You can find your way across this country using burger joints the way a navigator uses stars.—Charles Kuralt
It’s Friday! Bring on the burgers and the beer! Wait, hold on, we still have to actually attend to business first. Burgers are coming, though.
This has been an interesting week in the world of advertising, but the best of the bunch have, rather surprisingly had little to do with that big ol’ football game coming up a week from Sunday. Well, okay, one of them technically has something to do with the game, given that it is the winner of a contest. Still, what makes that one commercial a winner has nothing to do with the game.
Intuit’s QuickBooks sponsored a national contest among its users and a small upstate New York coffee company, Death Wish, won the contest. Yes, you’re reading that correctly. Death With Coffee is the actual name of the company. The name comes from their claim that it is the world’s strongest coffee. I know, that sounds incredibly strong and bitter, but their website claims that it’s actually smooth, with hints of cherry and chocolate. While that’s not enough to make me want to drop $20 for a one-pound bag, should I ever find myself lost in upstate New York (and being lost is about the only reason I’m likely to be up in Round Lake), I might risk stopping by for a cup.
The commercial is definitely a wonderful prize. The 30-second spot itself, which will appear sometime in the third quarter, is worth $5 million, which is almost as much as Death Wish made the entire year. That’s not even counting the incredible amount of production time and an award-winning team that put it all together. All total, the cash equivalent is something like $12 million, give or take a pound of coffee.
Whether the commercial is worth the cost remains to be seen, of course. Will it double Death Wish’s revenue last year? More importantly, will it convince more small business owners to use QuickBooks? Both are pretty big gambles. The game needs to be close, no more than a touchdown difference, for people to still be watching commercials in the third quarter. If the halftime show sucks, and with Coldplay being the headliner that seems quite likely, a good portion of the audience may be dead before the second half ever kicks off. So, go ahead and take a look at the ad now and you won’t have to risk bad music or a bad football game later.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 36 hours or so, you are likely already well aware that Mattel has introduced a new set of Barbie dolls: tall, curvy, and petite. Allegedly, the move is being made to help boost girls’ self-esteem and address body issues that the traditional dolls created. While some would happily sit and argue all day over whether the new dolls actually achieve that goal or make matters worse, the truth is that children like playing with dolls that look like them and their friends. Children use dolls for a number of different fantasy and real-life scenarios, sometimes playing out things that have happened, other times fantasizing about the way they want things to be. For adults to superimpose too much meaning on their play, though, is probably inappropriate for the majority.
What’s different about the spot Mattel and BBDO dropped this week, though, is the involvement of documentarian Rory Kennedy, daughter of the late Bobby Kennedy. This is Ms. Kennedy’s first ad and the non-commercial, documentary feel she gives the piece may be just the approach needed to take on such a touchy topic. People, especially mothers, take Barbie and other dolls quite seriously and Kennedy’s spot does a good job of addressing some of the most common concerns while still keeping the tone of the commercial light and fun.
I don’t expect the new dolls nor the new commercial do actually do much to quiet Mattel’s critics. Some people are not going to be happy no matter what the toy company does so there really is no sense in pursuing every little complaint that might be made. Still, this is a positive step in a good direction. Take a look at Ms. Kennedy’s work below:
One thing the advertising world has enjoyed for a long time is the art of parody. We parody music, we parody pop culture, we parody celebrities, and we even parody ourselves. So, it’s no surprise at all that my favorite commercial from this week is a wonderfully horrible and yet brilliant piece of parody that is partly in bad taste and at the same time had me instantly Googling Schweid & Sons because I’d never heard of them.
The ad steps into somewhat dangerous territory, parodying the very serious P&G #LikeAGirl ads for Always. Women’s empowerment is obviously a critical issue and one that deserves serious attention. Schweid & Sons, which sells the meat for burgers by the way, isn’t challenging women’s issues at all, though, and brilliantly presents the one woman in the commercial as the only sane person in the whole spot. Instead, what gets justifiably lampooned is the snobbery, especially in upper-scale burger establishments, as to what makes a good hamburger. You want mayo on that? There’s no reason to feel oppressed by those who say you can’t. Go ahead, smash that box, eat your burger with a hot dog on it if you want. Burgers should be as individual as you are.
If you can’t watch the ad with a tongue-in-cheek attitude, realizing that we really do take the details of mere burgers far, far too seriously, then you’ve absolutely no business watching this ad. If you enjoy a good parody, though, and can handle the way both men and the dining industry get skewered, then sit back and enjoy. Then, go out and have a couple of burgers, and don’t be ashamed to ask for mayo.