Tag Archives: Advertising

Video of the Week – Harrods shows the beauty of turning the lights on

Today’s Video of the Week, features one of the most iconic stores in England, Harrods, a former branch of House of Fraser that features on yesterday’s Bad Marketing. This commercial was released last month and didn’t have the same success as Sainsbury’s or John Lewis, but it is nonetheless a fantastic commercial that you have to watch.

Harrods is an upmarket department store located in Knightsbridge, London. It has over 1 million sq ft (90,000m2) of selling space which makes it the biggest department store in Europe. Every year, for the Holiday Season, they dress up the store to wow everyone – from children to grandparents..

This year, to illustrate the transformation for this festive time, they launched a commercial entitled “The Land of Make Believe – A Little Christmas Tail”. It is the first animated film for Harrods that is being use for Christmas.

It features little mice that are getting everything ready for Christmas. They carry gifts and candy canes around a big Christmas tree. One of them, called Peter Pumpernickel would like to help everyone. Unfortunately, the little mouse is too small to help and that makes him very sad. So he decided to quietly slip away so as not to bother his pals.

When Santa arrives, he sees that everyone is working well, but he notices that Peter isn’t there. Once he finds him, he finds a special job for Peter to do, where his small size will be a benefit. Santa carefully picks him up and lifts him to a little hole, that only Peter could fit through. As a result, Peter is able to fix the lights and light up all of Harrods in time for Christmas.

According to Deborah Bee, Director of Creative Marketing at Harrods, “Christmas at Harrods is an enchanting time for everyone. The Land of Make Believe brings the festive magic of the store to life, encouraging Londoners to enjoy Harrods as the ultimate Christmas destination; it’s perfect for the whole family.” And she knows what she’s talking about. Harrods is one of the most-visited places in London by tourists and especially during the holidays. During November and December, Harrods become a magical place that gives everyone stars in their eyes and smiles on their faces.

I couldn’t think of a better story to explain how these lights are turning on for Christmas. A beautifully-animated video that makes everyone happy and that needs to be shared.

*Have a great holiday season everyone*

Bad Marketing – House of Fraser Would Like You to Fall Asleep This Christmas

After last week’s extremely cheesy and sad commercial from Iceland (an ad that could have been screened in July) we have another contender with House of Fraser. To those who know House of Fraser, they have significantly different target markets. House of Fraser is a London-based department store that was created in 1849 by Hugh Fraser and James Arthur in Glasgow, Scotland.

You might know one of it’s competitors: London-based department stores, Harrods. The interesting fact is that, in 1959, House of Fraser bought Harrods. Mohamed Al-Fayed bought House of Fraser in 1985 and separated the two companies in 1994 by putting House of Fraser on the stock exchange and keeping Harrods under his ownership.

House of Fraser has always been quite a big name in the retail industry in the UK. With almost 60 stores, it makes more than one £billion in revenue each year. Earlier this decade, they had one of the fastest growing websites in the UK with comprising of 11% of the group’s sales. Upon hearing that, you might think that their Christmas campaign could be as big and beautiful as last year’s John Lewis one…

Well, it is not. Not even close.

This commercial features 3 young models, 2 young women and a young man that are asked some random questions about Christmas, such as “Best gift you ever received?”, “Hardeest present to shop for?” or “What do you give to a person who has everything?” Probably every question we are constantly being asked. Then, the music kicks in and you see the models in action, posing and so on. Oh, are you bored? So am I!

A bit after, you see the the male model with his grandmother, explaining that he chose to give her a gift, while the 2 girls chose to give gifts to their significant others. You can therefore appreciate their reaction while the tagline “Be You No Matter Who This Christmas” appears.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Klr2T_atUlU

What can I say apart the fact that it is a terrible commercial? I truly can’t believe how uninspired and uncreative you have to be to make this. It makes you yawn like it was almost midnight on the 24th… Maybe you should put this ad on repeat to help your kids fall asleep on Christmas Eve?!

I really don’t get the point of showing models giving gifts to their loved ones. Don’t we already know that they are people who have a life, human interactions and feelings? We know that these people aren’t just a picture. You don’t need to feature them in a commercial to make us feel close to them.

For such a company, it is a pity that they could make such a thing and this is why it features on today’s Bad Marketing.

