Advertising

The Things We Do For Love.

Holidays have always been a reason for marketing teams to mashup branding or advertising elements in an attempt to capitalize on a specific holiday’s panache or excitement. More often than not the success of these campaigns tends to fall short. Usually the campaign is a half-baked idea, or an afterthought with the results being poorly executed and delivered, resulting in nothing more than a mention in one of the advertising trade publications or blogs.

This year there were three campaigns that I ran across for Valentine’s day that range from bad (Pepsi) to possibly good (KFC) – depending on the long-term execution of the latter. So, let’s take a look at these and see what cupid brought us in 2020 for Valentine’s Day marketing mashups.

I’ll start with the bad. Pepsi somehow thought it would be a good idea to create an engagement ring to promote Crystal Pepsi. A ring made from something like cubic zirconia housed in a cheap cardboard box emblazoned with the Pepsi logo. Why? Because nothing says “I Love You” like a cheap ring in a logo box.

The engagement ring features a lab-grown, clear-cola-containing 1.5-carat diamond set into a platinum band (this might actually have value if you melt it down). Real Crystal Pepsi was broken down into elemental carbon and then added into the artificial growing process to create this exceptional stone. (color, cut and clarity are outstanding I’m sure) The resulting bling sits inside a white ring box featuring the retro-chic Crystal Pepsi logo.

The ring is only available through a social media contest where entrants share their proposal plans using the requisite mentions and hashtags on Twitter. One lucky proposer will win the one-of-kind Pepsi engagement ring, freeing up a year’s worth of someone’s salary to buy a replacement ring with an actual diamond in it.

Pepsi worked with creative agency VaynerMedia to create the Pepsi Proposal campaign, which runs until March 6th, with the winner announced March 16th.

Another outstanding mashup is the Heinz Ketchup chocolate box. Yes you read that right chocolate truffles filled with tasty, tasty ketchup. Why? Because nothing says “I Love You” like nausea inducing confections packaged in a heart shaped box.

Heinz UK partnered with confectionary wizards Fortnum & Mason for Valentine’s Day creating a red and cyan box with gold foil, which actually looks really nice and matches the Fortnum & Mason brand quite well. From a packaging standpoint I really like this. I question the novelty of the execution though. In my opinion this will be read as a joke, and while it might appeal to some, most are simply going to say “gross” and forget about it. I’m not sure how this will elevate the Heinz or Fortnum & Mason brands long term.  

This isn’t the first time Heinz has tried to ruin the magic of a romantic Valentine’s Day Last year they released ketchup caviar, a move in what now seems like the first attempt to forever tarnish this holiday and, likely, your marriage. (Someone at Heinz apparently isn’t loved)

Now for the one that might actually work. KFC Crocs. Yes, the shoe everyone loves to hate has been done up to look like a bucket of the colonel’s finest. This one might actually work. The love connection is a bit obtuse, with KFC joining forces with avant-garde artist Me Love Me A lot (MLMA), who often showcases her eccentric and provocative art on Instagram, where she has over 1.2 million followers.

MLMA introduced a platform version of the shoe where the sole becomes the chicken bucket and the toe is adorned with a little drumette at New York Fashion Week in order to generate buzz and give KFC a platform to announce that a more subdued version of the shoe will actually go on sale next month which means this might have some staying power.

I actually like this because while there is novelty to the campaign, there is an actual practical use for the shoe, and some people are going to be all in on the fact that their ugly crocs are a bucket of chicken. Time will tell through sales though and I predict that these will end up being a collector’s item featured on American Pickers in 10 years.

No Branding Required.

There aren’t many brands that can get away with removing all brand identity from their advertising. McDonalds is one of them that can. The product is so ubiquitous that the purveyor of fast food can not only remove the golden arches, they don’t even have to show product.

McDonald’s has created a series of outdoor ads in recent years that have boldly expressed just how deeply the fast-food brand is embedded in our collective consciousness. McDonalds Canada created a series of outdoor ads that used cropped sections of the golden arches as a wayfinding mechanism. McDonalds France used a series of rain-streaked cityscapes to promote their delivery service. Although minimal in design, there is no doubt that this is McDonald’s. The latest from Leo Burnett UK, not so much.

