A note on bullying.

I have never been a fan of bullies. Of course most people aren’t too keen on bullies either. Still advertisers seem to resort to bulling the competition rather than countering it.

The recent, eh maybe not so recent, struggle between Verizon and AT&T is a perfect example. To me, Verizon’s campaign comes off as poking fun and highlighting the product, AT&T’s just seems mean. Network issues non-withstanding (I tackle that a little lower) I’ve been thinking about why I have such a different reaction to the commercials. The first is simple Verizon highlights their brand while they poke fun with the “we have an map for that” tag. It’s pointing out their 3G coverage area which is larger, because their entire network is 3G.

AT&T gets pissed and fire back, gunning for the jugular of Verizon.

AT&T highlights not what they have, but what Verizon lacks. The “most popular smartphones” does not counter more 3G coverage. AT&T is comparing an apple to a produce isle. Plus they counter a poke with an overhand right. The spots feel mean spirited and dumbed down. No offense to BBDO but they appear to have been outsmarted by McCann.

So what would I have done? This is where the service part comes in. Had I ben BBDO I would have told AT&T to update their infrastructure and strengthen their network. Show real improvement with the money they have spent on advertising. I’m sure those millions would have helped create a more stable network at in least New York. After the improvements were made fire back. “Look at what we do for our customers”, “Don’t you want a network that cares about the quality of service provided?” Have kiosks where people can try out the improved service. Notice the download speeds, the voice clarity, the extremely low drop rates.

Build a campaign around something tangible, not Luke Wilson throwing postcards down on a big map of America.

- Jeff


I am not a drifter. It would be generous to say that I am a decent driver using a manual transmission. However, the video above is still very compelling to me. It is compelling on two levels. It is a beautiful video, wonderfully edited and I think it’s pretty exciting. However the video page on Vimeo is what really amazed me. Drift Mechaniks intimacy with the people who are attracted to the brand is amazing. In the comments people know who is driving which car and are talking to the maker of the video, not just about the video. This intimacy is what many companies try to cultivate but many fail too do. It is very interesting just to see how close to the brand the consumer has become in this example, it is also something I would like to learn more about.


Good music also doesn’t hurt the video.

Let's Play a Game

Steve Jobs may be the most intelligent man in branding today.

Bold statement. How so?

Let’s play a game. You are creating a software product for a mobile phone, maybe even as part of a campaign of yours, regardless of the phone platform what do you call the product?


Good. Now say it with conviction.


And the reason we call it that now is because Apple has re-branded the program. With the app store they changed the language of software. No one wants to download a program for their smart phone; people remember programs as bulky and slow. An app on the other had is light, helpful, convenient and a word of Apple’s creation.

Why is this important?

It’s important because Apple’s list of programs in their OS has always been applications; in contrast to the ‘programs’ in windows. Now, everyone is clinging to the app and the idea of the ‘program’ is pretty much dead. Android sells apps in their marketplace, Palm has an app store and even Windows Mobile has developed an app store. Apple has its brand all over everyone else’s cell phones. Even better, a word that used to be exclusively Apple’s has permeated the vernacular of the world.

Until someone comes up with the next big word the app is here to stay.


By What Measure?

A week later the general consensus in the ad community seems to be that 2010’s Super Bowl commercials were less than spectacular. To that I pose the question, “by what measure?” Of course nothing, aside from those oldspice spots, was very groundbreaking; at the worst I think the ads were just complacent. Complacent with the idea that just good enough or funny enough or slick was enough. Every blog I have read has pointed to the Google spot as arresting, yet it scored rather low in many polls for the best/most memorable ads. 

People, you know- the ones the corporations were trying to attract with the ads, remembered and loved the Doritos ‘slap’ or the Snickers ‘You’re Not You When You’re Hungry’ spots*.

The advertising blogosphere is up in arms that brilliant simplicity was subverted by heinous ‘childish’ ads. As someone who is coming up into the industry this confuses me. While we should strive to do something great, something different, at the end of the day people need to respond to it. When people who have been in the industry for a long time seem upset that people didn’t like the ‘better ad’ I think it is a loss in core purpose.

We are creatives; we create. However, we should remember our work is judged in both tangible and intangible terms. It would be great if every spot at the Super Bowl was golden lion worthy but from a realistic perspective it still has to deliver something that the audience will latch on to. At least that’s my measure.


*according to HULU’s Adzone 2010

The Terrible Case of T-Mobile: Part 3

This is the final entry in my three-piece case study of T-Mobile. Select part one or part two to read the entire series.

The last issue T-Mobile USA faces is their marketing strategy. Their current campaign for the ‘Even More Plus’ plan is forgettable at best, and at times a downright eyesore. The TV spots touting “America asked for it. We Delivered.” are more along the lines of forgettable. When asking anyone what they think of the spots I am usually met with blank states and the response ‘which ones are those?’