For Iceland Foods Christmas isn’t that special

Good morning December! You’ve finally arrived. We can finally admire your Christmas commercials without feeling too awkward. You never let us down, with your gorgeous and poetic advertisements. But we’re also really amused at the terrible ones!

On today’s Bad Marketing post, we will see a commercial that comes from the other side of the Atlantic, where Her Majesty rules the Kingdom. The United Kingdom has given us a treat with this commercial from Iceland, a food-retailer business specializing in frozen food.

This Christmas commercial features Peter Andre, a British singer, presenter and TV personality. Although I’m not a good judge in this instance, by the reactions of the ladies in this commercial, he must be quite famous and attractive!

The ad starts with an elderly couple doing their groceries at Iceland, when the woman notices Peter Andre. Her husband says that “it isn’t” him, but the woman is quite sure! So Andre takes notice and replies “it is!”

Here’s the joke – he’s not talking about himself. He’s talking about the cake in his hands – the “winter berry glistening gateau” – which he’s thrilled to find at £4 (about $7). “It is!” refers to a festive Christmas cake.

As Andre is ogled and hit on by various ladies at the Iceland grocery store, he can only focus on the Christmas cakes, their deliciousness and their excellent prices. The tagline “That’s why Peter goes to Iceland” ends the commercial and serves as a reminder that cheap products doesn’t mean cheap quality and aren’t only reserved for low-income families.

Where this commercial fails is on the way the message is sent. It’s not just a Christmas commercial. This ad could play at any time of the year, all you’d have to do is remove the garland and Christmas packaging. The cheapness of the products is not so much of a problem. But focusing on it for a Christmas commercial is a bit too déjà-vu as you can see the same kind of commercial during the rest of the year.

You can’t continue your campaign just by hinting that the products are for Christmas. This is a terrible idea. Your daily consumer already knows who you are and your prospects won’t be more attracted to your store than before. It is the same kind of ad they saw the rest of the year, and if they didn’t become one of your customers, chances are that this one won’t help either. As a result, this is why it’s featured in our Bad Marketing blog post!

Video of the Week – Martini Plays on its Italian Roots

Martini launched its new campaign a couple of weeks ago with new commercials and the hashtag #BeginDesire. Spoiler alert: It’s beautiful.

The world famous Italian aperitivo brand has been on our tables since 1863! Made by 3 distillers from Turin, Alessandro Martini, Luigi Rossi and Teofila Sola, the first mix of vermouth and gin was the Rosso. The Bianco, the one that is most commonly known today, was only introduced in 1910 and has been part of James Bond’s – shaken, not stirred – Vodka-Martini cocktail since Ian Fleming’s novel Diamonds are Forever in 1956. James Bond couldn’t represent the Martini brand better as his character incorporates all of the elements of Martini: elegance, glamour and desire. After all, it is an Italian brand !

In this brand new ad, Martini has chosen a poetic route to launch it new campaign with a full 2-minute-long commercial. A classy Italian man finishes his drink at a small caffè and then magically disappears. The young waitress picks up his drink and notices two words on the little Martini napkin: Begin and Desire. From now, a long and poetic run takes place in the streets of Rome.

The man that was drinking earlier, is now on the top of a building standing against a giant Martini sign. With a sign of his hand, the man makes the word Begin appear on the ground and then make it slip it into a little cobblestone street as an invitation. The woman, intrigued, approach carefully the street corner before a man with the word Desire written in the back of its suits grabs her hand to bring her in a crowded and running mob. The soft and simple music gets higher with light notes like a puppet show. The man standing against this huge Martini sign keeps orchestrating the mob, and making the words Desire and Change here and there, but also controlling people’s actions to interact with this young and beautiful waitress. He is like a puppet master, like he was the spirit of Rome, the one that controls everyone’s decisions.

This young waitress is then orchestrated through several fantastical occurrences within the mob of people, until she is put by herself in front of a building with the words “Il Futuro Sei Tu” which literally means “the future is you” just as the music stops. Now she is facing a decision: should she take this suitcase which magically appears next to her?

As the music starts back, she’s grabbing the suitcase and starts running and enter the building that was facing her which turns out to be a train station. She jumps into a futuristic train and discovers a new set of words on the napkin she was holding: Desire Begins Change. The puppet master has finished the job as he blows a kiss while the Martini sign lights up.

