Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Advertising outdoors


And, judging by many of the headline grabbing billboards through the years (also of course my own personal experience as a consumer) I’d say it tends to be true.

But, if you want to do something outdoors but don’t want to use a billboard, what other options have you got? Well, it seems nowadays that the possibilities are endless. And yet another addition to the list has been added by Street Advertising Services. Providing what they call ‘pavement art’, the company use high water pressure and steam to create an advert on dirty pavements and their staff even wear the aluminium framed signs used to stencil on the design as they make their way around the streets. So, it’s two for the price of one when it comes to exposure for your brand.

Even better about this new medium of advertising, it doesn’t use any chemicals to make the advert and so is kind to the environment at the same time. I hope it’s not long until we see some up our way; it’d definitely brighten up my day as the weather gets ever colder.

Oh, and Happy Halloween everyone!

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Wandering eyes

You can see it countless times each day, a man’s eyes following a beautiful woman walking down the street. Whether with their partner or on their own, they seem unable to help themselves, staring longingly as each stunner passes. Hence, whenever advertisers want to advertise to man, often a young, beautiful, voluptuous model is wheeled in to grab their attention and sell the product.

You could be forgiven for thinking therefore that the new ad from Mercator is another ad in that same vein then. Using a beautiful woman walking along a high street - wearing a short skirt of course - every man who passes stares as she goes by, regardless of the fact that they are all walking along with their partners. The ad isn’t for men though, it’s for women and the message is clear – don’t rely on men to provide you with financial stability, rely on yourself.

Being used to seeing women being objectified in order to sell to men, this ad makes a nice, fresh change. Whether it arouses annoyance or laughter in women as they begin to watch it, it is more than likely that it will grab their attention by the end, for the surprise factor of it being aimed at them, if for nothing else. And for the men watching it? I’d imagine they’ll get a bit of a surprise too when they realise the ad isn’t for them and perhaps will also feel a little bit of embarrassment that they are indeed so easily led by their desires.

I like the ad a lot, not only for its humorous execution, but also for its message. In an age where divorce is so prevalent, it would be foolish for women to ignore what it is saying. And perhaps being confronted so full-on with just how weak-willed their partners can be, they will find it hard not to act to secure their own future. What do you think?


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fashion on the Great Wall

Want something a bit different for your fashion show? Maybe you might think of transforming your venue into something spectacular. Or, maybe if you’re Fendi and Karl Lagerfeld you choose a spectacular venue. One that can be seen from space no less. Yup, that’s where Fendi decided to stage their latest fashion show, on The Great Wall of China.

Guests watched as 88 models walked the 88 metre long runway which was lit up with spotlights, highlighting the World Heritage Site and casting the surrounding countryside in darkness.

A year in the planning and costing around £10 million, the event certainly had a lot to live up to, but Friday’s spectacle definitely looks to have fulfilled expectations. Fashionistas, celebrities and the world’s media flocked to the event (over 500 in total) and sat awestruck through the show.

As the lovely Queen Marie over at Kingdom of Style points out, “The number eight means prosperity in China and this event will go a long way to ensuring the continuing prosperity of the Fendi brand worldwide...”


Thursday, October 18, 2007

More green chat

You’d be forgiven for thinking that we’ve turned into green crusaders here at AME Marketing these past couple of weeks, and I suppose in a way we have, having been inspired by the goings on in the retail world, Blog Action Day and now the new campaign from the WWF.

In association with the wonderful Iain Tait’s agency, WWF are building a massive paper boat and aeroplane to fly / sail to the British Houses of Parliament with the purpose of putting pressure on the government to strengthen the Climate Change Bill. At this point you may be thinking – eh? Well let me explain further... The reason behind the idea is that aviation and shipping have currently been left out of the climate bill; however these are actually the fastest growing sources of emissions. The giant-sized structures will therefore be used as symbols to represent this weakness in the bill.

Nice idea and it will certainly be attention grabbing, something WWF seem to be very good at – remember the WWF campaign highlighting exhaust emissions in Beijing earlier this year? Apparently they are going to actually try to make the plane fly as well. No mean feat I would imagine. And where exactly is it going to land? Who’s going to control it? But, if they pull it off, how spectacular will that be?

