Friday, November 21, 2014

A familiar face from Seinfeld appears in the new Nest commercial - Creative Excellence Fridays

Google bought Nest as a way to diversify beyond search engine dominance.  And they're going to make sure this product catches on like, well, Google.  The new television commercial, just in time for the brutal winter upon us, features a familiar face from the past. You may remember Richard Herd more for his appearances as Wilhelm when George Costanza was working for the Yankees in the 90's show, Seinfeld. Screenshot 2014-11-21 11.02.02 Helm was and is a seasoned actor. He hardly struck me as the cranky grandfather retired in the rocking chair type, but that's acting right? Of course last January George and Jerry connected at the familiar Tom's diner to chair a sandwich and promote Crackle.com. Crackle is the website that sponsored Seinfeld's highly popular "Comedians in Cars getting Coffee" . Michael Richards has made a career out of playing variations of Kramer, and he's made millions smile with his physical comedy. In 1993 he made querky campy in this Clorets commercial. For the over 40 set the Seinfeld era still holds a special place. The last episode aired over 16 years ago, but Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm has carried on the tradition of comedy coming from real conversations and uncomfortable situations. [caption id="attachment_382" align="aligncenter" width="676"]Larry Davids Curb Your Enthusiasm Larry Davids Curb Your Enthusiasm[/caption] Long live awkward.

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 7, 2014

John Lewis Christmas advert leads the way - Creative Excellence Fridays

For several years now, British retailer John Lewis has produced a memorable Christmas commercial intended for sharing.  The retailer realized, as Macy's did decades ago, that plucking the heart strings of emotion is a brand worthy endeavour.  And it's also good for business. So this year they went all out and combined a digital penguin with live action of an adorable little boy. It reminds me of my all time favourite comic strip.

 

 As of this morning (Nov 7, 2014) the ad had racked up 4.3 million views. If the Tom Odell sung song has a familiar Double Fantasy feel to it, it's because it was written by John Lennon. And the Calvin & Hobbes'eque reveal at the end is priceless. John Lewis has become an industry leader in creating an event around the release of a holiday commercial. Not only do they produce an exceptional piece of creative every year, they build a PR behemoth around it with all the hype, the publicized talent competitions leading up to the final music.  Here is the promotional talent video from last year's very well received commercial, "The Bear".



John Lewis has definitely figured out how to make social sharing create maximum buzz.   This would no doubt contribute to the rocket like hits that appeared as soon as it was uploaded two days ago. For the full story about the history of the John Lewis Christmas event read this article about Lowe London, the agency behind it. It's a model all retailers should follow, and many already are. And as the Brits say, "Have at 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, October 17, 2014

Is Apple getting out-designed and out-marketed by Samsung - Creative Excellence Fridays

One of the most talked about stories on Madison Avenue this year has been whether Apple has lost its' way. Their messaging and even their products seems to be playing catch up rather than follow the leader. And now the ad battle seems to be heating up with the release of Apple's latest offering, the iPad Air2. Earlier this year Samsung released this ad for the Galaxy Pro 10.1



 Ouch.

 And then Samsung released this rabbit punch to the throat with the "Galaxy 4 Note - then and now" Samsung creative is coming out of the New York office of 72andSunny. This ad shop has been creating some really fresh work, including the much touted Google app campaign where they embedded questions for the app into actual site locations all over New York. IPad's response? You can almost hear the kids in the schoolyard yelling "Oh yeah?? Well here's what you can do with your pencil, Samsung!"

 

Here's an insightful article from VentureBeat that encapsulates some of the issues Apple is having with refinding their swagger.

Samsung   I'm sure Tim Cook tired long ago at the..."what would Steve have done" question. The products used to be so innovative they almost sold themselves. The task at hand for TBWA and the inner creatives at Apple is now more mine-filled than ever. But as one of the TBWA positioning statements claims, "If you want a stronger call to action...create a better ad!" If they were actually allowed to say this it would likely be amended to "If you want a stronger call to action... stop getting out designed by your competition."