This fabulous commercial, directed by Jake Scott, brings everything that represents Martini. The glamourous waitress, the elegant puppet master and the invitation to desire. After seeing this, you are eager to rediscover Martini again, you want to share a classy Italian night with some friends or with your lover.

This ad brings a poetic touch that isn’t often seen in advertising, and for that reason, it is our video of the week!

#Badmarketing – How a Commercial Can Backfire in No Time

Alright players, gather round, Sony PlayStation has a commercial for us. Well, they already removed it from their YouTube Channel, but this is the internet. Once it’s online, it’s hard to take away!

With the launch of the new Xperia Z3 phones, Sony introduced a quite interesting feature to its PS4 and PS Vita: The Remote Play. Now you can keep playing a game from your PS4 on your smartphone and your PS Vita screen. No more limits – you can play anywhere.

To introduce this impressive feature, Sony decided that they should play on the word “play”. They employed TBWA (Brussels) to make the commercial, which is the same agency, but from Paris, that did this controversial poster from 2012:PS VitaWhat could possibly go wrong, right? Well pretty much everything.

The ad starts with an attractive female doctor that knows “you’ve already done it today, and [she] bet[s] you really enjoyed yourself”. Hum… is she referring to the glass of water I had earlier? Then she’s mentioning that you might be doing it “in your bedroom, under the blanket” or perhaps you prefer “the kitchen or on the toilet”. I guess not. She might be thinking about a more playful thing that men do: masturbating.

Then sensual music starts to play as she says, “You no longer have to feel ashamed” since “everybody is doing it because it’s fantastic”. To increase the power of the subliminal message, you have a close-up shot on her lips as she says, “you can do it all day long”. She ends the commercial by inviting you to join her while grabbing her PS Vita and starts to play. Then the double entendre is revealed, “PS Vita Remote Play Never Stop Playing” appears, explaining the point of those 40 seconds of awkwardness.

The traditional ending titles for PS4 “This is for the players” makes you realize something even stranger than the iMac G4 sitting on the doctor’s desk. Why would you use such a cliché to promote a feature to your players. Is every player a sexually frustrated 15-year-old boy, like the stereotype assumes? They reinforce a stupid cliché that people love to spread: a gamer is a teen male that has issues.

Sony’s hardcore gamers are 20 to 35 years old, and there are more women playing than most people imagine. According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the average age of a gamer is 31 years old! About 32% of the players are between 18 and 35. And women account for 48% of gamers! Of course, these numbers can be biased by the fact that the smartphone made video games much more easier to access than before but still! If you look at these facts, it flies in the face of most common clichés that have been used for years by the “video games = violence” club.

I know that the commercial could still make you laugh for some random reasons, but let’s be honest, this cliché is not helping the video game industry! I guess this is why Playstation decided to remove the video only a few days after a lot of bad reviews and comments on their Youtube Channel.

A great decision that would have been greater if they didn’t think to make this commercial in the first place. This is why, it features on today’s #BadMarketing.

Do More Choices Really Make Us Happier? Choice Paradox and Human Decision-Making.

The other day I was out at a greasy spoon for breakfast. I was half asleep and happy to see there were only two items on the menu. Nice and simple, I don’t have to think, just have to choose option 1; standard breakfast, or option 2; omelet. Oh but how wrong I was!

Here is a rough memory of my conversation with the waitress:

Waitress: “What would you like to order?”

Paula: “Standard breakfast please”

Waitress: “How would you like your eggs? Scrambled, over easy, sunny side up, fried, well done, boiled or poached”?

Paula: “ummmmmm, over-easy”

Waitress: “How would you like your toast? White, brown, rye, whole wheat or a bagel?

Paula: “ummmm, brown”

Waitress: “Would you like bacon, sausage, felafel or back-bacon?

Paula: “oh man, I guess bacon”

Waitress: “Would you like coffee, tea or orange juice?”

Paula: “oh um, I think tea”

 Waitress: “Green tea, black tea, mint tea, herbal tee, decaf tea?

Paula: “Black tea”

I don’t even like my eggs over-easy and I much prefer rye toast over brown toast. So why would I order them? The overwhelming number of choices for each aspect of my breakfast made it difficult for me to choose what option I actually wanted. I felt overwhelmed by all the options and felt pressure to choose quickly since I was at a restaurant. The result, I pretty much picked at random just to be finished with the process. And then was unhappy with the result.

