FINDING “THE ONE” THIS FEBRUARY

Confession: for a short time in my younger years, I wanted to be an auto mechanic. The more I looked into it though, the more I saw how computerized the processes have become for newer vehicles, and I lost interest pretty quickly. Fast forward to the recent past: I bought myself an old motorcycle and promptly realized that I had missed my calling by about two wheels. The proudest moments in my life include the birth of my son, followed closely by changing the battery in my 1989 Yamaha Radian myself. If the simple swapping of a battery gave me such an adrenaline rush, I can’t even imagine the high that custom bike builders must feel – not only are their creations one-of-a-kind works of art, they actually RUN. Even if you’ve never so much as changed the oil in a bike (my next goal for the spring), get a taste of the obsession with the commercial for The One Motorcycle Show, coming up this February in Portland, Oregon. Beautifully-executed and spot-on for its target audience, it makes you just want to get greasy:

http://vimeo.com/81220849

~ Trish Salge, Sr. Art Director and Expert Motorcycle Battery Changer, The S3 Agency

EQUINOX MADE ME DO IT

Do what, exactly? Does working out at a luxury gym instill some kind of new-found confidence and lead to adventures with sexy, good looking people? That’s what the new Equinox Gym digital and print advertising campaign implies. The campaign also touches on the actual product, fitness, with an exceptionally sculpted man in a bath off ice – apparently recovering from an intense work out. And I’m not really sure what the two guys peeking out of the Mercedes trunk is implying. It does get your attention, though, which may be a goal of those seeking corporeal perfection. Luxury workout anyone?

~ Meredith Aman, Account Supervisor, The S3 Agency

Same Insight, Different Creative Delivery

P&G and Wieden + Kennedy deliver the same insight in drastically different ways

The two most buzzed about commercials last week were from creative powerhouse Wieden & Kennedy and their longtime client, Proctor and Gamble. The first is for Old Spice, featuring a new body spray targeted towards a younger male demographic. The second is a spot, branded P&G, for their upcoming Olympics sponsorship. Both are powerful, but for very different reasons. Furthermore, as you dive into these commercials, it becomes apparent that they are both using the same insight to arrive at drastically different results.

Let’s start with Old Spice. It’s hard to argue with the fact that since ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ launched in 2010, the viewing publics’ ears perk up whenever they hear or see a new Old Spice commercial. The brand continually delivers creative excellence in fresh ways. The latest features their new ‘Re-Fresh’ Body Spray, targeting boys turning into men. The creative is an anthem sung by a variety of moms having a hard time letting go – by stalking their sons in a way that only Old Spice can make endearing.

The P&G Olympic spot is an evolution of the ‘Thank You Mom’ campaign that P&G launched during the Vancouver Olympics in 2010. This execution centers around picking your child up after they fall down. With “Proud Sponsor of Moms,” the brand has once again delivered an emotional brand message thanking moms for doing everything that they do for their children.


While one spot evokes humor and the other tears, both spots tap into the relationship between parents and kids. As a parent, you want to be there for your child whenever they need you, but there’s also the need to give them enough space to let them grow up. I can’t imagine two more different ways to arrive at this insight. Bravo.

~ Matt Mauriello, Account Director, The S3 Agency

A Plus-Size Problem?

In society, we’ve accepted skinny, collarbone-showing and seamlessly airbrushed skin as the “norm” for women in advertisements. We’ve become so used to this that we feel it’s almost taboo when we see a woman in an ad with curves or any sign of fat. In actuality, the typical American woman does NOT have the figures of the women in a typical fashion magazine. I also do not know any woman that sees the bodies of these models and is confident about her own. We can’t help it–we instantly compare ourselves, we’ve done it since we were little girls.

When I saw the now-viral Cosmo swimwear ad featuring “plus-size” model (their words, not mine), Robin Lawley, I was horrified—not at her amazing body, but at Cosmo’s description of her as being “plus-sized.” It’s not their fault really, it’s what the fashion industry has come up with as the “norm” for any model wearing average sized clothing—and by average I mean a size 8, whereas the “average” size of an American woman right now is 12-16.



