The Advertising Apprentice

February 8, 2012

The Blah Super Bowl

Filed under: Advertising — adamlauzon @ 11:34 AM
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“Blah” – In a word that’s how I would sum up all aspects of this past Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVI. I’m a huge sports enthusiast, but five years from now if you were to ask me what I remember from the 2012 Super Bowl, the only two things that will likely come to mind are that the Giants won and during the half-time show, some hip-hop artist that a majority of the people don’t know, flipped-off the hundreds of millions watching the game.

Despite the average price tag for a thirty-second spot being $3.5 million, even a lot of the advertising was sub-par. We saw the usual-mix of beer and car ads, commercials featuring celebrities, and movie previews. Below I’ve featured the spots that did standout, for better or worse, in what I feel was an off year all around for the Super Bowl.

How can you not smile after watching this commercial? It features faces of the M&M brand consumers are already very familiar with and a song that was a big hit in 2011. The other good thing about this commercial is that I think it was the only one for candy-bar product class. This helps it stand apart from its competition in a big way.

Just a thought for the designers at Fiat, how about giving your car a name that people don’t have to pause and think about pronouncing before saying it?! The lead-up is way too sexually charged to then make the connection to that particular car. It would work for a Lamborghini or Ferrari, but not a subcompact Fiat. Though it was a nice touch to have a tattoo of the Abarth logo on the back of the girl’s neck.

This has a really good storyline that hooks the audience in order to highlight a feature of the Audi S7: its powerful headlights. To then incorporate social media with the Twitter hashtag #SoLongVampires… bravo!

Danica Patrick and the Pussy Cat Dolls aside, the only real element of this commercial worth praise is the QR code in the lower left corner of most of the spot. To measure its effectiveness and to see if this is a trend that will continue, I’d love to see how much traffic it actually brought to Go Daddy’s website.

This commercial has some real nostalgia value for both the consumer AND Matthew Broderick. I like Honda’s effort in tapping into that.

A lot of people really liked this commercial. I’ve got all the respect in the world for Clint Eastwood; he’s an amazing filmmaker and actor, but honestly this commercial didn’t really strike a chord for me. Although I do think it’s a great follow-up to Chrysler’s spot from last year’s Super Bowl where the Chrysler 200 was driving through the streets of Detroit with an Eminem track in the background. Also I realize the concept for this ad is based on the notion of half-time being the time to rebuild, but airing it during half-time of the Super Bowl when many people are in the bathroom, getting another beer, etc, likely did not have as much of an optimal audience/exposures had it aired at the start of the game, right after kick-off.

These six spots are my advertising highlights from Super Bowl XLVI. Even though there were some good ads in this year’s crop, there was also a lot of “blah”. Is there an ad I didn’t mention that you really enjoyed? Feel free to write me and share your thoughts.

February 9, 2011

Super Bowl XLV: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Filed under: Advertising — adamlauzon @ 8:45 PM
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Another Super Bowl is in the books. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25. Several hundred people are upset they didn’t get to watch the game from their assigned seats and are now filing a lawsuit against the NFL. And the advertising industry showcased its best talent to the hundreds of millions of people watching all over the world.

What can $3 million buy you? Well in Super Bowl XLV it gets you 30s-seconds of airtime. Below I present to you the commercials I thought were the best, those that I thought were downright bad, and a few that I thought were just ugly from this year’s batch of Super Bowl commercials. Enjoy!

The Good

1. Teleflora – Help Me Faith

I liked this commercial for several reasons: it made me laugh, Faith Hill, and most importantly, with Valentine’s Day being a week away from its airing, the timing was fitting.

2. Pepsi Max – First Date

I laughed out loud when I heard the guy ask, “Wait! Which one?” This was a great commercial with a simple and well-executed concept. On a side-note I will neither confirm, nor deny, whether or not all men share the same thought process while on dates!

3. Bridgestone – Carma

Everyone, myself included, will remember, the beaver in this commercial. But let’s try not to forget that the spot did a good job showing off the product. I’d consider buying a set of Bridgestone tires for my car; as long as they come with a cute stuffed-animal beaver!

