unboxed marketing

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Archive for the ‘advertising’ Category

what kind of breading?

Posted by Steve Buchholz on March 17, 2009

for most fast-food customers, breadcrumbs is breadcrumbs

for most fast-food customers, breadcrumbs is breadcrumbs

Had the TV on this past weekend and saw a commercial for a Wendy’s fish sandwich. Besides the weird sexual overtones of the ad–the woman was enjoying the sandwich just a little too much–the narration used the phrase “panko breading” to sell the fish.

Maybe I’m just a rube from South Dakota, but I had no idea what panko breading was. Curious, I researched the phrase. Turns out, panko breading is supposed to be a big deal in food circles.

Maybe it is super-special breading, but do most people know what it is? And if they don’t recognize it as special, are most people going to look it up? Doubtful on both counts. Instead, most people will dismiss the selling point as irrelvant. Why not show potential customers that the breading is special instead of telling us it is by using an obscure word?

Bottom line: fast food is not classy, and a 30-second ad won’t change that. Instead, how about showing me how your fish sandwich is going to help me solve a problem? How will going to Wendy’s make my life easier? Answering that question, not the kind of breading on a slab of fish, will make me consider stopping by Wendy’s on the way home.


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clean coal vs obama

Posted by Steve Buchholz on March 1, 2009

Let the clean coal marketing battle begin.

Two special-interest groups have begun a clean-coal marketing battle.

Two special-interest groups have begun a clean-coal marketing battle.

In this corner, we have the environmentalists who say there is no such thing as clean coal. In fact, I’m sure they would prefer the phrase to look like this: “clean coal.” One coalition of these groups created a the This is Reality site to provide information about the horrors of the coal industry. This group even hired the super-talented movie-makers Coen Brothers (Raising Arizona, Fargo, No Country for Old Men, etc.) to produce a TV spot that ridicules the clean coal idea.  

The spot’s not that great. It has a preaching-to-the-choir vibe, so I doubt it willchange many hearts or minds on this important issue. If the group’s goal is to strengthent he support of like-minded folks, they will succeed, but those folks don’t need much encouragement to be more strident in their beliefs.

In the other corner, we have the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a group of industries involved in producing electricity from coal. This group has a serious dog in this fight, and they’ve got a lot to lose if coal-fired power plants go the way of torches.

This group is running a television adas well, and it uses an unexpected ally-Barack Obama. Members of left-leaning environmental groups voted in droves for Obama. He’s their guy. But in this case, Obama’s words from the campaign threaten to derail environmentalists’ hopes. In the ad, Obama talks about the importance of clean coal technology and the impact it can have on creating a more green American future.    

This ad is far better than what the Coen Brothers produced because it can change minds. Obama supporters who thought they should oppose the clean coal movement will be swayed after seeing the President speak about the virtues of clean coal technology. The ad has one major issue-it’s produced by people who desperately want the coal industry to survive.  

The question for the coal guys is this: Can Obama’s implied support overcome their bias in this fight’s outcome. 

The decision is yours.

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jesus and the stimulus

Posted by Steve Buchholz on February 21, 2009

We all love creative ads that tell interesting stories. Of course, there is

american issues project anti-stimulus ad campaign is too little, too late.

american issues project anti-stimulus ad campaign is too little, too late.

true creativity that creates memorable messages, and there is imitation creativity that might make you laugh at the time but is completely  forgettable and ultimately useless.

Using Jesus in an ad that asks you to oppose the federal stimulus bill falls into the latter category.

The American Issues Project is doing just that with what they call a “major television advertising campaign.” The ad blasts the amount of spending in the bill and asks you to call Congress and tell them to stop wasting your money. You can view the ad at the group’s website.

The message is fine. It’s actually somewhat compelling because it puts the $787 billion into context. If you started spending a million bucks a day when Jesus was born and continued the spree to today, you would not have spent $787 billion. That’s an impressive way to show the amount of cash we are dropping on the economy.

However, the ad campaign is too late. The bill passed. President Obama signed it. It’s law. We could all call our congresspeople right now, but it wouldn’t do any good. This pony has left the gate. The American Issues Project would have been far better off running this campaign during the short debate on this legislation. It probably would not have worked, but it could have added something useful to the conversation.

Instead, the group is spending a bunch of cash to run a meaningless campaign. Of course, the organization could just be working for new members, but who would join a group that is willing to waste the donated dollars it receives.

This strategy needs a bailout of its own.

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unboxed rubber hits the road

Posted by Steve Buchholz on February 6, 2009

Encountered a dilemma today while creating new radio ads for my employer, a two-year technical college. I want this new campaign to help folks understand that during tough times, upgrading your skills is a great move.

Our agency wrote a draft of the script. (Script #1 below). I wrote a different kind of script. (Script #2 below.)

