Microsoft is an amazing company
For decades Microsoft has produced some of the worst products that money can buy.
Despite that claim to fame, the company markets the most ubiquitous computer operating system there is. And their founder is the richest man on the planet to boot.
But the last ten years haven't been good for Microsoft.
Since Bill Gates turned over the reins to Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's market cap has been eclipsed by that of Apple.
Microsoft was never considered a cool company but now they seem farther from the illusive cool-factor than ever before.
They have a lot riding on the November 8 launch of their new Windows 7 operating system for cellphones.
They've chosen to announce their self-proclaimed game-changer phone with one of the dumbest ads ever, even by Microsoft's low-achiever standards.
Insulting the very people that you're trying to attract is never a good ad strategy.
Apple made this rookie mistake some years ago.
Still basking in the glow of their successful launching of the Macintosh with their 1984 ad, Apple offered this misstep while the 49ers trounced the Dolphins in the 1985 Super Bowl.
But Microsoft has a long track record of insulting prospective customers.
The company's current My Idea campaign plays out like some strange portal into the tortured psyche of Bill Gates. It suggests a somewhere-world in which nerdy people are sexy and attractive to others only in their private delusional fantasies.
But we can't predict the future.
Even though the Windows Phone ad seems woefully misguided from a marketing standpoint, who knows?
If the product meets customer needs it might be the iPhone killer that the company so desperately needs.
But maybe the real advertising ace-in-the-hole for Microsoft is their own top honcho.
Maybe Steve Ballmer's enthusiasm alone is enough to get people to buy the new Windows phone.
What do you think?
For a hot minute some years ago, Minolta reportedly used the tagline:
"Out of Our Minds, Into Your Hands."
That probably sounded good in the conference room when some marketing whiz came up with it but, sometime during the tagline's brief use in national advertising, somebody, somewhere realized that this wasn't the best way to tout your creativity.
Bimbo Bakeries, the US arm of Mexico's Grupo Bimbo, is the largest bakery in the country.
Bimbo owns six of the country's top twelve bakeries, including Entenmann's doughnuts, Boboli pizza crusts, Arnold bread and Thomas' english muffins.
The name Bimbo was made up in Mexico. It doesn't mean anything in Spanish.
It does mean something in English.
We're sure that Dr. Frahm is a fine doctor.
After all he's a Palmer graduate from the HealthSource of Naperville IL, for Pete's sake. That used to mean something and for some of us, it still does.
But we're thinking that Dr. Frahm skipped most of the marketing classes on the way to his degree.
Of course, there's no problem with having a bevy of attractive ladies in a print ad.
Nice touch, Dr. Frahm.
We just aren't completely sure what it is they're doing.
They seem to be trying to protect the Doc from a giant centipede in the midst of a very gruesome attack.
And if so, what are they all smiling about?! The man's in danger. This isn't funny!
Ho Toy, Cocktail Lounge, Parking in Rear...
Just as the word Bimbo doesn't mean in Spanish what it means in English, the term Ho Toy gets lost in translation from Chinese.
From as far as we can figure out, the word Ho is a superlative in Chinese meaning good or great.
In English, not so much...
Well, I'll be a Son of Hibachi!
Yes, Hibachi has actually used that tagline to promote its compact grill that they have dared to name, Son of Hibachi!
The global economy stalled out two years ago and pitched into a tailspin.
Of course, that isn't news to anyone who's been on the planet for the last 20 months.
But given the current doldrums it's hard to remember that things weren't always like this.
There was a time when the American Dream was robustly alive, ridiculously well and doing cartwheels down Main Street.
And Sears was one of the primary drivers of the high-horsepower economy.
You remember Sears, don't you?
The World’s Largest Store
Once upon a time, Sears was bigger than Wal-Mart. Sears was the Amazon of a previous age. That was before they were swallowed up by Eddie Lampert, who had previously gobbled up Kmart, in his single-minded and hopelessly failed mission to rule the world of retail.
But this is now and then was then
The commercials Sears ran during the 1980s epitomized the boom years of an economy now almost totally forgotten.
Belting out the tagline There's More for Your Life at Sears, these ads were filled with animated, ecstatic people who just couldn't wait to get to the mall and SPEND MONEY.
And if they were lucky, in the process of buying happiness and fulfillment with cash, they'd get the chance to rub shoulders with sports greats of the day like Arnie Palmer and Evonne Goolagong.
These commercials look totally hokey and mawkish today, but there's something sweet and nostalgic about them, no?
Were these the good old days?
The Face of a Generation
Many people know the faces of supermodels like Cindy Crawford, Christie Brinkley and Tyra Banks. But few people know the name of one of the first great supermodels of all time.
Any Baby Boomer who ever paged through a Sears catalog or an issue of Seventeen Magazine in the 1960s or the 1970s has seen -- and quite likely admired -- the beauty of Colleen Corby.
The Most Photographed Teenager in the World
Her soulful eyes, open - pouty lips and Gidget-like aura and energy helped to make her someone adolescent girls wanted to be like and someone adolescent boys wanted to be with.
Oprah Winfrey acknowledges that Colleen Corby was an inspiration during her formative years.
A young woman who knew what she wanted.
She turned down a lucrative film career to continue modeling. And in the late 1970s, when she decided that she'd had enough, she left the business to pursue other adventures of life and living.
She keeps a relatively low profile these days and shuns the spotlight. But we salute Colleen Corby for being the beautiful and prolific secret supermodel.
Colleen Corby Fansite
Last July we offered this post below about TV spokesperson, Jill Wagner, better known as the Mercury Girl.
We felt that she was the best model that Mercury put out in a long time. She gave the stodgy, somewhat nondescript carmaker something it was severely lacking -- a persona.
Apparently Jill contributions in burnishing the Mercury brand were not enough to save the company. The last Mercury is due to roll off the assembly line later this year.
The TV Commercial Guys Club is Not Male-Only
The Mercury Girl gently reminds you " to put Mercury on your list." Her assignment, it appears, is to help give the Mercury brand some personality.
That's been a long standing issue for Mercury. In the 1930's, Ford Motor Co. looked for a nameplate to position between its middle-market Ford and its upscale Lincoln divisions. Mercury seemed to fit the bill. Like GM's Buick, Mercury aims to be an entry-level luxury brand.
But the concept of entry level luxury has lost focus over time. Mercury cars, over the years, have drifted back and forth between being very nice Fords or very basic Lincolns. The nameplate seemed to lack a distinctive identity.
That's where the Mercury Girl (that's how she describes herself) comes in. She's Jill Wagner in real life and she's there to do for Mercury what the Verizon Guy did for Verizon and what the Caveman did for Geico.
Is she effective?
Jill's been at it since 2005 and that's one sign of success. The economic roller coaster, however, has been a rough ride for the last 10 months and the post-bailout world hasn't been kind to Detroit. But Jill is distinctive and fresh. And it certainly appears that she's been successful in giving Mercury something it's lacked from the beginning ... a persona.
Also worthy of note regarding TV spokespersons...
While the Mercury Girl, the Verizon Guy and even the Geico Caveman (his prehistoric name is Maurice, BTW) are all portrayed by actors easily Googled and Yahooed, the Glade Lady is somewhat more mysterious and enigmatic.
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
Toyota has enough trouble without dealing with bozos out for a quick buck and fifteen minutes in the national spotlight.
It seems pretty clear now that up-to-his-neck-in-debt Jim Sikes concocted a bogus story about the uncontrolled acceleration of his Toyota Prius on a California highway, earlier this month.
After engineers looked at the car, Sikes' story just didn't pass the smell test.
Jalopnik.com, among other sites, has done their homework on this guy.
The Jim Sikes Reality Show
During the alleged high-speed terror-ride, Sikes had no interest in following the excellent guidance of the 911 operator, who gave him specific directions for regaining control of the car.
He didn't want to shift the car into neutral because he would have to put the cell phone down. In fact, his desperate call for help went on for over 20 minutes.
Over 20 minutes!
And what's so important about staying on the phone while hurtling through traffic at 90 miles an hour?
As anyone who has ever driven a car at 90 mph will tell you, you'll wish you had three or four hands on the wheel at that speed.
Toyota should be held accountable for problems with faulty cars sold.
But -- as it increasingly appears -- if Sikes was making a prank 911 call for fame or fortune while putting innocent civilians at risk by driving 90 miles per hour on purpose, he should be thrown in the slammer pronto.
Of course, the other question is on us.
Why are we so quick to believe what people say when it aligns with our preconceived notions?
Once we all bought into the narrative that Toyota makes unsafe cars, the Jim Sikes' story meshed with the reigning zeitgeist without suspicion.
In a world where predators lurk everywhere ready to con us out of our money, our time and our freedoms, critical thinking may be our last and best defense.
Without the inclination and the will to challenge our assumptions, we lock ourselves into perspectives that leave us easy prey for the next snake oil salesman to come along.
It certainly worked for that WMD thing...
Who is the Old Spice Guy?
He's Isaiah Mustafa, a former rookie wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks and NFL Europe.
Who came up with this ad?
Wieden+Kennedy, one of the world's largest independently-owned ad agencies. It was introduced at the 2010 Super Bowl.
How did they do it?
It took three days to shoot but the final print is one continuous take. Yeah, they actually built a shower set on a boat set and crane-lifted the guy onto a real horse.
Check out the 20 minute "Making of" video at the end of this post. The two guys who wrote the ad explain how it was done.
What else has W+K done?
This firm is a heavy hitter. They were the brains behind Nike's Just Do It and vintage Bo Knows campaigns. They also masterminded the inventive This is SportsCenter commercials for ESPN.
What's the lowdown on Old Spice?
The Shulton Company first introduced Old Spice in 1937 as a fragrance for women. Old Spice for Men didn't drop until the following year.
Proctor & Gamble bought Old Spice 20 years ago and over that time has done some makeover work on the brand.
What kind of changes did P&G bring to the party?
Part of the shift in positioning was to incorporate humor in the marketing of Old Spice.
Back in the 70's, Old Spice commercials were all about shore-leave.
A sailor would pull into port hook up with four different women then hurl the empty container of his magic love potion at an adoring voyeur.
By the 80's, Old Spice was trying to define its ideal customer.
Humor was starting to creep in, but the goal was to be somewhat amusing, not hilarious.
But lately, all hell has broken loose.
Old Spice, in our opinion, is responsible for some of the funniest, most clever commercials on the air.
The Bruce Campbell commercial is a classic.
Is there almost subliminal audio here which is exactly the opposite of what you'd expect in a commercial for men's fragrance?
"Ees it Right for Heem?"
Apparently, Old Spice Hair and Body Wash is right for everybody.
More quasi-subliminal messaging in the final frame.
Before "I'm on a horse" came "I am a horse."
Yeah, there's something subliminal going on here too, right?
A man of few words
The Making of the Old Spice I'm on a Horse commercial:
Too little, too late?
Toyota has launched a corporate ad in response to its ongoing quality crisis.
The spot features images of hardworking assembly line workers, backed by an inspirational soundtrack. The mea-culpa voiceover talks about Toyota getting back to what's really important.
Does this ad work for you?
It doesn't for us.
It comes off as a little too slick and much too expensive as a way of communicating with current and potential customers about what's going on.
Because beyond the performance issue itself, the other important repair work necessary is fixing the broken brand.
The well-publicized problem with uncontrollable acceleration was first thought by the company to be an issue with the floor mats.
Pedal to the Metal
But when the focus shifted to faulty accelerator pedals months later, Toyota again offered another solution.
When Woz talks, people should listen...
We certainly hope that this new workaround corrects the problem.
But again, with respect to repairing the brand, this video clip of Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak talking about his Toyota Prius, is more than a little disturbing.
After ignoring loyal-customer Steve Wozniak, Toyota today has announced a Prius recall of 300,000 vehicles. Whether or not this current action is software-related is not yet known but problems with Prius software were reported as far back as 2005.
Toyota: Moving Forward
Repairing mechanical problems is hard enough, but Toyota has been slow to reassure customers and dealers that they are serious about getting to the bottom of the issue.
Like two other major brands in crisis lately -- Tiger Woods, Inc. and NBC -- Toyota has been silent when it was time to speak and less-than-specific when statements have been made.
At any rate, it may be a good time for Toyota to look for a new tagline. "Moving Forward" has a very bad vibe right about now.
Are your teeth turning yellow? Brown? The cause may not be smoking or coffee. It could be your toothpaste. That's right, the one with the whitening claim on the label.
Proctor and Gamble
In August 1960, Proctor & Gamble's Crest was the first toothpaste to win the approval of the American Dental Association as a decay-preventing agent.
Until that time the ADA position was that buying toothpaste was a waste of money.
What set Crest apart was something called stannous fluoride, developed by Joseph Muhler, a second year dental student -- and later assistant professor of chemistry -- at Indiana University.
Actually Muhler believed stannous fluoride applied just once to the teeth by a dentist could offer long term cavity protection.
Procter & Gamble had a different idea for Stannous Fluoride: Daily Application
The firm paid $100,000 in royalties to Indiana University to utilize the stannous fluoride formulation. Trademarked as Fluoristan, Muhler's discovery became Crest's active ingredient.
In the 1980's P&G replaced Crest's fluoristan with something called fluoristat, better known in the lab as sodium monofluorophosphate.
But recently, P&G introduced Crest Pro-Health Toothpaste, formulated with stannous fluoride, like the original Crest.
But despite the positive, anti-bacterial qualities of stannous fluoride, it can -- and according to consumer comments often does -- have a serious side-effect: it stains teeth, causing them to turn yellow or brown.
In fact, if you read the fine print on the back of the box your Crest Pro-Health came in, you'll see a disclaimer:
Products containing stannous fluoride may produce staining of the teeth. Adequate tooth brushing may prevent these stains which are not harmful or permanent and may be removed by your dentist.
So let's get this straight. First, we pay for toothpaste then pay a dentist to fix what it does to us?
Crest Pro-Health Mouth Rinse: The Double Whammy
Crest introduced Pro-Health Mouth Rinse as a companion to Pro-Health Toothpaste. Stannous Fluoride is not listed among the ingredients of the rinse but Cetylpyridinium Chloride (CPC) is.
Possible CPC side effects? You guessed it.
Out of 209 consumer reviews at Amazon for Crest Pro-Health Mouth Rinse, 181 gave the product the lowest rating (as of 1/25/10):
"But after extended use for a month it stained in between my teeth brown. It looked terrible and it cost me a one hundred dollar trip to the dentist to scrape that junk off."
"This product is absolutely fantastic if you are trying to get BROWN STAINS ALL OVER YOUR TEETH!"
"It looks like I've been smoking for 20 years. When I looked in the mirror this morning I was disgusted. After ten minutes of searching on the internet I found hundreds of horror stories about this mouthwash. How can this stuff exist on the market?"
But some customers report other side effects as well:
"I only used this product last night and this morning, and the entire day I lost my sense of taste! I checked this product online to see what other people were saying and they all have the same problems at me."
"I haven't noticed any staining, but that's most likely because I stopped using it after 2 days due to the fact I completely lost my sense of taste. The tip of my tongue felt numb and I could pour a bottle salt in my mouth and not taste a thing."
An Inconvenient Tooth
The issue here is not that these products don't live up to their scientifically-verified and government-regulated claims. Their effectiveness, we trust, is proven and well documented.
The issue is that many customers feel that the side effects and disclaimers have been drowned out by all the high-priced product hype.
So what can we do about it?
We consumers need someone on our side. Maybe it's time to call for back-up.
More about this subject:
Tarnished Image for Crest Pro-Health Products
Who the Hell is This Guy?!
If you're a baby boomer, you've certainly heard of at least some of the hundreds of worthless novelty products he peddled for decades on the inside covers of comic books and magazines.
He's Harold Von Braunhut, the mail-order mastermind behind Honor House, the company that made a fortune selling such iconic crap as Sea Monkeys, X-Ray Specs and $5 Rocket Ships. But the real story here is where the company profits may have ended up. But more about that in a bit.
First of all, there's no such animal as a sea monkey. It was a fanciful name that Von Braunhut came up with to hawk a mysterious breed of nearly microscopic brine shrimp known as Artemia Salina.
The so-called Sea Monkeys were easy to ship because they were in a state of suspended animation, called cryptobiosis, until you added borax, ash and yeast.
In fact, even after adding these magic ingredients purchasers often learned that their sea monkeys were in that other, more familiar, state of suspended animation better known as dead.
Does the FTC know about this?
The comic book ad showing a nuclear family of sea monkeys, -- Mom with a bow on her head protrusions -- lounging in front of their sea castle, pushed the limits of puffery.
But then again what do you expect from Joe Orlando who not only drew the illustration of the sea monkey family but was an associate publisher of Mad Magazine.
There is a disclaimer, though. The package states: "Illustration is fanciful, does not depict Artemia."
What a deal! For just one buck you can get a pair of glasses that lets you see through stuff. Well, kinda.
I see London, I see France...
And if you're a pre-teen boy looking at a comic book ad, it's pretty easy to guess what you'd like to use this gadget for.
Unfortunately, X-Ray Specs don't allow you to see through the clothes of that cute girl with the orange backpack in Home Room. Nor do they allow you to shoot lightning bolts at her as punishment for ignoring you.
The so-called lenses of X-Ray Specs actually consist of a feather pressed between two pieces of cardboard punctured with pinholes. The feather diffracts light and creates two slightly offset images of whatever you're looking at.
And Voila! You can see the bones in your hand!
Not just a Rocket Space Ship. A Jet Rocket Space Ship!
"Imagine a streamlined space ship big enough to hold a child."
Wow, a child! Now that's stretching the imagination!
"Because of its enormous size we're forced to ask for 63 cents shipping charges."
Wow! 63 cents! This thing must be freakin' huge!
A dissatisfied customer:
new16q reports his disappointment in the 1950's with his Jet Rocket Space Ship in a Flickr posting:
When it came I was disappointed because it was just pieces of cardboard and even the box it came in was part of the so-called rocket. I built it in my basement and called my friend Dick to come see it....he took one look and said, "That's it?"
I think it ended up in the trash bin the next day. But I learned a lesson. If it seems to good to be true (a spaceship for $4.98), it probably is. :-)
We imagine he wouldn't have been any more satisfied with the Polaris Nuclear Sub for two bucks more.
Jack Booted Sea Monkeys
The money raked in during the 1950's from sales of Sea Monkeys, X-Ray Specs, cardboard Rockets and countless other products helped Harold Von Braunhut fund some of his favorite political organizations.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, Von Braunhut was a committed supporter of several white supremacists groups. He allegedly helped supply firearms to the Ku Klux Klan and regularly attended the Aryan Nations annual conference.
