TV Advertainment: A creative approach to commercials

If I were in charge of choosing the winners for the best, out-of-the-box TV commercials — the kind of ads that choose creativity over literal interpretation — I  would have a very hard time.

Why? More brands are thinking outside the box in terms of TV advertising than ever before thanks to new media and changing audiences. Today, it is so easy to avoid ads on television thanks to streaming services like Netflix and DVR devices. Plus, today’s millennial audience — a very large consumer demographic — is an aware and engaged group of consumers that does not respond well to the in-your-face marketing methods of TV’s past.This has led to a plethora of TV advertainment — that is entertaining advertisements on TV.

Below are three ads that would win awards, at least in my book, for choosing to entertain audiences with a creative story, as opposed to blatantly selling a product.

Third place would go to BMW for its clever new twist on the typical TV ad for an automobile— the BMW X5 commercial featuring the crazy, backseat-driving grandma.

The ad begins with a shot of a car driving down the street and the crazy-haired grandma — who you can barely see in the third-row backseat — telling her son to make a left at the drugstore. He responds that he is already aware this turn because the car’s head up display is providing him with directions. This then sparks the grandma to tell a story of how her mother used to shout, “heads up when she spotted a twister coming across the plains.” The crazy grandma then screams “heads up” and everyone in the car jumps, including the two children in the second-row backseat. Her son tells her that was loud and she explains how that how they did it on the plains because their plains people. Her son reminds her she’s from Queens. The commercial ends by showing another outside view of the car driving down the street and the words “Optional third row seating for back-backseat drivers” appear across the screen. Other than the shot of the car, there is no mention of BMW, making this ad subtle, humorous and easily relatable. After all, don’t we all know at least one annoying backseat driver that we’d love to banish to the third row?

Brand positioning statement: For back-backseat drivers.

Second place would go to Volkswagen for yet another clever rendition of a car commercial featuring humor and old women.

A part of the brand’s Old Wives’ Tales series, the ad “Old Wives Tale #4: Stinky — Three Old Wives Smelt It” features the cantankerous trio of older ladies driving down the street when Mary, the lady in the backseat, yells, “Something stinks!” Josie, the lady in the passenger seat, exclaims that the diesel must be the cause of this unpleasant odor. Terri, the driver, insists it’s not the diesel saying, “the new diesels don’t smell bad.” After some bickering Mary realizes the smell, which she describes as “marinated camel crap,” is Tuna, the famous Internet rescue dog with an under bite. The ad ends with them pulling into the parking lot of a pet groomer to get Tuna a bath and Mary saying, “Hash tag Tuna melts my heart, whatever that means.” In general, this commercial sets out to debunk the Old Wives’ Tale that diesel smells, and does so with a memorable, humorous and entertaining story.

Brand positioning statement: New diesels don’t stink.

Finally, first place, the grandest, most creatively abstract commercial of them all would be awarded to Friskies for Dear Kitten: Regarding the Big Game.

The commercial, which stems from the brand’s clever series of online short films, made its first television debut during the this year’s Super Bowl. Riddled with humor, the ad features the voice of BuzzFeed Motion Pictures’ president, Ze Frank, and centers around two adorable animals — namely a gray, grumpy old cat and an adorable orange kitten. Throughout the 1-minute, four-second commercial, the older gray cat explains game day wisdom on the newest furry member of the house, the kitten.

The film plays humorously on well-known game day stereotypes from a cat perspective, with the elder cat explaining the various parts of the Super Bowl party — costumes (jerseys) wet food (tailgate snacks) and so forth. He also tells the kitten that they have their own game to play, advising him not to hide but to “be aggressive” and jump on the table, run across laps and, in true feline fashion, to knock things over. Finally, the gray cat exposes his secret plan — to block the TV — in order to get a “custom ride to the wet food,” which he believes is the only thing worth competing for. Overall, this example of a commercial that is not literal by creative choice is truly the cat’s meow (pun intended).

Brand positioning statement: Kitty gets what he wants.

Fast Tracking: What are you doing to protect your digital footprint?

Think that your online activity is just between you and your computer? Think again. Between tracking software and social media, your digital footprint is larger than you know. In fact, your every move on the World Wide Web is likely being watched — from the websites you visit to the topics you search and the items you buy online. All of this information is likely gathered without your knowledge and consent, and it’s being used to build a detailed online profile about you.

Creeped out yet?

What is this information used for?
Mostly marketing purposes. Ever noticed how that pair of shoes you Googled the other day is now showing up as an ad on the side of your Facebook page? How about those unsuspecting ads on the top of your Gmail inbox that just happen to be for something you emailed your mom about yesterday?

