“Cars n’ Deals”: Pixar works the web

I absolutely love viral movie campaigns, and Pixar has yet to disappoint (see Toy Story 3 social media campaign. No, seriously– click the link and check it out. It’s great!).

The first Cars movie, much like all Pixar movies, received rave reviews and prominently displayed Pixar’s unique ability to simultaneously entertain both children and parents. It’s 5 years later, and expectant audiences are eagerly awaiting the sequels upcoming release.

Trailers have been showing for a while now, promoting the film in the regular way. Pixar, however, is anything but regular. After the success of the Toy Story 3 viral campaign, the company has turned once more to director Chris Cantwell. Together with Pixar, Cantwell has put together faux car advertisement to promote the new Cars film. The video is complete with corny sales pitches, editing gaffes, and cheap-looking production quality. This ‘ad’ makes all those other annoyingly tacky bargain car commercials look award-worthy– and I say that as a great compliment. The video is hilarious and well worth a watch, for Pixar fans or those just looking for a laugh.

Pixar and Cars fan, however, are in for a special treat. Hidden within the video is link to a site where you can watch exclusive footage from the film (hint: 57 second mark). Also, if I’m not mistaken, some of the actual cars seen in video might look a bit familiar to anyone who has seen the trailer…just saying.

Sprinkled throughout the video are also hints to the new movie’s plots. Make sure to watch it more than once to make sure you catch everything. Plus, apparently the phone number they give at the end of the commercial is a working line. I might have to pick up a phone and check this out for myself!

Cars 2 opens June 24, 2011.

P.S. My favorite parts: “Lion of a deal” as he wears a tiger costume and the jingle at the end (“but don’t go too far or you’ll miss it”).

Making History Hardcore

Sifting through my daily tumblr dashboard, I came across what appeared to be a really interesting advertising campaign by the Smithsonian Museum. Upon further research, it turns out that these posters/ads were actually created by a former student, Jenny Burrows, for a class project. The ads, which followed the campaign theme of “Historically Hardcore” soon went viral and people around the web were sharing the images. After all the attention they received, Burrows was actually asked to remove any mention of the Smithsonian museum. Despite the small revision, the ads remain up and are quite interesting and fun. It seems to me that if the Smithsonian doesn’t want the campaign, some other museum should scoop it up. With the theme “Historically Hardcore,” these posters would be a great way to reach out to an audience that doesn’t typically look to museums as a source of entertainment. Plus, history is pretty hardcore when you think about it.

Tell me what you think! And be sure to check out more work by Burrows here.

Kraft’s Crafty Campaign

I will not lie. As a college student, Kraft Mac & Cheese makes up a large part of my diet.

And now, more than ever, am I interested to tell this to the world, thanks to a sneaky new Kraft Foods social media campaign. Working with ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Kraft is playing the childhood game of “Jinx.”

Over the past few weeks, anytime two individuals separately tweeted the phrase “mac & cheese,” Kraft would send each a  link The first to click the link and respond with their home address receives five free boxes of mac & cheese and a t-shirt. The promotion is going by the name “Mac & Jinx.”

It’s nice to see a brand using Twitter as their primary campaign platform. Often, Facebook is used in conjunction with these contests, but Crispin Porter + Bogusky seem to be onto something. This agency is also responsible for the Burger King advertising over the past decade or so (which, for the most part, I find incredibly creepy and yet do their job since I can’t quite seem to get them out of my head).

Perhaps you have seen some of the other Kraft mac and cheese ads the agency has worked on, including the TV ads featuring kids complaining about their parent’s  less than worthy Mac and Cheese. I found these commercials endearing and hilarious, and am glad to see that these smart ads were more than just a fluke.

 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some yummy tweeting to get done. Fingers crossed!

 

 

 

 

Old Navy: New Ads, Same Camp

I think the time has come that I dedicate a post to acknowledging a very serious issue that plagues are country today…

Of course I am talking about the Old Navy advertisement campaigns.

