KFC is So Good

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWF9sc4jyig


I’ve given KFC some flack before–for the mixed messaging of their Mega Jug of Pepsi for juvenille diabetes research–but this ad is spot-on. This TV spot does a great job of focusing less on the product, and more on the emotions it promises to deliver. It’s hard to believe that the same company produced these two bits of communication (though technically, they weren’t).

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Vivident Gets a Little Weird

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While advertisers like Skittles have employed the method (successfully) for years, I think Old Spice kicked off a fad amongst ad agency creatives: they all seem to love the idea of the bizarre storyline in their ads. The worst offender, I think, is Dairy Queen, who doesn’t seem to understand the how or why of this method of storytelling, but instead comes off like a 4 year old kid try to tell a dirty joke they don’t quite get.

Vivident does a good job of tying the concept back into their brand promise to make the whole effort worthwhile.

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H2Oh! Tells a Great Story

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Terry O’Reilly talks often about the implicit agreement that exists in advertising: viewing an ad is payment for entertainment. Put another way, advertisers are responsible for entertaining the audience they advertise to.

H2Oh! shows that they understand this reciprocation in this ad. This is the kind of work that the audience will actively seeks out. It’s unfortunate that we rarely see this much effort put into entertainment outside of the Superbowl.

One last thought: notice that you’re not hit over the head with the product placement. The soda makes subtle appearances throughout the spot, and each one feels natural.

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K-Swiss and Kenny Powers get NSFW

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjc5LFThDTQ


K-Swiss has produced a fantastic video designed to go “viral”, and it will. This foul-mouthed bit hits a lot of perfect notes, and does a great job shifting the perceptions of the brand. Like the old Rebook Terry Tate Office Linebacker campaign, it’s tone is spot on with the audience and works hard to provide genuine entertainment.

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Marketing with Lies

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I talk about lies in marketing often—probably because I find them so offensive. It’s a little bit like hating garbage, though: It’s not hard to find these things offensive.

I received this voicemail the other day. It is (for lack of a better word) a scam. I’ve been building websites and involved in search engine listings since 1996; I know how search engines work. The things said in this voicemail range from misleading to outright false. It sounds pretty convincing, however, and if I didn’t know better, I could probably be convinced to part with some money for this snake oil.

This reminds me of the Domain Registry of Canada, a similar operation that relies on misleading marketing and half-truths for its business model. I won’t get into its operation here, but if you Google “Domain Registry of Canada scam,” you’ll turn up plenty of write-ups.

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Sometimes, People Will Believe Anything

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This picture—which is a hoax—has been making the rounds on Twitter lately. Brandchannel has a great write-up on this situation. Aside from the content itself being ridiculous (At the very least, why would McDonald’s alienate a large segment of the audience like that?), the phone number shown at the bottom is for the KFC headquarters.

What I find interesting about this is why people take it seriously. The main reason is that we tend to suspend disbelief when we see things like this online. We assume that someone, somewhere, has taken the time to verify this. We assume that because it exists, it must be true.

The other reason this works is that it looks legitimate:

  • The typeface looks correct.
  • Everything is lined up properly (with nothing centre-aligned).
  • The language sounds like it came out of a head office.

In fact, the only visual clues that suggest that this isn’t legit are the masking tape sloppily tacking the sign up and the odd margins (especially on the right side of the sign).

I’ve found that you don’t have to be a designer or a marketer to be pretty savvy about what looks like legitimate communication. People are very good at sensing when things just don’t look right, at least at a very low level. This is why the email scams are appearing more and more “legitimate” nowadays. It is also why it’s so important for your collateral to be designed to reflect your brand’s promise: your audience can sense when your materials don’t reflect your message.

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Tell the truth, but make the truth fascinating

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Tell the truth, but make the truth fascinating.”
—David Ogilvy

I love this quote, as it sums up my approach to communication perfectly. It can be found in this video from Adweek, along with many more David Ogilvy sound bites.

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The lazy marketer can’t be bothered with sincerity

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A printer I’ve used a few times over the years has been working hard lately to drum up new business. Someone there has heard of the rule that it’s easier to get money from people who already know you than it is to convert new customers. The company has been on a real blitz lately. Over the past month I’ve received multiple copies of the same email, and last week I received a letter—all with the exact same content.

I’ve reproduced the content of this marketing effort below, with some of the identifying information removed.


Good Afternoon Taylor Garries,

My name is [sales rep], assistant manager from [well-known printing company]. How is business going? I noticed that you haven’t ordered with us for a while and would like to do some more work with you.

I would like to update you on the following summer specials going on at [well-known printing company]:

[summer specials]

Although price is important, we know that service is much more valuable when it comes to printing. I would like to work with you on any print projects that you have coming up and I will be your dedicated rep and provide you with fast, reliable and high quality printing.

Taylor Garries, let me know when your next print job and let me quote you on it. You can contact me at [phone number] or email me at [email address].

Talk to you soon,

[sales rep]


This type of marketing is all about illusion. While I expect the advertiser to use a mail-merge form letter, I also expect the company to do a better job of creating an illusion that we genuinely enjoy a personal relationship.

The printer wanted the letter to sound like it really came from this person and was written specifically for me:

  • It’s addressed to me.
  • It’s written in the first person.
  • It offers me a “dedicated” rep.
  • It asks how my business is going.
  • It mentions the importance of service.

However, the vendor did a poor job with this mail merge and the actual content of the letter (grammatical errors notwithstanding). If you’re going to write a letter to sound like you’re personally sending it to me, take the time to make it sound like you’re personally sending it to me. When you get this wrong, you end up sounding like a Nigerian prince trying to get some help with money transfer.

The sloppy work spoiled the illusion, instead reminding me that we don’t have a personal relationship and that I’m being sold to as one of thousands.

People generally don’t write letters that start with “Good Afternoon Taylor Garries.” People also rarely specify the time of day in an opening greeting of the email: you wouldn’t know when the recipient might read it. The author should have used “Dear,” the less formal “Hello,” or “Hi.”

Using the recipient’s full name also sounds awkward. The advertiser should have used either “Mr. Garries” or “Taylor.” If you’re trying to build on the fact that a relationship exists—and presumably it is a good relationship—then you should go for the less formal option. Vendors that I get along with would usually write something like, “Hi Taylor.”

And then there’s one of the closing lines: “Taylor Garries, let me know when your next print job and let me quote you on it.” Again, did no one stop to ask how this would sound?

These small but telling gaffes conflict with the tone of the letter and become glaring errors in the eyes of the reader. The vendor should have polished up the content to ensure that it reads well after the mail merge.

But then, I received this exact form letter at least three times—from three different people. Even if the content was perfect, this would have ruined the illusion of any personal communication. The company should have scrubbed its distribution list to remove duplicates. This is the biggest chore, but it would yield the biggest payoff.

Alternatively, the vendor could have dropped the concept of sending a personalised letter altogether, rewriting the letter to be less personal instead. Don’t ask me how my business is going. Don’t write in the first person. Just send out a creative piece that engages me without tricking me. I’d much rather have received that three times.

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Ferd F-Teenthousand

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This is a pretty funny sendup of the TV spots auto manufacturers use to sell pickup trucks. These things start as satire, but they inevitably end up in the actual commercials.

Trucktober. Coming to a dealership near you.

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A pitch-perfect beer commercial

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Brandchannel writes:

Hey every other single beer brand ever, how does your commercial playing tired male sexual stereotypes against female ones feel now? Pretty inadequate, huh?

‘Nuff said.

It kind of reminds me of DQ’s latest spots, which use a similar concept.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VtH5xdbMtU

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