Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
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Thursday, April 02, 2021

zero credits
If you ask me, the reason why the professional videogame league circuit is tanking is because of embarassingly geeky-goony team names like “Chicago Chimera” and “LA Complexity”.

But actually, the official reason is The Economy, Stupid:

Major companies have pulled sponsorships and several tournaments have folded. And in November, News Corporation and DirecTV unexpectedly shut down the Championship Gaming Series…

For years, video gamers sharpened their skills for fun wherever they could find competition — in basements, dorm rooms and even big-box stores. Companies recognized the potential of marketing products to this vast informal community, and a sport began to grow. Tournaments were created and existing ones expanded. Events appeared on cable television and on the Internet. Leagues formed, and players received exclusive contracts. But the recession has left only one significant competitive circuit in North America, Major League Gaming.

I still question just how effective a sponsorship channel this is. Pro-level videogame tournaments as spectator sport? To me, the effectiveness of this medium as a marketing platform is the in-game advertising play — and that works best when you’re playing the game yourself, versus watching someone else playing it. At best, league and tournament events are an indirect way to get the eyeballs onto the screen, where the action (both gameplay and ad placement) is.

Interesting coda for the defunct CGS: Its URL, along with those of each of its former franchises, come up completely blank in the browser — no error message, no redirects, just an untitled white blank page. A total wipe-through. You’d think the corporate overlords would be sports about it, and plaster a big “GAME OVER” message…

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 04/02/2021 10:58:52 AM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Videogames
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Wednesday, April 01, 2021

bust it
Can’t say I’m concerned about the big bad Conficker worm virus that’s set to strike.

But I applaud the Associated Press for gracing their coverage of the impending cyberdoom with a “DOING THE WORM” headline, thus applying the oldschool breakdancing maneuver to a techno-societal level.

Plus, it gave me an excuse to post the above picture, which is a screenshot of Visa’s old “Worm/Recycling” animated TV commercial:

Note that this particular breakin’ worm starts his set with the King Tut — seemingly incongruous, but actually more impressive owing to the lack of limbs. Probably why I took time to blog about it, exactly three years ago today (worm-related coincidence?).

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 04/01/2021 11:58:33 AM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Internet, Pop Culture, Tech, True Crime
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Tuesday, March 31, 2021

Castrol might just be onto something by concentrating its latest motor-oil marketing message around “your dipstick”. Especially when said dipstick is brandished against you, crazed-Scotsman style:

Heck, I’m not even in the market for motor oil, synthetic or otherwise, and I’m getting my due enjoyment out of this senseless display of car-parts violence. Well done! Almost worth downloading the iPod-friendly version for on-the-go amusement.

I’m guessing the wacky Scotsman angle was devised to inject a memorable comedic accent into this creative, with a nod toward Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. I don’t know why Castrol held back on the tartan stereotype — where’s his kilt?

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/31/2009 02:22:15 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Comedy
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Monday, March 30, 2021

kiddin' playa
I’ll admit, I haven’t jumped onto the LeBron James bandwagon (by the way, how is it possible that this star, the National Basketball Association’s designated Second Coming of Jordan, doesn’t have his own website up and running yet?).

But after catching his new State Farm commercial, wherein he channels Kid ‘N Play in all their House Party foot-locking choreographed glory:

I guess I’m now a fan of King James. Or at least, as much of a fan as I, being a hoops-hater, can be.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/30/2009 12:08:17 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Basketball, Comedy, Movies, Pop Culture
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Sunday, March 29, 2021

You might have multiple online personas spread out across every social network out there, but there’s still just one Internet. So when it comes to establishing “Brand Me” for professional purposes, refinement and consistency is the key:

“Finding your niche is the key,” said Dan Schawbel, author of “Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success” (Kaplan, April 2009), and a personal branding guru (that’s his brand, by the way).

He espouses a four-step process — discover, create, communicate, maintain. That translates into: discover your passion and put it together with your expertise; create a “personal branding tool kit” (which may include a résumé, online profile, blog and portfolio of your work) that consistently reflects your brand; pitch your brand online and offline; and update and monitor any conversations about your brand.

All of which can be easily-enough undone by a random Facebook photo or Twitter drunk-tweeting. Basically, when you start working the Web, the Web still works you.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/29/2009 10:54:11 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Internet
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Wednesday, March 25, 2021

When Tara hit me up about running a post to promote No Fear Energy Drink’s new Earn Some Cred promotion, I first thought: I’m too old, and not skater-shreddin’ enough, to credibly (pun intended!) pimp this skull-festooned supercaffeinated pimp juice.

But hey, it’s the Web — if nobody knows whether or not you’re a dog online, then my late-30something status shouldn’t prevent me from being an online acolyte for sugarwater intended for teenaged/young adult consumption.

Anyway, enough of my lame-assed (yet soul-sucking) rationalizations. Here’s the corpspeak pitch:

No Fear Energy has launched its first-ever under the tab code promotion — Earn Some Cred. You crack open specially marked cans of No Fear Energy drink, find the code under the tab, enter that code at earnsomecred.com and start earning cred for No Fear gear or if you’re super lucky, instantly win the VIP Credentials for 1 of 8 once-in-a-lifetime experiences like a trip to a Mixed Martial Arts event, Hawaiian surf getaway, a Motocross event, or to a stop on the No Fear Energy Music Tour featuring the metal band Lamb of God.

And here’s the actual No Fear Earn Some Cred Giveaway Prize Pack, valued at 100 big dollars:

2 – No Fear Hoodies
2 – No Fear T-shirts (one of each style)
1 – No Fear Bloodshot Hat
1 - 12-pack of the new No Fear Bloodshot Energy Drink
1 – Lamb of God’s latest CD “Wrath” (released on Feb. 24)
1 – Sticky Bumps Surf Wax

So that’s what’s up for grabs. I’m at my discretion to make you jump through hoops for a chance to win that beverage-fueled swag, but I know from past experience that anything in bloggerland that requires effort fails dismally.

Instead, all you have to do is leave a comment below, with a valid email address so I can contact you for your shipping address (U.S. addressees only, sorry Canada and the rest of the world!) if you win. That’s it! Drop in your comment by midnight EST, Sunday April 5th to qualify. From there, I’ll be picking one lucky commenter purely at random to receive the No Fear booty.

And now for the disclosure. I’m not getting paid, but I am getting some freebies myself in return: A t-shirt and a 12-pack of No Fear Energy Bloodshot. Sounds gruesome, except that “bloodshot” refers to a shot of blood orange flavor. Which might do me good, since the last hyper-energized drink I really liked, taste-wise, was the now-extinct 180, with its citrus flavoring. And I actually think branding blood-orange flavoring as “bloodshot” is mighty clever. Thus do I assuage my reservations over blog-shilling…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 03/25/2009 03:22:26 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Food
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Tuesday, March 24, 2021

I’m displaying the now-familiar Conan O’Brien “Vroom-Vroom, Party Starter” Super Bowl ad for Bud Light because it still makes me smile:

I’m also posting it here to note that, out of the entire 2009 Super Bowl ad roster, this one appears to be the only one still in regular rotation, nearly two months after Super Sunday came and went.

Oh, some of the broader advertising campaigns that were officially launched with a Super Bowl spot are still alive and kicking, notably those for Pepsi’s rebranding and Denny’s breakfast menu. But I’m not seeing any other of the actual ads that were broadcast during XXLIII making the TV rounds — only this Conan-Bud Light parody. The rest seem to be generating absolutely no return on investment for the $3 million they cost to get on the air — perhaps validating the criticisms that the Super Sunday commercial lineup was remarkably unremarkable this year, and thus had an extremely limited shelf life. Obviously, some of them were intentionally time-sensitive, like the new-movie release trailers; but still.

Maybe it’s just me and the rather narrow slice of the television-channel spectrum that I regularly watch. It’s possible that the other spots are also still running during programming and timeslots that I never watch. I kinda doubt it, though; I have the boob tube tuned in often enough that I’m fairly sure I’d run across at least a couple through chance. I really think the other ads have been mothballed.

So I guess that, by default, this Bud Light spot is the ultimate “winner” of the 2009 Super Bowl commercial beauty contest. Can’t say it’s one for the ages, but better this one than, say, that dumb-assed Doritos spot.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/24/2009 11:18:38 AM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Football, TV
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Thursday, March 19, 2021

While non-profits often score one-time cash donations via the Web — especially when top-of-mind events like natural disasters hit — they can’t seem to convert that into a regular online habit of annual contributions.

While online giving continues to be a major growth engine for nonprofits there are some concerns around retention and donor loyalty. Over the past three years of analysis, online donors have consistently renewed at rates slightly lower than traditional donors. Online-acquired donors have significantly higher lifetime value in aggregate than mail-acquired donors because their larger initial gifts and greater gifts in later years compensate for their lower levels of loyalty. But online-acquired donors are actually underperforming their mail-acquired giving-level equivalents. By contrast, multi-channel donors have much better retention rates for organizations in the analysis.

And like any other professional organization, a non-profit relies upon repeat business to function, given that customer acquisition costs are so high. The problem seems endemic to online marketing:

“Direct mail may not be a Maserati, but it’s very effective because it is very highly evolved,” said Lori Held, membership marketing director at Trout Unlimited. “We know how to ask for money using the mail, but most organizations are still trying to figure out how to do that online.”

Nonprofit groups face a number of challenges in trying to reach donors electronically, Ms. Held and others said.

For one thing, they must have a team dedicated to fine-tuning and improving their Web site and another team for e-mail marketing, both of which are added expenses. Nonprofit solicitation materials often get caught in systems that trap spam and other unwanted e-mail. Other systems eliminate the compelling images that are so effective in direct mail.

But really, it’s nothing some optimization wouldn’t solve. Since these charities are so adept at multi-channel marketing, they can be educated to adopt multiple online modes of outreach: IM, Twitter, Facebook, etc. It all runs toward the idea of communicating with potential donors on their terms, i.e. what’s most convenient and least obtrusive. That dedicated team for Web operations (ditch that second “email marketing” crew — it should all be under one umbrella anyway) can start paying back dividends quickly with a concerted effort.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/19/2009 05:19:32 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Internet, Society
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Tuesday, March 17, 2021

the master
Back when I recommended an extreme advertising/marketing makeover for the New York-famous Dr. Jonathan Zizmor, I did so because his ubiquitous subway ads (sample of which is pictured above) look so dated.

I didn’t realize until today, though, just how dated these rainbow-sporting monstrosities are, after doing the subway stare at one:

The three credit-card logos that Dr. Ziz accepts and displays on (at least some) of his trademark ads? Visa, American Express — and Master Charge.

That’s right — not MasterCard, but Master Charge. A brand that disappeared back in 1979.

I snapped a cameraphone pic of the transgressing ad, but it came out too cruddy to be worthy of posting here. However, it’s not too cruddy for a Twitter posting

I’m guessing that the Ziz uses the same homemade paste-up template for these ads that he’s used for the past thirty years, and simply never bothered to update certain graphical elements. Or maybe he’s accepting payment from long-term patients with a bunch of long-expired Master Charge “charge plates”, and has never caught on. Either way, why mess with success, right?

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/17/2009 12:45:07 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Celebrity, History, New Yorkin'
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Courtesy of the New York Daily News’ St. Patrick’s Day-inspired “green food report”, here’s a couple of long-lost ’80s TV commercials for McDonald’s elusive (in New York, anyway) shamrock shakes:

First, for the kiddies, Uncle O’Grimacey rocks the sham with Ronald and the original Big Purple, Grimace:

Followed by a more sober treatment of indulging in green-mint dairy products, treating the treats as a sort of “Kiss Me I’m Irish” version of mistletoe (note the subtle ethnic-bating with the little Asian girl):

I don’t even remember the minty shamrock sundaes. I’d be all over those if I could find them.

Unfortunately, the peculiar opt-out by New York McD franchisees on the green frosties seems to still be in effect. I haven’t done a hard-target search, but I haven’t seen any promotions for it, so I have to assume that the five boroughs are once again bereft. Online sources seem to confirm that. Still, if I have time I’ll swing by one of today and take a chance.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/17/2009 11:39:10 AM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Food, New Yorkin', TV
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Monday, March 16, 2021

Scientifictional geeks everywhere are doubtlessly aghast at Sci Fi Channel’s impending rebranding to Syfy.

Especially when they hear the lame-assed reasons for the name-change:

One big advantage of the name change, the executives say, is that Sci Fi is vague — so generic, in fact, that it could not be trademarked. Syfy, with its unusual spelling, can be, which is also why diapers are called Luvs, an online video Web site is called Joost and a toothpaste is called Gleem.

“We couldn’t own Sci Fi; it’s a genre,” said Bonnie Hammer, the former president of Sci Fi who became the president of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Universal Cable Productions. “But we can own Syfy.”

So, I guess Space Channel, the Canadian counterpart to Sci Fi, is screwed because it, too, can’t trademark its generic-sounding name? From what I hear, Space is qualitatively superior to Sci Fi already, so their brand identity must be working for them (unless they decide to follow this lead and change their name to “Spayce”…)

That qualitative superiority is secure too, judging by what parent company NBC Univeral has in store:

Ms. Hammer and her successor as Sci Fi president, Dave Howe, said they had sat through many meetings over the years at which a name change was debated.

The principal reason the idea kept coming up, Mr. Howe said, was a belief “the Sci Fi name is limiting.”

“If you ask people their default perceptions of Sci Fi, they list space, aliens and the future,” he added. “That didn’t capture the full landscape of fantasy entertainment: the paranormal, the supernatural, action and adventure, superheroes.”

That became more important as Sci Fi expanded its program offerings into those realms, Mr. Howe said, with series like “Destination Truth” and “Ghost Hunters.”

So they go from a name that’s “limiting” to a name that means… well, nothing at all. Leading to a cable outlet that’s essentially a blank slate, with no particular overriding theme. All the better to cram in a bunch of reality shows that only tangentially relate to science fiction/fantasy, and further erode any distinction that a single-genre cable network should have.

I shouldn’t sound so bitter, because I never watch Sci Fi anyway. The last time I regularly tuned into it was when they were still running “Mystery Science Theater 3000″ reruns. So I guess I’m part of the audience they’re trying to attract — lots of luck there.

As for the loss of the sci-fi tag from what’s supposed to have been the television home of sci-fi: Reminds me of the decades-long debate over merits of the nickname. I believe a contingent of fandom disdain it, preferring “SF” as a more serious designator. Others puckishly insist on pronouncing the common tag as “skiffy” as a form of mild protest. Obviously, none of these camps are going to be too happy about the advent of Syfy; maybe they’ll start to derisively call the reborn network “seefee”…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/16/2009 09:00:05 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., TV
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Thursday, March 12, 2021

Unless there’s an unusually high concentration of “Diff’rent Strokes” fans in Chicago, I’m thinking that the plan to rename the landmark Sears Tower to “Willis Tower” is going to unleash a big ball of hatin’ in the Windy City.

Nevermind that the building’s naming-rights holder, insurance agency Willis Group Holdings, is backing up its branding play by moving a bunch of its offices into the Tower. Or that Sears vacated the joint six years ago.

I find it interesting that one corporate tag is more cherished than another. I think that’s mostly due to sheer longevity: Sears’ name has been attached to the hemisphere’s tallest structure for nearly 40 years, so any change would be reviled, regardless of quality issues. This does prove out the effectiveness of grabbing the naming rights of major construction projects (chiefly sports arenas and other mass-market magnets) before they go up: Mindshare-wise, people form an instant attachment to the “birthname”. In fact, the association with the sponsoring brand tends to blur — I know that, for instance, Buffalo’s former Rich Stadium, the granddaddy of named-rights stadia, rarely ever conjured up the food-processing company that it was supposed to be promoting.

In any case, maybe Willis Group should hire Todd Bridges for the presumed renaming ribbon-cutting ceremony…

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/12/2021 12:27:08 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Pop Culture, SportsBiz, TV
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Wednesday, March 11, 2021

Like the above custom logo? I’d direct you to the site where I generated it so you could roll your own, but that would be pointless because it’s been cease-and-desisted out of existence.

Yes, candy giant Mars is a little touchy about unauthorized ad agencies messing around with that iconic Snickers logo and typeface. Mainly because the agency of record for the candy bar is already doing that, with a highly-visible campaign centered around the make-believe “Snacklish” imagery:

Snacklish is a humorous way of speaking that revises everyday words and phrases for a Snickers-centric world. To underscore their origin, they are printed in the typeface and colors of the Snickers brand logo.

For instance, the basketball great Patrick Ewing becomes Patrick Chewing. Combine the rapper Master P with the peanut, a main ingredient of Snickers, and he turns into Master P-nut — perhaps a hip-hop relation of the Planters brand mascot, Mr. Peanut.

Other examples include a Snickers taxi, or snaxi; peanutarium, for planetarium; and chompensation, for compensation. And the Sigma Nu fraternity is transformed into Sigma Nougat, after another Snickers ingredient…

The genesis of the Snacklish idea can be traced to elements of a campaign, also by TBWA/Chiat/Day New York, that appeared from 2006 through early 2007. There were outdoor signs in large metropolitan markets that offered made-up words like “peanutopolis” and “nougatocity,” in the typeface and colors of the Snickers logo.

