The best a client can get?

You know it costs big money to have three global superstars in an ad. Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Thierry Henry all appear in this Gillette Phenom spot- and somehow, I’m wondering: is this the best way to sell a razor?

“The word is mine” from getting up in the morning and shaving with the most comfortable razor in the world? I’m sorry, but no one has ever come up to me and said “nice shave”- it’s not quite like pulling up in a Lamborghini.

Superstars, special effects, big budget to run it, yet no real reason that resonates with me, Joe Shaver, who looks at shaving as something I have to do for a few minutes daily. Why should I spend more on a “Phenom” razor? To support the big budget ad campaign? At some point, the reality sets in- no razor is going to let me play golf like Tiger, hit a tennis ball like Federer or play soccer like Thierry Henry. There is a total disconnect between superstars and shower time.

If you are reviewing advertising campaigns for your company and want a simple test of agency competence- ask if another product could be placed in your ad- and still work? If not, time to go back to the drawing board.

This ad could be for any razor- or soap- or even breakfast cereal and not miss a beat.

I bet Gillette could get a better ad without the three superstars, special effects, or glitzy graphics- by just doing a simple head to head comparison ad- if in fact their razor is really all that and a bag of chips.

Guerrilla ads for a guerrilla political campaign: how to wow on the cheap.

I’m not going to go Sun Tzu on you, but a guiding principle in warfare is to attack where your enemy is weakest. In judo, you try to make your weakness your strength. Political advertising may be one of the areas where this is toughest- since incumbency and large campaign chests are considered prime indicators of product value. Shrewd political contributors don’t give to longshots, they bet their dollars on who they think can win. It’s the nature of the game, and a very hard marketing battle.

Think of it as launching a challenger brand, with no money, no time, and a very absolute deadline to dominate the market (election day). Can you imagine Procter and Gamble launching a new detergent and having to have 51% of the market make a purchase in two months?

Here is our first shot at launching a local political activist into a National Congressional race. Please note, not only did the candidate star in the ad, he wrote it himself (unlike his competition) because of course, the candidate is the same person writing this post.

it is also available as a downloadable iPod version here: http://esrati.com/?p=490

One of the keys of viral marketing and leveraging your low budget campaign is getting others to talk about it- the “word of mouth” factor. You can’t count on this happening automatically. This is where your established network of customers can make or break you. First, you have to actively tell them that the campaign is out there. Digitally- this means sending e-mails, posting appropriate comments in appropriate places, and reaching out to people who think as you do. It used to be marketing to the influencer or early adopter- now, it’s to your social network either formal (Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace) or informal as I did. Here is what creative genius Ernie Schenck said about the spot:

Ernie Schenck Calls This Advertising?
Seriously, people, show me a spot in this already tired political year that comes close to this simple little gem from Dayton ad guy, David Esrati, and I will eat my moustache. Attention, candidates: A little imagination, a little self-deprectation and a little ability to lighten up can go a long way. The man ought to get elected on the spot alone. Nice work, Esrati.

A client, and really smart guy, Charles Halton posted on his Awilum site:

it’s the funniest political ad I have ever seen. If politics were more like this it would make election season actually fun!

Another client, who happens to be a member of the Democratic Underground site posted it here:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=385×82652
which quickly became the highest click through on YouTube- even though the numbers are very low for what it has to do. (more…)

Back when marketing still meant something

Cirque Du Soleil mime on stilts at the 2nd Street Public Market in Dayton OHToday I was at the farmers market and their were clowns/mimes there from Cirque Du Soleil doing advance work for the Saltimbanco show next week. Call it “street teams” or guerrilla marketing, it was refreshing to see a business go out and actively seek customers in their environment. Doesn’t happen much anymore. We’ve gotten lazy- trying to invite our message in by interrupting their entertainment with commercials, their landscape with billboards and their websites with ads.

But while I was shopping, I was listening to American Public Radio’s Marketplace on my iPhone, and heard a story of how Procter & Gamble invented the market for Crisco- and it reminded me why they are the marketing powerhouse- not just by dollars spent, but by long history of working hard to connect with consumers. Our current industry fixation with “Branded Content” is nothing more than a new name for the soap opera- a P&G invention.

Here is an excerpt of the podcast- and a link to the whole she-bang. Highly recommended short podcast:

Marketplace: Crisco: A marketing revolution
…Crisco maker Procter & Gamble was a pioneer in the emerging science of creating demand. Historian Susan Strasser says the Crisco experiment started in 1911, when the company was selling Ivory soap. Cottonseed oil was a key ingredient.

Susan Strasser: And they decided to develop a product that would use a lot more cottonseed oil, so that they could control that market, really.