This isn’t just about the spectacle of massive paper creations though. WWF want us all to help by signing an online petition to add support to their argument of including planes and boats in the Climate Change Bill. However, this is a petition with a difference, because everyone who signs up will have their name on the boat or plane that will arrive at the Houses of Parliament. Pretty cool eh? Not only do you get to do a good deed and help drive forward change, you also get your name on the largest paper plane / boat known to man (well, I’m guessing, I’ve not verified it with the Guinness Book of Records or anything).

So, go on, you know you want to, if not for the environment, at least for your 1cm (or however big your name might appear) of fame. You can sign up and find more information here. I’m away to sign up right now...

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day

I don’t think I’m alone in feeling like I don’t do enough for the environment. I do the easy things and sometimes make an effort to do the things that require a little more effort too, but not quite often enough. What stops me apart from laziness however is a lack of information and a lack of resources a lot of the time. And, even with the best of intentions, it’s often easy to get the wool pulled over your eyes and slip up when you think you are being ultra green. And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

But, hey, no-one gets it right all of the time and the most important thing is to make an effort. And, if you can manage to be green without too much extra effort as well, all the better.

So today, on Blog Action Day, I thought I’d share a few sites with you that may just help you make being green that little bit easier.

First up, it’s the wonderful site The G Living Network. Practically a one-stop-shop for all things green, as well as all things stylish, as they themselves say, it’s “The darker, cooler side of green, featuring smarter design, style, nature, technology, food, music and knowledge. It’s about having fun as we re-think the way we live now and how we will shape the future.” With sections on style, design, Hollywood, music, , fitness, the home and garden, nature, tech/science, vehicles, fun and food, it also has a whole host of videos to look at and green news from all over the world for your perusal, as well as an ‘insider community’. If you want everything in one site, you really don’t need to go much further (unless you’re looking for something a bit less American...).

If you do want to look further however, a great blog to follow is greenormal. As well as giving commentary on many up-to-date issues in the ‘green’ world, it also has a link to nice little site called Do the Green Thing which gives you a nice, easy action to do each month and a community to share with whenever you’ve done it. Other favourites of mine also include FAIR* Ethical Creative Consultancy which although not updated as often as greenormal, provides a lot of food for thought. Makehope, TreeHugger and New Consumer are also great sites to visit.

Given my earlier statement, you may be forgiven for thinking that I’ve just posted a load of links for Blog Action Day because I’m being lazy and can’t be bothered thinking of an in-depth post to tackle the issue myself. But, the reason I’ve really done it is because, apart from the fact that I’m not an expert in this area, I think the best way to tackle it is to share information and resources. Because I know I don’t have all the answers, but slowly, I’m learning more about what I can do, small and large, to make a real difference. But maybe your interests are different to mine, budget smaller/larger, resolve stronger/weaker. Better then to give you the tools yourself to go forward rather than sit here preaching to you.

So, I hope these sites will be of some help to you, and as well as educating you a little more, will also bring you some enjoyment. They have for me.

Happy Blog Action Day everyone!

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Friday, October 12, 2007

A Diet Cherry Vanilla Pepsi Max Coke, anyone?

This month has seen the UK launch of 'Diet Coke Plus'. We get two healthy variants of the ridiculously popular diet drink, one with added vitamins and the other with added antioxidants. Both come in smaller than usual doses and both are quite nice in a "my tooth enamel might be eroding, but at least I won't catch colds so often" kind of way.

And who knew vitamins were so tasty? I am certain they have tinkered with the formula for the "plus vitamins" variant as the drink seems a little sweeter. [Vitamins taste of nothing, of course, although I won't be surprised if I find out they've changed the flavour so people believe there really are vitamins in it.]

The green tea flavoured "with antioxidant" version tastes a lot different to the original, with a much more bitter after-taste. It's quite nice, actually. It *tastes* healthier, therefore it must be, right?

Anyway, to celebrate the launch I thought I would do some investigating into the soft drinks markets around the world and the endless brand extensions that seem to be popping up all over the place. I also take a look at a few of the "classics" from yesteryear that, uhm... never really took off.

Crystal Pepsi (USA) - The disastrous American launch of this "healthy" clear Pepsi was back in 1992. Blindfolded taste testers couldn't tell the difference, but those with their eyes open succumbed to placebo effects and thought it tasted like old socks. It still has a cult following, though, with antique cans and bottles now fetching a fortune on eBay.

Pepsi Blue (USA) - If the "no colour" approach doesn't work then it stands to reason that a Pepsi stuffed to the brim with E numbers will be a huge hit, right? Wrong. A decade after Crystal Pepsi, it was time to launch this blue coloured, super sour raspberry flavoured "Berry Cola Fusion". The problem was it tasted like liquidised fizz-bombs. Buckets of cash were thrown at the marketing campaign to promote the launch but it still tanked big time, unfortunately.

