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October 2010

So, what brand mascot are you going as for Halloween?

By T.L. Stanley on Fri Oct 29 2010

0_21_caveman_0 Every year, my neighbor dresses like a caveman for Halloween, but I've never asked if he's Geico branded. I already know he's a garden-variety Neanderthal and that has nothing to do with his costume. And anyway, he never talks about saving me 15 percent on insurance while wearing that crazy wig and off-the-shoulder dress. But an outfit called the Promotional Products Association International would probably put him in the ridiculous-getup-as-marketing category. This non-profit group released a dubious list of top brand-inspired costumes, and the Geico caveman and/or gecko landed in the middle of it. Sounds fishy, yes? The caveman, maybe, but the gecko? Wouldn't you have to be really small for that disguise? Beyond that, I'll believe UPS delivery guy, Captain Morgan and the always-terrifying Burger King are popular. Less likely? M&Ms and Tony the Tiger. And straining credulity? Travelocity's Roaming Gnome, which tops PPAI's list. Seriously, if you spot one of those this weekend, take a picture and send it to us. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal notes that MTV's runaway hit Jersey Shore has spawned the most popular costumes for 18-to-24-year-olds this year. Snooki and the gang, with their bronzed skin, tiny clothes and giant hair, will be everywhere. Don't bother to capture those on film—we don't want to see those horrifying doppelgangers after Nov. 1.

Fashion brands mix it up with an increasingly rough crowd

By T.L. Stanley on Fri Oct 29 2010

6a00d8341c51c053ef0133f53ec240970b-450wi So what if that Calvin Klein ad was a little rape-y? Supermodel Lara Stone likes it that way, or so she says in the UK issue of Vogue. In case you missed the dustup, the Advertising Standards Bureau in Australia banned a recent ad from the provocative marketer, saying it not so subtly suggested sexual violence. Stone's at the center of that campaign and she had this to say about it: "I think naughty shoots suit my personality. I don't mind doing a straightforward fashion shoot, but it's more fun when there's something naughty in it." So there, you prudish Aussies! In other fashion news that packs a punch, the Hells Angels are suing designer Alexander McQueen and retailers Saks Fifth Avenue and Zappos for infringing on the outlaw motorcycle club's "death head" trademark. The infamous bikers have used the winged skull as their logo for decades— it's been repeatedly registered, the club's copyright lawyer says—and they don't take kindly to seeing it on the McQueen label's clutch purses, scarves and dresses. If there were ever an unwise bit of borrowing, this would be it. To any designers considering lifting a piece of motorcycle gang property: don't. If you're jonesing for a walk on the wild side, can't you just go after the Sons of Anarchy license?

Isotoner introduces smart-screen-enabled winter gloves

By Todd Wasserman on Thu Oct 28 2010

While 1 billion or so people around the world are still struggling with daily subsistence, in America we have our own problems. Like isn't it a bitch when you're driving around in your car and it's cold so you still have your gloves on, but then you can't activate your GPS touchscreen? Or if you're outside during the winter and want to use your iPhone? Luckily, Isotoner has come to the rescue with Isotoner's smarTouch gloves, which not only keep your hands warm, but can still use those touchscreens, thanks to a conductive thread on the glove's index finger and glove. A two-minute film from Empower MediaMarketing makes the case, and it is a compelling one, particularly for those who dream of taking their iPad with them for that dead time on the ski lift.

New Coke Christmas song from Train is like coal in your stocking

By T.L. Stanley on Thu Oct 28 2010

Train_promo New from Train, the band I love to hate at the moment: another song that will inevitably get stuck in my brain and make me want to commit murder. This time instead of that inane ditty, “Hey Soul Sister” for Samsung, it's “Shake Up Christmas”” for Coca-Cola. “Ho, ho, ho,” the song goes, “shake up the happiness, come on y'all, it's Christmas time.” More ridiculousness follows—isten at your own risk. Can you believe it was written specifically for this campaign? (Sarcasm alert, which isn't very spirit-of-the-season of me, but can I help it if the song reads like a brand brief?) Coke is continuing two of its established trends here—relentless smiley-faced optimism and holiday-based advertising. The marketer intends to unleash this tune on 90 countries, presumably so our ears will bleed simultaneously in many languages. I'm all for spreading the love. But why does it have to sound so awful? To hear the song click here. Don't say you weren't warned.

How Toby Barlow enticed Goodby to come to downtown Detroit

By David Kiley on Thu Oct 28 2010

Palm Building_Andrew When Goodby, Silverstein and Partners reports its profit-and-loss on its new Chevrolet business and it's a few bucks shy of expectations, Omnicom's financial department can blame Toby Barlow, chief creative officer on the Ford account for Team Detroit. Huh? After Goodby won the GM account last April, Jeff Goodby and his partners began looking for office space in downtown Detroit. GM's chief marketing officer Joel Ewanick told his two new agencies, Goodby and Minneapolis-based Fallon, that he wanted them in downtown Detroit, not out in the suburbs. Omnicom, meantime, is gagging on excess office space in Troy, Mich., well North of Detroit where BBDO's offices were that serviced Auburn Hills, Mich.-based Chysler until last Fall. "Joel wanted us in Detroit, but so did I," said Goodby. "Detroit is a real city, and we want to be part of it, not out in the 'burbs." Omnicom loved the idea of stocking the office with well over 100 Goodby employees despite the fact that it had already sold off furnishings. Toby Barlow, who lives in the MexicanTown section of Detroit and is a big booster of downtown Detroit, drove Goodby around town on a personal guided tour—restaurants, rib joints, pubs and the historic neighborhoods. Ultimately, he led Goodby to the Francis Palms building (pictured), a historic Beaux Arts structure on Woodward Ave., across the street from Comerica Park and Ford Field and few doors down from the Fox Theater. The Fillmore Theatre is in the bottom floor of the building. By virtue of the ballparks nd the theaters, it is the most vibrant part of Detroit, which is struggling with its economy and image. The other downtown option Goodby looked at was GM's headquarters building, The Renaissance Center. Fallon took that option, occupying space held by Publicis Groupe sister agency Digitas, which has lost most of its GM business to IPG's MRM.  "Toby was great. And I'm really happy with the choice," said Goodby. "When we had Saturn [between 2002-2007], I wasn't here a lot, but I'm going to spend a lot of time in Detroit, and downtown is the place to be." Goodby has already reached out to Detroit's College of Creative Studies, a leading design school, to teach some classes, and he has ideas about working with Barlow about improving the image of the city through advertising and marketing. "We want to be part of this community," says Goodby, who says the decision to take its own space created "some tense conversations" with his parent company. Blame it on Barlow.

