Few things say that you spend most of your time driving kids to soccer games and making cupcakes for bake sales than being seen behind the wheel of a minivan. It fairly shouts that you have a house in the suburbs with a square patch of lawn in front and a kid’s swing set in the backyard, and are more likely to spend weekends at a petting zoo than at a trendy art opening. Parenting is cool, but it isn’t COOL like Kanye West, hip-hop, rapper cool, if you know what I mean. This funny video ad tackles this stigma head-on by having a middle-class, middle-aged couple rap proudly about making jell-o molds, changing diapers and owning a Toyota Sienna Minivan, which they refer to as their “Swagger Wagon.” Created by Saatchi & Saatchi, the video has gone viral and spawned a whole series of new Swagger Wagon commercials.
According to industry forecasters, online video ad spend is expected to top $1 billion in 2011 and keep on soaring upwards. Even in the depths of the recession in 2009 when overall online advertising fell, online video spend grew by 41%. For good reason. Some of the most creative and memorable ads today are video ads found on YouTube and Vimeo that get tweeted and fanned virally. They run the gamut from the infomercial-like Blendtec video with the company’s CEO Tom Dickson liquefying an iPhone to JC Penney’s hilarious classic “Beware of the Doghouse,” which won the 2009 World Retail Award for Best Digital Retail Advertising Campaign. With the ads typically running more than a minute to nearly five, there is time to create an engaging storyline and no fear of being forgotten when the real TV program returns. Consumers click on it by choice and stay because it holds their attention. They recall the brand, the message and they like it.
This Japanese television commercial for Wacoal LaLan bras is a fascinating departure from the usual approach to selling intimate apparel in Western cultures. No sultry bedroom eyes, no come-hither looks, no languorous poses. Victoria’s Secret models they are not. The contrast is stark between the lingerie ads in the U.S. that imply that the right underwear will make you sexy and desirable, and this Japanese ad featuring young women doing a surreal and zany dance. What’s even more interesting is that Wacoal, a company headquartered in Kyoto, Japan, employs the sexy underwear strategy in ads that it runs in many other countries.
Moleskine is a product that you are unlikely to see advertised on television or in print, but If you do a search for Moleskine on YouTube and Vimeo, lots of videos will pop up. That’s the way Moleskine customers like it. Moleskine has a cultlike following among designers, artists and writers enchanted with the idea of preserving their sketches, profound thoughts and poetic musing in the same kind of little black notebook used by Van Gogh, Matisse, Hemingway and Chatwin. No spiral-bound steno pads for them. No perfed sheets only good for writing down meeting minutes and grocery lists. These oil-cloth-covered black journals are meant to capture inspiration at its birth. If you believe the fans, Moleskine isn’t just a notebook or a bound sheaf of papers, it is a blank canvas for the creative mind. So, naturally this mystique lends itself to a viral marketing strategy, with new products launched on YouTube and spread through fan blogs and tweets. A Moleskine site called Detour gives viewers a voyeur’s peek into the personal Moleskine journals of well-known designers and artists, an inspiration in itself. Recently Moleskine celebrated the 30th anniversary of Pac Man with a limited edition notebook and a clever YouTube video. All of this gets linked and forwarded (as it is here), giving customers a sense of discovery and being part of a select artsy circle. Mass advertising on TV or marketing Moleskine as you would reams of copy paper and pencils would diminish its cachet. Viral marketing isn’t a strategy that works for all products, but it is right for Moleskine.
We know that sex sells, but at what point do you cross over the line from suggestive to simulated? For the past week, the @Issue editorial team and interested others at Studio Hinrichs have been engaged in an ongoing dispute. My opinion and that of several others (who just happened to all be women) was that this commercial bordered on soft porn (the next ad in this series even more so). The male designers in the office watched the commercial attentively before describing it as “stylish,” “well-designed,” and “clever marketing.”
After months of controversy, Ferrari finally capitulated and removed the suspiciously placed barcode from its Scuderia Marlboro Formula 1 cars in Europe.
As most F1 fans know, Marlboro has been the Ferrari F1 racing team’s major sponsor for more than a decade, but due to the F1 ban on tobacco sponsorships, the global cigarette marketer hasn’t been able to emblazon its brand logo on the cars, driver and pit crew uniforms, programs and promotions, despite paying millions of dollars to underwrite the team. Seemingly abiding by the law, the Marlboro name and logo did not appear anywhere. However, lately in the prominent places where the lead sponsor’s name would normally go, there appeared a curious red, black and white barcode design – which “coincidentally” are Marlboro’s brand colors. Even more remarkable was the fact that when the Ferrari F1 car flew around the course at 200 mph, viewers saw a blur that created the sensation of actually seeing the Marlboro logo.
Passersby in Amsterdam did a double-take as they walked by post-holiday curbside trash heaped high with the usual plastic garbage bags, assorted discards and… a Mini Cooper cardboard packing box with a red ribbon still dangling off the side. The brainchild of Ubachswisbrun/JWT agency, the Mini Cooper guerrilla “advertisements” were strategically placed throughout the city. It left people to wonder if the popular tiny hatchback was really small enough to be shipped in a box and possibly even fit under a Christmas tree. The white stick-on label on the side of the box provided the sales message – a 99 euro a month finance deal. Except for the black outline drawing of the Mini on all sides of the box, the actual product was nowhere to be seen.
When James Theophane Jr. was asked by his employer Lost Boys, an interactive marketing firm in the UK, to come up with a Christmas card, he thought of the 50 or so mobile phones discarded after the agency went through a company-wide upgrade.
That inspired the constructions of a gigantic mobile, with each phone programmed by computer to sound a single tone that together formed a choral arrangement. The interactive sculpture hoisted at the entrance of the Brick Lane studio can be enjoyed by anyone visiting the live stream and tapping out his/her own jingle on the onscreen keyboard.
This video raises several deep and perhaps unanswerable questions. Is it the secret desire of every Welsh shepherd to be a designer? How would the Hollywood shepherder pig, Babe, and his barnyard friends have handled the making of this video? What are the limits of LED technology? Do Welsh shepherds have too much time on their hands? Some of the players behind this three-and-a-half minute spot for Samsung TV are The Viral Factory ad agency and Welsh national sheep herding champion Gerry Lewis. No famous sheep were used – or harmed – in the making of this film.