The Advertising Apprentice

March 28, 2010

Can I get a Large Double-Double, Please

Filed under: Advertising — adamlauzon @ 2:20 PM
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Recently after receiving some positive feedback on this blog, I invited suggestions for entries. One suggestion came courtesy of Gates Imbeau, a classmate of mine at Cambrian College. He thought it would be interesting to read an entry about Tim Hortons advertising, and how, despite efforts from their competitors, they seem to dominate coffee sales in Canada. So as everyone continues to roll up the rim, today we’ll be talking about Tim Hortons and the coffee wars, with a particular focus on their newest, Welcome Home ad.

This spot, which first aired during the Olympics, is such an excellent example of Tim Hortons doing it right! Why? Well because it pulls at your heartstrings, you feel the strong emotion associated with the family reuniting after who knows how long. This ad also does a great job at positioning the brand deeply within the Canadian culture; by essentially saying that Tim Hortons is ingrained in who we are as Canadians. (A statement most Canadians would have a hard time arguing with.) This is particularly true when you see the woman, evidently new to Canada, being offered a large coffee by her husband as he says, “Welcome to Canada”.

(Imagine if that was part of the citizenship ceremony for new Canadians: say the citizenship oath, sing the national anthem, waive the Canadian flag, and have a Tim Hortons coffee!!)

Let’s not forget the tagline seen at the end of the commercial beside the logo, “A coffee all our own”. The tagline effectively reinforces the message of the ad and it’s also an element of the ad that is consistent with all the other parts. (I have spoken to this concept of consistency in previous entries. That’s because from my point of view it’s absolutely essential with all the ad clutter out there that an ad, or a campaign, is consistent all the way through otherwise you lose the effect you should be striving for.)

We’ll have to look at the results closer in the upcoming months but I’m pretty sure that this spot was able to counteract the effects of the McDonald’s commercial offering a free small coffee from March 1st through the 14th of this year. Check out this article from Marketing Magazine to view the McDonald’s ad and get a good synopsis as to why a company as big as McDonald’s feels the need to run this kind of a promotion.

Another competitor of Tims, Country Style, has a similar contest to Roll Up to Win, called Turn Up a Winner. In this contest, they claim that every cup is a winner, compared to the 1 in 9 cups that will win with the Tim Hortons contest. Yet despite the significantly better odds of winning, Tim Hortons seems to continue to dominate in this product class.

What I also like about Tim Horton’s advertising is their versatility. One week we could be seeing an ad about how fresh their coffee is:

The next week you could see an ad filled with as many clichés as the creative team could come up with to put in a 30-second spot (I apologize for the poor video quality):

And finally the next week you could see an ad emphasizing the importance of family with a similar tone as the Welcome Home spot:

While competitors of Tim Hortons try to offer up lucrative incentives to lure consumers away from the coffee giant, Tim Hortons continues to goes about business dominating the Canadian coffee and baked goods market with a 76% share. They’re also doing quite well in the $14 billion Canadian fast food market, owning a 22% stake. (These stats are courtesy of this article from the Toronto Star.)

I’m almost done season one of Mad Men and I have lots of thoughts to share with you about the show. Shortly after Easter I’ll be posting these thoughts.


March 16, 2010

Do you Practice Safe Breath?

Filed under: Advertising — adamlauzon @ 12:34 PM
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Today’s scheduled entry on James P. Othmer’s Adland is going to be delayed by six weeks or so. The reason for the delay? I’ve lined-up an interview with Othmer and I’ll be publishing the entry around the same time as when Adland is published 0n paperback on May 4th. (If you’re a Canadian resident, you can pre-order your copy of Adland by visiting Chapters. While if you live in the US, you can pre-order Adland today through Barnes & Noble.)

So today I wanted to talk about an ad that I saw for the first time late last week. Despite just one exposure to it, it has been so memorable in my mind over the last few days, that this morning when considering topics for this entry, I just had to discuss the following Dentyne Ice commercial:

I absolutely love it! You have a great concept and near-perfect execution of this concept. It’s a fairly simple idea: in scenarios where a guy needs a condom, substitute in a pack of Dentyne Ice. It’s brilliant also because it does such a great job at integrating the product into the story-line and making the gum the focal point of the ad.