P&G’s scientists came up with this white, fluffy substance. It sort of resembled lard, and yet had no taste and no smell. It wasn’t food, exactly, but the company would ask consumers to bake and fry with it. Thus began an American mass-marketing milestone.

Strasser: Originally, they tried to call it Crispo, but then they discovered that a cracker factory already had the trademark.

P&G hawked its new product as a “scientific discovery.” The company sent free samples to every grocer in America. They held Crisco teas — an early version of the focus group. P&G even niche-marketed the product as kosher to the Jewish community….

In the podcast they talked about how P&G educated the consumer in how to use their products- something that the web is incredibly useful for. Yet, how many company websites feature big how-to communities built around their product?

Screen shot of Flash intro to BMW motorcycle Xplor siteFor instance, BMW motorcycles has an xplor area that’s focused on tips and tricks for sport touring – the segment of the market that they have a preferred position. How to pack your bike best, tips on GPS usage, and segments on where to go. However, it’s a members only site for BMW owners- you have to provide a vin number- and not open to the general public. Why not open the doors- so that potential customers can get a feel for what “joining the family” by buying BMW means?

Back to the Crisco story:

Marketing scholar David Stewart says P&G’s genius was not only giving people a convincing reason to try the product but training them to use it as well, with free cookbooks and recipes.

David Stewart: First of all, they focused on the health benefits — recognizing that this was a time we didn’t know about transfat and so forth. And then they taught people how to use it, they taught people how to cook. They gave them ideas. And between giving them a real benefit and information about how to use the product, they were able to get people to adopt it.

Crisco’s crowning achievement was creating demand for something nobody knew they wanted.

In today’s open information economy- putting your “recipes” behind a log-in is as silly as trying to charge for it. Would Google have been as successful if they had asked users to pay per search? Sounds absolutely stupid, doesn’t it? How about having to log in to use Google? Again, very silly.

To make friends with consumers today you have to be informative, useful, practical- and be able to demonstrate value. So, before you do an ad that is either hard sell- or entertaining- think first about what it does to enhance the customers life. The same way P&G introduced Crisco as the consumers friend: “Honestly, with a little Crisco in your frying pan, you can have supper on the table in a jiffy.”

That was marketing.

Ideas can come from anyone in a connected world- Apple ad from UK student

Apple may have missed a golden opportunity by not releasing the original sound bed to the “switch” campaign (Hello, I’m a mac, and I’m a PC)- but, TBWA/Chiat Day isn’t asleep at the wheel anymore.

A user generated ad by an 18 year old student in the UK is getting a quick remake in HD for broadcast after gathering interest on YouTube. [update] If you want to compare the ad- here is the Apple version- although the link may change (due to Apple still not understanding the principals of the social web: http://www.apple.com/ipodtouch/ads/

The New York Times sees this as yet another nail in the coffin for the advertising business- and they are probably right. In a networked world, where the consumer has the ability to be on a level playing field as your corporate mega-site, it’s no longer about delivering a message, but managing the communications between market and manufacturer.

Student’s Ad Gets a Remake, and Makes the Big Time – New York Times
The idea that you do not have to be a professional to create a good commercial is becoming widespread, in a trend known as consumer-generated content. Leave it to Apple to, paraphrasing the company’s old slogan a bit, think differently.

A television commercial for the new iPod Touch from Apple, scheduled to begin running on Sunday, 10-28 is being created by the longtime Apple agency, TBWA/Chiat/Day. It is based on a commercial that an 18-year-old English student and Apple devotee named Nick Haley, who says he got his first Macintosh when he was 3, created on his own one day last month.

His spot offers a fast-paced tour of the abilities of the iPod Touch, set to a song titled “Music Is My Hot, Hot Sex” by a Brazilian band, CSS.

Mr. Haley said he was inspired to make the commercial by a lyric in the song, “My music is where I’d like you to touch.”

He based the visual elements on video clips about the iPod Touch and other new products, which can be watched on the Apple Web site (apple.com). He uploaded his commercial to YouTube, where it received four stars out of a possible five and comments that ranged from “That’s awesome,” followed by 16 exclamation points, to “Makes me want to buy one and hack it.”

As of Thursday, Mr. Haley’s spot has been viewed 2,131 times on youtube.com. Among the viewers were marketing employees at Apple in Cupertino, Calif., who asked staff members on the Apple account at TBWA/Chiat/Day to get in touch with Mr. Haley about producing a professional version of the commercial…

Creative visionary and leader of TBWA/Chiat Day Lee Clow seems to be amused by this new world- and seems to get the emerging 2-way nature of advertising.

Consumers creating commercials “is part of this brave new world we live in,” said Lee Clow, chairman and chief creative officer at TBWA Worldwide, based in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Playa del Rey.