Not long before his mysterious death in his home in 2003, in an interview with the Seattle Times, Von Braunhut commented on his politics this way, "You know what side I'm on. I don't make any bones about it."
Maybe he was talking about those bones revealed by his amazing X-Ray Specs...
The Fall of the Mom and Poppers.
In the early 1980s, opening a neighborhood video store could be a pretty smart investment. Mom and Pop outlets were popping up everywhere.
Back then, if you were looking to rent the latest VHS release, you walked into a storefront next to the dry cleaners and were probably greeted by someone who lived down the street from you.
By the mid-1980s, all that changed.
Blockbuster rolled into towns all across the USA and the Mom and Poppers were outgunned by giant, branded bigboxers, backed by deep inventories and national advertising.
The Final Reel?
Well, times have changed once again. Blockbuster announced plans in Fall 2009 to close nearly 1000 stores next year while converting another 300 to used DVD outlet stores.
That means that nearly one-fifth of all Blockbuster units open today will be either going away or morphing into a different kind of store.
Blockbuster s being outflanked by Netflix on one side and Coinstar's Red Box on the other.
Just as Blockbuster changed the game on Mom and Pop video stores, Netflix changed the game on Blockbuster. The idea of getting videos via snail mail is pretty low-tech but, for Netflix's 10 million subscribers, it beats making two round trips to the video store just to see the latest Will Farrell movie.
And Netflix can offer some 100,000 titles without paying a dime to have to lease and staff an outlet near you.
As for volume, Netflix claims to ship nearly 2 million DVDs daily to customers.
The firm is readying itself for the future with its "Watch Instantly" option, still in limited rollout, which will stream movies directly to your computer.
Several years ago McDonalds was looking for a way to boost traffic.
An ATM-type machine that dispensed DVD's instead of cash seemed like a good idea. Coinstar, the firm that operates all those coin conversion kiosks, soon became interested and joined the venture.
Today, Coinstar owns the whole shebang and has expanded the rollout beyond McD's locations. There are currently some 12,000 Redbox kiosks nationwide.
Redbox is the Coke vending machine of video rental.
Rent a video for a buck a night. You can even reserve your video online and when you're done you can drop it off at any Redbox location.
Like Netflix, Redbox doesn't need all the expensive square footage and staffing required for a Blockbuster outlet.
Utilizing this new business model, Redbox has reportedly captured 9% of the DVD rental market already.
Not that Redbox doesn't have its own issues. Hollywood isn't happy about how Redbox pricing is slicing into its profit margins on new releases.
Blockbuster strikes back
Why rent when you can buy..?
Most of the activity at Blockbuster today (some 85%) is DVD and videogame rental, with the balance in sales. The firm wants to change that ratio to 50/50 next year.
Brick and mortar Blockbusters that remain after the wave of store closings will, increasingly, be changing into places to buy used videos rather than rent new ones.
The rental side of the business will be shifting to other distribution channels.
To fend off Redbox, Blockbuster has partnered with ATM-maker NCR to roll out 10,000 automated movie rental kiosks by the end of 2010. They're also reaching out to TiVo and Samsung to forge alliances for digital distribution.
Many industry observers believe these moves will be too-little-too-late to save Blockbuster from being busted.
What's your take?
The Revenge of the Mom and Poppers?
The itstrulyrandom.com blog reported awhile back that there were still a few small local video stores out there and that some were, interestingly, renting Netflix videos to supplement their inventory and save costs.
What goes around comes around...
What do the UPS Whiteboard Guy and the Empire Carpet Guy have in common?
We'll get to that in a moment. First of all, who is the UPS Whiteboard Guy?
He's Andy Azula and he's been the TV spokesperson for UPS since 2007. While there are few things more sleep-inducing than sitting in a dark room watching a PowerPoint presentation, UPS decided that a guy talking in front of a whiteboard was a good idea for an ad campaign.
Apparently they were right. We're not sure about the impact on business performance but our bet is that the longevity of the campaign -- some 48 spots have been shot -- is at least one indication of success.
But Andy Azula and his whiteboard also caught the attention of chief rival Federal Express
Federal Express has cried foul, claiming that something called the 2009 FAA Reauthorization Act delivers an unfair bailout to UPS. Congress recently passed a bill that changes the unionization structure for these two delivery giants.
Federal Express, in a nutshell, believes that the bill will expand the power of its unionized labor force, giving UPS a competitive edge.
So now FedEx kinda sorta has their own whiteboard guy now to tell their side of the story.
So what do the UPS Whiteboard Guy and the Empire Carpet Guy have in common?
It's not just the competition that has noticed whiteboard guy, Andy Azula. The YouTube is rife with comedic spoofs, only a few of which qualify as family entertainment.
Many of these spoofs do speak to the fact that Andy Azula isn't an actor. He's actually the creative director for The Martin Agency, the ad firm that came up with the UPS campaign.
The Empire Carpet Guy
Like Andy Azula, Lynn Hauldren, who has portrayed the Empire Carpet Guy since a few months after the Big Bang, was the ad agency guy who came up with this TV campaign idea for carpeting in the first place. When auditions didn't turn up the right actor for the role, Lynn stepped in and the rest -- if you live anywhere that Empire Carpets operates -- you know is history.
Andy Azula has a ways to go though before he can truly compete with Lynn Hauldren, though.
Hauldren not only came up with the campaign and starred in the commercials for over 30 years, he wrote and recorded the TV spot jingle. Oh, yeah and before that he was a World War II hero in the Indo-China theatre.
Top that, UPS Whiteboard Guy.
Things weren't always like this
Maybe you've got an iMac. Maybe you've got a Dell running Windows 7.
Whatever kind of machine you've got, you might take a moment to remember that computers weren't always this sweet.
The mesmerizing microchip marvel you're using to read this blog post stands on the evolutionary shoulders of generations that came before.
A brief overview of the fossil record...
There was a time when Bill Cosby was the spokesperson for nearly every product on the market. Here, he explains why the 16K Texas Instruments computer is the one.
Before dancing with wolves, Kevin Costner helped sell Macs...
Hey, is that an Apple Lisa?
Believe it or not, back in the day, the Commodore 64 was the big dog of the PC pound.
