Tag Archives: Commercial

Video of the Week – Sainsbury makes us remember that Christmas is for Sharing.

Sainsbury’s is the third largest supermarket chain in the United Kingdom. For this upcoming Christmas, they have released a special commercial. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, the retailers partnered up with The Royal British Legion to make a commercial based on true events that occurred in December 1914.

The ad takes place in December 1914, just four months after the beginning of WWI. The movement of the war is already over. Soldiers are now entrenched and spend most of their time hiding and sleeping in the mud. But one event changed the first months of the war. According to historical reports, on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, soldiers on the Western front from Germany, the British Empire and France made an unofficial truce where they could meet in No Man’s Land, exchange souvenirs and small presents, sing songs and even play football – or soccer as you call it in North America.

In early December, soldiers from both sides stopped the fighting for a short while to rest and recover their dead. In some areas, they even exchanged conversations. Mid-December, German soldiers started to decorate their trenches with candles and small Christmas trees and ended by singing Christmas carol on the 24th – such as “O Tannenbaum” (O Christmas Tree) and “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht” (Silent Night). British and French soldiers sang these songs in their language in response which led to an uncommon moment of peace.

This moment is well-known and even led to a few movies. The ad by Sainsbury’s used information about the “Christmas truce” event and partnered with the Royal British Legion, to make this ad as precise and real as possible.

This ad depicts a true and emotional event that happened 100 years ago. Even if the Great War was one of the deadliest wars with 16 million dead, human behaviour and sympathy led people to make a short truce to exchange with an enemy that they never saw and get back their dead to give them a proper burial instead of a mortar hole in No Man’s Land.

This video relies on something that everyone can do, even the men at war: share. It doesn’t matter your religion, your gender, or your race – sharing is one thing that we can all do at least for Christmas. The chocolate bar featured in the 3-minute film is available in every Sainsbury’s for £1 and all profits will be donated to The Royal British Legion.

To me, this ad is almost a documentary to educate younger people about that period of history and to make everyone remember that Christmas is about sharing no matter what the circumstances. You have one month to keep that in mind!

For Iceland Foods Christmas isn’t that special

Good morning December! You’ve finally arrived. We can finally admire your Christmas commercials without feeling too awkward. You never let us down, with your gorgeous and poetic advertisements. But we’re also really amused at the terrible ones!

On today’s Bad Marketing post, we will see a commercial that comes from the other side of the Atlantic, where Her Majesty rules the Kingdom. The United Kingdom has given us a treat with this commercial from Iceland, a food-retailer business specializing in frozen food.

This Christmas commercial features Peter Andre, a British singer, presenter and TV personality. Although I’m not a good judge in this instance, by the reactions of the ladies in this commercial, he must be quite famous and attractive!

The ad starts with an elderly couple doing their groceries at Iceland, when the woman notices Peter Andre. Her husband says that “it isn’t” him, but the woman is quite sure! So Andre takes notice and replies “it is!”

Here’s the joke – he’s not talking about himself. He’s talking about the cake in his hands – the “winter berry glistening gateau” – which he’s thrilled to find at £4 (about $7). “It is!” refers to a festive Christmas cake.

As Andre is ogled and hit on by various ladies at the Iceland grocery store, he can only focus on the Christmas cakes, their deliciousness and their excellent prices. The tagline “That’s why Peter goes to Iceland” ends the commercial and serves as a reminder that cheap products doesn’t mean cheap quality and aren’t only reserved for low-income families.

Where this commercial fails is on the way the message is sent. It’s not just a Christmas commercial. This ad could play at any time of the year, all you’d have to do is remove the garland and Christmas packaging. The cheapness of the products is not so much of a problem. But focusing on it for a Christmas commercial is a bit too déjà-vu as you can see the same kind of commercial during the rest of the year.

You can’t continue your campaign just by hinting that the products are for Christmas. This is a terrible idea. Your daily consumer already knows who you are and your prospects won’t be more attracted to your store than before. It is the same kind of ad they saw the rest of the year, and if they didn’t become one of your customers, chances are that this one won’t help either. As a result, this is why it’s featured in our Bad Marketing blog post!

