Truth and consequences

20.02.2017

Like the current administration, advertisers sometimes stray into a world of alternate reality. Maybe they think we won’t recognize it for what it is (i.e. we’re gullible) or they feel the production values of their communications–beautifully and expensively rendered–will overwhelm the message. Or the messenger.

Two new spots come to mind. The first, “Go Boldly,” shows scientists doing lifesaving research against the backdrop of Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night.” It’s stirring, it’s inspiring and it makes you want to run out and buy pharma stocks until you realize that the sponsor of this fine ad is, in fact, America’s Biopharmaceutical Companies a.k.a. PhARMA, the wonderful people who brought you thousand-fold price increases on those very same lifesaving drugs. Just because they could. If there were a black box warning for advocacy comms like this it would say: “Use with caution. Side effects include headache, nausea, dry mouth and bankruptcy. Do your research and don’t be fooled by a name change, however anodyne it appears.”

Another wolf in sheep’s clothing appears in “Energy Tomorrow,” quick paced with great graphics demonstrating all the ways oil runs (literally) the world– from science to cosmetics, automotive engineering to art. Pretty cool, huh? Then you read the fine print and learn that the marketer who’s “powering past impossible” is none other than the American Petroleum Institute. Who knew?

There used to be retailer which claimed that “an educated consumer is our best customer.” Though the company is now defunct, the truth of that statement remains. Our world requires ever more vigilance in being informed and upholding the truth. Big Oil and Big PhARMA undoubtedly do great things, but in reality, they are not the best thing since sliced bread.

In politics, in advertising and in life, beware of the big lie.

All the world’s a stage

06.02.2017

And for marketers and their agencies, the Superbowl is one of the greatest. Big money, big egos, high stakes and occasionally high art.

This year, it was #SuperBowlSoPolitical. Instead of frat humor, we saw (for the most part) bigger, topical truths told with intelligence, emotion, cinematic production values and sly humor, specifically:

Coca Cola (an encore performance from 2014) and Airbnb, celebrating what already makes America great: multi-culturalism.

H&R Block. A match made in heaven–IBM Watson’s brain and your money.

Honda CRV.In true high-school yearbook fashion, the younger selves of today’s stars tell us that “dreams are within reach.”

84Lumber. An immigrant story that’s much more than meets the eye. It literally broke the Internet.

Audi takes the high road, committing itself to “equal pay for equal work.”

Persil. With Bill Nye, the science guy and ten(!) dimensions of clean.

It’sA10 warns that we’re in for “four years of awful hair” so do your part and resist with great hair of your own.

Diversity, take a bow.

Worth their weight in gold

09.01.2017

Last night’s Golden Globes were good for the soul. (For charity’s sake, we’ll overlook the bizarre schtick perpetrated by Sofia Vergara, Goldie Hawn and Amy Schumer.) Moonlight and La La Land deserved their honors and I hope that we as a nation deserve the inspiring words of Viola Davis and Meryl Streep. They are the healing we’ve been waiting for since Election Day.

The commercial canon was exceptional too. Herewith my faves:

L’Oreal Rosy Tone Moisturizer. When Queen Helen speaks, we women listen. A lovely homage to age and beauty. Yes, “we’ve still got it. And we’re still worth it.”

L’Oreal Match 33-Shades Foundations puts identity politics in its prettiest light, celebrating the multi-culti, multi-hued and multi-gendered real world we aspire to inhabit. https://ispot.tv/a/A8Zf

TurboTax rescues horror-film stalwart Kathy Bates from a houseful of creepy un-dead children. Can Intuit rescue us from the new administration as well, I wonder? https://ispot.tv/a/AmlI

Cheerios is all about love. And what’s more lovable than funny baby videos. A delight.  https://ispot.tv/a/AN_C

Creativity can indeed soothe a broken heart.

In memoriam: WTC

08.09.2016
WTC memorial

We will always remember

Every year, the date takes us by surprise. On September 11, we honor the memory of the innocents killed on that day (and since) and the two beautiful buildings whose absence still leaves a hole in the heart of New York 15 years on.

Bread and circuses

15.08.2016

The Olympics are upon us. Which means inspiring athleticism, inane and offensive commentary (I’m talking to you, Al Trautwig) and testy technology. And, like all destination TV events, commercials. Lots and lots of commercials. (Is it me or do the pods seem excessively long?)

Still, attention must be paid. Herewith my medalists so far:

Gold: Dick’s Sporting Goods seems to have taken Carl Sagan’s words to heart with a visually arresting spot featuring the precious metals (and mettle) in all of us.

Silver: Michelob Ultra celebrates #Rio2016 with a hilarious mash-up of golf and futbol.

Bronze: The “anything you can do I can do better” prize is awarded to all the many marketers recognizing girl power in every field.

Lead: The biggest loser (for me, anyway) is GE, which seems to have fallen off the podium of creativity and good taste with its odd and awkward campaign, “Sarah.” What is this about? An important story is buried under cringe-worthy set-ups featuring a young engineer and her apparently on-the-spectrum brother. Why?

One more week to go and then the other games—the presidential campaign—begin in earnest. I’m rooting for the Giant Meteor.

