Will Jeff Goldblum Light Up GE’s Life?

The Fly. Jurassic Park. A GE Commercial. They all star actor Jeff Goldbum, but one of these things is definitely not like the other. General Electric’s new “Enhance Your Lighting” 2-minute video stars Mr. Goldblum as a self-centered celebrity whose ridiculous lifestyle is enhanced by the cutting-edge GE Link connected LED bulb. Apparently we are to believe that it if can even improve a life as great as that of His Flyness, even we mere mortals can reap benefits from this affordable luxury.

Do I like this spot? I don’t know yet. It’s certainly memorable (I doubt it will ever unburn itself from my brain). It’s highly creative. It’s the most I’ve ever thought about GE. And it may just compel me to watch it again.

~ Denise Blasevick, advertgirl & CEO, The S3 Agency

Is Acura’s TLX 2015 Ad Campaign “That Kind of Thrill”?

Acura recently launched their biggest ad campaign ever. The campaign supports the new 2015 Acura TLX, which merges their TL and TSX models. The campaign tagline – “IT’S THAT KIND OF THRILL” – aims to bring back Acura’s luxury audience that declined when they transitioned to a more technological approach.

The first spot to hit television screens, “My Way,” depicts several mechanics, engineers and workers going through what appears to be an incredibly rigorous process of developing the new TLX. Set to a modern version of Frank Sinatra’s signature song, this commercial received a lot of flak. Acura left consumers confused, bored and irritated: people expected to see a classy, sporty car and were instead overwhelmed by the punk rock sounds of the Sex Pistols ex-bassist, Sid Vicious.

A half-dozen shorter commercials were then released, and this is where Acura started turning things around. The ad that caught my eye, or should I say ear, was the “Whatever Ludacris Is Doing Right Now” 15-second spot. A familiar tune (Pimpin’ All Over the World) and a luxurious setting piqued my interest and kept me around till the end. A much more fitting soundtrack, the Ludacris ad makes the TLX seem VIP, exclusive, high end…even thrilling, can we say? That’s what I believe Acura was shooting for.

 Other 15-second commercials in the campaign included: a Spanish matador about to take on a bull, a man the second before an apple is shot off his head, and a human cannonball moments before he takes flight. These represented the brand far better than the “My Way” commercial – yet they are still a far cry from what Acura enthusiasts expect from the brand. Perhaps that’s just what Acura wants after all.

~ Sarah Yeager, PR Associate, The S3 Agency

When It Comes to Banner Advertising, K.I.S.S.

Gone are the days when people are “wowed” by the fact that something on their screen is animated. Advertisers lament the miniscule click through rates of banner ads, and many overcompensate with complex animations that tell a story from beginning to end. Since almost zero people willingly watch through a highly produced video ad prior to seeing their YouTube selection, what makes any brand think that some epic animation on the side of a website will produce better results? That old adage “Keep It Simple, Stupid” applies to the newest ad techniques.

Now, “simple” shouldn’t come at the expense of messaging. Rather, as any Don Draper can tell you, encapsulating the message in its simplest form is the Holy Grail of advertising. It’s much easier to drone on and on about benefits and support that messaging with the latest special effects. Web users have no time for that when it comes to banner ads. Brands who find a way to boil their message down into a single soundbite and then convey it cleverly, perhaps with mild animation that is understood in a nanosecond – no matter where the viewer tunes in – have the best chance of achieving that highly coveted click.

Take a look at this party planning ad from Schecky’s. Dancing cat grabs their target market’s eye as she surfs their site. Messaging about their available (free) party planning assistance remains static, is clear the entire time. Nothing else is needed.

This ad is so simple I could K.I.S.S. it. Or at least click on it.

~ Denise Blasevick, @advertgirl & CEO, The S3 Agency

Major League Soccer Scores with New Logo

Major League Soccer has had the same logo since 1996. For the 2015 season, they’re rolling out a new one – a good move, since the original logo began looking a little dated back in 1997. It was a foot, kicking a ball. (Get it? It’s soccer! Oof.)

