taco bell routine republic goes up against mcdonalds

This “Routine Republic” ad campaign by Deutsch for Taco Bell is amazing. Ad types love it because they love dystopian ads reminiscent of the ad they all worship. But the Taco Bell ad actually works too. It takes the value propositions of Taco Bell’s breakfast menu against McDonalds and hits the nail on the head. It’s not subtle or hard to get.

Too bad my local Taco Bell doesn’t open until 7am and the clown dictator lets me in the door as early as 5:30a. I’ve stood outside the door at 7:05am at Taco Bell while the employees inside stared at me.

I guess the ad campaign is a waste if customers can’t get inside to buy.

I’ve said it time and time again. Operations, logistics, and customer service have a bigger impact (positive or negative) on branding and marketing than most ad campaigns do.

It is a good ad though. Reminds me of 1984.

airquote marketing

Dear small business whose ad is featured in this photo…social media done wrong
Firstly, you’re not “using” the right term for people to “like” your page on “Facebook”.
I further “suggest” that you actually take a step back with your social marketing “strategy” to find actual “fans” and “customers” to connect with through social media than using a short-sighted “bumrush” to win something that has a $99 “value”.

15 advertising tips from David Ogilvy

David Ogilvy was brilliant and is probably spinning in his grave from the current state of advertising. Everyone in marketing or advertising should be required to read Ogilvy on Advertising. Here are 15 great quotes from him put together by the folks at Hubspot. I have nothing to add here.

Here’s the link if you can’t see the Slideshare embed above.

this is the best ad copy you could come up with?

From the same ad agency who developed an ad for a florist with the tagline “Every rose has its thorn”…
buy low sell high
(Originally posted on Instagram.)

They’re also working on a campaign for a bakery using “That’s how the cookie crumbles.”

I hope this was a client influenced ad. If a professional advertising copywriter did this, they need to find new work.

jc penney failure

jc penney logoI’m typically not one to root for something to fail, but I will make exceptions.

Ever since the “rebranding” of JC Penney JCP back in February, I’ve boycotted the store and waited for the day that their marketing stupidity would result in marketing failure. That day was yesterday.

From the super annoying teaser spots back in January (Nooooooo!) to the vapid campaign that was heavy on style but lacking any substantive advertising strategy, the whole endeavor by JC Penney to abandon their heritage was sad.

The advertising campaign bothered me the most. Newspaper inserts were wasted empty brand building pieces sitting next to other stores’ inserts chock full of merchandise. JCP featured no products. The campaign delivered no message. JCP waded right into the culture wars with a spokesperson who many people find objectionable. The media placement and scheduling was infuriating to viewers. The creative was not original. It was like watching an advertising student recreate an ad from The GAP or Old Navy as a class project.

(Lack of substance is an issue with alot of advertising today. More ad people need to read this book.)

But advertising is temporal. If a campaign doesn’t work, you can shove it under the rug and start fresh with the next one. JC Penney’s bigger problem is they have irreparably damaged their two most valuable assets: their customer base and their brand.

They may not be sexy, but the 35-65 female demo buys most things in department stores. They have disposable income. They purchase clothes and other items for the kids and the rest of the family. This type of base customer was the loyal customer base of JC Penney. And JCP left them to chase after a younger woman.

The JC Penney brand was not broken, but did need an update and adjustment. Like so many companies instead of brand adjustments, they threw the baby out with the bathwater. Rebranding is rarely the answer. You only need to rebrand if the brand is damaged. (Phillip Morris, BP, etc)

Marketing execs need to learn that rebranding is like paying the mortgage on a house for 30 years then abandoning the house because you’re tired of the wallpaper and paint. The key to successfully moving the perception of a brand is to take the positive brand equity with you instead of abandoning it.

JC Penney faced an impossible task. You can’t change a 110-year-old brand in a few months. Maybe they began with good intentions. Moving away from constant sales, coupons, and promotions was a good idea, but they over reached by trying to reinvent language. People know what a “sale” is, but a normal person doesn’t understand what “month-long value” is. And who knew a “Best Price Friday” happens on Saturday and Sunday as well? In general, JCP should have been more delicate with the brand work.

So now what? JC Penney is caught between the dock and the boat. They’re going to have to decide whether to build on what they have or keep trying to reinvent. What would you do?

By the way, if any company is thinking of hiring someone to come in and destroy their brand in 9 months for $15 million, I’ll do it in 5 months for only $7 million!

(UPDATE: April 2013 – JCP has ousted the architect of failure and reinstalled the former head honcho. We’ll see if it’s too late to save the brand.)

(UPDATE: May 2013 – I’ve written a new post complete with the JC Penney mea culpa commercial.)

the one where I talk about kotex

When most brands try to integrate their social media and traditional marketing, it’s … awkward.

Here’s a current commercial for a brand and a product I am biologically unable to connect to:

You know what helps says the hipster female comedian … Come on, ad guys.

Anyway, the spot ends with the call-to-action of “Tweet #KotexforReal“.

