Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Kraken Rum ad breaks the surface

But which of those tentacles is carrying the message?

Two variations on this awesome new 3D concept popped up over the weekend; greeted with instant social chatter.
Images courtesy of AdWeek (wanted to get out and see for myself but it won't stop raining).
The dame is in distress just off Fullerton while her male counterpart struggles for survival somewhere off North Ave in Wicker Park.

Totally cool, but now that you’ve our attention, what do you have to say?

Kraken gains possession only to drop the ball in the end zone (Sorry. With the Super Bowl this weekend, I couldn’t resist the analogy).  

What do you want?

Give us some simple and sweet messaging that rewards the mind for the eyes’ attention.
Kraken should tell us (in just a few carefully clever words) what makes them worthy of our patronage.

Against the competition

Maybe those tentacles should be strangling someone else? Ahoy, Captain Morgan?!

Seriously, when your mascot is a mythical sea beast and the competition’s front man is a sea captain, shouldn’t the story write itself?

The message should be a no-brainer!

High Impact Imagery

Another route; maybe the Kraken isn’t keen on picking fights just yet?
Fine – use the imagery in a more literal sense.
get swept/carried away | (release) the beast (has been released)

So each quick sample blurb is already reminiscent of other products, you get the idea.

Kraken Rum is rich, strong and smooth (I just may have a bottle back home) – tell us why that’s good better than anything else out there!

Monday, January 28, 2013

If I didn’t work in marketing, I’d conduct a subway train.

Seriously. Ask anyone who really knows me and they’ve heard me say it.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) just upped the cost of my monthly pass by 16%, but I can’t help it. I love mass transit by rail. I’m obsessed with it.

Urban Ingenuity

There’s something about it all I can’t help but marvel. 

The always-on, always dirty crawl; the crazy people you see, (or try to avoid seeing); it’s one wild ride – even when stopped motionless between stations. I love it all!

And so, while this weekend was particularly quiet, I combed the web for old subway train advertisements and stumbled upon this stroke of brilliance produced by McCann for Melbourne Metro Trains just last November.

Dumb Ways to Die a message from Melbourne Metro Trains produced by Tangerine Kitty.

Why does it work?

1. It’s catchy.
"Use your private parts as piranha bait?!" Damn catchy, I’d say. The track produced by Tangerine Kitty is available on iTunes, which leads me to believe I’m not the only one that can’t stop swaying along to the refrain long after my headphones fall silent.

2. It’s adorable. (Even with vomit and blood and implied murder by Friday the 13th-like slasher).
There’s no preaching in the campaign. Serious PAs can lose impact with too much repetition and no one wants to be emotionally manipulated.

3. It’s universal.
I don’t have to live Down Under to get a chuckle out of the campaign – each character’s simple story transcends the context of the region for simple, mass appeal. And I must say I was a bit surprised not to find product versions of the characters available online for purchase. Plush dolls, stickers, or collectible figures – they have broader market potential!

It’s marketing gold.

When they start swaying during the refrain, each time growing in numbers – you just can’t help but smile. And it’s January – the LONGEST month EVER. We could all use an extra smile or two. :)
Sample print.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A New Bird in the Sky? American Airlines

Who said bankrupt companies can’t spend gobs of cash on rebranding?

Image is important; you’ll hear no argument of the contrary here.

And when you’re staring the prospect of dissolve dead in the face; image can be the Hail Mary pass that keeps you in the game.

You’re clear for takeoff, New American Airlines…
I thought it was older…

Designed back in 1968, the current mark is quickly approaching 50. How can something feel so iconic and yet so ordinary at the same time? Helvetica bold with tight kerning; is that what it boils down to? And while the red feels a bit brighter, I know that blue is straight off the American flag.

The eagle is the most inspired piece of the puzzle, but rigid and hard – more suited to stand for a government entity or military service. A quicker glance and it almost looks like an abstract take on the cancer support ribbon (sans top fold).
The new AA…

For the first time, AA’s logo and brand feel separate but equal parts of the full identity.

Here the font is just a touch more casual; sharp edges are sanded down for a softer, less drastic appearance. Gone is the Betsy Ross era of shared colors. The new brand bestows upon the text a rich navy-gray while the logo itself calls upon a bright range of both red and blue.

And what about that “logo?” Is it a bird? Is it a plane (wing)? Maybe both. Regardless, it gives the brand some depth and movement that the old logo lacked.
Applied to product, the introduction of a third brand element on the tail is lost on me. It feels a bit too patriotic (the bad kind) and basic; as if it should be eminent domain of the American people and not tied to an individual brand (however “American” they may be).

Why not simply apply the new eagle/wing logo to the tail?

So, what do you think?

We approve.
The first new logo of the year, and it couldn’t have gone to someone more in need.
How did we miss AA when we assembled our 2013 new logo wish list?

But will the change be the fresh start American needs or just a blip on the radar as they fade into the sunset?

Only time will tell, but never underestimate the power of new visuals.

The key lies in follow-through. A logo is highly salient; but all brand interactions, customer service, in and outside the cabin, need to follow suit if AA has any chance of escaping the ailing sentiments now associated with their name.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Who, What, and Why, T-Mobile?

Happy New Year, y’all.

Personally speaking, 2012 was one of the best years I’ve come across in a while; leaving some big shoes for 2013 to fill. The arrival of January always puts me in a bit of a funk – how is it only the 10th?! I swear this year is off to an especially slow start. It’s been like trudging through thick, ankle-deep mud.

It goes without saying that I’ve been a bit uninspired as of late. In the world of Marketing and Advertising, nothing has really caught my attention.

And so I’ll pick on T-Mobile’s domestic strategy.

It's been bothering me for at least 6 months. I just don’t get it.

How did we go from this…

…to this?
And more importantly why?

The old ads were kitschy and cute; T-Mobile was the anti-establishment of mobile phone companies. Bright, fun, and non-threatening – if you were sick of dealing with the big guys T-Mobile was for you!

Speaking chronologically, I know it happened shortly after the merger with AT&T fell apart.

Maybe marketing at T-Mobile went on auto-pilot during the review process (I mean, you can’t rally against the big guys if you’ll soon be part of them, now can you?).

But speaking strategically!?

When AT&T-Mobile was found out not to be, T went back to the drawing board and kicked campaigning into high gear (literally).
This commercial is perhaps the worst of them all. That chant will get in your head and grate on your soul, I promise.

What’s the point of touting 4-G coverage when you can’t claim superiority over the competition?

"Largest." Do they just assume consumers na├»ve enough to ignore Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint’s take on 4-G? The new campaigns feel as though T-Mobile is the damaged ex-girlfriend, hell bent on showing the world she’s better off alone. She’s stronger, faster and out for mobile domination.

But how can you be out for blood when you’ve the least robust coverage and worst line up of smart phones? (STILL T-Mobile’s retail shelves sit hungry for iPhone).

Is the new attitude supposed to resonate with men?

Each commercial does feel like an animated spread for some G-rated version of Maxim magazine. But what macho guy wants to be caught walking into a store dripping in that hot, magenta pink?

Is the new attitude supposed to resonate with women?

Trading her simple pink dresses for black leather cat suits, something tells me our favorite T-Mobile heroine isn’t motivating any more of her lady brethren with motorcycle racing and dark alley strut-abouts.

Will someone clear the fog for me?

Who is T-Mobile trying to attract?
What is T-Mobile selling?
And Why is it a smart business move?

BONUS: In doing my (minimal) research, I re-discovered this gem from December 2011. It might just be my obsession with Christmas cheer, but THIS is the T-Mobile I loved. It just felt more genuine: