Brands Do Social: Sassy Style

Hey there, new followers! Being freshly pressed was pretty unexpected – Brad Pitt & Chanel was just a quick rant of a post – but awesome nonetheless, and I hope you’ll stay engaged because I love the dialogue; it’s really what makes advertising such a special medium.

So. Getting back to business, I want to talk about brands responding socially. They can do so in a number of ways, engaging followers and new consumers in ways that no one could have anticipated even a few years ago. Normally, we think of consumers reacting to brands – through advertising, product placement, etc.; we don’t so much think about interactions happening in the reverse.

But today, this is more and more so the case – and I’ve got a few prime examples. What got me thinking about this post was actually a tweet from my good friend @phil_munch (a great follow: he’s pretty hilarious, “yanno”).

A Facebook post from unassuming Brit (I assume), Thomas Cook, asked travel brand Thomas Cook UK, for compensation – in the form of a weekend getaway to Paris – for the years of ridicule he endured as a result of his synonymity with the well-known brand.

Not the most ridiculous request, right? And built-in positive PR for the agency. Seems like a no-brainer, but Thomas Cook (the agency) replied that they are unable to just give away free vacations, and invited Thomas Cook (everyday Brit) to visit their website for affordable options.

Jumping on the opportunity, Charlotte Hunt of took a dig at the well-known agency, offered Thomas Cook his requested weekend abroad, and cleverly punned their way into the usage of the phrase “Thomas Crooked.”

So, lesson learned, Thomas Cook (the agency). When a PR opportunity this easy – honestly, how much does it cost to send one to Paris from London? College kids can pull it off affordably while abroad, I know – presents itself, you jump. Lest one of your competitors takes notice and action, before you can benefit.

In another great example, this week in sport marketing, someone brought up  Coke Zero and their “social surprise” campaign taking place across the American South and the Twitterverse. Coke’s digital agency in Atlanta, CSE, tracks social media diligently; and when they notice someone with a substantial following (500+) commenting on college football, they “surprise and delight” by, for instance, sending that Tweeter an autographed helmet.

In my favorite “surprise and delight” moment, a Vanderbilt student tweeted that he and three friends were traveling to Chicago for the Northwestern game and mentioned that they didn’t have tickets. CSE execs found the message and arranged for them to receive four tickets to the game for free.

Completely unwarranted – we’re not talking a sweepstakes, or really, anything from the brand side – Coke Zero is able to build a fan base that is instantly loyal by targeting socially active 18-34 year olds in their target base of college football, notably SEC, fans. I’m certain that if I received free tickets or autographed memorabilia from Coke Zero, all of my friends would know it and know how.

While Coke Zero and Thomas Cook are both great examples, nothing can possibly top Bodyform and its apology to Facebook commenter, Richard Neill. Neill, frustrated by the feminine hygiene brand’s constant lies regarding women’s beautiful, amazing, happy time of the month, posted on Bodyform’s Facebook page:

“As a child I watched your advertisements with interest as to how at this wonderful time of the month that the female gets to enjoy so many things. Then I got a girlfriend… you lied!! There was no joy… no blue water spilling over wings and no rocking soundtrack oh no no no.”

In response, Bodyform “CEO” Caroline Williams, set the record straight in this hilarious video, in collaboration with Carat:

Forced to acknowledge their blatant lies in response to Neill’s exposé, Bodyform drew global attention to its brand and told a refreshing amount of truth to men everywhere. You’re right, Mr. Neill, there will be no skydiving and pillow-fighting for me, no sir.


Absurd Ad of the Day: Chanel No. 5

Brad Pitt is now hawking Chanel No. 5.

Just let that sink in for a moment.

If you missed the monologue because you were too occupied staring at a pretty man in dire need of a haircut, here it is:

It’s not a journey.
Every journey ends, but we go on.
The world turns and we turn with it.
Plans disappear, dreams take over,
But wherever I go, there you are.
My luck, my fate, my fortune
Chanel No. 5

So that’s nonsense, essentially. And I find it a little strange coming from a man.

That being said, the ladies love them some Brad; so the chances this commercial flops aren’t great. For me, however, the ad (teased by industry publications for some time) fell flat. And if I were to do the casting, I would go in another direction.

Chanel No. 5 is the ultimate in women’s fragrance and synonymous with the highest of class. Perhaps this is my personal preference, but if I were to cast one of Hollywood’s leading men to be the face of such a classic, I would instinctively approach George Clooney. There’s just something about that ageless wonder and his salt-and-pepper locks that screams class and would shine in black and white.

