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.