Sunday, February 28, 2010

Has Your Marketing Seen The Light

My brother was in town last weekend and asked if I wanted to go for an after-dark bike ride. Normally, though I might make an occasional run to the store after dark, my bike riding is most often confined to daylight hours, essentially for reasons of safety and timing. Tonight however, since I don't often have a chance to ride with my bro, I accepted and off we went.

We didn't ride that far and stayed in and around the neighborhood, riding the roads I've ridden for years. And, though I knew the location of just about every bump and pothole along the way, and had the benefit of a small headlight, street lights, and full moon overhead, I still managed to discover things along the way I've never noticed. Whether it was a house's nighttime accent light shining on a certain element of a home I'd never noticed before, the way moonlight filtering through the trees danced over roofs, yards, and streets, or just the way different sounds filtered in through the calm evening air, it seemed that, in the darkness, I noticed something new around every corner of the roads I've literally ridden hundreds of times in the daylight.

So, what does my exercising enlightenment have to do with advertising? Well, consider how you market your business and how people view your business. You may have made hundreds or even thousands of impressions with your advertising but, if you want to grow your business, you still need to reach those customers with whom you haven't made an impression. Further, unless you blanket all forms of media with your ads for years on end, there are still plenty of customers who may not be fully or even partially familiar with your business.

So, how can you show your business in a different light? It's by doing just that; use a different light to highlight your goods or services. Work within your budget and spread out your radio buys to different stations and formats. Buy TV in a different day part. Run newspaper (if you actually still believe in newspaper) in a different section. Do something new with your website, like adding a blog (which will engage your visitors and allow you to show a side of your company an ad won't) or changing the homepage layout. Buy an outdoor board. Update your trade show displays. Use your brochures to not only sell your goods or services, but to also tell the story of your company. Put out a press release highlighting new hires, company news, or participation or sponsorship of events. In other words, do whatever you can to shine a light on every facet of your business so that new and existing customers can always discover something new and different about your products or services. Embrace social media.

It's said that everything looks different by the light of day. That may be true but, just as my nocturnal bike ride showed me things I'd never noticed, to find new customers and retain existing ones, you might need to take a shot in the dark with your marketing to shine a brighter light on your business.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Bowl Ad Awards For The Non-Poetic

By now, the 40-some minutes of Super Bowl advertising have been sliced and diced a thousand different ways. And, while there are plenty of opinions of the best and worst, funniest and failures, award winners and money wasters, noteworthy and not worthy, I'd like to dole out a few accolades of my own that vary just a bit from the standard ad awards.

The Water Cooler Winner

The CBS Late Show promo with David Letterman/Oprah Winfrey/Jay Leno

This was easily the most talked about ad on Monday. For me, on first glance, I thought surely Leno's appearance was a digital trick, but further viewings showed it was Jay live and in person, which made it even more noteworthy. Some nice brand polish for CBS, The Late Show, Letterman, and for the guy who needed it the most, Jay Leno.

"A" For Execution But... Award

Google Parisian Love

The ad critics said "Wow!" but everyone else seemed to say "Why?" Execution-wise, it was simple, wonderfully done, and cut to heart of Google's content and function. However, most non-ad folks (and even some poets) were nonplussed and wondered why Google needed to even bother with a Super Bowl ad when they own 90% of the market. Fact is Google, in their quest for Internet domination, has their sights set on search advertisers and small business owners, as well as well-financed competition in the form of Microsoft's Bing. A little brand enhancement on a big stage couldn't hurt.

Honorable mention: The Intel spot featuring the moping robot. Well done, funny, and a Top-5 TiVo most watched ranking but, like Google, it left viewers wondering why the item that dominates the market felt the need to advertise.

The WTF Award

A tie between KGB, Boost Mobile, and TruTv/NFL Full Contact

Offering a pay-per-use text message question answering service (sorta like Google, but not free), KGB was well ahead in the WTF competition with their Sumo spot (that did little to fully explain what the hell they offered), until Boost Mobile rolled out their poorly produced Boost Mobile Shuffle spot that was a parody of the Chicago Bear's Super Bowl Shuffle video from 1985! The original Super Bowl Shuffle video was brutally bad and resurrecting it and some of its' principals 25 years later made me think Boost Mobile was selling a male sexual enhancement product. Finally, if you were late getting back to the TV after halftime, you might have missed TruTv/NFL Full Contact's spot taking off on the Punxatawney Phil groundhog ceremony that used a creature that looked like a sinister cross between Troy Polamalu and a troll doll. And I'm still not sure what in the world they were selling...

Best Pointless Celebrity Appearance Award

Vizio trotted out Beyonce to sing and look lovely...for a few precious seconds, until she was whisked away by a dark, menacing robotic claw and deposited into a giant industrial stew that contained zombies, dentists, and seemingly every Internet app icon known to man, as well as plenty of pop culture references past and present. By the time it was over, I found myself suffering from icon overload and had pretty much forgotten Beyonce was in the spot to being with...

Animated Animal Award

While I've always said, "You can't go wrong with monkeys on Super Bowl Sunday," chimps were strangely absent this year. Instead, this Super Bowl 44's best animated animal was's fiddling beaver. Nicely executed, showed in plain terms that there's a job for everyone at, and more importantly on Super Bowl Sunday, it did it all while still being entertaining.

And finally...

The Please, For The Love Of God, Go Away! Award

This one was the easiest for our judging panel (me and the office dog) to decide and I'm not even gonna dignify it with a link:'s spot with Danica Patrick and her stripping (insert overly excited, well endowed female role here). The concept was cute and naughty when they first did it several years ago, but now it's just stale. I'm sure the only thing that's changed is the amount of nudity on the website you're directed to so one can see the "too hot for TV" content (not that I've even bothered). And if you're gonna look at naked women on the Internet, you're surely not gonna go to the site (errr...ummm...from what I hear). Granted, having Danica Patrick onboard as an endorser is big, especially since she's now making a run at Nascar, but would be better served in the future to fake the tease and use the opportunity to actually extoll their virtues, lest they risk becoming known more for their risque ads than their actual web-hosting and domain name registering services...

So there you go, my take on Super Bowl 44's ads...with no Doritos, no Bud Light, and no poetry. Now, when does the 2010 football season start again?