Who are the Ad Wizards?

Morgan Freeman’s voice can even humanize credit cards.

February 17, 2010
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There’s a lot to like about Visa’s Go World campaign, namely the heavenly voice of Morgan Freeman.  But for the purposes of this post, let’s take a look at how these spots look.

The first three videos, while much more somber, only use actual footage and photography from Olympic coverage. The last three, being more light-hearted, uses a lot more animation and special effects. All six are sepia-toned, thus allowing Visa’s logo to “pop” off the final frame.

The interesting aspect of these spots is that it takes until the final frame to discover what the ad is about. What Visa’s ad agency, TBWA/Chiat/Day, hopes is that through the similar tones and Freeman’s narration, the audience can remember who the advertiser is without hitting them over the head with it. It also hopes that with this discreet use of Visa’s name and logo, they can allow the audience to get wrapped up in the story and not realize they are being sold to.


Be Like Mike… Just for a second

February 12, 2010

Did you see Michael Jordan in this commercial for his signature shoes? No? Try pausing it between the :53 and :54 marks. It’s just a blur, but it’s his Airness.

The message could be interpreted in a few ways…

  1. With the right shoes, you can harness the power of Michael Jordan
  2. The newest Jordans allow even a superstar like Dwyane Wade to improve his game.
  3. With these kicks you can be temporarily possessed by the greatest basketball player of all time.

Hyperbolic messages aside, why would the Jordan brand and their ad agency, Wieden+Kennedy, choose to send it subliminally? Advertisers are constantly looking for ways to engage consumers who have “seen it all” and “heard it all” before. In this day of DVRs and YouTube, Wieden+Kennedy knows they can get their audience thinking and moving with just a flash of red.

The FCC’s stance on subliminal message states, “the broadcast of subliminal material is inconsistent with a station’s obligation to serve the public interest because it is designed to be deceptive.” Also the message must be meant to be perceived on a subconscious level only. As far as the FCC is concerned, since Jordan’s unmistakable red Bulls jersey can be perceived by the naked eye, if only for a moment, this commercial doesn’t contain any subliminal messages.

Putting the you in iPod

February 4, 2010

Insert target audience here.

Everyone can recognize the wonderful job Apple has done at marketing their iPod. The oddest aspect of their effective advertising is the lack of a represented target audience.

In advertising, we’re taught that the target audience is almost as important as the product itself. It’s common practice to show a representative of the target audience. Someone who the target audience can look at and picture themselves as being. The idea is that if the target audience can imagine themselves in the ad, there’s a better chance of them purchasing the product. The downside is that the ad may dissuade potential customers outside the target audience because the product is “not for them.” But what Apple’s ad agency, TBWA/Chiat/Day, did was allow the target audience put itself in their ads. The silhouetted image is literally a blank canvass that anyone can be placed in.

In the above ad, we can assume the depicted person is female, but we cannot determine age, education level, marital status, or any other target audience standard measurements. This allows the target audience to receive the message, and not discriminate everyone else.

Teach your children well.

January 31, 2010
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In our Visual Rhetoric class, our discussion touched upon how writing is being taught in college classrooms. We wondered if the writing in academia truly reflected the writing being done in the “real world.”

As a communication arts major at St. John’s University, I knew I wanted to be an advertising copywriter. I figured the work I did in my copywriting classes would give me the content to build my first portfolio. A portfolio for a copywriter is a book that contains samples of the writer’s best ads. Upon graduation, I sent out my portfolio to ad agencies in the New York and Philadelphia areas. More often than not, I didn’t receive any responses. The few responses I did get ran the confidence-shattering gambit, including – “not ready,” “immature,” “need more schooling,” “think of another profession.”

Looking back at my first book, I would agree with most of these assessments. But it wasn’t because of a lack of talent. My book – and as an extension, my schoolwork – didn’t properly reflect my capabilities.

Though my lessons at St. John’s gave me a good foundation and introduction into the ad world, it did not give me the proper support to meet real-world expectations. It was this deficiency that led to change my career goals. Now, I am determined to teach advertising copywriting at the college level. I want to develop a class that allows potential copywriters to walk out with an interview-ready portfolio.

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