Tag Archives: marketing

Is the BBC giving free advertising to Coke?

15 Jun

You may not have heard it, or it may not have clicked yet, but the “Wavin’ Flag (The Celebration Mix)” by K’nann is a huge plug for Coke and because it is charting, everyday the BBC is giving free air time to Coke’s jingle. Coke are one of the official World Cup sponsors, so their branding is already everywhere and this song is just part of their massive product promotion. In doing so, Coke gets the product placement award for the day and the BBC gets the sucker award.

The advertising is pretty obvious. Right at the beginning of the song, K’naan sings the coke jingle.

If you’re not convinced, have a listen to the very last musical section of this Christmas Coke advertisement.

The song was originally put out by the artist on his album Troubadour, before being added to a charity album for the Haiti Earthquake, but because of the overtones of national pride, it fitted pretty perfectly as an anthem for the World Cup this year. The original mix didn’t have the jingle at the beginning and the lyrics were apparently somewhat darker. However, with some slight amends and constant airplay on TV through Coke commercials, it has become the theme to this years World Cup and a singles hit (as I write this it is currently number 3 in the UK singles chart)

What confuses me is, why is the BBC playing the Coke version? Surely there can be edits that leave out the Coca-Cola jingle? I personally don’t have a problem with Coke using a clever marketing ploy, I’m more concerned that the BBC has either been duped, lazy or has an ironically disturbing lack of popular culture knowledge.

Advertisements

Election imagery – part one

21 Apr

Globally, elections give the opportunity to artists to make comment on society. It also gives marketing and communications professionals the opportunity to plug their wares. Below are a few examples. I’m collecting as much as I can at the moment, but it would be great if you can send me more and I’ll post it up.

These chips were being handed out at Clapham Junction and are the Nick Clegg version. There are three different packets, obviously Brown, Clegg and Cameron although all three are just sea salt flavoured. I haven’t seen the Labour or Tory versions anywhere except at the Real Election website.

Below is a sticker from the Anarchist Party that was stuck over another ad on a tube on the Northern Line. Its message is simple, that the other parties don’t care. Interestingly it focuses on Brown, Cameron and the BNP’s Nick Griffin, guess they didn’t see the Lib-Dem surge coming.

The new Lib-Dem slogan – so what does it mean?

12 Mar

The Lib-Dems have released their election slogan prior to their Spring Conference this weekend. They have decided on ‘Change That Works For You. Building A Fairer Britain.’

I have no idea what that means, but it is awfully similar to the Labour “A Future Fair for All” slogan and the Tory “Change for Britain” slogan.

Incidentally, the Conservatives barely make mention of their own slogan on the Tory website so either it doesn’t resonate with voters, or they aren’t comfortable with it themselves. They are also all over the place with smaller call-to-actions by using Year for Change, Vote for Change etc etc. Either way, a slogan is meant to capture the focus of a campaign, and I don’t think theirs does.

But, back to the point, essentially, the Lib-Dems have done what they do best and have sat in the middle.

From a communications point, my colleague and pod-mate Ged Carroll points out in PR Week that:

“Initial thoughts are that it’s not particularly memorable, only catchy in the way it could trip Lib Dem candidates up and doesn’t provide a clear brand proposition.”

Apart from the odd messaging, I don’t think two sentence slogans work, it doesn’t stick in your head and it could be seen as lacking a focus and confusing. A Future Fair for All is clear, Change for Britain is straightforward, but “Change That Works For You. Building A Fairer Britain” just seems all over the shop.

Anyway, we will see how it goes, I presume it was tested with focus groups, but it doesn’t seem to have the same sway as Yes We Can.

Why do all three leaders have an image problem?

15 Feb

In this age of 24 hour media, spin doctors, image consultants and press advisers, it really amazes me that all three leaders have a significant image problem.

Brown is seen as distant and struggles to connect with voters. Cameron, no matter how he tries, is still seen as a toff and  smarmy (mainly because he is, credit to the public where credit is due). Clegg simply doesn’t have an image.