While the “Supermodelquins” have been dismantled to make room for a new campaign, the perky Kim Kardashian-esque singer is equally frustrating, leading to a serious introspective Q&A with myself– why on earth can’t I stop shopping there?

First of all, let’s be honest. If there’s a store whose clothes and products we enjoy, a silly commercial isn’t going to keep us from going there. Sure, we may grunt and groan as we hear the store’s speakers blare their latest mantras, but we will grin and bear it. With that in mind, I sometimes wonder if Old Navy is really just trying to test us…or is it just me?

Let’s begin with the newly departed Supermodelquins. Plastic display mannequins dressed in Old Navy fashions. And they can talk. Oh, and how they talk! Often their ‘witty banter’ gets frightfully close to making sexual connotations that personally make me feel uncomfortable (hint, they play up the ‘plastic’ thing a lot). The commercials were colorful yet campy. And yet, it was this exact cornball attitude that they hoped to put forth. Assisted by Crispin, Porter & Bogusky, Old Navy hoped to return to their so-called “campy” marketing roots.

The latest campaign, while not outright campy, certainly makes a mark of its own. The commercials tout the theme: “Old Navy Records. Original hits. Original styles.” The stars of these latest spots are a group of sings and dancers. While the acts are said to change as time goes on, the current group is a trio called Audio Threadz. The ads have been getting a lot of publicity due to the lead female singer’s eerie resemblance to Kim Kardashian (coincidence?). Supposedly influenced by the success of Glee (but what isn’t nowadays), the company says research has shown that their own consumers are music fans as well. While time will tell how successful, or possibly just annoying, these commercials turn out to be, one thing is for certain– they stick with you. For better or for worse.

Old Navy identifies their target customer as women ages 25 to 30, typically moms. And, while I can’t speak for myself seeing as I’m part of neither category, apparently supermodelquins and pop numbers are the way to go. Afterall, so what if we like the commercials, it’s the fact that we remember them, that we write about them, that we spend time thinking about them– and thus thinking about Old Navy itself.

 

 

The Power of the T(w)een Icon

We all know that tweens are all astir with Bieber fever (a condition I dearly hope the American Medical Association has begun to look into), but how much of an influence does he really have on, or should I say hold over, his adoring groupies?

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone magazine, the 16-year-old was asked some questions that were clearly out of his depth. In the interview, Bieber was asked for his opinion on controversial topics such as pre-marital sex, abortion, and politics. His answers, in particular to the abortion question, have raised eyebrows. When asked whether he believed in abortion, Bieber answered:

“I really don’t believe in abortion,” Bieber says. “It’s like killing a baby.” How about in cases of rape? “Um. Well, I think that’s really sad, but everything happens for a reason. I don’t know how that would be a reason. I guess I haven’t been in that position, so I wouldn’t be able to judge that.”

His less than committal answer, as least in terms of rape, has been the subject of much controversy.

(Of course, before I delve into the controversy of celebrity influence, I would like to make a quick statement on my own point of view regarding this interview. My opinion, and that of many others, is that the magazine should have refrained from even asking such questions. As a barely 16-year-old boy, expecting Bieber to have informed or introspective answers to these questions is just ridiculous. Looking at a transcript of Bieber’s answer is enough to prove his inexperience in the area, an ineptitude that is perfectly acceptable at his age. Despite growing up in the public eye, he is still only a kid, whose opinions and self have yet to completely form. I’m not pointing fingers at any certain culprit, but I also can’t put blame on Bieber for being a bit ignorant of such critical issues at his young age. Okay, right– END OF RANT).

Whether the Bieber-boppers will be influenced in any way by his less than enlightening interview is debatable– after all, what parent gives their 9-year-old a copy of Rolling Stone? However, the interview got me thinking: Youth are obviously the most easily influenced market group. Their malleable perceptions of the world are ready to be shaped; their naivety is readily taken advantage of in the world of advertising. So how influential are celebrity spokespersons and mouthpieces when it comes to affecting the youth?

About two years ago, I was talking to a nearly 14-year-old. She was telling me all about her birthday, and mentioned her most treasured gift– a promise ring. Her mother had bought her a promise ring, upon the daughter’s request. This ring symbolizes a pledge that the individual wearing it will save themselves for marriage. At the age of 14, I had never heard of such a thing. However, this girl knew about the phenomenon and had also made the very, perhaps naively, decision that she wanted to save herself. This was all well and fine, but I have to admit I was a bit surprised. Her family isn’t overly religious nor conservative. I was surprised up until the point that she explained to me: “The Jonas brothers all have them.”

Mmmmhmmmm. Now I see. While the Jonas brothers’ pledges of abstinence might not be the most detrimental of influences, I found it interesting nonetheless. This young girl was making major life decisions (albeit ones that could be changed) based on the attitudes of couple of cute teenagers in a pop band.

Vanessa Hudgens for Ecko Red

Of course, you can’t mention the Jonas brothers without touching upon this generation’s most notorious youth icon. That’s right, Hannah Montana herself, the hot mess that is Miley Cyrus. She is the Lindsey Lohan of this generation. Her path seems to be a destined downward spiral, with the whole world watching. At the end of January of this year, Miley Cyrus was voted Worst Celebrity Influence in an online poll– FOR THE SECOND YEAR IN A ROW. While Miley may now be a legal adult at the age of 18, she never fails to surprise the press with her antics. When she was underage, it was scandalous pictures and taunting videos, now it’s videos of the pop star taking hits of ‘Salvia’ (I put that in quotes because I still fail to see any proof that it was Salvia–how convenient that she chose the rather obscure, but legal drug over the more common, and illegal marijuana…). Having faded a bit from the Disney star spotlight, her escapades may not make nearly as large of an impact of tweens, but she is still a role model or sorts. In fact, any celebrity or person in the spotlight must understand their position as a role model, especially those whose target audiences are the young and impressionable.

So I wonder– how much influence do these celebrities actually have over the youth? How much influence to celebrities have over the public in general?

Companies and organizations are quick to use them as mouthpieces for their products or cause– be it a acne cream, third-world charity, or car commercial. My question is– have YOU ever found yourself purchasing or donating because of the celebrity representative? Has their voice and opinion ever affected you enough to influence your behavior? Of course, as a sidenote, there is no shame in admitting an action based on celebrity endorsement. Afterall, lots of people have– why do you think companies are still paying millions of dollars to hire these people?

Another controversial Rolling Stone debacle

 

 

(Personally, I can’t think of an exact example of a time I’ve been influenced to purchase/donate based on a celebrity spokesperson. I do admit to remembering products better that have been endorsed by someone– i.e. “Oh, yea, that’s the lipstick Drew Barrymore wears.” And, of course, I have to admit an ever-present desire to take a Carnival Cruise simply because of John Krasinski’s voice in the commercials– “Dude, mom just got air.”)

 

Fortune 100 and Social Media

During my internship I was assigned to log onto a clients’ twitter page and follow all of the Fortune 500 companies. Our client worked as a business to business counselor, so any connections we could make for her with big name companies were greatly appreciated. And so I set to work, searching company by company according to the list. Needless to say, the process became a bit tedious, but I was interested to discover the number of these large corporations that enlisted the use of social media.

An article from Ragan’s PR Daily has revealed to me further social media trends of the Fortune 100 companies. The information comes from Burson-Marsteller’s social media study released yesterday. So what do you think? Any surprises?

1. Twitter is the most popular social media platform.

77% of companies have a twitter page.

2. Companies are interacting more on Twitter.

67% use “@” to communicate with consumers.

3. Fortune 100 companies have more Twitter followers.

4. More people are talking about companies on Twitter.

5. Facebook use increased by 13 percent.

The number of ‘likes’ have increased 115%.

6. Companies are giving their stakeholders a voice on Facebook.

75% let customers post on their walls; 72% respond to wall comments.

