The Fat Jew’s Kingdom Tumbles Down

Comedian Josh Ostrovsky – AKA ‘The Fat Jew’ – has seen his comedy kingdom destroyed by plagiarism accusations.

Fat Jew

It would appear that The Fat Jew‘s rise to fame will be snuffed out as quickly as it started. For weeks now, Josh Ostrovsky has been under fire for stealing jokes, pulling the rug out from beneath the social-media phenomenon.

Joke-stealing is an unfortunate part of comedy that will never go away. It’s often hard to prove whether a gag was actually stolen, or whether two people simply had a similar, funny idea. Regardless, while I’m more ‘Dad bod’ than fat, as a fellow Jew, I was rooting for Ostrovsky – that is, until he was exposed as a fraud.

After he landed a deal with big time talent agency CAA, joke-theft accusations came in a flurry from high-profile comics like Patton Oswalt and Michael Ian Black. Perhaps more damning was the media storm, with The Hollywood Reporter, The Atlantic, and The Washington Post tearing Ostrovsky apart in quick succession.

As a result, The Fat Jew lost a TV deal with Comedy Central, and pre-orders for his upcoming book are nearly non-existant. Though his once-anticipated book is due for release soon (November 3), “Money Pizza Respect” currently ranks as the No. 42,957 best-selling book on Amazon.

An additional intriguing angle to all this is that Ostrovsky built his Fat Jew comedy empire in the most modern way possible. He essentially just mined the internet for jokes, aggregating the results into sketches and routines. He’s like a human SEO device.

Shame on you, Fat Jew!

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Starbucks Expands ‘Evenings’ Program Across US

 

Starbucks Expands 'Evenings' Program Across USIn an attempt to widen brand versatility, Starbucks is taking its ‘Evenings’ menu to more American locations.

When you think of Starbucks, what crosses your mind first? If your response is anything other than the word ‘coffee’ – or perhaps ‘scones’ – you’re part of a tiny minority. Starbucks is looking to change that, with an expansion of their ‘Evenings’ line.

Starbucks Evenings includes a menu of beer and wine offerings, along with small appetizers and tapas. The idea, of course, is to change the image of Starbucks as a morning-only destination. After picking up a caffeine jolt on the way to work, most consumers likely don’t have Starbucks on their minds later in the day.

Truth be told, there is a demand for the sort of casual drinking environment offered by Starbucks Evenings. Unlike traditional bars and pubs – where ‘chatting’ often means ‘shouting at each other over loud music and even louder customers’ – Starbucks offers a laid-back atmosphere that’s ideal for book clubs or Bible-study groups.

Test locations in America have been quite popular with women, who make up 60 percent of Evenings patrons. That makes quite a bit of sense to me. How uneven is the ratio between male- and female-targeted bars in America? There’s countless male-oriented sports bars – such as Hooters or Buffalo Wild Wings – but coming up with counterexamples that market primarily to women is a difficult venture.

As Starbucks expands ‘Evenings’ to over 2,000 of its 12,000 US locations, don’t be surprised if the after-dinner scene makes its presence felt at a franchisee near you.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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Coke Zero Brings Drinkable Commercials to Football

While thirsty for marketshare, Coke brings drinkable commercials to football.

Coke Zero celebrates third year of partnership with largest fully integrated campaign yet, to get fans even more excited for game day through drinkable advertising.

Coke Zero Brings Drinkable Commercials

Coca-Cola’s Coke Zero brand is 10 years old (and became a billion dollar brand in only 2 years) which may or may not come as a shock (as the product is not much more than a masculine adaptation of Diet Coke), but you will be shocked to find out that in the fall you will be able to get a free Coke Zero instantly…THROUGH YOUR TV. It’s got to be too good to be true, right?! When did reality morph into an episode of The Jetsons? !

