The Only Fashion Show You’ll Find in Prime Time

So many events are merely PR stunts in disguise. And while we’re on the down swing from award season, one of winter’s most scantily clad, yet mainstream events pops up, the Victoria Secret Fashion show. This year was no different. Over thirty six-foot beauties graced the runway in Swavorski-encrusted bras and panties representing themes from under-the-sea to superheros and the antebellum era. It’s amazing the ways you can dress up a thong.

The entire show was more of a beauty pageant than a runway show. Each of the women displayed her personality through her runway walk, the famous Vicki S kiss blow and behind the scenes footage that showed the model’s true selves. They showed the models during interviews and showing off pictures of their childhood including their “awkward” stages, which of course didn’t exist.

These moments changed the tone of the show. It wasn’t about showing off their bodies, but about showing off their personalities. They are a brand and although un-commonly gorgeous with figures not found in nature, they represent every woman. They were sexy, fierce and above all adorable. The feeling I came away with was fun.

That is the power of branding. Victoria Secret has always promoted itself as a lingerie store that made its customers feel comfortable. It’s not creepy to find a man wandering around inside, for a twelve year-old its common place and for a forty-something it doesn’t raise a question. The Vicki S Fashion Show tops off that message, by creating a sense of inclusion. With this behind the scenes view we feel like we know the Angels. We know in order feel as fierce, sexy and confident as they do we need that Vicki S special something. I mean, what woman doesn’t want to be an Angel?


Events are Advertisements Too

There are several events out there that were originally created as a publicity stunt to garner attention for some organization or industry. Some have been padded with so much tradition and grandieur that we have forgotten that they are just one big advertisement. One of the most famous being the Academy Awards, one enormously-publicized 3-hour celebration of the motion picture industry that has becoming a jumping off point for everyone from high-fashion designers to vodkas to audio equipment.

The ensuing spin-offs and replicas have had their own successes and failures. The MTV Video Music Awards, Soul Train Awards and the Latin Grammys, just to name a few were created not as a way to recognize and honor the year’s greats, but to promote their own name. Let us not forget that now, Grammy isn’t a person, but actually the Grammy Association that has its own goals, services and products to promote.

Samsung Exposes Apple Cult

Samsung’s new campaign shows Apple’s branding to Think Different. has ironically created a cult of blind followers.

Remember this ad?… well perhaps not as it’s circa 1983. At this point Apple’s branding was revolutionary as companies such as IBM and Microsoft dominated the personal computer space. Apple was different and innovative and called consumers not to be submissive to marketplace trends, but turn away from these ideas and think for themselves. The commercial, loosely-based on George Orwell’s novel Nighteen Eighty-Four that comments on a futuristic dystopian society, the commercial shows the human race reduced to a  crowd marching drones lead by the evil one, arguably IBM. Then like a beam of light a rescuer comes to set humans free and give them back their individuality.

Ironically, Apple has now become the IBM and created a group of conforming consumers who purchase anything Apple. They pay more, waiting in long lines to use and show off what they believe to be the best of the best. In 2011, Motorolla was first to reprise this ironic theme on the 25th anniversary of the famed Apple ad.

Samsung has done it again, pointing out that Apple has really become a behemoth and there are other, arguably better options available. It directly attacks the Apple brand, its product characteristics by stripping away the perception that they inspire creativity, individuality and innovation. It reduces all of us Apple users to into an army of marching minions.



Samsung commercial


Insurance commercials, in recent years have entered a tighter rat race than even the wireless carriers. Through that race have emerged a cast of characters with followings that even the advertisers didn’t predict.

Although there are several past and present- the Aflac duck, the Geico money stack  and the Geico cavemen who were so popular they earned their own TV spin-off- there are two characters that are so popular and recognizable that they are celebrities in their own right.


Allstate Mayhem

These Mayhem commercials are without a doubt hilarious. Dean Winters can personify anything from a deer in your headlights to an emotionally-unstable teenage girl with ease in a manner keeps us entertained but focused on the “mayhem.” It is what these personifications do to your car or property, which is important. The scare factor creates a sting in the back of your mind that makes you doubt whether your car is covered if a tree falls on it. Do I have enough coverage? Did I go with the right insurance company? Why did I name my own price?

The agency could have used this same concept, but rotated out the mayhem. They could have used an actual raccoon, a real satellite dish or a supermodel out jogging. But they didn’t, with minimal costuming and often none, Mayhem is able to transform into your blind spot, a snow storm or a quarter back. Mayhem is the consistency in the message. In a disheveled black suit, a bruised face and a single white bandage, we know the eminent, destructive power of his presence. He is the villain, the evil doer from which Allstate must provide protection.

At which point enters the second Allstate character, the white knight. Looking directly into the screen with calm reassurance and deep booming voice, Dennis Haysbert tells us that we will be in good hands with Allstate. He is the knowledgeable protector with information about how to get the best coverage while still staying on budget. He defends us from the unpredictable mayhem that threatens our cars and property.

The choice of actors wasn’t just because the two were the best to audition. Instead the good and evil elements of their characters has been well-established through their acting resume. Dean Winters has played the bad guy in his roles in “30 Rock,” “Oz,” and “Rescue Me.” While Dennis Haysbert has represented the trustworthy, respectable, authority with roles like the U.S. president in “24,” and the Sergeant Major in “The Unit.” Having preconceived ideas about these characters is a wonderful thing because consumers will transfer their opinions about these actors into their Allstate roles. Who thought sponsors could be typecast?

The two work flawlessly together as good and bad. Although they are never seen together in the same commercial, their relationship is clear. The Mayhem spots never end on a destructive note, but are saved with Dennis Haysbert voiceover that tells us how we can protect ourselves when mayhem comes to call.

Allstate guy
Allstate mayhem

Let’s Get Ethical

I write a lot about the power of advertising and how wonderful and inspirational ads can be. I know that advertisements don’t make everyone’s skirt fly up as they do mine and I agree that ads can be awful and annoying and at times I feel over-sold and fed up with all of the ad noise. I do believe there should be limits to advertisements and laws regulating where advertisements can be placed and who advertisers are able to target. I would like to start a new segment that brings forth issues and ethical dilemmas within the advertising industry that are of concern to us all.

And although these are very serious issues, I will include this video because it’s so funny and I love The Office. 🙂

Breaking Through the Clutter

This phrase is used all the time in ad agencies. Advertiserss have to “break through the clutter,” of all of the other messages out there that are working to get consumers to buy their products, donate to their cause or tune into their programs.When I say ad-crazed I mean it, we are over-saturated, over-sold, over-promoted and over-pitched. But with all of the advertising excess, there are a select few who manage to cut through all of that noise with a strategy that goes against all others.

These are the companies we remember, the ones we like and most importantly these are the companies whose products we purchase. I always give a bit of an applause to any company who is able to successfully cut through the clutter in an innovative way. Which is why each week I will recognize one campaign for successfully breaking through the clutter.

L’Oreal Shm’Oreal… The Uniformity of Beauty Ads

Every since I was old enough to be influenced by make-up ads, I have been intrigued by the  products advertised, but rarely did I purchase them. I believe that the cosmetic make-up industry, specifically those brands you can buy in drugstores,  have been sticking with a creative strategy for years that just isn’t very effective.  The problem is L’Oreal, Cover Girl and Maybelline (just to name a few) all seem to have adopted the same promotional strategy, which makes it tiresome to shut out all of the advertising noise in order to distinguish, remember and finally purchase a specific advertised product.

Let’s take a look at a couple average make-up ads, shall we? Try to remember the specific names of each make-up product advertised.

Watch more beauty ads here!

Google Takes Over the World

Google has been the best of the best for so long that I should have realized that slowly they would engulf the entire Internet. First they were the only name in search with their clean, white search page, intuitive results and witty,  artistic name plates that correspond with national holidays and the birthdays of famous innovators. These elements made Google the premium name in search engines. Remember Ask Jeeves? When was the last time you searched for something there? ….Exactly.

