Friday, December 19, 2008

Brown & Van Pelt Advertising

It's been awhile, but I'm back -- with this special holiday message.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What killed McCain? A lousy brand.

The economic fallout may have been the final nail in John McCain’s campaign coffin (come on, John: “The fundamentals of our economy are strong”?), but McCain was ensuring his burial long before that. He was ensuring it through poor branding.

At the beginning, McCain defined himself singularly as an American war hero, a patriot who sacrificed and put “country first.” Though some found that to be a dubious means of self identification (yours truly among them), it was, no doubt, compelling to many. But once Obama’s star began to rise, McCain largely abandoned this brand identity and began a dizzying process of knee-jerk reactions that aimed to contain Obama’s celebrity while maintaining JayMack’s competitiveness.

When Obama’s message of CHANGE was becoming wildly popular, McCain also became the candidate for change — in a “me, too” sort of way; he rebranded himself as the “Maverick,” a reference to a TV show from the 1950s (huh? who you targeting there?). When Obama defeated Hillary and there was some uncertainly as to where her supporters might migrate, McCain panicked to gather them and nominated Sarah Palin as his running mate (insert your own joke here). When Obama was getting traction with a tax plan that would “help working Americans,” McCain summoned Joe the Plumber. (On NPR’s Radio Times yesterday, Chris Mottola, a media consultant for the McCain campaign, was asked to explain the rationale for that strategy. “You throw a lot of things against the wall and see what sticks,” he answered. Really, sir? I mean, really?)

Bottom line: Rather than branding himself as a unique candidate with qualities that would have attracted some voters and alienated others, McCain instead wound up branding himself as Obama Lite/Warped/Old.

Behold the result.

Monday, October 27, 2008

For some, everyday is Halloween.

You see at least one everyday:

The shaved bald head. The goatee. The Kenneth Cole wardrobe. The retro Weezer eyeglasses.

Is it a rule that all digital guys have to wear the same costume?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Esta promoción es estúpida.

Hey Phillies phans! Inspired by Taco Bell, Wawa just announced a new promotion: if anyone gets a ground-rule double tonight, you can receive a free small cup of coffee two Thursdays from now, between 2:00 and 5:00 AM. (Participating Wawa stores only.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

“If we can get rid of the designers and creative directors...”

In the movie The Player, a studio exec is looking for ways to save money on movie scripts. He picks up a newspaper and reads the first headline he sees: Immigrants protest budget cuts in literacy program. “Human spirit overcoming human adversity,” he suggests. “Sounds like Horatio Alger in the barrio. Put Jimmy Smits in it and you’ve got a sexy Stand and Deliver. Slap a happy ending on it and the script will write itself.”

Another studio exec, Griffin Mill (played by Tim Robbins), snarks in retort: “I was thinking what an interesting concept it is to eliminate the writer from the artistic process. If we can get rid of the actors and directors, maybe we’ve got something.”

Point taken.

But hey, guess what? It looks like some marketing genius is seriously suggesting we take the designers and creative directors out of the process of logo development. Yep, in a recent PBJ article, wonders why a small business would spend upwards of $10,000 on its logo — you know, the central image of its brand — when it can fill out a questionnaire and have one produced via l’automation for just $500.

Griffin, any thoughts?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

“Funny or die”? Rest in peace, then.

That smoking chick from Heroes is featured in a new pro-Obama pseudo-PSA.

Hey, I hate John McCain as much as any pinko Lefty, but...come on. This is just lousy work. What’s funny about this spot? Moreover, what is its comic device? It’s not irony (unless merely saying negative things with a positive tone of voice counts). There’s sarcasm, sure, (See, I was just sarcastic there, and it wasn’t funny.)

Anyway, now that we’ve seen that awesome Sarah Silverman jawn, maybe all these quasi-celebs should just leave well enough alone. The good work has been done.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The outrageous hubris of Gyro Worldwide.

Gold Crown Press just released a book titled, VIRUS: THE OUTRAGEOUS HISTORY OF GYRO WORLDWIDE. The book’s author, Harriet Bernard-Levy, chronicles the agency’s 20-year existence while managing to linguistically blow founder Steven Grasse.

