Monday, February 18, 2008

Advertising Launches for New Products: Ten Rules Featuring Brutal Force & Wily Target Insights.

I've launched a wide range of products from the Sony Walkman, the world's first CD player, the world's first musical CDs at CBS records, the IBM PC, the first no fee credit card, European and Japanese automotive new model launches, Lucent Technologies and, more recently, a range of revolutionary, anti-addiction medical treatments.
Much of the following is obvious...the key is how you specifically apply it to your launch and target. It's media agnostic...applying to both new and old media.

1. Get the product design and operation RIGHT before it's introduced. The market is unforgiving if you don't.

2. You can only launch a product once. Get marketing, advertising, & promotion working flawlessly the first time.

3. You'll be made or broken in the first 90 days following the actual launch date.

4. And the 90 days PRE-LAUNCH will heavily influence your post launch success: the right press, word of mouth, advertising, beta trials, etc.

5. Put all the dollars and marketing muscle you can dig up behind the launch so you have every chance of success. Nothing beats brutal force coupled with wily target insights.

6. Control your messages in the marketplace...don't rely on a fickle press.

7. Integrate messages with the same look, feel, tone for greater impact. TV, online, print, promotion should all sing off the same song-sheet. Specifically. Uncoordinated messages signal a disorganized product and company behind it.

8. Soft launches are dangerous and frequently unsuccessful...the opportunity for intense focus, both internal and external, is lost. And, important, they ignore the fact that your competition WILL respond.

9. Don't assume success. Make contingency plans right now for all multiple scenarios, including your competitors' reactions. (Hillary assumed she'd win Super Tuesday and had no backup plan...look where she is now).

10. Post launch planning should occur in tandem with launch plans and be completed 1-3 months before launch then constantly revised to keep the plan relevant as market conditions change.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

2008 Super Bowl TV Spots Grades and Reviews.

All the 2008 Super Bowl TV spots in the network IN-GAME broadcast are reviewed here during and right after the game. NO reliance on other opinions or surveys. I grade hard. So, take heart advertisers and agencies. Cs are average and As are hard to come by. And congrats to everyone on getting your work to the big game. I may expand some of the comments as the day/s proceed....but I will not change the grades.

Amp Energy: D
Silly and tasteless. A guy's nipples are jumper cabled to give him a "charge." Bad analogy. Weak production.

Audi A8: A-
Excellent take off on the Godfather scene. Great dramatic exposition. Love the grease on his hands rather than the blood from Coppola's horsehead. Beautiful shot of the car taking off like a bullet.

Bridgestone/Firestone: C-
Animals and Richard Simmons are almost hit...but avoided by the tires. Lots of talk. Not a worthwhile investment. Spots are dark and unappealing.

Budweiser Clydesdales: B+
Great tradition. More high quality. Rocky is a bit tired though.

Bud Light Spots: B+ to C+
Too many spots...and the format is getting a bit old. The flaming guy opens strong. Will Ferrell is memorable, well, because he's Ferrell.

Cadillac: C
Not much new aside from the new Green Escalade which Eli wins as MVP but can't collect till the fall. C+
Heart spot as in "follow your heart" to find your career dissapponts as does "follow your star." Grade C-
When you're you've got to come to run with the big dogs in concept and production. Small jokes, smally executed.

Coca Cola (2) Grade: Balloons A, Old Friends B
See entry below on Balloons...the best of the night. "Old Friends" the Carville and Frist spot is fun....if it runs on Meet the Press.
Who the heck will recognize these people. But, still, ambitious. And I admire them for aspiring to be intelligent and rejecting the world of GoDaddy.

Vitamin Water by Coke: C+
Shaq plays but a bit pointless.

Dell XPS One: B
Fun, energetic...liked the Project Red tie in to warm up a very cold Dell. Great production. Little content.

Doritos: Girl Singing: C-, Big Mouse: D
Singing Girl...what? User created mouse spot...well just silly and pointless.

E-Trade: B+
Very good and likable. And...they broke through. My only problem was it says any idiot can use E-Trade....and insults users.

