Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Are Apple's new commercials up to their standards?

AdAge carried an article declaring the new Apple commercials are their worst yet. I wouldn't go that far, but they are disappointing. Let me qualify that. If it were any other advertiser I'd say they weren't bad, and acceptable fare. Apple and Steve Jobs set the bar so high that almost anything is going to appear like a disappointment. I think the biggest issue with the new commercials is the assertion that Apple customers or potential customers are computer id-yots.
Check out the article for yourself. One of the commercials is below for reference.
I know, you can see the commercial right there, but according to Apple's new spots, you would have never figured that out.




With over 30 years experience, Tim McLarty  currently works out of Toronto Canada as a writer, producer and media strategist producing advertising and entertainment content.
Ontrackblog is a division of OntrackCommunications Inc.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Creative Excellence Fridays - The Volkswagen legacy

I became a fan of Volkswagens in 1969. At 10 years old, it was not a conscious decision about what car I wanted to drive. It was after reading a promotional cartoon booklet drawn by cartoonist Virgil Parch. Parch was a professional illustrator with a unique style that has been copied countless times. He invented the long defunct comic strip Big George.

As far back as the 1950's Volkswagen was a trail blazer for taking advertising image and personality to the next level. Parch's comics about Volkswagen were self effacing. It took a special kind of man to buy a small car. A confident man who knew who he was. At least that was the reasoning back at Doyle Dane Bernbach. They were the legendary agency who crafted not only the commercials, but a new way of approaching advertising. The peeled back a few more layers instead of catering to just the surface wants and desires.

This scene from Madmen was probably not too far out of context of many competing agencies in the early 1960's.


Today of course Volkswagen still leads the way with edgy advertising that plays up the fun personality of the brand. It's no longer an issue to drive a small car. It's about choosing the one that "feels right."



The Volkswagen brand is consistently in the top 10 most sustainable brands, and a testament to their brand shaping since the 50's.

And in case you were wondering, yes I did finally buy a Volkswagen. Over 40 years later, Virgil Parch's cartoon booklet is still working.



If you've enjoyed the topic, you'll appreciate this website dedicated to the history of Volkswagen advertising. Great VW Ads.  Das Auto.



With over 30 years experience, Tim McLarty  currently works out of Toronto Canada as a writer, producer and media strategist producing advertising and entertainment content.
Ontrackblog is a division of OntrackCommunications Inc.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Is it possible to over-optimize? Yes.

We all work hard to create a memorable brand. And then we want to tell the world about it. In today's playing field, it's all about using offline media (radio, tv, print) to guide traffic towards your online media to create a conversion (whatever your company defines as a conversion).
Part of that strategy also involves search engine optimizing. We have spent considerable time learning as much as we can for our clients and creative partners to ensure their message has the best opportunity of being found, heard, seen. However learning the rules of optimizing is kind of like kayaking down a winding, wild river. You never know when a rock is going to pop up, or nature throws you a curve.


Google introduced Panda, and then Penguin to try and create a more level playing field. They wanted to penalize companies whose websites were simply loaded up with seo tricks to boost them above their competitors. The objective was and still is to encourage companies and individuals to simply create meaningful content in their area of specialization.

We follow as many experts as possible, as we believe it's difficult to be the best at multi disciplines. In addition to our relationship with Search Engine People in the Toronto area, we also follow SearchEngineLand for their excellent online blog material. Here's an article from earlier this year talking about over optimizing.

The moral of the story is still, create solid content in your area of expertise. (Build it and they will come).


With over 30 years experience, Tim McLarty  currently works out of Toronto Canada as a writer, producer and media strategist producing advertising and entertainment content.
Ontrackblog is a division of OntrackCommunications Inc.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Inspiring animation even when I have no idea what they're talking about

Being a video branding shop, we are constantly reviewing what's out there. We look for trends, colour combinations, new ways to transition and styles. This animation is for a mind numbingly boring series of science presentations. But the end result is very pleasing.



Again, no idea what they're talking about, but I love the hippy. (One might argue, what the heck does a hippy have to do with protein isolation, but who cares. It's eye candy.



If you see any inspiring visuals you'd care to share, we'd be all over it. Have a great Monday.


