Archive for December, 2011

Golf Channel Knocks It 320 Yards Down the Middle

December 16th, 2011

I love golf.  I love golfers.  I love Golf Channel.  And that’s probably why I love Golf Channel’s new commercial so much.

I love golf in large part because it’s so damned difficult.  It frustrates me like nothing else I’ve ever attempted, as my on-the-course language all-too-often sadly attests.  Yet when I manage to hit the occasional great shot, it literally gives me an incredible thrill.   And I mean it when I say “literally”; even though I’m a decent golfer, I’m so aware of the thousands of things that can go wrong with a golf swing that I have a hard time believing it when I’m actually able to execute a great shot.  It might only happen a few times per round, but it’s definitely worth the wait.

I love golfers in general because I respect anyone who is willing to tackle and embrace a stiff challenge.  I particularly love pro golfers because I think they exude much more character  and integrity than any other class of professional athlete.  PGA and LPGA golfers aren’t guaranteed a paycheck; they don’t sign contracts ensuring them millions of dollars for hitting .159 (I’m talkin’ to you, Adam Dunn), repeatedly dropping touchdown passes (hello, Roy Williams) or disappearing in the league championship series (how you doin’, Lebron?).  And even though they’re playing for a paycheck, they’ll call penalties on themselves that can cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars (such as Webb Simpson did this year, ultimately causing him to miss out on what would have been his first career victory).

When you see pro golfers interviewed, they are invariably modest about themselves and highly complimentary of their opponents.  And when they celebrate a sunk putt–if they celebrate at all–it’s usually a simple fist pump.  Contrast that with the NFL players who, after sacking a quarterback or catching a touchdown pass, engage in an elaborate series of obnoxious gestures that simultaneously celebrate their personal greatness and insult their momentarily vanquished opponent.

I love Golf Channel because it so consistently and poignantly captures all facets of the drama of this uniquely challenging and rewarding sport.  I love their reporters and announcers–such as ex-PGA players like David Feherty, Brandel Chamblee, Frank Nobilo and Charlie Rymer and golden-throated Scottish announcers Renton Laidlaw and Dougie Donnelly–all of whom clearly revere the game and come across as be the kind of people you’d love to play a round with and then have a beer with.

Finally, I love this  new commercial because I think it captures everything I’ve just described–and more–so beautifully.   I even love the background song “Nothing for Granted” (by Brendan James), which provides not only a great melody but a wonderful sense of emotion.

Mark Twain famously described golf as “a good walk spoiled.”  I can only assume that Mr. Twain’s cable operator didn’t offer Golf Channel.

Kia and Michelle Wie Both Have Soul

December 13th, 2011

One of the keys to success in professional golf is having a caddy you can trust to recommend the right club.  I think Kia‘s ad agency could not have recommended a better celebrity than 22-year-old golfer Michelle Wie for this TV commercial for its new Soul sub-contact car.

This ad does a wonderful job of targeting the Soul at young people contemplating their first new car purchase.  If you want a car that would never be driven by your parents–not to mention the stuffy country club set–this is it.  And a big part of the credit for that perception goes to the infectious song (“Pro Nails” by Kid Sister) that plays throughout the spot.

On a more subtle note, one other thing that makes this commercial work so well is the fact that both Kia and Michelle Wie are of Korean descent.  (She was born in Hawaii to South Korean immigrants.)  Kia, like its sister Korean company Hyundai, has made great strides in building its brand equity over the past few years through high quality ratings and appealing product design. Aligning the Soul brand with a popular, attractive young Korean-American will surely make “Korean”–and Kia–even cooler.

But then again, what would you expect from a company based in Seoul?

British Airways: To Fly. To Serve. To Sell.

December 11th, 2011

I often criticize ads that don’t give enough prominence to the brand name.  I’ve even gone so far as to suggest that their ad agencies perhaps would rather be making movies than “mere commercials.”  These ads are often entertaining–some via humor, others via cool music or striking visuals–but they rarely do their intended job, which is to sell.

In this new “advert” from British Airways, you won’t hear the brand name a single time, and half of the logos you see are for prior generations of the company’s name (like “Imperial Airways” and “BOAC”). Yet I think this ad is one of the best ads I’ve seen this year.

So why–if I’m right–does this “advert” succeed despite breaking the rules of brand registration?  One reason is the British narrator; it’s clearly an airline ad, so once you hear that elegant British accent, you know it must be a British Airways ad. (Who else could it be?)  Another reason is that the combination of the cinematography and the background music is so engrossing that you want to pay close attention–to soak up every detail–and in the process you can’t help but notice the occasional British Airways logo on one of the many eye-catching aircraft featured later in the spot.

Yet another reason for this ad’s impact is that the beautifully written and delivered narration and the exceptional production values scream quality.  My subconscious brain can only conclude, “This airline obviously has great planes, great mechanics and great pilots.”

And finally, there’s the tagline:  “To fly.  To serve.” And this is much more than a tagline; as the narrator informs us, it’s “the same four words stitched into every uniform of every captain who takes their command.”  The message:  these people love to fly, and they love to take exquisite care of their passengers.

And they clearly love to make great advertising.