Archive for Medium
As October draws to a close and the trick-or-treaters make their last-ditch, mad grab at whatever remains of the Halloween candy, we (as consumers) know it’s coming. We can feel it…
Of course I’m talking about the annual, November 1st roll out of the holiday decorations and marketing material. From here on out it’s going to be nothing but evergreen wreaths, twinkle-lights and jolly men in red suits charging twenty bucks for a picture with the kids. And while some still manage to be enamored with festive cheer, most of us with ages in the double digits just bristle and steel ourselves in preparation for the onslaught of the holiday hustle and bustle, green and red price points, the must have items of the season, and two dozen of the same pop-singer-reengineered carol songs on repeat in every retail outlet. Tis the season for yuletide consumerism and its full swing, (Santa) baby!
However, I must digress from my traditional holiday humbugging to mention the one thing I do look forward to: the ads. This small stretch of the year between November and December has managed to produce some fairly iconic advertisements and commercials over the past decades. So much so, that some are even pulled out of the vault, dusted off and re-aired annually to inspire a sense of nostalgia in the consumer. For example, and my personal favorite, the Hershey’s Kisses holiday bells.
For others it’s the one where the M&Ms have a run-in with Mr. Claus resulting in Red and Santa fainting in shock. But I think for most of America, through-out the years, it’s always been the Coca-cola classic Commercials that are anticipated.
Starting in the 1920s with the iconic tin signs for Santa drinking a Coke Classic, Coca-Cola has established themselves as a brand with an annual holiday campaign, chalk full of memorable images and characters. As the years have rolled on, some of the other noteworthy holiday ads include the Coca-Cola Trucks in the 80s and of course most recently the Polar Bears (and subsequent penguins) campaign that’s been the Coca-Cola Christmas staple over the past handful of holidays.
This, in my opinion, is a great tactic because Coca-Cola Classic has not only managed to further their brand image, but establish long-term memory recall in the consumer base. When you think about it, the Coca-Cola commercials have, in some ways, woven themselves into the autobiographical memory of their target by purchasing key media slots so that the iconic commercials are seen during the seasonal, family get-togethers, traditional holiday parades such as the Macy’s Day, and of course on Christmas eve.
This year, Reuters is reporting that the brand is going to step away from the polar bears they have recently depended on. This year, Coca-Cola has partnered with the musical group “Train” and aim to produce a song akin in fame to the “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” campaign that ran in the 70s. They are banking on, if the song is a hit, to have audio memory recall of the brand whenever the song is played (on their commercial OR on the radio) in hopes that such a substantial recirculation and repetition will lock Coca-Cola in the #1 awareness slot of the consumers mind.
So, now the question is, since Train is a pre-established band that has a history of declining CD sales, will this go down in history as another Coke holiday hit? Or will it be an ill received, flash in the pan ad when compared against the likes of the classic polar bears? Only the iTunes download numbers will tell.
Remember those lyrics – “I’m a Barbie Girl, in a Barbie World . . . Life in plastic, it’s fantastic”? Sure, I’ll admit that I do. But I spent most of my childhood years playing with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers action figures. I was more concerned with Master Splinters and Megatrons than with Kens and Dream Houses. Yet I still know the song, and I’d venture to guess that most everyone does. If not, they definitely know Barbie. From toddlers to grandparents, all of us – regardless of age or gender – know who she is. And that’s the point: We really do live in a Barbie World. Whether we’re active participants, or casual by-standers, we are indeed living in it. Well hey, haven’t you heard? That world is changing, and it won’t be the same again.
Please say hello to the newest Barbie for our digital age. An article from Advertising Age explains how since October 2008, Mattel – the company that produces the Barbie dolls – has been running an interactive “channel” (more of an interactive web portal) on cable television that is all things Barbie. This channel functions as a one-stop-shop where viewers can get videos of Barbie on demand, play games, and immerse themselves in the “Barbie World” experience. Now Mattel is gearing up to launch yet another Barbie Channel on AT&T’s U-Verse starting this October. One channel; now another. So why the forward progression? Mattel has found that between September 2009 and April 2010 they were effectively reaching their targeted audience of girls, and they’ve got the numbers to prove it. Girls were spending about seventeen minutes per day interacting with the Barbie channel and 17.7 million consumers were viewing the Barbie webpage. Of course, their 2010 sales were looking pretty good, too. With such strong numbers backing up their efforts, the new Barbie Channel is estimated to reach an expected 19 million people. Don’t be surprised if in the near future you witness more marketers turning to this new trend of interactive television. This same article shows how according to the findings of a survey of 100 national marketers conducted by the Association for National Advertisers and Forrester Research, 75% of the respondents said they thought interactive television would be the next big source of marketing and advertising. Break out the Dream Houses everyone ‘cause Barbie’s coming home.
