Denny’s+DumbDumb= Arrested Development?

Jason Bateman? Yes Please.

Will Arnett? Of course.

Celebrity guests from their wacky group of friends? Give me more.

Apparently Denny’s has been reading my mind and, in light of no new Arrested Development movie, they’ve instead enlisted Bateman and Arnett’s comedic stylings for a new social media campaign.

A new web series put on by Denny’s has hit the web: “Always Open.” Playing off the idea of American diners, celebrity guests chat it up with host David Koechner (best known for his roles in Anchorman and The Office) in a local Denny’s as they polish off plates of the restaurant’s meals.

Denny’s, in an attempt to connect with the younger generation, hired Bateman and Arnett’s production company, DumbDumb, to write and produce these shorts for online viewers. The hope is to not only connect with the viewers, but to encourage a sense of openness and consumer feedback.

Explaining his interest in the project to Ad Age, Bateman said:

“It’s the most efficient way to communicate our tone of humor instead of trying to explain to another actor or write it down. It also shows our peers and our friends that we’re willing to put ourselves out there so when we ask some of our famous friends to come play with us we can say, ‘We did it, now we’re doing it with you.'”

And what a group of friends that includes! Upcoming guests are rumoured to include Kristen Bell, Will Forte, Sarah Silverman and, Arnett’s real-life wife, Amy Poehler.

The real challenge will come in getting a returning viewership. With short web series such as these, it’s difficult to guarantee that an individual will come back for more. Hopefully, however, with the above list of guest stars already announced, adoring fans will flock to the videos to see their favorite comedians enjoy a Denny’s meal and a little chatter.

After having watched the first video, I have a few opinions of my own. I am automatically enchanted by all things Jason Bateman. I love his humour and it definitely worked for the scenario. Host David Koechner is also a fine act, but for me Bateman steals the scene. There’s no real action– it quite literally is just these two individuals sitting down and having a rather comedic (and odd) conversation. I was left wondering how much was improvised and how much was scripted.

Denny’s was perfectly placed as the location without over-emphasizing their brand. There is brief mention of the name by the actors, and of course the restaurant is credited for the series, but I think they’ve done a good job of not inundating us with their involvement. This allows the audience to sit back and enjoy the wit, without being weighed down by commercialism. And yet, I never forgot they were in a Dennys.

I can personally guarantee them my loyal viewership, due largely to the names that have been attached to the show, but how long will other’s be able to sit through meal-time talk? I’ve embedded the video below and hope to hear some more reactions. What do you think? Am I just blinded by my Jason Bateman and Will Arnett love, or does this mini series have some actual potential?

The videos will be launched on both the Denny’s Facebook and College Humor.

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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.

 

 

Barbie & Ken Rekindle…online

They are the Ross and Rachel of toys. Will they or won’t they? Their indecision has plagued us for years…and the intrigue has just gotten even more compelling.

Many might recall that back in 2004, Barbie and Ken, the idyllic couple of our childhood imaginations, decided to take a bit of a romantic break. Perhaps these two ‘plastic celebrities’ decided they each wanted to spend just a bit more time on one of their numerous careers (i.e. rocket scientist, professional dancer, veterinarian). Whatever the reasoning, Mattel, Inc. split the two up.

And now, on the eve of Ken’s 50th birthday (wow, he looks good for his age– think he had some work done? plastic surgery maybe? sorry lame joke), Mattel has launched a digital marketing campaign of epic proportions in an attempt to reunite the two lovelorn dolls.

A jack-of-all-trades, Ken’s next greatest challenge is to win back his true love. Since the break up, Ken has been undergoing an image overhaul. Now he’s ready to show his new self off, and he’s using the power of social networking to do so. Consumers are encouraged to check out Ken’s profiles, as well as the hub site barbieandken.com. You can even vote in an online poll asking, “Should Barbie Take Ken Back?” Leaving no viral stone unturned, other social marketing sites being utilized include Facebook, twitter, foursquare, and YouTube. Fans can follow the love story as it unfolds, with both of the dolls actively engaging in socializing through these sites. Ken has been known to tweet anything from nostalgic memories about times with Barbie to his favorite articles in contemporary mens’ magazines.

So why the campaign, and why now? Well, besides the obvious excitement over Ken’s birth-aversary (that’s birthday and anniversary combined), the release of the latest Ken doll is also causing quite a stir. The new “Sweet Talking Ken” doll  is described as being “the ultimate boyfriend for every occasion,” praising his ability to say “whatever your want him to say!” Certainly sounds good.

Also in the works, in attempt to gain further notice, Mattel has started a web series called “Genuine Ken.” The series, hosted by Hulu,  is looking for the literal equivalent of the toy company’s newest Ken doll. The contestants all compete for the title of “The Great American Boyfriend.”

Another clever scheme is the product incorporation within the campaign. Ken be seen promoting any number of products. For instance, he uses a Macbook while browsing Google Chrome.

All in all, the concept seems pretty great. The famous dolls’ relationship spans generations, and by using the internet, the company has successfully targeted the modern youth. What do you think? And more especially, should Barbie take Ken back?

Why Toy Story 3 deserves Best Picture…but won’t get it.

First, let me admit to being late to the game. I’ve only JUST seen Toy Story 3. For months I’ve had to avoid spoilers. My friends, having grown up with the series like myself, had all seen and loved the film, and were anxious to talk about it. But I plugged my ears and carried on, somehow missing out on every opportunity to see the film until I Netflixed it.

The. Movie. Was. Wonderful.


I honestly believe that Toy Story 3 is one of the best films to have been released this past Oscar year. No, I haven’t seen all the pictures rumored to be Best Picture contenders, but I certainly feel confident enough to make a case for Toy Story 3. Critics predict that TS3 will most definitely get a nom, most likely even a Best Picture nomination due to the increased category sizes (10). Yet, critics also overwhelming agree that the chances of TS3 WINNING Best Picture are slim to none. Their most definite lose in the category is not due to any deficiency in quality, but rather it can be pinpointed to the simple fact that TS3 is a “kids’ movie.” Yes, TS3 is quite obviously labeled a “family film,” “child-friendly,” “fun for the whole family”– but what the average viewer fails to understand is that TS3 is much, much more.

Let’s first look at the reasons why TS3 should win Best Picture. As the Oscars website says, the golden statue is symbolic of “superior achievement…Although it measures just 13½ inches high, the Oscar statuette stands tall as the motion picture industry’s greatest honor. Officially named the Academy Award of Merit, the Oscar is given in recognition of the highest level of achievement in moviemaking.” So how do you judge the quality of “moviemaking”? Well, for the purpose of this write-up, and seeing as I’m no expert movie critic, I will explain my argument based upon my own beliefs in what makes a good movie good.

  1. The Cast/Acting: As a cartoon (which, by the way, is a major strike against TS3’s winning Best Picture) we clearly do not see the actors portraying the characters, but a quick view of the cast list reveals a myriad of seasoned veterans in the film industry, led by the admirable Tom Hanks. Other voice talents include those of Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton, Whoopi Goldberg, Timothy Dalton, and John Ratzenberger (whose voice “appears” in EVERY Pixar film). The award count, both of nominations and wins, amongst this group is too great to cover. Okay, so clearly the cast is of film history, but further proof of their absolute talent is the impact the characters they have created have had on multiple generations. At 21, I grew up with the series and could name any of the toys. My parents, of the baby boomer generation, could also name any of the toys, because let’s face it– parents want to watch this movies as much as their kids do. I work at a daycare (ironic when looked at in reference to the film’s content), and I know the range of children who come in who can also name these characters. From the two-year old who cries for the Woody doll every time he comes in, to the 8-year-old who (maybe a bit begrudgingly) admits to wanting to play with Buzz. The characters have spanned generations, and are loved by each and every one of them.
  2. The Script: Something I particularly noticed about the “human” dialogue was how believe it was, possibly because I can recall having the exact same conversations within the past couple of years (the mother’s reaction to her sons emptied out room/son going away? Yea, I’m pretty sure they snuck into my house for that one). Of course, the witticisms of the toys are beyond hilarious– and intelligent. From Lotso’s silly sigh of “F.A.O. my Schwartz!” to Bonnie’s toys informing Woody that they “do a lot of improve,” I was laughing almost throughout the film. I possibly mistakenly chose to watch this film with my mom who is a notoriously loud laugher and due to her constant cracking up, there were multiple occasions when I had to rewind a bit to hear some dialogue we might have missed. And it’s also heartwarming, as are several of the moments in the movie.
  3. The Storyline: I will begin this part by stating how frightening I found particular scenes to be in this movie (fire burning at the dump!! My stomach was in my throat). Overall, the story was phenomenal. The plot was perfect and went right along with the other two movies, as well as remained relatable to viewers– Andy ages and goes to college, I’ve aged and gone to college…are my toys mad at me? The story also had everything drama (moving on to another chapter in one’s life, letting going of the past), humor (mentioned above), adventure (an escape to rival Ocean’s 11 or Shawshank Redemption), horror (once again, dumpster and fire), romance (Jesse & Buzz, sitting in a tree…Oh, and whose heart didn’t break when it was revealed the Bo Peep had gone on to a new kid?), and…foreign influence (Yo quiero Espana Buzz).
  4. The Appeal: I’ve already mentioned this various times throughout this post, but there is no denying the widespread appeal of this sort of movie. A greater audience will be able to enjoy this film–to laugh with it, to cry with it–than any of the other contenders. This movie does the practically impossible by defying age boundaries. At the box office, most adults went with children, but I know a great deal more who went on their own. I know grown men who admitted to bawling like a baby at the movie. I know children who call this film their favorite, as well as adults. Critics loved the film, not just for children, but for themselves. The Toy Story franchise in general has a vast appeal that nearly no other movie has, or will ever have.

