We love awards in advertising and awards motivate agency behavior and recommendations. Perhaps it is time for Cannes to have a new award. An award for the most accurate, careful and ethical use of advertising. Not PSA’s, but an award for consumer brands that have decided to take into consideration all the potential effects of their marketing and have built a plan that carefully avoids abusing the power of advertising. This would need to be the pinnacle of achievement. So what is nicer than titanium? Unobtainium? Kryptonite? Crystal? I sort of like that. Crystal clear. No blemishes. And here is what I’d like to see entered next year.
Advertising to adults is not without controversy. And although I’m concerned about consuming for consumption’s sake, I am able to see the role advertising plays in moving our economy forward and the benefit to society that can be created. However, when it comes to advertising to children, it’s much more difficult to find any redeeming value created by the activity. In fact, to the contrary, it is easy to see how destructive the process is to most of us.
First, let’s take a few words to get into the brain of a child. As we all know from experience, children are not small grownups. Their brains are fundamentally different, the big difference being that right hemisphere brain development doesn’t really kick in until the age of twelve. This is important because without the right hemisphere involved, all decisions and concepts are very black and white. If you have kids, you’ve experienced this: The child that learns at school that drinking can be dangerous and suddenly thinks that glass of wine is going to kill dad. All things go into a category of good or bad; there are no grey areas for children. And this leaves them fundamentally and developmentally unequipped to deal with advertising in the way an adult can. If you sit with a child and watch TV commercials, you will notice how vigorously effective the messages are. “I want that.” “Can I have that?” “I need that.” These words come out of their mouths with seemingly every message, and they mean it and they believe it and they are defenseless against it. And that is the issue.
So what if we stopped it? What if we decided that advertising to children was something none of would engage in anymore? Perhaps because we legislate it, or perhaps because we just decide to police ourselves. We can get into the how a bit later. But what if we stopped? What would happen? A lot of things would happen and almost all seem to be for the good of society.
Let’s start with mom and dad and the relationship with their kids. Without the messages suggesting to kids that they eat differently than how mom and dad would like them to eat, trips to the grocery store and meals at home would almost certainly contain dramatically less complete and total meltdowns. Imagine a relationship with kids where moms and dads aren’t caving in to the constant pressure their kids apply to get what they want. Helping to create this pressure is why companies advertise to a group of people who have neither jobs nor income. And it is working. More than 10 percent of 12 to 13-year-olds admitted to asking their parents more than 50 times for products they have seen advertised. That fact alone should get every parent to sign a petition. For the potential to have a little quiet time, if nothing else. But the statistics go beyond bugging mom and dad and into a much sadder place. More than half of children surveyed (53%) said that buying certain products makes them feel better about themselves. This is a pattern we all need less of, not more. So a ban on advertising to kids would improve the child-parent dynamic, as well as improve our kids’ self-esteem. So far, so good.
But without all this ad-supported revenue there would be much less programming developed and broadcast for children. Whole networks like Nick might cease to exist. Horror of horrors! Children would be forced off the couch and made to think of new ways to entertain themselves. Some of those games might include moving the body. These days they would probably just go online or play video games but at least that takes a bit of interaction. Kids would mourn the demise of the Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, but they’d get over it. So I guess I can live with that, too.
But a ban would mean less dollars for the advertising industry. Oh, lord we can’t have that! Well, in my experience this isn’t really what happens. The dollars get moved; they don’t go away. Now, if you specialize in advertising to kids then, yes, your business would be a casualty. My bet is, those people would find their talents put to use in ways they would actually prefer in the end. The advertising industry as a whole doesn’t all agree and in fact, get quite excited, about doing even more adverting to children. Chinese children.
In his book, Kids as Customers, James McNeal estimates that there are about three quarters of a billion children in other industrialized countries: “Letting one’s marketing imagination run wild for a moment, if these children spend only half of what U.S. children spend, their market potential would be equal to around $86.5 billion.” When this kind of money is involved ethics and morality often become more difficult to measure.
Sweden, Ireland, Greece, Italy, Denmark and Belgium all have bans on advertising to children under 12. It is interesting to note that in Sweden, the reason given is the way a child’s brain works, it is “not fair play.” I agree. But even in Europe where bans do exist, the amount of money involved has made progress slow and sometimes nonexistent. A proposed ban in the UK was blocked as recently as ‘08. The actual dollars spent advertising to children is difficult to come by and the figures I’ve been able to find vary, but a little over $15 billion annually is a moderate estimate. It is shocking to realize that is about 250% more than it was as recently as 1992. To me these numbers seem scary.
