Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Branding the face to the product

Donald Trump may have the worst hair on Wall Street, but he recognizes the power of a brand. His hair, or lack thereof is part of his brand. He wouldn't change that any more than Barbara Streisand would get a nose job.
Individual personality branding has become an international phenomenon. Martha Stewart on the international scope and national and regional celebrities like Mike Holmes. It's a calculated risk to attach a business to a personality; but not so calculated if you happen to be the personality behind the empire with much more to lose by one rambling, drunken sprawl on the town.

Personalities are not forever. They come and go with their fame as the ebb and flow of the tide. Cristy Turlington, Jill Goodacre, Cindy Crawford, Jacqueline Smith all lent their names to various product relationships. Some personalities have the ability to extend their brand beyond their own fame life cycle such as Cindy Crawford, but it's a skill that is artfully planned out.


Starbucks launches instant coffee brand
The company that added “venti” and “frappuccino” to North American vocabularies is making a push throughout North America to convince connoisseurs to sample what many see as a down-market drink–instant coffee.
It's definitely a sign of the times when a perceived higher end brand finds it necessary to go in a direction many might interpret as "anti-brand".

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mobile is the future

I'm sure you've heard from more than a few people that, as far as marketing trends go, mobile is the future. There is a great article on Apps verses Wap in Advertising Age.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday tidbits

Liberals are in the news this week complaining about the conservatives in Canada. They claim the conservatives are using public money to run program and party messages which essentially amounts to campaigning.
The story here Liberals

As marketers we all know the power of perception. One age old argument is price verses quality or in this case, time spent with product and perceived value. Advertisers figured out a long time ago that taking a brand of beer and creating a celebration around it called Miller time, would not only bond men together in a united cheer of celebration, but it would sell more Miller.

The full article here. Time with product

Friday, September 25, 2009

Creative Excellence Fridays - Star power

Happy Friday. Welcome to Creative Excellence Fridays. Have you ever watched a television commercial and thought to yourself, "that voice sounds familiar" ? It probably is. Celebrities have been doing commercial voiceovers for decades. But, on camera? That's another matter. It "deflates the brand" in the eyes of some, having George Clooney be a spokesperson for a cologne or something that is "beneath him". However, being a voice "over" the add, well that's a different story. Many of todays actors make a nice income providing the dulcet tones behind the product without having any impact on their image and box office perception.

Many of North America's finest actors have been behind cars, soap, drinks, you name it. Names like Lauren Bacall, Donald Sutherland, Michael Douglas, the late Jack Lemmon, and many many more.

Here are a couple examples.

Tom Selleck agreed to be the voice behind Florida Orange Juice in 2007 and pocketed a tidy 90,000 dollars.

Gene Hackman has been the voice behind Lowes Building centres for a few years now.
He has a "shadow" announcer who sounds similar when Gene is unavailable.

And finally, Jeff Bridges has been the voice of Hyundai for the last year and a half. Here's an amusing take on their attempt to upsell the brand.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Google Paper? The daily news courtesy of Google.

Some might compare Google to a five year old boy. Having to have their fingers in everything in the kitchen. Daily newspapers are no exception. Google is beginning talks with various dailies to use their content and create a digital version of their papers - with a flipping motion to somewhat mimic the feel of reading a real newspaper. There will come a time in which we'll probably say "Remember when the paper actually came as a paper and you could laze around with it on a Saturday morning, and then use it to line the bird cage?" Talks are ongoing with Google and the dailies.

Other news - CBC is checking its pockets for spare change. More than 300,000 Canadians in remote and rural areas could be cut off from CBC TV in two years, because the broadcaster doesn’t have the money to convert its signals to digital from analog.

August 2011 is the deadline for the switch to digital broadcast technology, but the CBC doesn’t have the cash to continue the conversion process, corporation president Hubert Lacroix told the company’s annual general meeting Wednesday.

It has managed to switch over only eight of its 600 transmission towers, covering about half its potential audience.

Coming up on Creative Excellence Fridays, Name that celebrity voiceover.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Three tips to better presentations

First off,  I read this morning that Swiss Chalet has gone back to their old positioning message.  Always so good for so little tested well, so it has been revived for current and upcoming television creative.  It was always my favourite.  I still hum it in the car.  Can't...get.. that.. song outta my ...head!

Presentations.  You need to make them. Often.  Here are three tips to making them a bit more interesting.

