30 May, 2008

Friday Ad Haiku: Advertiser Narcissism

"Call now!" "Buy it today!"

I hate it. That presumptious little throw-in at the backend of a call to action. It's the copywriter's crutch and/or the advertiser's folly. It means nothing and motivates no one--except maybe people who shouldn't be allowed to operate a phone unsupervised anyway. And it's an indication of a great problem: hubris. Too many advertisers think that whatever the audience has going on pales in comparison to the importance of their product.

Didn't they read Macbeth? Arrogance: bad.
Note to people selling products: The public does not care about you. They aren't thinking about you. And while you may live and breathe your product, they don't. Messages that assume they do only makes you look bad.

My two buffalo pennies: Communicate with your audience more humbly, more earnestly. Understand that they are not obligated to listen to you, much less act. Entertain them, give them something of value--make them want to pay attention. And stop operating on the assumption that people will drop everything to make a purchase; even in an on-demand society, that rarely happens. If you've got a great product, the consumers will come.

Never made it to
the funeral. I had to
order a Bowflex.

Previously in the Friday 5-7-5: Approval by Committee

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28 May, 2008

Starbucks Roasted for Exposing Lady Parts in Logo

You've got to hand it to the foaming-at-the-mouth moral zealots. They know how to market themselves: hone in on the biggest target you can find, grab their ankles, and don't let go.

Ad Age reports that a group called the Resistance Manifesto (sounds like a punk band from the Eastern Bloc) got their bibles in a bunch over the exposed woman bits in Starbuck's throwback logo. Apparently the pissings and moanings of a fringe group of 3,000 and others of its kind have sufficiently spooked the 'bucks: they've decided not to use it in certain areas of the country (read: any state that serves as the set-up to a trailer park joke) and have reworked the logo to obscure the mermaid's, ahem, water jugs:


Hoisting self up onto soapbox: It's a shame when the demands of special interests, religious or not, are able to sway mass policy, even if it is just a stupid logo. But folks like that are a big reason why religion in general gets such a bad rep nowadays.

OK, stepping back down.

Hey, it's America: you've got the right to throw your dinner theater-style Victorian temper tantrums; but don't come crying to Starbucks for a little late-day pick-me up after a fierce day of snake pokin' and book burnin'. That's what this is for. That, and crystal meth.

M.M.McDermott, ACD/Copywriter/Roman Catholic with an affinity for full-frontal logos

Previously from the Starbucks files: Sweat to an intern oldie; Mickey D's muscles in

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23 May, 2008

Friday Ad Haiku: Approval By Committee

You know the story. The team puts together a campaign that is so good, you're sure someone's going to think you stole it. I mean, this campaign kicks other campaigns' asses and steals their milk money. It's funny. It's poignant. It captures the essence of the client's product, dramatizes it so deftly, you could've etched it onto Leo Burnett's frickin' tombstone, and no one would've protested.

And then it goes to client for approval by committee, which, as far as I can tell is a lot like getting neutered by a mob, one clumsy snip at a time.

At least, that's what I've heard. Our clients don't do that.

He says, "It's approved."

If it's OK with his boss.

And his boss's boss.

M.M.McDermott, ACD/Copywriter/One Man Show

Previously in the the Friday 5-7-5: Tech Support

Other random bitchings from the Creative Department: Top 5 Things a Copywriter Never Wants to Hear; Top 6 "No's" for Captain Awesome; and marketing guys just make crap up.

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21 May, 2008

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

When we last we met, I was chastising DirecTV for blatantly and shamelessly ripping off someone else's creative. But today I'm here to praise both Chevy and Subaru for putting a new spin on an old idea and creating some brilliant comedy in the process.

We've all seen the typical sexy female spot selling beer, cars, burgers, etc., under the pretense that these products somehow correlate with these women. If you need a refresher, take a look at this spot from GoDaddy.com or Paris Hilton's Carl's Jr. commercial. But on to better things.