Strawberry Pepsi / Tropical Pepsi (UK) - These cute limited editions were sold some time in the early 1990s. They came in half-size cans and tasted just as awful as you would imagine them to. They lasted one summer then disappeared forever.

Pepsi Holiday Spice (USA) - launched for Christmas 2004, this was a cinnamon flavoured, deep red coloured Pepsi. The "anti-eggnog" ad campaign had a neat jingle which went something like, "eggnog by the gallon, eggnog by the cup, tastes the same while going down, as it does coming up!"

Diet Pepsi Jazz Strawberries and Cream / Caramel Cream / Black Cherry French Vanilla (USA) - Wow, three creamy Diet Pepsi variants got simultaneously released earlier this year in America. Lately, everything seems to have gone "cherry vanilla" crazy over there. These are still in production, but for how long is anyone's guess.

Pepsi Ice Cucumber (Japan) - Believe it or not, this limited edition, light green coloured, cucumber flavoured Pepsi was launched exclusively in Japan this summer. Not kidding.

Diet Pepsi Max (USA) - Not to be confused with the UK's "Max Taste, No Sugar" Pepsi variant, this has just launched in the States as a quasi-energy drink (and Pepsi's answer to 'Diet Coke Plus') with added guarana and extra caffeine.

Pepsi Fire / Pepsi Ice (USA / Thailand / Singapore) - No, not an homage to the Torvill and Dean "ice spectacular", thankfully. 'Pepsi Fire' had an extra hot cinnamon taste, whilst 'Pepsi Ice' was a blue-coloured minty menthol flavour. Unsurprisingly, both bombed in the States. Well, you can't blame them for trying, at least.

Also look for:
Pepsi Red [Japan. Red coloured Pepsi.]
Pepsi Summer Mix [USA. Limited edition Tropical flavour for summer 2007.]
Pepsi Summer Chill [Poland. Apple and mint flavoured Pepsi variant.]
Pepsi Natural [New formulation, on its way, made with only natural ingredients.]

Diet Cherry Coke (USA) - note the position of the word Cherry. This is a diet version of 'Cherry Coke', which is much different to our cherry version of 'Diet Coke'. It's been around for over twenty years in the States.

Coca-Cola Cherry Zero (USA) - A 'Coke Zero' version of 'Cherry Coke' no less, launched exclusively in America earlier this year. Consumers - me included - are already lobbying to have it released in several other countries. So if any Coke people are reading this, I demand that you release this in the UK immediately!

Coca-Cola Black Cherry Vanilla (USA) - This is what replaced 'Vanilla Coke' in America. Rather nice, if a little too sweet. Not content with three suffixes, the diet version added a prefix and became 'Diet Coke Black Cherry Vanilla'. Which makes me think people *must* have abbreviated it when asking for it at the grocery store. "Eh, I'll have a bottle of DCBCV, please."

Coca-Cola Vanilla (USA) - It's 'Vanilla Coke' reborn! A couple of years after its demise in the States, it's back with a new moniker and new packaging! They've even released 'Coca-Cola Vanilla Zero' to accompany it. Utter genius.

Coca-Cola Blāk (France) - Coke flavoured with what tastes like a hundred shots of espresso. Yuck.

Coca-Cola C2 (Japan / USA) - Half the carbs, half the sugar, half the calories of regular Coke, this was a (not very successful) experiment in the midst of the Atkins' diet craze. Now defunct and, frankly, redundant in the wake of 'Coke Zero'. Nice packaging though.

Coca-Cola with Raspberry (New Zealand) - Limited edition sold exclusively in New Zealand. There was also a diet version. Quite nice, although a small fortune when forced to import it.

Also look for:
Coca-Cola Citra [Mexico. Lemon and Lime flavoured Coke. Also introduced and discontinued twice in New Zealand.]
Coca-Cola Light Sango [France. Blood orange flavoured Diet Coke.]

dnL (USA) - Also known as "7up Upside Down" [the dnL is quite literally 7up turned on its arse] this was a freaky, green-coloured, caffeinated, clear-bottled version of the normally clear, not-caffeinated, green-bottled original. Groovy.

