Commentary by: David
Issue: Best and Worst Campaigns of 2005 Named by WSJ
Susan Vranica and Brian Steinberg of the Wall Street Journal today named their picks for the best and worst advertising of 2005.
This Advertising Blog will announce the “ThirdWay Awards” – our picks for best spots and campaigns of 2005 as well as our choices for the yearâ€™s worst efforts on Monday, January 2nd. In the meantime, however, we offer you a brief synopsis of the Wall Street Journalâ€™s picks (read the original story here) along with our thoughts and links to our reviews of these spots.
The Best Advertising of 2005 â€“
- Dove â€œReal Womenâ€ (Unilever)
- WSJ Rationale â€“ Unilever broke new ground with this campaign which championed the cause of real women with real curves. The campaign created a public dialogue about our societyâ€™s sometimes unhealthy beauty ideal and generated a tremendous surge of media coverage for the ad.
- ThirdWay Advertising Blog Rating - ** (Click Here for our review)
While we agreed with the cause and applauded Unilever for supporting the Campaign for Real Beauty (the partner non-profit in these spots), we believed that Dove as a brand was not a good match for the real beauty message. Dove lotion is still a beauty product, intended to enhance a womanâ€™s looks and ends up feeding the self-doubt the campaign seeks to end.
- Target â€œNew Yorker Issueâ€ (Target Brands)
- WSJ Rationale â€“ Buying out an entire issue of the New Yorker magazine and commissioning original artwork was â€œgutsyâ€, generating the kind of attention the retailer is looking for in a medium that has gotten short shrift from advertisers of late. Target showed how it and print can make a difference.
- ThirdWay Advertising Blog Rating - ***** (Click Here for our review)
With one masterstroke, Target sealed its ownership of â€œDesign for Allâ€ â€“ a bold step forward in its decade-long move away from Wal-Mart in the mass merchandiser retail sphere. In spite of these years of steady progress in bringing design to everyday life, Target seemed to arrive all at once last year and the New Yorker spread was the tipping point. Suddenly, Minneapolis and not Bentonville looks like the capital of the retailing world â€“ as evidenced by the fact that Wal-Mart hired away a top marketer from Target and started running design-centric advertising (click here).
- Budweiser â€œSuperbowl Salute to the Troopsâ€ (Anheuser-Busch)
- WSJ Rationale â€“ A smart turn to the right from the usually â€œsophomoricâ€ Superbowl ads from the leading American beer-maker, this â€œpoignantâ€ spot featuring soldiers returning from overseas to spontaneous applause in an airport featured understated branding but a powerful message. Budweiser executes perfectly and scores a big win.
- ThirdWay Advertising Blog Rating - ****
We agree that this spot was perfectly executed. Anheuser-Busch precisely judged the mood of the country and was rewarded with generous press coverage and strong recall for the spot. This was a tactical move, no doubt, and doesnâ€™t build the unique rationale for the brand but does connect to some of the core brand attributes for Budweiser. And most importantly it stood out against some of the cheesier executions in the all-important Superbowl ad war.
- Nike â€œTiger Woods Miracle Shotâ€ (Nike)
- WSJ Rationale â€“ When Tiger woods sunk an improbably chip shot and the ball hung for a second on the lip of the cup with the Nike swoosh featured prominently, it was a moment made for advertising. â€œWith incidents like these, who needs to make actual ads?â€ says the Journal. They also applaud Wieden + Kennedyâ€™s deft use of humor to set off the ad. The ad ran only briefly to avoid sounding too self-congratulatory.
- ThirdWay Advertising Blog Rating - ***
The actual event generated so much publicity for Nike that the ad seemed unnecessary and was very different in tone from Nikeâ€™s normal ad message. However the execution by Wieden is so spot-on that it is hard to argue with Nikeâ€™s decision to run the spot.
- Audi A3 â€œStolen A3â€ (Volkswagen AG)
- WSJ Rationale â€“ Seamlessly using TV, Print, Billboards and even classified newspaper ads, Audi set up a mystery that led 500,000 consumers on a hunt to find the stole A3 which involved e-mail, IM, pagers and all manner of online and electronic clues. 500 A3â€™s sold in the first week of availability, in this high-profile test of viral marketing.
- ThirdWay Advertising Blog Rating â€“ ****
This campaign is a powerful argument for well-designed viral marketing. Volkswagen and McKinney + Silver orchestrated a seamless campaign that had huge awareness among the target audience and lots of targeted chatter, online and off. What surprised us most about the campaign was how invisible it was outside of the target audience. We did not really understand the extent of the cleverness here until we started adding up the media costs for the campaign and realized how much smaller the budget must have been than we would have guessed.
The Worst Advertising of 2005
- Coke Zero â€œChilltopâ€ (Coca-Cola)
Â· WSJ Rationale â€“ The spot was intended to launch Coke Zero but fell flat because it did not explain the product which confused consumers. It also left Coke open for a successful jab in an ad by Pepsi. The WSJ thinks the problem is that Coke pitches commercials at youth but tries to appeal to older people at the same time.
Â· ThirdWay Advertising Blog Rating - ** (Click Here for our review)
While two-thirds of the editors of this blog are former Coca-Cola marketers, we must agree that â€˜Chilltopâ€™ was a failure. And it will surprise many regular readers of this advertising blog that we do not blame the failure of this spot on Crispin Porter + Bogusky. Our belief is that what could have been an excellent execution for Coca-Cola classic was subverted by the Coke Zero launch. This ad was indeed confusing and in spite of Cokeâ€™s assertion that â€œstrong year-to-date salesâ€ for Coke Zero prove the ad worked we noticed that Coke quickly withdrew the spot and started running another campaign behind Coke Zero.
- Dominoâ€™s â€œApprentice Placementâ€ (Dominoâ€™s Pizza)
Â· WSJ Rationale – a mismanaged product placement allowed Dominoâ€™s to be outflanked by rival Papa Johnâ€™s. Dominoâ€™s promotes the meatball pizza on the show but advertises a cheeseburger pizza on associated spots. Papa Johnâ€™s in the meantime is barred from buying network advertising on the same show but sneaks in by making local buys in 64 markets advertising a meatball pizza. At the end, Papa Johnâ€™s stole the show from Dominoâ€™s.
Â· ThirdWay Advertising Blog Rating – *
When product placements are heavy-handed and the monetary exchange is clearly the only rationale for the placement, they are ineffective. Dominoâ€™s managed to turn wasted money into lost revenue by mismanaging the execution and allowing Papa Johnâ€™s to insert the â€œBetter Ingredients. Better Pizza,â€ tagline they have litigated so hard for into the middle of Dominoâ€™s expensive product placement.
- Carlâ€™s Junior â€œParis Hiltonâ€ (CKE Restaurants)
Â· WSJ Rationale â€“ A terrible example of trying to cater to the â€œlowest-common-denominatorâ€ this spot was bad advertising and bad publicity as it stirred up a firestorm against Carlâ€™s in spite of limited airing.
Â· ThirdWay Advertising Blog Rating – *
This advertising blog avoided commenting on the ad and surrounding controversy on the off-chance that it is true that all publicity is good publicity for Carlâ€™s.
- Lincoln Mark LT Truck â€œClergy Lustâ€ (Ford Motor Company)
Â· WSJ Rationale â€“ Ford made a bad decision in producing a spot featuring a clergyman lusting over a Lincoln truck after finding the keys in a collection plate (and subsequently returning the keys to the owners and writing a sermon with the heading â€œLustâ€). The spot had to be pulled before the Superbowl and never ran despite Fordâ€™s huge investment in production costs.
Â· ThirdWay Advertising Blog Rating - ****
We agree with the WSJ that this spot was in poor taste and would not have been effective for Ford had it run. But Ford made the right decision in pulling the spot and did so quickly and without triggering a national scandal. While the advertising was not good, we believe that this was a good example of successful public relations. Anyone can make a mistake but to deal with it effectively is the sign of character.
- US Department of Education â€œPlanted Stories on No Child Left Behindâ€ (US Government)
Â· WSJ Rationale â€“ When the government hired Omnicomâ€™s Ketchum group and they hired conservative commentator Armstrong Williams and he wrote favorable stories on No Child Left Behind he hurt his reputation, Omnicomâ€™s and that of the Bush Administration.
Â· ThirdWay Advertising Blog Rating - *
This advertising blog believes that the real problem here is not that the government engaged in planting stories but that in doing so they were engaging in standard PR industry practice. We believe that many current PR practices are creating great risks for valuable brands and that the day of reckoning may be soon. But that is an issue for the new year.