My Top Three Super Bowl Commercials

In no particular order here is my top three list for best Super Bowl commercials. I have worked on a few Super Bowl efforts over the years at BBDO for Pepsi, Visa, and FedEx but I am beginning to think the ideas for Super Sunday are taking a back seat to over done special effects, borrowed celebrity interest, and just plain “let’s throw big money at the concept” thinking.

The Coke spot and Kia spot for instance are perfect examples of the advertising agencies entertaining themselves in public at the client’s expense, what value was created for these 60 second, $5.6 million investments? 
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1) Chrysler Farmer – Paul Harvey’s two minute tribute to the farmer captured my attention with the delivery, the great still pictures and the writing.  If Dodge Ram wants to stand for rugged, hard working, salt of the earth men, then this commercial delivers on the brand strategy. 
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2) Tide Montana Stain – Let’s give Procter and Gamble credit, they developed a commercial that featured the product’s key benefit – stain removal and tied in the 49ers and the Ravens.  I am not sure the Super Bowl is the right venue for a detergent commercial, but they get an A+ for delivering the message and I am sure the viral aspect of this creative will pay off for P&G. 
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3) Budweiser Clydesdales – I have to admit, I have been extremely negative about the Budweiser Clydesdale commercials in the past couple of years especially since they were created by BBDO’s sister agency.  The magic formula here was the emotion packed story that brings out the best quality in all of us.  That little tug on our heart strings delivered the brand message of heritage, tradition and quality.  Will it sell any Bud? I am not sure.

Pepsi Will Drop Its Label if Argentina Wins World Cup

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If Argentina wins the World Cup, Pepsi Cola plans to follow the example of Argentina’s coach Diego Maradona, who says he’ll celebrate by running around naked in Buenos Aires.

Not to be outdone, Pepsi announced that the company’s soft drink bottles will be sold for a week in Argentina with no label if that country wins the soccer tournament. To illustrate what that would look like, Pepsi is running print ads this week from BBDO Argentina showing a Pepsi-shaped plastic bottle of dark liquid dressed in nothing but a blue label fastened to the neck of the bottle reading, “If the coach goes naked, we will, too. Pepsi promises.”

Mr. Maradona, a frequently controversial former soccer star who is coaching his first World Cup team, apparently responded to a radio interviewer who asked how he would celebrate an Argentine victory by saying that he would strip and run naked around the Obelisk, a famous Buenos Aires landmark.

That was enough to prompt BBDO Argentina to make a cheeky bid to grab attention for Pepsi during the World Cup. In the agency’s last campaign, Pepsi changed its name to Pecsi to reflect the way the brand’s name sounds when pronounced in Argentine-accented Spanish.

Argentina isn’t tipped to win the World Cup, but the country isn’t a long shot, either. Brazil and Spain are considered the tournament’s favorites, but Argentina boasts star player Lionel Messi and the odds on Argentina emerging next month as the champion are about 6-1. Argentina has played only one game so far, an easy victory over Nigeria, and on Thursday morning faces a mediocre South Korean team, whose only standout player is Park Ji-Sung. (Mr. Park plays during the regular season for Manchester United, whose fans like to greet the South Korean player with the chant “He shoots, he scores, he eats Labradors.”)

Starbucks Launches Instant Coffee.

Having worked with Nestle on its Nescafe brand throughout the world I found this very interesting. I always believed Nestle should have created a Starbucks style cafe and add credibility to its coffee heritage for instant coffees. Now Starbucks has done it.
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Starbucks launches its first major advertising and marketing campaign Tuesday for Via, the instant-coffee product it spent 20 years developing. The marketer is tapping traditional and social media, and asking consumers if they can tell the difference between the instant variety and the brewed coffee that made it a household name.

The chain is expecting between 8 million and 10 million consumers to visit its 7,500 company-run cafes in the U.S. and Canada to participate in a taste test that runs Friday through Monday. Participants will receive a “thank you” card good for a free coffee on their next visit, and $1 off their purchase of Via at any Starbucks.

Part of the idea for the taste test, said Terry Davenport, Starbucks senior VP-marketing, came from the Chicago market, where Starbucks did its only advertised test of Via. While the TV ads led to a high level of awareness, consumers weren’t motivated to visit stores — so the brand created an event in hopes of spurring its faithful into action.

“Instead of selling something at them, we ask them to participate with us,” he said. In so doing, “we’re using the best weapon in our tool kit, one that on one else has, our store-level partners.” Starbucks is sending its 4 million Facebook friends invitations to participate, with the anticipation that they will invite their friends. “It has a multiplier effect,” Mr. Davenport said.

