“Pooliticizing” on the streets of California

24 10 2008

In light of the upcoming election, I thought I would discuss the grassroot politicizing that has begun to creep into the advertising mainstream. One “movement” in particular caught my eye as both disturbing and creative. Venice artist, designer and activist Greg Beauchamp decided to take to the streets adorning dog feces with his opinions of John McCain’s proposed policies on the economy,  foreign policy  and how he feels about McCain’s campaign tactics.

Greg Beauchamp - Political Opinion

Greg Beauchamp - Political Opinion

I won’t argue with the creative, albeit unconventional, method Beauchamp chose to get his feelings across to the general public. As a matter of fact, I audibly laughed when I first saw the image of a little pile of dog poo with a mini sign in it.

After I stopped laughing, I realized his method proves nothing but the fact that there are stinky political extremists on both sides. Beauchamp chose to stoop to a new low in political advertising, and however ingenious the idea may be, I find it to be irresponsible both from an environmental and a political standpoint.

From an environmental standpoint he chose to litter the public sidewalks. Some could also argue that his advertising method would encourage others to leave their dog poo behind in hopes that it would be used for future “pooliticizing,” leading to an even larger and potentially stinkier problem. The political standpoint is obvious. Both camps have had their fair share of low jabs, either directly from their camps or from the extremists that have taken to the streets in support of their candidate. This kind of behavior only encourages more of the same from the other camp.

As a designer, I always enjoy out-of-the-box creativity, but this may have gone just a little too far outside of the box for me. After my initial reaction, I was a little disgusted.

What do you think?

Click here to view more pictures of Greg Beauchamp’s “pooliticizing”

Allison Stulpin
Graphic Designer


A Sucker for McDonald’s Monopoly Game

9 10 2008

Every year at about this time, a crazy phenomenon occurs…Monopoly at McDonald’s! I get sucked in! It is VERY unlikely that I will win ANYTHING! And, yet, I go in and buy more McDonald’s food than anyone should, with the hope that I’ll win that $1,000,000! In fact, just today I bought the Big Mac meal…large size, so I could get the Monopoly pieces on the fries, too! One of the pieces I got was Park Place! All I need is Boardwalk, and I’ve got $1,000,000 coming my way! I’m SURE I’ll get it “next time” I’m there! I’m sure of it!

So, this got me thinking…surely I’m not the only sucker for McDonald’s Monopoly game. Otherwise, they would have stopped the promotion year ago. So, I think, “What is it that drives me to this place for decent food, that’s not really good for me, to spend my money with the hopes of winning a million dollars??” And, that’s when it hits me! It’s the dream…the hope…the wish…the once in a lifetime opportunity. What would I do with a million bucks? Who knows! But, man wouldn’t that be cool?

And, what McDonald’s has done so well is taking the simple concept of what used to be played with tear-off pieces and a brochure-sized game board, and integrating it with the web. So, now they make it so you feel like you have twice the opportunity to win. All the game pieces you get at the store have a code that can be entered at www.PlayatMcD.com for a chance to “roll” the dice for a turn on the virtual game board of Monopoly. Outstanding!

Or course, McDonald’s has partnered with FootLocker, Shell gas stations and Coke to offer instant prizes, as well. Once again, making you feel like you just can’t lose!

The PlayatMcD.com web site does a great job of getting you to register, so they gather all your relevant information (I assume they will use that for market data, as well as sending me something at some point).

One thing that’s lacking is web video. There is some sound included on the site, but wouldn’t it be more powerful to actually watch a video of last year’s $100,000 winner telling his story of a pessimistic attitude, how he never thought he’d win, but he kept trying, and after 3 or 4 visits he got that winning piece? Video is such a powerful medium and can say so much with very little. We have been able to integrate video into web sites and have seen some great results. I just think McDonald’s missed out on a huge opportunity to take a great concept one step further.

In the end, they got me! Video or not, I’m hooked. I can tell you what meal and what size to get to ensure you get the best chances/most pieces! Sad! But, if I can just get that one other piece…Boardwalk! I’ll be a millionnaire! Whew! I’m hungry…anyone for McDonald’s??

Matt White

Gold Medal Opportunities

15 08 2008

Allison Stulpin

There is little doubt in my mind that many Americans have spent the last week at work in a blurry-eyed state due to the Olympic games, and who can blame them? With athletes like Michael Phelps, Nastia Liukin, Kerri Walsh and Tyson Gay, it’s likely that if you’re not watching you will be missing the latest record being pulverized or a come-from-behind victory accomplished with a fingertip by the best in their sport.

