Looking back over some news of now last year, the Brand Channel‘s announcement of the 2013 Brandcameo Product Placement Award Winners and Losers covering movies released in 2012 made me smile – especially ‘The Amazing Spiderman’ for worst product placement.
As with many years, 2012 had its fair share of bad and egregiously bad product placement. Incongruous on-screen brand cameos such as Subway in Wreck-It Ralph and Acura in Avengers are the stuff that gives the practice of product placement a bad name. But while even Heineken’s role in James Bond had a few defenders, practically nobody came out to stand up for Peter “Spider-Man” Parker’s choice of search engines.
Making Bing’s forced Spider-Man placement worse was Microsoft’s inability to spin the negative publicity to its advantage. Ironically enough, Comicbook.com points out that in the comic book, Peter Parker uses Google as his search engine of choice. (A bit like how the film version of E.T. famously featured Reese’s Pieces while, to this day, the novelization uses M&M’s.)
Of course it is easier to mock those who got it wrong but there is something about brands working with characters, movie topics or scenarios and I am bemused that BING considered itself to be the search engine of choice for snazzy Peter Parker, spiky haired, rebellious and secretive…
Looking at what is out there in terms of search engine brands, perhaps the funniest one is DuckDuckGo – with Google being the obvious choice (and apparently what the comic writers had intended). Most search engines just lack the familiarity of Yahoo and the before mentioned Google and BING, but that doesn’t necessarily make them a correct brand match in my mind.
Still, I guess it could have been worse if they accepted an offer from AOL… Roll on 2014…
It’s one of those lovely finds my husband brought back from a business meeting – well, the photo that is, he wouldn’t have dared to get the product looking at the packaging!
I guess I may have been in danger of mocking him… have a look at the picture. Anything striking you as odd? Perhaps we are not getting this but why would you use a picture of a summery dressed girl with a laptop on her bare legs (if you’ve ever held that type laptop on your skin you’ll remember how hot it gets) advertising a cosy fleece blanket – which incidentally has not been treated with fire resistant chemicals and can thus not be used on soft furnishings, such as the sofa the lady is lying on?!!??!
I wonder what Alan Sugar would say to this packaging (‘does it show the product?’…) To me, it looks like a churned out product line not really caring about any brand awareness and purely targeting a ‘cheap buy’ at a motorway station, so never mind the apparent packaging inaptitude – it’s just a lovely sample of ‘what not to do’.
… or so it seems to be in the case of this portuguese ice cream advert.
When it comes to photography, the model is just as important as the product – and in a case like this, the pose and gaze they are shot with can really influence and change the message intended.
It may not have made us purchase their ice cream, but it certainly made us stop and smile!
I’ve just had a weekend in York and had lunch at a restaurant / bar with a Latin theme. It was spacious in itself but there was no toilet on the ground floor. You had to climb five flights of stairs and there was no lift – lots of accessibility issues spring to mind, even ignoring wheelchairs (try carrying a child up all those stairs…).
I could have left the place with a dampened feeling and not just tired legs, but they did something clever with their unfortunate toilet situation – they made it a feature!
All it took was some entertainment on the way up. Instead of emphasising the somewhat arduous trip, it made me walk up twice (second time iPhone in hand to capture the trail).
No business is perfect – and I feel that this is a really simple and nice example for how to deal with situations that have to be managed before they can eventually be altered.
I for one will be remembering this bar for the positive brand experience their innovative dealing with a negative situation has created.
The Paralympics have arrived and we are once again bathing in the excitement of a global sporting event hosted in our capital. I had been on the lookout for cool and crazy merchandise featuring the much debated and much protected London 2012 branding, and here are just two recent ones I came across…
It’s odd to think that this is the item of choice for promoting an event that excels in its dynamic nature, is full of vibe, confidence and energy, that is about breaking records and inspiring a generation. Was the underlying brand messaging strategy to engage with the nation every time they take their Sunday roast out the oven or put the tea pot on the side table? Oven mittens and tea pot warmers, ladles and other cooking equipment may be apt for MasterChef or Ready Steady Cook… but I am somewhat doubtful of the effect beyond the gimmick and ensuing giggle… Then again, we might inspire a generation of record breaking oven users and tea makers.
Anything is possible!
