It stopped my multi-touch gesturing fingers in their trackpad tracks. One of those rare occasions when social media pushes your pause button and makes you think. A tweet caught my eye long enough for me to physically write it down on a piece of honest-to-goodness, gen-u-ine paper (well, a sticky note counts). @hunterwalk tweeted, “Your brand is not your logo, name or tagline. It’s the promise you make to your community.” Read the rest of this entry »
I was out of the office last week attending the funeral of my grandmother. In her mid-eighties, this woman had survived the Great Depression, raised 5 children and lived long enough to dote on and enjoy 13 great-grandchildren. Over the years, she hosted countless parties and holiday gatherings for huge numbers of people. Her door was always open, and there was never a better hostess. However, what many of us remember most about my grandmother are Sunday dinners, where it was “just us.”
Even during these simple Sunday meals, Grandma insisted on setting the table with the “good” dishes. When her kids or grandkids would ask why or complain about having to do the prep and clean-up that went with that task, she always had the same answer: “We do this because your family is the most important company you will ever have.” Read the rest of this entry »
Using Lingo in Business Communications
Imagine you have just walked in on a conversation-in-progress between long-time friends when one references an inside joke that prompts rolls of laughter. You might smile politely, if not a little uncomfortably, and wait for one of them to explain the “you had to be there” moment. Although the story won’t prove to be all that funny (because you really did have to be there) there is no expectation that you should get the location joke without a point of reference. You are an outsider.
Inside corporate jargon is a lot like a location joke, and if you are the outsider who doesn’t get it, you could be missing (or misunderstanding) critical information. Conversely, if you are the offending party using undecipherable business-speak, you could be unwittingly alienating the people with whom you are trying to communicate.
So what is proper business etiquette surrounding business-speak? Is it incumbent upon the outsider to get up to speed, or should the acronym-happy insider have more consideration for his audience? As with all social mores, it depends entirely on the situation.
Effective communication is about creating clarity and understanding. If you are a new employee, then you had better dive in and learn the company lingo. If you are a potential customer, then you should expect thoughtful communication that you can clearly understand without the need to interrupt to ask for definitions. When creating marketing collateral, corporate jargon that refers to internal structures or product nomenclature (that is not a registered trademark) can easily confuse your audience and should be avoided entirely.
Rules of etiquette are created to ensure that everyone feels comfortable and knows how to behave in specific situations. If your spouse or your grandparent wouldn’t understand corporate-speak, don’t use it when addressing them or anyone who isn’t part of your field. And above all, don’t assume your clients or customers understand your vernacular; you need to use theirs. It’s polite, and it will help your business.
With all the great debate swirling around primaries and parties this season, I have become oddly intrigued by a rather unusual issue, one that has absolutely nothing to do with my politics. Read the rest of this entry »
Long before I joined the VantagePoint team, a bug crawled out from between the cushions on a couch in the middle of our art department during a daily traffic meeting. This one bug surprised the unsuspecting account executive who sat on the couch that morning—who, in turn, forever dubbed this couch, “the bug couch.”
I’ve never actually seen a bug descend from this couch, yet I still call it “the bug couch” like my colleagues and carefully eyeball the cushions before taking a seat. And last week, when a new account coordinator joined our team, what did we do? Warned her of the bug couch, of course!
My point? This otherwise clean, well-structured, comfortable couch had one bug many months ago, and its personal brand may never fully recover.
Duds. It doesn’t take more than a swipe of a page in a trade pub to spot them. Not duds like the clothing you wear, but duds like the 4th of July fireworks that don’t ever go off. You know, the ads that seamlessly camouflage themselves with everything else. Shiny stainless steel products, smiling operators in action, the next best “innovation” claim. Or maybe it’s the ad that tries so hard to be clever, but only turns out to be corny — yes, lots of those exist in the pubs I read. Read the rest of this entry »
So I’ve heard some folks spent tonight watching a football game. Me? I was too busy watching commercials, and that means it’s time for VantagePoint Marketing’s third annual Super Bowl commercial review. Here are my admittedly biased first impressions of each national ad (and a few locals too). I’ve tried to capture them as they happened, from kickoff to the closing plays, as they aired here in Greenville. (Want to catch them again, or see the longer version they couldn’t afford to air on the Super Bowl? Check them out on the NBC Sports website or on YouTube.)
So, without further ado:
Bud Light Platinum
Nice production values. But forgettable. Why do we need a platinum beer, exactly?
This is a perfect example of telling a story that supports a brand benefit – Audi’s relatively unique LED headlights. Very nicely done, with great editing and a well-crafted story (not to mention playing off the vampire theme that I’m sure more than a few folks would like to see come to an end very soon!). The end is a great touch (I won’t give it away if you haven’t seen it). Nice use of a Twitter hashtag in the commercial as well.
Not sure what a costume drama has to do with Pepsi, but it’s interesting to watch. At last Elton John has a real reason for an over-the-top costume, though. And the blackletter title screen is a nice touch – kudos to the art director.
Hyundai Velostar Turbo
Yep. A cheetah’s always a good way to demonstrate speed. Not sure we needed to see the critter turn on the guy, though. Pretty effective – you can’t leave the commercial without getting the impression of speed.
Bud Light Platinum 2
Yawn. Just another beer commercial with fake, good-looking people.
A naked M&M? Why, exactly? I love M&Ms, but have never really been a huge fan of their current commercial theme of turning-what-you-eat-into-a-character. And this one is less effective than some of the other previous incarnations. Pass.
“We created Words with Friends.” On a plane. Great touch. But I was so distracted by the joke that I didn’t get why Best Buy was doing the commercial. Not really effective in my book.
Coca-Cola Polar Bears
The CGI looks less “real” than some previous commercials. And not sure I really get the theme in just one viewing. Bring back the old bears!
Very effective way to show the Chevy Truck is strong. But the apocalypse theme is a little too depressing. (In fact, some scenes looked a little 9/11 New-Yorkish.) The “Dave didn’t make it. Dave drove a Ford.” “Twinkie?” exchange adds some important light-heartedness, though.
You know, I really wanted to like this commercial. A football made of tire tread had SO many opportunities for comedy and demonstration. But they threw it all away (pardon the pun) with a bizarre curving pass and a Deion Sanders temper tantrum.
Predictable. You can’t help but notice the dot-co domain pitch, but other than that, the innuendo is nothing new.
Pretty ordinary car commercial. There was potential for much more drama and suspense, but the directing and editing (and even music) didn’t allow it to build properly. And why is this Lexus particularly different, other than the front grille?
Transfomers with smaller robots. I really wanted them to say “G-4″ or “you sunk my battleship” at some point. But they didn’t.
Very cinematic and gorgeous to watch. (Love the guy from the barbershop with the shaving cream still on his face.) Nice way to show heritage.
Snack food as bribery. Canine-human communication. Post-it notes from dogs. Funny. (Poor Fluffy.)
“Hey, Mr. Johnson just stole my car!” Great premise, clear tie to the brand, compelling story, funny. (I love how the innocent jogger passing by gets drawn in to the celebration.) And was created entirely by a 26-year-old dude from Long Island. Very nice.
Informational, nicely lit and shot. And then they throw in the beer thing? Grasping at straws a little. Maybe even pandering?
John Carter movie
Creatures in the sand threaten the world, and we’re all rescued by some rugged-looking hunk. SURELY this has been done before. Right? Sigh.
Really? Watching a little desperate kid finally decide to pee in the pool? And linking that to “free”? Is that the best they could come up with to compete with H&R Block and TurboTax?
The Lorax movie
Entertaining, fun voices. But I’ve seen it before. My opinion: if you’ve paid for a SuperBowl spot, PLEASE show an original commercial!
This was a good — not great — commercial. Until it “ended.” And started again in (pardon my limited Star-Warsian knowledge) some bar on a distant planet in a galaxy far, far away. In VW’s attempt to reproduce last year’s awesomeness, I think the commercial just got confusing.
David Beckham, in all his tattooed and skivvy-clad glory. I guess it’s ok, if you’re into that kind of thing — and $15 tighty-whities. (The ad buyer did realize the Super Bowl is football, not futbol, right?)
Coca Cola Polar Bears #2
Ok, I get it. He’s playing football and not even realizing it. This one is more fun, despite the image quality. Was the first one just a setup?
This is a lot of fun, and the agency made a great choice for the soundtrack. Definitely shows the edgy, fun side of a car that Chevy is working hard to sell to fun-loving twenty-somethings. I love that they start the commercial with a full-screen “don’t try this at home” disclaimer. And a “Please.”
Star Wars 3D movie
I guess here is my opportunity to learn about the location of the bar in the VW commercial. And in 3D, no less.
The Avengers movie
Well, I knew it was going to be for a movie. I just wasn’t sure which superhero was going to get title billing. (I almost thought it might have been a satire.)
“Guys, Valentine’s Day is not that complicated. Give, and you shall receive,” she says. Ok, well, maybe in some guys’ dreams (see Kia Optima, below), but I’m afraid it’s a bit more complicated than that in real life. However, the commercial is memorable for its simplicity and immediate link to Teleflora. I bet it’ll sell some flowers.
Skechers Mr. Quiggly
The CGI looks awkward. As does Mark Cuban. And while the new shoes may have some benefit (not sure what “midfoot strikers” means), it’s certainly not evident how they tie to a pug that runs faster than greyhounds.
Using the NFL Films announcer is a nice touch, but it’s a really boring commercial. No entertainment value. And therefore, in this cast of very capable characters, I lost interest before the ad was 10 seconds in.
Ok, the falsetto singing back-arm is just a little freaky. Not sure it does much to sell Cars.com, even if it does give you “confidence.” I just couldn’t quit looking at the singing back-arm-thingy.
Grandma-in-a-motorizing-wheelchair endangering a baby by turning it into a strapped-in projectile? Where is Health & Human Services when you need them? (Here’s hoping some nit-wit doesn’t try to emulate the commercial.)
The baby is back. With a friend “speed dating” in the nursery? It’s gotten to the point where I don’t pay attention to what the baby is saying anymore; I just look for the gimmicks. Which means I’m not learning much about the brand.
G.I. Joe movie
Explosions. Machines. Bruce Willis. Works for me.
Win a million bucks. And waste it through sheer excess. Why, exactly? I guess an elaborate scheme to get your contact information.
Touching. Including Rusty and Mr. Sprinkles with their heads out the window. I love how they turn the car into a story.
Mint-flavored brains. Mmmmm. Yummy. (Huh?)
Nerds at the Halftime bar, that they got confused with the real halftime. Yawn.
Halftime in America, narrated by Clint Eastwood. Nice followup to last year’s imported from Detroit ad. Perhaps a little too sappy. And if I hadn’t seen the glimpses of Chrysler products throughout and figured out what the gig was, I might have felt a little betrayed. Nonetheless, the “halftime in America” is a pretty effective phrase, and nicely used for a halftime ad.
Jack in the Box bacon burger
I’ll admit I don’t have the insatiable hankering for bacon that some other folks do. But “you may now eat the bride” is just plain funny. Kudos to the copywriter.
Fiat 500 Abarth
I’ll admit I’ve seen this spot before, but not sure if on regular TV or not. So I’ll pretend this was the first time. The foreign language adds a bit of mystery at the outset, but I don’t get the payoff. Too much screen time for the Italian model, not enough screen time for the Italian car.
Ha! An ill-timed traitorous purchase of a Pepsi Max means that Regis awards Pepsi Max for life to the Coca-Cola delivery driver. Nice spin on the ongoing series.
