29 December, 2010

Dogman wants to help you pay your mortgage

Nothing like a Facebook ad to add some credibility to our profession. I would like to find the people who click on this and preserve them for science.

Dogman wants to help you pay your mortgageSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

08 December, 2010

Intern Sweatshop: or How Ben Found the Secret to Internet Buzz

Fact: The internet is a great marketing tool.

Did I just blow your mind? Ok, so that wasn't exactly groundbreaking news. The internet's ability to cause buzz and spread things like wild fire is not lost on advertisers. But, the internet is a fickle place and getting your product/client/brand talked about and spread around takes something special. Here is an example.

Ben the Bodyguard is a grizzled, streetsmart Frenchman who knows about the seedy side of things. He has made a living keeping things hidden that need to stay hidden. Ben's most unique biographical tid-bit, however, is that he's an iPhone app.

Developed by Nerd Communications, Ben the Bodyguard is an upcoming way to keep the things you keep on your iPhone protected. And their marketing efforts are amazing.

First, personifying this piece of software was a stroke of brilliance. The app's job is to protect you, making it a "person" adds an extra, unconcious level of comfort. People are increasingly wary of technology's slow theft of our privacy, so helping us relate to a piece of software also helps us trust it.

Secondly, they gave Ben an intruiging personality and spread it through out their advertising. Their Twitter feed is written as if it is Ben himself tweeting. Their Facebook page is set up as a personal page, not a business page. You can't "like" Ben, you can "friend" him. Then there is their website. Oh man, their website. It went live last Thursday, and the internet exploded with links to the site. If you search Ben the Bodyguard on Twitter, it is still getting passed around a week later. I will now link you to the website and you can see why people are still talking about it. I warn you though, now I am going to blow your mind.


Kyle Sacks, Intern. Going to buy Ben when he comes out.

Intern Sweatshop: or How Ben Found the Secret to Internet BuzzSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

02 December, 2010

Oh, good brief!

A semi-oldie but goodie. Here's to all you agencies out there just now getting around to your cards, invites, and clever flash e-greetings. You're not alone. You're doomed, of course. But alone? No.

Oh, good brief!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

24 November, 2010

|| From The Judges Corner ||

It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it. Have a seat Mike Rowe, I’ve got this one covered. There are some things that people were born to do. I was born to judge people… in a bake-off.

As far as Tuesday mornings at the office go, this ranked among the best. Laid out before myself and the other judges were an array of deserts that could send the healthiest of people into a diabetic shock. We had pumpkin, we had chocolate, we had apple, I had collapsed in a sugar coma. I will say, when there is a smorgasbord-of-delicious laid out in the office, I feel bad having “more” than my share but being a judge means you get ONE OF EVERYTHING. I later found out that’s not necessarily a good thing.

Right out of the gate we had a clear front runner – pumpkin, white chocolate chip cookies. Simple, I know but the time and care that went into these… It really showcased the bakers expertise. They were moist but with a nice crust on the bottom. Not that thick char that I usually get. These morsels of heaven landed a strong 3rd in the competition.

In 2nd place, was my favorite, an apple pie with a delicious brown sugar and nut crumble. The apples were soft but not mushy. The crumble was a nice compliment without being overpowering. I’m salivating just thinking about it.

And the winner on the day was an office favorite – pumpkin cheesecake with a caramel drizzle. This judge is still challenging who actually baked it but unfortunately the criteria for the competition was on taste alone.

What a day. What a breakfast. Way to go Renegades. Anyone interested in a Christmas cookie bake-off? Or a birthday cake cook-off? Hot dog eating contest? Never mind. I’m going to lunch…

-- Jim Luparello Account Extraordinaire Lover of Little Debbie, Judger Of All

|| From The Judges Corner ||SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

19 November, 2010

Conan: Successful Social Media User

How does an ex-talk show host who has a very public spat with his old network for trying to change his timeslot, rebound after a do-not-appear-on-tv buyout deal, and end up at the top of the ratings?

The Answer: Social Media

Since his falling out with NBC in 2009, Conan was prohibited from appearing on television. Without his familiar zaniness outlet, Conan turned to one of the only places left for him to connect with his audience, a Twitter account.
This was literally the first fans would hear from Conan since the gag order.

Conan continually fed the masses of hungry fans who were bitter with NBC and Jay Leno for not supporting their uniquely-haired talk show host, bringing the #TeamCoco movement to a fever pitch.

Filling a stream with personal anecdotes and making headlines by following just one random Twitter user, Conan had tapped into the pulse of what drove his show, and in essence, himself to be such big hits.

Soon after, Conan also put on a brief 30-city tour, appropriately named "The Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour, which featured such acts as Conan and Jim Carrey dressed as Kick Ass and Superman performing Five for Fightings' "Superman (It's Not Easy.)"

Around this time he launched the appropriately named TEAMCOCO, which became the nexus for all things Conan including a special announcement in September that he would be launching a new show on TBS in November.

He followed this up with a Facebook where he would randomly take a Facebook fan's question and answer them on his Youtube channel.

After that it's a whirlwind of a live 24-hour webcam event, a mock first show called Show Zero, and of course the Team Coco blimp which featured it's own Foursquare badge if you were lucky enough for it to float over your city.

Conan O'Brien's social media experience illustrates one of the most successful uses of social marketing by a celebrity in connecting with their audience.

He had interactions and influence numbers that marketers drool over.

And what was the result of all of these social shenaningans?

When Conan's show finally premiered on TBS, the audience he had gained through his career at Late Night with Conan O'Brien and the Tonight show, the audience he had gained through Dancing Tacos, I Miss Conan videos, and exclusive Foursquare badges tuned in and put him on the ratings throne of late night television.

With his attention back toward his TV show, will the stream of content be hindered so much so that Team Coco's social presense dwindles? Or was this all merely a stop gap until he made it back to the airwaves?

