28 February, 2011


When the question came up, "How can we get customers in South Bend, Indiana, to come and try our delicious Margaritas?" how many ideas did they go through before they got to:

Hilarious send up of one of the largest mass suicides in recorded history!

Did they pass up a proposed idea featuring a rocket with the copy, "Take the Hacienda Challenger. It'll blow you away." Maybe a picture of a two-thumbs-up Ted Kazanski, noting, "It's Da-Bomb." Or perhaps...you know what I'll stop right there, because I think my Heaven's Gate and Branch Davidians headlines would pretty much be treading the same ground.

Now this Hacienda story is almost a week old, but in my defense I started writing this post last Tuesday.

And while Groupon's recent campaign doesn't quite measure up to Hacienda Mexican Restaurant's level of offensive stupidity, on the surface both are swimming in similar waters. Subsequently, both campaigns have been pulled.

Where Hacienda is concerned, this was just dumb. Poisoned Kool-Aid probably isn't the direction you want to go for a family restaurant. But how did they come upon this stroke of brilliant idiocy? I didn't see anywhere that this campaign was attributed to a particular agency, and comments from their VP of Sales and Marketing, Jeff Leslie, make me think this was an inside job. In the above article Leslie does place some blame on their creative process, but still pretty much bites the bullet for what amounted to a really bad decision.

Now I've had some pretty terrible ideas before, and usually someone points out why that idea is awful and my seed should stricken from the earth...often during meetings I'm not even involved in...Ken. But that makes me think this idea made it through because somebody higher up really liked it. So, again, kudos to VP Leslie for taking the pain on this, because if it wasn't his idea, it definitely had his support.

Back to Groupon. It really bothers me when companies cave on a campaign. Because much like Hacienda's billboards, the idea must have been pretty well-liked by a lot of people. The campaign was developed by industry giant Crispin Porter + Bogusky, responsible for the "Ozzy/Bieber Best Buy Buy-Back" Super Bowl commercial and Burger King's offbeat advertising for several years, among others like Microsoft and Domino's. Also, Groupon was willing to pay for Hollywood talent like Timothy Hutton, Elizabeth Hurley and Cuba Gooding, Jr. Oh, and they put up only a few million for a couple Super Bowl ads.

Translation: They REALLY liked this idea.

But, ooh people are offended. Let's kill it. Did they think people wouldn't be offended!

Save the whales: pollution is killing our planet.

Save the rain forests: pollution is killing our planet and eliminating potential undiscovered cures for a myriad diseases.

And finally, save Tibet: a culture consisting of nearly 3 million people being systematically dismantled by their own government. If Tibet were it's own autonomous nation, it would be larger than 1/3rd of the countries on the entire planet! And the Beastie Boys have been throwing concerts for them for years.


So why were they surprised? But putting that all aside, I still think it was genius. Not genius because it offended, but genius because of how much attention it brought Groupon. Think about it:

You missed the Super Bowl spot, luckily we were on the nightly news and all over the Web. Watch it again and despise us.

Oh, what do we do? WE SAVE YOU MONEY! I'm sure you've got money to spare, right?

No, well then push your offended conscience aside. Sign up. And save.

Because people love to feel like they made the right moral choice, but when money is tight, lots of people love to keep their money more. It's not the proudest outlook on humanity, but most westernized folks tend to like roofs, electricity and feeding their kids.

If you don't believe me that it's genius, take a quick look at Groupon. Now I'd been vaguely aware of Groupon for a little while, but began paying attention a few months back after frequently hearing about the service from coworkers and friends. It turns out Groupon is worth over a billion dollars, both Yahoo and Google attempted to purchase Groupon last year, and now the company is preparing an for IPO of $15 billion. You don't think a Super Bowl spot and intense media buzz will only bring them more attention--more attention than ho hum spots running during Days of Our Lives and The Price is Right.

Hacienda, seriously, what were you thinking? But nevermind that, I have this great idea where you should close all your restaurants and reopen them under the name "Hacienda Nueva" and only serve German food. Or perhaps just start offering a Crystal Burrito. Granted, Groupon could get too big too soon or go all Enron on us and completely implode. But I'd think about adding to them to your stock portfolio at least for the next year.

One more thing, apparently Greenpeace loved the Groupon ad. My mind, officially blown.

--George C. Convery, Copywriter


22 February, 2011

Intern Sweatshop: Wheat Thins > Kryspy Kreme

You’re sitting in your house watching reruns of Home Improvement when someone knocks on your door. To your surprise, a man quoting your tweet, “I love wheat thins and tuna,” drops off a pallet of snacks. That’s how Wheat Thins and their “Crunch is Calling” social media-driven campaign, brought to you by The Escape Pod, works. Kraft Foods/Nabisco’s intentions are focused on engaging a new target audience of women and men ages 25-45, an audience vastly different than their traditional consumer base of women 45 and older.

The broadcast commercials themselves are humorous and awkward for the posters/tweeters, who are ambushed by the crew. There’s also the possibility of having your picture on the box or a whole pallet of Wheat Thins--your own 30 seconds or so of fame.

Wheat Thins’ big problem was that their traditional consumers thought of them as “just a traditional cracker.” And with a different market segment for a product that had become “too familiar” another approach was necessary. Through consumer research it was found that the crunch, flavor and texture were key attractions to the new, younger audience. So in order to bring these qualities to their audience, reinforce their brand identity, and more actively engage and interact with customers, Wheat Thins turned to social media with the hope that this new campaign would stimulate comments on Facebook and Twitter and have consumers follow the brand there as well.

This reminds me of how popular Krispy Kreme donuts were back in the late 90s and early 00s. Everyone and their parents were raving about these airy donuts that were served hot and only available in the southern states. When Krispy Kreme stores opened, cars were wrapped around the outside of stores for blocks, waiting patiently for their chance to indulge. After everyone stuffed themselves, the product reached a saturation point, the hype ended and Kryspy Kreme's became just another donut. The novelty wore off. Now, I certainly enjoy donuts and milk, even though it’s been a while since I’ve had them. It’s like I forgot how awesome they are in the morning. But again, what was once a go-to morning delight is just something else to have for breakfast. And I can't say I'm not thinking about buying one while writing this, but I can’t say if that will translate into a purchase sometime soon.

Now Chick-Fil-A’s Free Breakfast Thursdays is yet another example of a company staying in touch with their customers. There was also the “I Can Handle The Heat” campaign, where just uttering those words at Chik-Fil-A would earn you a free sandwich. Then there’s the Get Spicy Chicken and Nuggets Campaign, where customers signed up online to receive a free order. Some of the campaigns included an in-store survey for direct feedback taken after the customer indulged in the free chicken delights. If you doubt the success of customer engagement, they opened 80 new restaurants in 2010 and raked in $3.5 billion in sales.

Now, merely posting on Twitter about their love of Wheat Thins may keep the brand current in customers' minds. It will be interesting to see if the campaign helps Wheat Thins remain relevant to their new target audience, or if people will still see the Wheat Thin as "just a traditional cracker." But For Twitter user 7hr33 who wrote “Leprechauns broke into my apartment stole a box of Wheat Thins I was saving for a party...is there a warranty for this?” March 17th is right around the corner. You might want to be on the lookout for a little Irish guy bearing crunchy treats. I'd want to see that commercial.

--Stephen Telljohann, Creative Department Intern with Crunch, Flavor and Texture

Last Time on the Intern Sweatshop: How Ben Found the Secret to Internet Buzz

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17 February, 2011

Pat Yourself on the Back, Internet!

There's something about the Internet. (See also: interwebs)

Yes, it's true that there are plenty of bad, evil things on the Internet. (See also: trolls, Nigerian Prince scams, dog's speaking English)

But at the same time there can exist a great force of good; a place where destruction, ridicule, and trolling just simply don't happen.

You can look at three recent examples of this.

Golden Ted
First up, the homeless man with the "Golden Voice." When his story hit the interpipes immediately the people got to working and now Ted Williams has another chance at making his life right. Huge kudos to the redditors of Reddit for pushing this story.

Red Cross: #gettngslizzerd.
This was an interesting, easily overlooked story. Gloria Huang, a Social Media specialist with the Red Cross, mistakenly tweeted on Red Cross' twitter account instead of her own, shout out to Hootsuite. Despite the "rogue tweet" getting removed by Red Cross, Michael Hayek from Dogfish Head Brewery took it upon himself to rally Dogfish Head beer fans and create a donation campaign for the Red Cross built off of the #gettngslizzerd hashtag.

No Red Cross parody twitter accounts rose from this, just a lot of people hearing the call to action from a beloved brand and doing what they could to make light of a simple, permissions error. Red Cross got donations, Dogfish Head got brand recognition, and Hootsuite even sent everybody some coozies!

Not bad, Internet.

RoboCop Comes Home (or Take that Mayor Bing, the People want Murphy)
Dead or alive, you're coming to Detroit (RoboCop Statue). What started as a tweet to Detroit's current mayor, Dave Bing, has ended in RoboCop (formally known as Officer Alex Murphy) returning to the streets in statue form. The collective Internet saw this tweet, saw Mayor Bing's response that there were no plans to erect a RoboCop statue and hopped into action by using popular crowd-funding site, Kickstarter.com. Surprise, surprise, they raised the money they needed to make this dream a reality. To see them actually build it, well that's a whole 'nother story.

And although I don't agree with the following revamp to the "Spirit of Detroit" statue, it does look kinda cool.

Just goes to show you; there are people on the Internet who dare to care and will help at a drop of hat for a cause they feel is cool, entertaining, or just the right thing to do.

So pat yourself on the back, Internet. You done good.

Also, tough call on which way of the spectrum this falls:

Sean Sutherland Associate Account Executive/Anti-Troll Troll

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11 February, 2011

AT&T Ensures Kids Will Never Sleep again

Just got passed a link by Renegade Creative Director - Ken Hall of a new AT&T spot called "Bedtime Stories".