Really? At some point, there was a meeting of ad and social media gurus where someone said:

Let’s integrate our traditional TV ad buy with a hashtag to synergize the social experience and empower our customers to connect with our brand and talk about their menstrual cycles.

Sounds like the bookstore from Portlandia.

So I’m watching the TeeVee while I’m on the Twitter and the spot comes on. I check the hashtag.

95% of the tweets are from 14-35 year-old males who are ridiculing the spot in a vulgar way.
3% are a variation of the tweet, “The TV said I should tweet #KotexforReal”. (which is scary).
The other 2% are #TeamFollowBack and spammers.

Does a personal hygiene brand really want to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a TV spot that generates “free” social media mentions like this?

When you try to astroturf social media buzz, you WILL get your hashtag hijacked. Social media marketing conversations are just like any other marketing conversation with consumers. If they’re transparent, they will fail.

It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Hugh MacLeod: “If you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they’d punch you in the face.”

monday morning quarterbacks

We’re in the 24-hour period when everyone in America is an ad critic, but it’s not as great this year. As I tweeted during the “big game”:

I’m not going to get into critiques of the individual ads. In general, I agree with the ad critiques of most of the major critics with three exceptions: I liked Kia’s “Sandman” and I disliked Chrysler’s “Halftime in America” and the Coke polar bears.

But here are some larger points about the biggest night of the year for advertising:

1) Out of a little over 50 total ads, around 38 ads were released BEFORE the game. This ruins the Super Bowl advertising experience. While it does create a little pre-game buzz for some advertisers, it ensures that your ad will be seen by consumers as a ‘rerun’ during the game and an excuse to go get another spoonful of guacamole.

2) The main problem with many Super Bowl ads (and a lot of advertising in general) is that the agency and the client forget what advertising is meant to do. There needs to be a call-to-action. You must raise awareness of your brand. At some point, the ad needs to make someone come to you and give you money in exchange for goods/services. Prime example last night was the kid peeing in the pool. Clever ad. What was the ad for? Some people might remember tax prep, but what kind of tax prep?

3) Sure seems to be a lot of excitement over TV ads. Traditional media is not dead. It’s just transformed.

4) I beg one thing from the creative teams who will work on concepts for next year’s ads. Don’t try to make a “great Super Bowl ad”. Instead, try to create a “great ad” and it will shine in any media placement. We’re sick of monkeys, celebrities, talking babies, and the like. Super Bowl ads have become clichés. Don’t be a cliché.

why this year’s super bowl will stink for advertising lovers

First, a statistical tweet from the Managing Editor of Advertising Age, Ken Wheaton

…which leads to a simple thought from me:
If you open all your presents the week before Christmas, what are you going to do on Christmas morning?

why even buy Super Bowl airtime for ads?

None of my Ferris Bueller theories panned out. Jalopnik discovered the Bueller ad was for Honda. Honda released the extended cut of their Super Bowl the ‘big’ game™ ad.

It’s chock full of Ferris Bueller references (over two dozen, they say). It’s a clever way to incorporate the references using Broderick rather than the Bueller character so that John Hughes just does a partial turn in his grave. I’m saddened there’s not an Abe Froman reference.

But here’s a fun piece of trivia. The Super Bowl the ‘big’ game™ is still a week away. The whole “pre-buzz” idea for Super Bowl the ‘big’ game™ ads is getting out of hand. Pretty soon we’ll start seeing Christmas decorations in October … wait.

There’s also the possibility that your teasers could backfire. The social nets are now full of mal-informed Ferris Bueller fans who thought the Honda teaser was for a sequel to the movie. They are now in attack mode.

What do you think? Has the pre-hoopla outweighed the actual media placement? Is the spot in the game just an afterthought?

Bueller? … Bueller?

Well. It’s starting to seem like every ad in the 2012 Super Bowl the ‘big’ game™ will involve revisiting old movies. While I’ve said Volkswagen’s ‘The Bark Side” may have some troubles, this one I’m intrigued by…

While it does seem that “life has moved pretty fast” from the looks of Matthew Broderick, there’s not much more in the teaser that lets us know what this is about. I’m sure in the next few days (hours) the mystery advertiser will be identified (UPDATE: it’s for Honda. Update for Honda: A Honda is not analogous to a Ferrari.) , but for now here are some of my theories for what this could mean.

  • Ferrari is reintroducing the 250 GT Spider California to the market
  • Abe Froman is introducing a new line of healthy sausages during Super Bowl XLVI.
  • Ferris Bueller will break out in a spontaneous versions of “Danke Schoen” and “Twist and Shout” during the Madonna halftime show.
  • Ben Stein has bought time warning 2012 presidential candidates of the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act and voodoo economics.
  • Charlie Sheen announces his intentions of marrying Jennifer Grey (winning)
  • The CMA (Clarinet Manufacturers Association) wants to promote clarinet lessons
  • The sad reality is that it will probably be a Cialis or Viagra spot.

Incredible, one of the worst blog posts of my career and they never doubted it for a second. But what’s your theory (funny or real) on this teaser ad?

Another update: Honda has released the extended cut of the Bueller ad well in advance of Super Bowl the ‘big’ game™.