Archives for category: Campaigns

The season of travel is revving up, and the hotel booking websites are fighting it out for our dollars. Our challengers are: Booking.com, Trivago, and Hotels.com. As I’ve caught most of these ads on my TV lately I decided to compare them to see which one I like best.

 

BOOKING.COM

When I land on Booking.com I’m greeted (or yelled at) by a schmörgesborg of things to click on. No organization, well some actually. But let’s think about this, if I’m not savvy with surfing the World Wide Web would I really know what to click on? There is a box in the left corner of the screen that allows me to enter my details, which is good, well… it’s the status quo for any site like this. But the rest of the home page is boring and seemingly unorganized. There is also nothing about the website that excites me to book with them, or even travel in general. In fact there is not even one high quality scenic picture to salivate my travelling appetite. Although when you get into the thick of their website it does have a lot of information.

Now onto the ads, Booking.com is going for a younger market or at least young at heart. The first ad clearly uses “Booking” as a substitute for everyone’s (or most people’s) favourite F-word. The first time I hear it, I laugh, the next time a little… and then on the 6th time it’s over done. Way over done. The rest of the ad is great too. I love the insight that you picked right. That dilemma we all face “will this hotel live up to my expectations” is what every traveller faces, and it’s why we love hotel chains so much: we know what to expect. The copy is great, but I feel that the epic-ness that comes from the announcer gets tiresome. It’s too much. I’m trying to book a hotel, I’m not about to make a big speech to my rag-tag team as we’re about to try and save the world from aliens. Deep down the ad conveys a great insight that would make me want to book with them, but it’s lost with all the theatrics.

 

TRIVAGO

Trivago‘s website is simple. Like Google simple. It’s just a search bar. Nothing complex. I like that. But I also would like some travel-porn. Some shots of beautiful scenery, or a sandy beach. Get me excited Trivago. Sadly that’s their downfall. They’re boring. Which is kinda good. I would trust them more. But they seem too boring, so even though I may trust them more, I may not remember them because my mind will be distracted when their ad comes on. Their one key selling-point is never creatively addressed in their advertising. They promote how you can pick from several different sites. So whoever offers you the best price wins. So why not exploit that? It pains me to see a great insight that is communicated in an uninspired way. I feel like it’s a training video, and those are never exciting.

 

HOTELS.COM

Mascots annoy me. Why does every company feel they need a mascot? However, Captain Obvious is not bad. I can see a lot of ads coming out of this, but Hotels.com has to be careful to not make me hate him. Use him sparingly and not in ways that will make me not want to visit your site. Speaking of their website, I like it (Pay attention Trivago and especially you Booking.com). I’m greeted by the Captain, and some travel-porn. Wow! 3 websites and only 1 actually puts up a picture of where I want to go. I realize stock photo sites aren’t cheap, but come on. The site is simple and has only the necessary details. This one has found a nice balance.

Their ads are great. They’re not boring, and they don’t repeat the same punchline over and over until it’s not funny anymore. Their jokes are great, and fit within the narrative. They’re set up with out me seeing them coming. Everything that was on the brief is addressed in a clever way. And in the end I walk away liking what I experienced.

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Apps, you gotta love ’em. There are apps for almost everything. Probably sometime soon there will be one for heart surgery too.

One of my favorite apps is The Simpsons Tapped Out. If you have never played it, don’t. It’s addictive. So addictive that you might even end up writing a blog post about it. The premise of the game is that Homer blows up Springfield and he has to rebuild it. So basically it is a Simpsons version of The Sims.

simpsons-tapped-out-thanksgiving1

A large portion of the game is free. It is free to download, free to do almost everything, but of course there are things you can only get by converting real money into virtual money in the form of donuts.

What I’m here to talk about is the very very subtle form of advertising that exists in the game. No not the blatantly obvious form that everything in the game is The Simpsons. But instead what the sole purpose of this game is: to get people to watch The Simpsons. (As a side note there is a guy on WordPress who has an excellent blog about this game it’s called: The Simpsons Tapped Out Tips http://tstotips.com/)

Before downloading this game I hadn’t watched a Simpsons episode in years. I used to like the show in its early years, then the writing changed, Family Guy became popular, then redundant, and I just started watching other shows other than The Simpsons. In the game certain things happen to promote that week’s coming show. For example a week or so ago Moe gets a “new lease on life” and he is given a suit and tasks, and of course the gamer is given curiosity about that week’s show.

