Mr. Kipling: Building Billboards is a Piece of Cake

British cake company Mr. Kipling has built a billboard using tasty pieces of cake.

British cake company Mr. Kipling has built a billboard using tasty pieces of cake.

Let them eat cake…billboards? That’s the new pitch from Mr. Kipling. Recently, Mr. Kipling constructed the first-ever edible billboard, created using the brand’s sweet treats. Using over 13,000 cakes, food artist Michelle Wibowo designed and assembled the billboard near a London mall.

Passersby were encouraged to eat a piece of the billboard, which I presume is a somewhat depressing part of Ms. Wibowo’s job as a food artist. It must be a bit strange for everything you create to be quite literally consumed by the public that views it. But I digress.

Obviously, a billboard that gets eaten doesn’t get many impressions. Thankfully, Mr. Kipling used the construction – and tasty deconstruction – of the billboard as the basis of a very effective TV spot. The 90-second ad balances a behind-the-scenes look at the billboard’s construction with appetizing shots of the cakes themselves, complimented by tasty testimonials.

I would certainly hesitate before eating a piece of cake off a wall – a piece of cake that’s been stuck to that wall for an unknown span of time, at that. (Something tells me Mr. Kipling packs enough preservatives into the cakes to make the billboard cakes ‘safe’ to eat, but that’s a problem in and of itself…)

“Life is better with cake,” says the billboard. Mr. Kipling claims that 72 percent of Brits agree with that statement, and who am I to doubt a cake company’s cake research? Regardless of any statistical accuracy questions, this campaign gets a thumbs-up from me. I’m still sticking to my local bakery if I find myself requiring cake, but Mr. Kipling’s marketing vision has my attention.

Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts

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Kotex Demeans Women and Cats

Kotex’s new cat filled Japanese commercial totally demeans women.

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The feminine hygiene product company is on a tear to prove a point about their pads via a rather rude commercial. The ad shows cats walking around awkwardly because they have sticky tape applied to them. Just like when a feminine pad won’t stay in place and decides to adhere to a woman’s crotch. Yup, that’s the scene.

The spot has been viewed millions of times on various platforms in just two weeks. Ogilvy & Mather Shanghai created this well viewed ad and is clearly ok with equating worry free protection with slapping tape on cats. Along with the cat video, Kotex also did another spot comparing men to sanitary napkins.

What is going on with Asian branded cat videos? In Japan, Pizza Hut released a whole video series that show annoying uniform-wearing cats running the show at a restaurant. They even vacuum and take out the trash. Those are some serious pussy cats.

My guess is that Kotex decided ride the wave of feline-themed content that’s extremely popular and weirdly shareable.

I’m totally not into the LOLcats phenomenon or cats in general. Cats creep me out. But then again, I don’t like anything with four legs or tails. Oh, I also dislike ads that are demeaning to woman and pussy (cats).

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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Buffalo Wild Wings Goes Wild With GameBreak

Buffalo Wild Wings is going wild.with GameBreak and adding this multi-platform fantasy sports and competitive game to their menu that already has 21 mouth-watering signature sauces and seasonings with flavor sensations ranging from Sweet BBQ™ to Blazin’®. Too much? Well, maybe not.

Buffalo Wild Wings Goes Wild With GameBreak

The game allows wings lovers and sports fans to play a wide range of fantasy sports games in the restaurant and on a mobile device. Buffalo Wild Wings is also offering weekly and season-long prize packs to winners with the ultimate prize of $10,000 given to one winner.

If you aren’t aware, I am not a sports fan, I don’t enjoy sports bars, and I’m not from Buffalo nor do I plan on visiting. But, I do eat up a good marketing campaign and game that drives sales. With that said, Buffalo Wild Wings hit a bullzeye with GameBreak. There is one thing testosterone-driven, hard-core, sports fanatics can’t stand….and that is losing. This is bound to be a hit within Buffalo Wild Wing’s target audience and undoubtedly will bring frequenters back every week.

I refuse to eat buffalo wings in public. I always forget all table manners and end up slurping the meat off the bone like a bowl of soup while my shirt turns greasier than the tablecloth.

So, Buffalo Wild Wings, you just solidified yourself as the ultimate restaurant for a sports fan and the last place you will ever find your wife.

Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts

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Papa John and Peyton Manning: America’s Favorite Bromance

Papa John’s is teaming up with Peyton Manning yet again, resurrecting America’s favorite advertising bromance.

Papa John and Peyton Manning: America's Favorite Bromance

Papa John and Peyton Manning just can’t stay away from each other. The restaurateur and the quarterback are chumming it up in the kitchen again, just like they do every year. This year, the ad is not remotely funny, as the only ‘joke’ revolves around Peyton misunderstanding what the word ‘superstition’ means. If there’s anyone out there who gets a laugh from this ad, that is a person I hope to never meet.

