Sunday, March 11, 2007

I Got Suckered - and It Was Good

As a practitioner of the Black Arts of Advertising and Marketing, I like to consider myself immune to most tricks of the trade. I like to think my cynicism makes me smarter than the art directors and copywriters out to make me laugh and make me buy. Occasionally, I get blindsided.

So I'm flipping through the pages of my new Rolling Stone (great cover story on Parker and Stone of South Park) and I get to the last few pages where they stick all the ads, and I say to myself, "Ha! Someone seriously screwed up at press time. All these pages got printed upside down." Couple seconds later I realize, still viewing the pages upside down, that every one one of them features a MINI Cooper.

Brilliant execution by Butler, Shine, Stern and Partners on this flip issue, called Really Hot Metal Magazine. Each page (8 in all + the cover) is witty and fun, featuring the Starsky & Hutch fashioned "Hammer" character and his sidekick, Coop, a talking car. The whole Hammer & Coop campaign has been ridiculed by industry wags. David Kiley, writing at Yahoo!, said "The problem for me is that the homage to the 1970s-early '80s TV action shows is too ham-fisted. It tries to be funny, like a weak Saturday Night Live sketch that goes on too long. The British voice inside the MINI is especially unfunny and unengaging. He says "bloke" and "bloody" a lot. But the writing in the serials is awful."

Maybe the webisodes are a little stupid, but nothing is as unfunny as SNL these days, Mr. Kiley. (Lorne Michaels - please retire.) Agreed on the British voice. But I can tell you, the print stuff works. More flip issues are reportedly coming to MAXIM, Stuff, and Blender. I'm guessing MINI is targeting men's magazines with a parody of a 1970s action hero to counter the widely held perception that the Cooper is a chick car.

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  • The March issues of Blender and Stuff have eight-page fashion spread ads featuring Hammer & Coop. The April 2007 issue of Automobile magazine has a celebrity 8x10 glossy photograph ad for Hammer & Coop. A future issue of Premiere is supposed to have the flip ad as well. Finally, Men's Health will integrate the campaign into its monthly workout poster.

    By Blogger James, at March 11, 2007 at 12:09 PM  

  • Dunno who Mr. Kiley is, but I loved this campaign and the spots. It kicks the absolute shit out of Suzuki’s lame BMW Films rip-off.

    Maybe we’re caught in the middle realm of the branding entertainment event horizon. Where critics like him expect ads like this to be 100% entertainment and live up to the standards of shows created for a different purpose.(SNL, Mad Tv, etc.)

    While on the other hand, brands can’t let go completely, let alone put something out there that has 0% ‘traditional advertising.’ So we get stuck with 1/2 lame, 1/2 kinda funny stuff on a regular basis from most brands.

    Then comes Crispin or W+K who try and reach that 100% mark, maybe settling for 93% and leaving it at that. At some point though, a brand’s just going to have to say “fuck it, we’re all in” and go the entertainment route completely. Geico’s cavemen will try, although I would expect they’d have no branding in the actual show segments.

    By Blogger Make the logo bigger, at March 11, 2007 at 4:42 PM  

  • Kiley is the marketing editor at Business Week. And a stupid one at that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 11, 2007 at 4:45 PM  

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