Posts tagged advertising

QR Code Obsession

QR Code Obsession

QR Codes are cool. I agree. I’ve been talking about them in digital media presentations for about three years now. I like them! I think they have a ton of possibilities. But, for the love of Pete, we’re becoming obsessed with QR codes. They’re the shiny new toy. Everybody wants to use them. But they are being used stupidly. Ignore the fact that smart phones only have about a 30% market penetration in the US. Ignore the fact that only like 10% of internet traffic comes from mobile phones. Ignore the fact that the people that do have smart phones do not all have scanners nor do they know how to get/use one. People are being just plain non-strategic and impractical. I think there are some cool ways and some lame ways to use QR Codes. Here goes:

  1. Cool Way: On food packaging. I think it’s great when a box of food has a QR Code on it and scanning brings you to a video of how to prepare a recipe, or a list of ingredients needed to make a recipe. That gives value. I’m going to tag “Recipe Book” on to this example. It’s too similar to make it its own. But a cookbook should be full of QR codes that download a tutorial video for preparing a dish.
  2. Lame Way: On your website. There is almost NO REASON you should ever have a QR Code on your website. It especially infuriates me when the QR code brings me to your homepage or another page in your site. I’m already there! Just give me a link. That’s ridiculous. Yet I see it time and time again. Stop putting QR Codes on your website!
  3. Cool Way: Selling a house. I like this idea. A QR Code next to an ad for a house, or on the sales sign out front. Scanning brings you to a virtual tour and/or information about the house (the MLS listing, etc), and the Realtor to contact to make arrangements to see the house in person. Let’s get rid of those crappy, water-soaked, black & white photocopies that sit in that plastic bin.
  4. Lame Way: In an email blast. OK, this is really similar to the website one, but it’s equally as lame. Do not make me scan something that I can just click. Don’t put me through all that effort when I could just click a link. These seem like ways to use QR Codes just to use them.
  5. Cool Way: Scavenger Hunts. I think this is actually kind of fun. QR Codes can be posted or hidden in various spots and finding one reveals a clue (video or photo or text or something more interactive) to the location of the next clue.
  6. Lame Way: On clothes and/or name badges. I know that some people think that printing these on shirts, scarves, hats or name badges at conferences is cool. I don’t. Yeah, people could scan and get your information. OR, they could talk to you like a human being if they’re going to be that close to you.
  7. Cool Way: Next to artwork or items in a museum. People can scan to get more information about the artist, the item the history behind it, etc. I think QR Codes are really applicable in these situations where it would be visually disturbing and impractically to have an enormous wealth of information on the wall. This could apply to art galleries, museums, zoos, theme park lines (God, they’re long and dull!). This provides people with curiosity a way to really dive into something they’re interested in.
  8. Lame Way: Tattoos. Really? That’s just stupid. What if this QR Code doesn’t last? What site or resource are you sending people to? Just a really bad idea to tattoo a QR Code on to your body. Get a tattoo of a unicorn playing checkers. It’s timeless.
  9. Cool Way: Assembly directions. Now, I never need to look at assembly directions because I’m a man and therefore naturally apt at assembling things. But, some people may be very confused by the ridiculously complex directions that come with some products. A QR Code could be stickered on the product in case the directions aren’t included, or link to a video that gives a really good step-by-step assembly tutorial.
  10. Lame Way: Outdoor billboard. Especially those on the side of the road/freeways. Do you really expect people to whip out their phone, pull up their scanner app and get the QR Code snapped? Besides being extremely dangerous, you don’t have the time to make that happen. That’s why you typically get 7 words on a billboard. There’s no time for anything more. There’s certainly no point in putting a QR Code on a billboard.
  11. Cool Way: Conference mobile app. I actually just experienced this one not too long ago. Scanning the QR Code downloaded an app to my phone that was specific to the conference with a full schedule, options to add sessions to my personal calendar, maps, exhibitor information, etc. It was actually really valuable and a practical use since an application went to my phone.
  12. Cool or Lame (you decide): Tombstones. I actually kind of think this is cool. I was surprised at how many people have a QR Code on their tombstone. Scanning would bring you to a site about the person, maybe video, photos, etc. Thoughts on this one? Is putting a QR Code on a tombstone taking it too far?
Here’s the bottom line for me: use these strategically and don’t just use a QR Code to say you’ve used it. Give value to your clients and visitors. It’s enticing, I know, to want to slap a QR Code on everything because they seem so freaking cool! But, show some discipline before I need to schedule a QR Code intervention.