Honourable Mention: NFL.com – TV Favorites

Wow, so many familiar faces! Consistently is the theme of this ad. Nicely used transitions. This commercial is effective as a one-off. I would hate to be exposed to this commercial repeatedly.

The Bad

1. Stella Artois – Adrian Brody

Ten seconds in I realized I needed a Bud Light! Stella took a risk with this spot in trying to reach the viewers of the Super Bowl. Did it pay off? I don’t think it did. It might’ve worked had the commercial been shorter, but it took too long to get to the point.

2. Skechers – Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian is a beautiful woman. But did I really need to see her in a commercial for Skechers? I thought this spot was too over the top and served better at boosting Kim’s ego than boosting the sales of Skechers shoes.

3. Doritos – House Sitting

The reason this commercial is on the Bad list is because of my perceived cockiness on Dortios’ part in portraying product as having the God-like powers to bring living things back too life.

Honourable Mention: CarMax – Service Station

By the time I understood the message, I didn’t care. I can’t speak about all gas stations, but whenever I go to full service gas stations, the attendant will clean my front and rear windows as well as check my oil. That’s why I wasn’t crazy about CarMax’s portrayal of good customer service being so ancient.

The Ugly

1. Go Daddy – The Contract

I honestly did not know who the woman alongside Danica Patrick was. (If you’re wondering the same thing, it’s fitness guru Gillian Michaels.) It’s not a good thing when people don’t instantly recognize the celebrity in your commercial. I’m also not a fan of Go Daddy blatantly encouraging people to visit their website to see more.

2. Career Builder – Chimps

I envision the creative brainstorming session for this ad going along the lines of the creative director, or maybe even the client, saying that a great idea would be to use a bunch of chimpanzees in the commercial, and everyone agreeing it was a good idea out of fear of losing their jobs. I understand the concept of showing a person “stuck between a bad job and a hard place”, but I think the execution failed.

3. Chevy Camaro – Red Head

Let me start off by saying I’m fond of the Camaro, so it wasn’t an easy choice to include it on this list; however, I don’t think this ad is effective in showing off the Camaro. The ad is all over the place. It really needs to take its Ritalin and calm down!

Honourable Mention – Snickers – Logging

I understand quite a few people were fond of this spot. Maybe it’s because they’re all excited about seeing Roseanne Barr getting hit with a massive log!

February 5, 2010

A Showcase of Great Talent

Filed under: Advertising — adamlauzon @ 8:30 AM
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Super Bowl XLIV, or 44 for those of you that aren’t the greatest with roman numerals, kicks-off in less than 72 hours. The game features the Indianapolis Colts taking on the New Orleans Saints. If you are a regular follower of this blog, you’re probably one of the one in two viewers that will tune into the game that is more excited about seeing the commercials than the action taking place on the field in Miami. (I’m a big sports fan so Sunday will be double the fun for me!) As the Super Bowl is the Mecca for the advertising industry, it’s a topic that must be discussed further.

Just to elaborate further on a phrase in this last sentence, “Mecca for the advertising industry”, the Super Bowl presents an opportunity for advertising people to show the millions upon millions watching the game what they can do. Just like how the players on the field have spent months upon months preparing for this game, so too have the advertising men and women in creating some of the best commercials you’ll see all year. As Bernice Kanner describes in The Super Bowl of Advertising, (an entry on the Super Bowl wouldn’t be complete unless I quoted Ms. Kanner!), the Super Bowl presents “an audience actually willing to be advertised to. They are ready and willing to absorb your brand message as long as the ad gives something back, as long as it entertains.” That’s a “requirement” I’m confident we can say the five Super Bowl ads placed throughout this entry all fulfill. Some of the ads are even to entertain decades after they’ve originally aired.

The Super Bowl is also the one event of the year where an advertiser pays the most amount of money to have their ad aired. Early this week CBS, the American network carrying this year’s game, announced that they had sold-out the 50-60 30-second spots. The cost of a 30-second spot during this year’s game? $2.8 MILLION!! (For those of you unfamiliar with the economics of the advertising industry, the reason for what seems to be an unreasonably high cost for just thirty seconds of airtime is the large audience that will be tuning in to the game. Last year’s game had an average audience of 95.4 million US viewers.) Unfortunately for CBS though this rate is down $200,000 from the $3 million NBC charged advertisers last year.