Video of the Week – The Boy Who Beeps by GE

‘Weird yet awesome, and interesting but still confusing’ – the thoughts that went through my mind while watching GE’s new video.

This short video talks about an epic tale of a boy who only beeps and can communicate with machines. As he grows older, he discovers his capabilities and what he can do. His special powers allows him to speak with the machines that surround him. When “the boy who beeps” converses with the machines, he is making them work better that benefits everyone.

GE tells a powerful and poignant story about the abilities and capabilities of their Industrial Internet who speaks the language of industry. The ad is designed to evoke emotions surrounding the evolution of GE and how Industrial Internet business brings software and machines together to serve various industries. Additionally, they effectively portray a vision where all machines and IT systems can communicate efficiently together. Yet having a human, the little boy, embodying the language of the industry is a symbol of GE: that they are people that are doing this and not robots! It is edgy, distinctive and vividly brilliant.

At the end of the video they quote: “When you speak the language of industry, the conversation can change the world.” GE is winking at us, saying when you’re GE and you create things such as the Industrial Internet (AKA the Internet of Things), they’ll change the way we communicate with machines, and these communications are changing the world.

We especially like how they’ve created an evocative, sentimental view of a world where we can communicate with our machines. The “boy who beeps” is fluent in machine and human languages, whereas everyone else in the ad are constantly frustrated with their machines. The Internet of Things, or as GE is calling it, the Industrial Internet, is meant to make machines work for us in a much more cohesive manner than ever before. This ad makes us excited to see how well it will work!

The Evolution of Thanksgiving Advertising

In attempting to write a blog post about the best thanksgiving ads of 2014 I quickly realized there are no ads worth talking about this year, or for that matter, the last few years. A quick Google search reveals every big brand out there is focusing all of their efforts on pushing their sales. It seems that Black Friday and Thanksgiving sales have taken over the Thanksgiving advertising space.

It was not always this way. Take a look at these ads from the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s. There was a level of charming festivity to their calls to action. They have smiling people enjoying family time and eating turkey.

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By the late 80’s and 90’s, the print ads are still quite festive and cheerful. The main message seems to be “enjoy our product with your friends and family this holiday.”

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Fast forward again to 2010 and beyond and the holiday of Thanksgiving is all but an afterthought in advertisements. Black Friday and Doorbuster deals have taken over the holiday advertising sphere and it is evident in every large brand’s communication. Take a look at the holiday advertising from 2013 around Thanksgiving.

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No one is talking about family time, or cheer or anything about being thankful. It’s purely about the specials, and which store can be open earliest in the morning and offer the best deal on an iPad. The entire thing has spun out of control a bit with us trampling each other down to get the most savings possible.

Last year, 2013, brands took it up a notch in the United States as they were allowed to open their doors on the holiday Monday. The weekend sales records hit the 2 billion dollar mark as people flooded into big box stores across the United States to gobble up the endless deals.

As an advertiser, it saddens me that all creativity and brand voice is lost at this time of the year, not only are brands encouraging people to buy, buy, buy instead of hang out with their families, they are doing it in such an uninteresting way. If the brands are going to steal Thanksgiving at least make us laugh while you do it!

Video of the Week: Audi – Barely Legal Pawn

Audi, the German automotive giants recently released a lengthly commercial–or short promotional video depending on how you see your glass– for an online audience. The web-based video features some of this year’s biggest television stars, just in time for the 2014 Emmy Awards scheduled for August 25th, 2014. This funny commercial takes cues from popular television shows, using both character and story line references to entrap viewer attention. It’s a landed hit that shows off the best of the Audi brand, featured actors, and Emmys.

In brief description, Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad fame, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus of the Seinfeld Dynasty and current star on hit comedy show Veep, are Audi’s celebrity features. The two guys are working off of their Breaking Bad chemistry, playing gritty small-town business partners. The first part of the video shows us Dreyfus in her Audi, explaining why she’s in need of some quick cash. Continuing, she admits to drinking a little too much rosé and accidentally buying her own island, one a bit out of budget. Relatable, right? Dreyfus, playing herself, walks into Cranston and Paul’s pawn shop, cheekily titled, “Barely Legal Pawn” to hesitantly negotiate a deal for her coveted Emmy award. This is parodying popular love-it-or-hate-it History channel show “Pawn Stars” and other shows of the like. Cranston and Aaron Paul go out of their way to be as uncomfortable as possible and Dreyfus ends up not following through with the sale, leaving the shop and keeping her Emmy. She signs a media release form with the “Pawn Star” producer and suddenly realizes she forgot her car keys, forcing her to reenter the shop.