FedEx: A-
Along with Audi the second or third best spot. Just great use of theater of the absurd. Beautifully cast and produced. BBDO can still hit them out.

Garmin: B+
Great fun as a Garmin steers a Napoleon figure to a reenactment battle. Best...the little horse. Great looking production. To me the biggest good surprise of the night. Congrats.

Gatorade: Athletes: C, Dog: D
One predictable athletic spot and one very strange dog slurping spot....neither hits the mark.

GM Hybrid: B
Sisyphus pushing the rock in illustration. Will this audience get it? But I love the thought.

GoDaddy (see above): F
Awful...just tasteless attempt to attract attention. I won't feed the pointlessness of it all.

Hershey for Icebreakers: C
OK...Kind of fun. Yes, Carmen Electra...she is cute. And so tiny.

Hyundai (2): C
I don't buy into the BMW, Mercedes and Lexus comparisons. Boring.

McDonald's C
Tired territority: baby's first steps.

Recruiting oboe players...OK?

Nissan: C
Nothing new here...a car ad.

Pepsi EnAble: B

Sixty seconds of silence in the midst of the noisy world of Super Bowl advertising. Two hearing impaired men looking for "Bob's House" to watch the game...and are lost. Inside joke...honk until someone doesn't turn on the lights. Problem...why is everyone asleep...this ain't America.

Pepsi Diet Max: B-
A joke on the old SNL skit...sleeping people become ginsenged and caffeinated and act strangely....well sorta amusing. A big production number...replete with celebs helps.

Pepsi Stuff: C
Justin Timberlake is magnetically attracted to a young girl's Pepsi while enduring an endless series of predictable comic
pratfalls in order to reach her (repeatedly slamming his crotch on a mailbox, the low point). Pepsi's response to Coke Rewards where Pepsi gives you songs, books, etc. Bland and predictable. Waste of Justin...who could be used much more successfully. Not the classic BBDO 80's use of celebrity (Crawford, Fox, Jackson, etc)

Planters: D-
The Unibrow Girl rubs nuts on her body and attracts all types of men. Yucch. Worse than the dog drinking Gatorade. F what they wanted, supposedly. The worst ad rating to get them PR. In the meantime they mine new levels of tastelessness and lack of finish.

Sobe Life Water B-
Fun spot with great Thriller music. Would have been stronger as a :30...seemed a bit long. My biggest concern was dancing lizards and potential confusion with Geico.

Sunsilk: C
Uninspired sell women's shampoo. Hope they didn't pay too much for Madonna and Marilyn. If they did, not worth it in this execution.

Taco Bell: C
Uninspired. Guys serenaded by Mexican band while eating Tacos in their open office. Bring back the damned dog. Now!

Tide To Go :B
An idea here...didn't totally work but talking spot was bizarre and attention getting in what could have been a dull category.
Overrated by the business school profs.

T-Mobile: B
Not bad. Basketball stars on favorite lists

Toshiba: C-
Watching the big game on a Toshiba with the girls. Just so you can also watch Matt Damon leap from building to building in Bourne.

Toyota: C
The kid in the car borders on the incoherent as if someone said this is the SB...use canons and animals. Be strange.

Toyota Sequoia: C+
Predictable. Lots of space + kids

Under Armour: C
Why try to be 1984 when you can't be?

Victoria's Secret: B
How can you dislike Adriana Lima spinning a football. Fun to announce Valentine's Day.

White House Office of National Drug Control Policy: C-
Bored drug dealer lacks credibility. Dull.

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The Best 2008 Super Bowl TV Spot: Coke Balloons at Thanksgiving Day Parade (Title: "It's Mine")

Hands down, this was the winner for the best spot. Driven by great imagination and enormous heart, this spot just takes your breath away. It's beautifully shot and majestic...summoning up many of the world's most favorite cartoon characters, Underdog, Stewie and Charlie Brown, to pursue the Coke balloon in a Thanksgiving parade gone far astray. The combination of live action and animation is seamless and adds enormous depth to the spot. I loved the juxtaposition of the interior shots with the gorgeous Manhattan sidestreet and Central Park shots.'s perfect for the historic Coke brand positioning and's smack dab in the middle of the great Coke ad tradition of "Teach the World to Sing", "Mean Joe Greene" and "Polar Bears". Hats off to more majestic advertising from Weiden & Kennedy who continues to amaze.

