Posts Tagged ‘advertising’

A Brief Dissection of Apple’s New ‘Stickers’ MacBook Air TV Ad

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This is ‘Stickers’, the new TV ad for Apple’s MacBook Air. It’s interesting on several levels. Watch:

I watch and dissect all Apple ads, and this one jumped at me. Why?

  1. It breaks from their traditional style. Most Apple ads show what you can do with the product, not 30 seconds of the product itself from largely one angle.
  2. It shows Apple products in a modified state. This almost never happens. (Well, in ‘Powerful’ they showed the device in steadicam rigs and attached to instruments, but that’s not the same.) Here, modified means user-modified, which implies an affection for the product, a sense of personalization, a sense of use. One would only bother putting stickers on a product of which they were proud, or used every day to perform their daily work. You customize your car; you don’t customize your extra gas generator sitting in your garage.
  3. If you look at the MacBook Airs you see flashing through the ad, you’ll notice blemishes, scratches, maybe even minor dents – again, this implies use and a sense that the machine is an extension of someone, not just a product on a pedestal. Apple is in the business of creating experiences, not just devices. This is what makes Apple products appeal (or not) to certain people. (I’d even go out on a limb and say that the machines you see in ‘Stickers’ are actual, real-world user machines, but I’m just riffing here.)
  4. Showing stickers all over Apple’s vaunted industrial design is actually a bit self-deprecating: it shows Apple isn’t taking its naked design as the canonical style. There’s a bit of jauntiness here, a sense that Apple isn’t taking itself so seriously. This is a good thing.
  5. What’s the key value of a laptop computer? The screen. This ad shows not a single shot of the screen. Again, this isn’t about how the device gets used – everyone knows that by now.
  6. Finally, the iconic six-color Apple logo makes a brief, staccato appearance in the ad’s final frames. Great touch, and nice to see.

This entire ad is about self-expression, not a product. It’s almost as if the Beats marketing team created it, and I don’t think it’s any accident it’s airing alongside Apple’s back to school promo.

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Have a good weekend, everyone.

Think You’re Not Being Data-Mined? Think Again.

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Say you’re a father of a teenage girl. One day, you get the mail and notice a Target coupon book addressed to your daughter, and it’s full of impending-baby supplies: supplements, lotion, diapers, cotton balls. You’re outraged. What is Target trying to do? Encourage another teenage pregnancy? You do what any father would do: you go to Target, ask for a manager, and give him a piece of your mind for sending out blatantly mist-targeted advertising like this. The manager, completely unsure of why in the world your daughter would get such a coupon book, apologizes profusely. Everyone chalks it up to a gaffe.

A few days later, you have a truly Orwellian moment: Target knew more about your daughter than you did. She’s pregnant. You didn’t know.

Sound like an impossible story? It’s not. In fact, it’s only one example of how companies are employing customer IDs, statisticians and data-mining to send you extremely targeted marketing. Here, ‘extremely targeted’ doesn’t mean advertising based on some known part of your shopping history or demographic; it means they are assigning you probability scores that something in your life is about to happen, and they want to get in on the ground floor to build customer loyalty.

Kashmir Hill, writing for Forbes, examines this exact story and illustrates how accurately companies can learn about you:

Every time you go shopping, you share intimate details about your consumption patterns with retailers. And many of those retailers are studying those details to figure out what you like, what you need, and which coupons are most likely to make you happy. Target, for example, has figured out how to data-mine its way into your womb, to figure out whether you have a baby on the way long before you need to start buying diapers.

Hill references the original NYTimes story that uncovered company secrets like this, which is entertaining to the point of fiction. Except it’s not.

You always hear about privacy issues when it comes to major gaffes by web companies: Facebook and Google, most predominantly. I know folks who refuse to use Facebook because of privacy concerns. I know others who refuse to use Google unless their browser is in some flavor of privacy mode. I always tell them they’re kidding themselves. Opting out of those two services might prevent data collection and targeted marketing from them (and their partners) to you, but everyone is doing it. Everyone. The ones we find out about are the ones who have made mistakes. The others? They’re running data on you right now, or maybe selling your data to another company, who will combine your data assets to paint an incredibly detailed picture of you.

