Friday, December 20, 2013

Whips, chains and jewellery - Creative Excellence Fridays

Forevermark jewellery

With elbow pads firmly in position, people head to the malls tonight and tomorrow for the last weekend of shopping before Christmas. And this is the last Creative Excellence Friday post for this year. I wanted to wrap up with a bang and found the perfect commercial to start it off this week. I've railed on and on in this feature about the importance of not letting the sell get lost in the sizzle.  This ad by Miami MG for Panache Distilleries is very funny, but honestly, do you remember it's about vodka at the end, let alone whose vodka?

 

 To add insult to injury, this brand was railed in 2011 for a very insensitive billboard posted in New York city.


The agency went doe eyed and claimed innocence, but it was obviously a carefully planned stunt to gain free publicity for the brand. But is this the kind of publicity anyone besides a  cast member from Duck Dynasty would want? Sex sells.  It always has.  But it tends to sell much better when the product is inherently woven into the sell.  This ad is great for the leather and plastic industries.  But the vodka is an after thought.




Now to a commercial that hits the mark, and then some.  Jewellery advertising is all over this time of year.  It's difficult to stand out.  This commercial is not blazing a new path for the category, but it takes an old strategy and maps out a fresh message. The male voice is perfectly cast as a guy who sounds like he has his act together, knows what he wants and is madly in love.  Instead of a montage of couples attempting to touch as many demographics as possible this ad focuses on one special woman who is the centre of this families universe.  Beautiful slow motion cinematography and a carefully crafted mix of lifestyle and family shots make her seem real, and even without speaking, exceptional.   The ad was produced by New York's 3rd Strand, a video boutique that specializes in the jewellery industry.  This is a great ad.

 


 That's it for this year. Thank you for taking the time to stop by and I hope you'll set aside a moment or two in 2014 to continue to read CEFridays each Friday morning. Have a beautiful holiday. We leave you with this Holiday video greeting card.  Happy Holidays from me personally, Heronymo, Ana and our happy little video branding family.

 
   

Ontrackblog is a division of OntrackCommunications Inc.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Convenience products from the fifties. Creative Excellence Fridays

I made the choice to go retro for this week's Creative Excellence Fridays. Stumbling across a Jello commercial from 1958 I was more intrigued by the show it was sponsoring. "Do You Trust your Wife?"

 

Johnny Carson fans will know this was the precursor to his taking over the Tonight Show in 1962 from Jack Paar. Real sticklers will tell you the show was renamed "Who Do You Trust."

Now on to the commercial. What you may notice, I certainly did, was the casual pace of the presentation. We have learned to digest 15 second commercials as part of media flow. So watching a 60 second commercial almost allows our societal attention deficit to wander. I found half way through the commercial I wanted to go into the kitchen for a snack, come back and watch the rest of it.

It's a pure MadMen-esque feel with the  theme built around "the little woman" and her busy day doing all the domestic duties before the "king of the castle" arrives home from work. This was also one of the many convenience products introduced in the fifties.  These were products built around making her life easier and they were coming out fast and furious.

I did take note on the product claims. Under today's standards they might have a bit of a challenge getting this by AdStandards with the claim "nutritional" describing a bit of milk and a lot of sugar. Although Nutella's present day commercials certainly imply the same message without being so blatant.

 


Hosts doing live endorsements was common place in the fifties.  And sponsors loved when the endorsements were blended right into the shows.  Here Jack Narz, host of Video Village promotes another convenience product, Swanson TV Dinners.  I do remember as a kid growing up in the sixties what a  big deal it was to set up the little metal tv tables, have a Swanson's salisbury steak tv dinner and eat in front of the set.

 

Interesting to note,  there seemed to be a lot of gameshow host intermingling. He had a brother, Tom Kennedy who was also prominent in gameshows and Narz was married to gameshow host Bill Cullen's sister-in-law. There must have been some sort of game show convention where, after a few bottles of Faygo and Canadian Club and a years supply of Eskimo Pies they all peaked behind door number 3.

Ron Burgundy would have been proud.

