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Sunday, September 16, 2021

What would the skyline of a modern metropolis look like without all the practically-ubiquitous billboard advertising?

São Paulo, Brazil is finding out. The world’s fourth-largest city is combating “visual pollution” by having all oversized outdoor ad installations removed:

Under the new law, all oversized ads must come down. Signage standards are shrinking, too. Stores with a shop front exceeding 100 meters (328 feet) in length are allowed two signs, but each smaller than 10 square meters (33 square feet). Smaller stores can have one sign no bigger than 4 meters (13 feet) square.

Although many of Brazil’s laws are ignored, compliance here has been high and the effect has been dramatic. Nowhere is the change more evident than in the once grand downtown area, a confused commercial district where the narrow streets are choked with cars and the sidewalks are overrun by vendors.

For a peek on the ad-less landscape and reaction, this Flickr collection provides insight.

Should Clear Channel and other outdoor media companies worldwide be nervous? Actually, they already are, lest it catch on in U.S. markets:

Multinational corporations, on the other hand, didn’t take it so well. Clear Channel Outdoor, the notorious American company, purchased a large share of Sao Paolo’s billboard market a few years ago. Weeks before the ban took effect, they launched a counter-campaign, with slogans such as: “Outdoor media is culture.”

I don’t see a broad ban working in New York, San Francisco or any other American metro. For one thing, existing regulations already keep the skyward clutter to a minimum, relatively. Compared to Third World urban centers, the visual advertising in the States is tame. There’s always going to be complaints of commercial blight regardless of degree, but believe me, it ain’t that bad.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/16/2007 12:29:18 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Politics
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Thursday, September 13, 2021

Oh, those pesky low-level cash purchases. They add up to an individual average of $2,340 in annual “lost” spending money:

The money’s not actually misplaced, just inexplicably frittered away. Wayne Best, senior vice president at Visa, calls it “mystery spending.”

“You do spend the money, but you’re not really sure where you spent it,” he said. More could be spent during a night out on the town, for example, than you thought. Or maybe there’s been a lot of ice-cream buying for the kids that you’ve forgotten about. Picking up a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk at the store throughout the week adds up too, he said.

Of course, these findings come from Visa USA. So they’re meant to illustrate how loosey-goosey it is to blow your money via untraceable greenbacks, instead of with Visa-branded plastic, which itemizes everything on a monthly statement.

So this amounts to a strategically commissioned piece of research that’s meant to push alternative payment methods. It doesn’t invalidate the results, or suggest that they’re somehow slanted. But if Visa couldn’t leverage them into a marketing opportunity, they never would have been compiled.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/13/2007 10:36:53 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Society
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Tuesday, September 04, 2021

Or, to paraphrase the slogan of Showtime pay-cable rival HBO: It’s not TV, it’s “The Best Shit on Television”.

The ad features characters from shows like “Weeds” and “Californication” uttering the expletive seven times, plus a song from the band Centralia that uses it five times. Showtime also posted the video — with a warning that it was “intended for a mature audience” — on YouTube, where it has been viewed more than 25,000 times.

“We didn’t think twice about putting it on our air,” Robert Greenblatt, the president for entertainment at Showtime, told Variety, which printed the slogan unblushingly. A spokesman said the network had no further comment on the promotion, which will be shown through September.

Gets right down to it, doesn’t it? Pardon the punnery, but I’d have to say that Showtime’s hoping that this shit hits with their fans. Ba-dum-dum.

I would have embedded the YouTubed promo spot here, except that, well, frankly — I think the soundtrack is shitty. Click through if you wanna hear/watch it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/04/2021 10:43:48 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., TV
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Saturday, September 01, 2021

stars are blind
Finally, signs of a pulse in National Hockey League marketing, at least on a team level. The Dallas Stars are using their new ad campaign to trash-talk on the other three major-pro sports leagues.

Notably, the NHL squad is taking aim at the NBA’s well-documented referee scandal:

As part of the team’s “come into the cold” ad campaign to sell seats for 2007-08, the Stars took a shot at the NBA’s referee scandal on a billboard near the American Airlines Center, the building the Stars share with the Dallas Mavericks.

The message? “The only thing our refs shave is the ice.”

