Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

Tag Archives: CP+B

The Real Reason Groupon Missed The Mark

There’s been a lot of discussion about Groupon’s Super Bowl ad from Crispin, Porter + Bogusky.  The ads were deemed offensive.

I won’t get into a debate, here, about whether people just need to learn to laugh or if the ads were really offensive. Regardless of what I believe, enough people complained to make Groupon CEO, Andrew Mason, write:

Five days have passed since the Super Bowl, and one thing is clear – our ads offended a lot of people. Tuesday I posted an explanation, but as many of you have pointed out, if an ad requires an explanation, that means it didn’t work.

We hate that we offended people, and we’re very sorry that we did – it’s the last thing we wanted. We’ve listened to your feedback, and since we don’t see the point in continuing to anger people, we’re pulling the ads . . . .

Insensitivity aside, the real reason the Groupon ad missed the mark is because it had NO offer. Think about that. Groupon is a site that’s all about deals. It’s about giving you an amazing offer. The ad focused on telling that story through irony and humor…but without an offer. How do you take to the biggest stage in advertising and not hit the world over the head with what makes your company unique? Does this really surprise you though when you realize that Crispin is their agency? More mind boggling is this quote from Mason, defending CP+B:

The firm that conceived the ad, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, strives to draw attention to the cultural tensions created by brands. When they created this Hulu ad, they highlighted the idea that TV rots your brain, making fun of Hulu. Our ads highlight the often trivial nature of stuff on Groupon when juxtaposed against bigger world issues, making fun of Groupon. Why make fun of ourselves? Because it’s different – ads are traditionally about shameless self promotion, and we’ve always strived to have a more honest and respectful conversation with our customers. We would never have run these ads if we thought they trivialized the causes – even if we didn’t take them as seriously as we do, what type of company would go out of their way to be so antagonistic?

On one hand, I applaud Groupon for sticking by their agency. Many organizations would have thrown their agency under the bus. Well done Mr. Mason for realizing you hired them, you signed off on the strategy (if there was one) and you approved the creative. But, on the other hand, you support the work from CP+B, but basically saying, “well yeah, I mean that’s why we went to them, because they you know creative controversy.”

Well, while CP+B was busy helping you create controversy, it also helped you miss the right strategy and took you away from your brand’s DNA. You spent $3,000,000 to introduce your brand to 25 million people during the Super Bowl and you didn’t bring an offer to the table? Talk about a lack of call to action.

“Because It’s Cool” – Is Not a Strategy

With apologies to my friends, colleagues, and competitors in the advertising and marketing industry, have we lost our mind? Lately, it seems there’s no rhyme or reason for the decisions being made. It’s as if we’re simply doing things for the same of doing things. Do you really need an APP or are you doing it because it’s cool and everyone else SEEMS to have one. Does it really make sense to place your car in a shopping cart for a publicity stunt?  Should Jeff Goodby really be rapping for a holiday card?  Do we really need a company that’s based on a crowd sourcing model?  Sure, “social” and consumer generated content are huge trends right now, but an entire company built on that mode?  WTF?

CP+B for years has cornered the market on this attitude. Remember they’re the company who believes that the goal of all marketing/advertising is for the work to be talked about. Conceptually, I get that. But, when that approach leads to work like Orville Deadenbacher….well, you get my point.

I’m hoping that in 2010 we see a renewed focus to doing work that’s on strategy and meaningful marketing.  If you will, I hope 2010 is rife smart decisions being made by both clients and agencies.  I’m not preaching risk avoidance, but I am preaching that we stop doing things just because they seem cool.  Folks, cool is not a marketing or a business strategy.  However, it can be a result of smart, strategic, marketing decisions.

Let’s get back to the basics and stop chasing cool.  Cool?

People Believe 90% Of What They Do

I like Microsoft. I think Windows is a great operating system. The Office suite of products including Outlook, Project, and Visio are the tools I need to do my job on a day to day basis.

People, really smart people, continue to talk about Microsoft’s demise. They point to Microsoft’s decision to hire CP+B as an example of desperation. On some level, I agree. At the same time they’re shoveling dirt onto Microsoft’s grave, they’re placing Apple on a ridiculously high pedestal. On a lot of levels this is quite funny when you consider that Microsoft maintains more than 89% of the market share. But, I digress.

