Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Best Ads on the Oscars – TrueNorth Snacks

During the Academy Awards broadcast February 22, hold the popcorn and pass the nuts.

I was totally moved by the content of the message. Typical snack ads take the time to tell you of the goodness of flavour and quality or simply the idea of, "go ahead, have a snack… hit the gym tomorrow". For me it was more like, "hell, what can I do to make not my life, but the life of others better".

The campaign was created by StrawberryFrog New York and following their DNA, "Cultural Movents". StrawberryFrog founder Scott Goodson coined the phrase 'Sparking Cultural Movements' as the competitive edge for his innovative global communications company. Whereas traditional brand positioning starts with the product and pushes out to the consumer with traditional advertising, cultural movement strategy starts with the culture and connects back to the product. Scott believes brands can identify, crystallise, curate and sponsor cultural movements. "Once you have a cultural movement," he says, "you can do anything in a fragmented media world."

Frito-Lay, a division of PepsiCo, launched the TrueNorth line of nut-based snacks last year to appeal to baby boomers, especially women, will be asked to be inspired by nuts. Yes, nuts.

"The Super Bowl for Women", the Oscars had four ads, each profiling a real person doing something for their community. The ads that ran in the second half of last year launching TrueNorth focused on taste and ingredients, and were meant to s

park awareness of the new brand and help push the product into store shelves. But the Oscar ads showed the brand's real coming out as a brand Frito-Lay is pinning high hopes on to make up for soft sales for chips and other snacks. The Oscars has a median audience age 49.5, which has driven several categories of advertisers away. But it turns out to be just right for a new brand aimed square at baby boomers.

The TrueNorth line of products consist of three flavours of nut-clusters, three flavours of crisps that are made from nuts as well as mixed whole nuts.

Baby Boomers, according to researchers, change their snack habits dramatically after age 35, away from chips and pretzels, and more toward nuts and snacks that seem healthier even if they aren't markedly so.

"Everybody snacks, but the older you get the more you want to be able to justify the snack as healthier," says independent marketing consultant Dennis Keene. "For an adult, especially a parent, it doesn't seem right to be eating the same chips and dips as your teenage children."

Frito-Lay, has the largest market share in the chip category. But the company has long seen a significant gap in sales specifically with today's baby-boomers, aged 44 to 63, especially women. Those customers have increasingly been gravitating to nuts, natural snack brands like Kellogg's Kashi, and "natural" chip brands like Terra. "Despite the fact that Lays products have a very good healthy ingredient profile, boomers in particular were not associating our products with health and wellness," says Frito-Lay spokesperson Aurora Gonzalez.

So, the chip giant is going after grown-ups by trying to build some positive earthy buzz around the products during what is typically the biggest TV audience for women.

One ad that breaks Sunday night profiles the founder of Penny Harvest, a program that organizes kids to gather pennies and then share the money with kids who are in need. The program has raised over $7 million so far.

A second TV ad profiles the founder of Sustainable South Bronx, a program that is "greening" the blighted area of New York City with trees, gardens and parks.

A third ad profiles a man who has been erecting extraordinary metal roadside sculptures in his hometown of Regent North Dakota as a means to bring tourist traffic to the economically depressed town.

The fourth ad ties in more directly with the Academy Awards, flagged to viewers as directed by Oscar winning actress Helen Hunt. The ad, "Inspiration Café," profiles Lisa Nigro, the founder of a restaurant that serves the homeless and provides job training and fellowship to its customers. "After reading thousands of inspiring stories, our team felt that Lisa Nigro's story exemplifies the purpose of TrueNorth—giving life extraordinary meaning," says Regan Ebert, vice president and general manager and the executive in charge of launching the new brand.

The ad campaign breaking during the Oscars, which costs Frito-Lay about $1.4 million per ad, carries a risk that such high-mindedness around eating a nutty snack could come off as overly earnest. "Not at all… TrueNorth is a special brand about passions, and people have become very passionate about the food they eat and their health," says Kevin McKeon, partner and executive creative director at StrawberryFrog, the New York ad agency that created the campaign.

The TrueNorth messages will resonate better amidst a deep economic Recession. "It's all in the execution with ads of this genre, but associating a brand with positive, hopeful, uplifting stories when so much of the news is awful might well be a better idea than trying to make people laugh for a few seconds," says consultant Dennis Keene. "the whole mood and execution of the ad, too, looks, like it could have tied into Barack Obama's campaign message, and given his approval ratings that's not a bad thing either," says Keene.

Since 2002, salty snack sales have grown almost 42 percent to $15.9 billion last year, according to data from London-based market research company Mintel International Group Ltd. Of that, healthy snacks are about $6 billion and the fastest growing segment. Those kinds of numbers drove Kraft, for example, to introduce more than 20 new snack products last year, many of which are categorized as contributing to health and wellness.