In an earlier post I mentioned the unique campaign Pixar was running for TS3’s consideration in the award season race. It is the clever and brilliant ideas such as that can be found throughout the whole Toy Story franchise. And yet, it’s a cartoon. It’s a Disney cartoon. While the Academy members who vote are certainly more able to appreciate the film’s genius than the general population, there is still a certain taboo to the idea of a cartoon (actually, computer animated) becoming the Best Picture. After all, an animated film isn’t suppose to be though-provoking, deep, emotional, moving, AND entertaining. That would just be preposterous…right?

Honestly, I can’t rave about TS3 enough. But, then again, this is only one person’s opinion. I would love to know how others felt about it– Sound off below?

Tostitos adopts PR campaign tactic

Tostitos brand tortilla chips are just one of a number of brands that have turned to social media and public relations to sell their product. As a division of the Frito-Lay corporation, Tostitos are a well-established product within the market– their appeal is known, and constant reminders of their taste or texture will only be so helpful in selling the product. Therefore, the company has turned to social media and PR tactics to emphasize emotional connections with the brand. The campaign, known as “Tostitos Reunite America,” stems from the Frito-Lay initiative to highlight their role in making “connections among consumers.”

To kick off the campaign, Tostitos sponsored Monday’s college football Bowl Championship title game. During halftime, Tostitos arranged for surprise reunions between some troops and their families. Such reunions are a basic foundation for their campaign which is “focused on reuniting consumers with relatives, friends, former teammates and lost romantic partners.”

Tostitos has especially taken advantage of the social networking site Facebook. By visiting the Tostitos Facebook page, consumers are greeted by the following message: “Facebook is great. Face-to-face is even better. Tell us which Facebook friend or family member you’re dying to reunite with. If you’re picked, we’ll set you up with a once-in-a-lifetime reunion.” The page includes more information about the campaign, including instructions on participating. Consumers can upload video clips explaining why they think they should win a “once-in-a-lifetime” reunion. Rather than focusing on the product itself, Tostitos is making a connection at the emotional level. Says Nancy Reyes, member of the “Tostitos Reunite America” team, “the emotional benefits drive people to be closer to the brand than the functional benefits…It’s nice to focus on the emotional part of the brand and live out its purpose.”

So what are the benefits to this PR and social media driven campaign? Well, most importantly, especially in comparison to modern-day advertising, employing social media is an effective and inexpensive way to drum up business. While the company has not released the monetary figures for the campaign, it can only be expected that, even with the cost of the reunions (an amount that has also not been as of yet released), this campaign will cost significantly less than past campaigns. Plus, the unique approach Tostitos is taking, and their initiative to embrace the social networking sites, shows forward thinking and is sure to catch attention.

 

For more information on the “Tostitos Reunite America” campaign, visit the Tostitos Facebook page, or read the New York Times write-up here.

 

 

 

Toy Story 3: “For Your Consideration” Campaign

It’s Oscar season, and any movie that was any movie is asking for the academy’s “consideration.” While some campaigns are less organized, such as Justin Timberlake’s personal crusade to gain The Social Network some Oscar glory, Disney has once again pushed the envelope.

Animated films, no matter how amazing, are often overlooked in the Best Picture category. Only twice before have animated films been even considered for the honor– Beauty and the Beast (’97?) and last year’s Up. But Disney’s Toy Story 3 refuses to be ignored. To combat the often neglectful eye of the academy, Disney is running what appears to be an ingenious campaign for Toy Story 3 in an attempt to be considered as a Best Picture nominee.

Disney has released a series of imaginative posters comparing their Toy Story 3 to past Oscar Best Picture winners. Taking scenes from the actual film featuring all our favorites–Woody, Buzz, Jesse–each poster features the tagline “Not since [movie]…”

Spoofs include Lord of the Rings, On the Waterfront, and an all too funny picture of Jesse with the tag “Not Since Annie Hall…”

The website is featured below, and I’ve attached a few pictures to this post. Really, the photos are worth a look…and consideration (whether you’re from the academy or not).

http://www.waltdisneystudiosawards.com/toystory3/photos.php

Not since On the Waterfront…

Not since The Sting…

 

Not since The Sound of Music…

http://www.waltdisneystudiosawards.com/toystory3/photos.php