We get outraged and freaked out when hear about a company violating or monetizing our privacy. We might cancel accounts and refuse to patronize the company again. But what about the companies that haven’t violated us yet?

Is it any mystery why after you, say, buy an Infiniti, you get deluged by mailers and emails from BMW boasting about how the 3-series recently bested Infiniti in so-and-so tests?  I’ve had this happen and have even thought, “Huh, that’s smart marketing” — right up until you realize how they’re doing it. And wonder what else they’re doing. And what other companies are doing.

You probably can’t drop off the grid, but this is worth thinking about. Even stuff that’s totally legal has the ability to make you very uncomfortable.

These are our times.


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Is This the Future of Reading on the Web?

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As a guy who spends 90% of his work life on the web, I’ve noticed long ago that reading content — really reading, not just clicking and scanning — has become nearly impossible. The prevalence of content spread across a dozen pages, ads, social sharing buttons, and unrequested pre-content videos has turned some major websites into cluttered junkheaps. What’s the future of all this?  Will it get better? Probably not, says Rian van der Merwe:

I’m worried that the wells of attention are being drilled to depletion by linkbait headlines, ad-infested pages, “jumps” and random pagination, and content that is engineered to be “consumed” in 1 minute or less of quick scanning – just enough time to capture those almighty eyeballs.

I see some efforts to offset this — Safari’s ‘Reader’ function (which strips away everything except body content) and extensions like ‘Readability’ for Chrome and Firefox — but I don’t think they’ll stem the tide.

So what we have is a sacrificing of content in the name of advertising and eyeball analytics. Does this also happen to be one of the plagues of modern journalism as well? I think so.


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The Great Tech War of 2012

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Utterly fantastic article in Fast Company by Farhad Manjoo about the greatest tech showdown of our time, all likely going fully thermonuclear next year. With players like Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon in the mix, this isn’t the minor leagues. Who winds up on top here controls the innovation economy moving forward, and there are sane arguments for each as the winner. The following excerpt sums up the vast power and influence these companies have over our technological lives:

To state this as clearly as possible: The four American companies that have come to define 21st-century information technology and entertainment are on the verge of war. Over the next two years, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google will increasingly collide in the markets for mobile phones and tablets, mobile apps, social networking, and more. This competition will be intense. Each of the four has shown competitive excellence, strategic genius, and superb execution that have left the rest of the world in the dust. HP, for example, tried to take a run at Apple head-on, with its TouchPad, the product of its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm. HP bailed out after an embarrassingly short 49-day run, and it cost CEO Léo Apotheker his job. Microsoft’s every move must be viewed as a reaction to the initiatives of these smarter, nimbler, and now, in the case of Apple, richer companies.


According to Nielsen, Android now powers about 40% of smartphones; 28% run Apple’s iOS. But here’s the twist: Android could command even 70% of the smartphone business without having a meaningful impact on Apple’s finances. Why? Because Apple makes a profit on iOS devices, while Google and many Android handset makers do not. This is part of a major strategic difference between Apple and the other members of the Fab Four. Apple doesn’t need a dominant market share to win. Everyone else does.

If you asked me to list the four biggest players in the tech space, this is the list I’d jot down.  And the scary thing? I’m a customer of each.  In Google and Facebook’s case, I am the product itself.

2012 will be anything but dull.


More links:

MIPRO Consulting main website.

MIPRO on Twitter and Facebook.

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Time Out

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I absolutely love this E*Trade campaign.  To my mind, the best of the bunch is Shankapotamus, then Creepy Clown, and then this one, called Time Out:

Which one is your favorite?

(Hat tip to Jim for the heads-up)


MIPRO Consulting is a nationally-recognized consulting firm specializing in PeopleSoft Enterprise (particularly Enterprise Asset Management) and Business Intelligence. You’re reading MIPRO Unfiltered, its blog. If you’d like to contact MIPRO, email is a great place to start, or you can easily jump over to its main website. If you’d like to see what MIPRO offers via Twitter or Facebook, we’d love to have you.

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Great TiVo Ads

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Zach Golden, copywriter, has some really fantastic ads for TiVo:




Very clever.  And if you’re a TiVo user, you know they’re bang-on accurate.

