Thursday, November 12, 2009

Visual Violations

I did not get this Fosters ad until someone explained it to me. I did not get the connection between the picture and the narrative. Alcohol advertising is directed to young men and the Addiction Letter (1994, p 3) says such advertising has an implicit and “dangerous promise”, that sex is an outcome to drinking.

The cantilevered breasts are an attempt at such an appeal, I guess. However, Sullivan says (2008, p. 55) that boobs are now a visual cliche in beer advertisements.

The idea here is that they provide shade to keep the beer cold. There is a risk, though, that young men seeing this ad could care less about Fosters, warm or cold, and take away the two attractive models from the ad.

At a brand level, IBM's Linux brand extension is a puzzle. Its Graffiti ads, for example, make no sense to me either. They are inconsistent with the entirety of IBM's umbrella brand that negotiates a meaning of stability, reliability and trustworthiness. Things you would want when entrusting them with corporate information systems. Instead, for the Linux brand extension, this is an ad campaign centered around a socially irresponsible act.

IBM actually defaced public properties in the campaign and they were prosecuted by Chicago and San Francisco (see Computer Weekly) . Shepard (2006, p. 3) advises that visual cues and brand dimensions should be consistent with the enterprise message architecture of a company. I view the IBM dimensions as trust, reliability, and stability. They are not a trendy clothing line where guerilla marketing might work.

For successful management of visual imagery and narrative, I present for your consideration Coca Cola. Coke communicates vitality and refreshment and always has an appeal to modernity. Coke is also part of my life. With its campaigns throughout history, The Pause that Refreshes, The Real Thing, and Max Headroom, Coke positions itself as something that fits into my lifestyle. It’s a cultural touchstone. To me Coke communicates style and energy.

Red is, after all, the color of vitality (McCarthy, 2005, p. 3)

Addiction Letter (March 1994) `Dangerous promises' campaign successfully fights sexy alcohol ads. Retrieved on November 9, 2009 from EBSCOHOST.

McCarthy, Jared (2005). Logos: What Makes Them Work. Retrieved on November 9, 2009 from WVU IMC 625 Week 3 Readings.

Salter, C., (2001). Trendsetter. Fastcompany. readings. Retrieved, November 6, 2009 from WVU IMC 625 Week 3 Readings.

Sullivan, L. (2008). Hey, Whipple, squeeze this: A guide to creating great advertising. (3rd Ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Anthropologie Visuality

Anthropologie understands its customer’s lifestyle and its stores provide a journey of self-discovery. Duncan (2005, p. 289) defines Lifestyle marketing as an association strategy, which uses situations and symbols of lifestyles that are relevant to the target audience. Relevant because it is their present lifestyle or one they aspire to. Aspiration might explain why upscale MSL surprised the skeptics.

Anthropologie is extremely effective at using visual wit to communicate with its customers. In our readings, Pink (1998, p. 3) talks with Gerald Zaltman who observes that “Cognitive scientists have learned that human beings think in images, not in words.” The visual artistry of Anthropologie has propelled them to unprecedented growth. Labarre (2002, p. 2) reports that sales have grown 40% annually.

Anthropologie Technique
Labarre (p. 1) likens visiting Anthropologie to her “open-ended sense of discovery” in France as a teen. She catalogues some of the Anthropologie technique. Foremost in my mind is that the store has a mission to be a journey, not only for customers, but for all the employees as well. Keith Johnson, a buyer, spends 50-75% of his time journeying around the world (p. 5). The entire staff (p. 6) is admonished to travel, shop, soak in culture.

In his book, Zaltman (2008, p. 98) describes the powerful Journey metaphor and notes it is rooted in our biological need for growth, progress and maturation. Labarre (p. 4) relates how Anthropologie wants to help its customers grow, similar to MSL. She quotes them:

"We wanted to create an experience that would set up the possibility of change…”

This is a powerful mission.

Other practices:

  • Be customer experts (p. 2). Women, 30-45, educated, in committed relationship….
  • An earthier sensibility (p. 3). Texture is important.
  • Imperfection, eclecticism, and quirkiness (p. 4). The nature of Journeys.
  • Merchandizing to set a mood, not highlight a product (p. 4).
  • Storytelling (p. 3). Their voice is friendly and worldly with good stories to tell.

