:6: Providing an Interesting Audience for the Future

An interesting government website, admongo.gov, is aiming to educate kids about the goals and effects of advertising agencies. Specifically, it looks to reveal who is responsible for ads, what ads really say and what ads try to get people to do.

Personally, I think it is a very responsible move by the government to take steps towards educating youngsters about what ads are and what they aim to do. On the other hand, I’m rather skeptical at how successful it can be. I have experience working with kids and unfortunately advertising agencies have quite the advantage over children and their ability to decide for themselves what they really want.

As a kid, I remember going with my mom to the grocery store and trying to pick out a cereal. Of course, I would usually pick out the cereal with the coolest superhero on the box rather than what I thought I might enjoy eating. Inevitably, the box with Spider-Man would be purchased and throughout the week I’d barely even touch the cereal inside.

So next time my mom would remind me of how I didn’t really care for the Spider-Man cereal, but it simply wouldn’t register for me. Deep down, I knew what I had done last time, but still felt like the cereal with Spider-Man would bring me much more satisfaction than any of the other cereals because…well, its Spider-Man!

My point is that kids are constantly redefining what is important to them and unfortunately for parents, saving money doesn’t even occur to them.

With billboards, magazines, newspapers, television, internet and even street ads, the younger generation is growing up in a world with far more commercialism that any adult today can imagine.

I applaud the effort by the government for making this interactive game for kids to learn about the world of advertising, but the task in “aducating” them goes much further. Parents and teachers need to be involved as well. They need to point out that ads are just a means for companies to sell their product so they can continue to compete and make money.

But, more importantly, kids need to be taught that ads are not always truthful and that purchasing a product is an investment with an expected return.

Should this produce a new generation of intelligent consumers, however, ad agencies will probably have more difficulty selling products in the future.

 

:5: Be You.

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:4: Standing Out/Blending In

Ever notice how a lot of logos look similar? Well, that’s because they are. Helvetica is a font that a lot of companies use because it just looks nice.  Of course, they don’t want to look exactly like their competitors so they’ll often bold or italicize their logo in Helvetica.

So just how many companies use Helvetica? Here’s a small fraction of them:

3M

American Apparel

American Airlines

Amtrak

AT&T

Arco

Best Buy

BMW

Crate & Barrel

Dole

Energizer

Facebook

Fed Ex

Gap

GM

Google

Greyhound

JC Penny

Jeep

Jockey

Marlboro

Microsoft

Motorola

Olympus

Oral-B

Panasonic

Post-it

Samsung

Sears

Staples

Target

The North Face

Toyota

Tupperware

plus many more…

Pretty interesting, huh? I mean, in a world where standing out is key, it seems that there is still a formula for good branding. I suppose eventually consumers just get tired of adjusting to different fonts of all the brands they encounter. Helvetica is, afterall, the same font used for other things a lot of people read everyday, such as directions on a product or the common street sign.

Next time you’re bombarded with advertisements – which is actually all the time – take a minute to see how many brands are using Helvetica.  Be warned, though. Once you start it’ll be almost impossible to stop.

This has more on the subject.

:3: Super Ads for the Super Bowl

Once again the Super Bowl is upon us, this time featuring a rematch of the nail-biting 17-14 victory of the New York Giants over the then-perfect New England Patriots back in 2008.  It’s Boston vs. New York. Brady vs. (Eli) Manning. What could be better?

Well, the ads, of course.

While many of us consumers focus our calendars around birthdays, holidays or the first day of summer, advertising agencies revolve around Super Bowl Sunday.

It’s the one day of the year when agencies can be absolutely certain that record-breaking numbers of money-holding consumers, regardless of whether they like or understand football, will be huddled around the television.

As a sports fan, I hope the game is a good one. But as an Ad major, I’m hoping for some inspiring ads.

That being said, here are some of the funniest of all time:

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And here is the price progression of a 30-second Super Bowl ad.

