Archive | November, 2010

41. Awful-mercials

30 Nov

I don’t know what it is about the holidays, but the infomercials always seem to stack up. Adweek came out with an article last week, “‘Tis the Season for Infomercials” about the most recent Snuggie infomercial and all its glory. Infomercialsare known for being over-the-top, repetitive and altogether usually pretty hideous. Barbara Lippert, a writer for Adweek makes the argument that “especially in this recessionary economy, infomercials tap into to the basic American spirit of hope and the need for self-reinvention in a uniquely positive and powerful way.”

Infomercials have a special place in many of our hearts. They are reliable at 3 am when nothing else is on TV, they always provided an unintentional sense of humor and they also never hold back on the corny jingles and tag lines. Infomercials are the epitome of awful advertising. The constant promise for a low price of $19.95 with the hidden footnote reading “3 payments of” is not only deceptive, but irritating. Is there a better way to create ads on a low budget. Do the infomercials even work? Who is picking up the phone to order knife sharpeners or Magic Bullets in the middle of the night? Who really needs knives that cut through leather shoes?


40. Sponsorships in the snow

23 Nov

Last month I went to see Warren Miller’s Wintervention at McDonald Theater in Eugene, OR. Every year, Warren Miller releases a film at the beginning of the snowy season to show amazing ski stories and get everyone hyped for opening day. During the premiere tour of the film, Warren Miller’s team is know for giving away lift tickets, snow gear and even a week long heliski trip (skiing via helicopter).

Skiing, like most athletic sports, is surrounded by sponsorships. Everything from your helmet and goggles, to your snow shoes have a brand name slapped on it. Skiing is one of the sports that brand names mean more. No experienced skier would be caught dead in a pair of generic snow pants or a beanie from Walmart, it is all about the brands. Names like K2, Scott, Zeal and Smith represent skill and taste.

Throughout the video and with all the handouts at the premier, I noticed over 50 brands, including: Redbull, Scott, Nissan, Corona, K2, Burton, Oakley, Song, Zeal, North Face, Quicksilver, Smith and HH. Most of these were not even direct sponsors, they were just worn by the athletes in the video. Many of these brands, such as Quicksilver, sponsor skiers and snowboarders as another way to get their products noticed. By sponsoring an athlete, these companies usually sign contracts with the individual so that they wear or represent the brand at least some percent of the time.







Sponsorships are a great way for companies to associate their name with famous athletes. This tactic promotes the mentality that if Shaun White, one of the most famous pro snowboarders in the world, uses a Burton snowboard then I should use a Burton snowboard to be as good as him. I even heard the guy sitting next to me say “I need new skis” after watching a pair of pro skiers fly down the hill in their new Salomons. There is no doubt that these athletes look cool in name brands and it shows that consumers are attracted to the association. This is one case where sponsorships work very well.


39. The most interesting man in Eugene

22 Nov

Between episodes of Mad Men and the new Lifetime Christmas movie, I saw a local commercial that looked strangely familiar. Eugene is known for their tacky, low-budget ads and this one is not much different, except for one thing. The commercial is for Agate Alley Bistro and uses Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World concept to show how their restaurant is used by the most interesting man in Eugene. They even use the same tag ling, asking “Don’t be hungry, my friends.” Check it out.

Here is the original idea from Dos Equis.

38. All roads lead NORTH

22 Nov

When you first visit NORTH’s website it looks more like an ongoing blog about new trends and branding than a professional agency. NORTH, a creative agency out of Portland, prides them self on being “part ad agency, part creative boutique, part crash-pad for artists, designers, film makers,  bloggers, bands and big-thought thinkers.” NORTH has managed to cut out the middleman entirely by not only using strategy and thinking of stuff,’ “we usually draw it, film it,  score it, tweet it and construct it too.” All of the employees of NORTH contribute to their website by blogging about their work, new projects and recent trends. Even their employee photos are unique to the company, following their ideology:

Brand Engagement for the Digital and Natural Worlds

NORTH works with companies like Deschutes Brewery, PG&E, Starbucks, Umpqua and many more. They also work for causes like Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Right Brain Initiative and Portland Parks. Each partner is picked because they hold some or all of the same beliefs and business tactics. NORTH is a compass pointed forward. Their streamlined and concise method of working funnels down through their employees and even their newly remolded office. Check out the video they made to show the evolution of the build of their new office: NORTH Building Evolution. The NORTH office is clean and simple with pops of color and some raw wood finishes. This mirrors the work of the company, clean and put-together with a hint of pizazz and raw texture.


NORTH Main Work Station

Dave Allen, rock star and Director of Insights and Digital Media for NORTH, visited our group of creative strategists to teach us about the differences between digital and traditional advertising. Dave went over the characteristics and effects of both traditional and nontraditional media. Traditional advertising can be expensive to create and change, but with the right placement you will reach the right people. Competition is limited and the message is very focused. Digital advertising is more experience focused, simple and low cost. Competition is everywhere and not just limited to brands. NORTH works with digital media, where technology and context are in constant flux.

Thoughts from Dave Allen:

  • To fail harder means you will only succeed a few times
  • When any brand or company tries to act like a person, I say bullshit
  • Twitter is not a social network, it is a significant news source
  • Your job should be an extension of your hobbies

    For a better look at NORTH’s work, check out their Vimeo site or website. Maybe if I work my butt off and pray to the advertising gods I can one day work for a company as cool as this.

    37. The iPad is the most popular kid on the playground

    18 Nov

    Last night while watching a rerun of Two and a Half Men, I saw two commercials that really surprised me. The first one shows a man sitting in an empty room playing on his iPad. Next, he pulls out a thick black card that says Verizon, and turns on a green light. Next, the walls of the room fall away and he is sitting on a grassy cliff looking over the ocean, still using his iPad. Verizon has recently come out with the new MiFi Mobile Hotspot that allows you to connect WiFi to your iPad (or any other mobile internet device, I presume), almost anywhere. They are starting at $20 a month for a 1GB, no obligation data plan. I found this commercial surprising because this is the first time Verizon has been officially connected to an Apple product. People see this as hope for the iPhone to soon be carried by Verizon.

    A commercial I saw only a few minutes after this one was for a Comcast Xfinity TV DVR remote application that has just been released. The app allows the user to use their iPad as a large, touch screen remote for their TV or DVR if they have Xfinity TV. The app works similar to the guide already on Xfinity. The iPad is gaining so much attention, especially with these new apps and accessories. You can even see the iPad in TV shows and car commercials. When the iPad was released, consumers were wary about its practicality. Now that it has proven its lasting power, tons of companies are jumping on the bandwagon to be associated with the hip, new device. Verizon could have used a laptop in their commercial, but they chose to used they iPad to show that they are tech savvy and up on today’s trends.

    36. The ultimate snapshot

    17 Nov

    Rip Curl, a surf clothing and equipment company, recently teamed with Timeslice Films to create a Matrix-style video to promote their new Mirage Boardshorts. Timeslice, whose tag line is “enhance the story,” used 52 Canon DSLR Cameras lined up in order to catch a shot from 52 different angles. They then made a video using the footage to create an image that looks time stands still. The athletes look as though they have been frozen in midair when you see the 180 degrees shot of them surfing. This is a revolutionary idea that is underutilized in the media. Check out the final product below.

    35. Just anothing day of creative strategy

    15 Nov

    The thoughtful mind of Deb Morrison in chart form.