The Most Epic of Splits

Every organization wants to go viral. But how? Interns and executives alike bang their heads against walls every day trying to answer that question.

Volvo and my new favorite action star of all time, Jean-Claude Van Damme, proved just how easy it can be just last week.

Make sure not to confuse this near-perfect piece of internet marketing with a stunt. It involves a stunt, but it is as thoughtful and sincere as marketing (read:story telling) gets.

The interesting thing about Volvo’s solution is that their insanely popular YouTube add has the same formula as a successful television add from any era.

Remember, as much as things appear to change they are mostly staying the same.

A Walk in the Clouds

Back in the 1990s Airwalk jumped from a young, middling shoe company to one of most dominating footwear firms on the planet.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote about the little engine that could – their successes and failures – in his classic exploration of epidemics, The Tipping Point.

Airwalk rose on the back of focused messaging and edgy, gutsy advertising. Not long after, they slipped on the back of growth and all the hazards that come with trying to do too much, too fast. It makes sense. They had to come back down to ground at some point. Because, you know, gravity.

At the height of their powers, Airwalk was pumping out advertisements that did not just promote their brand but tapped into the veins of their target market. They struck a nerve in a big way. They took a look at what the market offered and what was missing. Then they hit all the right notes with risky, sexy, funny ads – print, television and otherwise – and climbed high in the apparel world.

For me the two big takeaways are: The only thing in this world that matters are people (and what they want) and trajectory matters.

Enjoy a few of Airwalk’s classic ads while you think about how you can not just connect with your audience, but improve their lives.

– Words by Jeff



Movie Trailer Tuesday

First thing’s first: It’s 11/12/13 and that kind of thing is rare. Take a moment to do something you wouldn’t normally do – talk to you boss about that promotion you deserve, surprise that someone special with a gift, talk to a stranger on the bus. Ok, now on to today’s movie trailer:

The name of the animated movie game is, “appeal to kids and parents alike.”

In other words, try to be like Pixar and share stories that delight and enchant children, while entertaining parents with clever jokes that fly over the heads of the little ones.

We will not no for sure until Thanksgiving, but Disney’s trailer for their upcoming Frozen offers the potential for that wonderful, magic formula. 

The film will be what the film will be, but I was happily surprised by this trailer and the entertainment this winter-time film could offer for animated feature fans of all ages.

And if  this official trailer has not managed to convince you, try this scene clip, which manages to use physical comedy on multiple levels in a way that reminds me of some of Pixar’s best animated shorts.

– Words by Jeff

Having the Munchies

An over-sized value meal for a low price that kicks in at 9:00 PM every night. Yeah, Jack in the Box, I see you scoping out the side stage action at Hempfest. I bet you’re strategically planning new restaurants across the street from all the new green dispensaries opening in my new herb friendly state of Washington.

Rather than harsh their mellow, I have to applaud Jack in the Box’s diligence in not only creating the perfect product to replace Funyuns and Pizza Rolls, but also for creating ads that simulate the perfect highs as buildups for the late night trip to Jack in the Box. In the three spots, we are give three stoner stereotypes: Lazy Guy, (He can’t even fly!), Easily Happy Guy (His meal came with his T.V. Remote), and Paranoid Guy (fears the moment when he’ll become a werewolf). Creating the perfect foil to this characters is Muppet Jack, giving it the right amount of surreal feeling while describing a huge meal that appears so massive, it’s practically daring anyone that’s finished a few bowls to try and finish it as well.

And who knows, maybe I’m way off base and my green brothers feel offended by how Jack In The Box has portrayed them and by my assumptions that this campaign plays right into their late night, post smoke hunger cravings. I hope I have not angered them and if I have, I hope they have a way to ease this tension between us. Then, after the right amount of time has past (what is it usually? 30 minutes? an hour?), they’ll probably feel like grabbing a late night Munchie Meal.
– Words by Stuck

Saturday Spamday

Facebook spams you all the time.

They are trying to get better, but – let’s face it – their ads are still way on the spammy end of the spectrum.

Believe me, Facebook – and any organization that makes money from selling ad space – wants to find the perfect advertising environment.

The ideal situation – Plato’s perfect advertising situation – would present ads only to consumers who already wanted to see those ads and act on them.

If all goes to plan, your future self will only see ads that magically – OK, it will be algorithm-magic, but still – intersect with your needs and – most importantly – your desires.

But our present selves still get spammed daily on and by the same website that claims it exists to connect people and strengthen relationships. And that is a damn shame.

– Words by Oz

Satisfry Everybody

Burger King, or, as they occasionally refer to themselves these days, “Fry King,” is confusing everyone with their new campaign.

Is it #WTFF we are supposed to be talking about, or are we hailing the Satisfry? Or have they changed their name to Fry King? Is this campaign about eating healthier (if you are willing to pay a little more to do so) or being funny and cool?

Whatever is happening here, the one thing I know, that BK’s new Satisfries are “cut from whole potatoes,” makes be wonder what their popular classic fries were cut from…


While we are talking about fast food, check this out as you ponder your next drive-thru stop.

