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Laura Fraser

Baseball, bros & Brooklyn Brothers

The beginning of summer is not a good time for me. I am worried about finals, I am stressing over the potential of enduring an unseasonable Montreal blizzard, and I am a little cranky that Bachelor Pad has taken over prime-time television once again. So by the time my hockey friends begin inviting me over to watch baseball, my tolerance level is at zero and I get all anxious and just avoid everyone.That said, New Era, the official on-field cap for Major League Baseball, launched a great advertising campaign last summer.The series chronicles a rivalry between John Krasinski and Alec Baldwin, diehard fans of the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees respectively. After the original plan to cast Charlie Sheen fell through because he was busy winning, Krasinksi joined the project and worked with writers from The Office on the scripts. He also recruited Baldwin, which is just icing on the cake. The season-long campaign consisted of six 60-second spots, one for each of the six series between Boston and New York scheduled between April and September. The final commercial aired last week.The spots are shot entirely in black and white, distinguishing them from most sports ads and from the actors’ respective television series. It also adds gravity to the rivalry, which the series mocks with its playfulness.What is best is there is no awkward attempt at endorsement; they are having fun. But their celebrity adds a sense of familiarity to which consumers respond well. The men act similarly to their characters in 30 Rock and The Office. Baldwin dons a suit and speaks in a quick, eccentric, Donaghy-esque banter. Krasinski is more boyish; his excitement over the execution of a prank in the third ad should be familiar to Office fans. Personally, my favourite was the second… Read More

‘Lovehoney’ sells the sizzle

On 3 October, UK-based Lovehoney took its relationship with the public to the next level: daytime television. The online retailer for intimate apparel, erotic books, and adult toys became the first sex toy retailer to have a TV commercial air during daytime and primetime television. The ad was cleared for airing at any time except during children's programming, although ITV ended up revisiting that decision and rescheduled their spots for after 9 pm.It should come as no surprise that research suggests consumers prefer provocative ads, explaining the presence of scantily clad models in, um, everything. Sex as a communication technique arouses positive feelings in consumers, although women are usually turned off by anything too blatantly sexual, responding better to suggestiveness. Even IKEA is getting in on the action in their new spot. Evidently, sex can sell pretty much everything – everything except for sex toys, which put Lovehoney up against a unique challenge.“You can use sex to sell most products, but as a sex-toy retailer, no hint of anything overtly sexy is allowed,” explained Nick Ellis, creative director at Halo Media, which has been working with Lovehoney to reposition the brand into the “well-being” category.The commercial features a fully-clothed couple sharing a rather intense kiss to a young, punky guitar soundtrack that Halo wrote for the spot. After 20 seconds of fogging up everyone’s television sets, the camera pans wide, revealing that the couple is sharing a goodbye kiss before work. It’s just a kiss, and it’s kind of steamy.The campaign also includes billboards, poster sites on the London Underground, an online banner presence, and print ads in Cosmopolitan, Company, and Good Housekeeping. In addition, Halo has helped Lovehoney revamp their website in line with the new branding.While the magazines were happy to run the original ads, the campaign required… Read More

The time for Catvertising is right Meow

Cats invented playing hard-to-get. The introduction of the cat video revolutionized our relationship with cats, suddenly making these haughty little creatures relatable. Cats are no better than us. Sometimes, they let their guard down and fall into garbage cans when (they think) nobody’s looking.But we are looking. Now, cat videos are what people demand on the internet.Toronto-based ad agency john st. has released a parody clip in which they declare their intentions of leading the world in Catvertising. Creative director Stephen Jurisic explains, “Nobody wants to see ads anymore. They want cat videos.”The parody is perfectly executed. I adore the subtleties, including cats roaming the office nonchalantly in the background or the shot of an employee opening a can of cat food. John st. is no stranger to satires of the advertising industry. Their Pink Ponies Case Study (which is also definitely worth a watch) was a huge success last year. However, what sets Catvertising apart is their incorporation of the team. I thoroughly enjoy the shot of john st.’s president Arthur Fleischmann coaxing a kitty out from under a desk.There are few things that attract business and talent like a company’s culture. Catvertising showcases the team’s sense of humour, their attention to detail, and their impeccable project execution without ever having to say it directly.The agency bolsters their decision to transform into the world’s first Catvertising agency with graphs and statistics that reinforce the conclusion that agencies not ready to make this move will surely be left behind. The clip provides a behind the scenes look at their very own in-house cat video production studio, which is complimented by a collection of cat costumes and potential storyboards. The growing legitimacy of the project is accompanied by increasingly inspirational music, leading up to a final thought…“Ask yourself, what can cat… Read More

When we ban ads worth spreading

Marketing students learn that advertisers can wield a disturbing amount of influence. It is the kind of influence that makes you realize that people are often right to attack the industry that has fascinated you since you were twelve. As a result, I have always admired advertisers who use their talents in order to provoke thought rather than provoke purchases.On 3 October, TED announced its second cycle of Ads Worth Spreading, a search for the 10 most compelling campaigns of 2011, driven by the expression of ideas, not by the selling of products; a search for advertisers who communicate with their consumers similarly to how TED has always strived to communicate with its audiences.“As advertising and marketing experiences evolve, with the second annual ‘Ads Worth Spreading’ challenge we are looking to nudge a new paradigm for marketers – presenting ads that enrich the content they touch – to help advertisers connect with audiences and become part of the conversation,” explained TED’s Head of Global Partnerships, Ronda Carnegie.Unfortunately, the majority of ads which are effective enough to touch people are intentionally confrontational and fundamentally challenging. In a society wherein political correctness is paramount, what chance does a truly provoking ad have of survival? This is an industry where psychological manipulation can earn you sales for something trivial. So, what are we doing when we start banning the ads that are actually worth spreading?When I think of recent campaigns reflecting TED’s values, the first that comes to mind is I Can’t Wait to Grow Up from the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. The ad’s release followed several delays of a constitutional referendum to strengthen children’s rights, which Amnesty International discovered this May to be sorely lacking in Ireland.The spot by Ogilvy Ireland is admittedly difficult to watch. It… Read More

Rule #1 in advertising: Do not annoy the wallet

Nestlé Purina has created the first television commercial for dogs (a breakthrough I trust marketers everywhere have been waiting for).“We wanted to create a TV commercial that our four-legged friends can enjoy and listen to, but also allow the owner and dog to experience it together”, said one brand manager.The ad, which is running in Germany and Austria, uses a sequence of three different high-pitched sounds to capture the attention of dogs and their owners. The first is a squeaking noise that both owners and their dogs can hear, followed by a higher frequency tone similar to a dog whistle, and finally a clear, high-pitched ‘ping’.Dr Georg Sanders, a nutrition expert and consumer consultant at Nestlé Purina PetCare, predicts that dogs will react differently to the commercial based on how they are used to playing with their owners.“Dogs who often play with a squeaky duck as they are running around with their owner will certainly react most strongly to this sound”, he explained.Nestlé appears to be very enthusiastic about a campaign that is sure to make the majority of viewers (including dog owners) hit mute. As a life-long dog person (Full disclosure: my “dog lover” t-shirt was an integral component of my nine-year-old self-concept), I can’t help but wonder whether one of the consumer psychologists at Nestlé Purina confused us with cat people.Mood can bias attitudes, making us more likely to say that we like a brand if we are in a good mood. I’m sure that what the marketers at Nestlé Purina envisioned involved herds of puppies scampering in and resuscitating their owners from their commercial-induced states with puppy-dog kisses. That would put me in a good mood too. Unfortunately, my dog (a border collie like the dog in the spot) would at best pull a cute face and… Read More