1.Know your audience.  If you make a lot of presentations you will be speaking with people from all walks of life; technical, creative and from different parts of the country or the world.  Calculate what is important to them, and what type of presentation and choice of words resonates best.

2.Be a moving target.  Do not be one of those people who look like the lectern is chained to your ankle.  The teams change ends at the end of each period of hockey for that same reason. It gives the audience a different vantage point of the "show".

3.Mix it up.  Be careful not to present the standard click and talk powerpoint.  Try some audio, some video, some humourous slides.  Keep them on their toes, and you'll have their attention.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tech Tuesdays How much is a facebook user worth?

According to this digital article..about 6.5 cents. Facebook worth

We have seen the future of books and they are -- Ereader. Sony released this in August and it's picking up steam.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Words of wisdom from Woody Allen & the problem with "free"

We all look at the life cycle of our products and wonder, what if we could have more control over how it's perceived and managed.

Woody Allen said it best when he said "In my next life I want to live backwards. You start out dead and get that out of the way. And you finish off as an orgasm".

Product perception is one of the most difficult things to control because of all the variables. It's like sending your child off to school for the first time. You do all the right things until he leaves the house, you have some control as he comes home from school each day, but then the rest is up to fate.

Seth Godin has some interesting thoughts on product perception recently.

He said I think it's dangerous and often fatal to put free on top of an existing business model. Things fall apart.

People look at the free revolution and say, "oh, that could never work. If I gave x, y or z away for free, I'd fail." They're right. They will fail... If they keep the model the same and just give away stuff for free.

The way you win is by reinventing the model itself. So, for example, lululemon doing giant free yoga classes in New York. The more people come, the more clothes they'll sell... it'll become a movement. Or Crossfit, publishing their insane work outs online. The more people do them, the better the scarce part (private coaching, etc.) does.

We spent a generation believing certain parts of our business needed to be scarce and that advertising and other interruption should be abundant. Part of the pitch of free is that when advertising goes away, you need to make something else abundant in order to gain attention. Then, and only then, will you be able to sell something that's naturally scarce.

This is an uncomfortable flip to make, because the stuff you've been charging for feels like it should be charged for, and the new scarcity is often difficult to find. But, especially in the digital world, this is happening, and faster than ever.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Creative Excellence Fridays James Dean lives!

In so many things we ask those two simple words. What if. What if I had taken that job, went on that trip, etc.

What if...on that foggy day in 1955, James Dean's car stayed on the road, and he lived. A South African agency asks that question and presents one possible scenario. This commercial took months to pull together, from the Dean look alike to the search for the crash car, a replica 550 RSK Porsche Spyder (one of only two available).

It's a powerful commercial to hammer home the point, that the what if's make a difference.

If you enjoyed the James Dean commercial, you may enjoy this as well. From 2008, the same shop, South Africa's King James, produced this commercial. Sweet.

And finally, with the theme today being "inspiration", here is a beautiful branding commercial from JCPenney. JC Penney is a leader in edgy but familiar family branding with their highly successful doghouse viral campaign last Christmas. This is a commercial that predates that. It basically invites you to explore the possibilities.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Starbucks sailed off course & borrowing from a higher power

Fortune Magazines Kevin Maney has just written a book called "Trade-Off: Why Some Things Catch On, and Others Don't ". One of the chapters deals with Starbucks and their desire to be all things to all people - and how some say they have lost their way. Starbucks

A great, positive story is the one about the evolution of yogurt manufacturer Stoneyfield Yogurt. The founder, Gary Hirshberg, ran short of money after the 87 recession. He borrowed from anyone he could to keep his company afloat, including the Sisters of Mercy nuns. Now that's resolve from a higher power.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Building a website is like building a house. Planning.

In this digital age, not having a website is the equivalent to not having a phone number or a business card. Having said that, there have been a lot of poorly designed business cards over the years. Given the simplicity of a card, imagine the design crimes exponentially with something as complex as a website.

Here are some thoughts/tips on website design which we hope will be of use to you.

1. Murphy's Law of Space. The more space you have, the more room you feel you have to add on. With a television or radio commercial you know you have 30 seconds. The process of editing and less is more comes into play. With a website you can keep adding and adding. This can prove a positive and a negative. Content is good. But so is brevity and getting to the point.

