Apr 7, 2007

Because You're Worth It

Stumbled upon this fascinating old New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell about the two women who came up with the seminal home hair coloring campaigns of the 1960s and 70s. Shirley Polykoff and Ilon Specht were two famous old-school copywriters from the days when there actually seemed to be a number of well-known female creatives*.
And, more importantly, when advertising seemed to matter more, when it seemed to reflect and interpret the national psyche on a more visceral level.
What's fascinating about the two campaigns discussed in the article: Clairol's "Only Her Hairdresser Knows For Sure" and L'Oreal's "Because I'm Worth It" is how quaint and naive they now seem, both strategically and tonally. Gladwell's a great writer though, and the article is well worth the 15 minutes or so it'll take you to get through it.

*Particularly noteworthy, given the recent death of the legendary Diane Rothschild.

Apr 5, 2007

Toad's Friday Fave, #7

So when I first heard about Coke Zero and CPB's campaign for it, what with Coke suing for "taste infringement" I kinda cringed. Okay, more than kind of.

But this spot, which could have come from BBDO given the tone and humor*, cracks me up every time. "Djibouti" is just a funny word. And, just as importantly, the spot is all about Coke Zero being new. You won't watch it and forget which product it's for.

Even the spots with the lawyers and the "taste infringement" are pretty well done. The lawyers are well-cast, incredibly deadpan, and the whole thing comes off much funnier than I'd anticipated. But still not as funny as Djibouti.

One of you is going to post something to the effect of "But Toad, if it was from BBDO, it would feature a celebrity." So I'll save you the effort ;)

Apr 4, 2007

Why Buy The Cow If You Can Get The Milk For Free?

So about 2 years ago, the New York Times magazine ran an article about how companies are hiring "brand advocates" - unpaid consumers to whom they send their products in return for the consumers spreading the word about the product.

Now the program was originally supposed to work like a frequent flier program only the companies found that no one was redeeming their points. Were the rewards too shoddy? Not at all. It was just that the "brand advocates" were so happy to do the job they didn't even want the rewards. Being first to have the product was reward enough. They enjoyed telling others about the new products and having them before their friends did. Even if the product in question was a new brand of sausage.

Free advertising. Pretty amazing model.

And lo and behold, it's still alive, as our friend and frequent foil, New Media Rebbe Joseph Jaffe shows us in a recent post. It seems Reb Jaffe is the recipient of some sort of new hip-but-unfortunately-not-an-iPhone device from Sprint. And that Sprint is giving out these devices to New Media Rebbes like Joe Jaffe in the hopes that they will mention them on their blogs. Thus providing free advertising for Sprint and their hip-but-unfortunately-not-an-iPhone device. Now Jaffe, like the subjects of the New York Times article, gets into this wholeheartedly, with several pictures of himself holding up the Not-An-iPhone phone and smiling for the camera. Providing free advertising with copyright-free images for Sprint.

It's almost enough to make a media agnostic find G-d.


First off, apologies to my readers. I have had a very busy spell this past month, personally and professionally. I promise to resume regular posting as of May 1st.

Secondly... The alma mater having made some degree of progress in the Final Four, I've been watching a lot of basketball on ESPN as of late. It's been an opportunity to view the fragmentation of the audience and the amount of clutter on TV up close. Because in just a two-hour game you can see the same 5 commercials about a dozen times each.

Some observations:

1. Mildly amusing commercials of the misdirect variety become mildly annoying very quickly. I'm thinking of the Cingular "missing words" spots, where someone drops out in the middle of an important conversation. Some are annoying from the start, but others bring a smile. But by the 5th watching in as many minutes, they're all just annoying-- I get the joke, it's not funny anymore. If you're going to run with that level of frequency, you'd better make more commercials.

(this is an older spot from the series, but you get the idea.)

2. Sometimes repetition helps. There's a not-exactly-awful spot about a guy driving with a GPS with a woman's voice who tells the voice he loves her while that cheesy song "Turn Around Bright Eyes" plays. And it was only upon the 12th viewing that I realized it was a spot for Avis, plugging their GPS system and not a spot for GPS systems in general.

3. Bud Lite really does have a brand image. But... Okay, so if it's a comedy spot for beer featuring sloppily dressed 20something guys, it's a Bud Lite spot. But I kept wondering why they were getting so excited over the presence of a cheap beer like Bud Lite. Now a case of Guiness in the fridge or even some sort of American microbrew... but Bud???

The humor in this spot holds up a lot better than Cingular.

4. Trailers for really gory movies seem completely out of place amidst all the comedy spots. I can't remember the actual movies (that's how uninterested I was) but I do remember thinking that it was a good time to go get more pretzel nuggets.

5. Financial services and insurance companies all have "trusted advisors" who can help you plan your retirement. Enough said. You've seen dozens of these identical spots.