Archive for August, 2010

AT&T and Blackberry Don’t Carry a Torch for Branding

August 25th, 2010

What do you get when two companies with an aversion to effective branding join forces to bring an exciting new product to market? In the case of AT&T and Blackberry, a  TV commercial that entertains but fails to effectively drive home the name of the advertisers providing the entertainment.

The premise of the commercial is simple: there’s a new smartphone that makes it fun to do business, and the visuals and voiceover cleverly make that point.  The new phone–the Blackberry Torch–makes a lot of sense strategically for Blackberry given its focus on the business market and the fact that it’s been losing market share to the superior “wow factor” of Apple’s iPhone.  And from the reviews I’ve read, the Torch is being very warmly received by the technology writers.

Unfortunately, viewers of this commercial hear the brand names “AT&T” and “Blackberry” twice and once, respectively, while “Torch” is nevered uttered.  (The word appears on screen for less than two seconds at the end of the spot.) Anyone who’s read about the Torch will have to be paying extremely close attention to realize that it’s the product being showcased–or not–in this commercial.

It doesn’t help that the lyrics of the background song–Buddy Holly’s “Every Day”–aren’t particularly pertinent to the product’s positioning.  The song is cute, but it doesn’t sell.

For as long as I’ve been in this business, I’ve been both amazed and appalled by how many marketers are reluctant to leverage their brands in their advertising.  It’s almost as if they feel it’s crass or in poor taste to call too much attention to their brand name.  The best marketers, however,  realize that branding doesn’t have to be boring.

In other words, if AT&T and Blackberry can combine business with fun in their product, why can’t they do it in their advertising?

Quiznos Ad Is M-m-m-m…Moronic!

August 6th, 2010


There are two basic ways for an ad to get your attention: by being appealing, or by being annoying.  The former approach generally requires more intelligence and effort, but it delivers a much more positive long-term effect.  The latter approach is the lazy way out; it’s much easier to do, but it’s dramatically less effective.  In fact, its impact could actually be negative, which is a truly unforgivable sin.

Quiznos, which has long shown itself to me an adherent of the fingernails-on-the-chalkboard school of marketing, may have topped themselves with their new TV campaign.  How the company that has developed such a “toasty” menu could also create such grating, mindless advertising is truly beyond me.  I am simply at a loss to explain why anyone at Quiznos would expect that even one viewer in this entire country would enjoy watching these ads. Okay, perhaps there’s a two-year-old somewhere who enjoys the cats and the “Three Blind Mice” melody, but I can’t imagine that anyone old enough to eat Quiznos food can stomach this advertising.

I happen to like Quiznos food, and I know several people –including my son–who consider it to be their favorite fast-food chain.  The people who conceived the “toasted” angle clearly understand the concept of product differentiation, and the people who created their tasty menu obviously know what they’re doing.  So why are Quiznos marketing people so utterly clueless?  I can only speculate that Quiznos is one of those companies that simply don’t understand the importance of, or place a high priority on, marketing communications.  Such companies typically spend very little time evaluating their communications options or scrutinizing the results of their communications efforts.

Whatever the reason in Quiznos’ case, they’ll get a lot more mileage out of the things they’re doing right  with their menu if they’d finally fix what they’re doing so wrong with their marketing.

In other words, Quiznos needs to start giving us ads that make our mouths water instead of ones that make our ears and eyes ache.