So what are the potential implications of such an expanded Barbie World? If things shift from being a Barbie World to a Barbie Universe, where does that leave us? Barbie, and her maker Mattel, have for years come under fire, with concerned parents and advocacy groups questioning whether Barbie is a responsible role model for young girls. For the most part, we’ve all heard the basic general complaint that Barbie is too perfect and that this causes lower self-esteem among girls who wish to, but can’t (for obvious physiological reasons) emulate her appearance. It seems only natural that citizens of this new digital Barbie World will again pose the same questions. That’s not to say that people shouldn’t do so. It is vital for consumers, especially parents, to examine this new trend of interactive television – not limited to solely Barbie, mind you, but everything their children may potentially watch.
Was the creation of the Barbie Channel a responsible decision on the part of Mattel? On the one hand, one cannot blame Mattel for doing business; it’s what they are, after all. Does anyone blame Apple for creating the iPhone? Most likely the answer is no. However, it probably won’t be too surprising if Mattel and the Barbie Channel come under attack yet again. “They’re targeting children in a whole new way, which will in turn make them feel bad because they don’t look like Barbie.” “Mattel is invading our homes with ads for products and toys to make themselves richer.” These may be two hypothetical complaints regarding the launch of the new Barbie Channel. Is Mattel is doing at least one thing right, though? In one instance, they are bringing parents into the process and offering a way for them to request information about Barbie through the interactive channel with the click of a button. They want everyone to be involved in the Barbie experience. Win the parents over, win the kids – that’s their mentality. Should Mattel be congratulated? It’s difficult to say. While they do provide parents with requested information about Barbie and her products, Mattel is providing a host of other things – products, ideas, and feelings – to the children who, one could argue, do most of the actual television viewing. And these offerings are loaded with potentials risks – risks that will soon be accessible with the press of a button on the remote control. Is this responsibility? Providing children with an interactive channel that seemingly fulfills their every Barbie desire, while promoting Barbie products within an inclusive Barbie world comes close to resembling a kind of hypnotism. There’s got to be some lasting effects from all this Barbie exposure at such a high, interactive level. So is this healthy for kids? They might as well be making their products with poisoned plastic parts.
Earlier it was mentioned that the usual questions of self-esteem will again surface in the face of a new digital Barbie. Let’s examine some of the potential risks. First off, with increased interactive exposure to Barbie through various means such as videos and games, one must be sure to monitor the self-concept of the channel’s viewers, which have the potential to be altered. Children watching the new digital Barbie may be more inclined to create a negative self-concept of themselves due to the highly interactive nature of the channel. Negative self-concepts existed back when it was only toys, so imagine how it will be in the new world of on-demand videos and interactive play: the effects of these risks may be multiplied in their strength and influence. These kids may wonder if they are pretty enough, or why they aren’t blonde. In addition, there may be increased desires to fulfill symbolic needs – this includes everything from purchasing the latest Barbie products and toys to even buying make-up so as to look like Barbie – so that these girls will feel pretty enough. An increased motivation to acquire these products will eventually occur. Wanting new toys in not inherently bad, of course. Yet if this desire becomes paramount to a child’s maintaining high self-esteem, a line has been crossed, and a psychological risk could potentially develop. In the short-term, it may be that parents spend a little extra money on Barbie products so their kids stay happy; in the long-term, however, the cost may be a question of more than mere dollars and cents. As will be seen next, the risks do not stop once children reach adulthood. In fact, they may become life-long ghosts that haunt Barbie-stricken individuals.
Issues of low self-concept, unfulfilled symbolic needs, and psychological risks that stem from Barbie exposure can extend into adulthood and cause people to drastically alter their outward appearance. There is even a term of this affliction known as the Barbie Syndrome. An article from CBS News illustrates how in one case, a woman was reported as having undergone 31 plastic surgeries over the course of 14 years (the cost coming close to $100,000) in order to come closer to resembling Barbie. Spending over $100,000 on 31 surgeries! When is it too much? The woman who underwent these procedures stated that at age 6 she looked at a Barbie doll and wanted to be like her, seeing Barbie as glamorous. The article states, according to the woman who had the surgeries, “’I just wanted to look better,’” she says. “’Barbie was the blank canvas I filled in all those years ago. It was still my role model.’” Bull’s-eye, folks! When Barbie becomes the role model for looks for any person – there is a Ken Syndrome, too, gents – there is an inherent problem with the values it is sending to consumers. This case occurred years ago, before the advent of the interactive Barbie Channel. With a result like this that speaks for itself, what does it say about the implications of an entire channel devoted to Barbie that’s targeting girls ages 2 and up? Well, for one, plastic surgeons may soon be cashing larger checks. Here’s the overarching issue of the interactive Barbie Channel: it increases the ability for young girls to immerse themselves in Barbie, and come out of the experience with feelings of inadequacy. Before, one had to actually acquire the doll, open it, and play with it for this psychological process to take place. Now it’s as easy as clicking a button. Less time can have major implications for the young generations. This isn’t a Barbie you can hide in the toy box anymore.