So, the chip giant is going after grown-ups by trying to build some positive earthy buzz around the products during what is typically the biggest TV audience for women.

You can view all the spots at TrueNorth snack website or on their YouTube page.

The Lipstick Effect

n. During a recession, the tendency for consumers to purchase small, comforting items such as lipstick rather than large luxury items.
Lipstick sales are red hot. So why is no one smiling?

The reason is that women traditionally turn to lipstick when they cut back on life's other luxuries. They see lipstick, which sells for as little as $1.99 at a supermarket to $20-plus at a department store, as a reasonable indulgence and pick-me-up when they feel they can't afford a whole new outfit.

Example Citation: 

"If you've been following the news in recent weeks, you've probably heard about the "lipstick effect." As described in such outlets as NBC, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, the idea is that, during a recession, women substitute small, feel-good items like lipstick for more expensive items like clothing and jewellery. And indeed, between August and October, lipstick sales were up 11 percent over the same period last year".  

    - Norm Scheiber,"Replacement Killers," The New Republic, Jan. 7, 2002

"When lipstick sales go up, people don't want to buy dresses," says Leonard Lauder, chairman of Estee Lauder Cos. Lauder's Leading Lipstick Index tracks lipstick sales across Estee Lauder's many brands, which account for sales of about half of all prestige cosmetics in the United States and include Stila, Origins, Bobbi Brown, MAC and Prescriptives. Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the index is up broadly, says Lauder. The index also climbed during past recessions, such as in 1990. . . . Other cosmetic items don't tend to benefit from the lipstick effect". 

    - Emily Nelson, "Rising Lipstick Sales May Mean Pouting Economy," The Wall   Street Journal, November 26, 2001

As the economy slows and spending hits an all-time low, sales of lipstick are soaring. It is well known in financial circles that when times get tough people stop splurging on the large extravagant purchases such as cars and, instead, treat themselves to small luxuries like lipstick.

So, when our lips are red, inevitably so is the economy, and the recent figures from L'Oréal, Beiersdorf and Shiseido confirm this.

In the first half of 2008, L'Oréal showed like-for-like sales growth of 5.3% and Dhaval Joshi, analyst with RAB Capital, says this indicates the 'lipstick effect' has returned once again.

'The evidence shows that when budgets are squeezed, people simply substitute large extravagances for small luxuries,' he said.

The Evening Standard on how to spot a recession

When the “Chick” hits the fan!

Okay… as I say never cliché or pun unless you really think it makes sense… well this may be my request for forgiveness. But literally the "chick" is gonna to hit the fan in Toronto's Dundas Square (Yonge and Dundas Streets).

Cadbury Canada is promoting its Cadbury Creme Egg with a new billboard that relies on precipitation to work.

The Titan Worldwide billboard, bearing the words "Release the Goo," (the current english language Worldwide product theme) that features a pendulum-like device with an oversized Creme Egg at one end and a giant box to capture rain, snow and other forms of precipitation at the other. A giant fan sits atop the board.


As the box fills with precipitation it slowly raises the egg, eventually flipping a switch that turns on the fan and thrusts the egg into it, splitting the egg open and causing its faux cream filling to splatter across the billboard.

"The coming forecast for this weekend is rain mixed with snow," said a gleeful Michele Lefler, manager of corporate communications (Canada) for Cadbury North America.

In the area I love to refer as "stereotyping", Ms. Lafler states, "Canadians just love to track the weather and express great interest in the weather conditions, particularly in Toronto," she said. "The building of the billboard was a great opportunity to celebrate the fun, gooey, messy playfulness of the Creme Egg just in time for Easter." Hmmmmm…. Okay.

Saatchi & Saatchi's New York office handled the creative execution, while Cossette Media's Toronto office handled the buy.

For those unable to see the billboard in person, a live webcam is available at

The site also includes animated videos of the Cadbury Creme Egg finding ways to splatter itself, as well as games that give visitors an opportunity to release the Creme Egg goo.

Now if they only offered a dark chocolate crème egg…. Yummmmmm! Please samples if you find them!

"Are We Telling Stories, or Are We Just Playing Games". Lee Clow and Alex Bogusky Talk. ~ Best of A View From An AdGuy.

Lee Clow, Global Director of Media Arts, TBWA Worldwide and Alex Bogusky, Partner, Crispin Porter + Bogusky (NOTE: Click on image for link to watch the video)

Lee Clow did some of the best campaigns back in the 1980's and 1990's, and at that time advertising was all about TV commercials, radio spots or print ads. (ahhhhhh the good old days, ha?) One of the greatest spots Mr. Clow gave the world just celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary, the Apple Mac 1984 spot.

