08 September, 2011

Hey, You Got Your Back To The Future In My Advertisements

It’s a tale as old as time...

In 1985 a ne’er-do-well named Marty McFly, stumbles into an eccentric inventor, Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown, who’s testing out his latest creation, a time traveling DeLorean (complete with Flux Capacitor).

Long story short, including a Sports Almanac, a few Biff Tannens and even a trip to the old West, the Back to the Future trilogy is a great franchise that SHOULD NEVER EVER BE REMADE.

My favorite of the series, Back to the Future 2, actually takes place in the future; the far-away time of 2015. A distant year where none of us will ever be around to… wait a second it’s 2015? Not 2115? Hmm, alright then.

Within four years, we’ll all be in flying cars and getting attacked by giant 3D JAWS 19 promos. In all actuality, pretty sure none of that will be happening.

Perhaps in preparation for reaching the year 2015, or better yet just by coincidence, themes and characters from the Back to the Future franchise have started to show up.

It happened innocently enough when the following “viral” video started popping up.

What could this mean? The DeLorean, Doc Brown, Garbarino

Despite nerds everywhere looking as this as a sign for a B2F series or a new movie all together, it turned out to be the teaser for a new Garbarino campaign featuring Christopher Lloyd reprising his best role since Uncle Fester.

They can still hope though can’t they?

Something must be in the air as well as murmurs have begun appearing that McFly’s signature shoes in B2F2 may be being released soon from Nike for 2011. An ominous video provided by a familiar faced YouTube account seems to point to the iconic shoes being real and waiting in a non-descript closet.

With four years to go until we reach B2F2’s 2015, why are advertisers and brands jumping onto this franchise now? Is this foreshadowing a greater marketing effort to come? Can someone explain 1.21 Gigawatts?

Sean Sutherland, Account Executive/Still Waiting For His Hoverboard

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25 August, 2011

Cops Prove They Can Rhyme Again

The following stills are either from an upcoming American remake of a Japanease Horror movie "Ghost Cop" or from three tv spots from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Labor Day campaign " Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over."

You decide.

Alright, it's pretty obvious here, despite how cool the thought of a horror film called "Ghost Cop" is these are stills from a new campaign, "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over."

This takes the usually ridiculous or threatening campaigns they run into a new, creepy direction.

This raises another question, are these ads really effective? Does a rhyming tagline like "Don't Drink and Drive, Arrive Alive" really do anything to decrease drunk driving arrests or deaths?

Perhaps, just the fact that these ads exist are enough to hammer home how serious this issue truly is. They may not be the best creative, but the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign's mere existence does a great service to educating the public.

Seriously though, "Ghost Cop" would be pretty sweet.

Sean Sutherland, Account Executive/Painted himself into the wall of his office once...(didn't work)

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06 July, 2011

C'mon, Brands!

We've all seen it happen.

An errant, rogue tweet appears and it is SUPER-EFFECTIVE, causing stunned silence and shaking heads. Within minutes, negative comments and tweets flood in condemning the brand and the offending update.

Quicker than you can hit the "Prnt Scrn" button, the offending Brand's social media teams scramble to investigate and eliminate, hoping that they can spare themselves and the company they represent from any damages caused by the thoughtlessness of a single ill-conceived tweet.

I understand the issues at play here; when I first got my smart-phone I was constantly updating my Facebook or Twitter just because I had thought of something interesting or funny. And, with advances in science and technology, instead of having to wait until I got back to my laptop or computer, I can just instantly record this apparently brilliant thought through my phone.

Maybe that’s exactly the problem- the ability to update social media sites as soon as the thought passes our brains. We no longer have a chance to realize that our clever post may not be as funny as we originally thought.

This seems to be happening a lot lately: companies or brands pulling a social media ‘faux pas’ and then scrambling to apologize and move past it.

In a world where communications can happen instantly and literally everything you've done online has the potential to live eternally, why are brands/companies not giving their updates a second thought before hitting the post button?

Pardon me if I borrow a bit from SportsCenter's “C'mon, Man!” but it makes me want to shout: "C'mon, Brands!"

Entenmann’s, more known for delicious donuts and cakes than for its social media presence, is the latest to put its virtual foot in its mouth with their #notguilty tweet.

Without question the Casey Anthony case is a sad, sad event. When news hit earlier this month of the not guilty verdict, everyone was weighing in on Twitter about the verdict using the #notguilty hashtag.

Entenmann’s social team, obviously looking for any opportunity to get their brand more visibility, concocted the following misguided tweet.

After taking a second to allow their brains to catch up with their fingers, they removed the tweet and not only apologized in a follow-up tweet but also in a second tweet with a note saying how sincerely sorry they were for offending people.

C’mon, Brands!

How many times is this going to happen?

How long until companies learn to predict what people will find funny and what they’ll find offensive?

