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May 2009

Microsoft Office 2010: a blockbuster that'll knock your socks off!

Posted on Fri May 29 2009

Microsoft really seems to be coming alive, marketing-wise, lately. For years, you didn't hear much about them, and now they're all over the place. This push for Office 2010 is one of the company's more recent efforts. A 30-second mock trailer for the applications suite preps the viewer for something more along the lines of the fourth installment of the Matrix, as it sets the scene: "There are 5 billion working people in the world," bellows the announcer. "In 2010, their hero will arrive." Yay! More PowerPoint! All of this leads the curious viewer to a Web site where you can download the movie version, which I'm sure is really good, but to watch it you have to download Silverlight, and that didn't work with the Macs we use here at BrandFreak. Good luck with that viral video, Microsoft!

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Enjoy a nice can of whale meat with your Friday-night TV viewing

Posted on Fri May 29 2009


Nothing sets the recessionary dinner table quite like canned whale meat. It's inexpensive, lean, tasty and just perfect for countless casserole dishes. So, how 'bout it, Mom?
  In case your eyes just bugged out a little, that's precisely what the folks at Animal Planet are hoping for. This coming Monday and Friday, the cable network will deploy 23 refrigerated delivery trucks around New York, their panels wrapped with colorful ads for canned whale meat. Given the eco-leaning, animal-loving populous in this town, the move is sure to get a little blood in the water. Fortunately, only the symbolic kind. The whole thing is a guerrilla stunt to promote the network's newest season of Whale Wars, a reality show that ships out with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as it attempts to halt Japanese whaling on the open ocean. Guerrilla-marketing maneuvers are nothing new to the streets of Gotham, but the Animal Planet team is really baiting the hook with this one. The South Street Seaport is one of the scheduled stops, and one team will even give out actual cans of "whale meat." (It's only candy.)
  The point, of course, is for the public to discover the Whale Wars series. Show times appear on both the trucks and the cans' startlingly realistic-looking labels. Realistic, at least, until you see the tag that says "Outright Slaughter." Hey, Ma—we'll stick with tuna fish.

—Posted by Robert Klara

Waking up with the King is no longer such a pleasant experience

Posted on Fri May 29 2009

Say, is that Bam terrorizing his poor dad in the middle of the night with yet another marginally funny and completely humiliating Jackass stunt? No, it's the King waking up some poor unsuspecting guy who may never sleep another wink after seeing that plastic freak standing over his bed. (The commercial, one of three new ambush-style spots, touts Burger King's late-night menu). If you ask me, the whole "gotcha" ad genre is wearing pretty thin. Don't look now, you've been punked! So is the grainy, hand-held shot-by-amateurs (not a slick, award-winning ad agency) ruse. Must mean I'm not the demo—young, male fast-food "heavy users" think this kind of prank video is an absolute gut buster, I'm told. It's not the first time The King invaded someone's bedroom space, and it probably won't be the last. Lock your doors, fans.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Why Microsoft chose 'Bing' as the name of its new search engine

Posted on Thu May 28 2009


So ... Bing. Why did Microsoft decide to rename its search engine after a Friends character? It turns out the company worked with Interbrand to come up with Bing, which is meant to evoke the "aha" moment of finding what you're looking for. (So, why not Aha then?) Other candidates were said to include Sift and Kumo. "We looked a name that was short, easily recognizable, we could own it. Something that was easy to type into the search box," says Danielle Tiedt, general manager for online audience business group marketing at Microsoft. It's also catchier than Microsoft's previous search-engine name, Windows Live, which sounded like a version of Ice Capades featuring Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. Of course, Microsoft provides a big fat target for critics. TechCrunch, which got a sneak peek at the logo earlier this week in the form of a favicon (which Microsoft soon took down), compared it to the Cleveland Cavaliers uniforms from the '90s. At Google's I/O event, meanwhile, co-founder Sergey Brin declined to comment directly on Bing, but noted that "we're pretty happy" with the name Google.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Conan O'Brien all set for 'The Tonight Show' in new NBC promos

Posted on Thu May 28 2009

NBC is preparing for Conan O'Brien's upgrade to Tonight Show host this coming Monday with a series of ads letting us know just how ready he is to fill Jay Leno's shoes (if not his chin strap). See five of the ads here. And by "ready," we mean "pale, Irish, and self-deprecating." Conan, for his part, is telling us we can watch him on this obscure device called the television, which has been around since the late 1930s and is a system for both transmitting and receiving moving images. Sounds like a fad to us, but it's excusable given that he's trying to build excitement around his new hosting duties. We like these ads because they give us hope that Conan won't turn into an unfunny kiss-ass like his predecessor, but we're still going to boycott out of principle until NBC reinstates the Masturbating Bear.