"Are we teeling stories, or we just playing games".
"The changes that technology has brought won't change the basic element of what we say, just where we will be saying".
"The Internet opened up a whole new world for us, it's a great time to be in this business".
That is the reason why it is so encouraging to hear Lee talk, and together with Alex Bogusky, who is one of the ad-revolutionary, about the fundamental changes in the industry.

Clow talks about the massive shift from a "monologue" to a "dialogue" and that advertising has to be a constant conversation and every piece we create has to interact with the audience.

What an attitude! Instead to be frightened by all that weird stuff, he wants to explore the possibilities and create something exciting with it. The vision never dies.

Watch this 28 min video and get inspired by these 2 guys and their work.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lee Clow and Alex Bogusky Talk

Lee Clow, Global Director of Media Arts, TBWA Worldwide and Alex Bogusky, Partner, Crispin Porter + Bogusky

Lee Clow did some of the best campaigns back in the 80's, and at that time advertising was all about TV commercials, radio spots or print ads. (ahhhhhh the good old days, ha?) One of the greatest spots Mr. Clow gave the world just celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary, the Apple Mac 1984 spot.

That is the reason why it is so encouraging to hear Lee talk, and together with Alex Bogusky, who is one of the ad-revolutionary, about the fundamental changes in the industry.

Clow talks about the massive shift from a monologue to a dialogue and that advertising has to be a constant conversation and every piece we create has to interact with the audience.

"The Internet opened up a whole new world for us, a great time to be in this business…"
What an attitude! Instead to be frightened by all that weird stuff, he wants to explore the possibilities and create something exciting with it. The vision never dies.

So watch this 28 min video and get inspired by these 2 guys and their work.

Friday, February 20, 2009

What Ever Happned to Creative Skirts

Revised Posting:

With joy I came across a great site for women in advertising... specifically for my young ladies about to graduate.

Karen Howe and I chatted at AdWeek Toronto about getting more young women in the creative arena. I tend to graduate 6-10 young women as writers and art directors. But where can they turn to for career and portfolio direction? In a city like Toronto with some of the greatest creative female minds in advertising... hmmmmmm.

Here's a challenge to any of my "skirts"... how about getting this site on your radar.

Check out the who's who of the many great women in advertising.

Sadly the Mentorship microsite is out of date.

Virgin Toronto - "Screw you Recession!"

Virgin Mobile erected this in-your-face "sign domination" at the corner of Yonge Street and Dundas Street (or "Dundas Square", if you must live with our New York inferiority complex) in Toronto a couple of week agos.

It's part of a larger campaign rolling out over the next few weeks. But you have to love the "Screw you recession!" that screams out to the street below.

The smartphone ad on the bottom of the billboard tower is the first time I've seen the word "recessionista" or "chic-onomics."

Let's watch for the rest of the campaign.

I have always said, "Nothing puts a smile on your face like a Virgin"... sorry!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Rebranding Round Two - Kraft

Food Giant Unveils New Look for Corporate Communications. But what does it really mean in the long term.

Kraft Foods became the latest in a string of marketers to unveil a smiley-face style corporate logo. Pepsi of course (see below) and even Walmart last year rebranded with a glowing sun.

The logo is a result of what the company calls a "co-creation process" with consumers, employees, ad agency Nitro, London and another shop, Promise, whose location couldn't immediately be identified.

The accompanying tagline on the logo will be "Make today delicious."

It will appear only in corporate communications and on the company's website and will not grace the packages of the company's products, such as Jell-O or Kraft mayonnaise; they will maintain the familiar red, white and blue logo.

No marketing program is planned around the new corporate look, which Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld said captures the "essence of Kraft Foods."

"During the past two years, we've built a solid foundation by reinvesting in our brands, putting a new organization in place and improving our cost structure," she said. "As the next step in our turnaround, we're adding three new ingredients to our recipe for success: a higher purpose that acts as a common call to action, values in action that guide our behavior, and a new look and feel to visually depict our renewed energy."

The company declined to provide the cost of developing the new logo. The design, a red smile at the end of the Kraft Foods name, has a "colorful flavor burst" at the end that resembles a flower.

Frankly, I find the logo idea confusing.

Kraft unwisely ditched decades years of brand equity when it dumped the General Foods corporate brand, and now it has to confuse customers again by changing the look of the familiar Kraft logo. What a waste of effort.

Writes Adweek's Elaine Wong; the latest logo, however, is an attempt by Kraft to distinguish between its corporate and product brand identity. Okay.

