When conventional ads don’t work

March 22, 2014

A plethora of media makes it much harder for advertisers to get their message across.

Newspapers are losing readers and recording options give television viewers options that allow them to skip the ads.

When conventional advertisements don’t work, advertisers have to come up with something that does.

What works is cleverness and fun that gets attention and then spreads through social media, like the Unbelievable Channel on YouTube.

It’s been created by Pepsi  and will be updated each week with people doing unbelievable things and of course it will spread through social media like this:

Hat tip: NBR


It began with a farmer

February 4, 2014

Competition for the American Super Bowl isn’t just on the field, it’s also among the advertisers.

This one is one of this year’s contenders:

It worked

July 15, 2013

An incident involving a Whittaker’s van crashing into Paeroa’s L&P bottle was a marketing stunt by Coca-Cola.

If the aim was publicity, it worked.


So God made a farmer

February 5, 2013

Each year the ads which play during the Superbowl generate as much interest as the game.

This has to be one of the better ones.

Update: CoNZervative has some background on Paul Harvey who does the commentary.

RIP Southern Man

November 3, 2012

Speights Southern man is a victim of increasing urbanisation.

After more than 12 years on New Zealand television, the Speight’s Southern Man has been axed . . .

The Speight’s icon was originally played by Frank Whitten, who also appeared in Outrageous Fortune. Mr Whitten died early last year. 

Speight’s marketing manager Jonte Goldwater told NBR ONLINE that scrapping of the character had nothing to do with the loss of Mr Whitten. . .

Mr Goldwater told NBR ONLINE it was a long and hard decision, but the brand needed to acknowledge change.

He says the urbanisation of New Zealand meant the relevance of the outdoor life had changed. . .

I don’t drink Speights, or any other beer come to that. But if I did the idea that the outdoor life depicted in the Southern Man series is no longer relevant would have me crying into it.

You can see the new ad here.

I may be a traitor to my gender but I prefer the old series which started with this:



Green or greenwash?

October 14, 2012

Green is the new black in marketing but all’s that labelled green isn’t necessarily good for the environment or the consumer.

A University of Canterbury researcher is slamming consumer goods companies for green-washing supermarket shelf items with a flood of eco-labels. . . .

UC College of Business and Economics research director Pavel Castka said today there were so many labels with products claiming all sorts of environmental and social issues that it was difficult to distinguish, which one to trust.

It’s easy to label something as eco-this or environmentally-friendly-that but such claims might be nothing more than green-wash.

Even if the claim can be substantiated it’s not the only concern for consumers:

New Zealanders are becoming greener when they think about what to buy, but only when the price suits, a survey has found.

Colmar Brunton’s Better Business Report for 2012 found that 73 percent of New Zealanders thought about at least one green factor when deciding what to buy.

But price (94 percent), quality (88 percent), taste or performance (81 percent) and brand name (76 percent) were all more important factors, the survey showed.

“We’re prepared to recycle and be more energy efficient at home but not quite ready to buy organic foods or offset carbon on flights en masse,” Colmar Brunton chief executive Jacqueline Ireland said. . . 

That last sentence illustrates the problem – recycling and organic farming are regarded as better for the environment but those claims aren’t always supported by science.

It was ever thus

October 4, 2012

A new consumer survey shows viewers try to avoid TV advertisements.

It was ever thus.

The ad break has always been the time to go to the loo, get a drink, attend to another task, chat to whoever is watching with you or do anything else rather than watch the screen.

We’re relatively recent converts to MySky. It’s an even more convenient way to record and watch programmes than videos and like them enables you to fast-forward through the ad breaks.

It saves a lot of time – an hour of news can be watched in 10 – 20 minutes by the time you cut out the ads and content you’re not interested in.

This is good for viewers but not for advertisers who must come up with other ways to catch our attention.

The Fair Go Ad Awards are on and the only one of the finalists I recognise is the MasterCard check-in one which features in both the best and worst category.

D’ ye ken wha’ he’s sayin’?

February 4, 2012

A reader emailed me this and wondered if I could understand it.

(Warning: it uses the word which manages to cross most language/accent barriers).

I dinnae have a problem and could understand every worrrrd he said.

My father was a Scot and while my friends all told me he had a really strong accent I couldn’t hear it.

But when we went to Scotland I had no trouble understanding the locals and often had to translate for my farmer.

Saying it doesn’t make it “green”

January 30, 2012

Quelle surprise – a label saying something’s  green doesn’t necessarily make it so:

Eco-friendly labels are becoming more ubiquitous, but they may be misleading.

Six cases of alleged “greenwashing” – the use of environmental claims that are unsubstantiated, misleading or irrelevant – are being investigated by the Commerce Commission .

“Green” is the new black but it’s very difficult to know what’s greenwash and what’s not.

[Commerce Commission competitions manager Greg]Allan said there had been cases when “biodegradable” and “recyclable” had allegedly been used for products, when there were not facilities in New Zealand able to do the biodegrading or recycling.

Even if the facilities were here how would we know what the environmental impact of the biodegrading and recycling was and if the cost of doing it was justified by the benefit?

The cost might not matter to the well-off but it would make the difference between affordability or not for many others.

That is not a justification for environmental degradation but a reminder that sustainability is the balance between economic, environmental and social concerns.

Accident or design?

January 8, 2012

Is this an accident or design, an oversight or a deliberate part of the campaign?

A French fashion retailer has apologised for a photo in which a naked man appeared behind a group of children advertising beachwear – but the image has gone viral on the internet.

In a tweet La Redoute  said that it “apologises for the photo published on its site and is doing what’s necessary to remove it.

But montages appeared on the internet showing the naked man in some iconic images such as the moonlanding.

Call me cynical if you will, but given the scrutiny and enhancement photos undergo before publication in a advertisements, I find it difficult to believe that nobody noticed the naked man.

People see what they expect to see and it’s possible to miss a gorilla, but people in advertising are paid to look. When so many pairs of eyes scrutinise advertisements during the design stage, surely at least one would have seen the man sans clothes.

Hat tip: Skepticlawyer

Who killed Rico

December 1, 2011

The appeal of Air New Zealand’s furry mascot Rico escaped me so I won’t be joining those who mourn his demise.

However, it appears foul-play was involved in his death while hosting a housewarming party in Los Angeles and Air New Zealand wants to find out who did it.

There are several suspects and Air NZ has teamed up with the makers of Cluedo to give fans the chance find out which of the suspects is the guilty party.

Air New Zealand is offering the winner return airfares for two to Los Angeles , five nights accommodation at a four star hotel and passes to Universal Studios and Disneyland . If the winner comes from Los Angeles , they’ll win a similar trip but to New Zealand including accommodation and tours.

You can find out more at byebyerico.

Telecom abstaining from abstinence campaign

August 18, 2011

Telecom has canned its abstain for the All Blacks campaign.

Sex sells but abstinence would have been a big ask, even if it was tongue in cheek.

A campaign asking people to abstain from something they chose to forgo might have worked.

The one exhorting New Zealanders to touch, crouch and not engage for six weeks ought to have been chucked in the bad-idea bin long before it reached the public.

Bad grammar good sign

July 8, 2011

The advertisement said: Next time you need an electrician, why not get them to . . .

It’s bad grammar to have a plural pronoun in place of a singular noun but the bad grammar is a good sign.

A few years ago the advertisement would have used him  rather than them.  

That it doesn’t is a sign of progress indicating it’s no longer accepted that an electrician will automatically be a bloke.

Desperate sign of desperation

May 28, 2011

It’s not my land and it’s not my city so the outcry over the plan to erect a Wellywood sign on a hill overlooking our capital passed me by until I realised I would be paying for it, albeit a tiny amount.

I fly in and out of Wellingtona several times a year, using the airport which is going to put up the sign and therefore some portion of the airfare I pay must be paying for this wanton wannabeness.

If you apply the adage  if you can’t be first you must be better to the sign then the airport board which wants to erect it appears to have got it wrong.