With total lifetime sales of 17 million units, in the mid-1980s, this computer outsold Apple, IBM PC and Atari.
The Kaypro -- the Complete Computer for $1295
If you ever saw a Kaypro you know that referring to it as complete was a stretch. The screen was so tiny you had to scroll vertically just to see a whole page.
It was no lightweight, though. This puppy weighed 29 pounds!
And where would you have bought a computer back in the stoneage?
At ComputerLand, of course. This retailer booted up in 1976 and boasted some 800 outlets by the mid-1980s. Of course, all things must pass. ComputerLand didn't last long enough to have to worry about Y2K. It shut down in 1999.
Is there a demo they missed in this commercial?
Auto Insurance is serious business, right?
Dennis Haysbert makes that case quite effectively in his "Are you in good hands?" ad campaign for Allstate. But somewhere along the line, other companies got the idea that the way to sell auto insurance was by going for the funny.
Geckos, Cavemen and Flo, Oh My!
Maybe that's a good idea when its done in a clever way. Geico with their Cavemen and geckos have been with us for a long time and have been recently joined by Flo, the Progressive Insurance Lady.
But we're talking about the stuff put out by smaller companies that shows up in local TV spots that confuses clever with crass.
The Infamous Eagleman Commercial -- Look at those low rates!
Enter Eagleman, the Dennis Haysbert of Eagle Insurance. The series of TV ads was a multi-pronged attack on the senses. Someone actually thought a guy in an eagle suit laying an egg was a smart way to sell auto insurance. Do you agree?
The Eaglewoman Sequel -- Starring Shock-Jock Mancow Muller
The Eagle landed again in this followup commercial, this time in female form. We guess someone told them that male eagles don't lay eggs.
As bad as the other two ads are, for our money this is the worst.
Not to be outdone, Chicago competitor Lincoln Insurance aired its own series of moronic ads, most starring a guy with a beard and a top hat that is maybe supposed to be Abe Lincoln, but also some kind of a judge or something.
And how's this for class?
What's your take? Does this advertising approach work for you? Would feel comfortable buying auto insurance from these companies?
Keeping Up Appearances
Back in July we published a post about the current SC Johnson TV ad campaign for Glade Air Freshener. This series of commercials features a woman who tries to make her friends and family believe her house smells so great because she's such a great housekeeper when it fact, it's the Glade.
The slant of our post was that there was precious little known about the actress, Dori Kelly, who portrays the enigmatic character who has become known in some circles as the Lying Glade Lady.
We're back in October to report something we're calling the Glade Lady Phenomenon.
Looking at our blog stats, in the nearly six months that Apocalypzia has been around, our post concerning the Glade Lady has been far and away the most viewed. Even our Sarah Palin song parody post -- with a link that was picked up by the Huffington Post -- couldn't compete with the underground appeal of Dori Kelly.
The post actually didn't register that high in July when it was originally published, but took off in August, September and into October, getting the highest page hit numbers for each individual month.
In fact, just mentioning the Glade Lady in another post about Flo the Progressive Insurance Lady may have helped drive that one up to be the sixth most viewed Apocalypzia article.
And that's not all.
Our Google Webmaster Tools tell us that Dori Kelly, the Glade Lady and almost anything related to this ad series are among the most popular Apocalypzia keyword searches.
And it's not just our blog that's noticed Dori.
The Grokmedia Blog reported the same type of stat spikes that we're talking about here when they posted about the mysterious Dori Kelly.
And everyone seems to be a little vague about who Dori really is.
Even the people who know her personally are having a hard time getting a fix on her.
A commentator at the 13Months Blog who claims to have known Dori when she was a teenager said: "She played a great Rosie in a teen production of Bye Bye Birdie!"
This was countered by another commentator at the blog who said: "I knew Dori Kelly from High School, a lovely girl, though, ... a girl named Diane was Rose in the Bye Bye Birdie in high school."
Missed Marketing Opportunity?
Go to the Progressive Insurance website and Flo is there to greet you on the home page.
The Dos Equis website is organized around their Most Interesting Man in the World campaign.
SC Johnson, curiously, doesn't seem to be interested in leveraging off of Dori's cult status.
Dori Kelly is hot but go to the various SC Johnson websites and we challenge you to find even a whiff of the Glade Lady campaign or the actress who portrays her. Dori's Glade commercials aren't available there.
There is a skeletal Facebook page for Dori Kelly but it doesn't appear to be a verified one.
Grokmedia asked the question: Dori Kelly, Where Are You? and suggested that this actress was, personally missing a real opportunity by not trying to capitalize on her web-cult popularity.
But in the midst of all this, SC Johnson appears to be shifting the focus of its ad campaign.
The persona of the Glade Lady as a fibbing social climber has been the core of the ad campaign, as best presented in the first installment.
But one of the most recent spots strips her of the shtick that made her popular and presents her as just another TV spokesperson hawking discount merchandise.
Bottom Line? SC Johnson needs some social media consultation, and fast...
How would you advise them to manage this campaign and the mysterious, enigmatic Dori Kelly?
The Pig in the Python
Madison Avenue looked at the Baby Boomers as 70 million consumers just waiting to be marketed to through the magic of Television. In the Leave-It-To-Beaver 1950s, TV programming -- and commercials -- focused on adolescents.
Gidget Goes Primetime.
By the 1960s the focus shifted to teenagers. The movie series Gidget came to TV in the mid-1960s starring Sally Field.
Gidget was Hollywood's idea of the perfect teenager at the time. Cute, perky and boy-crazy.
Patty Likes to Rock and Roll...a Hot Dog Makes Her Lose Control.
Patty Duke was already an accomplished actress by her mid-teens. At the age of 16, she won an academy award for best supporting actress for her brilliant portrayal of Helen Keller. Just a year later, she was staring in her own sit-com in the dual roles of American-teen Patty Lane and her English cousin Cathy Lane.
Patty was Hollywood's idea of the perfect teenager at the time. Cute, perky and boy-crazy.
The Mad Men Still Look to Gidget and Patty to connect with Baby Boomers.
Sally Field -- looking fabulous -- is pitching Boniva today.
Patty and Cathy Lane help the US government teach Boomers about Social Security.
But this wasn't Patty Duke's first commercial.
She made her debut in this ad for Remco toys...
Yikes! Who Came Up With This Stuff?!
That's Little Miss Sunbeam romping in the fallen oak leaves. Her Dick-and-Jane face has graced the packaging of Sunbeam Bread since World War II.
But what's truly weird about the marketing for this product is the series of black-and-white TV commercials that ran early on.
This first commercial lacks focus, don't you think?
In the short span of sixty seconds, we careen through the courtship and marriage of a strange couple who seems to care more about Sunbeam Bread than connubial bliss.
And what's up with that robot-dance in the grocery store?
It's bread for Pete's sake. Just bread.
Bread isn't just something to eat for energy, it's the ONLY THING!
And apparently, the more bread you eat the more energy you'll have. According to this commercial, if you eat Sunbeam Bread ALL DAY LONG, you have more ZING-PEP, whatever that is.
What does a kid playing alone in a meadow have to do with bread?
The sappy, cloying flute in this commercial gives it a bad-new-age-music feel, 25 years before there was anything called new-age-music, bad or otherwise.
And by the way, did you know that bread tastes better than air?
Apocalypzia Archives: More Scary Ads!!
"Let Hertz Put YOU in the Driver's seat...TODAY!"
Yes, the photo above shows a happy couple plummeting to Earth, moments before crashing into a driverless convertible careening down an open highway.
Not to worry, though. The Hertz Rent-a-Car Company, in this early 1960's series of TV ads, was just using prehistoric special effects to drive home the point that they could "put you in the driver's seat."
And these flying people ads got a lot of attention.
TV viewers discussed them over water-coolers and dinner tables. Comedy shows spoofed them, often showing the painful results of renting a hardtop rather than a convertible. Produced some 50 years ago, these commercials were on the primordial edge of viral marketing.
Hertz became so deeply entrenched as the number one car rental company that competitor Avis adopted the tagline -- We're Number 2, We Try Harder.
That Was Then, This is Now
Over the last ten years, Zipcar has reportedly become the world's largest car-sharing service, with a fleet of over 6,000 vehicles and over a quarter of a million zipsters (service members).
For the non-Zipster, Zipcar's tongue-in-cheek very retro -- and very funny -- promo video explains it all.
Where the High-Tech Meets the Road
What sets Zipcar apart from the traditional car-renters is technology. By using tech to put customers more directly in control of the process, Zipcar is to Hertz kind of what Netflix is to Blockbuster.
And Marketing Brillo now reports that a new Zipcar iPhone App will help you sort through available vehicles, reserve one and map your directions to it. This new App will even unlock your zipcar when you find it. Marketing Brillo sees this kind tech integration as the shape of things to come.
Move over Hertz and Avis. Will high-tech make Zipcar the new way to go?
Them that has, gets...
The August sales figures for automakers are in and we're getting our first read on the impact of the Cash for Clunkers program.
For Ford, Toyota and Honda, the news was good. All three companies boosted their numbers last month. For Chrysler, down 15%, and GM, down 20%, it was a different story.
GM's Golden Years
Things looked very different in 1958 when GM celebrated its Golden Anniversary. America's torrid love affair with the automobile was white-hot and the future looked bright.
That year, the Chevrolet Impala was on the threshold of a decade long run as the best selling automobile in the US, with total unit sales of 13 million over that period. The Cadillac's scalpel-sharp tailfins were a bold statement that GM was ready to rocket to the stars. Pontiac was a proud member of the fleet.
The Long and Winding Road
Today, GM struggles for survival in a world hammered by an economic slump and a marketplace rife with global competitors. The first post-bankruptcy commercial was almost an apology for how the company had stumbled since the Golden Years.
Asleep at the Wheel
As auto industry prospects turned bleak in 2008, the -- then -- heads of Detroit's Big Three told Congress the shape of things to come. The GM guy and the Chrysler guy are gone now.
Exactly how long was this supposed to keep a teenaged girl interested and amused?
Apparently for decades. Leveraging off the wild success of Disney's High School Musical, Milton Bradley (no, not that Milton Bradley) relaunched this 1960's board game.
Instead of the non-descript white tuxedo guy or beach date guy in the original game, players open the door to see whether or not Zac Efron is standing there with a corsage.
Are today's teenage girls going for this?
Sissy Mynarcik thinks so. She bought the game on Amazon for her ten year old daughter. "My daughter is an addict," Sissy states in her Amazon review, "She will not stop playing the game. She even plays it by herself."
Of course you can't please everybody. Sue Mallory said in her Amazon review, "although this is a very fun game... I was expecting the Original Mystery Date game with the ... dud date guy."
Sue isn't the only one who is more interested in the original.
The 1960's commercial has cult status now, inspiring several YouTube spoofs.
2008 Presidential Primary Spoof
During the presidential campaign last year, XCowboy2 released this version.
The One Man Show Spoof
Playing all the parts, CrashingCrockery has his own fun with this oh-so-60's commercial.
Did the I'm a Mac...I'm a PC ad campaign really start way back in 1996?
Scottinger's Blog thought so when it uncovered this MacAddict magazine feature from the mid 90's.
It's like Deja Vu all over again isn't it? Almost a template for today's Mac commercials. Especially humorous, though, is the call-out about the Mac Addict's hair - The casual "Seinfeld-cut" because "of course Jerry would never use a PC." Oops!
Even the Idea of Using Call-Outs Got Recycled
Nothing new under the sun we suppose...
Justin Long gets the once-over...
...and so does John Hodgman
Related Apocalypzia Posts: Mac vs PC: The Global, Bizarro and the Historical View
If you don't know who Maria Sansone is, you may not be in the Pepsi Generation anymore.
Maria hosts PopTub, YouTube's internet answer to Joel McHale's The Soup. (You do know, Joel McHale, right?)
PopTub is an edgy viral marketing campaign that is a collaboration between YouTube owner, Google, and Embassy Row, a Pepsi production company.
About the same time Pepsi was launching PopTub, it was ending its 50 year relationship with the BBDO Ad Agency -- a partnership that helped to change the fundamentals of brand marketing. Is Pepsi looking ahead to the next generation with PopTub?
For Those Who Think Young...
In the decades-long battle for King of Cola Mountain, Coke and Pepsi have taken very different paths to promote their brands.
Coke took the traditional in-your-face product focus. The central message of Coke commercials was that you couldn't have a good time without Coke. After all, Coke was the Real Thing!, Coke was It! And if you could just teach the whole world to sing and drink Coke, there would be peace on the planet.
