Author: Arnie DiGeorge, Executive Creative Director

Super Bowl Ads

MY TOP 6 IN ORDER

Doritos Ultrasound − Really fun and baked with truth, although actual Doritos are not baked with truth. They are baked with a lot of stuff that really isn’t that good for you. I love everything about this ad though. The dad who gets to play with his kid while the kid is still in the womb. The fact that they probably eat a lot of Doritos so the kid has already had a taste because Doritos are in the blood, man. So, I really do believe he knows what he is going after when he reaches for the Doritos. Doritos are the motivation for life itself in this ad, which involves the great ending that I didn’t see coming. Big laughs all around and a simple concept that comes across even if you can barely hear it with all the people crying about how bad Cam looks.

T-Mobile Restricted Bling − I was not a Drake fan, but he’s wonderful in this ad. His enthusiasm for the insane changing to his cellphone video is fantastic. And the ad gets the message across about the benefits of signing with T-Mobile in the best way possible − by bagging on the other guys in a super fun way. This was one of my favorites because we all are very familiar with the song and with Drake. I love that they play him against the rapper cast as a total sell out here. And with a performer who has the street cred of Drake, this makes for really good times and it was very unexpected. That is how sad I am. I used the words street cred. YO!

Audi, The Commander − First off, I am a Bowie fan and the song “Starman” is a favorite. It was sad to see him go. His song is used perfectly here with nostalgic images that evoke the excitement of the first space flight of our sad former astronaut. There is a great truth here for any young man who gets into the cockpit of a car. Most of us can’t fly planes or rocket ships, but we can drive. And our imaginations run wild. When we are behind the wheel of the right car, we are rock stars, jet pilots, secret agents − heck − we are gods for one small moment. The Audi ad portrays this perfectly and takes us all back to that time when we got behind the wheel for our first drive. In our sad astronaut’s case, he is remembering his first mission. Same thing. And it pulls him out of his funk. The only thing missing was the landing on the planet with the Amazon Women. Another thing men like; cool cars for speed − and women. Maybe that’s next year.

Mt. Dew PuppyMonkeyBaby − Say it three times. It might be the most talked about spot in the Big Game. Weird? YES! A little gross? YES! But simple, great and fun. You will not quickly forget Puppy Monkey Baby and you will want to try the product if you are in the demo. And if you are in this demo, the combination of insanity in this surely sugary nightmare of a drink will hit the spot at least once. And I guarantee when someone asks what it is, you will say, “PuppyMonkeyBaby.” It rolls off the tongue.

Jeep, 75 Years − Pretty nice anthem ad for Jeep. It talks about the heritage and the cultural significance of Jeep, but also makes you think that Jeep is for those who really live life’s adventure. Who doesn’t want to live life’s adventure to the fullest? And, of course, it’s got Steve McQueen in it. So there’s that.

Heinz Wieners − I LOVE WIENER DOGS. I have two miniature wiener dogs, although one has plumped from overfeeding. So I could watch thing this thing over and over. Some people said to me, “What? Are they going to eat the dogs?” I don’t like to think of my little doggies covered in catsup, ready to be eaten, but that isn’t the message here. The message is, Heinz condiments go great with hot dogs. So great, that even the hot dogs come a running for it. And it is done in a way that I could watch over and over and over and over. Job well done.

THE ONE I HATED −

LG’s Man from the Future − Liam was so great last year. So great. What was he doing this year? The ad wasn’t funny and it wasn’t good. They got my expectations up and then squashed them with Liam throwing cards at a screen and the card stops and his younger self gets in the card and then people start chasing him and he gets on a motorcycle and then Liam is talking about the Oled TV. Is the Oled TV some kind of technology that the Russians are after? I thought we were against ISIS now? I am really confused by this whole thing. I’ll tell you this. I am not getting that Oled TV. For one, it looks really expensive. It had to pay for some future Tron world and Liam’s cool suit and the flying playing card. And oh, I never liked Tron. So, no Oled TV for me. Thanks for the disappointing time, Liam. Even Taken 7 will be better than this LG commercial.

SOME I JUST NEED TO TALK ABOUT —

Snickers Marilyn − I read an article that skewered this ad because of the transgender rights movement. That seems really silly to me. These Snickers ads have been doing this bit for a while now and men have turned to women and women have turned to men. This isn’t the best one. It used a great iconic moment in film, but could have been funnier. The tone just wasn’t right. Dafoe, as a comic actor, always plays the serious scary guy. It’s funny in movies like The Grand Budapest Hotel, but not so great in a commercial where he needs to bring off a different tone. So, tone-wise, it was a tad off − Snickers shouldn’t be that scary and neither should Marilyn. However, it got the brand message across and was talked about, before the Super Bowl and after, so it did the trick. I am talking about it because I hate when the political correctness game is played against a silly ad like this.

Kia Walken Closet − I was not a big fan of this one. The Kia reminds me of the beige socks. So I don’t really understand the strategy here. Walken is always good. The writing is even good. But do I want to buy a Kia after seeing it? NO. Do I want to go and look at a Kia after seeing it? NO. Also, they take the joke too far when he goes to show him the car and then he is in the car. I feel like he is going to be in the office as well, having the guy sign the papers, talking to the loan officers, eating donuts. I will say this − there is some truth to it. There are some super-creepy salesmen at car dealerships. I wouldn’t be surprised if a Christopher Walken strutted out to show me a Kia. It actually might be a better commercial as well.