The new Kraft logo design consists of an red colored, upward-moving swoosh representing a smile which explodes into an array of seven "flavor bursts," each of which represents a different business segment of Kraft. The newly designed logo will begin appearing on the back and side panels of Kraft-branded foods worldwide in the coming weeks and months.

If I ever heard corporate babble, this might be some of the best; "In some ways, this really is all about Kraft Foods. It's about our next step in the evolution of getting ourselves to top-tier performance. Going forward, it defines, unifies and simplifies our employees and gets everyone thinking about one common purpose," Kraft's chief marketing officer Mary Beth West said of their new brand identity.

The new logo design of the food company was conceived as part of an extensive design process, in which more than 7,000 Kraft employees and consumers worldwide were asked for their feedback… No way they got everyone on the same page. I gather that more employees looked at their job security then what will a rebrand do.

Consumers of Kraft in cities like Chicago, Paris and Shanghai were asked questions such as: "What do you look for in a food company?" "How do you engage with food generally?" and "What are the moments of that relationship that are important to you?"The findings of these studies resulted in a corporate logo design that is "more contemporary, the colors are more vibrant and it has a life to it," West said. The old blue, white and red Kraft Foods logo design will remain as the product logo only on Kraft-branded products such as salad dressing, West said.

Kraft Foods, one of the largest food and beverage companies in the world unveiled yesterday a new corporate logo. I emphasize early that the change applies only at the corporate level, the uppercase oblong logo, used for both the corporate and brand identity, will stay as the consumer brand, so you won't miss it when you are buying your Macaroni & Cheese. So let's get started with some press releasing.

With a new purpose and values setting a fresh direction, Kraft Foods also gave its corporate logo a facelift to more clearly deliver "delicious." Starting today, people around the world will begin to see the new identity that deliciously features a smile, the natural reaction to delicious foods and experiences, and a colorful flavor burst. It signals to employees, consumers and investors what the new Kraft Foods is all about.

- from Kraft Corporate Press Release

I am finding very little if anything good to say about the new logo — if I had to dig really deep… the lowercase "k" is pretty, but that's about it. Overall, the logo is "weak-kneed" for such a large corporation. The red "smile," the colorful burst,

they are all there and intended to be friendly to a degree they seem childish. And, oh my god, don't get me started on the tagline font… is that Tekton? I haven't seen that typeface used in at least 30 years and if any one of my students used it the comment would read, "REDO – SEE ME".

Brandweek has a nice slideshow of all of Kraft's previous logos.

New Walmart Logo - Do you see the font likeness and the "sun/flowerburst" image likeness:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Optimism Please

I awoke this morning and did my rounds through my various blog readings and Scott Goodson of StrawberryFrog posted a great view from his current trip to Mumbai, India.

I have been preaching in my classes that we are all aware of the current situation in the economy, and we are spending far too much time and energy on the negativity of everything. Sure, we can't simple "turtle", but we can look long beyond and see the light. Reach for that light. I assure you the light at the end of this tunnel isn't a out of control on-coming train. 

Capre Diem my friends.

It was refreshing to read Scott's posting from the perspective he got while doing an interview with Campaign India magazine. I have decided to post Scott's Blog entry directly (sorry Scott) rather than link it. 


Good morning. I am in Mumbai. There is a magical, powerful, transformative spirit over city. It is like a soothing deep tissue massage for the brain.

What is it?

It is the utter lack of doom and fear so prevalent in the West.

And it's SOOO refreshing.

No the Indian advertising industry isn't naive. Sure they know there is an economic fire at their feet, and they are cautious. BUT they also see potential in the future. Are optimistic. Some believe the economy will brighter in few months from now.

For instance, I had dinner with Anant Rangaswami, the editor of Campaign India last night. He told me that as a matter of policy he doesn't much like to write about negative economic stories. It's not news anyway. And would only add to the gloom. It scares the impressionable young talent who want to join in this incredible trade in which we work.

Good for him. This is leadership.

The Indian advertising industry is tightening belts, but some expect growth in 09. Some have even committed themselves to 9 percent growth in 09.

There is a belief in the future. People aren't dwelling on the negative. The spirit in the air of Mumbai compels people to believe that the future can be better even in a bad economy.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Pitch

Developed by DDB Canada in Toronto as the Cassies opening reel, industry vets can probably relate to the honest insight into the nature of the agency/client relationship.

This video shows that everyone has a role to play in the creative presentation.

If any of it sounds uncomfortably familiar, it's OK to laugh. Some stereotypes are true. And that's why it's funny.

