Category Archives: advertising

Roy and Coach K rocking out… together?

Just when I thought I’d seen it all, what comes across the screen?

Wow. Coach K jamming on guitar? In his undies?  Really?  And with Roy Williams (and Bob Knight and Rick Pitino) sans pants, no less.

I thought Michael Phelps rocking with A-Rod, Tony Hawk and Kobe was the peak of ridiculousness this campaign could hit:


What stomachache-inducing combo will DDB (and H.S.I. Productions) come up with next?


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Filed under advertising, sports, Uncategorized

Music in Commercials

When the Martin Agency first started making UPS Whiteboard commercials, their ironic choice to use the music of The Postal Service was well documented.  While I thought the song choice was a perfect selection for the quirky UPS ads, I also had a hard time getting past the band’s name to sell the services of USPS’s rival.

Music is a powerful ingredient in advertising.  And just like any kitchen recipe, the amount and intensity of an ingredient should be dependent on the balance of all the elements in the composition.  It can carry the recipe, or can complement it.  And of course in failed concoctions, it can overwhelm or underwhelm to work against the intended message.

Here are two commercials that ensnared my attention lately due to the musical components:

“Victory” McDonald’s spot for 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing
Music: Os Mutantes – A Minha Menina
Agency:  DDB Chicago

I downloaded this song within ten minutes of seeing the commercial.  That pretty much tells you all you need to know about the music: it was arresting, catchy, and put me on a mission to listen to it more.  I also love that the music tells the story completely and that there was no need for dialogue whatsoever.  Despite the strength of the music, I don’t think it overpowered the message.

Visa commercial
Music: Smashing Pumpkins – Today
Agency: TBWA

The Smashing Pumpkins have been getting a lot of flack for “selling out” this week by letting Visa use their music in this commercial.  Maybe they are selling out, maybe they aren’t, but the point is, TBWA picked a ’90s anthem which not only cuts through clutter, but also drives more attention to their brand because of the debate.  Plus the agency chose Morgan Freeman, who an AdWeek columnist names “the official voice of God in this age of mild Depression,” to narrate the commercial, making it even more memorable.  I think the song is an interesting choice and empowering, which I believe was TBWA’s and Visa’s intention.  I think the bad press is more catastrophic to the band than the brand, but I also believe that most of the general market will like or dislike the song while caring little about whether or not Billy Corgan and his band sold out.

I think both commercials successfully incorporated the music they chose and adequately conveyed their brand’s message, but the first one was a far better and more memorable commercial overall.

What songs have you seen in commercials lately that grabbed your attention?  Did they work for or against the brand?


Filed under advertising, music

Foulest Commercial Ever?

…or at least that I’ve seen in recent memory:

Definitely edgy. And makes me want to yak. A lot.

Brandfreak awarded it the “”so bad it’s good’ award.” “It’s not an image you’ll soon forget,” they said. Yeah, I’ll say. Well, it certainly cuts through the clutter.

Interesting work from 180 LA in Santa Monica, Calif.

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Filed under advertising, agencies, commercials

Easily distracted F, ISO way out of a reading rut

Elaine: These are good people, Jerry. They read!
Jerry: I read, I read!
Elaine: Books, Jerry.
Jerry: Oh.

I was watching this Seinfeld episode earlier tonight and caught myself laughing uncontrollably. Who doesn’t read books? Oh right, I don’t.

I do read, of course, and more or less constantly. I’m just reading blogs on my RSS feed, scouring the news online and reading interesting articles my friends share with me via Google Reader and Twitter.

Anyway, my problem, like Jerry’s, lies in books. It’s not that I don’t enjoy them. I have become quite the collector over the years, accumulating a pretty impressive library. Disliking books isn’t the problem… it’s that I start too many simultaneously and can never finish them.

It strikes me that the last book I read from start to finish might actually be Hey Whipple, Squeeze This! by Luke Sullivan two, make that three semesters ago. Ouch. I’ve probably written a book’s worth since then!

I’ll end up starting a new book I’m excited about, read a few chapters, and then next thing I know I’ve picked up another book and started reading it too, before finishing the first one. Then another. And another. Next thing I know I’m knee deep in five or ten books and never finish any of them. Case in point, here’s a photo of what I’m reading now:

What?! That’s 10 books! Yeah, it’s a problem. But they’re all worth reading, so I can’t quit! I need help! Heaping amounts of help — and sanity.