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Cheetos Setting a New Standard for URLs?

There was a point, years ago, that it became a standard practice to add your company’s URL to the final slide of your TV commercial. There’s been an evolution of how that URL is displayed…

http://www.visitmywebsite.com

http://www.visitmywebsite.com

visitmywebsite.com

Now check out how Cheetos has decided to change the game even more. What do you think? I kind of like it!

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Time for the “Big Game” (psst… that means the Super Bowl)

Super Bowl

Ah, it’s that time of year again already. The air is crisp, anticipation is high and marketers across America are trying to say “Super Bowl” without saying “Super Bowl.” It’s a time-honored ritual to skirt trademark law. Only the official sponsors of the NFL can use the trademarked phrase, “Super Bowl” their marketing and advertising. Even if you’re spending millions of dollars for a Super Bowl ad this Sunday, you can’t say “Super Bowl” unless you’re an official sponsor. (of course, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t a ton of violations – companies using “Super Bowl” in their promotions)

So, what are we to do? Well, come up with clever euphemisms for the Super Bowl, of course. Here are some of the ones I’ve heard (or been forced to use) in the past:

  • The Big Game (The most popular one. At one point, the NFL considered trademarking this, too.)
  • The Big Football Game
  • The Professional Football Championship
  • The Football Championship Game
  • Sunday’s Game
  • Super Sunday
  • The Greatest Sunday in Sports

Let me know if you see any other awesome euphemisms for the Super Bowl. Enjoy this one from Costco’s home page.

 

Costco Ad

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The Effect of the FTC’s Testimonial Disclosure Rule Change

About a year ago, the FTC updated its guidelines on testimonials. I wrote a post about it on my other blog (for work) if you’d like to read that article. The highlights of the guideline updates were around transparency of results and testimonials. The updates included more guidelines around revealing any “material connection” between advertisers and endorsers. In other words, if the endorser received money or any other kind of payment for their endorsement, it needs to be disclosed.

This past week, I noticed the execution of these guidelines on a couple of TV commercials. Fairly interesting. This first one was the most interesting to me. It was an advertisement for a car (I don’t recall which one). The story line was essentially a couple talking about their future together and how this car was going to be a part of that future, etc. But that’s not the interesting part. The interesting part is the disclaimer line: Individuals were remunerated. What the hell does that mean? I’m probably just a big dummy, but I didn’t know what that statement meant. And I figure most people don’t.

Remunerated (verb)
Pay (someone) for services rendered or work done

reimbursed, paid, testimonial, remunerate

Yeah, it basically means that person got paid to say what they said. This seems fair enough at first. But then it also makes me wonder if this was a “real testimonial” and the people were thanked and given some money, or if they were just paid actors reading lines, parading as “real people.” Either way, they were paid. But I can’t tell if this was an actual testimonial or not. I feel like I’m being duped.

Here’s the other one – an ad for Vonage – explaining that these people shared their stories in exchange for an opportunity to appear on a television commercial. I think the description of this disclaimer is far less furtive. I think it’s much more honest and I applaud Vonage for their transparency in respecting the new guidelines. Don’t you?

testimonial, reimbursed, advertisement

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Imagine Advertising with Creative Copywriting

photo by matt.hintsa via flickr

“Imagine more shoes than you could ever imagine.”

…rewind…

“Imagine more shoes than you could ever imagine.”

OK, that’s what I thought it said. That’s some of the worst copywriting I’ve ever heard. This was the lead-in line to a TV advertisement for Off Broadway Shoes. I’ll concede that perhaps the copywriters were trying to get attention by having this very confusing line. But, I think it’s simply not a good line. How do I imagine more shoes than I could ever imagine? I tried. I couldn’t do it. No matter how many shoes I imagined, I could never imagine more than I could ever imagine.

Bad line.

Off Broadway Shoes doesn’t have a version of this ad available to embed here on the blog. But they have it here on their website or here on Facebook.

Is it just me, or does anyone else think this is a bad line? Anyone think it’s a good line?

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Dove for Men and Oprah – Sponsorship Fail?