Not only are the commercials forgettable the delivery is insulting. After the woman says “I don’t want a plan that costs me one of these and one of these,” holding up the mannequin body parts she also sputters out, “an arm and a leg”. The visual either should have been married with the words but this just looks like T-Mobile was worried that potential customers would be too dense to understand.

Their billboards for the plan fulfill the eyesore category. The boards are way too text heavy, even a copy lover, and do not provide enough reasons to switch to their service. Again, they may get a few people to convert on their price point but the sharp advertising that is put out by competitors makes T-Mobile look like a regional carrier. It’s more disappointing than anything T-Mobile can’t seem to get a handle on a solid marketing strategy. Hopefully they reevaluate soon, that is if Deutche Telecom decides not to spin off the wavering brand.


If you have yet to see the ‘You got it, America’ TV spot click here.

Spandex Surprise

I don’t quite see the connection between ‘best fancy dress’ and colored spandex bodysuits. I would love to see how, out of Facebook’s entire advertising library, this was picked. I also don’t understand why this particular ad appeared on my Facebook page. Since these ads are targeted based on content the user accesses i guess I must have been looking for a body suit. Regardless of how it came to show up I wish companies who posted this type of ad would take a little more time on the copy; on the other hand it did catch my attention.


Buy This Box (the art of promoting cars)

Car commercials amaze me. They essentially pushing a block of steel with an exploding center, and they do it in ways that are very easy on the eyes. Two campaigns that stick out in my mind are the Toyota “Reliability” spots and the Ford F-150 “A Way of Life”. The campaigns are vastly different, Ford’s ads are a big, loud “YOU SHOULD BUY THIS,” while Toyota’s ads are a wink and a “Well aren’t you smart for buying this?” This is fine because the potential F-150 driver probably isn’t going to drive off in a Corolla.What Ford does tremendously well is giving the viewer a concrete argument. Their Truck is better due to features X,Y and Z. Not only that but they are telling you that YOU are a Ford Truck person. The typography is beautiful done and the copy tells you that you need this truck. The first time I saw these spots I thought it wasn’t so much a car commercial as a call to action. The people in the commercial were interacting with the truck in a way that they would every day, not driving ‘on a closed course by a professional driver’.

Toyota also did something incredibly smart, they strayed from the 30 second model. While not quite High Life’s 1-second spot, Toyota’s new commercials make you focus. They are extremely effective when they are isolated between two longer commercials, something I noticed during the NFC championship game. (However when the commericals were run back to back to back they got slightly repetitive and irksome). Despite Toyota’s current PR issues the ads give the consumer confidence that they are making a smart decision by buying a Toyota. The juxtaposition of young vs old, apprehension vs freedom, progress vs plight, all paint a picture that a Toyota can be the bedrock of your life.

watch Ford “Step Up and Toyota “Car Wash”


The Terrible Case of T-Mobile: Part 2

This is the second entry of my three-piece case study of T-Mobile. To read part one click here.

The next major problem T-Mobile USA faces is their public perception. T-Mobile’s domestic execution seems to be done on the cheap. Walk into any sprint store and look around. The stores are designed to look very clean and provide a stellar customer experience. T-mobile has relegated itself, mostly; to third-party kiosks in the mall and when it does have a storefront the store is cluttered and mundane, not unlike a big box retailer. Compound this with what is commonly pointed to as the worst cell phone exclusivity and there is a big problem. Yes they have the “cheaper than everyone else” everything plan but that is a last ditch effort to bring people over. T-Mobile is also the only major provider that does not sell its phones and contracts through Best Buy, a baffling decision*. While T-Mobile is not viewed the same way as a local carrier it also does not seem to be on par with Sprint, Verizon or AT&T.

Stay tuned for part three of my look into T-Mobile.


*recently T-mobile has started selling phones inside of Wal-Mart but still not Best Buy.


This spot is downright stunning. It is surprisingly delicate when dealing with such gritty subject matter. This commercial had a strong emotional impact on me, something commercials seldom do. By straying away from the “scaremongering” and shock value that most PSAs attempt to garner this spot has a much more effective message. Not having any gore the viewer must focus on the emotional, not the physical, nature of the crash. This is tremendous work and I could give up watching actual programing if all spots were this great.


Show Me The Green

Above is one of the many advertisements for Sprite green found in Chicago’s Union Station. The ads were draped all over the place and certainly caught my attention. This was partially because I enjoy trying new soft drinks and partially because a friend of mine covered the launch party in Chicago a few months earlier. I searched every store in Union Station for Sprite Green and was informed that it was not carried by any of them.

Matters got worse when I checked the CVS at the corner of Canal and Adams and the Walgreens a short distance away. I was still beverage-less and thoroughly disgruntled.  Why would a soft drink be pushed so heavily then not carried in places people may go after viewing the ad? Placing a product that in its infancy convenient to the ads promoting it could greatly influence someone into trying the product.