February 10, 2016

Toyota Says Scionara

"As the Detroit Auto Show kicks off this week, Cadillac will introduce its first compact luxury coupe, the 2015 ATS Coupe, designed to appeal to younger consumers..."  Fast Company
“Advertising on the Super Bowl broadcast with talent like Beckham (23) and Ratajkowski (24) fits nicely into Buick's mission of remaking its image to appeal to a younger audience..." Edmunds.com
Here at The Ad Contrarian Global Headquarters, we've been marveling for years at the stupidity of marketers' obsession with young people.

Not that there's anything wrong with young people. It's just that they have no money, they can't afford to buy very much, and when they grow up and have money, they behave just like every other generation that was supposed to be completely different.

Meanwhile, people over 50 have and spend most of the globe's money. Or as PJ O'Rourke put it, "whenever anything happens anywhere, somebody over 50 signs the bill for it.”

The worst offenders are the automotive industry. Every time a car company releases a new vehicle the rationale is always the same: We're trying to attract a younger audience.

It's hard to find an auto ad without a young person in it. Meanwhile people 75-to-dead buy 6 times as many new cars as people 18-to-24.

How about a car company trying to attract an older audience? Ya know, like the people who buy 60% of cars.

A couple of years ago The Wall Street Journal reported on this phenomenon. They wrote about "youth cars" i.e., cars targeted at 18-34 year olds. An astounding 88% of these "youth cars" were bought by people over 35.

Apparently one car company has finally come to its senses. Toyota announced last week that it is burying its awesomely young and hip Scion brand -- its much ballyhooed entry into the "youth car" category.

According to Toyota, 50% of Scions have been sold to people under 35. According to Industry Week...
"Scion has consistently been the youngest brand in the auto industry with an average age of 36 years old.."
Scion was the unchallenged king of all youth brands in the auto industry. What does being popular with young people get you these days? 1/3 of 1% share of market.

According to official Toyota propaganda regarding the whacking of the Scion brand...
"They (young people) like their parents, have come to appreciate the Toyota brand and its ... quality, dependability and reliability. At the same time, new Toyota vehicles have evolved to feature the dynamic styling and handling young people desire.”
When you get past the self-serving corporate bullshit, what that means is this: As they're growing up, young people are, ahem, behaving just like every other generation that was supposed to be completely different.

Youth cars? Scionara.

February 08, 2016

The First Sexless Super Bowl

Well, the annual Festival of Excess is over and here are some thoughts. 

Where Was The Sex?
This may have been the first sexless Super Bowl. We are usually treated to an abundance of middle school-style leering and double entendres in Super Bowl ads. Not this year. Has the politics of sex become so oppressive that even advertisers are afraid to be juvenile? 

That's Entertainment
Every creative director and cmo with a functioning brain knows one thing about Super Bowl advertising -- success has nothing to do with effectiveness.

Your success or failure will be judged on how well people liked your spot and nothing else.

The reason is simple -- unless you're a direct marketer (which no Super Bowl advertiser is) it's pretty much impossible to calculate the effectiveness of one spot at one time.

So popularity always stands as a proxy for effectiveness.

People liked your spot? You win.

People didn't like your spot? You lose.

End of story.

The Phrase That Pays
If there's one line of copy from this year's crop that could be remembered, it might be this one from the "Walken Closet."
"Punch it, Richard."
Critiquing The Critics
I followed the tweets of the advertising "experts" from Ad Age and Adweek during the game. In large part they were embarrassingly misguided. Makes you wonder if any of them ever worked in advertising.
What Happened To Social Media?
It seemed to me that in the weeks before the game there was a lot less social media chatter about Super Bowl advertising than in previous years.

Also there were a large  number of major brands that did not release their Super Bowl spots the week or month before the game.

Could it be that advertisers are finally waking up?

One of the critical aspects of effective advertising is impact. There is no better place to register advertising impact than on the Super Bowl. There is no better way to waste the impact of a Super Bowl spot than to have everyone see it for weeks before the game.

"Oh, yeah, I saw that one," is not the reaction you're paying $5 million for.

The Big and Dumb Award
This award is presented every year to the company that spends the most money and makes the most hysterical and pointless commercial. This year it's a tie between Coke "Hulk/Ant-Man" and Prius "Bank Robbers."

The Award of Desperation
This year it goes to CBS for their relentless and embarrassing promo-ing of Stephen Colbert.

Every Ad Related To Technology Or Online Commerce...

The Spot That Actually Made Me Want Something:
I really wanted that hamburger in Helen Mirren's Budweiser ad.

February 03, 2016

Native Advertising - Just More Online Corruption

The online advertising industry is a corrupt shit show unprecedented in advertising history.

Just to recap some of the sleaze it has engendered and some of the ways it has undermined corporate and media decency:
  • Despite industry lip service about cutting down on online ad fraud, Business Insider reported a few weeks ago that it will grow to over 7 billion dollars this year.
  • Billions of fraudulent impressions are paid for by advertisers every day.
  • Untold numbers of phony clicks are monetized and charged to advertisers.
  • "Unviewable" ads are paid for by advertisers but are invisible to live human beings.
  • Phony websites are selling ad space to clueless advertisers through impenetrable ad networks.
  • Online content is being debased into a relentless click-bait festival.
  • The web has become an exasperating non-stop marketing machine.
Now online advertisers are mainstreaming what used to be a sleazy practice. There have always been media operators who would offer advertisers editorial or on-air mentions in exchange for a media buy. Or they would sell "advertorials" -- ads disguised as editorial.

They've dressed it up with a lovely name -- native advertising -- but it's nothing new.

What's new is that it is now widely accepted by "quality" media. All the predictions are that native advertising will grow substantially in 2016. The mainstreaming of this wretched practice has been propelled by the growing consumer ad blocking revolt.

The acceptance of native advertising by once-decent media like The New York Times should be alarming, but apparently isn't to any but a few of us. I guess when you’re going broke, any source of income is acceptable, regardless of how it undermines your principles.

This is a very disturbing development for citizens. The co-mingling of political agendas and news has infected our broadcast outlets (Fox, MSNBC) and in 2016 the conflation of advertising and editorial is expected to take a quantum leap forward.

A few weeks ago, the FTC issued guidelines about native advertising.  I expect these will be largely ignored. The IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau, or as I like to call them, Inactive Advertising Bureau) is already whining about the guidelines. According to Ad Age...
"The IAB singled out for criticism... a section that calls for advertisers to use "plain language" in labeling an ad as such."
Yeah, imagine calling something what it really is? That would be complete anathema to the charming culture and history of online advertising.

When I checked my Facebook page today, despite the FTC's guidelines, Facebook is still using bullshit like "Suggested Post" to disguise ads.

Online advertising seems to corrupt everything it touches.