Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Can the BCS help formulate college football playoffs? Yes.

Can the BCS and college football playoffs exist simultaneously? I think so.

Before we get too far down this road, I want you to take a moment and visualize the playoff chart I created. Can you imagine how fun it would be to watch those games this year?!

Done visualizing? Now, let's get on with the massive amounts of logic and creativity I am about to bestow upon you.

Let's face it: the BCS isn't going anywhere...at least any time soon. So what if we use the BCS to determine which teams make the playoffs? Take the top 8 teams (see the chart of 2010 teams above) and have them square off.

Worried about bowl games? Don't be. Take the current BCS bowls and attribute one to each playoff game. For instance, the TCU vs. Ohio State game would be the Capital One bowl, the Oregon vs. Oklahoma game would be the Fiesta Bowl, the Auburn vs. Arkansas game would be the Sugar bowl, and the Stanford vs. Wisconsin game would be the Cotton bowl.

Then, after four teams win, they advance onto the next round of playoffs (obviously) and new bowl games too! The remaining two bowl games (and the last two rounds of playoffs) would be the Rose bowl and the Orange bowl. The National Championship game could either be how it is now (the BCS Championship) or it could go to the highest paying sponsor...Cialis Championship Bowl anyone?

This way the main bowls are still preserved and they are even MORE prestigious than ever before because in order to get to the Orange bowl or the Rose bowl, a team has to win a playoff game first.

Don't feel bad for the other 62 bowl eligible teams...we can still keep the exact same structure we have now with the exact same bowl names. These bowl games are more for the fans and they'll do nicely to serve as a teaser for the main action (the BCS playoffs).

The playoff games should start on the Saturday before the New Year. That way it's even more intense to see if your team gets to play "next year" or if they'll be left behind. The broadcasters, media, and raucous fans would all have fun with that. Then, the second round of playoff games would be played the week after that. Finally, the remaining two teams will each have a bye week to rest and prepare for the title game before squaring off.

While this solution doesn't get rid of the BCS, it does utilize the system to rank and place teams for the playoff. The system is nowhere near perfect and people will still bitch about how their team was screwed from making the Top 8. By taking eight teams instead of two to play for the title, there is much less pressure on the BCS and the voters to "get it right" year after year.

What does my system mean for you as a fan? Well, you will realistically be looking at the potential for a two (maybe three) loss season and your team could still have a shot to sneak in the Top 8 BCS rankings.

So yes, the BCS and college football playoffs can work together to give (most) everyone what they want. It's just a matter of time until this whole damn thing gets reformatted anyway...why not use the model I'm proposing?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Reason for the Season

Let my Christmas present to you be the ability to answer one of the world's foremost million dollar questions: "Who buys cars for other people as a Christmas gift?"

We all see the car commercials set to some cheesy music and they all end the same: with a shiny new car pulled in a driveway with a humongous red bow on top. Everyone in the ad industry, and elsewhere for that matter, wonders the same thing..."who the hell buys a car for someone as a Christmas gift?"

The answer: no one.

Car companies know they're selling a specialty good, and the brands that tout premium quality (Volvo, Lexus, BMW, Mercedes, etc.) have a brand reputation to uphold. That being said, the point of these car commercials isn't to entice you to purchase a dazzling new car. These ads are ran to maintain brand prestige because the people that CAN afford these cars buy them just as much for status as they do for the functionality.

You don't see holiday commercials for a Ford Fiesta, that would be laughable. Only the big dogs come to play on the Mother of all Material Holidays.

The car companies know what they're doing. They're selling two things with holiday commercials like these: 1) Brand prestige to prospective buyers, 2) The American dream that one day someone in the middle class (such as myself or perhaps you) will be able to afford a car as a Christmas gift to loved one(s).

So my friends, that is why you see these ads. It isn't because people are buying these cars, it's because people are paying attention to brands.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Best Brand You'll Ever Work On

Advertising is a wonderful thing. Where else can you be as creative with such a large microphone? By microphone, of course, I'm referring to the whatever medium is used to get your message across. Also, where else can you promote absurd product advantages...things like "drinkability"?

Some people in the industry are perfectly content doing work for local non-profit accounts. Others head to the big cities with the big buildings, aspiring to work on the largest mega-brands in the world.

But I'll let you in on a little secret that most advertising people don't know: the biggest and best brand that you will ever work on during your career is yourself. Think about it. It's the only brand that you have complete control of. You are your own media planner, account director, copywriter, public relations specialist, and owner. You are an agency of one.

Everything you do, from office hallway interactions with colleagues to e-mailing your friends and family, define your personal brand in some way. Every one of your actions influences the public perception of who you are as a person and as a brand.

Some personal brands go through re-branding, and that's okay. Sometimes you need to freshen your look or personal philosophy (think tagline). Just keep your focus on the things you can do today to strengthen your personal brand. Make yourself memorable and make yourself indispensable. But above all else, make sure that at the end of the day you can easily buy into what you're selling to others.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Did Social Media Kill the GAP Logo?

