Archive for December, 2008

Surprised? Not really.

December 31st, 2008

GM is running a new advertising campaign in which it reveals something impressive about one of its vehicles–such as the fact that its hybrid Escalade gets better highway mileage than a Mini Cooper.  I’d prefer that they find a way to pat themselves on the back without taking a shot at another brand.  But the main issue I have with the ad is how the commercials end:  “From GM.  Surprised?”

I have two problems with this.  First, it’s the advertising equivalent of following the punchline of a joke with, “Get it?”  After all, Apple doesn’t end iPod commercials with, “Isn’t this just the coolest?”  The ad is cool; no confirmation is required.  If what GM’s ad revealed is truly surprising, they shouldn’t have to ask for reassurance.  Second, asking “Suprised?” indicates that GM thinks their image is so bad that they have nothing to lose by acknowledging that the audience has a low opinion of their vehicles.  As a result, I didn’t just hear “Surprised?”  I heard, “Surprised?  Seriously, can you believe it?  We finally did something right!  We actually made a vehicle that gets reasonable mileage!  Who saw that coming?!?!”

In fairness to GM, I loved their Cadillac CTS ad campaign and its beautifully (literally) delivered line, “When you turn your car on, does it return the favor?”, and their years-long campaign featuring Led Zepellin’s classic “Rock and Roll” was very well done.  Those campaigns reeked of confidence and had the look of a leader.  They significantly bolstered and effectively contemporized  the Cadillac brand. Their current campaign, however, reeks of insecurity.  Given the state of GM’s stock price–and the fact that their CEO couldn’t anticipate that the public might not approve of him taking the corporate jet to Washington to bail him out of his problems–I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.

Burger King Tells a Whopper!

December 16th, 2008

Have you seen the latest Burger King campaign, which depicts a Whopper-versus-Big Mac taste test conducted among remote Chang Mai villagers who had never seen or eaten a hamburger before?  It’s just the latest less-than-tasty advertising morsel from this also-ran chain.  I have three problems with this campaign.  First, I have no respect for advertisers who resort to attacking their competitors because they are clever enough to find a way to simply and compellingly sing the praises of their own product.  Second, if you devote a moment’s thought to this ad, you have to say to yourself, “Okay, you’re telling me that people with absolutely no expertise in what constitutes a good hamburger prefer the Whopper to the Big Mac.  Big whoop.”  Third, I read an article today in which Russ Klein, Burger King’s president of global marketing strategy, said, “During a time when consumers are craving it most, honesty and transparency are the heart and sould of this campaign.  By embarking on a voyage of this magnitude that held no guarantees and left us upen to vulnerabilities, we took a leap of faith that our signature product would win people over at first bite.”

Oh really?  So you’re saying that had the Big Mac won the taste test, you would have run the ad regardless, thereby confessing to the world that your Whopper was defeated by your “arch” rival?  Gee, call me a skeptic, but somehow I doubt it. “Honesty and transparency”?  C’mon, Mr. Klein.  Don’t compound the situation by insulting our intelligence any more than your advertising already has.