In research among consumers, “those billboards kept coming back” in positive comments, said Mark Figliulo, chairman and chief creative officer at TBWA/Chiat/Day New York, part of the TBWA Worldwide division of the Omnicom Group.

That led the agency to see “if we could make it more than an outdoor campaign,” he added, “by taking it from a word play to a language.”

Can’t say I blame Mars. They paid a good chunk of change to TBWA/Chiat/Day to plaster those faux-logos all over the place. So it doesn’t much matter if a rogue shop decides to expand on the idea just to show off its chops — even if it did send a good bit of traffic toward the official site.

Funny that I got wind of this, only minutes before the snckrz.com site was defuncted. Just the other day, I was doing the subway-stare at one of those Snacklish ads, absently admiring the distinctive font. Little did I expect that I’d get to play with it myself.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 03/11/2021 08:33:24 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Creative, Food, Internet, True Crime
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Monday, March 09, 2021

Yet another trailing indicator of recessionary times: Direct mail volume last year dropped for the first time since tracking of such began in 1945.

That’s junk mail to the rest of you. To me, it means probably one or two fewer copywriting/design gigs (maybe compensated by email versions, but that’s always iffy).

I guess the reduction of hardcopy inbox-filler would be a happy consequence of this economic downturn, except that it’ll probably take down the entire Post Office with it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/09/2021 12:47:20 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business
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Saturday, March 07, 2021

I really wish I could find a better image of the above ad for Neil LaBute’s newest body-image stageplay, “reasons to be pretty”.

Hard to believe I can’t, because the ad is plastered all over town. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only person in New York who considers media eyecandy like this to be worthy of online commentary. If so, the rest of you are welcome. Even if it is just a blurry cameraphoned creation (embiggened on Flickr).

My main motive in snapping this pic: I just wanted to commemorate the decidedly unique URL connected to the campaign, DoesThisPlayMakeMeLookFat.com.

As for the play itself, I’m tempted to take it in. Or I’ll just wait for the movie adaptation to come out eventually.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 03/07/2021 06:41:32 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Creative, New Yorkin', Photography
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Friday, March 06, 2021

If this wasn’t intentional, it should have been:

Near the corner of Bowery and Great Jones Streets, there’s a modest-sized but noticeable movie poster for today’s big release, Watchmen.

And a couple of doors up, there’s a building with a for sale/for lease sign hanging from it, signifying that it’s represented by Ozymandius Realty.

I’d like to think that the building has been available for months on end — good chance of that, in that ‘hood — and someone in Warner Bros. marketing saw it, leading to a strategically-placed (yet insider-targeted) ad buy.

Who watches, indeed?

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 03/06/2021 01:46:54 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Movies, New Yorkin', Publishing
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Tuesday, March 03, 2021

In what comes off as music to many a marketer’s ears, an academic study suggests that viewers’ enjoyment of television is enhanced by regular time-out breaks in the programming, versus interruption-free playback (via DVR, Web, etc.).

So people actually love and crave their television commercials, right? Well, not so much the ads themselves:

In one of their papers, the authors even propose that commercial television evolved culturally to maximize enjoyment. The millions of Americans who record their favorite shows on TV may scoff; but they, too, often stop the shows to get a drink, make a call or talk. This kind of controlled interruption may represent a kind of ideal, [study co-author Dr. Leif] Nelson said.

Gal Zauberman, an associate professor of marketing at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, said the findings were solid, and added: “To me, the most interesting part is that almost everyone says, ‘I just wish I never had to watch a commercial.’”

In other words, people appreciate the chance to stretch out their pleasure, in this case watching a favored slice of TV (and most other fun activities). They just don’t care for what currently fills in that gap, i.e. the advertising messages. It’s habituation via the prolonging of an overall pleasurable experience, by any means necessary.

I guess the takeaway for marketers is to produce (non-Super Bowl) ads that are so compelling that viewers remain engaged even during the main-focus interruption. I believe that’s the entire point of television advertising, though…

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/03/2021 01:47:45 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., TV
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Tuesday, February 17, 2021

FedEx has an undeniable case of the basketball jones. Consider:

This week, the package-delivery giant attempted to graft its corporate colors (orange and purple) onto the men’s hoops uniforms of the University of Memphis Tigers. The NCAA declared this — amid the multifarious advertising and marketing imagery also on display in the arena during “FedEx Appreciation Night” — to be in violation of the church-state divide, and so squashed it.

