Peaks and Pits

The past few months I have ended my day, each day, by reading Humans of New York (or during SXSW, Humans of Austin.)

If you are familiar with the blog it is likely that you share the same fondness for it and have adopted a similar daily or weekly ritual of your own. If you are not familiar with the blog, or the book, it is an ongoing collection of photographs of people that the photographer encounters around the city paired with a quote from the subject depicted.

While the photographer does not always reveal the question that prompted the response captioned on the photo, I’ve come to learn that often times it is a variation of one of the following:

“What has been the saddest moment of your life?”

“When was the happiest you have ever been?”

“What is your biggest struggle?”

The responses are simple, quirky, heartfelt, shocking, thought provoking and everything in between. I think that is what draws the fascination – the feeling of gathering an intimate detail or a small piece of insight about a stranger.

Reeling this idea back to a much, much smaller scale… It reminds me of a tradition I had with my friends in college. At the end of every week of senior year a group of us would go to dinner and take turns sharing “the peaks and the pits” of our week. The peak was the best moment and the pit, the worst.

That sounds incredibly cheesy, I realize, mainly because it is incredibly cheesy. But we grew to love “peaks and pits” because it gave us the opportunity to hear each person pinpoint their two extremes. It also forces you to really reflect on your own week. It’s interesting how easily you can gain insight into the trend of someone’s week by just watching which they struggle with more – identifying a peak or identifying a pit (OR narrowing it down to just one peak versus just one pit.)

I learned that asking a person to explain the best moment and worst moment of their week (or in HONY’s case, of their life) is a simple way to transform small talk into a genuine conversation.

And isn’t understanding people what success in this business is all about?

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Cheers!

Christina

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Taco Bell’s “Firstmeal” and “Breakfast Phone”

I am a huge Taco Bell fan, or as I like to call it, Tbell or Tbizzle. People can hate all they want on the food itself but as for their marketing and advertising goes.. we all know that it has changed the game by adding a fourth meal. The people Taco Bell are targeting have a tendency to stay up later than other, therefore they get hungry after dinner, and that’s where the fourth meal along with its advertising dominates the game.

Taco Bell has also tried incorporating some breakfast items in the past, however, on March 27, 2014, they are releasing the reinvention of not only their breakfast items, but also breakfast items in general. They are calling it “Firstmeal.” These items are included below in the picture.

Just hearing about the new “Firstmeal” and seeing what is going to be offered, such as a WAFFLE TACO, I think is going to stir up some Taco Bell buzz and lure in some early risers. Taco Bell has stepped up the marketing game in order to promote the “Firstmeal” by mailing out “Breakfast Phones.” Taco Bell is in the process of mailing out around 1,000 Samsung T404G phones from HipCricket to superfans and influencers. Recipients of the “Breakfast Phones” will be given diverse missions to complete in the hopes of winning prizes including a Waffle Taco button-up shirt or hoodie, a set of A.M. Crunchwrap sheets with hashbrown pajamas and free Taco Bell breakfast for a year. They are keeping the extent of the missions quiet for now because they don’t want circulate the secrets just yet. The phones began reaching some fans as of March 19.

Tressie Lieberman, the director, digital marketing and platforms of DigitasLBi in San Francisco says, “We just wanted to do something that was really personal. We’re calling them every day. You never know when the phone will ring.” Taco Bell chose their superfans and others they were sending the phones to through their activity on social media and their support to the brand.

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– Bradford

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Biggest Balls in the Biz

I like brands with balls.

Old Spice arguably has the biggest right now, but Kmart‘s are growing faster than your pubescent little brother’s and Dodge threw their testes into the ring when they partnered with Ron Burgundy for the new Durango. Everyone in advertising talks about “disruption” and “breakthrough ideas,” but few campaigns are unexpected enough to blindside you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday. (If you get that reference, you have taste.)