With over 30 years experience, Tim McLarty  currently works out of Toronto Canada as a writer, producer and media strategist producing advertising and entertainment content.
Ontrackblog is a division of OntrackCommunications Inc.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Funny ads do not necessarily mean instant sales

This is no secret at our shop but it's good to see some studies being written about it.
A funny ad does not translate into instant sales.
The humour can often hijack the message. And as altruist as your client may be, he or she does not feel the need to spend their pressure ad dollars simply entertaining the masses. It has to translate back into solid impressions and transactions (aka sales).

Here is the article that inspired this mini blog from AdNews


With over 30 years experience, Tim McLarty  currently works out of Toronto Canada as a writer, producer and media strategist producing advertising and entertainment content.
Ontrackblog is a division of OntrackCommunications Inc.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Tips for better on camera performance part 2

This is another article from our ongoing series of tips to help you with your on camera and presentation performance.

Rome wasn't built in a day. You'll need to have patience as you work through your areas of improvement. The key here is to determine what you need to work on, and slowly, over time focus on honing in on your weaknesses one at a time.

When we're doing sessions through our sister company, SocialVideoWizards.com we coach talent and business owners on how to spot their weaknesses. But improving all of them in one session is like learning to juggle flaming torches the first day of circus school. Here are three items for juggling consideration.

The umm factor.
Let's say you have an affinity for saying "like" or "umm" or "ahhh". This can be fixed by scripting your entire video blog and running it off the teleprompter, or a word document on your screen. But some people prefer to write a series of point forms and ad lib around them to get a more natural performance. Simple rule: if you are saying like, umm or ahhh, you are not ready to ad lib the material you're attempting. You have two choices. Either script everything completely and concentrate on your read and sounding more natural, or go over your point forms again and again until you have the content down completely to minimize the umm factor.

Posture.
Are you sitting up straight? This not only straightens out your wind channel so you'll have better projection from the diaphragm, but it also makes you look more in charge. You wouldn't want to buy an item from a clerk at a store who is sitting at the counter slumped over like he's about to take a nap. So why would anyone want to believe a slumping on camera talent.

Eye contact.
When you're meeting someone new, you expect them to look you in the eye. If they don't there's an immediate trust issue. What are they hiding? Is there a lack of confidence? It's a basic primal thing; looking someone in the eye is as important as a firm handshake.

So, instead of juggling flaming torches all at once, pick your poison. Like/umm, posture or eye contact.

Every blog you do is a step closer to a natural, believable presentation.




With over 30 years experience, Tim McLarty  currently works out of Toronto Canada as a writer, producer and media strategist producing advertising and entertainment content.
Ontrackblog is a division of OntrackCommunications Inc.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Creative Excellence fridays - effective commercials using dogs

When you need an ad to make an impact, fast, you have a few sure fire choices.  Sex, kids or cute animals.
Today, on Creative Excellence Fridays, we're going for the fur factor and featuring extremely well executed animal commercials.   Of course, the caution with using animals is always, will my message get crowded out by the "awwwwww he's so cuteeeeeee factor."
This is what separates the film makers from the ad types.  Product placement, an acceptable percentage of logo time on screen, and building the main theme around a product advantage.


The first commercial does a nice job.  When a dog loves his bone this much, he can only trust it to Travellers insurance.





This next commercial also follows the golden rule.  Entertain and sell.  Try and watch it without going "ewwwwww" at the end.





Next an anti smoking commercial.  Kudos to the special effects crew.   A commercial for a cause that has gotten over 300,000 hits.



And finally, a commercial submitted for the Young Directors European competition in 2008.  The director was Geoffrey Enthoven.  The product is a light dog food for pooches trying to drop a few pounds.
I was a bit taken back at first.  It's made for viral, but definitely more of a European flavour.  North America is a bit too sensitive to allow something like this on mainstream TV.  Funny?  Depends on whether you're KiKi or not.




 
With over 30 years experience, Tim McLarty  currently works out of Toronto Canada as a writer, producer and media strategist producing advertising and entertainment content.
Ontrackblog is a division of OntrackCommunications Inc.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mobile app Fruit Ninja madking $400,000 a month


I read an article in Ad Age this morning talking about the huge revenue opportunities in mobile media  gaming apps.  It's not too hard to do the math on a successful business focus when you calculate 400,000 a month in revenue.  That's what Fruit Ninja is pulling in now, according to Ad Age.  The popular video game grossed this in April on the free versions of it's iOS and Android games by sellling their inventory on a mobile ad exchange (Mobclix).    They chose to use Mobclix to manage their ad placements.  The Brisbane based game company believes there is much growth ahead.  

