LOOK INTO MY EYES…AND BUY MY CEREAL

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Did you know? Cereal mascots are designed to make eye contact with our children!

Having two young children, I avoid the cereal isle at all cost. It’s bad enough these sugary cereals are everywhere you turn…now it’s been revealed that the cute characters on the boxes are actually making eye contact with our kids. Creepy, but smart. Besides the love of sugar, this also explains why our kids feel connected to spokes characters like Cap’n Crunch, Trix Rabbit, and Lucky the Leprechaun.

A study by Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab reveals consumers are 16% more likely to trust a brand of cereal if the character on the box is staring directly into their eyes. The research included 65 brands of cereal on the shelves of 10 different grocery stores in New York and Connecticut. Allowing a standard four-feet distance between shoppers and the cereal shelf, researchers calculated the angle in which 86 different cereal characters gazed at shoppers.

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The result? Cereal characters marketed toward children and those geared toward adults are designed to make incidental eye contact with their target consumers. Out of 86 different cereal characters, 57 were designed with a 9.67-degree downward gaze in order to attract the attention of kids.

The researchers also found that kids’ cereals are positioned at “kid height” – about 23 inches off of the floor – while adult cereals are positioned at about 48 inches high. The mascots of “adult” cereals were designed with a slight upward angle and basically stared straight ahead.

The study also asked 63 college students to observe two versions of a Trix cereal box and give their opinion on trust and connection to its trademark rabbit.

One version of the cereal box showed the rabbit looking straight ahead while the second showed the rabbit looking down. Brand trust increased by 16% and brand connection jumped 10% when the Trix Rabbit made eye contact with the participant.

On the flip side, perhaps this means that eye-contact from characters adorning healthier products could result in better brand connections there – and a natural desire from children to choose better-for-them options.

~ Meredith Aman, Account Supervisor, The S3 Agency

How does Expedia UK get consumer attention? With a clever campaign that ties travel into pub trivia!

How does Expedia UK get consumer attention? With a clever campaign that ties travel into pub trivia!

America’s contribution to British advertising. I apologize on behalf of my country.

America’s contribution to British advertising. I apologize on behalf of my country.

In UK, Snickers Satisfies…With Balls

In America, we’re quite familiar with the long-running Snickers campaign that involved turning back into yourself after you eat the caramel peanut chocolatey goodness. Here’s one if the spots, involving divas Aretha Franklin and Liza Minelli:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vW6ZXHWvaGc

So I wasn’t too surprised to see that campaign running on the telly in London…until I got to the very end. Check out the British version on the “divas” spot:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=L4mP9pR-mzU

Instead of the tag line “Satisfies,” the cheeky English ender is “Get Some Nuts.” Very clever — ties back to the actual product as well as the commercial theme to “stop acting like a whiny woman because you’re hungry and eat a Snickers.”

As brilliant as this is, it could never work for the family-friendly M&M Mars company in the US because of the backlash that would be sure to result from the lack of political correctness. Shame, isn’t it?

Ads with “pull” abound throughout London, created to gain attention and engage. This Cask Ale Festival ad adorning a pub wall showcases true Brit wit combined with a little bathroom humor. I can unequivocally say it’s the best usage of “pull my finger” I’ve ever seen in an advert!

Ads with “pull” abound throughout London, created to gain attention and engage. This Cask Ale Festival ad adorning a pub wall showcases true Brit wit combined with a little bathroom humor. I can unequivocally say it’s the best usage of “pull my finger” I’ve ever seen in an advert!

Can brands still ride The Beatles’ coattails? It seems so.

One of the first ads I saw upon arriving in London today at first resulted in a roll of the eyes. Really? Could my visit start with something so, well, stereotypical?

Much as I wanted to dislike this advert, I just couldn’t. Tikka to ride?! What a fun spin on a famous song title from the Fab Four to bring attention to food delivery service. The graphic is equally smile-inducing. Bonus points for the placement on a double decker bus literally giving people rides. And it’s all for the type of food we know was quite popular with the boys from Liverpool.

So yes, this advert gets a ticket to ride indeed.

Can brands still ride The Beatles’ coattails? It seems so.

One of the first ads I saw upon arriving in London today at first resulted in a roll of the eyes. Really? Could my visit start with something so, well, stereotypical?

Much as I wanted to dislike this advert, I just couldn’t. Tikka to ride?! What a fun spin on a famous song title from the Fab Four to bring attention to food delivery service. The graphic is equally smile-inducing. Bonus points for the placement on a double decker bus literally giving people rides. And it’s all for the type of food we know was quite popular with the boys from Liverpool.

So yes, this advert gets a ticket to ride indeed.

Advertiser Beware: Context Matters

While most traditional advertising left advertisers at a bit of risk for running next to inappropriate content, at least there were usually human beings viewing the context before it went live. And if they saw a story that would completely clash with your ad’s content, most likely that media outlet did some quick finagling to keep paying accounts from looking like buffoons. The world of online advertising, however, has no such built-in safety net. Take a look at the ad below that popped up in the middle of a news story I was reading. The story, a touching piece about a 12-year-old girl with a rare medical condition that made her gain uncontrollable amounts of weight who had finally received the surgery she needed to help reverse her morbid obesity. The ad, a banner for fast food pioneer McDonald’s. In Spanish.

Do I blame McDonald’s for this ad placement? Of course not. That’s how online advertising works. But could I see how people could be outraged by seeing the headline “Texas Girl Obesity Surgery” tied into a Filet-o-Fish banner ad? Absolutely.

This type of potential backlash puts digital marketers in a bit of a pickle, right McDonald’s? Reaching as many targeted people as possible for the best budget means upping the potential contextual risk. On the other hand, buying ads exclusively anchored to specific content reduces your audience and ups your cost.

In the end, it’s yet another layer in an increasingly complex criteria matrix must consider with each media buy.

~ @AdvertGirl, (aka Denise Blasevick, CEO, The S3 Agency)

Andy and Daniel: A Story of Inspiration

Picasso once said, “All children are born as artists. The problem is how to continue to be artists while growing up.”

I was introduced to Andy yesterday while at a photo shoot. He was the quiet guy in the back of the studio retouching some beautiful watch photography. I took him for a retoucher – which he was, and a very good one at that. As the day progressed, I found out that he was an amazing painter as well. One of the pieces that caught my eye was hung on the studio wall. Bart, the photographer, told me it was Andy’s – something he created in collaboration with his 2 year old son, Daniel. Daniel would begin the painting and Andy would work with him combining his line work and colors to coincide with Daniel’s. The result: beautiful paintings that share a father’s love for his son and their mutual passion for art. Andy was generous to take some time away from his job and share with me this video, which not only demonstrates both their talents but was a warming end to a productive day.

So the next time your creativity is blocked and you need a little inspiration, or call up Andy and Daniel’s website. It’s sure to put you in a better frame of mind.

~ Mike Kolatac, Senior Art Director, The S3 Agency

CAN A SHELF TALKER REALLY SPEAK TO YOU?

I feel a bit uneasy admitting this, but I recently purchased Old Spice deodorant. And it wasn’t because of their ad campaigns that featured minotaurs, clingy mothers signing, and Fabio. I was shopping at Wal-Mart recently and heard the brand’s signature whistle from a few aisles away. When I went to the deodorant aisle, there was no display to be seen. The voice activated ‘whistle’ was hidden somewhere behind the rows of deodorant. It was enough to get me to pick up a stick of a variety called ‘Bear Glove’. After inspecting the packaging I gave it a whiff and I was in. It did not smell like the ‘Soap On A Rope’ musk scent that I was expecting.

I don’t think that I’m their target market, but as a marketer I found it cool that a simple tactic like this won me over faster than a shirtless Terry Crews could. I also smell like a Bear… so that is another plus.

~ Jaime Hamel (aka @StopHamelTime), Digital Strategist, The S3 Agency

FINALLY, SOMEONE USES “AFTERNOON DELIGHT” IN AN AD

And that someone is Taco Bell. Yes, the “Live Mas” sloganeer has tapped retro sex-ballad “Afternoon Delight” as the theme for their new Happier Hour campaign. So now, when you need to fill your belly during that void between lunch and dinner, just raise an eyebrow at your cubicle neighbor and steal away to sneak in an extra meal. The campaign is attention getting, informative and memorable. However…it’s a little sad that grabbing a $1 loaded griller between 2 and 5pm is the 2014 version of 1970s free-love.

~ @AdvertGirl (Denise Blasevick, CEO, The S3 Agency)

APP HAS EVERYTHING BUT THE GUM

Tomorrow marks the first calendar day of spring, but baseball fans know that the season doesn’t really start until Opening Day. And though the dreams of someday seeing yourself on a baseball card may have faded when Ron Guidry left the mound, “Rookies” now revives them: this awesome app enables users to create old-school baseball cards featuring their own roster composed of anyone from family and friends to co-workers and Fantasy League buddies. While users can share cards via Facebook, this app goes the extra mile by also offering custom printing, with 20 cards arriving in a traditional sealed wax pack. Your card may never fetch $1,000,000 on eBay, but it’ll still beat the pants off a boring old business card. Check out the whole story at RookiesApp.com.

~ Trish Salge, Sr. Art Director and Bleacher Creature, The S3 Agency

eSurance Commercial Balances Old and New

Car insurance commercial balances old and new, striking perfect humor balance

These days it seems every grandma is on Facebook. Not Beatrice. No, the star of the new eSurance commercial posts her vacation photos to her wall – that is, to the wall in her house. As she shows them to her other senior citizen friends, extolling the speed with which she does things like post photos, Beatrice references the mere “15 minutes” of Geico fame in which she saved on her car insurance. One of her cronies pipes up, saying she saved more in half the time – to which Beatrice responds that she’s unfriending her. The clearly more savvy friend says in exasperation, “That’s now how it works. That’s not how any of this works.” The voice over swoops in, confirming for viewers that, indeed, 15 minutes is no longer the standard. Instead, they claim you’ll save more in 7-1/2 minutes or less. And in only 30 seconds, a new speed-demon has entered the auto insurance race.

This spot works so well because eSurance strikes the balance perfectly: new technology balances old, all delivered via a spot-on casting of Beatrice and friends. Seeing this on TV, it seems to leave one questioning if they actually saw what they just saw: someone posting photos on the wall of their home – and then telling someone they are unfriending them to their face? Old school rules the comedy of this spot, which is punctuated exclamation-point style by the claim that they’ll save you more in less time. After all, in this age of social media in which an unlimited supply of content is in constant battle to stand out, time is at an all-time premium. So saving 7-1/2 minutes…well, that’s actually a pretty powerful statement.

Even more: this is a spot that begs to be shared. To be shown to friends and family of all ages. With something for everyone to enjoy, eSurance is getting their message of time and money savings across. Will the brand promise live up to the expectations set by such a strong campaign? Only time (and money) will tell…

~ @AdvertGirl (aka Denise Blasevick, CEO, The S3 Agency)

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

Be Greater Than…Smoking.

The latest Marlboro cigarettes ad campaign from Philip Morris International is global in reach – deployed in 50 countries – and is sparking quite a controversy. The question at hand: do these ads target teens?

Let’s take a look at the visuals: crowd surfing at a concert; sucking face in the street; catching air on a snowboard. Well, that’s a big yes. What about the copy? The headline concept always involves the word “maybe” — as in, “maybe” is what weaklings think; strong individuals take action. Action like smoking cigarettes, I suppose. So don’t be a maybe…be a somebody and smoke Marlboro. That sounds like peer pressure any way you read it, which is another indicator that this campaign targets teens.

Now let’s look at the tagline: the word “Be,” the “greater than” sign that teens just learned about in math class, and the Marlboro box. What does this mean? Either it’s “Be greater than, Be Marlboro” – which is the intent. Or, maybe (just maybe) teens will read it as “Be greater than Marlboro” – in other words, be greater than smoking. So even if it’s the latter and encouraging readers in some bizarrely subliminal manner not to smoke, it’s another element that has “teenager” written all over it.

Tsk tsk, Philip Morris. No wonder Germany banned your ads. Now if you really wanted to reach teens without sparking a storm of media hate, maybe you should put old people in the same ads and go for an ironic effect. But I’m thinking you wanted the free press…after all, if mommy and daddy hate the ads, it’s just one more reason to pick up a pack of reds, right?

~ @AdvertGirl (aka Denise Blasevick, CEO, The S3 Agency)

Haunting Charity Ad Brings the Conflict Home

We often turn to YouTube to see the latest cat video, social snafu or viral hoax. This video is none of those – and it showcases YouTube’s capacity as a global information tool.

U.K.-based Save the Children charity asks viewers to remember that, just because the Syrian conflict is happening far away, that doesn’t mean it isn’t really happening.

The spot uses a series of 1-second-a-day video snapshots of a young girl from one birthday to the next to slowly reveal a nightmare version of Britain. What a difference a year can make. And even though it isn’t shot in the US, this video is something anyone in America can immediately understand. Perhaps that is why it gained nearly 11 million views in under two days on YouTube.

~ Walid Elshahed, Web Designer, The S3 Agency

FIRST KISS: VIRAL VIDEO OR HOAX?

Who knew watching 20 strangers kiss for the first time on camera would be so interesting? With over 37 million YouTube views in just three days, this clothing brand ad that initially masqueraded as a viral video is drawing kudos as well as some viewer ire.

The first thing I thought when I watched this video was “I wouldn’t mind being one of those twenty people,” because they are all absolutely gorgeous. Then I realized that while they may all technically be strangers, there was nothing random about the professional models, actors and musicians included in this video. But I’ll be honest I didn’t think this was a fashion ad. Maybe a social experiment about awkwardness and intimacy, but not an advertisement for a clothing line.

Filmmaker Tatia Pilieva paired up with Wren Studio, a LA-based fashion label, to launch this video in support of their 2014 Fall collection. Wren’s founder and creative director Melissa Coker said that the video was launched as part of Style.com's video fashion week. “We make these fashion films every season,” Coker said. “I strive to make them an interesting film that exists on its own rather than something that feels like a commercial, and it seems to be touching people — not only people who are in fashion and would see this, but also random guys who aren't connected at all”.

So, while initially it seems as though the intention of this video was to pay tribute to every first kiss ever the reality is it was a brilliantly executed marketing stunt that got millions and millions of people talking about the Wren fashion label.

However, many who were drawn into the video by the apparent random romance are feeling “duped” when they find out that it is, indeed, an ad. In today’s transparent world, audiences don’t like to be duped. But when you look at 37 million views (and growing), all the social shares and chatter, plus the earned media (even if it’s negative), a whole lot more people know about this brand than they did four days ago.

~ Tracey Jeffas, Account Supervisor, The S3 Agency