Two Ads Pt. 2

“Live True” is the more recent Dewar’s ad.

A fantastic advertisement if it were for a nonprofit or perhaps a political campaign, this advertisement should sell about as many bottles of Dewar’s to customers new to the product as feeding me a fifth and sending me out into the streets of London with a sandwich board.

So much time, money and talent (some very smart, hard-working people made this awful ad) is wasted on advertising.

Which is a shame, seeing how moving it can be.

The biggest disappointment for me is digging only a few months back into Dewar’s advertising history and finding the ad I posted yesterday. Other than the gritty aesthetic, the only thing the two have in common is that they are both trying to sell you scotch.

— by Jeff Osborn

Two Ads Pt. 1


Dewar’s White Label Whiskey recently released an advertisement using a poem by Charles Bukowski.

The ad looks really good and the poem shines. You can feel yourself wanting to be a better human as the ad plays. Then, at the end, you discover that all of the amazing images and the beautiful words were all put there to manipulate you into drinking Dewar’s scotch.

All advertising is manipulation, sure. But there is mutually beneficial manipulation and there is exploitation.

Head over to iSpot and watch another Dewar’s ad from earlier in the year. Different message, same look. Tomorrow I will post and discuss the Bukowski ad with the pretty, naughty lady ad in mind.

— by Jeff Osborn

Saturday Spamday

Sometimes companies believe they are marketing, when they are in fact spamming their audience.

This below Snickers ad popped up last Sunday when I was checking in on Fantasy Football action. The ad is nothing special, except it advertises directly to you using the name of your team.

Screen shot 2013-09-22 at 11.38.10 AM

This would be a very cool ad if it were truly interactive, engaging or compelling. The internet provides limitless opportunities to connect, create and share. Instead, ads like this one come off as insincere (“Hey, we can plug your name into this add to ‘personalize’ it just for you, whoever you are!).

But the insincerity is nothing compared to the phlegmy feeling you are left with when you think about your privacy and how nonexistent it really is on the web. Ads like this remind you of all the prying eyes and grubby fingers that lust after your name, habits and other tasty bits of information.

I know Snickers is not the only legit company with other totally great marketing campaigns that has tried this sort of thing, but most of us find it creepy and spammy no matter who you are. So let’s call ads like this what they rally are: Spam.

Freedom Pt. 1

This post is a quick break from my normal format. Rather than critique and analyze a specific spot or campaign, I want to talk briefly about the freedom of the Internet. (Though this post is the result of watching the below add from


Television advertising is awesome. If it is your only option.

Advertising on television was still the best option until the past few years when brands and marketing firms realized the full freedom the Internet provides.

The quality of some of the Internet -only ads we’re now seeing are stunning. Foregoing television saves you money (so now you can hire the director, create the production and shoot in locations you could not afford), allows you to make your spot as long as you want, lets you include explicit content and encourages creativity in making a truly interactive campaign.

Television is the big, slow giant that can no longer guarantee the audiences it used to be able to deliver. The Internet has taught organizations that if they push hard and make something remarkable, they will get noticed. Despite all of the noise and yelling, the internet not only provides freedom for advertisers, but it also provides freedom to audiences to decide whether or not an ad is worth their time. Television, for decades and decades, had such large audiences compared to other media that it could demand big money from advertisers and attention from audiences. The beauty of the age of the Internet is that (even with more and more regulations being imposed) it provides everything and dictates nothing. Art and freewill are encouraged here, and I love it.

The Scarecrow

Late last week I found the below ads from Chipotle for the first time. The first long-form advertisement (2011) and The Scarecrow short  promo film for the new game under it are jaw droppingly effective.

Back to the Start:

The Scarecrow:

I am in awe of this Chipotle Mexican Grill internet marketing campaign, which really began with the Back to the Start video in 2011. Although the Scarecrow character from the newest arm of the campaign (and his iOS game) is visually different from the original animated short, he is the direct thematic descendant of it.

The obvious notes to on this campaign are about animation, industrialized food and the importance of disciplined focus when attempting to make a point with marketing.

Only the last point is worth a few words before I dig deeper, as plenty has been said about the other two points.

First, Fiona Apple’s beautiful cover of “Pure Imagination” does more for the Scarecrow mini film than I can put into words. The most important ingredient to storytelling is emotion, and Apple’s goosebump-inspiring song sets the tone and the mood.

Second, I watch a lot of ads. You do to. Honestly, the art of a really well-made advertisement using moving pictures is in trouble. Television ads are terrible. Today, long, internet-only advertisements are becoming the new normal. But you cannot just make a long, pretty looking ad and hope it works. Just like 30, 60 and 90 second spots are their own art forms, difficult to get right and make important, two to four minute films meant to promote products and companies on the internet require skill and focus.

Another conversation is about television. How long do we have until the majority of new companies turn to the internet instead of television? The best ads are already on the internet, where people have to get more creative to rise above all of the yelling. Chipotle went all-in. They did not just produce a video guaranteed to put a lump in your throat and guilt in your stomach, they made a game to go with it. The game and the video together will be more engaging, more impactful and more valuable than 1,000 television ads.

But I think the real conversation about this approach from Chipotle is about the difference between great storytelling about the truth and great storytelling using embellishments.

I do not know anything about Chipotle Mexican Grill except that I have eaten their burritos a few times did not understand the hype. I do not know if they get 100% of their ingredients from the “good guys.” I do not know if the “bad guys” really do all of that bad stuff. To put it bluntly, I do not know whether they are lying or not.

I know what the campaign made me feel and think (making me feel or think anything is a feat in itself).

This campaign makes me want to go there and see what I missed.

