Baldwin & Krasinski: Baseball Battles

I just want to take a moment to comment on how much I love the Yankees vs. Red Sox/Alec Baldwin vs. John Krasinksi commercials. These ads, while not overtly obvious, are actually for the New Era Cap Company.

Now, I have to admit that I’m not actually much of a sports fan. I like the Yankees, but that’s simply because I’m afraid that if I didn’t like them my family would have disowned me by now. Both my father and step-father are hard-core Yankees fans, not to mention my 91-year-old Grandmother’s team devotion (which I’m convinced is partially due to her crush on Derek Jeter). I have therefore grown up rooting for the Yankees, which according to these commercials makes me Team Baldwin– perfectly alright to me.

I love both the actors involved, and I love the whole campaign even more. Whether you’re a rabid sports fanatic, an occasional viewer, or a family-forced fan like myself, these commercials are hilarious and fun. Checking out the New Era Cap Company’s Facebook page, you can find even more information about the company and their campaign. You can even vote for which “team” you are on– and it’s quite a close race. At the time of this post, the loyalties were tied 50/50!

So maybe, like me, baseball isn’t exactly your thing. Well, lucky for the rest of us, Alec Baldwin and John Krasinski, especially when put together, are quite fantastic. Here is the latest commercial, which prompted this post. Too perfect.

Coca-Cola Brings Happiness to the Highway

It is a universally acknowledged truth that rush hour traffic is absolutely despicable bumper-to-bumper traffic is the worst, and traffic jams are the bane of all drivers’ existence.

Taking this into mind, Coca-Cola decided to live up to their motto and “spread the happiness” to a situation teeming with displeasure.

To promote their new, smaller sized Coke Minis, Coca-Cola transformed a highway in Bogotá, Colombia into an outdoor theater. Models were hired to hand out typical movie theater refreshments– popcorn, nachos, and of course the new Coke Minis– to the lucky drivers stuck in traffic.

A screen was erected to show a film, synced with a radio station for the accompanying soundtrack, giving drivers the full movie theater experience.

It seems foreign to see so many smiling faces in bumper-to-bumper traffic, but it’s certainly attention-grabbing. In fact, this is probably the only example where drivers weren’t in a rush for the traffic to start moving again.

Check out the video below to see how Coke “spread the happiness” in an unlikely situation:

Lessons Learned: Gotham Inc.

Remember this post? Where I gushed on and on about how neat it was that Denny’s was doing a web series for their social media campaign? I mentioned that DumbDumb, a group started by actors Jason Bateman and Will Arnett, was responsible for the videos. Apparently, however, I failed to dig further and discover the true group responsible for bringing this hilarity to the web.

Then, yesterday, I attended a guest lecturer at our school–an alumni who has made quite a name for himself in the marketing and advertising industry. His name was Peter McGuinness and his company is Gotham Inc., an integrated marketing company. The presentation was spectacular and thought-provoking, and while it’s hard to pinpoint a favorite part, I was especially interested when McGuinness started talking about Gotham’s own work. Lo and behold, they were the masterminds behind the Denny’s campaign.

McGuinness and his group were given the daunting task of completely revitalizing a great American brand that had lost its heat. Focusing on the idea of “openness,” the group enlisted social media, marketing and advertising. The success was evident and the media were enthralled.

For my part, I was bit starstruck when I found out they had been responsible for the “Always Open” videos that I love so much. It took all my willpower to resist shouting out: “I blogged about that!” I managed to resist making a fool out of myself, while taking away a few valuable lessons in the process. Here are some of those lessons:

  • Evolution and innovation are continuous
  • Social media is more than a fad. It is pervasive and powerful– and here to stay.
  • Brands have become democratized: The consumers are in control and companies must work to “earn” their time.
  • The foundation of a successful brand/consumer relationship is reciprocity.
  • When executing a campaign, truth is more important than ever.
  • It’s important to remain curious, personally and professionally. Broaden your perspective and horizon.
  • And finally, when applying to jobs “package yourself in a unique and compelling way.”

While I never got to ask the most burning question on my mind (Is your company’s name a reference to Batman?), the event was certainly valuable. In the end, it got me all the more excited to enter the career world!

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.

 

 

NY Welcomes a Week of Social Media

As if we needed another reason to get hooked in by all of our social networking sites. This upcoming week, February 7-11, is Social Media Week. A globally recognized event first launched in  2009 by Toby Daniels, SMW is “a global platform that connects people, content, and conversation around emerging trends in social and mobile media.” While the center of this conference will be in NYC this year, the events are worldwide–from London to Paris to Hong Kong.

The official website describes the event:

Delivered primarily through a network of internationally hosted biannual conferences and online through social and mobile media, Social Media Week brings hundreds of thousands of people together every year through learning experiences that aim to advance our understanding of social media’s role in society.

There will be over 150 events throughout the city, utilizing New York’s various hot spots, including the UN and the Guggenheim. The highlight of the event will undoubtedly be keynote speaker Dennis Crowley, the CEO of Foursquare. Other activities include a panel on social media and music as well as an event from the UN dealing with global social media. Sponsors include Nokia, Pepsico, NY Public Library, and a variety of marketing and PR-based companies.

With the growing importance of social media in both our professional and personal lives, what better way to educate and celebrate the trend. I’m sure several companies will have wisely taken advantage of this conference. Wish I could be there!

Know what I Meme?

The internet can be a mystifying place. And I don’t just mean the labyrinth-esque routes to websites, nor the complex jargon. No, I’m talking about all those memes out there.

What is a meme? Well, I’m glad you ask, because despite being what I had assumed was ‘hip’ to the internet lingo, I still only learned this term during the past year. To discover the definition for myself, I turned to faithful Wikipedia, just another internet creation that couldn’t live without. Wikipedia defined a meme (which they first told me is pronounced to rhyme with cream…good thing I had never actually had a chance to speak it aloud because I’m quite sure that I would not have pronounced it as such) as “ideas or beliefs that are transmitted from one person or group of people to another.” Vague, right? So I read on: “A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena.” Still vague. Here I was, thinking that a meme would automatically be in reference to the internet– how foolish of me, living in the digital age, to assume such. In fact, the concept of a meme comes from the analogy that “as genes transmit biological information, memes can be said to transmit idea and belief information.” They are applicable throughout culture, including in spheres of religion, models of racism, and anthropological theories.

But to focus once more on the internet meme, this term is used to describe to describe concepts transmitted through the internet. Once more I had been hoping for a better explanation, but by coming across these indistinct interpretations I began to understand that the whole point was the memes weren’t as simple as they seemed. I was hoping for a specific definition that I could grasp and pass along, but the truth is that memes are all around us on the internet. By using sites such as blogs, social networking, and (my latest favorite) tumblr, we are constantly transmitting these memes. The internet is the society, and the memes are the culture.

To me, memes are best represented by the internet phenomenon. My internet-saavy suitemate will often show me YouTube videos or silly blogs that, despite obscure or non sequitur references, somehow gather a cult following. These are memes. But there’s more to them than just silly ways for hipsters to pass their time. Public relations, advertising, and marketing professionals have all taken advantage of using memes in viral marketing. Memes help create buz about a company, product, or service. They’re inexpensive and, if conducted properly, can become quite popular, especially with niche audiences. They’re also a great way to show creativity. Often the film industry will use memes to generate attention for movies.

For further information on memes, I highly suggest the website Know Your Meme. You will find yourself bombarded with hours of useless information and entertainment.

 

 

Communicating with the generations.

During a daily trolling of the PR/Media blogs, I came across this interesting little cheat sheet from Ragan’s PR Daily. Titled How to communicate to different generations, it gives a brief synopsis of what a variety of age groups best react to in messages from companies. Connect to the article here for more information, but here’s a brief run-down and some parts I found most interesting:

Age Group: Oldest generation (WWII generation),

communication preferences include:

  • Concise summary, sometimes known as the ‘Reader’s Digest approach’
  • Highly specific
  • Linear and sequential presentation of the information
  • Greater emphasis on formality

Age Group: Baby Boomers,

communication preferences include:

  • Experience that allows individuals to share own views/experiences
  • Democratic approach
  • Sense of equality and fairness is ‘critical’

Age Group: Gen Xers,

communication preferences include:

  • Hands-of approach
  • Visuals and graphics, with minimual text
  • Perceived sense of expertise from messenger
  • Relevance
  • Use of technology
  • Feedback and affirmation without strict intructions

Age Group: Gen Yers,

communication preferences include:

  • Collaborative learning setting
  • MOST visual (i.e. demonstrations) and technologically adept
  • Want to know exact expectations
  • “Active” learners

It’s interesting to see how differently each generation will react to a message. It certainly makes one pause and wonder how each individual interprets a single message– such as an advertisement or even a blog post. Since I assume that the majority of bloggers are of the younger generation, I guess I should start using more visuals. But, according to Gen Xers, I better make sure those visuals are RELEVANT.

So what do you think about this little guide to generational communication? What most surprised you?

Yo Quiero Taco Bell’s new Ad campaign?

The other day I was reading an article discussing whether or not (and how) Taco Bell should publicly acknowledge the lawsuit brought against them. The suit claims that the fast food chain’s beef filling is more like ‘beef.’ The taco filling, they maintain, is not up to FDA standards.

While the possibility of this lawsuit critically affecting Taco Bell’s financial status are slim, the company has decided to publicly, and creatively, address the issue. Starting on Friday, Taco Bell is launching an advertising campaign in such mass print newspapers as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and others. The purpose of these ads, says Taco Bell’s president Greg Creed, is to “set the record straight.”

Creed insists that the lawsuit is “bogus and filled with completely inaccurate facts.” Perhaps demonstrating the truth to this statement, the company has committed itself to this rather expensive advertising campaign. While no official price tag has been released, the ads are full-page, color, and in major publications; adding up to a hefty price tag.