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 19, 2014

Amazing robot commercials - Creative Excellence Fridays

Ever since the Hal 2000 had the life like dialogue with Dave in Space2001, Hollywood has attempted to make the robot/ human experience as real as possible. Science has made several attempts over the years to create a "human robot" but man's dominance of the world remains safe, for now. Hollywood, however is another story. There is no limit to their ability to create robots that rival man in every way. And these robots take on such realistic  qualities they even feel heartbreak. Like in the new Swedish commercial for the robotic vacuum from Vorwerk. Saatchi and Saatchi Germany just released the ad. And it's beautiful done in every detail. Vorwerk's creative team asked the question, "what would happen if a real robot fell in love with a robot vacuum.

 

 If you were thinking Pixar's "Wally" you weren't alone. The beautiful, life like qualities feel very reminiscent of Wally with many of the same awww moments. Something not quite as heartfelt, but equally entertaining was the spot that Old Spice did a few months ago featuring a robot crashing his way through life and love.

 

 Produced by Wieden + Kennedy the Old Spice commercials continue to serve up edgy, fun humour that translates into thousands of shares and positive brand enhancement.  I love the attention to detail, including the audio work with the subtle shorting out sounds and the smoke as it rises up over the robots broken body. The Hal 2000 may have wanted to dominate the world, but for now, shops like Wieden + Kennedy continue to call the shots.  There's nothing robotic about these commercials.

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, August 29, 2014

Netflix gains more momentum with Ricky Gervais - Creative Excellence Fridays

They go together like Netflix and chips. Or crisps if you prefer. Ricky Gervais is the latest A list celeb to tie his wagon to the juggernaut of television streaming. Netflix has been on a roll the last three years. Some attribute House of Cards with the beginning of the momentum. Their first original programming that garnered Emmy nominations. Since then they'd green lit several original productions including the much talked about Orange is the New Black. And  they've been a delivery mechanism that has effectively made video stores as redundant as a phone booth. Netflix is also responsible for new phrases in the English language like "binge watching" and "I'm Netflicking tonight".

And with all the momentum going their way they are also becoming a target of success with Netflix style competitors starting to line up in the wings. Amazon Prime Instant, Hulu Plus and HBO GO could start to chip away at Netflix’s ability to grow its subscriber base in 2014. In Canada, Rogers and Shaw are launching Shomi in November. For now, celebs that matter know what side their streaming bread is buttered on.  Ricky Gervais brings his brit grit to  Netflix with a series of commercials that poke fun at their two main hits.  The result is very well done and even features cast members you will probably recognize.

 

The outtakes are almost as good as the finished commercial.

 

 Netflix is the streaming monster to beat. They've cozied up to  internet providers  to make sure the tap is kept open, and they've set themselves up as a welcome port in a creative storm for many personalities and writers looking to ply their craft in less micro-managed waters. Netflix is savy enough to  enjoy the ride and keep the party going as long as possible.

 In the meantime, they are enjoying a raft of popularity. And when you're at the top you also have to have a good sense of humour. Recently Mashable featured a series of Netflix show descriptions based on what the writer saw on the show publicity shot.Creative Excellence Fridays  Dexter description - Netflix Dexter description - Netflix[/caption] It's been said, the funniest person in the room is usually the most confident. And these days Netflix is pretty funny.

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, August 22, 2014

Judy Greer leads up a great comedy ensemble cast in Sprint Framily Plan ads - Creative Excellence Fridays

Arrested Development achieved success by combining superb and disturbed writing and one of the best comedy ensembles of recent times. The new Sprint Framily plan commercials have been assembled with the same level of ambition, and quite successfully. Arrested Development featured obscenely talented comic actors Jeffrey Tambor, David Cross and Tony Hale, not to mention Will Arnett, Jason Bateman and Portia de Rossi. There was a twisted magic about the show. Admittedly I wasn't as charmed with the Netflix revival. But the original episodes were pure fun.

 Sprint has now created something equally entertaining with their Framily Plan series. It's worth noting Sprint's creative team had additional challenges in pulling off those perfectly time moments with the constraints of squeezing it all into 30 seconds. Immediately you'll recognize a comic face you've seen all over television.

Judy Greer is the go to gal for perfect comic performances. Her resume includes playing "Kitty Sanchez" in Arrested Development and no fewer than three separate characters from Two and a Half Men. And if the top comedy producer in television, Chuck Lorre thinks that highly of her, it's only fitting that she lead the way in the new Sprint series.

 

 You may have recognized the voice of the hamster. Andrew Dice Clay does a nice job. Rounding out the cast is Kyle Mooney, Justin Michael and Tatyana Richaud. Here's the spot that most people think of from the series. Gor-don. And the latest in the series, "Harmon Kardan". I love that there's no mention as to why a blood relative of the family happens to look like Don King. But it's so true when they say, "True comedy is often more about what is left out then what is left in".

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.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Dollar Shave Club shows online video really works - Creative Excellence Fridays

When the viral video for Dollar Shave Club came out in March of 2012, it was shared like crazy. The definition of a success story in social and online entrepreneurial success. It had already notched up 4.75 million views. Fastforward to August 1, 2014 and it's now 15,487,324. The scary part? No conventional television buy. It was all through online video ad placement and pure social shares. Just in case you haven't seen the video, here it is.

 

 Why was this video so popular? Humour. But comedy is always a calculated risk. But for the same reason it makes sense to buy ad space in a male demo dominated publication, it makes sense to ask the same targeted questions about your comedy positioning. Who is your key audience?
  • Men.
  • And more specifically, men who are guys guys and no nonsense.
  • Men who don't mind saving a buck or two.
  • Men who probably watch at least one sport and appreciate the camaraderie that comes with being a part of a membership, a club, a group with a common purpose.
  • Who do men laugh at and why?
Dollar Shave Club promotion

If I were to choose a comedic style that touched on the widest spectrum of this audience, I'd choose Dave Chapel.  His humour is irreverent, has an edge and is intelligent. Michael Dubin, the video's star and founder of Dollar Shave Club, did in fact want to create a brand that was irreverent. He knows exactly who he's talking to and how to reach them. More importantly, he's a natural on camera. This is very important to note.  Starting as a page at NBC, he pursued a performing career.

He attended the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) theatre in New York City. It's billed as the only accredited improv and sketch comedy school in the country. According to Dubin, "When you're launching a new business and sharing a new idea, if you can get people to remember it, there's obviously a better chance at success." During Dubin's time at UBC he met comedienne Lucia Aniello. She runs Paulilu, an L.A. based production company that has created a variety of comedy shorts for the Emmy Awards and Audi to name a few.

This history proved to be invaluable for Dubin. Where other CEO's would need to shell out probably $50,000 Dubin and Aniello were able to produce their video for about $4,500. They wrote the script together with Aniello pushing Dubin in directions he might not have felt comfortable with if he were writing it himself. And she pulled him back where necessary. She urged him to lose anything that wasn't 100% necessary so the  sell points didn't out weigh the humour and the video would remain entertaining. And how powerful was this video? Sharing is one thing, but did it actually move subscriptions? 48 hours after the video launched on YouTube, 12,000 people had signed up.

And just when you thought it was safe to go to your computer, Dubin came up with the follow up video.  Not as good as the first in my opinion.  The "buttwipe" product was begging to be exploited but it went, literally, too far into the toilet.  You be the judge.

 

 Are there more videos coming?  Absolutely.  You can count on it.  And with his competitors attempting to copy The Dollar Shave Club video strategy,  Dubin will have to remain true to the formula we and countless other creative shops have bowed down to; keep the bar high and compete against yourself for the best results. Here he talks about the success of the viral video comedy format and his own background.

    So far

Dubin's funny video strategy has had him laughing all the way to the bank.

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, July 11, 2014

Shaving commercials have come a long way - Creative Excellence Fridays

Scanning over the top ads of the week I pushed aside all the soccer...sorry...futbol...instagrams and virals.  Gillette's Manscaping commercial won hands down.    And it inspired this weeks Creative Excellence Friday to be dedicated to shaving commercials. Whenever I see a commercial like this it's easy to think it's all special effects.  And for the most part effects are the star of this ad.  But when you break down everything that went into it; set direction, research into old movie effects and the looks of men over the last 100 years, you realize how much effort went into of ad of this kind.



