Friday, November 24, 2006

WOM Marketers Eye Xmas Parties

In a move that risks bringing further shame to the advertising industry, some word of mouth marketers are hiring conversationalists to attend Holiday parties and name-drop for various brands. The "party plants," as they are being called, will be fitted with tiny earpieces through which they will be instructed from a remote location when and how to fit an advertiser into a conversation.

"Let's say your boss is sipping a rum and cola while you introduce your significant other at this year's office Christmas party," offers Heather Huchster, Vice-President of Nothing is Sacred, LLC, a word of mouth marketing firm in Kansas City, "At this point, the conversation monitors, operating from a call center, will be able to prompt the attendee to talk about Bacardi, Coca-Cola or other brands among a list of those who've paid for this valuable service. Or let's imagine someone compliments your purse, at which point you will be prompted to talk about the great savings you found on purses at Macy's."

Known as PPC (Pay Per Conversation), the practice is drawing critcism from traditional advertisers.

"I really don't want to wonder if the person I'm talking to is being paid to shill for a brand," said Trey Kuhle, an art director from New York City.

But Huchster counters that this new form of marketing is just a step beyond the Pay Per Post blogging model, in which bloggers are paid to write positive things for paying companies. "Whether it's product placement in a movie or preroll before your next YouTube view, you can't escape advertising," said Huchster, "And if you don't like it, you are free to keep your mouth shut and sit in the corner."

Huchster would not disclose the payment plan for the new Pay Per Conversation model, but allowed that some conversations will be more valuable than others.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving, Aristocrats

I love the copy in this ad for an old Maryland brew. Compelling. And Rich.

you can't afford this beer, lower class masses

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Thank God for Underwear

From 1951, when apparently "underwear" were known as "trigs," we have Mark Foley and a congressional page off to shoot a turkey for the table. Or they've convinced the turkey to lead them home like a drum major in some sort of NAMBLA parade.

This copywriter shames me. I never thought of underwear as something to be thankful for. I need to count my blessings more carefully.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Army Art

The Army's new spot bears a bit of a resemblance to the Czech Army ad, in particular in the choice of music. Personally, (and I hate to admit this, being an Army brat) I think the Czech ad trumps ours hands down. It speaks without the flowery prose. And if you're going with that sort of epic and grandiose copy, get a better VO - maybe Sam Elliot or Schwartzkopf. This guy is anemic.

Compare, contrast, discuss.



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Monday, November 20, 2006

When in Doubt...Recycle

How old is the old "plop plop fizz fizz" thing for Alk Seltzer? Pretty damned old, I think. Anyway, the jingle is coming back, only this time with the hipness of "User Generated Content" in a "battle of the bands" style promotion that invites crappy bands who couldn't write their own made-for-marketing jingle (Smashmouth's "All Star" comes to mind) to submit a new version of the ancient Alka Seltzer song and "take their place in advertising history."

I think I'm gonna be sick.

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Very Nice!™

No one ever trademarked "Vote for Pedro," (much to someone's dismay, I'm sure.) but the phrase "Very Nice" from the Borat film (did I say "film"? - how pretencious) is now the most-oft-uttered phrase on high school campuses nationwide, according to a completely unscientific poll conducted by Radio Free Babylon.

Sacha Baron Cohen, the much-loved, much-hated creator of Borat, was being beaten up at press time and was unavailable for comment.

Expect "Very Nice" to appear in local advertiing, where no one has any imagination and they're still using lines like "Got a Realtor?" and "Got BBQ?"

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Stop Singing - And That's an Order

As noted by FishnChimps, "The difference between God and Bono is that God doesn't wander around Dublin thinking he's Bono."

Everyone's favorite Manhattan banking center manager/lead singer, Ethan Chandler, is being told to "cease and desist" by Universal Music Publishing Group, which owns the copyright to U2's "One," which Chandler modifed to rev up the troops at a recent BofA gathering.