So, what about the companies that rely on advertising to kids as a way to drive sales? What happens to them? My sense is that they will be fine, too. They’ll probably sell a little less and they’ll probably have to make the products a bit healthier since it will be mom and dad that they’re trying to convince. But they will be fine. In fact, I think they’ll feel better. My old client at Burger King used to talk about pulling all the kids’ advertising as a way to garner some positive press and put pressure on McDonald’s to do the same, knowing that it was a much, much bigger part of McDonald’s business. My guess would be they debate this at McDonald’s, too, but I have no way of knowing that. The trouble that arises when ethics and money place pressure in opposite directions is that no company feels it can afford to go first. The loss of competitive advantage would be too much.
Then the question is one of adding a bit more pressure to the ethical side of the scale. I’ve been scratching my head for some potential solutions and it’s a sticky problem, but I’m not completely convinced it is hopeless just because market forces have proven that there is big money to be made by spending billions to influence our innocent and defenseless offspring. The first and most obvious solution is a ban not unlike other developed European nations. Our heavily lobbied politics makes this seem an unlikely scenario, at first glance. Unless the lobbyists were for some reason asked to do the opposite of what we might expect. It is actually beginning to make more sense for fast food lobbyists to actually ask for the ban. They need the publicity that puts them on the right side of these issues and, if legislation is created, it makes a new and even playing field where there is no disadvantage created.
Perhaps our own industry could lobby to stop the behavior. God knows advertising people need the good press.
Another potential bit of leverage might be for ethical and fair use of advertising to become a common way companies are rated. Today we see more and more data made available in the areas of a company’s impact on health, sustainability and the ethical treatment of workers and even animals. How about ethical treatment of our most precious resource? Our children. What is your score on fair and ethical use of advertising? This can be measured and quantified and it can become part of the buying decision. Not just for people with children, but for all consumers. Advertisers would reconsider quickly if they noticed that people we’re buying their product as adults because they advertised to kids.
So my hope for the 2011 Cannes Crystal award is some brilliant agency works with their client to pull all the advertising to children and takes home the Cannes Crystal Grand Prix Lion in the inaugural year. And that would be the end of that. Because as soon as you can win an award for it, we ad folk are all over that shit.
Most people in advertising have a list of categories they will and will not work on, and it evolves. My list has evolved and probably will continue to. At the beginning of my career, I wouldn’t work on any pharma. I probably would have worked on tobacco given the opportunity but luckily for me I got the opportunity to work against tobacco and I got one hell of an education in the process. My time working on TRUTH, the youth anti-tobacco campaign, taught me a lot about early brain development and soon I added to my personal list that I wouldn’t do any advertising that targeted kids (defined by most brain scientists as under 12). As we took on the BK account, we politely offered that we could not work on that part of their marketing. And in subsequent years declined multiple invitations to work on the kids business. Once one of our adult spots for Sponge Bob Squarepants (hard to believe, but young adults love Sponge Bob) was repurposed and re-edited by another agency to add toy footage and aired on Nick. I was livid and we got it pulled. The client owns the work, but pulled it out of respect for the relationship. We all work to bring our personal values in line with our professional life and there are shades of grey to these decisions. But shades of grey don’t exist in our society’s decision to allow millions to be spent targeting an audience that is literally and physiologically incapable of protecting and defending themselves from a message probably doesn’t have their very best interest at heart. It’s not a matter of the rightness or wrongness of the products being advertised. That is a grey area. But there are children and there are adults. And the duty of adults in society is to protect it’s children. And that is black and white.
Posts Tagged ‘Advertising’
If I could marry a presentation this would be it.
So here’s a pop up that I didn’t automatically close. Guinness just have that knack of doing stuff which catches your eye and this was no exception.
A video and a call to action. That was it. But it did the trick.
Funnily enough when I actually went to click through to see where it would take me, it went nowhere.
There’s no perfect template for creative briefs. But with the iPad there could well be. This template would be interactive and customizable in real-time – just drag ‘n drop the elements you need. Or download new ones.
The name of this software? iBrief of course.
This. Is. The. Future.
Novel approach to advertising the fact that Bluetooth comes with every new Ford model.
This was taken just prior to kick off, but no more than around 8,000 fans attended the match at the 25,000+ stadium in Reading.
London Irish are a rugby club to watch, though. According to their CEO, the club has ambitions to become the Manchester United of club rugby (without the debt).
