Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Kid Friendly Advertainment


I have read blogs arguing advertainment is an evil method of brainwashing children who simply think they are playing a game. Although I understand and respect the point of view, my faith was restored in the unique form of advertising when I visited the nickelodeon website. To my surprise, the website does a great job differentiating Nickelodeon's content from the advertisements. The word "advertisement" appears over the ad in bold white text on top of a black background. If nick.com had not made a clear distinction, even adults would have trouble differentiating the animated website from the animated advertisements. Next, I ventured over to the game section and clicked on Spongebob Bikini Bottom Carnival. The carnival is composed of nine tents, each of which you can click on for a different game. I selected "Sundae Splatter" expecting to find a pointless Spongebob game, but I was surprised to find the game had an actual educational purpose. All you have to do is type in the letter that appears in the bubble over Spongebob's head and if you type in the correct letter, he scoops ice cream into his bowl. Each time you type in the correct letter Spongebob scoops more ice cream into his bowl until he has created an ice cream sundae. You repeat the process for three minutes to see how many sundaes you can make...I made 58!...yes I did play a preschool level game for three whole minutes.

The game is a fun incentive for a child to improve their typing skills. It helps you learn where each letter is on the keyboard through constant repetition and positive reinforcement by winning points. Instead of a parent breathing down their child's neck forcing them to practice typing, the child has the opportunity to experience something educational from a well-liked and humorous character.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Now What?


I am in bed and decide to watch TV so I tune into my favorite channel E!. During the commercial break I watch an ad where two girls who are all dressed up get out of their car and hand their keys to who they think is the vallet parking attendant. They giggle and flirt for a minute and after the man gets in their car they are approached by another man in an actual parking attendant uniform who asks if they will be needing vallet service tonight... all of a sudden the man in their car peels out of the parking lot and the tag line is NOW WHAT? Followed by, "to find out go to nowwhat.com" Excited that this may lead to potential blog material, I visited now what and discovered this commercial was for State Farm Insurance.

The website is really cool and has animated links explaining in great detail how to protect your home and car through renters and car insurance. The renter insurance page has links of every part of the room giving advice on everything from preventing break-ins to checking your smoke detectors. I would never expect an insurance website to be so "young adult friendly" by including visually stimulating explainations and tips written in simple language. State Farm Insurance goes even further and intertwines advertainment into their website. The first form of advertainment is called AIM Instant Disasters where you can play a prank on a friend's computer by sending them a link and when they click on it you can choose what "disaster" they see on their screen. Various disasters include bugs creeping across the screen, a hole burning through the screen, and the appearance that the screen is shattered. If this was not enough entertainment, you could enter in State Farm Insurance's iFilm Now What? Video Contest where you submit a video about the last time something made you say "now what?" whether it was surprising, strange, or flat-out silly. Prizes include a trip to the 2007 MTV Movie Awards, Windows Media Center PC, or $20,000 in cash.

When I think of insurance I picture a lot of confusing terms and conditions, pages of text, and a man in a business suit speaking in jargon. State Farm Insurance transformed that image into commercials with cliff-hangers and a fun interactive website. Once my parents stop supporting me, State Farm will be one of the first insurance agencies I will think of due to their age friendly advertising. OK, realistically I will probably use the same insurance that my parents have but State Farm Insurance definitely has a solid campaign.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Heritage.com Broadens Its Name Through Addicting Feature



Heritage.com calls itself "the world's fastest growing family network" where you can create family photo albums as well as research your ancestors. I have seen banner advertisements for the website in the past but never felt the need to participate. Recently, I was looking at my friend's MySpace page and she had "My Celebrity Look-a-likes" in her profile where her face was surrounded by celebrities that did look quite similar to her. Hertitage.com cleverly gives users the option to put their celeb look-a-like results in their MySpace or Blog pages to target people like me: curious first time users who are intrigued by celebrities. I uploaded a picture of myself and instantly the program scanned their file of celebrities to match my features with the celebrities who resembled me the most. After about an hour of uploading different pictures to see which celebrities look like me, I wondered if creating the traditional photo albums would be as simple.

People are vain and they idolize celebrities. Combining these two features by showing vain consumers what gorgeous celebrity they look like is a formula for a popular website. What started out as simple advertainment for Heritage.com turned into intricate word of mouth for the website.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Bud is "wiser"



Although this campaign may have come out over a year ago it is still arguably the best ad campaign in recent history. Bud Light's Real Men of Genius campaign is a series of mp3 files formally known as "Real American Heroes" where the average American man is saluted for doing average American tasks such as Mr. Frozen Turkey Helpline Guy. Each ad follows a consistent pattern announcing which real man of genius they are celebrating intertwined with the hilarious backup singer emphasizing the key points of the message. These advertisements are so addicting that you end up listening to 20 of them at a time with a group of friends and you don't even mind hearing the quick "Bud Light Beer Anheuser-Busch St. Louis, Missouri" at the very end. Talk about effective advertainment!

I'm sure parents would say that an advertising campaign this entertaining and popular would brain wash underage kids into wanting to drink Bud Light beer. The Budweiser website where the ads are located requires you to enter your birthdate before you are directed to the actual homepage. Yes, one can simply make up a birthday that makes them 21 but this eliminates children who are too young to figure out how to manipulate the system (because they are the ones who are most vulnerable to brain washing). Perhaps I will feel differently about advertainment when I am a parent, but for now I enjoy being entertained by advertising and not bashed over the head by it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

MTV Video Music Awards Creates Interactive Ad Campaign



For the 2006 Video Music Awards, MTV signed many advertisers for multiple-platform media and marketing deals. The advertisers include Acuvue Brand Contact Lenses, Chevrolet, Herbal Essences, JCPenny, Pepsi, Taco Bell and Virgin Mobile USA. Instead of signing a typical event sponsor with a 30 second commercial spot each break, the companies involved their target consumers in each campaign. According to Christina Norman, President, MTV:
"Our audience experiences entertainment on multiple platforms so we are making the 2006 VMAs a multi-screen, interactive experience that will give them more access to the VMAs on more platforms than ever before. This year the experience will be truly groundbreaking with a live alternate feed of the big show available on MTV Overdrive, giving fans a first ever live behind the scenes view of the VMAs."
Pepsi sponsored the online VMA Karaoke contest, where fans could submit videos to Pepsi VMA singing a VMA nominated song. The winner gets to host their own show on "MTV Overdrive," walk the red carpet, appear on MTV's "The Big Ten" the week of the VMAs, and get tickets for the show.



Virgin Mobile sponsored the new VMA category "Ring Tone of the Year." Fan could vote for their favorite ring tone on Virgin wireless phone or through the VMA website The winning ring tone was announced live during the VMAs.

Involving your target audience is a key factor in successful advertising. Consumers will pay more attention to your brand if they have a reason to, especially if they can win tickets to the 2007 VMAs! Pepsi's karaoke contest was a great form of advertainment because the brand took something they knew their target audience enjoys and tied it into their ad campaign. Pepsi probably pictured the scenario as: friends getting together, singing their favorite nominated song, laughing hysterically, and then submitting their video to Pepsi's section of the MTV website. Since the final step of the contest was to submit their video to Pepsi, the brand is fresh in the consumer's mind. Brilliant.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Pepsi-tainment


I've just been introduced to the world of blogging! It has taken me a little while getting used to the whole concept of sharing my own thoughts and findings on a topic, but I am enjoying it. Over the course of ten weeks I will be exploring the way companies use the marketing trend known as "advertainment" to promote their products. Consumers have become jaded by traditional in-your-face advertisements that simply announce a product,its price, and where you can get it. Now companies have become very creative with the way they get their target market to pay attention to their product.

I came across advertainment called "Servin' It Up" on Pepsi's website. I clicked on the picture and it led me to an interactive game with full instructions where I could choose my character-Pepsi Guy, Hot Dog Girl, or Mozzarella Girl. As the game began I had to serve different customers in the restaurant based on their order. My character had to select the food and beverage that the customer ordered and drop it into their tray. There was a time constraint, so you had to concentrate and work fast. Not only was the game fast and entertaining, but the only beverage choice was of course PEPSI. While I was playing this fun game, I was constantly focusing on serving the customers Pepsi in a short amount of time. This type of advertising is brilliant because after a while you don't realize that you are playing in one giant ad. I encourage you to check out the Pepsi Game and see what I'm talking about!