The Flavor of TV

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It’s heartening to know that one of the reasons for the growth of social networking is the surfeit of drivel emanating from the TVs across America. TV today is so bad for teens and Gen Y that they watch reruns almost as much as original programming. How many times can you watch New York wave her hands in Flavor Flav’s face?
 
This epiphany came to me while reading a Facebook blog about how its log-ons tank as soon at Grey’s Anatomy goes on air. 
 
Why do kids like Flav? Because he’s entertaining. His antics, even the third time, are better than the teen psycho-dramas of prime time television. 
 
Let’s improve the programming and I bet the TV numbers come back up for the young demo. Pretty simple.
 

FoxSpace

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At a recent PSFK conference ad pundit George Parker mentioned that Rupert Murdoch was about to “f” up MySpace by covering it in Fox content.  Well, there was a link in the MediaPost today suggesting that MySpace has plans to add a news channel to MySpace.  

Jesus! MySpace already owns the “middle” of the social networking space now they want to add professional news content?  They would be better off adding a channel called people’s news, where regular people report what they see, a la, “there’s a traffic accident on Route 80.” Or, “there’s a hold-up underway in the 7-11 in Bumpus Mills.
 
News Corp is getting overly greedy and trying to spread its seed in too many places. This will end up being a mistake for them and will dilute their powerful MySpace franchise. 

The Gap Spot.

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Okay, so I went to the Gap Web site and found the Boyfriend Trousers spot said I couldn’t wait to see. Ouch.  Ethel Merman singing “Anything I can do?” It’s a fun song, I reckon, but what a let down. The tone is completely different from the print work I described yesterday, which by the way, had Kyra Sedgewick and Malgosia Bela as models.
 
The TV was derivative of old Gap TV, with dance and lots of seamless. They needed a way to show off the khakis, the fashion, and the “drape,” in a way that made you hungry to buy khakis. Instead, the TV made me hungry for good, contemporary music.  A little Rage anyone?     
 

Gap comeback.

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Poor Gap. They have been taking so much heat lately in the press for lack of vision and leadership and for being out of touch with today’s consumer. That said, Gap is a strong American brand that over the years has had some great advertising and should be able to make a come back.

 

That comeback started today.

 

Gap ran a wonderful spread ad today in the New York Times showing 4 young ladies in various states of drape.  Draped baggy shirts, draped and tucked hair, rumpled khaki pants pulled up, pulled down. We are made privy to wonderfully sexy silhouettes thanks to exceptional art direction. The cropping of the models on the page, their poses and the color – a khaki patina that is so, well, khaki.

 

Huge breasts are not a distraction, no booty pictures, just semi- androgynous, tough but confident women wearing “the boyfriend” trouser. Even the headline and product name tell a story. Mark my words, these babies (the pants) and accompanying white shirts are going to fly off the shelves. I can wait for the TV.

 

The new ‘um.

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I just wanted to sort of let you know that perhaps we as modern marketers, marketing agents and pundits, kind of equivocate more than previous generations.  Why is that?   I can only speak for the advertising and marketing community, but I think it has to do with the lack of science in our business.  So subjective is what we do, that people are afraid to commit to a position or point of view. 
 
Yesterday, while attended a conference on trends and ideas hosted by PSFK (www.psfk.com) in NYC, I had the pleasure of listening to many speakers and panelists.  It was then that I realized “sort of” is the new “um.”
 
In my first visit to a Freudian therapist a long time ago and I remember remarking “I kind of had feelings of anxiety.” These feelings were accompanied, by the way, by dizziness, near fainting and heart palpitations, but I “kind of” felt anxious. Sigmund said to me “KIND OF?” Let’s start there.”
 
So, for today’s marketers, planners and business people, let’s lose the “sort of” and be more definite.  At least until proven wrong.  It’s okay to commit to a point of view. It’s okay to be wrong and learn from it.  And I don’t mean sort of.

Size Matters

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Can anyone venture a guess as to why television sets are getting bigger? And flatter. And plasmatic (sorry Wendy O).  And surround sounded. Is it because our family rooms are getting bigger and we are sitting farther away from the screens? Is it because boomers are getting older and can’t see and hear as well? Is it because it allows manufacturers to extract larger margins? 
 
Nope. Nope. Nope.
 
It’s because we can now watch Grey’s Anatomy and other TV shows streaming on our computers making “size” and comfort the only real differentiators for TV. Size, I guess, does matter.
 

Wow!

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There is much to admire about Microsoft as a marketer, but it’s also kind of fun to pick on them and they really left the door open for the latter with today’s Vista spread ad. The headline “100 reasons why everyone’s so speechless.” promises to take us through all of these features. My guess is the media buy won’t be done until we’ve all been exposed to each reason at least 4 times. Today’s ad offers up 7. Can’t wait.
 
The campaign, which launched with lethargic fractional teaser ads, revolved around the idea  “The wow starts now,” but the advertising is anything but.  When was the last time you were wowed by a recitation of 100 anythings.  Wait a minute, I think #22 really wowed me. Or was that #32?
 
This effort is classic design by committee and it’s lazy. If this is the work of McCann Erickson, they should be ashamed. Jonathan Cranin are you listening?    

Dashboard my ass.

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The pop marketing term of the last couple of years has been “dashboard.” As a brand planner who advocates “windshield” planning rather than the more common “rear view mirror planning” approach, I get the dashboard metaphor.

The marketing dashboard contains dials and gauges that monitor the performance of marketing programs. These metrics are valuable for sure but if one doesn’t look out the windshield, beyond the dials, and see what’s coming, they are driving with their head down.

Great marketers don’t wait around for consumer behaviors to be measured, great marketers decide what consumers will like…before they like it. They see in front of the dashboard. The future is a beautiful thing.

The ADD-ification of America.

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One of the biggest cultural phenomena in America today is what I call ADD-ification. We all have attention deficit disorder. We can’t sit still and we’re always in a hurry. When was the last time you drove your car without some form of entertainment — using the time to think? Thought so. 
 
Newspaper stories have gotten shorter, the chapters in our novels can be measured in paragraphs not pages, our meals come in microwavable packages, we even beep at people who sit at traffic lights for more than 5 seconds. Why? Because we’re in a hurry. 
 
How many advertising or branding briefs today are predicated on the insight that we are all pressed for time? I certainly have written a few. 
 
Stress is at an all-time high I would imagine, but with the right meds, we can get by. But hurry, the pharmacy closes at ten!  
 
(I’ll be off for a few days, see you Tuesday.)

Crispin Porter

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Crispin Porter is a good ad agency. That said, I’ve often wondered whether they can represent large consumer brands in a way that actually grows and sustains business. I’m not alone. They have taken some heat in the press and had high profile account losses.
 
This past weekend, though, they ran a Volkswagen Jetta ad in the New York Times and it was “terrific.”  Sitting beneath the traditional silhouetted car photo – the traditional layout from years past – was the headline “Junk in the Trunk.” I couldn’t pass it by. Expecting to read about extra trunk space, I was surprised to find out all about Jetta’s extra features. 
 
I know Crispin is a great media company and that they conceive startling creative, but maybe they should just sit the creative teams down and ask everyone to hone their print advertising skills. Our business is not only about being inventive, it’s about learning how to “sell.” This may be a good place for them to recharge their batteries.