I thought Brown’s interview with Piers Morgan last night was very good. He seemed relaxed, witty, real and engaging. I think that the interview will pay off and hopefully will show a increasing tightening in the polls. Brown didn’t seem like the distant professor but he seemed like an average everyday man, someone you might want to have a beer with.

However, Brown said something that dumbfounded me. It was in regards to the infamous YouTube video last year. Brown said that he asked his advisers should he have another go at it because he wasn’t happy with it, but his advisers said it was fine. I’m hoping, whoever that was, has been sufficiently rebuked because they failed at the number one priority of their job – to make their boss look good. I’ve written before that I thought Brown had been getting bad advice – clearly I was right.

But are all three getting such bad advice? The Cameron poster debacle make me think his marketing team is failing as well. Cameron asked in PMQs would Labour MPs want Brown’s face on their campaigning documents, but I think some Tories are probably distancing themselves from his image now too.

Clegg is struggling to get any spotlight at the moment, but when the media will be obliged to give the Lib-Dems some column inches during the campaign, I’m sure this will change, but not my much.

So, who’s fault is it, the advisers or the candidates?

Campaign ads – the best and worst. Part two – political ads

12 Feb

This is the follow up post to the advocacy ads blog I posted yesterday.

The vast majority of these ads are from the USA and generally from Republicans. Like them or loathe them, they do campaigning very well, especially during the Karl Rove era.

First up however is one of Obama’s ads. He never created “great” ads, but a good deal of his involved just him, speaking directly into camera to the audience. This has the benefit of giving a personal message and engaging directly with the viewer. In this ad, he also personalises the story of his mother’s death and the extra pain of her death due to the insurance system in the US. He then brings that story back to the personal lives of everyday Americans which is vital for a successful visual engagement strategy.

If only he was still showing this ad in the last 6 months.

This Carly Fiorina ad is bizarre. Named the Demon Sheep ad, it has become the object of ridicule but also fascination. It is weird and out there and I guess that is its charm. I don’t think it will work, it’s too long, appeals to a fairly small part of the population (the Tea Party) and most importantly, it doesn’t actually target the candidate that is leading the race. This is an attack ad for a spot of the Republican California Senator ticket. Fiorina attacks Tom Campbell, who is a leading member of Governor Arnie’s Cabinet. They are both losing ground to Republican Chuck De Vore, a State Assemblyman who is know for his ultra conservative stance. No wonder she was rated as one of the US’s top 20 worst ever CEOs.

George Bush Senior’s attack ad on Michael Dukakis is one of the most infamous ever. Drew Westen describes it as “one of the low points in American electoral history.” Willie Horton was a felon of the worst order and whatever happened for him to be released was clearly a mistake. The ad however has become part of history. Using emotive, almost subliminal written messaging such as Rape, Kidnap, Stab, stuck in the heads of the public. Fear is everywhere in this ad, the frightening statements, the scary mugshot, the fact that you could be the person stabbed, kidnapped and raped under a Dukakis Government. It is enough to frighten anyone. In fact, this ad wasn’t even an “official” Bush Campaign ad. It was made by the Americans for Bush arm of the National Security Political Action Committee (NSPAC).

Willie by the way wasn’t his real name, he went by William, but that’s not as scary either.

Hilary Clinton’s 3am ad made a big difference during the 2008 primaries and was one of the reasons why she stayed in the race so long. Questioning Obama’s ability and experience, she came up with a pretty powerful and effective ad. It preyed on the fears of parents and grandparents alike. It gave her a good boost in the polls, but let’s face it, the rest is history

Gough Whitlam was the Australian Labor Prime Minster from 72-75 after 23 years of Liberal-Country Government, mostly under Sir Robert Menzies. This ad may seem a tad naff now, but at the time, the ad and the slogan “It’s Time” was hugely influential. Delightfully simple, the slogan simply pointed at the last quarter of a century under a Conservative Government, similar to the Change slogan used by the Obama campaign. No one over in the UK would realise, but the singers are all Australian celebrities and politicians. Australian’s might notice a young Jack Thompson, Jackie Weaver, Graham Kennedy and Bert Newton singing away. Whitlam however only lasted 3 years before he was controversially sacked by the Governor General Sir William Kerr. Whitlam, on the stairs of Parliament House then made the statement “God Save the Queen, because nothing will save the Governor General.” Thus started the first big push for an Australian Republic.