Judging by the high frequency with which this has been happening lately, I speculate that it will be a long time before brands get wise and realize they can’t piggy back on hashtags to build their audiences and need to watch what they tweet.

Brands need to build their audiences the old fashioned way: by being responsive and forthcoming with content; not shoot for an “ironic-cool” vibe by making light of a serious issue.

With the amount of news-coverage that happens after all of these mistake tweets, you’d think that companies would learn from their compatriots and tighten the belts on their social media teams.

For some freakin’ reason, they don’t.

C’mon, Brands!

Simply put – go back to a simpler time and think before you tweet or update your company’s social media presences. Doesn't anyone remember what happened to Imus?
Despite how quickly you believe you can post and delete an update, someone can just as fast take a screenshot and upload it anywhere they want.

It’s great that you’re on those channels to begin with, just remember to play by the rules like everyone else. Or, do what you want, and enjoy the backlash.

Either way, we'll all be waiting and watching for the next Kenneth Cole...

Sean Sutherland, Associate Account Executive/Keyshawn Johnson Imitator

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26 May, 2011

Rally, Fans - Rally!

In case you've been living under a rock for the past month, you may have heard about a massive hack perpetrated on Sony and their Qriocity service by a splinter group of hacker collective Anonymous.

The mid-April leak of sensitive user data affected some 77 million PSN users and shut the system down for nearly a month restricting PSP and PS3 users to single player gaming experiences, if not locking them out from whole games entirely. Fans and gamers around the world were outraged, concerned, and, as it got down to the end of the fiasco, defensive.

All of this happened with Sony's flagship spokesperson, Kevin Butler, undergoing radio silence on twitter.

See, despite initially fumbling the ball when it comes to being up front with the extent of the damage, Sony have come forward several times over the past month giving incremental updates to customers and their fans. Sony has been honest and thoughtful when it comes to their fans in the face of this multi-billion dollar security breach.

And now they are seeing dividends.

A recent study conducted via GameSpot's Trax, the video-game industry's most advanced, real-time market-intelligence tool, wherein they surveyed 2,285 gamers who own Playstation 3s about their feelings about the PSN outage.

Despite being unable to fully use their machine, over 80 percent surveyed said they were very or somewhat likely to return to their PS3s online again following the data breach and downtime and, better yet, fewer than 10% had jumped ship to competitor Microsoft's Xbox Live service.

This, in my opinion, outlines why it's great to have fans but better to convert those same fans into brand stewards.

Sony's fan base has rallied behind their injured company, defending them on forums and sharing any incremental news they can find about the beleaguered behemoth in hopes of inspiring other fans to keep their wits about them.

This should be the goal for all brands; creating a fan base so behind you that no matter the news, they will come to your aid. Fan's that fight for your brand, engage with your brand, and talk about your brand online and off.

Despite the drop in stock price, Sony has maintained their foothold in the video gaming market and cemented their place for years to come due to the time spent informing and nurturing of their fan base.

Other companies should take note.

Of course, the offer for free games and identity protection certainly helps...

Sean Sutherland, Associate Account Executive/Qriosity? Really?

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16 May, 2011

Kegasus vs. Get Your Preak On

With the running of the 136th Preakness Stakes coming this weekend, I thought it might be fun to get people’s takes on Preakness advertising since it’s “Rebrand.” And when I say rebrand, I mean the advertising that’s supported the second leg of Horse Racing’s Triple Crown since it was transformed from a Bacchanal to just a big festival. What do I mean when I say Bacchanal?

That MASN (Mid-Atlantic Sports Network) banner that was on the screen from about 0:51-1:04, as that guy tried to remember which appendages should face down, yeah, we designed that. And it got viewed almost 360,000 times. Oh, and don’t think this is only a Baltimore thing. They do it at the Kentucky Derby too, with the same varying degrees of success.

So up first is the first TV spot in 2011 Preakness “Be Legendary” campaign, featuring Kegasus, Lord of the Infield Fest. Apologies for not knowing the agencies who created these campaigns. I was doing this post on the fly. But if you know who created the campaigns or would like to claim credit for them, please do so in the comments sections.

Number two is the “Get Your Preak On” campaign for the 2010 Preakness, featuring…mouths? This was after the Preakness had canceled the BYOB policy prior to the 2009 Preakness, and instead hosted a festival-style concert and a bikini contest, and offered a $20 all-you-can-drink mug for 2010. This one was posted by the Maryland Jockey Club.


And finally, here’s a commercial for last year’s Belmont Stakes. I would say it has a decidedly different tone, and it was posted by the New York Racing Association. 

