Boring Features, Bad Dog, Good Volkswagen, Great Advertising

Ahh, Volkswagen, you’ve done it again. VW commercials tend to be hit or miss. And their latest “Bad Dog, Good Volkswagen” is a hit. At least I think so—see what you think:

Just looking at this dog is enough to entertain you, especially with Johnny Cash’s “Dirty Old Egg-Sucking Dog” pulling you through the story. The man in the commercial plays off the dog perfectly—his facial expressions, the way he holds the dog add to the humor of this ad.

This commercial hits the tenets of good advertising. In addition to the humor and the fitting song, above all else, it’s memorable. And that’s really what makes or breaks an ad.

Who wouldn’t remember that dog and the guy holding the dog next to his car to close all the windows. Priceless…and a great way to show the features of your car without being boring.

This commercial is so much better than the “Door Thunk” ones and ranks right up there with the Star Wars kid thinking he starts his dad’s car.

Hit or miss, Volkswagen is definitely creative when it comes to showing off its car features. I can’t think of any other car company showcasing these “boring, but nice to have” features of their car so well.

Can you?

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Yes, Nike, Greatness Has Been Found…in a Gatorade Ad

Greatness has been found, and, no, not in a Nike commercial. Instead, I found it in this Gatorade commercial. Check it out:

“Greatness isn’t given. Greatness is taken—taken in the summer when no one’s looking.”

I wasn’t even watching my TV when this ad came on, but the words made me stop what I was doing and look up.

“Oh no you didn’t!” I thought, “Nike just got burned!”

Yes, I realize the Gatorade ad has been out since July, but I hadn’t seen it until recently—after the Olympics.

If you’re like me—maybe even if you’re not like me—you bristled a little at the “Greatness has been found” campaign of Nike’s I covered after the U.S. Women’s Soccer team won gold at the Olympics and donned those t-shirts.

Even not in the context of that event, the slogan seems arrogant and is missing that “Just Do It” nature that Nike commercials usually are very good at selling.

The “Find your greatness” aspect of Nike’s campaign was better, but Gatorade goes one step further with the intense workout footage and the words in their ad, starring Robert Griffin III, better known as RG3—a man who knows how to work. This man didn’t “find” the Heisman trophy, he earned it. He didn’t find his way to a top draft pick and a starting role for the Washington Redskins—he worked hard and earned it.

That’s why I think Gatorade has struck gold with this ad. You know by now that I’m a fan of great copywriting and, indeed, greatness has been found in RG3’s Gatorade commercial. It’s worth repeating.

“Greatness isn’t given. Greatness is taken…taken in the summer…when no one’s looking.”

So true. Go take yours…um, in the winter. Sorry, summer’s over.

Even Abe Lincoln Likes Google Plus

Screenshot of Hangout with Spielberg, Gordon-Levitt & fans

Tonight, after a busy day, my plans got changed and I ended up home a little before 7pm. Lucky me, I remembered that Google Play was hosting a Hangout with Steven Spielberg and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Marketers, Google+ is the place to be if you want to throw some cool events and interact with fans. This particular event was to promote Spielberg’s upcoming film, Lincoln.

Lincoln movie ad

Five lucky people got to actually ask questions and chat with Gordon-Levitt and Spielberg. Three used their personal computers, while two others joined from Times Square–where the Hangout was also broadcast. (Think possibilities here, marketers.)

We saw the trailer for Lincoln and got terrific insight into the film from both director and actor. Spielberg called it “One of the most compelling experiences I’ve had making a film.” As Gordon-Levitt pointed out, that’s no small statement coming from the legendary director.

And for those of you who don’t normally like historical films (kind of like me), this film seems to have quite a bit of resonance for today. Spielberg was asked what he wants audiences to take away from the film. His answer was to understand “the burden leadership requires,” which is something we often forget.

“The country fell apart,” he added, “and Lincoln had to put it back together.” Much of what he said sounded like things we could say about the state of the country today. Very compelling indeed.

I could go on with my review of what I think looks like a fantastic film, but my point of all this is that many marketers could really use Google+ to their advantage. You can actually talk to your audience–in a fun, casual way.

As Spielberg said:

“It used to be hard to find an audience…It might still be hard to get them to the movie…but it’s easy to start a conversation.”

Marketers, the more conversations you start, the more people get to know, like and trust you (if you’re being genuine and other-centered). Get on Google+, start using the tools there, and be creative in how you engage.

