Thursday, December 24, 2009

Virgin Mobile -- Is it just me or is this way off?

The Virgin family of companies has generally been pretty on brand. Edgy, hip and cutting edge. The latest Virgin Mobile ad, however, leaves me cold and scratching my head. Or in the case of the actress in the commercial, scratching various other areas. Since when have communicable diseases been a reason to make me want to buy a phone, or anything else for that matter.

It's an interesting idea, having the mouth leave the body. But it's one of those ads that makes me feel uncomfortable and just say "I don't get it".

Ending up this year's Creative Excellence series, we must end on a positive note.
James Boag's Tasmanian beer pulled out all the stops for this beautiful commercial.

As we wrap up the year, Ontrack is excited about upcoming projects. Online, and digital offerings are all in the cue for this year and we look forward to sharing with you over the coming months.
Have a wonderful holiday season and here's hoping creative is fun, festive and fresh for 2010!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Kudo makes the top ten viral views

Canadian mobile brand Koodo arrives drops in the No. 9 spot on the Adage top viral view list with the kind of choose-your-own-adventure-style campaign we first saw from Unfortunately, the review from Visible Measures, which compiles the chart, calls it "a drawn out 'story' that runs out of tricks early and then just drags on ... and the conclusion is not much of a payoff. While an interesting gimmick, the interactive approach still requires good story telling ... and this one could have been done in half as many videos and 25% of the time."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Mobile Couponing the future

I call it phone envy. People used to compare suits, or shoes. Now they pull out their smart phone over drinks and compare features.

With the smartphone rapidly penetrating across affluent and youth demographics, marketers are taking advantage.

7-11 and Wendy's are both serving up mobile coupon campaigns currently.
Read all the details here Mobile Coupons

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday Ad news Tiger & Online ad rates

Well 4 more sleeps til Christmas. In the meantime we plod ahead with the Ontrack blog covering ad news for a Monday December 21st.
Tiger Woods soon to be ex had better get her settlement in quickly as Tiger's earning power is depreciating weekly. Tag Heuer joins the list of advertisers who have opted to take a pass on further connections to the Tiger brand.

As we start to move more and more dollars towards online ad venues, here are the results of a survey of who gets the highest online revenues.

Highest online rates

Friday, December 18, 2009

Creative Excellence Fridays - Mobius Best of Show and Up

Recently Dave Boire of DBAudio included me in the Toronto judging panel to choose the top international television/cinema creative for the Mobius 2009 awards.
We all agreed, a Canadian commercial, GM Cadillac - Film Festival, was the best of show. Congratulations to the creative team behind this. I recall seeing it at the opening of several film festival screenings and I never tired of seeing it again. There are a few in the series. Here is -- Crazy Scream.

Now - the Slap.

And finally - Tied Up.

The campaign was designed to tie in with the cachet of the Toronto International Film Festival. As well its' intention was to re-ignite and add some youth branding to the Cadillac name. Nice job.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thurs adnews & Hot viral of the week

Rogers Communications Inc. says a B.C. judge has ruled Bell Mobility’s claim that it has Canada’s most reliable network is false and misleading and has called for immediate removal of all advertising containing the statement.

Toronto-based Rogers launched legal action against Bell Canada and Bell Mobility on Dec.1 after losing its own battle against Telus over its own claim to be Canada’s most reliable network.

Rogers argued before a B.C. court that data suggesting Bell’s network is the most reliable and fastest is misleading because it was compiled before the commercial launch of its upgraded network.

It also argued that Bell Mobility cannot promote its network as being Canada’s largest, because it is shared with Telus Corp.

Rogers is also taking aim at Bell’s claims to have the “best” and “most powerful network” because it says those statements are not quantifiable.

In Viral news - One of the hottest virals this week celebrates the 25th anniversary of Virgin Atlantic Airlines . A great salute to 1984 and to an airline that celebrates sexy.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Top Ten Media Influencers of 2009

As we wrap up this decade, we reflect on an industry that is in transition. The old standards, television, newspaper, radio, are all being rapidly nibbled away at by social media and e-media. According to the Retail Marketing association, here are the top ten media influencers of 2009.

Coupons 45%
Word-of-mouth 27%
Advertising inserts 27%
Broadcast TV 23%
Newspaper 22%
Direct mail 21%
In-store promotion 18%
E-mail advertising 16%
Cable TV 12%
Magazines 11%
Internet advertising 11%
Radio 10%
Source: Retail Advertising and Marketing Association

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Google Phone

What is the fascination with Google? Probably it's the fact that they continue to bring in the finest minds available and set aside a certain percentage of every work week to allow those individuals to come up with new ways to conquer the digital world.
So what's next for Google? Mobile is where it's at, so it only makes sense Google would jump into the game.

With all the attention Google's plan to launch its own phone is receiving, a sensible question remains: Why, when it makes billions off the high-margin business of search and online advertising, would it want to jump into creating a mobile handset?

Google's fortunes come from advertising, making money off eyeballs and user experience. As the online world matures and growth from advertising revenue slows, Google is looking to reap ad dollars from mobile. Net expert EMarketer has online advertising revenue growing 6% next year, compared to 40% for mobile.

The new Google phone has a few bells and whistles to shout about-- from the promises of visual search to using voice commands to find stuff -- it makes sense that Google wants to have a direct hand in accelerating the promise of these applications and control the user's experience with them.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Google's next battle and Top Ten US agencies

The decade is wrapping up. Adage has chosen, from their perspective, the top ten US ad agencies of the decade. They are as follows:

Crispin Porter & Bogusky began the decade with just over 100 staffers and a reputation as a strong regional shop that had done award-winning anti-smoking work. The MDC Partners agency will enter 2010 with more than 900 staffers, a client list including marketers such as Burger King, Microsoft, Domino's and The Gap, and its portfolio stuffed with the some of the most memorable marketing campaigns of the century thus far. Having successfully moved its center of gravity from southern Florida to Boulder, Colo., creative legends Alex Bogusky and Chuck Porter have gone international in their own distinctive way: by buying the Swedish digital shop Daddy and rebranding it CPB Europe.

2. R/GA
In 10 years, R/GA has shrugged off its film- and print-production roots to become the premier digital agency, a dominance exemplified by Nike Plus, which introduced the idea of platform-based, utility-driven marketing to many. The platform allows runners to log running data by syncing Nike footwear with iPods, and, years later, it still stands out as a prime example of how marketing content can create consumer value. Under Chairman-CEO and Chief Creative Bob Greenberg, the Interpublic agency's client list has included heavyweights such as Nokia, Verizon and IBM, and most recently, Walmart and MasterCard. Today, it counts more than 600 employees worldwide, with offices in London and San Francisco, and has plans to grow its global footprint. R/GA is already showing signs of its next evolution into a full-service agency with digital at its core: It recently won full creative agency-of-record duties for Ameriprise Financial.

The marriage of scale and creativity in advertising is usually not a long one, but TBWA has demonstrated that being a global network doesn't mean the bean counters have to take over. Under the leadership of Jean-Marie Dru, CEO Tom Carroll and creative icon Lee Clow, TBWA grew into a thriving global player this decade, combining the creative chops of a lean micro-network with a much bigger footprint. Standout work for Pedigree, Mars and, of course, Apple, whose "Get a Mac" campaign could rightly be called the campaign of the decade and remains a testament to the power of a well-executed creative idea.

Mother pioneered the agency-as-brand approach, dealing fearlessly with clients and putting creativity and playfulness center-stage. The independent agency employs 400 people across three continents, and it's spawned 20 new companies, including Naked -- now a global player in its own right -- as well as Mother, New York; Madre, Buenos Aires; digital agency Poke; and design agency Saturday. The agency established an advertising-as-entertainment approach that has been widely imitated, and much of its work is now a mainstay of British culture. Its Coca-Cola "I wish" commercial was the first non-U.S. spot for the main Coke brand to run in the U.S.