Now this abundance of choice is not solely breakfast’s fault. Products are being offered in a huge variety of options across almost every consumer industry. According to my own math Lays offers 39 different flavours of potato chips in the United States. Walmart carries 60 different types of toothpaste, Old Navy offers 206 different types of women’s jeans and Starbucks boasts that they offer over 87,000 different drink combinations.

laysThis constant expansion of choice seems to be based on the idea that more is better and that choice equals freedom. Or companies think the more they make, the happier people will be and therefore, the more they will buy. But does all this choice actually make us any happier? At what point does too much choice actually equal restriction and even stress?

The Jam Study

A study conducted in 2002 by professors at Columbia University and Stanford University tested this relationship between choice and purchase. In a series of high-end groceries stores in the United States the study set up two different gourmet jam tasting stations. The first jam station offered 24 jams to taste while the second offered only 6 jams.

The percentage of people who stopped to taste the jams?

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 11.18.44 AM

The percentage of people who actually purchased a jam after trying one?

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 11.18.37 AM

Interestingly enough this study seems to suggest people don’t actually like choice, they like the illusion of choice, but ultimately find too many choices difficult to deal with. In fact in the Behavioural Economics’ sphere this is referred to as Choice Paradox (or the Paradox of Choice) since an abundance of choice often renders people unable to choose effectively. Barry Schwarts, author of the Paradox of Choice; Why More is Less, explains that an abundance of choice makes people overwhelmed, stressed and anxious. Schwarts goes as far as to say “Unconstrained freedom leads to paralysis”. Emphasizing that the increase of choice leads to the decrease in ability to make effective decisions.

So what is it in our decision-making that makes choice so stressful for humans? Dr. Russel James from the Texas Tech University explains it best, “Choice and our satisfaction are driven by the comparisons we make”. Basically, as our choices increase we have to make more and more comparisons, and this increase in comparisons leads to lower satisfaction because we can’t tell which option is actually better. Think of this way:

Which ice cream flavour would you choose?

icecreammsimple2

Easy, right? And most likely you eat the ice cream and be happy with your choice.

Now which ice cream flavour would you choose?

Icecream2

Humans just hate making decisions, its stressful, it is hard work and it has consequences. As the number of choices in any situation increases it forces our brain to work harder to evaluate all of the options. We try to compare every option available and recall past decisions for similar situations.

As we have noticed the number of choices available in any one industry is insane. Can you imagine having to evaluate 87,000 different drink combinations at Starbucks before ordering?

So what do humans do when faced with vast choice? How do we survive in a world of over whelming options? It seems as if our coping mechanism for vast choice situations is to choose something familiar to us. We might buy the exact same drink at Starbucks each time or alternate between three we know well. This appears to help our brains because it relieves the need to evaluate all of the options available. As Dr. James explained it also makes us happier because it removes the risk for potential disappointment from a new choice.

There are of course some brands who have figured this out. Even Costco themselves – the Kings of choice – have started to slim their offerings. In an article by the New York Times, Costco CEO explains that the company has tuned into the fact that, “Selling fewer items increases sales volumes…”. One of their newer company philosophies is to sell a limited number of items. While Walmart sells 60 types of toothpaste, Costco only offer 4 toothpaste options.

The most interesting part about Choice Paradox is that it backs up why humans like to choose from three choices, as we discussed in last weeks blog. It is widely believed that the Centre Stage Effect is most effective when 3 options are presented and becomes less effective as the number of choices increases. If we include Barry Schwartz studies, at some point in increases choices people just begin to choose at random and no longer are influenced by a Centre Stage Effect. However my guess is that Social Proof could still play a part in human decision making even when a large number of options are offered.

Which ice cream flavour would you choose?

Icecream

In all of this it is not say choice is important to humanity and that people shouldn’t try new things. It is just to talk about and explain how excessive choice puts stress on our brains and can make us feel as if we are in a Choice Paradox. We seem to like the idea of vast choice but dislike actually having to pick from vast options. Another example of the humans brain irrationality.