I happened to be home early this afternoon because I had to take my son to a doctor’s appointment. He was a little fussy and it sometimes distracts him when the TV is on, so I thought I’d give it a shot. When I turned on the TV, Oprah‘s show was on. Within a minute or so, she took a commercial break. As we transitioned to the commercials, there was a message informing us that the Oprah show was brought to us by Dove Men+Care. “Hmmm…” I thought to myself, “That’s an odd partnership.”

Flickr via nayrb7

As I’ve posted before, there are some marketing and advertising placement decisions that just don’t make sense, especially in very clearly male or female-targeted programming. This seems to be one of those situations. Why would a product line that is very clearly targeted for men sponsor a very clearly female program like Oprah? In fact, according to Quantcast, the viewing audience of Oprah.com is 70% Female (Sorry, I couldn’t find reliable TV show viewer demographics, but we can easily conclude that the demographics are dominantly female as well). If you want to sell to men, sponsor a men’s program, right?

Flickr via theimpulsivebuy

I did have to consider that their marketing strategy was to target women since they tend to make many of the household purchasing decisions. But, Dove Men+Care marketing is directed toward men. Check out some of the TV advertising. Actually, I really like this advertisement. I think it’s funny and I think that it actually speaks to men very well. But this only serves to further confuse me. This is a marketing campaign that targets men!!! Why are they sponsoring the Oprah show?!?

So, I’m turning to the fine folks at Dove to help me understand your strategy. Perhaps it makes a lot of sense. But, on the surface, I can’t tell why you would spend a lot of money (and I know it’s a LOT of money) to sponsor the Oprah show, which is going to expose your product line to women, when your other Dove Men+Care marketing and advertising speaks to men. So, any of you Dove marketers who subscribe to my blog (and I’m certain there are dozens of you), I’m waiting. What’s going on?

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Have You Seen Our Ad?

I was watching football on Sunday morning, and an advertisement came on for Symbicort that featured an older gentlemen working on his truck. He’s talking about Symbicort generically improving his life. You know how these medication commercials go – sometimes you get to the end of the commercial and you still have no clue what the medication does. Does it help with blood pressure, give you an erection, make your eyelashes longer, or all of the above? Well, it turns out that Symbicort is for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – basically, it’s like an inhaler that helps you breathe easier. I’ve included a shot of the ad below, as I couldn’t find the video online. Also – sorry about the resolution – I took the photo with my iPhone on a my non-hi-def TV in the bedroom.

Symbicort TV Ad

Symbicort TV Ad

My problem is not with the script for the advertisement, but rather with a line that appeared at the bottom: See our ad in Ladies Home Journal.

TV Ad 2

I have two issues with this:

1. Who is your target audience? COPD is not exclusive to men. In fact, it seems to inflict approximately the same number of men as women. This ad appeared during football on Sunday, which is dominantly male. OK, no problem, you want to reach the guys watching football. Why does your ad ask me to see the ad in Ladies Home Journal? Do you really think that a lot of the people that watch football on Sundays (men) read Ladies Home Journal? It’s not only unlikely, it’s stupid. Let’s say that in your channel planning, you decided to run  TV ads and magazine ads. Fine. And you decided to buy air time during a dominantly male program. Fine. Would you not also purchase an ad in a dominantly male magazine, like Sports Illustrated? THEN, it would be far more logical to say, “See our ad in Sports Illustrated.” I’m not mad at you for placing an ad in Ladies Home Journal – just don’t tell me about it during men’s programming.

2. See your ad in a magazine? Seriously? Why even add this line to TV ads? Unless you have the magazine in your home, you’re not going to head down to the grocery store and grab the magazine to find out more about an obscure drug ad. We already know that fewer and fewer people are reading magazines – they’re going out of business left and right. We’re going to go online to find out more information. In their defense, they did include their URL. I think my bottom line is that it’s a outdated technique to put, “See our ad in…” Don’t get me wrong, integrated marketing campaigns are supremely important. But, I think this technique misses the mark completely.

What do you all think? Was this poor marketing, or was it smart integration?

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Geico, Who Are You?

Geico‘s marketing efforts are confusing me. They’re really inconsistent. What’s the campaign? Is it the lizard? Is it the caveman? Is it the celebrity testimonial? Oh, maybe it’s the stack of money with the googly eyes. Er, perhaps it’s one of these motorcycle or ATV ads that have nothing to do with any of the others. Remember the, “I’ve got good news… I just saved a ton of money by switching to Geico?” 