—Posted by David Kiefaber

LG helping parents get to the bottom of all this texting nonsense

Posted on Wed May 27 2009


Remember the old days when parents tried to figure out what their kids were up to by listening in on their phone conversations, reading their diaries or probing younger siblings? What about parents today who also have cell phones to worry about? Dyk wot ur teen is txting? For those who don't speak "teen," LG has created an online DTXTR (DEE-text-ER), which is pitched as a "resource so you can decode your teen's texts, and stay on top of the texting trend." The tool translates "teen speak" to proper English, and vice versa. On the site, you can also get texting tips and take a quiz to test your knowledge of the terminology. Some terms are missing from the glossary, but LG welcomes any additions. Parents using the DTXTR might get a rude awakening regarding their innocent little darlings. IMHO.

—Posted by Elena Malykhina

No wonder you're so full of life after drinking that Red Bull cola

Posted on Wed May 27 2009


What is it exactly about Red Bull that gives drinkers so much energy? Is it taurine, which Dictionary.com defines as a "neutral chrystalline substance (C2H7NO3S) obtained from bile," or is it something else—something that is also very popular in the clubs? German officials suspect the latter and have banned Red Bull cola (note: not the regular Red Bull) in six states in that country after the German Nordrhein-Westfalen Institute of Health and Work ran a test and found trace amounts of cocaine. For its part, Red Bull doesn't deny that it taps coca leaves for its cola product, but insists the coca-leaf extracts are de-cocainized and "are used as flavoring in food products around the world and are considered to be safe" (not to mention FDA-approved). Nevertheless, when word gets out about Red Bull cola's alleged ingredients, expect lines to form at clubs from coast to coast, at least until this whole thing blows over.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Axe's new Fever shower gel will give you big, swinging maracas

Posted on Wed May 27 2009

Unilever's Axe, not known for its subtle marketing (a guy projectile sweats from his armpits in a current deodorant campaign) goes for the cojones in the new commercial above, airing outside the U.S.  Before using Axe's new Fever shower gel with Brazilian hot mud and red dragonfruit extract? Embarrassingly tiny "maracas" and no action. After? Giant maracas, a gorgeous woman and dirty dancing. See how that works? The spot, with a retro-cool Calypso tune from Harry Belafonte, comes from Bartle Bogle Hegarty, London. It's appropriately called "Muchas Maracas." Ole!

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Take a chance this summer on Aerosmith-branded lottery tickets

Posted on Wed May 27 2009


Think you're going to win the million-dollar jackpot? "Dream On." Then again, don't listen to me, I'm just "Jaded."
  Seminal hard rockers Aerosmith, who are kicking off a summer tour next month in St. Louis, have signed a deal that will create Aerosmith-branded lottery tickets with prizes that include front-row seats, backstage passes, a private concert and wads of cash. You'd be "Crazy" not to play, right? The licensing and promotional deal between the band, frontman Steven Tyler's publisher, Primary Wave Music, and gaming company GTECH will roll out in select states. Scratch-off lottery tickets will be based on "Dream On" and a couple dozen other greatest hits from the band's extensive catalog. TV and radio ads and in-store marketing materials will surround the program.
  It's certainly not the first intersection of entertainment and gaming, but it's relatively new territory for the music business. A GTECH exec says Aerosmith is perfect for scratchers because the band is so well known, particularly among the male, middle-aged, lower-middle-class demo that likes to play the numbers. (Not sure that's a complement, but it does seem to peg a vocal contingent of Aerosmith fans.) The band gets a licensing fee for use of its images, songs and other work, and will pocket more cash based on the number of tickets sold. This is on the heels of the band's high-wattage partnership with Guitar Hero, which is sponsoring the three-month tour.
  So, try your luck (and forgive the puns). It could either leave you "Cryin' " or full of "Sweet Emotion."

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Disney taking Scrooge on long train tour for 'A Christmas Carol'

Posted on Tue May 26 2009


Never underestimate the power of free entertainment, especially when families are as cash-strapped as they are these days. How else to explain the 30,000 intrepid souls who stood in line for three hours this past weekend to see a tricked-out train that's promoting the upcoming holiday movie Disney's A Christmas Carol?
  The train was parked at Union Station in Los Angeles for the kickoff of a whistle-stop tour that will eventually cover 16,000 miles and 40 cities, including Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, Louisville, Ky., Spokane, Wash., and Fargo, N.D. It'll end up at New York's Grand Central Station in October. (That won't be a mob scene or anything.) What do folks get for their investment of time? A peek inside several cars full of elaborate interactive exhibits, costumes, props, a first edition of the original Charles Dickens story and demos of the performance-capture technology used in the 3-D family flick. The studio's also throwing in carolers, cookies and fake snow to hype the Nov. 6 release, in addition to an inflatable theater that will show clips of Jim Carrey playing Ebenezer Scrooge and the three ghosts tormenting him. Given how tough it is to stand out at the jam-packed holiday time, Disney is wise to get started early. And the amount of goodwill and media the tour will spawn is ROI gold. So, maybe people won't mind so much when they have to shell out as much as $4 extra per ticket for the 3-D flick? That's still to be determined.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley



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