In his defense, Chandler delivers the horrible corporate lyrics with passion, and his dream career may finally have some legs. He denies that he leaked the video, (warning: Cringe Factor 9) and you really want to believe him. Criticism has been merciless among bloggers, for good reason. If you haven't seen it already, I challenge you not to be embarrassed by this performance.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Captain Kirk Says, "Go Gators!"

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Friday, November 17, 2006

No One Waited In Line For This

All you hardcore gamers (and Moms of hardcore gamers) please get a life. From a news story out of South Africa:

Sergio Rodriguez had been waiting outside the New York Circuit City store since Sunday for the midnight launch event, and he was the first to walk away with the PS3 as people still standing in line outside the store cheered.

"This is the best game ever. It's so worth the wait," the 25-year-old graphics designer said. "Some people may call me crazy, but I really love to play."

So this guy took an entire week off work to stand in line. Arrrrrgh. Yes, Sergio, you are crazy. And stupid. And thank you for showing the rest of the world how collectively stupid we as a country can be. I love gaming and have been known to kill Nazis late into the evening, but c'mon.

When did this start? Was it Cabbage Patch Dolls that began the whole camp out in line for a damn Christmas present craze or does it predate that?

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George Pulls Back The Curtain

George Parker’s Madscam: Kick-ass Advertising without the Madison Avenue Price Tag is being billed as “the book Madison Avenue doesn’t want you to read.” More correctly, it’s the book that smaller, regional ad agencies don’t want you to read. (The small shop set up by the washed up college jock who made a name for himself in the local community and then hung out his shingle and got some old fans as clients because he didn’t want to sell life insurance.)

Parker teaches the basics of advertising in a step-by-step, “how to” fashion. The market for this book is ostensibly the entrepreneur on a limited budget, and while that person will undoubtedly come away much smarter for reading this, it would also benefit those in the industry to take this little refresher course.

Fans of Parker’s over-the-top rants and bitch sessions over at Adscam will miss the colorful language liberally thrown about on that blog, but the grumpy humor still shines through in this manual.

While Parker gives ample attention to every facet of the business, his bottom line is “content is king.” Not surprising coming from a copywriter, but a mantra that applies to outdoor board as easily as it does to your attempts to market within Second Life. Or your corporate blog. Or your viral video excursion.

Of course there is the REAL bottom line driven home by Parker, which is “In the real world of your business, advertising should have one single objective: to kick your competition’s ass and sell your stuff.” Parker comes across on these pages as the friend to the entrepreneur (a smart thing, given it is published by Entrepreneur Press) and shows that he knows his audience, another key to advertising and selling. He's helping cut the expensive corners.

A start-up company will keep this book handy as they grow and likely save a bunch of money in the long run. An ad school professor might just make this required reading of his starry-eyed students out to set the world afire with their killer ideas for the next big thing.

Occassionally you'll find commenters on Parker's blog who call him things like "watery-eyed dinosaur" or "washed up old hack" or "smelly old drunk bastard" (I made that last one up) but there really is nothing new under the sun, and Parker pulls back the drapes and lets the light in.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Rejected KFC Logo

Design Notes: The brief called for "a new look" so we decided to "hip up" the Colonel. We went with emo glasses, some hair dye and trimmed up that goatee into a soul patch. Also, the chin needed some chiseling and the face certainly benefited from minor liposuction.

KFC reportedly rejected the design because it was "too sexy."

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Lower My Brokeback Bills

I don't know a single person who likes a single one of the banner ads. On a quest to check the weather for later this evening in my locale, I was smacked in the face with not one, but two hideous banners from these jokers. First, we have "lime green tank top wearing tattoo the front elevation of a house on his bicep" dude, but now, in the sprit of "Dancing Rooftop Couple" and "Dancing Girl with Scarf," we have "Dancing Twin Cowboys Doing a Very Gay Dance."


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New KFC logo

Seems everyone and their grandma in this incestuous advertising blogosphere is covering the new KFC logo, but few took note of the change to Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises in Libya, where they have been renamed Khadafi Fried Chicken, and will have a new logo. A company spokesperson says, "At least it's still KFC, unlike in French-speaking Quebec, where we have to call them PFC. " The spokesperson added, "Both Sanders and Khadafi are Colonels, so the change won't be that dramatic to the local customers."

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Today in History

The guy at the top of this blog is an American Hero, if for no other reason than his awesome "hurry up and take the picture, you geek" nonchalant pose. He was James Dean for real. He was what Tom Cruise pretends to be. He was what GWB thought he was when he landed on that aircraft carrier three years ago. NASA test pilot Mike Adams died in the California desert on this day, November 15th, in 1967. His X-15 crashed after reaching 266,000 feet, making him officially an astronaut, if only for a few minutes. (I did not know today was the anniversary of his death until I had already started this post. Cue Twilight Zone music and retitle entry.)

I found his image accidentally a few years ago on a Google search, but having learned his story, I like to use him whenever possible. Here he is at the original Where's My Jetpack and lurking in the garage of RFB. Below he is found standing on the porch of a house on the edge of a canyon, where a giant dog has just ripped up a telephone pole while a Stealth bomber flies overhead in a freak lightning's a long story.
click for bigness and weirdness

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Operation Enduring Employment

Inside the War Room of 7-Eleven, Inc. (Dallas) the emergency session went something like this:

"Recruitment is down, people! Our clerks are dropping like flies! We need a new strategy."

"OK. The Army just got rid of their 'Army of One' campaign and went with 'Army Strong' right? So why don't we just combine both of those and use it for OUR recruitment campaign?"

"Excellent plan! I think we're done here."

(As seen on the door of my local 7-Eleven on a coffee run this morning.)

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Saturday, November 11, 2006


OK, I admit it. I was behind the Quixtar parody, but those cultists had my spoof of their :90 Scott Glenn voiced promo removed from YouTube for "copyright infringement." They're a powerful lot, those shameless pimps. Let's see how long it takes them to find this one. Thanks to another blogger who did the video editing, who shall remain nameless until he tells me he doesn't mind being associated with this underhanded undermining. I am preparing my legal defense this way: "I was just showcasing my writing/voiceover skills for possible freelance offers."


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Friday, November 10, 2006

NASCAR Set To Rock

We live about an hour away from Daytona, but we know when to stay the hell away from that town. If it isn't Bike Week or Biketoberfest, it's some NASCAR race - and the (God love 'em) shirtless, shoeless, toothless masses from across America's NASCAR Belt make the city impossible to drive through and the beaches a teeming throng of lobster-red touri. (Please don't comment on that obviously exaggerated oversimplification of the NASCAR set. I am fully aware that many "normal" people enjoy racing sports.) NASCAR brings in the big bucks, no question, and the fans are beyond die-hard.

According to Steven Tyler's blog, (yes - everyone's favorite Mary Tyler Moore lookalike) Aerosmith's "Back in the Saddle" has been selected as NASCAR's theme song for the 2007 season. Tyler says he spent two hours with a partner rewriting the lyrics to fit the race theme before recording the song during a shoot at a Vegas concert. (Sample lyrics: "I'm ridin'... I'm ridin' in a fast car....I'm drivin'!...I'm drivin' in my NASCAR!!" ...Genius, Steven.)

This marks a departure for NASCAR, who've spent most of their marketing dollars trying to appeal to their country, Red State base. Aerosmith's appeal has always crossed boundaries, and they've been known to shill for the Gap, Dodge, Sony, the NFL and Disney, among others. Will the geriatric bad boys be able to bring a broader audience to ESPN to watch cars go real fast around a track?

Hmmmm....I dunno....Did Zeppelin sell any Cadillacs?

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

"Mickey D's" Sweet Tea - I'm Hatin' It

Come with us, Ronald.I can't find a copy of this :30 on YouTube or Google, but if you've seen it, you won't forget it. It is atrocious.

