Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Final Blog Post

Prior to this semester-long project the word “blog” meant nothing to me. I thought these personal posts were for people with way too much time on their hands expressing their opinions on issues no one cared about…well I was wrong. I chose “advertainment” as my hot topic even though it was the first time I had heard of the term. After several confused emails sent to Kim, I started to get the hang of the concept used very strategically in online marketing.

My first few posts focused on advergaming, which I finally figured out is a form of advertainment. Advergames are a type of detailed advertising usually located on a company’s website to entice the viewer to spend an extended period of time of their website in hope they will purchase their product or at least become more aware of their brand. I spend a great deal of time on various websites including Coke, Pepsi, Nickelodeon, Absolut Vodka and Wal-Mart playing entertaining and most of the time addicting games that have to do with the specific company’s products. As an educated young adult, I am aware of the intent of these games. However, an issue that was expressed in numerous blogs and online journals was the concern that young children do not understand the difference between a fun game and brainwashing advertising. When I visited the Nickelodeon website and played a Sponge Bob Squarepants advergame it was apparent that a child could spend hours playing this game and not realize they are being taking advance of by Nickelodeon advertising. The Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission have distinct laws about advertising to children and it is highly likely that advergames have found a loophole for these regulations.

Another common characteristic in advertainment is the use of sex appeal as an attention grabber. I posted numerous times about companies creating racy mini-sites for promotions for companies such as Coke Zero, Reversa Anti-Wrinkle Cream and a virtual Halloween costume website. Depending on the target of the advertainment, the ads were either enticing or offensive. I did not enjoy the Coke Zero mini-site portraying girlfriends as jealous pests but I am sure there are chauvinistic men out there who find the mini-site hilarious and will purchase Coke-Zero as a result of the campaign. It is a tad ironical that a diet beverage that is typically targeted to women is clearly projected for a male market. The use of sex appeal works for the virtual Halloween website because this particular holiday is a time where it is culturally accepted for people to dress uninhibitedly. The clever Japanese website uses intense graphic, techno music and video of attractive people modeling the costumes on a runway making the outfits extremely desirable. If sex appeal can be used to motivate the consumer to buy the product instead of stimulate their libido, then this tactic is appropriate.

The final topic that was apparent in advertainment is the use of co-branding. I saw MTV partnering with Pepsi in a karaoke contest and Burger King has a partnership with
X-Box. When consumers are spending an extended period of time on a company’s website playing game or watching an entertaining video, they are very likely to retain information about the product or service the company is marketing. Co-branding works well in this situation because the consumer not only is more likely to retain information about both companies, but they have incentive to participate in the promotion since there is usually a perk involved. For example, if you buy a Value Meal at Burger King, for only $3.99 you can purchase a video game compatible with X-Box. Usually these games are priced in the $70-$80 range so this is quite the incentive!

Researching advertainment for a semester tied into my Audience Research course quite well. We spent the semester analyzing consumer’s media and spending habits and what triggers them to make purchasing decisions. Advertainment proves that people enjoy being entertained and are willing to spend an extended period of time on an intriguing website even though they are aware they are viewing an advertisement. In class we used SRDS and MRI Plus to get information about consumers and the type of media they use. Companies that participate in advertainment use this information on the databases to advertise using specific types of media according to the target demographic. They also know when it is appropriate to market this type of information according to the time of year. In class we analyzed the media books from various cities that Kim brought back from the convention she attended. Advertainment for certain products occur when the target audience watches that form of media most frequently. This type of advertising has proven to be extremely effective and I learned a great deal about companies as a result of my research. Thanks for reading my blog this semester, I hope you enjoyed it!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

How Do You Feel Today?

Rimmel London has integrated some pretty cool advertainment into their website by putting the consumer in different scenarios to show which type of Rimmel make up is appropriate according to the situation. Whether you are feeling flirty, laid back or experimental, Rimmel London has the perfect look just for you.

The homepage asks the viewer to select how they are feeling today by choosing between six emotions: extroverted, easy going, experimental, chilled out, energetic or flirty. Each link brings you to a different location depending on the mood you select. If you select flirty, for instance, you are brought to a virtual club in Soho full of techno music, flirty men and a full bar. The site gives you a series of playful options such as - mingle on the dance floor or get a drink at the bar. Once you arrive at the bar, you have a plethora of men to chose from. After a potential love interest is selected, you can ask him a series of questions until his profile appears and you decide if you are happy or heartbroken due to your findings. Just to see what would happen, I said he broke my heart and as a result, the website suggested I purchase Rimmel Waterproof Mascara. I was so legitimately entertained by the virtual club scene that I forgot the purpose was to promote Rimmel...pretty clever advertainment if you ask me!