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

Ontrackblog is a division of OntrackCommunications Inc.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Good night Mandela

I had a dream last night. Not the Martin Luther King kind. The Nelson Mandela kind. The CBC was playing in the background as I slept and no doubt the mention of his passing caused the dream. Or the man simply took on a transcendental, angelic quality that permeated my dreams.

Whatever the explanation, Mandela spoke to me last night and gave me the warmest handshake as he turned and walked away and down the street into the distance. Perhaps I've seen one too many Mandela biopics, but it felt strangely calming.

It was a special talent of his if you believe the myriad of people lucky enough to have had an audience with the South African "father". I remember being a disc jockey at a Saskatoon radio station in the mid 80's and reading Bloom County. Mandela was featured in the strip, and across the liberal media as free society fought for his release. That day finally came in 1990 after 27 years. 

Good night Mandela. There's nothing I could write here that would be more eloquent than what has already been written, but I wanted to say my goodbyes just the same. You're welcome back into my dreams any time.

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

Ontrackblog is a division of OntrackCommunications Inc.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Saul Leiter - genius photographer fades to black - Creative Excellence Fridays

Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art. - Ralph Waldo Emerson



Saul Leiter created thousands of moments of beauty in a career spanning back to the 1940s. He went on to become one of the louder voices in photography influence in the 20th century. Saul Leiter was studying to become a Rabbi when the pull of photography was too strong. At 23 he left theology school and went to New York to pursue his dreams of being an artist.
His early dream was to be a painter after meeting Abstract Expressionist Richard Pousette-Dart.

Dart encouraged Leiter to consider photography after seeing some of the work he had done since receiving a camera from his mother at the age of 12. Leiter began seriously taking black and white pictures with his 35 mm Leica. Then he transitioned to colour in 1948 and joined what was later coined the New York School of photographers.


It featured Diane Arbus and Robert Frank among others. Leiter's first big break came in 1953 when some of his black and whites were featured at the Museum of Modern Art. A few years later his colour fashion work started appearing in Esquire and Harper's Bazaar. His fashion photography became a new standard in excellence. Leiter's desire to be an artist never left him and he went on to create mixed medium using his own photographic nudes combined with gouache and watercolour. He even would occasionally use Kodachrome film that had expired just to see what effect it would have on the finished look.


 Leiter wasn't a holdhold name, but this was by design. He wasn't one to seek the limelight.

 “In order to build a career and to be successful,” Leiter says,“One has to be determined. One has to be ambitious. I much prefer to drink coffee, listen to music and to paint when I feel like it… Maybe I was irresponsible. But part of the pleasure of being alive is that I didn’t take everything as seriously as one should.”







Credits - Nicole Rae   Wikipedia

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

Ontrackblog is a division of OntrackCommunications Inc.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The psychology behind Red Bull - Creative Excellence Fridays

Marketing Energy Drinks seems simple. You show a clear picture of the can, and people doing things really energetic. Au contraire. As it turns out, every major drink company burst on to the scene with their own energy drink. And they all made the same claims. Pump one back and feel energized. Red Bull was an early brand on the scene and they took advantage of the cachet that comes with being at the gate early.

Hey, energy drinks are not really that different from marketing regular soft drinks. Except that they give you energy. A claim a Coca Cola or Pepsi can't give you. You can Do the dew, or Be a pepper. But can you be a bull?
Red Bull has been banking on it since 1987. The company was founded by Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz who appears to be sort of a real life representation of the dox equis guy. He's a man's man who has barrelled ahead regardless of any negative news stories that have been associated with energy drinks.
Here's the latest offering. How Thanksgiving actually came to be.




RedBulls market tends to be a younger, edgier demographic. This ad would definitely speak to that.



This advert, as the Brits call it, created a lot of negative controversy. Letters, emails and phone calls came in by the hundreds.




The lineage of the original passengers of the Titanic were offended that a brand would use a disaster like this as fodder for sales. The unfortunate part though, depending on which side of the fence you're on, is that controversy for a brand like this just "gives them wings."





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

Ontrackblog is a division of OntrackCommunications Inc.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Bathrooms aren't sexy. But they can be funny. This week, commercials centered around the bathroom on Creative Excellence Fridays. We're working on a plumbing commercial for a client in Hamilton. And like any responsible creative guy, I surfed around to get plumbing inspiration.