No hard feelings from Dallas’ hoops king, Mark Cuban, who admires the attempt at edginess. Of course, given his track record as a maverick (pun intended), it would have been a shock if he had expressed raised hackles.

Besides, it’s not just basketball that the Stars are picking on:

The campaign, dreamt up by the Stars and Austin, Texas ad agency Door Number 3, is aimed at conveying the toughness of hockey players in an edgy style. One board reads “One game a week? Is the N in NFL for Nancy?” the [Dallas] Morning News reported.

Even baseball was not immune, despite the fact Stars owner Tom Hicks also owns the Texas Rangers: Another billboard reads “Maybe baseball should stop using the word sacrifice,” according to the Morning News.

It’s about time a hockey team got proactive about selling its wares. Anything to attract attention. It’s not like the other leagues are going to strike back — apathy for hockey does enough of a job. Why not adopt this tone on a league-wide level, without overdoing it of course? The NHL’s got nowhere to go but up, and with the image problems basketball and football have suffered this summer, there’ll never be a better opportunity to generate attractive PR.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 09/01/2021 06:34:53 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Hockey
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Tuesday, August 28, 2021

Looks like FreeCar Media has revived its media buzz.

ARD Ventures, a venture capital firm, has studied the phenomenon of wrapped cars and estimates that motorists and pedestrians see a single vehicle’s advertising message as many as 70,000 times a day.

[Manhattan motorist Brian] Katz was matched with his advertisers by FreeCar Media, an advertising agency in Los Angeles that claims to have a database of more than a million car owners who say they are open to wrapping their cars in ads for a fee, said Drew Livingston, president of the company.

The sponsor also pays as much as $5,000 a car for the wrap job. Generally, a car can qualify if it has enough surface area for a sizable ad and is no more than five years old.

I was intrigued enough by the concept of having an advertiser basically cover your monthly car payment that I remember reading about it several years ago, when the business was just rolling out. I’m almost sure I posted something about it, but I can’t find a trace in the archives on this site or the old blog. I’m pretty sure I endorsed a deal that extracted money from what’s essentially a depreciating asset (i.e., a car you keep for more than 2-3 years).

Sadly, I don’t currently own a car, so I’m rooked once again on this. Although honestly, the dual prospect of participating in this offbeat advertising exercise — even with the odd brand-ambassador personal requirements — and having the vehicle pay for itself is actually tempting me to go tire-kicking. We’ll see.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 08/28/2007 11:45:53 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg.
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Sunday, August 26, 2021

The argument against the primacy of the cost-per-click advertising model gets an academic boost: University of Kentucky professor Chan Yun Yoo says that website ads are just as effective by the visual impression they make:

Yoo says that the implications of his work are twofold: advertisers “need to reconsider the objectives of Web advertising” and use “impression-based metrics more than performance-based metrics when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of Web advertising.” Click-through rates, which represent the percentage of people who clicked on an ad after viewing it, might be useful to determine whether an ad elicited an immediate response. But ad impressions-that is, the number of times an ad is displayed-might be a better measure of the impact required to build a brand image.

In other words, old-fashioned ad-message exposure is probably more meaningful than the phantom metrics picked up through CPC. This is in line with my own thinking on the subject. Most pertinently:

Even if users don’t clickthru at the moment of ad impression — even if they never visit the delivered link — the ad message still registers mentally, just as a television or print ad would. Clicking through later, if it does occur, feeds into the idea of increased user control: I’ll take my browser where I want, when I want. Overall, it’s a situation where base impressions count for more than click-tracking…

Truthfully, clickthrus represent merely the fervent desire by advertisers, marketers and syndicates to see some solid linkage between Web exposure and sales. There undoubtedly is — I’m sure a percentage of those clicks brings in immediate revenue. But it’s never going to be the majority. Online tracking is going to have to get a lot more robust before this dream is realized.

And more recently, Google’s decision to abandon CPC for YouTube video adspots is a further indication that the industry’s leading clickthru advocate is switching gears.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 08/26/2007 04:01:24 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Internet
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Thursday, August 23, 2021

Seeking to underline just how much Sun Microsystems is hitching its future to the Java programming language, the company is changing its Nasdaq ticker symbol from SUNW to JAVA.

After this change goes into effect on Monday, I’m waiting to read the first howls of dismay from clueless shoot-from-the-hip investors, who’ll see the new four-letter mark, snap up shares, then realize they weren’t buying into some sort of hi-tech coffee company…

This may seem to be a trivial move, confined to the financial pages. But Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz attests to the deeper significance:

SUNW certainly has some nostalgic value - it stands for “Stanford University Network Workstation,” and heralds back to Sun’s cherished roots (in academia). Granted, lots of folks on Wall Street know SUNW, given its status as among the most highly traded stocks in the world (the SUNW symbol shows up daily in the listings of most highly traded securities).

But SUNW represents the past, and its not without a nostalgic nod that we’ve decided to look ahead.

JAVA is a technology whose value is near infinite to the internet, and a brand that’s inseparably a part of Sun (and our profitability). And so next week, we’re going to embrace that reality by changing our trading symbol, from SUNW to JAVA. This is a big change for us, capitalizing on the extraordinary affinity our teams have invested to build, introducing Sun to new investors, developers and consumers. Most know Java, few know Sun - we can bring the two one step closer.

Schwartz says the rebranding will be limited to the Nasdaq scroll, but from the way he’s talking, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the whole company someday change its name to “Java Inc.” or similar.

Incidentally, Sun’s far from the first company to use its stock exchange symbol as a promotional tool. As I said before:

If anything, these cutesy letter combinations are useful strictly at the time when a company goes public: Because that’s a prime marketing opportunity, the symbol should fall in line with all the other promotional hype to mark the event. But after that blows over, who cares? It’s purely a shorthand marking for use on the big board. They might as well use numbers.

That said, Sun’s move to JAVA is a reflection of a doubling-down on a proprietary technology that will make or break the company moving forward. So in that sense, this works effectively as a marketing ploy, because it generates a buzz.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 08/23/2007 03:50:37 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Tech
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Wednesday, August 22, 2021

Even for a cash machine like Google, $1.65 billion amounts to a load of dough. So to justify that purchase price for YouTube, Mountain View is getting serious about monetizing everyone’s favorite video site, ala outside-the-box video advertising spots that aim to be as unintrusive as they are engaging.

Google is trying something different for YouTube. Starting today, it will offer advertisers “overlay” clips that are visible on the bottom fifth of the screen. If the viewer does not click on the ad, it disappears in 10 seconds. If the viewer clicks on the ad, the content video pauses and resumes when the person clicks out of the ad.

Aside from the approach — a channel-within-a-channel delivery that differs greatly from the forced intro clip that plays before the main video — what most interesting is how this arm of Google’s ad machine would differ from the usual AdSense structure:

Unlike Google’s traditional text-based search ads, which are auctioned off, the video ads will be sold by a traditional sales force.

Furthermore:

And unlike Google’s pay-per-click search ads, advertisers will be charged by eyeball — $20 per thousand viewers — regardless of whether the user clicks on the overlay.

Basically, Google is tossing the AdSense model out the window when it comes to Web video advertising. This means the text-ad network it’s cultivated for years, and that has been the basis for its success as a public company, flat-out doesn’t produce for this Web 2.0 territory.

The question is, why not?

I think the answer points to a fundamental shift in how Web surfers are viewing webpages. Video-embedded pages encourage people to stay on that page for extended periods. In fact, Web audience measurement ratings standards recently have been amended to reflect this trending: Instead of measuring number of pageviews, time spent on a site and its pages is becoming the determinant of popularity.

If you think about it, that’s a major change from how the Web experience has been up until now. Sites used to be designed for relatively quick scanning, laden with hyperlinks to facilitate constant browser refreshing. Under that usability model, hits and views were a valid measure for how well a site was attracting traffic.

Google seized upon this structure when it rolled out AdSense, for the simple reason that its text ads had the look-and-feel of additional navigational elements. Combined with Google’s search-indexing of the AdSene-hosting publisher sites that resulted in highly relevant ads — i.e., a site about flyfishing would call up AdSense ads for fishing products — it generated ads that were eye-catching enough to encourage clickthrus. One link is as good as another to keep up the movement.

That doesn’t work with video-embedded sites like YouTube. Users don’t want to move away from a page, or at least a site, that has those even more eyecatching videos. Yet by their nature, that’s what an AdSense text ad offered — downgrading from the robust content experience of video to the staid content of a non-video website. It was a mismatch.