This new series of posters from Leo Burnett for McDonald’s UK has taken renowned typographer David Schwen’s type sandwiches and created, well, type sandwiches.

There is no mention of McDonald’s anywhere on these yet you know exactly what they are from the ingredients listed. That is definitely a Big Mac and a Filet o Fish. This could be applied to the majority of the McDonald’s sandwich line with a similar effect.

“McDonald’s is a leader, only a handful of global brands can communicate like this. The redacted and graphic nature of this latest campaign exudes the confidence McDonald’s and its iconic products deserve.”

Pete Heyes, Creative Director at Leo Burnett.

It’s a pretty bold move and one that not many brands could pull off. A global brand like McDonald’s can get away with, and does with great effect.

Miller Lite The Original Social Media

During the height of the internet boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s one of my favorite TV commercials was the Miller Lite spot “Evil Beaver” produced by Traktor. Like so many ads at that time the commercial was completely insane and unlike any beer commercial being run at the time. The thing is though, it did its job. It was fun, memorable, associated the product with the brand and got people talking. And it was part of a larger campaign that tied everything together with a single tagline “Art Directed by Dick”. All of the Miller Lite spots were well-produced, clever, and really thought out, but “Evil Beaver is the one that stuck with me. (probably because it’s so off the wall)

FAst forward to 2019/2020 and Miller lite has scored another home run as far as I’m concerned. Working with DDB Chicago. they are playing into the current zeitgeist of people pulling away from social media and the backlash of fake followers, likes, and the overwhelming need for continuous engagement in these spaces.

Building on its campaign positioning of Miller Time as the ‘original social media,’ Miller Lite is bringing a limited number of its dark-coloured Offline Cans to bars across the country to inspire more drinkers to take a break from social media and spend time with friends over a beer. The limited-edition matte black cans will be available in more than 500 bars and taverns in 27 states starting this week. Miller Lite’s Offline Can will be supported by two new TV ads, social media (ironically) and a point-of-sale marketing campaign that aims to inspire drinkers to invite friends for a night out over Miller Lite.

In select bars where the cans are available, Miller Lite will reward some drinkers for going offline with their own Miller Lite Offline Can, where permitted and while supplies last. Using Facebook’s new ‘SideFlix’ technology, bar-goers can invite their friends to join them in putting down their phones and ‘going offline’. If the group collectively puts their phones down for 30 minutes, they could be eligible to receive a Miller Lite Offline Can. SideFlix is a digital experience using Facebook Instant Games and Facebook Messenger that offers friends the opportunity to share in a connected experience across their devices when they’re together in real life (IRL).

Both DDB and Miller Lite saw the potential to leverage this technology to encourage and reward ‘device-down’ connection when friends spend time together over beers. Miller Lite is one of the first brands globally to utilize Facebook’s SideFlix and this is a first-of-its-kind experience for Molson Coors Beverage Company. Created by DDB Chicago, Miller Lite’s new 15-second spots, meanwhile, focus on missed connections — people staring at their phones instead of interacting with friends. Like the first ‘It’s Miller Time’ spot, ‘Followers’ that began airing in fall, the new ads finish with the tagline: ‘Here’s to the original social media.’

A Little Christmas Rapping and Home Shaming from IKEA

According to Stash, this is IKEA’s first Christmas TV spot. Somehow that doesn’t seem right to me. I swear I’ve seen holiday-themed ads for IKEA in the past. Maybe this is the first one for IKEA UK.

The spot was put together by the UK VFX powerhouse Electric Theatre Collective. A cast of toys and tchotchkes come to life revealing the hard truth about a family’s home with a bit of rapping and “home shaming”.

Mother has put together something with rock-solid production value that was directed by Tim Kuntz. The 3D animation and live-action footage work really well together and that rabbit cookie jar absolutely creeps me out.

The original track was overseen by Dave Bass and Arnold Hattingh at “Wake the Town”, and the rap was voiced by the legendary MC D Double E.

It’s a fun piece that clocks in at a minute thirty so it’ll be interesting to see how they do the 15/30 edits for broadcast.