“I’ve been fooling people for almost a year now, at home, at the office. I make coffee for my wife almost every day,” Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said in a call with reporters. “I tell people this is the instant version of Starbucks brewed coffee and they’re shocked.”
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With this launch, Starbucks is expanding distribution of Via from test markets Chicago, Seattle and London to stores throughout the U.S. and Canada. In addition to its own cafes, Starbucks Via will now be sold in REI, Office Depot, Compass, United Airlines, Barnes & Noble cafes, and Marriott and Omni Hotels. Via will break in to mass grocery in 2010.

Mr. Schultz said that the chain is looking to create “additional usage occasions” for Starbucks coffee. The idea is that heavy coffee drinkers may have a cup of Starbucks on the way to work and a mug of swill once they get there.

Starbucks sees additional opportunities with travelers and campers. Mr. Schultz initially defined instant coffee as a $17 billion market, but has expanded that estimation to $21 billion, based on updated international sales figures. Instant coffee is much more popular outside the U.S., making up about 40% of worldwide consumption.

While such a retail strategy seems unorthodox, it has worked for companies such as Red Box video, which rents DVDs outside supermarkets. Cranium, the popular board-game, grew its business by scoring distribution at Starbucks stores. Red Bull catapulted to prominence in part by its popularity as a mixer with vodka.

“All of those outlets make total sense,” said Lynn Dornblaser, director-consumer-package-goods insight at Mintel International. “But that’s not what a major market position should be, because it’s only going to be a tiny, tiny percentage of consumers.”

Starbucks acknowledged that another reason for holding off on mass grocery is ensuring that Via will be merchandised with other Starbucks products, and away from Nescafe. The Nestle product has mounted offensives in Seattle and Chicago, describing Via as a product that costs 400% more, or about $1 a packet.

Six Social Fashion Sites Worth a Look

This time of year with NewYork’s Fashion Week upon us is the perfect opportunity for designers to dynamically and creatively encourage and join the consumers in a discussion. Fashion fans are chomping at the bit for content from their favorite designers — which is why fashion sites are thriving. Fashion sites and indie fashion bloggers may not have the fashion critics’ pulpit (yet), but they are creating the future of the monthly glossy, and the future of the fashion Marcom system.

Step one is listening and engaging with your customers via social media channels, step two is to create social shopping opportunities and provide easy paths to purchase via social media channels. While designers may be apprehensive in giving up control, social media tools are actually launching pads for designers to strengthen their customer base and ultimately, grow their sales.

Here are six social fashion sites that every marketer worth her Prada handbag should be familiar with:
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Shopflick

Shopflick combines videos and shopping to create a truly unique online fashion and shopping experience and social community. The site draws from a strong network of indie and up and coming designers to provide shoppers the ability to find cutting edge, unique items and to helps brand touch base and engage with current and new customers through branded online stores, video commerce widgets and much more.
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Us Trendy

UsTrendy is a place where designers can post their portfolios, fans can judge them and then each season a collection is chosen using the most popular styles. Its tag line is, “…today’s inspiration… tomorrow’s trend…” UsTrendy produces the popular clothes and hosts events. They provide interaction and showcasing opportunities to designers, artists, models and fans through galleries, industry exposure, events and social networking connections. The site is a mash-up of Etsy.com and Linkedin.com.

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StyleCaster is looking to become the future site of online fashion through optimized fashion advice that is targeted to each user. This is the Amazon of fashion sites, where with every click they get to know you personal preference and taste, thereby giving you educated advice and marketing. This site is a mash-up of social network, editorial content and shopping and has just been given 4 million in funding.

Sense of Fashion

Sense of Fashion is the marketplace for upstart fashion designers, fashion lovers and sellers. It has an eBay-like capability for people to sell their fashion, shop or interact in their social network. Fans can show off their individual styles, favorite brands or even do e-commerce. Their goal is to connect designers with the very people who may inspire them, to also provide a platform for users to show off and sell their merchandise.

Est.Today

Est.Today is a fashion site for tweens that gives young girls the ability to design, display and purchase their own clothes. With personal creativity being the most stylish accessory this season, and now that young girls are paving the way for many new trends today according to a recent article in British Elle, this site capitalizes a the younger generations need for individual creativity.

Style Hop

StyleHop combines fashion and gaming to provide users with a fun rating system to decide on the popularity of branded styles. It incorporates yelp-like functionality to provide viewers information on popular sweaters and shoes for certain cities. Brands are given visibility though outfits, and users are able to comment on each picture with the ability to share the pictures on their other networks.

New Pepsi Campaign is Flat.

Here’s “Wordplay,” the first TV ad from newly crowned Pepsi shop TBWAChiatDay. The animated montage features feel-good messages (“love,” “optimism,” “joy”) with the brand’s spanking new logo taking the place of the letter “O.” Also on display: Happy colors and upbeat music, the latter in the form of the jangle-pop anthem “Energy” by The Apples in Stereo. And the words “Happy 2009” appear in different languages.

