A Chicken Named Gloria Now Controls Burger King’s Chicken Fries

Burger King is sending a live chicken named Gloria on a nationwide tour to promote Chicken Fries. Burger King is sending a live chicken named Gloria on a nationwide tour to promote Chicken Fries.

This is totally creepy. In a new one-minute video, Burger King introduces their new mascot, a live chicken named Gloria. “Who better than a chicken to decide whether or not Chicken Fries return to the Burger King menu,” a man asks early in the video.

I don’t know about you, but I could come up with a few better ideas than having a creature with no self-awareness deciding whether or not humans are allowed to devour their species. At any rate, Burger King is taking Gloria the chicken on a tour around the nation, stopping at select locations. Once there, Gloria will peck into one of two bowls labeled “yes” and “no.”

The company is inviting “Gloria enthusiasts” – a label which I would assume approximately zero people identify as – to come see Gloria in action, or to watch a live stream as she makes her choice. Who would ever do that?

Why on earth would you travel to a Burger King restaurant to watch a chicken peck a bowl? Why the heck would you watch a live stream online, either? Who is the target market here?  Certainly not me.

Here’s another gripe: Why, as the ad claims, did Burger King executives have such a tough time deciding which locations will serve Chicken Fries? The company itself claims that Chicken Fries are wildly popular, so wouldn’t the obvious choice be to sell them at all locations? The logic gap there annoys me.

I’m having none of Gloria the chicken.  I haven’t been to Burger King in a decade.  I don’t plan on being seen at one — ever.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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Gatorade Celebrates 50 Years of Highlights

Gatorade is celebrating its 50th anniversary classic sports highlights.

Gatorade Celebrates 50 Years of Highlights

There is perhaps no brand more synonymous with sports than Gatorade. For the last half-century, Gatorade has been a staple of baseball dugouts and football sidelines around the world. It’s rather fitting that the brand chose to celebrate its 50th anniversary with a highlight reel of timeless moments in sports history.

The 60-second video ad counts up from one to 50, tying each number to a moment from the last five decades in sports history. From Derek Jeter’s No. 2 jersey to the San Francisco 49ers dumping Gatorade on Super Bowl-winning coach Bill Walsh, each moment resonates well with its chosen number.

The spot accomplishes something that Gatorade has always excelled at – emphasizing the beverage’s close relationship to athletic competition. Gatorade was invented in 1965, with the specific purpose of better hydrating athletes. The brand is smart to keep that narrative front and center.

I always appreciate when a campaign has a logical through-line from product to pitch. Superstar athletes promote all sorts of products, but it’s more impactful when the product is something they legitimately use on a daily basis.

My one gripe with this spot is that – from start to finish – Florida Gators football players count along with the series of highlights. By the time they got to 15, I was more than ready for that audio to fade out. By the time they reached 50, I was practically screaming, “Enough already!”

That one complaint aside, Gatorade’s 50th anniversary ad is unquestionably a success. I still won’t likely be drinking one anytime soon (I don’t need as much sugar as football players do…), but how many people really read the labels anyway?  Not to mention that Gatorade has never passed my lips.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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Bud Light Plans New ‘Mixx Tail’ Flavored Beers

Anheuser Busch InBev is planning a new Bud Light line extension – flavored beers called ‘Mixx Tail.'”

Anheuser Busch Mixx Tail

A-B InBev is continuing their quest to make flavored beers socially acceptable. Not satisfied with just one Bud Light-branded line of wine coolers, the company is rolling out Mixx Tail. The new line will feature nondescript flavors like Hurricane and Firewalker, along with a traditional Long Island Ice Tea flavor. Because the world needs yet another “hard iced tea.”

The goal here must be to join forces with the existing Bud Light Ritas line, thus cornering the market on not-beers. Clearly, A-B InBev is hoping to lure those darned indecisive millennials, who can never choose whether they want a beer or a cocktail.