This campaign brings to mind some of the best dystopian Science Fiction novels and films – gorgeous, maddening, frightening and inspiring.

This campaign made me want to tell everyone I know about it and read more Michael Pollan books.

This campaign makes me want to chuck everything in my fridge and change how I eat.

Chipotle used Fiona apple, beautiful design and a little Scarecrow to make me want to change my life.

But ultimately the success of this campaign will be measured not on the strength of the idea or effectiveness of the execution (A triple-plus), but on whether or not Chipotle can put fresh, farm-grown food where its mouth is.

Clips from Chipotle Grill’s Scarecrow app

Scarecrow Farms:

Downtown Plenty:

Crow Foods Factory:

Respect Nature

Trident and Dunkin’ Donuts are two of the many, many companies eager to use Vine to engage existing and new customers.

Let us not get overly excited.

Good idea: Sharing creations on Vine (or anywhere else) from fans that are already excited about what you do to evoke excitement in your tribe (and add to it).

Bad Idea: Designing your own creations on Vine (or anywhere else) and passing them off as genuine excitement from fans. (This includes approaching existing users to create for/with you, upsetting the natural order of things.)

Great marketers realize that the extent of their powers are to share stories with an audience in an attempt to elicit a positive emotional response. Amateur marketers think they can influence audiences by shouting and giving commands.

Yes, even social media tools have a natural balance and force behind them.

There are a lot of complicated rules in this life, but this one is stupid simple: Acknowledge nature, respect nature.

AM Radio Ads

NOTE: The last few posts I have written have been more general observations than meticulous breakdowns of individual ads. I promise next week will have more of the latter. But for now…

I have been listening to a lot AM radio lately and the ads tend to be mind-numbingly awful. I am not complaining. It is my choice to listen to AM radio, so I have nothing to gripe about.

AM Radio

Rather, I am disappointed. I am aware that AM radio ads are an affordable advertising option for local businesses, but I do not understand why those businesses would continue to use that option.

Internet tools offer affordable ways to reach your audience in creative ways that build your brand. AM radio ads are filler, accomplishing absolutely nothing for those small businesses. Radio ads in general, but especially AM radio, advertisements are obsolete.

Geico ads make sense on the radio. They have multi-million dollar campaigns running and radio spots help them cover all of their bases. But if your AM radio ads are only accompanied by 1/16 page phone book ads, i have to ask; “How ready are you to market your company, really?”

print ads vs internet ads

Even cool-looking, disturbing, visually pleasing, interesting print ads have nothing on click-able, customizable, interactive internet ads.

This may seem like an obvious observation. Maybe even a waste of space and time to write about.

But think about why print ads are boring for a moment?

Do print ads lose the battle with internet ads for attention because technology makes internet ads so much better?

Or maybe print ads make us yawn because they are part of a dying medium?

I thank the answers to both of the above, and other excuses, are cop-outs. Or at least the wrong questions to ask.

Closer to the right track might be thinking more along these lines:

Are print ads (and is print as a medium in general) boring because talent, creativity, and innovation have all gone to the internet?

I think the answer is “Yes,” and I am submitting this wonderful innovation as proof that the medium is not the problem (which should have you asking, “So, then, what is?”).

it’s just not breakfast without it

“Got Milk?” is one of the greatest advertising campaigns of all time.

Without going into the history of the campaign too much (which I promise to do between now and my 200th post), I want to point out the longevity of such a simple idea.

This print ad, featuring Selma Hayek and 1/3 of her daughter’s face, for example, is pretty stereotypical, dull, expected, and just generally uninteresting.

But the milk mustache, the presence of a star, and a simple tagline keep the campaign alive (and well).

Imagine a brand tagline that could last almost 20 years, including a total lack of effort over the last 15. That is incredible.

I am not bringing up this Selma Hayek ad to be a hater or to bemoan the lack of interest from the add agency (Goodby, Silverstein & Partners) and California Milk Processor Board.

My intentions are quite the opposite, actually. The truth is that add campaigns this amazing do not come along very often.

Step outside the marketing realm for a minute. The “Got Milk?” question has grown larger than almost any slogan and has outgrown the advertising world. What two words in the English language that are not the name of a celebrity, a multi-national company, or Jesus Christ ring a bell with almost every American in the same way as “Got Milk”?

The “Got Milk?” campaign evolved into something new way back in the 1990s.

The fact that the campaign needs only an occasional presence online, on TV, and in print is an astounding feat. In other words, “Got Milk?” ads exist to keep the “Got Milk?” brand alive, not the campaign.

movie trailer tuesday – the artist


Did this trailer make me want to see the movie?


The trailer for The Artist is proof that music and visuals can be moving on their own. I have not yet seen this film, but apparently the entire production is a testament to this point as well.

I get easily frustrated by people who say there is not anything original out in the world any more. People are creating interesting, compelling pieces of art all the time. Some places, like Hollywood or Detroit, have a lot less of this going on than they used to. But original art still exists (Midnight in Paris is another great example in film).

Sadly for Hollywood but happily for The Artist, this trailer had more originality and magic than most films.

Was the trailer effective as a commercial?

Yes, again!

I never saw this trailer while the film was in theaters. Had I had the opportunity, I would have seen the film within days. As a commercial this trailer is engaging, curious, and filled with question-creating and imagination-igniting moments.

The Artist is currently only available to me by pirated download from the internet. If there was a legal way for me to watch it right now I would be doing that instead of sitting here writing about it. The trailer is that well done.

But a trailer this good raises a question I have posed before: Does a good film make it easier to make a good trailer?

Another, broader, way to ask this question is: Does a good product make it easier to create a good marketing campaign?

%d bloggers like this: