Category Archives: Viral

There’s No Such Thing As Bad Publicity With #TechnologyNStuff

#TechnologyNStuffUnless you’re a fan, or there’s yet another scandal regarding performance enhancing drugs, baseball doesn’t tend to make a blip on most of our radars. And yet, the World Series reached 13.4M viewers in 2014 (yes, about 1/10th of the Super Bowl, but the numbers are still nothing to sneeze at).

Instead of the usual advertising song and dance, Chevy decides to do something special that will garner more attention and create great PR. At game 7 of the World Series in Kansas City, MO the Kansas City zone manager, Rikk Wilde, presented the MVP winner Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants with his very own Chevy Colorado truck.

And how does Wilde do?

He totally messes up! He stumbles right through, he looks like he’s going to have a nervous breakdown or a heart attack. The people on screen with him look nervous for him (with the exception of the guy fixing his hair). It’s a right mess. While trying to explain the virtues of the 2015 Chevy Colorado, he ditches his script and explains live on television at the championships of the World Series that this truck has “technology and stuff” such as wifi, etc. Technlogy and stuff, huh? How exciting! #TechnologyNStuff

And yet, Chevy takes it on and turns it around! The same night #TechnologyNStuff starts trending, they own it with this beautiful tweet:

Kudos on Chevy for owning it, and for their community manager for getting it together to spin it in such a positive way. Chevy was getting a bum rap online until they decided to own this hashtag.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you recover from a potential PR fail.

Video of the Week – Hockey and Poetry Have Never Been Closer

Hockey Fans pay attention!

I know that here in Montreal, we are all disappointed that PK Subban isn’t on the NHL 15 cover, but you should still read this blog post!NHL15 - Bergeron vs Habs

The latest NHL15, from Electronic Arts, has was released almost two months ago and features the Boston Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron.

This short commercial starts with Bergeron dressed as if he’s about the enter the ice rink. You see him walk carefully through a bar between the tables to take the stage while the MC says that he will perform a piece called “Feelings”. Quietly putting his helmet on his chairs, he reaches the mic and starts reading a poem he wrote for his love…

Of course by love, he meant hockey! Over a jazzy bass tune, Bergeron tells a story about his game: the hockey, and especially NHL15. During his little poem, you can see videos of NHL15 perfectly matching what he describes. Basically, when he presses play, his feelings can’t be denied, all of his shiny hockey dreams go by. Hold his calls, Bergeron is in love with the game and wants to play it… forever. It ends with fingers snapping, AKA a “Beatnik applause”, to show appreciation for Bergeron’s slam poetry.

It may sounds strange for non-hockey fans, but it isn’t to a hockey enthusiast. To me it even talks to any sports fan. Doesn’t matter that you like hockey, football, basketball or soccer. You understand his words, his passion, his love… his feelings! That’s why this commercial is great. Even if it is aimed at hockey fans, it uses a universal message. Sports bring anger, joy, sadness and/or happiness. So many feelings that make sense when you live for sports.

Hockey is special to some people, like here in Montreal where almost everyone knows that they are playing tonight. The Canadians have such a history, that it belongs to the city and its Habs – abbreviation of Les Habitants – but as we know, it is the same in a lot of different cities. Sports is special to everyone and having a bold and special commercial like this one, makes us remember our love for it – even through poetry! I really like this idea of using literature. Bringing poetry into sports brings a little less roughness to a sport that already has plenty and making a NHL player reading it is far from what you could expect of him. A well played move by EA.

Simple and complex at the same time, with a pinch of awkwardness and beauty, this commercial has almost more feelings than Patrice Bergeron’s poem. While the ad was targeted towards hockey fans, it turns out this poem could be about any other sport. Because that’s what sports is about: uniting people and their emotions.

After all, this ad is simple but quite brilliant. It is aimed towards hockey fans, the ones that live for it. A poem for the video game from a player, but like no other: an actual NHL player.

Video of the Week: First Moon Party

“But you’ll miss the Vagician!”

HelloFlo is a startup that specializes in, get ready for it, periods. Normally I wouldn’t spend more than a hot second entertaining another tampon commercial. They’re often painfully generic, uncomfortably upbeat, and what is with that blue liquid? If your body starts producing neon-blue liquid, reach for your emergency contact’s number, not a tampon. Apparently HelloFlo got the memo. This short clip of instant viral success (1.7 million views in just two days) is doing more than just repackaging personal products. It’s repackaging how we talk about this taboo topic.

To position myself within this discussion, I have not had, and have zero inclination of ever having a period. That said, roughly half the population is positioned opposite to that, and by proxy, their partners, friends, parents, colleagues, and confidants. But even today, people hesitate talking about it. It’s one of those bodily functions still burdened by lingering Victorian body shame. HelloFlo tackles all of this head-on this with humour, information, and an awesome product.

The commercial is set almost mocumentary style, with video and audio confessional snippets overlapping the developing story. The main girl is desperate to have her period and join the ranks of her friends. Out of frustration, she takes it upon herself to drizzle a pad with sparkly red nail polish as her fraudulent ticket into womanhood. Leaving the evidence out for her mother to find, Mom decides to teach her a little lesson by hosting a “First Moon Party”. This is essentially a vagina themed Quinceanera, including special invitee Grampa and entertainment provided by a “Vagician”. It’s revealed that the party was designed to teach the daughter a lesson about fibbing and not to shame the monthly surprise. At the end, the mother hands her the HelloFlo Period Starter Kit.

First of all, can we focus on how genius this product is!? A box filled with information, supplies, and even candy to help answer all the questions a fumbled womanhood talk may overlook. After the fact, you can personalize a monthly package with whatever you desire, even with an organic option.

From a marketing perspective, this video is hilarious and highly successful. Let’s face it, it isn’t an easy subject to navigate. They created content that has people talking positively, that challenges archaic norms, and most importantly, hooks you into purchasing their products and services. Humour is the key tool that generates the viral momentum. The daughter is cheeky, the mother is a dry mastermind, and the brief comments from the guests are all landed punchlines. HelloFlo (also great name) looks progressive, intelligent, and on-point with their message. It’s very bold.

With this approach, HelloFlo has wedged themselves into a tight market as the alternative to blindly selecting products from the drug store. The brand is on the consumer’s team and importantly, is geared towards future clients. This could have come off as conniving, like cigarette ads targeted at youth, but the direction taken, to help, inform, and provide, almost turns the company into a (nice) big sister. When situations are uncomfortable, we like to laugh. Helping us laugh through this topic makes the directness palatable. No more blue liquids. Hello Flo!

Video of the Week: Beats by Dre, “The Game Before the Game”

“I believe!” Said I with two hands shaking in the air.

Beats by Dre has accomplished the unthinkable; I am now ready and willing to sit through a soccer match, start to finish, with Beats by Dre headphones in-ear…and you will be too.

This wasn’t an easy feat. The religiously imbued Beats video follows the pre-game ritualism of the World Cup madness, directed by Nabil Elderkin. From the fans, players, and supporters, this promotional video– arguably short film–captures the various perspectives of the “game before the game”. As I sit here coping with my secondhand adrenaline rush, I hereby proclaim this clip a hit, piercing through my armour of sport ambivalence and effectively communicating the spirit of the tournament. The strategic use of  visual and audio elements was more than enough to convert this non-believer.

So, a brief synopsis. The first sequence is dedicated to the pre-game pep talk between a player, Neymar Jr., and his father Neymar da Silva Sr., via telephone. The heart-felt scenes are broken by cuts of the beautiful but eerily quiet Brazilian land and cityscape, woven together by a string-led musical score. When the slow-paced conversation trails off, the infectious and upbeat “Jungle” by X Ambassadors and Jamie N Commons picks up the slack. It has that hard, “Boom Boom Clap” beat reminiscent of high energy hockey matches.