Tomorrow’s Barbie World is here. Like it or hate it, there is no real escaping it. There hasn’t been any escaping from Barbie since it was first created back in 1959. It’s part of our culture, and world culture for that matter. But does that mean we should lower our defenses just because something is familiar? I know my neighborhood, but I still lock my doors at night. The implication is simple: a life in plastic is NOT so fantastic.
The first time I saw this commercial, it really stuck with me. Liberty Mutual doesn’t mention their name or brand logo until the very end, so before even knowing the sponsor, I really appreciated the ad. The concept is ‘Pay it Forward;’ each little nice/helpful thing you do for someone will continue a chain of helpful events. I love this concept because it’s a reminder for all of us in this fast paced world that all the little things add up. Picking up a toy a child in a stroller dropped is such a simple thing to do, yet it is so helpful for that parent trying to juggle a million things and may not even realize the child dropped their beloved stuffed animal.
At the end of the commercial I was really surprised to learn that it was for Liberty Mutual, an insurance company. I think they’ve done a great job emphasizing that their company is responsible, and will be there for you when you need that extra bit of help. Furthermore, they managed to create an insurance ad that isn’t dull and dry; something I haven’t seen since the Geico Insurance ads.
With Susan G. Komen ‘Race for the Cure’ events taking place across the nation this April, KFC has found a perfect time to partner with a charity. KFC has now launched their ‘Buckets for the Cure’ campiagn, which gives 50 cents to Susan G. Komen for every bucket of chicken purchased.
However, with buckets of chicken costing around $10 these days, is this really a charitable enough contribution? 50 cents of 10 dollars, thats 5%…I don’t find this number to be impressive honestly. If a major national company wants to partner with a charitable organization, great, but actually make a significant contribution.
KFC hopes to reach their 8.5 million dollar goal of money raised for the cure by May 9, 2010. The campaign, which began April 5th of 2010 has raised a little more than $2 million right now, and KFC is quickly running out of time.
In my opinion, they should have made a bigger contribution to the Cure for each bucket sold, even $1 per bucket would have been reasonable. Is a 5 percent donation per bucket large enough for KFC to reach their 8.5 million dollar goal? Doubtful.
If interested in more information, visit www.bucketsforthecure.com
This ad has been out for a year or so, but they have started showing it on TV again and I really like it. I’m a Wells Fargo customer, but this ad is inspiring and shares the right message at the right time by a bank. I think its inspirational and just makes the character of BoA seem virtuous.
Under the new FTC ruleing, testimonials must clearly disclose the resuts which consumers can generally expect to see. This effects advertisements in a tremendous way. No longer can companies boast about exceptional, but rare, results. Now brands are required to clearly tell consumers what they can generally expect to find.
This is clear in Jenny Craig’s latest ad campaign featuring Sara Rue. Consumers have grown wary of constantly hearing ads claiming that their product can make you lose 40 pounds FAST. Now, rather than seeing the extreme cases, we are given more typical cases.
I was caught off gaurd when I first saw Jenny Craig’s ad where Rue exclaimed, “I’ve already lost 5 pounds!” Five pounds? Seriously, big deal. But then I remembered the new FTC ruling and it all clicked. This is the direction all weight loss advertisements are going to head as companies begin to catch on.
However, are these ads even effective? Why waste millions of dollars on a TV campaign ‘bragging’ of 5 pounds of weight loss. Seems like a poor use of ad dollars to me.
To see the advertisment:
And click ‘See Sara’s new commercial’
Dove has been greatly praised for their advertising featuring average, fuller figured women. Now they have moved on to a men’s campaign, hoping for the same success.
This particular ad is the second in the series, following up the first ever Men’s Care product line by Dove which was advertised during the Superbowl. Although I like both, I particularly like the second ad. Rarely can you find an ad for men’s shower gel that isn’t over the top raunchy (did anyone say Axe?)
However, Dove took a different approach by showing a little girl with her father at both the beginning and end of the ad which I really liked. Rather than showing a women clinging to her man after he uses the ‘sexual’ body wash, Dove replaced the stick thing woman with a daughter figure which I thought was a really good move.
In addition to this Dove also is able to get across all of the product attributes that they were trying to convey. All in all, I think a really well done ad.
The first ad aired during the Superbowl
The Second Ad (my favorite)
In the world of aviation travel, commercials are all about the cheapest prices and the most benefits for its frequent flyers. However, Southwest Airlines have concentrated on the most important thing over the past couple of years: customer service. This concentration has made them one of the most successful airlines in recent history. As someone who rarely flys Southwest (they don’t fly to Atlanta), this ad really makes the potential customer feel empowered. I think its very unique in that it says very little about the airline, no mention of prices or benefits, only the sheer excitement of traveling. It emphasizes one of the most negative parts of flying (the anxiety before deplaning) and turns that negativity into excitement and joy. I think it is an innovative ad that continues to set itself apart from the competition with honesty and a clear concentration on the customers experience.