Ah, what a lovely Coca-Cola holiday ad. Shame about the music

By T.L. Stanley on Thu Nov 11 2010

A few weeks ago, it was just a crappy song with no pictures. Now, Train's latest single—the one we told you about recently that was written for Coca-Cola's holiday campaign—is the soundtrack to a full-blown ad. With Santa! The spot, dubbed "Snow Globes," shown here, is everything you'd expect from a Christmas commercial, including a cute dog, a kissing couple and a family gathering. If it weren't for that inane ditty! Anyway, it's going global, and there's nothing anyone can do about it. The seasonal marketing effort came from Coke's international teams, Coca-Cola Germany and McCann, Madrid. And for Train fans out there, "Shake Up Happiness" is being released as a single, or you can get it as a "bonus" on the band's latest CD. I will plug my ears accordingly. Bah, humbug!

Oh, Betty Crocker Warm Delights, why must you tease me so?

By Elaine Wong on Thu Sep 30 2010

We can all relate to those moments of impatience when we're waiting for our favorite baked treat to warm up. That's the thinking in some new ads for General Mills's Betty Crocker Warm Delights brand, showing three women making faces on the other side of a microwave window. ("Just add water and microwave," the product's instructions say.) The ads (each woman has her own spot, in addition to the combo spot shown here), by McCann Erickson in New York, mark the brand's first return to TV advertising in more than a year. They're part of the Betty Crocker baked goods brand's strategy to tap into the recession-driven comfort and indulgent foods trend. It's also accompanied by a Facebook sampling push, as well as an interactive game that encourages "me time!" Now, that's exactly what BrandFreak needs. Wait, there's another story to cover?

Nescafé still turning up its nose at Starbucks' Via instant coffee

Posted on Wed Feb 17 2010


When Starbucks introduced its Via instant coffee last September, it went all out to promote it, even to the point of supposedly instructing baristas to do anything to get people into try it, including using guilt as a motivator. All the strong-arming was worth it, though, since Starbucks recently reported that Via has been a hit. It's not surprising, then, that Nestlé's Nescafé, a competitor in the instant-coffee segment, is attempting to strike back. Outdoor ads from McCann Erickson's Los Angeles office compare Nescafé to an unnamed competitor that just happens to have a green logo with the word "hype" in the middle of it. (Nescafé, for its part, is represented by a cup emblazoned with the word "Flavor.") This is just the latest salvo from the Nestlé brand. Last June, Nescafé greeted the looming introduction of Via with an ad that said: "Dear  Starbucks, imitation is flattery. Charging 400% more, not so much."

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

AT&T, unimpressed by Verizon's geography skills, sues over ads

Posted on Wed Nov 4 2009

AT&T is suing Verizon over the latter's "There's a map for that" campaign. The ads, by McCann Erickson in New York, show competing red and blue maps to show how much more 3G coverage Verizon offers than AT&T. But AT&T, the nation's No. 2 wireless carrier, is worred that people will interpret the blank spots on its map as areas where AT&T has no coverage at all, which it says isn't true. (It's not an apples-to-apples comparison of their 3G networks, the company says.) AT&T's outcry has resulted in much public scrutiny and attention over the ads—and lots of free publicity for category leader Verizon.

—Posted by Elaine Wong

Bisquick keeps food alive, and didn't even go to medical school

Posted on Fri Oct 23 2009

It's disappointing when food spoils, but this humorous ad for Bisquick by McCann in New York takes the concept a step further and shows the tragedy of letting leftovers go to waste. The scenario is a typical kitchen setting, where a woman prepares a meal, and her husband exclaims: "TGIF, honey!" That's when it dawns on the woman that it's Friday and her leftover roasted chicken has been sitting in the fridge for a while. The mangled fowl is then rushed to the ER, where doctors try to revive it. But it's hopeless. Nothing can be done to bring it back to life. The woman wails in agony, and for a moment it feels as if you're watching a hospital drama on TV: devastated relatives, realistic doctors, dramatic lighting. Then you remember that a chicken just flew off a gurney after being zapped by a defibrillator. There's a special Web site, where you can get recipes for keeping "leftovers alive." And avoiding a trip to the emergency room.

—Posted by Elena Malykhina

Verizon to offer 99-cent cab rides to NYC's stampeding hordes

Posted on Tue Jun 9 2009

Cab copy

On Wednesday, and for one day only, Verizon will be offering 99-cent rides on select taxis around New York City as part of an effort (organized by McCann Erickson and Universal McCann) to tout its pre-paid cellular service. It'd be an obvious joke to say that the profanity from the driver will still be free, but I'm nothing if not obvious. Two weeks from now, Verizon will offer 99-cent Mr. Softee ice cream treats. It should be about 99 degrees in Manhattan by then, so most of the premiums will probably melt. Oh, the pre-paid plan's daily usage fee is 99 cents, in case you were wondering about the pricing scheme. Verizon was wise not to bundle the taxi and ice cream deals together. The way those cabbies take corners, they would have had to do a 99-cent dry-cleaning promotion next.

—Posted by David Gianatasio

Coke ad from Spain has grown men falling to their knees crying

Posted on Thu Mar 12 2009

One of the hottest videos right now is this Coca-Cola commercial from McCann Erickson featuring a 102-year-old Spanish man. (It's up there with other hot videos featuring talking fish and exploding apples.) Released in Spain in January as part of the brand's "Open happiness" campaign, it's logged more than 100,000 views on YouTube and inspired hundreds of blog posts. The ad, which is in Spanish, shows the man traveling to see the (real) birth of a girl named Aitana, the newest addition to his family. He then tells the baby that he believes we were all born to be happy. The ad is supported by outdoor ads in seven Spanish cities that beckon people to take pictures of themselves in their own moments of happiness. They're also encouraged to post words of advice for newborns on a Web site. Somewhat creepily, Coke has also collaborated with hospitals in Spain so that parents can set up webcams in nurseries, allowing Internet users to see newborns in their first hours of life and send them their "messages of optimism." Dubbed versions of the ad have aired in Portugal and Italy, but a Coke rep says there are no plans yet to bring it to the U.S.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

MasterCard 'Icons' ad reminds us of power of strong branding

Posted on Wed Feb 18 2009

This MasterCard "Icons" spot from McCann Erickson, which first aired during the 2005 Super Bowl, is back in rotation. It shows a "Priceless" collection of brand icons gathered around a table, eating broccoli for $1.79, three pouches of tuna for $3.99 and crescent rolls for $2.39. There's Count Chocula, Mr. Peanut, the Jolly Green Giant, the Gorton's fisherman, Charlie the Starkist tuna, Chef Boyardee, the Pillsbury doughboy, the Vlasic pickles stork, the Morton Salt girl and, doing the dishes, of course, Mr. Clean. The thing that makes these mascots so special is that many of them represent commodity items like salt, vegetables, pickles and biscuits. Without these familiar characters, the brands would be, well, just salt, vegetables, pickles and biscuits. The spot reminds us of the true value of creative branding versus just linking up with any old athlete or celebrity—who will probably just get themselves and your brand in trouble anyway. That could never happen with an animated brand icon, unless you're talking about the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

—Posted by Kenneth Hein



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