The Modern Consumer

My wife told me about this 30 second spot for the new “Droid Max” mobile device yesterday:


Beautiful people. Beautiful Scenery. Clear, focused message. A recipe for success, right? Maybe twenty years ago. But now consumers are getting yelled at from every possible angle, and it is exhausting.

Every phone since before forever has claimed excellent battery life. Please do not simply try and tell me that your new product can do something amazing. Everyone tells me that about their product. Go further. Show me that you can use the phone non stop for 48 hours.

Yes, I am a consumer. Yes, you would really (really) like me to buy your new product. But unless you can entertain me with real value while treating me with respect, I have better things to do (and other products to spend my money on).

Technology is not the only thing developing at a rapid rate, and many marketers will be left out in the cold (unless the new Droid Max emits heat, too) until they learn to treat their target audience in a way that aligns with the ideals of the modern consumer.

Coming Soon!

Advertising is not all about technology.

As a small or local business it is important to remember this fact. Finding other ways to advertise is important for many reasons, one of them being that relying on Facebook will likely put you out of business unless you really know what you are doing.

And if you are not yet established, you will need a way to develop an online following. The internet is a fantastic place for people to share you once they have discovered you. But unless you are an online company, your very first customers cannot discover you online. You still need that physical interaction when you are brand new.

Triumph Bar

Above is a photo of an ad a bar put in the window of their future home.

I am surprised at how many construction sites have nothing, or maybe just a small paper sign.

This future bar, Triumph Bar, did a good job of providing a large, visual sign that people can see from their cars or on foot.

They even have a website so you can find them and stay in touch!

But this is where Triumph’s story gets sad: The website is up (a good thing) but none of the buttons are click-able (a very bad thing). Triumph may go on to do big things and be a popular bar in Seattle for a very long time. However, they lost my attention as soon as the site failed to meet my expectations. I visited, excited to learn more about the new bar, but found that not even the mailing list button worked.

Attention lost. I am on to the next thing immediately and Triumph will be lucky if I think about them again until I hear something positive about them from a friend or in a review. So not just attention lost, but an opportunity lost.

Instagram Video

I spout enough negativity about Facebook, so I will keep this post short and to the point:

Instagram added a video app June 20th and apparently it is doing well right out of the gate. Early users seem to like it better than Vine, which FB is aiming to fend off with this recent development.

It is important to note that Instagram is owned by Facebook and Vine is owned by Twitter.

Regardless of whether the new service is a success or not, I do not like the move.

you lose the minute you sink to blow for blow tactics. Twitter may end up losing as well, especially if the young Vine loses users who flock to Instagram. But a win in this way is only a short-term success for Facebook. Doing Vine better than Vine  only matters right now. Facebook could have looked into the future to develop the next thing that will come after Vine. Instead, some younger, hungrier company is doing that right now. FB and Twitter can only buy out and fend off so many next things until they find themselves behind the times and losing on too many fronts to stay in the game.

When in doubt, make something new.

But Wall Street operates to a different motto: When in doubt, buy the little innovator or try to do what the other guys are doing and hope it sells (i.e. drop millions on marketing). Just look at Apple, Microsoft and now Facebook to see the influence Wall Street has on the development of a company.

There will always be innovators, and once and a while those tiny start ups hit on something big enough to disrupt entire industries. What I will never understand is how those little scrappy innovators forget what made them successful so quickly. It has not been that long since Facebook change the game and already it has forgotten what it is like to create and inspire.

Our Signature

I view the new Apple “Our Signature” advertisement as the official end of the Apple brand as I knew it.

Remember when you only saw one kind of Apple advertisement on TV or online? Whether it was for the newest iPod, the iMac or iBook, they were cool, upbeat, simple and had an element of stripped back design that helped establish the Apple brand. Those ads and campaigns helped build the cult-like following that, to me anyway, was Apple’s competitive advantage.

Microsoft never understood how to make it’s products sexy. IBM could never crack the inner circle of cool. Apple was the only computer company that had developed and earned love and respect for looking cool and making it’s rabid fans feel cool.

Apple was not only able to  look sexy or advertise their products as being cool, but they turned the user experience into a shared sensual experience.

Recently, Apple has moved away from the ads that helped shape their personality. Watch this and this for example. The first time I saw “Our Signature,” I knew for sure that Apple had completed the shift from “in-touch, cool, designer and desirable trend-setters,” to “out of touch, bloated, behind the times former super power playing catch up.”

Really, the totally bland, unimaginative iPhone 5 was the first sign that Apple had peaked somewhere in the last five years and was finished surprising and delighting us bi-annually. But the move to ads like “Our Signature” is proof of a creative downhill slide.

Others might have seen a strong, emotional ad when watching “Our Signature.” And for most other companies, it is an outstanding spot. When I watch it, though, all I see is collapse. I see an inability to capture the magic that made Apple successful in the past. I see desperation. I can feel the migration from commitment to innovation to commitment to saying there is a commitment to innovation.

Apple is reacting to bad PR with show and glitz. Apple needs to show it’s cool, young, socially conscious, creative fans that it can reinvent the wheel again. Until it does, iPad mini’s, iPhone 5s, and advertisements about where an exploitative product is designed will continue to be steamrolled by Samsung’s superior and innovative Galaxy mobile devices and far more compelling advertisements.

%d bloggers like this: