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Agent C

Every Flight Comes with Free Bling!

kanyegnome.jpgIn the world of Hip-Hop, it’s not uncommon to consider yourself a brand and then peddle your wares. Eve, Beyonce, Eminem, Jay-Z all have or had fashion lines. Nelly and Lil John had beverages on the market. Many have opened clubs and restaurants. The list could go on and on.

Kanye West is breaking new ground, however. He’s decided to… ::drumroll:: … start his own travel website, Kanye Travel Ventures.

If you look at the site, it’s fairly… well, craptacular. Normally I’d say this was some kind of April Fool’s joke, except it’s April 2nd now.

According to Advertising Age, the site will eventually offer “travel packages with tickets to his concerts and concert merchandise.” Ya know. Besides low, low airfares and bargain car rentals.

And even though the company’s logo at the bottom of the page isn’t properly trimmed and posted(as of 4/2, anyway), the site is apparently legit. They’re linked up with Travelocity.

So, die-hard Kanye fans, brace yourselves. You will soon be able to get a great deal on following Mr. West to 15 cities so you can hear him perform “Stronger” 15 times.

Say Goodbye to Hollywood..?

nohollywood.jpgWith the inevitable loss of its $155-million Mitsubishi Motors account on the horizon, BBDO Los Angeles seems to be in danger of closing up shop.

Once Mitsubishi leaves BBDO LA, there won’t be a heck of a lot left to do there. And staffers are already on the prowl for new gigs.

Considering the state of TBWA Chiat NY, the higher-ups at Omnicom must be using Maalox as a mixer for their evening nightcaps.

Guess the Dinosaur.

dino.jpgWhat dinosaur CEO/creative principal brings out groups of his creatives on bonding weekends — skiing, fishing, and the like — on his jet… but only brings male creatives? Juniors, mid-level, CDs… doesn’t matter as long as they’re men.

Female creatives at the agency have complained that this gives the male creatives a somewhat unfair advantage – enabling to form a better relationship with the boss.

However, the trips continue as they always have, and even the agency’s HR department has turned a deaf ear to matter.

Hyundai Pulls the Trigger.

50starburst.jpgAs we suspected, Hyundai made a move towards The Richards Group. The auto maker claims Goodby is still “in good standing” with them, but this doesn’t look too good.

Remember – it was the dealers making a stink about Goodby’s advertising. Probably good conceptual and creative for their tastes, as dealers tend to like starbursts featuring gems like “save now!” and “for a limited time!”

The Richards Group will give them all the starbursts they want, apparently.

Hyundai has given them one assignment for fall, specifically for the dealers. They’re calling it a “mini-campaign.” Adweek explains how/why this is all happening:

Independent Richards, Dallas, created all the national and regional advertising for Hyundai before then-COO Steve Wilhite disbanded the dealer groups at the end of 2006 and hired Goodby in April 2007.

Before Goodby came aboard, the Eastern dealers opted to stay together and kept their ad business at Richards, Ewanick said, renewing Richards’ contract in January. According to sources, the value of the business exceeds $25 million in annual media.

A dealer-group system was reinstated as the year began. Sixty-seven groups now operate in six regions: California, East, West, South, South Central and Central. They are free to choose whichever agencies they please for local work, Ewanick said. Goodby continues to handle the bulk of the regional advertising.

So, there you have it. And to think… Hyundai ALMOST had all their advertising at a quality better than their cars.

Just When You Thought Rick Moranis Couldn’t Get Any Smaller…

According to Adweek, Sony Pictures has announced that they will be making selected titles available for download to cell phone users. Like Ghostbusters and Stand By Me.

Consider how small your cell phone screen is. If you’re lucky, the width of a movie viewed on your phone might be 3 inches wide…and probably 1.5 or 2 inches tall.

What does this mean for advertising?

Well, it’s a fairly new medium in the history of ad-making. We’ve been able to upload media to our iPods and hacked PDAs for a while now. And there’s been a dabbling in watching programming over your phone from a couple of cell phone carriers.

Soon, video will be watchable even on the crappiest of phones. Everyone will be able to walk around and watch B-movies on 2-inch screens. Or… perhaps they can watch something else.

For me, this brings up the question: is it appropriate to watch a movie on a 2 or 3 inch screen? Films were never intended to be watched that small. Just like bad TV ads were never meant to be watched on giant movie screens before a film.

Perhaps it’s time to take each format’s size a little more seriously. Things that seem funny on YouTube aren’t always funny when made larger. And some movies aren’t just as funny when they’re the size of a postage stamp.

As we move forward, developing advertising for a variety of sizes of screens, it might behoove us all to not just shoot one ad and assume it can be watched anywhere. Every format has its own personality.