Toyota Camry Reinvented
Ok, so I laughed and laughed at this one. It makes it obvious they have reinvented the Toyota Camry. And what’s not to like about a reinvented DMV with golf and ice cream (although the lady behind the counter is still spot-on-DMV-employee!).The deadpan announcer is perfect as well. Maybe not the best spot, but fun to watch.
Ok, back to not getting the point.
Dannon Oikos yogurt
So I’m annoyed with this commercial right away. First, I have no interest whatsoever in watching grown couples tease one another with food. Just not my thing. And then the violence . . . over yogurt? Not appealing.
How many celebrities can you cram in a commercial? At least they all have ties to the new “smarter. bolder. faster.” tagline. And no, Donald, you don’t get a do-over.
This has Jerry Seinfeld, some great lines and a great surprise at the end. But it’s a lot of money for Acura to throw at a commercial for a product that only a few thousand people will buy, is three years away (says the fine print), and has little if any tie to an Acura you can buy at your dealer today. Fun commercial. Waste of money.
GE Appliance Park
Better than the turbine commercial. A little mundane, and self-congratulatory, though — how does the fact that you’ve created new jobs matter to me, the customer? I’m probably not going to go out and buy a GE fridge as a result.
Budweiser Heritage #2
Again, a nicely filmed review of the last century following prohibition, with Budwesier at the center. I repeat what I said earlier – an effective way to show heritage, and bring the brand into 2012.
Here we go again. Tire technology on a ball – a basketball this time. And why does a quieter basketball matter? I just don’t get it, Bridgestone.
Honda CRV – Matthew Broderick
Fun, and a good way to carry through the “bucket list” theme that Honda has been using for the launch of the new CRV. I’m just a little bothered throughout by thinking that Mr. Broderick would probably be driving something far different than a CRV on his day playing hooky . . .
Act of Valor movie
Intriguing. Real Navy Seals? (Can they do that?) Looks like it could be a good movie.
So Snoopy wasn’t enough? Nearly every cartoon character ever invented shows up for Met Life this time? Not sure I get why they are all involved — I got distracted trying to identify characters and missed the message.
Hyundai Genesis Coupe
Car as a life support device. Now that’s a new one. I like how Mr. Henderson becomes “Bob?!” after he appears to have passed on.
I’m predicting “Here we go” will be one of those phrases that gets WAY overused. And I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for that poor dog Wigo (Wego? Weego?). He just LOOKED weary.
Kia Optima Dream
Motley Crue, massive sandwiches, hot babes, and a . . . Kia Optima? Really? The premise is good, but paying off with a Korean sedan as a “dream car” just doesn’t ring true. Bugatti, Ferrari, even Corvette, and I’m sold. And Mr. Sandman is just plain creepy looking.
Those monkeys were funny the first time. Now – at least at first watch – they come across as a bit creepy. If I worked with co-workers that bad, I would have left my job LONG ago. (Since I work with the wonderful folks at VantagePoint, that won’t be happening any time soon! Sorry, Careerbuilder.)
Samsung Galaxy Note
It started out looking like a repeat of a previous commercial. Fortunately I stuck with it – did everyone? It gets a little over the top, though. And I wish they’d spent more time explaining why it was a better phone (my Palm Pilot, circa 1998, has a pen). Have to give them some credit for admitting “that was over the top” at the end. (And I promise – I typed it before they said it.)
I’ve driven some really good Cadillacs on a racetrack, and I’ve “driven” (on Playstation) the Nurburgring. But this was one ordinary commercial. Sorry, Cadillac.
If 14-year-old boys were the primary audience for web hosting, this would be a great strategy. However, last I checked, they aren’t
NBC Sports Network
Ok, so I haven’t been commenting on NBC promos. But I have to give a shout-out to this ad. Touching, inspiring, and nicely narrated. And local hero George Hincapie makes an appearance about 3/4 of the way though, at the end of last year’s Tour de France.
My favorite? Probably the Chevrolet Camaro ad, with the Audi vampires spot a close second. That’s my opinion – what’s yours?