With all of this viewing comes prime opportunity for advertisers to push their products and peddle their services to the blurry-eyed masses through traditional avenues, but with a twist. While Americans are used to the media blitzkrieg that occurs during special events like the Superbowl and the Olympics, the Chinese are not. Despite being listed in the number two spot for the largest advertising markets, China is virtually untouched by Western product placement, and this makes the Chinese market the gold medal of advertising opportunities.

Dick van Motman, the chief executive of the Chinese division of DDB Worldwide, believes that in order for global companies to succeed they must “reinforce their image; align themselves with the China dream; and align with China entering the world stage.” Pepsi heeded this and seized on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Pepsi began its commercial blitz in China months before the opening ceremonies, and like many advertisers looking to flatter their hosts, Pepsi rolled out its limited edition “Go Red for China” pop cans’ advertisement. While this ad played to the pride of China’s people, it also pushed the product into a fresh market of willing consumers, catapulting Pepsi’s global status as well as its economic projections.

Pepsi was not the only company to heed van Motman’s statement, and a slew of ads have made their debut in a country ripe for this infusion of western-style product placement with a Chinese flare. I have included a few ads below for your viewing pleasure. Happy viewing!

McDonalds  – Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
Coca Cola 2008 Olympic Yao Ming Torch Relay TV commercial
Olympics Visa TV Commercial

The Art of Politics – a la CafePress.com

28 07 2008

If you are an American, you have probably been bombarded with more than your fair share of political propaganda this election season. With all of the political debates, town hall meetings and breaking political news stories, the design of the supporting collateral materials is often largely ignored. This is the case, unless of course you are a designer who works with an assortment of politically minded professionals, all with an eye for political design.

I’ll be honest. It wasn’t until recently that I took a look at how design, specifically t-shirts, drives a political campaign, and this election season has been one of the most interesting, thanks in part to CafePress.com.

CafePress.com empowers its users by allowing them to create, buy and sell customized merchandise online using the company’s unique print-on-demand and e-commerce services. These services allow each storeowner the flexibility to create custom designs or even design on the fly with the potential to substantially increase their profitability. It is this flexibility that opens the proverbial can of worms when it comes to the latest in political t-shirts. Storeowners are given the ability to drive their personal message home to millions of people about a particular candidate, and this means that as an individual, you are no longer hard pressed to find a t-shirt with just the political message you are looking for.

I believe even the hardcore political junkies will have a hard time saying that there is no value in the political t-shirt after viewing the 285,000 political designs and 7,800,000 political products on CafePress.com. Young people in particular are flocking to CafePress.com to choose the perfect political t-shirt so as not to fall behind in the latest fashion trend while keeping a careful eye on how their t-shirt might impact their friend’s views on the upcoming election.

Whether you are a conservative, liberal or somewhere in between there is bound to be the perfect t-shirt for you. Keep in mind, the latest fashion trend is also declaring a message and influencing the political realm like never before. And if this is news to you, it’s time to climb out of your cave and take a look around at the latest fashion trend hitting the streets, as it just may impact who our next leader will be.

Allison Stulpin

Now What?

20 07 2008

Have you seen the TV commercials: two people climbing up a rock cliff, one grabs a rock which causes a huge boulder to break loose. The boulder then falls, as the climbers watch, directly on top of their truck sitting below the cliff. Or a guy is sitting in a coffee shop working on his laptop when a tube of lip stick rolls to his foot. He picks it up and hands it to the woman sitting at the table next to him, only to turn around to realize his laptop was stolen. Each commercial ends with “Now What” and then NowWhat.com.

Any idea what these commercials are for? I didn’t either; so after a year or so of seeing those commercials, I finally decided to check it out. Visit www.nowwhat.com. Great site! And great advertising! Although it took me some time to respond, I’m not the audience. For college students and young professionals, I have to believe this resonated. It’s an ad campaign for insurance giant, State Farm. But, very subtly advertised.

This is a great example of an integrated marketing campaign. TV commercials (I believe I’ve seen outdoor billboards, too) drive traffic to the web site. The web site allows you to play games, sign up for free music, watch videos about (what else) insurance, and they’re even hosting a live steaming music concert with well-known artists in just a few weeks.

The reason I say it’s a “great example” is because it hits several criteria that I think define a great campaign:

  1. It gets your attention. Funny commercials, with a teasing message.
  2. It motivates the viewer to action. Obviously, you’re supposed to go to NowWhat.com
  3. It connects with the audience. The clear audience is 18-25 year olds, beacuse of the use of graphics, music connection and gaming options. I don’t know much about the insurance industry, but I would guess that establishing a relationship early on has to be their goal. I’ve been with my insurance company since I got out of college (it just so happens to be State Farm).

