Filet-o-Fish Spotlight Time

You know Christmas is coming when you first spot Santa Claus.

The Fourth of July is on the way when a tent selling fireworks pops up.

And Lent is near when every fast-food chain starts touting its lowly fish sandwich that is unloved the rest of the year.

As a Baptist, I don’t officially observe Lent…but every year I do see it coming by way of marketing. I see the Fish Sandwich ads start and I know Easter is only 40 days away. For some weird reason, it fascinates me every year. My mind is focused on marketing too much.

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Design Basics

Via Scoble
I’ve always said that marketing by committee is never a good idea. This video parody shows what might have happened if Microsoft had designed the Ipod box.

This is true for creating all your marketing pieces as well.
The idea of “we paid for this space so we need to use all of it” sometimes kills your message.

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From Cherry Hall to Trump Tower

If you’re a long time reader of the Shotgun Marketing BLOG, you know that I like to pull teachable moments in marketing from the NBC “reality” show “The Apprentice”.

Season 5 starts tonight and I’m already interested in one of the candidates because she’s from KY. Charmaine Hunt is originally from Madisonville, KY and graduated from my alma mater, Western Kentucky University.

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Marketing with Sally Struthers

This happens more in small businesses in smaller markets, but I’ve seen examples of it everywhere.

“We’re doing a special section this week to highlight the boy’s basketball team trip to the state tournament. Will you support the team?”

Ask the salesperson how buying a miniscule 3×3 ad will help the kids. The answer is…that it doesn’t. Your money goes to the owner of the media outlet and a commission for the salesperson. The cash never even gets near the kids.

Not only are you being duped by the salesperson into believing you’re helping the kids…but you’re wasting your marketing funds.

“WILL YOU HELP THE KIDS?” is the the rallying cry of salespeople who don’t know how to sell the merits (if there are any) of their media.

I do think a responsible business should support local charities, schools, and other philanthropic ventures. But give the money directly to the organization and be careful not to confuse these donations as marketing.

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You say potato

When you try to tell a consumer to think contrary to the common world view, you’ll fight an uphill battle and 99% of the time you’ll fail. It’s hard to change the way people think. Really hard. If you try, it’s going to take lots of money.

Currently, NBC is attempting to fight a battle with their coverage of the 2006 Winter Olympics. They say the Olympics are in the Italian city of Torino. You know it better as Turin. (as in the Shroud of…)

Apparently when Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Sports, visited Torino/Turin a few years ago, he liked the way “Torino” spilled off the tongues of the locals. They chose to frame the Olympic coverage that way.

However, the AP Stylebook that most journalists follow says to use the English version of foreign cities. It’s Rome, not Roma…Munich, in place of Muenchen…and Moscow instead of Moskva.

Most of the public has heard of the Italian city of Turin…and when you read the Games results in the paper (or anywhere other than NBC), the dateline will be Turin. But when you watch them, they’ll be from Torino.

They say you should never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel…or has a transmitter. It’ll be interesting to watch a battle to frame the way you think between the inks and the transmitters.

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Not So Super Ads

I try not to fall into the trap of thinking the Super Bowl is the Holy Grail of Advertising…cause it’s not. What it is…for the most part…is a good example of where companies go wrong in advertising….trying to entertain the agency and the client instead of selling the product.

Super Bowl ad strategists try very hard to make a memorable ad that has “buzz” the next day around the water cooler. (Who still has water coolers?)

Most of them succeed on that angle…by either being very good…or very bad. The problem is that they concentrate so hard on being clever…they forget to sell the product…or even to name the brand. If I’m paying millions of dollars for ad placement and creation, I’d like to see it move product…or at least reinforce a brand strategy.

While watching the Super Bowl last night I was struck at how many of the ads fell into this trap…Here are a few specific comments on some of the more noticeable ads…

For all the pre-buzz, I didn’t care for the Whopperettes (when the people in my living room saw the girl with the “burger tutu”, there was an audible
“yuck”. It was quite disgusting…not the response you want to invoke when you’re trying to sell burgers.)

FedEx Caveman was both clever and somewhat pressed the product.

The phrase “Brown and Bubbly” does NOT make me want to drink a Diet Pepsi…Plus I really don’t like Jay Mohr.

Aleve’s “Live Long and Prosper” was one of the best ads of the night. You remember the cleverness of the ad…and you also remember that Aleve apparently quickly absorbs into Mr Spock’s green Vulcan blood.

As usual, most of the Bud and Bud Light commercials were entertaining with a few flops. It was a little disturbing that the most family friendly spot of the night (the baby Clydesdale pulling the wagon) was a beer commercial.

The “We’re Awkwardly Showing You That We’re Multi-Cultural” Award goes to the Toyota Hybrid spot where the father is bi-lingually telling his son how a hybrid works.

I thought 2 of the funniest ads were for Ameriquest with the guy killing the fly with the electro-shock paddles and the lady accidentally falling on the guy in the plane. But these spots are the best example of an entertaining ad with no marketing message. What does this have to do with mortgages and why shouldn’t I judge? If after 2 attempts, I don’t get it…you fail.

CareerBuilder phones it in. If you don’t have a creative idea…use monkeys.

Instead of going mulit-cultural to explain a hybrid car, Ford goes Muppet with Kermit explaining that it’s easy being green. I liked this one. I’m just glad Bill Ford didn’t come out and start solemnly talking to Kermit about job cuts.

GoDaddy got all its press before the game. The actual ad stank.

The Hummer spot with the giant monster and the robot was the most disturbing and worst spot of the game.

The next step? They’re going to put 10 blades on a razor.

Sprint knows that anytime you play the Benny Hill music and run around…people laugh.

MacGyver uses a Mastercard.

I really hope the new Outback Steakhouse “spokes-bloke” goes away quickly. Outback wasted their money.

The best spots of the night…using BOTH criteria…1) good creative AND 2) actually selling a product.
1) Aleve’s Live Long and Prosper
2) MasterCard’s MacGyver
3) Ford’s Kermit Hybrid.

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Kentucky Fried Derby

The Run for the Roses will now be the Run for the Tacos.

The Kentucky Derby has announced that Yum! Brands (which owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, Long John Silvers, and A&W Restaurants) will be a naming sponsor of the race. The race will now be referred to as “The Kentucky Derby, presented by Yum! Brands”.

Yum (I refuse to use the exclamation point anymore) Brands is based in Louisville which explains some of the rationale on their part…but why would the most famous horse race in the world and the oldest annual sporting event in the US want to dilute the power of their superbrand? (Between you and me, it’s probably money.)

If it were closer to April 1, I would have said it was a repeat of the April Fools’ joke about Taco Bell saying they had bought the naming rights to the Liberty Bell and they were changing the name to the Taco Liberty Bell. But this is no joke. Tradition is big for the Derby and there will be a fuss.

My prediction? I have 2.
1) Derby purists wearing gawdy hats and drinking mint juleps in Millionaire’s Row won’t like it.
2) Drunken infielders will get a Nachos Bellgrande to cure the Munchies.

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