Friday, January 20, 2012

Branding lessons from Kiss

In honor of Paul Stanley's 60th birthday.

1. Make sure your product is right

It took over three years and wasn't until they released their third album that Kiss finally found their sound with their signature song "Rock and Roll All Nite."

2. Be different

Yes they built on the success of artists like Alice Cooper, David Bowie and the New York Dolls, but no one would confuse Kiss, their make up and outfits, and their epic stage shows for any other band.

3. Get a great logo

No comment necessary.

4. Evolve, but don't change

Kiss certainly went through their ups and downs, but they managed to return to their core and find new ways to connect with new audiences through the years.

5. Don't be afraid to have people hate you

Great brands are polarizing. They have fans who love them and detractors who hate them. What they don't have are people who are ambivalent. If people just 'like' your brand, you're in trouble.

Happy birthday, Starchild.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Beautiful lies

People have long accused advertisers of being shameless hucksters, weasels, liars and worse. This commercial from Nissan is a classic example of why.

While the copy doesn't actually say it, the clear implication is that the Nissan Leaf is better for the environment than a gasoline powered car because it runs on electricity.

Here's the copy for the spot so elegantly read by Robert Downey, Jr.

What is the value of zero? 
Is it nothing? 
Imagine zero dependency on foreign oil.
Zero pollutants in our environment. 
Zero depletion of the ozone. 
Suddenly zero starts adding up. 
Which is why we at Nissan built a car inspired by zero. 
Because zero is worth more than nothing.
Zero is worth everything.
The zero gas 100% electric Nissan Leaf.
Innovation for the planet. Innovation for all.

You see, the Leaf is inspired by zero, so it must be better than a gas powered car, right?


An electric car uses up to .3 kWh per kilometer of energy which creates about 200 grams of CO2 emissions at your typical U.S. power plant. The average gasoline-powered car produces 167 grams of CO2 per kilometer at the tailpipe.

So this shiny, happy plug-in electric that can barely go 40 miles before you need to recharge it, is actually responsible for putting more greenhouse gasses in the air than my Audi.

Electric cars are not the answer; not given our current battery technology and our antiquated power generation system that burns mostly coal.

If you're really concerned about the environment drive less, carpool, take the bus, ride a bicycle, turn down your thermostat, recycle your cans, but don't buy an electric car; at least until all our power comes from solar, wind and hydroelectric and that's going to happen right about... never.

No matter how Nissan and Chiat try to spin it, this car will not clean up our world.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

DirecTV response

I've been seeing these spots lately and it is probably my favorite campaign currently on the air.

These spots start by doing a great job of reminding the viewer of the issues we've all experienced with cable – high cost, service interruptions, bad customer service.

Like all good stories, they have an arc that builds to a climax.

And they reward us with a nice twist to the story.

From the film to the acting to the voice over, they're well produced. And while the offer at the end is vague, it certainly feels like it's a lot less than the check I'm writing to Charter every month. Enough that I'm tempted to check it out.

And that's what good advertising is all about.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Thought for the day

Innovation doesn't meet a need. It creates one.

Think about it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

I wonder about this winterland

I'm not sure why I don't like this spot more.

I really should like it.

It's different from the other spots in the category. No pictures of happy families on the slopes. No smiling kids at the waterpark. No snowmobiles busting through powdery drifts. No sleigh rides. No couples snuggling in front of a roaring fire in a rustic cabin. No insert other stereotypical image here.

It doesn't have wall-to-wall copy telling me how great it is to vacation in Wisconsin. We all know you can find a great vacation just about anywhere – okay, maybe not Jersey.

It's well directed. How could it not be? No less than Wisconsin native/comedy legend David Zucker – Airplane!, Naked Gun, Scary Movie, etc. – directed the spot. Who better to direct this slapstick tour de force?

It's kind of neat that the actors are all members of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and they also performed the music.

The tagline: "Winter's here. Sound like fun?" puts a nice button on the whole thing.

So why doesn't it work for me?

Maybe it's trying too hard to be different.

Maybe this Stooge-inspired mayhem doesn't reach a deep enough emotional place to trigger a memory that makes me say, "Man, I need to go THERE on my next vacation."

Different is important. Different gets you noticed. But unless you connect on an emotional level, you don't have the second major component of a great ad, relevance. And that's what this spot misses for me.

Great effort, but like most of the snowballs I've ever thrown, it just misses the mark.