An Ad That I Love Vol. VI

I’m going to take this opportunity due to a power outage at work to do one of my favourite things! An Ad That I Love post! Today’s ad came out almost two months ago but I doubt that many people have seen it on the TV. It appears to be an internet only ad and definitely making some waves especially from such a large player in the market.

The company is Kmart and it is currently the 3rd largest discount chain in the world (behind Wal-Mart and Target). I know I haven’t personally heard much from Kmart in the last couple of years besides financial troubles, especially after the company purchased struggling Sears* (date was 2005 according the sources). They have a convenient pharmacy which I believe is the last time that I really went into the store for anything. It brings to mind a saying that was tossed around in business school, something along the lines of “If you’re not in the top two, then you should not compete in that industry.”**

*There is a point to be made here that traditional brick and mortar department stores have struggled with other retailers with more and more people shopping online. These electronic retailers (Amazon, ebay, Zappos) do a great job of keeping costs lower than department stores but do have an issue with clothing wherein most shoppers still want to physically touch and try on clothes before purchasing. (Side, side note: Universal sizing, can that be a thing already? See: The 7 Most Baffling Things About Women’s Clothes) Sears has been able to pull through by aligning itself strongly with a tools/hardware as Kohl’s or Macy’s with straight to wear fashion and home goods. Department stores showing surprising resilience and maybe making a comeback? 

**A problem that I run into frequently is that I keep great quotations in my head but have no idea where I heard or read it. This is a problem cause I feel like 40% of the time when I’m having an intelligent conversation and want to incorporate information that I learned (or a great quote) I don’t put in that potentially excellent point because I think I have about a 60% chance of misquoting or misinterpreting the information and/or using a less than reliable source (see: reddit). 

So in the discount chain area, Kmart is in slow decline but with thousands of stores still open and a hefty network of suppliers and great some notable in house brands (Martha Stewart collection?), what is a company to do? Viral video ad campaign?

Oh boy, that made me laugh so much the first time I saw it. So it is an old established brand resorting to what really is the lowest common denominator. It is unexpected, crass, and very funny. Let’s break it down:

First things first, the service Kmart is advertising is having items shipped directly to stores for pickup. This has proven to be a particularly effective generator of sales for rival WalMart and Target as these brick and mortar retailers seek to tie in online presence to the store. The idea is simple, if you find something that you like when you’re shopping online, you can have it shipped for free to your local store where you can pick it up (usually within a day or so) and try it on and touch the item. At the same time, that is bringing you into the store with the opportunity for additional purchases (“while I’m here” type of thing). And it really doesn’t cost the company all that much extra as the lines of shipping between stores is existing at some level or another anyway.

The presentation is fantastic, while Wal-Mart and Target may have had established systems in place, both failed to make such a splash in the market, with the video above scoring nearly 19 million views on the official Kmart channel.***

***It is important to note that, especially on youtube, once a video begins to become “viral” several copies will be made on various channels in order to take advantage of the popularity. People will “repost” these videos in order to bring attention and views to their own channel which generates the channel owner revenue (through ads). Therefore any given video, such as the above ad, may have several million views outside of the “official” channel. 

Does it work?
Hard to say. According to this ABC report at the end of May, Kmart is showing a decrease in sales for the quarter but there really hasn’t been enough time to evaluate its effectiveness. There is a lot of buzz around the ad and personally, it is the first time in a long time that Kmart has really done something to stick out. I look forward to seeing how much of an affect this campaign has not only for the bottom line for Kmart but for the industry as well. How cool would it be if this helps Kmart sweep to some sort of fantastic resurrection?

Here is the latest ad:


As always, let me know if there is an Ad that you love and it might be featured here!


An Ad That I Love Vol. V

Yay! A shoe commercial! Athletic shoes are probably the most advertised, they don’t quite have the same sort of market as say dress shoes or sandals. Running shoes particularly have to have pretty good marketing campaigns to really move the product. There is a strange sort of mentality I feel in general consumers that athletic shoes have to strike a balance from wear-ability and kind of do-ability. Put it this way, the ads have to make it feel like the average joe can do something but at the same time promoting this this brand will make you do this amazing thing. This has as much to do with brands as it has to do with the individual ads.

A good example of this is Nike Air Jordans*. While there is a huge portion of the target demographic that may buy Jordans for more of a status symbol (which it definitely is among some groups). There are others that actually use them for basketball and I would imagine they can channel a bit of MJ magic when they lace up the sneakers. I can freely admit that I’ve been sucked in more than once to such schemes, like when I bought an ab wheel or when I got myself a decent road bike when I really just needed help with regular core work or needed to ride regularly to be better on the second leg of triathlons.** In any case, on to the ad!

*It is important to note that many wiki articles have some significant issues with its content. This article is the first that I’ve seen that has the caution regarding “written like an advertisement, needs to be re-worded to be more neutral”. Wikipedia is fascinating because it really has pooled together the collective resources of millions of people to put together a fascinatingly (and mostly accurate) knowledge base. It is not without it flaws, it will be telling in the next couple of decades whether sites like Wikipedia will remain free or the choke-hold of information by the corporations will bleed into limiting the internet as it is apt to do. 

**Which I do need to ride my bike more regularly to build up the appropriate leg muscles and get into a better rhythm while pedaling. Like I need to take a spin class or read a book. I think it is one of those things where I need to observe and speak to a good cyclist to get a better feel for what I need to be thinking and doing. I know that I learn and perform much better when I can take pieces of information, test them, and add them to a larger picture. What is that saying,” some people are thinkers and others are doers”? I just gotta wrap my head around the former to perform the latter. 

Firstly by just sheer aesthetics and first reactions:
I love the kind of exaggerated Kung Fu movie type dialog (especially the laugh) and that the athlete in question seems to just stumble in and doesn’t say a word the entirety of the ad. The kind of unexpected and humorous twist also helps to reinforce the catchphrase for the shoe “Like barefoot, only better”. I also like the name “Minimus”. Just kind of throws the barefoot/minimalist movement (which I have written about at length) right into the face of the audience and kind of rubs it in your face.

On the boring/technical/not very accurate analysis:
New Balance is very strong in the running shoe industry. The company still trails Brooks which holds a pretty significant market share in the demographic despite the presence of major shoe manufacturers, Nike and Adidas.*** The ad is part of a series of short ads promoting the Minimus not only that is a useful and effective alternative to running barefoot but also lends to the idea of trail running (becoming much more popular) and a sense of adventure when you go out running (who knows what you’ll encounter). The red color is distinctive but not too flashy and the character has a big New Balance logo right on his shirt which is a great tie in for the little amount of time New Balance is shown directly over the course of the 30 seconds or so. The main character, as it stands, is bearded, white, and generally gives off a kind of innocence that I think plays well to a running demographic that (for males) generally run 25-40. Do remember though, that women are the big demographic in the running community so it is kind of hard to say where exactly this is addressed in the ad. Still, just a terrific ad.

***Which is in itself a fascinating battle because you can break it down to market share in specific sports. Nike traditionally has a stronger market share in basketball while Adidas has a much stronger role in soccer. But it is not as if they have ignored the other sports, there is too much at stake in order to abandon the other sports and just focus on the ones that they are most known for. So millions of dollars in resources are spent to maintain margins (Nike has the likes of Manchester United in soccer, Adidas has the likes of superstar Derrick Rose in basketball, etc and so forth). But these battles for overall market supremacy leaves space for companies like Brooks (running) or Umbro (soccer) or even more ambitious Under Armour (which now has shoes) to carve out very strong market share in specific niches. Did you read and understand all of that? Congrats, that is bare bones, Strategic Management.

As always, let me know if you have an Ad that you love and maybe I’ll feature it here!



Quick update in my crazy racing calendar. Competed in the KCCC 5K with a finishing time of a little over 22 minutes. Not feeling very good during the run, it was a bit hillier than previously anticipated and it was quite hot with a starting time around 8:30AM. Still it was very exciting to participate in my first Corporate Challenge event and I’m looking forward to the other ones that are still to come this year. I have not made the half-mara team but I completed the first of two tryouts of the 3v3 soccer team and will be considered for a spot on the triathlon team. Fingers crossed!

Also completed my first triathlon of the year in Columbia at the Tri-Zou, a sprint distance event on campus at the University of Missouri. While it was a nice course and set up was great (another fantastic job from the people at Ultramax), I did not do very well due to the bike leg and the complications with the swim leg. The first leg was held in a pool which has some serious complications as far as logistics for the 800 or so participants. The 400 meter swim was set as a snaking path along the lanes in the pool but meant that one person at a time could enter the water every 10 seconds. While I don’t think there is a way to avoid this given the circumstances, I was very bored and very ancy waiting for over an hour after the first people started before I could even enter the pool and get my race started. That also meant that I would be outside when it was only getting hotter, later as the morning wore on. In any case, I faded a bit on the bike and had a rather poor run (what is generally my best leg) but a good learning experience. It was a fun weekend regardless and shout out to Nathan, not only for letting me crash at his apartment but also beating me in the race and all in the shadow of graduation from law school. Amazing! And best of luck on the upcoming bar exam!