More Reading and References

http://www.businessinsider.com/costco-is-the-anti-walmart-2012-11#ixzz3IEDrPrte

http://www.patriotledger.com/article/20140930/BUSINESS/309309952/12335/NEWS?template=printart

http://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice/transcript?language=en 

http://www.economist.com/node/17723028

http://www.jeremysaid.com/customers-will-choose-middle-offer/

http://www.slideshare.net/rnja8c/paradox-of-choice-2139360

Total is committed to better energy, but is it committed to better commercials ?

Total SAOn today’s Bad Marketing, we are looking at the new commercial for Total, a French multinational, which is one of the six major players in the oil industry. They have been on the news lately due to the recent passing of their CEO, Christophe de Margerie in a plane crash at the Vnukovo Airport of Moscow in Russia. They only have 415 gas pumps in North America, but have almost 15.000 employees working in the oil, gas, solar and petrochemical industries.

On a more positive subject, Total is currently using the “Committed to better energy” campaign with its hashtag #MakeThingsBetter.Total and Publicis Agency have partnered together since their 2013 deal. According to its site, Total has launched this campaign in more than 20 different countries to improve awareness and growth objectives.

You know what also happened this last decade in more than 20 different countries? 59 oil spills. That said, Total has a lot to do to be seen as a positive company. As the oil industry isn’t the most transparent, they still have to respect legislation of each country they are working in. But as different countries means different laws, most of the time the whole oil lobby industry works in the shadows of government to make sure that different laws aren’t going in opposite directions.

With improvements in technology, more information on a geological scale has been obtained and also helped engineers to build stronger and more flexible materials in the construction of their refineries and pipeline. It helps engineers immensely, allowing them to make the best and cleanest industry as possible. Unfortunately for them, they still live in an unappreciated industry.

I’ll be honest, Total and friends aren’t my favourite companies on earth. Oil is unfortunately quite essential to most people everyday. Our population is growing, and thus our needs expand accordingly. Changes aren’t coming fast enough, and the fast-paced growth of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are making things harder as they represent almost 3 billions people. But to multinationals, a growing population means more customers and more demand.

To make an impression, Total has decided to show us that they care as much as we do, or at least as we all should, by releasing a new commercial to promote their services and seriousness. Since many people have concerns about Total’s activities, they decided to show different places of work across the globe to demonstrate how things work in this industry.

The first thing you’ll notice is the music. Total have used the song “Roadgame” from the French artist Kavinsky to amplify the motif of young and active people in the commercial. With electronic music ensuring a fast-paced commercial, different people are telling, looking straight at the camera, that it is “not a question of place” nor “of temperature” nor “of dedication” because “it’s not a question at all”. “Energy has to be better” because “it is our responsibility” and “our commitment” “to make it better” “for all of us”. By saying this in that way, Total is hoping to unite us, while making us emotionally connected to the company. They display different people with different origins at different locations which amplifies the statement “for all of us”.

It appears that they wanted to use Total employees to be brand ambassadors to make the multinational closer to every employees on Earth. The things is, it sounds fake.

In my opinion, they forget one crucial thing: most people are not big fans of the oil industry, and having some statement that they are doing a good job because of their commitment to #MakeThingsBetter doesn’t feel natural. To me, this commercial raises more questions than ever. How are Total making it better? What does total define as your responsibilities? Is Total truly improving our lives?

I get that using “employees” from all around the world might sounds like a good idea to show that the whole group is working together on this goal, but it feels unnatural. To be clear, I feel it is more like a propaganda film that you want to show at a presentation to recruit people. And I am sorry, but making a statement isn’t enough. I truly believe that we are more aware of what surrounds us, so no matter how committed the people in the commercial are to their jobs, I don’t buy that they are making something better.

I understand that Total needs to do some public relation from time to time to show their goodwill, but not like that. No matter what they say, they are working in a high profit and dark industry. Despite what they are saying on their social media with the hashtag #MakeThingsBetter, they aren’t truly delivering the truth. They need to be more inspired than that. A statement isn’t enough, and Total did it better before including with this one:

In short, Total is a major player in a industry that makes billions every year. In 2012, Total netted $13.35 billion, which represent a $36.5 million profit every single day. That same year, they have been fined for the oil spill of the Erika Tanker which sank near the Breton coast in France to $213 millions. In 6 days, they got their money back. That said, to make us believe in their commitment, we need more than statements like that. They have to show what they are actually doing, what they are bringing to the world, and what exactly they are improving. Otherwise, Total just reeks of disingenuous propaganda like in this ad.