Nike Embraces the Cold with ‘Choose Your Winter’ Campaign

Nike is encouraging consumers to embrace the cold, launching their ‘Choose Your Winter’ campaign to push a new line of winter activewear.

Nike Embraces the Cold with 'Choose Your Winter' Campaign

Nike’s not afraid of winter, and you shouldn’t be either. The brand’s new campaign – created by Wieden + Kennedy – juxtaposes a faux-meterorologist’s gloom-and-doom forecast with athletes casually going about their business in the frigid outdoor air.

Nike clearly spared no expense on this ad, hiring Hollywood character actor Chris O’Dowd to play the weatherman. The spot is also loaded with cameos from famous athletes, including Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson and Clint Dempsey.

While the dichotomy between the deadly weather report and the comfortable, Hyperwarm-clad athletes is worth a chuckle, the joke has run its course by the time 60 seconds are up. The most effective part of the ad for me was the seemingly tacked-on final 15 seconds.

In the ad’s epilogue, the only sound is the occasional honking of car horns, as a jogger speeds past a traffic jam on a snowy day. The tranquility of the silence – and the beautiful imagery of the cityscape looking over a river – makes the jogger’s situation more inviting than those stuck in traffic.

Sure, they may be warm and comfortable in their cars, but so is the jogger as he glides by in his Nike Hyperwarm gear. Winter’s not slowing him down. That’s pretty much the idea behind this entire campaign, yes? I’d like to see this coda released as a stand-alone ad, but maybe that’s just me.

Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts

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Hemingway Foundation Condenses Novels Into Instagram Videos

The Ernest Hemingway Foundation has released a series of 15-second Instagram videos based on the writer’s works.

Hemingway Foundation Condenses Novels Into Instagram Videos

Ernest Hemingway likely isn’t at the front of most Instagram users’ minds, unless they’ve been assigned one of his books in English class. In an effort to drum up interest in Hemingway’s novels among the social network’s youthful user base, the Ernest Hemingway Foundation has condensed several of his books into 15-second videos.

Now this is some clever stuff. Whether or not this all leads to millenials embracing Hemingway is anyone’s guess, but these brief videos are highly entertaining. The animation looks great, and the stripped-down stories are quite funny.

My favorite is “A Farewell to Arms,” in which the tragic romance between Frederic and Catherine is boiled down to three brief exchanges of dialogue. (Catherine’s deadpan “I’m going into labor and dying” had me in stitches.)

For Whom the Bell Tolls” likely does the best job of creating interest in the source material, selling Hemingway’s Spanish Civil War tale as an intriguing adventure story. “The Old Man and the Sea” is the least-successful of the three adaptations. It still elicits a chuckle, but I’m not sure who would ever want to read the book after watching the Instagram video.

This campaign is an exceptionally clever move on the part of the Hemingway Foundation. I can’t think of a much better way to make books from nearly a century ago relevant in 2014. As for me personally, I don’t think these videos will drive me back to the bookshelf to catch up on my Hemingway. However, I did just read his entire Wikipedia page, so that’s got to count for something.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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Wix Spending Millions for Cheap Web Design

Israeli web-design company Wix is spending millions of dollars on a Super Bowl ad, in an effort to heighten visibility for its dime-store service.

Wix

The irony here just slaps you in the face. Wix, the hilariously inept web-design company, will spend about $4.5 million on a Super Bowl spot to advertise their cheapskate, no-frills service. This news feels roughly equivalent to a Syfy Original movie receiving the advertising push of “Avatar.” Imagine if your local grocery chain suddenly started spending millions to advertise their knockoff store-brand Triscuits. (There’s the analogy I was looking for!)

Wix is essentially SquareSpace for people who can’t afford SquareSpace. It’s Geocities for the 21st century. It’s Blogspot for people too dumb to realize other sites offer the same tools for free. It’s “Web Design for Dummies” for people who don’t read books. Yet, here they are, buying a freaking Super Bowl ad, like it’s time to sit at the big kids’ table or something.

Well, I’ve got news for you, Wix. You can’t just buy your way into a spot at the big kids’ table and expect people to suddenly take you seriously. Furthermore, Wix says this is the start of a “far more aggressive campaign.” How do you get more aggressive than advertising during the Super Bowl?

Are they going to start paying people to tattoo “WIX” on their foreheads? Buy up the naming rights for people’s children? (I have to admit that Wix Davidson does have a certain ring to it, if the price is right.)

Do not get me started about a powered by Wix logo.

Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts

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Who Needs Stores? E-Commerce Taking Over China

With e-commerce taking over the marketplace, retailers are forgoing physical stores in China.

Who Needs Stores? E-Commerce Taking Over China

In America, Costco is known for their low prices and big-box stores. In China, they’ll still have the low prices. They’re just skipping the part about having a physical store.

In the last five years, e-commerce has grown from 3% to 15.4% of the total retail sales in China. For brands looking to enter the country for the first time, e-commerce provides a low-risk, high-reward scenario that is nearly impossible for retailers to pass up.

