Mr. Matero’s Crystal Ball 2011

Way back in 2008 before there was an “official” recession, our agency noted a significant pull back from our clients in terms of media spends and initiatives.

Then along came the paralyzing slump of 2009 that killed off many independent ad shops, printers, and media agencies despite the so-called “stimulus”.

2010 however saw everyone climbing into and clinging onto the “social media lifeboat” for all they we worth. And thankfully we survived.

So what will happen in 2011?

Prognostication, unless you’re a ground hog can be a tricky past time, but I’m willing to stick my neck out. From what I’m foreseeing now, here’s how it looks:
• Unemployment will continue to hover around 10%
• Housing starts will continue to wallow in the pits
• Oil will continue to climb and yes, this will put at gas at around $4.50 this summer, as it always magically does between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Go figure.
• Retail sales will remain flat
So there you have it. Another bleak outlook for yet another challenging year. But now for the good news. (There always is a silver lining you know!)
• As people get adjusted their new “Normal” personal economies, new services and products based upon value and making a connection with the consumer will skyrocket. You’re already seeing this happen. Just yesterday I saw a commercial where H & R Block is offering free simple tax return preparing in an attempt to lure a new base of customers based on value. Of course, there will be an up sell once they get they in the door, but hey… they’re there!
• More social media applications will flood the market making it even easier for brands to monetize their social media efforts, and for fans to “like” them.
• People who have been putting off larger purchases such as cars, computers and appliances will buy this year. Not because they want to, but because they can’t put it off any longer. Heck. It’s been almost 3 years since last they’ve had a technology upgrade, and that family wagon is going on 7 years or more.
• People are going to stop waiting for the government to pull them out of the malaise because they can see the stimulus plans have done nothing but stimulate the government.
• The unemployed are going to look for ANY work, not just work they want.
• Businesses are going to find ways to survive despite all the new mandates and regulations, and that means forcing innovation and supplying products people want versus cutting back (which they can’t do anyway).

2011 will be a year for people and business to adjust to the downsize, and come to the realization that America has a far way to go to get back to the heady days before the bubbles burst.

2011 is the Year of Acceptance. Let’s move forward in confidence knowing that we’ve woken up, we’re going back to basics, and we’re up for restructuring and rebuilding our lives, our businesses and our country, one positive step after another. It’s going to take patience, work, and determination. I’m up for the challenge. Are you?

Author: Timo Matero, CEO, The Accelerator Companies

Spuds and Buds: The Story of Spuds McKenzie and The Bud Bowl

Anyone growing up in the 80s remembers Anheuser-Busch’s Original Party Animal, Spuds McKenzie. Originally appearing in a 1987 Super Bowl commercial for Bud Light, he’s always accompanied by three beautiful “Spudettes” and is always the center of attention.

Calm, cool, collected, and never short on girls or beer, Spuds was completely likable and memorable and beer sales reflected it. The commercials were wildly successful showing Spuds dancing, high-diving, playing drums, pole vaulting, and even ski jumping. By 1988, he helped Bud Light, which was introduced in 1982, soar to the number 3 spot of all beer sold in the U.S. Most memorable (at least for me) was at the end of each commercial, one of the supermodels always had a suggestive compliment for Spuds, which he always took in stride. Good Boy!

Robin Leech (of the popular show ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’) provided the voice over’s, which contributed to the image of “living the good life”, not to mention the “coolness factor”.

The commercials with Spuds, who was actually a female Bull Terrier named Honey Tree Evil Eye, continued their popularity with millions of bottles of beer sold in American grocery stores along with countless t-shirts, glasses, mugs, key chains, and beach towels.

His extreme adoration, however, led to his demise. Mothers Against Drunk Driving began a nationwide protest against Anheuser-Busch claiming that Spuds popularity with children lead to an increase in under age drinking. Complaints were filed with the FCC and an investigation was launched. Although the FCC found no proof of Spuds delinquency of minors, the public relations damage had been done.

Anheuser-Busch began to fear that Spuds popularity and new notoriety may be overpowering the Bud Light brand. That, along with the MADD complaints, led to the decision to retire Spuds from commercials in 1989.