This is a commercial for the Chevy HHR you may remember from 2007 Super Bowl. It took the concept and flipped it, featuring scantily clad men, although I don't think they were going for much of a sexy factor here. It's not the best commercial I've ever seen, but it took the concept in a different direction. So kudos for that.

Now this spot for the 2009 Subaru Forrester I've watched three times already and laughed every time. It takes the concept of the sexy male car wash and goes a step further...by putting those men in diapers and re-enacting all of the slow motion car wash commercial cliches to a hot soundtrack, and knocks it out of the park. Warning: this ad may not be safe for people with sumophobia--the fear of large men in diapers.

--Captain Awesome, Project Specialist

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19 May, 2008

Our Dying Imagination: DirecTV owes Anchorman a Thank You

Here at the Ad Agency Confessional, we have several on-going series. And this is one I'm probably most passionate about--originality and blatantly ripping off good creative. Because as time goes on, from the page to the screen, it feels like the are less and less original ideas. And what passes for "creative" are bad parodies, rehashed bits, and routines so tired clowns with seltzer bottles think they're lame. I was actually brainstorming the inaugural piece for this segment when I saw this DirecTV commercial. Now I think John Michael Higgins (the funny guy in the spot) is a hysterical actor, as are several of the other Christopher Guest players that have appeared in these DirecTV commercials. But this 2008 ad rips a joke straight out of Anchorman (2004). Of course, if you're going to rip off comedy, Anchorman isn't a bad place to start.

At about 0:51 seconds is Paul Rudd's statistical explanation of "Sex Panther's" effectiveness.

Click here if the player doesn't work.

And at about 0:13 seconds, DirecTV owes Anchorman a thank you.

DirecTV, for shame.

--Captain Awesome

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Preakness: Oh yeah, there was a horse race, too.

In Baltimore, we've been accused of doing things just a little bit different. Chalk it up to the small town mentality with the big town population. Or our staunch pride in our colonial heritage. Or the fact that we lead the nation in heroin addicts per capita.

Either way, you may have tuned in to our little horse race this weekend. Have it every year. And though the pomp and circumstance of finely-bred animals battling to secure their spot in sports history is something to behold, it pales in comparison to the beer orgy that plays out in the infield. Picture Lord of the Flies being re-enacted by a cast of 100,000 as horses run around it all day long, and you've only scratched the patina of what makes the event so...special.

And of course, there's this:

It's only a matter of time before someone sponsors this.

The Renegade Running of the Urinals. It sings.

Previously in the Baltimore Experience: Our lawyers follow the golden rule , Spammer tries to out-tout me, and Sonic gives us the ol' half-peace sign.

M.M.McDermott, ACD/Copywriter/1999 Preakness Purple Heart

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16 May, 2008

Friday Haiku: Tech Support

Oh, we blame your magical rebooting of the great and powerful server every time the printer jams or our email won't send, but without you who would reset our PDAs and explain the difference between turning off our monitors and turning off our computers? Seriously, there's a difference.

So to the guy whose keycard is never more than a foot away, draped around the nape of his neck,

The Friday Haiku: Tech Support

Broke my computer,
Must be your fault. You should've
Known I would do this.

Are we idiots?
Maybe we love to complain.
Or perhaps we like

The twinkle in your
bloodshot eyes. But without you
Here--Lord of the Flies

--Captain Awesome

Last Week in the Friday 5-7-5: The Fridge Raider

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15 May, 2008

WWJD: Drink Spiritual Water?

If you’re thinking the gentleman on these water bottles looks a lot like Jesus, you’re right. The product is called Spiritual Water, and it’s regular old bottled water with a scripture passage on the label. It hasn’t been blessed. It isn’t fortified. It’s water, but the idea is people could use those spiritual reminders. And where’s an easy place to put those spiritual reminders on something many people use every day?