Enter Mixx Tail, a product that allows them to have both a beer and a cocktail simultaneously, eliminating the need for decisiveness. (Which, when you think about it, is the exact same marketing strategy behind Bud Light Ritas.)

I’ve always referred to these types of beverages as wine coolers. The rebranding to “flavored beer” is definitely a smart move, because there is absolutely nothing cool about drinking a wine cooler. Therein lies the rub with all these products – at heart, these are still wine coolers we’re talking about.

The bottom line, in my opinion, still comes down to the same problem as Bud Light Ritas. A-B InBev is going to have to do a whole lot of convincing to get any millennial to view a Mixx Tail Hurricane as anything different from the bottle of Bartles & Jaymes their great-aunt drank at the family reunion.

Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts

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Radio Shack Getting Strange With Weird Al

Radio Shack is expressing its strange side, enlisting Weird Al Yankovic as the company’s new spokesman.

Radio Shack is expressing its strange side, enlisting Weird Al Yankovic as the company's new spokesman.

Weird Al Yankovic’s career renaissance started earlier this year with the surprising smash-hit album, “Mandatory Fun.” (I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know he was still making music until I started hearing buzz for his new record.) Now, Radio Shack is hoping to ride Weird Al’s coattails to a holiday sales bonanza.

In classic Weird Al form, he has taken the song “Babes in Toyland” and re-written it with his own signature satirical lyricism. I had a good laugh when Weird Al told the customer that Radio Shack has gifts for anyone – “even cousin Bob who’s 43 and lives at home.”

Let’s face it, Radio Shack needs to do something to increase their visibility in the market. When I saw the new ad, I tried to think of the last time I had been to a Radio Shack. It was only some time later that I remembered that I drive right past one every single day, driving to and from work. I have never been inside the store, despite passing it ten times a week.

Radio Shack has seen its market footprint shrink considerably, in the face of competition from big-box electronics stores, as well as e-commerce. I can’t be the only one seeing the irony in an electronics store with an outdated image calling upon an entertainer from the ’80s to push their brand.

The spot itself almost feels like a skit from Weird Al’s 1989 cult classic film “UHF.” This ad would have fit right in alongside that film’s fake ads, such as the unforgettable “Spatula City.” The reason this new Radio Shack spot works so well is that you can tell Weird Al wrote the lyrics. He’s not singing some brand manager’s lines, and that’s refreshing.

My walking into a Radio Shack is another store.  Let’s not go there.

Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts

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John Wall Sees Too Far Into The Future In Foot Locker Ad

In a new 70-second ad for Foot Locker, Washington Wizards guard John Wall gets a prophetic look into his future – and doesn’t like everything he sees.

John Wall Sees Too Far Into The Future In Foot Locker Ad

In a hilarious new spot, Foot Locker casts NBA star John Wall as a man who learns a bit too much about his own future. Referring to it as “The Process,” Wall’s friend tells him that – now that he has his own signature shoe at Foot Locker – his destiny awaits him.

This destiny includes becoming an all-time legend on the court, having his number retired, and opening a pretty awesome chicken-wing restaurant. It also includes being fleeced by his accountant and losing it all…before the release of Wall’s new “retro shoe” at Foot Locker revives his life.

The old adage, “It’s funny because it’s true,” fits this spot perfectly, as the future predicted by Wall’s friend is all too common among ex-pro athletes. The casting is commendable as well. Wall is a natural in front of the camera, easily holding his own with the professional actors in the spot.

The 70-second ad, created by BBDO New York, definitely takes some dark turns along the way, but Wall’s performance keeps it light. My favorite moment is when future-Wall, complete with a beer belly and a bad tie, does a local car commercial – a staple of hilariously bad pro-athlete endorsements. (This legendarily awful spot starring the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder is a perfect example.)

It helps that I actually like the shoes, as well. In contrast to the gaudy designs most other players choose, Wall’s kicks look like something a normal person would actually wear. All told, I can’t think of anything I dislike about this spot – and if you know me, you know that’s saying an awful lot!