Looking for a replacement and a character that wouldn’t overshadow the product, Anheuser-Busch turned to the product itself and unveiled Bud Bowl I during the 1989 Super Bowl. These unique ads featured bottles of Bud Light and Budweiser playing each other in a football championship. The spots were created using expensive and time-consuming stop-motion photography. (This was before computers were technically advanced enough to handle this type of animation.) Each game provided lots of drama, last-second heroics, comedy, and, to the delight of Anheuser-Busch, hundreds of shots of the product.

Despite the intense labor and cost involved, the commercials were a huge hit and the consumer response from Bud Bowl I was an unprecedented 17% spike in Budweiser sales that month. The following year Bud Bowl II continued on the popularity and brought a spike of 19%. In 1992, Bud Bowl IV brought in an unbelievable 46% increase in grocery store sales.

Kitschy and cool, each year brought more game-within-the-game Bud Bowl commercials, characters, celebrities, and highlights. It was Anheuser-Busch’s most successful campaign ever. However, by 1999, consumers had become weary of the annual contest and Anheuser-Busch ended the campaign.

Later Super Bowls featured the Bud-weis-er Frogs and the “Whassup?!” guys. Each was extremely popular, instantly recognizable by a majority of Americans, and spawned numerous commercial sequels. But they failed where it mattered most, as neither managed to increase sales quite as well as Spuds and Bud Bowl did a few decades ago. Shortly after, the campaigns were ended.

So the search continues for Anheuser-Busch for the next great spokesperson, or frog, dog, or bottle, which will propel sales during the Super Bowl once again. Tune in next year!

Author: Marc Obregon, President, Accelerator Advertising, Inc.

Can Quality Creative Really be Crowdsourced?

Crowdsourcing creative is fast becoming a part of the design marketplace.

For those unfamiliar with crowdsourcing creative, it’s a way of throwing out a project to a worldwide pool of persons who practice a particular discipline, say graphic design, and in return you get creative submissions from artists with a wide range of experience levels and talent. You choose which concepts to pay for and negotiate a price. The turnaround is fast, and you wind up with lots of submissions to choose from.

While at first glance, it may seem like a foolproof and cost-saving way to get your creative done, but there are a few pitfalls you will want to avoid.

Get genuine original creative. When you crowdsource, you never know from where the artist or writer drew his/her “inspiration”. Be sure to have the artists certify in writing that the materials they provide to you are original to them. When in doubt, make sure your legal team earns their keep.

Not all submissions can be treated as equal. You may receive submissions from a hack, to an art school drop out, to an art director with twenty years of experience. Crowdsourcing is like Forest Gump’s big box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.

You will need to do a comprehensive and fully explanative creative brief. The old saying, “Garbage in, Garbage out,” certainly applies to crowdsourcing. This is where agency experience and expertise alleviates this pain point.

Don’t expect wonderful work. Unless the submitting artist has intimate knowledge of your brand, marketing challenges, and assesses your needs in professional consultation, you will most likely wind up getting results based on guesswork and whimsy. This is why so many professionals shy away from spec work. You simply can’t produce on-target creative without full development and consultation.

Some marketers report that crowdsourcing creative has worked well for some projects. And there are plenty of successful websites offering this concept to substantiate the results. Artists that I know who have participated in the process report that it is like doing spec work on steroids, where the number of submissions for a single logo project may number into the hundreds, and the artist gets paid less than minimum wage for the amount of time they put in on the job, that is if the submission is even picked.

Crowdsourcing is here to stay. It will be up to each marketers ability and conscience to determine if / when crowdsourcing creative should be employed.

What do you think about crowdsourcing? Comment below.

Author: Timo Matero, Founder – Director, Accelerator Advertising, Inc.

General Motors Rally Cap Commercial is out of touch with America

Has anyone seen the latest commercial from General Motors?  It’s difficult to see but they use the “rally cap” as their metaphor for the ad. If you’re not familiar with the rally cap, it’s a baseball superstition that started, I’m guessing, back in the 80’s. If your team was behind in the last inning, the fans would turn their baseball caps inside out and wear them that way. It showed solidarity among the fans to hopefully give their team a little extra luck to rally back and win the game.

