SXSW starts today and if yesterday was any indication, brands will have the biggest presence ever at the five day interactive conference in Austin. Historically, the gathering has always been for uber geeks and super techies but in the past few years brands have taken an increased interest in SXSW and what it has to offer. Which is a lot. From content, to connections to thousands of impressionable souls, the geekfest is, well, no longer a geekfest. Rather, it's become an full blown marketing event. And not just an industry event either. It's a chance for brands to get in front of actual consumers.
A stroll through the Austin Convention Center and surrounding areas made it clear, the conference is no longer a conclave for widget heads. Oh, they're all still here...and grumbling about the "invasion" of "marketing people" but they, perhaps for good, have been silenced by the deafening size and scope of an increasing number of brands who have decided to stake a claim here in Austin.
From Sony to Samnsung, to Chevrolet to Pepsi and many, many more, the ACC and surrounding areas have been plastered with some of the most elaborate brand statements we've ever seen. Yes. SXSW is no longer the geekfest it once was. And as we've said, it's been heading away from that cute little anachronism for some time now but this year, well, this year the brands have taken over every last square inch of Austin.
This guest article is written by The Hours CEO Fabien Moreau and addresses the importance of using musicians in campaigns and how that approach can help build brands and sell their products.
There's been a significant up-tick in the number of well-known recording artists lending their names, music and public persona to brand-name designers' promotional campaigns. And while the strategy can be lucrative and beneficial for both parties, such a match requires mutual respect for and understanding of the value each brings to the relationship.
From Lady Gaga to The Ting Tings and Lou Reed, musical artists have begun lending their talent and image to the promotional efforts of luxury brands in ways never before seen in the marketing industry. Beyond the traditional concept of celebrity endorsement or paid spokesperson status, today's musical marketing marriages bring a much deeper level of creative influence to the message and the campaign.
As is true with movies, art and any other form of creativity, a classic can never really be re-invented. Oh it's not that they aren't continuously re-invented . It's just that when they are, the results is usually much less than stellar and a sad knock off of the original.
We wouldn't entirely say Wieden + Kennedy's continued work for Old Spice was heading down that path but, really, has any of the agency's work for the brand been as inventive and as inspiring as the original? We think not. But we aren't necessarily complaining either. Why?
Not the kind of analogy we ever thought we'd make but every day American Apparel is becoming more and more like GoDaddy. And visa versa. Not just in the sense both use sex to sell, rather, they both obsessively push the same boundaries over and over again.
For over half a decade GoDaddy has been mocking America's puritanical views regarding nudity. And American Apparel has been pushing the jail bait button for just as long. But more recently the fashion label has been focusing more on the use of blunt nudity to sell.
The most recent campaign from American Apparel has a model pimping the brand's Nylon Tricot Suspender Swimsuit, a swimsuit barely capable of concealing the upper regions of a woman's body. Which, of course, is why this campaign - full of full on toplessness - makes perfect sense. After all, a woman should know what's she's buying and if the upper part of her suit isn't big enough to cover her breasts she ought to know that going in.
Which, we guess, is to say this campaign from American Apparel is spot on.
Sophia Vergara, star of Modern Family and inhabitant of a 34DD-28-39 curvaceous body, can be seen in a new ad for Diet Pepsi's new Skinny Can, some sort of twisted ode to the fact the can of chemicals will make you skinny just because the can is skinny.
In the ad Vergara's less that skinny upper body parts have been minimized by photographic angle and a freakish shoulder placement. Because, after all, women with big boobs aren't skinny. They/re top heavy. And top heavy is bad when it comes to our current culture's definition of rail thin beauty.
Some argue the ad contributes to harmful stereotypes about women's body image. We say it's simply the twisted notion that somehow big breasts equal slut and that no woman with big breasts could possibly be taken seriously simply because of the shape of her upper body. To that, we say utter nonsense.
WTF is wrong with people? Have they nothing better than to complain about innocuous moments in commercial which, if you ask any normal person, are just plain funny? Have we all lost our sense of humor? Our ability to laugh at a joke? Are capability to interpret slapstick humor? Do we need the Three Stooges to come back to life and give our society a collective slap upside the head?
In a move that is absolutely incomprehensible to us, people have actually complained about the FAKE baby DOLL being thrown against the window in the HomeAway commercial causing CEO Brian Sharples to issue - and this is another bone we have to pick - a lame ass apology.
We'd like to be able to say there was a standout winner amongst the ads in this year's Super Bowl but we really can't There were several we liked, though, and several we hated. We, like many others, enjoyed Volkswagen's The Force commercial in which a small boy dressed like Darth Vadar attempts to use the force on objects around the home including his father's Passat. Of course, the boy can't make His Force do anything. That is until Dad, unbeknownest to the boy, flips the remote leading to boy to think The Force has finally worked.
We liked the Motorola Xoom commercial which riffed of Apple's 1984. The ad did a nice job poking fun at Apple's minions and their cult-like following. In a way, the little love spark between the man and the women in the ad was more like Motorola's attempt at saying "can't we all just get along" rather than their intentioned notion the Xoom will separate you from the pack. Either way, the commercial was engaging and was a nice attempt to set the Xoom apart from the iPad.
This pre-Super Bowl guest post comes from John Follis, president of Follis Advertising LLC.
Last year, Pepsi did something it hadn't done in 23 years. It chose not to run a Super Bowl spot. Instead, it took the $20 million that it spent on the previous year's game and spent it on a social media driven contest. With a blend of philanthropy, guerrilla branding, and PR the Pepsi Refresh contest invited people to submit their ideas and compete for votes to win grants ranging from $5,000 to $250,000.
Was it successful? Did it help increase sales? "The Pepsi Refresh Project was not a sales driven program" said Shiv Singh, head of digital for PepsiCo beverages America, "It was designed to build brand awareness...cultivate a long term relationship with consumers...(and) build brand health. We look at brand equity, brand health and sales - and we have seen movement in all of them."
Oh look. It's parkour in yet another ad campaign. Leave it to the ad industry to latch onto a trend and beat it to death. Beer babes? Done. Matrix-style camera swing? Done. The Verizon Dumb Dad? Done. Use of popular pop song? Done. Cavemen? Done. Chimpanzees? Done.
Now we can add parkour to the latest overused tactics in advertising. This time around it's Epson, courtesy of Albion, which is promoting its new EB-170 Series ultra-light portable projectors.
The commercial features "free-running" (the new buzzword affixed to parkour) talent Sam Parham and Chase Armitage, one carrying the Epson EB-1775W and the other carrying a competing product. Their mission is to deliver the projectors, stowed in backbacks, to a rooftop presentation several blocks away. Epson, of course, wins.
One really has to wonder what goes the mind of a creative when the result is a poster like this one for Sephora. And let's not forget the minds of the people who approve the work as well. Either they are oblivious to the "other" meaning of imagery such as this or they can't help but celebrate the dirty little thoughts which float about their mind and wallow in the sadistic pleasure of watching this work make its way through the approval process.
Six years ago, Vodafone ran an ad that, to some, carries the very same connotation as this Sephora poster. As we wrote back then, the the visual in the Vodafone ad was "an expression of joy following receipt of a certain climatically delivered thrust of Christmas excitement."
How would we describe this Sephora poster? We're not sure but it's clear to us this is definitely not a representation of how most women would apply lotion to their face. Especially a quart's worth of gooey white stuff while their mouth is wide open. That is unless they are in a certain line of work which lauds this sort of behavior with praise, fame and money.