Big Tree House or a Small Tree House?

I know it’s been a while since my last post. Forgive me, junior year has been far more strenuous than I initially anticipated. Between applying for scholarships (something my father insists that I do), schoolwork, and hounding Seattle Ad agencies to see which are in need of a summer intern, my spare time is just that…spare.

This post, however, is not to discuss my personal life so much as my favorite tv advertisements as of late. I’ve got to hand it to BBDO Atlanta as the commercials they’ve produced as part of AT&T’s “It’s Not Complicated” campaign are creating a serious amount of buzz, and rightfully so. My family appreciates them so much that they’ve become part of an inside joke among us. We quote them even when they’re not airing. They’ve made an impression to say the least. Mimicking professional focus groups, these commercials follow Beck Bennett, an actor famous for his YouTube series “Fresh Perspectives”, as he moderates a group of kindergarten correspondents. While Beck plays a cynical John Stewart-like character, his interaction with the kids is sarcastic yet tasteful. I believe these tv advertisements masterfully balance both creativity and professional humor–2 characteristics I admire in the ad world. They use the children in order to call attention to the “bigger” concept, literally. By asking, “What’s better, a big tree house or a small tree house?” Bennett is indirectly referencing the scope of AT&T’s broadband network and how uncomplicated the decision is for those seeking excellent coverage. Even the kids know that bigger is better.

Though these commercial have been around since before the holiday season, BBDO’s recently produced some newer versions catered specifically to the NCAA “March Madness’ Tournament. As a sports fan, I find these versions especially hilarious and relevant. Not only do they highlight aspects of the tournament and basketball in general, they again make the audience think about AT&T’s superior service. Any company that has me laughing out loud, due to creative adverting of course, must have the product to back it up…right? Again it is the creative minds behind the scenes that have the largest impact. With talent on both sides of the camera, it is the power of advertising that never ceases to amaze me.

In terms of balancing my overly busy and often times overlapping college schedule I should follow the kids’ simplistic advice. Just like a “pickle-role”, doing two things at once is always the more productive option.

Doing two things at once is better.


Unveiling of a New Chapter

Ta-da! Finally my website is complete…empty, but complete. I have yet to create anything I deem professional enough to put in a portfolio that will be looked at by future employers. I’m neither worried nor discouraged. I have created a platform on which I will build my career. I’m only a sophomore therefore I have a lot more to learn. I know those squares will be filled eventually with insightful, innovative and experienced work that will set me apart from the pack. With this website I have committed myself to a life of advertising and though my career path may change, as of now I am a slave to creativity and strategy. I want nothing more than to build lasting relationships between brands and consumers, and have fun while doing it.

I am ready and willing to take on the ad world. Admittedly I still need a little direction, but hey why else am I spending endless amounts of time and energy behind a classroom desk?

In case you’re interested here is a link to my “shell” of a website which includes my resume, about me and link to this blog.

Siri-meets-celebrity Campaign

In Apple’s newest iPhone campaign celebrities get personal with Siri–the voice- activated assistant for the iPhone 4. Zooey Deschanel converses with Siri about the weather and puts in an order for tomato soup after deciding to stay inside. Samuel L Jackson uses Siri’s help to plan date night. And in Apple’s latest installment John Malkovich gets personal with Siri, interacting with her as one would with any human being. Rather than asking about the weather or how many ounces are in a cup Malkovich talks “life” with Siri and it seems as if the two really do understand each other.  In his second commercial Malkovich asks a series of one-word questions which with Siri answers in full detail. She even cracks an iPhone joke. Showing Siri’s interactions with these actors gives a better idea of how one individual could best make use of the personal assistant over the course of a day. As opposed to Apple’s previous commercials which tend to focus solely on the product these new spots use celebrities in their advertising. In allowing their audience to see people interact with the products, Apple is attempting to be not only high-tech but relateable as well.  I believe TBWA\Media Arts Lab effectively created a campaign to make Siri your new best friend.

Ice Cream Lockdown

A way to safeguard my ice cream? Now that’s innovation. Thanks to the Euphori-lock, an invention that literally lets you lock up your favorite Ben and Jerry’s pint, I can sleep at night knowing my ice cream is safe from my roommates and their wandering spoons. Available soon, this gadget physically represents just how precious Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is. John Russell, Director of Marketing at Tillamook, described the company side of advertising in creative strat this morning.  As opposed to the agency side of advertising this idea comes from the company (client) side. The Ben and Jerry’s brand  is responsible for its own marketing and projects such as this. It was actually a fan who came up with the concept for the Euphori-lock, Ben & Jerry’s merely appropriated the resources to make this ice cream dream a reality. John Russell would have put this piece of branded merchandise in the “bucket” category of Marketing entitled Other. But regardless of where this invention is placed in the spectrum of Ben and Jerry’s’ marketing it is nonetheless genius and speaks effectively to the customer’s needs. Ice cream security is no joke, especially if you like to savor your pints the way I do (most people do not have this ability, it’s a gift).

From New Zealand to America No Time to “Settle Down”

The music scene today is often considered to be swamped with excessive glam and not always a lot of depth. Don’t get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for flamboyant singers such as Rihanna and Nicki Minaj. Not to mention my closet obsession with Lady Gaga. It is their extravagance and glamour which truly sets them apart in the eyes of the public. Yet amidst all the glitter and theatrics there comes an artist who’s not afraid to wander in her own direction. With her refreshingly subtle and melodic voice, upcoming artist Kimbra marries sounds both old and new, playful and aggressive. A New Zealand native, she signed first with independent label Forum 5 and then with renowned Warner Bros. Records in 2011. Though she released her first single Settle Down in 2010, it wasn’t until recently, after she collaborated with Gotye on his song Somebody That I Used to Know this year, that her name became a popular YouTube search. The track peaked at number 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and launched the 22 year old songstress to fame.

What have we been missing?

Not only does her music have an upbeat and lighthearted sound, but her music videos are controversial! Who doesn’t appreciate the irony in that? While Kimbra’s first, and now most popular, song Settle Down sounds whimsical, starting out with nothing more than handclaps and beatboxing, its lyrics describe a not so happily ever after. It tackles the uncomfortable topic of marriage in 2010…or should I say divorce. In an interview with Bark + Bite, Kimbra explained how her song capitalizes on “the danger of expecting perfection in something external and rushing too quickly towards that ideal.” We tend to put so much importance on the ideas of commitment and stability that in reality most marriages cannot live up to such high expectations. Kimbra’s song embraces this fault in the human condition by contrasting it with the image of youth–a young girl and her dolls. In her music video she uses a young girl as the image for adolescence and naiveté. She contrasts this with the image of an inanimate husband, a much older man in his late 20’s, who ultimately has an affair with another little girl. Through out the video Kimbra is shown standing in front of a large shelf filled with dolls. In the final scene she is joined by the two little girls and the dolls catch on fire as all three of them dance together. Representing women’s childhood expectations, which date back to the days of playing house, the dolls are destroyed. This idea of the perfect marriage is ingrained in our minds since we are old enough for tea parties with imaginary friends. Not trying be cynical, because I for one have witnessed many a happy marriage, I agree with Kimbra’s message: that this is an issue which pervades society today.

Kimbra’s album Vows, already released in New Zealand and Australia, comes out today in the US and Canada!

Follow her @kimbramusic

And please peruse this one at your own leisure. You’ll be glad you did.

