Apparently, the combination of 6 attractive men dressed in tuxedo tops and boxers, playing jingle bells by shaking their butts and their… bells, doesn’t make everyone laugh. Kmart’s recent “Show Your Joe” Joe Boxer Christmas commercial features just this. And for such a simple commercial, there sure has been a lot of controversy.
Why? Because Kmart is a family friendly brand, and is causing concerned parents to lash out because they feel this material is too “disgusting” for their children to watch. But Kmart is used to this reaction by now and doesn’t seem to care. Their past 2 commercials this year (“Ship My Pants” and “Evil Boardroom”) had very mixed reviews—causing both to go viral. And Kmart does not intend to take “Show Your Joe” off air, alluding to their strategy of producing edgy commercials that result in buzz and word of mouth marketing.
So what do you think? Is it bad for a brand to step away from its traditional consumer audience (blah)? Or does creating a fun commercial with some sizzle keep consumers interested and draw even more individuals to the brand (ahh)?
IS CHIPOTLE ON A ROLE? OR ON A SOAPBOX?
“Health-conscious, sustainable fast food” is a phrase not often heard. But Chipotle, a popular fast food chain, is working to change the way we think about and eat fast food. Their mission, food with integrity, focuses on serving locally-produced food that is “responsibly raised,” meaning no animal confinement, use of synthetic growth hormones, toxic pesticides or antibiotics. The end goal is to raise awareness of the negative consequences of mass food production and lead people to be more health conscious and aware of animal treatment – and of course, to frequent restaurants like Chipotle.
To raise awareness, Chipotle worked with Academy Award-winning company Moonbot Studios to create a film marketing Chipotle’s brand and mission. The main character, a solemn-looking scarecrow, lives and works in a utopian city with large factories and mass produced food. The ominous film presents dark images of the ashamed scarecrow, mechanical crows driving factory labor, and innocent animals getting injected with hormones. On top of this, edgy pop artist Fiona Apple sings a cover of “Pure Imagination”, a happy song that stirs up memories of the chocolate room from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, giving the viewer a strong sense of irony and sadness.
The film spends a majority of the time focusing on the problem statement. In fact, it is not until the last minute of the 3+ minute film that the viewer is presented with images and sounds of happiness and hope. By spending so much time on the problem, the film risks causing the viewer to associate Chipotle with negative feelings. However, it also allows the problem to sink in and makes the viewer aware of how the film’s message affects his/her feelings. Maybe the entire point of the film is to be a PSA. But do most fast food lovers really care about where their food is coming from? This film seems to target those health/environmentally conscious individuals who might convert to fast food, and if this is the case, the dark nature of the film may make their decision not to try fast food easier.
There is no doubt that the film raises awareness and sticks with viewers. But is Chipotle clever for creating a provocative, viral-friendly, PSA-like film to use for their marketing campaign (Ahh)? Or are they shooting themselves in the foot by potentially turning people off with so many negative images and causing the viewer to associate negative feelings with the brand (Blah)?
For most people, it’s not every day you climb a mountain (with a 100 degree slope), strip down to your underwear (in 5 degree Fahrenheit temperatures) and slack line 2500 meters above ground (with only a small rope to stop your fall). In fact, I can bet that for 99.9% of the population, this feat sounds absolutely crazy, nearly impossible and a good way to end up dead. But for French climbers/slack liners Antoine Moineville and Tancrede Melet, this (minus the no clothing part) is just another day in the life.
Paul Smith, fashion designer known for being “playful”, “cool” and doing the unexpected, is featuring these 2 adrenaline junkies, Antoine and Tancrede as the lead underwear models for his Autumn/Winter campaign. The message of the ad is clear: wear this underwear and you too can be a living superhero, defying all natural elements. The tagline “breath comes in short pants” further promotes that you “live more” when wearing this underwear. Nice tagline Paul. But does this match his fashion-forward buying demographic? Or should Antoine and Tancrede’s amazing skills be featured by a company with a better fitting demographic—like The North Face or Patagonia?
Apparently that’s what Smith was going for. In an interview about the ad he notes that he wanted to do something unpredictable, not the typical underwear commercial. Well, this ad nails the unpredictable factor and is not what you see in most underwear ads (think overly muscular men, laying sideways, staring seductively at the camera, with what is probably a sock stuffed down their underwear). Instead of having his audience aspire to be hunky underwear models, he’s looking for them to want more adventure. Maybe he’s even attempting to attract a new audience¬—the outdoor enthusiast.
Most outdoor brands don’t sell men’s underwear, giving Smith a great opportunity to tap into that market. (Hello, R.E.I., are you listening?) But is it possible to go from an iconic men’s upscale fashion brand to one that caters to the rugged outdoor enthusiast through only a campaign and without really changing your product line (Ahh)? Or is it better for brands to stick to what they know best and stay within the realms of their audience (Blah)?
There Is No Escaping Miley
Sorry for bringing her up again, but Miley Cyrus (20) is everywhere these days. At the water cooler, on television, radio, every social media outlet you can think of, and now she is on our Blahg. Miley’s widespread attention is due to her recent infamous 2013 VMA performance, where she wore what some may call an outfit and others may call a small step above nudity and proceeded to twerk on Robin Thicke (36), dance with oversized stuffed animal bears, gyrate with a giant foam finger, not to mention her tongue was sticking out for a majority of her time on stage. Needless to say, this is a performance that will be talked about for a long time, and that seems to be exactly what Miley intended.
Miley’s performance has become a hot topic in the marketing world. The big question is: was her act of what many label as lunacy on purpose? The consensus seems to be yes, especially due to the fact that she released a new single on the day of her performance that quickly reached the top of the Billboard Digital charts. According to Huffington Post blogger Marc Wayshack, in terms of marketing, Miley’s performance was genius. Not only was the show outrageous and different, creating widespread aftershock, she also hit her target spot on — young adult girls and tweens she carries from Hannah Montana.
Miley claims to have outgrown her Disney days and wants to show the rest of the world her new image. But then why is she dancing with stuffed animals? Being overtly sexual doesn’t make you a grown up either and has created backlash from adults who still have purchasing power over their children. But was this element calculated to draw inevitable negative feedback and controversy and thus more attention? It seems that Miley is the one getting the last laugh. Her YouTube views have gone up 53% since the VMAs and she now has 2 top 20 songs on the Billboard Digital Songs chart.
So what do you think? Was Miley’s performance a success and something companies can learn from when wanting to create viral attention (Ahh?) Or will the negative publicity hurt her in the long haul (Blah)?
Go with the Flo?
We’ve all met Flo. She’s the retro clad, bright red lipstick-wearing insurance saleswoman for Progressive. Introduced 5 years ago, Flo is known for her bubbly and enthusiastic persona. However, for some of us (girls), Flo has a very different meaning (one that brings much less happiness into our lives) and we met her way before Progressive’s creation of the icon.
Hello Flo, a company dedicated to sending monthly “period kits”, is changing the way girls experience their first flo. Its newest marketing campaign titled “Camp Gyno”, recounts a young girl’s experience of receiving her flo and compares it to that of receiving a promotion. Besides the cramps, aches and confusing concept of tampons, you gain power, respect and confidence. Getting your flo is (almost) fun!
Camp Gyno has gone viral and there is even buzz that it’s the commercial of the year. BlogHer, a women’s blog, attributes this popularity to the commercial’s genuine, honest and funny nature. Camp Gyno is not afraid to tell it like it is. Words like “period”, “gyno”, and “vagina” are dropped, dolls are violated with ketchup bottles, young girls are moaning, tampons are thrown like confetti; it’s a scene that is rarely seen on commercial television and is refreshing for those who are tired of sugar coated tampon commercials for women. The commercial tackles an awkward issue for young girls and shows them a lighthearted taste of reality.
But let’s face it, the bar is set pretty low when it comes to advertising to women. Girls dancing when they get their periods? Really? In truth, most advertising to women is borderline pathetic. Comedian Megan Amram parodies these mainstream media stereotypes by highlighting the idea that according to commercial marketing, diverse women love to talk about nothing but birth control and yogurt. Yogurt, like birth control, makes you regular and happy. Not only is it condescending towards women (the only important things in life are staying regular) but it also may be creating yet another new negative stereotype.
Though the commercials focus on different products, they are similar in the way they tackle the topic of mainstream marketing and its false creation of what it’s like to be a girl/women. Do you think Hello Flo’s campaign is truly an authentic representation of a girl’s first passage into being a woman and deserves commercial of the year (Ahh)? Or do you think its extreme approach is just a new way of fostering the negative stereotype that women become deranged when they get their period (Blah)?