I don’t know how well the campaign has worked. But, I have to believe it’s doing okay, because it’s still in effect at least 12-18 months after I first saw my first NowWhat.com commercial in 2007.

Smart Business or Irresponsible Advertising?

2 07 2008

Allison Stulpin
Graphic Designer

With so many advertisers competing for face time, it’s no surprise that companies would use suggestive advertising to get your attention. However, if you are JCPenney you may be saying, that’s just not our image. Or is it?

At the recent Cannes film festival, an ad for JCPenney won a Bronze Lion award, which in and of itself is a great achievement. However, in this case, JCPenney and its advertising agency, Saatchi and Saatchi, New York, are saying they had nothing to do with it.

JCPenney Ad

For those of you who have not seen the ad, you may be questioning why a large company and an equally talented agency are not claiming this award winner. I was curious as well, so I watched the ad to see what all the fuss was about. To my surprise, the ad was definitely not inline with the wholesome image JCPenney portrays in its traditional advertising venues. My first thought was of the irresponsibility of the ad and the potential impact it could have on the target market.

Although I was initially surprised by this suggestive and irresponsible approach to garnering new clientele, I took a step back and thought about how brilliant this strategy could be for both JCPenney and its advertising agency. Even as the denials fly, this ad is picking up steam across the Internet, creating a buzz like no other. In business terms, this may be the break JCPenney needed to jump start its tween and teen sales, translating into one smart move regardless of who actually commissioned the ad in the first place.

So, is it smart business or irresponsible advertising? You decide.

Camp Rock – Marketing Brilliance, Once Again

24 06 2008

If you have kids (especially girls) between the age of 4 and 14, you probably know what Camp Rock is. For those of you living on an island somewhere without any sense of connection to the media world, it’s the latest marketing success by Disney Channel. Following the hugely successful (twice) High School Musical phenomenon, Disney, once again, hit it big with Camp Rock.

I was completely blown away when I became aware of the first High School Musical a few years ago. I happened to be in the presence of about 35 girls from kindergarteners to seniors in high school when a HSM song came on the radio. EVERY SINGLE GIRL IN THE PLACE started singing this song – so I had to know what it was.

When they told me that it was from the soundtrack of the High School Musical Disney movie and that the movie was a REAL musical, it first took me back to thoughts of Grease! But, I soon realized that this was no Grease. Disney had created a marketing juggernaut with HSM, and then HSM2 (and soon to be released HSM3)! Here’s what was included with the first movie…and I’m probably missing some of the elements:

  • The movie itself – debuted on Disney Channel (and then aired many, many, many times after; and on ABC Family, too)
  • The soundtrack – which just so happened to go on to become the BEST SELLING album of the year
  • The DVD – which includes 2 versions of the movie…one with the lyrics to every song displayed keroke-style and one without
  • The merchandise – WOW, the merchandise…sold everywhere!
  • The solo music careers of several of the movie’s stars (most of which were first timers to this)
  • The interactive web site
  • And so much more…

Then, they did it all over again with HSM2 last year. My then-turning-9-year-old daughter scheduled her August birthday party around the movie and invited several friends over to watch the premier. My wife had burned copies of the soundtrack – which was conveniently made available about 2-3 days prior to the premier – to hand out to all the girls after the party. And, we weren’t the only ones having a party. Just about everyone we know with kids in that age category were either having a party or attending one that night to watch!

SO, that brings me to Camp Rock. The premier was this past Friday night. And, again, people’s schedules were planned around the show. My neices were coming to visit their grandparents, but had to be back home in time for the movie. My own kids were showered and ready to go (without complaining) by the 8:00 start time. Our neighbors were going to a friend’s house to watch. And, do you know what else? My daughter and her friend watched it again the next day (we DVR-ed it of course)!

You can think of Disney whatever you want. But, what you can’t argue with is their extreme sense of marketing success. The best part about it, in my opinion – well there’s actually two things…1) the movies are not bad – meaning they are decent to watch as an adult (I can’t tell you how many times I sat and watched HSM1 with my kids…sadly, I probably know all the words, too!); and 2) the kids enjoy it and are sucked in to the marketing trap that we so boldly create for our own clients on a daily basis. And, I mean “trap” in the nicest way possible. Disney (and The Impact Group) effectively grabs the attention of its audience and creates a response in them. Impressive!

Now, I have to get home to watch Camp Rock again!

Matt White