AKQA has managed to grow into one of the top global digital agencies while keeping its creative prowess and independence. Not bad for a shop whose operations were confined to the U.K. at the decade's start. In 2001, consultancy Accenture invested in the company to bring now-CEO Tom Bedecarre's agency, web developer Magnet Interactive into the family, which helped establish the brand's footprint in Europe, Asia and the U.S. Since then, the network has survived the dot-com bust and built itself up again to 750 people in six offices. Its roster has included Nike, McDonald's, BMW and Visa. AKQA has also made its mark by designing non-ad brand platforms for Microsoft (the user interface for Xbox 360) and Fiat's recent EcoDrive application that mines data and stores it on USB keys in cars.

Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, like Crispin Porter & Bogusky, is an illustration of what happens when an agency forsakes silos and its ego to simply focus on the work. Located only in San Francisco, Goodby combines new-business performance, creativity and business smarts to remain on the short-list of top shops in the land, with a client list that includes Sprint, Frito-Lay, HP, Yahoo and Haagen-Dazs. In 2007, it won Ad Age's Agency of the Year after demonstrating some strong digital work. Since then, it's continued to show that a one-stop-shop for creative solutions is the model for an advertising agency in our day and age.

Without holding-company backing, independent PR shop Edelman has not only come through two significant recessions this decade, but it has also managed to solidify itself as the leading agency and most recognizable name in the entire industry. Whether it's through the use of traditional PR tactics or the development and implementation of digital, blogger and social-media programs, the agency continually breaks new ground in the world of communications and has redefined the role PR agencies are playing in the marketing mix. Led by the PR industry's most influential voice, CEO Richard Edelman, the agency, whose client list includes some of the biggest brands in the world, such as Walmart, Starbucks, Burger King, Microsoft and Pfizer, will rack up nearly half a billion in worldwide revenue in 2009. The only major hiccup these past ten years was the Wal-Mart Across America blog snafu back in 2006.

Not many agencies come out the other side of mergers with their health intact. Fewer still make the whole bigger than the sum of their parts. But Weber Shandwick, not even a full decade since it was incorporated in 2001 after a series of mergers between three shops, has successfully pulled off the complicated act of a major agency merger. Described by many as the most professional agency in the sector, the Interpublic Group of Cos. shop is the largest PR firm in the world, with offices in more than 70 markets globally. And its client list is a who's who of blue chip marketers including General Electric, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, MasterCard, Microsoft and Verizon.

9. BBH
Bartle Bogle Hegarty was 18 years old in 2000, and had just sold a minority stake to Leo Burnett, the first deal of its kind. In the decade since, BBH London, Singapore and New York were joined by BBH Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Mumbai, securing the agency's place in history as the model of the tightly branded yet truly global micro-network. In the past 10 years, BBH won -- and kept -- some of its biggest clients, including KFC, Barclays, Vodafone, Omo, British Airways and LG, while retaining two founding client Levi's. Often a step ahead of the rest of the industry, BBH launched the first music publishing company in advertising, a content department, and created an engagement-planning function and brand-invention arm Zag.

10. BBDO
This decade has been brutal on Madison Avenue's giants, now faced with a stark reality: Modernize or die. It's a nearly impossible task, but Omnicom Group's BBDO has made a go of it. In the capable hands of worldwide CEO Andrew Robertson, BBDO managed to become a new-business machine in the middle part of the decade. It netted Agency of the Year honors in 2005. And, despite once being known primarily as a factory for TV spots, BBDO has managed to display some digital acumen on work for M&M's and HBO. Massive challenges loom during the new decade: BBDO and parent Omnicom need to recover quickly from the crumbling of their relationship with Chrylser, not long ago its largest client.

Google goes after social media marketing in a big way.

Google lifted the curtain today on a host of new features that incorporate time and place into its search results, including the coming integration of Facebook and MySpace status updates into search results.
Google real time searchEnlarge
A Google spokesperson said there were no immediate plans to place advertising next to real-time search results while it refines the user experience.

The search giant also demonstrated its latest innovations in mobile search, including an augmented-reality application for it Android mobile-operating-system platform that can identify objects such as a book, product or piece of artwork and deliver relevant information about them.

Social network search
The new features, introduced at the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley, come more than a month after it announced the integration of Twitter update, announced on the same day that Microsoft's Bing would integrate updates from the microblogging service.
Related Story:
Google Bets (Again) on QR Codes
Will Its Big Local Play Help the Technology Take Off?

As with Twitter, Google declined to say if it's paying MySpace and Facebook for its data, but clearly the goal is to cement its position as preferred search engine for social-network users, and to give anyone searching better visibility in what is being said at a given moment.

As with its Twitter deal, a Google spokesperson said there were no immediate plans to place advertising next to real-time search results while it refines the user experience.

'Beginning of the beginning'
But Google did say that as far as it has come in developing search as a tool and an ad marketplace, there is much more on the way. "We're at the beginning of the beginning," said Vic Gundotra, Google's VP of engineering.

That search is still in its infancy either is scary notion for Google because it has a very well-funded competitor from Microsoft, which is about to absorb Yahoo's search business, or promising because of what's possible, particularly in local advertising, thanks to myriad new applications.

"The location relevance of mobile searches is clearly top of mind for Google," wrote Kelsey Group's Mike Borland in a blog. "They've told us, in fact, that local searches index two to three times higher (as a percentage of overall searches) on mobile than PC. With this comes even greater relevance for local information."

Rolling real-time updates
Google's mobile search results will now include a section containing a rolling list of real-time updates from sources including newly published blogs and pages, feeds from Twitter and public Facebook and MySpace updates. Google will also show the real-time trending topics being discussed.

Some have wondered how Google will be able to keep up the quality of search results and present useful, relevant information to consumers in the cacophony of real-time babble.

"The big challenge isn't pulling in the information from across the web quickly -- it's sorting through it and putting the good stuff at the top," said Harry McCracken, editor of the Technologist. "In a way, this is similar to the challenge that Google tackled when it was founded. There were other search engines, such as AltaVista, but nobody had figured out how to determine which sites should be at the top of results. Google nailed relevance back then, so they have as good a short as anyone at addressing it with real-time search."

'Google googles'
In addition to real-time search, Google showed off its first augmented-reality app for Android it calls "Google Goggles," which allows you to point your mobile phone's camera at an object and submit that image as a search query. You can snap pictures of anything from wine labels to pet tarantulas. Google's vision algorithms then analyze the photos, which are matched up against an index containing a billion images, before it sends the best match to your device.

Google also showed a few new features that make search more sensitive to geography. Mr. Gundotra gave the example of a user who starts to type the letters "RE" as a query. For someone living in San Francisco, Google will predict "REI," the outdoors sports retailer popular with Bay Area residents. For Boston searchers, Google will predict "Red Sox." Mr. Gundotra noted 40% of mobile searches originate from Google-suggested queries -- that is, users accept a search term that Google suggests based on predictive text algorithms.

Both Android phones and desktop searchers will get the new "Near Me Now" feature, which allows users to pinpoint areas of interest to them on Google Maps, including local merchants.

"My sense is mobile search will end up being a bunch of things -- there's voice input, you'll use a map, you'll use a camera," said independent mobile search analyst Greg Sterling. "The context and modality with which you have in mobile is much more varied than on a desktop. None of this is a translation of the desktop experience."

Friday, December 11, 2009

Creative Excellence Fridays - New Zealand Humour

First off, we'd like to take a moment and ... drum roll please... announce the unveiling of our new website Ontrack Congrats to Heronymo Allen and Dan Sampson for all their hard work.

Also a thank you to Dave Boire of DBAudio for having me to his funky studio diggs earlier this week. Dave is the Toronto chairperson for the Mobius Awards and he kindly asked me to be one of the television judges. We'll feature the best of show winners in next week's blog.

Now on to this weeks' blog.
We've all marveled at British humour over the years. Monty Python, Little Britain et all. Well it turns out the "colonies" brought some of that edge with them. Below is a commercial produced in New Zealand by DDB New Zealand to promote Sky Cable. It is definitely out there, but I have to say I like it, alot. It's the kind of commercial you want to see more than once, and when it comes on you say to a friend in the next room, "come here.. come here.. it's on..come see this". Which, in all honesty is the biggest compliment you can pay.