Fanta (Worldwide) - Remember the days when Fanta was Orange and that was it? Pah! There are now countless worldwide variants [The Japanese market alone has enjoyed over fifty flavours over the years]. The list includes Berry, Elderflower, Tangerine, Cream Soda, Strawberry, Orange Mint, Lactic White Grape, Honeydew Melon, Sour Cherry, Root Beer, Club Soda, Pear, Peach, Cider and Banana. A version in the far east also glowed in the dark.

Dr Pepper (Worldwide) - Dr Pepper has also had its fare share of variants over the years. The first was 'Dr Pepper Red Fusion' [red coloured, greater cherry flavour], followed by 'Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper' and its diet prefix-heavy counterpart 'Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper'. Most recently there's been 'Dr Pepper Berries and Cream' and yes, you guessed it, 'Diet Dr Pepper Berries and Cream'.

Sprite (Worldwide) - Look out for 'Sprite Remix' in three varieties - Tropical, Berryclear and Aruba Jam (USA). Fiery ginger and Icy mint versions have also been spotted around the world.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

100th Post

So, it’s our 100th post today. To be honest I completely forgot until I came to post it, so it’s not an all-singing, all-dancing breakthrough insight into marketing. Hopefully though, it will give you a little to think about though.

I saw this quote today on The Hidden Persuader, via Room 116 and thinking about adverts such as Sony Bravia and the recent Cadbury spot I found it quite interesting and quite apt in current times. It also made me question once again how much of advertising is about selling the product and how much is just sheer art. I would argue however that a healthy dose of self obsession is often required in art, and I’m sure is probably often prevalent in those working in the advertising industry also (but let’s not generalise here – in ANY industry).

Another reason it made me think was because, on a personal level, I always enjoyed art at school but decided not to pursue it because I didn’t fancy the life of a starving artist. Plus, truth be told I didn’t feel I was that fantastic at it that I could actually make a career out of it. However, I still wanted to do something creative and ended up choosing marketing as I felt it would give me the opportunity to use my creativity in a variety of ways. I wonder how many in advertising and marketing as a whole made that very same decision? Hmmm...

To everyone that’s been reading so far – thanks - I hope you enjoy the next 100!

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Retail goes green

Today’s shaping up to be all about green. First this morning I received an e-mail reminder about Blog Action Day on October 15th, then I read about the Howies store on Northern Planner and then read about the new Marks & Spencer ‘green’ store in Bournemouth. So, although Blog Action Day isn’t until Monday, I have to squeeze a green post in before then to speak about the two stores, but don’t worry, I’ll think of something else for the 15th!

First off then, the Howies store:

Nice company, good quality, nice products and now a nice, shiny new store. Keeping in line with their ethos, the new store uses sustainable, low-impact materials wherever possible, from their ‘T-trees’, T shaped modular shelving made from ‘sustainably sourced oak from a council run project in Pembrokeshire’; to replacing plasterboard with wool-board and wood chippings with recycled glass. Energy saving has also been big on the agenda which could have posed a slight problem given its Carnaby Street location as the street has a rule that all shops must keep their lights on at night. However, Howies managed to get round this in a novel way, placing a light switch outside which customers can press if they want to see the store lit up. Ergo, no energy is wasted during the night – genius! Taking into consideration the commitment to quality and sustainability the company have put into their clothing, it’s really nice to see the same commitment when it comes to their store. Even nicer, they have dedicated a ‘power of 10’ wall to products they love, one of which happens to be a reusable drinking bottle at the moment, which can be refilled at the tap in-store. Unfortunately I doubt I’ll be in the store any time soon since I don’t live in London, but still, even just reading about it and seeing the pictures has made me smile. Well done Howies. I hope the store is as successful as its online counterpart and concessions.

Next, from small to large, and the new Marks and Spencer store in Bournemouth. Well, I say new, it’s not actually new per say, it’s just been made-over, green stylee. How you may ask? Well... the many modifications include: Daylight sensors in the windows which are designed to switch off spotlights when the sun is shining; two sets of doors to help save heat; infra-red sensors in the changing rooms which mean that the lights are only on when there is someone in them; store lights which automatically switch off when the burglar alarm is set for the night; air conditioning which is not only supplied by a green energy company but also only chills the air at head level; freezer cabinets with small LED strips instead of fluorescent bulbs, with their doors shut to conserve energy; escalators which run at reduced energy when no-one is on them; shelving units made from a light, easy to transport, scratch-resistant material called Enviro-wall; toilets with a dual-flush system which allows you to use less water per flush if you wish; a roof full of green plants that need little watering; staff with fleeces made from recycled plastic bottles (granted, I know little about textiles or recycling processes, but I’m pretty amazed at this); AND, even more green products on the shelf. Phew, that’s a long list! All this speaks for itself really, but in case you’re wondering, it should mean that the store should use 25% less energy than before and 90% of its carbon output will be eliminated. Even the waste from the refurbishment didn’t go to waste, with 80% being recycled, the flooring for example being turned into traffic cones. Pretty good going, especially considering that, if successful this concept will be rolled out across more of its stores and warehouses – which total more than 550 altogether. Hopefully then this is just a sign of things to come for the high-street retailer.