Economic Downturn Has Not Killed The "Branding" Industry

This economic downturn has, surprisingly, not killed the "branding" industry, which exists for the sole purpose of allowing graphic designers to soak clueless clients out of tens of thousands of dollars for what amounts to a few tweaks of a computer design template. Okay, I said that with my tongue firmly placed in my cheek. Hell, my roots are in graphic design... remember, there was a day when the only job in an agency that actually required you to have a formal related education was... "The Art Director".

Yes, we are the hustlers of a new generation. Change for the sake of change.

Last year Pepsi spent several hundred million dollars on a new logo. Some even figured they had just ripped off the Obama logo. But now an internal document from the branding company has surfaced: "The Rationale" or as I like to say, "The Art of Bullshit" or better yet in this cas; "Breathtaking Bullshit".

See, there's no way the branding agency could charge millions if they just went in and told Pepsi, "Yea, we kinda rotated your old logo a little bit, and made the wavy white line thingy in the middle go diagonal." Instead, they prepared this 27-page document, titled "BREATHTAKING Design Strategy," to prove that this logo is a veritable DaVinci Code of branding, drawing on everything from magnetic fields to the "Golden Ratio." Honest, you read it yourself. The 'Breathtaking' Document Reveals Pepsi's Logo is Pinnacle of Entire Universe.

Pictured is the inanimate, non-dynamic, old Pepsi logo; and after the jump, the "more dynamic and more alive" new logo that Pepsi just rolled out at a cost that will eventually total hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide.

I also found this graphic on the Fast Company article on the subject.

Everything is different now.

[Full PDF Document Here]

Further Reading of interest:

Good-Bye iPhone – Not So Fast

Sony's much-hyped Vaio P Netbook has finally come out from under wraps, weighing less than 1.4 pounds, sitting under an inch thick, and packing in an 8-inch screen with a 2.08:1 aspect ratio (1600x768!)

The netbook also has Verizon WWAN 3G mobile broadband, has a keyboard that's only 10% smaller than the Vaio TT and 802.11n wi-fi. It also comes with an instant start pseudo-OS that lets you access things like music, internet and email without having to fully boot Windows Vista (using the same Xross Bar UI as the PS3).

The Sony Vaio P will be offered in 5 colors (red, green, black, white and onyx), will sell for $900 (pre-orders began last Friday) and will start shipping in February.

No word from Rogers, Telus or Bell as of yet.

The New Heineken Experience - Amsterdam

So how does a brand, which is recognized worldwide, reengage its consumers and reinvent its story? The US-based BRC Imagination Arts, one of the world's leaders in experiential marketing, has developed the New Heineken Experience – an interactive journey through the history of the brand and the brewing process. The experience is housed in the former Heineken Brewery in Amsterdam.

The sweet smell of barley mash, water and foam spritz down on visitors' heads as they watch a film about fermentation, as seen from the perspective of beer. Next up: the tasting.

No wonder they call this the "Heineken Experience."

One of Amsterdam's most popular attractions among young adults, the Experience has reopened after a year of renovations.

Long gone are the days when the tour, located on the site of Heineken's former brewery in Amsterdam, and was a way to drink unlimited amounts of the "golden cheer". The new Experience updates its offerings with several high-tech exhibits targeting the "YouTube" where visitors can perform karaoke and instantly send a video clip of the event by e-mail to their friends.

The remodelled version lives up to its name, a cross between corporate museum and a chance to achieve bliss with one of the world's most-recognized beer brands.

Though for cynics the Experience may feel like one long ad, for those who love the beer, it's "a pilgrimage," says Bob Rogers, a branding expert who advised Heineken on the museum's renovations. "We wanted to bring back the connection with beer-making, and the histories of Heineken, to help people see it, touch it, taste it," he says.

The tour begins with a short film designed to praise Heineken's history, in which the word "quality" is mentioned a dozen or more times.

It gets better from there.

After wandering through historical Heineken artefacts', visitors are offered a chance to see and touch barley and hops, two of the main ingredients of beer. Next they enter a stylish Art Deco hall filled with massive copper brewing kettles where an actor plays the part of master brewer, explaining the brewing process while stirring a steaming cauldron full of "wort", the mash that is mixed with yeast before beer is fermented. Along the way, visitors are initiated into some of the secrets of Heineken. For instance, Heineken uses its own proprietary strain of yeast, the beer equivalent of Coca Cola's secret formula or Kentucky Fried Chicken's secret recipe.

But the halfway mark is what visitors came for; they are offered their first taste of the holy Heineken itself. A bartender demonstrates how to tap a beer properly -- a head of foam keeps a beer at its best -- and gives helpful tips on tasting.

There are homage's to the advertising savvy that made Heineken the second most popular imported beer in the North America, including one room full of nostalgic Heineken posters. Another room is lit with green lights and outfitted with futuristic reclining chairs where visitors can relax and view the Heineken television ads of years past.