Similar Stores
Pier 1 and Wegman’s come to mind. Pier 1 was the Anthropologie of its day, when I was in my thirties. Labarre (p. 4) discusses the creation of vignettes and stalls that reminds me of Wegman’s. Wegman’s is designed to look like a NYC street of bygone days, with each department looking like a street vendor you might find then.

Duncan says (p. 289) that lifestyle selling is especially effective in highly competitive categories. WVU School of Journalism (2009, p. 2) says that products are not the purpose of a business executing a lifestyle strategy. Products are the vehicles for delivering a message that resonates with the community that relates to your business.

Duncan, T. (2005). Principles of Advertising & IMC. McGraw-Hill.Irwin.

Labarre, P. (Decmeber 2002). Sophisticated Selling. Fast Company. Retrieved on November 1, 2009 from WVU IMC 625 Week 2 Readings.

Pink, D. (April 1998). Metaphor Marketing. Fast Compnay. Retrieved on November 1, 2009 from WVU IMC 625 Week 2 Readings.

Isaac Reed School of Journalism, West Virginia University (2009). IMC 625 Lesson 2: Your Client: Intro to a Shelter Title Launch for Time, Inc. Mission, Voice, Lifestyle Message, Target Audience, Strategy. Retrieved from WVU IMC 625 Lesson 2 on November 1, 2009.

Zaltman, G and L Zaltman (2008). Marketing Metaphoria. Harvard Business Press.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Semiotic Analysis of the BMW We Built TV Ad

The Ad and Some Background Research
The quiet clarity of the guitar picking in BMW’s We Built commercial (Bimmer: We Built) immediately grabbed my attention when I saw it on MadMen. The elegant and attractive work is a .30 TV spot.

The guitar score is lifted from Jackson Browne’s These Days track from the mid-60s. These Days is emblematic of the pop music of that time (Amazon_30_sec) and it has “lasted for decades as a classic of [blue] introspection made even more remarkable by [Jackson] Browne having been only 16 years old when he wrote it.”

Music can stimulate creativity and is also a fundamental aspect of creative advertising. Dr. David Allan (2006, p 435) says the value of music in inspiration as well as its use in creative advertising campaigns is a heightened arousal. Arrangements similar to We Built would seem effective appeals to baby boomers of higher income and education levels. The demographics of this style pop music has a bias for higher income and education levels. Likewise for BMW’s demographics (for example see BNet).

Signifier, Signified and Signs
In this advert there are several signifiers: words and a series of video clips. BMW has captured a fundamental psychological mazeway, according to Zaltman and Zaltman (2008 ,p. 145), the deep metaphor of Resource for automobiles. Deep metaphors are seven unconscious lenses that “shape what people think, say, hear and do.” They are widely used in marketing and if you own a deep metaphor for a category, the way Budweiser owns Connection in the beer market, you have powerful advantages.

Griffiths (2006, p. 3) says that the effects of marketing are based on a reward from the product, and this can include “deeper psychological motivations.” A Resource is an enabler. It is the giver of many rewards.

Since the 1970s, BWM has beat this drum, and kept the same slogan “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” The signified is being enabled with this ultimate machine. There is a sequence of seven video clips that lead up to the presentation of the text, “The Ultimate Driving machine.” The words before each clip say “We did not start out to …” but the unspoken completion from each video sequence is “however, our cars enable it.” The seven sequences in the video are:
  • Mastery (skilled driving)
  • Artistic Expression
  • Subculture inclusion
  • Pop culture inclusion
  • Mastery (racing)
  • Social inclusion
  • We provide the resource (we just make the car)

The sign for the first six video signifiers is an iconic contrast. The words “we did not start out to” form a contrast to the video conclusion. Griffiths (2006, p. 5) notes that contrast can accentuate a sign, in his case individuality, in our case Enabler-ing. The video clips are themselves semblances of various cultural touchstones. Stultz (2009, p. 1) informs us that with iconic signs “the signifier resembles the signified, e.g. a picture.”