So video ads are designed to match up with video content. Price-wise, since traffic measures like actionable clickthrus don’t count in this context, simpler viewer stats determine the price.

Since the pay-per-click model is rife for click fraud, Google’s shift for video could also have a practical application across all Web advertising. In other words: It’s only the beginning.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 08/22/2007 11:54:30 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Internet
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Viagra sales are down? Time for the new “Viva Viagra” marketing campaign to come to the rescue, featuring this collection of 50-ish garage banders, jammin’ on the one:

And if their musical interpretation of penis-pill potency doesn’t cut it for you, you can always remix to your liking.

What do you suppose the name of this ragtag band is? I’m thinking, “Dick Limpy and the Four Johnsons”. As hokey as the obvious voice-dubbing job in this wretched TV commercial.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 08/22/2007 09:05:30 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Comedy
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Tuesday, August 14, 2021

I’m sure we’ve all seen T-Mobile’s “Jimmy’s HotSpot” TV spot:

And I’m sure all of us are glad that “The Jimmy” has prospered since his long-ago “Seinfeld” appearance.

I was skeptical about the prospects of “The Only Phone You Need” campaign resonating with customers. Maybe ripping off old sitcom motifs is a way to ensure success.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 08/14/2007 10:34:58 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., TV, Wi-Fi
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Sunday, August 12, 2021

the originalthe copycat
So, that cute little promo commercial NBC Sports was running tonight during their NFL preseason Sunday Night Football broadcast? Where Peyton Manning and Reggie Bush were checked into the same hotel, and they both wound up ordering prank room-service orders to each others’ rooms?

Yeah, it looked a little something like this NHL promo from last season:

The Alex Ovechkin-Sidney Crosby sequence wasn’t as extensive, either in length or comedic value. Still, it obviously came first.

As it happens, both spots were produced by NBC Sports. So I guess the network’s creative department ripped itself off. Not sure if the hockey folks should be offended or flattered.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 08/12/2021 11:23:36 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Football, Hockey, TV
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Wednesday, August 08, 2021

gaped
This 2006 assessment aside, Hugh MacLeod has been workin’ it, blog-wise, for tangible bottom-line business results.

The big payoff: Stormhoek, a winery in South Africa of all places, attributes its global spike in sales to gapingvoid’s conversational marketing efforts:

As Stormhoek’s representative, MacLeod offered a free bottle to any blogger who asked — as long as he or she was of legal drinking age and had been blogging at least three months.

Recipients didn’t have to mention the wine, but many of them did; nearly 100 bloggers posted related items or comments in just six months. MacLeod then used his blog to organize more than 100 “geek dinners” in Britain, France, Spain, and the United States — gatherings of tech workers and influential bloggers who were plied with Stormhoek wine.

A recent dinner in San Francisco, for instance, attracted local technorati like former Microsoft evangelist Robert Scoble (Scobleizer) and RSS pioneer Dave Winer (Scripting News).

While the blogosphere’s reviews of Stormhoek have been mostly good (”drinkable” and “pleasant,” with the odd “disappointment”), MacLeod’s results have been amazing. Stormhoek sales have jumped nearly sixfold, from 50,000 cases a year worldwide to almost 300,000. The winery expects to sell a million cases annually within three years.

I guess being an asshole pays off.

I was initially disappointed that I had missed out on some free vino. But the free bottles were available only to Euro bloggers. Makes sense, as shipping wine in the U.S. is a quagmire endeavor.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 08/08/2021 11:24:36 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Bloggin', Food
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Tuesday, August 07, 2021

If there’s one thing McDonald’s has learned, it’s this: Damn the food quality, so long as you nab ‘em while they’re young.

The research, appearing in August’s Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, was funded by Stanford and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation…

The study included three McDonald’s menu items — hamburgers, chicken nuggets and french fries — and store-bought milk or juice and carrots. Children got two identical samples of each food on a tray, one in McDonald’s wrappers or cups and the other in plain, unmarked packaging. The kids were asked if they tasted the same or if one was better. (Some children didn’t taste all the foods.)

McDonald’s-labeled samples were the clear favorites. French fries were the biggest winner; almost 77% said the labeled fries tasted best while only 13% preferred the others.

Fifty-four percent preferred McDonald’s-wrapped carrots versus 23% who liked the plain-wrapped sample.

This shouldn’t be news. Every young family I know features Happy Meal-obsessed tykes. The formula’s simple: Make foodstuff fun with lots of colorful content and packaging, combined with the novelty of leaving the house for eats — a mind-blowing concept for early-stage development.

I wonder if this doesn’t touch on a more fundamental human need to inject something extra into what we eat. Food is among the easiest commodity to market, after all. Everything from beer to organics get embraced by consumers who eagerly swallow the marketing message that comes along with it. It’s not enough to have access to all varieties of food — they have to come with an associative identity. It starts with Ronald McDonald, but doesn’t end with him.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 08/07/2021 10:41:28 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Food, Society
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Sunday, August 05, 2021

The mystery’s been solved: Those cryptic posters and placards that have been touting Windorphins for the past month? They lead to eBay’s latest marketing stunt.

I’m thinking exposure to Windorphins is having the wrong effect on me. Rather than the “win” portion of their name resonating in my mind, the “windo” part is. Meaning the first thing I thought of, even before I visited the URL and sprung the surprise, was Microsoft Windows.

The supposedly enthusiastic slogans — “Ever been to Cloud Ten?” and “If you’re happy and you know it, you’re probably on…”, among others — didn’t get across the idea of “winning” anything and feeling a subsequent drug-like rush. Even now, Windows comes more readily to mind for me, rather than online auctions.

But as is typical, I’m sure I’m in the minority. The little rainbow-hued pseudo-microbes have already caused a buzz, even a quantitatively measurable one at that.

Whether or not this unconventional (especially for usually low-profile eBay) marketing campaign works, I hope it was worth playing catch-up via bullying a reporter into surrendering the domain name.

(image courtesy of Jack Cheng)

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 08/05/2021 06:22:08 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Internet
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Saturday, August 04, 2021

Apparently, every single example of effective advertising can be slotted into one of 12 more-or-less distinct categories.

And this categorization has been around for 30 years, yet:

In 1978, Donald Gunn was a creative director for the advertising agency Leo Burnett. Though his position implied expertise, Gunn felt he was often just throwing darts—relying on inspiration and luck (instead of proven formulas) to make great ads. So, he decided to inject some analytical rigor into the process: He took a yearlong sabbatical, studied the best TV ads he could find, and looked for elemental patterns.

After much research, Gunn determined that nearly all good ads fall into one of 12 categories—or “master formats,” in his words.

You can take examine prime examples of these master formats via slideshow (which is my preference) or video (which I disdain, or else I’d have embedded it here). But if you’d rather not trudge through either of those links, here’s the rundown:

1. The Demo - A visual demonstration of a product’s capabilities.

2. Present the Need or Problem - Position whatever it is you’re selling as the remedy to one of life’s many challenges or shortcomings. Can be direct (”you’re fat, so take/eat/wear this”), or more of a manufactured dilemma (”do you realize you probably don’t have enough life insurance?”).

3. Symbol, Analogy, or Exaggerated Graphic (Illustrating the Problem) - Variation on the above need-or-problem format, but instead of explicitly mentioning the problem, it’s visually presented. A guy suffering from athlete’s foot is shown having flames bursting out of his socks — time for tough-actin’ Tinactin!

4. Comparison - Basic side-by-side with a competing product/service, and why yours rocks while theirs sucks.

5. Exemplary Story - A narrative in which the product/service comes along and makes things all better.

6. Benefit Causes Story - Sort of a wait-for-it with a punchline approach. A sequence of events is presented, something inexplicable manifests that catches the viewers attention, then the product/service is revealed as the x-factor that accounts for the strangeness. This Lynx body-spray ad, which seems to mesmerize women into dream dates, is a good example.

7. Tell It/Presenter/Testimonial - A talking head talks (supposedly) from the heart about how great this stuff is. Especially effective when celebrity spokespeople are recruited for it.

8. Ongoing Characters and Celebrities - Basically a personification of the product/service in the form of a catchy/familiar character, fictional or not. Everything from the Pillsbury Doughboy to back-in-the-day chicken-king Frank Perdue makes this list.

9. Symbol, Analogy, or Exaggerated Graphic (Illustrating the Benefit) - Similar tack to No. 3 above, but instead of the “Before” situation being illustrated, the “After” resolution is when the fantastical audio-visual kicks in. A dingy living room is shown; after Mrs. Housekeeper sprays some air freshener, that chimey magical music sounds, a little graphic pixie dust flies through, and that dreary scene is suddenly brightened up. Mazel tov!