So, what’s the dilemma? The agency script is fine. It talks about features and outcomes and shows how the college can help people through difficult times. There’s nothing wrong with that. After reading it, I thought about a commercial that wasn’t a commercial. It was just good advice.

I don’t know which one is better since I haven’t tested either yet. And, of course, they both might stink. But I definitely think the second version is more unboxed than the first since it seeks to start a conversation and talk to people about issues they actually care and think about.

What do you think?


Have you been laid off? Is your job at risk? In this tough economy employers are searching for higher qualified people to take the place of current employees? Are you at risk? Is your job recession proof?  Don’t wait until it’s too late. Check out programs at Western Dakota Tech. You’ll find programs that’ll lead to “recession proof” careers in high demand like healthcare, electronics, and mechanics to name a few. Improve your skills to stay competitive at your current job or get a degree and move on to a “recession proof” career and create a better life for you and your family. The job placement rates and income levels for careers in healthcare, electronics and mechanics will amaze you. So…don’t wait until you get laid off or someone else gets promoted over you or even takes your place…make the decision now to check out Western Dakota Tech. It’s easy to sign up and get started, plus there’s financial aid. Just call or log on to wdt.edu today! Don’t wait until it’s too late. Check out the programs at WDT to find a “recession proof” career. Call or log on to wdt.edu today!


Are you angry as about the economy as everyone else? People just like you have lost their jobs. They can’t pay the bills. They’re struggling to keep a roof over their heads. 


We are in some tough times, and who knows how long it will last. But it doesn’t do you or your family any good to wait and hope for something better. Now’s the time to use your skills and talents to make the life you want rather than wait for something that may never appear.


What have you always wanted to be? And how do you get there? Those are big, important questions. They’re a little scary, too. Answering them requires you to do something bigger, to make yourself better, to take a bold step. There’s a cost to answering questions like that. There’s an even bigger cost to ignoring them.


If you decide to make the most of these tough times, consider all your options. Do you need a degree or on-the-job training? Or do you already have the skills to move into a new career field? Whatever the answer, do something. Don’t wait. Take control of your future.   


This advice offered by Western Dakota Tech. Let us know if we can help. www.wdt.edu.

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godaddy shows who’s your poppa

Posted by Steve Buchholz on February 5, 2009

Where Spirit Air failed in its attempt to leverage an edgy ad campaign, GoDaddy.com does a fantastic job driving website traffic from television ads.

The company’s recipe is simple. Buy a ridiculously expesnive ad during the Super Bowl, submit an ad everyone knows will be rejected, make a stink about it, rework the ad so it passes corporate network muster, and post the original ad on your website. Add in beautiful women such as the company’s famous spokesboob, Candice, or Indy car driver Danica Patrick, and you have a killer campaign.

GoDaddy’s unique and effective approach is critically important in a business where many, many companies are offering the exact same service for the exact same price. So what makes GoDaddy stand out? Two things. It has achieved top-of-mind awareness for anyone wanting to buy a domain name. More importantly, it has become the cool place to register domains.

Nice work, GoDaddy.

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Spirit airlines ads lost at sea

Posted by Steve Buchholz on February 4, 2009

Forgive the unfortunate turn of phrase in the headline. It’s been a long day.

I saw a story on Bill O’Reilly’s show tonight about a new commercial by Spirit Airlines. O’Reilly called the spot inappropriate, but I’m not so sure. The ad shows a guy talking to a friend on his cell phone as an older woman leans into the shot. When the guy hangs up, the woman says, “Was that my son?” The guy responds, “He doesn’t know about us.” The spot then says something like, “Think that’s crazy? How about $39 fares.”

Regardless of the content, I wanted to see the ad again so I could quote it accurately and analyze it a bit more. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it at the Spirit Air site or YouTube. What’s the deal with that? If you are creating allegedly edgy commercials, how do you not make them easy to find?

One company does that very well. I’ll write about them tomorrow.

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pedigree campaign for the dogs

Posted by Steve Buchholz on February 3, 2009

Have you seen the new Pedigree ad campaign? Very cool.

Not only are the ads funny and original, especially the bison version, but the company is using the campaign to give back. Every time you view one of the Pedigree ads online, the company donates a bowl of dogfood to a shelter.

That’s a sweet idea. It combines clever messaging with a social cause that lots of people can rally around. And here’s the true beauty of it-the ads never mention Pedigree. You can practically hear traditional marketers and PR people screaming in their conference rooms.

“We need to mention the product name within the first 5.6 seconds, and we need to repeat no less than 6.2 times during the spot.”

Really? How about create memorable messages that provide value? Do that, and people will remember your name.

The lesson for marketers is simple. Be different. Be unusual.

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