The next sequence is dominated by celebrity appearances and pre-game rituals. Ring kissing, suggestive sport card placement, wearing special shoes, pins, socks, you name it, they got it. Celebrities run rampant during this sequence, as we see the likes of Nicki Minaj, LeBron James, Lil Wayne, Serena Williams, Thierry Henry, among many others in this star-packed casting. The universality of sport, soccer in this instance, is greatly emphasized as everyone is shown, from Joe Schmo to A-listers, demonstrating their emotional stake in the competition. The video ends with the father’s motivational words, as his son walks towards the stadium’s illuminated white entrance. Oh, and nearly everyone’s wearing Beats by Dre headphones.

From the most basic analysis, this video does an exceptional job at connecting on an emotional level. The love between father and son, the desperation of die-hard fans, and praying athletes is relatable and melts the coldest of hearts. You feel the weight of the event with the camera flashes from rabid paparazzi, the celebrity involvement, and the global spectatorship which allows the viewer to empathize with the players’ pressure. The video is five minutes of tension build up, never actually seeing a match in action. By the end of the clip, you are practically willing to wager your first born child just to see the product of all this prayer and preparation. This is the dictionary definition of “leaving you wanting more”.

Notably, I’ve mentioned religion and ritualism as recurring qualities. The almost supernatural undertone lining the video contributes to the larger-than-life tone. The viewer is left with the impression that this tournament is beyond the players, beyond the fans, beyond the sport even. This normalizes and justifies the chronic praying to soccer balls, shrines, and all other luck-increasing practices. But let’s not forget about Beats by Dre. We’ve mentioned previously how this lifestyle product uses addictive visuals to grab your attention. In the process, they reaffirm their cool factor as the sidekick of high achieving athletes and celebrities. This video is no different. The World Cup is now a holy experience, and Beats by Dre helps make it happen. The brand is both human and superhuman, emotionally aware and strong. I’m converted.

Video of the Week – A Helping Hand to India’s Children

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A common pitfall for social-cause advertising is that all too often, companies focus on image rather than content. When Coke went down to Columbia and got a bunch of villagers to paint Coke bottles, harvest rain water and sell them to really rich American socialites, their ad campaign read more like a company giving itself a high-five rather than a genuine social campaign. Sure, they helped out to a village in dire need, but the message was unmistakably about brushing up Coke’s image as a company with a social conscience rather than as people who generally care about poverty. Remember KONY 2012? A promising campaign, KONY and Invisible Children imploded on itself in like a week once the disappointing facts about IC and their questionable executives were released. At its core, KONY was a campaign that went after a highly marketable target in Joseph Kony, the ruthless Central African warlord, and not the actual reasons of strife in the region.

The Rotary Miracles’ collaboration with JWT Kolkata is a great example of socially-conscious advertising done really well. Over the past couple years, Rotary helped India eradicate itself of polio, made 5,000 free heart surgeries for children possible, as well as establishing e-learning services in over 10,000 schools. Not bad, huh? In this particular campaign, the focus of is on child labour, and the idea of education as a liberating vehicle for Indian children. Child labour is a dark mark on India’s growth and modernization with over 60 million child labourers currently working under inhumane conditions.

While there are a couple variations of the ad, the story is more or less the same; a stop-motion cartoon of a child drawn onto a small hand. The child toils away at work until a larger hand touches the small hand, allowing the cartoon child to safely jump from the workspace to a computer desk. The ad is all it needs to be; it’s cute but not fluffy, and the simplicity of the design is poignant and direct. This campaign is very clearly about the issue of child labour and not about a company brushing up its image; Rotary’s logo only briefly shows up at the very end of the ad. The finishing touches here is the choir of children echoing in the background and it only adds to the charm of the ad without cheapening the message in a “save the children” type way.

What’s important here is that JWT, an international ad giant went with a local approach; Rotary is an international company, but at no point does this ad feel like rich foreigners with a white savior’s complex coming to India to help children and look awesome while doing it. Using JWT’s local Kolkata agency gives the campaign an authentic lustre that makes no mistake in defining the real purpose of the message: helping children jump feet-first from deplorable workplaces into modern and accessible digital classrooms.

