A Vuvuzela That Changes BeIN Sports Channels

BeIN Sports, a multi-sports channel, has developed vuvuzela that changes channels.

A Vuvuzela That Changes Channels on BeIN Sports

The vuvuzela is called the Game Changer.  When blown, it switches the channel on your TV to its station.

But any sports fan will able to recognize the familiar droning pitch of the vuvuzela. First widely deployed at the 2010 World Cup, the elongated horns at a soccer match combine to create a sonic experience described by some as akin to a swarm of bees. More importantly for beIN though, ever since the World Cup vuvuzelas have become a symbol for soccer worldwide.

Using microchip technology, the TBWA\Chiat\Day New York designed vuvuzela essentially recognizes when it’s being blown then sends out an infrared signal to any nearby cable box, just like your regular remote, and up comes beIN.

The possibly annoying instrument aims to send a strong message to an American sports broadcast world that has largely ignored soccer. As beIN Creative Director Matt Ian put it: “We look at Game Changer as the way to guide our communications in fulfilling our mission, which is to give soccer the respect it deserves.” Only about twenty souped-up vuvzelas have been made thus far but depending on the level of interest, further production could be on the horizon.

Whether or not these channel changing vuvuzelas become wildly popular, a message has already been sent; beIN soccer is coming to America and it isn’t coming quietly.


TD Bank is Banking on ‘Human Truths’ of Banking

TB Bank is banking on more consumer interest as they roll out the next iteration of their brand’s successful ‘Bank Human, Again’ marketing campaign.

TD Bank

Titled ‘Human Truths,’ the campaign features four new television commercial spots that bring to life the bank’s commitment to a legendary, human-centric customer experience. These spots will run in prime time throughout TD Bank’s Maine to Florida footprint.

Last year, a handful of spots showed average customers walking into a grey, lifeless bank all while being addressed by a disembodied, robotic voice. What TD offered as alternatives were things like no rope lines and, if you’ve been waiting to indulge your inner kleptomaniac, pens that don’t have those pesky chains binding them to the table.

Apparently last year’s efforts have paid off because the same formula is now being applied to a set of commercials featuring customers facing similarly terrible service, only with one major change: now there are actual human beings working in these monochrome institutions of rudeness. The enemy has become embodied! In one such ad, the sinister banker behind the glass of the just closed, nameless bank positively taunts the nice woman trying to get in. In fact, improvisational actors were used for these spots to add that little extra taste of bitter believability.

This rebrand that focuses on convenience comes on the heels of TD expanding more branches on the east coast the past couple of years. And the tone of consumer-centered service is pretty clearly in response to criticisms that have labeled financial institutions as blatantly disregarding the well being of those whom they lend to. Instead, TD is trying to emphasize “real human truths” that can be found in their branches like free coin deposits. Tellers will even walk you to your car with an umbrella if it’s raining outside. No word yet on whether they’ll drive you home, though.


Wendy’s Ads Supports Foster-Care Adoption

Wendy’s has been quietly supporting foster-care adoption for more than 20 years.  The company has now launched a national, multichannel campaign for the cause.


The year-long marketing program is an expansion of ongoing fundraising initiatives for the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, a nonprofit founded in 1992 by Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas, who was himself adopted as a child.

You probably know Wendy’s for their square shaped burgers and trademark redheaded logo but a new ad campaign has started for the unfortunately lesser-known Dave Thomas Foundation For Adoption. The late Wendy’s founder, who was himself a product of adoption, had a fiery passion for helping children lost in the foster care system and it looks like the Foundation is going to be making a more public push this year.

The nonprofit has usually flown under the radar of the Wendy’s brand, but a new series of ads for the Foundation itself are slated to make their debut that correspond to a return of a popular fundraising campaign. The spots also include stories of children whom The Foundation has successfully placed into loving homes.

Wendy’s more public showcasing of charitable efforts is pretty much in line with about a yearlong trend. In 2013 the restaurant gave customers the option of purchasing a one-dollar key tag with all of the proceeds going to the Foundation. And I think because of the success of last year’s effort, which raised about $450K, the company is feeling a little more confident with merging their charitable wing with the huge platform of the fast food empire. Ending later in the year, Wendy’s revived key tag campaign has an ambitious goal of surpassing the million-dollar mark.

Whether the Foundation hits its target largely depends on the amount of public exposure, so this new slew of TV and radio spots are a step in the right direction. And contrary to Wendy’s treats, this campaign won’t make you feel frosty inside.




Show Cast Members Go Live on TV Land Commercials

Going back to the roots of commercials, TV Land is set to feature the return of “cast commercials” in two of their upcoming broadcasts.   TV show cast members are set to go live on TV Land commercials – once again.