At the end of the tour comes -- what else? -- A bar stocked entirely with Heineken.

Owning A Piece of Mystery...err HIStory.

In April, an auction by Julien's Auctions at the Beverley Hills Hilton will provide an unprecedented look into the private world of Michael Jackson.

Here's your chance to own Michael Jackson's crap. I've got my eye on a few items starting as low as $80-100, and I'd say that's a straight up bargain.

In April, an extraordinary auction will provide a look into the private world of Michael Jackson. More than 2,000 items, from personal effects and costumes to pieces from Jackson's private art collection as well as fittings and furnishings from his Neverland ranch, will all be up for sale at a public auction at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles.

Given the continuing fascination with celebrity and that of the self-styled King of Pop, Darren Julien, of the Los Angeles-based auctioneer of celebrity merchandise who is directing the sale, expects a media circus to descend on the hotel as well as tribes of devoted Jackson fans from all corners of the globe. Select lots are to be sent on a touring exhibition that will arrive in Dublin and London in March before a full-scale exhibition opens for one week in Beverly Hills prior to the sale.

This new auction seems to mark Jackson's farewell to Neverland, and the symbol of his success (and excess) as well as his downfall. Jackson opened Neverland as a private amusement park in 1988, with its own zoo and Ferris wheel, roller coaster and bumper cars. It was named after Peter Pan's fantasy island where children never grow up, and for years children would arrive by the busload, invited to play freely in its grounds.

Recently renamed Sycamore Valley Ranch, and at Jackson's request, Darren Julien and his team were brought in to scrutinize the ranch. What they found inside was the most astonishing collection of objects these experienced auctioneers said they had ever seen in a celebrity home. "It seemed as if everything he owned was made of bronze and marble and gold," says Michael Doyle, who cataloged the sale items, as well as determining their value.

Jackson surrounded himself with "regal" finery. There were suits of armor, many displayed in cases, custom-made crowns and an ornately carved throne with red velvet upholstering in his bedroom. "King Michael" even had a royal cape, a Father's Day present inscribed inside with a message from his children "Princess Paris" and "Prince Michael". In the lobby of the house was a commissioned portrait of Jackson as a young man in Elizabethan dress, holding a crown on a velvet pillow.

While the lots are "priced as if you and I had owned them, not as if they were owned by Michael Jackson", according to Martin J Nowlan, the Irish co-owner of Julien's Auctions, this is "certainly not a fire sale" of Jackson's belongings.

Perhaps the sale is symbolizing the point at which Jackson himself feels finally able to divest himself of much that conspired to tarnish his career in order to begin anew.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Do People Actually Enjoy Commercials?

Of course they do.

We love them and have become fascinated, accustomed and frustrated with commercials on TV.

We laugh at beer commercials (and all the while admiring the bikini girls), we have fallen in love with the Telus animals and sung loudly (and repeatedly) to numerous catchy jingles for decades.

Perhaps the sheer absurdity of this TV propaganda is what drove many of us to new DVR and PVR technologies, items that allow us to zip through commercial time and satisfy an increasingly A.D.D.-ridden MTV generation. But wait… a recent report in the Journal of Consumer Research claims people are actually missing their commercials. "Six studies demonstrate that, although people preferred to avoid commercial interruptions, these interruptions actually made programs more enjoyable," the report stated.

So in essence, it's not the commercials themselves that have people feeling a little nostalgic; they just appreciate the forced break, just when we were thinking Mr. Clean was making a revival.

The study found it doesn't matter whether a commercial is good or bad – both types eliminated the enjoyment plunge that came in the second half of viewing a TV program sans break.

TV commercials rose in the 1950s with ads featuring outlandish concepts by today's standards – doctors selling cigarettes, housewives loving dish detergent and food commercials with subliminal messaging to eat, eat and eat more.

Today we aren't exactly better off thanks to bikini-clad babes in beer ads, drug commercials that never actually tell you what they're treating you for and strategically placed cups on American Idol.

Personally, I always enjoy a good TV ad… and even a bad one (Snuggie).

So, do people really like advertising?

I guess it kind of makes sense that people who make advertising for a living are going to want to believe that people actually like their hard work and craft, but it remains a constant source of amazement to me that this statement is continually trotted out by otherwise intelligent people.

Anyone who has ever done any amount of consumer research around advertising will know that it is way more complicated than that. People don't like advertising. That said, most don't dislike it either. For the most part, advertising is a part of the media landscape and, with regard to TV, simply part of the package. Naturally there are some aspects of TV advertising that annoy and some that please, but it is way too simplistic and convenient to say "people like advertising."