They have everything going for their brand identity. Clean, clear type and colours. A bold message. A modern feel. Shame that the first thing I associate with their logo is not anything to do with food and transport / logistics – it’s simply the feeling of frustration and losing time watching the famous Apple pin wheel rotate on my screen.
What is a shame is that exactly this association of waiting is less than appropriate with a delivery company of any type.
They have done well getting their movies linked with instantly available merchandise. My three year old can name you all the super heros not because we have taken him to see any of the movies, animations or comic strips, but because they are omnipresent in shop windows, supermarket isles, on food packaging and clothing.
A great example of creating a far-reaching brand. However, after this weekend I am not sure how loved the brand is in parent’s eyes! Dear son had earned a toy and since he is in spiderman mania we got him a matel toy figure – happy it did not come with another silly plastic gun that gets lost, doesn’t fire and is totally unrelated to the super hero within their movie story lines. What should have been an amazing spider man success turned out to be an amazing disappointment when little one pointed out that they made him all wrong! He was not wearing the right boots, he had no gloves, his sleeves were too short and he could not bend into the position of the poster display where he is crouching.
We resolved it by actually painting the faults in with permanent red pen and discussing at length how this was just a pretend toy – but it did make me realise once again how well we are trained to recognise music, patterns, visuals, logos and how deeply we associate them with our experiences of those brands – and how we struggle when somebody changes them.
It may be one of the many reasons why big brands tend to evolve their brand identity instead of giving it a completely new look – unless they are looking at a very different positioning and new brand message ‘ala BP in 2000.
Just why Matel decided to release a toy that bears so little resemblance to the icon they spent so much time and money for creating I don’t know, but I do have to admit it has been a valuable lesson in Martin Lindstromeque ‘brandwashing’ and the power of a marker pen.
This may be a case of juvenile association – but perhaps I am not the only one wondering about this choice of logo shape. Even describing it as an icon symbolising fluidity and movement seems inappropriate. If it was a word, I would understand – plenty of those happened when international brands made cultural slip-ups with ill-advised translations. But this is surely an international symbol and I can’t help but not take their branding serious!
I wrote a post not long ago about ‘odd things to stick your brand on’ and I guess this entry is the opposite — odd brands stuck on (in this case a mug).
Whilst I love the whole Pantone colour merchandise, I am just not sure that simply sticking an image from the old ladybird learning to read books makes for good brand application… Perhaps if they had some reading exercises to do with tea and coffee or played with the alphabet…
It might be just me but when I saw this packaging of people brand Jamie Oliver’s knife selection, I had to smile. For one, I am not sure if he’s such a pink guy but mainly the head is a bit close to the knife’s edge! A bit of Henry VIII maybe?
It would have been nice if, when they did the packaging design, they played with the presence of the knife and what the product does to try to link it visually to the brand.
It seems like a missed opportunity I hadn’t expected from the otherwise ‘super brand’ Jamie.
The Diet Coke brand s on the move. A few months ago it was London Fashion Week.
Now it is the launch of the Jean Paul Gaultier bottles for diet coke that is in the news. The ‘Madonna’ inspired designs position the brand as a cool accessory, which reminds me once again of the FiloFax strategy to use a designer to create a special collection for the rather traditional brand.
When looking at the different bottle designs and musing over the undoubtedly super versatile history of the brand, I remembered a scene from Strictly Ballroom that may have been the brand’s first exploration of the fashion subject – check out the socks! Almost as eccentric as the ‘The Cure’ Love Song where they have socks hanging up in a cave.
Here is a video of the whole scene. Obviously unintentionally, in light of the news and fashion hype surrounding the brand this just makes me smile.
I like this ad. It’s very simple, very local and very clear. It’s the kind of direct response advert that tries to be a brand advert without being too clever and without losing the message. What I like most about it though – and I have no idea if this was intentional – is the fact that, as my dear husband pointed out, for the past few months there has always been a glasses ad there from Specsavers or Vision Express
Whether it was an intended pun or just pure coincidence, it is still a good example of brand advertising that works. And whilst I am not saying that the colours, the type, the logo or the ‘glasses oval’ are the best this business can do for its brand, they have achieved a clearer message than a lot of ads I have walked passed on that corner.