Ever heard of Tipp-Ex? Me neither. It’s Germany’s version of White-Out, and its balls are bigger than Ivan Drago‘s. And Tipp-Ex produced what is, hands down, my favorite advertising execution from the past the decade. Allow me to introduce… the Tippexperience.

https://www.youtube.com/user/tippexperience

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The Easter Bunny couldn’t find all the Easter eggs hidden in this rich media unit/YouTube experiment. The video starts with a compassionate hunter sparing the life of a grizzly bear. He breaks the fourth wall and the constraints of the YouTube frame as he grabs a Tipp-Ex Pocket Mouse from the ad unit nearby. He erases the verb in the title of the video, “A hunter shoots a bear,” and asks the viewer to “white and rewrite” the story. It’s like a choose your adventure story, but in video form, and it’s awesome. The following words yield my favorite results:

  • FUCKS—Obvious first query.
  • Parties with
  • Drinks with
  • Dances with
  • Shrooms with—All drug references elicit this response.
  • Washes
  • Cooks with
  • Shops with
  • Dates
  • Marries
  • Plays games with
  • Shakes hands with
  • High fives
  • Paints
  • Watches TV with
  • Mown the lawn with
  • Scares—You can’t.
  • Tipp-Exes—Ha!
  • Jumps through hoops with
  • Tickles
  • Plays footballs with
  • Sings with
  • Hangs out with
  • Farts with
  • Fishes with
  • Moonwalks with

But wait, there’s more! Allow me to introduce Tippexperience 2.

https://www.youtube.com/user/tippexperience2

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The hunter and bear are celebrating a birthday party in 2012, but there’s an asteroid on its way to destroy Earth. It’s up to you to save them by inputting a different year. I found these:

  • -10,000,000,000
  • -10,000
  • -2000
  • 0
  • 100
  • 500
  • 1000
  • 1500
  • 1800
  • 1900
  • 1914
  • 1930
  • 1939
  • 1940
  • 1950
  • 1954
  • 1960
  • 1970
  • 1974
  • 1980
  • 1981
  • 1989
  • 1990
  • 1998
  • 2000
  • 2001
  • 2002
  • 2003
  • 2004
  • 2005
  • 2006
  • 2007
  • 2008
  • 2009
  • 2010
  • 2011
  • 2012
  • 2013
  • 2050
  • 3000
  • 10,000

My challenge to you: Find the results I have yet to discover. Post in the comments. Best discovery wins a shout out and whatever else you can negotiate for.

And please, show me a bigger set of balls that makes all other brands doubt if theirs ever even dropped.

+COLIN

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A Lesson for Every Week

I’ve been considering what I would write for this post and it got me thinking—how do professional writers get started? So, I turned to one of my favorite writers, Carrie Bradshaw, for some advice. So here I sit, in front of a window, cigarette in hand, writing. Don’t worry, I’m not writing about sex (this isn’t Gay Q&A guys, sorry), but I am writing about the city.

I have hit the one month mark of living and working in New York City and I have to say that my mind has been in information overdrive for the last 4 weeks and I have spent that time compiling a list of things that I have found to be important for newbie’s my age.

1) 10 o’clock bedtime is necessary, but not realistic

– When you work 9am-6pm (or 8 or 10) you quickly realize how exhausting  a job/career can be. I think back to only 8 weeks ago when I was spending my evenings watching Netflix until 5am with not a single worry about making it to my 10:30 class on time because I had done it for years. It doesn’t take long for your body to get run down and tired. I reminisce on fond memories of sitting in Louie’s Too on the Corner 4 nights a week drinking cheap wells and Bud Light and being alright with going to class hung over because… well just because. Being hungover in an office is not pleasant nor is it productive. People will notice, and they will judge. Besides, going out every night is expensive (I could literally buy an entire H&M in Brooklyn with the money I spent on alcohol in college.)

This brings me to my next point.

2) This is not Monopoly—Money is real, and it is very important.

-Let me start by saying that everyone’s financial situation is different and I recognize that. I have always been somewhat financially independent. I had a job through high school, and I had a job all through college so I have always had money for necessities like rent and food,  however, after 6 seasons with the girls of Sex and the City I had this vision for my new life in NYC. Fun dinners and nights out on the town in the hottest joint opening in the East Village were obviously going to be weekly occurrences. No. They are not. Being an adult is very expensive. Rent, groceries, and other necessities require money. Go figure.