In essence, people like some advertising and are at best ambivalent and at worst annoyed by the rest. To say that "people like advertising" is about as meaningful (and accurate) as saying "people like people."

Ask most consumers if they would prefer TV without ads and they will say yes. The fact that most will switch their opinion if you tell they'll have to pay more isn't a testament to the heartfelt regard they have for the product of the advertising community; it merely tells us that ads are the lesser of two evils when stacked up against the prospect of parting with cold, hard cash.

Having said this, show people an ad that makes them laugh, tells them something they didn't know, or offers them something of relevance, and the response is entirely different. People like advertising of this nature.

The challenge with such "likable" advertising of course is that -- as Shakespeare put it -- beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There are endless variables that determine whether or not an ad strikes a chord with a viewer -- from sense of humor to relevance and timeliness -- and pretty much none of them can be governed by the advertiser.

My Newest Reading Recommendation

Success depends on many factors, says bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell.

Truth is we may actually control somethings and yet others are already written before we get started in our lives and our ultimate dreams.

In his newest book, Gladwell argues that the success of extraordinary people -- so-called outliers - depends at least as much on outside factors such as culture, family and the time in which people grow up, as intrinsic factors such as talent or intelligence. A lot of people would say, sure that's true and obvious. Although we kind of know that, we don't often act on it.

In "Outliers," Gladwell employs the same recipe as his two humongous best sellers, "The Tipping Point" and "Blink". Both popularize scientific, sociological and psychological theories in a fashion that makes for Big Intriguing Concepts: "The Tipping Point" promotes the notion that ideas and fads spread in much the same way as infectious diseases do, while "Blink" theorizes that gut instincts and snap judgments can be every bit as good as decisions made more methodically.

The book, creatively tries to explain the real reason some people — like Bill Gates and the Beatles — are successful. Much of what Mr. Gladwell has to say about superstars is little more than common sense: that talent alone is not enough to ensure success, that opportunity, hard work, timing and luck play important roles as well.

In "Outliers", Mr. Gladwell explains the stories of the Beatles and Bill Gates success are not distinguished by "their extraordinary talent but their extraordinary opportunities." The Beatles became the Beatles, he suggests, because they happened to be invited, repeatedly, to Hamburg, Germany, where they had to perform many hours an evening for many nights — practice time that enabled them to hone their craft. Mr. Gladwell does not explain why other groups, who practiced as much as the Beatles, never became one of the seminal rock groups of all time, or why groups like the Rolling Stones or the Beach Boys, who didn't play as many Hamburg shows as the Beatles, also went on to shape music history.

In much the same fashion, Mr. Gladwell suggests that Bill Gates became Bill Gates because he was lucky enough to attend a high school that "had access to a time-sharing terminal in 1968" and because he had another series of opportunities to spend hours working on computer programming before dropping out of Harvard to start his own software company. Both the Beatles and Mr. Gates, Mr. Gladwell argues, exceeded or came close to what he calls "the 10,000-Hour Rule" — the number of hours of practice that a neurologist named Daniel Levitin says are likely required "to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert — in anything." One of the facts, says Mr. Gladwell, Mr. Gates had the good fortune to be born in 1955 — one of the optimum years to be born to take advantage of the personal computer age (BTW so was Apple's Steven Jobs hmmmmm…)

Okay, there is much to suggest that these observations and the basic hypotheses rely heavily on suggestion and innuendo, but the various anecdotes and studies add to our curiosity on "why not me".

A good read, yes. Factual in nature, somewhat.

Win the Young Lions – Go To Cannes. It’s That Easy.

In the constantly evolving world of media and advertising, fresh ideas often come from fresh minds--those of talented young people who are just starting their careers.

The Globe and Mail is hosting Canada's Young Lions competition for Cannes to challenge tomorrow's leaders and offers the ultimate exposure to the industry. This competition was designed to simulate the conditions at the Cannes Young Lions competition. This Globe and Mail edition gives winning teams the preparation they'll need to compete internationally.

More important, the Globe Young Lions competition is the only way to qualify and compete in the Cannes Young Lions competition--and it's completely free to enter!

Good Luck.

Here is the link to the Official Globe and Mail website:

Happy Birthday Lowe Roche. Eighteen and Counting

This year Valentine's Day happened to fall on the 18th anniversary one of Toronto's most creative agencies - Lowe Roche.

To celebrate they sent out Valentine's gift bags with a bottle of champagne (Veuve Clicquot) with this card enclosed.

Congratulations to everyone at Lowe Roche for 18 great years.

After all these years of teaching my students the greatness of Geoffrey and his pioneering ways you didn't send me the bubbles.

It's not too late!