Carhartt ad makes you appreciate the jackets' wolf-proof nature

By Todd Wasserman on Wed Oct 27 2010

Just in time for Halloween comes this somewhat scary ad from Carhartt featuring three buddies who are camping in the wild. At 11 seconds in, we get the surprise, which is fairly bracing and well-done, at least the first time you see it. Best of all, the ad has a point, too: That Carhartt jackets are strong enough to withstand whatever nature throws at them, including a pack of hungry wolves. As a bonus, the company also has some alternative endings to the spot here

New MacBook Air ad hews closely to Apple advertising script

By Elena Malykhina on Tue Oct 26 2010

I think, by now, we've all come to recognize Apple's ads: The featured device against a solid background, a few moments of music followed by a showcase of the device's best features, and a closing statement that leaves you curious even if you're not an Apple fan. Behold this ad for the new MacBook Air from TBWA's Media Arts Lab. The ad opens with a shot of a closed laptop and a piano solo that builds as the voiceover says: "Everything we've learned has come down to this." A hand flips open the laptop sideways to reveal its slim form. "The next generation of MacBooks," the ad concludes. The spot may not seem to say much, but it accomplishes the main goal, which is to reveal the new model and intrigue consumers enough to make them do their own research. While some bloggers have dubbed the latest MacBook Air a larger, faster version of an iPad, "next generation" refers to the new 11.6" and 13.3" models, which reportedly, will be sold at lower pricepoints ($999-$1,599 versus $1,500-$1,800 for older models). The products are also said to have improved capabilities from the first generation of MacBook Airs. And with other big news coming from Apple, including the Lion operating system and the Mac App Store, the ad couldn't be more timely.

Top brands get good coverage from CBS' Undercover Boss

By T.L. Stanley on Tue Oct 26 2010

Undercover-boss1 The CBS hit reality show Undercover Boss planted its flag early as a brand showcase, primarily for the incognito honcho's place of employment. So far, that's included a lot of free/positive media exposure for Hooters, Churchill Downs, 7-Eleven, White Castle and DirecTV. But when the top dog works for Nascar—Sunday's episode followed the motor sport's CMO Steve Phelps—a whole mess of marketers got in on the act. Coca-Cola walked away with the most valuable free exposure, $437,390, with more than three minutes of air time. For one of Phelps' challenges, he wore a Coke apron while working in a trackside concession stand. (No, he's not a good fry cook). Other brands that drifted off the Nascar-themed show included Toyota, Gatorade, Sprint, NAPA and Goodyear. According to tracking firm Joyce Julius and Associates, 84 brands got some face time during the episode for nearly 30 minutes of "clear in-focus exposure time, three verbal references and an overall exposure value of $2.7 million." The series, in its second season, is still pulling in sizable audiences that tune in to see the big guy get humiliated and the little guys get rewarded. It seems obvious from brand integration studies like this one, though, who the real winners are in this TV project.

Stride gum aims for a Shift-storm of social media attention

By Elaine Wong on Tue Oct 26 2010

Stride-gum-300x252 This new promotion from Stride Gum is the shit. The Kraft-owned brand today kicks off a sweepstakes awarding those who find the phrase "Holy Shift! You're a winner!" inside specially marked packages of its Shift gum. Prizes include tickets to concerts by Cobra Starship and Panic! At the Disco. The latter will be responding to fans' questions—a la Isaac Mustafa—on Stride's Facebook page. Aside from that, there's nothing too remarkable about the promotion, except that it puts Nissan's long-running "Shift_" tagline in a new light.

E*Trade babies are back and are as world-weary as ever

By David Kiefaber on Mon Oct 25 2010

E*Trade's precocious CGI baby concept has reached its third year, and the TV spots just keep on coming. “Time Out” explores the limits of infant resourcefulness, while the two tykes in “Documentary” are more interested in the, ahem, circle of life than investing. I'm gonna leave that one alone. Either way, both ads, from Grey, New York,  seem more interested in the baby gimmick than E*Trade itself, and that preoccupation has gotten them into trouble before. Plus, the necessary disclaimer about having to be 18 to open an account runs counter to their logic, such as it is. Regardless, a lot of interactive E*Trade Baby stuff was rolled out back in March, and the company seems happy with the response. Their chief marketing officer told the press that “the babies that are featured in our campaign are incredibly popular and enabling users to interact with and personalize them is yet another way to engage our audience.” This is assuming, of course, that interaction with the promotional material carries over into increased use of the product or service it's promoting. Haven't seen any figures on that, but I do hear a lot of rumbling about E*Trade being a terrible company with funny ads. Probably not the reception they want.


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