Known as behavioral tracking, it refers to “the practice of tracking web users (and mobile apps users) on the Internet. Browsing histories, email interactions and website visitors’ behaviors are tracked, collected and stored for marketing and advertising purposes.”

How does this even happen? Cookies — and I’m not talking the Girl Scout variety — on just about every website allow your digital life to be tracked without you even realizing it. Below is an info-graphic that illustrates the results of an in-depth analysis on the prevalence of behavioral tracking.


What does this mean for consumers?
Behavioral tracking is used mainly for marketing purposes, but poses a serious threat to everyone. Financial institutions, employers, landlords, criminals and so forth can potentially obtain this information and use it against you. Why? Because there are currently no limits in place to control what is collected, how it is stores and with whom it can be shared.

How to keep your digital footprint in check.
There are several things consumers can do to protect their information online. If you are diligent and maintain the following, you are less apt to be victimized in digital world.

  1. Maintain good password hygiene. This means pick unique passwords (think letters, numbers, symbols, etc.) for every online account — do not use the same password over and over! Yes, it may be harder to remember multiple passwords, but they are also hard for hackers to figure out. Also, change your passwords often — at least once every six months.
  2. Install a security/anti-virus program on your computer and use it!
  3. Pay attention to security upgrades. Virus protection isn’t enough, as sophisticated hackers are always creating new ways to get around popular security software, so installing updates — preferably as soon as they are sent to you — is ideal.
  4. Don’t be stupid! If you get an email from someone you don’t recognize, don’t open it. Also, don’t click on mysterious links or download attachments from those you don’t know. Likewise, never share your personal information, such as bank accounts and passwords — trust me, that form in your inbox requesting this information isn’t from your bank! Also, As in real life, the virtual world is filled with good and bad neighborhoods. Stick to the good and avoid the bad, such as gaming and porn websites.

And, when it comes to social media…
Consumers need to heed the Federal Trade Commission’s advice and not over-share (I know, this can be difficult for some). Posting too much on social networking sites can allow hackers to figure out the answers to password-protected online accounts, which means they can potentially gain access to valuable information such as bank accounts.

Likewise, share as little information as possible about yourself and your family to keep others from knowing too much about you. That means think twice before sharing that video of your little ones or utilizing location services on your mobile device and checking into a place on Facebook and other social sites. After all, you don’t what predators knowing where you live (or where you are at any given moment), places you visit frequently and when you’re not home, do you?

The Social Strategery: Share your bad brand self

Cold truth: 74% of online adults use social networking sites.

Cold, hard truth: 71% of these online adults use Facebook.

That’s a lot of people sharing, liking, tagging, following, stalking… you get the picture.

So in a sea of social, how does one make a brand stand out from crowd and really reach consumers? I’ve been doing a lot… I mean A LOT… of research on this very topic over the last week. What I discovered was a mixed bag of opinions, facts and so forth on the value and tactics of Facebook marketing. Some find that it isn’t worth a sack of potatoes to brands, while others find it is still important to have a presence on the top social network.

After more digging, I came up with a list of the top three ways brands should be using Facebook for successful marketing:

  1. Facebook should only be one part of an integrated marketing plan.
    From social sites and blogs to mobile apps and traditional advertising, today’s media landscape is in a constant state of change. Between updating posts, sharing digital content and distributing online videos, it can be easy for brand messages to become mixed. How does a company manage to maintain a strong brand identity both in the virtual and physical world? With a comprehensive integrated marketing communications plan that includes both a digital/social and print media component to help establish a cohesive brand image off screen.
  2. Talk to consumers on Facebook; don’t sell to them.
    Did you know that only 5% of Americans say social media impacts their purchasing decisions? Therefore, in order for brands to have success on Facebook, they must use it as consumers do — to connect and have conversations. Instead of pushing sales, brands need to post content that reflects their character — who they are (i.e. behind-the-scenes posts), what they stand for, etc. In other words, let the “voice” of the brand speak. Doing this will foster brand loyalty as consumers will relate better to, and feel like they are a part of, the pr-gallup-influence
  3. Listen to consumers, and respond, around the clock
    The Internet and social media are active 24/7, which means brands need to be ready and willing to respond to consumers at all times. Why? Consumers expect immediate responses via these instant mediums; in fact research shows 42% of consumers expect a reply within 60 minutes of posting to a brand’s page.

How do you interact with brands you like on Facebook? Does this interaction influence your purchasing decisions?