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June 2009

Take the A train. Or, if you prefer, wear the A-train T-shirt instead

Posted on Tue Jun 30 2009

Atrain

Back in 1995, voiceover actress Lynne Lambert was riding the subway to various gigs around New York City when she got to thinking. The letters and numbers of the subterranean lines—each inscribed in a different-color circle—were nearly like modern icons. Heck, the system map itself almost looked like a Pollock canvas. It was then that Lambert wondered why "something so quintessential has never been made into apparel. It's the wallpaper of the city. If you connected the dots, you'd have something wearable."
  So, Lambert did connect the dots—specifically, those of the A, C and E and the 1, 2 and 3 trains. Discovering that nobody had ever even applied to the Metropolitan Transit Authority for a license to use the symbols, Lambert bought an exclusive. That was 14 years ago. Today, she operates her NYC Subway Line clothing brand out of her Westchester home, producing a large array of shirts, hoodies, hats and accessories. But the best part of Lambert's scheme is that someone else picks up the tab for her brand's marketing. Lately, the funky, local threads have been spotted on the bods of Uma Thurman, Bill Clinton and the rapper Fabolous—lucky endorsements that have cost Lambert nothing. What's more, the surging cultural popularity of the city has kept the subway system itself center stage in movies like Spider-Man 2 and, most recently, this summer's remake of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3. Says Lambert: "I do hope that movie will get people thinking and will translate into sales."
  And if it makes them too scared to ride the train, well, they can at least buy a 6-train T-shirt.

—Posted by Robert Klara

Ikea's furniture sucks, but I have a soft spot for this commercial

Posted on Tue Jun 30 2009

Saw one of my favorite commercials last night. They seem to dust it off every year for a short spell and then put it away like some sort of special treat. The commercial is for Ikea, of all places. (It was created by Zig for Ikea Canada and then adapted for nine countries, including the U.S.) I've pretty much vowed never to shop at Ikea again after years of buying wobbly furniture with screws that want nothing more than to strip. Still, this spot, where the woman flees Ikea like she just robbed the place because it was so cheap, is a solid piece of 30-second cinema. Maybe it's the fact that she's dressed like an insane librarian. Maybe it's the sheer over-the-top joy she exhibits as she and her husband pull away. Or maybe it's just a relatable scenario. Generally, if I notice, I'll point it out to the person at the register if they've undercharged me (although it's usually the other way around). But given the amount of crappy furniture I've bought from that place, combined with the hours I've spent assembling it, I would have to consider letting it slide if an Ikea cashier forgot to ring me up for a shelving unit, a wicker chair or set of scented candles. I don't know if I could mount the enthusiasm that the actress in the spot summons, but I'd probably feel pretty good. Or at the very least, justified.

—Posted by Kenneth Hein

Trojan condoms hitch wild ride with Cobra Starship music video

Posted on Tue Jun 30 2009

Good girls go wild sometimes, but they do it with condoms, at least according to a new Cobra Starship music video that premiered Monday on MTV. There are a few things going on here. First, Church & Dwight's Trojan brand paid for product placement in the pop band's "Good Girls Go Bad" video, which stars white-hot gossip girl Leighton Meester. (She sings!) The marketer says it doesn't usually pay to play, though the price of the deal remains under wraps. And second, the placement represents another layer of preaching to the not-yet-converted for Cobra Starship, whose members shot a Trojan-branded PSA during last summer's Warped Tour telling people to wear condoms. The first people who should check out this video? Those bed-hopping high schoolers on Gossip Girl.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Commodes are one hot commodity in ad campaigns this month

Posted on Tue Jun 30 2009

Wimax

If you're a fan of public-restroom advertising, urine luck this month. Clear's WiMAX service, a new mobile Internet experience, is rolling out in a few markets this summer (Atlanta, Las Vegas) after debuting in Portland, Ore., in January. So is its out-of-home campaign, which was created by Secret Weapon Marketing in Los Angeles. "This is not a bathroom stall," a public-restroom-centric ad informs. Other executions are tailored to different locations, such as parking lots, restaurants and sports arenas. "It's a place to get super-fast mobile Internet." Who knew? The idea is to reinforce the message that Clear's service offers "the best Internet access, anywhere, anytime. Clear is Everywhere." Good to know—I just hope it's not watching me go potty.
  Meanwhile, talking "urinal cakes" featuring the face of Gene Simmons were the talk of the latrines when A&E partnered with Alloy Media + Marketing/AMP Agency for a buzz effort to promote its series Gene Simmons Family Jewels. Once "triggered," the disc spouts Simmons' typical brand of wisdom/humor, such as, "Even my tongue is bigger than that. ... Get out of here!" The targets are placed in 150 venues throughout hotspots in New York and Los Angeles—or at least they were. The cakes featuring the KISS leader's likeness have reportedly been lifted from various venues.

—Posted by Becky Ebenkamp

Can a whole lot of Johnny Depp turn 'Public Enemies' into a hit?