Sean Sutherland, Associate Account Executive/Team Coco supporter

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A "digital" rebrand for prostate cancer awareness.

Now that our new contributors (Frick and Frack) have assumed the suit-n-tie role of thought-leadership and industry wonking, that leaves me free to spend my time mining the webz for things that make me giggle. Some of them even have a passing connection to advertising.

Exhibit A from Emery Pajer, hubbie of one of our loyal readers (and a good friend):

Conceptual Sketches for the Redesign of the Prostate Cancer Ribbon



Recruiters, I want a finder's fee when you get this guy hired.

In other advertising shoulda-been news: Foursquare badges that should exist

A "digital" rebrand for prostate cancer awareness.SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

15 November, 2010

I'll take Ad Space for $9, Alex.

The "first" television ad in history cost only $9 for a 20 second placement.

In the day-to-day trials of getting a client-approved budget, I can't even imagine the conversation that takes place to sell a multi-million dollar Super Bowl ad. Perhaps the best card was played by Miller Brewing Co. for their 1 second Miller High Life ads. Why pay almost $3mm for 30 seconds when you get your messaging across in 1. Just in case you blinked and missed it - click here.

The early part of my career was spent in a pretty sterile environment filled with pencils and calculators buying ad space. Granted, this wasn't that long ago but the point remains. It's like building a puzzle without a point of reference. The basic goal is to buy the best rated programs for the lowest price to reach your target market. A 30 second spot, during prime time, on a Thursday night? Forget about it. Especially if you were working with a bare-bones budget. And then it happened. "Head On. Apply directly to the forehead. Head On. Apply directly to the forehead. Head On. Apply directly to the forehead."

Am I freaking out? Did I just witness a glitch in the Matrix?

And then it happened again. Like a bad dream, televisions all over the nation were being attacked by this repetitious assault. Now, 5 years later, I see the genius behind this campaign. I don't know if this product is still around but I still remember the brand and tag line. Can Head On really be classified with the "Where's the beef?" lady?

The real shocker was that it only took 10 seconds to get across. Why am I paying for 30 second spots when I could be buying 10? I didn't even know that was possible. The truth is, 10 second ads have always been around. Advertisers just didn't know how to use them properly. At the very best, you could take a 30-second spot, split it down the middle and use it to bookend another spot. It gets the consumers attention but is it memorable?
I don't know how well the 1 second ad tracked but in doing some research, myself and a fellow colleague watched the reel of spots that never saw the light of day. It may have fallen short of it's 15 minutes of fame but thanks to YouTube, advertising will live on beyond it's allotted media space.
-- Jim Luparello III Assc. AE Frugal Bugle

I'll take Ad Space for $9, Alex.SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

12 November, 2010

Last Day to Tell Us You Love Us

Hey faithful readers.

Today is the last day for voting in the Baltimore Sun's Mobbies Awards for the Best Blogs in Maryland. We've been battling neck and neck with another great Baltimore Agency for the top spot in Biz Tech. And we've climb to 6th for Best Overall as a bunch of Blogs have been jockeying for the top spots this past week. So thank you...big bunches. And if you still sort of, kind of, maybe a little bit like what you read here, please vote for us for Best Biz/Tech Blog here and Best Overall Blog, by typing in Renegade Agency Confessional here.

It really means a lot to us, 1) because the local recognition is just awesome (Hey, we wanna be the best agency in Maryland, re: the World), and 2) Matt's gonna bring in free breakfast for a week. So please don't ruin this for me. I love breakfast.

Thanks for voting. And thanks for reading, we hope we only occasionally disappoint.

The The Renegade Agency Confessional Team

Last Day to Tell Us You Love UsSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Ads on Twitter Are Okay By Me

Being a part of the *special* 900,000 users that access Twitter through Hootsuite, couldn't help but notice something new popping up in my Feed.

A dull yellow highlight around the word Promoted Tweet (or Promoted depending on where you look) with a message from a big name brand like Nintendo or Best Buy, brands I don't actually follow.

These brands have paid a premium to Twitter to appear in users feeds via the Promoted Tweet veil.

Like most entrepreneurial ventures in life, it all comes back to earning/making money.

And this is the way Twitter chose to do it.

Announced back in April, Twitter has utilized these Promoted Tweets in a way where they're not terribly annoying, in my opinion that is.

Unlike other websites, where ads appear in the typical right hand column or in Banner ads, these purchased advertisement tweets show up in general feeds and haven't been too much of a distraction so far.

These ads feel like a natural extension of the service, much like other advertisements on the web.

When I go to YouTube, I can expect to watch commercials now.
When I want to read an article on the Baltimore Sun's website, some ads appear about a Baltimore mom making $134.95/hr.
Head to any of the big networks that host old episodes for streaming, and you're going to be treated to the same 30-sec ad from a sponsor at regular broadcast commercial spots.

Okay, so those are annoying, but we still use those services. Following this line of logic, I wouldn't expect Twitter users to be bothered by this new form of advertising.

I've done searching on Twitter, and am finding that few seem to share my apathetic attitude toward these ads:

Maybe I'm just not getting hit as hard as other users, but I really don't think these Promoted Tweets are the devil.

If anything, they're a smart way of reaching Twitter users with brand messaging. At least we're not being forced to watch a :30 sec Dove spot everytime we refresh our feed.

Jury's still out on all of this. What do you think about Promoted Tweets on Twitter?

Sean Sutherland, Associate Account Executive/Promoted Tweeter (not really)

Ads on Twitter Are Okay By MeSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

11 November, 2010

Intern Sweatshop: Beer Advertising, You Never Let Me Down

Over the years there has been one type of advertisement that people have called sexist, inappropriate, homophobic or stereotypical. But beer commercials are freaking hilarious.

I can’t keep track of all the times I’ve fallen out of my chair laughing while watching a football game or TV show and seen a new beer commercial. Beer advertisements have been cracking me up since long before I ever consumed the malted barley and hops they were advertising.

A perfect example is Budweiser’s classic “Wassup” commercial that aired during the 2000 Super Bowl. It was so simple, yet so hilarious—all ages could laugh at it. (Although, there is an ethical question about making beer commercials that appeal to children, but I won't get into that with this post.)

Check it out:

Over a decade later, beer advertising is still going strong. Yes, they may portray woman as sexy bartenders and party-goers and men as “manly” only if they drink the correct beer, but that doesn’t make them any less funny. I don’t know about you, but most commercials involving guys being made fun of for wearing Speedos or bejeweled jeans will always make me laugh.

These ads definitely display distinct differences in the genders through their ads, but they are obvious exaggerations to me. Also, sometimes it’s refreshing when commercials can make fun of stereotypes in an obvious way. Just like this Heineken ad from back in 2008—still hilarious in another language:

It’s nearly impossible to please every person watching your commercial, especially when it involves alcohol, sex and humor, but at the end of the day, as long as you get some big laughs, hold onto your loyal beer drinkers, and don’t offend too many people, you’ve done your job.

Cheers to beer ads: for giving me something to enjoy during halftime.

And I will be looking forward to seeing some funny ads tonight during the Ravens' game. So have any favorite or hated beer spots of your own? Dos Equis? Coors Light Press Conference? Almost any ad for Bud Light? Let us hear them!

Lisa Lucantoni, Brewksy-Ad Lovin' Intern

Here at the Agency Confessional we don't advocate drinking or not drinking, but if an over-21 intern brings us a 6-pack every now and then, well, that tends to look good on their reviews. Please drink responsibly.--George

Intern Sweatshop: Beer Advertising, You Never Let Me DownSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

08 November, 2010

Intern Sweatshop: RockMelt May Potentially Rock My Internet, Hopefully

RockMelt (yeah, it's an awful name) is a new browser based on Chrome that integrates social networking, chat and news right into your browsing.

It. Looks. Awesome.

Let's be honest, some of us have too many programs running on our computer. I, for one, am a big news/social network nut and can have five or six programs running at a time. RSS feed readers, chat clients, Twitter clients, link sharing apps, the kitchen sink: it's too much. I've tried moving it all online, using web apps for everything so I can do it all from my Internet browser. Good idea, but now I perpetually have five or six browser tabs open. This predicament is why I was very excited when RockMelt was announced yesterday.

You can check Twitter, share links and get feed updates without visiting any of those sites. It might finally be the all in one Internet workflow I have always dreamt cautious dreams about. Disclaimer: I am a bit weary of having things popping up right in my browser. With my present setup, I can ignore the tabs I have open or just close them if I need to focus. RockMelt might prove to be information overload. Techcrunch put it bluntly.

The other forseeable downside is privacy. Having all our social networks tied right into our browser could be the next step toward ol' Zuckerbug tracking literally everything we do. The implications are a bit creepy. Google and Facebook already tailor ads to your search terms and interests, respectively. Imagine if Facebook started sending you chat messages based on the sites you visited yesterday? Yeah, not cool.

Though I am a bit guarded in my excitement, I am definitely excited to try RockMelt. Downloading the browser is still invite only, so I'll have to wait for my potential social network salvation for now. Until then, check the intro video and let me know if you're as intruiged as I am.

Kyle Sacks, Future Early Adopters Anoymous Member/Intern

Intern Sweatshop: RockMelt May Potentially Rock My Internet, HopefullySocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

04 November, 2010

Eye for an Eye or Thanks for a Vote

We can do this the easy way or the hard way...

Voting over at The Baltimore Sun Mobbies is currently underway and your(and ours) favorite blog, The Renegade Agency Confessional is currently sitting 2nd under the business + technology section.

2nd just isn't going to cut it.

So if you enjoy the absurdity and commentary that is standard fare here, please do us a favor and take a second and vote for us. Here I'll make it easier for ya:

Click here to vote for my blog ... early and often

If you do, (and even if you don't) we'll keep bringing you the constant stream of engaging, Mobbie-worthy content that you've come to expect from us.


The Renegade Agency Confessional Contributor Team
-M. M. McDermott
-George Convery
-Sean Sutherland

Eye for an Eye or Thanks for a VoteSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

03 November, 2010

Apparently Everyone Knows Photoshop

Those who espouse the viewpoint that You get what you pay for might want to take a look at this Texas Department of Public Safety Vehicle Inspection sticker.

It's not bad. It has it's own flair. And a cowboy coming from or heading to his horse with a saddle on his back just screams Texas. Was it done by some fancy agency or some graphic design whiz kid? No, it was created by inmates at the Texas State Prison. And according to this article from the San Antonio Express News, this particular image was scanned by an inmate serving a life term for aggravated sexual assault.

Unfortunately, it looks a lot like this photograph

because the image was taken from a photo in a 1998 issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine, taken by David K. Langford, who also still owns the copyright and is suing the state for damages. Langford said that photo has generated income for him for the past 25 years, and “If they'd called me first, I'd bet we'd have had a deal in five minutes."

Instead, what seemed like an inexpensive alternative to a traditional graphic designer will end up costing the state of Texas plenty. If you can do a cheaper and smarter than using a reliable designer or agency, you're a fool not to. But if you don't exactly know what you're doing, then the fool might end up being you.

One other note, I'd seriously investigate this prison. I saw The Shawshank Redemption, and who knows what else may be going on there between a crooked warden and yet another incarnation of the Kurgan from Highlander. The three people who get that joke will think it's hysterical.

Apparently Everyone Knows PhotoshopSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

01 November, 2010

Halloween, Yep We Celebrated

If you haven't been paying attention, Sunday was Halloween. Not content with letting the little ones have all the fun with costumes, Renegades represented in style.

