Monthly Archives: February 2011

When Visuals Say It All

As consumers, we are inundated on a daily basis with visuals advertising a product or service. While some may be attention-grabbing or arresting and lead viewers to read the accompanying copy, some are powerful enough in their visual impact alone, conveying the desired message succinctly without the assistance of extended copy. Visual ads with just a tagline or the advertiser’s logo can express an idea, simple or complex, in an unusual, entertaining, intriguing, or comical way.

This print ad for Goldstar beer does just that:

The ad uses a flow chart style, the everyday symbols indicating a restroom for men or for women, and expands upon both. Playing on the idea that women take complex mental routes to arrive to their drink and outfit of choice, the straightforward man with a direct, unquestionable route to his Goldstar beer is set in comparison. The “Thank God you’re a man.” tagline reinforces the visual’s male-targeted concept.

Other ads in the campaign are similar in design and idea, incorporating other differences between men and women, like this one of a woman’s interpretation and contrived meaning of actions when drinking alcohol contrasted with the simple, ultimate intention of a man drinking Goldstar beer.

Both of these ads are effective because they play on truths, on the actions that real women universally partake in, whether they know they are doing it or not. By specifically targeting men and in some cases alienating women, the ads narrow their complexity even further. Some may find the ads to be sexist and the insights portrayed to be incorrect, but for a beer advertisement, can you really expect more than cheap humor at the expense of women? Visually unusual, the ads cleverly position Goldstar beer as a man’s drink, plain and simple.

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Long Copy: Alive or Dead?

STOP! STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING! STOP WHAT YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT RIGHT NOW! STOP RIGHT THIS SECOND AND LOOK AT THIS AD!

This is something like the impression that advertising creatives hope to convey when they create an ad. Jolting, impressionable, and direct, something that triggers a consumer’s mind to take that extra second and switch gears to actually consider what they’re seeing. Many ads focus on the visual impact of an ad. Fearing the lack of reading interest, the copy is kept short, often only a headline or two and a quippy tagline. But since this has become the popular and almost mainstream style of advertising, does an ad really have the power to differentiate itself from everything else around it?

What about long copy? Is it worth the time to write it? It most definitely is. Whether every word is read or just the tagline, long copy can be used to make an advertisement stand out. Pete Barry’s quotation of Luke Sullivan from his book The Advertising Concept reinforces this idea: “Even if a customer doesn’t read every word, it looks like the company has a lot to say.” Long copy allows advertiser’s to tell consumers more about the proposed product and if it’s engaging enough, also allows advertisers to draw consumer’s focus and attention for a longer period of time, a successful result when most average consumers see nearly 5,000 ads a day.

Effective long copy ads express an idea or thought that is shared by the reader and is important to the reader’s individual self. People do like to read and enjoy editorial copy for that reason, so structuring advertising in a similar way helps make the message more readable and real. The Jack Daniels London Underground Tube advertisements are freuqently long copy ads, interesting and structured like a newspaper article with headlines and body paragraphs. Acknowledging commuters unavoidable time spent waiting for the next train, the advertisment effectively combines visuals with catchy copy. During my time abroad in London and the many hours spent in the Underground, I learned more about Jack Daniels than I ever thought I would and can attest to its impressionable nature. Is long copy alive or dead? Oh, it’s alive all right. Alive and kickin’.

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Social Media Done Right: Ford’s Fiesta Campaign

Ford Fiesta

For The Newhouse Eric Mower Advertising Forum’s first spring event, Matt VanDyke, Director of Marketing Communications at Ford in the U.S., brought to life a presentation entitled “Breaking Out of the Box.” After quickly detailing Ford’s recent history in the automotive industry and its future plans, VanDyke explained the company’s thriving marketing efforts in traditional and non-traditional arenas, including print, TV, and radio as well as within the erupting digital arena.