10. Associated User Imagery - Showcase the type of people, or ideal location, or ideal situation, with which the product/service should be favorably identified. These hipsters and pretty people all wear Levi Dockers — why aren’t you??

11. Unique Personality Property - Something in the product/service’s DNA is distinctive, and thus potentially attractive to its target market. Perrier comes from France, so the Eurotrash wannabe in you has to have it!

12. Parody or Borrowed Format - Relying on broad cultural — especially pop-cultural — sensibilities to achieve an inside-joke effect. Movies, television shows, and even other ads are fair game in this meta-media Vulcan mindtrick pitch.

Slate’s presentation fixes on TV ad applications of these formats. I think they apply to radio, print and Web advertising as well. I wonder where the more unconventional approaches, like viral campaigns and product placements, would fit; maybe they constitute a new 13th category.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 08/04/2021 04:31:27 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg.
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Friday, August 03, 2021

One of my earliest explicit exposures to the concept of propaganda came from a grade-school teacher, who related this prime (probably apocryphal) example from out of the then-current Cold War:

It was about two headlines — one in an American newspaper and the other in a Soviet newspaper — reporting on the same event, a relay race in which, as it turned out, the only competitors were the American and Soviet teams. The American team won.

The American headline was:

AMERICANS BEAT SOVIETS IN RELAY RACE

The Soviet headline was:

SOVIETS SECOND IN RELAY RACE
AMERICANS NEXT TO LAST

To me, this still holds up as a concise example of the intricacies of spin. Note how neither side is lying about the race results — but the perceptions are completely altered. It really highlights the artistry that goes into communications processing.

Being that I now spend most of my days crafting marketing messages, I’ll defer on assessing how much the above story influenced my future worldview.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 08/03/2021 03:55:29 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Political, Wordsmithing
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Wednesday, July 25, 2021

Looks like every single pixel on The Million Dollar Homepage is booked up solid.

So it’s time to move onto another gimmicky online advertising schtick involving large numbers. Cue up MillionCount. The premise of this ad-attractor is having a guy count from 1 to 1 million, out loud, a few thousand per day, until he’s finished after approximately 3-4 months.

Yeah, that’s it. Not exactly scintillating, unless you consider number recitation to be an endurance sport.

But the rudimentary site seems to have signed up some major sponsors, so somebody’s buying the concept. I’m guessing it’s waiting for a big traffic spike, to come when mainstream media coverage hits, and try to maximize ad revenue in that short window.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 07/25/2007 10:26:08 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Internet
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Friday, July 20, 2021

It took a good amount of deft marketing and product development, by Henry “57 Varieties” Heinz and others, to make branded-food products the default choice for generations of American consumers.

So the growth of generic/store-brand foodstuffs as the cheaper, preferred purchase by today’s grocery shoppers is something of a throwback.

“The existence of a sophisticated private label — like we are beginning to see — weighs on the pricing power of the major packaged-food companies,” says Edward Jones packaged-food analyst Matt Arnold. “It forces them to stay top of their game in brand building.”

Arnold says that Kraft Foods is “a great example of what can happen if you don’t do a good job of managing the private-label threat.” With private labels making inroads into categories like cheese, Kraft has had to fight harder to hold its ground. According to Euromonitor, Kraft’s share of the U.S. packaged-food market dipped from 8.2 percent in 2001 to 7.4 percent in 2005.

Arnold says that the macaroni and cheese maker has now been making a major push to spend more on marketing. “The benefits are not showing up as yet but it takes time for your investment to show returns,” says Arnold. “More recently they have been narrowing price gaps and hopefully will be able to hold share.”

Kraft says it approaches private labels like any other branded competitor, and is always innovating to provide consumers with added benefits at the right price irrespective of the product involved.

I’m thinking part of this is the eco-friendly trend of buying locally-produced food. It doesn’t really pan out when the private-label origins are big food conglomerates themselves, but I think store-brand products sort of convey that, even if they don’t explicitly claim it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 07/20/2007 05:51:59 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Food
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Friday, June 29, 2021

let it out
Intensity, thy name is Denis Leary. That’s the idea behind the ad campaign for the fourth season of “Rescue Me”, as manifested all over New York City’s outdoor adspace:

More than 1,000 posters of Leary, on everything from billboards to buses, have been up for weeks to promote the fourth season of “Rescue Me,” which stars Leary as a troubled firefighter.