That is exactly how these kinds of apps should work, and to a greater extent how advertising campaigns should be. They should engage the audience in one medium and then point them towards another. In the case of The Simpsons, the primary medium is the television show, all other media they use to promote their show should encourage the audience to watch the show. Their Tapped Out game does exactly that. It encourages and intrigues people to watch the show, and it makes people who rarely or used to watch the show fall back in love with the characters and their antics.

In my opinion this is exactly the kind of advertising that is going to exist on mobile devices in the near future. Ads in content are annoying, although some are done very well. But a great use of mobile apps to promote a brand could really help drive people to it.

Not that people need another way to tell everyone the mundane things that they are doing, now they can do it on fire.

I was on Twitter this afternoon and found this tweet in my feed:

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 11.57.43 AM

The tweet (in case you can’t read it) says: “Your name. In flames. Click here to make it awesome.”

It is a simple tweet that caught my attention. Even better for Doritos because I don’t even follow them. Their subtle tweet-ad caught my attention because it sounded cool. Like who wouldn’t want to see their name in flames? So this is what I found when I clicked through.

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 12.07.25 PM

You simply type your name into the box and it turns it into flames. You can then share it with friends via Twitter or Facebook. The only problem with this is that if you write anything more than 9 letters long it cuts it off. So if you have a long name you’re kinda screwed.

All in all it is a great tool that has a shelf life of about a month before everyone gets bored with it. But during that time it is going to increase the exposure of Doritos’ new flavour. I think it is a good idea, although it won’t last long it will serve its purpose well. It would be nice to see a longer type box that is longer than 9 letters. Also if they can extend the “burning” idea a little further it would be better.

You can check it out here.

This is the trap that social media advertising falls into, or better yet dilemma. People will find this interesting, but then annoying. There is no middle ground when it comes to things like this. The trick is hoping it gets popular quick, then dies out before it gets annoying. Once it is annoying people aren’t generally thinking “hmmm, I could go for some Doritos right now.” They’re thinking, “Again!” It would be great for Doritos to extend this campaign gradually. Thus bringing people back because there are new features and things that it can do.

But in the end I have two final things to say: first is that Doritos Inferno nachos are pretty tasty, and secondly is that I would like to know where I can find a flame font?

Volkswagen is one heck of a successful company. They have V-Dub clubs all across the world. That’s actually surprising if you think about it: VWs are everywhere on the road. They are a common car that has a loyal fan base. Usually car clubs are reserved for rare cars like Porsche or old muscle cars. Not everyday vehicles.

So how did it all start? Well yes with the Nazi’s, but let’s focus on when it came to America. The challenge posed to DDB with VW was that this is a German car with WW2 still fresh in the minds of their audience.

The ads merge both strategy and creativity into the core benefits of buying a VW Beetle: durability and affordability. Before ads were more like sales pitches that got old quick and gave no one a reason to listen, unless of course they were actually in the market to buy. What amazes me is that this concept is still new to most companies. People don’t buy into things easily: you have to pay them in entertainment. By paying them in entertainment you can address what ever it is you want to say. I could easily list several examples here in every medium, but I’d rather not put that on my blog. Instead I’ll show what I mean with a great example.

If all advertising was like this then people would pay attention to it more. Saying that people actively avoid advertising is a lie. YouTube is loaded with ads that get thousands of views. The Superbowl is a great example of people (who don’t care for the game) wanting to watch commercials. Creative advertising grounded in strategy works. That fact is shown both in award shows around the world and in sales.

The most important thing is that above having a good strategy, creative idea and the entertainment factor all rolled up into one ad, it has to relate to the target. This is why I love copywriting. That puzzle that must be solved for each an every ad. Of all commercials here is my favorite.

Nike is a brand who truly gets their audience. One of the hardest things to do as a creative is to pare your message down so fine that the only way to describe what happens is magic. “Just Do It”, written by Dan Weiden and has agency Weiden + Kennedy have had a long relationship with Nike.

The success of Nike’s advertising has obviously led it to success in several different sports worldwide. “Just Do It” is a line that can exist in all sports. When an athlete is looking at the training that they have to do. That metaphorical mountain that is before them, one that they will never reach the top of, because they will always be setting the summit higher and higher. “Just Do It” becomes a mantra to them. One where no excuses are allowed. If it’s going to hurt, Just Do It. If you’d rather relax today, Just Do It. If you’re a little sore, Just Do It.

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This ad captures it perfectly. If you can’t read it the copy says “Most heroes are anonymous”. It demonstrates that not every athlete is a professional one. It also goes further to connect to the audience because when the runner crosses the finish line that is not their only heroic moment. Instead the moments that are truly heroic are the early mornings and hours of training put in before a race. In those moments the athlete whether it is Steven Stamkos or you is a hero, because anyone who is an athlete knows that your success in your sport largely comes from the training you do before hand.

These ads by Nike demonstrate that. They recognize that their market is bringing their knowledge, struggles, triumphs and personal challenges to the table when they read the ad. These ads speak to t

nike_longcopyEnter the second ad in this post. Just doing it comes from you. You are the one who trains, lugs yourself to the gym and puts that extra 5 lbs on. No one else can do it for you.

I’m focusing on the tagline because that is obviously what everything comes back to. Knowing how the tagline is received and functions allows the writer communicate it best. However, in both of these ads “Just Do It” doesn’t appear. Does it have to? An important note here is that “Just Do It” has been around since 1988. By now it is most likely one of the most well known slogans in all of advertising. So plastering it on every ad is pointless in many ways. The audience knows it. The more creative way, which they do, is to use the tagline sparingly. This gives the line more effect.

Does the tagline have to be there in order to communicate the same message? In these cases no not really. The message is sustained in its tone. Most importantly it is the simplicity that allows the message to come through clearly. Yes having “Just Do It” would reinforce the message, but it would be redundant. Having the simplicity in the second ad allows the copy to be the hero. Arguably there is a headline “They will tell you no” and a subhead “You will tell them yes”. The body copy in this case acts the way that it is supposed to: to reinforce and clarify the headline, or technical headline in this case.

And I’ll finish off with a brilliant, and simple, ambient idea from Nike to further my point.

nike_bench

It always amazes me how in sync companies are with new trends. As soon as something becomes ‘in’ they all suddenly jump all over it. The recent “Greek yogurt craze” is a great example of that. I guess ever since pro-biotic’s popularity has come and gone they need something else to promote.

These systematic trends are obviously planned. They let the current craze run its course. Meanwhile companies are concocting the next one. Timing is everything in business. Wait too long and someone else will steal your thunder. But if you get too eager and you may steal the thunder from your own product. As every marketer knows: intrest drives demand.

20090824-yogurt-group

Now I doubt that Greece actually gets a royalty from Greek yogurt sales, just like Italy doesn’t make any royalties off of pizza and pasta sales. It is also important to note that Greek yogurt isn’t anything new. Greek yogurt is really just a strained yogurt. This makes it thicker; as opposed to runny like American yogurt. This type of yogurt has been around for a long time, probably back to ancient Greek times. Now Greek yogurt on North American store shelves is nothing new. What I’m getting to is the full-scale branding and embrace from the major labels.

Marketing trends like this are always interesting to watch. Some trends live and some die, and it all depends on so many factors (too many worth listing). What I struggle to understand is the purpose of this. As you can see in the picture above there are many brands that have recently been promoting their Greek yogurt brands. Now as this cluster of brands all try to advertise their new Greek line extension they all do what doesn’t make any marketing sense: they’re creating clutter, not breaking away from it.

Over the course of my educational career I’ve always been told to “break away from the clutter”. Not run towards it. Now if one of these brands went out and totally raised the bar and made Greek yogurt their own then great! Activia did this on the last yogurt trend, but maybe I’m failing to see the advertising that is going on.

At the end of the day I’m curious to see who will come out on top, or will it just be a deadlock tie.

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The Economist through the years has had many excellent copywriters create brilliant ads for them. It’s only fitting that for this newspaper they have predominately copy driven ads. The strategy behind the campaign is a simple one, and over the last few decades it has remained the same.

%22I Never Read…%22

The aspect about this campaign that I admire the most as a writer is how each ad (and this is only a small sample) not only communicates the strategy, but it is that each ad represents the magazine so well. The Economist “explains the world” as they put it. When ever reading their magazine they isolate the facts that are necessary to know. They never get caught up in the drama. As for the plug ad, this further represents how The Economist understands that each country/region of the world is different, and a one size fits all mindset to world politics or business does not work.

economist-plugs

Some of the copywriters who have worked on these campaigns are: David Abbott (“I never read The Economist” Management Trainee. Aged 42). Nigel Roberts which isn’t listed here, but similar to Abbott’s, it reads: Does anyone ever ask for your opinion? No, not you, that guy behind you. Tim Riley is another. He wrote several notable ads for The Economist (Somebody mentions Jordan. You think of a Middle Eastern country with a 3.3% growth rate). Richard Foster who wrote: Why kiss ass when you can kick it. Sean Doyle with a simple E=iq.

25171-economist_jordan_6

Now those writers are only a small sample of those who have written copy for The Economist. It is one of those clients that every writer would love to have their their book. I certainly know I would.

ABBM_03859_0056538A  economist-zoom

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