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.

The Art of Make-up….Without Actual Make-up?

Projecting computer graphics onto buildings or rooms to make them digitally come alive isn’t new, but how about if your canvas is a living, moving, human face? Producer and technical director Nobumichi Asai, with a team of digital designers, CGI experts and make-up artist, have used a projection technology called Omote to project make-up onto a live model’s face. Asai is no stranger to projection mapping, having worked with Subaru and other companies in the past to put CGI onto everything from cars through docks to buildings. Most of the time, however, the subject of the projection is stationary.

In the two-minute clip, the subject’s face is immersed in transformative visuals, a kind of “digital makeup,” using real-time face tracking and projection mapping. With impressive accuracy the face is scanned before becoming a series of stunning masks that work even as the face moves around. The visuals range from makeup, rouge and some eyeliner, to a full-on cyborg face with amazing animated visuals that turn the model’s face into a reflective surface.

Watch for yourself. The facial transformations that happen, one after another before your eyes, are amazing.

~ Tracey Jeffas, Account Supervisor, The S3 Agency


NOT FALLING FOR IT

Here we are, two-thirds of the way through August, and I find myself grasping desperately at summer asking it not to leave, not quite yet. But alas, it will be over…on August 26th, according to some. You see, in recent history, the unofficial kick-off of autumn went from back-to-school and the changing of the leaves to – drumroll please – the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte (a.k.a., the PSL) at Starbucks.

Apparently it’s a big deal. This year, Starbucks has created a sunglass-wearing latte (which I don’t quite get if it’s supposed to signal fall) who has its own Twitter account and Tumblr “Spot the Spice" game page. I guess for PSL fanatics Starbucks can do no wrong, but to browse the Tumblr page there are more questions than anything about how it all works – no one seems to really get it.

With hardly any marketing at all Starbucks would sell millions of the sugary drinks anyway, which leaves me scratching my head even more as to why they went to such great, confusing lengths to relaunch it. Maybe, just maybe, this year I’ll save up a days’ worth of calories to finally try a PSL, but I won’t be doing so because of a Twitter page or Tumblr game. I’ll do it because it just looks so yummy in the photos on the door clings.

~ Trish Salge, Sr. Art Director and Coffee Non-Conessieur, The S3 Agency

Editor’s Note: PS, PSL – I have to wonder if the advance tasting offer will motivate non-Twitter-users to finally get into another social network network in order to participate in a scavenger hunt. If the answer is yet, my hat (or plastic lid) is off to you, Starbucks.

What’s In A Name, Lexus?

The beautifully shot commercial above shows the engine note of a Lexus LF-A shattering glass because of the high pitch of its engine. If you have not seen one in person before, don’t be shocked; at a price of around $400,000, they are very exclusive. If you have not heard of the car before, then it would seem Toyota has failed in its mission with the LF-A.

Toyota would like you to believe that the LF-A shares its engineering advancements with the rest of the maker’s lineup, which is the point of a halo car. But there is to great a distance between a basic car and an LF-A. Has Toyota erred by placing this under the Lexus badging instead of, say, resurrecting a name that already means what they are trying to day? A name like: Toyota Supra???

The Supra was a car that was last made in 1998, and is still responsible for whatever sporty reputation Toyota has left. It tugs at the hearts of Millennials like me, who grew up with posters of them on our wall. Thanks to a well-known product placement in the original “Fast and Furious” movie, something Toyota never even paid for, the car still maintains a strong following 20 years after the last model’s debut. And the site of one sitting next to every other car on your dealership lot (as oppose to a sealed glass room like the LF-A) certainly couldn’t hurt.

Nissan has its Z, Porsche its 911, Chevy its Corvette. Bring back the Supra Toyota, and you to will benefit from a name that has real meaning.

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

Editor’s Note: While this car might benefit from a different name, it’s interesting to see how the new commercial harkens back to Lexus’ debut spot from 1989. The shattering champagne glass is a nice homage to the “champagne glasses” – the ad that put Lexus on the automotive marketing map. See the ad below. I remember it well – the ad and the car, since my mother had that first Lexus. Full disclosure: AMCI, the company mentioned at the beginning of the commercial, was a client of our agency. We rebranded them – and for giggles, below you can also see the logo identity we created for them that replaced the one shown in the TV ad. ~ @AdvertGirl

Stand Out at a Tradeshow with these 5 Tips

This shortbread brand leveraged a combination of authenticity, tradition and newness to stand out at the 2014 Summer Fancy Food Show in New York.

This summer, the Fancy Food Show descended upon New York City’s Jacob Javits Center, overwhelming visitors with over 2,700 vendors sharing sweet and savory foods and beverages. Many of those exhibiting are specialty brands with small staffs and small budgets. So how can one hope to stand out in this incredibly crowded, three-day marketplace to get the attention of retail buyers, media and consumers? A small, family-run shortbread company found a way to stand out at this massive food & drink tradeshow.