Casting aside, I’m not sure a male face of Chanel No. 5 is necessary in the first place. Though it remains brand relevant, conjuring images of timelessness and luxury, it feels a bit forced.

Regardless, I am sure this accomplishes what Chanel set out to do. With an ad that will certainly circulate the web and incite chatter both good and bad, Chanel No. 5 will be top-of-mind for consumers as we approach the holiday shopping season.

I leave you with this gratuitous photo of George Clooney (swoon) cuddling a puppy:

The Good, The Bad, and The Enlightening

In what seems to be never-ending interview and grad school application prep, I’ve been paying a great deal more attention to why some ads work for me and some don’t. Here’s a few examples.


Jordan CP3.VI: Cut Through L.A.
Jordan Brand & Wieden + Kennedy, New York

We’ve seen a lot of “frozen moment” commercials when it relates to sports (I talked about one just a few weeks ago), whose inspiration is undoubtedly this MJ spot from back in the day. But this one, featuring a whole bunch of Chris Pauls, is awesome.

Similar to a Coca-Cola ad from 2006, what makes this cut-through especially great is the visible motion in the background that lets you know you’re not just watching some CGI trickery. All around a really well-done spot – that clearly took a great deal of planning and effort – from W+K and director, Andreas Nilsson.


The Things That Connect Us
Facebook & Wieden + Kennedy, Portland

I know, I know, this commercial is enamoring. And I agree, it really is gorgeous. But don’t you think it’s just a bit much? Come on, Facebook. You’re taking yourself just a bit too seriously, and this comes off as, well, a bit as arrogant and overreaching as Zuckerberg showing up to corporate meetings in a hoodie.

“The universe,” says the voiceover. “It is vast and dark, and makes us wonder if we are alone. So maybe the reason we make all of these things is to remind ourselves that we are not.”

A beautiful sentiment – and 1 billion users is quite an accomplishment for any website, let alone a dorm room invention – but I would argue that regardless, it’s simply just too much.


It speaks for itself. Or, in so many words, “Get over yourselves, first-worlders.”

Agency: DDB New York

Whose Line Is It Anyway?

The Detroit Red Wings’ Vice President of Marketing, Rob Mattina, spoke to my sports marketing class last week because, really, what else does he have to do? Thanks, Gary Bettman.

In all seriousness though, he was a great guy and a very engaging speaker, but I was left with a gnawing feeling that sports (let me clarify: team) marketing, or at the very least, hockey marketing lags behind other industries – or doesn’t feel, perhaps rightly so in the case of the Red Wings organization, that innovation is necessary.

Mattina spoke a great deal about the contrast between his “above the line” and “below the line” strategies, that is, traditional broadcast and digital or alternative methods (read: social). In the strictest sense, “above the line” refers to broadcasted mass media, while “below the line” refers to more targeted, measurable channels.

In my opinion, and in agreement with Ad Age contributor Kevin DiLorenzo, this terminology is out of touch.  In today’s media landscape, there is no line. Consumers prove this when they tweet on their phones or tablets while watching live TV, or engage mobile apps at the point of sale. The “line” is merely an industry cliché that allows marketers to silo their budgets in various areas rather than achieving integration.

This blurring, or disappearance, of the line coincides with one of the overarching themes of Advertising Week – the increasingly fundamental nature of digital, mobile, and social media. The days of agencies outsourcing their digital work, or housing entirely separate digital departments, are no more. Instead, campaigns must be built with all of these “alternatives” in mind, utilized to enhance the traditional broadcast mediums, or altogether surpass them in importance.

How often do you see a Starbucks ad on television? I can’t recall the last time. But online? Starbucks is ubiquitous. They’re active on Facebook and Twitter, use Instagram better than just about any brand, and “Pin” brand-relevant items better than most (I’m looking at you, Marc Jacobs and Nordstrom – let’s just say excessive).  Placing far more stock in loyalty, mobile, social, and in-store programs than it does broadcast mediums, Starbucks has been able to take advantage of its fan following in more meaningful ways.

To me, these actions do a better job – proportionately, at least – of “brand-building” than any traditional medium could. Brand-building is about growing loyalty, awareness, brand consideration, and equity. In my opinion, the depth with which these “alternatives” reach brands’ core audiences is of far greater value than the breadth that might be targeted through traditional broadcast media.

What is ultimately of the greatest value, however, is integration throughout a campaign. Disjointed narratives do little to enhance the consumer experience, if not causing confusion altogether. For a message to resonate with the consumer, it must be both cohesive and engaging – difficult to accomplish in what I’ll call “static” fashion.