Sometimes the unexpected little touches of being human do more for a brand than extensive advertising and media campaigns.
Those familiar with the brilliant Mark Kermode will probably know the somehow a bit of a cult ‘Hello to Jason Isaacs‘ campaign that has been around for ages now and it is lovely to see how it spreads.
I did really smile when I realised that if you type into google search ‘Jason Isaacs’, it displays the term ‘Hello to Jason Isaacs’ above all content.
Just the little fact that google, master of search, is participating in this communal eccentricity lends the company an altruistic feel and the sense of not taking itself too serious. It’s a nice change from the patent waving, all-dominating super brand image.
Sometimes it feels like the world is going backwards. Just when we think that women are gaining more influence and power, are getting higher salaries and more opportunities in areas not open to them in the past, there comes a brand that turn back to stereotypical patronising sales methods that is slightly bemusing, if not a bit infuriating.
Lego seems to finally have realised a brand extension proposal conceived in the 1950s where housekeeping and raising a family were considered the ideal roles for females and where products and advertising were geared towards this social attitude.
In December last year, Lego Friends hit the UK as a new range targeting young girls, featuring five Bratz-like ‘mini-dolls’. They have their own characters, hobbies, likes and dislikes, such as arts, invention and pets. Their home is ‘Heartlake City’ and sets represent the outdoors and urban areas.
There is more information about the brand, the new line and its past in this article from Bloomsberg Businessweek.
Just why Lego believes it has to change their long standing, successful range of construction toys and play sets into doll houses and domestic bliss scenes, I can not get my head around – I grew up with lego and never did it bother me that I did not have sauce pans or kitchens to build, but instead police vans, fire engines and helicopters. I spent many hours creating my own models and letting fantasy take flight without pre-conceived story lines aimed at my gender.
Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO of Lego, argues that it would “breathe fresh air into a toy category filled mostly with pre-fabricated play experiences for girls”.
I can’t quite see how Lego Friends will be any different to Barbie, Bratz or Disney Princess – and I am curious if mothers will be keen to get their 5 year olds these rather too polished looking play sets with seemingly unchallenging assembly options and little room for creative diversion.
Quite happy I have two boys! Of course I may be completely wrong and this will be a huge hit, but it seems to be an unnecessary gamble with Lego’s current brand positioning and I wonder if they really could not think of any non-gender innovations to gain more market share.
It would be great to hear what you think about this new brand or similar developments in other areas of the toy/games market.
I came across this new brand extension from Listerine – with total care and all the usual USPs – but I was wondering if their choice of name was the best one. It works for Coke, one could say, but Coke is not a sub line such as theirs ‘Total Care’ that is then followed by ‘Zero’.
Perhaps the graphic design could have helped with the label. I understand that they can’t stray too much from the other brand labels so they don’t confuse their customers who are used to seeing the brand name in a certain colour and size on the packaging.
If nothing else though, the brand name seems contrived, but I can’t help but twist it around and conceive their latest innovation as something I couldn’t totally care less than zero about.
Now I’ll go and wash my mouth out.
Wondering if Siri is in fact German…
So, I’ve got Siri on my iPhone. It’s set up as English. I was super excited using Siri for text messaging or email – but kept on struggling to even get the simplest strings of words spelt out correctly. Now, I know that I have got an accent – German – but my husband is born and bred in the UK and struggles, too to make it work.
Recently I thought I’d just try for fun to talk to Siri in German and use it to email my family back in Thuringia and whehey – it just works a treat! Even the longest sentences come out without mistakes in them, it does the punctuation as requested and just rocks! My parents benefit from far longer emails – and this post would have taken a third of the time if I had dictated it to Siri in German – though my English readers will have struggled with that I guess…
I wonder if Siri has German roots or if it’s all a matter of elocution… Or maybe there is a setting for UK regional accents that would help. Any thoughts?
Much has been written about personal branding and how important it is to grow and maintain a professional image especially when one is closely observed by the media and public.
So you’d think that a party leader would be extremely careful to show his brand as reputable and reliable. It seems as though Ed Miliband had a little snooze during the labour party’s brand management training and just woke up with a messy tie and weary eyes amidst a press conference with youngsters looking far more alive and professional than him!
It’s not like this was an unfortunate snapshot of an awkward moment caught on camera – it was an orchestrated photo shoot! It just beggars belief how he could ever have the stature of a leader.
