Tuesday, December 31, 2013

WSJ looks back at best and worst ads of 2013.

At the risk of being predictable, I thought it would be appropriate to wrap up the year with a look at best and worst advertising executions of 2013. Suzanne Vranica's Wall Street Journal piece points out a few surprises and a few others maybe not so much.

Among the very best - the Dodge Ram spot featuring the late Paul Harvey reading from his 'So God Made a Farmer' essay.

How good was the Dodge Ram spot? Viewed online more than 22 million times, and according to a Chrysler spokesperson, the brand gained nearly a point of market share between January and October. Now that's moving the needle, and doing it in a genuine, original, heartfelt way. As much as I dislike using religious references to sell products, you have to admit this one makes you feel something, and certainly appeals to the core truck buyer. This is the kind of spot Hal Riney used to make, and seeing it brings to mind the "Morning in America" work Riney did for Ronald Reagan's re-election campaign in 1984.

Let's hope 2014 brings us a lot more advertising like this.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Tongue-in-cheek holiday ads shake off the sugarcoating - is this a surprise, or just good advertising?

"We were surprised that a majority of Americans said they like to see Scrooge-like themes, or the naughtier side of things, in holiday ads." That was the statement by Becky Jones, vice president of marketing and research at Viamedia, the Kentucky-based cable advertising sales firm that conducted a recent study on the matter of holiday advertising. Her comments were included in an interesting LA Times piece about holiday ads.

I don't know if this makes me sound like a Scrooge, but is anyone surprised by this? Isn’t this what good advertising should be doing? Being disruptive? Entertaining? Amusing? If it isn’t doing any of these, how will it break through the clutter? How will it get people talking about the brand? And we know there is plenty of clutter around the Christmas shopping season.

Will the "naughty" Jingle Balls spot from K-mart actually make the big K a more interesting place to shop, as suggested by Syracuse University professor Ed Russell? I think that's a bit of a stretch. My local K-Mart could be described in many ways, but "interesting" is not one of them. But in the LA Time piece, he very accurately states this is an ad you would not expect from K-Mart. And that's the whole point. It makes you say, "Hey, that's K-Mart doing that. Maybe they're not so boring these days."

Read the LA Times story - you'll enjoy it.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Year-end venting, bad acronyms and brand fails

It's that time of year again - for well wishes? For glad tidings? New Year's resolutions? Of course not, silly. It's time for me to vent again about how crazy this world of branding has become.

Adweek's 25 biggest brand fails of 2013 is an entertaining look back at a bunch of blunders - some obvious and others much more subjective - by marketers such as JC Penny, Hyundai, Barilla and others.

The sidebar on this is the most revealing misuse of the English language by so-called marketers - "fail." I guess if we accept the use of the word "leverage" as a verb, then why not drag a few verbs down the same linguistic rabbit hole? The comments thread on this one is priceless.

Along the same lines, Valerie Pritchard's 12/18 item on Health Care Communication News was a great summary of pesky jargon that we could really do without in the New Year.

Valeria, I agree whole-heartedly that "learnings" is not a real word, and "tent pole" is a horrible, almost painful metaphor.

I also got a chuckle out of her "worst acronym" example - PANK. Having done a bit of work in two industries that use far too many acronyms - healthcare and telecommunications - I can tell you this was a spot-on example of a genuinely stupid acronym. Go to the story to see what "PANK" stands for.

Happy New Year. Let's hope it's one with fewer acronyms and more learnings.