Part of the reason for this decrease can be attributed to the economy. Companies like Pepsi and GM have decided against spending the huge sum of money required to be seen during the Super Bowl. Pepsi’s absence means that this will be the first time in 24 years that you won’t see a Pepsi ad during the Super Bowl. They’ve decided to invest the money normally allocated for the Super Bowl into online marketing efforts. GM’s backing out of the Super Bowl shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone as they’ve been reducing their prominence in sports for over a year now; a trend that the following article explains quite well.

One ad that will be aired that has already drawn quite a bit of controversy despite the fact that it has yet to be publicly released. The ad is for a Christian non-profit organization called Focus on the Family and features 2007 Heisman winner Tim Tebow, and his mother. The reason for the controversy is that the ad is expected to have an anti-abortion message.  However as the ad has yet to be released, I’ll reserve judgment until after I see it. But I will say this, some topics should not be discussed in a forum as grand as the Super Bowl, religion and politics in my opinion fall into this category.

As for the game itself, I think it will be a nail-biter that will be decided in the final five minutes. I like the energy and the resilience we’ve seen all year from the Saints, but I think the Colts have the big-game experience from having won the Super Bowl three years ago, and the depth to pull this one out. (I’d offer up a prediction for the score but if you follow In the Game Sports, you know I’m not the greatest at predicting football scores at all!)

Be sure to come back soon as early next week I’ll be writing about which ads I liked and which ones fell short. I’ll also offer up my take on the Tim Tebow, Focus on the Family commercial.

October 28, 2009

Advertising is…

Filed under: Advertising — adamlauzon @ 10:30 AM
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Consider the following question:

Is advertising business, communication or entertainment?

Personally I think it’s a combination of all three.

There are many reasons advertising can be considered a business. First of all, advertising isn’t done for free. You don’t decide you want to air an ad during the Super Bowl and only pay for the cost of producing the commercial, which in itself can run in the millions. (I further discuss the cost to air an ad during the Super Bowl below.)

Advertising is a very lucrative business, last year advertising spending in the U.S. alone was close to $142 BILLION! On the topic of money, over half of all marketing expenditures are spent on trade marketing, that is incentives used by manufacturers to get the product through to the retailers. A third is spent on consumer promotions and a fifth is spent on consumer advertising. This was the case in 2004 as reported by Promo Magazine.

Advertising is communication because it fosters communication with your target audience. You have a product/service that you want to promote, how are you going to do that? By communicating with them the advantages of your product, where/how they can buy it, its price, etc. Unless you’re going up to each and every one of your customers you’re going to be doing this on a mass communication level through advertising.

Advertising has the difficult challenge of getting through in the communication process and being heard over the noise; being everything trying to get a person’s attention, including a significant amount of other advertisements. Literally thousands of sources are trying to communicate with you each and every day from the time you open your eyes in the morning until the time your head hits the pillow at night.

Further advertising is communication because that’s how it has been defined by Encarta: a form of commercial mass communication designed to promote the sale of a product or service, or a message on behalf of an institution, organization, or candidate for political office.

Advertising is entertainment because every once and a while you get those gems that captivate people. These are also usually the ads that win Clios, Cannes Lions and other awards. Look at the Super Bowl, sure millions of people tune in to watch an incredible football game but how many millions of non-sports fans tune in to catch the commercials, especially for the water cooler conversation it seems to generate not only the next day, but for weeks to come.

Further look at the general discussion it generates when it’s done well, poorly, or without taste from not only people within the industry, but also the general public. Very few professions have their work scrutinized as much as advertisers. If you are a computer programmer and you do a good job developing code for some software what are the chances of the public even being cognizant of your achievement? Similarly, you’re a banker that just found a way to save a client a ton of money; the recognition you receive will be limited to the client and maybe your boss.