The brand is also pushing a prominent social media presence for the 2014 NFL season. Papa John’s will encourage fans to share their pizza and/or football-related experiences, in exchange for prizes and discounts. Seeing as this campaign gave away free pizzas for the last couple years – and all you had to do was sign up online – I’m not sure I see people putting any effort into earning a coupon.

Therein lies the major rub with this year’s iteration of the Papa John/Peyton Manning campaign. In previous years, it didn’t really even matter if you liked the commercials. Free pizza is free pizza. This year, the ‘deal’ they’re pushing is a large pizza for $10. Is that even a discount? I ask that as an entirely serious question. I saw an ad yesterday for Dominos that promoted a $5.99 medium pizza…and that’s the everyday price.

I know Papa John’s always claims to have better ingredients and better pizza, but are they really above the Dominos and Pizza Huts of the world, in the eyes of the consumer? I know I just lump them all together into the “fast-food pizza” category. When one company’s ‘discount offer’ is roughly equivalent to the competition’s normal pricing, that’s a problem.

Great advertising can certainly combat the handicap of being outpriced by your competitors, but great advertising this is not. This spot is so tame that ‘vanilla’ might be too exciting a term for it, and the promotion doesn’t feel like a discount. That’s not a winning combination.

Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts

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Thank You, Bayer, for Berocca Hangover Pills

Thank You, Bayer, for Berocca Hangover Pills

A big thank you is in order for Bayer. The pharmaceutical company is bringing Berocca – a hangover cure popularized in Australia – to America. Aah, let the drinking begin…

Thank You, Bayer, for Berocca Hangover Pills

Since the 1980s, drinkers in Australia and New Zealand have been fighting off hangovers using Berocca tablets. The effervescent drink contains a mix of B vitamins, zinc and vitamin C. It proved so popular that it spread to England, France, Korea and more, conquering hangovers one country at a time.

Now, Americans are finally able to try Berocca. While it’s never been advertised directly as a hangover cure, old television spots certainly hinted quite strongly as a cure.

A new spot, produced for American audiences, unfortunately misses the mark by a wide margin in almost every way conceivable. The spot starts with a relentlessly obnoxious loudmouth Joel McHale shouting his way through the entire 90 seconds, which grows very tiresome by the 15-second mark. I think Joel gives me the feeling of a hangover.

McHale plays a character named Brock Spedwell. Someone probably thought that name was funny. That someone was wrong. Spedwell is supposed to be “the world’s most motivational speaker,” which doesn’t make sense, seeing as his act appears to be some combination of a magic show and an infomercial.

Furthermore, all I learned from the painful minute-and-a-half video was that Berocca supports “mental sharpness” and “physical energy.” Those incredibly generic statements are just presented to the viewer at face value. I guess it’s up to us to figure the rest out.

Laura Pinkett, senior brand manager for Berocca, says that now is “the right time and the right moment” to bring the hangover remedy stateside. (I respectfully disagree – my college years were the right time and the right moment for this product.) While I’m not at all opposed to a means of minimizing the effects of a hangover, having Joel McHale scream at me for 90 seconds only makes my headache worse. I’m done with the pain across my temples.

Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts

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Talking Water Fountain Says to ‘Drink Up’

An entirely too creepy talking water fountain now says when to ‘Drink Up’ in Partnership for a Healthier America campaign. Do we need more talking machines? I don’t think so.

Talking Water Fountain Says When to 'Drink Up'

Isn’t there enough noise on the streets? Don’t get me started about the chirping alert telling me it’s okay to cross the street. Then there’s trucks backing up for ten minutes. Oh wait, how about very large trucks idling (after their brakes screech very loudly to a halt)? Water fountains used to peaceful. They quietly spewed water that glistened. Now they need to talk? Please no.

Anyway, the PHA’s ‘Drink Up’ campaign is allegedly here to save the day with a talking water fountain. In a ridiculously unnecessary technological advancement, the fountain begins talking when the water hits your lips and completes the circuit inside. The trick is that the talking stops whenever you stop drinking.

“Water is often taken for granted,” says PHA Chief Marketing Officer Drew Nannis, in a statement that I’m not entirely sure is accurate. “The Drink Up Fountain is yet another effort to remind people that you are what you drink, and when you drink water you Drink Up.” I hope whoever wrote the fountain’s dialogue did a better job than whoever prepared that cringe-worthy statement from Mr. Nannis.

Apparently Michelle Obama is a big fan of the talking fountain, as her anti-obesity group Let’s Move praised the invention. If this all eventually leads to an army of self-aware water fountains declaring war on America’s fat people, I guess I’m on board. That actually sounds like a pretty great idea for a SyFy Original movie, if you ask me.