Imitation may be the most sincere form of flattery but it doesn’t necessarily make the imitator right.

Wellywood was a clever enough word play linking Wellington with Hollywood, but turning it into a sign which imitates the one which overlooks the USA’s film capital isn’t so smart. As  Lonely Planet  says:

Lonely Planet New Zealand commissioning editor Errol Hunt said he was “torn” on the idea of a Wellywood sign, seeing it as partly bold, and partly cringe-worthy.

“On one hand, it’s a bit cheeky, a bit quirky, which does feel right. On the other hand, the tryhard-o-meter is beeping furiously.”

Jim Hopkins says it even better:

It is, after all, simply evidence, writ large, of how provincial, insecure and derivative we can be.

If you have to try that hard to impress people, you really shouldn’t bother. Better to pull your bottom lip over your top lip and pretend you don’t exist.

The Wellywood sign is just the biggest, dumbest version of all those gormless billboards we see bestrewn along the roadside all over the country, halfway between nowhere and somewhere else. . .

Well, of course it’s tacky, y’ daft ha’porths!

But it’s not tacky enough. It’s limp tacky, wimp tacky.

It should be wacky tacky. If it’s going to be tacky, it’s got to be Oh! tacky. Nothing less will do. . .

Since all such signs and symbols invite derision, get in first. Create one that will transcend silliness and scale the highest heights of kitsch. Then, when people say, “Strewth, that’s awful!” you can reply, with a satisfied grin on your gob, “Thank you.”

That sums it up – the sign is bad, but not bad enough,  a desperate sign of desperation, not that I’m likely to see it.

In spite of many flights to and from Wellington I have  no idea which hill the sign is destined to despoil. I am usually reading, sleeping or,  in the case of Wellington sometimes more than exciting landings, praying, and don’t recall seeing a hillside on any descent or take-off. 

On my most recent trip a couple of days ago all I saw was cloud until just before we touched down and more cloud when we took off again yesterday.

Therefore, in the spirit of the tackiness of the sign and with apologies to Ogden Nash I leave you with:

Deck your grassy hill in signs, the hill is yours my sweeting,

 I’ll not see it flying in, nor when I’m retreating.

Appeal to mandom

November 11, 2010

The LTSA is appealing to mandom to stay in mantrol.

It’s a good concept – but Lindsay Mitchell points out that mantrol is a brand name for something else which may or may not be intentional.

What were they trying to sell?

October 22, 2010

ANZ took down  billboards  in Auckland and Wellington after a single complaint.

The offending slogan was: “In a perfect world, your son would grow up. And your daughter wouldn’t.”

What does that mean?

What were they trying to sell?

Who was stupid enough to think that was a good phrase to sell it?

Woman as meat

July 16, 2010

Montreal has banned a billboard showing actress Pamela Anderson in a bikini with her body marked as meat cuts.

The ad for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) says: “All animals have the same parts. Have a heart. Go vegetarian.”

The overt message is clever. But the subliminal message of woman as meat isn”t.

Would it be any better if it was a bloke?

Fizzy milk benefits from ban

June 17, 2010

Richard Revell wanted to sell his fizzy milk, MO2,  at the Fieldays but was told he couldn’t because another company had a contract which gave it exclusive rights for beverage sales.

That’s business but it’s not all bad.

The ensuing fuss over the ban has given MO2 much more publicity than it would have had if Revell had been able to have a stand.

He’s not skiting . . .

May 22, 2010

. . . about his own performance.

He’s a sheep breeder and he’s advertising his rams.

Where do you go for numbers?

April 11, 2010

Tim Selwyn at Tumeke! has been weighing up the Yellow Pages and reckons they’re getting smaller because of the recession.

That may have something to do with it but I suspect increased use of the internet has also contributed to less advertising in phone books.

I use a web search more and more. It’s usually faster, more up to date, the writing is bigger and the right way up.

It may be several years since someone had the not very bright idea of putting the yellow pages upside down in the phone book but it still irritates me that I have to turn the book upside down and back to front to get a number.


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