Is Your Tagline Marketing Gold?

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Taglines. Those (hopefully) memorable, little phrases that follow a brand name or logo in their ads, on their websites, and even on their products can be quite meaningful. They can put forth a brand-differentiating promise that helps color your impression. On the other hand, they can be dull, they can lack meaning, or they can promise something the brand promise does not uphold. Personally, I’m a fan of the tagline. As a marketer, I don’t know why you wouldn’t take advantage of an opportunity to constantly remind consumers of the message you want them to take away. 

Here are a few great examples:

  • BMW: The Ultimate Driving Machine
  • Nike: Just Do It.
  • S3: The New York Agency in New Jersey. (Whoops, how’d that self-promotion get in there?)

This post is about my new favorite tagline. At a recent event, I was introduced to Beanitos – a tasty, healthier snack food made from beans. Per the banner in the photo above, I walked away thinking their tagline was “The Original Bean Snacks.” I wasn’t in tagline awe or anything, but I thought this succinct statement was appropriate enough.

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A few days later, I was looking at a bag of Beanitos’ White Cheddar Puffs and noticed what appeared to be a product-specific tagline on the front: The Cheesiest Crunch. Again, it does the job but doesn’t inspire me. But where was the brand tagline, I wondered. My curiosity led me to turn over the bag…and discover tagline gold. Go ahead: take a good look at the photo below before you read any further.

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"The Original Bean Puff." That’s right. These puffed snacks made from beans beans that are good for your heart have a tagline that is a euphemism for fart! And just like that, I went from liking the brand (their cheese puffs really are delicious) to loving them. They’re embracing people’s fears about bean eating and owning the comedy.

Why not take it FARTher, I mean, further? If I were working on the Beanitos account, there’s no question that I’d be focusing on “The Original Bean Puff” to make some marketing noise. What a way to get attention and differentiate a truly good product on a very crowded shelf! Think of the social media possibilities alone. And kids! Kids would love the tagline focus so much that they would actually be willing to eat these “cool” snacks instead of nutritionless Cheetos. 

Please please please, Beanitos, trumpet your individuality so that your brand thrives! (And so that I can find it more easily on shelf, because - wow - you taste great!)

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

Your Brand. It Really Matters.

You have a brand. So do I. Even my grandma had one. I see a brand as the experience you have from the first interaction with that person to the last. That’s what will make a lasting impression – and continue a relationship.

Companies, things, and places have a brand as well. Again, it’s your interactions with them that define what that brand is. Looking for an example of a good and bad one? Here you go.

The Dallas Cowboys: Good Branding

As much as it pains the Giant fan in me to write the words “good” and “Cowboys” in one sentence, this is a shining example of a good brand. Despite the fact that the team has reached the playoffs only twice in the last 18 years, their logo is iconic. Their stadium, gigantic and full of atmosphere. And their owner is a shrewd business man who keeps his team in the news. As a result, the Cowboys are now worth $2.3 billion, the second highest value of any professional sports in the world. (The New York Yankees are first, valued at $2.5 billion.) 

There isn’t really anything tangible to an NFL team. Players come and go, there are only eight home games each calendar year, and – let’s face it – it’s just a game. But the brand remains strong because of our experiences at the stadium, on TV, and beyond – and it lingers long after the final snap each year.

Atlantic City, NJ: Bad Branding

If you live in New Jersey or have recently visited, then you’ve seen the “DO AC” stickers on cars and billboards. As a campaign, it’s forgettable; neither memorable nor terrible. But once you go to AC, you find that the campaign is a lie. There is not anything to do.

Unfortunately, going there is not forgettable. Casinos closing, the depressing conditions right off the main boardwalk, and not actually winning anything don’t do anything to help AC. I might go there once, but after living through the experience of a visit, I wouldn’t return. Whereas the Cowboys might make you smile at the memory, AC provides a frown.

Managing a brand is like walking a tight rope. Ten years ago, AC was prospering. Ten years from now, with all the NFL concussion news, the Cowboys might not be worth anything.

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

What does the end of Saturday morning cartoons really mean?

As a child, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up – and a career in advertising was nowhere on my radar. Despite that fact, I knew commercials…oh yes, I knew commercials. Every jingle, every slogan. I could recite them word-for-word – and this many years later, my memory of many of them is just as strong. Why can I still sing the song for cinnamon toasty Apple Jacks? Why do I know which tuna “any mermaid I happen to see” would recommend? Why do I still quote the line “pretty sneaky, sis” when someone outwits me at a board game? It’s all because of Saturday morning cartoons. And tomorrow will be the first day that this viewing experience is no longer available on non-cartoon-channel TV. 

What does this mean for America? This is a reflection of the give-me-what-I-want-on-demand culture we have facilitated. In many ways, I suppose it’s great: we can find what we want when we want – and advertisers can target us when we are looking for their products or those of their competitors. But I’m also mourning the loss of a very sweet, simple time that my son and future generations will miss out on. There was something very special about that sacred time: we waited all week in communal anticipation of Saturday morning cartoondom, when we enjoyed everything from educational programs like Schoolhouse Rock to silly, non-lifelike episodes of all types of cartoons – one after another.

Sandwiched in between the marathon of animations were commercials – bites of my childhood that are just as precious as (and sometimes more memorable than) the cartoons themselves. Over and over again we would see the same spots, drilling them into our formative brains. From vignettes like Life Cereal’s “He likes it, hey Mikey!” to repetitive, not always clever, songs like “Lite Brite, making things with light,” those commercials became our childhood songtrack. (I just played a few seconds of the Lite Brite commercial and my business partner in the next office screamed out “Lite Brite.” Thanks for proving my point, Adam.)

Today we have much higher production capabilities; we know everything about consumers; we can target down to the most granular level. But will the next generation have the shared camaraderie that these commercials brought us in between episodes of Josie & the Pussycats and Jabberjaw? 

RIP, Saturday morning cartoons – and the great advertising experience you cultivated. I’ll be forever grateful.

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

Does Your Brand Surprise and Delight? HalloweenCostumes.com Does!

If anything can be commoditized, it’s an online Halloween costume retailer. I mean, you can get the same costumes at so many different sites – so what would make you have loyalty to any of them? I didn’t until moments before writing this blog post. Let me explain what happened this morning as I ordered from HalloweenCostumes.com.

Each year, I Google whatever costumes I’m looking to buy for my family and then find the cheapest place that has them in stock. Period. That’s what happened this year as well – then when I had placed my order, something different happened: I was served a Thank You video. This well-produced video stars a muppet-like monster showing me how important my order was to them. A human customer service rep tells me what to expect now through delivery as this this purple puppet runs around exclaiming “We got another order,” cutely taking me through the pick and pack process in the warehouse. At the end, a big group of employees yells out a group thank you – then scatters in excitement as the fuzzy star exclaims once again “We got another order!” 

Here’s the video, which 38,000+ customers have already viewed:

Apart from the entertainment factor, what’s so great about this video? Everything:

  • It answers any questions the consumer has about what happens next, from which emails to expect and when delivery will occur – thereby reducing future customer service interactions.
  • It shows the impressive size of the warehouse, including the large selection of merchandise.
  • It shows a clean, organized environment, instilling confidence that the proper order will make its way to you on time.
  • It humanizes the experience, thanks to the large group of enthusiastic employees who express their gratitude en masse – reminding you that there are real people benefiting from your order.

Perhaps most importantly, the video catches the first-time orderer off guard – to borrow a term from Starbucks, it’s a “treat receipt” of sorts that surprises and delights. I watched it a couple times, really enjoying the content. I showed it to my husband. I’m blogging about it now. All because it made a player in a commoditized field stand out as a brand.

The fact that HalloweenCostumes.com would go this extra step after I’ve already placed my order shows that they are looking for a long-term relationship with me. And that’s exactly what they will get, as long as they continue to deliver on their brand promise.

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

Should we call them Buzzweiser?

Spoiler: this ad will melt your heart!

Budweiser rolled out a new Anti-Drinking & Driving ad urging people to drink responsibly while pulling on the heartstrings of people all around the world. The ad centers around the evolving bond between a man and his best bud (an adorable yellow lab), when one night he goes out drinking with his friends and doesn’t return. The emotional hook had us from start to finish, as the pup whimpers all night waiting for his owner.  We later discover he stays the night at a friend’s house rather than drive under the influence. The reunion between these two makes you reach for the tissue box and leaves you clutching your pet even more. The video ends with a powerful message, “Make it a plan to make it home. Your friends are counting on you.”

Maybe we should call them Buzzweiser: the video generated more than 18 million views and 267,000 social media interactions in just 2 weeks. This is one of the most effective anti-drinking and driving PSAs to ever hit the mainstream, reminding so many that the thought of leaving someone behind isn’t worth drinking and getting behind the wheel. 

~ Jazmine Rodriguez, Pet Lover & Account Coordinator, The S3 Agency 

CHECK YOURSELF, NOT JUST YOUR FEEDS

What better way to create cancer awareness than through social media? DDB Singapore did just that by redesigning the top three social media platform’s recognizable icons into a clever way to broadcast their message. Designed for the Breast Cancer Foundation, the campaign urges the three top social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) to temporarily change their logos for the month of October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month. These logos are a plea to draw attention to the importance of self examination – and ads starring the logos are play off of the amount of time people spend checking their status, feeds and photos. Hopefully the powerful headline – “If only you checked your breasts as often” – will encourage people to put down the iPhone and grab something else. 

~ Mike Kolatac, Associate Creative Director, The S3 Agency

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