September, 2012

Ad Age Readers Pick The ‘top 10 Female Ad Icons Of All Time’

In connection with its 100 Most Influential Women in Advertising editorial package and promotion, industry publication Advertising Age asked its readers to vote on the “Top 10 Female Ad Icons of All Time.” (See slide show.)

Now the results are in.

Typical advertising exaggeration

But before we get to the rankings, though, it’s worth noting that, as you might expect from advertising, the claim’s exaggerated.

The oldest of these female ad icons goes back only to 1911 in her present form — and to normal people, at least, “all time” did not begin a mere 101 years ago. But then, we advertising folks have always tended to live in our own little, solipsistic world.

And now, the results: Read more →

What You Drink May Reveal How You’ll Vote

When researchers Mike Shannon and Will Feltus analyzed 2000,000 Scarborough Research interviews and correlated beer brand preferences with voting patterns, they came to a startling conclusion:

Which beer you drink is a very strong indicator of whether, and how, you’ll vote.

According to results released yesterday, Samuel Adams drinkers are more likely to vote Republican, Heineken drinkers more likely to vote Democratic, and Bud Light drinkers aren’t that likely to vote at all.

Republicans drink to a patriot

The leading choice among high-turnout Republican voters is Samuel Adams. This may sound strange for a beer brewed in America’s bluest state. But the brand’s named after a patriot — and a planner of the original Tea Party to boot. And the brewery’s just a few miles from Romney campaign headquarters.

Other high-turnout Republican favorites include Amstel Light, Rolling Rock, Labatt Blue, Michelob Ultra, Blue Moon, and Miller and Coors Light. Low-turnout Republicans drink less beer overall, and opt for smaller brands, including Keystone, Corona and Busch Light. Read more →

Consumers Push Back Against The High Cost Of ‘green’ Products

More consumers are tired of sacrificing for the sake of ecological correctness, a Green Gauge survey by GfK revealed today.

“[W]hile 93% of consumers say they have personally changed their behavior to conserve energy in their household, they’re becoming less willing to pay more for green products,” writes Advertising Age, reporting on the survey of 2,000 U.S. consumers.

A big business getting smaller

Green business has been big business.

Last year, American consumers spent an estimated $40-plus billion on products claiming to be environmentally friendly: $29.2 billion on organic food; over $10 billion for hybrid, electric and clean-diesel automobiles; more than $2 billion on corkscrew fluorescent lightbulbs; and $640 million on green cleaning products.

But, according to GfK survey results, last year may be the good old days.

The percentage of consumers who said they’d pay more for green products has shrunken significantly.

Four years ago, in 2008, 45% of consumers said they’d pay more for clothing with recycled content. Today, only 40% will. Read more →

Budweiser Tries To Reverse Long-term Slump With Virginia-brewed ‘craft’ Beer

Budweiser is known as a St. Louis beer. But starting October 29, there’ll be a Bud brew that comes from Virginia, the Richmond Times Dispatch reported today.

Craft-style beer is one of two new marketing tactics Budwesier is trying in an attempt to recapture a lost generation of beer drinkers and reverse a consecutive quarter-century of slumping sales.

One tactic was a Labor Day weekend music festival in Philadelphia kicking off a television campaign featuring hip-hop star Jay-Z.

The other was Project 12.

You might think the name comes from the fact that only one beer of every twelve sold today is a Budweiser (compared to one of every four in 1988).

But what it really comes from is a brewing contest. The brand commissioned its twelve brewmasters to create new (to Budweiser) craft-type beers. Taste-testing by 10,000 attendees at the Philadelphia event narrowed the dozen down to three, which are being combined into twelve-packs, to go on sale starting October 29, with a “craft” beer from Virginia in them.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em

While Budweiser sales have been slumping, the rest of the industry hasn’t been doing so hot either. Read more →

Shocking New Research Reveals That Rich People Read

A new Ipsos MediaCT Mendelsohn Affluent Survey, released yesterday, shows that affluent consumers do more reading — more than last year and more than other demographic segments.

But what’s surprising is not how much what the study calls “Affluents” ($100,000+ annual household income) and “Ultra Affluents” (a subset with $250,000+ annual household income, AKA “The Rich” or “The 1%”)  read, but what they read.

What they read will surprise you.

More online reading

You’d expect these demographic groups to do more online reading.

For one thing, Affluents have the cash to pay more than their fair share for digital hardware and software.

More than half own smartphones, up 45% from last year. Nearly twice as many as last year  downloaded magazine apps (4.7 million) and newspaper apps (seven million). They average 37.4 hours a week on the Internet.

More dead-tree reading, too

You’d also expect that all that online reading sates their appetite for print. Instead, it makes them hungrier. Read more →

New Romney Anti-‘coal War’ Commercials Throw Away The Cookie Cutter

On Tuesday, September 18, Alpha Natural Resources announced it was closing eight of its coal mines in Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania and eliminating 1,200 jobs

And now for something completely different

(9.2% of its work force) — at least partially because of what CEO Kevin Crutchfield euphemistically called “a regulatory environment that’s aggressively aimed at constraining the use of coal.”

The Romney campaign didn’t use such highfalutin’ language. They called it Obama’s “War on Coal,” which is the title of the first of two new television commercials that started airing throughout Virginia and Ohio coal country this morning.