Although the content is fun and original, I find it questionable that alcohol is promoted on Rimmel's website without the suggestion that underage consumers should not participate. However, based on the language the website uses such as, "What type of man do you fancy?", I am fairly certain the material is intended for a British audience where the drinking age is younger than in the United States. Perhaps Rimmel's web designers should have been more sensitive to the age of their consumers.

In regard to the site's overall image, Kate Moss may not be the most positive person to represent the brand, however, Rimmel London has done a great job focusing on the consumer rather than showing off their supermodel spokeswoman.

Will It Blend?

I first discovered the "Will it Blend?" series on YouTube where a man name Tom Dickson puts unconventional items such as marbles, coke cans, turkey still on the bone, etc. in a blender to see what happens. A particularly fascinating experiment is where the host blends 50 glass marbles to find out that the outcome is sandy glass particles. When the top of the blender is removed, a white vapor comparable to dry ice emerges and the audience is warned not to breathe near the experiment as the mesmerizing vapor is in fact glass particles! The experiment turns the blender upside-down and the final product is a small pile of white sand.

Other bizarre experiments from the Will It Blend official website include:
-Mixing coca-cola and chicken: Cochicken
-Combing a DVD, popcorn, and a can full of coke: A movie smoothie
-Combing a turkey drumstick, cranberry sauce, and stuffing: Thanksgiving dinner smoothie

To promote the "Juice Golf Ball" Nike has created a mini-site with a similar theme. According to the mini-site, the new golf ball is designed for more carry and distance. Perfect for low to mid-head speed players who need a little more juice! The experimenters launch the Juice Golf Balls out of a cannon-type mechanism at various objects to show the effects of the new powerful ball. Such objects include: a ceramic bunny, ice sculpture, lava lamp, birthday cake, jello mold, cantaloupe, a gumball machine and a jar of mayonnaise. Each object is shattered in slow motion in a fraction of a second. I'm not quite sure how accurate the actual destruction is, however the visuals make Nike's new balls seem like a desirable purchase.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Burger King and XBox Co-Brand

This week Burger King's retail locations have three BK-branded games compatible with Microsoft's XBox and XBox 360 consoles for $3.99, with purchase of a Value Meal, according to Marketing VOX Blog.

The three games are:

Pocketbike Racer - a racing game
Big Bumpin' - featuring bumper cars
Sneak King - where the player (Burger King mascot) must surprise hungry characters with a BK sandwich.

In addition to the King, the games will feature other BK ad characters, such as Brooke Burke and the Subservient Chicken. The games allow gamers to play against each other through XBox Live.

Advertising and gaming seem to be quite compatible. Gamers are used to constant product placement in their video games, so marketing these games via Burger King value meals will most likely not harm the chances of purchase. During the holiday season, people tend to enjoy home cooked meals with their families which as a result, may harm revenue for the fast food industry. Launching this campaign right in time for Black-Friday, people have a major incentive to purchase a value meal from Burger King in order to take part in the XBox gaming frenzy. Check out the BK gamer culture at BKgamer.com.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Reversa Anti-Wrinkle Cream

Public relations firm, Taxi has launched a seductive website promoting a line of anti-wrinkle cream called Reversa. Contrary to the racy Coke Zero website degrating women, this website focuses on older woman having their fun with younger men. Although both marketing approaches may be offensive on some level, it all comes down to the fact that sex sells. The mini-site has high-definition graphics and flash putting you right into the "Reversa" experience. The target audience is visible right away as an attractive middle-age women in a nice white pant suit sits on a couch reading a magazine. Using a sensual voice, the announcer directs you to the line of anti-aging skin care products and warns the consumer that intense side effects may follow.

The four skin caring products include a sun-spot reducing cream, anti-wrinkle cream, night corrective cream, and a skin smoothing cream. There is a description of each product followed by a list of "side effects" that are links to seductive clips of attractive men acting as personal slaves to a women's every need. Does it degrade men? Yes. Is it outrageous enough for the average consumer to overlook the sexual overtone? Definitely. The use of humor and sex appeal are appropriate for the target demographic: middle age women who desire the youthful appearance they once had as well as the young men they once pursued.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Tyler's Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide!!