Does this Coke commercial seem a little self-indulgent to you?
This is so not Maria Sansone! (Feel free to click the YouTube pause button when you've seen enough...)
Pepsi's Lifestyle Marketing
Pepsi and the company's Mad Men traveled a very different road and discovered something quite innovative along the way. Rather than putting the product in the center of its ads, Pepsi focused on the customer, and his and her desire to belong.
Pepsi helped to pioneer lifestyle marketing in the 1960's, an approach which may still be embedded today in the DNA of social media and viral marketing.
Pepsi Pours it on...
This vintage Pepsi commercial is all about having fun. Pepsi is just along for the ride. But the underlying message is make it the ride of your life! Make every moment count.
Come Alive ...
That's real livin' when a Sikorsky chopper drops a vending machine in the middle of nowhere just to quench your thirst.
But notice that the brand doesn't make an appearance until half way through the commercial. Also, Pepsi defines young not by age but by outlook. To be in the Pepsi Generation, you just needed a young view of things.
You've Got a Lot to Live...
This is possibly the most sentimental of the retro Pepsi ads and it is focused squarely on lifestyle. It's about being a part of a youthful, vibrant generation that is unique, important and, sometimes, thirsty.
We love the line "put yourself behind a Pepsi, if you're living, you belong..."
We'll take a closer look at Coke ads soon.
In the meantime, Apocalypzia invites you to check out our other posts in the Marketing / Business category.
Vintage Magazine Ads
Before TV and the internet, print magazine ads were a lot more important than they are today. Few were as downright creepy as these.
Do not turn your back on this kid.
After her sandwich, she's going back outside to join the other Children of the Corn...
Could anything be that good? Should it?
Jeez, lady. It's just a can of liquefied tomatoes and celery stalks. Her orgasmatronic reaction is a little over the top, isn't it? And the kid looks like he's about to blow a gasket.
Everyone hates clowns
How'd you like to wake up to this hot-mess tomorrow morning? Sheesh!
Just call her Hannabella...
Why do we keep thinking that's a slice of daddy's shank, his gizzard and some nice fava beans on the side?
And by the way, what the hell is she looking at?! The plate is at best at nose level but her focus is eerily skyward.
It's a fairly common element of almost every game show.
The contestant has earned enough prize money in regular play to go for fast money in the bonus round. The rules are a little different here. The contestant can either bank her winnings after a correct answer or risk it all on a followup question.
If she gets it right, she doubles her money. If she gets it wrong, she loses it all and goes back to $0.
Deal or No Deal.
She has to give this a lot of thought because the wrong choice could cost her big time. If she's too cautious she could leave money on the table. But if she's overly confident, she could lose everything.
Her decision has consequences. If it didn't, she would go for the big money every time.
Economic Meltdown: 2008.
It appears that even TV game show moguls Goodson and Todman could have designed a better global financial system than the one that collapsed under its own weight in the fall of 2008.
They would have certainly known that giving people the chance to make money without possibility of consequence would have quickly gotten out of hand.
But the financiers, mortgage originators and real estate brokers in our unfortunate home game version of Break the Bank last fall had no consequential constraints. If they made a bad deal, the money lost wasn't theirs, it was ours. They could double down on every play, with nothing at risk and nothing to lose.
That's a gourmet recipe for disaster, as we all came to painfully find out.
Advice from Apocalypzia: Restrain from entrusting what is precious to you to someone who won't feel equal or greater pain if it's lost.
Apocalypzia believes there's enough bad news out there without piling it on.
Standing at the threshold of the third quarter of a difficult year, it's discouraging to see For Lease signs in so many store windows, and there continues to be a lot of talk on the web about store closings. But if we've learned anything in the apocalyptic post-bailout world, it's that we should be careful about who's telling us what.
Maybe you received that email way back before Christmas advising you not to buy gift cards from a list of stores that would soon close or cut back. Snopes.com did confirm some of the information in that email but, more importantly, some of the references to store closings didn't bear out.
Fabulous & Frugal: Bail Outs, Stimulus packages, Recession, Oh My!
Against the backdrop of the historic April 2009 bankruptcy of shopping mall developer, General Growth Properties, there's also controversy about planned retail closings in 2009. Some analysts believe the numbers quoted are too high.
And recently the website 24/7 Wall Street announced 12 brands that will disappear before the end of 2010. Maybe they will, maybe they won't.
Does this kind of crystal ball speculation help or hurt?
There was a time when Sears, Roebuck and Co. was the world's largest retailer and the Sears Tower was the world's tallest building. That was then, this is now. Wal-Mart and Taipei 101 have changed things, big-time.
But just because the Sears Tower has lost its standing in the competitive club of tall buildings, is that any reason for it to lose its moniker, too?!
Is a Rose Still a Rose?
This year the venerable Sears Tower becomes ...the Wills Tower. Willis?! Are Chicagoans open to the idea of having the name of a once record-breaking signature landmark changed from Sears to Willis?
How well have things gone for the Marshall Field store on Chicago's State Street after it was renamed Macy's? Not so good. We Chicagoans are a very proud people. When we name something we like it to stay named.
On a side note...
Tall buildings do have a certain status. But take it from someone who used to work on the 61st floor of the then Sears-soon-to-be-Willis Tower. When the wind blows, the cradle does rock...
There's a right way and a wrong way to reboot a franchise.
Generating $200 million in the first 3 weeks of its release is a good sign that J.J. Abrams's Star Trek prequel is on the right track. It's already the biggest film of the 30-year old motion picture franchise.
And the movie is getting good marks for its direction, casting and eye-popping special effects. The Corvette scene is a stunner. But even with all this going for the new Star Trek, another important factor helps fuel its success.
The people who made the movie know who really owns the franchise.
Who owns it?
Not William Shatner who starred in the original television series. Not the estate of the late Gene Roddenberry, the man who created the concept. Not even Paramount who has the legal rights to the franchise.
Fans own the franchise.
Shareholders invest dollars into an enterprise (pun intended), but a TV show or movie audience invests something even more precious --time and energy eagerly spent connecting with a concept and its characters. When lightning strikes and a series like Star Trek succeeds, fans become the primary stakeholders.
Gene Roddenberry's canon guides this prequel:
Kirk outwits the computer in the Kobayashi Maru maneuver? Check.