Seriously, there seems to be a group of people sitting around a table and coming up with good ideas, and nobody to say, “no, let’s try to be consistent in our marketing efforts.” Instead, they just picked all the ideas, and said, “go with it.” 

Beside the logo slate at the end of a TV spot, I can’t tell that I’m watching a Geico spot. Sure, they’re all kind of quirky, and that is part of their brand, but they’re all so different that they don’t feel related. They don’t feel like a campaign. There are 10 different ideas, 10 different campaigns on the air. Here’s the tragedy in it all – Geico has done of good job of creating strong brand awareness, thanks to the gecko ads that started running in 1999/2000. If you recall, the (now famous) gecko pleaded with people to stop mistakenly calling him to save money on auto insurance. I’ll give Geico credit – they have a strong brand awareness. That’s why it’s tragic…

Why not use this awareness more to your advantage? I feel like with some consistency in marketing, you could leverage that recognition even further. But, until then, I’ll just be confused as to how a lizard, a caveman, squirrels, Joan Rivers, cash with a piercing stare, a baseball coach, a man on a beach with his motorcycle, and a bodyguard are a part of a cohesive ad campaign.

Here’s a list of links to some of the spots I mentioned. I figured links instead of embedding videos, to cut down on loading time.

Lizard – “Free Pie and Chips”

All Caveman Commercials

Squirrels

Joan Rivers Celebrity Testimonial

Googly-Eyed Cash

Motorcycle on the Beach

Female Bodybuilder

Secret Agent

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More Advertising, Please

I am SO sick of companies thinking that if they give you a taste of content that they’re entitled to blast you with tons of worthless, one-way advertising. Disgusting.

A few times a week, I have to endure receiving the “Neighborhoods” version of the Reno Gazette-Journal in the mail. There are a lot of problems with this publication, despite it not delivering on its promise of news in my area of town. This publication is nothing more than a shell for advertising. In this latest issue, it contained 3 pages of content/articles (and 2 of those three pages contained some advertising), and 214 pages of advertising. I’ll repeat those stats – 3 pages of articles, 214 pages of advertising!!! That’s almost 99% advertising. I know, you’re wondering how the hell that’s possible. I must have my numbers wrong. Nope – I counted three times (I’m careful, plus I often waste my time if I can make a point).

RGJ Neighborhoods

RGJ Neighborhoods

99% Ads

99% Ads

Of the flood of ads I received in my newspaper, how many were relevant to me? Who knows? I don’t. I typically throw this whole package away because I know that I am not getting any relevant content in that publication. Advertisers – you are wasting your money! 

It’s no surprise to see that consumers are growing increasingly weary of this kind of “interruption advertising” and turn to communication channels in which they can better control the interaction. Yes, I’m talking about everybody’s favorite hot topic – social media. Sadly, advertisers are already in full stride toward the gold rush that is social media, and treating it the same way they’ve abused mass media. This parasitic behavior makes me ill and angry all at once. Some advertisers are  slithering their way into the established communities in different social media channels, and treating it like their own “Neighborhoods.” Are they giving members of their communities valuable content, meaningful conversation or a symbiotic relationship? Nope. They treat it as a new place to put their ads (and advertisements take many forms). I am warning advertisers again, that you should treat social media like this only if you want to fail. 

You think you’re participating in social media? Re-examine that notion – because if you’re not “playing by the new rules,” you will fail. Have you created a blog and are simply posting your press releases there? Fail. Maybe you created a Facebook page – but is there any community interaction other than you blasting out promotional messages? Fail. Maybe you have a Twitter account so that you can syndicate your blog entries of your press releases. Fail. Are your YouTube videos nothing more than advertisements (be honest)? Fail. I encourage diversification of your presence in social media – but you have to think differently in this arena. It’s not another advertising platform. It’s a community-based form of communication. If I invited you over to my house for dinner, and all you talked about was how Cinnamon Toast Crunch was $2.95, or that your new pickup truck had 250 horsepower or some other way I should come spend money with you… I would never invite you over ever again. Please understand the analogy here.

So – anybody who is putting out content – be it in publications or in social media – evaluate your communications. How much of it is promotional? Don’t let it be 99%. Not even close.