Agency: Mother

Production: MJZ
Director: Tom Kuntz
Producer: Emma Butterworth
Production Manager: Daniel Gay
Production Designer: Chris Oddy

VFX/post: Electric Theatre Collective
VXF Producer: Magda Krimitsou
VXF Coordinator: Larisa Covaciu
VXF Creative Director: James Sindle
2D Lead: James Belch
3D Lead: Patrick Krafft
2D Artists: Chris Fraser, Tomer Epsthein
3D Artists: Jordan Dunstall, Ryan Maddox, Mark Bailey, Remy Herisse, Edwin Leeds, Gregory Martin, Nikolai Maderthoner, Will Preston, Stefan Brown, Adrian Lan Sun Luk, Piers Limberg, Zach Pindolia, Olivia Grimmer, Romain Thirion, Richard Fry
Colorist: Luke Morrison

You’re Going to Fall in Love with Colonel Sanders Finger Licking Good Dating Simulator.

This afternoon while looking at a number of video sites for inspiration on a freelance project, I came across the video below. It led me down a deep rabbit hole, (or would that be a chicken hole?) of advertising and marketing material that has been produced for KFC by Weiden & Kennedy and Psyop.

The game, “I Love You, Colonel Sanders! A Finger Lickin’ Good Dating Simulator” was created by entertainment/advertising company Psyop for the fried-chicken brand taking the player through a three-day culinary school adventure. As the main character, your storyline involves earning your degree, supporting your best friend, and improving your culinary chops. But more than anything else, this is a dating simulator game, so the ultimate objective is to land the svelte Kentucky-fried colonel that is looking just as hipster as KFC’s CGI Instagram influencer version of the man.

The game was released on September 24th through Steam and is available to play for free. While this might seem like an odd marketing play by KFC it actually ties in with a number of other efforts they have produced in the past. Including a virtual reality nightmare of an employee training program and an 8-bit Atari-style game also starring the Colonel.

Graphics

The graphics are really well done. The game is flush with lush backgrounds, which frankly would into any high production shoujo anime like Special A. The characters, too, are appropriately well-rendered, blinking and pouting in a dynamic enough way to suggest some two-dimensional humanity. Not only that, the food illustrations actually look appetizing as well.

The dialogue trends toward slightly juvenile and cheesy, but with enough self-awareness that many of the lines can definitely be read as ironic. Just look at the culinary school’s deliberate mouthful of a name: “University of Cooking School: Academy for Learning.” That reads like something auto-translated by Google from Japanese to English.

Like most Choose Your Own Adventure games, this is fairly standard click ‘n’ go. But Psyop was smart enough to add some mini-challenges to switch it up, including a timed quiz and a turn-based battle against something called a “spork monster.” It’s definitely not dynamic enough to hold a person’s attention for, an extended amount of gameplay, but more than sufficient for the one or two playthroughs that a normal person is going to undertake.

Psyop introduces a whole host of characters to help flesh out the world-building of this game. There is best friend Miriam, a spectacles-wearing Professor Dog (head of the cooking school of course), villainous Ashleigh and Van Van, small-statured boy, you have sentient kitchen appliance Clank, the forgettable Student (yes, that’s his actual name), and, of course, the hot hipster Colonel.

Of course, all of these characters pale in comparison to the star of the game: Colonel Harland Sanders. The Colonel is the brand spokesperson and they have gone to lengths to present him in ways to help extend the reach of the KFC brand with a younger target audience.

This is such a solid way to use gamification to promote KFC, introduce a new line of products like the Mac n Cheese Bowls. It also ties in with their social media efforts and TV spots which have been leaning to more humor since the Colonel was reintroduced in 2015. KFC is promoting the game in all of their social channels while cross-promoting othe campaigns like “Rudy III KFC Wings”. The overall strategy put together by W+K for KFC just works. It’s offbeat enough to get your attention. The humor is memorable and reflective of the quality copywriting that has gone into every touchpoint. And more importantly, it works which is evident in how well the brand has done over the last four years. By taking risks and leveraging the Colonel’s off-beat personality and drive to sell chicken give them permission to do things like the Colonel Sanders bearskin rug stunt or a hot tub that looks like a bucket of chicken.

There is an entire campaign built around the Rudy III theme on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube

BETC Rebuilds The World With Lego and Some Help from Traktor

For the first time since the 1980s, Lego has unveiled its first brand campaign. Produced by the French agency BETC in conjunction with multi-award winning collective Traktor the project titled Rebuild the World features a live-action film and micro-site designed to send a positive political message about the power of creativity to enable change.

BETC met Lego 18 months ago and worked with the brand’s internal agency to develop the concept, Rebuild the World. “We thought about what would be important for Lego to say today,” said BETC founder Rémi Babinet. “They are one of the most loved brands in the world, no one argues with Lego! It’s like Apple in the beginning; innovation and creativity are both brand and philosophy. That’s rare in the commercial world. The problem it has is that while it is known for the educational aspect of Lego, that perception is a problem for all the parents who don’t have an affinity with the brand. They think it’s about following instructions. But it’s more than play or education – it’s about creativity. To be creative today is the way to achieve something, to navigate the new world. Mathematics and rationality used to be the most important skills, but now creativity is the most valuable skill, and Lego can enable that.”

The tagline “Rebuild the World” resonates beyond Lego itself, to chime with the issues of the contemporary world. 

It is a tag line that everyone can relate to when associating it with the Lego brand.

In keeping with the campaign message, the video goes against expectations by not featuring a single Lego brick. Instead, it is a live-action and CGI adventure caper that sees a rabbit chased by a hunter with a bow and arrow, overcoming every challenge thrown at him with increasingly creative solutions. This was inspired by Lego’s ethos for problem-solving. BETC chose to go down the live-action route because, as Rémi states, “When you are in the head of a child, the bricks become the real world, the world they create with Lego is a real story for them.”

Rebuild the World Micro-Site

Every tiny detail of the film has been considered to reflect the Lego universe and its billions of fans. In the town of Valparaíso in Chile, buildings were repainted to match Lego brick colors. Clothes worn by all the characters in the video are 2D printed like Lego characters. If you look at the bad guy, his shirt, tie, jacket, and binoculars are all printed onto one T-shirt. 

The cars and trees match the cars and trees of a Lego kit. The people bend backward at the hip or turn their head around just like Lego people do. Every scene features a builder to reference the iconic Lego figurine. At one point, a line of ducks crosses the road, which references Lego’s first-ever product. Even the props, such as the camera, cups and the bow and arrow, are made to scale, oversized like Lego accessories.

“There were no limits,” Rémi says. “Lego was a cool brand to work with. It was an opportunity to find things you can never do with other brands. So this film is about what your imagination can do with Lego.”

For all the out-of-home imagery and animated vignettes, which will roll out globally on billboards from London to Los Angeles, BETC did use Lego bricks, shot by photographers who are used to working on luxury brand campaigns – “We wanted to capture the incredible beauty of the bricks. These images subvert stereotypes, challenge expectations, and at times send political messages. They are simple ideas, but often at a societal level. Rebuild the world could be just for fun, or it could address issues in the world today. You can transform the world as you want. It’s not a political campaign. You could go far with these messages, we tried lots of things… but this is a balance between meaningful and fun. It’s conscious, but in the end, it’s only about kids.” – Rémi Babinet.

The entire campaign is reinforced with a solid micro-site, social media, print, and outdoor campaigns. As we roll into the holiday season, it’ll be interesting to see the shorter 30-second broadcast versions of the ad plus any additional online vignette videos that are produced to bolster the entire campaign.

IKEA Easy-Peasy Food Day.

Once again, IKEA pulls off an absolutely brilliant piece of marketing. Working with Contagious, IKEA developed a series of recipes, as poster/cooking vehicle that was used to help promote the annual IKEA kitchen event. A series of 4 recipes were printed on cooking parchment featuring all of the ingredients needed to cook a complete meal. Each of the portions were to exact size, helping to minimize any cooking mistakes, and the recipes featured IKEA ingredients. The packs were placed in the kitchen areas of IKEA stores in Canada and encouraged shoppers to cook and share using the hashtag #easypeasy  Such a simple idea, and absolutely brilliant.