In an effort to revive the automobile manufacturer after the hard-hitting 2008 recession, VanDyke and the Ford Marketing team focused on a single mission: to improve consumer opinion and consideration of Ford in comparison to its U.S. competition. Four main automobile qualities were found to interest consumers the most: Quality, safety, green operating ability/fuel economy, and technology. Ford built on these interests, developing a campaign centered on engaging the consumer in order to create an open conversation, not merely the one-way dialogue produced by the usual mass television and print advertisements.

Uniting the company’s marketing teams across the globe, Ford narrowed the number of different platforms or messages presented to the public. A constant stream of communication allowed teams in every country and continent to measure the success or failure of inventive social media marketing strategies presented in a test country. By employing interested consumers to become “agents,” Ford reintroduced their Fiesta model to the U.S.; allowing consumers to test drive the car for 6 months and in return to post a minimum of 6 responses to an online site. An overwhelming response of “agent” applicants as well as videos/posts from the chosen applicants led to an explosion of online attention from consumers and media outlets. With a 56% vehicle familiarity before the Ford Fiesta was even officially launched, the campaign was labeled a success and propelled Ford to be named one of the Top 10 social media brands by Ad Age.

Extending the success of the Fiesta campaign, Ford has begun a similar effort for the Ford Focus entitled the Ford Focus Rally. Instead of spending money on traditional media when the cars first roll onto dealer lots, Ford has developed a Pre-Launch, Launch, and Post-Launch method of advertising, a combination of social media and traditional advertising used to enact the fullest potential of consumer interaction and response.

VanDyke’s clear and concise presentation of Ford’s inspiring work was well worth the time. For someone who knows very little about cars, I now, as a consumer, feel very informed and empowered. Ford’s strategy of putting the consumer’s interests first isn’t revolutionary, but the way the company went about proving their intentions was ingenious. The Ford Marketing Communications team was named Ad Age’s 2010 Marketer of the Year, a well-deserved honor for incredible work that has certainly raised the bar.

The Ultimate Ad Arena: Superbowl XLV

After months of hype,  previews, and rate runaround, advertising’s main stage was set for a competition like no other: the annual Superbowl. Commercials from the traditional advertisers such as Bud Light, E*Trade, Coca Cola, Doritos, Pepsi, GoDaddy.com, and various automobile companies proved that the use of humor is still alive and well in television sports-related advertising. But one unique commercial caught my attention and separated itself from the rest.

Chrysler’s Imported From Detroit commercial was serious, thought-provoking, relevant to current events, real, engaging, upfront, and honest. After seeing countless commercials, all created in a similar manner, touting similar car benefits, Chrysler recognized its reputation as a leading US auto manufacturer, located in the plagued city of Detroit. Despite the city’s deteriorating and economically distraught rep, Chrysler took these negative connotations and turned them positive, attributing hard work, perseverance, and sincerity to the city’s incomparable strength and character. With the inclusion of Eminem and his Academy Award winning song “Lose Yourself” in the commercial, viewers drew on the powerful messages sent through the film 8 Mile and associated them with Chrysler’s inspired mission, creating luxury vehicles with determination and conviction.

One of my favorite lines of copy from the ad:

“We’re from America, but this isn’t New York City, or The Windy City, or Sin City, and we’re certainly no one’s Emerald City. This is the Motor City. And this is what we do.”

Take a look:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usJSQVO4VrE
Another set of commercials from a different advertiser grabbed my attention, but for a different reason. The Groupon commercials with Elizabeth Hurley and Timothy Hutton were confusing and a little offensive. Playing on the popular use of commercial advertising to draw empathy and financial donations for charitable causes, the Groupon commercials suggested that though the Tibetan culture and the Brazilian rain forest are in danger, it doesn’t matter since the consumer saved money on a meal at a Tibetan restaurant in Chicago or a bikini waxing at a NYC spa. In this way, Groupon’s first national television commercials portray their customers as selfish, conceited, and self-centered. Some viewers may have seen the unexpected plot switch of both commercials as funny, but I was left more confused than amused.

Take a look:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O89q-RDHRjc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RtH_Zka_o7U

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