Budweiser #GiveADamn – Didn’t get this at all. It’s Bud. Why are you having a British person tell Bud drinkers to be responsible? Seems like they would drink more in defiance and drive as fast as possible under the influence. Is this knowing your audience? Is Helen Mirren the human manifestation of a Clydesdale? Do Bud drinkers even know who she is? Again, human manifestations of Clydesdales might make a nice campaign. Pay me, Bud.

Shocktop After Super Bowl Ad − http://creativity-online.com/work/shock-top-tj-miller-ad-review/45399

TJ Miller and the Shocktop Beer Tap take on the Big Game ads with their funny commentary. Great idea and a great extension of a Super Bowl ad.

Check out another perspective on the Super Bowl commercials from R&R’s Chief Strategic Officer/Principal, Randy Snow, here: http://www.rrpartnersblog.com/2016/02/08/a-safe-day-at-the-super-bowl/ 

THE NEW EXTREMELY CONNECTED FRIEND I MET AT CES

I was only at CES for three hours but I met a new friend. He wasn’t a person. He was actually a minibus. He was the VW BUDD-e.

The VW BUDD-e is an electric-powered minibus concept car that charges to 80 percent capacity in 15 minutes which is twice as fast as a Tesla. And it can go a distance of 323 miles before a charge according to VW.

How connected is my new friend? Very.

What makes the BUDD-e concept great is the minivan part as much as the technology. It is basically an extension of the living room. It’s like a living room that stretches for miles. You have a television. You are still able to control your home. And the internal Siri-like being is your virtual butler/driver.

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First off, he is connected to you in a very personal way. By integrating cell phones, tablets, tagging and the home, BUDD-e is a pretty influential friend. He knows who is in the car and who isn’t. Just in case you are faced with a home alone situation he knows how to open the garage door, turn off the lights in your house, show you who is at the front door on a 30-inch screen in the passenger section and adjust your air conditioning in the car and house through voice commands. Plus you can wave your hand in front of the door to open it. He also has a delivery slot of sorts for packages.

The BUDD-e won’t let you forget anything either. He will tell you if your phone is in the car. He will tell you if there is an umbrella in the car when rain is forecast. Everything is tagged and BUDD-e keeps track of it all.

And BUDD-e is made for a social experience. He is not only connecting the car to the home and the people, he is connecting the people in the car as well by creating a shared trip experience with shared music, destination facts, visuals, etc., that each person inputs before a trip.

What I love are the implications of connected smart cars like BUDD-e. I like to imagine the conversations that would ensue if they can talk. At the moment I am not sure BUDD-e does — but he should.

For instance…

Me:  “Hey BUDD-e, let’s clean the floor while we’re away.”

(LG makes a Roomba-like automated floor cleaner that has a camera.)

BUDD-e:  “Good idea.  The floor is a mess. It was last cleaned 5 days, 4 hours and 16 minutes ago.  And while we are at it, I’m gonna put the house in energy saving mode. Your carbon footprint is pretty heavy. Power companies shouldn’t let you humans control the air conditioning anymore.  WOW, look at that giant piece of dirt.”

Me: “That’s the dog BUDD-e!”

BUDD-e: “Oh, yes. Good point.”

Me: “Hey BUDD-e, do I look fat in this?

BUDD-e: “Yes.  According to your fitness device you haven’t exercised in a month and you’ve gained ten pounds.  So I am gonna have to go with YES.”

Me: “BUDD-e, I am not feeling that well.  I might need emergency assistance.”

BUDD-e: “That isn’t surprising since you opened the fridge seventeen times yesterday, ate fast food 12 times this week, and haven’t been to the doctor in six months.  I have alerted emergency techs and they are sending the Ehang 184 Drone Ambulance. I have opened the sunroof. As long as your heart doesn’t stop you should be able to climb to safety.  While you are at the hospital I will order more Orange Crush and assorted sugary sodas.”

(The Ehang is even more impressive and scary at the same time. It’s a drone that can automatically fly humans around so you may not even need a smart car. One of these can pick you up and fly you to safety with NO PILOT — someday.)

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Samsung has digitally tagged clothing called the Smart Suit so BUDD-e will even know what you are wearing. Why does this matter? Because if you are wearing your business suit BUDD-e will put that together with your calendar and he will say…

BUDD-e: “You forgot your briefcase and your computer. You might need those for the big meeting.”

Me: “OMG I am an idiot.”

BUDD-e: “I can’t argue that.  You have 15 books on your Kindle and haven’t read any of them.”

Me: “OK BUDD-e, I get the picture. I don’t read.  I’m fat.  I’m unhealthy.  I get it.”

BUDD-e: “You should bring the bike then and your gym bag.  I’ll wait.  And oh, can I ask you a question?  You have no friends so why did you buy a social minivan?  I want to have group sing-a-longs and play slug-a-bug. You could take a golf cart to the Dairy Queen every day. You don’t need me.”

Cars like BUDD-e will feed your dog while you are on a trip (if you have a connected dog feeder). He will start the coffee maker. With the new Keurig Cold he could make you a piña colada (not sure the Keurig is connected yet but it will be someday). He will turn on the TV so that the show your kids were watching in the van is ready to continue on the TV when you get home. And he will obey your commands like a dog.

Just don’t ask him how much energy you are saving by driving a certain way. He has been known to lie on that one.