Warning, this may prove a bit distasteful for some. But you definitely will remember it and the uniqueness will transfer to brand recognition too.

Coming up on Monday, adnews from the Google camp. They have chosen another monster to compete with. Details on Monday. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Burger King targets breakfast for the boys

Burger King has released a new microsite and viral campaign focusing on young males. The website, has,you guessed it,a young woman in the 20shower. And yes she's wearing a bathing suit.
A spokesperson for Burger King said "The Singing Shower Website is billed as "the world's first guilt-free shower-cam," where visitors can ask a 20-year-old woman to wear a different bikini and sing a different song as she takes her morning shower each day.

Burger King U.K. is inviting young men to watch and interact with a bikini-clad girl as she takes her daily shower, in a new "glorious mornings" promotion which urges consumers to "seize the day your way."


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Digital verses Traditional Shops

When Cliff Freeman & Partners went under recently it shed a lot of light on traditional ad shops, verses digital agencies. Some of the brightest ideas of the last twenty years came from Cliff Freeman's shop, but strong creative is not enough. Today, in order for an agency to survive, strong creative needs to be filtered through a plethora of digital channels. Media planning has always been important, but today it's essential that every agency, whether considered a digital shop or not, have a strong relationship with digital planners, so the message reaches an incredibly splintered market.

Adweek has a great article by Brian Morrisey talking about the competition between traditional and digital. Digital vs traditional

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mastercard vs Visa

The two leaders in their respective credit fields are Visa and Mastercard ..with Amex coming up on the outside.

Here's an interesting article from Anthony Young of Adage with a look at the battle of the titans


Monday, December 7, 2009

PizzaPizza partners with Coca Cola and brings back the past

Pizza Pizza, which hasn't used the Peel 'n Reveal contest since its debut run in 2001, partnered with Coca-Cola Canada this time around to leverage the popularity of, said Pat Finelli, chief marketing officer for Pizza Pizza.

Meanwhile back in the Tiger Woods camp, Gillette has decided to stay with the Tiger. In spite of almost daily stories of various women throughout the world coming out with their own tiger by the tail stories, Gillette will be standing by their man.

Story here Tiger by the tail

Friday, December 4, 2009

Creative Excellence Fridays - The banned viral

We recently featured a commercial called Shiny Suds in a Friday post. It was a parody spot designed to raise awareness for household cleaner marketer "Method". However after complaints from some women's groups, claiming the ad was sexist and promoted rape, the ad was pulled. Now here's the interesting question; was the ad deliberately designed to promote controversy? When an advertiser immediately puts out a statement saying they regret any impressions, wrongful or otherwise this commercial may have caused, and pull the ad immediately, it causes ripples of free press. It also shows they are sensitive to the concerns of others. The free press is the key. Some marketers deliberately plan for this as part of the delivery process.
You be the judge. Here is Shiny Bubbles, the "banned" viral.

Next a banned commercial for 7up. Not sure why it was banned, other than perhaps it could start a rush of people to trauma wards.

That's it for this week. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Microsites Part 4 - Clear the clutter

In part 4 of our look at Microsites, it's agreed by all industry experts, clutter.... bad. No matter what the advertising vehicle, one of the hardest things for a client to do is focus on the message. We have to remember that, even though a business has a myriad of sales points, you want to focus on one part of your business in your microsite.

Some simple rules come into play.
1.If the visitor has to work to find what they're looking for, they're gone.
2.If you clutter up the microsite with too many items it will feel like a construction zone. And no one enjoys navigating through those.
3.Any delay is a one way ticket to your competitor's site and product.

And finally, Entry Pop-ups. Bad. What are entry pop ups? Those annoying little windows that pop up and float around the screen asking for a call-to-action. They are the equivalent of the loud guy at the party who demands to be the centre of attention even though he's done nothing to deserve it.

Tomorrow on Creative Excellence Fridays - a past entry is banned because of complaints of sexism.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Microsites Part 3 Banner & text ads

Part 3 of Microsites - Banner and Text ads.

Banner ads of course are the ads at the top, side or bottom of a highly viewed web page. This is usually in the form of short text advertisements or rectangles of various sizes containing images designed to inspire you to take action. These are done by agencies directly or through a variety of online distribution companies such as Global Market Exposure. The banners work in harmony with your microsites to either drive traffic to the Microsite so you can drive an information conversion, or they work independently of your Microsite to drive traffic directly to your main site. They work towards increasing the following: SEO Website Traffic,On-Line Purchase,SEO Page Views,
In-store Sales, SEO Website Time Spent, Page Views, SEO Website Branding,
Media Exposure, SEO Website Sales, Impressions, SEO Website Ranking,
Product Branding, SEO Website Indexing, Clicks, SEO Website Reputation, Actions, SEO Website Click Through, Conversions, SEO Return On Investment ROI, Return On Investment(ROI)

Pay per click (PPC) is also a very popular online advertising model. PPC ads are typically short text ads along the top, sides or bottom of a web page. PPC text ads appear in two major instances. When featured on Search engine results pages (SERPS), the PPC ads are targeted to the particular keyword that the searcher typed in. Other text PPC ads occur by insertion into targeted Web pages whose thems are associated with the keyword in question. PPC gives the advertiser much more control over the way the paid search result appears.

Affliates. Many midsize and larger companies have affliate programs. It essentially is a form of pure-commission selling. The affilate directs a visitor to a website or landing page. The affiliate that the visitor originated from is recorded. That there is a conversion the affilate gets credit and payment for the action.

Tomorrow in Part 4. Clutter and Clean. Keeping focus on your microsite.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Microsites Part 2

So why bother with a microsite? The whole point is to drive customers to your product or service correct? The microsite helps you test and focus on different areas of your business. Perhaps you're selling those bungie blankets. You want to appeal to both an older demographic and a younger demographic. By having two separate microsites you can use different key words and different looks to target those two very diverse demographics. Ultimately your goal is the magic trilogy. Acquisition, Conversion and Retention.

Acquisition - to get people to your website or landing page.
Conversion - Convincing them to take the desired action.
Retention - Build a more meaningful relationship with the customer which potentially could last a lifetime.

One of the ways to increase your SEO website traffic is to have important and credible sites in your industry link back to you. Links are usually requested from the webmasters of other sites. You get in touch with them and ask them to add a relevant link back to your site from the appropriate spot on their site. This can definitely result in higher rankings.

Tomorrow - Banner and text ads and how they work with microsites.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Microsites - Part 1 & the Future of TV

Before we start our 4 part series on Microsites, let's look at an interesting article in todays AdNews. The Future of television - It talks about how families still have that separate television for viewing, but the future sees a much different path.
Personal control. The details here Future of TV

Microsites - What are they and how do they work?

The clinical definition of a microsite is as follows:

"A microsite, also known as a minisite or weblet, is an Internet web design term referring to an individual web page or cluster of pages which are meant to function as an auxiliary supplement to a primary website. The microsite's main landing page most likely has its own domain name or subdomain.

They are typically used to add a specialized group of information either editorial or commercial. Such sites may be linked in to a main site or not or taken completely off a site's server when the site is used for a temporary purpose. The main distinction of a microsite versus its parent site is its purpose and specific cohesiveness as compared to the microsite's broader overall parent website."

Microsites serve a variety of purposes. Tomorrow, Emotional Triggers necessary for a successful Microsite.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Creative Excellence Fridays - Fantasy Factories

Today on Creative Excellence Fridays - Fantasy Factories. Over the years through the magic of advertising, we have seen our favourite products originate through a variety of imaginary factories. I remember one summer as a teenager working in a factory that processed sauerkraut and tomatos. If that factory was featured we would never eat sauerkraut again. Thus, the fantasy factory with it's buzzing hummingbirds, harps and fluffy clouds.

Today - we feature a new fantasy factory from the minds at McCain Foods. Out of the UK, Beattie McGuinness Bungay is the agency behind this animated wonder. It may be a bit over the top calling the factory "Good Unlimited" but if you're going to commit to an idea, why not commit all the way.

