Apple's first iPad commercial greeted with collective indifference

Posted on Mon Mar 8 2010

Google surprised everyone by running a TV spot on the Super Bowl, one that was pretty well-received. Apple, a current rival of Google on many fronts, pulled off a similar sneak attack during Sunday night's Academy Awards show with its first ad for the iPad. Since the goal was to create demand for a totally new device, Apple stuck close to its playbook. It didn't introduce any new characters or celebrity announcers. Instead, it was a glossy demo of all the neat stuff that the iPad does. Which is maybe why the spot, by TBWA\Media Arts Lab, has gotten a ho-hum response in the blogosphere. "What's remarkable about the ad is there is nothing remarkable about it at all," Chris Matyszczyk writes in CNet's "Technically Incorrect" blog. "It's very neat, but very standard communication from Apple." Matyszczyk points out that Apple posted similar—perhaps even the same—footage of the iPad on its Web site during the introduction. (Google, incidentally, had also run its Super Bowl ad on the Web months before.) YouTube commenters also seem unimpressed. One points out that the ad was pretty much the same, save for the soundtrack music, as a 2007 ad for the iPod Touch. (Note: a TBWA\C\D rep could not confirm if this version was an official ad or a similar one from Nick Haley.) Does it matter that Apple's ad was sort of meh? Probably not. Whatever the ad's merits, the device looked pretty cool. Rather than thinking "Apple is slipping," most people watching the ad likely instead thought, "I want to get me one of those."

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Doing everyone a favor, ABC rejects AshleyMadison's Oscars ad

Posted on Wed Mar 3 2010

For the life of me, I can't think of one good reason why ABC wouldn't want this ad for adultery matchmaker service to air during Sunday's Oscar telecast. I can think of a whole bunch. Let's start with the fact that the commercial sucks and blows at the same time. (Yes, it's possible, and no, that's not a sexual pun.) It purports to have an Avatar theme, but only the women, not the guy, are wearing blue body paint. So, the guy's sleeping with someone who's not his wife and not even his own species? The brand message, if you can call it that, is completely muddled. I say, if the cheating bastard is dumb enough to bring his mistress to his own bed, he deserves to get caught. The implication is that AshleyMadison would help him with that. How? They book hotel rooms and cover tracks? The service, which is jumping on the rejected-ads bandwagon to generate attention (thanks a lot, GoDaddy and PETA) points out what it calls the hypocrisy of an award show honoring movies that include adultery (Up in the Air, Nine) while turning down a paid spot from a marketer that thrives on it. Oh, the pseudo outrage. Look here for another lame stunt the brand pulled around the Super Bowl. As for this ad, maybe ABC just knows a horrifyingly bad campaign when it sees one. Good catch, network suits.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Airborne dreaming of a world where Oscar winners say its name

Posted on Tue Feb 17 2009

Airborne1 copy

"I'd like to thank the Academy and the amazing immune-boosting power of Airborne!" Wait. What?
  It is possible, though perhaps not likely, that we'll hear such a line from the podium of the Kodak Theater on Sunday during the 81st Annual Academy Awards. The vitamin supplement has put out a call to all Oscar nominees offering a fat $1 million payday for the ultimate brand-integrated acceptance speech. (The offer appeared as this full-page ad in The Hollywood Reporter.) The Oscar winner has to hold up the product for five seconds, not say anything nasty about it ever, and the cash gets doled out to the charity of his or her choice.
  The Oscars are no stranger to product placement, given that every celeb is a walking advertisement for clothing designers, jewelers, hair stylists and the like. (And remember that chick who wore the dress made of AmEx gold cards? Priceless!) There's no Academy rule against saying a brand name during an acceptance speech, but let's just say it would be mightily frowned upon, even if it is for a good cause.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Academy and ABC hope to draw viewers by playing hard to get

Posted on Wed Jan 28 2009

Unless you're marketing the next M. Night Shyamalan movie—and woe to you if you are—keeping the viewer in suspense isn't such a good thing. Right?
  The producers of the 81st Annual Academy Awards are doing just that, keeping all details of the Feb. 22 show close to the vest and refusing to reveal the A-list stars who'll be presenting trophies. So, how's that working out for the marketing folks over at ABC?
  "It obviously makes our job more difficult," says Michael Benson, co-evp of marketing at ABC Entertainment. "The inclination as a marketer is to tell people exactly what they're going to get. But we think this will be more intriguing and rewarding for the audience."
  The network and the Academy have launched their first joint ad campaign, themed "The biggest movie event of the year," which will run across print, radio, TV, in-theater and digital platforms. They got two-time Oscar nominee John Singleton to shoot the teaser ad (shown here), and hired an outside agency (Omelet L.A.) for the first time.
  It's all aimed at pumping the ratings of a show that sank to an all-time low of 32 million viewers last year. Can host Hugh Jackman, a bunch of indie movies and thriller-style ads get people to watch? Stay tuned.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley



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