Personal brands, just like consumer brands, evoke a gut feeling about a person, service or goods – sadly, looking at this little boy lost in the big world, mine is ‘not in a million years!’.
It certainly did make me stop and look twice. They were looking pretty realistic from afar. Two men hanging either side of a poster. On closer inspection it was revealed that they were of course just dummies, but it all tied nicely together and reminded me of the Economist brand ads, but taken to a more physical level.
Just another lovely example of a brand not shying away from trying a different approach in their advertising and marketing. And with the posters positioned near the Lufthansa business class check in, they did everything possible to catch the eye of the magazine’s target subscribers. We like…
Just came across this video showing a live version of Angry Birds being played in Spain in May this year. It’s promoting T-Mobile’s smartphone brands. Quite an interesting concept to position their brand with the popular game. Once again, T-Mobile appeared to be the front runner in the use of viral internet videos and both the phone company and the game producers will have felt the positive impact the connection had on their brands. This is one good example how brand reputation building can be a great big show of fun.
It does remind me of the hay days of Red Bull using crazy events such as the flying days as a vehicle to create a brand philosophy around their energy drink that has since spread far beyond the realms of special events deep into the racing world and kept Redbull on the supermarket shelves.
Viral is still a very effective way to get a brand talked about. It’s perhaps one of the most honest forms of communication because the idea has to be truly brilliant, crazy or otherwise different to stand out enough to be contagious.
Every year, on the 1st of September, our little town would change into a blooming birch tree framed picture book scene – with ribbons, garlands and gift filled paper cones hanging from trees and bushes and trays of special cake being passed from house to house.
For my parents, my sister and a few generations after us, 1st of September was the first day of school – celebrated in enthusiastic GDR style by young and old but mainly to make it extra special for the little ones.
I do miss the ‘sugar cones’ in this country and – luckily they have survived the fall of the wall – will follow my sisters example and import some when first born reaches that age…
If the former East was a brand, with all its negatives and impossibles, it did have one wonderful core value – children, their education and health. I like to remember that; and how lucky I was to have had the best of it, really, especially on a day like this.
Jo Frost would stop the car and explain to the dad that this is unacceptable. The ASA would be on their backs for displaying dangerous driving. If anyone other than my very observant husband noticed that the child in this Holiday Inn Express brand advert is no way wearing a seatbelt, this may even become another notch in the belt of banned advertisement enforcers in our PC state… Made me chuckle.
I am certainly not an every day advertising viewer, but when I do watch programmes that feature commercials, I rather enjoy the good, the bad and the ugly. Having (a long time ago) studied advertising and art direction myself, it is still a bit of a secret passion of mine so I like to remember our crits at Central St Martins taking apart the latest TV and movie ads and separating the ‘death by committee’ ones from the ‘created by a genius’ ones.
I guess we could have introduced another category – Death by ASA (or selected UK complainers).
So, here is a small selection of recent(ish) ASA victims. Does being forced to be ‘pc’ take the spice out of being creative? It certainly adds some strange flavours! Vauxhall Lifetime Warranty
“The ASA requested that a small number of amendments to the advertising creative should be made to clarify the terms and conditions. In line with this ruling, the Vauxhall Lifetime Warranty Advertising creative was amended in line with ASA recommendations prior to Christmas and this very successful campaign continues to run on all media platforms.”
Well, I wonder how Bill Nighey reacted when he was asked to re-record those lines to conform with ASA guidelines. I can almost hear a smirk in his voice. Probably just me… Ladbrokes Shark Ad
Another one that got the chop was this Ladbrokes betting ad. You can read about the tragedy of this award-winning ad here.
“We believe the ads are compliant as they are funny, humorous ads and no-one would aspire to the reckless behaviour seen in the ad, because it is so ludicrous. ” Cactus Kid advert
32 complaints halted the commercials for Oasis fruit drink because they are “offensive” and “irresponsible”. Viewers complained the adverts condoned teenage pregnancy and under-age sex. The BBC article can be read here.
Spot a Ginger in the Dark
I missed these and I can only find the press ad or still – if anyone has the video, please let me know! The Guardian article features a shot from the campaign that was deemed insulting to red haired people. An Oldie – Mr Kipling “nativity”…
The old BBC article describes the issues surrounding a Mr Kipling ad back in 2005.