Presto flusho -- up came this commercial. And it's very good. And the humour is built entirely around the chief product benefit.




Not to be outdone, Moen wanted to promote their spot free faucets. And through some very inventive animation, they got their point across.




And of course the one that created a viral sensation. Liquid Plumber Double Impact. The woman featured in this ad has great comic chops. Her expressions and timing are priceless.



Credits to DDB SanFrancisco.

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

Ontrackblog is a division of OntrackCommunications Inc.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Using humour to sell casinos - Creative Excellence Fridays

One of my favourite commercials on the air right now is the one for Casino Rama. I was unable to verify, but it appears Marshall Fenn communications is responsible for this campaign. Producing a commercial for a gambling casino involves one thing; the idea of going somewhere that will help you escape the mundane routine of every day life. A thrill. Being freshly dumped publicly and in this humiliating fashion certainly would require a mind bending change of routine.




Not to be outdone, this commercial was produced by Fallsview Casino a few years back. It was so well written, cast and produced, I would delay my trip to the chip cupboard every time this commercial came on.



I never tire of watching this commercial, something that is difficult to say about all commercials that sell with comedy. If it's a commercial built around a big reveal, you have a short, short shelf life. But commercials like theses two have the magic elixir.


And one more for good measure.



I'm not sure what his chances are. But the odds of me watching these commercials again and again? Bet the house on it.

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

Ontrackblog is a division of OntrackCommunications Inc.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Cartoons - influencing for generations - Creative Excellence Fridays




Why is animation still one of the most powerful motivators and influencers for selling ideas, services and products? I think it's because cartoons were the first things that touched our young virgin brain matter as soon as we were old enough to prop ourselves up in front of the television.

Cartoons, for many, are our first exposure to the world outside. How many times have you heard someone say "Bugs Bunny was my introduction to the opera!"



Rossini's Barber of Seville still echos through my mind as "Welcome to my shop... let me cut your mop."

But cartoons have also been a powerful selling tool over the years.

I remember as a child, seeing the Lucky Charms box and the Lucky Charms leprechaun. The box just magically ended up in my mom's shopping cart. We got as far as the check out before she quietly pulled it out and hid it behind a LifeSavers cardboard stand.

The original commercials in the 60's had children chasing the leprechaun. Catch a leprechaun, keep the cereal. I guess my mom didn't see the commercial.




Times have changed considerably when you look at the new Lucky Charms commercial featuring a mash up of an auto-tune leprechaun mixed in with various current and nostalgic footage.

 

I remember that period in the 80's when moms joined together to ban violence in cartoons.  The result? Hundreds of cartoons from eras by gone were sliced and diced to take out all the bams, boffs and bonks, leaving the cartoons an empty shell of the original.


Then there was  a counter movement in the 90's with the advent of Ren and Stimpy, South Park and my personal favourite, Itchy and Scratchy.



I particularly loved this one because it was a perfect homage to those war time shorts that entertained but also leaned on patriotism.
 
Cartoons have always been a huge influence for us in our shop.  Which is why I pushed to create "The Big Bad Wolf Calling" below.  The Itchy and Scratchy influence  was definitely top of mind when we created this Google video for Debtcare TV.

We did keep the blood to a minimum though.



No anvils were harmed in the making of this commercial.



 


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

Ontrackblog is a division of OntrackCommunications Inc.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Anchorman 2 promotion machine is huge - Creative Excellence Fridays

In the words of Ron Burgundy. "Hold on. It's about to get weird in here." The days of producing a television commercial, backing it up with print and a radio commercial and "lettin' her rip" are gone.

Today, the television commercial is part of a complex, multitiered combination of online and offline promotion.

 It might include YouTube channel integration, Google remarketing campaigns, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest support.

And bringing up the rear, an old trick that has new legs. Product cross promotion. Anchorman 2 comes out in December. And I can't remember when I've seen such a well executed pre marketing roll out for a movie.

Ron Burgundy started the buzz for Anchorman 2 on Conan Obrien in March of last year.