The Keebler Elves have been making cookies to feed the world from the centre of 1 Hollow Tree lane since 1968. The company has always had a squeeky clean reputation, even being the official supplier of Girl Scout cookies since 1936.
The elves, the tree and all the cookies were acquired by Kelloggs in 2001.

Coming up on Monday - ad news, and some tips on Microsites. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Actors posing as real people

When you see those testimonials on television, you assume they are real people. Unless the performances are plastic or way over the top, you make certain assumptions. Especially if the advertiser is someone as large as Microsoft. John Scott, a writer for the Advertising News, wrote a great piece about one of the more recent slay the dragon PC campaigns. The whole article is here And here is a brief blurb from it:

"Here’s the set-up: real people are given a thousand bucks to go buy a computer; they’re also told they can keep any money left over after the purchase. In the debut ad, an attractive redhead buys an out-of-date laptop PC and is delighted she still has a couple hundred bucks remaining. There’s been no follow-up to see if the actress is pleased to be associated with the words “dumb” and “cheap.”

I use the word “actress” because the commercial is a fake. It’s not a reality spot when you hire a member of the Screen Actors Guild and stage the “shopping” scenes. The actress is Lauren DeLong, who has appeared in “99 Pieces,” “Hatched,” and “Ladybugs.” She has also appeared under the name Lauren Penner when she played Head Nurse in “This Hollow Sacrament” and under the name Lauren Kuhn when she played Jacuzzi Girl in “7eventy 5ive.”

The funny thing is that she’s by far the best thing about the commercial. If the spot had been real, people might have liked to learn more about her and how she enjoyed her HP Laptop. But because everything was contrived, when a reporter contacted her she replied that she had signed a confidentiality agreement and would have to see if she was allowed to speak to the press."

No comment on this article from Microsoft. Coming up tomorrow on Creative Excellence Fridays, "fairy tale factories".

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rogers challenged in BC and Art Directors Corner

A British Columbia judge has decided Rogers Communications Inc. cannot continue to claim it has “Canada’s Most Reliable” wireless network without qualification.

The judge’s ruling is largely a victory for Telus Corp., which asked for the court to prevent Rogers from continuing to make the long-standing claim.

Telus argued that new networks put in place this month by Telus and Bell Canada made it impossible for Rogers to claim superiority.

Justice Grauer said in his ruling that he agreed with Telus when it argued that Rogers couldn’t make the claim based on information that has become outdated.

However, the judge said he won’t go as far as to order Rogers to pull any advertising or promotional material with the claim and said he wanted to make the scope of the limitation on Rogers as narrow as possible.

“We continue to believe that our network reliability claim is valid and further steps will be taken shortly,” said Rogers spokesperson Odette Coleman. Rogers has also filed an appeal with the B.C. Court of Appeal.

Justice Grauer ordered the two parties to work on the wording for a court order and adjourned the matter until Friday.

Art Directors Corner

Ever have a font given to you by a client, with a request to use it? The only problem being the client has no idea what the font is called or where you can obtain it. Try Identifont
It asks you specific questions to help you narrow down what the font could be and then provides a series of fonts to view that match the criteria.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Adwars move to the Courtroom

The latest weapon in the ad wars: Lawyers
As ad campaigns grow increasingly brutal, many companies are turning to the courts to challenge their competitors' claims. "In this economy ... a lot of marketing departments have decided to become more aggressive in going after their competitors in the hopes that they can either protect their market position or capture additional market share," says advertising lawyer John E. Villafranco. Still, it's a high-risk strategy: experts say that high-profile legal fights between competitors risk turning consumers against both brands.
Fighting for your piece of the market in court Nov 21 -09 Lawyers battling it out
Companies that were once content to fight in grocery-store aisles and on television commercials are now choosing a different route — filing lawsuits and other formal grievances challenging their competitors’ claims. Longtime foes like Pantene and Dove, Science Diet and Iams, AT&T and Verizon Wireless, and Campbell Soup and Progresso have all wrestled over ads recently.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Facebook home run with Ikea

You're surrounded by Facebook and Twitter stories everywhere you look today. Here's a huge success story for both Facebook and Ikea. Ikea has always been a little ahead of the pack in brand and image, and now they are using Facebook to penetrate the market even further with this very successful promotion.

Tomorrow - winning the ad battle in the courtroom.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Creative Excellence Fridays - Shiny Suds

Happy Friday. Today on Creative Excellence Fridays - associations and causes.
You have a cause and you want others to share your view. You can tell them about it, and tell them about it, then tell them again, as is the case with the StopTheTVTax, and Save Local TV campaigns, or you can choose a less direct approach.

Dilemna -- you want to show the public there are nasty chemicals in common household items. An document was declared called the Household Products Labelling Act. How do you spread the word? Through a very well produced, viral piece...with bubbles gone bad.

Credits - Executive Creative Director Ted Royer. Client, Method.

And from the ad archives, a commercial that almost seems like a parody with it's gee whiz aw shucks approach. Only YOU can prevent forest fires.

Coming up on Monday, a huge Facebook success story. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Secret shoppers rule the franchise

There is a burger chain in the United States called "Five Guys Burgers and Fries". They, GASP, do not advertise. Their secret to success is a great product (lots of grease and to hell with politically correct food) and great service. Their service comes from frequently having secret shoppers go through the store. Employees are rewarded handsomely for high ratings and they never know when the secret shopper will strike. Seems simple right? This approach has turned the Five Guys franchise into one of the fastest growing in America.

Speaking of burgers, Burger King franchisees are suing the corporate head office. Burger King has demanded that franchisees sell certain product on special with a lid on how much they can charge. Many franchisees are saying it is seriously effecting their bottom line. Details here Burger King

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Release the brand hounds

One could compare China with North America in one way. Corporate North America attempts to keep as tight a lid on thought control on their brands as communist China does on it's general populous. But now in the age of Twitter and Facebook, this is becoming increasingly more difficult to herd and tell the masses how you should feel about a brand.

Andrew McAfee of the Harvard Business Review advocates releasing the hounds and allowing the consumer to have more input into brand shaping.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Font fetishes and BBDO closes its doors

Today in our art director's corner, we continue to look at FONTS with a very, well, unique site. I googled font fetish as I thought there might be some unique sites and this one popped up. And it is indeed unique. They seemed to focus more on the word fetish then fonts, but there is a great quiz on there to test your knowledge of fonts among other things. Enjoy

Font Fetish

On a disturbing note, BBDO Detroit, with the loss of its only account, Chrysler, closes its doors. Staff have been given two months to use the office facilities to prepare themselves for the job market. Most will leave Detroit as the ad community is a shadow of its former self.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Font fetish - Nov 16, 2009

I came across this site recently and thought it worthy of sharing. For web designers you're already aware that there are "web safe" fonts, fonts that most browsers will be able to see in text form, as opposed to having text appear as graphics. The advantage is twofold; faster downloads, and web search crawlers can't see text when it's embedded in graphics.

The first six fonts in the link below are considered websafe. The rest are points of interest for overall design consideration. Any great sites you've come across are much appreciated.

16 best loved fonts

Friday, November 13, 2009

Creative Excellence Fridays - Gum Gum Flavour Flavour

We have seen countless ads for chewing gum over the years. Some have stayed in our memories long after the gum has faded away.
Today on Creative Excellence Fridays we'll chew on a few past and some current success stories.

Fresh out of the wrapper and into the mouths of thousands of Argentinians this week is Topline Kiss gum. From Del Campo Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi Latin America.
When they say this gum will keep you together, they mean it.

In North American JWThompson has produced a very popular series of commercials for Stride Gum, the "ridiculously long lasting gum". They have hit a resounding note, mostly because they built their main selling point around the gum's greatest selling point, the long lasting flavour. Here is one from the series, and frankly, how can you go wrong having lederhosen in a gum commercial?

Silly right? Harmless? There was another commercial in the series that was launched on web only. After a media journalist found it distasteful it was removed from the stratosphere. Rule one of good PR, if it's not a deal breaker and can deflate a generally positive vibe, just pull the ad in question and move on.

The Stride "goat" commercial is also worth a view.

And how could we do a feature on gum if we don't feature a hall of fame commercial. Who wants gum? I do I do. From 1971.

Not exactly goats and lederhosen is it. That's it for this week. Coming up on Monday, a great site for art directors who have a font fetish. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Digital out of home growing

When Schering-Plough, the pharmaceutical/package-goods giant behind brands like Claritin, Dr. Scholl's and Coppertone, sought to move $8 million to $10 million of its $372 million TV ad budget into digital out of home earlier this year, vendors were eager to accommodate them.

In what is believed to be the fledgling medium's biggest dedicated ad buy, Schering-Plough and its media agency, Havas' MPG, and its out-of-home division, Chrysalis, met with more than 30 member companies of the Out of Home Video Advertising Bureau in the spring to discuss which networks would be the best demographic and creative fit for seven of its portfolio brands. Participating brands in the digital out-of-home buy were Claritin Liqui-Gels, Claritin For Kids, Dr. Scholl's for Her, Dr. Scholl's Massaging Gels, Tinactin Chill, Lotrimin Ultra and Dr. Scholl's Pain Relief.
Digital out-of-home -- an industry that includes everything from taxi TVs and in-store retail networks to digital panels at malls -- has long been touted for its promise as an ad medium but has shown little signs of earning a full-blown commitment from marketers. Aside from cinema, which has positioned itself as the most seamless way for marketers to shift their TV budgets into alternative venues with comparable scale, many networks are too fragmented to accommodate a TV-equivalent buy on their own.

Although $8 million to $10 million may seem like a drop in the bucket for a brand like Claritin, which spent nearly $150 million on TV in 2008, according to TNS Media Intelligence, it's an investment necessary for digital out-of-home to meet the growth patterns projected by PQ Media in a new report issued this week on spending in the medium from 2009 to 2014.

digital out of home

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wired Wednesday - Youtube revenue model

Happy Wednesday. I wanted to share the latest in the ongoing series of exceptional Discovery Channel commercials with you. When I viewed it in advance on YouTube, low and behold, they asked me to watch a Progressive Auto Insurance commercial first. Frankly I'm surprised it took YouTube this long to join the Ad for view revenue model. This definitely is no longer the wave of the future - the future is now. Enjoy the commercial, and just try and not hum the song afterwards.

You've probably heard about the hype behind Iphone apps. Here is a great article on building your own Iphone apps.

13 Tools for Building Your Own iPhone App
Written by Sarah Perez / November 3, 2009 7:48 AM / 33 Comments
« Prior Post Next Post »

These days, everyone wants to build their own iPhone applications, but not everyone knows how write the code necessary in order to create them. Fortunately, there are now a number of tools that allow non-developers the ability to create their own iPhone apps without knowing programming or scripting. Some are general-purpose app builders designed for small businesses while other target specific needs, like apps for musicians or for eBook authors. Still others let developers familiar with simpler programming languages like HTML write apps using the code they know and then will transform that code into an iPhone application which can be submitted to the iTunes Store.

Below we've listed 13 different tools that let you create your own iPhone applications, none of which require knowledge of Objective C, the programming language used to build apps for the iPhone OS .
Rest of the article article

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Branding tips from Apple

In the past ten years Apple has rewritten the book on how to take a brand and add just the right amount of cool and attitude.
The result, substantial growth and Microsoft playing catch up.

From this weeks PC magazine, here are some of the essential tips on how they do it.

Apple tips

Google reshapes the Mobile Advertising Landscape.
In a bid to bolster its toehold in mobile-display advertising, Google is acquiring mobile-advertising network AdMob for $750 million in stock, sparking what could be the beginning of a major consolidation in the mobile-display advertising sector.
Details here ,Google Mobile

Monday, November 9, 2009

Digital Agencies leading the way

I watched the season finale of MadMen last night and realized, outside of it being a very good show, that the ad industry has changed tremendously in the last forty years. Agencies in that era were all things to all people. Today we have marketing shops, direct shops, and now digital shops. For some older agency type this may still cause some consternation, however with the passing of Cliff Freeman and Partners, it sheds light on the reality that great creative just isn't enough any more.

Digital agencies specialize in digital. No great earth shattering revelation there. But to do it well is another story. Marketing announced that Toronto's BIMM digital just landed a nice international plumb with Audi. No small feat and congratulations goes out to BIMM. We like to see our industry partners do well, but even more importantly we like to see them hold the torch for how good an international market our Toronto industry has become.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Creative Excellence Fridays - Oympics Fever

Happy Friday. Today on Creative Excellence Fridays we look at the long storied history Coca Cola has associating with the Olympics. I remember in college I worked one summer in a Coca Cola plant driving the forklift of 50 bags of sugar up to the giant vat where the secret recipe and several hundred gallons of water were all mixed together to make the magic elixir known as Coca Cola. It was a great summer job and I'll always have a fondness for Coca Cola. But it was also an eye opener that, as great as it tastes, soft drinks are anything but Olympic healthy. There have been no claims that they are; it's just good ol' fashioned "benefit by association" and that's been around as long as Grog the caveman put on the first leopard skin because he thought it might improve his chances with the ladies from the neighbouring village.

Having said that, let's look at this year's offering from Coca Cola tying in with Vancouver's Winter Olympics. Credits go to Cossette Montreal.

Coke has fired up all the marketing bells, whistles, canons and whatever else makes noise for the Vancouver Olympics so expect to see much more from them as the start draws closer.

And finally - not related to the Olympics, a new commercial from the international offerings. A visual treat for the eyes. Kudos to the agency Ignited LLC in Latin America for this work of beauty for Sony Vaio.

Have a great weekend. Ontrackblog runs Monday through Friday throughout the year and we always welcome your comments.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Coming clean with Green

We are all more conscious of what we're eating. And there is a movement afoot to promote healthier food; the organic movement started a number of years back but it has really taken hold. But it spurs the question, what is green and what is healthy? How are we measuring it?

Kelloggs decided to step back a bit from recent claims that Rice Crispies provide antioxidants for children. It wasn't a completely false claim, but a claim that was being over evaluated by some. Here is the statement from Kelloggs public relations department.

"While science shows that these antioxidants help support the immune system, given the public attention on H1N1, the company decided to make this change," the statement read. "We will, however, continue to provide the increased amounts of vitamins A, B, C and E that the cereal offers."

Scientists are also saying that growing organic also contributes to greenhouse gas effects because of the extra efforts required.

There are some misconceptions about what is called green as well.
Products labeled "organic" must consist of 95 percent organically produced ingredients, but products that contain only 70 percent organic ingredients can use the phrase "Made with organic ingredients."

As always caveat emptor.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fee for Carriage in Canada - CBC solution

CBC recommends scaled back packages of essential Canadian TV channels

From Canadian Press

Canada’s national public broadcaster says it has a solution should the CRTC decide to introduce fee for carriage.

In a submission filed with the federal regulator on Monday, the CBC called for cable and satellite services to offer pared-down basic packages of Canadian TV channels at a regulated price.

“We think it’s critical that all Canadians–regardless of demographic or location–have access to an inexpensive package of essential Canadian television services,” said Hubert Lacroix, president and CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada. “That’s what our solution offers.”

The CBC recommendation comes in the middle of a tense debate between conventional TV broadcasters and the carriers that distribute their programming.

The TV broadcasters want the CRTC to introduce fee for carriage–force cable and satellite companies to pay a fee for carrying signals from conventional television stations.

Cable and satellite companies argue the fees would drive up the price they’d have to charge consumers.

CBC says the answer is a reduced package of essential Canadian channels, with the CRTC determining the minimum content and maximum price.


Could America go broke?

By Robert J. Samuelson

The idea that the government of a major advanced country would default on its debt -- that is, tell lenders that it won't repay them all they're owed -- was, until recently, a preposterous proposition. Argentina and Russia have stiffed their creditors, but surely the likes of the United States, Japan or Britain wouldn't. Well, it's still a very, very long shot, but it's no longer entirely unimaginable. Governments of rich countries are borrowing so much that it's conceivable that one day the twin assumptions underlying their burgeoning debt (that lenders will continue to lend and that governments will continue to pay) might collapse. What happens then? Defaulting Debt

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

McDonalds scoffs at rumours

McDonald’s Canada and the president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association are trying to counter what they say is false information being spread by an Internet hoax.