As part of the annual Renegade Halloween Costume Contest and Awkward Parade, about a dozen or so Renegades donned outfits that ranged from the satirical to the outright weird all in the hope that Terri would give them an envelope with some form of prize in it.

Here, in order of their merit and vote getting, are your winners:

Jennifer Stine, EVP/COO, wins it with commitment as Neytiri from Avatar.

Ryan Engles, AAE, and part-time chilean Miner

Jason Bloom, Senior Editor, shows what happens when you work in Construction and have yourself an accident.

Head over to our Facebook page to check out more costuimes and other pictures from our Halloween hijinks.

Sean Sutherland Associate Account Executive/Zombie for Halloween Next Year

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28 October, 2010

Intern Sweatshop: I'll Take a Fajita Burrito with a Side of Social Responsibility

It was cold, and it was dark, and we were standing outside...wrapping each other in tinfoil for free burritos. On Halloween, Chipotle Mexican Grill does their "Boorito" promotion. If you come in on October 31, dressed as a burrito, you get a free, well, burrito! My friends and I have participated for years. The costumes range from elaborate tinfoil suits to simple tinfoil bracelets. This year, however, Chipotle is mixing it up a bit.

For Boorito 2010, instead of coming dressed as a burrito (wearing varying amounts of tinfoil), Chipotle is asking people to come dressed as a "horrifying processed food product." When you come dressed as a "horrifying processed food product," you can get a burrito for a discounted price of $2. Chipotle has promised to donate up to one million dollars from the Halloween proceeds to Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.

Chipotle has taken what was a playful promotion and upped the ante considerably. Though honorable, is this really a good move marketing-wise?

Jamie Oliver is a celebrity chef and health food advocate who is dedicated to helping people eat healthier. His Food Revolution is aimed at changing how Americans eat (you mean a box of Twinkies a night is bad for me?). A big part of Chipotle's identity is that all their ingredients are naturally raised and never processed, so it makes sense that they would team with Jamie to help raise awareness about processed vs. organic food.

Chipotle is one of the largest food chains in the country to be fully dedicated to organic ingredients. I will venture so far as to say that Chipotle could be a case study on how to operate a large, organically focused food chain. With Boorito 2010, they are going the extra step, advocating for a cause they believe in. It shows them as socially conscious and willing to sacrifice for it.

The fast food industry is continuing to get knocked over health concerns, so Chipotle's fresh, caring image is something they are wise to play up. This promotion with Jamie Oliver has the potential to build extra awareness about Chipotle's practices concerning their delicious food and hopefully bring in new customers to eat said food. Continuing to get their name associated with health food causes is a big step toward this.

However, Chipotle could catch some backlash from consumers over the change.

The problem is, despite it being for a good cause, a lot of people will be upset that the burritos are no longer free and that the costume requirements have gotten more demanding. People can no longer put some tin foil on their head and get free food. A few of my friends didn't even know about Jamie Oliver's involvement or the donation. All they had heard, via word-of-mouth, was that what was once free was now $2.

Chipotle is going to have to work hard to make sure people get the full story. They have sent out mailers, made a Youtube video with Jamie (see the bottom of this post), and put up a page on their Facebook, all of it explaining the Boorito 2010 promotion. The social media push was an especially good idea because most of previous years' Boorito participants have been us millennials. It’s a good outreach, but come this year’s Allhallows Eve, we’ll see how well it worked.

I think this promotion is a smart move. They took a promotion that was essentially bringing them nothing besides tinfoil to clean up, and turned it into something that could move their whole brand forward in consumer’s minds. There is the risk that some people won’t come out this year because of the price, but overall, the potential gains vastly outweigh the potential backlash. I’ll be there and I plan on dressing as some good ol’ high-fructose corn syrup! No, I haven’t thought through the logistics of that yet.

-- Kyle Sacks, High-Fructose Corn Syrup

Intern Sweatshop: I'll Take a Fajita Burrito with a Side of Social ResponsibilitySocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

25 October, 2010

Intern Sweatshop: 'Pink' is the new black...for advertisers

Ever since October became National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 1985, pink ribbons and pink merchandise have taken over this festive fall month. It’s normal to see pink yogurt tops and pink ribbons on water bottles. Even the NFL ran a campaign this month called “A Crucial Catch” to support breast cancer screening. Games featured players, coaches and referees sporting pink gloves, hats and cleats. (We appreciate the sentiment Steelers, but mustard yellow so clashes with carnation.)

This year, however, the “pink” campaigns promoted by alcoholic beverage companies like Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Chambord, have stirred up some controversy (pun intended).

Chambord has started a campaign called “Pink Your Drink,” saying that by adding Chambord to your favorite cocktails you are supporting the breast cancer cause. Chambord has contributed a total of $50,000 to the Breast Cancer Network of Strength, and is donating $15,000 this month.

Mike’s, who has once again released their seasonal Hard Pink Lemonade, has been contributing to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation for years and donated more than $500,000 over the past two. Also, Jacqueline S., a member of their team since they were founded, passed away from breast cancer. So not only, are they donating money to a good cause, they are donating to a cause that means something to them as a company.

But breast cancer survivors are angry these companies are using these “pink” campaigns to market their alcohol products. Studies have shown even moderate consumption of alcohol heightens your risk of developing cancer, especially in women. So advocates of cancer research aren’t exactly pleased with companies selling something that can contribute to cancer risks.

Breast Cancer Action, a non-profit group, calls this “pink-washing”--when a company raises money for a cause, while also marketing a product that negatively impacts the cause.

And this isn’t the first time a company has been accused of pink-washing.

For 13 years, BMW has partnered with the Susan G. Komen Foundation. They donate 80% of the retail sale price to Komen for every item purchased from the BMW Pink Ribbon Collection of apparel and lifestyle merchandise. But the Breast Cancer Action group took issue with this, because the exhaust given off by cars contributes to cancer risks. Also, makeup companies like L’Oreal were forced to change the ingredients in some of their products, because the makeup contained harmful toxic chemicals linked to cancer.

