The Advertising Apprentice

December 26, 2014

Ask and you shall receive

Filed under: Advertising — adamlauzon @ 9:51 PM

In my last entry, I referred to a scene in the movie A Christmas Story where Ralphie receives a pair of pink bunny pyjamas for Christmas. I mentioned how envious I was of him and how I hoped to one day get a similar pair of pyjamas. Well yesterday morning I received a present that made me laugh; a t-shirt with Ralphie in his pyjamas.


In that last entry I also mentioned that if I ever got my hands on an outfit like that, I’d wear it with pride. And that’s exactly what I did all day yesterday. I had boastful smile on my face as I wore that t-shirt everywhere I went, including through the airport!


December 24, 2014

It Keeps Going and Going and Going

Filed under: Advertising — adamlauzon @ 10:45 AM
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One of my favourite Christmas movies is A Christmas Story. I always laugh at how at every chance he got, Ralphie would ask for a Red Ryder BB gun, and everyone would reply that he’d shoot his eye out. And sure enough that’s exactly what happened!

Ralph from A Christmas Story

Towards the end of the movie, as the family is feverishly unwrapping all their gifts, Ralphie opens a present from his aunt; some head-to-toe pink bunny suit pyjamas. (There are days where I’m jealous of him and wish I had some of those pyjamas myself. If I did, for some good laughs and to embarrass my loved ones, I’d wear them out in public!)

Other than being a potential future source of embarrassment for my friends, the bunny suit pyjamas also reminded me about another pink bunny that we’ve seen for years: the Energizer Bunny. Since 1989 that pink, sunglass-wearing, battery-powered rabbit that’s been going and going and going. It also gives us an example of how successful you can be in developing and building your brand. 

Here’s the first commercial starring the Energizer Bunny:

As we see in the spot above, the Energizer Bunny was created as a cooler parody to the pink rabbit Duracell used in advertisements beginning in 1973. Since its creation over two decades ago, the Energizer Bunny has accomplished a lot: it has become a dictionary term (making it into the Oxford Dictionary in 2006 – Energizer Bunny n: a persistent or indefatigable person or phenomenon); starred along Darth Vader in a commercial (which interestingly enough wasn’t aired during the SuperBowl), and has been turned into a huge hot-air balloon, being taller than the Statue of Liberty.

The examples above show the concept of how a cute little bunny meant to sell us some batteries has turned into so much more than a marketing vehicle. The Energizer Bunny itself is even merchandised. Energizer has the Energizer Bunny Store where you can buy hats, shirts, mugs, even a onesie for your baby!

This is amazing because you’re paying Energizer to basically become a walking billboard for them. While they make somemoney off the merchandise sales, they score big with all the unpaid exposures they get from you walking around with their name and logo on you.

Does the Energizer Bunny help Energizer sell batteries? Probably not. I feel that the Energizer Bunny has overshadowed it’s goal of selling more batteries for Energizer. Flip over the remote for your TV and check which batteries are in there. Are they Energizer? Mine aren’t. I have a couple Duracell batteries enabling my channel-surfing. With the Energizer Bunny, the name recognition has clearly been established, but when I need batteries, name recognition alone doesn’t cut it. I think that price has the biggest impact on battery purchase decisions. So while Energizer did a great job in that first spot in showing both bunnies playing the drums and how the Energizer-powered bunny lasted longer, the Energizer Bunny became bigger than the company. Clearly though Energizer embraced the unexpected fame the bunny acheived for the company and harnished its popularity for other gains.

Next month I’ll be in Toronto for Advertising Week and am looking forward to the 2015 Change Makers Conference. Speakers include CBC Radio Under the Influence host, and author, Terry O’Reilly, who loyal readers will remember has been mentioned often in this blog, as well as Freakonomics author Stephen Dubner. Stay tuned for an entry on that conference and I have several other great ideas for entries for the New Year.

However you spend the holidays, I hope you’re surrounded by great company and have the opportunity to enjoy yourself. I will see you all next year!

December 17, 2014

What’s Old is New Again – The BlackBerry Classic

Filed under: Advertising — adamlauzon @ 11:42 PM
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If you went BlackBerry’s website today you’d have the option of playing the following video:

Between the slow-playing piano, the minimal on-screen text, and the impressive shots of the BlackBerry device, BlackBerry did a great job in introducing us to the BlackBerry Classic. With today’s entry I’m going to veer off script and instead of talking about a great ad or brilliant example of branding, as will be the case with my next entry on the Energizer Bunny, I want to the lead-up to, and the release of the BlackBerry Classic. I should also point out that this entry will mainly be told from my perspective as a consumer.