As she enters the shop, the lighting is dimmed, and the suspenseful violins kick into gear as the tone of the commercial dramatically shifts. She, of course, walks into a back room alone where Cranston and Paul are standing. Cranston closes the door behind her with a menacing tone and puts on a gas mask, a literal reference to the Breaking Bad series. Paul is in the background pouring liquid into a container, similar to the same show where both men played big-time crystal meth chemists. We find out that no, they are not making meth, but running an illegal puppy-bathing business. Paul pull’s out a cute puppy and Dreyfus asks “is it a boy or a girl?” and without missing a beat he replies, “Ahh… b*tch”. For those who are unaware, that colourful expletive was Paul’s Breaking Bad catchphrase.

These commercials jive with nearly everyone. We love being in on the joke. Using two extremely popular shows to capitalize on this fact makes us all feel part of some elitist cultural group. Most of us get the references, making the entire production feel tailored to popular taste. It’s also playing on the fact that many fans of Breaking Bad, approximately 112% of the American population, were in some form of withdrawn state of mourning following the series finale. Needless to say, the demand to see those two actors together has remained at boiling point for a while now. So Audi basically stroked our cultural ego, toyed with the army of Breaking Bad fans, and made a standalone funny internet video to boot.

For Audi’s branding purposes, yes there are many great shots of their cars throughout, but as was clearly the strategy, showcasing the vehicle became secondary, if not tertiary to creating a memorable moment. People might not remember every detail and spec of your new vehicle, but they’re more likely to remember how they feel. Not to mention, this video is just over six minutes long, so assuming the viewer watches it through, they are volunteering to invest in the Audi experience. Holding someone’s attention for 6 minutes is a rich amount of time to construct an experience, and Audi does it very well. Plus, it does build and play on the Emmy hype which never hurts, no?


Video of the Week: Banned Advertisement, “Marmite Rescue”

For this week’s post, let’s mix things up with a little controversy. I should preface this by saying that some readers may find this advertisement distasteful. On the other hand, some may find this coy and brilliant. In either instance, it get’s you talking, which I’ll elaborate more on later. Marmite, the salty breakfast yeast spread enjoyed primarily in Britain, worked with Cannes’ 2014 agency of the year winner adam&eveDBB. The ad itself was released in 2013, but received most of its acclaim in 2014. Interesting to note, the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) recoded 250 complaints within the first twenty-four hours of the commercial’s release. This comes as a bit of a shock when taking into account Marmite as a breakfast brand, usually set on maintaining a family-friendly brand image. Depending on how you read into it, that statistic either spells out a clear home-run or regrettable fumble.

So, why the controversy? Marmite’s advertisement was unmistakably inspired by reality and/or documentary-style television shows that follow animal protection workers as they investigate cases of reported neglect. The shaky camera follows the Marmite workers into different residences where they rescue neglected Marmite jars from kitchen cupboards around Britain. They carry the rescued jars in tiny cages and bring them to the Marmite Rehoming Centre where new potential families look to adopt. The guilty culprits of Marmite neglect are ashamed and remorseful, and at one point we even see the taxing toll the job has on one of the workers, as he weeps behind the truck confessing to a coworker, “I’ve not seen one that small before”. At the end, we join a family in their home who have just adopted a new jar. As their youngest child takes a bite, he makes a grimace at the taste and the voiceover restates their slogan, “Love it or Hate it. Just Don’t Forget it.”

The bulk of complaints came from viewers accusing Marmite of trivializing and corporatizing animal abuse, neglect, and rescue efforts. In one respect, they are making a laughing matter out of a very serious issue, so it’s understandable that viewers who are especially passionate about animals rights could take offence. Not to diminish the value of these complains, but my personal opinion–and this is coming from a vegetarian animal-lover who semi-regularly fosters animals from the SPCA–is on Marmite’s side.