The new campaign this fall in conjunction with ESPN’s College Gameday is called, “You Don’t Know Zero ‘Till You’ve Tried It”. Many of the ads include ESPN personalities such as Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit and will direct viewers to open the Shazam App on their smart phone or tablet and hold it near the ad. There will be a bottle of Coke Zero pouring on TV into a digital glass on the viewer’s device. Along with a refreshing class of digital Coke Zero the viewer will be delivered a coupon for a free 20-ounce bottle that will be redeemable at retailers including 7-Eleven, QuickTrip, Speedway, and Domino’s.

I’m a sucker for a free product and I do love the occasional Coke product, but this seems like quite the financial undertaking for a product that is already successful and is a mere clone of your own already existing product. Differencebetween.net has done some further scientific research to back my earlier claim; Coke Zero is just Diet Coke in a masculine guise. But here’s the rub, Coke Zero may actually be hurting it’s “feminine” counterpart. As Coke Zero has rose (6% growth in the second quarter) Diet Coke is down 6% in the last year. Now, this may certainly be a logical fallacy, and Coke’s new gimmicks such as “drinkable jerseys” are appealing, the product remains the same.

It surely seems as if Coca-Cola is growing one of it’s brands at the cost of another, this may be the strategy they are aiming for, but it’s got be wondering, will this new offensive tactic lead to Coca-Cola playing defense against themselves?

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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Oreo Thins: A Pinkie-Raising Classy Cookie?

Oreo is pushing its new Thins brand with a campaign suggesting a more grown-up cookie.

An Ode to the Forgotten Finger” – Oreo’s new 60-second video spot – starts as a playfully humorous examination of each finger’s role, before lamenting the lack of usefulness for the pinkie. Thankfully, Oreo Thins are here to give the pinkie something to do.

Oreo Thins: A Pinkie-Raising Classy Cookie?

The pinkie’s life-changing new role? Standing high in the air with pride as its owner eats a new Oreo Thins cookie. The video – produced by 360i, Oreo’s digital marketing team – is narrated by the pinkie itself, which is grateful to finally have importance.

One minor issue I have with this spot is that the pinkie still isn’t doing anything. It is literally the only finger not being used to hold the cookie at the end of the spot. Isn’t that what the narration was complaining about all along?

In all seriousness, I get the idea that Oreo Thins are an attempt to break into a demographic that has outgrown traditional Oreos. On paper, the idea of presenting them as a high-society cookie – in a tongue-in-cheek fashion – is a good one.

Still, something about it just feels forced. I personally haven’t eaten an Oreo in years, and the fact that they’re now available in a different shape has in no way triggered cravings for them.

Oreo Thins are simply a gimmick, nothing more. Its sleek shape isn’t going to fool anyone into thinking they’re somehow a healthier snack option than before. You can just eat more of them now. Yippee.

I guess you could say that I’m not a big fan of processed cookie-food at any size.

Do not get me started about Mint Milanos.  They are my weakness.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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Volkswagen Enlists Senior Siblings to Dispel Diesel Myths

Have you seek how Volkswagen has enlisting senior siblings in their new commercials?  I have.

Volkswagen’s funny new campaign features viral video stars to dispute old wives’ tales about clean diesel vehicles.

In an effort to renew interest in the carmaker’s TDI (clean diesel) line, Volkswagen launched a video campaign starring the Golden Sisters, an improv comedy trio. The Sisters are indeed real-life siblings, who have risen to popularity in recent years thanks to their natural comedic chemistry.

In the six videos, the sisters show concern over common misconceptions regarding diesel fuel, only to have them quickly dashed by a Volkswagen TDI vehicle. The ads aim to alter consumers’ beliefs that diesel is smelly, or hard to find, doesn’t accellerate quickly, etc.

The spots are sure to earn a chuckle or two, as the natural comic timing of the sisters shines through, even in commercial format. The reason for this is that – just like their YouTube videos and Oprah Winfrey Network reality show – the sisters were given only a rough outline, and encouraged to improvise the ads.