The new, minimalist shield design does a great job of bringing the look of the league into line with other great soccer leagues of the world. It is clean, modern and absolutely appropriate. It was also designed to be infinitely “recolorable” so it will look just right next to every MLS team logo on uniforms and signage. And significantly for today’s world, it is designed to be multi-platform friendly. There is plenty of space for animated graphics within the white field, and it fits in with a branding system that has been conceived to thrive on screens of all shapes and sizes.

You can read the story behind the logo’s development here:

Fans will tell you that MLS is gaining, inch-by-inch, on some of the world’s leading soccer leagues. The new logo reflects that growing confidence – and gives the brand something aspirational to shoot for.

~ Adam Schnitzler, CCO & Soccer Fan, The S3 Agency

Has Tidy Cats Upped Their Emotional Appeal?

Tomorrow marks the first day of fall, yet the Halloween items have already been in the stores for weeks. Candy corn. Costumes. Orange nail polish. Halloween cat litter. Wait, what? Yes, whilst walking the aisles of PetSmart this weekend, I espied this Halloween edition bucket of Tidy Cats cat litter:

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My first thought: FINALLY. Even though few things are less emotional than cat litter, finally a brand is leveraging holidays with cat owners. We know that cat videos are the most-watched items on the Internet. This is an audience whose emotions run high when it comes to their furry friends, so why not give them reasons to celebrate that go beyond the obvious cat costumes that allow ears to poke through tiny hats?

This packaging, complete with kitty-carved Jack-o-lantern and the warning “Odors Beware!” has limited-time, collectors’ appeal. Those who are already Tidy Cats customers will want to purchase even if their clumping litter inventory is high; more importantly, those non-customers who are willing to try another brand may just be pushed to purchase in order to have this bucket. Long after Halloween comes and goes, this bucket can be used for lots of purposes — to store Halloween decorations, for instance.

As a confirmed cat enthusiast (please see photo of Fritiz, feline love-of-my-life, in his Yankee cap at bottom of post), I’ve long thought that cat brands should be doing this. In fact, nearly a decade ago my company (The S3 Agency) pitched a holiday campaign to Meow Mix. We suggested giving cat owners another reason to connect emotionally with their cat food brand by celebrating a wide variety of holidays — starting with Cinco de Meow, something I’d been celebrating with my own cats for years! By creating new touch points all year long, this campaign would surely have driven brand loyalty — and imagine all that could have been done with social media.

Speaking of social media: I’m surprised that Tidy Cats hasn’t brought their Halloween theme into social channels or their website. Hopefully that will be coming soon.

Congratulations to Tidy Cats for scooping the competition with this smart move. You’ve truly scooped the cat competition! And since our cat-holiday-pitch didn’t land the Meow Mix account, I’ll be watching eagerly to see if your efforts result in the increased sales, loyalty, and shelf space that we predicted nearly 10 years ago.

~ Denise Blasevick, @AdvertGirl & CEO, The S3 Agency

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MORE THAN A COMMERCIAL

Although he certainly has made his share of dollars as a brand spokesperson, one of the reasons Derek Jeter commands such a high pricetag in the commercial world is because he is believable. On the field and off, Jeter has consistently held himself to the high standards of simply being a good human being. He is more than commercial…and therefore it’s no surprise that an ad about him is more than a commercial. Gatorade’s farewell spot to the retiring captain of the New York Yankees is a tribute to his greatness.

According to reports, Gatorade roped off a few New York blocks and let their third-longest brand endorser just do his thing. The spot captures the reactions of real people as Jeter is saying more than goodbye — he is saying thank you. It smacks of cinéma vérité, as we believe that Jeter’s kind interactions are genuine and not just for the camera. It may even bring a tear to some eyes. And it certainly will go viral. 

Published today, the Gatorade video that is markedly absent of Gatorade product and branding is already at 400,000 views. I’m curious to see how many millions have watched it in 24 hours. Now excuse me while I get a tissue…

~ Denise Blasevick, @AdvertGirl & Yankees Fan, The S3 Agency

Two Space Or Not Two Space?