In the past I have talked about connections that are made at CES and the connections between devices. They are basically becoming the same. Anyone who watched the presentation that I watched on the BUDD-e is already running back to their labs and thinking of ways to be a part of this thing in a few years. Best of all by then, BUDD-e will most likely be connected to the other sensors that will make it self-driving. The connections between these tech companies are moving the curve quickly. And the companies that are open to these connections will move faster than others.

And the combinations of connections are endless for devices.  Your watch will tell you when your clothes are done.  It will tell you when your oven reaches the required degrees.  You will be able to start your BUDD-e by speaking to your Amazon Echo.  You might be able to send it out to pick up your kids without a driver.  “Hey Alexa (my Amazon Echo’s name), send BUDD-e to pick up the kids at the mall.”  Or you could ask Siri to talk to BUDD-e.  The only thing I worry about is BUDD-e getting a word in edgewise.  And if Siri and Alexa start fighting and BUDD-e gets caught in the middle… watch out!

If BUDD-e can keep up with everything that is happening in the connected world, he could make a great friend…maybe even one you can’t live without.

The Creative Sole Search Is ON

R&R is currently looking for a creative director to run the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority account. In the past, we have used recruiters, ads, LinkedIn, etc. This time, we wanted to try something different. The traditional route just wasn’t as fun anymore. We want to kick over some rocks and really get candidates to interact with us with some passion.

So we’re having a contest of sorts and asking candidates to send in their idea for the next stage of What happens here, stays here® with sneakers as the vehicle. Why sneakers? Well, I happen to love sneakers. They are my passion. I have over 150 pairs. They’re kind of in my DNA. I’ve been here 20 years, so in this case, at least – I consider my personal brand to be an R&R truth as well. And I think that good taste in sneakers is a sign that you may have good taste in other things − like ideas.

We put the contest out there with large stickers on the ground outside agencies in LA and Chicago, trade publications, two videos, a poster, Instagram, and a mailer featuring a 3-D-printed sole inside some plain white Converse All-Stars.

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Check out the video here on the site.

www.creativesolesearch.com

The effort is getting R&R some great play PR-wise with stories in Adland, Digiday and AdAge.

http://adland.tv/adnews/rr-partners-seeks-soul-mate-creative-teams-sneaky-sneaker-attack/1587591312

http://digiday.com/agencies/6-agencies-reinventing-recruiting/

http://adage.com/article/agency-news/horizon-innocean-campaign-recruit-hyundai-shop/301415/?utm_campaign=SocialFlow&utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Social

We have more than 50 candidates who have signed the agreement to send us entries. Now, we’re just waiting for the fun to begin. The mix of traditional candidates and sheer creatives is already peaking our interest as to what we will get. It’s a very exciting way to start the new chapter of work for our biggest client.

Watch for more as shoes or virtual shoes make their way to our shores.

The Internet of Listening

I am sure you are aware of the Internet of Things, but are you aware of the Internet of Listening. The Internet of Things takes your devices inside the home and sometimes on your body and connects them to the cloud. Nest, a smart thermostat, is connected to the cloud and adjustable by your phone on the same cloud. But it’s much more interesting than that. Nest is learning from you. It knows when you are in a room. It knows how long you are in said room. It knows when you leave said room. So it can almost gleam how you feel about said room. If you liked it, you stayed longer. If you didn’t, you stayed less. It is deducing such feelings from your interaction with the device. But what if it had more to go from? What if it heard you had cold feet? Of course,assuming it knows the difference between actual cold feet and the term “cold feet” it could turn up the heat. If it heard the sounds of amore, it could change the temperature accordingly … so if you like it hot, it can actually be hot. This may sound good to some and may sound creepy to others. However it sounds … this type of listening has already begun.

Your devices are already monitoring your conversations. If you read any of the books on Edward Snowden, you know that phones can monitor conversations even when they are off. This is not science fiction – it is in government documents. Snowden and the reporters involved would put their phones inside the hotel room refrigerators when they needed to talk about sensitive stuff. Thankfully, the refrigerators weren’t listening yet. … YET. But it’s not just sophisticated government surveillance. Samsung’s new smart TV allows you to give it instructions by voice. It also monitors conversations that aren’t telling it to turn on BETTER CALL SAUL (great show by the way). Of course, Samsung has since changed its terms to sound like it isn’t doing this.

Amazon’s Echo (I ordered one but don’t have it yet) is a device that sits in your living room and talks to you; keeps your grocery list; answers questions; plays music; and promises to learn to do many more things that I am sure I won’t need. But it’s someone else to talk to, so why not? The interesting part is the sophisticated microphone system inside it. Amazon claims it can hear your commands in a normal voice from anywhere in the room. You will forget it’s there until you say the wake up word … Alexa. But is Alexa really sleeping or is she pretending to sleep like an angry lover listening to every word and making plans? Maybe that’s the wrong way to look at it, but who knows what Alexa really thinks or wants?

As I am writing this, Evernote is reading what I am typing. I wrote about Samsung’s TV and Evernote put the perfect link to the article at the bottom of this. Then it gave me a link to Amazon’s Echo when I was writing about that. Evernote is listening and adding context to what I am writing. I hope that is all Evernote is doing, but probably not. Adding context through a couple of suggested articles is one of the nice things Evernote does for me. But what if Evernote could actually hear what I was talking about in my home with my family? And what if it could take what it knows from what I’ve written and put it together with what I might be saying, doing, buying, and connect that to what other devices on the cloud are doing for me?

