Thursday, February 24, 2011

Poltical Attack Ads and Polls, and a Guest Blogger

The Globe & Mail recently released an article titled "Tory attack ads pack a punch that leaves Liberals reeling". The article describes recent polls which show the Conservatives making gains and Liberals dropping, ostensibly due to recent attack ads aimed at Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. Here is one of the ads in question, which I'm sure most have seen.

First off, this is not a political blog. So I am going to allow my friend Nathan Nagy from "Tacking into the Blue" summarize the current political climate (full post here):

Canadians would appear to be in a pessimistic mood as of late. Perhaps the mood of the nation can be attributed to the economy, gas prices or the never-ending winter. Whatever the case may be, the current Tory attack ads seem to be working. Canadians, unlike our Americans neighbours, have historically reacted negatively to political attack ads, however the Tories have properly sensed the pulse of the nation. I would [also] mention that political polls are almost never correct. There are so many variables to consider that skew the final data. The time of day, age category, and region of those asked, all play into the final results of political polling.

So why are these particular ads seemingly succeeding where historically they have failed here in Canada? The Globe makes an astute point that they are the only political ads on TV right now since we are not in election season (yet). Thus, it is more like an infomercial than a political debate. What I think (hope?) Canadians object to, historically, is the devolution of the discourse when every party joins in on attack ads. I hope that as the next generation matures, and ideally starts voting more, they will continue to reject attack ads and politicians will react to this.

As for these particular ads themselves, I believe they miss their mark. First off, the quality is amateurish which is odd (unless the Tories are making a point of not spending money, I suppose). Even the complaints themselves do not really resonate (oh no, not a Harvard education!). The Conservatives have put out some standard political ads, and hopefully come election season these are the only kinds we'll see, but I won't hold my breath. Even these ads themselves have higher production values. As with corporate ads, you want "positive" associations with your brand, rather than negative ones.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tim Hortons and Corporate Advertisements

By my quick and unofficial count last night, three in five television ads can be considered "bad", one "good" and one "indifferent". Why this is the case I have never understood. I trust that corporations, which have the majority of ads shown, genuinely are trying to make good advertisements. So why is it so difficult to create effective or interesting advertisements?

The particular ad which sparked my interest was this effort from Tim Hortons, announcing their new "Caramel" theme. (Sorry for the poor quality of the video, and ad).

The most egregious part of this ad is that I know that the one actor is a brilliant professional. Her name is Jenny Young and I saw her give a wonderful performance in "The Women" at the Shaw Festival this summer. This refuted my initial reaction that the actor yelling "so much caramel" just didn't have the chops to handle such depth. So if the acting in TV ads isn't (always) to blame, what is? I can't say that Tim Hortons just doesn't care or try with their TV ads because here is an example of a fantastic and effective ad from them. (Note: this will make you cry).

All of the things Tim Hortons is trying to accomplish in this ad are realized. Getting back to the first ad, the only thing it seems to be trying to accomplish is the annoyance of TV viewers, which I suppose it does realize.

Tim Hortons spent $190 million on advertising in 2009. Now, only a portion of that is going to be spent on TV ads (numbers based on Tim Hortons 2009 Annual Report page 119, found here). But still, that is $190 million!(!!). Certainly Tim Hortons has one of the higher ad budgets among corporations, but you can get an idea of how much is being spent yearly on TV ads. So why aren't we seeing better efforts more consistently? I don't have the answer just yet, but hopefully in the coming weeks and months we can sort it out in this blog.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Super Bowl is the "Super Bowl" of Television Advertising

I have alluded earlier to the prominence of television advertising at the Super Bowl. Suffice to say, these ads have their own Wikipedia page, which says more than anything I could write. So with the Big Game occurring this past weekend, I'd like to take this opportunity to review.

My favourite ad was the Chrysler spot for their new luxury vehicle, the 200. The ad featured Eminem, briefly, and was two minutes long. The thing I liked most about it was that it wasn't like most car commercials, which are always unnervingly lame because they inevitably feature people drawing lines in the sand, smiling far too broadly and the music of Beyonce. This is part of the reason the ad works, its originality. I feel this ad will do a lot of good things for the Chrysler Brand, and is an example of how great and effective TV ads can be. Here's the ad:

Other ads that have received positive reviews are Volkswagen's "Little Vader" ad and Bud Light's "Intelligent Dogs" ad. Anheuser-Busch, who own the Bud Light brand, has been acclaimed for its Super Bowl ads for well over a decade now, winning the USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter a record 11 times.

The worst ad in my opinion was easily the one which featured Justin Bieber and Ozzy Osbourne. Not really much else to say. You should know it was terrible just from those two names. I guess if I had to say something, it'd be this. Boo Justin Bieber, boo.

Ok fine, I'll post the video of the Biebbourne ad, even though its disrespectful to my blog.  

Other ads which "missed" in my opinion were Coke's confusing "Fighting Dragons" ad and's "Joan Rivers". I know that exists, and that they are always featured at the Super Bowl. Yet I have no idea what they actually do, so their TV ads in general get an F.

What ads did other people like/dislike?