I wonder how many people recognize that this is but the latest try by FedEx to buy its way onto the jerseys and shorts of big-time basketball. In fact, the last high-profile attempt was when the National Basketball Association arrived in FedEx’s corporate hometown of Memphis in 2001. The then-Vancouver Grizzlies got a $100 million package offer from the company that led to naming rights for the eventually-built FedEx Forum, and would have also included a complete makeover for the franchise: The new orange/purple uniforms, and a name change to “Memphis Express”.

The arena portion of the deal went down fine, but the NBA killed off the team corp-branding. Like the college guys today, the pro-hoopsters weren’t (and probably still aren’t, almost ten years later) ready to sacrifice the essence of their franchises to the marketing gods — yet.

Regardless, this points to a pattern for FedEx. The C-level braintrust obviously really wants to muscle its way onto the hardwood, and identifies big-league sports in general as a desirable marketing channel. If any corporate entity succeeds in buying a franchise identity among the major pro/college sports, FedEx seems to have the inside track.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 02/17/2009 09:20:27 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Basketball, SportsBiz
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Monday, February 16, 2021

In his critique of the current “What Is ‘G’?” series of Gatorade commercials, Slate’s John Swansburg gets downright Andy Rooney-ish over a couple of the faces featured:

They are, respectively, Chaz Ortiz, a 14-year-old skateboarding phenom, and the Jabbawockeez, a hip-hop dance crew that favors Jason-style hockey masks. No knock on skateboarding or hip-hop dance, but do these guys belong in the same commercial as Bill Russell? Ortiz and the Jabbawockeez stick out as a sop to a younger generation.

In addition to mistaking Jabbawockeez‘ facewear as Friday the 13th-inspired, rather than the obvious theatrical masks that they are, Swansburg apparently missed out on Shaquille O’Neal’s NBA All-Star tribute to the dance troupe, dubbed “Shaqawockeez”:

So, if this hip-hop act — which takes its name from Lewis Carroll’s poem — is good enough to hang with Shaq, I’d say it’s good enough to hang with Russell in a sugar-water commercial.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 02/16/2009 03:23:40 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Basketball, Food, Pop Culture, TV
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Saturday, February 14, 2021

covering tracks
With a reputation that’s more akin to mud than to its bad-ass North Carolina swamp roots, Blackwater Worldwide is abandoning its once-cherished identity and is rebranding itself as Xe.

The parent company’s new name is pronounced “zee.” Blackwater Lodge & Training Center — the subsidiary that conducts much of the company’s overseas operations and domestic training — has been renamed U.S. Training Center Inc., the company said Friday.

The decision comes as part of an ongoing rebranding effort that grew more urgent following a September 2007 shooting in Iraq that left at least a dozen civilians dead. Blackwater president Gary Jackson said in a memo to employees the new name reflects the change in company focus away from the business of providing private security.

Obviously, Blackwater’s previous half-measure of softening its paw-print-in-crosshairs logo didn’t yield the desired ameliorative effects.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 02/14/2009 02:36:27 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Politics
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Tuesday, February 10, 2021

One random swing into some music-blasting clothing boutique, and two days later Foo Fighters and their bouncy tune “Big Me” is still infecting my mind.

Can’t say I was ever particularly a fan of this post-Nirvana grouping. In fact, when I heard the song, I couldn’t remember who the artist was; it bugged me enough that I kept pondering it, and it eventually came to me. I guess the jokey subtext — that it’s a bubble-gum pop departure from the band’s typical grunge sound — endears me to the track that much more.

As for the song’s distinctive video:

It highlights the pop-cultural artifact that was Mentos and their onetime-ubiquitous campy TV commercials, a couple of which are directly spoofed by the Foos here. Thus the employment of the fictional “Footos” candy props in the video — further adding to the confusion of anyone who wasn’t around during the mid-1990s.

Amazingly, both the Foos and those Mentos spots are closing in on their 20th anniversaries. Time for a revival by both, I’d say.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 02/10/2021 10:57:30 AM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Comedy, Creative, Food, Pop Culture
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