Check out the excellent ad here:

 

Video of the Week – Salvatore Ferragamo’s “Walking Stories”

We don’t usually talk about luxury brands here at Brendan & Brendan. But this ad is an exception, primarily because it’s not presented as an ad. Salvatore Ferragamo’s “Walking Stories” is an eight-part mini web series. It’s a story of love and adventure by an impossibly quirky and “unintentionally” glamourous heroine (Sarah Campbell, played by Kaya Scodelario). Beautifully shot and art directed to within an inch of its life, the “Walking Stories” short films are almost Felliniesque – and I’ve just lost all of you.

The point is, it’s not a movie – it’s high-end fashion marketing wrapped in a fantastical love story. All of the clothes, shoes, handbags, hats, etc. are provided by the Ferragamo fashion house. All of those beautiful glamourous people on the screen look that way intentionally, and they are meant to make you jealous. I watched the series and felt envy – and that was the point. It’s like a living, breathing fashion spread and I wanted to make the wardrobe mine (never mind that I don’t usually dress that way).

That girl, scribbling on her feet and then wearing $5,000 sandals? That’s on purpose. When she’s running around barefoot, that’s on purpose too – Ferragamo is most widely known for its shoes and leather goods, but most people don’t know about their clothing lines. And this is a great way for the brand to showcase certain collections.

It’s not a film for the masses – it’s highly targeted primarily to young women with wanderlust and expensive taste with a serious appreciation for haute couture. And they do a damned good job of it – they even released each episode a week apart like a TV series. Watch episode one and tell me if it’s not a very clever piece of marketing, a fascinating art piece or actually just a riveting love story:

Silicon Valley – Weekly TV Show Commentary

I don’t really speak all that Wall Street bullshit, you know what I mean? We’re just like five guys hanging around in a house trying to make cool shit. –Erlich

A lot of startups are inherently about rejecting old methods and promoting cutting edge ideas. Inspired by the stories of Facebook and Apple, entrepreneurs build narratives for themselves about finding new, better ways of doing things.

Certainly, these are great aspirations. There is great value in being critical of worn out conventions that too many follow like sheep because they can’t be bothered to challenge them.On the flip side, many business traditions exist for a reason: they work.

In “Signaling Risk”, problems in communication and efficiency threaten to damage Pied Piper’s credibility and burn through their funding before they can take their product to market. Now that they finally have their vision, funding, and legal issues ironed out, Richard takes a whack at building Pied Piper’s Corporate Culture.

What’s in a Logo

The quest continues to find a Pied Piper logo that strikes the right chord with the team. Erlich decides on his own to seek out local street artist Chuy. He also has very clear ideas of what he doesn’t want.

This is what we need; something raw. We already have kind of a shitty name, ‘Pied Piper’, but the last thing we want is two lower case P’s in a square like those motherfuckers across the freeway would make. –Erlich

What Chuy delivers ends up being quite graphic. Pied Piper is scrawled out in barely legible graffiti script and suffice it to say there’s a sex act being performed on a prone Statue of Liberty by Dinesh. Silicon Valley - Signalling RiskAny designer worth their salt would probably find a hundred and one ways that image fails as a logo, even beyond the obvious obscenity issue. A logo needs to be accessible and communicate that your company is stable and reliable. It also needs to be legible and attractive in large and small sizes and in black and white.

A perfectly decent example of a logo fulfilling these parameters is seen when Jared proposes to produce it internally to save the company $10K. Quickly, he sketches out two interlocking P’s. It’s not slap-you-in-the-face exciting or anything, but it’s recognizable and it won’t get you in trouble with the police.

Are you fucking serious? Lower case letters? Twitter: lower case T, Google: lower case G, Facebook: lower case F. Every fucking company in the Valley has lower case letters. Why? Because it’s safe, but we aren’t going to do that. We’re going to go with Chuy. –Erlich

After another revision that doesn’t do much aside from replacing the Statue of Liberty’s face with Erlich’s (lol), Chuy finally delivers them a logo that’s exactly the two interlocked lowercase P’s that Jared scribbled quickly.