To further illustrate my point that advertising is business, that advertising is communication and that advertising is entertainment, I included the same Gatorade commercial from this year’s Super Bowl for each category. Try telling Pepsi Co., who spent $3 million for the 30-thirty second spot that advertising isn’t business! Just by watching this commercial you know that there is a message they are communicating, and therefore advertising is communication. Finally this ad shows that advertising is entertaining because you probably were entertained in watching what these people define what G means to them. (To save you some time in searching the Internet to find out who they are, I’ve listed them below in order of appearance.)

(This press release provides more in-depth information from Gatorade regarding the vision of the ad.)

This very blog shows how advertising can be business, communication and entertainment. In the business sense I may not be generating money but I often submit this blog as a sample of the writing skills I possess. If I get a job based on the writing in this blog then it would certainly show how advertising is business. Further this blog shows how advertising is communication because I pick an advertising topic and I communicate my ideas about it through the blog. Finally, if advertising wasn’t entertaining do you think I’d be able to sustain writing weekly blog entries for the past couple months? Or keep a constant stream of visitors to this website for that matter?

Those are my thoughts on what is advertising but ultimately it is up to the beholder. Depending on many different factors you may see it differently. If this is the case then share your thoughts below in the comments section.

The idea I wish to end this entry on is that as I’ve shown advertising can be a fusion of business, communication and entertainment. However, this is by no means exhaustive; advertising can be and is so much more. It’s educational when used through a PSA to create and raise awareness for a cause. It’s innovative when a new approach is used to create an ad and when the advertiser really uses that outside of the box approach we all strive for. It is also career for hundreds of thousands of people across the world.

September 13, 2009

What’s Old is New Again!

Filed under: Advertising — adamlauzon @ 4:56 PM
Tags: , , , ,

UPDATE

While browsing through the New York Times’ Media & Advertising section, a great source for industry information, I came across this interactive page that provides you with a breakdown of the number of ads based on product class aired during the past twenty-four years of the Super Bowl. It even has a media player embedded within the webpage so you can check out some of the memorable ads to have made their debut since 1984.

The other day while watching TV I saw this commercial and had to do a double take to make sure I hadn’t gone back in time:

Seeing a commercial that first aired in the early 1990s, I challenged myself to do some interesting homework for this week’s entry, watch TV and pay close attention to the commercials to see if I could find any other examples of spots being “recycled”. (It’s sort of like a homework assignment you wished for in high school!) I was able to find a couple examples of other companies re-airing old commercials:

I will concede in advance that the Delissio, or DiGorno for you Americans, “Party Crasher” ad on this page is a bit of a stretch. In particular because the ad was only created a year ago but in an industry that’s constantly reinventing itself it does nonetheless apply. (By the way the pizza boy is actor Steven Christopher Parker.)

The commercial below from Expedia.ca also falls under the same argument as the Delissio commercial:

(You really have to love YouTube because you can find just about anything on that site!)

These are just three examples and I don’t think it’s quite time to call this an emerging trend in advertising. I think it’s more of a cost effective attempt by these companies to remind us of their products and to remain visible during the recession; and this is quite the novel way of doing so.  I certainly appreciate the feelings of nostalgia from the Coffee Crisp commercial, when upon seeing it in the early 1990s, it’s almost guaranteed that I would have persuaded my parents to go out and get me a Coffee Crisp.

In honor of the NFL’s kick-off weekend, I must consider if this is a new trend, how long is it before we see one of these memorable ads that made their debut during the Super Bowl?

(In-depth commentary on these commercials, and many others that have aired during Super Bowl telecasts only to become viral hits, can be found in Bernice Kanner’s aptly named The Super Bowl of Advertising, published by Bloomberg Press. It’s become a yearly tradition for me to read through this book the weekend before the Super Bowl just to get myself even more excited for the creative genius about to be witnessed by millions upon millions of viewers and it serves to remind me once again why I choose to pursue a career in advertising!)

If you’ve seen other examples of commercials that originally aired years ago and are now being re-broadcast, post a comment or send me an email and I’ll revise the post.

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