Cast commercials, for those of you born after the Eisenhower administration, were a popular trend in the 50s/60s that featured advertisements between programs starring the actors from whatever you watching.

Often times the actors or actresses would continue playing their characters from said show and, before you knew it, you’d find yourself purchasing laundry detergent from Lucy Riccardo’s neighbor Ethel (In theory, anyway).

The format died out in the late 60s when the model of sponsorship for TV programs died out and networks took over selling air time, but TV Land, probably playing off their (ahem) older age demographic, is bringing the idea back.

Two of their original programs, Hot in Cleveland and The Soul Man, which this season will each feature a live episode, will also include nostalgia-inducing live commercials for the Toyota Highlander and Bush’s Grillin’ Beans.

TV Commercials

While this means that Betty White & Co. will have their hands full, performing an entire live show complete with live commercials, TV Land hopes the results will be a challenging way to add even more energy to the live specials.

It’s a fun idea, one that seems well suited to TV Land’s style, but we’ll have to wait until June 19th to see it executed.

In the meantime we can settle for reruns of I Love Lucy, and wonder how Ethel ever got her whites so white.



Crabby “Grandpa Frank” Back in Oscar Mayer Campaign

Oscar Mayer is throwing down the gauntlet in the deli meat debate with the return of crabby “Grandpa Frank” in an effort to convince us that their packaged meats are fresher than anything behind a deli counter.  Welcome back, Crabby Grandpa Frank.

The new spots hearken back to a commercial that aired last year which showed Frank giving unfiltered advice and stray observations to all those unlucky enough to cross his path. Bluntly remarking that a family friend has “had some work done”, the 2013 Frank seemed a lot more vicious than his current form.

Oscar Meyer

Nowadays the cantankerous old timer is standing in line at his nondescript supermarket’s deli hurling various zingers at the uninspired meats behind the glass: “The only thing that’s been here longer than us is that turkey”.

This ad campaign is clearly more about the non-politically correct grandpa than the thing he’s buying.  No packaged meat could be as memorable as Frank’s personality. And while level of his vitriol has subsided a bit from year ago, it looks like Oscar Mayer is going to be slowly releasing a series of spots with Frank in his usual form. A newly released commercial sees him berating a deli employee for just being “a guy who happens to be standing behind a deli”.

Snarky older people have been popping up in ads a lot recently, with Betty White famously sassing some football players in a beloved Snickers commercial. But will Grandpa Frank’s resurrection be enough to help Oscar Mayer rise above playing second fiddle to traditional deli meats? With 70% of surveyed customers apparently not finding flavors they want in the deli case, I’m sure Frank would have a quick answer.


H&R Block Offers Free Money To Help Build Their Equity

Nothing helps build (brand) equity quite like free money, which is why H&R Block is offering free cash to customers to help build their brand.

At least that’s the hope of the tax preparation company as they introduce an experimental marketing program that literally puts cash in the hands of consumers. It’s smart, engaging and, well, costly.

H&R Block

New kiosks from the brand dispense up to $100 to participants willing to take a 2-minute quiz, part of which includes the opportunity to fantasize about the best way to spend a billion dollars. Sounds easy enough.

The kiosks build off H&R Block’s “Get Your Billion Back America” ad campaign that draws attention to the more than one billion dollars Americans left on the table after doing their own taxes in 2013. Ketchum, M1 Interactive, Decibel Management and CGS Premiere created the kiosks, which include multiple touch screens, cameras, computers and ATM components.

Needless to say the free-money-dispensing-kiosks, which are currently set up in Atlanta, New York City, Los Angeles, and (for some reason) Kansas City, have had no trouble finding willing participants. The machines have been used by more than 600 individuals and have garnered earned media from the thousands of others who have seen the machines in action.

While it’s a fun, on-strategy execution, and one that participants undoubtedly enjoy, it lacks the originality to differentiate itself from other similar kiosks/machine installations such as Coca Cola’s Happiness Machine. Still there’s no doubt it’s getting the message across to the good people of Kansas, New York, California and Georgia, so who’s to say it can’t still be a slam-dunk for the brand?

No word yet on whether or not H&R Block intends to spread the machines to other cities across the U.S., but for now company is probably happy limiting the number of places it installs free money dispensers to the few geographically separated locations already selected.









Pizza Hut Bites A Slice of Dominos

Pizza Hut is determined to take a tasty bite out of Domino’s Pizza’s market share.

A subsidiary of the sweet Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE: YUM), Pizza Hut is known for delivering more pizza, pasta and wings than any other restaurant in the world.  Well now, the famous company is on a mission to increase it’s online presence by  20%.