Interestingly enough, Coca-Cola is a current sponsor of the Breast Cancer Foundation, and there have been studies questioning whether or not the sweetening agent in Diet Coke, aspartame, contributes to cancer. But I’ve found little evidence of cancer survivors calling for boycotts of their soft drinks.

Now Breast Cancer Action is only one group, but the issue really becomes one of: Do breast cancer survivors, families of victims, and those fighting for breast cancer awareness want what they may see as "blood money" from these particular corporations? And that's a really tough question.

Now one must consider that breast cancer awareness has has been spreading like wild fire for years, and while I am all for the pink explosion of awareness that takes place in October, at this point in time, you have to admit people are pretty aware. The task of promoting awareness has been done amazingly. And now it's more research and and more funding to support that research that what will find the answers and possible cures. And that's the end goal, right? A cure.

Of course we should never stop raising awareness, but should we call out these companies for doing the right thing, even though we think their product might be wrong? Again, that's a difficult question. I realize I'm not going to convince someone if they've already made up their mind on this subject, but the way I see it, the money raised from marketing these very specific products, which is then donated directly to research foundations, is money that may actually help find out more about breast cancer. Wearing a pink shirt and raising awareness shouldn't stop, but Mike's is showing a commitment to helping find a cure. Why would we want to stop them?

Mike’s Hard Lemonade gets an A+ in my book for smart marketing, because they have shown that as a company they support a good cause not just for the sales benefits. In fact, they note on their website that the money has already been donated. So whether you buy Mike's or not doesn't change how much the give. In all honesty, if someone is in a liquor store, they already made the decision to buy alcohol. Mike's is simply showing people that Mike's support this cause, and if a customer decides that aligns with his or her personal philosophies, then that costumer might want to support Mike's too.

Also, Mike's offers their Pink Lemonade as a seasonal drink, unlike Chambord who uses their campaign year round. While I think it’s nice that Chambord is recognizing the cause, I'm not sure they're doing it the right way. One, they haven't donated nearly the amount Mikes' has, but I'm okay with that because any donation is a good donation. But two, it's seems more of a campaign for convenience, because, well...Chambord happens to be pink. So to me, this campaign looks like it's more for recognition than for just supporting a good cause.

Mike’s Hard Lemonade has raised a lot of money and can continue to raise contributions if they don’t get shunned by people who don't look deeper into the issue. Breast Cancer organizations make a valid point that they don’t want to look like they are partnered with companies selling products that are actually hurting the cause, but these companies seem to genuinely care about the cause and are willing to contribute a lot of money to support and fund research.

Yes, cause marketing can be about exploitation and selling stuff, but in this case, it may someday save lives. Organizations should follow the example of Mike's Hard Lemonade and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation to show how companies and organizations with seemingly opposed ideologies can work together and do something. In the case of breast cancer, it’s important to remember what we are all fighting for: a cure.

--Lisa Lucantoni, Boobie-Saving Creative Department Intern

Once again, the interns are coming up with their own clever nicknames. Just wanted to make sure everyone knew that.

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20 October, 2010

I'm Getting the Wrong Impression About Cabs in NY

I'm under the impression that New Yorkers live under the constant threat of any cab they get picked up in tranforming into the mobile-disco that is the Cash Cab. Innocent New Yorkers just looking to go up to Brooklyn live in fear that they will get assaulted by flashing lights, loud sirens and be yelled at by comedian Ben Bailey who will then throw money at them for getting trivia questions right.

Now, Trident's promising a free ride as part of the launch of their new Cool Mint + Melon Fresco gum. They've essentially told New Yorkers, "Show up at Times Square today. Bring the gum. BOOM: free cab ride."

This is a great extension of their "Trident Layers is so good you'll want to get paid in gum" national campaign. But is it too much for fragile New York cab riders to handle? Will people lose all hope when they show up the day after the promotion with knock-off layered gums? What happens to the wise guy who shows up with spearmint or Bazooka Joe? Will they be denied a free ride? Poor, poor New Yorkers.

As far as marketing value goes, I'd love to see this trend of continue so that when I finally decide to make a trip to NYC, all I'll have to do for a free ride is flash a few items or wear the right color socks and it's off to Chinatown!

Hell, this seems like a surefirehit for NY tourism. Free rides to the sights? I'm looking at you, Bloomberg. Make it happen!

So now I'm wondering, what other brands would benefit from the free taxi ride gimmick?

Sean Sutherland Associate Account Executive/Future Cash Cab Contestant

I'm Getting the Wrong Impression About Cabs in NYSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

13 October, 2010

Crowdsource This Blog Post

So this happened and started the ball rollin'.

A helvetica-fonted brand name running into a gradient-shaded blue square.


And after the dust settled, and everyone and their grandma weighed in about how they felt that the new logo was so terrible, speculation began: was it a farce?

Then this happened. The President of Gap, Marka Hansen posted on Huffington Post, dispelling the rumors, sticking up for Laird and Partner's efforts, and playing the role of peacemaker.

At the same time this went live on Facebook. Through all the threats of calls to the AIGA and talk of boycotting, a few groups (them and them) actually stepped up and starting posting designer ideas.

Then, with the threat of the brand losing it's identity through "crowdsourcing", this happened.

Gap fell, like all the other Goliaths to the Davids and their combined slingshots of hate, and returned to using the good ol' blue box.
One question remains, however.

Could this have all just been a publicity stunt?

Harking on the theme I brought up in my first Confessional post, curving the dialogue around the creation of a replacement ugly logo, Gap insured that they would be the on the tip of everyone's tongues.

Could Gap not have been satisfied by the social media bump they experienced after the Groupon spectacle that they had to one-up themselves with this logo fiasco?

If it was just a publicity stunt, it's unclear if this will pay off.

