:24: Come on Down!

“…You’re the next contestant on the Price is Right!”

Those are the words that every American would just love to hear one day. Being high-fived by complete strangers as everyone is screaming and clapping all around you must be the experience of a lifetime.

But what really interests me about The Price is Right is how freakin’ brilliant it is. Ever wonder where CBS gets all of these fabulous prizes? Well, they actually get them for free. That’s right, companies send CBS their products absolutely free of charge just so they can be featured on TV and in front of a live studio audience. In other words, it is an hour-long advertisement sponsored by occasional advertising breaks.

That is precisely the reason why The Price is Right is able to give away such awesome prizes and hang around for such a long time. People love winning prizes and are pretty bad at guessing the retail price of everyday goods.

Although there have been a couple big winners in the shows history. According to The Price is Right  wikipedia entry, in 2006 “Vickyann Sadowski won a Dodge Caravan playing Push Over and $1,000 in cash in the second Showcase Showdown. She also won both showcases, which included a Dodge Viper in her showcase and a Saturn Sky Roadster in her opponent’s, bringing her total winnings for the episode to $147,517, making her the largest single-episode winner in the history of American network daytime game shows.”

Of course, the greatest moments in the show come from absolute luck:

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:21: Listen Up

Yesterday, my Creative Strategist class was enlightened by a visit from Tracy Wong from Wong, Doody, Crandall, Wiener, an ad agency based in Seattle and Los Angeles.

Wong did a fantastic job in providing insights on the stressful process of advertising. In fact he gave us 6 secrets of the business to help us succeed.

First he revealed that the biggest hurdle for creatives is “your fucking ego”.  The key to being a good creative is to let go of that ego. Many people would feel discouraged to be placed on an account that sells Windex as opposed to Nike shoes, but Wong argues that just because something hasn’t been done, doen’t mean it can be done. In fact, that is exactly how accounts such as Nike become so successful; they did something that had never been done before and it worked better than they ever could have imagined.

Then he estimated that about 99% of any great idea is strategy, which is where account managers and planners come in. Something that alot of creatives forget is that, “this is not art, this is commerce artfully told.” Once you have a solid strategy, all you need is that two-foot putt to get that last 1%.

Wong continued by explaining that the greatest creative weapon is one’s ears. He stressed that listening is easily the hardest part for any creative, but it is important to understand that, “knowledge talks, wisdom listens.” The difference between an open mind and an empty mind is that an open one might be filled to the brim with absolute shit, where an empty mind will accept other possibilities. An example of this can be seen in a campaign to help blue collar workers quit smoking, where they realized that this demographic was sick and tired of ads telling them to quit. They realized the only person to make them quit was themselves and this what they came up with:

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So, creatives need to be able to embrace compromise. When you refrain from fighting with he client, you give yourself much more time to work with the client and collaborate on a project that neither could have imagined possible.

By engaging in the democracy of good ideas, a group of people are able to create something incredible. Wong believes that, “anything is possible as long as no one cares who gets the credit.” Everyone wants to hold on tight to their own specific ideas, but that limits the potential of the whole group to create something special.

Finally, he closed on the secret to guarantee how to sell great work: “Love your client like you love your dog.” If the client sees that you are upset, they will shoot down any idea you have regardless of what it actually is. If the client doesn’t trust that you are on the same page, they will never trust you. Wong clarifies this by pointing out that, “listening creates trust which kills fear.”

:19: 5 Awesome Guerilla Ad Campaigns

:5: Mr. Clean Crosswalk

:4: Spiderman’s Private Bathroom

:3: Try It On While You Ride

:2: “Short Shorts On Sale Superette”

:1: Proof That Your Money Is Safe

:16: No Seuss For You, Mazda!

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Above is the trailer for the new Dr. Seuss movie, The Lorax, coming to theaters on March 2, 2012. Stemming from the original book written in 1971, the movie takes us to a time where civilization looks almost the same except for the lack of plants. In fact, in this world, nobody has ever seen a real tree before.

Of Course, Dr. Seuss is commenting on the environmental danger that our planet is in by showing us a glimpse of how tragic life would be if we weren’t surrounded by nature. This could not be a more perfect time to transform the book into a movie to raise awareness about what cars are doing to the planet.

Unfortunately, we live in a capitalist society, which means there is money to be made and often people to exploit. So without further adieu, I present the Mazda CX-5 ad promoting The Lorax.

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Just to clarify, here are the exact words used by the narrator concerning Mazda:

“Who delivers outstanding fuel efficiency without compromising the joy of driving?

Mazda, with Skyactiv technology

And who received the only certified truffala tree seal of approval?

Mazda, with Skyactiv technology.”

“Only Mazda could re-imagine driving with revolutionary Skyactiv technology. We build Mazdas. What do you drive?”

Uhh..what? I’m sorry, but what about the car? I did not hear one fact regarding Mazda in that entire commercial, but rather just some loose claims as the odd-looking car strolled through a Dr. Seuss world.

What in the world is Skyactiv technology and why does Mazda feel consumers need it so badly?

This ad is a disgrace to Dr. Seuss. I would love to see the movie, but I won’t be buying a Mazda anytime soon. The Lorax was a book that taught children the importance of preserving the environment. So right away, we are confusing those children by using a car of all things to market the movie? Come on people…we can do better than that.

Please take the time to read this Seuss-style poem on the issue by Jason Bittel, a branding professional:

this poem can be found here -> http://www.fittingroup.com/blog/advertising/the-lorax-endorses-what

“It all started way back…
Such a long, long time back…
Way back in the days when the grass was still green
And the pond was still wet
And the clouds were still clean…”

Those epic words set the mood and the scene
for Dr. Seuss’s “Lorax”
A parable for children about being green
And tongue-twisty syntax.

But like all good ideas
(and quite a few bad)
Hollywood took an interest
In the money to be had.
They commissioned a screenplay, cast actors,
And sold advertising spots,
Complete with product placements and brand pairings –
You know the lot.

But we have to wonder, did they think even a bit?
About the message they were sending – or worse –
The one they’d omit?

A Lorax-branded combustion engine? I mean, seriously?
Not a hydrogen? Not an electric?
Not even a Thneed-sponsored cross-breed?

No offense to Mazda.
I’m sure their Skyactiv technology is swell indeed.
But you won’t save the Bar-ba-loots or Swomee Swans
with 10 measly MPGs.
And I must be missing how its exhaust is “friendly”
to you, me or the Truffala Trees.

Whoever is in charge of branding
For the Lorax’s mula-making machine –
Have you read the book you’re hijacking?
Did you misinterpret what it means?

Because the takeaway this ad emits
Reeks the wrong shade of “green.”

by Jason Bittel

 

:13: Smithsonian Reminds Us How Cool History Is

:12: Ads for Small Tech Schools

If you’ve ever been home watching TV on a weekday, I’m sure you have seen an ad for a small tech school in your area. In the LA area, I frequently saw ads for ITT Technical Institute, a small tech school with a pretty basic advertising strategy. Here is a typical ad from ITT Tech:

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The story this ad is telling is certainly uplifting and gives the viewer a real call to action. While it never appealed to me, this ad sells its product well and definitely delivered promising results.

However, I recently came across an ad for the Central Institute of Technology, a tech school in Australia that is apparently willing to do anything to stand out against the competition.

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I have to say that was a hilarious video. The fact that they are using this ad to represent themselves is an incredibly bold move that will prove to be successful. This ad tells me that the Central Institute of Technology is not like the other boring small tech schools. They understand young people and are willing to do anything if it means they’ll be creating good work.

:8: The Fantasizing Consumer

I’m sure that by now, most people have heard of fantasy sports, but I bet the story of how it came to be is not so well-known.

It started before computers were around, let alone the internet where fantasy sports really took off. Avid baseball fans would pick players from any real team to be on their own fantasy team and follow the stats of those players intensely from the box scores of the morning paper.

A few men are credited with inventing this game, but none of them received any sort of cash value. Fantasy baseball was just a game, a hobby, something to do and get good at. None of them thought to make any money out of it, which is unfortunate because now ESPN, Yahoo!, and many other sites attract a great deal of traffic thanks to fantasy sports. In fact, ESPN was so bold as to make a documentary about it.

After a few years of playing fantasy baseball, I have to say my interest and knowledge has greatly increased, which I’m sure can be said for most fantasy participants around the world.

While I prepare for each season as if it were my own religion, I still have to admit that a big chunk of fantasy sports comes down to, for lack of a better term, luck. But that is precisely why I believe it is so popular. If your league has a buy-in and cash prizes, it’s essentially a loophole to gambling.

This, of course, got me to thinking of whether this sort of thing could be brought into another fantasy world: advertising. Then I remembered Papa John’s recent Super Bowl campaign, where customers who signed up for Papa John’s Papa Rewards got to vote on whether the Super Bowl coin flip would land on heads or tails.  60% correctly voted for heads, so those who voted will be getting a free large one-topping pizza and a 2-liter Pepsi MAX.

This campaign is absolutely brilliant. It pleased a ton of customers and made all potential customers jealous of those who went online and voted. While gambling is a dangerous habit, it’s still something that people love to do. I think Papa John’s just opened the door for a whole new kind of advertising.

Sure, there have been a great deal of campaigns that give rewards to the random customer that bought the soda with the right cap on it, but that’s more like the lottery than getting a choice of heads or tails.

With the Papa John’s campaign, the customer feels like they played a significant part in winning themselves a free pizza and soda when they really didn’t do anything significant at all.

Meanwhile, by staying away from directly betting on sports, Papa John’s was able to elevate their sports-loving brand persona in the minds of millions of people.

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