Who knows? Google+ could become your favorite place to hangout. What are you waiting for?

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The video should be available online soon. Check back at Google Play’s Google+ page. As I post this, it says the video is private, so they’re probably still processing it.

Never Forget: A Tale of Two Tuesdays and a Broken Promise

I can’t write about marketing today because it’s Tuesday, September 11th. But in a way, I will be talking about a tagline of sorts—Never forget.

Never forget: A flag, bald eagle and twin towers

It wasn’t meant to be a tagline. “Never forget” was meant as a sentiment…a promise.

None of us will ever forget what happened exactly 11 years ago, when that beautiful Tuesday morning turned to horror in New York, in Washington DC, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

We’ll never forget the heroes of that day—the firefighters and all the rescuers that went into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon when everyone else was running out, the passengers on Flight 93 who decided to stop terrorists themselves, even though they knew they would not make it back alive.

But what we have forgotten is that promise we made to never forget. We weren’t promising to never forget that day. You don’t forget a day like that. We promised to never forget that we are one—one country, one people. “United we stand”—remember that?

Remember that feeling? Remember how politics, partisanship and pettiness disappeared for a little while?

“Never forget” was intended to honor all those who sacrificed that day, all those who came together that day regardless of race, religion or social stature. Our behavior toward each other changed in those days. We pulled together and helped each other out.

Other countries, even some who hated us, held moments of silence and even sang our National Anthem. There was no more clear message that this world really could be one and could act more like it if we could do one thing—never forget.

And yet here we are, 11 years later, captivated and polarized by “news” channels that spew divisive rhetoric and outright lies decorated as truth.

We watched a woman (Nancy Pelosi) be named Speaker of the House, only to proclaim “We won!” Anytime a Congressperson says “We won,” it usually means the people lose. She forgot.

We watched John Boehner take over as Speaker and show off a giant gavel he brought on his first day, promising that his goal as Speaker was to make sure President Obama was not re-elected. He forgot too.

Does that honor those we lost on September 11th?

Pretty much all of Congress, most or all politicians have clearly forgotten the promise we made that day, and many citizens got sucked in and forgot too. Sadly, divided we stand.

Today, forget everyone else for a minute. Think about the way you talk about politics, religion, homosexuality, gender, etc. Ask yourself if you have forgotten that promise.

It’s not too late to revive it you know. How do we honor those who we’ve lost? How do we learn from lessons of our past?

Come together. Put people first. Help each other, don’t tear each other down. United we should stand.

Obviously, we’re all human. We’re not going to be perfect. Just imagine a world—even if it’s just your own little world—in which you live honoring others and never forget. See what you can do to live up to that promise.

It’s not too late. Never forget.

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A special thank you to all who serve—firefighters, police officers, National Guard, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard—you truly deserve more than we give.

The Power of Paralympians Perfectly Expressed

Great advertising can’t always be summed up properly in words—you know it when you see it. The Lloyds TSB-sponsored Paralympics ads are so terrific, I had to share them with you today.

Athlete in wheelchair: 400 Metres in 46 Seconds, Just With His Arms

Bold headlines and graphic manipulation of the photos give a palpable sense of motion and power.

Oscar Pistorius running, headline: Don't Look at the Legs, Look at the Records

Using the most recognizable Paralympics athlete ever is a given. Most of us knew of Oscar Pistorius before he participated in the London Olympic Games. Watching him there probably made more people realize how athletic these “disabled” athletes are. This ad campaign pushes people to realize even more the excitement and power in the Paralympic Games, hopefully drawing in more of an audience.

Woman on horse: Making a Horse dance Isn't Easy. Without Legs It's Almost Impossible

You know I’m a fan of good copywriting, and these headlines are fantastic! Not only are they intriguing and entice you to want to see these athletes compete, but they also point out what you might be missing. Did you notice the woman above on the horse had no legs?

Two judo women: You Can't See It's a Perfect Throw. She Doesn't Need To.

In the above ad, you would’ve had no way of knowing if one (or both) of the athletes is blind–and that’s kind of the point.

Wheelchair athlete playing basketball: Tilt at 46 Degrees You're a Hero. Tilt at 47, It's Game Over

How perfect is that? I hope you were as impressed by these ads as I was. They made me want to see more, and that truly is a sign of great advertising.