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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Surprise, Surprise: Burberry Targets Rich White People

In a move that is sadly not a surprise, Burberry’s new ad is an exercise in excess aimed at rich white people.

burberry

Burberry’s official statement on their new video spot says, “The Burberry festive film is inspired by the golden age of cinematic musicals.” Okay, I’m with them so far, as this does aesthetically hearken back to the Hollywood musicals of the 1950’s. Then: “It tells the tale of a young couple falling in love, against a theatrical backdrop of London.” Poppycock, I declare!

So you can save yourself four-plus minutes, I’ll tell you what really happens. This is not some epic love story. There’s not even really a coherent narrative to speak of. The entire runtime consists of fur-coat clad dancers frolicking in the snow, with David Beckham’s son running around for absolutely no discernible reason.

The music sounds like a bad, raspy Coldplay wannabe (which I assume to be the British corollary to a Nickelback clone). The visuals are impressive, but they never change. This would probably work pretty well as a 30-second spot, but at four-plus minutes it’s simply self-indulgent nonsense.

Near the end of the spot, Beckham shows up wearing a hideously shiny, floor-length gold jacket that only James Brown could ever dream of pulling off. Speaking of James Brown…

Can we talk about this spot’s race issue? Among the dozens of dancers, I spotted one black man, who appears in the background of three shots throughout the spot’s nearly four-and-a-half minute runtime. Every other person is as white as the fake stage snow they’re dancing in. Burberry may as well have added the tagline, “Clothing for wealthy white people.” That’s not a message I’m comfortable with in 2014.

If you like your advertising to be elitist, race-exclusive, self-congratulatory garbage masquerading as art, “From London with Love” is for you. (The sad part about all this is that part of me thinks Burberry absolutely nailed their target market.)

Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts

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KFC Serves Brotherly Love with Fans

KFC is now serving some brotherly love with their new fans campaign, complete with a side order of brownies.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA writes about how KFC Serves Brotherly Love with Fans

As if the Colonel himself isn’t wholesome enough for the brand, KFC is hoping to warm (or clog) the hearts of it’s target demographic with a heart-wrenching new ad.

Fans is salty story of two young, Scottish footballers, (and not the kind that make headlines for repeatedly “trying to get things right”), rooting for opposing teams. It’s kicked off by a sing-songy, maternal voice calling “Callum” to get ready for the game, juxtaposed with Callum’s brother doing a similar routine but with his father. Subsequent shots outline the two boys heading separately to the stadium, followed fan reactions of the game’s highlights. When all is settled, Callum is left with his head in his hands, his mother consoling him, as his brother and father approach KFC. It isn’t until nearly a minute into the commercial that the camera finds the famous red letters, the Colonel’s smiling face and trademark spectacles. And now thanks to the help of ad agency BBH London, the campaign goes for the sales close….

Meet the closer: KFC’s new brownie bucket. Aah, young kids player soccer, some tears and then the Colonel comes to the rescue with a bucket of goodness. Daddy’s home. And the crowd goes wild.

Apparently while aggrandizing his secret fried chicken recipe, Colonel Sanders was also an avid baker. Why each item has to come in a bucket remains mysterious – but hey, at least one guy found a great use for it after finishing his multi-thousand calorie meal.

Unfortunately, I don’t eat things that come in buckets.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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Morris the Cat Purrs With Wearable Technology

Morris the Cat is now purring with wearable technology for 9Lives.

Morris the Cat Purrs With Wearable Technology

The feline mascot has made a comeback in ads for 9Lives. But this time he world’s most finicky cat is not snubbing cat food. He’s donning wearable technology.

Agency EVB features Morris in “Cat’s Eye View”. Morris tries on smart-cam glasses and invites you to join him on a journey around the house.

The website has you shadow Morris doing all the typical exciting things a cat does throughout the day like watching goldfish and unraveling toilet paper. The catch is that throughout the game, you can receive prizes like coupons for 9Lives or a downloadable poster of Morris wearing his wearable technology.

