Craptastic! DRTV’s Recession Era Success

28 01 2009

Is it my imagination or are there fewer traditional 30-second spots on TV and more of direct response TV ads (DRTVs) then ever before?  It seems like I can’t watch CNN without somebody screaming at me (with a head mic on no less – where is their live audience?) to buy a “miracle product” like a chamois cloth, plastic bags for storing vegetables or a blanket with sleeves.

Apparently, this approach to advertising is working.  According to an AdAge article, the Humble Snuggie blanket with sleeves has sold over 4 million units.  They’re now on back order.

The success of such basic, cheap-to-manufacture products being sold at a premium on television would be surprising to me if it weren’t for two things:

1) Americans’ love of shopping

2) The “essential” nature of the products being shilled

Here we are, in a terrible recession, and we have to curtail the pleasure we get from consumption. Oh, the sacrifice!  And then, along comes a boisterous spokesperson telling us we can shop from the comfort of our couch and, for only $19.95, we can have a product that will enhance our life in an important, fundamental way.  Who hasn’t had the experience of trying to snuggle up with a book and struggling to keep the blanket from falling off of them as they turn the pages?

I predict that we will see many more of these ads for bite-sized consumption as the recession deepens.  Thank goodness for TiVo.


Don’t touch that Dial!

26 01 2009

Why recap what’s perfectly stated?

“…a new study shows that people who touch an item at a store are more likely to not only buy an item, but pay more for it.”

For more details, check out this article.

Visual Thinking -> Visual Sharing

20 01 2009

David Armano has done it again.  Another great post, this time about Visual Thinking.  


Visual Thinking is one of the things I love most about the work I do.  I help people think cinematically — combining story, image, theme — so they can inspire the actions they seek.  And when you can tell a story cinematically, whether it’s to a potential new client or an entire target market, you can capture that elusive and highly sought after thing called Attention.

Starbucks’ New Role

15 01 2009

Starbucks is extending its “third place” status (work, home, Starbucks) to become the new community center.  Don’t believe me?  Check out it’s new ad campaign, “I’m in.” 

Starbucks Pledge Card







According to the AdAge article “Starbucks Push Will Encourage Community Service,” Starbucks is partnering with the nation’s largest volunteer organization, the Hands On Network, to launch the “I’m In” campaign.  They will be encouraging its customers to pledge at least five hours of community service this hour.  

It seems to me that Starbucks’ strategy extends beyond a simple halo effect and piggybacking on Obama’s rallying cry for volunteerism.  They are positioning themselves as a hub within communities, connecting people with other people in need.  The new community center.  This is a brilliant move for a brand that lost its soul years ago.  It will be interesting to see if Starbucks meets their goal of 1,000,000 pledged hours of volunteerism and if they can reinvent themselves as an essential element of local neighborhood life.

On Target

14 01 2009

The Target commercials “Brand New Day” are spot-on when it comes to understanding the new houshold economics.

They get that every purchase is now a serious economic decision so the benefits have to be front and center.  This goes for everything, no matter how basic.  Nowadays, a $9.99 DVD purchase and a $2.99 box of microwave popcorn are a much easier sell when framed as a “night at the movies” because you’re providing consumers with a lower-cost alternative to something they already are doing or might want to do.

Ad Age ran a nice piece today titled “Can Moms Save Us from the Recession?.”  It details some of the psychology behind household purchase decisions as made by today’s Mom.  Link to it here.   The parallels between these findings and the new Target ads are pretty obvious.  Nice work, Target.

Marketing Luxury in a Recession – Part II

5 01 2009

A month ago I posted about the challenges that luxury brand marketers will face in this new economy.  A new report from Karl Greenberg in Marketing Daily backs this up.  The gist of the article:  

Brands will have to make their messages simple, honest and clear, says Landor Associates analyst Susan Nelson. “Non-essential product features that encourage consumers to trade up will be even less successful than usual,” she predicts.

I wonder if our local Bloomingdale’s will be restocking its store with “essentials” after clearing out its previously over-priced, bejeweled hoodies with 70% markdowns?