These days, there exists a debate of one space vs. two spaces at the end of a sentence.  In addition to countless news articles, the spacing controversy even has its own Wikipedia page as well as many Yahoo answers questions.  As all of us type reports and other documents on a daily basis – on our computers – it is something to take notice of. 

While most people favor the one-space method, for as long as I can remember, I have typed two spaces after a sentence in all my writing; middle school book reports, high school essays, senior English class project, college admission essay, college papers, press releases, e-mails and more.  I’ve even done it here, if you have not already noticed, because that’s how I was taught. 

I feel that two spaces makes it easier to distinguish one sentence from the other.  Apparently, that way of thinking began during the days of typewriters.  Typewriters only had one font (if you can imagine that) and the two-space rule was born to give eyes a break between sentences. 

But back to the space debate in the news.  As a two spacer, a recent article showed up in my Ragan.com daily newsletter.  The writer states that the Modern Language Association Style Manual and the Chicago Manual of Style both specify a single space after a period.  Oh no! Some searching revealed that APA style suggests two spaces to increase readability. Whew.

Even though the MLA Handbook recommends one space they state that, “there is nothing wrong with using two spaces after concluding punctuation marks unless an instructor or editor requests that you do otherwise.”  (www.mlahandbook.org) Also, take note of Word spell-check the next time you accidentally type two spaces between words in a sentence; it underlines it as something that needs to be corrected.  When you type two spaces after a sentence, it is not underlined.  Three spaces – underlined. But not two.

They say habits are hard to break, so that combined with the fact that there my research shows typing two spaces after a period is still acceptable, that’s what I’ll keep doing!

~ Courtney Manders, Account Executive and 2-Spacer, The S3 Agency

Robin Williams Remembered: An Advertising Tribute

The entertainment industry suffered a major loss last month when actor Robin Williams passed away. It was reported that Williams had been battling with depression for some time, which sadly led him to commit suicide. Although unhappy in his own life, it was clear that Williams brought nothing but joy to friends and fans alike. The actor was most known for his comedic stand up and acting in film, but he also lent his talent to TV commercials as well.  

Products as Snickers and Sky TV benefited from Williams’ comedic genius with these spots:




 
Robins compassion was shown in this commercial for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital…



And Williams inspired in this ad for Apple’s iPad Air, channeling his unforgettable monologue as John Keats in the film Dead Poets Society.  


This great entertainer once said: “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world”, and he was right. Robin Williams made a lasting impression on us all and will be sorely missed.

~ Samantha Banner, Account Coordinator, The S3 Agency

Ed. note: Did he sell out? No, he sold it. Robin Williams sold everything he did, 100%. What an amazing personal brand he built – and what an amazing person we will remember.

Truth or Trashy?

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The American Legacy Foundation launched the latest Truth campaign #Finishit, with a controversial anti-tobacco ad that aired during this year’s VMA awards on MTV. The commercial displays celebrities having a not-so-glamorous look, delivering the message “UNPAID TOBACCO PERSON.” The organization has spent $50 million on anti-smoking ads for this campaign and has generated millions of views on air as well as garnished 1.5 million YouTube views since its debut on August 24th. Effort of this campaign is focused on showing “big tobacco gets tons of free marketing,” by targeting the youth in hopes that they’ll think twice about posting a smoking #selfie.

This bold, in-your-face ad could very well encourage America’s youth to reduce (or maybe even end) smoking. Perhaps, paparazzi photos of Lady Gaga and Rihanna in everyday life may have not been the best approach.  But, is this lack of execution? While the Truth campaign has raised social awareness, I am just not sure if it was the best way to convey this message. I believe our youth can be anti-smoking advocates without the Hollywood spin on it.

Truth or Trashy? Hmm….it’s very much questionable.

~ Jazmine Rodriguez, Account Coordinator, The S3 Agency

 


Stunning Curves

"The Power of the Curve," Samsung’s recently launched commercial, is nothing short of mesmerizing. The seemingly impeccable features of the new Samsung Curved Ultra High Definition TV are brilliantly highlighted. Bold, flowing and reminiscent of a kaleidoscope effect, the 90-second spot is captivating and watch-worthy. Color, depth and detail….check, check and check! Feel the power of the curve:




Unfortunately, a quick check of the price reveals this is not in my budget for the foreseeable future (or ever), but perhaps I’ll drop this one in the suggestion box at work. At least we can all enjoy the commercial – no matter what brand’s screen we are watching it on.