What is amazing is how the story went viral—it’s a sure sign our perception from what “normal” should be is changing. Thousands of people on social media seem to be passionate about it, asking Cosmo to apologize for labeling the model as “plus-sized.” Society is practically begging for a change of the fashion industry’s perception of what “plus-sized” really is.

Every few decades, we see a shift of consciousness of what our idea of beauty is, and I think we are experiencing one of those shifts right now. The advertising industry needs to understand that we aren’t in the same frame of mind anymore of what women should look like, and it’s time they update their way of thinking. With just one look at Robin Lawley, wouldn’t you agree?

~ Valarie Brummert, Production Artist, The S3 Agency

Velveta Cheese Shortage: #Cheesepocalypse or PR Ploy?

We all know Americans love their orange-colored, highly processed cheese – but I’m not sure if anyone expected the mass chaos that erupted when the story broke that there is a shortage of Kraft’s famous Velveeta cheese, and right before the Super Bowl! Okay, I might be exaggerating on the mass chaos part, but there was definitely an explosion in the media world, both in the social sphere and mainstream media.

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Cheesepocalypse, as it was eventually deemed, was picked up virtually everywhere: USA Today, Yahoo!, People, E! Online, NY Daily News, CNN, NPR and ABC News, to name a few.

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The hashtag #Cheesepocalypse even trended on Twitter We’re talking hundreds of millions of impressions  – aka “earned media ” – in just a few short hours for the food company and its beloved brand.

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To the general public, this may be a believable concern, but the PR person in me is pretty leery of this so-called “shortage.” It reminds me a little bit of that time Abercrombie & Fitch offered Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino of Jersey Shore fame a “substantial payment” to stop wearing their clothes. A company that took a lot of heat for very sexual campaigns marketed towards young teens suddenly found themselves in a media blitz for something other than harsh criticism of their ads, garnering coverage from the likes of the Wall Street Journal, Gawker, HuffPost and just about every major news network in the country.

That brings us back to Velveeta. While stories have come out citing that retailers have had trouble getting shipments of the product, Kraft has repeatedly declined to discuss details of the shortage. Hmm…something sounds up. The brand’s one claim has been a spike in seasonal demand, but I don’t recall any Velveeta shortages in any past Super Bowl seasons. I’m going to have to call BS on the cheese that defies all logical shelf life, but I will say this: well played, Kraft.

~ Jillian Verpent, Account Coordinator, The S3 Agency

UPDATE: On January 13, 2013 – less than a week after the story broke – we noticed Velveeta’s Cheesepocalypse.org site. Some digging revealed it wasn’t registered until January 10 (a cyberstalker appears to own Cheesepocalypse.com). Nice response time for the cheesy brand.

Editor’s note: Of course, we helped our cheese client, Emmi of Switzerland, ride out the #cheesepocalypse wave with a little social media graphical meme action of their own.

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Back That Thing Up

Unlike many other consumer goods, cars are usually not something you purchase on an impulse. One of the ways car makers try to stay top of mind is to point out features their car has that no one else does – but in today’s day and age, that is becoming more difficult. Even economy cars have many of the fancy features previously reserved for the luxury set – things like high-end stereos and backup cameras. Check out Kia’s new ad: Kia takes a common feature in new cars (the backup camera) and points it out in a new and fun way on their specific model. The goal here is to make you think of that terrified bunny (dramatic music included) the next time you inch your car into your garage, which is an experience anyone can relate to.  So the next time you’re car shopping – or twisting your head to back it up – Kia hopes you’ll remember the bunny. And the bunny hopes you’ll remember Kia.   ~ Mike D’Ambrosio, Interactive Art Director and Automotive Enthusiast, The S3 Agency

Now that’s uncreative.

Whilst ambling through the supermarket aisles, I’m always on the lookout for a nifty new taste to try. And only because I’m avidly seeking did I even notice “Creative Snacks.” This should fire on all cylinders for me: something new, something healthy-ish, something billed as creative. That’s what the name “Creative Snacks” would imply to me. But take a look at this consumer packaged good:

What the heck is creative about yogurt-covered pretzels — or worse, about in-shell pistachios (which, I believe, is how they occur in nature)? What’s creative about the packaging? What’s creative about the display? What’s creative about anything except the name, which is creative for two reasons:

  1. It uses the word “creative.”
  2. It’s unintentionally ironic, since the word creative is the only creative aspect I can discern.

Now, admittedly, you’re setting the bar pretty high when you make “Creative” your brand name. So then at least try to meet expectations. Start with your branding – determine what your brand should mean and execute accordingly, starting with that ho-hum logo. Then give me some crazy rainforesty-type ingredient combined with some new type of grain. Give me awesome, eye-catching packaging that feels creative — and give it to me in something other than the run-of-the-mill, generic-looking bags. Display it in a unique way, too. Show me you’re trying, Creative Snacks, and then I’ll be willing to give you a try.

~ @AdvertGirl, CEO, The S3 Agency

Top Ads of 2013 (will we remember them at the end of 2014?)

IBM’s “Smarter Cities” campaign is one of Creativity’s top picks for best ads in 2013.

Starting off the new year is a good time to look back at what creative executions rose to the top last year. As we all know, its is getting harder and harder to stand out in a world that is overcome by advertising. So what sort of creative innovation is inspiring consumers to engage more deeply with a brand promise? Check out Creativity's top picks of 2013 which do just that.

#1 in Film/Video - Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches


In an attempt to change the way women view themselves and boost self esteem, the beauty brand hired a former forensic artist to draw portraits of women using only their descriptions of themselves, i.e. hair length, facial structure, their most prominent feature. He then drew a second portrait of the same women according to descriptions provided by strangers they had met on the same day. The difference between the two sketches was remarkable. This short film clearly struck an emotional chord with the brands audience as it was uploaded in 25 different languages, to 33 of Dove’s YouTube channels and has been viewed in more than 110 countries. I must say, as a woman who admittedly can be overly critical of herself, this video brought tears to my eyes!

#1 in Print/Design - IBM’s Smarter Ideas for Smarter Cities

Simple ideas are often the strongest. IBM and Ogilvy Paris created the “Smarter Ideas for Smarter Cities” campaign which turned ads into useful smart solutions to urban living. Each outdoor structure is designed to make life just a bit easier, offering shelter on a rainy day, a bench to sit on, and a ramp over a short flight of stairs. Talk about invasive and purposeful. What a great way to really make advertising memorable.

#1 In Integrated - Citibank’s Citibikes

While bike sharing programs aren’t a new concept, Citibank is leveraging this opportunity by creating a social, cause-based integrated campaign. First and foremost, kudos on snagging the naming rights, because it is definitely not a bad thing when the Mayor of New York City mispronounces the program, calling it “Citibank”. Secondly, the bikes themselves are outdoor ads cruising all around the city and with over 1.4 million youtube views, BMX pro Tyrone Williams shows people that this program is an awesome addition to city life. All in all, Citibank is doing a great job of getting their brand name zipping all around New York City.

Overall, I think all three of these efforts have done an amazing job at telling a story, connecting with the audience on a deep, emotional level, and bringing a convenience to daily life.  They are fantastic ideas brought to life with flawless execution. I completely agree with the ‘wins’ of 2013 and am looking forward to another groundbreaking year of kick-ass advertising. 

~ Tracey Jeffas, Account Supervisor, The S3 Agency

Does Sex Sell…for PETA?

Ready, Set, Go! Meatless, that is…

Hey it’s the New Year and we’re all trying ways to get healthier. Some people think giving up meat is one way to lose weight. But according to PETA’s racy new ad, there’s another big reason you may want to consider the vegan route.


The commercial certainly provides an unexpected way to highlight the benefits of the PETA lifestyle. But I can’t help but wonder: if they replaced Fidel Castro with a cow head, would this have been funnier?

~ Stefanie Fernandez, Account Supervisor, The S3 Agency

BATTERIES NOT REQUIRED

On Christmas morning as I sat on my in-laws’ living room floor attempting to find daylight from somewhere under the piles of wrapping paper that towered over me, I had an epiphany: my son, my only child and the first grandchild in the family (translation: one lucky kid when it comes to presents), had made it through Christmas without receiving one gift that required batteries. OK, there was the Hess Truck, but that’s a tradition. Otherwise, there were tinker toys, puzzles, games and all kinds of goodies to fuel his curious little brain and body in the coming months.

Then I got to thinking about the New Year: no one resolves to “get in more screen time” or “take their couch-potato status to a new level.” It’s about getting out more, being more creative, more mindful, more active and unplugging, at least as much as we can. Perhaps that’s why I loved this holiday commercial from The Sports Authority’s so much.

Now that the holidays are over I’d love to see it rescripted and perhaps geared a little more towards adults since an active lifestyle is one that benefits anybody, whether playing team sports or taking a solo hike in the woods. The message is a great one for Sports Authority to build their entire brand upon. Why limit it to the holiday season?

~ Trish Salge, Sr. Art Director and Real Life Embracer, The S3 Agency

Audi’s Awful Ad

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Luxury car abstinence. That’s the premise behind Audi’s painfully long (1:45) spot that compares choosing your first luxury car to choosing your first lover. Yes, someone thought that sentiment was strong enough to move forward with producing not just a commercial, but a nearly 2-minute long video showing vignettes of young affluents who are “just saying no” to BMW and Mercedes. They’re “holding out” for an Audi. Um, really? Go ahead and watch the video, if you must:

This ad doesn’t work for so many reasons. Here are three:

  • First and foremost, anybody who can afford a BMW or Mercedes can certainly afford an Audi — there would be no “waiting” involved.
  • Second, while Audi is clearly trying to break through with a “ballsy” ad, they should be speaking with their cars and not via actors playing unrelatable, obnoxious, entitled and apparently not-too-smart roles of people who are unlikeable at best.
  • Third, this ad isn’t just bad – it’s in bad taste. (Excuse me, does the gentleman at 1:15 actually utter the “s” word? In a branded ad from a premium automaker?) For shame.

If Audi’s only goal was to drum up a reaction, they appear to be on the road to accomplishment. Here’s how YouTube viewers are voting with their thumbs:

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But if Audi was looking to make their brand more appealing to anyone who isn’t a complete jacka$$, they’re falling way short of the finish line. It’s a very disappointing move.

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

WASTE NOT, WANT NOT vs. BUT IT IS SO COOL

I’m not sure what to think of this new Motorola print ad. Yes, here is a video of a print ad – because it’s an interactive print ad.

On one level, it is genius. Motorola has created an electronic, interactive ad that goes inside a magazine (Wired) and allows you to change the color of the phone right on the page. What a great way to tout the customizability of their Moto X smartphone. And they’re doing the whole “Internet pre-release” thing to increase the value of their very localized media buy.

On the other hand, isn’t there enough electronic stuff being thrown away every day in this country? Not to be a fuddy duddy, but Americans throw away more electronic junk than just about any other country on the planet, and unlike the cell phone it is trying to sell, there is nothing in any way reusable about the electronics in this ad.

Thinking of electronics as disposable just locks us into buying shorter-lived devices, so at the end of the day, this ad kind of turns me off from an environmental standpoint.

From a marketing standpoint, despite the undeniable cleverness of the execution, I’m not sold on the thrust of the strategy revolving around how you can customize the colors of the phone. Doesn’t everyone put their phone in a case, anyway?