3) Comfortable shoes are absolutely a requirement

-I’d like to first tell you that Carrie Bradshaw and her Manolos can get the fuck out of here.  Cabs are expensive and the majority of people don’t take them. You will walk, and your feet will hate you if you aren’t wearing comfortable shoes. (also, boots are an important investment. It snows and rains here…)

4) Homework is easier than real work

– I hated homework. I always felt like I was doing busy work because I had older people to tell me how the only way to understand having a job in the industry was to actually have one. So now I have one, and I get it. Homework is shit compared to what you do on a day-to-day basis in an agency. I love when I tell people I work in advertising and they reply with the typical “Oh so you’re like Don Draper!” Bitch, no. I don’t get to sit around and drink scotch and smoke cigarettes all day. That’s not how it works. I spend 12 hours a day looking at excel spreadsheets and coordinating with 5 other agencies on how to make a campaign go smoothly. Not the same.

So these are my words of wisdom that have come from a few of many lessons I have already learned and will continue to learn from here on. Post-grad life is tough. Fact. It’s expensive, and difficult, but at the end of the day I walk out of my office, and I see the New York skyline and I remember that the hardships I endured in college and the innumerable hardships that will continue to come my way are all worth it in the end.

-Jordan

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Charmin places a commercial into a show, “The Crazy Ones”

I’ll keep my reservations about the show, Crazy One’s to myself. Because the show sucks. However the most recent episode, did provide a great use of native advertising. Subtle? Eh. Cheaper than a 30 second spot during prime time? It’s definitely possible.

The show opened with the Charmin team meeting with the client in a boardroom, reviewing a commercial they worked on. The way this was shown made it look like an actual commercial. I even fast forwarded past the opening credits because I was fooled. When in fact the camera was just zoomed in on the TV in the boardroom, and then zoomed out showing the team.

What happened after that was the crafty part. In the show, the dialogue advances to the Charmin client raising questions about the uses of Kleenex and why Charmin can’t be used for those instances.

“There is no reason people can’t be drying their eyes with Charmin. People need to wipe their glasses? Why not Charmin? Blow your nose? Why not Charmin? Remove a little makeup? Why not Charmin? Stuff your bra before the prom? Why not Charmin? Why not Charmin!?” It goes beyond the reasonable product replacements and gets a bit silly when the client wears toilet paper on his head and says, “You’re outside on a baking hot day. You forgot your sunscreen. Why NOT Charmin?”

I would certainly speculate with confidence that this is not a coincidence for Charmin. If it is, they benefited extremely well. The Charmin twitter handle played it off as if they had no clue.

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But I have to think that it was too well played, scripted and intentional with the way they mentioned the realistic ways that Charmin could replace KleenexKleenex, how do you feel? If anything, this is another great example of how brands are integrating with their audience’s regular entertainment.

I would not be surprised if next week’s episode opened with a tricky Kleenex commercial. Why use Charmin when you can use Kleenex? Why can’t Kleenex be the only paper in the bathroom? Why can’t Kleenex takeover the napkin and paper towel category as well? What a sneaky way to get people’s reactions and thoughts on Twitter. I’m a genius.

-Ryan

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The Real World is Snow Joke

So here we go. I’m one week into my first “big boy” job out of college and I have a long career ahead of me. I got on the plane from Oklahoma City to head to New York City thinking that I was going to touch down, walk out of the airport and there would be a crowd of people waiting for me at the cab line cheering me on because I finally got to join the ranks of great New Yorkers. I was going to get to my apartment and Colin was going to be sitting in a dark mahogany room with books,  pipe and velvet jacket waiting for me.

Boy was I wrong.

I arrived at Chicago for a layover, with 4 hours to wait around—tequila shots, anyone?  Instead a brutal blizzard was there to welcome me to the North. SO, a cancelled flight, and a small panic attack later I jumped onto a new flight excited that I was going to reach my new home earlier than expected (more time to smoke pipes and discuss literature with Colin, right?)

I finally reach my destination after 4 hours of waiting on a runway. I call my cab and head to baggage claim. I am ready to be a New Yorker! A small part of me knew that when the carousel started moving that my checked baggage was not going to appear. And I was right. They never came.