The last, 8th scene is a presentation of the text “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” This is a symbolic sign: conventional English words. Stultz (2009, p. 1) again tells us that symbolic signs are culturally specific (like English words) and represent a conventional relationship between signifier and the signified. The BMW machine is our resource to fulfill our desires.

As a final thought, Stultz (2009a, p. 8) informs us that the application of Semiotics to marketing involves more than just signs and symbols. It must also consider social context. The ethos of our generation is different than previous generations. Wallace (1963, p 103) contrasted the Dionysian and Apollonian ethos and the transition he sensed to have occurred. For a quick overview see Dionysian/Apollonian. The desire for the Dionysian is personal experience, while that of the Apollonian is moderation. “The Ultimate Driving Machine” would not have appealed to an Apollonian culture, while it does to a Dionysian.

Allan, David (December 2006). Effects of popular music in advertising on attention and memory.

Griffiths, M (2/16/06). A Semiotic Analysis Of Diesel Print Ads. Retrieved on October 26, 2009 from WVU IMC 625 Week One Readings.

Stultz, Larry (2009). Semiotic Terminology. Retrieved on October 26, 2009 from WVU IMC Week One Readings.

Stultz, Larry (2009a). Lesson 1: What Does Your Idea Look Like? Retrieved on October 26, 2009 from WVU IMC 625.

Wallace, AFC (1963). Culture and Personality. Random House

Zaltman, G and L Zaltman (2008). Marketing Metaphoria. Harvard Business Press.

Health Care as a Connection

Differences between Health Care Communication and Commercial Marketing Communciations
Health care is a Connection Deep Metaphor, according to Zaltman and Zaltman (2008, p. 135). Deep metaphors are seven unconscious lenses that “shape what people think, say, hear and do.” They are widely used in marketing and if you understand the deep metaphor(s) for your category, you have powerful advantages. Why a Connection metaphor and what is it?

They say (p. 136) that across all studies of health-care, one facet dominates and that is the consumers relationship or connection with the health care provider. There is corroboration of this in our readings for this week. Chavez (2003, p. 29) says that “Good communication between health care providers and individuals is so important to achieving positive health outcomes” that it is a primary objective in the National Institute of Health (NIH) healthy people program. NIH is the publisher of the Pink Book.

The implication is clear, although other IMC practices have effect, in health care the importance of influentials is paramount. Gladwell (2002, p. 33) explains how effectively using connectedness can make or break a communications campaign. An essential link in communications is a role he calls Mavens. Mavens connect people with information. Health care providers are mavens.

Another difference between health care communications and “standard” IMC is privacy concerns. Duncan (2005, p. 259) observes that medical information is personal and subject to greater privacy protections. Chavez (p. 208) informs us that health communications often involves unpleasant information, and this needs greater testing to get right.

What’s the Same?
Well, we still go through the communications process. Chavez (2002, pp 11-13) describes a health communication process that is familiar: Define goals; Describe audience; Create effective messages by understanding the channel, identifying credible sources, test; Measure.
Hernandez (2009, p. 2) notes that health communication campaigns use marketing and communication strategies. Such might include:

  • Advertising
  • Public relations
  • Events andSponsorships
  • Promotional materials
  • Branding
  • Product placement

He goes on to say (p. 12) that the strategic process for health communication campaign, is similar to “designing a marketing campaign in non-health areas.” He lists a series of questions (p. 18) that we ask in other IMC areas also:

  • What’s the significance of the opportunity or problem
  • How does the problem impact people
  • Are certain segments more feasible or susceptible
  • What causes the problem or opportunity
  • How can the issue be resolved

Chavez, C. (1/9/2003) Making Health Communication Programs Work, aka Pink Book. Retrieved on October 27, 2009 from WVU IMC 621 Week One Readings.

Duncan, T (2005). Prinicples of Advertising & IMC. McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

Gladwell, M (2002). The Tipping Point. Back Bay Books.

Hernandez, N (2009). Lesson 1: The Field of Health Communication and Marketing. Retrieved on October 27, 2009 from WVU IMC 621.

Zaltman, G and L Zaltman (2008). Marketing Metaphoria. Harvard Business Press.