I fail to see how dehydration became such a crisis in a first-world country. I’m not sure it even is a crisis. I’m also not certain that I care. What I do know is that talking water fountains are creepy, and I’ll add them to the long list of things that send me to the pain management clinic for migraine treatment.

Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts

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Marshawn Lynch Fuels the Rainbow for Skittles

Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch  has a sweet gig as he fuels the power of the iconic rainbow for Skittles.

Marshawn Lynch Fuels the Rainbow for Skittles

Lynch does not only taste the rainbow, but now he is marketing it too. Hard-running Lynch, also known as “Beast-Mode”, is famous for his Skittles obsession. In a new online video, Lynch uses his Skittles addiction to get ready for the upcoming NFL season by lifting massive amounts of the hard candy. This is not the first time the Seahawks running back has helped Skittles push sales. He once wore Skittles cleats in a game in 2011…and was fined $10,000.

Lynch’s craving for the hard-candy started as a kid, when his mother used to give him Skittles before games, calling them “power pellets”. I found this interesting because when I eat the candy, I don’t seem to gain any more power, however they do leave my digestive system in a discolored pellet form.

I’m not a sports fan (gotta say that I can’t sit through a football game), but I do love this campaign. However, I have one personal problem with it. I have been told my entire life to stay away from the hard, chewy, food-colored, diabetes-ridden candies like Skittles for my health. This guy eats Skittles everyday, somehow lacks any sort of body fat, and is making millions of dollars as a professional football player. BUT when I eat even one bag of Skittles, I somehow gain 4 pounds and feel sick for the rest of the week. Life just isn’t fair.

So it guess it’s true.. All you need to do is eat candy like Skittles and you can be as strong and successful as Marshawn Lynch, right?

Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts

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The Hartford Gives Businesses a Dance Break

The Hartford is giving small businesses a dance break with its snappy “Play On: Office Dance” campaign.

The Hartford Gives Businesses a Dance Break

The Hartford fulfills the insurance needs of over a million small businesses. Now they’re breaking the monotony of office life by giving their online workers a dance break. While it is pretty catchy, albeit not as viral at Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” the video shows a variety of workers shaking their asses off in what one might call dance moves. Pretty fun for an old school insurance agency.

The ad is a rather interesting diversion for a few minutes. Think of it as the YouTube version of a “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel (remember those?). There are six genres of music and three rooms in the office to click through. The workers’ goofy dance moves are certainly entertaining. After all, who doesn’t like to laugh at others who have bad dance moves? As soon as each segment ends, the employees go back to their routines and of course a link to The Hartford’s small-business landing page appears.

While the video is admittedly enjoyable, the novelty wears off after a couple minutes. The Hartford says they “expect to see a lot of sharing and interaction” with this ad. While I like the video, I certainly didn’t feel the need to Tweet about it or email it to friends. I’m not sure how many people will.

The Hartford as a brand is committed to helping their commercial customers be prepared, feel protected and ultimately prevail when the unexpected happens, so they can Play On. Well, that’s the jargon that’s on the company’s press release. So of course it’s the truth, right? All told, I’m of two minds regarding this campaign. On one hand, I can’t deny that the spot itself is pretty engaging. On the other, I wonder how many click-throughs they’ll actually get to The Hartford’s small-business homepage – even if the video does prove popular on social media. Regardless, The Hartford and Rodgers Townsend will get a lot of “did you see that’s” from this campaign.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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Zara in Semi-Backtrack Mode After Holocaust Imagery

Zara, a fashion company, is in semi-backtrack mode after being the next in line to supposedly unknowingly incorporate holocaust imagery into their clothes.  Needless to say, Zara is completely on my nerves.

Zara

I can’t even imagine in what universe any company would think this is appropriate and I don’t buy Zara’s excuse for a second, or any other designer for that matter.  I’m disgusted and annoyed.  I don’t even like the company name.

Okay so, Zara released a black and white striped shirt with a large gold star on the chest and has tried to pass it off as a “Sheriff” shirt. Listen, I can’t read minds but it’s pretty difficult to give the benefit of the doubt to a company who released a handbag covered in some swastikas a few years ago. Yes we all know that the symbol is also used to represent peace in some parts of the world but let’s just keep the Nazi symbols to a minimum. Anyway, point being is that these folks at Zara have a track record of making decisions based on the axiom that no press is bad press. Well guess what? This is bad press. Again. Even if this “Sheriff” shirt excuse is true, ignorance is not innocence.

And in lieu of  a proper apology that admits their gross ignorance, Zara let loose a firestorm of cut and paste tweets after pulling the shirts. They’ve also decided to now pander to the Jewish community with tank tops that read “If not now, when?” Give me a break. Zara should know better and this kind of thing should never happen, especially twice. Period.

Say goodnight, Zara.

Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts

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