 Note the music too.  The changing styles and instruments cover off the changing times very well. This ad was done by Grey London and has generated an impressive 5.2 million YouTube views, 657 Facebook shares and 63 tweets since its' launch about two weeks ago.  And yes the ad is getting online ad support.  But it's still the most successful viral Gillette has released to date.   Now contrast that with this Australian commercial produced in 1961.

 

 Note how excited they got about the executive travelling case for an extra 20 shillings. And this was the industry's idea of a high tech commercial from 1959.  Taking the crew to the Mohave dessert.



 In the early days of TV advertising there were also some liberties taken too.   Colgate-Palmolive and Ted Bates advertising got into a bit of hot water in 1960 for another commercial.  They claimed their razor would shave sand paper.  The only problem was, the commercial actually featured sand crystals on a piece of glass.  The Federal Trades Commission eventually had the ads pulled.  Here's the whole story here from Museum of Hoaxes. Razor advertising has definitely come a long way baby.


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, July 4, 2014

4th of July commercials - Creative Excellence Fridays - Ontrackspots.com

Nobody does it up better than the United States when it comes to the birth of their country. I recall being in Niagara Falls New York years ago on the 4th and watching fireworks. The poor guy in the pit lighting the matches got a little too close to one of the flames and needed to be taken to hospital. But in true patriotic fashion, someone else jumped in the pit and took his place. The show must go on. And so must the commercials. In true retail fashion, retailers will take any excuse to have a sale and drive business. Such is the case with H.H. Greg Appliances.

 

 And nothing says Red White and Blue like the Pepsi logo.

 

 I always have a soft spot for animation composites. Payless squeezes a lot of fun into 21 seconds.

 

 Happy 4th of July to our American neighbours. Stars and stripes, beer and ribs and cash registers ringing. Now that's a great weekend.



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, June 20, 2014

The best of the new World Cup Commercials - Creative Excellence Fridays - Ontrackspots.com

Even if you're not a fan of the beautiful game, you can't help but be swept over by the buzz. Cycling down the Danforth last night I noticed Greek town was anything but business as usual as people merged into the street moving from pub to restaurant. And never  far from a blaring screen. Toronto is a cultural melting pot where on any given day you can see cars bearing a flag from any of the represented nations accompanied by people hanging out of their vehicle like they just sat on a sharp cleat.  The fervor never runs higher than during World Cup. Yes, as a hockey addicted Canuck I admit I get swept up in the passion and creativity of the World Cup commercials. Here are three of the best as recently chosen by the Huffington Post.

 Kia - The difference between Football...and Futbol.

 

 Nike - Write the Future

 

 And finally, a sweet homage to the greats of the past.   Pele is holding up pretty well.

 

 It's difficult for anyone from the United States to digest that their Super "game" is smaller in world stature than World Cup. But numbers don't lie. The only exaggeration is the players on the field when they've been fouled. But that too is a part of the adorable charm of the "beautiful game."

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, June 6, 2014

When sound dances with picture - perfectly - Creative Excellence Fridays

Sound plus picture. When it's mixed together well, fission happens and the imagination explodes. Choosing the right sound, the right music, the right beat, the right rhthym, as important as choosing the right partner. When it's right, you feel it deep in your gut.

A gifted sound editor takes a normal piece of footage and lifts it off the screen and into the imaginary world you thought of when you first wrapped a towel around your neck as a cape and jumped off the picnic table. A truly gifted sound editor also transforms pop culture.

Ben Burtt definitely qualifies. Without him, all the iconic sounds from Star Wars wouldn't exist. The lightsaber hum, the sound of the blaster guns, the heavy-breathing sound of Darth Vader and even the voice of R2-D2 all come from 4 time Oscar winner Ben Burtt. And he enjoyed voicing R2-D2 so much he also was the voice of 2008's Wall E.

 

 Here's an interview with Ben where he talks about some of the methods he uses to make it all "sound" great.

  Charles L Campbell (Back to the Future), Mike Hopkins (Lord of the Rings), Karen Baker Landers (BladeRunner, Braveheart) all are part of a proud group of sound surgeons who know what it takes to make sound and picture sing. Nothing makes the imagination soar like pride for country. The Olympics bring that to life every four years and this year happens to be world cup soccer mania in Brazil. In keeping with our theme of skillful sound design, listen to the way the tapping beat is introduced at the beginning of this ad for Nike. That tapping pulls the whole commercial together as the sound designer layers on top of it building it to a grand crescendo. Credits - Wieden & Kennedy.



 Admittedly, this is one of the highlights of everything we do in picture and sound at Ontrack. When you lay in just the right visual effect over a perfectly chosen music bridge, the goosebumps kick in and you know it's time to click save on the project and step away from the mixer. Your work is done.




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, May 30, 2014

Rube Goldberg continues to influence ads and pop culture long after his death - Creative Excellence Fridays

It's a huge honour to win the Rube Goldberg Award (the Reuben).  It's an award given to the cartoonist of the year and named in honour of a cartooning pioneer. Reuben Garrett Lucius "Rube" Goldberg  was an American cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer and inventor. His claim to fame were his series of cartoons depicting complicated gadgets that perform simple tasks in indirect, convoluted ways.  Why put two pieces of toast in a toaster when you can rig up 1 minute of  stunts leading up to it.

  contraptions-goldberg

Goldberg was a founding member and the first president of the National Cartoonists Society. He is the inspiration for various international competitions, known as Rube Goldberg Machine Contests, which challenge participants to make a complicated machine to perform a simple task. For cartoon enthusiasts, there is a new book out that was written by his grand daughter.  The Art of Rube Goldberg.  It's a coffee table book that I spent far too long leafing through at Indigo last weekend. Why all the attention to Rube Goldberg in a column normally focused on the ad industry?  Because Goldberg's influence on style and art direction still touches us even today.  I came across this outstanding ad from Purina and wanted to share it.



This ad is pure magic.  Not just because it ties in with a 20th century iconic cartoonist. It follows the 3 cardinal rules of commercial advertising.
  1. Communicate the main selling proposition in an entertaining way.
  2. Appeal to the right emotional trigger.
  3. Make them remember who you are.
You can't have a better hand off than the message at the end of the ad "Play...it's good for you."  And the art direction brands the Purina colours all the way through.  You're glued to the ad til the end.  And even better, you have to watch it at least a few more times to notice the subtleties of the dog wagging his tail to trip the lever or the puppies slightly shifting their weight to push the wagon down the ramp. This is brilliant on every level.  And best of all, it's just fun and very sharable.  The only thing missing was having one of the dogs trip a lever after taking a selfie.  But I'm sure that'll be in the sequel.

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, May 16, 2014

You be the director - Creative Excellence Fridays

Gus Van Sant Gus Van Zant is an Oscar winning director. His work spans from Finding Forrester to Goodwill Hunting. He has a brilliant eye with meaningful attention to detail. And it's no better illustrated than in the latest offerings he created for BMW. A few years back BMW started reaching out to A list Hollywood actors, giving them a comfortable budget, a list of car characteristics and cart blanche to work their magic within those open parameters. Gus did something a little different. He produced the same spot, three times with three different actors.

 Version 1 - featuring Sam Hazeldine who plays Caleb on ABC's new hit, Resurrection. Version 2, a rarity for car commercials. A woman as the spokesperson. Mickey Sumner from Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha. And Version 3. It features Michael Pitt who played "Jimmy" on Boardwalk Empire. Okay. The question posed to you now. You have to rank in order or priority. You must choose one version to air during a broadcast a MadMen. It's a fairly even split of male/female with an above average education and income. How would you rank them down?

 Here are my picks and explanation.

#1 Sam Hazeldine. I think this spot just stood out more. His piercing eyes, the delivery and even Van Sant's choice of visuals including the screen dominating eyeball. The performance felt true.

#2 Mickey Sumner.  But I struggled with whether she should be #1. It was close.  She has the British sophistication and Shakespearean intensity. And I chose her before I knew she also had the pedigree of being Sting and Trudie Styler's progeny.  It  feels edgy and Masterpiece Theatre at the same time.

#3 Michael Pitt. I very much appreciated his intensity in Boardwalk Empire. But somehow his tortured spirit doesn't come out here. It seems slightly contrived. Either that or the dialogue just didn't resonate with his Jersey roots.  I just wanted him to raise his voice and lose his cool.  You feel Mickey Sumner's build up.  Here you do not.

 Cudos to BMW for continuing to push the creative envelope. I can't wait to see where they go next.






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, May 9, 2014

A list celebrities selling coffee for cash - George Clooney leads the pack - Creative Excellence Fridays

In a land long ago, before the internet, celebrities had dirty little secrets.  The secret?  They had done a commercial. They had sold their soul for "the man".   But because the commercial was only airing in Finland, it never really happened. Then along came the internet.  Those old commercials starting showing up online.  The cat was out of the bag.  That's when it all happened.   A list celebs started doing commercials out of the closet.

George Clooney, Robert DeNiro, Charlize Theron.  It was no longer a career taboo.  Being in a carefully constructed ad had become...well...cool.  We're not talking Henry Winkler One Reverse Mortgage; we're talking Martini, Chanel and now...N'Esspresso. And a rather unconventional commercial for N'esspresso featuring George Clooney and John Malkovich.



 And here's Kiera Knightly  in her Chanel commercial.  Inspired by  The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo and Audrey Hepburn. Beautifully shot with the irony of  "It's a Man's World" playing in the background.

 

 And finally, my favourite of recent weeks simply because William Shatner doesn't care.  He shamelessly does it for the money and doesn't pretend otherwise.  And he pokes fun at himself, as does Big Bang Theory's Kaley Cuoco.



Great production values, some campy smiles and no one was hurt in the making of this commercial.  It's all good.




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, April 25, 2014

Madmen inspired 1960's beer commercials - Creative Excellence Fridays CEFridays

Matt Weiner's research department on Madmen is one of the best in the business.  And to Weiner's credit, he's a stickler for detail.  Many of the shows were built around real life headlines.  See a passage from an AdAge article this week.

Hershey Names Ogilvy for $10,000,000 Effort During the episode last week's episode, Roger Sterling seems indifferent to find out that Ogilvy had signed Hershey.  O&M  did in fact win the $10 million account on February 13, 1969. Madmen has been great for the ad profession.  The older viewers are able to watch and say "I remember that!".  Younger viewers take it in and probably comment on how a sixty second commercial seems like an eternity.

 Here is a bit more flavour from that era.  Fred and Barney hyping beer.  They promoted cigarettes too but that's another story.   In what may seem like forever, here's a 4 minute promotional movie created to target "the working man".  It was created by Flintstones creators Hanna Barbara through St Louis ad shop Gardner Advertising.  The only thing missing is  the absence of the the live dart bird saying "Eh..it's a living."

 

 And the beer that made Milwaukee famous is still going strong. In the late 1960's they started with a guys guy, let's gargle some rusty nails, you only live once theme.  Here's a perfect example, although I highly doubt Tahitian maidens were actually pouring Schlitz regularly in the backwoods of no where.

If you have an interest in brewery history, check out the book Schlitz Brewing Art which features the famous brewery prior to being torn down in Milwaukee. As MadMen works towards it's conclusion,  I'd be very surprised to see Don and whatever ad agency he ends up with not making a pitch for a brewery.  Unless of course, the Canadian Club account comes up for review.

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, April 4, 2014

Classic meltdowns in a recording studio - Creative Excellence Fridays

We hear urban legend stories about well known celebrities or pseudo celebrities who are "difficult" to work with in a studio or on set. Hearsay really has no merit unless you were there and experienced it first hand. But when the proof is committed to tape, there's no denying some people are "problem children" in studio.