“It’s an exciting new format for brands to communicate with their audiences,” Mr. Clow said. “People’s relationship with a brand is becoming a dialog, not a monolog.”

The commercial based on Mr. Haley’s spot will be seen on football games Sunday afternoon and on “Desperate Housewives” and Game 4 of the World Series that night. It is also to be shown in Europe and Japan.

As for how faithful the professional spot is to the amateur version, Mr. Clow said, “we didn’t mess with his content” because “it has a charm to it, a youthful fun.”

The changes include more polished editing and filming the new version in high definition.

“My input was totally respected,” Mr. Haley said, adding that he considered the agency’s commercial “pretty similar” to the original.

The experience of working with the agency executives was “overwhelming, surreal and fantastic, all in one,” said Mr. Haley, who is studying politics at Leeds.

“This is my first taste” of advertising, he added, but offered a thoughtful response when asked what it means if consumers like him are willing to make commercials.

“That’s the whole point of advertising; it needs to get to the user,” Mr. Haley said. “If you get the user to make the ads, who better?”

As heartily as Mr. Clow endorsed the concept of user-generated content, he suggested that turnabout is fair play.

At TBWA, “we’re producing films we put on YouTube that we make in a day and a half in the parking lot,” he said, laughing.

The big question is how much did TBWA/Chiat Day charge for the “big idea” that came from a consumer? And does this signal the end of non-disclosure statements, and releases for any suggestions for campaigns? Are the locks coming off the doors of the creative think tanks? Will the best marketers of the future be the ones who throw open the doors with the customers to establish the brand together?

Stay tuned. And what do you think?

[update] note, it seems a lot of people are still confused between an iPod Touch and an iPhone. The product looks so similar and does so many of the same things, that people are searching for iPhone and “Music is my boyfriend”- maybe Apple should have considered a different back panel- not chrome and a different menu look for the Touch- I often look at the main menu of the screen and think the icons should be bigger to fill the screen.

Lyrics to “Music Is My Hot, Hot Sex” by a Brazilian band, CSS as in the new Apple iPod Touch commercial:

From all the drugs the one i like more is music
From all the junks the one i need more is music
From all the boys the one i take home is music
From all the ladies the one i kiss is music (muah!)

Music is my boyfriend
Music is my girlfriend
Music is my dead end
Music is my imaginary friend
Music is my brother
Music is my great-grand-daughter
Music is my sister
Music is my favorite mistress

From all the shit the one i gotta buy is music
From all the jobs the one i choose is music
From all the drinks the one i get drunk is music
From all the bitches the one i wannabe is music

Music is my beach house
Music is my hometown
Music is my kingsize bed
Music is my hot hot bath
Music is my hot hot sex
Music is my back rub
Music is where i’d like you to touch

Claro-que-sim
Fui escoteira-mirim
Direto da escola, não
Não ia cheirar cola
Nem basquete, pebolim
O que eu gosto não é de graça
O que gosto não é farsa
Tem guitarra, bateria, computador saindo som
Alguns dizem que mais alto que um furacão (rhéum)
Perto dele eu podia sentir
Saía de seu olho e chegava em mim
Sentada do seu lado
Eu queria encostar
Faria o tigela até o sol raiar
Debaixo do lençol
Ele gemia em ré bemol
Fiquei tensa
Mas tava tudo bem
Ele é fodão, mas eu sei que eu sou também

CMO’s as rockstars? A new trend?

Just a few weeks ago, Ad Age was lamenting the future of CMO’s with their short stints at the top. Next thing you know, they are popping up in their own tv spots.

This morning at the gym, in the span of 2o minutes, I saw two spots featuring CMO types:

Print ad for Old Spice featuring Tony StewartAdrants » Old Spice Stakes Claim to Tony Stewart’s Armpits
The grand old deodorant brand hits us again with a spot called Armpit for its Collector’s Edition. Compiled by Wieden Kennedy, it begins and ends with the maniacal laughter of the company’s “marketing president,” Alex Keith.

The spot’s theme is how the CMO scored a success by sponsoring NASCAR driver Tony Stewart’s armpits as ads for Old Spice. Old Spice wants you to visit the excitement at www.tonystewartsarmpits.com

The second CMO as rockstar sighting was a Coors ad- probably about drinking responsibly. However, I can’t find any reference to the spot, or the CMO (other than Coors has a new CMO) anywhere. The fact is- no consumers care who the CMO is- or what they think, much less than they care who the CEO is- unless you are Steve Jobs.

Advertising isn’t about you- the marketer, it’s about what interests the customer.

And although those of us in the business were caught up in the Julie Roehm scandal at Wal-Mart, and dismayed when VW ditched Kerri Martin– consumers don’t care.

The idea of elevating CMO to rockstar status needs to go away.