world by developing killer products, keeping tight reins on its OS and spending a lot of money in television and destination retail stores.

Google built the second most valuable brand in the world by focusing on software, allowing users to contribute to the development, with modest amounts of traditional advertising.

Amazon sells just about anything your heart desires with no brick and mortar storefronts and limited marketing expenditures.

WalMart sells just about anything your heart desires through huge Supercenters and is the tenth largest advertiser in the country.

McDonald's makes money hand over fist by making burgers that are good enough but cheap and convenient.

Five Guys makes money hand over fist by making burgers fresh, charging more and making you wait a bit.

So for all of you who are looking for the right way, remember this. There is no right way. And it's up to you to find it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Are you ready?

Lets say you're running the government's website designed to get information out to people in all sorts of emergencies: floods, viral epidemics, environmental dangers, etc. How do you attract more people to your website before they actually need you?

You help people prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse, of course.

That's right, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a page dedicated to helping you make it through the night of living dead by linking you to the Zombie Survival Guide, while at the same time offering advice on how to prepare for a more likely emergency.

It's a clever idea that's been picked up in newspapers and TV stations across the country and has attracted more than a million people to Not bad for a site that features pictures of viruses and reports on morbidity and mortality.

This is just a little more proof that when you do things a little differently, you get noticed.