The Advertising Apprentice

April 19, 2010

You’ve Gotta See This

Filed under: Advertising — adamlauzon @ 9:30 AM
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As mentioned in my last entry, today’s topic deals with three ads. One that we’ve already seen and that despite the fact its been out for less than two weeks has already been parodied copious  times on YouTube, the second ad is an ad for a grocery store in Sudbury, Ontario that is so cheesy I just had to share it with you, and finally the third ad is for a tampon brand that attempts to rebel against the ads usually shown for this product class.

I really have no intention to go on a long rant about this ad. The idea to use the voice of the late Earl Woods, while eerie, isn’t completely a bad idea but I think it would be better served for a more ceremonious occasion. Though I would really approach the situation with caution. I also think that it lacks integrity and is a huge sign of disrespect to Earl Woods. It’s one thing to use your own likeness for commercial gain, but to use the likeness of your dead father in an ad as an attempt to improve the public’s view of you is completely ludicrous. (I’d love to know what Tiger’s mother thinks about this spot!) The following clip from Saturday Night Live on April 10th does a good job at summing up the overall sentiment I believe most feel with regards to this ad:

This is an ad for an independently owned and operated Sudbury, Ontario grocery store. The ad ran shortly after Canada’s men’s Olympic gold medal run. Having lived in Sudbury for about a year while attending Cambrian College, this is not the first cliché-laden and overall cringe-inducing ad that has been published by this particular grocery store. I’ve mentioned in previous entries about how ads should strive for consistency and this ad certainly maintains consistency throughout beginning with the picture and ending with the tagline “Locally owned and proud to be 100% Canadian.” At times I may be guilty of being over-critical but is the following sentence really going to convince you to shop at Vrab’s over their competitors? “If your grocery goal is to breakaway from the pack then take a shot at Vrab’s Your Independent Grocer and join the winning team that works hard to keep Canadians on top of the podium with each and every save.” During my time in Sudbury, my family and I did shop at this grocery store. Why? Well definitely not because of ads like the one above but because of things like the fresh food they sold, their friendly staff, and prices better than those of other grocery stores in the area. To the owner of Vrab’s: While there’s no doubt that it takes a lot of creativity to write an ad like that, please leave the copywriting to the professionals. Stick to what you do best, running a successful grocery store that people enjoy shopping at and spare us the over-the-top ads.

While this ad offers a fresh approach to the commercials normally seen for tampons, it will be interesting to see if an ad like this works. The commercial has already garnered almost a quarter of a million views on YouTube as well as some very positive feedback from women saying how much they liked the spot and how as a result of it, they’re switching brands. (At its essence, isn’t this the ultimate goal of advertising? To persuade consumers into change/action!) Though I’d like to hope that consumers and specifically the women targeted with this ad are wise enough to realize that while this ad is being critical of other tampon ads, it’s still trying to sell you on the Kotex brand. It’s biological for women to get their period every month since they hit puberty so doesn’t it become routine where you have a certain tampon brand you use every month whether it be Tampax, Kotex or one of the other brands? I ask because it seems like advertising for these types of products is only really effective for “new users to the market” and not those that have been using tampons for years now. (But it is quite possible that people aren’t as brand loyal when it comes to most products!) It may be just be ignorance on my part, but feel free to weigh in on the subject and educate the male readers of this blog and myself. If this spot does in-fact lead to some positive gains for Kotex, as is the case so often in advertising, it will be only a matter of time before ads with a similar tone start appearing.

The next Advertising Apprentice entry will come your way towards the end of the month and will be a two-part interview with James P. Othmer, author of Adland Searching for the Meaning of Life on a Branded Planet. The paperback version of Adland hits bookshelves across North America on May 18th. Though come back often as if something happens newsworthy in the advertising world you know I’ll be weighing in with my thoughts.

April 17, 2010

Mad Men Mania

Filed under: Advertising — adamlauzon @ 11:00 AM
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I must admit that despite all the great things I’ve heard about Mad Men I never made the conscious effort to sit down and tune-in. In the last month I’ve picked up all three seasons and watched all 39 episodes… there’s something ironic about watching a, albeit fictional, show about advertising without being exposed to a single thirty-second spot!

There are many great things to love about this show. The setting for instance: 1960s New York City, no cell phones, no Internet, and you could smoke at work and in restaurants. And I make that comment while having never smoked a day in my life.

Of course there is also Don Draper, played by Jon Hamm. While I’m not a huge fan of his infidelity, I really appreciate his creative talent and the way he manages people. There’s something infectious about the way he handles himself at Sterling Cooper and Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

I can also now see why so many people are obsessed with Christina Hendricks.

While the show provides some good context for the period during which the great David Ogilvy wrote Confessions of an Advertising Man and Ogilvy on Advertising, there isn’t much for an adman of the twenty-first century to take away. Though how surprised can I really be by this?

The most interesting insight revealed can be found in the special features section of season one. A 19-minute feature called Advertising the American Dream discusses advertising’s role in society. The video starts off with a pretty powerful quote from President Franklin Roosevelt who said, “The general raising off the standard of modern civilization… would have been impossible without the spreading of the knowledge of higher standards by means of advertising.” A few minutes into the documentary we get the following statement from Dr. Bernard McGrane from Chapman University Department of Sociology, “Sponsors have to believe they need to advertise their products or no one will buy it. That itself is an accomplishment of the advertising industry to get all the other industries to believe that the advertising industry is necessary. In that sense advertising advertises advertising.” Let that digest for a second: advertising advertises advertising.

Indeed this is a very bold statement made by McGrane and I completely agree with it. Advertising is an industry that prides itself on being able to (effectively) sell products and services to consumers, it’s essential inherent that the industry would be able to sell itself to other industries and to convince these industries they need the services of an ad man or woman.

Now I’m off to go get myself a fedora in an attempt to pull off the Don Draper look! First thing Monday morning I’ll be posting an entry on three discussion-worthy, “intriguing” ads. The first is the latest Nike, Tiger Woods ad, the second is a print-ad from a grocery store in Sudbury, Ontario, and the final ad I’ll be talking about in the entry is a 45-second commercial from Kotex.

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