Pizza Hut

Instead of relying on bread and butter TV ads to reach customers, the chain will soon be delivering some mouth watering social content. The company is looking to create a more intimate and responsive relationship with its customers that isn’t as possible with TV ads’ comparatively glacial feedback pace. Betting against prolonged product engagement via television, these online outlets are more conducive to “more frequent, shorter bursts” whereby consumer response is instantaneous. This dramatic shift isn’t totally out of left field, given that more than 40% of Pizza Hut sales are now made through online means.

The decision also comes fresh off the heels of a relatively successful string of PR stunts, all of which managed to grab headlines and attention. One such stunt, just in time for Valentines Day, saw the pizza parlor open an account on the dating website OK Cupid. Essentially, the pizza people binge on to get over a tough breakup could actually cause it! But before you get on one knee and ask that special slice to be your one and only, know that you’re not alone. According to Pizza Hut’s PR team, online hopefuls from Twitter spill their cheesy guts out with proposals every day.

The company really hopes to take a solid bite out of it’s long time rival, Dominos.


Coca-Cola & Riedel Release Luxurious Glass

Partnering with Coca-Cola, renowned Austrian glassmaker Riedel has designed a luxurious drinking glass meant for the more refined tastes of a true Coca-Cola connoisseur. Apparently modeled after the shape of the original Coke glass, the glassware giant promises to accentuate and enhance all of the classic soda’s familiar flavors.


Conjuring up a veritable olfactory and gustatory dream sequence, Riedel’s CEO Georg Riedel envisions the drinking experience as being akin to a fine wine or sophisticated ale: “This glass starts with the introduction of the aromas, beautiful lemon, citrus, lime character, malt characteristics, the mouth feel, the effervescence”

Of course there are skeptics who scoff, from a scientific basis, at the idea of a glass in any way contributing to flavor. Are Riedel’s purported methods and theories of taste genuine or is it all just trickery used to create a luxurious experience?

In any case, Coca-Cola has no real financial incentive to make this kind of a brand move from populous to luxury. They’ve pretty much had a vice grip on competitors like Pepsi and the widespread appeal of their soft drink does not hurt profits. Given this dominance, it’s clear Coke can afford to have some fun and Riedel is obviously reveling in the exposure.

A single glass runs at $20 with a double pack costing $30.  But, can this ridiculously fancy glass make Coke taste better?


Toyota & Google Unveil Totally Virtual Showroom

Clambering to keep up with the technology laden Generation Y, Toyota, partnered with Google, has unveiled an entirely virtual showroom.


Ironically advertised as a more social way to buy cars, the showroom can be accessed from a Google+ hangout, which then allows up to five people to pick features: “ like wheels and sunroof, or colors for the exterior and the interior of the car.” If the user likes what he or she sees, they can even take the fake car on a fake test drive against a fake backdrop of their choosing. Acknowledging that millennials: “think about cars in a dramatically different way”, this radically new sales interface shows Toyota might be flexible in adjusting the time honored and profit maximizing face to face standard.

Announced at South By Southwest, the venue certainly suggests that the automakers are aware of an imminent threat posed by younger consumers, who buy virtually everything from the Internet.  Well, almost everything.

Very few people from any generation enjoy going through the hassle of buying a car from the lot, as haggling, stressful paperwork and waiting around are inevitable. But if these timeless headaches mildly annoyed older generations, there are strong signs that Generation Y is prepared to dig a kind of nuclear option and forego the automotive experience altogether. The percentage of seventeen year olds with licenses is half of what it was in 1983, and there’s no sign of that gap closing.

Sometimes referred to by industry insiders as Generation N (N meaning ‘neutral about buying cars’), this Toyota virtual showroom is a genuine attempt to entice a young millennial demographic that just hasn’t been buying what they’ve been selling.


MoMa’s Twitter Helps People Talk About Art

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) and digital shop Possible have created a Twitter account called ART140 (@artoneforty) that helps people talk about art.


MoMa’s Twitter page is a cocktail party online with 1.6 million aficionados, geeks, newbs and common folks tweeting[WA1] .  The goal is to create a new channel conducive to free flowing conversation while generating interest in their pieces. The page was which was launched at SXSW this month and created a huge buzz.

The clever Twitter page has people choosing a specific piece of art and then explaining what it means to them, in 140 characters or less via the hashtag #art140. ART140 will be a social experiment aimed at finding out what art means to the masses. The museum is working with Possible to reveal how the meaning of art may differ by age, gender, geography or other life experiences.

MoMa’s digital media marketing manager, Victor Samra, has assured users that their comments will not be censored in any way, so anyone can post.

MoMa is hoping to use the feedback from this experiment to gain some insight on what they should display in their upcoming exhibits. The museum hopes to “break down the wall” that often separates the masses from fine art appreciation.

But oh if those walls in NYC could talk…