Humour, if used properly, can be a solid means of communicating a point or position. It can also be a great subversive tool to hammer that point home. If Marmite’s financial benefit from emulating this serious genre of show is your issue, I would recommend directing focus to the mothership–the television networks who pioneered the genre for their own gain. Moreover, I view this work as more of a hit on the television style and genre than the subject matter at hand. If anything, it reminds the viewer that there is an entire industry crafted around exploiting causes of the like. Even though it is humorous in nature, I would argue that it really does stress the difficult job of animal abuse workers.

Now, all that aside, Marmite’s slogan is “Love it or Hate it. Just Don’t Forget it.” That’s exactly what this commercial accomplishes. It splits its audience, whirls up conversation, and a year later, it’s still as punchy as ever. To be acclaimed at Cannes is a big deal, and side note, PETA also affirmed their support of the commercial. This tongue-in-cheek commercial did exactly what the brand set out to do. And you must admit, the ridiculousness of rescuing jars from houses in residential Britain is pretty funny. It may be insensitive to some extent, I’ll accept that stance, but when the dust has settled, it’s probably done more good than harm by reminding people about the cause through farce. The final shot of the child’s less-than-impressed face is also perfectly placed. If you’ve ever tried Marmite or the similar Australian version Vegemite, you know that the pungent taste also divides, probably to greater extents than this commercial.

In closing, Marmite produced a cheeky ad that got more flack than merited, or alternatively, just as much as they intended.

Video of the Week: Wendy’s “To Be With You”

Last week, I ripped apart an Arby’s fast food ad from their 2014 campaign. I only thought it fitting to present a competitor’s commercial that I argue to be more effective as promotional material. Full disclosure, I’m not a fast-food eater myself, so neither of these companies have my undying allegiance. However, after the snore that was the Arby’s commercial, it was nice to land on something that held my attention without any teeth-grinding. Wendy’s has gone slightly vintage with an early 90s throwback. Using the same actress, they recreated several iconic early 90s hits while plugging in their new menu item. Even though parodying old music videos isn’t the most groundbreaking idea of 2014, its the choice in song, casting, and lyric changes that give these commercials the quirky edge to make them entertaining.

The “To Be With You” commercial, in case you weren’t aware, parodies the 1991 smash hit of the same title by the band Mr. Big. It remains an infectious track impossible to truly forget, which is probably why it’s such a karaoke go-to. The commercial reinterprets the chorus, taking great inspiration from the original video, general hair-band aesthetic from the late- 80s early-90s, and even a Will Ferrell SNL cowbell reference from 2000. For those who pick up on all the components, this is a slightly aged pop-culture treat.

The lead actress Morgan Smith was an excellent decision as far as casting. Not only does she have a strong singing voice, but has an energy that charms you into laughing with little effort. She sings over the track and pours her heart out to her Pretzel Burger. The lyrics are changed to plug in the product where possible and she holds the burger (love of her life) through most of the song. Taking notes from the original video, she plays the various instruments just like the guys of Mr. Big in their video, as they jam out in a living room. The commercial strategically plays with the contrast between black and white and colour filming, like the original had done. Mr. Big’s music video slowly turns from black and white to colour by the end of the clip. At the 15 second mark, she whales on a cowbell, like Will Ferrell’s famous “More Cowbell” SNL skit.

So, why is this video so much better than the Arby’s? Truth be told, this isn’t the most innovative take on a fast food commercial we’ve seen in recent past. What does work is how all the elements team together to tap on that nostalgic nerve. The song choice, casting, and even lyric change boost the overall experience. Even though it’s unarguably cheesy to plug in a cheeseburger into a song, they accept the reality of what they’re doing and run with it–much needed self-awareness. It also helps that the lead actress has made several appearances in Wendy’s commercials recently,  making her a familiar face to the brand. Allegedly, they dyed her hair red to match “Wendy”, but despite the peroxide, she seems to fit the role naturally. The commercial is light-hearted, catchy, and at least pulls a smile from the viewer. Thumbs up!