Holiday Joy? Kinda.

21 12 2015

Speaking in generalities, I think creatives have opened a door and walked their clients right through into a commercial reality in which people over 50 are still attractive and sexually viable, women come in all shapes and sizes, families sometimes have two moms or two dads, tattooed people are not criminals, love is dissolving racial boundaries (*bows down to Cheerios*), and the sales discourse ranges across formerly taboo subjects like incontinence, ED, toenail fungus invading the red carpets of Hollywood, and so much more.

Another has opened, and it stands starkly in contrast to all of the warm, fuzzy, and often funny/cute holiday adverts that sprinkle us with yummy sparkling bow-tied rainbows of consumerism. There has always been one or two of these maudlin little :30 tales of heart-tugging, home-for-the-holidays manipulation. But this year, as Advertising Age pointed out, ads number in the double digits that aim to have you sobbing; you can troll for them on its sister site, Creativity-Online.com.

The one that has sparked the most social discourse, even a feature on The Today Show, comes from German supermarket brand Edeka. It opens on an absolutely heartbreaking elderly man, left to spend the holidays by himself because his adult children are too busy with their own lives. Cut to scenes of said adult children receiving devastating news, which appears to be that their father died. Alone. Now, too late, they all rush home.

Fake out! He’s still alive!  “How else could I have brought you all together?” he asks his tearful, grief-stricken family. Cut to relief and a big dinner, served up with food from the grocery store totally forgotten as you blow your nose, feeling both happy he’s not dead and shamelessly manipulated.

Not to be outdone, there’s a Claymation ad from German online retailer Otto, involving a lost letter to a (really) dead grandfather, and a special delivery decades too late. Cue the waterworks.

There’s a Brazilian Coca Cola ad, part of a longer-form series, titled “A Bridge for Santa.” In a nutshell (nutcracker?), young boy has father send letter to Santa, letter explains how his dead mother (all this mayhem!) promised to introduce him to Santa. The town’s bridge it out, so Santa can’t get to the town. Dad reads, Dad rebuilds bridge with entire town’s help. Santa rides in, courtesy of a caravan of Coke trucks rolling in to save the (holi)day. And – upshot — Dad seems to have found a new mom for our tiny protagonist. Awww. This one is so transparent, I couldn’t squeeze out a single tear.

Lest you think we can’t game it here in the U.S., there’s this spot for Toys “R” Us – dad and son getting ready for Christmas, mom noticeably absent. Never fear – a remote control truck leads our adorable son to the front door, where mom, still in her military uniform, is there to surprise him. I double-dare you to not cry.

Now that we’ve stepped away from the mayhem, we have Tylenol showing us #HowWeFamily in this spot, featuring peace, love, and families of all races, creeds, and sexual orientation. One minute, no voiceover, less than six lines of copy (counting logo and hashtag). Brilliant.

U.K. advertisers are widely credited within our industry as starting this manipulative, tear-jerking trend, where the holiday advertising season has become the emotionally competitive equivalent of our Superbowl – in particular the rivalry between Sainsbury’s and John Lewis. Here we have a perfect example in John Lewis’ “Monty’s Christmas”:

I was crying tears of joy when Monty found his true love.

And then there’s the spot for U.K. Supermarket chain Co-operative Food, a subtle bit about two millennials prepping for a party. One goes out for ice and anonymously drops off a bag of groceries for an elderly neighbor he noted was afraid to traverse the slippery streets. Yep, tears.

Whether you see these as jaded attempts to capitalize on the heightened emotionalism of the season, or the softer side of marketers, they elevate brand recognition and – with the exception of jaded industry folks such as we – make consumers feel pretty warm and fuzzy about these brands. Bet your local grocery chain has something pretty similar running right now. I know both Publix and Winn-Dixie – my local supermarkets — are hard at it.

And if all of this emotional exploitation is bring out the Scrooge in you, Ad Age points out there is always the “Yule Log” vid for Lagavulin Scotch – 45 minutes of noted manly man (and “Parks and Recreation” actor) Nick Offerman sitting next to a fireplace sipping Scotch in blessed silence for 45 minutes.

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Sports and Cats – No, Really…

5 09 2014

What do you get when you cross the Internet’s obsession with cat-based cuteness and the super-cut, sweaty aggro of sports apparel/fitness beverage advertising?

This:

 

The genius of this spot (designed as much for web-based enjoyment and virality as a broadcast buy) is that it appeals to a truly massive audience. Temptations Treats for Cats has hit on a pitch-perfect pitch that turns the traditional cutesy, meow-y, snuggly, or playful cat kibble spot into an ad that has been viewed since in the last four days over 216,000 times. It could run as successfully during an NFL game as it could during “Ellen.”

The purpose of this brilliant mash-up? Mars Petcare brand just “rolled out” new Temptations Tumblers. What’s the USP? Cat treats that are rounder than previous iterations – not that the average cat cares overmuch. According to the brand’s hype, “Now you can roll, toss or bounce delicious treats for your cats.” Based on years of feline observation, most cats prefer not to participate so actively in the apprehension of said treats.

So what.

