Thursday, April 30, 2009

Visa's New Strategy - Security Not Spending

Last month I wrote a post about the new Visa Campaign and how the strategy was miss-directed for the current economy. My view is a this point the consumer isn’t interested in being told there is an easier way to spend their hard earned money. They want to feel safe. They want to know how to save money, how to make their money work harder for them.

So because of this, I was excited to see this new commercial from Visa. It address’ the main problem I had with the previous one. The strategy behind this commercial is safety. You can shop online and know your card information is safe.

In this economy consumers are still skittish about spending money. But if you have to go online and buy a book from Amazon or a pair of shoes from Zappos you have the confidence that your purchase is secure. This commercial makes the consumer feel like Visa is on their side. That Visa cares about their financial security during this tough time. They aren’t just another big bank out to pry more money out of their clenched hands.

One thing I wish had a bigger prominence in the commercial is their website. Visa’s website has an abundance of quality information on their safety features. Why not drive people to your website so they can check out and experience all of the safety features up close and personal. Give the consumer a chance to develop a relationship with the brand.

What do you think about this new commercial compared to the previous one? Does this do a better job of explaining why Visa is the card to use during this time?


Monday, April 27, 2009

Schick Quattro Trim Style In America

A couple weeks ago I wrote about the Schick Quattro Trim Style
European micro site and American print ad
. In that post I wondered if they were going to make an “Americanized” version of the commercial. It turns out they did.

I’m going to leave the discussion on American vs. European commercials for another day. We all know that European commercials are more risqué than their American counter parts. I’m more interested in whether or not this subtler version is as effective as the original.

To answer that question simply, yes, I believe it is as effective as the European version but in a different way. The strategy is the same for both commercials and communicated just as well. The “hedges” are trimmed and formed into the same fashionable shapes without the overt double entendres. The American version is more effective in that they show the product more and show how it can be used. The European version is more effective in that it has comedy on its side. Commercials that make people laugh tend to stick around a little longer in the mind of the consumer.

All in all they are both effective commercials in my mind. It’s interesting to see how Schick took the essence of the European commercial and made it suitable for American TV.

What do you think about these two versions of basically the same commercial? Does not being able to be overtly sexual hurt American companies?

-The Ultimate Account Guy

Friday, April 24, 2009

Subway Blows A Great Opportunity

Subway’s newest commercial features “real” people singing the famous/infamous “5 dollar foot long” song. They sing their own rendition of the song in front of a blue, Subway branded wall. As the spot progresses, a message compelling viewers to visit comes on screen. Upon watching this commercial and visiting the site, I was thoroughly disappointed in Subway.

The “real” people in the commercial and on the site don’t feel real. Even subway calls the videos “auditions” and that’s exactly what they feel like. It all feels very contrived. If authenticity is what you are looking for, and when you go to user generated content it should be, you need to have an organic feeling to it. At least give me some background information on the “auditions”. Where did they take place? When did they take place? Who are these people? Are they just people pulled off the street? The chorus makes me think there was some type of casting call or at least an announcement that Subway was looking for people to sing.

I think they blew a perfect opportunity to interact with the consumer. Especially since this campaign has been so polarizing. A quick YouTube search brings up dozens of user generated videos of people singing the song in every conceivable situation. Wouldn’t it have been better to use theses videos? Subway could have put out a contest where consumers send in their own rendition of the subway song. Give away a first, second and third place prize as a way of enticing entries if you think you wouldn’t get enough user generated content.

What do you think about this commercial and the accompanying site? How could they have made it better?

-The Ultimate Account Guy

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Gatorade Goes Animated With Tiger

Gatorade has always been good for a couple impressive commercials every year. From the days of wanting to “be like Mike” to now they’ve been able to keep the attention of the consumer while staying true to their strategy. This is why I was shocked to see an animated commercial from Gatorade. They’ve used CG in the past but, to my recollection, they’ve never gone fully animated.

In the commercial Little Tiger is coached by a wise talking bear. After making a bad shot, the bear gives him some words of wisdom, Little Tiger drinks from a fountain of Gatorade Focus and he’s able to pull off his patented ball-juggling trick.

The strategy is solid, easy to understand and conveyed well by the spot and because of that I like the commercial. You get it. Gatorade keeps you hydrated, which helps you focus and perform better.

The part that confuses me a little is the decision to go with full animation. I have nothing against animation. I think it can be used very effectively. I just think it is an odd choice for Gatorade to use for its Tiger Focus brand. Especially since they didn’t use the animation to do anything extraordinary. There are talking animals, but that can be done with CG or even animatronics.
One reason I can think to use animation is because they couldn’t get Tiger for a shoot. With his knee injury and rehab, were they not able to get him? Seems like a stretch, but maybe that was the reason to go with animation this time.

Either way it’s an interesting commercial that speaks to the consumer in an effective manner.

What do you think about this commercial? What do you think the reason for choosing animation was?

-The Ultimate Account Guy

Just for kicks “Be Like Mike”

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sprite - Slam And A Miss

Sprite has continued its love affair with the NBA during the playoffs. Watching any one of the NBA games this weekend you would have seen this Sprite commercial dubbed “Slam”.

The strategy is the same as usual. Sprite is refreshing and quenches your thirst. The way the commercial conveys that main idea disappoints me. Having people in the spot jump into each other and combust into a spray of Sprite doesn’t make sense to me. It doesn’t convey a sense of refreshment and enjoyment to me. Why do they have to jump into each other to receive the benefit of the drink? Is the drink painful at first, then the refreshment washes over you?

On the other hand the Sprite commercial below does a very good job of conveying the main idea. Again, Sprite is saying their product is refreshing and will quench your thirst. To do that they have the people in the commercial jump into a basketball court that morphs into a pool. This makes me feel like Sprite is refreshing. I can picture myself standing on that blistering hot basketball court, taking a sip of a cold Sprite and being transported into a refreshing, cool, pool. We all have memories of being at the beach or a pool on a hot summer day, and how nice and refreshing it felt to jump into the water. This spot does exactly that.

What do you think about these spots? Do you think they both convey Sprite’s main idea well?

-The Ultimate Account Guy

Monday, April 20, 2009

State Farm + Lebron = Good Commercial

If you’ve watched an NBA game over the past couple of months you’ve most likely seen the Lebron James State Farm commercial. This is an all around solid commercial. It has an easy to understand strategy, a famous face, a little comedy and most importantly in my eyes it is easy to relate to.

The strategy behind the spot is simple and sound. Most people don’t understand insurance. They don’t really know what is in their coverage and what isn’t. But with State Farm, you don’t have to worry because you’re covered.

Having Lebron James in the commercial lends a memorable face. The “Kid and Play” dance session between James and one of the friends gives the otherwise serious commercial a moment of levity. These features combine to make a memorable and effective commercial.

What puts it above and beyond in my eyes is the selection of the friends. State Farm could have chosen to use three players from the Cavaliers or just two other famous NBA players. Instead they chose to go with Lebron James and two “regular” people. I think this was a great choice. It allows the consumer at home to relate with the “regular” person who had his car broken into. If it was James’ car that was vandalized, you would expect him to be covered because he has millions of dollars and can afford top coverage. Having the “regular” person’s car broken into allows the consumer to feel like they could be in that position. It allows the consumer at home to feel like calling State Farm is a good idea to make sure they are covered.

What do you think about this spot? Does it speak to the consumer effectively in your eyes?

-The Account Guy

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pampers' 1 Pack = 1 Vaccine Campaign

Pampers’ newest commercial is spotlighting their “1 pack = 1 vaccine” campaign. The spot features a woman and her baby, as well as all the babies she helped get vaccinated by buying Pampers diapers.

The strategy behind the program and the spot is very simple. Buy a pack of pampers and an underprivileged child will receive a vaccination. The commercial does a great job of conveying the main idea by showing all of the smiling, healthy children hugging the woman and thanking her for, in effect, buying Pampers.

I think this program and commercial will be effective because it doesn’t ask you to change any habits. The commercial doesn’t ask you to fill out a post card on the package to donate a vaccine. It doesn’t ask you to go to a website to donate money. All you have to do is buy a pack of Pampers.

If you have a newborn baby at home, you are already buying diapers, you might as well buy Pampers and help an underprivileged child at the same time. Even if you normally buy a different brand or find Pampers more expensive, you may be tempted to ignore your brand loyalty or price sensitivity because it is such a worthy cause. Especially when all you have to do is buy Pampers.

What do you think about this program? Will it be effective? Is this commercial an effective vehicle for the program?

-The Ultimate Account Guy

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mow The Lawn ... Now In Print Form

I’m guessing that over the last week you’ve seen the musical “lawn mowing” video by Wilkinson Sword. The minute long musical, along with the micro site has made its way around the Internet more for its unique musical topic than the product it’s selling.

As an American advertising professional, I’m always impressed by this type of advertising; advertising that pushes the boundaries on taboo subjects. I wondered to myself if something like this would fly in the states.

Then this weekend while flipping through my guilty pleasure, US Weekly, I found this print ad for the Schick Quattro Trim Style. I’m not sure of the association between Schick and Wilkinson Sword but there must be some as they are both selling a product called the “Quattro”.

The ad does a great job of drawing from the video. It uses the same shapes seen the video and the same statue. The message is simple and easy to take away. The ad placement couldn’t be any better. Aside from me, US Weekly, has a predominantly female following and is the perfect age range for this type of product.

The print ad seemed like a smash until I thought about the American consumer who is reading this magazine. Have they seen the accompanying video to this print ad? I know it was popular last week in the advertising world, but did it make its way into the general American public?

I tried to look at it from the perspective of someone who hadn’t seen the video or micro site. It’s still interesting. It still grabs my attention, but the song doesn’t start playing in my head. I think the lack of tie in to the video takes away from the consumer’s experience. It makes the print ad and the product less memorable.

I don’t know if Schick has any plans of releasing the video in the US. I just hope, they don’t come up with some contrived version that takes all the fun and humor out.

What do you think about the video/site and the print ad? Does the print ad lose effectiveness without seeing the video?

-The Ultimate Account Guy

Monday, April 13, 2009

At The Beach … And Screaming

At The Beach is a tanning salon with locations in Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado. I’ve never been to one of their salons, as I do not tan, so I can’t comment on the quality of their tanning products. But because I live in Colorado, I have been exposed to their unique brand of TV advertising.

The strategy seems simple enough. They have tanning beds, something called the mystic tan and you won’t have to wait. As far as that goes, everything is fine.

Then there is the issue of the character/voice over. Is the point of this to annoy you into paying attention? It’s brutal to your ears. It may make you pay attention to the commercial the first time. After that, you want to stab a Q-tip in your ear. I literally change the channel when this commercial comes on. That’s saying a lot for me. I purposely watch commercials because that’s what I do.

Not to mention the character is strikingly similar to Donna Versace.

Has anybody else seen this commercial? Is the point to annoy you into paying attention? Is that an effective mode of communication, or is it damaging to the brand?

-The Ultimate Account Guy

Friday, April 10, 2009

Mother Nature Is A Busy Bee

Mother Nature has found steady work in these unsure times. She’s appeared in multiple forms of the newest Tampax campaign as well as most recently appearing in the new Vitamin Water 10 commercial. Both are fine ads. They have a simple message that is easy to understand and conveyed in a memorable way. The thing I’m interested in is the difference in use of Mother Nature.
In the Vitamin Water 10 commercial, Mother Nature is the CEO of the fictitious “Water Incorporate”. She’s rallying her troops, both Human and Animal, to fight back against the new Vitamin Water 10. She’s a strong personality that will fight to defend what she has created.

In the Tampax commercial, Mother Nature plays the villain. She is bestowing the unlucky woman with her “monthly gift” at a very inopportune time. She’s distraught to find out that the young woman has protection, and won’t be bothered by her “gift”.

I find it very interesting how the fictional character of Mother Nature can be used so differently and at the same time do a good job of getting the message across to the consumer.

What do you think about these commercials? Have two figures been used so differently by two separate companies before?

-The Ultimate Account Guy

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Craftsman’s Attempt At The Everyman

I found this print ad in the most recent issue of Sports Illustrated and thought it did a great job of targeting the everyday man. Most of the yard maintenance advertisements you see coming out now show people smiling and excited to get out into the spring weather and breathe life back into their yards. That may be a certain percentage of the population. The other percentage sees the lawn as a drain. The lawn is a tiring obstacle standing between you and the rest of your weekend. This ad does a great job of speaking to that percentage.

The ad’s headline is succinct and straight to the point. “Cuts grass and time”, lets you know everything you need to know about the lawn mower. It will do a good job cutting the grass and it will help you do it faster. The body copy goes on to explain exactly how this mower helps you cut your mowing time. It does a fine job, but I don’t even need it. The headline does it all for me.

The second impressive thing about this ad is the placement. As I said, I found it in the most recent issue of Sports Illustrated. That is the perfect target audience. Men who most likely are taking care of their lawn, but most likely aren’t weekend lawn warriors. They are more concerned with getting the lawn done and catching the rest of the baseball game or getting to their kid’s soccer game. Better Homes and Gardens, for instance, would be a bad placement for this ad. People reading Better Homes and Gardens generally take more pride in their lawns and might be put off by a lawn mower that helps you rush through the job.

What do you think about this layout? Does it do a good job of conveying their message?

-The Ultimate Account Guy

Monday, April 6, 2009

Gatorade's Quick Strike

Tiger Woods put a stamp on his comeback recently with a Tiger like come from behind victory. Gatorade wasted no time capitalizing on this latest fist pumping moment. They did exactly what they should have done. They grabbed the ultimate snapshot of the round, the ubiquitous fist pump, placed a simple, attention grabbing line of copy, and boom, they have an attention grabbing print ad.

As an account guy, I like to see companies and agencies being light on their feet and grabbing a moment in time that could have easily slipped by. Tiger has done this dozens of times. Sinking an important put, throwing out the fist pump and giving Stevie a hug is nothing new to Tiger. Except this time, it comes on the heels of a reconstructed knee and two weeks before one of the most anticipated Masters tournaments in recent history.

I tip my hat to Gatorade and their agency for being quick and resourceful.

What do you think about this ad? Does it do a Gatorade justice?

-The Ultimate Account Guy