In an era when ad ubiquity is being met with more consumer avoidance, marketers are trying to make ads that work — literally.
Even in a slowing economy, worldwide ad spending is expected to top $600 billion this year, up from $500 billion just two years ago. That's a lot of messages battling for consumers' attention.
Now some advertisers are trying to create ads that offer consumers something useful with the brand message — something they'll seek out — instead of trying to bombard them with ads they can't escape.
"People today know (it) is advertising. If there's a special approach, people get the feeling they are being talked to in a new way," says Armin Jochum, chief creative officer of BBDO Stuttgart and Berlin.
The alternative approach was on display recently at the ad industry's annual competition, the Cannes Lions festival in France. Jochum was one of 200 judges for the 28,284 entries in 10 ad categories.
Among ads at Cannes that work for consumers:
Japan's Uniqlo, a global retailer with a flagship store in New York, won the top award for new idea with a downloadable digital clock with video of dancers in Uniqlo clothes. It can be used as a PC screensaver or a mobile screen, or embedded in a Facebook page. The clock, which has sleep and alarm modes, has been downloaded by 32,000 people in 85 countries.
A Uniqlock website has video of dancers (updated as new apparel hits stores) and an interactive world map that shows users on the site and their cities, as well as the time in any city selected. It has had 124 million page views in 212 countries.
"It's viral, it's brand, it's simple, it's beautiful, it's a clock that shows their collection," says Matias Palm-Jensen, an ad executive at Swedish agency Farfar. "It's utility."
'The Times of India.'
A print ad in the newspaper called on "old" and "new" Indians to help make the nation a world power and sought entrants for a TV talent show to find new leaders. Judges picked semifinalists from more than 34,000 entries. Readers voted for finalists by e-mail and text message; the top eight won spots on the 10-week show. The effort took the Grand Prix, India's first in the festival's 55 years, for direct marketing.
The social-networking site goruneasy.com lets runners log their runs, chat, post pictures and find running routes in new cities. The site won a Silver Lion in the media buying competition. Nike also has such a site, which is integrated with its Nike+ shoes and wireless electronic run monitoring.
The men's personal care brand offers a mobile application on its Japanese website to put on phones sexy images, ring tones and an "alarm girl" who messages at times set by the user. The messages get racier with each use. The application won a Bronze Lion in the online marketing competition.
People in jobs that require collaboration found an Adobe program fun when it was set up as a tennis match with two players. In Adobe Layer Tennis, which won a Bronze Lion for media strategy, the first player has 15 minutes to create a single layer of art. It is then posted to the Web "stadium" — viewable by others online — and the second player has 15 minutes to manipulate it with Adobe tools and return it to the first player. They volley five times. Simple word of mouth attracted more than 50,000 users to watch the first "match," and 500,000 have watched since.
NEW & NOTABLE
Bust out from the pack.
With more than 180,000 specialty foods and drinks on display at the 54th Annual Summer Fancy Food Show in Manhattan, it's tough for a product to get noticed. Hummus-maker Sabra figures there's an "art" to rising above the sea of chocolate, cheese and wine samples. It hired "sand sculpture" artist Kirk Rademaker to craft busts of John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton out of 100 pounds of hummus. He began work Sunday. The sculptures will be unveiled Monday at the show and on Sabra.com.
While the hummus busts — and even the "fancy food" show moniker — seem frivolous, these nibbles are serious business: Specialty foods had $47.9 billion in retail sales in 2007, up 26% from 2006, according to the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade.
The Ad Team plans to drop by to report on chocolate truffle fillings.
New York Yankee Derek Jeter, golfer Tiger Woods and tennis champ Roger Federer will team in an ad for Gillette's battery-boosted Fusion Power razor.
A real whopper.
Last week, a London Burger King served up burgers made of Wagyu beef and enhanced with white truffles and shallot-infused mayonnaise. The proceeds from the $190 burgers went to the charity Help a London Child.
A hotline was set up to take orders for the steeply priced burgers, to be picked up on June 26 for fine dining at BK or to go. Spokeswoman Odette Sullivan says all 50 premium burgers available were sold. "We would certainly consider offering (it) again in the future."
The Ad Team suggests offering it in New York City. Since you can already get a $1,000 lobster-and-caviar breakfast frittata and a $1,000 pizza in Manhattan, the burger would look like a bargain.
Chip off the ol' block.
Here in the USA, Burger King will launch a more mainstream promotion. On July 7, it will introduce in an ad a Little King character as the son to its royally silent (and, Ad Team thinks, vaguely disturbing) King spokescharacter.
The ad, aimed at moms, promotes a new $3.49 BK kids' meal of Kraft mac and cheese, low-fat milk and apples sliced to look like french fries.
Fake bronze at Cannes.
Production house Epoch Films will have to return a Bronze Lion it won for a fake TV ad at the recent Cannes Lions festival. The entry looked like a J.C. Penney ad but was unauthorized. It shows two teens "speed dressing" to meet at the girl's home, then telling her mom they'll be in the basement "watching TV." The ad uses Penney's logo and turns its "Today is the day" slogan into: "Today is the day you can get away with it."
Apparently not. The fake ad angered the retailer and its agency, Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, which won a Silver Lion for a touching, real Penney holiday ad. The message: "Today is the day to believe."
Epoch Films had no comment. Penney spokeswoman Rebecca Winter says it was "deeply disappointed" its name and logo were misused. Saatchi & Saatchi apologized, and the ad agency's Americas CEO, Mary Baglivo, says it is determining an "appropriate course of action."
Stealth ad scrutiny.
As "product placement" — paid use of a brand name or product in a radio or TV program — mushrooms, the Federal Communications Commission is officially considering new rules for more prominent disclosure of the advertising — such as during a TV program or at the beginning and end in big type.
The FCC now requires disclosure to be "once during the programming and remain on the screen long enough to be read or heard by an average viewer." It is typically buried in the credits at the end.
By Laura Petrecca, Theresa Howard, The Associated Press
ASK THE AD TEAM
Q: I saw a commercial for Holiday Inn, and there is an actor who plays a teacher. I am going nuts trying to figure out where I know him from. I thought maybe he was in Law & Order.Or maybe a teacher character from a 1980s teen flick. Can you help?
—Richard Quartaron, Denver
A:Philip Baker Hall, 77, is the professor in the Holiday Inn ads. He teaches business travelers who are studying for an MBA — master's in business accommodations. He's been in movies such as Magnolia (as quiz show host Jimmy Gator) and played government officials in Air Force One and The Rock. He also had a solo performance in Robert Altman's 1984 Secret Honor, a fictional look at Richard Nixon's life after the White House. He has not been on Law & Order, but he was in a 1990 Seinfeld episode as a "library detective" who grilled Jerry about a book he checked out in 1971 and didn't return.