Posts Tagged 'Advertising'

Fuck The Recession

Morgans Hotel Group just launched a rallying cry for the hip and cool: “Fuck the Recession!”

It definitely isn’t your typical campaign. After all, how many high-end brands would have the guts to launch a guerrilla campaign that has a big bold FUCK at its center, especially amidst what economists are calling the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, when everyone is afraid to bet on anything but the safest communication’s strategies?

Not many, to be sure. So let’s right now salute the Morgans’ marketing team and The Ito Partnership for the big pair of balls they’ve just shown. But have they also shown sound judgement?

By shouting out loud what everybody’s saying privately, Morgans is bound to generate a lot of approval from the public. You really don’t have to do much market research to get the point that people are fed up with crisis-talk, and want a break from it. So “fuck the recession” is a tagline guaranteed to get enthusiastic cheers everywhere, from Wall Street boardrooms to construction sites.

However, “fuck the recession” is not all that Morgans is saying. After that enraged cry, comes the invitation to forget that your carefully crafted stock portfolio is now worthless, or that you left your workplace last week holding a card box, and just dive head first into a extravaganza of hedonistic excess.

In Morgans dimension, there is no crisis. Just like Twilight Zone, Morgans presents an alternate reality, where everything looks exactly like in the real world, except when you see a guy with an eye on his forehead passing by. In here, there’s no place for such a distasteful thing as a “crisis”, and even the dreaded word “recession” assumes a whole new meaning, being transformed into “recessison”, as in recess-is-on. Bottom line? It’s not time to complain, it’s time to play.

Of course playing doesn’t come free. If you’re planning a weekend in New York, and want to stay at the Morgans Hotel in Madison Avenue, be prepared to fork out around $800 for your two-day stay. And that’s for the cheapest room. So that’s the kind of ticket price we’re talking about for Morgans’ glamorous recess, where the crisis becomes a distant memory.

Aware that, at a time when auto execs are being publicly lambasted for having the audacity to travel to a Congressional hearing on their private jets, such displays of guiltless splurging might generate a strong backlash, Morgans tried to address the issue by getting so-called “ordinary people” to approve the “fuck the recession” message. Which, of course, didn’t prove to be hard.


However, this “average Joe” endorsement doesn’t add any value to the brand story. On the contrary, it adds a dissonant element that makes it look dangerously inauthentic. What, after all, are these people doing in that plot? Can you fit them in the hedonistic atmosphere that Morgans is inviting you to experience? No, of course you can’t.

The average Joe may be saying “fuck the recession” like the Wall Street executive, but he sure isn’t able to forget about it on Morgans’ recess. No, he’ll be too concerned with the mortgage for that. And he is bound to resent those who can just leave those worries at the cloakroom with their jackets. So it would be better for Morgans to have left it out of the picture altogether.

After all, Morgans isn’t exactly catering for the average Joe, is it? So the real question is if this 80’s-oh-so-80’s rallying cry of “Fuck the crisis, we want to party” will work when we’re already verging on the second decade of the 21st century.

Shouldn’t we all be more socially responsible and environmentally aware by now? Shouldn’t we be now behaving more like grown-ups that face problems head-on, and less like eternal teenagers that obliterate them in blaze of self-indulging hedonism?

Yes, maybe we should. But are we? I mean, really?

Economy Deals Online Ad Spending a Hit – eMarketer

There seems to be more bad news about the economy every day, and falling ad spending numbers are part of the mix. Although online advertising is still on a positive growth curve, that growth is slowing and will dip into the single digits for the first time in 2009.

US Online Advertising Spending, by Format, 2008-2013 (millions)

Not only is the new projection lower, but recovery is expected to take longer. In 2010, online ad spending growth will return (barely) into the double digits at 10.9%, and in 2013 it will only hit 13.5%.

US Online Advertising Spending Growth, by Format, 2008-2013 (% change)

via Economy Deals Online Ad Spending a Hit – eMarketer

Nokia Unloader Ad



Nokia has declared war on infoxication, and is now offering a therapeutical site where all overburden infoworkers can safely vent their anger at boring documents.

Wouldn’t it be simply wonderful that all those ultra-dull documents, memos and presentations that we force ourselves to read – because they might contain the smallest nugget of useful information (and how disheartening it is to confirm that most of the times they don’t) would just magically disappear, vanishing into thin air as if they’d never existed, thus releasing us from the painstaking job of having to pay attention to them?

Well, Christmas has come earlier this year, because Nokia has just answered your prayers. Now you can bask at the sight of that hateful memo about a project reunion being turned into a lovely ball of fire. Or of the mind-numbing Excel document you just printed being carefully dipped into black paint, rendering it even more useless than it was to begin with. And, best of all, you can do that without loosing your job on the process, or being submitted to compulsive mental evaluation.