Okay, you may notice the Preakness and Belmont commercials go in slightly different directions. So something we should note is that the Maryland Horse Racing industry has been struggling for a few years now, and the Preakness goes a long way to supporting Maryland Horse Racing for the entire year. That’s one reason why ticket sales are enormously important for the Preakness. And after eliminating the BYOB policy for 2009, attendance significantly dropped, despite it being a gorgeous day. So these spots both highlight the efforts (concerts, contests, beer, etc.) made to get fans back on the infield. On the other hand, it looks like the Belmont Stakes organizers are not as aggressively pursuing audience attendance.

Around Baltimore people have had pretty strong feelings towards the past two Preakness campaigns, both positive and negative. So weigh in down in the comments section (you may have to click on the title of the post in our archive section to the right in order to comment).

What worked? What didn’t? Which was your favorite and why?

And finally, kudos to Fair Hill, Maryland's own Animal Kingdom, who's one third of the way to winning the Triple Crown. Let's hope he fairs just as well on his home turf...uh, dirt, that is. Besides, papa has some debts he needs to pay off. And for your information, yes, you can gamble on American Idol. But choosing your contestant on the grounds of "funniest hat" is not something I'd recommend.

--George C. Convery, Copywriter

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05 May, 2011

Animal Shelter Advertising: A New Contender

If you've ever seen an advertisement for animal shelters or other related causes, if you were just listening to the spot's music, you'd expect it to be an ad for some anti-depressant.

These spots jerk at your heartstrings; literally challenging you not to give a care.

Don’t get me wrong, they all promote very noble, important causes but the way they go about advocating for these animals, just makes me wanna cry.

I was very excited to see this new ad come out the other day from the Animal Humane Society.

According to their YouTube page, they’re a “leading animal welfare organization in the Upper Midwest engaging and serving local and regional communities of people and animals. Through its comprehensive programs and services at its locations in Buffalo, Coon Rapids, Golden Valley, St. Paul and Woodbury, Minnesota, the Animal Humane Society provides resources that compassionately serve all the stages of an animal's life.”

They’ve brought a breath of fresh air with their “I Want…” commercial.

The ad was light hearted, had talking cats, an uplifting track – a recipe for success if you ask me – all the while staying on message and promoting the cause for the adoption of shelter animals.

This works for me, it doesn’t immediately hit you that these animals are suffering in these shelters and are looking for a way out, a welcome departure from other ads. If I didn’t already have two of my own, I would most certainly consider getting my next pet from a shelter because of this ad.

Does this ad have the same effect on you? Or are you more affected by this?

Sean Sutherland, Associate Account Executive, Animal Advocate

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21 April, 2011

Tacos are 88% Beef, 12% Rude

As someone who has (thankfully) never been on the receiving side of a lawsuit about the percentage of beef in my tacos, I guess I really can't judge how severe my feelings would be hurt.

One thing I know for sure is, I certainly wouldn't respond the way Taco Bell did.

For those of you not paying attention to lawsuits in the QSR world, back in January a Montgomery, Alabama-based law firm, Beasley Allen, filed a lawsuit alleging that Taco Bell is partaking in false advertising by calling the meat they use in their tacos as "beef." The lawfirm goes on to allege that Taco Bell's beef only really contains 36% beef.

Worried, and rightly so, of the negative publicity Taco Bell would receive from this lawsuit, Greg Creed, President of Taco Bell, issued a statement, took to YouTube, AND launched a multi-million dollar Campaign dispelling the myth of their beef content brought up by the lawsuit.

From a PR standing, they handled this correctly. They got in front of the matter, made the conversation about the truth, and handled negative publicity with special offers and free tacos.

They even released the recipe!
• 88% USDA-inspected quality beef
• 3-5% water for moisture
• 3-5% spices (including salt, chili pepper, onion powder, tomato powder, sugar, garlic powder, cocoa powder and a proprietary blend of Mexican spices and natural flavors).
• 3-5% oats, starch, sugar, yeast, citric acid, and other ingredients that contribute to the quality of our product.

Obviously overmatched and bested, the lawfirm correctly backed off and dropped the charges.

Now, the story could have ended right there. Both sides could have nodded agreeingly, and went home to be with their families.

Not Taco Bell. No sir.

With the dropping of the lawsuit and Taco Bell's name cleared, Taco Bell feels so slighted that they have now gone on the offensive.

Today, they ran the below full page ads in the Wall Street Journal, LA Times, and the New York Times as well had their President get back on YouTube with the video: "Beef Lawsuit Dropped, Lawyers got it wrong!"

I can understand them responding to the inital lawsuit but continuing the campaign and rubbing the fact they "won" in the face of the lawfirm just feels like overkill to me.

The damage is done, Taco Bell, take you and your parent company, Yum! Brands' increased quarterly profits and just be done with the issue. At least they didn't make the lawfirm do this:

Sean Sutherland, Associate Account Executive/Fan of the Cheesy Gordita Crunch (regardless of the reel beef percentage)

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