(Via SvN)


MIPRO Consulting is a nationally-recognized consulting firm specializing in PeopleSoft Enterprise (particularly Enterprise Asset Management), Workday and Business Intelligence. You’re reading MIPRO Unfiltered, its blog.  If you’d like to contact MIPRO, email is a great place to start, or you can easily jump over to its main website.  If you’d like to see what MIPRO offers via Twitter or Facebook, we’d love to have you.

More marketing posts you should read.

The Politics of Design: “Good Ideas Rarely Come in Bunches”

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Excellent essay by Paul Rand about how demanding many solutions to a problem leads to lower quality, waste and confusion.

One of the more common problems which tends to create doubt and confusion is caused by the inexperienced and anxious executive who innocently expects, or even demands, to see not one but many solutions to a problem. These may include a number of visual and/or verbal concepts, an assortment of layouts, a variety of pictures and color schemes, as well as a choice of type styles. He needs the reassurance of numbers and the opportunity to exercise his personal preferences. He is also most likely to be the one to insist on endless revisions with unrealistic deadlines, adding to an already wasteful and time-consuming ritual. Theoretically, a great number of ideas assures a great number of choices, but such choices are essentially quantitative. This practice is as bewildering as it is wasteful. It discourages spontaneity, encourages indifference, and more often than not produces results which are neither distinguished, interesting, nor effective. In short, good ideas rarely come in bunches.

The designer who voluntarily presents his client with a batch of layouts does so not out prolificacy, but out of uncertainty or fear. He thus encourages the client to assume the role of referee. In the event of genuine need, however, the skillful designer is able to produce a reasonable number of good ideas. But quantity by demand is quite different than quantity by choice. Design is a time-consuming occupation. Whatever his working habits, the designer fills many a wastebasket in order to produce one good idea. Advertising agencies can be especially guilty in this numbers game. Bent on impressing the client with their ardor, they present a welter of layouts, many of which are superficial interpretations of potentially good ideas, or slick renderings of trite ones…

Expertise in business administration, journalism, accounting, or selling, though necessary in its place, is not expertise in problems dealing with visual appearance. The salesman who can sell you the most sophisticated computer typesetting equipment is rarely one who appreciates fine typography or elegant proportions. Actually, the plethora of bad design that we see all around us can probably be attributed as much to good salesmanship as to bad taste.

This is true for nearly any creative endeavor.  It’s too bad that some firms push them as quantity games, when in fact they should be focused on quality, pureness and creativity.

(via 37signals)

Skating Babies

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In the spirit of the E*Trade babies, here is Skating Babies, a brilliant spot done for Evian by BETC Euro RSCG.  The music – which is brilliant – is Rapper’s Delight by Dan the Automator.

Sure, it borders on uncanny valley a bit more more than the E*Trade spots, but it’s so amazingly well done I can look past the creepiness of it all.

How to do traditional advertising right

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These days, almost all ‘traditional’ advertising equates to voluntary contributions to the ocean of ad noise out there that nobody pays attention to.  It’s boring, wordsmithed into the ground, filed so that every possible catchy edge has been worn into dust.  It’s been  reviewed by legal and boundary-cased so that no possible negative impression can be formed of the advertiser.

It’s safe.  Boring and invisible, but by gum, safe.

This is why the great majority of advertising is ignored outright.  People’s attention is limited and taxed, and there’s this strange, resultant Darwinism: if you don’t engage people in an interesting way, your ad will die, as will your company branding ROI.

Nevertheless, there are examples of smart and creative traditional advertising out there.  Companies that are brave and willing to Purple Cow their efforts can do some pretty interesting things.

To wit:


In early 2009, Audi posts a billboard for its A4 sedan challenging, “Your move, BMW.”  Not too long thereafter, Santa Monica BMW responds with an M3 billboard that says, “Checkmate.”

Going on and on about how much I love stuff like this would be embarrassing.  But I will say that this stuff is so rare because most companies aren’t brave.  Most companies get caught up in what negative things could come to them instead of being creative and fun and having a sense of confidence about their intentions, character and marketing.

So yes, you can do traditional media placements right.  But you can’t play it safe at the same time.  Choose one.

(Via Signal vs. Noise)