Ronald Reagan put this ad out for his re-election campaign in 1984 and it is brilliantly simple. Patriotic, conservative and a vision back to the halcyon days of America. He doesn’t even appear or speak in it, but at the same time he seems both Presidential and grandfatherly.

Just like his father, Bush Junior wasn’t officially behind this ad, but it was paid for by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. There were plenty of memorable negative ads that hit Kerry hard, but this was particularly effective. Kerry made a big deal out of his Vietnam veteran status saying in a time of war, it was important to have a Commander and Chief who had proper military experience. Kerry won two Purple Hearts and one Silver Star for his heroism, but there were controversial circumstances surrounding this award and this came to the fore in the 2004 Presidential campaign. Kerry also immediately came back to the US post the war and began protesting against it. His initial campaign strategy was to portray him as a war hero, but not long after, these swift boat vets came out and hit Kerry hard. Again, the rest is history

Campaign ads – the best and the worst. Part one – advocacy ads

11 Feb

In response to the Robin Hood Tax ad, which is one of the best campaigning ads I have seen for a while, I thought I would post some historically very effective political and advocacy ads. I’m also currently reading The Political Brain, by Drew Westen that looks at the role of emotions in political campaigning. It has been an eye-opening read, so this also gave me some inspiration for this post.

This list is by no means definitive and if anyone wants to send links to some campaigning ads, that would be great, I’d love to watch them.

This post will focus on a few advocacy ads, starting with the Robin Hood Tax ad that has been the focus of the media of late. It is a very simple ad, two voices, one face but plenty of emotion. Bill Nighy plays a leading banker who ends up squirming in response to the questioning about why a Tobin Tax shouldn’t be created. Squirming bankers is something that reverberates with a good portion of the public at the moment. This campaign plays to the slightly divergent emotions of good will and revenge brilliantly.

This next ad scares the heck out of me, although I’m not sure how effective it is. Shock ads, as I have written before, have the tendency to decline in effectiveness over time simply because of people being desensitized. I’m not sure anyone would be able to put themselves in this guys shoes, unless they have been in the same situation.

This shock ad from PlaneStupid, the organisation that focuses on climate change issues caused by the global aviation industry, is different from the previous one however. Shocking – yes. Disturbing – definitely. Effective – most certainly. Polar bears dropping from the sky crushing cars and smashing into buildings may seem like an odd choice, but it is actually very clever. The stance is that every person on a trans-Atlantic flight creates 400kg of carbon. Most people can’t conceptualize what that means however. A polar bear, which is also an icon of climate change devastation, is imaginable. Therefore this appeals to our sense of wanting to save these animals, horror at their gruesome deaths but it also puts our carbon footprint into a physical and understandable context. It was filmed in Canada, but it could be any city, again personalising the imagery.

The final ad is one that has screened on UK screens recently and was the subject of a number of complaints, but is far more subtle that the polar bear ad. Act on CO2 is a non-departmental government body that is the public face of the Government’s climate change policy. This ad simply shows a father telling a bed-time story to his child, but it is a story of the effects of climate change and includes drowning pets and other disturbing results of unabated climate change. But this ad is clever in the fact that it appeals on a personal level to adults and children. This ad scares children, hence the complaints, but it also contextualizes climate change for them ensuring they understand the potential of doing nothing. It also will frighten adults on a parental level – how can I let my child live in a world like this, what can I do to prevent it?

As I said, this isn’t a complete list, but it just a tester. I’d love your thoughts and if you want to send me other campaigns, feel free. I’ll post the political ad blog in the next couple of days.

Cross posted with Ruder finn Dot Comms.