Now the marketing team behind Anchorman 2 has created the perfect storm by using other companies' money to promote their movie. The fictitious character Ron Burgundy is the new spokesperson for Dodge Durango.

The spots are fun, well done, and successful create buzz for both Durango, and the movie.




And the follow up.



And one horsepower.



And if this isn't enough, Ben and Jerry's has just announced a new flavour in honour of Ron Burgundy. "Scotch Scotch Scotch"



And the marketing machine extends into the website as well with various games including the Anchorman2 mustache maker.

You have a choice of the burgandy, the fantana or the peppercorn.  I thought I was more of a peppercorn guy.





Often, when there is a huge marketing machine in place for a movie, the hype is bigger than what the actual movie can deliver. Judging from the trailer I think this movie may actually deliver.

But as Ron Burgundy would say..."Hold your horses muchacho. You'll just have to go on this freaky ride to find out."


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

Ontrackblog is a division of OntrackCommunications Inc.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Orville Redenbacher pops back to life - Creative Excellence Fridays

Companies all hope to create the iconic character that becomes synonymous with their brand. Christine McGee, Kernel Sanders, Wendy's Dave, they all became household characters. And if your iconic character is poked fun at by John Stewart or Jimmy Kimmel, you know you've hit the motherlode. One such character, growing up, was Orville Redenbacher. They didn't come any nerdier but his message hit its' mark. Orville Redenbacher popcorn became the benchmark for premium popcorn. The downside? Well, at some point, everyone dies.

That sets the marketing team spinning to try and recover the brand that now has a huge hole left by their dearly departed talking mascot. And then the question of, what's appropriate as far as a continuation of the icon after he or she has stepped off into the great beyond.

Well the rule of thumb seems to be, wait a few years, then reach into the vault and pump some old commercials into the editing suite and see what you can come up with. Dave Thomas is being seen again, along side the new Wendy's spokesperson, his daughter. Kernel Sanders was revived, and yes Orville Redenbacher is popping again. But in 2007 there was a bit of a unique twist to the formula. Acclaimed director David Fincher (Social Network, Girl with the Dragon Tatoo, House of Cards) has always been a keen student of visual effects. He was called upon to not just edit a spot together with old footage, but create a completely new commercial featuring Orville himself.

First, for a fair comparision, from 1985 here is the original Orville.

 

Now, here is the David Fincher digital revival from 2007.



I have tremendous respect for David Fincher, but this one doesn't work for me. It seems, well, digital, and a bit stilted. And frankly, just creepy. I think it would be more appropriate inset inside an episode of AMC's The Walking Dead.

The good news is, an actor can breathe easy, at least for now.  Although an actor still might want to think about putting a little away for a rainy day. Because natural rain has already been replaced by digital effects.

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

Ontrackblog is a division of OntrackCommunications Inc.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Nuit Blanche brings out the artist in everyone - Creative Excellence Fridays

Nuit Blanche has once again come and gone in Toronto.   Seeing as how Creative Excellence Friday's is a weekly navel gaze at creativity, I thought I'd share something very visceral and personally inspiring from last Saturday night.

I discovered a few years back, the only way to do  Nuit Blanche is by bicycle.
There is so much ground to cover and the cabs and streetcars literally come to a grinding halt.





We started out at the LightBridge.  A talented musician and artist John Farah created it.  Different songs all in the same chromatic key  overlap as you slowly walk along the bridge.





But what was even more inspiring was the culmination of many minds into singular works of art.


The Gallery West on Queen West, near the Drake Hotel opened up their doors and invited anyone and everyone to come in and just paint their hearts out.

They had several buckets of paint and dozens of brushes on work tables. People would just pick up a brush, walk up to a wall, and start painting.








What was really magical was the way everyone worked in collaboration with the previous contribution.   It was like a sci fi movie where the aliens take over our brains and one central brain guides everything together mellifluously to create one beautiful work of art.


 The colours somehow seemed to work,  although this was due in part by what was made available through the gallery, but as anyone who ever dipped his or her finger in some paint in kindergarten knows, when you mix paint, colours change, and things happen.

The end result was beautiful, raw, and worthy of passing on.






And the street poets came out to play too with words of wisdom instinctually scrawled along side the paintings.




And not to be outdone, the Gladstone Hotel invited people in to work on a collaborate effort inspired by silent film.   

Stills from silent films were shot through a project on to a giant canvas on the wall.  Busy artist bees would sketch out the major lines and then pass it over on to a secondary table where anyone could make their mark, their stroke, their blot, their paint soaked elbow or any other contribution to the canvas.  The end result was a beautiful merging of graffiti and colour.

Kudos to ScotiaBank for recognizing it's important to fund the arts.   And I hope their good intentions are paid forward for years to come.

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Pablo Picasso 




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

Ontrackblog is a division of OntrackCommunications Inc.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Bryan Cranston paid the bills with commercials - creative excellence Fridays

Breaking Bad was an unqualified, monster success for AMC TV. And what made it even more interesting was that it was all done with talented actors who were not stars. It was a total team effort of respected, but not household names. Two seasoned veterans behind the camera pulled it all together. Show runner Vince Gilligan cut his teeth on the X-Files and cinematographer Michael Slovis brought extensive behind the camera cinematography experience from 30 Rock, CSI and countless other television shows.

But the person who probably benefited the most was Bryan Cranston. He was a journeyman actor with a long list of credits, but just hadn't crawled over the ridge into super stardom, until now.

And when we say a long list of credits, we mean long. In addition to the occasional guest role as Jerry the dentist on Seinfeld ...



...Cranston paid the bills with so many commercials in the 80's and 90's we can't even list them all. But we can list a few. 1987 and Coors Light. Nice 80's hair Bryan.



JC Penny. You start to see some of the Heisenberg swagger here.



And no career would be complete without a Preparation H commercial.




The next leg of Bryan Cranston's career has just begun and based on the versatility of the clips above, we can expect more great things ahead. As an aside, if you're a fan of the look of the show, have a look at this interview with Forbes with Michael Slovis. A great read as he talks about how HD television enabled him to do things not previously possible in small screen television.

I'll miss Breaking Bad. But it's such a beautiful thing to watch a show go out on a high note and not wait to jump the shark.

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

Ontrackblog is a division of OntrackCommunications Inc.

Friday, September 27, 2013

He was the President's Choice - Remembering Dave Nichols

There was a time in Canada when you couldn't turn on the TV, radio, or point your beak at a billboard and not see Dave Nicols face. He didn't reinvent super market merchandising. But he was certainly the messenger. Galen Weston Sr deserved a lot of the credit. But there was no better soldier than Dave Nicol to carry the vision through to the masses. And people responded. Get a box of detergent as good as a name brand and pay much less? Where do I sign.

I remember my marketing professor in college, Lee Farah railing on about the evils of supporting a brand that didn't inject any money into marketing. He said we were shooting ourselves in the foot for supporting no-name products.  Dave Nicols knew better than most the importance of making no-name brand...a brand. And he did it with all the bells and whistles of the Tides and Colgates of the world
.
Here's a brief look at the life of Dave Nicols, courtesy of Loblaws marketing division.



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

Ontrackblog is a division of OntrackCommunications Inc.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Bikini couches don't get recalled - Creative Excellence Fridays

Why would an auto manufacturer want to create a commercial filled entirely of humour scenarios?  How does that show the shine off the hood of the car, or how fast it goes from 0 - 100 k in sixty second?  Ask Toyota.

Toyota went through a bit of a rough road the last few years with recalls. Enter, positive brand experience television commercial. The 2012 Superbowl entry for the Toyota Camry was legendary. Everything about this commercial sings. The writing is stellar, acting perfectly cast and directed, and the score moves along like a ninja in the night.

And most importantly.  The spot is cool.  Cool sells.  Credits - Saatchi and Saatchi.





And what about a car that let's you shake off the stress of the moment, the hour and the day.  A few quick turns and you can feel your whole body start to calm.




But I still have a soft spot for this Volkswagen ad.   Now that's patience. Credits - DDB.



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

Ontrackblog is a division of OntrackCommunications Inc.