In Honor of My Brother’s Birthday

In all honesty this ad campaign for Tipp-Ex white out has to be one of the most interactive of it’s kind. Created by French agency Buzzman A Hunter____ a Bear is a truly unique YouTube experience. Keeping me occupied for hours, which could have easily been spent on the production of five more blog posts, the first Tipp-Ex Bear commercial took audience involvement to a whole new level. Though distributing the advertisements through more than one page is somewhat annoying, it is also genius. The creative minds at Buzzman knew the power of YouTube and utilized its immense audience to their advantage. By adding an element of interactivity they not only presented Tipp-Ex white out in an innovative way, but also created a YouTube sensation responsible for many lost hours at the office (or library in my case). At first the ad starts like any other YouTube video but towards the end the viewer is given the option to either “shoot the bear” or “not shoot the bear” either link takes you to a new window where Tippexperience a custom YouTube experience resides. On this page the hunter white’s out (with Tipp Ex of course) the word “shoots” in Hunter Shoots a Bear and asks the viewer to type anything he or she wishes in its stead. By writing things like “drinks with” and “dances with” the viewer can then watch sequences in which the bear and hunter do various activities together. All in all it’s pretty cool.

But the creatives at Buzzman must have known that today was my little brother’s 16th birthday because they decided to launch their newest attraction, the sequel entitled “Hunter and Bear’s 2012 Birthday Party” just 6 hours ago. In this segment our two favorite characters the hunter and the bear are back in action having what appears to be a birthday party. A meteor approaches and the viewer is given another ultimatum, either “end the party” or “don’t end the party”. Regardless of which option the viewer chooses he or she is again taken to Tippexperience 2, a second custom YouTube page. With a little help from some Tipp Ex white out tape the title becomes “Hunter and Bear’s ______ Party” where the viewer is instructed to type any year in which he or she wishes to continue the party. By typing in different years different hunter/bear segments stereotypical of that particular year are shown. Needless to say this is more of a Tipex-takeover than a Tipex-perience. Not often do I find myself spending over 5 minutes on the same YouTube video.

Also a shout out to Ryan Peart, my favorite (and only) brother in the entire universe! On this day you came into the world and there isn’t a day that’s gone by where I haven’t been thankful for your glorious existence. I miss you but we shall be reunited in approximately three weeks. Until then I love you and GO GET YOUR LICENSE! I know you don’t want your big sister chauffeuring you around forever! Or maybe you do…?

We Rise Together

I’ve seen this commercial possibly a million times. Though the message is inspirational on its own, it is the way it is presented that truly engenders a genuine reaction. Above the Influence an advertising campaign of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign conducted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the United States sends the message that in abstaining from drugs and alcohol you are not alone. To give teens the strength to stand up to societal pressures, the ad campaing is offering “hard facts about drugs, reasons why living Above the Influence is better than living under, and stories from real teens.” Its newest commercial features various young people explaining how and why they choose to stay above. What’s even more influential is that they do this through social media. The commercial shows YouTube videos that teens submitted themselves as part of the We Rise Together campaign. It also shows them “liking” Above the Influence on Facebook to let the audience know that millions of others feel the same way about drug and alcohol abuse as they do.This sense of online community acts as a support system in the ad encourages non-abusers to “stay strong” and “just be yourself”. In todays society it is hard to define oneself on his or her own. Most of the time we need help and motivation from others to fight societal pressures. This ad effectively demonstrates that help and the calling to share your story. It could be the difference between use and abuse in someone else’s life.

Buttered Cat = Infinite Energy

Bizarre cannot even begin to describe this ad for Flying Horse energy drink.

Its content did, in fact, have me lol’ing in the Knight Library despite it’s ridiculous plot line. After several encounters with admonishing eyes and an instantaneous re-collection of my former self, I deemed it’s message effective to say the least.

The impact of the ad on me personally might have had something to do with my love of cats and the hilarity I attribute to anything with feline involvement. The idea that cats always land on their feet meshed with the concept of buttered toast always falling butter-side down lay the groundwork for this commercial–the indirect source of my library humiliation.

Adweek writer Gabriel Beltrone (as well as Wikipedia) labels this phenomena: the buttered-cat paradox, a term I didn’t even know existed until reading his Adfreak article. He too comments on Ogilvy & Mather Brazil’s ability to amuse its audience with outlandish scenarios while still emphasizing the energy drink itself. He encourages his readers to, “Laugh on, and hope the same formula hasn’t actually found it’s way into your beverage.”

