Post Apparently Puts the “NO” in Innovation

September 17, 2009

Post is not a company that you would expect to innovate much.  Their variety of cereals are very standard and they make a nice profit putting out the same products that they have put out for years.  They recently played on that by releasing this commercial, exclaiming that “We put the NO in innovation”.

I would argue that Post has probably made some big changes over the years in terms of production and distribution, perhaps even in corporate structure and ethical standards.  I don’t know if any of these can be called real innovative moves, but change is necessary to keep up with the times.  I get the whole “we don’t change our products because they are already what consumers want” message, but let’s not call an end to progress and innovation altogether.

All in all however, it’s a pretty decent commercial.


Direct Comparison Ads: Do They Work Best?

June 16, 2009

49d620c72962eAdvertising works when it is done right. There is no question in that.  Companies spend millions of dollars on ad campaigns trying to target the right market and convince them of something.

I have always been somewhat of a self-appointed critic of advertising.  Partially because of my fascination with the industry and partially because I have very strong opinions.  I love investigating what the ad is saying, where the message is coming from, and whether or not it is successful.

Sometimes you see an ad on TV and you think to yourself, how did this make it out of the original brainstorming discussion?  Other times you see something that blows you away and you wonder how someone could dream it up.

Lately there is an intriguing trend that I thought was worth analyzing.  Direct comparison ads are becoming quite popular, and companies are sticking with them for an extended period of time.  So one has to think that they see better results.

Direct comparison ads, for the sake of this post, are any advertisement that calls out the competition blatantly and says why one product is better than the other.  Some companies that are currently running these type of ads are Microsoft (vs Apple), Apple (vs PCs), 5 Hour Energy (vs Energy Drinks), Time Warner (vs Verizon Fios), Dominoes (vs Subway/Quiznos), and Total Cereal (vs Go Lean).  There are many others as well but that is enough to prove my point.

This has long been a popular style of advertising, going right after the competition and trying to lure away customers because of a claim that you are better.  That are rules and guidelines surrounding it, and you have to be careful about what you do and do not say about the competition.  But, if executed well, these companies have seen that the effects can be strong.

For a long time Apple ate away at the market for personal computers with their “Mac/PC” ads showcasing how easy Macs were to use.  Now, Microsoft has countered with ads featuring “real people” looking for new computers and choosing the more affordable, just as useful, Dell or HPs with Windows.  And those ads have resulted in a spike in purchased of those PCs over Apple Computers.

My only issue with this type of ad campaign is that you run the risk of sounding bad.  Personal attacks against other brands can come back to bite you if A) They are found to be incorrect or B) The competition changes something to top you.  Personally, I have found that Time Warner makes some useless claims in their direct comparison ads (such as comparing the ease of reading the bill with that of Fios).  I have Time Warner, and the bill is confusing.

What do you think?  Do you find direct comparison to be effective?  Let me know why or why not in the comments below.

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Video Sharing, Hulu Advertises It

May 4, 2009

Hulu is making big moves to become the most prominent online video website.  Following up news that they had officially become the 3rd most popular video site on the web, Disney joined co-founders NBC Universal and News Corp., taking a 30% stake in the growing company.

hulu-logoHow are they growing so fast in a crowded space, where online video has been dominated by prominent players, including Google’s Youtube?  It’s actually pretty easy.  Develop a quality product that offers different content, that has previously been hard to get.  Sign exclusive partnership deals with content providers.  And market it well.

Hulu, unlike a lot of social media companies, has spent a great deal of money on Television advertising.  By combining fun commercials with big celebrity names, they have successfully tied in the commercials to an overall marketing campaign that aims to turn Hulu into the #1 video site out there.

Thier most recent addition to the “We’re Aliens” commercials was featured in this blog post on TechCrunch last week.  It shows “alien” Dennis Leary discussing the ability to share videos on Hulu anywhere on the web, tapping right into the whoe theory of social media and viral marketing.

This creative campaign has turned heads, and along the way has turned internet users into Hulu extremists.  The website has amassed a large following, and the future looks very bright.

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When Will Google Take Over TV

February 20, 2009

googletvThe question is not if Google will make it as the dominant Television Advertising company, but when.  And yes, I know that all those defenders of the old world view will debate me on this one.  To tell you the truth, I am looking forward to it.

For starters, I think that the entire television advertising model is on its way out. We already see the need for alternate sources or means of advertising thanks to the power of technologies like DVR, TiVo, OnDemand, and TV online.  Advertising dollars seem to be going to waste more times than not in the tv world.

Secondly, Google has revolutionized the delivery of ads online by controlling the largest network of advertisers and delivering relevant content in all environments.  They are an advertising company, and they are damn good at it.  So why shouldn’t they try their hand at television?

They already started to look at the possibility.  In fact, they set it up so that through your AdWords account, you can set up a commercial that you produced to be aired on stations and in regions that you like.  Google acts as the media buyer in this case and uses a bidding system to decide how often and when the ads will show.

This is a nice start, but give it time and I think things will change a great deal.  First, the price for ads will go down, with a true bidding system in place, owned and operated by Google (and maybe other likeminded advertising companies).  The networks will have to buy into this new system or risk missing out on the last hope of commercial advertising dollars.  Second, I think ads will start to become more personalized and content relevant, just like they have become online.  This makes commercials easier to deal with for the everyday tv viewer.

I believe that with Google at the helm, ads will be more direct, with ways of tracking success like never before.  Spread out the commercials within the show, with more, shorter breaks, and they become part of the viewing experience again.  I think Google can save TV advertising. Do you agree?

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