Spock conflicted about being half Vulcan and half human? Check.
Sulu knows his way around a swordfight? Check.
Red shirt member of the beam-down party bites the dust? Check.
By showing fans proper respect, J.J. Abrams earned the right to put his own stamp on the film. And within the time-twisting element of the storyline, Leonard Nimoy, as Spock, gives the new crew the freedom to rewrite the history of the original television series as he passes the torch to the next next generation of Star Trek.
Buffy the Vampire Rebooter.
You already know that there's another TV reboot in the works that couldn't have gotten off to a rockier start.
Fran and Kaz Kuzui own the legal rights to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But, as every wildly loyal Buffy fan knows, Joss Whedon (who helmed the TV show and, as a relative unknown writer, penned the original movie), was the mastermind behind its success. And, for most viewers, Sarah Michelle Gellar is -- and always will be -- the definitive Buffy.
But Kuzui and Kuzui have apparently frozen these two Buffydom icons out of the upcoming reboot. Also, the early word is that none of the supporting characters from the TV series will make it to the big screen. What? No Spike?!
The next time you're making decisions about managing your own brand, whether it's a product, a service or your Facebook page, remember to save at least one dance for the ones that brung you.
Live long and prosper...
This is a picture taken some time in the mid 1950's of Miss Anna Hart, a brilliant and industrious woman from the south side of Chicago that we are more than proud to have been related to.
Actually, for the moment, we want to draw your attention to the box of detergent on the window sill on the far left side of the frame. Even though it's partially obstructed, you can clearly see the brand name.
Why is that important? Here's why...
The orange and yellow bulls-eye logo still graces this Procter & Gamble brand's line a half a century later.
How many products on the shelves today were even around 50 years ago? And of those, how many have held on to their marketplace logo for even half that long?
The enduring design, the handiwork of Donald Deskey, has had only minor modifications since introduced to the market in eye-popping day-glo colors in 1946.
Indications are that Tide, with +40% market share, continues to lead its rivals. Stealingshare.com attributes this advantage to the long-term emotional connection to the customer that Tide has worked hard to achieve.
There are Two Apocalypzian Marketing Lessons here:
1) If you find a good thing, stick with it
Many of us shop not so much for a particular brand name but familiar packaging that we've come to associate with that particular brand. If you're going to refresh the look of your brand, make sure the change is aligned with some major change in the offering. Otherwise, if it ain't broke...
2) Show a pending apocalypse respect but never overestimate it.
Tide logo has survived recessions, depressions, wars, international police actions, republicans, democrats and independents. No matter how dark the horizon looks, we'll get through it somehow.
Finding the absolutely cheapest price is the new American pastime.
Sears built its business from humble beginnings by offering its products organized around the idea of good/better/best, a value equation based on providing acceptable quality at an affordable price.
But Wal-Mart shifted the paradigm and the consumer collective embraced a new raison d'etre -- cheap is king.
At one time the buzz phrase was planned obsolescence. We actually worried whether manufacturers were deliberately short-sheeting us on quality.
But over recent years, many corporate touchstones of quality have crumbled and turned to dust. Quality is Job #1; Total Quality Management; ISO 9000 and Six Sigma just don't seem so important anymore.
As one of the unfortunate aspects of globalized manufacturing, cheaper became more important than better, as Wal-Mart, and many other cost-cutting profit-seekers proceeded to hang-ten as they surfed the cheap-beats-good sea-change.
Perhaps the tony stores on the other end of the price spectrum missed a cue. While the discounters shouted, "We're cheaper!," maybe the upscale retaiers could have responded, "Yeah, but our stuff lasts longer!," if, indeed, it does.
After all, in the long run it's cheaper to buy something for $10 that will last for 5 years than to buy something for $5 that will only last one week beyond the one-year warranty expiration, yes?
Guy Kawasaki has been talking about this for a long time.
Building a brand isn't just about shouting louder. It's about spreading the word meaningfully, with precision and impact. That's what the new movers and shakers are trying to doing through viral marketing.
But this new approach seems somehow more akin to PR than traditional marketing.
CRT/Tanaka tells the story perhaps as well as anyone. They claim to help build brands via social networking. Companies like this one don't come up with cartoon elves baking cookies or leprechauns hiding breakfast cereal. They use the new media to weave their brand message into the fabric of our day to day experiences.
If that's where we're headed then we've come a long way, baby.
A 60 second package of snappy taglines and catchy jingles used to rule the advertising world. Here's what Pepsi was doing in the 1960's to try to win the Cola Wars by appealing to people who think young...
That's the silky smooth voice of Joanie Summers, BTW. As an aside, do you get the feeling watching this that younger people were a lot older in the 1960's?
Joanie Summers meet Maria Sansone.
But Pepsi's trying to win over a new generation now and they're using viral marketing to do it. Compare that vintage 60 second spot to what they're doing today with Pepsi's PopTub.
Better yet, check out what Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane is up to with his Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy, in alliance with Priceline and Burger King.
Do you think it's time for the Mad Men Ad Men to move aside and let the PR guys take over? How well do you respond to the viral approach? Who's doing the best job of it? Who isn't?
Sometime, maybe around 1956, someone recorded a fairly bad rendition of Turkey in the Straw and sold it to every Ice Cream Truck vendor in the US. Somebody thought that the discordant chimes of that tune would induce children to crave an icy treat. And now more than a half a century later -- at least in this neighborhood -- the beat goes on.
But Marketing Brillo reports a twitterific innovation. Kogi, famous for the Korean Taco (an innovation in itself), uses trucks that send out tweets telling potential customers what corner they'll be stopping at next. Kogi's followers then know where and when to go to buy Asian-Mexican meals right off the truck.
I think Kogi may even have its own theme song, which is not, BTW, Turkey in the Straw. Thank Goodness!
Starbucks hopes that Via, their recent introduction, builds a necessary bridge from self-indulgence to affordability. When Starbucks owned the world with kitty-corner shops on nearly every corner, they might have scoffed at the possibility that instant coffee was in their future. But sometimes karma can be a real distaff mongrel.
But don't call Via instant java.
The politically correct term is Ready Brew.
Can Starbucks reinvent itself? Smart money wouldn't count them out just yet. Anyway, some of the early reviews are good and Barista Tracy at my local Starbucks gives Via a thumbs up!