It was attached with this following line:

The last shot in the kids room is terrifying... Goldie hobgoblin and the bear-shaped wraiths haunt the child waiting for directions from the hive.

Here's the spot he's talking about:

I think we have a contendor for King of the Creepy ads, amirite?

It's got it all, weird plastic faced characters, creepy apathetic son who's age is indeterminate, a distant/negligent father, and of course, the 3 little pigs with wolf.

I understand the idea behind it, and the concept there definitely had some great potential, it's sad to see it come out so weird.

What other recent spots did you find creepy?

Just for good measure, here's a screencap of the monsters prior to eating the child.

Sean Sutherland Associate Account Executive/Sleeping With The Lights On

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08 February, 2011

And We're Live

If you were paying attention, you probably already know this from Jim's last post on rebranding but we've recently completed the transition and are now ready to reveal our new website.

Renegade Communications
Let the fanfare begin!

And to celebrate this monumentous occassion, here's a picture of Ryan dressed as a Chilean Miner and James dressed as himself. This is how we celebrate.

As you'll notice the Agency Confesses blog is getting a second home at Renegade Communications but do not worry, think of that second home as more of a vacation home; a summer house if you will. We'll still be posting all the good stuff you've come to expect from the Agency Confessional but all posts will be reposted on the new site as well.

So there you have it, our new website Renegade Communications. Please check it out and let us know what you think! Or, you'll hurt our feelings.

The Renegade Agency Confessional Blog Editorial Team
-Sean Sutherland
-George Convery
-Jim Luparello III

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02 February, 2011

The Power of Mocketing

Poking fun at your competitors in advertising campaigns is like the Slant-N-Go of the marketing playbook; a surefire hit.

Taking two familiar brands and putting them in the same spot with the purpose of exploiting or exposing a weakness of one of the brands amounts to some pretty funny commercials.

Recently we've seen it done with:
T-mobile and AT&T

Pepsi Max and Coke Zero

And who can forget Apple and PC; thanks to that campaign, I was introduced to John Hodgman and his wonderful books on important knowledge.

There's another type of mocketing going on right now, involving something right up my alley: video games.

On February 22th, a new first person shooter video game will be coming out. The problem is the market is oversaturated with FPSs.

The difference with this game, named interestingly enough Bulletstorm, is that it's not your average, gritty, hyper-modern war game. It has specifically veered away from the Halos and the Call of Dutys to carve a niche for itself as an outlandishly, over-the-top FPS. The weapons are ridiculous, the characters, the color palette, everything about it screams "don't take me seriously."

Bulletstorm, created by EA, Epic Games, and People Can Fly, has had some really great, satirical mocketing.

First up, they did a great take on Halo 3's Believe campaign. Here's the original and then what Bulletstorm did. Notice the difference? Notice the hot dogs?

Two days ago, they released the free to play PC game Duty Calls which is full of rips on the Call of Duty franchise. Here's a video of the ENTIRE GAME being played.

With each of these spots they have consistenly mocked the status quo of FPS marketing and pushed the boundaries for what consumers will find acceptable; a perfect example of a well-executed mocketing campaign.

What other brands do you enjoy showing up together?

Sean Sutherland Associate Account Executive/Professional Mocketer

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01 February, 2011

And Another Hobgoblin of Success Falls Victim to FedEx Efficiency

I heard John Krasinski mention something about Steve Carell and Federal Express while on the red carpet at the SAG awards and couldn't for the life of me remember what he was talking about. A quick youtube search found me a dozen spots, of which I distinctly remembered one. It left me wondering, how did I forget this pretty robust campaign?

Apparently the campaign, co-starring Joe Narciso, ran back in 2001 (thank you angelfire), when Carell's most impressive credits were The Dana Carvey Show and a psychotic Greek chef named Yorgo Galfanikos in a series called Over the Top, which starred Tim Curry (IMDB). The campaign was done by BBDO New York, who was still FedEx's agency of choice only a couple years ago. They must be doing something right. Aside from an amusing creative, they also know how to cast. Sure, they found the Carell diamond in the rough, but the following spot features Modern Family's Eric Stonestreet as a food-poisoned office worker. At this point in time Stonestreet already had a few sitcom appearances and a role in Almost Famous to his name.

And this one brings you The Daily Show's Aasif Mandvi, who'd appeared most notably in Law & Order and Die Hard with a Vengeance prior to this campaign.

Having seen it first-hand many times, I can tell you versatile actors really make talent-driven spots shine. Interestingly enough, neither of these two spots were the one I remembered. It was this spot titled "Hogan." Maybe this campaign wasn't running as much in the Mid-Atlantic. Or maybe it just wasn't running on my networks of choice at the time: Comedy Central, ESPN, Cartoon Network and Sci-Fi Channel. What?

Chime in, did this campaign pass anyone else by or did FedEx simply not advertise during Aqua Teen Hunger Force?

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