Is the 15-second spot part of what's killing the 30-second spot?

By David Kiefaber on Mon Nov 1 2010

Boy-watching-tv

One would think the viewing public would be pleased with news that the 15-second spot is increasingly challenging the 30-second spot for airtime—apparently catering to people's generally shorter attention spans. But not so fast. All it really means is more commercials strobed at the viewer during the allotted advertising time. It also means a focus on one or two gags per ad at the expense of lengthier, more plot-based affairs. The latter are still being made, but they're mostly online features these days. But for TV, shorter is touted as better. Viewers have less patience for ads now, thanks to online streaming television and DVRs, so there's no sense spending money on a 30- or 60-second ad when 15 seconds will do. According to USA Today, a recent episode of How I Met Your Mother carried "five ads in just a minute and a half, including two spots for Dunkin Donuts," just in case anyone watching forgot for 10 seconds about how great their donuts are. And given that this is an election year, the political attack ads you're already sick of will become that much more unavoidable. Being a Marylander, I can't watch anything on YouTube without seeing a Martin O'Malley testimonial beforehand, and it's usually at the expense of Bob Ehrlich. For those of you keeping track, this is part of why we can't have nice things.

Consumers apparently despise BP slightly less than they used to

By David Kiefaber on Wed Oct 13 2010

Bp

After spending months in an oil-encrusted toilet thanks to that nasty business in the Gulf of Mexico, BP's image is apparently starting to recover, albeit slowly. In a recent poll asking consumers how they feel about public institutions, 20 percent said they were "somewhat negative" about BP and 30 percent were "very negative," but those numbers are an improvement over a June poll, in which 44 percent of respondents said they were "very negative" toward BP. I credit this to the spill fading from the headlines, because BP's efforts to clean up the mess it made have been hampered by things like restricting press access to the spill sites and Photoshopping pictures of the spill itself. It's like they're even more evil when they're trying to be good! The other option for this small upturn in public favor is that there's too much else to be angry about right now, so people don't have the emotional stamina to sustain a fiery hatred of BP. If that's true, BP could eventually get back in everyone's good graces. It'll just have to wait a while longer, until everyone forgets what weapons-grade assholes they are.

Three-quarters of Americans have been confused by ads on TV

By David Kiefaber on Mon Oct 4 2010

Confused

According to an AdweekMedia/Harris Poll, 75 percent of Americans have been confused by ads on television. This is readily apparent if you're an ad blogger like me, but it's not as serious as you'd think once the numbers are broken down. One curious result of the study is how little education matters to the final tally. College and graduate students are just as likely to be confused by advertising as people whose formal education ended in high school, so either we're all getting dumber (possible!) or marketers have gotten too cute with their concepts at the expense of content, usually by overestimating their aptitude for absurdist humor or social-media navigation. I've been saying for a while now that "brand awareness" is a limited goal all by itself, especially in a grim economic climate where people are watching what they buy for entirely practical reasons. They need to know what it is they're getting and why it matters, and how using it will impress other people (a sad but enduring truism of advertising). Besides, if we're going to be surrounded by ads everywhere we go, they might as well be useful.

Westin believes you're overworked … and could use a hotel stay

By T.L. Stanley on Thu Sep 23 2010

Westin

Royal Caribbean already reminded us how overworked and underappreciated we are in this crappy economy. Now, it's time for Westin Hotels to tell us bedraggled American drones just what that all-work, no-play attitude is doing to us: making us miserable, shortening our lives and ruining our marriages, that's what. Yikes! Better get out of town! Westin's new campaign urges people to take the time off that's owed them—and, naturally, spend it at one of the marketer's many fine properties. A Westin study found that 58 percent of those surveyed said they need more vacation time, and 64 percent have canceled trips because of work. The campaign, anchored by Westin's Travel and Be Well site, aims to educate 9-to-5ers about the health benefits of vacations and nudges them to sign an online petition promising to use their company-paid time by the end of the year. So far, more than 11,000 people have made the pledge. There's a contest attached that gives away 200 four-day trips and an offer good through next year of a free fourth night with a three-day Westin stay. But if you choose to chain yourself to your desk, you can potentially expect an expanding waistline, a heart attack and a divorce in your future, along with a satisfied boss. How's that sound?

Derek Jeter named baseball's most marketable player in survey

By David Kiefaber on Wed Jul 21 2010

Jeter

Sports Business Daily has determined via survey that Derek Jeter is baseball's most marketable player. Check out the top 10 here. Jeter secured nearly 80 percent of first-place votes from corporate brand managers and marketing executives, possibly because he's the only player on the ballot whom casual baseball fans would know, mostly thanks to him dating a steady rotation of actresses, supermodels and Mariah Carey. That's just a guess, though. The survey results didn't suggest any reasons for why Jeter won by such a substantial margin, but he is a good-looking, charming man in a sport full of dudes with beer guts who spit constantly. Not only that, but any flaws in his personality are overshadowed by everyone else in professional sports either tangling themselves up in sex scandals, running dogfights or killing their families out of nowhere. By those standards, Jeter's public image is in pretty good shape.