2.Build your house with a blueprint. The blueprint is your sitemap. Don't even think about design until you've determined what your message is and what your priorities of communication are at this time. Your sitemap is the most essential part of the process. If you don't plan this out properly your website will become a piecemeal house of cards and confusion and no one will take the time to play digital dodge ball trying to work their way through it.

3.Your house needs to have good interior design. Now that you have a sitemap and content, figure out what ways you can come up with to simplify and communicate the content on the various internal pages. Remember, your site shouldn't need the visitor to leave breadcrumbs to find their way home. Make the navigation bar consistent so there's an immediate feeling of familiarity as they click their way through.

4.Your business branding is an orchestra. Make sure ajavascript:void(0)ll your media, and especially your website, are playing the same tune. Your logo, your corporate colours, fonts, spacing, branded images should all chime in playing the same song so people don't look at your website and wonder "is this the same company?".

5.Technology is our friend. Use forms and php script to make the visitor want to provide you with their contact information. Make your site complex in code, simplistic in experience.

More tips to come. Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tech Tuesdays

Look out Apple and Blackberry - the HTC is coming.
The HTC Hero, a Google android device was confirmed by HTC and Sprint for release in the U.S. on Saturday October 11th. Specs include a 528-MHz Qualcomm processor, 3.2-inch, 320x480 capacitive multitouch screen, Wi-Fi, GPS, support for MS Exchange Push Email, and HTCs widget-heavy Sense UI running atop the standard Android OS.

Books online - A good thing?

Librarians call it the 20th-century black hole. The overwhelming force is not gravity but copyright law, sucking our collective culture into a vortex from which it can never escape.

That culture includes millions of books Google wants to make available online. But many are concerned. The European Commission will hold hearings, while a US judge has extended the deadline for objections to a proposed US legal settlement.

Tomorrow on Web Wednesdays - 20 effective tips for better web design.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Twitter Learns from Facebook

Twitter Inc. keeps it simple, even when it comes to updating the legalese in its terms of service.

As part of changes made Thursday, Twitter translated some of the jargon into plain language, to lessen the chances that its users might get the wrong idea about what was happening.

AdBiz --

Great article in Adweek today about the pros and cons of having your chairman become the spokesperson for your company in your advertising.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Welcome to Creative Excellence Fridays. Coming up, a straight ahead look at who's watching what on the viral internet. Evians baby spot is still at #1. Microsoft has the number 2 spot, and with all the success of their rivals some are actually looking at Microsoft as the one with something to prove. Their new corporate campaign has struck a positive chord with many. Just before we look at the virals, here's a link to the much praised spot from a series of similar, graphic, animated, Terry Gillian Monty Python inspired ads.

And now (DRUM ROLL) this week's top ten most watched virals, proving once again , if you put either cute kittens or guys doing dangerous stunts on the internet... the people will come. Enjoy - and have a great weekend!

Last Week Brand Campaign Agency Current Week Views* % Change in Views** Watch the Spot
1 1 Evian Live Young BETC Euro RSCG 1,105,640 -12% Evian: Live Young
2 3 Microsoft Megawoosh (Make It Possible) MRM Worldwide, Germany 709,795 -7% Microsoft: Megawoosh
3 8 DC Ken Block's Gymkhana Two Project Mad Media 487,560 37% DC Shoes: Ken Block's Gymkhana Two Project
4 New Rhapsody Jay-Z Music Without Borders Droga5 472,038 New Rhapsody: Jay-Z Music Without Borders
5 3 Microsoft Xbox Project Natal World Famous 452,039 -4% Microsoft Xbox: Project Natal
6 Back On Chart Frito-Lay Woman's World OMD, Juniper Park, Jam Media 406,785 Back On Chart Frito-Lay: Woman's World
7 New Pizza Hut America's Favorite BBDO 399,615 New Pizza Hut: America's Favorite
8 10 Inspired Bicycles Danny MacAskill Trials N/A 249,927 -23% Danny MacAskill Trials
9 4 Nokia All Day Mobility Wieden+Kennedy, JWT 202,550 -68% Nokia: All Day Mobility
10 6 Apple Get a Mac TBWAMedia Arts Lab 193,062 -51% Apple: Get a Mac

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tiff in Toronto

George Clooney, Keanu Reeves, Julianne Moore and many other of the glitz variety arrive in Toronto over the next two weeks for TIFF TIFF

It's a time to celebrate film and visual expression - and also a marketers dream opportunity to mesh their product with the glamour of film. Diet Coke issued this release yesterday. A perfect example of brand association.