That was what a co-worker asked a group of us ad industry types via e-mail. And after much thought and deliberation, here's my response:

Of course SM killed that abomination of a logo! Expect #GapLogo to be a trending topic in the month of October. FWIW, it’s loosely rumored that they used a poorly designed logo to generate press in an attempt to make their brand somewhat relevant again. Seriously . . . when was the last time anyone talked about GAP until now?

The good thing about Social Media is that everyone has a voice and they can interact with their favorite brands in real time. However, with this increased interaction comes increased pressure on brands to get it right the first time when introducing a new logo or product (Crystal Clear Pepsi and New Coke would’ve been hung out to dry in the social media landscape of 2010).

Now, the real danger to brands is the spoof Twitter accounts. After the GAP logo was introduced, there were about 3 or 4 fake GAP accounts that made fun of the brand and the new logo. These accounts have a comparable number of followers to the actual GAP account. So which ‘brand’ really has the larger microphone? These spoof accounts create a delicate situation that can easily take away from a brand’s credibility while undercutting their core message.

Remember the BP PR issue during the summer when the faux Twitter account had scads more followers than the real company? It earned the fake account a nice cease and desist letter that was immediately ignored. That was awesome.

Expect to see more spoof accounts with a larger number of followers than real companies . . . that seems to be the most popular way to voice displeasure over just about anything.

Brands beware!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Domino's Advertising -- What they're doing right

Full Disclosure: I would be happy if pizza, of almost any kind, was fed to me intravenously through IV tubes.

That said...

I have to give my imaginary and most prestigious advertising award--for the Business to Consumer Pizza Category--to Domino's. This award would probably be named the "Golden Crust Award"...it's glorious and I can picture it now.

So without further adieu, let's talk about what Domino's is doing RIGHT with their advertising.

OVERVIEW - I'm not certain if the objective of their creative brief was to gain market share in the fiercely competitive pizza business or if it was simply to increase top-of-mind awareness to the point where it's acceptable for consumers to think of Domino's, and not feel guilty or ashamed, when they pick up their cell-phones to order their gooey, cheesy pizza smothered in the toppings of their choice.

Either way, they're winning. Let's face it, Domino's was only acceptable to order when you were in college, but it's not that way anymore. In my opinion they've had three successful campaigns that have been different than anything else their competitors are doing. And as an AdMan, I like different that works.

FIRST - Domino's started the turnaround with the "You got 30 minutes" promise. A simple promise that they are faster than their competitors. What was previously thought to be impossible, delivering a pizza within 30 minutes, was now something that only Domino's could deliver on, pun intended.

SECOND - Domino's addressed the flavor of their product. They held focus groups where people slammed their product time and time again. What was even scarier than the comments they received was the fact that Domino's then used those focus groups as part of their ad campaign.

Domino's acknowledged their product had to change if they wanted to sell more of it and they did what any smart B2C company should do, they listened to their customers. Domino's won over their harshest critics AND in an industry where transparency and authenticity is en vogue they aired the ad campaign on TV. See the Pizza Turnaround for yourself.

THIRD - Domino's has taken the next step in innovative TV advertising. In recent spots they briefly talk about the process of what goes into a food photo shoot. They tell their customers that they're not going to show a fake pizza that's been doctored by professionals. Then, Domino's challenges their customers to take pictures of the pizzas they have delivered to them and upload them to the Domino's website!

Nice. You won't see this kind of invitation or innovation for that matter from any of their fellow dough slinging counterparts anytime soon.

FINAL THOUGHTS - Lastly, here are two Domino's videos that I just loved. One highlights their other product offerings and the other is a spoof of their recent ads that I can't believe hasn't gone viral yet. I laugh every time.

To the ad team behind Domino's brilliance, keep up the good work and enjoy the imaginary and most prestigious award that I have presented to you. You guys have certainly earned it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Frank's Apartment - The Night Before

There he was again in the same-old familiar situation. Frank sat alone in his dark, deranged apartment. He listens to Radio Head when he's in a mood like this. Flicking his lighter impatiently, he raises it to his mouth to light the joint in his hand. Pleased to see the familiar ember glow, he inhales. Life is good again. He's dancing with the only girl he ever learned how to dance with...Mary Jane.

Radio Head blares from his old record player with new vinyl on it. All is well. The neighbors won't care. They should be out of town by this time, and if they're not? Fuck em'.

A plume of smoke is exhaled from his mouth. It engulfs his glasses, which have a thick black rim and square glass lenses. He thinks he's emo and too callous for the outside world to understand. He's too cold to care. Or at least, that's the way he wants to be viewed. His whole life has been spent creating a facade that he thinks he needs to live up to. Too many movies and reality TV shows have infected an otherwise nice person. Being a pretentious prick has become a way of life and not some sort of off-and-on character luxury he used to be able to afford when he was younger.