It’s all aimed at millennials. The commercial works the whole “let’s have a positive new year!” routine a bit too hard. It’s a lot like the beverage itself: Sweet and slightly elevating at first (owing to the caffeine, in the case of the drink), but a bit too syrupy overall and liable to leave behind a bitter aftertaste.

Now don’t get me wrong; the spot isn’t actively bad. It’s just uninspired and, to extend the cola metaphor, despite its peppy visuals and soundtrack, perhaps a tad flat…let me rephrase that, after 48 years with BBDO and great advertising this is more than a tad flat, it is boring.

Super Bowl Advertising Drops Due to the Economy

FedEx is punting on the 2009 Super Bowl, and the undisputed king of the Big Game — its agency, my former agency, BBDO — will be a lot more on the sidelines this year.

“Now’s not the time,” Steve Pacheco, ad director at Super Bowl stalwart FedEx, wrote on a company blog that the $3 million for a 30-second spot on NBC’s telecast wasn’t a prudent expenditure in tough economic times. “Make no mistake, our advertising presence in 18 Super Bowls since 1989 has strategically allowed FedEx to establish itself as a household name,” Mr. Pacheco wrote. “As a responsible employer of more than 290,000 employees and contractors worldwide, there is a time to justify such an ad spend and a time to step back. … A Super Bowl ad buy is not where we should put dollars at this time.”

That news — along with the fact that BBDO has lost prolific Super Bowl advertiser Pepsi in the U.S. to fellow Omnicom agencies TBWA/Chiat/Day and Arnell Group — leaves the onetime MVP agency of Super Bowl advertising prepping only half the spots it did last year. BBDO will produce only three commercials for Super Bowl XLIII, down from six commercials produced for the 2008 Super Bowl, seven in 2007 and five in 2006. BBDO’s only spots for the 2009 Super Bowl will be a 60-second commercial for the National Football League, a 30-second for Monster.com, and one more of undetermined length for NBC parent General Electric Co. (The game is being broadcast on NBC on Feb. 1.)

It’s a surprising development for my old agency that over the years has produced a steady stream of memorable Super Bowl ads not only for Pepsi and FedEx, but for Visa, Pizza Hut, Frito-Lay, Gillette, Charles Schwab and more.

A BBDO spokeswoman referred calls to FedEx regarding the shipping company’s decision not to advertise during the Super Bowl. Asked about the agency being down to just three commercials during the game, the spokeswoman declined to comment.

I think it’s a blow to BBDO’s DNA. It’s who they are. BBDO, they were the king of the Super Bowl.
BBDO would be preparing the day after the Super Bowl for next year’s Super Bowl. I wonder if they will be back or has a combination of the economy and interactive web advertising killed the big TV buys forever.

Pepsi ads created by BBDO have won six of the 20 USA Today Ad Meter polls, in which readers judge and critique the Super Bowl’s commercials. But the agency hasn’t won the crown since a 1998 Pepsi spot featuring a sky-surfer and a goose. Anheuser-Busch’s Budweiser or Bud Light — handled by Omnicom sibling DDB — has won every year since.
BBDO created some eight and a half minutes of spots for the game as recently as Super Bowl XXXV in 2001 for Pepsi, Visa, Pizza Hut and Frito-Lay, which included the rollout of the “Joy of Pepsi” campaign.

In 1997, the agency persuaded Muhammad Ali to appear in a spot for Pizza Hut that would air during the 1998 Super Bowl, introducing the fast-food chain’s new pizza, “The Greatest.” Mr. Ali’s nickname was “The Greatest of All-Time.” The spot was produced with plenty of time to go before the big game, but Pizza Hut officials decided at the eleventh hour to postpone the launch of “The Greatest” and continue marketing “The Edge.” BBDO started on Dec. 15, 1997, to produce a spot featuring “The Edge,” and had it done in time for the Jan. 26, 1998 Super Bowl.

For that same Super Bowl, BBDO produced a spot for FedEx entitled “Apology.” The commercial featured no sound or pictures, only color bars and text — which told viewers they should be seeing an advertisement for a fictional company, but the company’s ad agency used another shipping company, and the ad never arrived.

When the Packaging is the Product.


Sometimes the packaging is everything in marketing a product and that is certainly the case with this innovative can.

It used to be that the only place to get the authentic taste of GUINNESS® Draught beer was down your local pub or bar. Then, in the late 1980s, GUINNESS® Draught In Cans brought your local pub right into your own fridge. Suddenly, cans were cool again.

It’s the revolutionary widget in the cans that does it. The patented GUINNESS® In-Can System is an ingenious award-winning idea.

A tiny plastic widget jets a stream of bubbles into the GUINNESS® beer when the can is opened. I have to admit even though I am not a Guinness drinker that this is an incredible packaging idea that has rejuvenated the brand Internationally where there is not usually a pub down the street like here in Tokyo.

BBDO captured the magic of the Guinness froth in the TVC shown here called “alive inside.’ The cinematography is incredible.
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