Pete Favat – chief creative officer of Deutsch North America, who produced the spots – says that “they’re sisters, so they’ve probably been acting this way their entire lives. So, we gave them kind of a structure in which to go by, and what to talk about, and we worked within that structure.”

Kudos to Volkswagen and Deutsch North America for latching onto a viral phenomenon, while still maintaining the core of what made the sisters popular in the first place.

And then there’s Maude.  Don’t get me started on the Golden Girls.

Howard Davidson Arlington, MA

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Domino’s Teaches Consumers and Competition How to Make Pizza

Domino’s takes a clever jab at its competitors, while also entertaining consumers with an interactive website.

Domino’s Pizza School is now open for enrollment. The pizza mega-chain unveiled an interactive website, which teaches consumers how to make their own Domino’s pizza step by step. Along the way, the brand takes shots at its competition, implying that they’ll steal Domino’s recipe by taking the online course.

The main reason I like this campaign is simply because it’s so much better than the brand’s advertising from the last few years. Remember the “Oh Yes We Did” campaign? Yeah, that’s the one in which Domino’s chose to “face our critics and reinvent our pizza from the crust up.” (Surprisingly, the website for that campaign is still up.)  I was having none of that.  Not to mention that I have not ordered Domino’s since the 197o’s.

“The Pizza Turnaround” was the first time I can recall a company using the “our product has always pretty much been total crap, but we promise it’s better now” strategy. Ever since those ads, Domino’s marketing has had a stench of desperation to it. For years now, company CEO Patrick Doyle (who’s compensation was $7,453,021 last year) has constantly been on television, reminding consumers of how great Domino’s ingredients are, and stressing the craft of making pizza.

The Pizza School itself is nothing more than a momentary diversion. However, the very fact that this new Domino’s campaign shows the company exuding confidence – rather than desperation – for the first time in years indicates a serious step in the right direction.

Let’s see if the school can help roll in some dough for Domino’s.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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Macy’s Sings Consumers Back to School

Macy’s is welcoming students back to school with an a cappella challenge.

With a cappella on a surprising popularity surge – thanks to the “Pitch Perfect” films and vocal groups like Pentatonix – Macy’s is looking to cash in on the craze. The retailer has set up a challenge for elementary, junior high and high school students, in which three winning schools will receive $25,000.

The retailer’s campaign kicks off with a 15-second video spot starring Pentatonix, as the group sings the Jackson Five classic “I Want You Back.” The band members urge students to check out Macy’s YouTube page, where students are challenged to “Bring it like Pentatonix.”

Macy’s is making a smart move here, as the campaign blends interactivity with creativity. Classrooms all over the country will be filled with song – and increased Macy’s brand awareness with a young target market.

A Macy’s spokesperson correctly points out that “millennials turn to social media platforms to understand what’s hot in fashion. It’s imperative that we as a retailer stay on top of how fashion trends are being communicated.”

The a cappella push comes on the heels of Macy’s 2014 back-to-school lip sync challenge, amplifying that campaign’s creative aspects without sacrificing any of its interactive nature. The fact that the a cappella challenge targets an age group that may not typically get excited about department stores is icing in the cake.

And what’s up with me writing about back to school the first week in August?

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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Scandal Alert: $20k Bag of Brooklyn Air Posted to Ebay

Scandal Alert:  $20k Bag of Brooklyn Air Posted to Ebay

$20k Bag of Brooklyn Air Posted to Ebay

Now here’s a true scandal.  A bag of air from Brooklyn, NY post to Ebay for $20,000.  I’m completely undone. Is this a scandal or sheer brilliance?

Leave it to Williamsburg to cull yet another use for Mason Jars: air. Bidding for “Air from Williamsburg, Brooklyn! HIP COOL BROOKLYN LENA DUNHAM 11211” originally started on July 6th at $39.99 and as of Thursday, July 9, the air was going for $20,100.00.

Excuse me, but the bid is more than some people pay annually to actually live in North Brooklyn.