This is who he has become. He tells himself that things can change, but now is not the time.

He wants the girl. He wants the money. He wants to go to a party and he wants to be as svelte as James Bond and dance like Fred Astaire. It may never happen. But it isn't quite out of the realm of possibility when he's alone...in his apartment. There's no one here to tell him he can't do or be what he desires. There are no limits to who he can be. And as always, he likes it. This is what he lives for.

Frank has plans though. He's a thinking man, a true prophet. He tilts his head back to rest it against his dark brown recliner and thinks that tomorrow will be different...maybe.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The 4th of July

Ahhhh...it's that gunpowder smell that mixes with the Nebraska humidity so perfectly that has become the identity of this holiday over the years. It's the lighting of the parachutes and chasing them through the sky with one goal in mind -- catch it before it hits the pavement. Happy 4th of July.

Growing up: Every year as kids we'd go to the fireworks stand. The stand that, for the only time of the year, could rival McDonald's in the way that you'd see one every three blocks. You could always distinguish the 'fireworks brand' by the red and white tarp that covered those little magical explosives. Mom and Dad would always give us an allowance ($20 or so) to spend. Perhaps that's why I'm so intrigued with shopping for the best deals and values.

Side note: I hate the term "bang for your buck" -- ick for so many reasons.

Present day: Our parents are in Minnesota on a family vacation...we (my two brothers) are too broke to pay our way so we're celebrating the 4th of July--just the three of us--for the first time in Gregg history. Not much has really changed over the years. I found myself under the big top of the red and white fireworks tent once again this year. "Hello old friend." I filled my basket with what I deem quality fireworks at .25, .50, .75, and the occasional $4.99 firework. Every year the basket fills with fireworks and overflows with anticipation. Year to year the fireworks change, not my much mind you, but the marketers and advertisers are getting very clever with art on the packaging and the way they name them. Bravo for catching up with the rest of the industry!

This year was similar to a large handful of years past, my firework allowance was only limited to what was on my debit card. And this year I also found one firework that holds the highest expectations in my mind. It's a bright yellow Black Cat firework titled 1.21 Gigawatts ...so perhaps it will live up to the hype that my mind has already created for it. Perhaps it will be just the thing to fuel my 4th of July dreams. Perhaps it will send me "Back to the Future" with the fervor that I once had as a child.

Happy 4th. Thanks for reading. Here's to dreaming!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Reach and Frequency

Reach and Frequency. Welcome back to Advertising 101. For many of us this was the first lesson from a large handful of years back. "How many people does your message reach and how many times do they see it?"

Advertising is constantly evolving and it's exciting to evolve with it. New social media applications, the thought of the :30 spot dying (along with us attending the funeral), advertising starting to become more of an experiential vehicle for a message (Thanks to YouTube), and a newer marketing mix that values brand authenticity and transparency like never before.

Reach and Frequency. Does you message really, truly, honestly reach someone? Or is it the black sheep of the advertising profession known as an 'impression'. We all learned a great deal back in college, whilst in pursuit of our degrees...but the one thing they can never teach is passion for the work. That's where the best part of the job can truly be found. The passion. Working with others who care about creating a brand and crafting a message that's beyond the client's expectations. Now that's advertising at it's purest.

Before client briefs, before spec sheets, before creative kickoffs...there was Reach and Frequency. After that, we soon discovered that you either have the passion for the industry or you don't.

Class dismissed. I hope to see you again tomorrow.

Michael Jackson is dead (one year after)

It's weird to watch CNN do the same old song and dance that they did a year ago when Michael Jackson died. Specials...features...special features.

A lot of people have mixed feelings about the King of Pop, myself included. Was he confused? Was he a pedophile? Was he an addict? One thing is for sure, he was misunderstood...to some extent.

Where were you when he died? I was at a Lincoln Saltdogs game at Haymarket Park in the company suite. I wore a black wristband to pay tribute to his passing. It was a hot, muggy Nebraska day and the ballpark set aside their usual promotions and player stingers to pay homage to MJ with song. People clapped...some knew why, others who were confused were quickly clued in to why the songs blaring from the ballpark speakers were familiar hits from the 80s and 90s.

It's weird to be here...a year later. The King of Pop still with us...sort of. He's on our TV screens along with people that knew him, or swear that they knew him, and they are divulging juicy information about Michael's life as if they were actually there. They might be speaking for their fifteen minutes of fame, might be speaking from truth and experience. Who knows?

A lot of people have mixed feelings about the King of Pop. A lot of people still do, but one thing is for sure. He had a tough road growing up, and while he was constantly misunderstood, he didn't always make the smartest decisions with his public/private life...but he did have a hell of an accomplished career.

I hope his demons didn't follow him to his grave.