Take for example, British fashion retailer Topshop. The brand recently debuted in China, hosting a launch event where guests tried on outfits, or took pictures with London’s famous red phone booths. However, this physical, offline event was anything but. No cashiers were present to “ring up” customers’ orders. Want to buy what you just tried on? Scan it into your smartphone and simply walk away.

China’s combination of exploding rent prices and tough competition for good locations is somewhat unique. For example, Best Buy recently closed all of its brick-and-mortar stores in China. The company was simply unable to engage in competitive pricing while still maintaining physical locations.

While brick-and-mortar retail stores everywhere face stiff challenges from e-commerce, don’t expect major retailers elsewhere to follow the example in China just yet. In America, the Wal-Marts and Targets of the world can still affordably set up shop on a frontage road in the suburbs. (Obviously, under either model, the ‘mom and pop’ retailer is totally screwed.)

However, talk to me in 2025 and I bet I’ll have a different story to tell. E-commerce is the future everywhere. That future is simply arriving faster in some countries than in others.

Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts

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Gatorade Employees Sweat Out It Out

On a quest for wellness, Gatorade is making employees sweat it out. Literally.

On a quest for wellness, Gatorade is making employees sweat it out. Literally.

The Chicago-based sport drink brand is promoting workplace fitness by incentivizing employees to set personal fitness goals. Apparently company executives realized their sugary drinks needed extra exercise to burn off.

The PepsiCo-owned brand is providing a 6-month program for its 150 employees by providing subsidized program costs and access to trainers called G-Feat. The G-Feat plan includes a daily 60-second workout…at the office…with your officemates, making that mid-afternoon cup of coffee expendable.

So every afternoon all of the Gatorade coworkers have the opportunity to get up out of their chair for a minute of squats, planks, or jumping jacks. As if that wasn’t an opportunity for enough embarrassment, the G-Feat program encourages participants to make their goals public by posting them at the office so colleagues can keep each other motivated.

The G-Feat plan allows employees to be put in the consumer shoes. Gatorade executives are hoping training employees might notice a need to drink Gatorade at specific times or have a certain flavor. Either way, I doubt they want them even thinking about drinking a bottle of water. I bet if someone utters the words “Poland Springs”, they are ordered to do a pushups.

I’ll be staying far away from Gatorade HQ. I don’t shvitz with colleagues.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

 

 

 

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Starbucks Delivers Right to Your Desk

Watch out drones, Starbucks will soon begin delivering right to your desk.

Starbucks delivery

Starbucks delivery. Pumpkin spiced lattes right to your mouth, no movement necessary.

In 2015, the coffee giant will launch its new mobile-payment app allowing customers to order without waiting in line. Latter next year, they are plan on making food-and-beverage deliveries in select markets. Delivery will only be available to loyalty-program members though, but who isn’t going to become one after this news?

Starbuck’s CEO Howard Schultz believes delivery and mobile payment will be “E-commerce on steroids”. Forrester Research estimates that the mobile payments market in the U.S. will reach $90 billion by 2017 with restaurants like Taco Bell and Wendy’s already launching their own mobile apps. As if people weren’t staring at their phones enough.

By adding mobile payment and delivery, Starbucks is totally quenching consumer thirst for new technology. But this might come with some risks. Many of Starbucks’ drinks are temperature-sensitive. With time for delivery, an iced drink could arrive watered down, and a hot one could arrive lukewarm. And what about the coffee shop culture: the free WiFi, the hipster barista, the quirky name spelling on the cup. Oh, and, my favorite, listening to people place orders.

If only there was a way for Starbucks to deliver intravenously…. Someone tell them to get this idea brewing.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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Planet Fitness Lifts Spirits

Planet Fitness is lifting spirits of gym members and supporting achievements by flexing a community-based campaign.

Planet Fitness is lifting spirits of gym members by supporting achievements by flexing a community-based campaign.

Planet of Triumphs is an online community platform that allows members to tell their personal success stories. The stories range from small feats like making it to the gym for the first time in 10 years to losing over 100 pounds. Umm, today, I successfully went up and down three flights of stairs…but I don’t think that counts.

Visitors to the site, PlanetOfTriumphs.com, will be greeted with a feed of triumphant tales from all across the Planet Fitness community. Then a whole lot of viral following and commenting of others’ posts pumps up the platform like crazy. And of course, the community site is linked to www.PlanetFitness.com for serious SEO juice.

To make sure this thing has some muscle and stamina, all registered members will be eligible to win weekly prizes and the chance to be named “Triumph of the Week.”

Red Tettemer O’Connell + Partners created this clever campaign for the gym chain. They are hoping to win mindshare by preying on a “every achievement deserves to be celebrated” mantra.

But will this get across to the sleeveless t-shirt wearing meatheads who only hold conversations about protein shakes and “getting big”? Probably not.

And don’t get me started about the “I lift things up and put things down guy”.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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Finnish PSA: What If Kids Could Pick Their Parents?

A Finnish public service announcement flips the script on adoption, posing the question of what would happen if children could choose their parents.

PSA

Finland-based children’s charity Fragile Childhood has again teamed up with Helsinki ad agency Havas Worldwide to produce a chilling study on parental alcoholism. The two groups collaborated a couple years ago for a PSA depicting drunk parents as horror-movie monsters. This new spot is less in-your-face, but is every bit as effective.

The ad follows two children as they tour an ‘orphanage’ of parents. They are first shown three sets of ideal parents, before a fourth couple appears, this one drunken and shouting. Of course, children can’t choose their parents, and the kids are forced to accompany their abusive, alcoholic parents back home.

Adding to the spot’s unsettling nature is the quasi-futuristic art design that depicts the ‘parental orphanage’ as a sort of cavernous observation laboratory. It’s quite clearly meant to make the viewer feel a sense of foreignness and discomfort, and it works.

I’m a big fan of these ads for that very reason – they make the viewer uneasy about topics that should make everyone feel that way. Contrast these with American PSAs, which are usually brightly lit affairs stuffed to the gills with celebrities. Which ones do you pay more attention to?

We’ll probably never see PSAs like this in the US, because American PSAs are usually just excuses for famous people to feel good about themselves. The message itself is nearly always secondary. It’s nice to see that isn’t the case everywhere else.

Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts

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Pepsi Uses Sugar and Stevia to Produce Yet Another Diet Soda

Pepsi has yet another diet soda on the market, which uses a combination of both sugar and stevia.

Pepsi Uses Sugar and Stevia to Produce Yet Another Diet SodaPepsi. Coke. Diet Pepsi. Diet Coke. Pepsi One. Coke Zero. Clearly, this hasn’t gone far enough. Pepsi’s new offering, “Pepsi True,” has 30% less sugar than traditional Pepsi, and is marketed as a “mid-calorie” beverage. I suppose the target market here isn’t fat people or fit people, just those with a couple extra pounds to shed, or someone who skipped yesterday’s workout. I guess.

Making things even weirder, Pepsi True is only available on Amazon. Pepsi is following Coke’s lead in many ways here. First, Coke recently launched a “mid-calorie” soda of their own, Coca-Cola Life. Secondly, Coke brought back Surge – an abomination of a soft drink that tastes like Mountain Dew with a rotten egg mixed in – as an Amazon-exclusive a few weeks ago.

Just sit there for a second and let it sink into your head that each Pepsi and Coke now sell three diet sodas each. The part about being Amazon-exclusive isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as Amazon continues to increase its impact on Americans’ shopping habits, especially since the company expanded to include grocery items.

However, the packaging details for Pepsi True are befuddling, to say the least. The beverage will be available exclusively in 24-packs of 7.5-ounce cans, because traditional 12-ounce cans are boring and unhip, I guess. Also, for those of you who live in apartments without the storage space for entire cases of soda, too bad, you don’t get to have any.

Pepsi claims to be targeting Pepsi True at “adults in their late 20s.” Most of the people I know that are under 30 haven’t even bothered switching to light beer or reduced-sodium soup yet. Maybe Pepsi knows better than I do, and maybe your average 27-year-old does feel like his life would be better with a mid-calorie soda in it…but I have my doubts.

I’m done with all this True business.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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Lycra Making Moves to Bring Back Spandex

Lycra attempts to bring spandex into the 21st century with new Lycra Moves campaign.

Lycra Making Moves to Bring Back Spandex

Lycra is showing staunch opposition to fading quietly away into the night like slap bracelets, pogs, and other fads of yesteryear. Instead, everyone’s favorite stretchy fabric that doesn’t breathe at all is back and, assuredly, better than ever.

I will admit that the campaign’s TV spot is quite effective. The Lycra Moves ad shows people dancing their way through everyday activities, as their clothing stretches out and trails behind them. This is both a clever play on Lycra’s flexibility as a fabric, and an impressive aesthetic accomplishment.

On the other hand, I have never understood what the difference is between Lycra and other spandex (Is there a difference?), and this campaign doesn’t change that. Furthermore, I can’t help but think about how the unfortunate souls in the video are likely imprisoned in a skin-tight layer of their own sweat. Do I really need to see women dancing in fabric that doesn’t breathe? I don’t think so.

SapientNITO cranked out this campaign which also includes an interactive website. Scroll just a couple screens to the right on that site, and you’ll see an image of a man – dressed head-to-toe in obnoxiously neon spandex – that looks like it was pulled straight out of a trade publication from 1991.

The company is also targeting new brands specifically at their desired markets, including Lycra Energize, which claims to support wellbeing and wellness. This sounds like the magnetic bracelet of fabrics. I bet it comes with a bonus set of healing crystals.

With the meteoric rise in popularity of yoga pants (which do actually breathe, so I’m told), I guess it makes sense for Lycra to get back into the marketplace. I’m just not sure there’s any demand for the product these days.  Not to mention, just the idea of Lyrca gives me hives.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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