 Today - Classic Meltdowns during a recording session. Our first one is the late Jack Palance.  He had a bit of a resurgence in his career after Billy Crystal cast him in City Slickers some 20 years ago.  He was famous for his one armed pushups at the Academy Awards.  But he also had some baggage that he obviously brought to this record session.



 Next up, it was no secret that Orson Welles could be "difficult".  How he could have been THIS difficult, one can only guess.  We all wake up on the wrong side of the bed occasionally.  This rant sounds like he never went to bad at all the night before.



 Casem Kasem, who retired in 2009, had hundreds of hours of air time logged over his long career.  He is worth over 80 million dollars, estimates say, so he obviously knew how to keep it together.  But this was one instance in which he definitely had a bee in his bonnet about something and some things had been piling up which he was about to get off his chest.



 William Shatner has been a spokesperson for a number of products and definitely knows his way around a studio.  This young producer thought he would do a line reading for Captain Kirk.  Not a good idea.



Have a rant we missed?  Do share it and we'll feature it in a future "Classic Meltdowns in Studio" feature.   We all have our days when we just know deep in our guts we shouldn't be anywhere near people.  But when circumstances require it, the end result is truly entertaining.   Thanks to Chris Seguin for the source clips for today's blog.


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, March 21, 2014

Samsung's new way of tackling Apple - Creative Excellence Fridays

Steve Jobs is looked on as, well, almost a prophet.  At least when it comes to technology.  But his true talent was in his vision and ability to gage the consumer's needs.  A cassette tape recording of a speech he gave in 1983 was released this week.   This was months prior to the 1984 release of the Apple personal computer.  But he was already predicting that the average person would have more interaction with the computer than with their car. You can hear the whole clip on this Mashable page.

 Apple celebrates 30 years of existence in the personal computer business.  I recall the campaign  directed by Ridley Scott that started it all.  Ridley Scott went on to create many more works of magic.  As did Apple. Here in 2014 is the powerful piece that shows what can be done in one day, shot entirely on an Apple iphone.


Apple has always had a knack for bringing interesting products to market with a message that speaks to the cooler consumer.  But Steve Jobs was clear on his vision.   Apple was about creating great innovative products, perfecting them behind closed doors and then bringing them to market.  Not beta testing google glass. Three years after the passing of Jobs, Apple still commands respect in the branding spectrum.  But Samsung has gained considerable ground. And they their advertising messaging  has found a new, honest and frank voice to talk to the fickled consumer.  In their new ad, featured in Time magazine, they take on the competition point by point.  The dialogue is so real.  Especially the line "I've got the retina thingy."


This is a highly effective way to talk to the consumer.  Does it have the Apple cool?  Not the same kind of cool. But it speaks to the masses. And Steve Jobs would have respected that to the core.



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, March 14, 2014

Tips on working with kids in the studio - Creative Excellence Fridays

Two famous quotes from WC Fields. "Never work with children or animals." And when asked if he liked children, his reply was "Yes. Fried"

I had the privilege of working with an adorable 7 year old in studio this week. It made me wish I could wrap up all my sessions the same way - with a snowball fight in the parking lot.
It also inspired me to pen a few thoughts about working with our younger performers. Sharing the stage with a child actor can be daunting. Recording a commercial with a child can be even more challenging. But children are like any other type of actor. There are good ones. There are bad ones. Here are a few tips on getting the most out of a session with an ankle biter.