Even if it’s really tiny and gives you a headache.

Truth in Hazelnuts.

nutella.jpgOn March 20th, reported that Ferrero, the makers of the greatest thing ever to come in a jar (sorry, Vaseline), would have to change a TV spot they made.

The British Advertising Standards Authority didn’t have a problem with the creative, so much as the messaging. They believed the spot to break TV advertising standards code rules, calling it both misleading and inaccurate.

According to Ferrero, Nutella is a “part of a balanced breakfast.”

The British ASA says the smooth, creamy orgasm-in-a-plastic-canister is too full of fat and sugar to be even remotely healthy-ish.

The ASA was quoted:

…We considered that the ad misleadingly implied the spread made a more significant nutritional contribution to a balanced breakfast than was the case…

Back to the voiceover studio. Would it be so bad to just say, “part of this delicious breakfast” or “part of this breakfast that maybe you should only have on weekends”?

My advice to Ferrero: don’t try to make it sound healthier. If you suddenly tell people it’s balanced/healthy/etc, they might think you’ve changed the product… The only balance people are interested in is your ratio of chocolate to hazelnuts.

Red Bull Gives You… uh… Cola?

service_13911.jpgWhen will BRANDS learn to embrace the true perception of their BRANDS?

BevNET reported on March 24th that Red Bull will be launching a brand extension… Cola. Natural Cola. With only 32 mg of caffeine, it will focus on flavor and not on buzz.

This doesn’t seem like a natural extension of the brand… granted, they sell beverages in the same cooler as Coke and Pepsi, but people have always reached for them out of function… not because they wanted to feel like they were drinking a Smarties-flavored soda.

A better brand extension might have been, I dunno… caffeine pills. Caffeine patches. Caffeine gum. A machine that looks like a fan, but has little gloves on it to smack you on the face over and over to keep you awake.

Trying to compete with Coke and Pepsi will probably lead to failure… The best thing a brand with such a strong identity can do with its money is run with its public persona – no matter how ugly. Embrace it, poke fun at yourself, and above all, DON’T try to be something you’re not.

Sorry, Red Bull… but we fail to see the possibility of ordering a nice, tall Red Bull Cola at Applebee’s in the next few years. You might just go the way of Crystal Pepsi.

Another BBHer Hits the Dust… In Style.

Recently, a handful of mid-level creatives have bailed from BBH NY. One story that can be added to this mini-exodus is that of Art Director Andrew Tider.

Before leaving the shop for a gig over at Nitro, he decided to make a video of himself packing up. Not just his office… the whole shop.

His coworkers dug it, of course… and luckily so did his superiors. Steve Hearty apparently called it “extraordinary.”


Who Needs Creative Merit?

mcgarrypic2.jpg It seems mcgarrybowen in NYC is on a roll these days. After winning JP Morgan and an assignment from HP, one has to ask what initiated all this sudden success.

Could it be some hot new hires bringing cutting-edge concepts to the table? Or a new division, offering services not once offered before?

No. It appears that award-winning, unconventional work is not how mcgarrybowen wins its business.

An example: recently, the agency won a piece of business from HP. Apparently, an environmental branding effort. SVP/CMO Michael Mendenhall gave this assignment only to mcgarrybowen and had the contract to move forward on his desk from day one.

Before his gig at HP, he was EVP of Global Marketing for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts… an account mcgarrybowen won a couple years back. Milking an existing relationship, mcgarrybowen simply followed Mendenhall like a lost puppy over to HP and went scratching at his door.

Same goes for JP Morgan, which was acquired by Chase Manhattan Corporation in 2000. mcgarrybowen started with Chase, moved on to JP Morgan, and is now secretly moving in on Visa. One of the top clients at Chase also happens to sit on the board over at Visa, and his vote carries a lot of water.

It’s like a new form of nepotism – which is unfortunate. The business dinners might be nice – kicking back with old friends, but the creative is just “good enough” and doesn’t push the standards of GREAT creative. Agencies in mcgarrybowen’s position don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them… especially since those hands seem to be the ONLY hands willing to touch the agency.

Bottom Heavy

Apparently there are lots of empty slots that need filling in NY agencies.

(Insert perverted response to last sentence here.)

These slots, however, are way up on the food chain. Seems like a whole lotta gigs for lifers.

Publicis needs someone to head up new business. As does Taxi.

TBWA Chiat Day
, Kirshenbaum & Bond, and BBH all really need head planners pretty bad.

Merkley and JWT are both on the prowl for a CMO.

DDB Worldwide
is still looking for a global chief of marketing and strategy.

Strategy and New Business seem to be the keywords here… hmm… where did all these guys go? And why the need for so many…?