The commercial shows the usual All-American lifestyle vignettes of people out and about but wearing their caps inside-out. The voice over talks about making a big comeback. It talks of new payment protection plans, financing, and warranties. The thing that I wonder when I watch this is who are they trying to rally: the consumer or themselves? Are they saying that we are about to lose the game (and declare bankruptcy) unless America rallies and buys their cars? Or, are they trying to tell themselves that they can make this comeback? And do most consumers even know what a rally cap is? Do the offers resonate with the consumer? To me, it sounds more like a threat than a sales pitch.

In this economy, and especially after the bailout, consumers don’t want to see a shiny, high-budget commercial made by out-of-touch executives and a clueless ad agency telling them to “rally”. Do consumers losing jobs and homes really want to see slick pricey cars, surfers on the beach, valet drivers, and Michigan Ave shoppers with their caps on inside out? I think consumers want to see something of substance and change. Not the same old, same old. How about an ad that simply says, “We’re cutting the cost of all our cars by 30%”, or, “Hey, we’re listening and we’re changing the way we do business”, or even, “ Let’s do this together, America.”  I think a little honesty and less pandering would go miles in the hearts of consumers.

In 1984, Lee Iacocca stood in front of the camera in a factory, looked you in the eye, and used straight-talk to explain the products, explain the company goals, and tell consumers what they wanted to hear. It was done low budget and to the point, which resonated well with the audience and was a very successful campaign.

Which do you think works better?

Author: Marc Obregon, President, Accelerator Advertising, Inc.

Pop Rocks, Pop Culture, and Life.

Nothing seems to entertain more than those mini movies on TV that we call commercials. Commercials are so loved that even 20, 30, or 40 years later, people fondly recall their favorites from childhood, or even the new favorite viewed just the night before.

I most fondly recall the commercials from Saturday mornings when I would sit on the floor in front of the TV, watching cartoons in my pajamas. Mind you, this was way back when there were only 4 channels and the commercials were as much part of the fun as the cartoons! Personally, my faves include: “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz!”, “How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?”, “Ancient Chinese Secret!”, “You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!”, and “Hey Mikey, he likes it!”.

That classic Life Cereal commercial where the older brother yells, “Hey Mikey!” was so memorable in so many ways because every kid could relate to it. A food that mom wants you to eat because it’s healthy, a friend who dares you to eat it, and then the pass off to the ignorant little brother who gulps it down because he doesn’t know what healthy is. And, guess what… he likes it! The commercial was so popular, it was named, “One of the 50 Greatest Commercials of All Time” by TV Guide! I mean, I know I fell for the marketing and begged for Life Cereal when I was a kid.

The funny ending to this story is about the supposed fate of Mikey. According to urban legend, Mikey ate a packet of Pop Rocks, chugged a Coke, and died when his stomach exploded. I’m not sure how or when this rumor started but I remember hearing it a number of times as a child and even today. People love these types of stories. However, it’s all untrue. “Mikey” or John Gilchrist, the actor, is alive and well and is now a radio ad executive in New York (which I think is quite the fitting profession for a pop culture icon).

General Mills, the maker of Pop Rocks, tried for years to dispel the rumors. Their customer service line took untold numbers of calls from nervous parents asking about the tale. In 1979, General Mills, desperate to quell the rumors, took out full-page ads in 45 major publications across the country, wrote 50,000 letters to school principals, and sent the inventor of Pop Rocks on a PR tour to explain their safety.

The rumors had done their damage, though, and by 1983 General Foods stopped marketing Pop Rocks. In 1985, Kraft bought the rights to the product, initially marketing it as Action Candy before reverting back to the original Pop Rocks name, where it now seems to be doing well on super market shelves. Perhaps the new generation of children do not know or remember Mikey, his “Life”, and his supposed fate. Although as recently as 2006, new rumors have popped up about a child in Brazil who died after swallowing Mentos followed by a Coca Cola chaser. These have not been proven to be true either.

Whatever the case may be, this is all a telling tale about how much brands can be helped or hurt by things out of their control and how much they become a part of the pop culture, good or bad, whether they want to or not.

And as a side note, it’s funny how Coca Cola didn’t seem phased by the hype. They never addressed the issue or seemed to be damaged at all by the stories. Maybe they are so big, such a large pop culture icon, and loved so much by Americans that no one wants to believe that they can do harm. Except to them selves… New Coke – 1985, but that is another blog altogether. Hey, thanks, Mean Joe!