As for me, I’ll be licking my wounds and prepping for the KC Triathlon in a little under two weeks. See you later space cowboys!

An Ad that I Love Vol. 4 -Super Bowl!

I read somewhere that it is only a matter of time before we as citizens of the US make a joint resolution to make the Sunday after the Super Bowl a national holiday. Not a terribly bad idea for a country that ranks pretty low in overall vacation time in industrialized nations. The eurozone, especially, sees the US as the kind of people who work very hard and don’t know how to enjoy themselves. A look around from this side of the ocean and it seems like Americans enjoy life a little too much. In that argument is a healthy balance of political natures, work ethics, and more than a good dose of patriotism. What we can agree on, however, is that the Super Bowl has created a kind of celebration for advertisements. Those deeply rooted American companies shell out the big dollars and tons of money on creating an exciting message of brand awareness in under two minutes. Many critics loved the Clint Eastwood/Detroit Chrysler ad which was probably my second favourite ad this year. It has a deeply patriotic theme with a beautiful sense of tone. Eastwood delivers an inspiring two minute message not only promoting the growth of Chrysler (which is profitable, apparently, despite the debt from the bailout) but also the rebounding American economy which reported some 240,000 new jobs in a recent report, which has spurred the market up despite worrying news from Greece. I think it was a not altogether inappropriate message, if just a bit slanted.

My favourite ad this year was from Volkswagen, who followed up last year’s smashing success Vader Kid with The Dog Strikes Back:


The Breakdown:
A neat concept about a dog working out in order to chase the new Beetle. Good simple concept, easy to understand with a little tie in to the New Beetle’s design. From what was an iconic bulky model to the newer, slimmer, and sportier model. It also plays on current social sensibilities about trying to be health conscious and the current state of exercise in the US (if you’ve read my blog, you know how running Americans are on the rise). Finally, my favorite part, the callback at the end to Vader Kid by showing the Mos Eisley Cantina from Star Wars: A New Hope. Again this is strategically placed to do a number of things. First, a simple callback to what was a tremendous advertising success in Vader Kid. Second, using the Star Wars theme to draw older fans who recognize the venue and the scene. And thirdly, I would imagine this has some part in helping to keep attention focused on the re-release (in 3D!) of the entire Star Wars saga in theaters.*

*As a side note, I’m torn about this plan. Good on George Lucas to take the old horse out and beat it senseless for profit. Star Wars fans are kind of obligated to go and shell out $12 a ticket to see these “remastered” movies in 3D. This current rash of “comic book” movies are being made because they have a very good customer base that will see the movies, good or bad, it is a compulsion. Star Wars is playing Disney’s game here by waiting a half a generation and re-releasing the same movie to not only get the old fans but the old fans taking their kids out too.

As an aside to an aside, an old (old as in former, not as in age) co-worker of mine brought up a brilliant point of view about movie remakes. The general gist being that he would like to see more remakes. Imagine if movies were like the theatre performing arts. Every year there are countless renditions of classic pieces each with an individual twist, a sort of personal touch, maybe the story itself adapted to fit the current trends of the times. How great would movies be in this same format? How about a remake of Star Wars by Tim Burton or Clint Eastwood’s take on Grease or Michael Bay taking on West Side Story? I’d pay for real real money to see Simon Pegg take on Casablanca.

Overall, Super Bowl commercials were only so-so. One article I found blames the internet and especially social networking on the general floppiness of the commercials which are generally celebrated as much as the game itself.

How The Internet Ruined This Year’s Super Bowl Commercials


Essentially, the author, Jeff Bercovici of Forbes, states that the “planned leaks” of this year’s Super Bowl ads made for a weaker product on showcase day. A lot of the ads that were released online were trimmed for TV and therefore less effective than the full versions that were made available a week before. The Ferris Bueller/Honda CRV ad comes to mind as disappointing when seen on the TV but brilliant when it was released before online. Not only did the still screens make for an incredible buzz due to old fans of Ferris Bueller speculating on a new movie but also just general nostalgia. This nostalgia was also a big problem according to Bercovici. I tend to disagree when he says that playing off of old viral bits to try to make another viral hit is cheap and uninspired. While in the digital age, our collective appreciation for things disappates quickly, I still think there is charm in casting Betty White to prop your show, or calling back to Vader Kid, or using talking babies. I do agree with Bercovici’s point on maybe advertising is changing from being made memorable to  being made to share. I think this is an important time in marketing, as well as business in general. The internet has changed the game completely and more and more money is being pumped into campaigns that are meant to spread quickly but not to take too much time. We’ll see how next year looks, I’m not willing to give up Super Bowl ads quite yet but I will expect to see them well before the Super Bowl.