From what I've seen, there's a seething anger coming from designers and consumers alike, calling for boycotts of Gap and claims of being unethical.

Regardless of what it truly was, we'll see how this hurt/helped Gap in the coming months.

Do you think this was some publicity stunt or just another example of the mishandling of a social marketing initiative?

Shout outs to @GapLogo, @OldGapLogo, craplogo.me, and the dozens of other new media machinations created during the brouhaha.

Sean Sutherland, Associate Account Executive/Crowdsorcerer

Previously in logo-speak: Logo Fail of Olympic Proportions; Logolicious.

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11 October, 2010

Can't Handle the Green

Much like man landing on the moon or the fall of the Berlin Wall, we will all remember where we were when we learned that Frito-Lay toed the line drawn in the sand by consumers.

Alright maybe not...

But bowing to the combined pressures of the more than 48,000 members of the "Sorry But I Can't Hear You Over This SunChips Bag" Facebook group and a more than 11% drop in sales over the past year, Frito Lay's killed off the 100% biodegradable SunChips bag.

Frito-Lay’s balking on the commitment to bio-degradable bags is truly a shame. And yes, technically they will still keep “Original” flavor in the bio-bags, but they are removing the other five flavors from the rank of eco-friendly.

It was a great idea that just had one problem. Since the bag was biodegradable, it was developed with a different molecular structure than typical bags, which makes them more rigid and prone to be noisy.

So it’s a little on the loud side. Big whoop. How often do you see people walking down the streets with big bags of chips oblivious to the amount of noise pollution they’re causing? I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but come on.

Through this commercial misstep, Frito-Lay's illustrated a major caveat of consumers and their call for more environmental products: people tend to buy environmentally friendly things if there aren't any perceived negatives attached to it.

This plays into a larger theme for consumers in general.

While consumers may lobby companies to green things up, most of the time, it's their spending habits that ultimately rule.

Consumers may bang the eco-drum, but they have a nasty track record of punishing brands that change what's comfortable and familiar. Ask Tropicana how their ink-saving package redesign went.

So, are consumers really prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to improve the environment - and back it up with their wallets?

R.I.P. SunChips Bag 2009 – 2010 “We barely knew ye. But we certainly heard ye.”

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08 October, 2010

The Worst Ads in America? Really?

As an avid reader of The Consumerist, I’m a bit baffled that I missed their inaugural “Worst Ad in America” poll. Somehow the celebration of all that rubs consumers the wrong way flew below my radar, and I completely missed out on the voting. It appears that my input into the discussion wasn’t necessary - most of the ones I would've voted for didn't win anyway.

Last week, 30 ad-offenders, from brands as big as McDonalds and as little as 5-Hour Energy, were divvied up into six categories and voted on. When the dust cleared Staples took home the honor for their “WOW! THAT’S A LOW PRICE!” campaign:

The ironic thing about this contest is that, despite these commercials being labeled as the cream-of-the-crap, they all end up doing what an ad's supposed to do: be memorable to the point where it becomes a part of the conversation - and even the cultural consciousness.

Sure it’s a pain in the eardrums to hear “WOW! THAT’S A LOW PRICE!” shouted four times in a row (I enjoyed the one iteration of “HOT DIGGITY DOG”) but it gets the message across: Staples=Low prices. The spots speak to the brief.

Granted, the ads in the contest all have something terrible about them, but in terms of their message and the extent to which the ads succeed, you really can’t question it. We’re still talking about the Toyota Sienna Couple even if we’re saying how weird they’re portrayed to be.

With all that said, I really can’t come up with something good to say about McDonald’s “Not Until I’ve had My Coffee” jerkface ad - winner of the Most Grating Performance by a Human award. Couldn’t stand it, and I’m pretty sure I’m in their target.

So, any campaigns you were surprised to see on the list? Any that weren't?

On the subject of awfulness in advertising: God the Bounty Hunter, Video Game Lame, Local Car Bads.

Sean Sutherland, Associate Account Executive/Arbiter of Bad Taste

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07 October, 2010

The Intern Alumni Program: I'll Take a Large Anti-Marketing Ad with Cheese & Pepperoni, Please

Sometimes our interns refuse to go away, and honestly, that's freaking awesome. Our former intern, Ashly, actually started this piece over the summer - then reminded me about nine times since that I kept forgetting to post it. --George

Pizza is a serious slice of American culture. According to pizzaware.com, about 93% of Americans eat some form of it at least once a month. The gooey goodness is currently a $35 billion dollar industry that continues to grow each year, and its marketing tactics are everywhere.

I admit it. I’m guilty of shouting, “Get the door, it’s Domino’s!” when the delivery girl comes with a steaming hand-tossed crust topped with pepperoni and green peppers. I’ve even probably done a little “Papa’s in the house!” dance when the pizza boy shows up with a spicy Italian specialty. Can you blame me? I’m a college student. Pizza ads always manage to find me. I am assaulted by the “Oh, Big Papa” jingle and that tacky gold Camaro on a daily basis.

You've probably noticed that recently Domino's gave their pizza, as well as their advertising strategy, a delicious makeover. Two successful branding ingredients I can appreciate. The franchise took a fresh approach to anti-competition advertising through a deconstruction of the food marketing industry.

Domino’s first TV spots exploited the inner workings of a focus group and noted that many other companies choose to ignore negative feedback they receive from such research endeavors. This kicked off their completely new recipe along with a recentered effort to instill a sense of trust in the consumer. Domino’s listens to you, so why cook that frozen pizza you don't even like? They can deliver the fresh, warm pizza you’ve been waiting for. It’s your pizza formed from your opinions. Of course, you will like it.