Author: Marc Obregon, President, Accelerator Advertising, Inc.

Lions, Tigers and Teddy Bears … Oh My! Toy Fair ’09

After attending the 106th annual American International Toy Fair in New York City this past weekend, we at Accelerator Advertising are excited to see how well the toy industry is going to do this year. We were there to develop new strategies for packaging, designing children toys, and marketing the latest trends of going green and lead-free.

We explored every inch of the Jacob K. Javits Center and when talking with toy marketers they gave a general mood of optimism, given the current condition of the economy. They were also excited about the upcoming holiday season. The upbeat tone was obvious on the show floor as buyers and sellers were once again working deals for the forthcoming year. Several people said that in their first day they placed more orders than in the entire week of toy fair last year!

The newest and hottest trends were prevalent all over the fair with “green” materials used in the production and packaging of many newly launched products. We say products such as eco-friendly plush animals and biodegradable bags.

Another hot trend was being organically certified, which featured many more products than expected. Child safety is always a concern, and with the indecencies of lead poisoning in the past few years lead-free seems to be a number one selling point for retailers.

Another American International Toy Fair has come and gone and we can truly say that after what seemed like miles and miles of toy we’re sad it’s over and can’t wait for next year! Also, we’re eager for the upcoming year in the toy industry. It should be one for the record books!

Author: Timo Matero, Founder – Director, Accelerator Advertising, Inc.


Super Bowl Commercials

The Super Bowl is always the time North America looks forward to great football, food, drink, friends, and for me… great advertising. This year, once again, offered lots of great creative and memorable ads. The Doritos spot in particular was interesting because it was not only funny and memorable, it also placed the product in a starring role which many commercials fail to do in an effort to entertain rather than sell.

The most interesting aspect of this particular commercial was the fact that it was the result of a contest that Frito-Lay established months ago to let ordinary consumers write and produce their own Super Bowl commercial. The winner being the one shown here.

The Doritos’ campaign not only generated lots of publicity but also helped build a relationship with its consumers. The successful campaign attracted 2 million clicks on the contest microsite and also attracted 750,000 unique users, and 2 million total video views. The contest ultimately racked up one BILLION impressions, equal to $36 million in paid media. Now that’s impressive viral marketing.

The final winners, brothers from Indiana, Dave and Joe Herbert not only had their winning idea produced into a commercial viewed by 98.73 million but also walked away with $1 million dollars! (Not to mention the millions of hits the ad received during the week after the Super Bowl.) Frito-Lay won by having tons of free publicity, free ad ideas, and a free commercial that the Herbert’s produced themselves for less than $2000. The cast and crew worked only for food. I hope the brothers shared some of their winnings with them!

Fun and effective, memorable and timeless, it demonstrates that sometimes the best way to market is to go directly to your demographic and see what resonates with them.

The day after the Super Bowl, Doritos was number one on USA Today’s Ad meter for all the Super Bowl ads.

Author: Marc Obregon, President, Accelerator Advertising, Inc.


The Snuggie: Successful Marketing 101



Wake up marketers! It’s a world where the inmates run the asylum and you’d better learn how they do it! For decades now, marketers and brands have enjoyed the power to craft their messages and dictate how consumers should view their products. One need only to do a quick Google search for, “The Snuggie” to see how consumer driven content can benefit or damage your marketing efforts.
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Prepare Your Advertising for the Great Recession of ’09

In this down economy advertisers are going to have change their messaging. And the more quickly they do, the better off their numbers will become.

Here are a few common sense guidelines for marketing in a recession:

1. Stress the VALUE PROPOSITION of your products or services, rather than features and benefits. Think about how your brand will make a significant difference to your audience in terms they will value and understand. Consider the success of Walmart’s Save Money. Live Better campaign. Talk about throwing a value proposition out there for everyone to see and grab hold of, huh?
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Who Started Making the Holidays So Commercial Anyway?

It's A Wonderful Life

It's A Wonderful Life

Working in the advertising business, I get plenty of jeers from my friends and family around the holidays for my role in the commercialization of the holidays. I must admit, that even I at times wish the holidays weren’t so crass and commercial. That was until I watched the holiday classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stewart.
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