It’s no groundbreaking design, but there’s a reason for that: it works.There’s no point in being cool and countercultural for its own sake. It could probably be best expressed by adding words onto Facebook’s famous motto: Move fast and break things, if there’s good reason to.

Corporate Culture

In the beginning of the episode, Jared flags the team that they’ll run out of money in 5 months on the outside and that they really have to get their efficiency issues checked if they’re going to beat Nucleus to a launch. The state of emergency is compacted when Gavin Belson announces he intends on launching at TechCrunch Disrupt, in 2 months.

Pied Piper has loads of communication and governance issues. The ones they specifically emphasize in this episode are the constant bickering and lack of communication that caused Jared to not realize they had to cancel their TechCrunch competition registration and Dinesh and Gilfoyle to waste time by working on the same task. Meetings are constantly interrupted and there is no method in place to monitor the progress and completion of jobs. As Jared attempts to propose solutions, he gets pushback from Dinesh, Gilfoyle, and Erlich who think they don’t need to operate like a traditional company.

Jared: I think we need to define our corporate culture.

Erlich: Our whole corporate culture is that we don’t have a corporate culture.

Jared: Take Dinesh and Gilfoyle, they are wasting an enormous amount of time arguing. What if we were to separate them? Right? Divide their existing workspace into two areas. We could put in some sort of portable barrier.

Dinesh [barging into the managers-only meeting]: He’s talking about cubicles!

Gilfoyle [barging into the managers-only meeting too]: We’re not doing cubicles, no way.

Jared: No no no, don’t think of it as a cubicle. Just think of it as a neutral-colored enclosure, about yea high, around your workspace. You know who uses cubicles? Every single Fortune 500 company. Why? Because they work.

Gilfoyle: He’s trying to turn us into Corporate Rock, Richard. We are Punk Rock.

Dinesh: Actually I think a better analogy would be Jazz. You know, riff and improvise around a theme to create one cohesive piece of music.

Gilfoyle: You take fucking Jazz at Juilliard. We’re not jazz, we’re fucking Punk Rock.

Jared: You see you guys are arguing over what metaphor to use to agree with each other. This is the inefficiency I’m trying to eliminate. My suggestions could actually help you beat me in this argument. Do you see the irony there?

In the end, Jared (who is quickly turning into one of my favourite characters) manages to make Gilfoyle and Dinesh follow his “Scrum Method” by tapping into their competitiveness.

Jared: So from Rules-based Filtering we go to Workflow, which means that card is moved from the Ice Box into the In Progress column. And it stays there until it’s ready for Testing. This increases visibility into our team’s progress and that gentlemen, is Scrum.

Gilfoyle: This just became a job.

Dinesh: He’s trying to make us compete so we’ll work faster. He thinks this wall of Psych 101, MBA mind-control bullshit is going to motivate us.

We tend to indiscriminately condemn all bureaucracy as stodgy and unnecessary. But bylaws and guidelines exist because ultimately nothing else ensures that a group of people working together day in and day out will be able to align their efforts to achieve all-important long term goals. Jared trusts in “the system”, and it produces results. You can use the system and still be an innovative and groundbreaking company.

Dinesh: Feeling pretty happy about yourself?

Jared: I’m pretty happy with OUR-self.

Dinesh: *sigh*

Our Thoughts

Vivien – Richard really needs to stop thinking and complaining about the 10 million they turned down in the first episode. It’s a distraction. They should do a post-mortem report on what lessons are to be learned, but I think they need to stick with their choice and move on.

ThePoet – I’m an ex-anarchist, poet, artist, and law breaker, the beard says it all! When I made the transition from college to freelance and then to working with and for startups, the consensus was always to do things different. Break the rules. Make new rules. At Brendan & Brendan we often talk about how we think “Agencies are broken” but, we’re not specifically referring to process, policies, guidelines, etc. These things are necessary to run a business. We’ve learned the hard way at B&B. Agencies are broken because of the individuals who are managing these processes, policies, guidelines, etc. Defining your corporate culture and determining workflow are absolutely essential, otherwise nothing gets done!