I have to say, the concept makes sense. However, products like Spiritual Water, Testamints and Bible Gum all play into a tricky area—the convergence of religion and consumerism…or capitalism. On one side, you say you’re trying to do something positive. On the other, you’re making money off a product that plays into people’s devotion to their faith, something that runs far deeper than simple brand loyalty.

I’d love to believe this is a purely altruistic venture, but...

Founder and CEO Elicko Taieb says, “Church is on Sundays, but people need something to help them through the week.” Having gone to Catholic school from age four to 21, I know you can go to church every day if you want, and they make pocket bibles, so I’m not sure what need wasn’t being filled before Spiritual Water.

In the Charlotte Observer, Taieb also said 10 percent of the company's profits will go to charity. And according to the Denver Post, a 16.9 oz bottle of Spiritual Water retails for $2—cheaper than Fiji (so is my rent), but a step up in price from Deer Park. So you could buy Spiritual Water and donate to charity, or you could cut out the middle man, take the $0.20 you save buying a cheaper bottle, donate it to charity yourself, and read a verse from your pocket bible whenever you want.

Then I looked at the Spiritual Water website, http://www.spiritualh2o.com/, where I browsed through the 11 types of Spiritual Water such as “Defense,” “Balance,” “Energy” and “Formula J.” With titles like those, one might be inclined to think such waters come from special springs or contain vitamins or energy supplements, but again, no. Every bottle is purified 100% California municipal water. At least Holy Drinking Water is blessed by a priest or member of the clergy. Liquid OM is energized by striking a gong and Tibetan bowls in its vicinity. And Darth Water is imbued with Midi-chlorians and the power of the dark side.

And finally, there’s the convoluted 15 minute promotional video on the site, which spends the first 5 minutes reminding the viewer water is important (right, important, source of all life on our planet, without which we wouldn’t even exist, I forgot), the next two minutes reminding the viewer prayer is good, and sure enough, introducing Spiritual Water as a solution for both needs.

Perhaps a spiritual reminder is enough for consumers to ignore the obvious capitalist sentiment here, but regardless of religion, products like this walk a slippery slope I’m not sure I could partner with. At any rate, I just don’t want to be the agency tasked with the anti-comp campaign.

Jesus Juice, please, call someone else.

--Captain Awesome

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13 May, 2008

As Advertised: Define "Kills"

Further evidence that Ukraine is NOT weak...when it comes to messaging anyway. Warning labels on their cigarettes have all the gracefulness of an armed robbery.

Rightfully so, I suppose.

Though it hasn't done much to dissuade our intrepid Jr. Copygal from chasing her goal of getting COPD by 30. Dream big!

Previously in As Advertised: Country Climax.

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09 May, 2008

Friday Haiku: The Fridge Raider

This morning, I was raided. Opening the fridge to procure milk for my cereal, I noticed the top to my previously unopened quart had been torn asunder. I ascertained the identity of the culprit immediately, and she confessed the moment I casually brought the topic to light. However, the knave noted it was already opened when she purloined the silken dairy liquid, herself. So, twice today, I hath been raided.

I know I'm not the only one who has been victim to the stealthy cat burglars that swoop down upon the office refrigerator, snagging your last bit of Italian dressing or mayonnaise. One morning you have almost a full box of raisin bran, and the next it's half. One day, you have just enough cream cheese for the rest of the week and the next, you won't get through Wednesday.

So for your Friday Haiku pleasure (and my Honey Graham O's ire)...

The Friday Haiku: The Fridge Raider

My milk, my milk. Gone.
Never will it find bliss at
My bowl's cool bottom.

Today its the milk.
'Morrow, the desktop. Next week
The entire sales dept.

Sav├ęd, we must be
From this thief in the day. My
Revenge, I will have.

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08 May, 2008

R.I.P.--Rest in Pabst

The above picture is of Bill Bramanti of Chicago Heights, IL. Because of his love for finely crafted Pabst Blue Ribbon beer--headquartered only an hour away in Woodridge, IL--at the tender age of 67, Bill had this custom coffin made, modeled after a can of his favorite brew.