Then Google Images, Google Maps and Gmail. Everything that Google touched turned to gold, or shall I say Chrome? With Google’s browser, the acquisition of YouTube and the launch of Google+, Google has become the biggest of the big kids on the block. And now the Google Chrome’s TV spots make that statement perfectly clear by projecting the idea, Google = the Internet. There is no Internet without the power of Google. And with its multitude of applications, it seems that Google is trying to become the only place users need to go on the Internet. E-mail, got? Social networking, its there? Videos, streaming, blogging? Duh, they invented it.

These TV spots help prove that artistry, inspiration, family values and creating keepsakes do not die with advancing technology but are reborn, redefined and made better. Remember before the big BPA scare, the American Association of Plastic Manufacturers (that’s made up, I have no idea what they are actually called) released all of those “Plastics Make it Possible,” ads showing surgeons in hospitals and engineers and the such? Well, the Google Chrome ads remind me of that as they scream Google Makes It Possible. Google makes… fame, success, dissemination, ideation ….possible.

In case you haven’t seen them.

More inspiring Google ads!

Pan Am Takes off with Pandora

I discovered this little gem after watching the Pan Am permiere on Sunday and have just fallen heads-over-heels in love. This is my new go to station on Pandora and I am hoping that they keep around for a while and it isn’t solely for promotional purposes. The station is a beautiful collection of the sounds of the 1940s to 1960s from big band, to Motown, Beatles and of course Sinatra. What a wonderful way to promote the show using with transformative properties of song.

You can access the channel here.

Keep reading!

Where There’s Simon Cowell, There’s a Multi-Million Dollar Sponsorship

The X-Factor premiered tonight, praise it or boo it as you may, but there is something interesting happening here. But of course I don’t watch it for the singing talent, but for the million dollar commercial spots and the astronomically expensive sponsorship deals. The first thing I noted when the judges took there seats is the lack of a red Coca-Cola cup perched on the judges table in front of the grey-shirted Simon Cowell. But instead, a blue Pepsi cup. With Coca-Cola having sponsored American Idol for 11 consecutive seasons, it seems Pepsi and Coke are taking their rivalry to reality TV.

But this sponsorship goes much further than just obnoxious product placement, but Pepsi has actually created for themselves an explicit position within the music space. We all remember Brittany’s early 2000s commercial spot with warm nostalgia and yearning for the old Britney. Pepsi… for those who think young.  😉   But, Mariah Carey? Ray Charles? I don’t even remember Kanye and that couldn’t been that long ago. But here in the commercial below, we are reminded of what Pepsi has done with our favorite stars (or at least those who accepted the endorsement deals). Enjoy.

Where there’s Pepsi, there’s music. I say this with complete embarrassment, but the commercial gave me chills because of the sheer epicness of the greats who were included. I’d like to say this doesn’t happen often. But every Superbowl regardless of the 80 degree LA weather, I wear a sweater to cope with my sporatic chilliness. In addition to the strategically placed Pepsi cups along the judges tables, Pepsi is actually going to feature the X Factor winner in Pepsi’s Superbowl commercial. Shut up! I wonder if the money and the royalties from that commercial are part of the $5 mil they will receive.

Even though I rag (are people still saying that?) on Pepsi for latching themselves on to Simon’s balls and the ensuing money trail, this is the type of sponsorship that I live for.

Wait there’s more! Sorry I’m watching as I blog. Pepsi is even more involved in the X Factor. A social component! How innovative of them. So you can follow along with Facebook during the show and go “behind the scenes.” Again, so original. Of course this spot featured another music-related celebrity, Kevin McHale the wheelchair-bound character from Glee. I’m getting less impressed by Pepsi as we go. I was more impressed by the tweet lounge on The Voice, where the singers were tweeting live on some sponsored tablet.

What I couldn’t believe is how the stars sat their tweeting so nonchalantly before they were about to perform. I’d be shitting my pants, but I guess that’s why I’m not on television.

Anyway, I’m excited to see what else will come of this partnership. What do you think of X Factor? All it was cracked up to be?

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