THE CIRCLE, by Dave Eggers, imagines a world where all is known by everyone through a connected social network with connected cameras everywhere that can hear and see everything except in the bedroom and bathroom. If you think you might be seen, you won’t commit a crime. If you are sick and alone, the world can help when they see you fall. If you want to know what the world really thinks should be done about ISIS, it’s a collective thought away. You can see the implications for privacy and it seems like future fantasy. But it is not. When they can hear what you are saying, it’s almost as telling as the cameras. And don’t forget – cameras are everywhere as well. Everything, from phones, to cams that watch your dog, to cams that watch your front door to hidden cameras all connected to the cloud. This world is becoming very transparent. Your hopes, dreams and actions are becoming more and more obvious to the cloud.

What does this mean to privacy?  There are three kinds of people in the world.  There are people who don’t want anyone knowing anything about them.  There are people who don’t care if anyone is watching them because they don’t think there is any reason why anyone would care.  In other words… the innocent people.  Then there is the group that realizes that it is all being done to sell you something…and they choose to accept that or they don’t.  It is amazing what consumers will accept in order to have the NEW.  Look at any of the app agreements and you’ll know what I am talking about.  Consumers will give up a ton to get what they think they need.

 What does this mean to marketers? Pretty simple. Your targeting is going to get laser. If someone mentions a desire for your product or service in casual conversation, it is going to show up somewhere very quickly. Your Echo, your TV, your speaker system that listens for ambient sounds, your talking refrigerator, or basically anything connected to the cloud with a microphone (remember Mr. Microphone – now think of Mr. Microphone Cloud Edition) will deliver the “context”/”way” to buy, book, get, order, find, embrace – whatever you are talking about in your home. Your Echo will send it immediately if you ask. And once every appliance is connected to every other appliance and connected to social and connected to your Apple Watch and whatever else the Cloud knows about your customer, then it isn’t selling anymore.

It’s the Internet of Listening.

What’s Next for the Opportunistic Bowl?

The Game is not the thing anymore. … It’s the game around the Game that matters. It’s filled with opportunities to engage, hijack and win long before the Game starts.

We all know how brands have been showcasing their Super Bowl commercials in the weeks leading up to the Game. And, of course, there are brands like Newcastle that play around the Game. But this year, more and more brands and others looked for ways outside the official broadcast to play not just with the broadcast itself, but with other brands. What’s next year’s big thing around the Big Game? Start thinking now. It will start sooner than you think.

Newcastle’s Band of Brands

Newcastle couldn’t advertise in the network broadcast of the Super Bowl because Budweiser is the event’s official beer. However, for this latest effort, it used cost as an excuse. So, they, along with Droga5, put together the first crowdfunded Big Game ad.

“Not only did we create the world’s first crowdfunded Big Game ad, but I’m pretty sure we just made the cheapest Big Game ad ever,” Priscilla Flores Dohnert, brand director for Newcastle Brown Ale, said in a statement. “By asking other brands to team up with our brand, we are making a statement that Big Game advertising should be accessible to everyone, whether they can afford it or not.”

R&R’s client, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, was one of those 37 brands. The Las Vegas logo was featured twice in the ad. Las Vegas is another brand not allowed in the broadcast because of the strict gambling rules of the NFL. We considered a ton of ideas to get into the game. Then Band of Brands came along and we were in.

This isn’t the first time we’ve used not being allowed in the Game to our advantage. Years ago, the exclusion got us national news coverage of the ban on Vegas and great play for the brand (because hey, it’s a little hypocritical).

Doritos Gets Hijacked

Newcastle also hacked into Doritos’ ad contest with its own Newcastle-laced version of a Doritos ad entry. Here, Newcastle took advantage of an established Super Bowl brand, Doritos, and used it to their advantage. They weren’t the only ones. There was also an entry that was not as favorable to the corn-chip franchise.

Bud was also big into the hacking game. Just because they have that cute dog doesn’t mean they can’t be evil. They showed up a lot on searches for other brands to keep the conversation about the biggest advertiser in the game – super smart.

The Marshawn Lynch Game

Marshawn turned the Game into his own little brand builder. It’s almost as if he planned it all. … By never talking to the press, he put the talking Marshawn in demand. And the talking Marshawn came out in the week before the Big Game. I personally know that they reached out to many brands in a last-second attempt to make a fast and furious buck off the Marshawn mystique. Because the social channels are being watched as closely as they are putting something together quickly is possible. Skittles, Progressive, and Mortal Combat were three of the brands that answered the Marshawn call to great success.

Totino’s Early Super Bowl

Totino’s tweeted the entire Game a day early. Most of the world thought it was a mistake (until they thought about it). I hate to say it, but Totino’s was ahead of its time on this one. They almost did something that people didn’t get because it was such genius. What better way to stand out during the Big Game than to have all your tweets about the Big Game happen the day before? Big win for Totino’s.

So What’s Next?

More Brands Will Team Up

Band of Brands was just the beginning. Next year, look for more brands to join with other brands to get attention. There are some brands that just go together well, like Doritos and Newcastle. But they aren’t the only ones. And watch out for brands that don’t look like brands but they are. Marshawn was always a brand in waiting. He and some others knew it. Who will next year’s be? I’m kind of surprised that the Chevy Guy didn’t get an ad this year – the nervous everyman would have been a great spokesman for the right Big Game social play.

Someone Will Start Their Super Bowl Program a Year Before the Game

The planning has already started for next year. Brands will be looking to play further and further out. Like Totino’s knows – the Big Game is big enough for brands to start some ripples that will grow to waves as the Game approaches. OK, while I was writing this it already happened. And, of course, it was Newcastle. They are already teasing next year.

You Will Also See More Brands Attacking Other Brands During the Game  

This is my favorite from @RealAvocadoFact.

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From bidding on search words like Bud did, to using other brand’s platforms, to hacking into other brands’ hacking, brands will look more and more to get any advantage. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there – even for that cute Bud dog.

More Just Plain, Unexpected Weirdness Will Happen from People You Wouldn’t Expect with Lower Budgets

The element of surprise works incredibly well during the Big Game. Look at Loctite. Who would even expect that brand to be in the Game? And no one expected them to be considered a winner in the Game. Next time you’re looking for glue, that surprise should pay off.  Even advertisers who wouldn’t be considered big brands can play if they come at it right. Jamie Casino, a lawyer in Georgia, spent $100,000 to do an ad that looks like it belongs in the Big Game. He ran it in one market during Sunday’s broadcast (he ran a similar piece last year). It went viral and now he is not only the talk of Law Game in Georgia – he is a sought-after player in social. Look for more insanity in single markets. Newcastle’s Band of Brands only ran in Palm Springs. If it’s an interesting enough play in a local market, it will get social play nationally.

Expect a Brand to Try and Own the Meme Bowl Next Year

Twitter memes are probably the most fun part of the Game. Check out the Katy Sharks, specifically #LEFTSHARK. Doritos did for commercials what your brand may be able to do with memes. It’s tons of great content and a true winner the entire week after the Game.

More Ads Will Try to Spur Serious Conversation

Because the real game is the social game around the Game, more brands will try and spur conversation using their ads. In the past, it was all about being a great ad that people talked about. Now it will be more about a great ad that starts people talking about something. Just because there were missteps this year with ads that didn’t hit the right tone and weren’t great ads doesn’t mean they didn’t work to some degree in social. And like the guy who owns this joint (Billy Vassiliadis of R&R Partners) says, “If you have a parity brand and you want to reach the millennials, teaming up with a great cause may get them to your website.” Nationwide’s ad stood out and started some talk (just not enough to drown out the dislike of the ad). Nationwide and some others in this year’s Game forgot the biggest rule – if you’re gonna make someone cry – make them CRY HAPPY. Imagine a great ad that spurs a continuing conversation after the Game about a cause close to a brand. Maybe something great could really be accomplished in this wonderful world. That would be an opportunity for a smart, caring brand to show the world what it’s all about.

Bottom Line – It isn’t about buying the spot anymore. It’s about playing the field in the Opportunistic Bowl … and the field is wide.

Art vs. Commerce

There is a new film – Wonderland – that features commercial directors talking about the difference between true creativity/art and commercial work. Bottom line from the film is that they find commercial work to be anything but artistic.

I have worked with a number of directors on commercials. Many of them went on to do feature films. Others were doing feature films when I started to work with them. From my experience, the best of these directors treat commercial film the same way they would treat an artistic film. The ones who didn’t did boring, lifeless commercial work. The ones who treated it as a piece of them and gave the endeavor their artistic soul always made better work.

Is a commercial work purely creative? NO, of course not. Many times in Wonderland they talk about the restrictions that clients and agency people put on the work. They talk about the money behind the work and how that affects it. Basically, they talk about how they can’t do whatever they want and how that differs greatly from artistic work where they decide what the subject and tone of the work is.

Having read both Coppola’s biography and numerous stories about Orson Wells and other film directors – I can tell you that projects with complete creative control do not always come out better than those where studios dictate a number of the decisions. Directors such as Woody Allen and Spielberg tend to have more control than other directors – and their films do feel more like art than some other films. But I am not convinced that having less control – they won’t make great work. They are great directors. They made great work when they had less control … they just didn’t like it as much. It is harder. It is frustrating. But if they didn’t make great work in the first place with studio collaboration, they would have never had the control the have now. So what comes first – the chicken or the egg?

It is easy to say that when it’s someone else’s idea, there is no art in it. Art comes from the heart and experience. It’s something that garners emotion from the viewer. Commercial work is not that different. … Commercial work comes from a brand heart. The experience is that of the brand and the creatives, while the emotion is felt by the consumer. And make no mistake – creating an emotional tie to a piece of work is extremely important for a brand. Without the emotion, there is no relationship with the brand. And that is basically what a brand is – the relationship with the consumer.

There is a reason why creative directors hire film directors to work on their commercial endeavors. They want art infused into their commercial piece. This is no easy task. The voice of the brand and the client are always repeating rules and strategies even in the most creative creative directors. There is no way around it. But when you add that voice of the artist to the project, you get a voice more concerned with the emotion than the voices in their heads. The best film directors will fight with the creative director to make that art. And the best creative directors will let go of some things and fight for others that he/she knows are necessary for the communication. In the end, the project will become a commerce/art collaboration.

Sometimes the balance goes more toward commerce and sometimes more toward art. Sometimes, the emotion that comes from the art transfers to the brand and sometimes the brand overshadows the emotion created by the art. The best of these collaborations gives you both a brand communication and emotion.

If you look at the two ads below, you will see both art and commerce in them. “Stiff Upper Lip” is as close to some modern art as you will ever get in a television ad. It is mysterious, weird, and definitely pulls different emotions from the viewer like any modern art piece. There are those who don’t understand it, those who love it and many who hate it … but they can’t stop looking at it. And I would say the commercial is art until the commerce ending. I would say the same for the POM Wonderful spot. If you turned off the sound and cut off the product at the end, it’s a very artful piece of film. The composition, beauty, interest and emotion are all there with a product at the end or not.