Hey – maybe Motorola want to discourage the use of cases, thereby making their phones more vulnerable to breakage, thereby increasing sales? Hmmm…

~ Adam Schnitzler, CCO, The S3 Agency

HOLIDAY SHOPPING, LUMBERJACK-STYLE.

Whose mailbox isn’t stuffed with catalogs at this time of year? Truth be told, at my house the Pottery Barns and Crate and Barrels go into the recycling bin without a second look, but the one that maintains the spot of honor on my coffee table is that of Duluth Trading Company.

Haven’t heard of them? Neither had I until a random mailing left me as the happy recipient of their catalog last year, and then my shopping list started to look something like this:

Fire Hose Work Pants? Check.
Big Ass Brick of Soap? Check.
Bigfoot Toenail Clippers? Check.
"Gees, That’s Small" Tool Kit? Check.
Cab Commander Truck Organizer? Check.

For those who say that direct mail doesn’t work, I beg to differ, but it’s got to be done right. Duluth’s catalog stood out in my sea of mail with its old-school illustrations and cheeky item descriptions, to the point that it translated into a hefty order, and quite possibly another to follow it up this season. They must have gained a loyal following from others on the East coast as well since, to my delight, I’ve started seeing their commercials on TV.

Want a taste of this burly brand? Check out all the commercials here - you just might find yourself ordering a Swingin’ Flannel too:

~ Trish Salge, Sr. Art Director and Proud Owner of the “Gees, That’s Small” Tool Kit, The S3 Agency

Is Apple Finally Getting Back on Track?

Apple’s advertising has been in a pretty steady decline over the past few years. What was once the envy of the advertising industry now seems to be a series of missteps. The company that told people to ‘think different’ now can’t seem to take their own advice.

When you think of where Apple advertising has been, commercials like the breakthrough ‘1984' come to mind immediately. We were introduced to the iPod through the use of silhouetted dancers with loud colors and catchy music. Then, when PCs started to mount a comeback, Apple topped them with the always funny and never boastful 'I'm a Mac' commercials featuring Justin Long as a personified version of their product. Throughout this, the brand stayed true to their identity of creating ads that showcased their approachable confidence. If you were a brand advocate, you knew exactly what they were saying and who they were saying it to.

Since Steve Jobs’ death, though, it’s been a different story. First, we learned who Siri was through the use of cheesy product demos – a very un-Apple way to advertise. Then, we met the Apple Genius via a campaign featuring an unlikable actor representing the Genius and a series of customers portrayed as incompetent. This sparked a consumer backlash and forced Apple to pull the ads after a very short run. To add salt to the wounds, the competition, including Samsung and Amazon, stepped up their advertising game and knocked Apple down a few pegs through their own use of humor and playful mockery.

In its latest effort for the holiday season, Apple has the critics split. Some see the ad, focused around a withdrawn teenager with his head buried in his iPhone 5, as a return to the emotion that the brand has been missing. Others see it as a sad reflection of the society we live in, where it’s more important to capture the moment than live in it. Take a look:


Many say that the day Steve Jobs passed away (10/5/11), Apple’s heart went with it. Here’s to hoping their New Year’s resolution is to revive a brand that so many people love, regardless of who or what they put in a commercial.

~ Matt Mauriello, Account Director, The S3 Agency

Stop Returning Gifts – Do This Instead!

THE GREAT TWITTER #GIFTSWAP

One week until Christmas and already I’m trying to figure out when will be the best time to hit the stores to return well-meant, ill-fitting (in any way) gifts. Then it hit me: we could all save ourselves that time in line and go online instead – to our fellow Tweeters! One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and all that. So here’s what I’m suggesting:

On December 26, let’s all tweet a photo of a gift we got but don’t want, with the hashtag #giftswap. Then let’s search through each other’s unwanted toys (Charlie in the box, square-wheeled choochoo, ostrich-riding cowboy, etc.) and trade out! 

Now, instead of dreading heading back to the malls (haven’t we all had enough of that?), I’m looking forward to my new tradition: the day-after-Christmas Twitter #GiftSwap.