Maybe I'm just excited because I am a complete Food Network junkie...

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and millions of families all over the United States are trying to decide on the perfect dishes to prepare for that special family gathering. This holiday in particular puts a lot of stress on the culinarily-challenged, so these people have the unique opportunity to visit The Food Network website where they can chose 10 out of the 26 holiday dishes for their personalized menu plan. The show's talented (and cute) host, Tyler Florence will take visitors through each dish's preparation, including shortcuts and techniques until the whole meal is complete.

The best part of this Food Network Special is that it is all done online, so you can pause and rewind at any time. It is like having a professional chef at your side the entire time you are cooking. It is fun to watch the domestic divas in full action on TV but its pretty much impossible to keep up with them if you are actually trying to attempt the dish they are preparing. Sometimes, they even get cocky about their superior cooking talents...just last night Alton Brown, host of "Good Eats" wore a blindfold as he prepared corn pudding. This is not typical of the many Food Network chefs who graciously explain the easiest way to prepare mouth-watering healthy meals in the shortest amount of time.

So relax and work at your own pace because Tyler is going to help you prepare the ultimate Thanksgiving feast. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Stunt Man

My favorite source for new advertainment, Adverblog presented a new and quite disturbing promotion for an upcoming ad campaign for Rexona: The Stunt Man. Initially you just see a virtual man enclosed in a plastic case as an action figure would be in a toystore. You have to press the red button to release the man and as the case fades away, the background morphs into a dark ally with typical dark ally objects...trash cans, dumpsters, a beat up car, etc. A timer appears on the screen and instructions appear informing you that you have two minutes to drag the man around the screen being as violent as possible with him. As the timer began to count down, I dragged the man toward a second story window and he was thrown into the air, smashes through the glass, soars back out the window and crashes onto the ground. Seconds later he is back on his feet in the orginal position he was standing in without any visible injuries. Curious if it was possible to injur the stunt man, I dragged him toward the car and he was tossed up into the air and came crashing down on to the front windshield and slowly tumbled off the hood of the car on to the ground. Sure enough, he stood right up on his own two feet without a scratch.

I don't know how this company is planning on preventing children from accessing this violent material but it would have an awful impact on children and young teens. First of all, the violence itself is completely inappropriate for children and the fact that you can throw the character up against a brick wall and through a car window without him getting hurt sends the wrong message to those playing the game. The message is displayed on the screen even before the game begins..."VIOLENCE IS AN ILLUSION" Ok so basically they are giving children the message that if you jump out your bedroom windown, nothing will happen? Not cool...

Monday, November 06, 2006

It's Not Magic...

Hummer has a cool mini-site featuring magician Daniel Chesterfield to promote the Mid-Size H3. The website is full of great graphics and magical sound effects controlled by the hand movements of show magician Daniel Chesterfield. I found the link to the mini-site through another interesting advertainment blog called dirkschuetze. You have two options on the homepage: enter the site or visit the official Hummer website. As I clicked on "enter the site" a small virtual version of Daniel Chesterfield walks out on to the black screen and moves the text window with the wave of his hands. I appreciated the site's creativity while the homepage loaded because they stayed consistent with the mini-site's theme, which resulted in maintaining my interest.

I watched three videos about the Mid-Size H3 which promoted its smaller size, better maneuverability, and fuel mileage. The first video was called "The Briefcase" in which the magician miraculously transforms a briefcase full of $29,500 into the H3. The second video, “Gas Station” demonstrates the H3’s surprising fuel efficiency, where it passes a gas station without stopping for fuel. The third video is called "Parking Garage" where the magician uses his powers to fit the Hummer inside a garage. This plays on the idea that the H3 is smaller than the previous models and will actually fit inside your garage.

Although I found these videos to be entertaining, it made me feel as though Hummer was contradicting its "tough bad boy" image. Previous Hummer models do not apologize for their size and accuse you of being a wimp if you can't handle it. Other blogs back up my opinion such as this car blog that I found when I was researching the campaign. Even though Hummer may have a contradicting message, it is obvious that they are trying to branch out to a wider market...perhaps women.