So what am I reading? And why? Here’s a rundown of the 10:

  • The Appeal, by John Grisham. I love everything this guy writes. And this guy can write one helluva suspenseful legal thriller. I’m on about page 138 in this one, which is easily the furthest along I am in any of them.
  • The New Rules of Marketing and PR, by David Meerman Scott. It’s about the PR and marketing in the digital era and delves into issues like social media. Couldn’t say a lot more about it since I’m only on page 15 or so.
  • Dixieland Delight, by Clay Travis. This book’s about a guy who goes to a home football game at every SEC school in one season and reports about the tradition, tailgating, food and cultural spectacle of each event. Each chapter covers a different program and it’s a little heavy on the frat guy-ish “hot ladies” talk. Otherwise it’s an interesting read and I love the idea. Wouldn’t mind going on the same adventure myself. I’m on page 98, thanks in a large part to riding the Metro in DC a lot this past weekend.
  • Cutting Edge Advertising II, by Jim Aitchison. As you might guess this is about creating cutting edge advertising that breaks through clutter. It’s probably a pretty good read, but didn’t make much for beach or pool reading this summer. I still chug along on it occasionally though. I think I’m on about page 60, but I’m starting to forget things I read about in it earlier.
  • Adobe Flash CS4 Classroom in a Book. This is a how-to book intended to teach me how to use Flash. An admirable personal goal, but I’m only on about page 15. Must keep trucking on that one!
  • The Non Designer’s Design Book, by Robin Williams. The book is probably great if you’re clueless about design, but I’m using it to make sure I have my bases covered before tackling anything much more advanced. It’s OK, but nothing spectacular. I just want to learn from the beginning, so this should be a breeze. Too bad I’m on page 22.
  • Southern Belly: The Ultimate Food Lover’s Guide to the South, by John T. Edge. This book’s a little disappointing, but I love food, especially fried delicious southern food… don’t even get me started. I keep it around for obvious reasons, because not only do I like tasting food, but I love talking food. And we all know I have a soft spot for geography and the south so, why quit? It goes state by state, and I’m on the first one.
  • The Choice, by Nicholas Sparks. Disclaimer: yes, I’m quite cheesy and I love Sparks books. Yeah, this is a romance story, just like they all are, and I know he’s going to break my heart again. But I love the ride, and Sparks is an incredibly gifted writer. I can’t resist… until another book snags my attention. I’m on page 113.
  • Graphic Design School, Third Edition, by David Dabner. This book is excellent! Sometimes I wish I went to design grad school instead of advertising grad school (I stress sometimes), and this book does an excellent job of walking you through the basics of good design, element by element. I’m largely self taught when it comes to things artistic, so I appreciate it immensely. I have it on loan now from the library but really should cough up the $45 to buy it (and by $45 I mean probably $15 if I look hard enough). In the meantime, I’m on page 38.
  • And last but not least, Hockey for Dummies, by John Davidson and John Steinbreder. I’m interested in one day working in sports and there’s the possibility that that opportunity could be in hockey. It wouldn’t hurt to know more about it. Also, for some reason I follow and am followed by tons of people working in NHL on Twitter. I’ll admit, that’s what really made me interested in learning more and picking this up at the library. I’m on page 15 though, but that’s because I’m such a hockey dummy (OK, novice) that I’m reading all the prologue business too.

Well there you have it. Anyone have any suggestions for an easily amused/easily distracted person in the midst of 10 books? Where should I go from here? Has anyone read any of these and think any are must reads? Any I should dump or throw off a bridge? How do you stop yourself from picking up new books and follow through and finish what you start? Can I ask any more questions?

In the meantime, I’m going to stew on this quote from one of my favorite authors.

“The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.” –Mark Twain

In honor of Mr. Twain, I’m going to read the Grisham book until I fall asleep tonight. And maybe when I’m done I’ll finally start The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Or The Prince and the Pauper. Sweet dreams, world.

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Filed under advertising, books, college football, food, graphic design, Seinfeld, The South


I’ve known for a little while that Gatorade had been planning to unveil new packaging, since I had “read” this blog post about it on TheDieline, the self-proclaimed (and can’t say I disagree) “leading package design website.”