Spot opens with a big extended family sit-down dinner, Holiday style. Grandma says "Let's eat." Everyone reaches for their tall glasses of iced tea. They all chug it down as Grandma looks on worried. Some dork says, "I'll get more," and reaches for the pitcher. Grandma gets in his face in a very menacing way and chillingly hisses, "Sit down! I"ll get it."

Cut to little boy opening kitchen door to find Grandma at the counter draining a bunch of paper cups of McDonald's sweet iced tea into the pitcher. "Grandma!" he says, astonished. Kitchen is littered with empty McD's paper cups.

Cue fake Southern-accented female VO talking about "sweet tea the way Grandma used to make" or some such tripe. Add regional "Mickey D's" phrasing and you get "contrived and failing."

End shot is Grandma handing little boy a giant lollipop while saying, "You can keep Grandma's secret, right?"

I suspect this is a regional/Southern promotion for McDonald's, but man, it ain't working for me. Grandma in this thing is an evil, scary old trickster.

Make me thirsty. Don't make me hate Grandma.

Related post: Copywriting for food.

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Advertise in the Comics

Ad space is being made available on Radio Free Babylon's comics. The company is today announcing (exclusively through this blog) that the comic "Joe Zark" is ready to be a media whore. Your company's logo can appear on Joe's hat ($475) or Joe's overalls ($475) or both (a bargain at $900). Joe will also hold/use/mention your product for $500.

RFB says, "Once we've got a bunch of suckers lined up, we'll start drawing more panels. And don't ask us about 'impressions' or 'cost per eyeball' or any of that other media jive. We don't know that stuff."

From the media kit: "Joe Zark" is a [unsyndicated] current events and political cartoon that tries not to take sides with any political party, featuring the observations of Joe Zark, a farmer from Sparta, Missouri. “Joe is a lovable character, despite his apparent grumpiness and appetite for misinformation. In fact, it is his grumpiness that makes him lovable. Then again, a guy like Joe would get grumpy if you called him lovable,” says "Joe Zark" creator, K.D. King. [a lame pseudonym.]

Similar opportunities are being planned for other RFB comics.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mud Slinging is Nothing New

All the whining babies out there, talking about how "mean" and "dirty" our candidate's campaigning styles have become, have a look at this and get used to it. People vying for power have been talking trash about each other for decades...or rather, centuries.

While clearly more civilized than today's mud-slinging, the following :60 TV spot for JFK's 1960 campaign has a clear message: "Richard Nixon is a liar, and here's a sound bite from his boss to prove our case. We'll play it twice so you're sure to get it."

Oh yeah - and in the interest of being a PC supporter of democracy, I should urge you all to get out there and vote. Or don't. Because there's really nothing more disturbing than a bunch of idiots registering to vote at the last minute because some waste-of-space washed-up rapper, rocker, actor or model on MTV told them to.

Stay out if you aren't informed. And don't complain about the outcome if you didn't vote.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Quitters Never Win

Cigarette manufacturers are quietly rejoicing that potential Presidential contender Barack Obama has a smoking habit. Obama's habit has been reported in the New York Times, Time Magazine and other sources, although the Senator's cigarette preference has not been disclosed. He is said to be "attempting to quit."

"HA! Good luck on that one," laughed a Philip Morris executive, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"As soon as a photographer can snap a picture of a pack of cigarettes anywhere near Mr. Obama, you can expect that image to be all over the Internet in about an hour," predicts Lou Cipher, social media strategist for Underworld Marketing LTD, an interactive media consultancy, "And we can expect sales of that brand to skyrocket within a week."

Longtime Democratic strategist James Carville has been urging Obama to keep smoking. "While smoking will hurt Obama in some areas, like your West Coast, white, upper-middle class, former smokers demo, his cigarette addiction will play very well in the South and the rural Midwest, where Democrats have historically had trouble in Presidential elections and where smoking is not so disdained," said Carville, "And if we can get him to quit closet smoking and go ahead and light one up at the podium, that'll be even better."

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Social Media Strategy Session

There's a very fine line between engaging the consumer and pissing the consumer off.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

It was 4th and 10 - We Had to Pun

Cereal Killer

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