Farming Out Madison Avenue

24 03 2009

Finally! Corporate America is wising up to the fact that Madison Avenue does not have all of the good ideas.

In what is surely a bellweather move, the CMOs of 10 major corporations (including H-P and Pepsi brand Doritos) have tentatively agreed to participate in a crowdsourcing contest for the next great ad. It’s nice to see the de-concentration of creative influence.

It’s also a bit bittersweet to someone else making a go of what was my MBA Lab to Market project (along with Craig Braun, Stephanie Herzberg & Tony Cusano), Wombat.

More details on the contest here:


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.

Microsoft / Seinfeld Follow-Up

19 09 2008

Microsoft is already canning their Bill Gates-Jerry Seinfeld ad campaign, as reported by Valleywag. Not surprisingly, their attempt at strange, obtuse humor did not connect with ordinary consumers.  This despite the central theme of the campaign being about connecting.

“Shoe Circus,” the first ad, was disastrous.  It was just odd and its motives were completely obscured.  To be fair, the follow-up ad “New Family” was much better.  If Microsoft’s goal was to make their brand character, Bill Gates, more likable they succeeded.  Contrasting him with the kooky, dysfunctional, middle-American family made him seem, well, more approachable.  Hardly counter-programming to the PC characterization in the Mac vs. PC ads but a good start nonetheless.  If anything, Bill was much more likable than snarky Seinfeld.

All is not lost, though.  The antidote to Apple’s ad campaign is sitting smack in the middle of the Microsoft landing page.   “I’m a PC,” Microsoft’s homage to all of the cool people who use PCs, co-opts and defies Apple’s successful campaign.  Their brand ambassadors include everyone from Deepak Chopra to Eva Longoria to You, average Joe and Jane consumer.  Check it out.  Isn’t this the campaign which Microsoft should have invested those big ad buys?  It squarely repositions Microsoft as a service provider to innovative people and puts their message back on track – hardware and software are only as “cool” as the people who use them and how they use them.

Silver-Lining Marketing

16 09 2008

Due to my impending high school reunion, I recently reconnected with an old friend.  We’ve known each other since elementary school.    Buried in a box under the stairs are the pen pal letters to prove it.   In catching up, I learned that he had heart surgery at a very young age (12) which somehow none of us seemed to know.  This experience apparently inspired his current career in cardiac research.

There is something very appealing about this simple cause and effect story.  There is also something very moving about a challenge that is morphed into a triumph.  

In light of the turbulence in our economy, in the financial sector and in our politics I would like to see advertising and marketing with that same appeal.  Rather than frighten me with tales of what’s wrong (and how I, the consumer, need your product or service or else…) why don’t you inspire me with what can be made right. When I refer to the fear-based advertising and marketing, I am thinking of recent ads I’ve seen for insurance, healthcare, financial services and our presidential candidates.  When I refer to inspiring, I am thinking of Target and Wal-Mart, who are working very hard to remind us that beauty, fun and everyday small luxuries don’t have to be mutually exclusive of value and savings.

So, to all of you advertisers and marketers out there:  Show me a realistic silver-lining.  Because, quite simply, if you can provide me with reasoned hope, I will gravitate toward you.