The hoax e-mail, which purports to be from an Alberta cattle-feeding group, calls for a boycott of the fast-food chain because it says McDonald’s has plans to buy most of its beef from South America.

Not true, said association president Brad Wildeman–who owns a cattle feedlot in Lanigan, Sask.

He said McDonald’s buys as much Canadian beef as it can, and the company said that translates into roughly 29 million kilograms each year.

Classic Agency closes

Where's the Shop? Cliff Freeman Closes Its Doors

Agency Behind Classic Wendy's Ad and 'Pizza, Pizza' Shutters After 22-Year Run
By: Kunur Patel, Published: Nov 02, 2009
E-mail | Print |

In what was left of an office on West 20th Street in New York, a small group of casually dressed people were packing boxes amidst empty file cabinets and unplugged phones when a visitor arrived.

"Cliff Freeman is ceasing operations at this location," said a woman who asked not to have her name printed and then asked the visitor to leave. She bore a strong resemblance to online photos of Gail Hoffman-Frusciante, the chief financial officer and one of the few remaining employees of Cliff Freeman & Partners, a legendary ad agency that could once brag about being one of the most creative shops in the land.

For a one-time creative hotbed that ought to get a mention in any history of TV advertising, the demise of Cliff Freeman & Partners will have sadly little effect on the much-changed marketing business of today -- aside from the emotional impact of many who say they owe their careers to the place. A few people, maybe even a dozen but probably less, will need new jobs and a precious few clients will need new agencies.

The most significant client, Baskin-Robbins, offered just the stoic statement: "Baskin-Robbins is aware that Cliff Freeman & Partners has closed its doors. We have a search under way for a new agency partner."

Several top executives who spoke with Advertsing Age were unable to point to any single reason for the agency's collapse. It's been noted that it had a reputation for old-school (if good) TV work and not for the cross-discipline, and in particular, digital work that most marketers demand today. Some said poor account management was to blame. Another person cited the failure to replace lost clients, and one even said it was merely cyclical and that small, independent agencies are more vulnerable to economic cycles. All, however, called it a "sad day" and had nary a negative word about Mr. Freeman.

Although it went with more of a whimper than a bang, the end of the agency has an end-of-an-era feel to it -- at least for those old enough to remember the storied shop's heyday. In the 1980s and 1990s, Cliff Freeman's work was unmissable. At the shop Dancer Fitzgerald Sample, Mr. Freeman was responsible for the Wendy's pop-culture sensation "Where's the beef?" At his own agency, started in 1987, he did Little Caesar's "Pizza, Pizza" and and other memorable work. In the 1990s, there was a run with over-the-top dot-com advertising, such as when it fired a gerbil out of a cannon for

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween partum depression

Halloween is a marketers nirvana. A completely fictitious holiday powered by imagination and sales. I saw a myriad of amazing costumes on Saturday night and the usual array of imaginative costumes. My favourite was a man dressed up as Vincent Van Gogh with a paint brush piercing his skull. He was billed as the "tortured artist".

Well, Halloween is a big deal in the marketplace. Halloween is surpassed only by Christmas in terms of economic activity. According to author, David J. Skal, "Precise figures are difficult to determine, but the annual economic impact of Halloween is now somewhere between 4 billion and 6 billion dollars depending on the number and kinds of industries one includes in the calculations."

So how do you like them bobbin' apples.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Creative Excellence Fridays - The safety video

Happy Friday all - I thought we'd take a break from conventional commercials for a second and look at creative ways to present otherwise boring videos.
You know how you are forced to watch the same boring inflight safety video every time you board a plane. Thomson Airlines put something together which people actually ask to watch a second time because it is so adorable and endearing. Thanks to Hal Roback for sharing this.

Here's a video on sensitivity. Just for laughs.

Sensitivity Training - The best bloopers are a click away

On a sad note this week, I wanted to mention the sudden and unexpected passing of a client of mine. Hersh Spiegelman was the founder of Telehop Communications. I only knew Hersch professionally, but found him to be a pleasure to work for and with. Hersch was spokesman for Telehop. I don't think every client should represent themselves in their advertising, but in Hersch's case, it was definitely the right move. He had a Burl Ives warm and unique quality to his voice and presence that was a real winner for his brand and for those who had the pleasure of meeting him in person. My condolences to the Spiegelman family.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Great Pumpkin not so great anymore.

Say it isn't so! Since 1966 Charlie Brown's "The Great Pumpkin" has aired annually entertaining children and parents. But in this week's airing it was thumped by a Two-hour episodes of NBC's weight-loss reality show "The Biggest Loser" (3.7/10) and Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance" (2.5/6). (CBS and the CW ran reruns of "NCIS," 3.3/9 and "90210," .6/2.) The times they are a changing.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Microsoft gets eye opener

Microsoft definitely bought blindly when they committed to tying in their new operating system "7" with a sponsorship of Family Guy. Article below gives the details.

Microsoft Shocked 'Family Guy' Humor Includes Incest, Holocaust Jokes
Company Pulls Out of Seth MacFarlane Deal After Discovering 'Content Not a Fit'

by Michael Learmonth
Published: October 26, 2009

NEW YORK ( -- Turns out Seth MacFarlane isn't PC enough to be a PC. Microsoft was set to sponsor a prime time special by the "Family Guy" creator as part of its Windows 7 media blitz, but was somehow surprised when the typically MacFarlane-esque fare didn't exactly "fit with the Windows brand."

'Family Guy'
'Family Guy'
Variety reports that three days after crowing about its new Seth MacFarlane deal to the world, it pulled the plug after getting a look at the content, which included "riffs on deaf people, the Holocaust, feminine hygiene and incest," the company pulled out of the project.

"We initially chose to participate in the Seth and Alex variety show based on the audience composition and creative humor of 'Family Guy,' but after reviewing an early version of the variety show it became clear that the content was not a fit with the Windows brand," a Microsoft spokesperson said in an e-mail statement. "We continue to have a good partnership with Fox, Seth MacFarlane and Alex Borstein and are working with them in other areas. We continue to believe in the value of brand integrations and partnerships between brands, media companies and talent."

That's a long walk back from what Microsoft marketing exec (and former branded-entertainment chief) Gayle Troberman said a few days before: "You'll see us deeply integrated into the content," she told Ad Age. "You'll hear how Windows 7 can help you simplify your PC -- it's simple, fast and easy to use."

The show, "Family Guy Presents: Seth & Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show," was to be the second collaboration between MacFarlane and Microsoft's "I'm a PC" agency Crispin, Porter & Bogusky. The first was the much-ballyhooed deal between MacFarlane and Crispin client Burger King, a custom web series distributed on YouTube and over Google's content network.

Fox is still planning to run the special as part of an "all Seth MacFarlane night" on Nov. 8 with another, as yet unnamed, sponsor. And Microsoft says "Family Guy" remains in its marketing plans for Windows 7 and hopes to work with MacFarlane "in other areas."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tech Tuesdays App launch

Apps are the talk of techtown these days. They'll do everything from help you pick out a paint colour to pick out a restaurant.

Marketers have hopped on board as well. But this is a bit of a bold move on the part of Volkswagon. They are launching a new model solely with an Apps promotion.
Thank you to Kunur Patel and Jean Halliday of Ad Age for the details.

Volkswagen of America is launching the newest-generation GTI exclusively on an iPhone app, a cost-efficient approach the automaker said is a first for the industry.

VW's Real Racing GTI game for the iPhone and iPod Touch in the App Store includes a virtual showroom.
VW's Real Racing GTI game for the iPhone and iPod Touch in the App Store includes a virtual showroom.
How cost efficient? When the marketer introduced the GTI in 2006, it spent $60 million on a big-budget blitz with lots of network TV. By comparison, an executive familiar with the matter estimates the annual budget for mobile AOR services is $500,000. And while an iPhone-only strategy may seem limiting, consider this: In September, Apple reported there are more than 50 million iPhone and iPod touch customers worldwide. By comparison, CBS' "NCIS," the most-watched show for week ending Oct. 18, reached 21 million viewers and commands an average price of $130,000 for a single 30-second spot.