Today at an event in New York BlackBerry CEO John Chen unveiled Blackberry’s newest device, the Blackberry Classic, which is a throwback to their Bold 9900. You can read about it in this Canadian Press article.

What caught my eye actually has little to do with today’s release of the Classic, but a lot to do with BlackBerry’s announcement last month. In late November the company revealed that between December 1st, 2014 and February 13th, 2015 that people with an iPhone 4s or later would be entitled, between trade-in and a top-up of, to up to $600, when they traded in their iPhone and bought a BlackBerry Passport. The top-up was the key element in that deal because at $150 for American customers and $200 for Canadian customers it sweetened the pot just enough that if you had an eligible iPhone and were contemplating a switch Blackberry, your curiosity would be piqued.

I have an iPhone and switched last fall from the BlackBerry Bold because I lost confidence in company after hearing in September 2013 that they were cutting a significant portion of their workforce. (My decision to go with the iPhone as opposed to one of the Android devices is due to the fact that I have several Apple products and am familiar with Apple’s platform.) While I have been very happy with my iPhone the one element I miss is the physical keyboard. When I heard about the BlackBerry Passport promotion, I was intrigued. While doing some research into the Passport I discovered the device was being sold for $699; an amount that even with the money I’d get for my iPhone seemed a little steep. I looked into it further and a couple weeks ago I came across the Passport in a store and within seconds of picking it up and playing around with it, I knew it wasn’t for me.

As I looked into the Passport offer I learned that BlackBerry planned on releasing a new device this December, the Classic which is modeled after the Bold. As I mentioned above I had a Bold and loved it. At a retail price of $499 it’s a lot more attractive than the $699 I would have to pay for the Passport. And it’s basically a no-brainer for me, spend $499 to get a device that replicates its previous inception. It also helps that it’s being sold at a better price-point.

I’m impressed by what BlackBerry was able to do, intentional or not. And based on the history of the company and their track-record, I’m inclined to believe the timing of the Passport offer and the release of the Classic was definitely planned to attract iPhone users not so much to the Passport, but to the Classic, and a week before Christmas at that. The move will also boost their sales as they approach the end of the their 4th quarter, but I’m not a business major so I can’t speak to that too much more than that! Economics aside, BlackBerry did a great job with using the Passport to help them push the Classic. They’ve won me back! Now that I’ll have a physical keyboard again, maybe I’ll write a post or two from my Classic; something I would have never considered with my iPhone.

December 4, 2014

A Gift from Samsung Santa

Filed under: Advertising — adamlauzon @ 11:40 AM
Tags: , ,

After a two year sabbatical I am back, reacquainting myself with the world of advertising and sharing the passion I have for it through these posts. Moving forward I plan on posting new entries every 10-14 days that will be a bit shorter, but there will still be the occasional entry that rivals a research paper from my university days! I also want to continue with the author interview entries that were very well received from when I interviewed Terry O’Reilly and James P. Othmer.

So let’s jump right into it, shall we? What should my first entry back be on? How about an entry on something seasonal, like all the Christmas ads you’ve seen since basically Labour Day! There’s one ad in particular that I want to single out and shower with praise.

Have a look:

I first saw this ad this past Sunday while watching the Steelers and Saints game. (Thank you Antonio Brown for the all fantasy points, even if they were in garbage-time!) There’s a lot to like about this spot. For one the fact that it’s able to keep your attention for the entire two minutes. I was so immersed in the story that I thought at best it was only a minute-long. By today’s standards of shorter spots and consumers with reduced attention spans, a two-minute commercial is extremely rare.

Midway through the commercial I had to stop and think about what was being advertised. You see various Samsung products throughout the commercial but because you’ve been so drawn in by the story with Kristen and Dax decorating their house for the holidays, you lose track of the fact that this is still a commercial whose purpose is to get you to take action and buy some of the several Samsung products you see. The copywriter did a great job with the copy because generally we are very guarded with all the ads we see daily, but personally I found that this spot got us to drop our guards and enjoy it.

Another element of this ad that you must love is the likeability of real-life couple Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard. The cute factor is huge in this commercial with their matching Christmas pajamas, their ugly Christmas sweaters (the dogs had them on too), and the way Dax helps his pregnant wife. For Samsung it must have been an obvious choice to cast the couple in this commercial following this ad for the Galaxy Tab S, which since posted on September 14th has received over 20 million YouTube views:


I tip my Santa hat to you Samsung for creating an ad that is so long it doesn’t feel like an ad, that gives the gift of a great story and that stars a couple that is truly likeable and that we can all relate to!

(Disclaimer: I have not received any compensation from Samsung for this endorsement; though with Christmas coming-up hopefully they keep me in mind!)


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