Posted on Mon Jun 29 2009

Movies for grown-ups, even when they have megastars in them, can't seem to get much traction in this era of Transformers and X-Men. Just ask Julia Roberts (Duplicity), Russell Crowe (State of Play), John Travolta and Denzel Washington (The Taking of Pelham 123). Universal Pictures, home to two of those box-office duds, is trying to break the streak with Public Enemies, a period flick starring Johnny Depp about bank robber extraordinaire John Dillinger. There's been a heavy TV ad campaign running for weeks, and Depp has been working the PR circuit on Letterman and elsewhere. Because he's one of the biggest fan magnets in the world, Universal has made Depp the centerpiece of the campaign. (Christian Bale is in the movie, too, but where is he in the ads? Mostly absent.) The latest TV salvo for Public Enemies is a link to USA Network and its slogan, "Characters Wanted," showing Depp up close and personal talking about how he got under the skin of the famous criminal. The vignettes are airing 40 times on the channel, the most-watched cable network (and sister to Universal). The book-based thriller needs all the exposure it can get, judging from early reviews. The Hollywood Reporter's critique is fairly tepid, saying Public Enemies "is slow to heat up and never quite comes to a boil." Whether it can cook at the multiplex remains to be seen.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Fathers likely to act like total morons around Girl Scout Blizzards

Posted on Mon Jun 29 2009

Sorry guys, but you can't have a Girl Scout Blizzard unless you're a girl. That, unfortunately, is what this father finds out in a new TV commercial for Dairy Queen by Grey, New York. The trouble starts when Katie shows her daddy what she drew today: a family trip to DQ. Except, as Daddy points out, "Hey, wait a minute. Why doesn't Daddy have a blizzard?" "They're Girl Scout Cookie Blizzards. You're a boy," Katie replies matter-of-factly. The man walks away and returns with a freshly drawn Blizzard on a Post-it note. When his wife chides him for his silly behavior and tries to take it from him, he grabs it and stuffs it in his mouth. "Mmm," he says, satisfied. Voiceover: "Everybody wants one. The new Girl Scouts Tagalong Blizzard. Creamy DQ soft serve and real pieces of peanut butter cookies." Yum. Is there going to be one for Boy Scouts soon?

—Posted by Elaine Wong

Pizza Hut, Taco Bell blessed (or cursed) with Das Racist tribute

Posted on Mon Jun 29 2009

Good news, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell: You are name-checked in what Pitchfork is calling one of the songs of the summer. The bad news: It's bloody awful. Das Racist's "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell" is catchy enough, and the lyrics are pretty easy to get down as well, since it's basically about one thing: two guys calling each other on their cell phones trying to link up at the setting of the title. Pitchfork gives the song an 8 out of 10, but acknowledges the pick was somewhat controversial. "Reactions within our staff have ranged from 'I'd like to punch these guys in the face' and 'This was sent here to destroy my interest in music' to 'Harold and Kumar existentialism.' " It's all a matter of taste, I suppose, and if yours runs to two guys yelling over a pedestrian dance track, then have at it. Whatever the case, it's a win-win for Pizza Hut/Taco Bell, since the song gives both chains some cred with the Gen Y demo. I can't see Das Racist rapping this way about Cracker Barrel.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

A much more chilled-out Bobcat Goldthwait gets into advertising

Posted on Mon Jun 29 2009

Bobcat copy

Bobcat Goldthwait, known for his role as Zed in Police Academy (and not too much else), has finally found an avenue of show business where he isn't painfully annoying: advertising. He recently directed those goofy, enjoyable ads with Dean Cain introducing Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8, after receiving praise for his film Stay. In an interview with Brandweek, he describes his initial apprehension that the ad game was for "the kind of folks who are really good in the room," as opposed to his lower-key, more improvisational approach of seeing what sticks to the wall. This business could use more of his relative humility, so we hope he keeps a tight grip on it. All the same, we're surprised he broke into advertising before Patton Oswalt, whose stand-up routine is rife with commercial references.

—Posted by David Kiefaber

With the Benjamins long gone, Taco Bell turns to the Roosevelts

Posted on Mon Jun 29 2009

Remember those heady days when it was all about the Benjamins? Not anymore, friends. Taco Bell is here to remind us that we're not the only ones scrounging for loose change on the floors of our cars these days. Lots of people are doing it! There's even this catchy little song, "All About the Roosevelts," dedicated to the dime and the dead president who adorns it. (That would be Franklin, by the way, not Teddy.) The ad above sympathizes with our plight and tells us we can at least get a burrito with the windfall from that cushion dive. As far as messaging goes, there's so much out there right now that harps on value proposition, especially in fast food. And so many fake boy band commercials! But the Taco Bell spot, which launched in multiplexes recently in front of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, has a nice mix of tongue-in-cheek humor and slick slow-mo action. Not a bad ditty either. Why pay more, indeed?

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Marketing for PG-13 movies is charged with rotting young minds

Posted on Mon Jun 29 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen may have already done $387 million in global box office, but its marketing is warping young minds. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (agenda obvious by the name) has written to the Federal Trade Commission complaining about 2,700 ads they say have been shown on kids TV for violent PG-13 summer blockbusters Transformers, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Star Trek and Terminator Salvation. Those ads aired in prime kid-viewing time, between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m., on channels like Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network and included trailers for the movies and commercials for toys, merchandise and food tie-in promotions. "It's bad enough that movie companies advertise violent PG-13 films on children's channels before 8 p.m. But marketing the films through ads for licensed toys and kid's meals is especially unfair and deceptive," said prominent child advocate Susan Linn, director of the CCFC. The group initially asked the FTC and the Motion Picture Association of America in 2007 to clamp down on studios' marketing of PG-13 movies to kids. That's when the first Transformers movie launched, and advocates say there hasn't been much change since then. It's a voluntary and self-policing system that the CCFC says doesn't work. The MPAA says it reviews ads for kid appropriateness and screens out objectionable content. Execs there are reviewing the CCFC's memo. Next up: Heated debate about Transformers' illiterate ghetto robots Mudflap and Skids, the "comic relief" in the movie. That's not really the CCFC's area, but I'm happy to sharpen my poison pen.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley


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