A Weird Aftertaste

Don’t get me wrong – I like what the Coca-Cola brand does to promote itself. Generally speaking, I think it has a very innovative and experimental  approach to advertising. I just loved the “007 Skyfall” guerrilla campaign and Re:Brief “Hilltop” (thanks to Google?).

The next one left a bit of “bad taste” after watching it – how volunteers in a hypnosis show react to the taste of Coca-Cola Zero.
I just think it’s an example of “old fashion” advertisement showcasing laziness:

1, Hypnosis shows are so out-dated and in my opinion are counterproductive when connected with a commercial product, unless it is made in a sophisticated manner to emphasize a point – none done in the Coca-Cola ad. 
2. High quality filming and editing with very attractive participants  causing the whole video to look completely staged.
3. It could be done for any other product in the world.

Simply lacks any quality of a good viral video. I simply didn’t have the reason to even share it. But I wrote about it, so it did have some impact, huh?

I’m waiting to see what Coca-Cola will bring next.


Recruiting for the Brand

Your comments, advices and shares are very much appreciated. As this blog tries to find its voice and direction, I mostly write about things I find interesting in the world of advertising and marketing.

So this week I bumped into two clips that made me wonder about the relations of the recruiting process and the brand or company’s image.

From the movie “The Internship” (taken from redalertpolitics.com)

A brand, before anything else is merely a product or service to which people have some sort of an emotional connection or perception about. A brand is an image which needs to be created and cultivated. This connection is supposed to elevate a certain brand above others so taken into consideration by the consumer.

Into this connection thousand of work hours are invested – by marketers, designers, salespeople, customer service personnel, advertisers. Everyone in this “assembly line” need eventually to realize that when they make mistakes, some consumer, some where, has their image of the brand cracked. These makes them, technically, representatives of the brand even outside of their workplace.

No wonder companies put so much effort into the recruiting process and rely sometimes on outside-service to evaluate the candidates who would be joining their teams. Still, sometimes  these processes are old fashioned: a technical exam to check your cognitive ability or interviews with the same old questions, to which you prepare yourself endlessly – to answer right, not necessarily present who you are. And still, the HR manager hopes it will help them understand something about the person being interviewed.

Heineken took this insight up to a new level: An internal process being outed in a fun and original way.
With 1734 candidates, all answering the same answers, they had to figure out a better way to see the person behind the tie and sweaty forehead. So they surprised the candidates with different “transparent” tests to see their personalities – how they behave under real pressure, uncertainty and surprise. The finalists were chosen by the other employees. I do wonder how  it felt and what it did for the employees. For the viewers, me included of course, it sure looks like a place cool to work in, an inclusive company. A company to which you need to prove yourself in a different manner and let yourself shine. This obviously helps the brand image.

The second clip is a trailer for the upcoming movie “The Internship” starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn. It describes the tale of two failing business men who take on an internship at Google to rejump their careers. The company claims it hasn’t recieved any payments for the use of their name, nor has it paid anything for the advertising. It was an opportunity, though, to debut the trailer on a Google+ Hangout.

The online giant’s employment culture has become a movie subject. Something to dream about. It’s an exposure mechanism and a tool to attract employees and promote the Google brand around the world, keeping the desire to work there as an inspiration to people, just like Hollywood is for so many young children. Of course the movie won’t depict the whole reality of working there, but this is what movies do – they maintain the dream alive.

In advertising they say it’s all about perception. Not reality.

I wonder if we should expect to see more companies outing their inner-processes in online campaigns, as the world of social is slowly diffusing into the workplace. Recruiting processes are no longer secret, company secrets exposed and so on.
The things that happen inside the company, with the employees, are sometimes worth spreading for the brand’s sake.

What do you think? Are these things good or bad for the firms? For the employees? Do you remember any older examples of this? Please comment and share.

Post-Superbowl – Looking Social

I may be running late on the post-Super Bowl analysis train, but it’s difficult writing during the week. Besides, I think this delay provided us some broader perspective after seeing all the ads.

Record High Ad Prices Lead to Digital Strategy
108 million people tuned in Sunday February 3 to watch the 47th Super Bowl game (a decrease of about 3% from last year – 111 million people) and some others to watch the 53 ads. Advertisers paid between 3.7-3.8$ million for 30 seconds of air time, bringing a revenue of about 275$ Million to CBS. This represents a consistent increase in Super Bowl ad revenue for the past few years.

I guess marketers scratched their heads trying to explain the benefit of spending almost 4,000,000$ just to air an ad that would probably be forgotten within 2 days or the online life cycle of an average TV ad. They had to lengthen this time period, by finally implementing digital strategy into the ad, making it a comprehensive campaign rather than one time TV appearance and then disappearing into oblivion.

Let The Audience Do the Work
This called for audience engagement, spurring additional conversations about the brands. The engagement differed in the control rate the audience had and the timing of that engagement. Obviously these are intertwined, with strong positive correlation – will prove it scientifically some other time, but the logic is understood.

I. Audience Control Rate:

Audience engagement varied from using a Hashtag in the ad (the huge majority of them did, for example M&M with #betterwithmms) in order to encourage a conversation about the brand, to a matter of choice (the Audi “Prom” ad) all the way to total control of the ad’s content.
The Lincoln car brand used the latter option for their MKZ by partnering with Jimmy Fallon using the hashtag #steerthescript, where people could tweet their road trip stories, eventually integrating the best ones into the ad. I think the result is rather boring.

Compare that with Doritos – a masterpiece of using your fans’ devotion online, by setting up a competition where the fans could suggest a script for a vote. Winning it resulted in seeing the ad being aired to 108 million people. I wonder what this does to the consumer-brand connection. I believe their quality and goofy content (as always) will result in high virality rate in the number of viewers online.

And the other winner (not as good as the previous one, in my opinion):

II. Timing of Engagement:

The Lincoln brand chose to build momentum (or so it tried), launching the campaign two months in advance, while Audi released a few days before the game 3 ads with different endings for their “Prom” ad so the audience could choose what would be aired.

Oreo, in maybe the best ad in the Super Bowl this year, directed its fans in the ad to an Instagram virtual fight to decide whether the cookie or the cream is the best part.

They completely nailed it, when during the 34 minutes blackout they rolled out on social media a small picture, gaining more than 15,000 shares. This just to show that a smart social media team and a marketer that understands the tool can push the brand further using these tools. It just calls for cooperation and trust – how many advertisers have that with their clients?


Tradition vs. New-Media Ad Approaches
But there were also some more “traditional” ads, which didn’t put any emphasis on a website, facebook or a hashtag, that basically won our hearts with a marvelous story telling ability, demonstrating the true nature of the advertising industry.

For example, Mercedes-Benz who did a great job taking us to a trip of how it is to sell your soul to the devil.

GoDaddy may be remembered mostly this year for the not-so-photogenic “wet kiss” Bar Refaeli ad, which definitely made waves across the web, but I found the other ad “Your Big Idea” wittier (have I just punned?). Though chauvinistic as always, GoDaddy were very sharp showcasing an international phenomenon about a man’s idea. I hope they will go more in this direction rather than simply showing beautiful women under the motto of “sex sells”. With the performances they saw after the Refaeli ad, I guess I am going to be disappointed.

Chrysler, however, keeps on receiving the critics’ acclaims in telling the American story – 3rd year in a row. After Eminem in 2011 and Clint Eastwood in 2012 (you can see why I chose them as the best Super Bowl ads in my previous post) this time was done for the Dodge Ram brand. Again a masterpiece – telling a story using nothing but still pictures and a 2 minute speech by radio broadcaster Paul Harvey. Nothing left to say but to watch it again.

The Next Games
I know I missed plenty of great advertisements, but I wanted to give my 5c on the issues behind them.
When – according to a 2012 Google study – 77 percent of TV viewers use another device, it is expected to see more marketers rely on social media driving the audience to continue the conversation about the brands.
Even though Twitter had the upper hand this year, we should expect to see more power shifts between platforms as marketers and advertisers learn how to work with the tools during the most viewed events on television. I separate the Super Bowl’s commercial breaks from regular prime-time ones, because people are willing to watch the ads, looking for them online, while regular ads are mostly ignored.
We should ask ourselves about the effectiveness of the commercial break arena during the Super Bowl, once consumers are exposed to the ads before the game (even commercials that were banned, such as SodaStrem) – will it become a platform of “live conversations” between consumers? What is the added value of watching the ads on air?

I don’t believe social media participation will become a standard but it will depend on the context of the campaign. I hope these multi-million dollars experiments will seep into the routine and yearly campaigns as the benefit and activation are understood.

What do you think? What were the best and worst practices of social media use in the Super Bowl? What did you like most? What have I left out and should have been in?

Pre-Superbowl – Looking Back

The third post comes long after the second one. Yes, I know, I should make it into a habit writing in the blog, but habits are consistent behaviors that sunk in one’s schedule. And this one hasn’t. Yet.

Anyway, we are 2 days away from the Superbowl, the big day of advertising, putting the sporty aspect aside. An American national sport event with 112 million viewers, who are mostly connected via mobile devices and social media in general, becomes a celebration for the whole – at least – western world.

With a steady increase in viewers (75.4% of American consumers plan to watch this years game) this event is very lucrative for the advertisers – though spending 4 million USD for 30 seconds – CPM is about 30$. This number is lower than that of the Oscars.

As Loren Angelo, GM of Marketing for Audi, wrote to Mashable: “We’ve achieved record levels of awareness and showroom traffic with national consideration numbers showing significant spikes post game”.

These numbers might answer the question why the advertisers are spending the money on these ads, but they miss to mention another point – the viral aspect of a good advertisement.
As mentioned before, with smartphone penetration rate of over 50% in the US, and social media being a standard part of daily life for most Americans, the ads are getting social awareness boost before, during and after the game with hashtags becoming a standard.

I wonder, though, what is the better strategy – rolling the ads before waiting for the game day?

Here are five ads I find intriguing beyond the familiar ones like OldSpice, Pepsi Cola with different presenters, and others. To some I added other spoofs or cultural references.

Here we go:

5. The ETrade Baby
Well, one of the classics, which debuted in 2001: make a baby as presenter for a brand in a category people perceive as – and most times is  – complicated and make them think it’s actually quite simple.

And the parody made by College Humor as a warning to be smart with your money:

4. Pepsico-EnAble for the hearing impaired
This is a great example of how to make an image strengthening advertisement: do the opposite of what is expected from you on a commercial break and be silent when all the rest are shouting.

In 2008 Pepsico created awareness for its inclusion of hearing impaired people together with EnAlbe, and aired a silent funny commercial with subtitles. Impressive.

3. Budweiser Wassuuup?!?
Regular guys having a regular male conversation (I believe we are deeper than that). And still, this is a hilarious ad which became classic.

Most of us remember the reference on the first Scary Movie, which became a classic as well.

Or the 2008 Obama Campaign assembling the guys 8 years later to examine how they are doing after Bush:

2. Wolkswagen Beetle
In 2011 we saw the teaser in Superbowl. No, you didn’t see the car, but you actually saw a beetle. I think it was refreshing and iconic and conveyed the message of the new Beetle debut. No doubt it’s back.

1. Chrysler – Imported From Detroit
The story of Chrysler is the story of America was these ads’ message. The company tried to coronate itself as the Incumbent Brand in the car manufacturers US category. An Incumbent Brand is a theoretical idea that a brand is historically, culturally and business wise connected with the country of its origin. But I think the story is more suitable for GM.

I actually like the 2 commercials – 2011 with Eminem and 2012 with Clint Eastwood – the same. They differ in the timing and use of social media.
As the US was going towards another economic low, the first ad lifted the spirits of the viewers, even for just 2 minutes. It was such a patriotic ad, a masterpiece of writing, directing and editing.

The second one with Clint Eastwood is as good, but because it’s second, it can’t be in first place. Even so, the use of social media to spread the word was done by Facebook and a hashtag which was visually displayed on a map of the US, where you could see who and where is sharing the message of “It’s Halftime, America”. Very emotional.

The next post will be a conclusion of this year’s best ads.

So, what do you think? Which are your favorite ads from past Superbowls? Is it better to roll the ads before the game or not? Leave your messages and comments below.

When The World Ends

December 21 will mark the end of the world according to some hysteric conspiracy fans or the end of the Mayan calendar to the rest of us.
But that date will mark something much more significant – World Goodwill Day.
Indeed, it isn’t a new concept, for example “Good Deeds Day” launched in 2009 by the American-Israeli Billionaire Shari Arison, which was perceived mostly in a cynical manner.
World Goodwill Day is something different. As reported on ViralBlog, a group of university undergrads from Thailand started this initiative, saying on their FB page: “The last day on Earth & the last chance to do good, a global event to celebrate random kindness, charity and humanity.”

I think this day could be a landmark and a starting point for us to take responsibility by acting in a thoughtful way, not only as individuals but also as businesses.
Our workplace is so impactful on our lives way beyond the time we leave the office – do we ever think about the energy wasted when the computers are left running, or by the garbage we throw? How about the products we manufacture?
For example, the Coca-Cola and WWF  cooperation to create an Arctic Home for Polar Bears.
What difference does it make really when the company’s product is responsible for so much non-degradable and environmentally harmful waste?

The Rainforest Alliance is an example of way to help the environment both as individuals and by encouraging the workplace to use only products that are certified by the little frog.
This clip of theirs is one of my all time favorite campaigns.

In the connected and “always-on” world we are living in, companies are required to be more open and transparent about their actions and most important accountable for them. Whether it is Walmart and their labor policies or Apple’s iPhone production lines in China, where people are allegedly working in sub-humane conditions.
Consumers are punishing bad behaviors by boycotting companies.
It is said that companies taking a socially responsible approach in business by contributing to the community, the environment and to the well being in general show better performance financially.
It is not enough to show a “Socially Responsible Image” when the core business displays exactly the opposite. You need to integrate it into your daily routine and into the business strategy. It’s good for the brand, the business and the rest of us.

Let’s see if I am right on December 22. We all have responsibility for the result.

What do you think? Does social responsibility is relevant to all businesses? Is it always good?

From many – First!

Hello World.
This is my first post on my first blog.
I’m a strategic planner in an advertising company, keen about learning, investigating and understanding campaigns, products, people and how they all interact.
This blog (which still doesn’t have a name) will revolve around the subjects of marketing, advertising and social media. Here I will write and post different thoughts that cross my mind regarding these subjects, interesting things I stumble upon or campaigns I find worth mentioning.
Any referrals to a certain subject and/or comments from you will be much appreciated as my intention is to have a fertile and useful discussions about the issues and to learn substantially from the process of writing.

Some would say this blog long due, but you need sometimes to let things cook until you can eat them.

In the meanwhile here’s a song for you – Crossroads performed by Cream. I hope this journey will take us to good places.
And here’s a fun fact: The legend about the writer of the song (the great Robert Johnson) says he sold his soul to the Devil in order to play guitar.