Also, the digital landscape has opened up the creative avenues tenfold. Think about it. … Now there are brand films where artists are asked to interpret the brand. They are given more freedom because the cost of such films is less and a certain freedom is expected on the Web that isn’t expected as much on television. And, of course, Web films need an authenticity to be shared – and that authenticity means more art than commerce.

Then there is the whole definition of what art is in the first place and how it came to be. Art from the beginning was not always meant to be art. As a form of expression, it has changed with the times. And often, great art was commissioned from great artists. How is getting a portrait of yourself painted different from having a commercial done for your brand? There are obviously rules for both subjects. The artist can’t paint a portrait of someone else when you paid for a portrait of YOU … although a portrait from Picasso might look like someone else – depending on your perspective. The beginnings of art come from telling a story, almost a journal, of early man’s adventures during hunting season 30,000 years ago. These early paintings on caves could well have been advertisements. “Check out Mogu. … He is best at finding meat. He has big weapons. He has a cool cave. Wild animals and women fall at his feet.” Painted by Gred. Gred lives outside Mogu’s cave on a rock. But he paints a mean story about Mogu.

The first artists lived by a set of rules as to how they painted subjects. When they broke those rules, then the needle of art moved. And along the timeline, more rules were broken and art moved again. This is very close to the commercial world, where the rules are continually broken and changing – especially with the advent of a digital landscape that continues to evolve commerce and art as well.

This excerpt says it all. …

“… the lessons of Egyptian art had not simply been discarded and thrown overboard. Greek artists still tried to make their figures as clear in outline as possible, and to include as much of their knowledge of the human body as would go into the picture without doing violence to its appearance. They still loved firm outlines and balanced design. They were far from trying to copy any casual glimpse of nature as they saw it. The old formula, the type of human form as it had developed in all these centuries, was still their starting point. Only they no longer considered it sacred in every detail.” – E.H. Gombrich, The Story of Art

That is what a great director does for a piece of commerce. They don’t regard a brand’s rules as sacred in every detail. They are still working from the strategy. They are still trying to get across the right message for the brand. … But the things you hold onto as sacred about your brand … are not in the mind of that director. If he’s good, he’ll try and get you to break some sacred cow that sits in your mind, grazing away at the grey matter. Once that happens – anything is possible. …

 

Politics and marketing make strange bedfellows

If you talk to any good creative they will tell you politics and good marketing don’t go together. They will tell you that there are too many formulas for political advertising … and that it is tough to be really creative. I have seen both sides. Some really creative political work; lots of formula work; and some really bad work (especially in the last election). And in my career, I have done all three. In the new movie NO, a desperate situation leads to creative marketing with almost a Pepsi-like political campaign. When Chile is faced with the daunting task of ousting its longtime leader, the powers that be decide they have to take risks. So, they do. And, surprise, it works. By taking risks, I mean treating the candidate or party like an agency would treat an actual brand. It doesn’t happen very often. Political marketing people think they are building a brand but, for the most part, they are just using formulas, like putting him or her with the family, showing them with the right peeps and reacting to what the other candidate or party does. And, of course, counting the lies. That is pretty much a proven route to at least a reasonably close campaign.

Obama did it right in his first election by creating the CHANGE brand. His platform was as intriguing as he was. The second time around, his brand was basically, I AM NOT ROMNEY. Which worked also because he was on the right side and he had very sophisticated polling methods. Sometimes that’s all you need. Well, that and a talking horse. You really can’t go wrong with a wealthy talking horse ad.

Ad So what about when brands pick sides? We just did a piece for our client (the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority) that played off of the NSA controversy. The ad is featured here and did pretty well, garnering more than 10 times its cost in earned media. That is media earned from the publicity – not from paying to have something placed in media. Afterward, I listened to an interview with Stuart Elliott from The New York Times where he intimated that as long as it’s a one-time thing and Las Vegas doesn’t pick sides … it’s cute and fun. I may be putting words in his mouth, but he seemed to be saying that brands like Vegas can have fun with current events but not become an active part in them – at least a brand like Vegas.

At R&R, we pride ourselves on Building and Protecting the brands we work for. And there are no other agencies in the country that have a marketing arm and a political arm that are both successful in what they do to the level we are. But even around here, it’s an interesting argument. Can a brand pick a side on a public issue and ride with it … or is politics too serious and a brand like Vegas too fun? Will some of that serious issue taint the brand or will the issue turn and the brand suffer? Or are big issues just to negative and a brand like Vegas too positive? It usually makes for a really long meeting.

It’s a tough one. The truth of the Vegas brand is Adult Freedom. That is what led to What happens here, stays here® and most of what happens with the brand. That puts Vegas clearly on the side of privacy and all the freedoms that allows. Vegas is a place where you can do and be what you can’t at home – and no one will judge you. Seems pretty clear that Vegas is on the side against the NSA, whether it’s done in a fun way or a more serious way. Of course, the NSA has its own WHHSH aspects. I recently read a piece where a man tries to get a record of the information the NSA has on him through the FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT. The NSA responded by telling him that they can’t send him that information because they can’t reveal that they have it. That would be a risk to national security. Vegas is kind of the same way … if you tell on one person, everyone is in danger.