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You’ve Got to Treat Her Like a Lady

I was prepared to write about brands on Twitter. I was going to argue that brands definitely should be on Twitter (based on a recent discussion that I read on MashableExhibit A, Exhibit B). While I still support brands on Twitter and other social media, I have seen so many bad examples, that I need to air my grievances about fellow marketers who are rushing to use this shiny new toy they heard about (for fear of being left behind) called social media. And, in doing so, are treating it like advertising, and tainting the landscape for everybody. 

Ahh – Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose – you were so wise when you wrote “Treat Her Like a Lady.” You and many other romantics truly understand social media. We marketers should pay attention to those beautiful songs to have an equal understanding of how to interact in social media.  

Some marketers are like that guy who is verbally or physically abusive to his girlfriend. Sure, she trusted him at first – she may have even believed she could change him. But, what he did was jade her toward other men; perfectly good and well-intentioned men who just want to talk or listen. But she has every right to be jaded. Why should she trust you, or me, or any other guy (brand) from here on out? Why welcome them with open trusting arms, only to be blasted with abusive, one-sided messages, and unwanted garbage? 

Do you see what you did, jerk-faced marketer? You’re ruining it for the rest of us! We could be good for her. We could give her what she wants and needs out of a relationship. But you ruined it! Here’s what you did wrong.

YOU ACTED LIKE AN ADVERTISEMENT.

Yes, that is shameful in the social media arena. The one thing that SO MANY marketers (be they agencies or independent) forget is that social media is really quite simple. Lean in closely as I tell you the secret to unlock the true power of social media…

TREAT SOCIAL MEDIA LIKE A GENUINE, TRUTHFUL, CARING RELATIONSHIP. (sorry for the all-caps again, I’m getting irritated)

I know that for many of you, maintaining a relationship is one of the most difficult endeavors you’ve ever encountered. If that’s the case, you can use this blog post to improve your success in social media, and in your love life. You’re welcome. 

Treat her like a lady

Treat her like a lady

1. Offer some value to the relationship. What do you offer her? Seriously, think about that question. Don’t tell me periodic discounts and links to your blog, Casanova. What does she get out of the relationship? Is the relationship all about you – all about what you can get out of her? For shame! Do something for her without concern of how it benefits you.

2. You must listen to your lady. This is HUGE! Would you want to stay in a relationship with somebody who just talks and talks and talks about themselves? Hell no. Nobody does. You aren’t that interesting – admit it. This is another example of a one-sided relationship. Listen to her talk about her day. And don’t listen with an eagerness for her to finish her sentence so you can talk about yourself again. Listen with genuine concern, because you care about her and you care about what’s important to her. Then talk to her about the things that are important to her. 

3. Let her get to know you. Be a person, not a character. Open up – let her know what makes you tick. Let her know what makes you happy and sad. Share your life with her. Be vulnerable. Be sincere. It’s easy to act like you care for somebody when you actually care for them. She will love you for it. She will be loyal to you.

4. Do something nice for her, just because. Unexpectedly, do something nice for your lady. The pre-requisite here is that you’ve listened to her, and you know what she wants. Trust me, this gets you a long way for a long time. But you can’t give some thoughtless gift, like that little stuffed teddy bear holding a heart that you grabbed at the gas station 5 minutes before you got home. 

5. Never think you’re better than her. Do you really think she should be grateful to simply be with you? You’re God’s gift to her, huh? Nope. A relationship is about mutual respect and understanding. A relationship is about love, trust and openness. If you want her to think you’re special, treat her like she’s special to you.

6. Continue to court her. Once she says she’ll date you doesn’t mean you’ve locked her in, and can do what you want. It will be much harder to try to get her back once you’ve lost her. So don’t lose her – keep showing her how much you want her. 

7. There is no blueprint for romance. Romance is about knowing the other person, knowing what is important and special to them, and knowing what will excite them. If you don’t know that, you’re not in a strong relationship.

So, remember, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and the like are not new billboards for you to place your ad. You don’t have a right to be with the people here. But, you can be here. Be a person first (brands can be people with attitudes, feelings, convictions, etc), then seek relationships. If you can prove that you’re here to foster relationships, rather that extort them, you will be welcomed with open arms, and you will be loved. But don’t you dare make the mistake of thinking you can keep a relationship here without putting in the time, effort and care that any real-life relationship require. That’s right, a real relationship. And this time, make sure you treat her like a lady.

Good example of a BAD BRAND on Twitter

Good example of a BAD BRAND on Twitter

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