Again, if you run into an Ad that you Love, drop me a line here or in my inbox:
There is a good chance that it’ll be featured in a future installment.

An Ad that I Love Vol. 3

So this commercial has been out for awhile but I really let the racing posts take over for a bit. I, like many other boys in my generation, grew up playing videogames and this commercial is great fan service to all video game players. Those who have been around are familiar with a lot of the faces in the room, Solid Snake (Metal Gear), Kratos (God of War), Chell (Portal) and many more. But what I love about this ad is the concept; What do these characters do in their off time and how would they interact? And at the end when they all give praise to the seemingly all powerful “Michael” gives every player a feeling of accomplishment I think.

Personally, I didn’t think of the video game achievements that I had done as a whole. They don’t mean a thing IRL (in real life) but a lot of games don’t. The feeling when you get immersed into these grand worlds with their fantastical stories and characters is akin to reading a really great book, except you are part of the action, you can control what happens in a particular world and that is awesome.

The people over at Sony really made a gem with this one. I really couldn’t tell you if there was a sharp increase in sales for the Playstation 3 but the English target is pretty clear. The Nintendo Wii has outstripped the other two consoles (Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s Playstation3) in sales since the beginning of this console generation with Sony placing a short second and Microsoft sitting third. Sony has a lot of advertising to try to capture more of the lucrative US video game market who seem to prefer Microsoft’s console. We’ll have to check back and see how holiday sales totals look in January.


If you have a great Ad, send it along! I love to see clever or creative ads and I might use it as a topic on a future “Ads I Love”.

An Ad that I Love Vol. 2

A classic ad playing on that always divisive topic of language. This ad is definitely targeted towards a more western crowd (Europe and North America) which is a fine area due to the general allocation of global wealth and level of education. The name and service are predominately featured at the end of the clip played in time to a familiar song which is shown to improve brand memory (think jingles). Furthermore, the sketch is short enough to enjoy multiple times and easy enough to share, it seems to be targeted at a university or older audience.

Now this video was posted in 2006, I believe the ad itself ran a couple of years prior along with a number of other ads for language proficiency.  The company itself (Berlitz) has done rather well since its inception and is known as the innovators of the sort of “classroom immersion” that has gained popularity in language instruction around the world. This style of teaching focuses not on the grammar translation style most people find in secondary or tertiary education but rather complete studies in the foreign language given that the students will work out the grammar and subjects in conversation without being able to readily identify or explain what they are (which is more akin to native speakers of a variety of languages). Berlitz Also, the company has a rather rich tradition in educating international business folks. This ad would be in line for that particular market: short and to the point, directed at an older crowd, funny and easy to remember, and addressing a very real need for that industry.


On an unrelated note, if you subscribed to help me out for my class contest, it is over and you can cancel anytime. However, if you like some of the things I’m writing about or you enjoy some of the things that I share, please share my blog to your friends/coworkers/friendly, yet disinterested in pursuing a relationship unless you get a real job and move out of your parent’s basement, former romantic interests, it might be a fun and it would help me hone my craft a bit.


Bonus Berlitz Language Videos!





Remember, if you have an Ad that you love that you think others would love too, leave the link in the comments and I’ll post it up on the next “Ad’s That I Love”

An Ad That I Love Vol. 1

Wanted to start a new series on the online ads that I love. Mainly because I am on the internet a lot and tend to see a lot of advertisements, it is not out of the realm of possibility that those ads are applicable to the theme of this blog. So the first one is a Japanese ad that is definitely not targeted towards a US audience, given the Japanese text and title. In that way, it really does not work in communicating the product or really the brand. I don’t believe this is a Sanrio production but because Hello Kitty is a pop culture icon in Japan, she is a popular figure in ads around the world.

I think this ads succeeds because of the humor that is injected using an established pop culture figure doing something rather unexpected. An appropriately short length and a rather bold color scheme also helps to distinguish this ad from others around. Now, for all I know, this is an advertisement for a variety of terribly illegal drugs but it does capture and hold attention finally to deliver the message at the end.


I hope to include more ads in the future, but please leave a comment about Ads that you love and I’ll pick out ones that I can analyze and add them here.