In a creative attempt to make 9Lives cat food and Morris the Cat relevant again, following grumpy Morris around the house with wearable technology is just as bland as it sounds.

While targeted at pet lovers of all ages (me excluded), EVB designed Cat’s Eye View to be natively mobile to introduce younger people to the cat serving company by following Morris on their smartphones, tablets and desktop computers. Morris, who has been 9Lives’ mascot for nearly 50 years, is no stranger to social media and technology: The star of 50 ads (and two feature films) has a Facebook page with 250,000 Likes, and he has used it to publicize his 2012 presidential bid (his second) and ongoing pet-adoption program, Morris’ Million Cat Rescue, which was designed by Smith Brothers Agency. Earlier this year, EVB created the first feline online-funding platform, Catstarter, for Big Heart Pet’s Meow Mix brand.

Cats creep me out. I’m into the fact that Morris is a high-brow. But he has fur and four legs. Sorry, I can’t deal with anything that has legs and fur.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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Real Companies Hire Fictional Agency in “Buy This!”

In Finnish sitcom “Buy This!,” real companies work with the show’s fictional ad agency.

Buy This

An unusual collaboration is brewing between TBWA Helsinki and FremantleMedia, the company that produces “American Idol” and “America’s Got Talent.” The two companies have combined forces to create a sitcom called “Buy This!,” with TBWA Helsinki creating ad campaigns and Fremantle writing/producing the 30-minute episodes.

What gives this sitcom a swanky twist is that “Buy This!” features real brands – including Nissan – hiring the show’s fictional agency to create ads. (Product placement on TV has come so far since the good old days of a box of Cheerios sitting conspicuously on the edge of the counter!) So far, “Buy This!” appears to be a hit, as it is performing well in the all-important Sunday primetime slot on Finland’s biggest network.

It’s hard to see how this collaboration could be anything less than a win for all players. The brands get extensive exposure to the audience of a popular sitcom. TBWA Helsinki gets to flex their creative muscles for brands with which they (largely) are not currently associated. Fremantle, for their part, does what they usually do – reap the rewards of a successful television program.

The project is especially cool for each show’s featured brands. The reason I say this comes from a quote from the vice president of TBWA Helsinki’s innovation unit, Juha-Matti Raunio. Raunio says:

“The format allows you to let loose, and gives you the courage to experiment more, and create a new kind of campaign. We’ve tested new ideas like looking at what would happen if you sell a brand to women instead of men.”

The benefit to the brand here is enormous. The ability to test-market new audiences with little to no risk is a no-brainer, and explains why the first season features 10 of the top 15 advertisers in Finland. As long as the show continues to garner ratings, “Buy This!” will provide heightened visibility for TBWA Helsinki and Fremantle, not to mention the brands featured on each episode.

Good job guys!

Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts

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Eleven Has Flown the Coop with Virgin Airlines

Eleven in San Francisco has flown the coop with Virgin Airlines.

Virgin Airlines

Together, they have taken flight with a super strange, Warholian Web film depicting the experience on a typical rival carrier during a log flight from Newark to San Francisco.

Have you been flying BLAH Airlines? That’s the conceit of one of the more absurd advertisements in recent memory—Virgin America’s six-hour-long, mind-numbingly boring look at what airline travel shouldn’t be.

The Web-flm is downright creepy and extremely boring. In fact if you can’t stand average airline travel, you probably won’t be able to sit through the first five minutes of this nonsense. ,

The commercial is somewhere between pop art and insomnia aid: it’s Enter the Void on an airplane, a soporific but well-crafted condemnation of banal conversation and quotidian annoyances.

I’m having none of this film. First of all, the mannequins just creep me out. Secondly Eleven is just trying way too hard to get a cult classic. Come on, Rocky Horror has entertainment value. No one is going to watch 5 hours of this “airline horror film”.

I will say that if they had condensed this into a few minutes it could have been funny and somewhat worth watching. But they didn’t ask me for help.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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