7. The number of YouTube accounts increased.

57% have a YouTube page.

8. More companies are using “all four” social media platforms.

25% have a Twitter, Facebook, Blog, and YouTube page.

9. Asian companies are helping fuel the increase in social media.

10. Companies are embracing the blog.

The average number of blogs per company increased 63%.

 

Will Tumblr get Tossed?

My first thought was that Tumblr must be some distant cousin of Flickr. Social media sites ignoring the use of the letter ‘e’ (still looking for a scientific explanation behind that).  This was more than a year ago, when the site was still getting off its feet and riding on the road of uncertainty. Even after its success, it took me a while to hop on board. Finally, I took the plunge, using my Communications major as a justification signing up for yet another social networking platform. It’s been about a month now, and I must self-consciously admit– I’m hooked.

The Tumblr site to me seems like a more visual, less organized Twitter. While your posts don’t need to be fewer than 140 characters, I personally tend to ignore the longer passages. The greatest benefit is the visual aspect– no need to click away to another page to view pictures and, more importantly, gifs. While my experiences on Tumblr are still relatively limited, I’ve found the community to be littered with positively every imaginable gif known to man. Than again, I say ‘littered’ like  bad thing. In fact, Tumblr has brought out in me the absolute geek and fan-fanatic. Unlike my twitter and blog, where I try to maintain a certain level of professional posts and demeanor, Tumblr has quickly become my guilty pleasure. Not that the material is inappropriate, but it certainly is without educational benefits. Instead, my favorite posts (is that even the correct lingo?) include gifs from my numerous favorite television shows.

But enough about me and my utter television/film nerdiness. Back to my initial point in writing this post. During my own use of Tumblr, I couldn’t help but wonder how often the platform was used at a professional level. I have one friend who uses Tumblr for the local publication she writes for– that seems like a reasonable and intelligent use of the site. However, unlike Twitter or Facebook pages for companies and brands, I feel like Tumblr isn’t nearly as professional. Once again, this is simply my opinion on the matter, one I’ve gained from only a limited introduction to Tumblr.

I decided to look into the overall use of Tumblr, and found a some interesting facts. For instance, it was only in early 2010 that Tumblr really hit its stride. Within 6 months, Tumblr doubled its page views. People were starting to catch on to this new fad, with nearly 25,000 people a day signing up for profiles.

I discovered that some of the most popular professional users of Tumblr are mainstream media. Tumblr was another medium through which they could publicize their stories. Everyday bloggers (like myself) also caught on, enjoying the ease the platform provided for posting pictures as well as words.

While the businesses that use Tumblr come from various fields, there remains a high presence of media outlets and personal bloggers. Especially in comparison to the rise of Twitter use among big name corporations (i.e. Fortune 500 companies), Tumblr remains a more personal and  social platform. That’s not to say that a company wouldn’t have any success with the website. I think one of the more endearing factors about Tumblr is the lax environment and community. For this reason, small- and medium-sized organizations are among the first professional groups to turn to Tumblr.

But what about everyone else? What do they, and you, think the benefits of Tumblr are?

One article I found explained Tumblr’s success as such: “Many attribute it to a thrust for the ‘tweener’ social media site – more content than Twitter, less than a full blog… Many use Tumblr as a simple alternative to WordPress, Blogger, or Typepad with quick blogging, reblogging, and feed integration options that allow for faster, more automated methods of running a blog.”

Right now, I’m hooked on the site, but how long will my interest in my own obscure obsessions last? How many Princess Bride or Sherlock (BBC) gifs can one possible watch before wanting more? Overall, I wonder if Tumblr will survive to become the “next big thing.” This, in many ways, will be dependent upon industrial adoption of the platform. Will companies make profit from this website? Can they use it to their advantage? Will it really make a difference with their consumers?

What do you think? Will it last? Do you use Tumblr? What are the benefits? Negatives?

I would love to hear opinions from more ‘experienced’ users.