The page boldly declares, “Thank you for suing us. Here’s the truth about our seasoned beef,” followed by a rundown the meat’s true ingredients.

While this case has made headline news, Taco Bell didn’t necessarily have to address it. Opponents might have argued that by addressing it publicly, they are bringing more attention to a case better left to fizzle out on its own. As mentioned, despite the coverage, Taco Bell’s reputation and finances would not necessarily be dramatically effected. However, the fast food restaurant’s confidence in their own product has led them to take a stand. Does this ad campaign just add more fuel to the fire, or is Taco Bell being smart in acknowledging the claims brought against them?

With all of the debate going on, all I can think of is the days of the Taco Bell Dog ad campaigns. Oh to return to those days…Yo quiero Taco Bell dog.

 

Fashion Police turn Grammar Police

I hate to admit it, but I am that obnoxious person who corrects your grammar.

You are doing well not good (unless you’re out volunteering). End of story.

While I am far from perfect (go ahead, search through all my posts, you’re sure to find several mistakes), I try my best to use proper grammar and I understand it’s importance especially in presenting yourself. The way you speak and write are valuable reflections of yourself. I think people can generally agree that this is true, right?

Okay, that being said, who on earth would by this shirt from Wet Seal:

Is this a fashion statement or the result of outsourcing clothing design to non-English speaking countries?

While I could take this moment to comment on fashion’s fondness for t-shirts with distasteful and tacky messages, I would rather concentrate on this whole new level of offensiveness. Wet Seal’s primary customers are young (and impressionable?)  girls and women. In a day in age where teachers complain that kids use “texting lingo” in school essays, do we really need another reminder of our society’s grammatical failures?

So was this spelling error intentional or a careless mistake? The company has been a bit unclear about the truth behind the t-shirt. In response to the publicity, Wet Seal’s official Twitter page tweeted:
“It’s a fashion statement … I am jealous for you’re [sic] keen eye for grammatical errors though.”

We can assume this second mix up of the proper “your/you’re”s was a joke and I applaud them for their wit, however I simply cannot get over the t-shirt. I don’t know, am I over-reacting or is this disregard for proper grammar especially annoying? Weigh in and let me hear what you think!

In the meantime, I think I’ll carry a sharpie around with me so I can add an ‘e’ and apostrophe to anyone I see wearing this shirt.

‘Supersize Me’ director makes ‘Greatest Film’

In 2004, the world was no longer able to deny the fact that they knew was true: McDonald’s, even the healthy choices, are absolutely horrible for you. Of course we all knew this, but it was Morgan Spurlock’s fascinating, slightly nauseating documentary Super Size Me that really drove the point home. The effects of the movie, in which Spurlock vows to eat only McDonald’s for all 3 meals for a 30 day period, were momentous both in terms of the consumers and the company. The low-budget, “experimental” film went on to win the Sundance Film Festival’s top documentary director award as well as get nominated for an Oscar. More than that, this film has been treated like a precious warning for  future generations. Most impressive was McDonald’s response to the film. After news of the documentary was released, McDonald’s went into PR Crisis mode. The day before the documentary was scheduled to open, McDonald’s added the “Go Active” adult happy meals to their menu. Soon enough, even their advertisements were focusing on “healthier choices,” a trend that is still seen today. But perhaps most interesting is McDonald’s decision to remove the forever tainted option of “super-sizing” a meal from their repertoire. These were the first steps toward a gradual,long-anticipated revolution in the fast food world.

It’s nearly 7 years later and Spurlock is about to release his second documentary, also at the Sundance Festival which is currently going on. For his latest film, known as The Greatest Film Even Sold, Spurlock decided to investigate the world of product placement and brand integration. Spurlock quite literally financed this entire film, a $1.5 million venture, by contracted with 15 companies. Due to these contractual obligations, Spurlock decided to change the official name of the film to POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (anyone else really craving pomegranate juice all of a sudden?).

With a film financed entirely by brand name companies, it would be easy to assume that either Spurlock or these companies would seem like a bit of a…well, sell out. In response to a statement from EW asking Spurlock if he felt he was “risking essentially selling out [his] own movie,” Spurlock laughs in response: “I’m not selling out–I’m buying in!”

And the companies? The whole premise of the movie came from Spurlock’s distaste for the blatant, in-your-face product placements/integrations that plague television and film– wouldn’t the companies be the enemy? In the same interview, Spurlock responds: “The companies who were willing to come on board this movie wind up looking great because they had the balls to take part.” Proving, that the ability to laugh at oneself is an important key in both business (especially PR) and life.

Morgan Spurlock’s documentary, which is already receiving warm reviews, can be expected to layer on the humor while also revealing a unique look at an interesting subject. I wonder what kind of effect this film will have on the marketing world?

Find out more:

PRWeek: Sold on the greatest movie ever sold

EW interview

Wire Tap Magazine: Weighing the Impact of Supersize Me