More than 800 people objected to the advert for Mr Kipling which Christians claimed mocked the birth of Jesus. And a Newbie…
Last week, the ASA banned the latest ads from Loreal due to too much photoshop work. This one is certainly not a funny one as such – or a creative one – but more of a political controversy with MP Jo Swinson making a stand for the rest of us wrinkly ageing beings…
So here goes a short collection of more or less funny banned adverts. And I didn’t include the most complained about ad in 2010 (the one with the blind footballers and that poor cat) simply because whilst no animals were harmed, it does make me wince…
Would I have complained about any of them? Not really. Do the work for the brands? We’ll never know – but they have certainly got the publicity banned or not…
They say a picture says more than a thousand words. Once more reason to pay extra attention that an image does not drown the message of a communication piece.
Anyone who has ever watched the series ‘My name is Earl’ will remember “Darnell ‘Crabman’ Turner”, innocent and fun, and very involved in the hilarious stories Earl recounts.
Oh, here is a picture.
So when the 2011 Census posters went up in Birmingham, I was amused by the choice of model and the effect it had on not just myself – rather than re-enforce the message of the Census, it did quite the opposite and those asked about the content of the poster could all but remember Crabman and his part in the American series…
A perhaps even bigger shame is the use of the concept of ‘paper’ changing the UK – the stethoscope just doesn’t visualise this message the same way some of the other posters and materials do. (Not sure about the football, either.)
It made me once again realise what a fine line we tread as design practitioners when choosing the right images to support, not hinder, the message intended. Especially for organisations in the public and charity sector, images are often a visual nightmare rather than a visual aid. Is it PC? Is it featuring all ages, sex, ethnicity, (dis)abilities etc without looking staged?
Some organisations I’ve worked with do prefer not to show people at all but rather use illustration or abstract images to avoid these issues, or they rely on their own photo shoots, which is usually the better option but requires a substantial amount of investment, dedication and vision. Images, like fashion, date with the seasons and mastering the delicate balance between a message and a picture working together instead of distracting from what they are trying to say.
Is the M&S brand painting the wrong picture? This poster really made me laugh – especially since my husband pointed the ridiculously skinny looking woman out to me – and, after all, attracting men is one of the subliminal drivers to buy into brands, fashion and, well, shapes.
Is this M&S answer to rising food prices? Or is it a funny twist on asking you to buy more food to then look better in lovely lingerie?
Whatever the thinking behind this poster, I hope they paid the poor woman enough so she can tuck into a (of course) healthy meal…
I stayed in London a few weekends ago and leaving through a magazine left me literally in stitches. A glossy lifestyle magazine (Indulge) had an article about Food Artistry – and whilst the headlines seemed like nice copy writing playing with words, one of the quotes pulled out of an interview with Sam Bompas is just too good to be true!
So he’s out. Stuart Baggs kept watchers of BBC’s The Apprentice entertained and annoyed for weeks now, but I guess we are all quite relieved he’s gone to leave the job to someone who can. The strange thing is though, from a brand perspective, he has been a great showcase for how branding ‘happens’. By announcing himself as ‘Stuart Baggs the Brand’ he took a perhaps incidental yet very vital step to actually create ‘Stuart Baggs the Brand’, kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy.
He’s either knowingly, or by chance, transformed his name to a phrase, a colloquialism even for ‘over the top confident and a bit silly’. People started using his catch phrases and thoughts of wisdom – remember the sheep? – and basically despite varying opinions about his value and expertise, pretty much everybody who’s ever watched The Apprentice has both heard of him and has formed an opinion. It’s what brands dream of! Recognition and engagement with their audience.
Looks like Stuart may have failed on the interview side, but bagged himself a brand that may well outshine any apprenticeship Lord Sugar can offer.
Whilst having a stroll with my husband and son through the isles of Boots (yes, strolling with a 22 month old toddler does get that exciting) Steven points out an advertisement to me that made us both wonder and ponder. Could it be a hidden message? Did we misunderstand the product? It just made us laugh, so here it is, a strange decision of art direction and design – apart from the fact that the model looks like he will only need to touch a razor once in a blue moon…