“Wait, did you say DDB?” you might be asking silently. No, ‘fraid not. “Oglivy and Mather?” Again, no. “Ayer & Son? TBWA? BBDO? Some other agency that had a real impact on American culture?” No, no, no, and no. We’re talking about Gyro.

Here are just a few of the wildly unhinged claims made by Bernard-Levy in her book:

* Gyro invented viral marketing (ha!)
* Gyro launched the careers of Spike Jonze, Doug Aitken, and Quentin Tarantino, among others (ha! ha!)
* Gyro “was the first to capitalize on the latent sexual forces running through contemporary proletarian subculture...forever [changing] our collective notion of cool”

Uhh, what?

This tidbit from the book is particularly giggle-inducing:

“Before receiving a standing ovation at the Sundance Film Festival for their award winning feature film Little Miss Sunshine, director duo Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Ferris cut their artistic teeth shooting Puma spots for Gyro Worldwide.”

Ahh, yes. I remember those Puma spots well. (Oh wait — no I don’t. Actually, I don’t remember them at all. Which is weird, because, according to the book’s logic, they must’ve been as culturally important as “Tastes great, less filling” and “You deserve a break today.”)

I’ll say this for Gyro: What they lack historically, in terms of actual talent and breakthrough thinking, they more than make up for in hubris. If they’ve taught us anything — and they’ve certainly done so by example — it’s that if you make incessant claims that you’re the greatest thing walking, eventually some people will believe you. (Wait, I think Oasis taught us that, too. That’s the band that’s better than the Beatles, right?)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Stay classy, Philadelphia.

Ha! Check these out: KYW Eyewitness News promos from the late ‘70s. Just outstanding. Enjoy.

Friday, September 26, 2008

It's a great place to start. Sadly.

Earlier this month, an Army Experience Center (AEC) opened in the Franklin Mills Mall. Yeah, you read that right. Experiential marketing at its best, where aimless youth can experience — virtual-style — what it’s like to fly a Black Hawk chopper or cruise in a Humvee.

When I was sixteen and feeling full of angst, I would head over to a music store and plug in some electric guitars. Today’s teen can do that, too — but when HE leaves Sam Ash, the AEC will be waiting for him just across the way. And when he’s done playing in this dubious virtual arcade, he’ll be invited to hang out in the AEC Café and have a mochaccino with some big-toothed Army recruiter in a Polo shirt, who raps with him about how awesome military life is.

Sound like a place you’d want YOUR kids to hang out? Me neither. (Oh, the kicker: the AEC cost $200M in taxpayer — i.e., YOUR — money to build. I didn’t even know this shit was going on, did you?)

McCann-Erickson spearheads this military branch’s “Army of One” branding. Far as who handles the direct and interactive marketing ... it’s pretty hush-hush. Guess no agency wants to assume that polarizing identity. I’ve heard various rumors: one pins the account to Avenue A/Razorfish, another has it at Gillespie, another slates Roska as the owner.

Anyone know for certain?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Genuine disdain for Art.

A certain well-known creative guru from a certain well-known agency in the 19102 zip code was overheard saying this at Audrey Claire the other night:

“Let’s face it, any creative director worth his salt comes from the copy side. Artists like pretty pictures; they don’t think conceptually.”


I hope none of the art directors who work at the “blue egg” agency have any hopes of ever becoming CD. That well runneth dry.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Worst. Agencies. EVER.

Hot off the news wire:

Andrew Fishman just jumped to the Archer Group (Wilmington, DE) as their new VP of Client Services. He had been at Digitas for all of two years. And before that, a short stint at Refinery.

Michael Scott -- no, not the idiot from The Office; I’m talking ‘bout the local pharma CD -- jumped from Digitas (where he’d been for about a year) to Refinery (ditto)...and then back to his old job at Harte-Hanks.

I can name about four or five similar scenarios featuring these two agencies. As if they each have an enormous revolving door on a well-greased axle.

So my question: Are Digitas and Refinery, like, officially the two worst fucking places to work if you’re an area pharma marketer?