Microsoft’s problem as it relates to Apple has always been the same. Apple not only develops the software/operating system they’re also designing the hardware. They design the look and feel of the MacBook, iPhone, and iMac. They have 100% control over what the visual expression of the brand will be. That’s huge. Think about it. People don’t understand the nuts and bolts of an operating system. They can’t articulate memory leaks or poor coding. The options for hardware also confuse consumers. Does the consumer need 2gb of memory? 4gb? What about the video card? Oh and don’t forget do you need a 80gb or 200gb hard drive. There’s simply too many options.

But, what consumers do understand is the look of the actual hardware. The Macs are sexy. They’re sleek. They stand out. They’re light weight and have features their PC counterparts overlook; like the magnetic power cord. When you touch the Mac it feels good in your hands. When you consider that this concept is part of Apple’s culture it’s easy to see why the do such a great job with design. From the minute the consumer looks at the Mac and then subsequently touches it, an emotional connection is formed between Apple and the consumer. This is what allows them to leverage the Apple Store so well and why the newly announced Microsoft stores will fail.

Microsoft has little to no control over the actual hardware. Toshiba, HP, Dell, etc. all pick and choose different design options. Frankly, their design options are bland and lack a visual appeal. They just aren’t very sexy and because of that, it’s rare the consumer makes an emotional connection with a PC laptop or desktop. Now don’t get my wrong. You’re paying for this style, design, and emotional connection. Microsoft would have you believe you’re paying about $500.00 more.

The problem with this campaign and these ads are that Microsoft isn’t selling Microsoft – they’re selling HP or whatever computer manufacturer they feature. That’s a major disconnect, don’t you think? So long as Microsoft is at the mercy of their hardware partners they will continue to have this problem and all the advertising in the world won’t fix fix it.

They need a product that people want to touch, feel, and pick-up.  They don’t have one.  Not one consumer product (Microsoft Surface isn’t a consumer product) from the Zune to the Smart Phones is desirable.

Microsoft may be the only company where the standard advertising agency recommendation or “you need to evolve from a reason to believe to a reason to care…and establish an emotional connection with your consumer” – is 100% true.

The Devil Is In The Details – How Whopper Virgins Missed

Many of you, no doubt, are familiar with the Whopper Virgins work by CP+B for Burger King.  Even I openly admit to liking the concept, the ads, and the site.  The campaign relies on TV awareness to drive people to a web site.  Simple enough.  But, there are two giant flaws in the campaign and AdAge covers it really well here.

Flaw #1: The didn’t invest in any paid search engine marketing.
Flaw #2: They didn’t optimize the site to index against Whopper Virgins AND Whopper Virgin (sans S)

So why are these flaws?

Because nearly 50% of the searches are for Whopper Virigin (no S).  And when you type that into Google (because no one really types in the URL) you don’t see any paid search ads driving you to the right site nor do you see Whoppervirgins.com appear on the first page.

Paid search should be part of EVERY TV driven campaign.  It has to be.  People may not remember the URL, the brand, or the product, but they generally remember the story.  My favorite example of this was how GM outsmarted Ford during the 2006 Super Bowl.  You can read the full story here.  The short version is the following:

  • Ford paid a boat load of money to run a Super Bowl spot touting their Ford Escape hybrid
  • In the spot they had Kermit The Frog sing, “It’s Not Easy Being Green”
  • GM didn’t run an ad, but they did buy a lot of paid search around the concept of the Ford ads; keep in mind they can’t legally buy “Ford” or any other branded/trademarked name
  • Ford didn’t buy any paid search
  • So when people were looking for that ad that featured Kermit, guess who came up in the results? GM, not Ford.

Again, purchasing is such a basic and simple part of a campaign.  Next time we think about vanity URLs, like WhopperVirgins.com we should always try to get the misspelled versions, invest in some paid search, and optimize the site to cover a wide range of terms.

Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld Microsoft Ad

So the first work from Crispin Porter + Bogusky breaks for Microsoft.

Seems eerily similar to the work done for American Express with Jerry Seinfeld.

Microsoft’s VP of Online Services & Windows Business Group talks about the ads telling a story. Here’s the problem with story telling via TV; the story has to be interesting and told inside of the alloted time in the spot. If this is supposed to be chapter 1 and we are to wait for chapter 2, 3, 4, etc. to be released in the future; we have a problem. Progressive and episodic story telling doesn’t work for TV. It does work online; case in point BMW Films. I really want the campaign to be great. I’m a Windows fan and a Microsoft advocate. However, right now, the McCann work looks a hell of a lot better.