February, 2014

Another Iconic Advertising Slogan Bites The Dust

Dead Cow


Two years ago, it was Avis car rental’s ground-breaking “We Try Harder” campaign line, killed at the ripe old age (for advertising campaign lines) of 50 because a new CMO wanted to mark her territory.

Now, the even more iconic “Got Milk?” campaign is headin’ for the last roundup. Not because of raw ego, like Avis’s slogan, but for legitimate, if misguided, marketing reasons.

A multilevel breakthrough

In 1993, “Got Milk?” was one of the first major ad campaigns created through account planning, a new (at the time) discipline combining elements of consumer research, marketing and creative strategy. After conducting focus-group research on which foods consumers most often enjoyed with milk, a Goodby, Silverstein & Partners  account planner had the insight of asking respondents to avoid those specific combinations for a week, then focus-grouped them again. This time around, the consumers showed a tangible sense of emotional deprivation.

As a result of this finding, the agency went on to create a series of funny, memorable and effective commercials which showed what happens when people don’t have milk for their, say, milk-and-peanut-butter-sandwich fixes.

The campaign launched in California in 1993, got picked up nationally two years later, boosted milk sales dramatically, and became, in Advertising Age’s words, “one of the most recognizable and parodied phrases in advertising.” Also one of the most plagiarized.

The ‘E’ word

The national Milk Processor Education Program [MilkPEP], looking at changing breakfast habits and, according to Euromonitor International, a 1 percent drop in milk sales volume last year, decided to combat the problem with their middle name – Education. Doing so is one of the biggest mistakes an advertiser can make.  Read more →

6 Ways Esurance’s New Ad Campaign Misses The Mark



Starting with its Twitter stunt during the Super Bowl, Esurance kicked off a major television campaign to steal market share from Geico. But for reasons which follow, the campaign’s a fumble.

1. Playing inside ball

Geico’s claimed for years that phoning them or going online to their site can save car owners and home owners money. So someone at Esurance (or their agency, Leo Burnett, Chicago) figured the best way to conquer share was to beat Geico at its own game – by offering quotes not in the excruciatingly long time of 15 minutes, but in half that – seven-and-a-half. Problem is, they misunderstood what game it was. Geico’s sell, as many of their other commercials show, is not so much about saving time as saving money. But Esurance concentrated on the mechanism, not the money.

2. Confusing a feature with a benefit Read more →

How Baby Boomers Are Becoming Their Parents



Between Dr. Spock and their overindulgent parents, Baby Boomers grew up believing that theirs was the most different, exceptional, special, brightest and best generation in the entire course of human history.

But a funny thing happened on the way from Woodstock, the Vietnam War, acid trips and the Sexual Revolution to the 21st Century: Their bodies and their minds betrayed them.

As a result, this pampered, cosseted, spoiled cohort is facing a horrible new reality. “[T]he truth is,” reports MediaPost, “they have more in common with the older demographic – the Matures – than they’d like to believe.”

Betrayed by their bodies

Leading-edge Boomers, born 1946 through 1955, are over 60 years old now, and they’re not immune to the aging process. Suddenly, they’re not half the man (or woman) they used to be. Read more →

One Weird Marketing Metric Could Create A Second Obamacare Death Spiral


No, this isn’t about the dysfunctional website, the security holes you could drive an aircraft carrier through, the disconnect between the still-unbuilt back end that connects enrollments to insurers, the millions of cancelled policies, the premium and deductible sticker shock, or the shrinking provider networks.

It isn’t even about the abysmally low conversion rates (percentage of unique visits that convert into sales) that we reported last month.

It’s about another, potentially scarier, marketing metric: cost per sale. Read more →

Why Long John Silver’s New Ad Campaign Won’t Hook Many Customers


“[S]omething new is happening at Long John Silver’s,” CMO Charles St. Clair told Advertising Age. The restaurant chain is introducing healthier menu items – baked instead of fried fish and shellfish dishes – and more to-go choices. “[W]e’ve been evolving our menu and communications to contemporize the brand and make it more relevant for how consumers eat today,” he added.

But you’d never guess it from the new commercials intended to announce it.