The automaker's Real Racing GTI game for the iPhone and iPod Touch in the App Store, unveiled at a press event last night in Manhattan, includes a motion-controlled car-racing game play like arcade or console counterparts, as well as a virtual showroom. The brand conceived the mobile strategy, which also includes a six-car giveaway for game players, with independent digital agency AKQA.

Volkswagen licensed the game from Australian developer Firemint, which built a pared-down version with fewer race tracks using only GTI's, the high-performance variation of VW's Golf brand.

Not only does choosing a mobile platform over a customary 30-second spot reduce marketing cost, but licensing an existing game also means savings. "It's a clever idea," said mobile-marketing consultant Raven Zachary, president of Small Society and founder of iPhoneDevCamp. "Licensing game technology saves VW considerable development cost and time to delivery. And the cost of six cars is not bad considering the cost of doing a print campaign or TV campaign."

Cost a focus of VW review
Cost appears to be a major factor in Volkswagen's review for creative agency of record, according to executives familiar with the matter. Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco and Deutsch, Los Angeles are still in the running, after DDB and Wieden & Kennedy were eliminated yesterday.

Of course, there is a real danger the automaker will miss many prospects using only one narrowly targeted marketing tool. But Tim Ellis, Volkwagen of America's VP-marketing, maintains it is a highly targeted strategy to directly reach the GTI customer, a tech-savvy, social-media activist who spends time on mobile devices, most often iPhones. "It's a homerun in terms of the demo overlap," said Nihal Mehta, CEO of local-search and networking app Buzzd.

As for driving that demographic to discover and download the app, Volkswagen is banking on PR, viral pass-along and some paid search for consumers looking for iPhone apps and information on the GTI.

Coming at a time when advertisers and agencies are trying to figure out how to get their apps to get noticed -- and downloaded -- amid the more than 65,000 in the App Store, the question arises: Will viral be enough for the GTI app? The game includes built-in functionality for players to send messages via Twitter and upload game play-videos to YouTube. Digital experts such as Mr. Nihal, who founded text-messaging company Ipsh and sold it to Omnicom Group in 2005, thinks these vehicles will prove more effective than paid media.

"Viral tactics work because media buys aren't that compelling anymore," he said. "You can get clicks, but even if an app is free, people don't want to download it. They really have to be invested or told by a friend." He especially thinks the competition and incentive to play and beat other players will work to make the app popular.

Small Society's Mr. Zachary agreed, especially since the game has incentive beyond entertainment: a chance to win a new car. For consumers, more game play means more chances to win one of the six limited-edition 2010 GTI's that the Herndon, Virginia-based automaker is giving away as part of the launch. Beyond the competition, the fact that the mobile-only car launch is a first is a big draw for press, too.

'PR value'
"It's not a gamble in this case," he said. "VW is the first to do this and that's PR value. If this had been the third car giveaway through an app, maybe not. Because this is novel, [VW is] going to generate considerably more press and that will drive downloads."

Press hits aside, pitting app user against app user in competition will also translate to downloads, said Mr. Mehta, citing the popular mobile social networking service FourSquare, where users compete to be the mayor of local bars and restaurants, as a prime example. "I don't know if a press event is going to do anything, but building in those viral elements of inviting friends having multiplayer games is a good long-term strategy. People like to compete," Mr. Mehta said.

VW's launch push for the GTI in 2006 from Crispin, Porter & Bogusky, Miami, featured a dark, gremlin-like character called "Fast" who in TV spots and online urged male GTI drivers to drive faster. The other work, themed "Unpimp Mien Auto," played on VW's heritage with "Helga," a sexy, labcoat-wearing engineer with a German accent aimed at conveying to tuners of Asian cars that the GTI has built-in Deutschland engineering. Online versions with Helga and her sidekick, Wolfgang, were wildly popular and won Crispin Porter the top cyber award at Cannes that year.

But there were insiders at VW who were concerned that the company was spending too heavily on the niche GTI model while ignoring the best-selling Jetta. Auto pundits criticized VW for having too many different messages for different models instead of an umbrella approach.

VW sold 5,558 GTI's in the first nine months of the year, 57% fewer than the same period a year ago, while its Jetta sales jumped by 7% to 81,161 cars, according to Automotive News.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Costliest Television show to produce?

NBC's "Sunday Night Football" continues its reign as the most-expensive fall program for advertisers, with a 30-second ad commanding an average of $339,700, according to an Advertising Age survey of media-buying firms.

As internet news readers eat away at the daily newspapers readership, newspapers now grapple with whether the should continue to "give the milk for free".
The push for newspapers to charge their online readers reached a feverish pitch last week, as announced a pay wall, a big deal for the country's 12th biggest paper, and New York Times readers begged the paper to let them pay to read the site.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Creative Excellence Fridays - The hands the hands

Coming up today on Creative Excellence Fridays- the theme is "hands".

I few weeks back I wrote a posting called "What to do with your hands while doing a presentation" It was well received, especially if you have seen yourself on tape after a presentation and thought "was I a robot?" "why are my hands waving up and down like I'm having a seisure?" etc. etc.

Today on Creative Excellence Fridays - being more creative with your hands, on camera.

A while back, out of necessity, we developed a technique called the "The Point Steeple Technique".

You put your hands in front of you about chest level, and touch your finger tips. As you work your way through your dialogue, move your right hand or finger away to emphasize a point, then return it to home base (the finger tip steeple). Then move your left hand away, then return to home base. Then for large emphasis move both hands away and return both hands to steeple. Plan out your movements line by line if it's looking too repetitive or you have a client who needs that much structure. It enables the talent/client the ability to relax, knowing what the hands will be doing, so he/she can focus on the message.

It's similar to learning a dance. You get smoother the more you practise and the more confident you get.

Here is a commercial we shot recently with the client, Darryl Hayashi, using this technique. Darryl has a marvelous, natural way of expressing himself and is extremely likable in person, but his on camera technique was a bit stiff. His first go round had his hands pretty much at attention and he self critiqued it as looking like a school boy. After working with him on the Steeple approach, the end result was much more pleasing.

And to finish off, a very unique piece of creative that came out this week from Delta Faucets. Fun, catchy music with the star being, of course, hands.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Google to compete with Itunes

Google has partnered with sites Lala and Ilike to provide part of the Itunes experience. A major announcement will be made on Wednesday.

TV Time
Canadians aren't wandering away from the traditional TV as quickly as some thought. Here's an excerpt from this week's Marketing with some interesting data.

"Statistics from BBM Canada suggest the number of hours Canadians spend watching TV each week has remained unchanged. The top-rated show for the third week of September this year, an episode of reality show Survivor, drew 3.2 million viewers. It’s the same number drawn by a C.S.I. episode that topped the ratings during the same week in 2004.

Even members of the gadget-hungry 18-34 age group have remained loyal to the (not-so-small) small screen, spending an average of 21 hours a week watching TV in the last fall-to-spring season. That’s virtually unchanged from the 21.2 hours registered by BBM in the ’04-’05 season.

One reason for the continued TV time is increased multi-tasking. Sure, we’re surfing the web, checking e-mail and updating our Facebook page. But many of us are doing it on a laptop or smartphone while watching TV."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Car branding in the new millenium

In light of the Chrysler account being up for review (after years with the same shop), and GM taking a full 360 at the way they do business, marketers are taking a long, hard, stare at themselves and how they market wheels.

Social marketing hasn't looked back since Twitter blasted on to the scene. It started in 2006. One of the originators working on the team (who is now now longer attached to Twitter) talks about those early days

Don Sagolla

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tech Tuesdays - Building a successful App Strategy

Apps are it. If you ask any of the futurists. Everything points to the smart phone and its' ability to make life easier or more entertaining.