A week later and I have my baggage (Do you even know how stressful it is for someone as glamorous as me, in New York City, without all my clothes? Carrie Bradshaw would understand), I have my desk, I have my team, I have my future.

My welcome to post-grad life was a very bumpy one, and it was very challenging. This is something that I feel is relevant to all of us going into the advertising industry. In college we are used to the routine of every day. Monday/Wednesday/Friday you go to the classes that go quick, Tuesday/Thursday you go to the classes that you feel like you should have a drink before you walk in. They’re never ending. It’s easy. Its routine. Not the way it works in the industry.

Everyday is different, you have different projects to complete, you have different meetings to attend, and along the way you are going to hit some major roadblocks and you are probably going to scrape yourself up a bit. That’s OK. The point is that at the end of the day, in advertising, we all have something in common—we are smart people, we are strong people, and we are all willing to put serious elbow grease into reaching our career goals.

So while I don’t get home from work until 7:30 or 8 some nights, I do get to spend those long days with talented people who have already taught me how to set my mind to a goal and get there (and that there is always a place for red wine and beer in late meetings!)

– Jordan

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The Before, The After and The Week Later

There is one day each year where the broadcast spots are not fast-forwarded and consumer generated content for brands is as prevalent through social media as #throwbackthursday. Yes, my friends, this day is none other than Super Bowl Sunday.

Super Bowl 2014 was no exception to this now longstanding tradition of glorified 60-second spots. A day where we watch extreme measures be taken for bags of Doritos and are emotionally moved by Clydesdales.

I thought about spending this post highlighting “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” or maybe some classics from throughout the years. But instead I wanted to point out how in the evolution of Super Bowl advertising some of the ads that dominated this year found their success outside of airtime.

Introducing “The Before, the After and the Week Later”

The Before:

Remember in 2012 when for a hot-Facebook-second we all thought that a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off sequel was in the works and it turned out to be a Honda CR-V Super Bowl commercial? The Pre-Super Bowl buzz for brands is becoming as big as the airtime. YouTube teasers and full clips were being viewed, shared and discussed before Sunday even arrived this year.

The 2014 spot developed for Anheuser-Busch titled “Puppy Love” had racked up more than 37 million views online before airing on game day. Over 37 million BEFORE it aired on television. Kudos to everyone involved in that ad. Puppies? Well played.

The After:

I think it’s a happy day for everyone in advertising when a campaign Hashtag is actually utilized. There’s no argument Esurance stole the Twitter show with their “We Saved 30%” spot that aired immediately after the Super Bowl offering the 30% saving ($1.5 million) to someone who tweets #EsuranceSave30 that night.

The tweets poured in. And when I say poured in I mean 200,000 within the first minute following the commercial. Not only did #EsuranceSave30 hold the top spot for organically trending hashtag for a full 36 hours after the game, but @Esurance gained over 250k followers. Although honestly, I think their biggest accomplishment was receiving a “I will name my child #EsuranceSave30” tweet.

The Week Later:

Yesterday marked one week since we watched the Seahawks take the 2014 Super Bowl Champion title as their own. There’s one topic outside of the scoreboard (poor Broncos) still generating a lot of buzz.

While some brands use their 60 seconds for Super Bowl specific promotions, others use the nationwide stage as an opportunity to launch a new campaign.

It’s safe to say Coca Cola’s campaign launch did not open happiness among a vast amount of viewers. A spot highlighting America’s beauty brought out a lot of ugly out on social platforms. Over a week later there is still feedback both lashing out against and supporting Coca Cola and their campaign message. The ability to start and maintain the conversation is a reminder that prominent brands, like Coca Cola, have the capacity to make a worldwide impact with their advertising. Wieden+Kennedy, once again took Coca Cola beyond product messaging and used its Super Bowl spotlight for a brand sponsored cultural movement instead.

At the end of the day it’s hard to deny that Super Bowl advertising success is now dependent on social success as well. That said, congratulations to all 2014 Super Bowl winners before, during and after airtime.

Except for the Seahawks.

– Christina

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