Shortbread House of Edinburgh, housed in Edinburgh, Scotland, made the journey to the Big Apple to share their finely crafted wares, and they were up against major competitors like the Walker Shortbreads of the world. To make the most of this tradeshow opportunity, Shortbread House employed some very smart techniques that brought their branding to life and grabbed the attention of passersby.

Here are some of the tradeshow marketing tips that worked for Shortbread House of Edinburgh – and can very easily work for other brands in other industries, not just food & drink companies:

  1. Bring your brand story to life. Shortbread House of Edinburgh employed Scottish gentlemen clad in the country’s traditional garb to man their booth. This was more than an attention-getting visual. Just by being there, these gents, who spoke fluently about their brand’s history and products, brought attention to the authenticity of the sweet treats by which they were surrounded.
  2. Be friendly. It wasn’t just the brogue that brought warmth to this Scottish brand. Warm smiles, inviting gestures, and conversation that wasn’t rushed – rather, that encouraged visitors to linger and partake of the samples – really stood out. Tradeshows can be grueling for both those exhibiting and those attending, and it can be easy to wear that exhaustion on one’s face. These gentlemen welcomed visitors as if they were welcoming them into their own homes to enjoy biscuits and tea.
  3. Don’t be afraid to talk shop. For some reason, tradeshow exhibitors often dwell in smalltalk and never get to the point. While one doesn’t want to engage in heavy-handed selling techniques that turn off visitors, the real reason everyone is attending is for an information share. After some niceties that seemed entirely genuine, the kilt-clad staffers were sure to guide visitors along their product line, which included a new product launch (see tip #4).
  4. Have something new! People like to be “the first” to experience something new, so if at all possible, tradeshow exhibitors should launch a new product. That’s what buyers want to know about – so they can leverage that “new” factor to bring buyers to their stores. That’s what the press wants to hear about – so they can share that “newness” with their readers and viewers. And that’s what consumers want to find out about – so they can have bragging rights via social media and word-of-mouth sharing. Shortbread House of Edinburgh was introducing a special holiday offering: a “Finest Whisky Cake” infused with Scotch malt whisky. Packaged in a festive tin, this food & drink item conjured up wonderful thoughts of holiday parties, entertaining and hostess gifting – a nice escape from the brutal heat of summer in Manhattan. It also gave the brand’s representatives a chance to talk about their country’s tradition of holiday whisky cakes, something with which many American attendees may not have been familiar.
  5. Be true to your branding. If a product (or service) doesn’t stand up to a brand’s marketing, that brand is likely better off not having a tradeshow presence until they get either the product or the marketing right. Surrounded by competitors, this is the ultimate sink-or-swim venue: retail buyers, press, and consumers will be the first to share negative impressions of their experiences, and they’ll often do it loudly – at the show, to other exhibitors, and beyond. Those trying samples at Shortbread House of Edinburgh seemed to feel that the taste lived up to the “truly handmade” tagline adorning the holiday whisky cake tin. That will likely translate into shelf space, positive media coverage, and something new for Americans to add to their own holiday traditions.

Tradeshows can be a key tactic for brands, from start-ups through Fortune 500 – but they are often quite costly: space rental, booth design and execution, staffing, product, marketing…it all adds up. Be sure it adds up to the right results.

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

Note: This post originally appeared in my Examiner.com column – please follow me there too!

DOES THIS UNDER ARMOUR SPOT DISARM YOU?

This is a beautifully shot commercial, and yet when I saw it the first time, I really wanted to whine about a few things I felt it did wrong. I use the past tense, “wanted to,” because I have come to the conclusion that I was falling into overthinking, and that it is, in reality, just perfect.

Give it a look, and see if your first viewing makes you think things like:

- Is that girl’s voice reading an actual letter that was sent to Misty when she was 13?

- And if so, why doesn’t the commercial come out and TELL me that?

- Why are they making me work so hard to understand their tagline?

Those were going to be my main complaints – and then I realized that I was about to complain about an advertiser actually giving me credit for having half a brain. Because even as I was wondering these things, I was looking up who Misty Copeland was – I wanted to know more. I was simultaneously thinking about how I didn’t realize Under Armour made athletic gear for women.

That’s when I realized I suddenly knew the answers to all of those questions that had initially popped into my head. I either figured them out for myself or I looked them up. Now that’s engaging your audience.

That’s when I decided to shut up and write this blog post instead, and use it to heap praise on Under Armour, their ad agency Droga5, and on Misty Copeland herself. Bravo.

Adam Schnitzler, Chief Creative Officer, The S3 Agency