Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Movie Studio sets a New Low for Irresponsible marketing

Every once in a while a brand does something so stupid, you have to say, "What were they thinking?" This is clearly one of those times. As reported in Variety and picked up by Adweek, Twentieth Century Fox has been promoting its new movie "A Cure for Wellness" with a variety of fake news sites that include outrageous stories about the health of President Donald Trump and other made-up articles that encourage readers to share them using the hashtag #cureforwellness. 

The publicity stunt has received condemnation from some marketing executives and consumers, with one person on Twitter writing, "Boycott #CureForWellness for highly irresponsible creation of fake news in today's environment."

The studio defends this by saying the fake news concept is a tie-in with the movie plot - a fake cause for an illness. But, after all the pre and post-election nonsense around "fake news" and the ongoing turmoil in and around the Trump White House,what brand would possible think a "fake news" promotion is a good idea?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Brands promote inclusion in a year of anti-Muslim vitriol

Something I saw on TV during the holidays was so good, it made me think, maybe there’s hope for the advertising business after all! The Amazon Prime TV spot we showcase in this edition of CMN featuring a white-haired Christian pastor and his friend, a Muslim imam, was compelling, culturally sensitive and brave. It stands as an example of pitch-perfect brand messaging. With all the anti-Muslim garbage slung around during the 2016 election, it was a reassuring example of the advertising industry’s ability to tell a story – albeit a very short one – and make a real emotional connection.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Great Breakfast Cereal Feud

Who knew the next battle in the aftermath of a presidential election that established new lows in American politics would be fought at the breakfast table? Have we now entered into a whole new low in advertising? Will we now see an environment in which brands are punished by “fringe” elements for making basic, responsible brand management and marketing stewardship decisions?
Since former Breitbart News chairman Stephen Bannon’s appointment as one of the president-elect’s top advisers, scrutiny of the “conservative news” website has intensified.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Breitbart News is now asking its readers to boycott Kellogg Co. after the cereal maker said it would no longer advertise on the website.
In a post on Breitbart News on Wednesday, the publication called on readers to sign a #DumpKelloggs petition against the manufacturer, whose brands include Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies and Cheez-It.
This week Kellogg said it would pull its ads from Breitbart News after consumers notified the manufacturer that its products were appearing on the site. A company spokesperson told the Associated Press, “We regularly work with our media buying partners to ensure our ads do not appear on sites that aren’t aligned with our values as a company.”
Instead of leaving it alone, according to the WSJ story, Breitbart fought back like a seventh grade bully. “Boycotting Breitbart News for presenting mainstream American ideas is an act of discrimination and intense prejudice,” Alexander Marlow, Breitbart News editor-in-chief, said in the Breitbart News article.
The questions are many. Is this action justified? Is Kellogg asking consumers to “boycott” Breitbart News? Are they telling people to reject the hard-right site? Seems to me they are merely managing their brands in a responsible manner, steering them away from associations that could have damaging long-term consequences. Consumers are perfectly justified in questioning why the breakfast cereal brands they buy for their families were advertised on a website that’s been associated with white supremacy, among other nasty things.
This is clearly a negative by-product of the algorithm-based advertising world we’re living in. Can brands be absolutely certain of all the places where their ads are appearing? And should this be the way media conducts itself? I’m not aware of any “mainstream” media outlet that would say, “Choose not to run your ads here, and we’ll promote a boycott of your products.” And further, could this kind of nastiness eventually become the norm?

My advice to Breitbart: Don’t fuck with Tony the Tiger!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Right Way (And the Right Reasons) to Disagree With Your Boss

Here's a great little piece that came across my radar screen today. From Fast Company, helpful advice for anyone who needs to "play well with others."

Friday, October 14, 2016

Toyota’s “You Don’t Own Me” is Less Stupid, Still Laughable

I’ve often said Honda and Toyota have had some of the industry’s stupidest advertising. It’s safe to say most of their efforts to reach the Millennial demographic have just been embarrassing. Now along comes this spot for the Corolla using Leslie Gore’s classic 1963 song, “You Don’t Own Me.” Great tune, great hook, great production by the incomparable Quincy Jones, enough said. With a hook like that, the spot will get your attention.

Finally, a Toyota spot that is less stupid. But it’s all downhill from there.

According to Miriam Tremelling, writing about the effort in Campaign US, the ad’s best performance is among 21- to 35-year-olds, and displays stronger Desire and Relevance scores among males in that age group. To me, it’s mind-boggling that this demographic group, which puts strong emphasis on individuality and self-expression, would be interested in such a plain vanilla car. And males? C’mon, the Corolla is a girl’s car, plain and simple.

I don’t care what song they use, or how “empowering” the song’s message is, Toyota’s effort to convince this demographic that driving a Corolla will somehow empower them is about as laughable as their recent effort to convince you there’s something “bold” about the Camry.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Budweiser’s New Campaign Taps Into Political Climate

The King of Beers’ latest summer season redesign of its labels is attracting a lot of attention, but some of it is definitely for the wrong reasons.

Budweiser announced the campaign, officially named “America Is in Your Hands,” last month and will run it until after November’s presidential election. As a recent NY Times editorial pointed out, if the brand was hoping to start a conversation, it accomplished that and then some.

Is this patriotism, or pandering? Considering the fact that A-B is no longer an American company – its corporate parent is the Belgian-Brazilian beverage conglomerate Anheuser-Busch InBev. – it’s no wonder they’re getting plenty of heat on social media.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Chevy’s tribute to Prince: “So good, it’s running in print, too.”

Adweek’sroundup of brands’ tributes to Prince, who passed away last month at only 57 years of age, includes mostly “purple-clad homages.” Very predictably, lots of brands wanted to “join the conversation” without being caught in the act of – well – promoting their brand. Some didn’t manage it well, and one did so quite brilliantly.

Adweek points out that at least two brands had second thoughts about their posts and deleted them outright. Many others remain up, though some are clearly in questionable taste—mostly because they feel overly self-promotional. It’s a fine line, and it’s so easy to get it wrong that I’m thinking most brands, unless they do have some connection to Prince or are in the entertainment industry, should probably have done nothing.