You also have to really appreciate the awkwardness and perceived level of uncomfort the man in the second scene feels when buying the pack of gum at the pharmacy. This sense is further heightened by the look he gets from the cashier ringing him through. You can’t help but feel his embarrassment, yet at the same time having no sympathy for him because you know exactly what him buying the gum implies!

Another feature of the ad worth commenting on is the tagline, practice safe breath. It’s original, memorable, and consistent with the theme of the ad. This tagline is so memorable that I used it as the search-term in YouTube to help me find the commercial.

I hope for the creative team that worked on this ad that it translates into some positive results. Despite how much I like the ad, because I am a loyal Excel consumer, the most I’ll be doing as a result of seeing this ad, other than writing this entry, is that I’ll likely tell my friends about “that great Dentyne Ice commercial I saw last week with a really cool concept.” But you never know, maybe that secondary, unpaid word-of-mouth exposure might lead to some positive gains.

The only criticism I have is that with such a solid concept, I think they would’ve been better off splitting this ad into two or three short ten- or fifteen-second spots. That way they can make the most of their well-developed concept and make a campaign out of it. Maybe they have other scenarios already conceived for future ads, who knows! (If they do, I am definitely looking forward to seeing them.)While it would cost more to air two fifteen-second spots or three ten-second spots, they would probably be able to gain more exposures that way.

(Related to this entry, you may want to read the following Adweek article.)

Barring an unforeseen delay in the release date of Mad Men Season 3, my next entry will indeed discuss this television series that with each season gains more and more dedicated viewers.

March 2, 2010

I Believe

Filed under: Advertising — adamlauzon @ 8:30 AM
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Before getting started with today’s entry, I’d like to remind everyone that February was Heart Month. The Heart and Stroke Foundation is an organization that works towards raising awareness about heart disease and stroke as well as generating donations to fund research that can help us better understand these ailments. I’ve personally volunteered with the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario. The experience was so rewarding and I honestly enjoyed every second of it! So I encourage you all to do whatever you can to get involved, either by volunteering your time or donating some money to a very worthy cause.)

To mark the recent end of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics today’s entry will focus on the I Believe brand. Not only was I Believe very present during Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Consortium broadcasts during the Games, but also in the months leading up to Olympics, I Believe was the focal point for CTV, TSN, Rogers Sportsnet, and other stations’ promos to get viewers excited for the Olympics.

At first glance, I Believe comes as across as an inspiring, uplifting message meant to instill a true sense of patriotism about Canada’s chances of achieving great things at the Olympics with such statements as “I believe Canada will win its first gold medal on home soil” and “I believe Canadian athletes can – and will – own the podium in 2010”.  (Though I must admit that after a certain point of repeated exposures to these promos, I found myself thinking, “I Believe I’m going to change the channel” whenever I saw one.)

However as you delve deeper you realize that the official theme song, sang by Nikki Yanofsky, for this year’s Olympics is entitled I Believe. Throw in the fact that you can purchase I Believe merchandise, as worn in the promos, through CTV’s website and you have an excellent brand in the making!

CTV being not only the creator of the brand, but also the dominant player in a group of stations broadcasting the Games to the millions of Canadians, found themselves with an excellent opportunity to show off how they were supporting Canadian athletes, all the while making a few bucks for themselves.

Despite CTV GlobeMedia’s best efforts to develop this brand across many platforms, there is one downside to the I Believe brand, and that’s the issue of time. As now that the Olympics are over, the brand isn’t going to be relevant and important to Canadians for too much longer. As the creators of the brand also hold the rights to the 2012 Summer Olympics being held in London, England, based on its success at the Vancouver Games to see some sort of a reincarnation of the I Believe brand in 2012.

Not only did the I believe brand help get Canadians excited and proud of their athletes, it was also able through apparel sales, CD/DVD sales, and iTunes downloads make some money for CTV. In order for a brand to succeed, that’s exactly what it must do. So I tip my, I Believe, hat to the men and women that worked hard to produce such a great brand. Because not only did it sell me a toque, it also sold me even further on being proud to be a Canadian; something Molson has been doing for years!

I just picked-up James P. Othmer’s Adland – Searching for the Meaning of Life on a Branded Planet, so you can expect an entry on this book within the next week or two. Also with the release of Season 3 of Mad Men on March 23rd, be on the lookout for an entry on this show and my thoughts on its portrayal of advertising in the 1960s.

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