Whether achieving that goal, in perspective, will leave shareholders dispondent or elated, I’m not sure. It depends in large part on the growth of the sport as a whole, which is of course out of the hands of Irish alone.
They’re soon to release a new content offering, perhaps in the form of an app. I can’t say much more other than that it excited me a bit!
Smart. Very smart. Flipping the conventional model on its ear and now empty seats = opportunity.
Last week Gizmodo spotted that Google has filed a patent entitled “Claiming Real Estate in Panoramic or 3D Mapping Environments for Advertising,” which in short allows them to paste media (adverts) onto the images.
Its interesting how the mouse in Street View follows the 3D space, we assume to allow any data to be tagged to buildings etc.
With data of course comes the ability to provide click throughs and advertising. We dont think it will limited to simple images however as video can also be embedded into panoramas as one of our previous examples shows.
Copy + paste from:
Now this is neat.
It seems like the car co’s are really stepping up their game recently with great stuff like this and the stunt Mini pulled off in Amsterdam which I wrote about recently here. I love this. It’s brilliant, unexpected, ambient and I’d imagine a wow moment when you see it in the flesh. It wasn’t the kind of thing I’d expect Alfa Romeo to be doing and that’s always a good thing.
So Alfa Romeo Belgium have been unconventionally taking one of their cars to shopping centres in Belgium to demonstrate just how easy it is to buy. The ambient stunt, associated with the Salon de l’Auto et de la Moto de Bruxelles (14 to 24 January), incredibly suspends the car to make it fit into a shopping trolley. Genius.
The tag line, “Your chance to own an Alfa Romeo” is a bit dull though. It doesn’t really motivate me enough. How about “Put an Alfa Romeo in your shopping trolley today!” Too long? Oh well.
Pictures below were taken in Woluwé Shopping Centre and will soon be replicated in other shopping centres in Antwerp and Liege.
Jeans brands love a manifesto. Diesel has a new one, which is a call to arms to, um… Be Stupid.
Summed up in the film above, the new manifesto basically sees ‘stupid’ pitted against ‘smart’, with smart in this context meaning stuffy, risk-averse, geeky, while ‘stupid’ means brave, daring, and creative. “To be stupid is to be brave, when you risk something, that’s stupid,” says the manifesto. “The stupid aren’t afraid to fail. Why? Because they’re stupid! We think that you are probably pretty stupid too.”
The manifesto includes reference to Renzo Rosso, the founder of Diesel, who built his manufacturing empire by initially selling jeans that looked secondhand. “Renzo Rosso is stupid,” says the Be Stupid manifesto. “Stupid is motoring around in your Ford transit and visiting shop owner after shop owner, trying to sell your brand new denim made to look worn. ‘It’s a sign of innovation. When you are already doing the things nobody even thinks about.’ That’s a very stupid quote, Mister Rosso. Respect.”
The campaign is backed up by a series of posters (a selection of which are shown here) shot by photographers Kristin Vicari, Melodie McDaniel and Chris Buck, each showing examples of people ‘acting stupid’. In addition to this, Diesel are trying to recruit ‘stupid people’ (though judging by the call for entries, which asks if you “are you doing something particuarly stupid right now…like starting a band, building a tree house or creating an art installation”, are in fact simply creative people) to be part of a forthcoming music video that will feature the new Diesel collection.
Created by Anomaly (who recently picked up the Sony account from Fallon), the campaign certainly takes a more bombastic approach than previous Diesel campaigns, which have been more noteworthy for their style than their taglines. But while it may be eyecatching, when we’re all fed a regular diet of genuine stupidity via the media and TV most days already, will the ‘Be Stupid’ tag just prove grating? Or is everyone in fact longing to out themselves as stupid to Diesel?
The full Be Stupid campaign can be viewed online here.
What dyu reckon? I like it. But then don’t really understand the link between being stupid and buying Diesel. Or maybe I shouldn’t take things so matter of fact. Would I be stupid for buying Diesel because of its astronomically premium pricing? Or are they wanting people to be stupid? Are they trying to make the notion of being stupid a positive thing? And how can people advocate buying Diesel products if its seen as being stupid? The messaging can be construed so many ways. Overall, I’m leaning closer towards fail but I might be horribly overthinking it all.
Then I think I started to get it a bit more after a friend had this to say.. Still odd though.
No jeans at all in that video ad, interesting. I kind of get what they are doing – they are supporting creativity and chance takers over the boring, well thought out approaches. Its like an antidote to the current conservative thinking. If you’re Diesel, you are an exciting, interesting chancer, rather than a predictable smartypants.
So here’s the first in what should be a long and plentiful line of beauty. Here I’ll give a Pass or a Fail to ad campaigns, gadgets, film reviews, anything really.
Without further ado, I love this ad even though it looks to be unofficial seeing as I found it via Flickr. Rayban should hire him and make it official!
The Litm(us)an Test :
Pass or fail?
Evian’s Roller Babies is the runaway commercially branded hit having been watched (at latest count) over 30 million times, making it the 5th most popular YouTube video of 2009, and the most watched commercial/ad/whatever you want to call it.
I forget where it was now but one person made a comment that went something like this..
“Beyond measuring the cute factor, can the client actually measure and attribute a boost in product sales to this effort? If so, I’d love to know how they’re measuring it.”
I liked their thinking. But at the same time I think that’s discounting a lot of the great work that has evidently been put in. So let us postulate a bit more about what made it so successful after you’ve had a look at it yourself if you haven’t already.
If we were to deconstruct the commercial, why has this become the most watched branded ad of 2009 and what is it about it that could be then replicated to anywhere near similar success levels?
Well, it’s a bit of fun isn’t it. You watch it and get that cutesy, fun, smiley and warm feeling. It has a backing track that lends to the fun, remember it did pretty well for Honda aswell in the Cog. (Reacquainted myself with the ‘making of’ here.) But then, in this case, you could just as easily have the backing track with nothing compelling in the forefront so credit where credit is due. I just don’t make enough of a link to Evian from the ad. It doesn’t make me want to go out and buy water, Evian water. Much like I’m not going to go out and buy a Honda tomorrow in fact, even though the financial investment and level of decision making associated to the two are complete polar opposites thus there being more chance of me buying Evian.. (Ok, bad comparison.)
I like the ad purely on the merit of the ad, in fact, I don’t think it sells enough what it is actually linked to. But maybe that was part of the trick. Maybe that’s why it did so well. People will share it as a piece of content because it is so subtly branded more than if Evian was plugged all over the place from start to finish. It loses its value as a piece of content if overly branded.
So the question that is left hanging over my head after thinking about and writing this is should brands now be concentrating less on what they are actually trying to sell and from an online perspective at least, be creating content that is watchable, entertaining and shareable in order to sell more of X. Again I think of the Cog ad. And which brings me back to what the commenter asked at the start of this post. Did Evian sell more water? Did Honda sell more cars? Did this achieve the goals set out from the off? What were the goals? I don’t know actually. On any of the above but it’d be good to find out more though to quench my curiosity.
The online integration is however, pretty fantastic and extends the life far further, another contributing factor to its success. Evidently, this was all very cleverly planned and executed.
It isn’t simply a video that has been put up on YouTube and forgotten about. There’s tonnes of content around the video. Some really brilliant stuff like teasers, interviews, wallpapers, where to listen to and download the music and of course, the obligatory Facebook fan page. This isn’t one of those all too familiar cases when a client thinks that by doing some kind of online video to promote something that it is going to automatically go viral. Yes, the dreaded v word. A sterling effort then.
What do you *feel* when you watch the ad? A compelling urge to buy Evian? An enjoyable feeling of escapism for a few minutes? I think i’m with the latter camp. Share the love.
Tags: Advertising, branded commercial, commercial, evian, feeling, honda, honda cog, most watched, Video, video content, water, youtube
Posted in Advertising, Case Studies, Cool, Social Media, Trends 6 Comments »
Now perhaps somewhat of a TED classic, this is definitely worthy of your time, the video that is. Rory is not only someone with a deeply ingrained wealth of knowledge and experience, but I think he’s truly emblematic of our time. Why? Well, along with all that, it would seem he maintains a curiosity for this new world we live in and an enthusiasm to try out all the new tools that have sprung up and become part of every day life. In this TED talk he mentions amongst other things, the skills and creativity involved in creating intangible value, and that’s an important one, especially with social media, creating value that you can’t touch. I like the musings that advertising isn’t getting people to buy stuff that they do not need as much as it is getting people to value what they already own. Fascinating stuff.
“We need to appreciate what we already have, rather than agonising over what we don’t.”