~ Stefanie Fernandez, Account Supervisor, The S3 Agency

Ruling the Runway at #NYFW

Between dashing across town to catch every must-see show and live-blogging each designer’s latest looks, how does a modern fashionista keep it fresh during the fête-filled frenzy that is New York Fashion Week? Uber and GLAMSQUAD are teaming up to keep New Yorkers at their finest with an exclusive experience to kick off the most wonderful time of the year.

Beauty on-demand is GLAMSQUAD’s strong suite: their emerging app delivers professional beauty services to your home or office with as little as an hour’s notice. Personalized consultations allow them to handpick the perfect stylist from their team of highly-trained beauty experts to make getting glam way easier.


Teaming up with headline-making Uber is a great opportunity for GLAMSQUAD to strut their stuff amongst the constantly-connected, trendsetting crowd. Uber users will be offered the chance to book a combo hair and makeup appointment for just $40 (regularly $125) and GLAMSQUAD branded Uber vehicles will deliver blowouts and beauty across the city.

Giving fashion bloggers and trendsetters the chance to get luxe looks without a line is sure to help GLAMDSQUAD standout during all the fashion mayhem. With an ever-increasing focus on street style, fashion week guests are finding themselves in the spotlight with Instagram-worthy looks. Long days in the hot September sun lead to limp hair and melty makeup. If GLAMSQUAD can come to the rescue and get influencers looking immaculate as they dash to the next runway, they’re sure to standout.

~ Christine Perez, @ICTine & Account Executive, The S3 Agency

Ed. Note: One of S3’s clients, Good Earth Tea, is having some strong integrations with #NYFW as well – including VIP guest and backstage sampling at last night’s ModaBox event! It’s the right place to be for the right brands to get on the lips of buzzmakers…

#HowToBeContrived

In July, Cheerios launched their #HowToDad campaign to support Peanut Butter Cheerios. Never mind that Peanut Butter Cheerios sounds like a product that was predicted in Idiocracy (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icmRCixQrx8). They rolled out a campaign that was universally lauded for bringing an “energized look at fatherhood” and being “Spot-on.” If I need to to watch an ad about Peanut Butter Cheerios to have my fatherhood acknowledged, then I am doomed.

My guess is those who applauded this campaign aren’t actually dads. The ad’s “dad scenarios” are contrived and the actor who plays the dad comes off as genuine as sitcom pilot actor…which I am willing to bet he is.

What did make me feel good about being a father was a recent ad for the iPhone. Set to the music of the Pixies, it showed a Mom AND Dad using their iPhones to enrich their kids lives. The mom created a planetarium in her living room while the dad recreated Godzilla with his son. Ads like Apple’s build brand loyalties, while the Cheerios spot makes me want to hand in my “Dad Card” because I am pretty sure that might be a download I could find on the #HowToDad website.




~ Jaime Hamel, stophameltime & Digital Strategist, The S3 Agency

Are You Ready For Some Football…Ads?

September is here, and that means football is back, along with all the marketing behind it. But what about advertising for the games themselves; can you remember anything aside from the quick 15-second TV swipe on the featured game for the coming weekend?

If you can’t, there is good reason…the NFL and networks don’t need to put in a lot of effort to advertise its games. There is one straggler though: ESPN’s Monday Night Football (MNF). There are many negatives to MNF, like a late start on the east coast, less than desirable team match-ups, and most importantly, the entire ordeal is named after the worst day of the week (no one has a case of the Sundays).

To help solve this issue, ESPN actually embraced the day:

The campaign was aimed at public transit commuters, who travel further to get to work locations and thus are going to bed sooner. This particular ad was posted in commuter trains, where people have plenty of time to read. The campaign can also be seen on bus stops, subway stations, and billboards. I love all the copy, but the tagline is my favorite because it plays with your normal perception of the week: IS IT MONDAY YET?