“The inspiration behind that is the famous modern-art piece ‘The Scream,’” says Stephanie Gibbons, the network’s executive vice president of marketing. “The reason we liked it is because ‘Rescue Me’ is a very, very interesting piece of work. It exists right at the fulcrum of where tragedy meets comedy.”

Aside from the spazzed-out image of Leary, what struck me more about the ad was the way the show title is juxtaposed: In rather plain, sans-serif font, certainly apparent but very understated. The intent is that Leary is so closely associated with the show that people don’t even necessarily need to pay attention to the title, because what else could Leary be promoting? Very innovative, although I’m Fox would never try it with a mainstream show.

Nor is this ad blitz prompting me to ever watch the show. Not the first time an ad captivated me without actually selling me.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 06/29/2007 01:58:33 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., New Yorkin', TV
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Wednesday, June 20, 2021

How does the tea industry counter the popularity of all those frappucino-like fancy coffee drinks? By getting fancy themselves, as a Sri Lanka producer is doing by equating single-source tea leaves with wine-like vintage grades:

So the Dilmah Group - the name is taken from the first syllables of the brothers’ names - has positioned itself like fine wine. Its elegant packaging is heavy with wine iconography: descriptive labels equating a robust black tea to a shiraz, or a fine white leaf to champagne. The aim is to present the tea as the purest in the world while also playing to consumers’ health concerns and rising enviro-consciousness.

Unlike the blends in an average tea bag, which can contain leaves from several countries, Dilmah teas, it says, are from a single origin. “You have to regard tea in the same way as you would an immaculate vintage,” says the brothers’ 77-year-old father, group patriarch Merrill Fernando. “People need to know what they are drinking.”

That’s an attractive pitch, but it doesn’t wash with Dilmah’s main competitors, beverage majors like Unilever, whose Lipton brand is world leader with 15 percent of the global market, and Associated British Foods, second with Twinings at 6 percent. “The wine analogy is fairly ridiculous in big wine-drinking countries, which also tend to be tea drinkers,” says John Cornish, Twinings’ international marketing director.

But in the United States, where there are more than enough beverage affectationers, I can see this approach taking off. Combined with the continued success of promoting tea as a curative drink, this kind of packaging should lead to brisk sales.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 06/20/2007 09:09:15 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Food
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Monday, June 18, 2021


The new campaign from Trojan condoms, dubbed Trojan Evolved, seeks to equate condom-wearing with a less-bestial male personality.

Jokes about how the average player is constantly on the prowl to “pork her” abound.

The approach hasn’t flown with some advertising outlets:

Fox and CBS both rejected the commercial. Both had accepted Trojan’s previous campaign, which urged condom use because of the possibility that a partner might be H.I.V.-positive, perhaps unknowingly. A 2001 report about condom advertising by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found that, “Some networks draw a strong line between messages about disease prevention — which may be allowed — and those about pregnancy prevention, which may be considered controversial for religious and moral reasons.”

Representatives for both Fox and CBS confirmed that they had refused the ads, but declined to comment further.

In a written response to Trojan, though, Fox said that it had rejected the spot because, “Contraceptive advertising must stress health-related uses rather than the prevention of pregnancy.”

In its rejection, CBS wrote, “while we understand and appreciate the humor of this creative, we do not find it appropriate for our network even with late-night-only restrictions.”

This stance grates against the usual mode of business in TV land, of course:

“It’s so hypocritical for any network in this culture to go all puritanical on the subject of condom use when their programming is so salacious,” said Mark Crispin Miller, a media critic who teaches at New York University. “I mean, let’s get real here. Fox and CBS and all of them are in the business of nonstop soft porn, but God forbid we should use a condom in the pursuit of sexual pleasure.”

All I’ll note is that Trojan may help its case a little by correctly spelling the word “evolve” in the dedicated site’s TITLE tag. Currently, it’s coming up as “TROJAN EVLOVE”. I doubt it’s an intentional entendre.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 06/18/2007 11:53:13 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg.
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