Here are some tips to building a successful brand app strategy. (Courtesy of Kunur Patel)

More than a year into the age of the iPhone app, brands are starting to get on board -- and best practices are emerging. At Wednesday's Apps for Brands event in New York, marketers taught other marketers what's worked for them. Here are 12 lessons culled from the day, during which CEO Bob Bowman and marketers from Kraft, Bank of America, Benjamin Moore and AKQA convened to talk about what they've learned from their early, successful forays into the space.

Apps must be real-time
People's expectations of apps, especially paid ones, are high. When it comes to streaming video or stats, don't provide content on mobile that's inferior to what the web or TV offers. It must update in real time. "The notion of the one-minute delay is unacceptable," said Bob Bowman, president-CEO, "If you don't have real-time content, you're dead."

Make it easy for consumers to pay
Take advantage of properties such as iTunes and mobile providers such as Verizon that have the infrastructure and back-end know-how to take payments from app users. When it comes to's paid app, the vast majority of purchases come through tried-and-true mobile-commerce providers instead of directly through "Partner with people who know how to collect money," said Mr. Bowman. And when it comes to figuring out how much to charge, it's easier to drop the price than to increase it, or move from free to paid. "If it doesn't work, take it down, rework it, try it again," he said.

Integrate feedback quickly
People will point out flaws in your app on the web. That feedback is an asset. Adjust your app as quickly as possible and send through an update. "All feedback is important, but on our app it's especially valuable," said Mr. Bowman. "When we went from offering two free [live-streamed] games to one, we heard about it immediately. We went back to two games the next day."

'This is not the wired web'
Mr. Bowman urges that marketers and publishers to not make the same mistakes in mobile that have been made on the internet -- and that means forcing ads into every spot they can. On mobile, click-through isn't the only metric that matters. Are people recommending your app? Or trashing it on Twitter? "We measure click-throughs, but we don't measure pissed off," said Mr. Bowman, referring to when MLB put an intrusive ad into its At Bat app.

People will pay for value...
Zagat's iPhone app is the 77th top-grossing app in the Apps Store, out of 58,000. MLB charges $9.99 to download the At Bat app, 99 cents to watch streaming video of games; it has 400,000 users. And Kraft charged 99 cents for its iFood app, promoting the notion that what it's offering was something of value. Additionally, pointed out Ed Kaczmarek, Kraft's director of innovation and new services, making an app paid allows you to offer future in-app commerce and subscription opportunities that just aren't available in a free app.

...But free works to drives sales for your endemic product
Benjamin Moore's Ben Color Capture app was built to build brand awareness for its subbrand Ben, as well as to drive traffic to stores. "We haven't accomplished anything until we sell paint," said Carl Minchew, director of product development, Benjamin Moore. The app lets users snap a photo of something in the world and than matches colors in the photo to paint shades in the brand's library. If that inspires a paint purchase, the app uses GPS to direct users to the nearest retailer.

Apps need to be part of an integrated message
AKQA, a digital agency that has created apps for clients such as Gap, Nike and Smirnoff, sells apps as part of marketing ideas and integrated campaigns, instead of as one-off projects, said Rei Inamoto, the agency's chief creative officer. The app then becomes integrated with the agency's thinking or larger programs, instead of something a freelancer or developer could do cheaper.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Branding revival - Companies realize the value of a brand

When a major brand is developing their brand personality, in a cynical world, trust is now at the centre of all brand strategies. Businessweek had an excellent piece worth viewing/watching recently.
Brand Value

The city of Calgary is going to take some heat for handing out branding work to a US shop. The local agencies are scratching their heads.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Creative Excellence Fridays - A woman's world

On the top most viewed blogs of the week, Frito lay has consistently been in the top ten. This is a well executed viral that drives traffic back to a website A Womans World A potato chip company dealing with higher level issues of self esteem and weight loss.
The piece is fun and achieves its' goal.

Next, a silly viral piece featuring a talking husky. It demonstrates how inane viral pieces can be, and yet this piece received over 2 million views so far. Marketers look at virals like this and determine how they can create their own viral explosion story.

To wrap up - This week marks the 40th anniversary of Monty Python. Their influence on pop culture, entertainment and of course advertising has been tremendous.
Here's their seminal trademark piece - the Parrot Sketch.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Facebook founder still runs the show

When someone discovers a great idea and it explodes into a multi billion dollar company, the founder is not generally the person best suited to be at the helm. They are often replaced by professional managers. Not the case with Mark Zuckerberg. At 25 he still heads up the company and believes his passion and purpose are the reason for Facebook's continued growth.



New research indicates female IPhone Users More Likely to Tune Out Mobile Advertising.
Iphone research

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

3D TV ?

If you've seen Monsters and Aliens or any of the recent 3D fare at the theatre, you have probably become hooked on it. Now major manufacturers are working furiously to bring a 3D TV to market so you can experience everything in your own home.

Mitsubishi has a 3-D ready TV and Sony and Panasonic are among manufacturers that are expected to hit the consumer market in 2010 with TVs that could cost at least US$5,000.

NCI LA -- has become the #1 rated new show. Is there a police show on today that doesn't have NCI in the title?


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Better on camera or in person demonstrations - what to do with your hands

We all are faced with the periodic challenge of making presentations. Or even worse, an on camera presentation that will be recorded for posterity and haunt you at every turn through the ages. This inevitably happens to everyone. When shooting commercials we have encountered clients who want to be their own spokesperson for their products. They speak well, and no their message better than anyone; but they feel awkward with the idea of moving about on camera and determining what to do with their hands.
This led to the development of what we call the 3 Point Steeple Technique. You put your hands in front of you about chest level, and touch your finger tips. As you work your way through your dialogue, move your right hand or finger away to emphasize a point, then return it to home base (the finger tip steeple). Then move your left hand away, then return to home base. Then for large emphasis move both hands away and return both hands to steeple. Plan out your movements line by line if it's looking too repetitive or you have a client who needs that much structure. It enables the talent/client the ability to relax, knowing what the hands will be doing, so he/she can focus on the message.

Media news today - Chicago Tribune Syndicate has filed for bankruptcy protection and put the Chicago Cubs on the for sale block.

Tomorrow - 3D movies in your home?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Creative Excellence Fridays - Sex sells

Happy Friday and for our Canadian friends, Happy Thanksgiving weekend.
Today we look at some commercials that go for the cheap laugh, using the oldest device in the book "sex sells". Some of these commercials do make it to air, but with the obligatory editing. The rest? Well they land in the land of the viral where we all pass them around and around.

This is a fun spot for Centrum. With a fun little surprise at the end.

A british commercial for Women's Health magazine. Harmless and still fun, and still banned.

And finally -- nothing particularly clever about this one, but the special effects are, well , interesting.

Coming up on Monday, "What to do with your hands when presenting or on camera." A simple technique that will allow you to focus on what you're saying.

Have a great weekend.

Did Google pay too much for YouTube?

YouTube was evaluated three years ago at 600 million. Google paid 1 billion. Was it out of line? Three years in and YouTube is beginning to have some revenue models, but the jury is still out on whether the value was overshot. But one can't underestimate the "big picture" thinking of Google.

Speaking of Google, there has been much fuss this week over Streetview. Google has sent teams of cars to cities around the world to photograph them from every angle. Your house is most likely available to view. Some find it invasive. Tour operators are looking at it as a huge opportunity, giving people the chance to have a glimpse of where they'd like to go.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

High production values in Virals now

Terra boots committed a considerable budget to this viral message. Warning, adult content. This was definitely edited with a television release available, but the web version is much more interesting. There is little doubt the demographic is men.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Blogger Payola?

In the United States there is an agency which protects consumers from fraud or deceptive business practices. They voted 4 to 0 to update their rules governing endorsements, and the new guidelines require bloggers to clearly disclose any "material connection" to an advertiser, including payments for an endorsement or free product.

It's the first time since 1980 that the FTC has updated its rules on the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. In addition to covering bloggers, the new FTC rules state that celebrity endorsers can be held liable for false statements about a product, and all endorsements must include results consumers can "generally expect." Previously, an advertiser could cover their claims by the disclaimer "results not typical."

In this cyber era we are all prone to immediately googling a product to see what the reviews are; it's not fair that a paid endorsement may be masked as a review.