ESPN does a new campaign each year, and I’ll look forward to the newest one.

~ Mike D’Ambrosio, Interactive Art Director, The S3 Agency

Does Hershey’s New Logo Really Stink?

Last night on Twitter, people were all (ahem) atwitter ripping the new Hershey’s logo apart. Specifically, everyone is drawing the comparison to the “pile of poop” emoji and lambasting the Hershey’s branding team for this heinous misstep. But is it really? Let’s think about this:

  1. The chocolate company’s newest icon is easily identifiable as the beloved Hershey Kiss. That IS the actual shape of the tasty treat – this is what a Kiss looks like. The logo also includes the signature paper that comes out of the top of the foil wrapper.
  2. The poo emoji is a cartoon character that really looks nothing like a pile of poop. I mean, unless you poop like chocolate soft serve ice cream, this is clearly not “real” looking fecal matter. The eyes and smile add to the fun – and take this image further away from reality.
  3. Hershey claimed this chocolate shape way back in 1962…and people still chow down on this bite-sized treat today. I believe the poo emoji came into existence a full 50 years later in 2012. So who is ripping off whom, hm?

Yes, branders need to be aware of what is going on around them – and I would imagine the designers behind the new Hershey logo all have iPhones and are quite familiar with the emoji in question. But does that mean that branders have to eschew their own iconic properties, just because someone creates a caricature that people use while texting? I’d like to think that brands like Hershey’s have earned enough brand equity with their 50-year-old product line that continues to delight people of all ages. Even if you think the new logo looks like crap, at least the candies don’t taste like it!

Of course, in the near future I’m sure there will be some peanut butter cookies topped with Hershey Kisses adorned with sugar eyes and smiles…and that’s just fine, too.

~ Denise Blasevick, @AdvertGirl & CEO, The S3 Agency

PS - In all of the criticism, not one person seems to have called the new logo a log. Softball missed…

Insuring They Don’t Need To Say Anything

Right now, GEICO’s main advertising campaign is geared around the fact that everyone already knows that 15 minutes could save you 15% or more – so they are free to spend most of their commercials entertaining the audience.

By saying you “could” save 15%, they are using slippery advertising speak to let you know that you also might NOT. Then they throw in the “or more” to get you really excited. But in reality, since you might not even save 15%, you certainly might not save more. They’re promising NOTHING. Not savings. Not better insurance. Not superior service. NOTHING.

There is, in other words, absolutely nothing of substance in their commercials at all. At the end of the day, their entire value proposition is complete bullshit.

GEICO is not alone in this tack. Consider Progressive Insurance and their “no price tags” approach. Again, this is not exactly true. In fact, it is exactly not true, which I think makes it even worse than GEICO’s approach. With Progressive (and any car insurance), there are just so many price tags, so esoterically assigned to so many variables, that you need to go to their web site and enter all of your variables to arrive at the final price. Name your own price? Really? Here’s how you name your own price: if what you want is too expensive, ask for less coverage or a higher deductible. WOW! Thanks, Progressive!

What Progressive Insurance does have is Flo. And over half a billion dollars to shove her bland personality down our collective throats. That’s only half of what GEICO spends, though. Yes, they spend over a BILLION dollars annually on advertising (which they can afford to do for obvious reasons). Geico can therefore ruthlessly bombard you with their message – which is, essentially, that they exist and they have a sense of humor. Why wouldn’t they?

Some brands wonder if spending their money on advertising is worth it, but the simple fact is, if you spend enough, you don’t even need to have anything to say. Once again, it supports the idea that effective advertising requires bucks or balls (see our agency’s “Campaign Success Predicto” below). Both are great, but enough of one can compensate for the lack of the other.

~ Adam Schnitzler, CCO, The S3 Agency

Editor’s note: If I had to choose one, I’d choose Geico. The Pinocchio spot is definitely in my set of current commercials that crack me up. I may not know if Geico will save me 15% (or more!), but now I know that Pinocchio was a bad motivational speaker.