Big pats on the back for Howies and M & S then. It’s a bit of a suck-up post for the both of them, but I think it’s well-deserved. And although I’m much more convinced that the motives behind Howies actions are pure, the fact remains that both have made a commitment to being green and that’s the most important thing. Time more retailers took a leaf out of their book (pardon the pun – they seem to be coming thick and fast this weather).

N.B. Photos nabbed from New Consumer and Northern Planner

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Friday, October 05, 2007


I feel a bit of déjà-vu in this post as this time last year I had just spoken about the Sony Bravia ad after I had spoken about the Dove ad the post before. And here I am at it again.

The new Sony Bravia ‘Colour Like No Other’ advert finally launches tonight on Channel 4 during Ugly Betty. Having been hyped for months now and teasers being released along the way, does it live up to the hype? Erm...

I never expected it to be as good as the first, I don’t think anyone did. And I’d say it’s at least on a par with the last spot (although that one scored extra points in my book for being filmed in Glasgow). I’m probably with quite a few other bloggers who are most fascinated by the actual making of the ad – 100, 000 still images were used to make the ad – rather than the actual ad itself.

I do like the ad though, to a point. The bunnies are great, the music is great, the people in the background are great, but what’s with the wave and then the cubes? It’s a bit like two concepts pushed into the same ad. Why?

See what you think.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Dove does it again

Last year it was the ‘Evolution’ ad. Starting with a make-up free model, the woman is then made up by make-up artists, has her hair done perfectly, gets some flattering lighting, and then after all that has her picture manipulated digitally to make it thinner and blemish-free. The message from the ad is clear – the images that you see in magazines and on billboards aren’t real. So this perfect ‘beauty’ that women strive to achieve is unachievable, because even models don’t look like this without help. This is, in part, the whole ethos of Dove’s ‘Campaign for real beauty’. It’s all about letting women, young and old, know that they are beautiful. Whatever their weight, height, race, etc, they should never feel pressure to conform to the ‘ideal’ presented to them on a daily basis through the media, fashion and beauty industries.

I’m always in two minds about these adverts and the campaign in general. Overall, the company conveys a positive image and behind the adverts the company also run a ‘self-esteem fund’ which develops and distributes resources to “enable and empower women and girls to embrace a broad definition of beauty” and also provides resources to organisations that foster a broader definition of beauty. In addition, they also give talks in classrooms across the UK on the topic, again encouraging girls to build up a positive body-image however they may look. And it is not only in the UK and the US this campaign runs, but across the globe. All of which is excellent and I think / hope it does / will make a real difference to some women’s / girls’ self esteem. But then you look at who their parent company is – Unilever – and it all starts to unravel a bit. Aren’t those the same ‘perfect’ models they are using to promote their other products that they just criticised the beauty industry for using over at Dove? Hmm...

Aside from this however, Dove has brought out a new advert to follow on from their Evolution spot from last year. ‘Onslaught’ shows a barrage of the type of images that young girls are subject to every day. And putting myself in their shoes, I reckon it must be fairly hard when you’re young and impressionable not to be affected by them. Even as grown women many of us are affected, so what chance have young girls got?

The message from the ad is to speak to you daughter before the beauty industry does. Although I’m not completely in love the ad itself, the message behind it is very powerful and is conveyed well. Will it win the awards that Evolution did? Who knows? More importantly, will it encourage women to speak to their children about this issue and help instil a positive self-image in their minds? Would they not be doing this anyway?
Still, it does remind us self-esteem begins building, or conversely, being destroyed early on and if the media/fashion/beauty industries seem intent on showing children an unachievable ‘perfection’ it’s our responsibility to let them know that they should strive to achieve it at all, but simply be comfortable in their own skin. Hopefully it will sink in.

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