Ad blasts from the past

Ralph Lauren’s new ‘film’ for the launch of their perfume Notorious, featuring Laetitia Casta, is out in the UK today. It’s directed by the award-winning Wong Kar-Wai, so I thought it would be something interesting. In line with his expertise, it’s a very visually appealing, sexy video, but not ground-breaking. I was expecting something more. 

Film is a serious interest of mine, so I did a bit of a search for the best commercials directed by film directors. Not all of them are great – recently, Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Come Walkabout’ ad for Tourism Australia got quite a bit of flak from the advertising community. This list, though, seemed the most comprehensive:
10. Sony, The Third Place (2001) – David Lynch
9. Guinness, Surfer (1998) – Jonathan Glazer
8. Amex, My Life My Card (2006) – Wes Anderson
7. Adidas, Mechanical Legs (2002) – David Fincher
6. Apple, 1984 (1984) – Ridley Scott (this is a classic, of course)
3. Smirnoff, Smarienberg (1998) – Michel Gondry
2. BMW, Beat the Devil (2002) – Tony Scott
1. Gap, Pardon Our Dust (2005) – Spike Jonze
Always good to refresh the memory. My favourites are the Apple and Smirnoff ads, which came out in 1984 and 1998 respectively, which, if you think about it, was a time when the internet wasn’t so big (it didn’t even exist in ’84), and consumers didn’t have this huge bridge across which they could communicate globally. Does that say anything about the increasing influence of the interactive form of communication over the traditional, and the consequent need to move with the times? Your guess is as good as mine.  

The Ford Fiesta is Now

A couple of days ago, I received an email from Sandrine over at We Are Social. In it, she mentioned that she was part of the team covering social media strategy for Ford. She then detailed the various aspects of the new campaign that’s being set in motion for the Ford Fiesta. I’m going to tell you about it in a bit, but first I want to clarify that I’m only doing that because I truly do find it interesting – it’s a good example of integrated marketing, which is something I’ve been going on about for a while. Second, I want to give a shout out to Sandrine for getting her outreach process right – she mentioned my name (not just a hi or hello), so I’m being treated as a person and not just the recipient of a mass email, and she’s clearly been following my blog, however briefly, because the Ford Fiesta execution is right along the lines of the things I think and write about. In case anyone is interested, I recommend reading Chris Brogan’s post on how to pitch to bloggers. I’m nowhere as well-known as Chris, but it’s important for brands to know that the web is a great leveller – what I say will be picked up even if it is to a smaller extent than (really cool) people like Chris. 

OK, so on to the campaign. Based on the central theme of ‘This is Now’, Ford has set up collaborative art project. The project has four stages: the first involves a series of work commissioned by animation artist Noah Harris. Some of these broke in an ad released yesterday, which was directed by Harris himself.
The second included work submitted by art students across Europe – select ones will feature in the press and outdoor campaign. The third brings in the public, who can submit pictures capturing their own sense of ‘Now’ on the This is Now Flickr group. And finally, launching in October will be a Fiesta site that will display all the work from the previous stages, and let visitors create their own mash-ups. I’ll keep an eye out for that.
The This is Now blog ties together the entire campaign and will cover it as it progresses.
If you look at the ad, the Flickr images which make up the press and outdoor bits, and the blog, you’ll see a clear picture emerging. In fact, ‘This is Now’ starts to make sense as a concept, and the Ford Fiesta as a product seems to mirror the thought beautifully. This campaign seems well thought-out and executed, not a case of some fantastic imagery being produced in the name of marketing – which is a trap a lot of brands fall into nowadays, I feel.
One of my relatives was talking about buying the Fiesta soon. Now I can totally tell him to go for it. 

The Sticky-Note Experiment

I like looking at things in psychedelic colours. And I like super-useful Post-Its. So I was very amused to find the Sticky Note Experiment video by EepyBird (they are the people behind the Coke and Mentos video that created viral history in 2006). Anyway, Office Max, for whom the video was made, couldn’t have put ‘Life is beautiful. Work can be too’ in a better way. 

Can you imagine that EepyBird has grown so big that Coke and Office Max now sponsor them – that too to do (weird) things like perform the Coke and Mentos experiment all over the world?? THAT’s what you call successful advertising!!

Finally, an Olympics-themed ad that’s worth noting

There’s been some noise about how there haven’t been many decent ads brought out during this year’s Olympics. I just read this article, however, that says there’s actually been quite a few targeting women, given that 49% of viewers of the sporting event telecast on NBC are women aged 18 and over. I think that’s interesting, given that women aren’t particularly known for being huge sports lovers.

I like this 30-second spot from AT&T featuring American gymnast Nastia Liukin (she’s Russian-American, in case you were wondering). I like the imagery, the way it communicates the whole ‘butterflies’ feeling, and that it doesn’t pontificate. It’s simple, strong and to the point.

Ad novellas, anyone?

Pond’s in India has come up with an ad ‘miniseries’ for their White Beauty cream, of which these are the first three (each just under a minute long). It stars well-known Bollywood actors, which is symptomatic of a lot of advertising in the country – stars draw the eyeballs. Unfortunately, it has a very stale storyline and is bound to raise the hairs of feminists. True, in the India of yore, the women who were traditionally thought of as ‘pretty’ were the fair ones (strange for a country that is brown-skinned!), but it really isn’t true anymore, and Pond’s should know better than just stick to a message that’s been done to death. I’ll wait for part 4, but I’m not holding my breath. I’m sure there are brilliant ideas in a country that’s as large and diverse as India – why give us this trash again, Pond’s, WHY?

But if it makes any difference, I like the ‘miniseries’ concept. Apparently, ad agencies in India like Ogilvy & Mather (the agency behind the Pond’s ad series) and Lowe are tagging on to this to create what the media is calling ‘ad novellas’.

Pond’s White Beauty – Episode 1