The commercials’ quick timing is one departure from the laid-back way the campaign’s been doing business as usual — but not as big a departure as the commercials themselves.

No more cookie cutter

Up until now, the main advertising thrust of the official campaign has been a set of mix-and-match commercials featuring clips from the Republican candidate’s convention acceptance speech, followed by fill-in-the-blank B-roll footage and voice-over with a state’s name and a pertinent economic statistic.

Many political campaigns at all levels use this kind of generic combination of found-object video, quickly edited to make a point about one issue and sandwiched by opening and closing shots of the candidate, regardless of who that candidate may be.

As a result, these commercials share a remarkable sameness. Between the similar structures, the similar concerned, earnest voice-over reads, the same serious stock music in the background, and the same kinds of images on screen, it’s hard for viewing voters to realize whose commercial it is. Read more →

Are You Paying A Premium To Reach The Wrong Television Audience?

For four decades, the holy grail of television media buyers has been the 18-to-49-year-old demographic.

The new 18-49

Advertisers have always paid significant premiums to reach them, and still do. But should they?

During the prime-time television season ending in May, according to Nielsen, advertisers paid networks an average of $35,000 per thousand 18-49 viewers who watched a 30-second commercial. They paid an average of $30,500 to reach the same number of viewers aged 25 to 54 watching the same commercial on the same program. That’s about a 15% premium.

A :30 commercial on CBS’s The Big Bang Theory cost $181,000 to reach 2.28 million 18-49 viewers. Reaching 2.7 million 25-54 viewers with the same commercial on the same show cost $154,000. That meant paying nearly 18% more to reach an 18.4% smaller audience.

And all because of some outdated assumptions about consumer spending.

Myth vs. reality

Best practices, also known as conventional wisdom, said that 18-49 consumers were the low-hanging fruit.

They were too young to have established firm brand preferences. They were just old enough to start making major purchases. With fewer major obligations early in adult life, more of their income was truly discretionary.

The Obama Recession changed all that. Read more →

Budweiser Thinks Music Can Recapture A Lost Generation

2011 was Budweiser Beer’s best year in a quarter-century.

Sales were down only 4.4%, according to Beer Marketer’s Insights data.

Rob McCarthy, Anheuser-Busch vice president for Budweiser, called it “an amazing year. We actually cut our market share decline in half.”

Down so long, it looks like up

When Budweiser’s hometown paper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, wrote that “Budweiser has a bit of a problem,” they were grossly understating things.

Sales have been slumping for 25 years straight. At the peak of its popularity, in 1988, more than one in every four beers sold in this country bore the iconic red-and-white label. Last year, it was one in 12. For the first time ever, it’s being outsold by Coors Light.

In the future, things may only get worse, because largely through inertia the brand has let itself lose a key demographic segment — young, male beer drinkers.

The lost generation

Two important characteristics affect long-term sales of beer more than other categories. Read more →

Surprise! Virginia May Not Be The Center Of The Political Universe After All

“Henrico has emerged as a bellwether in a critical battleground state that could determine the outcome of the election,” the Richmond Times Dispatch reported.

And both campagns are acting accordingly.

Different state, same commercial

The Romney campaign, for example, is airing more television commercials in Virginia than any other state, even those with more electoral votes. And both Republican candidates have been practically commuting here.

On August 17, Paul Ryan spoke at an overflow rally at Deep Run High School in Glen Allen.

The day after the Tampa convention, he was back, this time at Richmond International Airport, also in the county (Mitt Romney would have been, too, except for a quick decision  to visit hurricane-damaged Louisiana).

This past Saturday, after an afternoon rally at Virginia Beach’s Military Aircraft Museum, Romney was back in Henrico again — to wave the Federated Auto Parts 400 starting flag at Richmond International Raceway, and, when rain prevented the race from starting, to give out handshakes and hotdogs to 90,000 NASCAR fans.

Not to be outdone, Barack Obama campaigned in Glen Allen in July and campaigned at Norfolk State University September 4. And the same day Romney was heading for RIR, the Obama campaign was opening a second Henrico field office.

So it would be logical to conclude that both candidates regard Henrico County, and secondarily Hampton Roads, as the center of the political universe.

Logical, but not necessarily accurate. Read more →

Romney Campaign Releases 15 New Commercials In Eight States

Last week, by formally accepting his party’s presidential nomination, Mitt Romney became legally eligible to spend tens of millions of dollars’ worth of general-election money.

Today, his campaign started spending it — with a blitz of 15 new television commercials running in eight states.

Different weights for different states

Simple logic would suggest that most of the commercials would run in the vulnerable states with the most Electoral College votes. But then, since when has presidential politics had anything to do with simple logic?

Virginia (13 electoral votes) gets the most spots — three — while Florida, with more than twice the Electoral College clout (29 votes), gets just two.

Here’s how the other six states break out: Two spots each for Colorado (9), Iowa (6), North Carolina (15) and Ohio (18); just one each for Nevada (6) and New Hampshire (4).

(I know, I know, number of spots produced isn’t the same as amount of air time bought, but the two do usually correlate.)

Generic messages, specific language

All 15 spots begin identically — with convention footage of Romney’s acceptance speech, in which he asks, “This president can ask us to be patient? This president can tell us it was someone else’s fault? But this president cannot tell us that you’re better off today than when he took office.” Read more →