So let’s do away with “the line” altogether, and focus instead on how to engage consumers in both meaningful and entertaining ways. Creating just one loyal consumer is ultimately more beneficial than entertaining ten who can’t pair your brand with, “you know, that one hilarious commercial.”

Risky Business: Is Great Advertising Dead?

I know I haven’t posted in a while; things have been really hectic with midterms and job applications. Making it even harder to focus on tasks at hand, last week was Advertising Week in New York – so naturally I spent too much time live-streaming various panels and tweeting about what I learned from #AWIX.

72andSunny & Benetton: UNHATE

I came away with a wealth of information on agency life, media trends, consumer behavior, and the digital takeover; but my biggest takeaways came from a pair of panels centered around risk: “Big Swings” presented by 72andSunny (look at their work for Benetton, and you’ll understand why they curated this panel) and “How the F#$% Did They Sell That?” – a panel curated by Mekanism that featured top brass from Pepsi Max, Kia Motors, Axe, and Charles Schwab.

Early in the week, JWT held a “funeral” for advertising. Of course, the coffin was empty, illustrating the point that advertising is not dead. It is evolving, but it is not dead.

Advertising is a business that changes with technology. A few years ago, and a few years before that, I’m sure many in the industry – daunted by a new paradigm they didn’t quite understand – foresaw the demise of advertising, too. We may not know what the future of advertising looks like, but I can be certain that it will continue to evolve as necessary – because advertising is an inherent part of consumerism, and consumerism is here to stay.

Susan Credle, Chief Creative Officer at Leo Burnett, blogged about the future of advertising for Huffington Post during AWIX and made a hugely important point:

Something different is going on today — a change that I haven’t seen in the almost 30 years that I have been in advertising. Something that I believe does truly threaten our industry. And that is the devaluation of ideas and partnerships. Why? Because the ugly truth is bad advertising and average advertising work. Great advertising just works better. Great advertising resonates longer. Great advertising is better for this world. Great advertising attracts great people to our profession.

The creation of great advertising takes real talent — agency types with super-human resiliency genes joined at the hip with client types whose brains defer to guts. Talented partners who grant each other tenure and realize that great success requires risk, investment and acceptance of failed attempts to create that great. And this kind of talent is finite.

So how can we, as an industry, foster an environment that creates great advertising? This is where risk comes into play. The great minds that Credle talks about drawing into the business would not, and should not, waste their talent on safety and mediocrity.

How the F#$% Did They Sell That?” discussed four recent campaigns that did in fact take risks. My favorite “i-don’t-know-why-i-like-this-but-i-love-it” ad of recent memory has been the Kia Soul Party Rockin’ hamster spot.  It’s absolutely absurd. There’s robots, a seemingly post-apocalyptic setting, dancing hamsters, the ever-annoying LMFAO, and I’m not going to lie, a pretty ugly car. But really, who drives a Kia Soul?

Well, since that ad, a lot of people do. And what’s remarkable is that quite recently, no one seemed to know what Kia was. Michael Sprague, executive vice president for marketing and communications at Kia Motors America, told the panel: “They thought I was selling Swedish furniture. They thought I was IKEA. What the hell do I have to lose?”

Working with David & Goliath, Sprague was able to sell that campaign based on the agency’s known ability to home in on those car buyers [millenials] and understand their tastes in music, gaming and pop culture.

Other campaigns featured included those below, whose “cost-to-weirdness” ratio – or surprise factor in the case of Axe – were just enough to sell and succeed.

Agency: Davie Brown Entertainment

Agency: Mekanism

Agency: BBH New York

Failure is part of the business, and many would argue, an integral one. I recently watched a TEDx talk from Tor Myhren, President & Chief Creative at Grey in New York, where he talked about “heroic failures” and how he rewards them with his own staff. Coming off of one such failure, which lost the $300 million Cadillac account for Leo Burnett Detroit as well as his job, Myhren learned a lot, but continued to take risks at Grey.

The now-famous E*TRADE baby commercials were no doubt a risk, and far from the commercials flaunting other financial firms, but this time, the calculated risk paid off. E*TRADE has since become hugely successful, and Myhren’s hilarious talking babies have been key. Making Ellen DeGeneres a Covergirl at 50, the oddball mini-giraffe spot for DirecTV, and a host of other examples show risk paying off for Myhren and Grey.

So I agree with Susan Credle. Advertising is not dead. But it needs to continue producing great ads that attract great talent. Agencies and clients should take calculated risks. Some might pay off, others might not. But without them, we’d only have mediocrity, and that is a boring future I don’t wish for as I (hopefully) begin my career in the industry.