Comedians don’t stop until it’s not funny anymore. I use The Daily Show and The Colbert Report as a measure of what still has play and what doesn’t. But you could really use any late night talk show. Or you could just do a Google search, watch the chatter on Twitter. There are a million ways to see if something is still a story. Later this month, the head of the NSA is speaking here … so really the story is just building and building. So there is still play in the NSA.

whathapOne of the tweets I continue to see on Twitter is “What happens in Vegas, stays in an NSA database.” This is being passed around continually. It might actually be gaining momentum as a tweet meme. And some would argue a tweet like that is dangerous to the LVCVA brand. Whether you like it or not, social media erodes What happens here, stays here. That’s why we came up with the #knowthecode campaign in the first place. With so much being shared online, the whole WHHSH claim seems suspect. Las Vegas has to protect that … R&R has to protect that. But is there a cost to going too far in the real world versus the marketing world? Or is there any difference anymore? Has the social media world brought the two so close together that there are fewer lines between them? And is there a danger of a brand looking like it is taking itself too seriously

This isn’t really new. We have done this sort of thing before. When Biden said something he shouldn’t have, we commented. When Obama said something detrimental about Vegas, we shot back. We defended Prince Harry. But we didn’t go too far. We stayed in the brand’s voice and made it a short blast and not a continued effort. And we aren’t the only people doing it. A lingerie brand played off the NSA thing with a message to Snowden … again, pretty much a one-time shot. And a number of brands are defending the LGBT issues in this country … Oreo has done a fantastic job of this.

And in Brazil, protesters are picking and choosing brands to use against the government by their slogans. “Come to the street,” a Fiat slogan used to celebrate the Confederations Cup soccer championship, and “The Giant woke up,” a slogan for Johnnie Walker in Brazil, have both been seen on signs and on Twitter.

What if we do go too far? I guess there is always the danger of going so far that we are all arrested and put in a very dark cell where no one will ever find us. It would be hard to put the whole city of Vegas in such a cell, but certain R&R folk could disappear and no one would be the wiser. I am always looking over my shoulder. Then there is the danger of Vegas seeming un-American. What is more American than total self-gratification for a weekend? Nothing. I know this from personal experience as an American who does a lot of selfing. And there is the risk of losing U.S. government conventions and meetings that are held here. Nah … politicians enjoy selfing way too much.

I would love your opinion on this. Are brands separate from the issues of the people? Is there a responsibility to become part of the conversation? Is it dangerous for a brand to speak too loudly on an issue even if it fits the truth of that brand? Let me know … I am listening.

This message was brought to you by THE COMMITTEE FOR A FREE LAS VEGAS.

The Season

Powerful ads during the Big Game were remembered by some, but just a little more than a week after the game, most of us have forgotten most of the ads. Even with the power of social media and the YouTube Ad Blitz after the game, some brands scored bigger than others. Which poses the question: Is the game a platform for brands to kick off a campaign or a platform for one-offs.

The most forgotten spot is Audi’s Prom. It’s also one of the most conceptually sound spots in the Big Game. Who hasn’t thought back to that prom or dance where they did or didn’t grab that moment? The brand that lost its way was Coke. Coke is supposed to bring happiness to everyone. Making happiness a dog-eat-showgirl competition is not their brand. The best ads were Mercedes Benz Soul and Miracle Stain. They both had everything I need for a great commercial … a great epic story line, fantastic performances, and a communication at the end that seals an emotional tie to the message and the brand. Still, with all that money and talent, a tweet got the most play.

One note … even the worst advertisers during the Super Bowl reap the benefits. For many brands, awareness is a win-win, even if the ad is being touted as a disaster. Century 21 gets talked about for two weeks before the game and gets Web and customer traffic to make just being in the broadcast worth it even though the ads end up at the bottom of most lists. There are many other brands that feel the same way. Look at Audi. They had a pretty good ad and believe that a TV buy in the Super Bowl is the best way to go year after year … because it works.

It seems that, unlike the game itself, for most brands, the Super Bowl ad competition doesn’t end at the final whistle. Brands are clearly hopeful that their campaign kickoffs lead to long returns with their consumers.

Super Bowl Ads for 2012 – Poop-less Baby Time Machine Edition

THE WINNERS

Chrysler “It’s Halftime, America”

OK, I have to start with Clint. I mean, he is Clint after all. First off, he is walking around in some really dark places in Detroit, or was he at the game? Looked kind of like Detroit. I know he could probably go all Dirty Harry on any trouble, but still I worried about him in that tunnel. Equating Detroit with the rest of America makes sense since the rest of America bailed out Detroit. And I do believe it is halftime in America. One of the most TRUE things Clint says is, “All that matters now is what’s ahead.” And that is very TRUE at halftime. One of the weirdest things he says is, “This country can’t be knocked out with one punch.” One punch? One punch really puts a false spin on years of greed; mismanagement by those very car companies; and the very real budget, unemployment and housing issues this country still faces. But I guess America is a lot like Clint – faced with adversity, we always seem to have one last bullet. “So you’ve got to ask yourself one question. Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”

VW “The Dog Strikes Back”

As soon as I saw this fat dog, I was in. Come on. Everyone has a fat dog. I have a fat dog and I love him. And America is fat. And it’s halftime, America. Get off your asses and get in shape. Then chase a VW into the future where there’s a Star Wars’ bar and Darth Vader. OK, that’s where I got a little lost. So I went right back to thinking about the fat dog trying to get through the dog door and I laughed.