A point is also made that many of life’s problems could be solved by “tinkering with perception”. Isn’t that what we’re all trying to do with all these creative, groundbreaking projects on behalf of bold / brave clients? Challenge perceptions, push the boundaries, reach new heights? The Diamond Shreddies are a perfect case study, where something so simple to everyone (in hindsight) as flipping shreddies on it’s side resulted in raising sales by 18%. Truly remarkable. We’re told that the traditional shreddies is old and boring (below) whilst being shaped as a diamond instantly makes them ‘better’, ‘more flavourful’ and ‘crunchier’. Astounding. It’s the same shreddies but the perception we are being sold is of these new experiences to be had with the Diamond Shreddies. And we believe them. Hence why sales rose.
Of course, I digress. There was some criticism of the points Rory made here and then furthermore in the comments.. but I got bored of the arguing and going round in circles in the comments but hey, it’s encouraging some debate and thought around the subject isn’t it.
After all that waffle, here it is.. Enjoy.
Tags: Advertising, canada, consumerism, diamond shreddies, Marketing, ogilvy, perceived value, perceptions, rory sutherland, shreddies, TED, TED Talk, value
Posted in Advertising, Cool, Funny, Trends 2 Comments »
Merry Christmas to you.
What a lovely idea this and told with an incredibly simple yet brilliant narrative. With a $10K budget for their holiday card, Mother London made the sensible decision to instead of giving out a load of smaller gifts to a lot of people, they would make this holiday truly special for just one person.
The ending is an unexpected one so worth watching for the duration. Another case in point that sometimes the simplest ideas turn out to be the most powerful.
Really great presentation deck from Thomas Wagner.
This reminds me of the kind of deck that Andy Bellass produced when I worked at Splendid. Maybe because he’s from an advertising background, I don’t know but he makes decks that don’t look anything like your generic Powerpoint presentations and they take you on a thought provoking and emotive journey, almost holding your hand along the way.
Check it out below and follow him on Twitter at @thomas_wagner
You know you’re campaign is a success when it’s being ripped off. This little number is great, following in Dixons footsteps and rather funny it is too.
Good idea and well timed. The only thing I wondered, when was creativer ever a word?
An absolute must read.
Tags: Advertising, advocacy, branding, conversation, culture, frank striefler, Goodies, Planning, planning-ness 2009, presentation, slideshare, story
Posted in Advertising, Goodies, Planning 4 Comments »
The nominations are in and the shortlist has been made for post of the month in September over on Neil’s blog Only Dead Fish.
All shortlisted are worthy of your time so I recommend checking each and every out (but vote for the last one yeah?)
Here they are below and you can vote for your favourite here
How To Be A Better Brand Planner by Julie Cottin
This is Not The Time For Big Lazy Brands from Helge Tenno
Why Not Take A Moment To Define Success Before You Pursue It by Alex Bogusky
When The S**t Hits The Fan, It’s Time To Innovate by Alan Moore
A Brief Message For European Marketing Directors from Gemma Teed
Kate Moss & Me by Neil Perkin
Is Social Media Measurement Really Meaningless? by some random chancer..
Tags: Advertising, alan moore, alex bogusky, gemma teed, helge tenno, julie cottin, neil perkin, only dead fish, post of the month, september, Social Media
Posted in Advertising, Social Media 1 Comment »
During, Andy asked them to obviously think about Google when creating experiences. For me, what resonated most was that he reminded everyone to experiment often, be creative, try new things, and don’t be afraid to fail.
I don’t think that happens enough. Trying, innovating and sometimes failing. It’s easier to stick to what’s known rather than taking risks to potentially produce truly innovative stuff. Creativity and ideas generation is still alive and well but execution is being stifled by budgets and ignorance to enter new and unchartered territory. Budgets will always to some extent stifle what can and can’t be done. Also, understandably, it’s difficult from a large client perspective when there’s a lack of knowledge about all things digital and a hesistancy to try something that bit different. But that’s what the agency is there for, to bring them in to this new age of brilliance. I commend the one’s that make it out there in the wild and receive award after award but for every one stand out idea, there’s a thousand that get binned. It’s a shame.
Many of the experiments in 87 cool things highlighted mashups, interactivity, unique data usage, and the fusion of virtual worlds and reality.
From Google Maps and YouTube Annotations, to Insights for Search and a wide array of APIs, it’s easier than ever to play with inventive marketing ideas, using Google of course. We’re told to think of these tools and platforms as our blank canvas, and just have fun.
These innovative campaigns, projects, and even accidents can encourage us to expand our imaginations, think beyond our expectations and consider the impossible. Did you ever think Ohio could be a piano? Or that you would analyze your daily food consumption, and catalog it by cuisine? Or that an engaging and informative website could live entirely on YouTube? I didn’t!