Just as the restaurant chain’s fictional namesake buried treasure, these new spots bury not only the benefits, attributes and features, but even the message itself.

Say what?

Each commercial gives what someone, for some unfathomable reason, thought was a highly salient reason for coming into Long John’s to eat fish:

  1. “Final Frontier” – Cows are caged, but fish aren’t.
  2. “Methane” – Beef animals fart methane.
  3. “Marinated Pork” – Pigs “marinate” in excrement. (Link unavailable)

These rationales come from the actual commercials themselves; we’re not making them up. Read more →

Was Maserati’s $17 Million Super Bowl Advertising A Total Waste Of Money?


Media-buying executive Antony Young certainly thinks so. “I’ve always been a fan of Super Bowl advertising, but this buy didn’t make sense to me,” he wrote in Advertising Age.

[Their] 90-second ad in the Super Bowl went for probably around $11 million. Add to that the production of the spot, the Yahoo home-page takeover, the USA Today cover wrap, paid search and digital display advertising, and it feels like a cool $16 million to $17 million for the week’s media buy.

…for a luxury auto manufacturer hoping to sell a far smaller number of units, it seems, well, a luxury.

Paying for the most expensive spot with the highest production values, in the most competitive automotive media event, doesn’t strike me as what a challenger brand — which it claims to be in the ad — should do.

Better alternatives?

For that money, Young claims, the Fiat Chrysler brand could have bought: Read more →

$4 Million Super Bowl Commercials Move The Needle, But Not By Much

winner loser

There’s good news and bad news for advertisers who plunked down a record $4 million for 30 seconds of air time to run commercials on the Super Bowl.

The good news, according to recent consumer research, is that 83.9 percent of the brands’ commercials made viewers more likely to buy their products or services. The bad news is that in too many cases this increased likelihood to buy was marginal – and, for 16.1 percent of Super Bowl advertisers, negative. Read more →

At&t Sincerely Flatters P&g’s Olympics Ad Campaign



At first glance, both sets of commercials could be from the same campaign.

Both have the same dark lighting and gritty look, underlined by minor-key music tracks. Both show their main characters in determined semi-isolation. Both show self-sacrificial training for the winter Olympics. And both confine product pitches to brief, incidental placements.

Separated at birth

In form, AT&T’s new Sochi Olympics television campaign could almost be a twin of Procter & Gamble‘s “Proud Sponsor of Moms” campaign, created for the 2012 Summer Olympics and now extended for Sochi.

But in substance, they couldn’t be more different.

Because while the AT&T campaign follows a tired, old “Let’s support our athletes” strategy, Procter & Gamble’s does something far more fundamental and compelling. Read more →

You’ll Be Amazed What People Do When The Television’s On


They actually watch.

Reports of people multitasking – using smartphones or tablets; working on laptops, desktops or netbooks; or playing mobile computer games – are, like reports of Mark Twain’s death, greatly exaggerated.

According to a TiVo online survey of 1,660 households, the main thing most people do while watching television is…watching television [no link available]. In fact,

76% of people surveyed report their primary focus is actually watching what’s on TV. In fact, more than 45% of TiVo users and 35% of non-TiVo users said their attention was directed only towards TV, and not to anything else, while watching

a Center for Media Resarch brief noted.

They not only watch the shows, but like to concentrate on them. While 68 percent of viewers who use TiVo said they notice Twitter hashtags encouraging online conversation during the shows, fully 63 percent said they didn’t like seeing them. Read more →

If Digital Marketing Pros Can’t Measure Roi, What Makes You Think You Can?


As the fifth year of the Obama economy grinds on, more and more CFOs are pressuring their marketing departments to justify digital marketing – and particularly social marketing – expenditures in terms of value generated. But according to an Econsultancy survey of more than 400 advertiser and advertising agency respondents, marketers know less than ever about what, if anything, their digital campaigns are actually accomplishing in the marketplace.

The survey “calls attention to the significant decline in their self-assessment of their ability to measure ROI,” MediaPost reports.

Fewer than half – 47 percent – rated their ability to measure ROI from paid search as “good.” Which is better than from email (41 percent), digital display (28 percent) and social media (11 percent).

It gets worse. Read more →