Since the advertising game is always changing, it will be interesting to see what sort of approaches we see from those willing to spend $3.5 mil. and up for 30-60 seconds of your time.

:2: C4

Back in September of 2011, Comedy Central televised the roast of the infamous Hollywood star Charlie Sheen. In case you don’t remember, Charlie had been all over the news regarding his unique lifestyle of drugs, prostitutes and tiger’s blood. Since there weren’t any restrictions set by Charlie, his roast was absolutely brutal.

But after some research, I found this wasn’t the most damaging roast to have been delivered by Comedy Central. That honor, instead, goes to Cornelius Crane “Chevy” Chase (or C4 as I like to call him). C4 was actually roasted twice, once in 1990 and again in 2002. Of course, the second one hurt the most, otherwise he wouldn’t have been willing to do another. The roast was considered so mean, in fact, that it was never aired again. Luckily for us there’s YouTube.

One of the comics roasting C4 was Stephen Colbert, then part of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I didn’t feel Colbert was that harsh on Chevy, but go ahead and see for yourself:

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Meanwhile, here is C4’s response to his roast. Notice how uncomfortable the poor guy is.

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The part that stings for Chevy wasn’t necessarily the jokes about his career or drug abuse, but rather that such words came from what he considered “B-list” celebrities. As he says in his final words, “…traditionally, this is the point when the ‘roastee’ has a chance to get even with all the other comedians…but there just f***kin’ aren’t any.”

Very much unlike his 1990 roast, here Chevy was verbally attacked by people he had never even met, let alone considered friends; something I doubt he was ready for.

Now C4 is featured in one of my favorite shows, Community, where he plays a loony, rich old man trying to fit in with the other loony students of Glendale Community College. He may not be the star, but he does provide some hilarious moments that could only be done by him. This video has some of my favorite scenes with Chevy.

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:1: The World’s Most Popular Virtual Band

I remember working as a counselor-in-training at a summer day camp when I was 13. Even though camp didn’t start until 9, I would arrive at about 7:30 because my mom needed to get to work as well. Consumed with boredom, I would usually watch MTV’s music video countdown since not much else was on TV. 

Feel Good Inc. by the Gorillaz was released in May of that year so I became quite familiar with the strange music video that featured cartoon gorillas and a flying windmill. I always wondered why the Gorillaz opted to represent themselves as cartoons, while literally every other artist seemed to publish their faces on screen as much as possible.

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I never really thought about it again until just recently, when a friend of mine informed me that the Gorillaz are actually a virtual band featuring four virtual members: 2D, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle, and Russel Hobbs.

The idea seemed sort of odd to me, but I couldn’t help noticing what they’ve been able to accomplish. By “they” I mean Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, the two masterminds behind it all. According to a summary on Wikipedia, the idea was born in 1998, “when the two were watching MTV, ‘if you watch MTV for too long, it’s a bit like hell – there’s nothing of substance there. So we got this idea for a cartoon band, something that would be a comment on that,’ Hewlett said.” (Wikipedia).

The band lives off a lot more than you’d think. The Gorillaz collaborate with other artists that aren’t very well known in order to keep producing music under their own brand name. For instance, below is a timeline from Wikipedia illustrating all the artists that have performed live for the virtual band (wow, what a strange thing to say).

Gorillaz Live Performance Artists

timeline of all live performers for the Gorillaz

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So, while other artists were working hard to capture the perfect music video on film, the Gorillaz swallowed their collective pride and called animation their home, allowing for them to get just the shots they wanted in their own virtual universe. They turned a cool idea into a fascinating and brilliant one, and I think it speaks volumes toward their character, something that a lot of music artists tend to lack these days.

While they did ultimately end up on MTV, the Gorillaz made a powerful statement that I think a lot of advertising students, such as myself, should really hold on to, which is this: branding is everywhere and can be used in any way.

Consumers, especially of music, know exactly what they want and branding is the science of pleasing as many consumers as possible under one name. The Gorillaz have proven there isn’t just one formula for popular music. I’d like to think the same is true for good advertising.

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