Babycare products doing just fine in stinky economy, thank you

By Robert Klara on Tue Jul 13 2010

Diaper

Here's a recessionary factoid for your next cocktail party. In 2009, the inflation rate pulled a U-turn and turned into the deflation rate, falling by half a percentage point. Meanwhile, between 2005 and 2009, the retail-dollar compound annual growth rate of babycare supplies grew by 2 percent. Which can only mean one thing: Diapers and butt-wipes are in better shape than U.S. currency.
  Hey, we didn't make this up ourselves. You'll find it on page 7 of the latest report from the indefatigable number crunchers at Packaged Facts, who've stumbled on a number of other interesting tidbits in the just-released report, "Babycare Supplies in the U.S." Go ahead and make fun, but this seldom-touted segment of the economy is worth a staggering $7 billion. What's more, not only has a (forgive us) poopy economy done little to stem the brisk sales of diapers and such (the highest performers were actually wipes and bodycare goods, which grew by 17.1 and 10.1 percent, respectively, last year), Americans plunked down more money on baby stuff even though they're having fewer babies. The U.S. birth rate stood at just 13.7 percent last year, a 43 percent plummet from the 1950s.
  Which, if anything, shows that while adults may be skimping on themselves in this still-rotten economy, they're still shelling out plenty of money for Junior. And when it comes to having fresh diapers on hand, that's a thing we should probably all be thankful for. Photo via.

In new study, brands say getting social means getting screwed

Posted on Tue Jun 8 2010

Social_media_282

Pretty much any brand will tell you that social media is marketing's Next Big Thing—the perfect way to snare the attention of younger shoppers, at least for the half-second such a feat is possible. But a new study out of the U.K. reveals that some—nay, most—companies harbor serious reservations about the social Web, even as they look for new ways to tap its marketing potential.
  Sixty-nine percent of companies participating in a new study by London-based intellectual-property firm Marks & Clerk said they regard social media "as the next big threat to protecting their brands online." In particular, 73 percent said that being online today risks exposing a brand to "unfair or inaccurate treatment"—largely via the unrestricted commentary that dominates online—and 81 percent said the Web fosters a culture in which a brand's intellectual property is likely to be exploited. What's more, respondents directed most of their ire at Google (shock of shocks!). Some 58 percent said the search engine had grown too powerful. And asked whether, in the name of healthy competition, it was fair to be able to buy a rival's trademarked brand name as a keyword in online search marketing, nearly 63 percent answered "not at all." In fact, more than 70 percent were uncomfortable with the business ethics of Google's AdWords.
  So, maybe brands should just abandon the Web altogether, huh? Not likely. Asked whether they felt the Web is becoming a "primary driver" of business growth today, a little over 94 percent said yes.

—Posted by Robert Klara

Americans more passionately in love with hamburgers than ever

Posted on Thu May 6 2010

Burger

According to a new NPD Group study out this week, Americans ordered 9.5 billion burgers in restaurants last year. Wow. That's 11.8 percent more than the 8.5 billion wolfed down in 2005. The study looked at both in-home and out-of-home burger consumption. Among some of its other interesting findings:
  • Americans consumed 12 burgers per capita in-home last year.
  • Burgers are the No. 1 food grilled at home (versus steak in 1998).
  • Americans consumed  30.5 burgers per capita at restaurants last year.
  • A soft drink, burger and fries is the most popular restaurant meal in this nation.
  • Burgers (no surprise!) are among the top five food and drink items ordered at restaurants for lunch. They're No. 3 among men, and also No. 3 among women.
  • Though restaurants endured a helluva year last year, burgers and sandwiches were the only two broad food categories to grow at both quick- and full-service restaurants.
  Sounds like a recessionary staple food, doesn't it? Now, that's something to chew on.

—Posted by Elaine Wong

'GQ' readers not afraid to spend, spend, spend despite downturn

Posted on Thu Apr 30 2009

Gq

Recession? What recession? The readers of GQ don't seem to think there is one. According to a consumer trend study, "What Men Are Buying," the Condé Nast magazine concludes that male consumer attitudes toward current and future purchasing are right on par with ... those of the advertisers that GQ seeks to retain and attract, oddly enough. According to the study, men say they are least likely to cut back on fragrances, grooming, apparel, and footwear. The unemployment rate is hovering around 9 percent, and men are into grooming now more than ever. You don't say?! Here are some survey results straight from the metrosexual's mouth:
  -- 81 percent of respondents agreed with the statement "The best investment is on myself." Uh, leading the witness? Likewise, 71 percent said they would rather curtail elsewhere than cut back on the items related to personal appearance. Uh huh. I always thought if a man were given a choice between a stick of deodorant and any kind of food on a stick, he will choose the latter.
  -- 76 percent of the men agreed that "in these tough economic times it is more important than ever to buy products and services that have a reputation for quality, even if it means spending more money." Nothing but the best for GQ readers, who never settle for plain wrap when they can buy expensive, ego-stroking, logoed crap.
  -- 70 percent said they'll be spending more or the same amount on wine and liquor, and drinking more at home. Bottlers of booze, you obviously need to tap the bachelor-pad market asap.
  -- 92 percent honestly believed they will be "earning more or the same amount of money in the next 12 months." All that drinking can lead to delusions of pink elephants, too.

—Posted by Becky Ebenkamp

Can an 'erotic' energy drink bring romance back from the dead?

Posted on Fri Feb 13 2009

Redlight

For the past five years, the PR firm Porter Novelli has been asking people if they would describe themselves as romantic. The answer this year: No, not really. Slightly more than one-third of men polled (36 percent) described themselves as romantic, compared to 42 percent of women. The inclination toward being romantic appears to decrease with age. While more than half of millennials held onto ideals such as true love, romance, rose-petal parades and pink champagne, that number dropped off significantly for all of the other generations, presumably because they are tired, bored, lazy or "emotionally unavailable" after getting their hearts broken too many times and/or being overmedicated by their physicians. Fortunately there is a solution: Red Light Energy Elixir. This new "exotic and erotic" drink "inspires passion," according to the company's press release. How does it accomplish this? Well, it's red, which is the sexiest color (per a random poll), and it includes schizandra berry (which may increase libido, stamina and balance). Problem solved. Happy Valentine's Day.

—Posted by Kenneth Hein


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