Having spotted the emerging trend of infoxication, Nokia is making good use of it, taking the opportunity to connect to consumers on a deep emotional level. The recently launched “Unloader” campaign – created by Swedish agency Fanfar – is very successful at establishing a bond with infoworkers fed up with all the material that’s constantly being thrown at them, but who lack the guts to actually set it on fire (that small matter of unemployment or institutionalization can act as a powerful dissuader).

So if you daydream about shredding all your memos, now you can vent your anger at them in a contained environment. Just go to the Unloader microsite and give free rein to your darkest impulses. It’s OK, since you won’t be destroying the real documents. The downside, of course, is that you won’t be destroying the real documents, so they will still be in your inbox, patiently waiting for you to read them, while gathering more and more friends (they’re very popular).

The beautiful thing is that Nokia, via its mobile phones, is one of the main partners in crime  behind your overburden feeling. Each one of its latest generation Eseries phones (on display on the site) is like a briefcase that fits in your pocket, but has more storage than SportBilly’s bag. And so the heap of documents that you’re supposed to read, that should have read, that can’t go by without reading, just keeps growing and growing.

But that doesn’t really matter when you see the ad, or when you play with the campaign’s site. All that it matters is that Nokia understands your pain. And that will make you much more likely to choose one of its cellphones when you are picking your next generation instrument of enslavement.

The Unloader site is a particular case in point as to the potency of the infoxication trend. Is it silly? You bet! Going through the motion of mock-upload the object of your anger to see a video of it being unmercifully torn to shreds and shot of a canon as a robotic fanfare plays on is about as silly as it can get. But boy, how it puts a smile on your face!

And when you think there’s people actually paying to wreck cars in a junkyard in order to relax, well, then all of a sudden mock-executing PowerPoints doesn’t seem that bad. Doesn’t seem that bad at all.

How Not To Fall In Love With Warsaw

Warsaw uses a Salsa dancer to promote itself as a city full of Latin American charm. Is Warsaw derailing its brand image irreversibly?

If you owned an Italian restaurant, would you give out pamphlets saying that you make great Indian food? Imagine the following example: “Come to La Gondola: where you can enjoy the best Chicken Tikka Masala in town”. Seems somewhat… lunatic, does it not?

It doesn’t take much thought to understand why this is a bad bet. If you were looking for a place to eat, you’d go to an Italian restaurant if you were craving for some good pasta, or to an Indian restaurant if you were in the mood for something more spicy. But why on Earth would you go to an Italian restaurant to eat Indian food, when the real thing is just around the corner?

Obvious as this may seem, we’re baffled to find out that this isn’t plain to all. There’s people that seem to think that it’s much better to masquerade yourself as something else, rather than relying on your true strengths. Authenticity be damned, bring out the Carnival!

It’s this innovative view that produced this ad, where we meet Cris De La Pena, a Latin dance choreographer, that has danced “from Chile to New York” until finally arriving in Warsaw. Amid plenty of Salsa footage, Cris tells us that what he loves living in Warsaw, where he found “amazing opportunities, like, people”. In the end, a voice-over informs us that “Latin America and Poland have more in common than you think.”

The video closes with a Miró-like drawing (reminiscent of the one used in Spanish Tourism campaigns) with the tag “fall in love with Warsaw”. But how exactly could we “fall in love with Warsaw” if we’re being introduced not to the Polish city, but rather to a sort of Cuban resort in Eastern Europe? Even the logo points to Spain.

This video presents us not with reasons to travel to Eastern Europe, but rather to the Caribbean. From this ad, the only thing that would make us want to go to Warsaw rather than to Havana is that, from Europe – the campaign is aimed at the European market – it’s much closer, and cheaper. But is this really how Warsaw wants to position itself, as a sort of discount version of a Caribbean resort?

Las Vegas, for instance, relies on this positioning, offering Venetian canals and several mock European monuments to Americans unable or unwilling to go for the real thing. In Authenticity – What Consumers Really Want, the authors tell the story of an American woman who, upon the Grand Canal in Venice – that’s Venice, Italy -, found herself extremely disappointed, as she though the one in The Venetian hotel – in Las Vegas – was much better than the real thing.

But the thing is that Las Vegas is not so much a city, but rather a sort of livable amusement park for adults, at least since Bugsy Siegel built the Flamingo 60 years ago. So it’s OK for Vegas to position itself in this sort of Fake-Real way.

Warsaw, by contrast, has been evolving for more than 700 years. Ever since Napoleon invaded Russia (and even before), every major European conflict for the past 200 years has left its mark here. It was the home of Chopin. And, more recently, it played a crucial part in Cold War era politics. Does it really need a Salsa dancer to talk about it’s “passion”?
The good news for Warsaw is that this unfortunate campaign just ended two days ago. The bad news is that the people behind it may very well think it has proven a success, and come back for more of this terribly misguided positioning.

Online Marketers Say Digital Spending to Fall 10%-20% in ’09 – Advertising Age – Digital

New York private equity firm Halyard Capital took an informal survey of attendees to get a sense of where they see the market next year, and most predicted digital-marketing budgets would be down 10% to 20% overall from 2008.

But among the gloom there was a little good news for social networks. Some current logic dictates that social media such as Facebook, MySpace and Bebo will have a tough time in a downturn, as marketers take fewer fliers on media they still consider experimental.

Well, 68% of AdTech’s attendees responding to Halyard’s survey said social networking is in the “strongest position to expand” among alternative marketing channels over the next two years, compared with a quarter who said branded entertainment.

Some 62% cited mobile as the platform the will grow the most in the next two years compared to others, while 15% said ad networks would gain share, which may indicate just how many ad networks there are — and how many attend AdTech.

Only 8% said search marketing would outpace other areas in terms of growth. Wishful thinking, perhaps?

via Online Marketers Say Digital Spending to Fall 10%-20% in ’09 – Advertising Age – Digital

Vancouver International Film Festival “Overanalyzer” Ad

Very cool ad from the Canadian branch of TBWA for the Vancouver International Film Festival.

The ad is part of a campaign that depicts situations and characters typical of film festivals, from the guy that doesn’t miss a session to the girl that spends the whole time wondering how she got dragged to that place.

These are all situations that anyone that goes to this kind of events can relate to, and the witty narration is sure to make the ads memorable. Lots of people are bound to have the mauve color tinging their thoughts during their next intellectual forays.

An excellent work by TBWA.

Microsoft “I’m a loony” ad

“I’m a PC and I like the slimming effect in a purple stripped shirt”. This is how the new Microsoft ad starts. It doesn’t get much better as it advances.

This esoteric tagline is followed by others, equally disturbing ones, like “I love zebra chasing” or “I’m stuck in the 80’s”. But when it gets really frightening is when we watch an elderly man growl “I’m a machine” with his eyes closed. I guess someone took the “I’m a PC” tagline too much at heart. I just hope he doesn’t get a bug.

The ad is a compilation of user-made videos uploaded to the campaign’s micro-site, following a call from Microsoft for users to get involved and show “what kind of PC” they are.

In line with the latest trends in CGM (Consumer Generated Media), Microsoft wanted to involve consumers in a “conversation” with the brand, thus contributing to advance it’s grade of intimacy with users.

Using this kind of strategy seems shrewd, since it has great potential with only marginal cost. So, there’s nothing for me to criticize about the micro-site and the consumer involvement strategy it represents.

There is, however, plenty to criticize in the ad that resulted from this. The video should be a snippet of the conversation that users were having with the brand, presenting the distilled essence of thousands of individual insights. The problem is that it isn’t any such thing.

Instead of presenting a coherent narrative to counter the successful Apple’s depiction of PCs as “uncool” and “second rate”, Microsoft chose to present a collage of disparate things, seemingly glued together in “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe” mode.

Actually, this isn’t exactly true. Because what stands out from this video (besides perplexity), as from the overall “I’m a PC” campaign,  is the quest to assert “difference”. If you remember the first “I’m a PC” ad, it starts with the “PC” character (“borrowed” from Apple ads) saying “I’m a PC and I’ve been made into a stereotype”.

Well, Microsoft is managing to break that stereotype. The thing is that the narrative it’s implementing isn’t exactly much more appealing than the one represented by that guy with serious fashion issues. Having someone saying “I’m a PC and I like the slimming effect in a purple stripped shirt” isn’t “different” nor “eccentric”. It’s just plain crazy.

Instead of obsessing about countering Apple’s narrative, Microsoft should instead pay more attention to the narrative it is actively building for itself. Because it may well stop being the “square” brand to become the “loony” brand.

Or maybe that’s actually it. Maybe someone at Crispin Porter & Bogusky just watched “Crazy People” and decided to give a shot at that unconventional creative process.

In case you haven’t watched it, “Crazy People” is a movie about an ad executive that, after a burnout, starts working with the people of the mental institution to which he was admitted. The ads that come out of this peculiar partnership work well in the beginning, but then things start going awry, as you can see in this memorable sequence:


Maybe it’s just me, but I think there’s more than a casual coincidence between the guy in the white suit tagline – “Frnxt Ghrt Sony Gurm” and “I like the slimming effect in a purple stripped shirt”. Although we can in fact understand the words in the last sentence, it’s meaning is similarly cryptic.

The fact, however, that the last sentence is for real and was actually approved for public viewing makes its significance to Microsoft’s narrative much more disturbing. A case of reality surpassing fiction.


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