  1. Choose the right one. As a parent, we get what we get. As a director, you have the enormous advantage of choosing the child you'd like. Yes, you have to give him or her back at the end of the session. But it's kind of like being a grandparent. You're there for the fun then you hand back the tired cranky version of the child to their parents.  
  2. Set the right mood. If you're working with an established professional adult performer, and are in a hurry, you can have the prerequisite introductory chat, then you quickly get down to business. With a child, you need to make him or her comfortable. Have a little chat ahead of time. And most importantly, if you can, make him or her laugh. Make a funny face. Do a funny voice. Loosen them up so they know it's creative time. Once you see that little sparkle in their eye, you know it's magic time and this leads us to point #3. 
  3. Work quickly. You have a short shelf life of pulling the best performance from a child as young as 6 or 7. In my case this week, her mother made sure she was well rested and her father was right there at the session giving her the added security that it was a protective environment. Having said all that, once a child decides he or she has had enough, they turn into a diva of the worst order. The worst line you can hear is "I don't wanna do this any more!" 
  4. Line reading. With professional actors you shy away from giving a line reading. Polished pros who have studied for years like to think that they are more than just parrots. And you're hiring them to interpret and bring nuances to the character you may not have seen yourself. A child doesn't have the layers yet. Give them the chance to read the lines first, then if it's not punching in the right places, read it for them exactly as you hear it in your head. They'll appreciate you spelling it out for them and remember tip #3. Short shelf life. 
  5. Have fun. It seems like an automatic. But it isn't. If you had a fight with your spouse or someone vomited on you in the subway that morning, or another client just dumped all over something you laboured on for weeks, you may not be in the mood for "fun". But you need to turn all that off and focus on your escape from reality as much as your tiny talents. Make it silly. But measure it out carefully. You need the child to know that it's play/work. A little fun, then "okay Sally, let's do this okay?" Praise encourage, and keep it light. But work quickly, and record everything just in case the expiration date of their attention span is sooner than you thought.  
Here are a few junior performers who really knew how to turn it on. This commercial is from 1998 for Kelloggs. This was far from a one take performance. It was primarily CG with an older voice talent performing the lines which were then synced in strategically around carefully edited sequences. 1998 was early in the internet evolution. This spot would get a lot more viral play if it were just released and socially promoted today.



This ad is much more recent and much more organic. It was a big break for Saturday Night Live's Beck Bennett. He is brilliant in these spots, asking the right questions and giving the kids the chance to shine.


A remarkably similar campaign came out about the same time for Ally Bank. Same formula. Gifted adult performer, and adorable kids unknowingly hammering home the bank's sell point.



Just like adults, not every child is suited to be a performer. But it's worth keeping in mind this other famous quote from Albert Einstein.

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”



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, February 28, 2014

Deceased spokespeople -is it appropriate? Creative Excellence Fridays

The debate has gone on as long as technology has made it possible. Is it okay to cast a product spokesperson who is no longer among the living. We're capable through digital wizardry to do it. But is it right?

There almost becomes a point in which the legend of the person is separate from the real person. Errol Flynn was quite dashing on camera but no respectable company would have the real Flynn being a spokesperson for, say, their whiskey. Flynn was a hard drinking womanizer who drank himself into an early grave.   But his screen legend lives on and his personal life is such ancient memory advertisers don't have a problem in current day to cash in on his legend persona.

Is this appropriate? Is it insensitive to the family?  But most have also passed on.  And this is the point.
Oscar Wilde and all decedents who knew him have been gone for generations.  But Wilde's legendary wit lives on.  That's what he's remembered for and what advertisers want to connect to their brand.

In recent years, we've seen James Dean and Marilyn Monroe appearing as spokespeople for various products.  Humphrey Bogart too.  In Bogart's case, his wife Lauren Bacall is still alive.  But even she knew the legend of Bogart was what people really wanted to see.

How about a commercial for Diet Coke featuring Bogart, Jimmy Cagney and ol' Sachmo Louie Armstrong.




Going back 22 years that was pretty startling technology.


Here's where it does seem to make sense.  When a deceased legend actually used the product.
Marilyn Monroe for Chanel #5.



Very tasteful and it only enhances her legendary appeal.


And finally, a commercial that inspired today's topic.  Earlier this week, Jack Daniels released a beautifully edited commercial featuring clips of ol' blue eyes himself.   One can safely say that Frank being a product spokesperson, even posthumously is not a big stretch.  Especially when you see him speaking on behalf of his favourite cigarette, Chesterfields.



And now the Jack Daniels commercial. Honestly, this is a piece of perfection. Watch the way the video seamlessly flows into photographs and montages. Everything about this commercial is a ten.


Here's to you Frank. A worldclass spokesperson who can still sell a product or two. And given that he was buried with a bottle of the "nectar of the gods", probably the only one who's truly credible in the after life. Here's mud in your eye.




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.