“What you are bidding on here is a sample of air from the COOLEST neighborhood in the world: Williamsburg, Brooklyn!” the seller, theedgedweller, who has apparently never sold on the online auction site before, writes. “This might be your last chance to afford air from this much coveted zip code (11211),” reads another part of the description. This special, but also incredibly mundane air, can be shipped anywhere in the United States “either in a Ziploc bag or in a mason jar from one of our many, many mason jar specialty shops.” “$20,000 may sound expensive now, but at the rate prices go up in Williamsburg, this bag of air will be one million dollars by the end of the year,” wrote a satirist at Brokelyn.

While I get the joke, eBay put on their party pooper pants and made sure someone wasn’t stupid enough to buy a ziplock bag full of oxygen for a small down payment. They removed the listing since the post didn’t include “physical items or actual services.” While the idea is creative, the execution is what ended up falling short. This winter a Boston man, Kyle Waring, set up a website that sold batches of the record breaking snow for $89 a pop. Maybe “theedgedweller” should’ve gotten into the entrepreneurial spirit and taken matters into his own hands.

As it turns out, thanks to live feeds, maybe the joke is on me (and everyone else) The mysterious man is actually Dan Ozzi, Vice music editor. Maybe he knows of a bridge that he can sell us.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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Pizza Hut’s New Box Doubles as Movie Projector

Pizza Hut’s clever new pizza box is also a film projector for smartphones.

Ordering a delivery pizza and watching a movie is pretty much the quintessential American “family night.” Pizza Hut is capitalizing on this synergistic relationship with a brilliantly conceived marketing ploy called the Blockbuster Box.

Pizza Hut's New Box Doubles as Movie Projector

The brand’s new pizza box comes with a lens, which fits into a perforated hole at the front of the box. All consumers have to do is scan the codes on the box to ‘unlock’ their movie choices, then attach a smartphone to the lens. Moments later, you’re watching a movie projected from the box your pizza came in.

Pizza Hut spokesman Doug Terfehr said that “pizza is a social food, and movies are a social event. Perfect match.” I have to agree with Terfehr. While the Blockbuster Box is clearly just a novelty – and not something you’re going to use more than once – I can see little kids going wild over the idea.

For now, the only movies available are short films produced by Pizza Hut, but I would be shocked if they don’t expand on that at least a bit. I’m not sure anyone wants to sit down and watch a two-hour movie projected out of a pizza box with sound from a smartphone speaker, but including a couple episodes of popular TV sitcoms sounds like a great move.

Sure, it’s just a silly novelty, but sometimes silly novelties sell. I think this is one of those cases. Clever stuff from Pizza Hut.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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Australian PSA Shows Kids Picking Up Parents’ Bad Driving Habits

A minimalist Australian PSA depicts children as puppets, mimicking parents’ bad driving habits.

Australian PSA Shows Kids Picking Up Parents' Bad Driving Habits

“What kind of driver are you raising?” That question is at the heart of “Strings,” a one-minute public service announcement video from Clemenger BBDO Melbourne. The spot – created for Australia’s Transport Accident Commission – reminds parents that their children learn how to drive from watching them.

Filmed on a dark soundstage, the spot shows a young boy sitting in the back seat. With wires attached to his arms and legs, the boy mimics actions of a distracted driver. He checks his text messages, shouts at other drivers, takes a phone call, etc.

Eventually, the camera pans to reveal that the boy is connected to his father by puppet strings. Each of dad’s bad habits as a driver is instantly transferred to his son. It’s a rather chilling reminder of how parents must be aware of how they act around their children at all times.

A Clemenger BBDO Melbourne representative says that “parents can’t deny that their kids copy them. We just want to get into their psyches a little bit, to have them question how they act behind the wheel.” I’d say they succeeded in doing just that.

The next time you strap your kids into their car seats, remember that behaviors are learned everywhere – not just in the controlled environment of your home.

-Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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