The Olympics are upon us. Which means inspiring feats of athleticism, inane and offensive commentary (I’m talking to you, Al Trautwig) and testy technology. And, like all destination TV events, commercials. Lots and lots of commercials. (Is it me or do the pods seem excessively long?) Still, attention must be paid. Herewith my medalists so far: Gold: Dicks Sporting Goods seems to have taken Carl Sagan’s words to heart with a visually arresting spot featuring the precious metals (and mettle) in all of us. Silver: Michelob Ultra celebrates #Rio2016 with a hilarious mash-up of golf and futbol. Bronze: The “anything you can do I can do better” prize is awarded to all the many marketers recognizing girl power in every field. Lead: The biggest loser, for me, anyway is GE, which seems to have fallen off the podium of good taste and beautiful production values with its odd and awkward campaign, “Sarah.” What is this about? An important story is buried under cringe-worthy set-ups featuring a young engineer and her apparently on-the-spectrum brother. Why? One more week to go and then the other games—the presidential campaign—begin in earnest. I’m rooting for the Giant Meteor.

Love is love is love

05.07.2016

In my other life, I’m a health coach focusing on women, weight and self-esteem. It helps that I was once a fat girl so this is not a theoretical exercise or cool “encore career.” It’s personal. Which is why I love these spots from Dove (“My Beauty”) and JC Penney (“Here I am”) celebrating body positivity and self-acceptance (if not pride).

We’ll know we have finally advanced as a species when love embraces all of us, including ourselves.

Any color as long as it’s “nude”

02.06.2016

Intimate apparel that celebrates the many hues of nude

Fashion is having a kumbaya moment. From shoes to cosmetics, designers are celebrating the many hues of nude. Now, Naja has introduced Nude for all, a collection of intimate apparel in seven color options–from palest beige to very dark. All designed to enhance their wearer’s shape and body positivity.

Founders Catalina Girald and actress Gina Rodriguez wanted to create fashions that went beyond a pretty face and traditional lingerie model’s body. It is a brand with a strong point of view and reason for being. “There is nothing more encouraging than seeing the outpouring of love and necessity for inclusion. Not just in the industry, not just in our schools or workplace, but in our own journey of acceptance. To be seen, to be included, to be represented, to be uplifted, that is what this line is all about. Now we all get to go nude,” Rodriguez explained.

What Naja and other enlightened companies are saying is: diversity is beautiful. Candidates, take note.

Fit to be tried

25.04.2016

I work out a lot and I’m a big fan of health trackers. But even the most slothful won’t be able to resist this delightful spot, appropriately titled “Dualities,” for the Fitbit Blaze. (Full disclosure: I’m a loyal Fitbit wearer.) From the music (Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’s “Little Demons”) to the action (a series of compellingly seamless match dissolves), the watch demonstrates in heart-pumping living color how exercise enriches even the most basic activities of daily living. The very definition of product as hero(ine).

AND TIED…On the other hand, there’s this, the very essence of a not-good-for-you food. Calorie content aside, was it really in the brand’s best interest to stake its intro on a confrontation between police and a civilian? With all the recent stories about tragic encounters, the spot screams “too soon.” Not to mention, unfunny and tasteless.

What’s wrong with this picture?

01.03.2016
The Metropolitan Museum introduces its new marque

There goes the neighborhood

Art is not for the timid. Neither is (re)branding. Both provoke intense reactions and when the brand in question is an iconic museum, everyone’s a critic.

The Metropolitan Museum has—for a variety of reasons (new leadership and an expanded footprint among them)—decided not to leave well enough alone but to reinvent its much beloved logo. Launched in 1971, it is itself a work of art, with graphic elements combined in a harmonious whole, hinting at the art and architectural treasures residing within. It was a distinctive and much-desired marque.

But time marches on and the Met’s new administration wanted something more modern, more encompassing, friendlier and accessible. And it chose Wolff Olins, the design firm behind the controversial London Olympics and Tate logos, to refresh the museum’s identity.

Like the philistine who says, “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like,” I loathe the new logo. It looks like a car wreck and the introductory ad appearing in today’s New York Times is equally a mess. Pretentious, inelegant copy and a layout with all the visual appeal of a letterhead.

Wolff Olins surely knows better than anyone the worth of a brand like the Metropolitan Museum—the values it embodies, the stories it tells and the promise it makes to its patrons. This rebrand upends all of that. It is a sacrilege and a slap to the face of a great institution (and the people who love it).

Don’t mess with The Met.

Something fishy

11.02.2016

 

I’m a news junkie and a doctor wannabee, so between those two passions, I end up paying attention to a lot of pharma commercials targeted to, well, the older and less well among us. Usually I lose interest after the first few seconds because once the “creative” part of the messaging is done, there’s a dystopian list of contra-indications and side effects so scary it makes me want to swear off prescription meds for good.

“Ask my doctor”? I think not.

Pradaxa, an anti-coagulant, takes a different path. Yes, those disclaimers are still there, but they’re organically integrated into the visual storytelling. More importantly, as entrancing little red goldfish (blood cells) cavort through the arteries, the spot educates patients about their condition in a non-threatening way and shows how the drug works and why.

For their creativity and nuance, the drug company and its agency deserve our heartfelt gratitude.

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