With over 30 years experience, Tim McLarty  currently works out of Toronto Canada as a writer, producer and media strategist producing advertising and entertainment content.
Ontrackblog is a division of OntrackCommunications Inc.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Creative Excellence Fridays -The cigarette commercial

In the first episode of Madmen, Don Draper talks to a waiter in a restaurant about why he chose to smoke LuckyStrike cigarettes. We look back on the culture that created commercials from the 40's and 50's with curiosity. It was the early days of consumer research and "getting into the head" of the consumer. Primitive as Draper's method was, it was effective.

Today on Creative Excellence Fridays - The Cigarette commercial.

Selling a product which we all know kills, is a special assignment in its' own right. Cigarette advertising was banned in the United States since the early 70's. New Years eve night in 1971 The Tonight Show aired the last commercial, a :60 for Virginia Slims. In Canada voluntary restrictions on television were honoured by tobacco companies from around the same time.

I recall the topic of ethical products being advertised during a lecture at the advertising program of St.Clair College in the late 70's. My professor, George Bauman was one of the Madmen. He worked in the advertising industry in Chicago in the 1950's and 60's; he worked hard, drank hard and smoked ...a lot. Therefore he didn't understand why one would question creating a convincing campaign for a product was a problem. The client was paying the bills and hiring his shop to inspire, sell and motivate. It was that simple. And given the fact that George was a chain smoker, it was almost hypocritical of me to bring ethics into it. Dangerous or not, it was a product he truly believed in and consumed. So who better to praise the merits of a relaxing puff in a moment of relaxation.

It probably doesn't come as a big surprise that George has been gone a long time. See, worked hard, drank hard, smoked a lot. But George played hard too. So today's CEFriday blog is dedicated to George.

The first commercial features Fred and Barney. In today's climate it seems very odd to see two cartoon characters puffing away on a cigarette.



This commercial for Newport is all Madmen. Young attractive woman making eyes with a middle aged man. This campaign was definitely written over a three martini lunch.



And finally, this Lucky Strike commercial. It's truly awful. So much so that it's comical for all the wrong reasons. But time does that.



If you enjoyed these,  watch these other cigarette ads on this link from Classic TVAds.

But first, you may want to light up with a refreshing, menthol cigarette.   After rounding up a few hundred head of cattle, surfing the great barrier reef and rebuilding an engine of course.


With over 30 years experience, Tim McLarty  currently works out of Toronto Canada as a writer, producer and media strategist producing advertising and entertainment content.
Ontrackblog is a division of OntrackCommunications Inc.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tips for better on camera performance - record yourself

For our sister company SocialVideoWizards.com, we often work with clients and talent to help them create a more memorable on camera performance for blogging and commercial delivery.
Here are some tips for making it more believable.

Today's tip --

Record yourself. You are your own harshest critic, or at least you should be. Be honest with yourself. Would you want to sit through what you just saw? If you're saying "hey, not bad" then you're pretty close to the mark. If you're squirming in your chair and your eyes are doing a nervous twitch fighting the urge to click away from the page with your mouse, you have some more work to do.

Don't sweat the small stuff.

Remember, you are focusing on the performance; not the hair, not the lighting, just the performance. Critique yourself on the following:

  • voice quality
  • inflection
  • pauses, and uses of "helper" sounds like umm and like
  • head movement
  • eye contact
  • distractions like too much blinking
  • hand movement (if you are shooting with full or 2/3 body exposure)

Go through this checklist and determine how much work you have to do. Sometimes spending even an hour with an on camera coach can make a world of difference.

For more tips on video and on camera performance, check out our help section of Socialvideowizards.com

With over 30 years experience, Tim McLarty  currently works out of Toronto Canada as a writer, producer and media strategist producing advertising and entertainment content.



Ontrackblog is a division of OntrackCommunications Inc.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

New York is still the hub of happy

I got back last night from New York. It's good to go at least once a year to recharge the imagination; and to remember why I don't live there. No it's not the hustle and bustle, it's the 9 dollar gyro's and 40 dollar parking. Yes, an expensive city, but so worth it. I made the pilgrimage to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to sit and stare at my Pollock.

(Yes, it's my Pollock and I just agree to allow thousands of others to use my spot on the bench each year.) Number 30. It's truly truly beautiful.

And to grace your eyes across the Michelangelo sculptures is another moment frozen in time.


I sometimes forget why we got into the business of making our living in science of the arts. MMOA always brings it back.




Ontrackblog is a division of OntrackCommunications Inc.