Gatorade redesign. Photo courtesy TheDieline.
I wasn’t a fan of the design at first… It seemed a little Adobe-ish for some reason, even though Adobe uses a sans-serif font and this G has a quasi-serif, but I thought the lightning bolt logo would save the design from being a total dud due to easy recognition. I say Adobe-ish because the label blends in exactly with the color of the contents and is straightforward, simple, brightly colored and easy to read, just like these Adobe product logos:

Adobe logos from The System.

While in Ukrop’s (the best grocery store in the world) last week I saw several “new package Gatorades” but they were missing the signature lightning bolt. Yeah, it was in the sports drink section, and yeah I knew the brand planned to redesign its package, but I wonder if anyone else had walked by looking for product, got confused and left. Probably not, but you never know.

Anyway, I’m not a fan of those Gatorades lacking the lightning bolt, and I’m also not wild about the related “G” commercials that have flooded the airwaves these past few days. First of all, I was actually aware of the packaging change, and still didn’t recognize right away that the commercials were for Gatorade. Truth be told, after the first watch I sorta thought, is this a commercial for Georgetown? Why are all these athletes on here? What’s G? The G reminded me of the Georgetown G (see below). It also briefly crossed my mind that it could be for some new line for Nike.

The Georgetown G. From

Anyway, here are some of the new “G” ads. What do you think?

The ads are the work of TBWA\Chiat\Day. I think the music is catchy (it’s been in my head off and on all day long, with the exception of Texas’ “give ’em hell, give ’em hell, make ’em eat shit” chant from the Fiesta Bowl) and the use of celebrity endorsers certainly makes it memorable (Lil Wayne’s voice, Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning, Serena Williams, etc.). But what difference does it make if people don’t know what the product is?

In my non-scientific convenience sample of my family (five), I was the only one to know what the product was within three views. That’s pathetic for the brand considering at least three of us drink the product semi-regularly and all five of us are passionate about sports and recognized the majority of the athletes.

In a more reliable, though still unscientific poll on CNBC‘s Sports Biz with Darren Rovell blog, the survey found that 37 percent of the 287 respondents “don’t like the spot, don’t like the ‘G’ idea.” Though 57 percent of the respondents did enjoy the ads, but were almost evenly split between “OK with the ‘G’ idea” and “just say it’s Gatorade.”

According to the blog post, one reader said, “I don’t know why this is so awesome, it just is.”

Bleh. Can’t say I agree. I stop paying attention to the voiceover about five seconds in, though I keep wondering what celebrity will next cross my screen. And the song never quits!

Additional reading: AdAge on G

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Filed under advertising, celebrity endorsement, commercials, sports

Thunderstorm of miscellany… and welcome 2009!

Hi all! Hope your holidays and 2009 are treating ya well so far! Apologies for going underground again… It’s been a whirlwind with graduating, job hunting, moving across the country, the holidays, and visiting with friends and family. An enjoyable whirlwind however.

Hopefully I’m back for a while, but here’s a smorgasbord of thoughts… Sorry in advance, it’s quite the hodgepodge:

  • Should I get a job immediately? Or should I take up other pursuits for a while before getting back into the working world? While I’d prefer to get a job sooner rather than later, I’m not killing myself to get my job tomorrow. Here’s an interesting article in last week’s AdAge weighing in on the merits of waiting versus full speed ahead. Good comments in feedback section too.
  • Holy monkey I’ve become so into Twitter. If measured only by time spent on the network these past few weeks, it’s safe to say it’s surpassed Facebook as my favorite social network. Granted I use them for totally different purposes. Will post on this topic soon.
  • Building an advertising portfolio online is quite the daunting task. It’s consumed my life the past few days. I’m learning a lot, but am realizing it’s quite the steep learning curve. However, things to thank for my little bits of success thus far: the few HTML tags I retained from CS 105 or whatever computer science class I took undergrad, and copious use of tips on forums. Thanks internet… though I have a long way to go.
  • I’m in love with Adobe’s Classroom in a Book series. These books introduce the reader to the Adobe software of choice and assign relevant projects that can be completed step-by-step. Cheapest prices I’ve seen since the release of their CS4 line has been on Amazon with about $34 per (Adobe’s price is around $52). They have titles available for Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Flash and more. I have varying experience with the first four, but am hoping to add Flash to my repertoire in the coming weeks thanks to this series (and Christmas). And I’m a big fan of offline solutions to software problems and reading something tangible.
  • Not into the clunky book idea? You can always try tutorials. They’re available for tons of graphic design and web software and other computing topics. Examples of a few you could find: creating games for the Wii using Flash CS3, essential training for bloggers, and typographic principles. I’m already making notes in my head of potential classes I’d like to take on the site. You can get access to ALL the training on the site for $25/month (as often as you want). Or I recommend using this (copy and paste): to get a free 7-day trial before committing.
  • I have tons of commercials I’ve seen lately that I’d like to comment on. Stay tuned.
  • I have decided that I’m going to treat Feb. 1 as the new year as far as resolutions go. That way, I can use all of January to come up with a good one. And, should I choose a gym- or fitness-related resolution, everyone else will have broken theirs by then, so I’ll have less competition for treadmills, rowing machines and the pool.
  • I have the best family and friends in the world. Seriously. Way to make 2008 rock and I’m looking forward to the continued fun in the new year. Stay warm all!

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Filed under advertising, goals, graphic design, jobs, Twitter, web design

Chuck Brown goes wild

Today we wrapped up our portfolio class with the end-of-semester critique. Everyone finished in time and it was nice to see my classmates’ work (and my own) come to fruition. We got some helpful feedback from industry pros which enabled us to gauge our progress on “making our books.”

No matter how you slice it though, it’s been an exhausting journey. As my friend Stacey put so precisely early this week, “P2 [intermediate portfolio] is full of growing pains.” I agree. Unlike in P1 (beginning portfolio), we’re sorta at the point now where we know when our stuff sucks, but are still grappling at making things good or great. There’s a whole lot of being satisfactory or adequate, but not special. Needless to say it’s frustrating, but all part of the learning experience.

Anyway, like all things in life besides the really important things like family and friends, you just have to remind yourself “it’s just advertising.” We all get sucked into our own little worlds and forget about the world going on outside. We don’t return phone calls. We go underground for unknown periods of time, conversing only with others in the same situation. Our tempers are short and we’re ready to pounce on unsuspecting copy center employees, should they mess up our order or coloration on our final ads. We worry about the most infinitesimal details… “I don’t have time to get coffee, I have to redo the Gaussian blur.” To quote my undergrad econ professor, Ken Elzinga, “In the long run we’re all dead.” How much difference will that extra 10 minutes for a snack or caffeine break make in the long run? Will it be the difference between a lower and higher score at critique? Probably not.

But who am I kidding? I got sucked into the madness just as much as everyone. As usual, seeing everyone else stressed out frazzled me as well. Call it pathetic, but I was glad for it to end because for the first time in a week I sat down and watched three TV shows in a row. I stress the word watched, because I’ve been listening while graphic designing/art directing or cutting my foamcore for the final mounted ads for the past week, but hadn’t truly enjoyed the art of watching TV.

Going back to “it’s just advertising,” a friend of mine pointed me in the direction of this unbelievably hilarious YouTube video parodying agency life. I laughed loudly at least six times during the video, and thought over and over again “this is what I’m going to school for.” I think if you can’t laugh at yourself you won’t be able to survive in the working world. It was the perfect thing to watch after a day, week, month, and really, semester of portfolio obsessing.

I love that it doesn’t miss a single detail. Egotistical creatives* driven by the incessant need to win awards (and toot their own horns about it). The mention that Crispin always comes up with the great ideas, looking for inspiration in the CA annual, which works perfectly, as that issue arrives in December. Guerilla marketing. KISS – Keep it simple stupid (I enjoyed the surprising substitution of “shithead” though for that final S in the acronym). “Concepting.” There’s a word you don’t hear enough of in the advertising world.

Well enough with the overanalysis. I’m going to KISS and get ready for and go to bed — a plan that has worked for thousands of nights of my life already, and yet never loses its freshness.

*I will post my opinions on this word in a future post. Stay tuned.

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Filed under advertising, agencies, graphic design, Peanuts