With the corresponding hashtag #TimeToPlayBall!, a YouTube channel, and a dedicated Facebook page that began teasing the spot on Tuesday, this is really all about a product marketed to the buyer, not the end-user – which in no way diminishes the creative brilliance of the clip. By this time next week, it will have millions of views and shares, and sales of Tempations Tumblers are guaranteed to see a bump.

It’s a perfect example of how ad agencies can combine creativity and execution; concept and casting; cross-platform marketing; cuteness and edginess; music, muscles, and cats.





Late to the Sharknado…

12 07 2013

I had a whole bunch of ideas for a blog post – you have beardvertising to look forward to, people – but abandoned them after #sharknado took over Twitter and garnered the SyFy Channel’s latest cheesefest so much second-screen publicity that it was a featured story everywhere from the Today Show to Variety to the Wall Street Journal.

Too mature to know about the guilty pleasures of SyFy’s made-for-TV schlockfests? Sharknado, which premiered last night, stars D-list (and really, we’re being generous here) celebs Ian Zeiring (Beverly Hills 90210) and Tara Reid (American Pie). A hurricane off the coast of California sucks up man-eating sharks and transports them, via tornado, to Los Angeles. Said sharks proceed to fly out of funnel clouds and eat everyone.

Sweet.

The social media hive-mind created a TwitterStorm during the run, with such beauties as this:

Danny Zucker (@dannyzucker)
Can’t watch #Sharknado because I’m on the set of my new film Tsunamwolf.
(Writer/Exec Producer on ABC’s Modern Family)

Glenn Mazzara (@glennmazzara)
@Ebradley127: “@brayingdixon: “#SHARKNADO is coming! http://www.syfy.com/movies ” I can only hope the sequel is SQUIDQUAKE.
(Writer, Producer — The Shield, The Walking Dead, Life, Crash)

Horatio Sanz (@mrhoratiosanz)
I wish I could join in on the shenanigans, but I had a cousin that was killed by a #Sharknado back in ’93. #RamonRIP
(Former SNL cast member, actor, comedian)

Shawn Ryan
Commercials giving me a chance to reflect on secondary, even tertiary levels of #Sharknado.
(Writer – The Shield/The Unit/Terriers/The Chicago Code/Last Resort/Lie To Me/Angel/Nash Bridges)

The Dowager Countess (@ladygrantham)
America: The Empire gave you tea, civilisation and the English language – and you responded with .

The Sharknado forecast

The Sharknado forecast

Other tweeted hashtags/suggested movie titles: Orcalanche, Hurricanine, Tarantulavalanche, Whalecano, Moosnami, Rabbitavalanche, Catsoon.

Actual SyFy Channel movie titles already produced and aired: Sharktopus, Piranhaconda, Dinocroc vs. Supergator, Megapython vs. Gateroid. I don’t make this stuff up. Really.

A confession: I watch these SyFy Channel cheese bombs. One of my favorites (and beloved by my then 9-year-old son) was Frankenfish. Another ultra-bad bonding moment for us was Anonymous Rex, a mash-up of Jurassic Park and every film noir trope EVER. It stars Sam Tramell, who now plays Sam Merlotte on True Blood, and that other Baldwin brother, Daniel. The premise? Dinosaurs faked their extinction and live among us disguised as humans. A velociraptor (Tramell) and a triceratops (Baldwin) are private investigators looking into a murder. Bonus: special appearances by Faye Dunaway (hysterical) and Isaac Hayes (smooooth).

Twitter is still blowing up about #sharknado, but now it’s the media discussions of last night’s frenzy. You just can’t pay – or plan – for publicity like this.

Word is that SyFy Channel intends to re-air Sharknado next Thursday at 7:00 PM EST. I know I’m setting the DVR. Twitter better look at the bandwidth/server situation, pronto.





All of the Good Ones are Taken

17 02 2010
Them Crooked Vultures

One of the more recent bizarre band names; this one's a supergroup, no less.

And no, I’m not actually quoting Ian Drury (Mott the Hoople); I’m quote the Wall Street Journal and an article about the fact that bands are having a really hard time coming up with names — kind of like copywriters with the task of coming up with a new headline for an old product. It’s awfully fun to read about Them Crooked Vultures (John Paul Jones — Led Zeppelin, Dave Grohl — Nirvana and Foo Fighters, and Josh Homme — Queens of the Stone Age) picking a name that means absolutely nothing, and the lengths to which bands nowadays have to go to be original when literally any musician with a MySpace page can claim a name and make a case for it. What makes music so exciting these days makes giving your band a name a lengthy exercise in existentialism. And an often amusing dose of creativity.





Using Lechery as a Way to Promote Breast Cancer Awareness: Good Idea?

24 09 2009
Source: Flickr

Source: Flickr

In Tuesday’s Los Angles Times, an article appeared titled, “Breast cancer ads use lechery for good.”

As a pragmatist when it comes to the really big stuff, I think these ads will bring more attention to the cause, and that’s what we all want, right? The stats are appalling, and if one woman gets tested or one man encourages his significant other to get to get a mammogram, where’s the harm? This is a very female-centric issue, yet men are in women’s lives and should be paying just as much attention.

Sure, it’s the equivalent of a beer ad about breast cancer, but we should always be looking for the outcome, not the narrowing the path to it.

Do you find them offensive? We’d be interested in your opinion.








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