When I first read this article I thought the coffin was made for him by Pabst due to his loyalty to the brand, which is pretty obvious. (He's already tried the coffin out. He fit.) I thought, how brilliant is that! A company responding to brand loyalty in kind, especially in the Midwest where people eat up loyalty (and old school American beer, see PBR, Budweiser, Miller High Life). Turns out he paid for it.

However, this could be an interesting marketing move for Pabst, who also owns some serious old-school brands like Old Milwaukee, Piel's, Schaeffer, Schlitz, Schmidt's and Stroh's. Yeah, Pabst owns all of those. What better way to give back to a customer base that made PBR one of the top beers in the country through the 1970s!

And why stop with Pabst? Americans LOVE their beer. And have you ever tasted Budweiser? I love beer too, but I'd rather drink old milk through a used sweatstock. Still, it's the most popular selling beer in the country--the world. Granted, giving away coffins might lead to thoughts of Hey, it's the least we can do. We helped put you in here. So perhaps coffins aren't the way to go. But what's more American than sitting around some grilling meat with friends and a few cold ones. So give back! I want to see more giveaways of beer-branded barbeques, trailer hitches, chest waders, gun racks and hunter orange (trust me, it'll work).

Know your audience people! Marlboro knew this, and through Marlboro miles began "giving away" branded tents, pool tables and leather jackets. I still have a Marlboro CD player, and I only smoked for like three weeks back in 9th grade. Of course, "the man" stepped in and cut them short. But beer companies, there's an audience out there that already loves you. So give back to them. Keep their love. Lest, they be wooed by the frightening cyber-waitresses of Heineken.

You've been warned.

Oh, but Bramanti doesn't plan on kicking it anytime soon. So what does he do with his sturdy, new living room conversation piece? What else--use it as a cooler, fillled with refreshing Pabst Blue Ribbon beeer. That guy's awesome.

--Captain Awesome, Project Specialist

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07 May, 2008

Tales from the Spam Filter: Bring Out the Chains, Steve Young Wants to See a Measurement

Take it from Steve Young: you suck.
Luckily, he's here to help you prepare.
And look out, he's got a thesaurus. "Efficacious"?
(Click photo for two-point conversion.)
Previously in TftSF: Neil Armstrong, American hero and tireless ED shill.

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06 May, 2008

Wanta Fanta? Not if it's going to do that to me.

It's official: Fanta is to the soft drink industry what its ads are to Photoshopping.

"I'm not bad. I'm just Photoshopped that way."

On a positive note, good to see that Amy Winehouse has reinvigorated her career. At least she's got perspective, which is more than we can say for her fellow Fantana.

By way of: PsD.

Speaking of Photoshop: Redbook hates Faith Hill just the way she is.

M.M.McDermott, ACD/Copywriter/Clone Tool

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04 May, 2008

As Advertised: Country Climax

I suppose this is one way to get more visitors to your rural vegetable stand. Come for the sweet per'taters, stay for the sweet release (or to observe the most intense point in the resolution of a storyline if you're, like, a dork).
Thanks to intrepid poet (and dirty old man) Charles R. for the pic - and for destroying my Rockwellian vision of the country.

(Click photo to enperv-erate.)

As Advertised: Country ClimaxSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

02 May, 2008

Friday Ad Haiku: Creative Meetings

They are both masseuse and tormentor. Bitter and sweet. Caffeine...and the thing that makes us want more caffeine. One minute, they can be like a catnip lasagna to Garfield and the next, make you feel like a weary, dying camel that's been roaming the desert for weeks before finally seeing an oasis, only to realize that oasis is a farm...a farm growing the sharpest, heaviest hay on the planet. {Ed. note: Just say no to drugs, kids.}

The Friday Haiku: Creative Meetings

It’s great. Change It. Change
My soul
Dies a little more.

--Captain Awesome, Project Specialist

Last week on the Friday 5-7-5: Award Shows

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