Ironically, it also sets up an interesting, very direct comparison to the "Magnetic Attraction" spot created by Pepsi featuring Justin Timberlake...which is small and insignificant in comparison.

And what a perfect piece of luck that the spot is located in New York, the home of the amazing new World Champion New York Giants.

See the commentary on all the runners up above.

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Friday, February 1, 2008

The Best Super Bowl Ad Ever: Apple 1984

With the Super Bowl upon us in less than 48 hours, let's take a look at what, to me, is hands down and without rival, the best Super Bowl tv spot ever. Apple 1984, which ran January 22nd, 1984, introduced the world's first Macintosh--which immediately took the world by storm.

What's usually not considered in any discussion like this is the competitive context this spot appeared in: Apple had introduced the Apple II in 1977 which became in many people's minds the first mass market, popular personal computer. The introduction of spreadsheets for the Apple II drove the computer into the home and small business market. IBM, then the mainframe computer company accustomed to dictating "Big Brother" style to its users, made the radical decision to take a small group of IBM engineers, sequester them in Boca Raton with the charge of developing a competitor to the Apple II quickly...not confined by the typical circuitous, bureaucratic IBM development cycle. IBM launched their first PC, together with LOTUS Accounting software, on August 12, 1981 with a wily advertising campaign featuring the "Little Tramp" Charlie Chaplin figure which warmed up the cold IBM corporate image and was used to demonstrate how easy the computer was to use.

IBM immediately legitimized the market and was instantly carried by new IBM PC stores...and Computerland stores which sold both Apple and IBM products.

By summer 1983, six months before the 1984 Super Bowl, the IBM PC was on backorder and supplies were so low that the company suspended advertising for most of the summer and early fall. At the same time, IBM continued work on their top secret "home" computer, ultimately called PCjr which was to launch with a 1984 Super Bowl commercial featuring Chaplin in home use...sweet little Charlie continuing to interact with his PCjr, introduced from a baby carriage.

I worked on the IBM PC account as a very young kid (the source of much of the background for this entry) at the time and little did any of us every expect to see the spot which Apple, their agency Chiat Day and director Ridley Scott unleashed on the world that January 22, 1984.

This spot strikes back with a glorious competitive and imaginative vengeance never seen before on a Super Bowl and never seen since. IBM is equated to Big Brother (they were know at the time as Big Blue). Hordes of shackled workers/prisoners shuffle toward the telescreen to hear IBM's indoctrination. They are the faceless, lifeless corporate workers who have no choice but to use the BORING computers IBM produces (forget that cute little Charlie Chaplin, please...this Big Brother world is the real IBM).

Apple presents a vivid, athletic and vivacious aggressive woman who destroys Big Brother and liberates his followers with a remarkable javelin throw, setting the business world free for a truly innovative, easy to use personal computer. that's the backstory...why is this the best?

1. No other spot has ever created such a frightening and exhilirating self-contained world.
2. No other spot has ever been as competitive...or as violent.
3. This is the most beautiful Super Bowl spot ever shot. Gorgeous sets, beautiful lighting, an enormous range of gray tones.
4. The powerful and sexy javelin thrower is a brilliant choice to destroy Big Brother.
5. No ever spot has been as successful at reversing a rival's ad campaign, sending IBM right back to the position they were trying to escape from with Chaplin. Apple bursts right into the lucrative business market while IBM was on backorder and trumpeting a jr computer (why, why, call it that??)
6. And what a way for Apple to enter the business market. They're still there with the a whole line of innovative laptops while IBM no longer even manufactures personal who has the last laugh now. Well...this was just written on my MacBook Pro.
7. The spot was first Super Bowl blockbuster. Many followed.

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