Diet Coke is launching its autumn ad campaign with sponsorship of Nikki Beach after-parties at the Toronto International Film Festival, which begins today.

The high-profile Nikki Beach brand of party venues and events, known for its presence on the beaches of La Croisette during the Cannes Film Festival, makes its Canadian d├ębut this week, taking up residency for eight days at the Roof Lounge of the Park Hyatt hotel in Toronto’s upscale Yorkville neighbourhood.

Diet Coke’s promotion gives consumers a chance to win VIP passes to the rooftop lounge after-parties, which Nikki Beach is billing as “the most exclusive VIP celebrity destination” at TIFF. Time will tell.

The campaign is headquartered online at, where visitors can tap into Twitter feeds that provide clues on how to enter the contest.

The Nikki Beach brand targets a similar consumer as Diet Coke, said Diet Coke manager Hayley Shay. “Nikki Beach is a leading brand synonymous with entertainment, music and fashion.”

Diet Coke’s fall campaigns include the deployment of “Style Spotters” to distribute Diet Coke samples at TIFF locations, the use of Twitter to provide live tweets concerning celeb activity at Nikki Beach locations, luminescent transit shelter ads, plus the installation of mirror decals, bathroom posters and reflective coasters at upscale bars.

Agencies creating and supporting the campaign include Cossette, Mosaic, Henderson Bas and Lulu Vibert, with PR support from Daniel Paquette Public Relations.

The promotion and film festival wrap up Sept. 17.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Marketing myths - How to be a myth buster

One of the unfortunate parts of having the internet be so pervasive, is its' ability to quickly start stories that aren't necessarily true. In some cases rumours build into monsters. How do you tell what is true and what isn't? Thanks to Jack Neff from Ad Age for these MythBuster tips.

How to be a myth buster
Sometimes it's hard to resist the urge to break "news" on Twitter or Facebook or via e-mail -- especially if it's a bit of industry gossip. But here are some basic rules to keep in mind.
  • Never trust; always verify.
  • Think before you tweet or hit forward.
  • If it's too good to be true, it just might be.
  • That unhinged, ridiculous story your great-aunt sent you about catching AIDS from a payphone? Keep that in mind.
  • It's not always up on business stories, but check or other urban-legend sites.
  • Pick up the phone and call the company yourself.
  • Tuesday, September 8, 2009

    Outsourcing creative

    This doesn't bode well for people in the advertising industry when Canwest outsources production services to the Phillipines.

    From Today's Marketing:

    Canwest Global Communications Corp. is outsourcing some of its advertising production work done in Calgary and Regina to a company with operations in India and the Philippines.

    Canwest Publishing spokeswoman Phyllise Gelfand said the decision was not made lightly.

    “Due to challenges faced by our industry, the global economic downturn and serious impacts to advertising revenue we have been conducting strategic reviews across our company with a goal of reducing our operating expenses–as have all other media companies,” Gelfand wrote in an e-mail.

    “We are not the first in our industry to do so. There are currently more than 150 U.S.-based newspapers outsourcing such work.”

    Gelfand noted the Ottawa Citizen, a Canwest newspaper, made the same change in March.

    The beleaguered media company is grappling with a $4-billion debt load and negotiating with its creditors.

    The company’s lenders have given it until Sept. 11 to meet certain milestones and reach an agreement on a recapitalization transaction.

    Only a small fraction of that debt has come due, but Canwest’s earnings power has been reduced and its assets have been devalued by the impact of the recession on advertising revenues.

    Friday, September 4, 2009

    Creative Excellence Fridays The Beatles are Back

    Welcome to Creative Excellence Fridays. The Film Fest phone lines were completely overwhelmed when tickets went on sale at 7am this morning. That indicates it will be another hugely successful film fest in Toronto this year. It also indicates that I'll be in standby lines once again; all part of the fun I guess.

    First up on our tribute to creativity, a commercial a lot of people are talking about. It's one of those commercials that industry people look at in slow motion, or hit start and stop on their media players to try and figure out how it was done. The full motion recreation of the famous Beatles Abbey Road walk across the street, was it double doubles? Was it all recreated in 3D? Or both. Or both would be the more likely answer. The spot promotes the Xbox launch of the Beatles. Enjoy.

    Next up - just like the film festival, we like to pay tribute to creative excellence from around the world.

    The level of sophistocation that can be breathed into 3D animation has become quite remarkable. Lucchetti soups are a spanish brand that has used a series of 3D animated commercials to build warmth and humour around their brand. This is just one from the collection.

    And one more in the series.

    Starting on Monday on the daily blog we're starting a feature on the nuts and bolts of landing pages. Combining creativity and mechanics. Is yours driving traffic and conversions?

    As always, we welcome your comments.

    Have a great weekend. And in Canada, have a great long weekend!
    Publish Post

    Thursday, September 3, 2009

    Moose brewery's lawyers say go ahead and Lime it.

    When one company hits the market with a product that has a bit of a twist, and it is hugely successful, it only stands to reason that others will follow.
    Budlight Lime captured surprising sales and it has spurred on others to follow.
    But here's the other lime with a twist. Budlight, in an effort to retain their lime market share rattled the legal sabres saying others couldn't use the word lime in their marketing.

    Below - the story from this week's Marketing Magazine. Article by Kristin Laird.

    "Moosehead Breweries Ltd. is confidently entering the lime lager war, but hopefully without a fight.

    The Saint John beer maker announced today that its Moosehead Light Lime label would be available in most LCBO outlets across Ontario in time for the Labour Day weekend.

    The new label launches in the midst of a bitter battle between Anheuser-Busch Cos., Labatt Brewing Co. (its Canadian division) and Waterloo, Ont.-based Brick Brewing Co. Limited.

    Anheuser filed a lawsuit claiming Brick infringed its Bud Light Lime trademarks with the use of limes and the colour green on labels of its Red Baron Lime product.

    However, according to a report in the New Brunswick Business Journal, Joel Levesque, Moosehead’s vice-president of public affairs, the brewer checked with lawyers about trademarks and packaging when Bud Light Lime entered the Canadian market.

    “One of the things we found when we launched Moose Light Lime was that the word lime cannot be trademarked–it’s a descriptor,” he told the Journal. However, that did not stop Moosehead from having another meeting after word broke of the Bud Light/Brick battle.

    Both Bud Light Lime and Red Baron Lime launched in Ontario this summer and come in clear bottles with similar colours used on both labels. Anheuser alleges that consumers are confusing the two beer products.

    The new Moosehead brew comes in the iconic green bottle with a label that has a thick silver border. The word “Lime” appears in a green sans serif type that appears above the picture of a whole lime, and a lime slice.

    The brewer said it has sold more than 1.5 million bottles of Moosehead Light Lime since launching it at a Bon Jovi concert in Moncton in June."

    This would definitely be considered a success, and hey, how can adding a little vitamin c into your day be bad?

    Tomorrow, the much talked about Beatles Rock band Video commercial.

    Wednesday, September 2, 2009

    Facebook - all that and a bag o' chips

    I was reading a great article by Chris Perry of Ad age on why Social Media isn't living up to the hype. One may say Social Media is in its' infancy.
    Here's Chris article.

    Conversely, I think Facebook, Twitter, et all are wonderful tools to have in your digital arsenal. I've watched trends with old school media like newspaper producing very disappointing results for one client in particular in the financial category. We advertised in the Toronto Sun religious for 8 years but pulled off completely about a year ago when the tracking results were simply not paying for the ads any longer. We pushed the money into digital arenas and are seeing the loss from newspaper being made up in spades in our online social presence.

    It may not be there yet, but it's definitely on the next turnpike.

    Tuesday, September 1, 2009

    Microsoft and Bell part ways & Google goes Hollywood

    Bell and Microsoft have officially parted ways in Canada and both are now focused on building their own online brands.

    The long-expected dissolution of Bell and MSN’s partnership at industry-leading portal finally happened today with Bell launching, and MSN (i.e. Microsoft) debuting

    When launched in 2004, it was a merger of Canada’s top two portals. It went on to dominate as a unique Canadian property logging approximately 18.5 million unique views per month, according to comScore.

    But while today’s split is amicable with both parties signing a three-year deal to share traffic and Microsoft’s new Bing search technology, it leaves the number one spot vacant with two large brands in direct competition for visitors.

    Google Goes Hollywood
    Google is looking at new revenue streams by sprucing up plain-text search ads with video. It has been offering what it calls a "video plus box" link below the standard keyword ad to a select group of entertainment advertisers including Miramax, Electronic Arts, Discovery and Travel Channel. By featuring Hollywood trailers, major distributors are hoping it will result in more interest in their respective films.
    Google goes Hollywood