It’s Okay To Be Insecure… Really!

Hey facts are facts creative people are insecure.

I have never been ashamed to admit it.

In fact I think it is a sign of greatness. Sure we crave the validation of our peers, bosses, clients almost anyone who comes in contact with our ideas. We measure our greatness on the opinion of others. It's no wonder we covet awards! Affirmation is required in endless quantities.

So I tell you, the insecurity you fell is seen by many as a curse, I see it as a motivation, motivation to excel, motivation to achieve greater results and a method to measure your very abilities. Use it as a screening method, a filter.

Hey, what do I know… I was worried you might think I am crazy as I wrote this.

Here is a great read on the subject:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


We've only waved goodbye to Christmas but already Cadbury has released a new campaign to push Crème Egg in advance of Easter were a bunch of eggs find ever-more cunning ways to avoid becoming goo-ey.

The 'Here Today, Goo Tomorrow' ads celebrate all that's good about Cadbury Creme Eggs… getting down to the goo!

Saatchi London created Nine :10 second TV executions that reveal the lengths that the Eggs will go to avoid becoming goo, but in the end well… "goo" it is. The spots include and involve a flip trash to the trash bin, egg slicer, blender, foot pump, hairdryer and even the executive desk toy, Newton's Cradle. Brilliant!

Senior Brand Manager for Cadbury Creme Egg, Michelle Goodes, said, "This work celebrates what's great about Cadbury Creme Eggs – that amazing goo – but in an edgy, fun way that's totally true to the brand."

The TV executions has launched on various satellite channels and will screen on regular television mid-February.

They will also be supported by bus banners showing eggs diving and splatting, and six-sheet posters where the eggs have jumped off buildings.

But the best piece in the campaign is the outstanding use of Out of Home Transit Shelters in London. Taken from the carnival game "groundhog" smashing, passers-by can get involved by slap, fisting or punching the video boards and scoring (goo-in if you will) as many hits you can.

Client: Cadbury
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, London

View the Complete Television Campaign Link:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Let the Cat Fight Begin… M-e-o-w!

Hello Kitty is taking on Barbie for the title of most fashionable plaything.

Who's the bigger fashionista?

Barbie, who turns 50 next month, is having a runway show on Feb. 14 in Bryant Park, with Barbie-inspired clothes by a group of designers.

Hello Kitty with a sinister streak lurking behind that sweet, beautiful fade is set to show off looks by yet another group at a party this Thursday night given by MAC, which has also created a new Hello Kitty cosmetics collection.

Barbie of course is the perfect Diva. Hello Kitty… well, I think she may have the perfect poker face but not much else.

Of course, Barbie is the bigger diva. Born Barbara Millicent Roberts on March 9, 1959, in Willows, Wisconsin and has been the ideal role model for years… that is until body image became a "buzz" topic. Hello Kitty on the other hand was Designed by Ikuko Shimizu, as a vinyl coin purse, and was introduced in Japan in 1974.

Manufacturer Mattel estimates that more than a billion fashion items have been created for her, and for her show during Fashion Week will include looks from 50 designers. But as Hello Kitty, who is 34, would say if she even had a mouth, Barbie is a lot older (m-e-o-w!).

Let's put it this way: Barbie is to Cindy Crawford what Hello Kitty is to… I am not sure… Tyra Banks? I love that there is an innocence about Hello Kitty, but she's not sexy.

Let the catwalk fights begin.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Asics Appropriates Chinese Legend for 'Made of Japan'

Back in June 2008 StrawberryFrog Amsterdam, the full-service advertising and branding agency, has rebranded as Amsterdam Worldwide. The name change did not affect StrawberryFrog's New York and other offices in Tokyo and Sao Paulo.

But the quality of work remains the legacy of the original StrawberryFrog.


Here is a great piece done for Asics' called ‘CYCLE OF LIFE’ - Campaign to Celebrate Onitsuka Tiger 60th Anniversary.

Continuing Asics' campaign/pop culture tribute "Made of Japan" for Onitsuka, Amsterdam Worldwide developed "Zodiac Race," a by-land-and-sea battle between future members of the The Jade Emperor's Zodiac Calendar.

Amsterdam Worldwide has reworked the ancient Zodiac legend, which tells how 13 animals raced against each other to secure a spot in the Zodiac Calendar, to create a campaign that works across multiple communications channels. These include: a one metre-long sneaker diorama; an animation; print ads; online and in-store executions.

In the Chinese legend, Rat wins by riding the Ox. The turnout's no different in this video, which is all manga'd out and about as fun as watching Wii Mario Kart. Also, for some odd reason the dragon just flies around, doing inexplicable good deeds.

TNB | Distributed by Deluxe Templates