Zipcar: Would You “Tap That” Car-Share?

Zipcar car-sharing service launches three new video ads that encourage consumers to “Tap That.”

“I’d tap that.” While the ‘tap’ in that phrase represents tapping a Zipcar card to unlock the company’s shared vehicles, the Boston-based brand gets a little risque in their new campaign. From old women watching shirtless young men play basketball, to a husband who takes things a little too far for his wife, the ads are very funny.  But of course, I am much funnier.  Just ask.

The spots also work well with Zipcar, as each of the ads makes sure to reference the service’s ease of use and convenience. While a well-executed joke will help any ad, bonus points always go to the spot which ties the joke into the product or service it aims to sell.

Impressively, the ads come from Zipcar’s in-house creative team. I wouldn’t have expected a company like Zipcar to have an in-house creative team, but that’s yet another indication of the brand’s forward-thinking mindset.

One spot, in which a rather large woman claims she’d “tap that just about anywhere,” might be best-suited for late-night air time. As a male co-worker struggles to fit his luggage in the car, the rotund woman asks, “Is it in yet?,” which leads to a conversation about a man’s preference for “big trunks.” It’s funny, but it pushes the envelope quite a bit further than the other spots.

As for my personal favorite, I’ve got to go with the hiking couple who happen across a group of young men with their Zipcar. After the woman proclaims, “We’d tap that,” the man enthusiastically adds, “With them!” The resulting awkwardness earns a big laugh, as no one really knows what to make of the man’s suggestion.

I’m into the ads. The tone is pretty edgy, but it’s played perfectly, and the spots never cross the line of bad taste (though the one with the “eager” fat woman does come close). Kudos to Zipcar for producing legitimately funny material, and in-house at that.  Next time, gimme a call.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA


Lycra Making Moves to Bring Back Spandex

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

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


Coach Hits Up Hip Celebs to Push New Line

Coach has hit up hip celebs to push their new line. The fact that I don’t know many of these hip celebrities is another story.

It’s one of the oldest, and most effective, tricks in the fashion marketing handbook. Want to generate buzz about your new line? Dress up hot young celebrities in your new threads and watch the money roll in.

That’s exactly the strategy Coach is using to push their fall line of handbags. In the new campaign, Coach features striking black-and-white photography of musicians Zoe Kravitz and Banks, as well as actress Odeya Rush, all clutching to their fancy Coach purses.

Coach isn’t limiting this fall push to women, as the brand also features actor Christopher Abbott modeling satchels. As a fan of good photography, I appreciate the dramatic framing and composition of the photos. The shots of Kravitz and Abbott in the rain are particularly effective. Everything’s more dramatic with rain!

I don’t claim to be an expert on women’s fashion, but I’ve got some serious questions about Kravitz’s sweater. I’m pretty sure they stole that from my first-grade teacher. She wore a sweater just like that. Honest question, is frumpy cool now? That would be the ultimate irony.

All told, it’s a reliable, go-to campaign for Coach. There’s lots of overlap in the Venn diagram between consumers who read People magazine and those who follow fashion trends. Putting the “next big thing” celeb in your ads guarantees attention from your target market. I’m still wondering what’s up with that spaceship sweater, though.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA


Starbucks Pours Beer-Flavored Latte

Starbucks is pouring beer-flavored latte. Eew. Totally sounds gross to me.

This new dark barrel latte from Starbucks is an experiment in flipping the script on coffee-flavored beers.

Coffee-flavored beer has existed for ages. Whichever local microbrewery is nearest you likely has some sort of coffee stout. It’s a flavor profile with proven staying power…for beers. How would you feel if the script was flipped, and instead of a coffee-flavored beer, you were drinking a beer-flavored coffee?

That’s the selling point of Starbucks’ new Dark Barrel Latte, which is based on the rather insane concept that people over the age of 22 want beer for breakfast. The beverage – which is non-alcoholic, for the record – is geared to taste like a Guinness-type stout. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want my morning coffee to taste like is beer of any kind.

I was schlepping through grocery store the other day and saw cappuccino-flavored potato chips. Now I see that Starbucks is creating beer-flavored coffee. Can’t we just let things taste like they taste? If I want a mocha, I’ll order a mocha instead of eating mocha chips. Same thing applies to this new beer-flavored coffee. Enough is enough.

I’m officially declaring war on anything that is artificially scented or flavored to taste like a completely different food or beverage. I just don’t get it. Not to mention the fact that I can’t help but wonder what sort of crazy chemistry went into making coffee taste like beer.

Bottom line: If you’re the kind of person who needs your morning kickstarted by the flavor of beer, you probably have a problem that requires professional help. The kind that Starbucks can’t provide.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA


PepsiCo Puts a Mustache on Quaker Oats

PepsiCo has put a mustache on the famous Quaker Oats man thanks to a deal between the PepsiCo-owned brand and milk processors.

The milk-mustached Quaker dude is featured at the end of a new ad in a campaign that includes Quaker’s tagline, “Quaker Up.”

Remember the long-running “Milk Mustache” Got Milk? campaign? Well, that changed to Milk Life in early 2014 to put an emphasis on milk’s nutritional benefits, including its protein content.

The wonders of milk are plugged at the end of a Quaker ad by Energy BBDO, which created the brand’s ads. Mister milk mustachioed Quaker Man will also be in People Magazine with text that says: “My outfit is from 1877. My mustache is from this morning.”

This marks the first time that the Milk Processor Education Program has partnered with a brand that will feature the milk mustache on packaging sold in grocery stores. Sounds there is a war for shelf space and mindshare what with all the other dairy products like tasty yogurt, colorful cheeses and snack bars.

The ad might help shake some sales. I’m a fan of daily oatmeal. sans milk. Hey, it’s cheaper than metamucil and does the same trick.. Although it doesn’t put hair on my upper lip.

Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts


Kotex Demeans Women and Cats

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

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


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.

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


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 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


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…

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


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.

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