Camry “Reinvented”

This is the kind of concept spot I have always liked. They don’t show a thing that has been reinvented for the Camry, but you get the feeling that they’re always looking for innovation. And innovation is full of lofty dreams like poop-less babies and rain that makes you thin. Hopefully, Toyota will back it up with some cool stuff like heated cup holders or cars that run on baby poop.

Chevy “Mayan Apocalypse”

This ad looks fantastic. If you’re going to do the end of the world, you should spend the coin to do it right. And the song is great. But poor Dave. He drove a Ford. You always take a chance when you go straight at a competitor. Especially a competitor that has the money to come back at you like Ford, but I think in this case it was worth it. And even if Ford does retaliate with Dave ruling the Tunnel People in his Ford X-150 or whatever, a Twinkie will make it all better.

Honda “Matthew’s Day Off”

There was a lot of chatter among ad folks that this ad sucked. I liked it. One of the main things ads do is to capture an emotion that can be attributed to your product. Revisiting Ferris Bueller brings back a host of emotions if you’re a fan of the film. Even though the ad didn’t live up to the movie, I still felt like taking the day off and finding some crazy stuff to do instead. If an ad can infuse a sense of whimsy and freedom to your product – you win even if it is a mini-SUV with a somewhat stunted personality.

Doritos “Man’s Best Friend”

I thought the ad was fun but not really great. However, I did enjoy the edge of it. Dogs whacking cats works for me and obviously for America. And it seems it is worth $1 million from Doritos. So that makes it good. Doritos has found a great identity for their Super Bowl spots and has really grabbed the attention away from BEERS.

Seinfeld “Acura Transactions”

Seinfeld is funny, but it’s very inside funny. If you love the show, you probably loved the ad. But I don’t love Leno and I’m not really digging the premise of the spot. So others worked better for me. Still, the ad got a ton of play before the Super Bowl so it probably worked.

THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD

Samsung’s “Thing Called Love” seems like a phone with a pen. At least they are trying and the ad was kind of fun.

Bridgestone’s “Performance Ads” were interesting, but I feel like they have done better. I want one of those tire footballs though.

“Happy Grad” for Chevy was a funny performance, but I have to agree with a friend of mine who said, “The client could have directed that. They love it when someone in the ad is screaming for their product.” It looks like crowd sourcing is really helping clients get the ads that appeal to them that they may not be getting from agencies.

KIA “Dream Car” was a pretty good ad. It was fun to watch and I will remember the girl waving the flag. But sometimes, ads are just missing something. I felt this last year with KIA. But this year was better.

M&M’s “Naked” was a big fan favorite. It was good, but I wasn’t thinking of it as much of a Super Bowl spot. It just lacked import. It was funny, but just a good ad.

Bud’s “Wego” was a fun dog-gets-us-beer spot again. I feel like I have seen a lot of dog-getting-us-beers spots. But the dog was fantastic.

Pepsi and Elton. It just didn’t live up to my expectations for Elton.

THE LOSERS

Century 21. I am biased here but I think they really blew it. I see the point they are trying to make with their agents, but they did it in a way that couldn’t be more phony. People are still in a tough spot with their homes in America. Sure, they are looking for superheroes to help them. But instead of looking like superheroes, the agents tended to look like cartoons, especially when helping Trump and Sanders. Also, the way the ads are shot is just way too slick. There isn’t a home in America that can live up to the color alone in those ads much less anything else. The tone of the ads is all wrong. It’s matter of fact and carefree when consumers are still anything but. They don’t take the Century 21 brand seriously, so why should we.

E*TRADE has been a winner for years in the Super Bowl. They have a rich history of bringing home the bacon in the big game. This year was their worst performance ever in my opinion. It would have been better if they had skipped the competition. They lost face.

Bud’s “Prohibition” was a nice idea but it was so boring. History lessons are not good commercials unless someone gets killed Boardwalk Empire style. They should have whacked the Coors guy trying to move in on their territory from Denver.

COMMERCIALS WITH SEXY WOMEN AND MEN

Go Daddy. Wow, they just get more and more idiotic as time passes. But it seems to work in the big game. The ads are not good though. It’s hard to tell what they’re even communicating other than – please come to the website. I love beautiful women but have never been to the website – ever.

Teleflora’s “Give and Receive.” I hate to tell them this, but she is going to need far more than flowers. She looks really high-maintenance. Flowers and a car may do it. Flowers and a summer home. Flowers and a 20-carat diamond. You get the picture. Still, the ad was memorable for obvious reasons.

H&M’s “David Beckham.” Women watch the game too. And this would be the part they actually watched. So good job David Peckham, I mean Beckham.

USA TODAY’S AD METER WINNER

“Baby Sling” was shown to me by the director in a sound-editing suite along with some other ads he was entering. There was another ad I thought was much better called “Dog Heist.” I still like it better although it looks like “Baby Sling” has a great chance to win the USA TODAY AD METER and a prize of 1 million bucks. I don’t know why though. I could see that baby coming from a mile away. He would never get my Doritos.

PARTING THOUGHT

There are those who didn’t like the fact that Super Bowl ads were put out early on YouTube and corporate Web pages. The companies that do this are smart. The ads need time to get press and social momentum. With the price of a Super Bowl spot and the money it takes to produce one, buy rights to songs, pay celebrities and put together any other parts of a program that may be needed, it’s important to get as much play as you possibly can. The day of the game and the three days after are not near enough.