Pepsi’s New Global Campaign: YOLO

I find it interesting that Pepsi’s newest global campaign (as well as rap artist Drake’s song entitled The Motto) manages to successfully illustrate the aphorism on which I’ve based my entire life– You Only Live Once. Though their newest television ad seems somewhat apocalyptic, I commend their attempt at portraying a theme I hold in such high esteem. So high in fact, that I based my This I Believe assignment (for all you Gateway kids out there) on the concept of “living for the now”.

Here I will share with you an excerpt from said assignment:

What’s so great about the future? I believe that the way we perceive the present is just as, if not more significant than our visualization of tomorrow. Even the most organized and goal-oriented of people have to live life day by day. The future is always within reach but a moment can pass you by, which is why I am actively competing to transcend society’s relentless emphasis on the future; starting to live for the now and not some distant overrated achievement; ensuring that at the end of my days I’ll know that I lived each minute to its fullest, never regretting the time I spent with those close to me…
I am not condemning goals for the future nor am I promoting the eradication of aims and intentions. I am, however, announcing my theory that an excessive emphasis on the future impedes the ability to seize the opportunities which are currently available. While you read this paper, while you eat dinner tonight, while the little hand on the clock moves aimlessly forward into the abyss of tomorrow opportunities exist should you recognize them. Utilize the day because with night comes sleep and the rendered inability to do anything but dream.

While Adweek commentator, Emma Bazilian, criticizes TBWA\Chiat\Day’s “end of times” vibe which she claims is “played out at this point”, I believe a commercial like this is just the comeback that Pepsi needs. In the past few years PepsiCo Inc. has been focusing less of it’s tv ads on the star beverage and more on it’s health-conscious image, emphasizing products like fruit juice, oatmeal, and Gatorade. Now Pepsi is reverting to its old ways and highlighting its soda with the help of A-list music celebrities. It’s newest commercial stars singer Nicki Minaj.

I will admit that I find the tomato fight towards the middle of the commercial somewhat random and unrealistic, however, the overall message of Pepsi’s newest campaign is light-hearted and caters successfully to young adults. I feel the “Now in a Moment” theme resonates most strongly with this target audience because college students and the like often need a break from reality. While we are constantly bombarded with the impending future: the need to get our lives in order, pave a career path, and prepare for what lies ahead, it is these simple moments of uninterrupted bliss which get us through the day.

Mourning to Night

The loss of someone close to you is inexplicable. If by some miracle you can find the means to accept it, attaining closure is nearly impossible. With this being said, the passing of my friend Lil Pagenstecher had a complicated effect on me. Lil and I were never extremely close but her absence now effects my everyday life. We were friends through mutual friends and it is their infectious sadness which truly makes my heart heavy. Not to say that I am not sad in my own spirit, but seeing those who were close to her hurt so much is no easy task. I’ve never experienced the death of someone so close to my age. I still can’t seem to come to grasps with the fact that I will no longer see her at dancing at parties or crashing on my friend Rachel’s couch. She truly was a one-of-a-kind and genuine person. She lived by my favorite motto: You Only Live Once. In this case it seems ominously and sorely ironic but she, more than anyone I know, lived every day as if it was her last. A paper or a project with an impending due date would never keep Lil in on a Saturday (or Wednesday) night. She always put her own happiness first and for that I admired her. She did what she wanted, when she wanted and never underutilized a single moment. She lived fearlessly and without regret. It is unfair to think that I can continue on with my future while hers was cut so short. Which is why I’ve attempted to find inspiration amidst the tragedy. Lil would have wanted her friends not to dwell. She would’ve encouraged them to go on living their lives as she so  passionately lived hers. I will never know another person like her, and I will never forget her but I will abide by her wishes.

I will move on, and I will create, and I will live for Lil.

She will never know the profound effect she had on those around her. Watching the entire community gather at her vigil helped alleviate some of the pain. Seeing every member of greek life post on her Facebook wall assured me that she will remain in our hearts. She, on her own, brought together so many people and will continue to do so.

Rest in paradise beautiful girl.