This reverse-psychology campaign is positioned to make the consumer feel involved and intelligent; therefore, reinforcing confidence in their brand choice. Domino’s more directly attacked its largest competitor, Papa John’s, in its puffery awareness ads. They publicized a lawsuit Papa John’s was involved in regarding the puffery in their slogan. Domino’s educated consumers on the definition of puffery (see ad below), revealed Papa John’s did no research to conclude they were the “best,” and plastered the legal documents all over the Internet.

Domino’s was not even involved in this lawsuit. Pizza Hut was, but I guess they didn't see the marketing opportunity. Domino's used it as a way to showcase the newly positive results from their own consumer research. These ads also gave freshly enlightened consumers fuel to feel confident in attacking other brands for using puffery. The central puffery awareness spot ends with a Domino’s chef revealing results of a taste test grinning, “Our pizza tastes better and that’s not puffery, that’s proven.”

A campaign that revolves around exposing traditional marketing tactics is relatively new for the food industry. However, it has been executed elsewhere. The Dove Real Beauty campaign and thetruth.com ads (check out their Shards o’ Glass Pops ads) are just a few examples.

Critics are actually referring to Domino’s latest tactic as the “Real Beauty” campaign, a tongue-in-cheek reference to Dove’s award-winner. Domino’s uses TV spots to reveal the secrets of food styling for print and television ads. Their YouTube channel offers a more detailed look at torching pepperoni edges and bolting pizzas to tables in order to get the perfect cheese pull.

The mission of this particular campaign is to generate a sentiment that Domino’s pizza doesn’t need to be retouched or plastic in order to make your mouth water like the competitor’s pizza. I have to admit, when I first saw this commercial I flashed to the disappointment of once opening a box of Papa John’s. I felt betrayed by the toppings on the delectable print ad that caused me to order it in the first place. Let's just say, sausage is not supposed to look like animal droppings.

This “Real Beauty” campaign has a contest attached to it, which lets consumers submit real pictures of their Domino’s pizza. The winners will be compensated and their photos used in Domino’s advertisements. No more marketing tricks for these guys. They are going all natural. This epitomizes Domino’s 2010 marketing strategy.

Domino's looks like the better brand by shining a light on the fraudulent-type advertising competitors use. Now this strategy is supposed to build stronger brand loyalty by allowing consumers more control over the communicative relationship they share with the franchise. Has it worked? Well, the photo contest has thousands of entries. I can appreciate advertising that works. However, I don't think it's spectacular. I assume consumers feel they possess a better understanding of marketing tricks and have developed a stronger trust that Domino's won't be pulling a fast one on them. But as far as I'm concerned, Domino's has done just that. It seems smart. The anti-advertising sentiment is a scheme in itself. It's all marketing, but people are still falling for it.

When the hype is over, there will just be another reason to change the pizza and resurrect the brand. The real proof is in the pizza. The taste has changed, but not dramatically. They brushed a little garlic and herb butter on the less baked crust to battle the popular "cardboard crust" complaint and gave the sauce a little kick with red pepper and of course, more garlic. The next time they change their recipe, it will be because the crust is too doughy, the sauce too spicy, and it's the number one cause of bad breath. As the taste of this campaign gets stale, so will the consumer sentiment.

You may continue salivating if you click here to find out more information about Domino’s latest campaign, or you could just order a pizza for the office.

--Ashly Oehrl, Ad Hungry Former Intern

Recently from the Intern Sweatshop: 3 Ways Video Games Outplay Other Brands

Also from the Intern Alumni Program: Sex Sells in Thailand. Kinda.

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01 October, 2010

A history of hip-hop in 3 minutes.

It doesn't all have to be advertising here. And yet, this is the very heart of great advertising: beautifully succinct, culturally-tuned, totally surprising, audience-driven, and commercially relevant.

A history of hip-hop in 3 minutes.SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

24 September, 2010

Intern Sweatshop: 3 Ways Video Games Outplay Other Brands

Halo: Reach, the final installment of Xbox’s enormously successful Halo video game series, was released this week to epic fanfare. Game trailers on YouTube have over have views in the millions-- each. Fans camped out in front of game stores to attend midnight launch parties. This prequel to the trilogy made over $200 million its first day. This franchise is the Harry Potter of video games.

Starcraft 2, another critically acclaimed sequel, was released in July and also had fans lined up around the block. It has a 93 on Metacritic, compared to Reach's 92. And, according to VGChartz, Starcraft 2 sold 1,341,583 copies in its first week worldwide. Reach sold a staggering three million copies on its FIRST DAY. With so many critically acclaimed games, some with strong established fan bases, coming out every year, why Halo?

One word: Bungie.

If you aren’t a Halo fan, that word probably brings to mind those rubber cords you used to keep that mattress from flying off of your car. To the Halo fan, Bungie, the developers of Halo, are king. Even more so, fans actually consider Bungie their friends. Companies would kill to have millions of people referring to them as their friends. That's the dream of every business that has ever taken a stab at social media and "starting the conversation." Bungie did it and they did it before it was vogue. In my opinion, there is a full case study in Bungie's story, but let's hit three quick things every company can learn from them.

1. Be open to us.
For years, Bungie has done an update post every week. These weekly updates are full of info about progress on games, what Bungie is doing, and all the things any seriously committed fan would want to see. When Bungie is working on a new game, they periodically release video documentaries showing the progress on various aspects of the development. Bungie never leaves their followers in the dark (the anti-Apple, if you will). We, the public, love it when our company keeps us up to date.

2. Be honest with us.

If you ask diehard Halo fans what they think of the overall series, most will say something like, "IT'S AMAZINGG G!!1... except for Halo 2." Halo 2 had a half-finished story and a host of technical bugs. Who's at fault is a bit of a gray area (Microsoft is sometimes blamed for rushing Bungie). But Bungie didn't play the blame game. When fans expressed disappointment, Bungie took full responsibility. They explained their decisions, acted quickly to resolve issues, and apologized for not delivering the absolute best product they could. When Halo 3 was announced, Bungie was very clear that they would not make the mistakes they did with 2 and that the game would NOT be released until it was perfect.

3. Be one of us.

The people at Bungie are nerds. They have this weird obsession with the number “7”. Every year on July 7th (07/07) is "Bungie Day," and they do something fun for their fans. In past years they have released new downloadable content for Halo. This year they released a video showcasing new features in Halo: Reach. All throughout the year, they add whacky scenarios to Halo to entertain their players. A group of fans started using the game to make a web sitcom and Bungie loved it, even promoting it on their website. Fans are a fickle bunch, and we love a company that relates to us. If your fans are nerds, be nerds too! If your fans are vampires, better grow some fangs. In the last weekly update, the writer said:

“For the first time since I started working at Bungie, I really don’t want to write this update today. I really don’t even want to be here at all, parked at my desk, staring into this computer monitor. Fact is I’d rather be playing some Reach.”


Bungie makes gamers feel like they are part of something bigger. That is why people stand outside of stores for hours waiting to get the game at midnight. It is a cultural moment. You have to make your consumers feel like buying your product and being loyal to your brand is something worth fighting for, not something they could take or leave tomorrow. That will never happen if your customers don't trust you. Be genuine, be open, and customers will listen. I’d know, I’m one of these fans and I’d follow Bungie to the ends of the Earth. I actually hear that's the plot to their next title.

--Kyle Sacks, Nerd-Wise Creative Department Intern

(PS "Nerd-wise" was Kyle's idea. He embraces his inner nerd as we all should. Now excuse me, I'm taking my lunchbreak to go watch some Thundercats. Oh, and am I the only person who thought Ben-Gali was just like a blue Tygra? Way to phone it in on that character design Rankin/Bass.--George)

Recently from the Intern Sweatshop: Imitation is the Greatest form of Flattery...as long as you don't suck at it

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22 September, 2010

Off Topicness: Edumacationalism

The Wire, Season 4. See it and understand.

Had a chance to stop by AdVerve with the incomparable Bill Green and Angela Natividad. The discussion had a whisp of advertising threaded throughout, but BG & Ang were swell enough to let me jack the conversation and wax existential on public education and all things Bawldimore, Marelynn.

Have a spare hour and change? Give it a listen. The inherent uncensoredness of AdVerve guarantees it'll be a naughty pleasure for all you unruly adholes out there.

Go here to hear.

Enjoy. And feel free to disagree.

Links of note: What got me into this mess; fixing public education in 1-2-3-4-5 easy steps.

Off Topicness: EdumacationalismSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

20 August, 2010

Intern Sweatshop: Imitation is the Greatest Form of Flattery…as long as you don't suck at it.

At this point, you’ve probably seen commercials or trailers for the upcoming movie spoof, Vampires Suck. Now I'm not usually into these silly kind of movies, but this one in particular caught my attention. Finally, I thought, our vampire-crazed world is now mocking the blood-sucking sagas of Twilight, True Blood and too many pale, insomniac upstarts to count. It's about bloody time.

So I did a little research and learned the popularity of the film brought to you by "the guys who couldn't sit through another vampire movie," has gone up by 1,150% in the past week, according to IMDb.

Now that's something to look into.

It turns out the Internet buzz for this movie is coming from lovers and haters of the original films. The funny or unfunny – however you may see it – trailers for the film that's hitting big screens this weekend has both fans and non-fans talking vampire. And that kind of attention is a marketer's dream.

However, recent films by writer/director team Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer--Meet the Spartans and Disaster Movie--have made money, but have earned less and less at the box office with each release. And earlier this year, another spoof-film, McGruber, garnered tons of buzz and had critics raving, but it turned out to be a huge flop.

So both Twi-hards and not are anticipating this film. Question is: buzz is one thing, but will people actually venture out to see these new vampire hotties and notties?

Will people go because vampires are just hugely popular right now? Maybe this film will mark a resurgence in the spoof genre? Maybe the waning genre will once again yield another box office flop, signaling an end to this silly comedy ride? Or maybe the film will be the sloppy, lip-bitten wet kiss that helps us finally begin to get over our vampire crush. With another Twilight film on the way – probably not.

Team Edward. Team Jacob. Or team none of the above. I won't be ordering a glass of True Blood, but I will be buying a ticket. I could say I'll only be going to see if it lives up to the hype, but I think it looks hilarious. Now I just hope the movie doesn't...suck.

--Cristina Burke, Buzz-Bitten Creative Department Intern

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19 August, 2010

Season 2 of PitchMen Premieres Tonight!

Tonight is the premier of the second season of PitchMen, starring direct-response marketing guru Anthony Sullivan, and replacing Billy Mays will be his son Billy Mays III. I came into this show expecting not to like it. I'm not a fan of reality TV, and although I liked Mays as a pop culture icon, I still didn't know much about him as an ad man. I expected to have turn down the volume, and honestly, not much else. What I got was a show that's both an interesting and educational exploration of today's advertising world.

Here are a couple clips from episode seven of season one that reveal a few interesting and touchy angles on the advertiser/client relationship.

When Mays passed away last summer, I'll admit the thought crossed mind that I'd seen the last episode of PitchMen, so kudos to Discovery Channel for picking up the second season of a pretty enlightening show, despite the fact that it would no longer have it's energetic star power. Hopefully it will turn out more like The Hogan Family than News Radio.

Now Mad Men is an intriguing, tightly structured, well-written examination of the business world and societal structure of the 1960s. While PitchMen is a direct look into a monstrous part of the advertising industry that rakes in billions every year. Matt may be attempting to hurl a stapler down the hall as I write this, but if I had to choose between the two, I'll take some ad lessons from PitchMen and ask my parents about the 60s. Besides, Matt doesn't have a stapler. He always walks down the hall to borrow mine.

Tune in to Discovery Channel tonight at 9 p.m. Warning: You might learn something.

--George C. Convery, Copywriter

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