Monday, February 9, 2009

Cash4Gold rocks! That advertising snobs like it or not.

All right, everybody has his favorites but wait. As stated in another post, I always end up fighting with friends on who’s the big winner and big looser because I always question the effectiveness first. Last weekend, during the equivalent of the Cannes’ Lions, we witnessed something unique which makes it probably the most interesting Super Bowl ever for advertising.

First of all, America is getting through one of the worst economic situation since the great depression (actually, we’re half way there with a real unemployment rate that is somewhere around 15%). Because of that situation NBC had hard time to sell all its spots (I remember 5 days before the event, I was reading on that NBC still had good spots available… something never seen before), we already knew right there that they would be forced to accept some weak spots to fill the gaps. That extreme measure taken from NBC led to the biggest controversy the next day; “What the hell was Cash4Gold with freakin Ed McMahon doing in Super Bowl XLIII?”

While people are still arguing trying to figure out the winner of Super Bowl XLIII (‘cause apparently someone shouldn’t qualify), whatever they like it or not… the winner is Cash4Gold. Big time!

You know, that whole situation reminds me of summer 1999…. Ahhhhhhhh! Campus life, parties, girls AND probably the summer of the most anticipated blockbusters as The Matrix came out as well as Start Wars Phantom Menace, Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me and of Course Blair Witch Project. I remember going back to class at the end of August and one of my teachers asked “What’s been to your opinion the biggest blockbuster of the summer?” I can still hear people yelling “Star Wars!”, “Matrix!”, “Austin!” and finally our teacher said it was “Blair Witch Project”. Yes, that nauseous filmed low-budget horror movie that fooled a few people with a narrative presented as a documentary piece.

Well, it appeared like he was right. The nauseous piece of crap as we liked to call it back then, only cost an initial investment by the three filmmakers of about $35,000, and is to this day (thanks to the marketing geniuses at Artisan, suggesting that the movie was real event) one of the most successful independent film ever shot with a gross $248 million.

In many ways, the story we just witness with Cash4Gold is very similar to the Blair Witch Project phenomenon. Cash4Gold’s long time agency partner Euro RSCG Edge designed a campaign using (by accident) a rhetoric figure called anomaly. You may find rhetoric figures in the content of the ad, in the elements in the image (such as example bellow), in the use of the canvas or in this situation an anomaly in the pool of announcers (just as the Blair Witch Project in the pool of blockbusters) and it became most probably this year’s highest ratio of ROI to production. It was on everybody’s lips on Monday morning.

My own palmares of favorites however are and Hulu as grand winners, and if we take a look at direct response commercials (which I believe are the future of advertising in this economy) is by far Denny’s with his free breakfast offer which generated a landslide of follow-up publicity across the country and got millions of people coming by car, bus, light rail and on foot to sample their food. Denny's CEO Nelson Marchioli estimated the company gave away 2 million breakfasts but if the promotion helps the company lift its lagging sales, it could be $15 million well spent.

I know a lot of people in the industry such as advertising observer Bob Garfield which stated earlier this week: “The truly scary thing is that …with the financial structures of advertising in a state of collapse, if creativity is so beside-the-point, then what is the point?” see it as a disgrace and being threatening for the industry. But being one of its survivors, I have to say that advertising has a taste of snobbery and when I read things like this, it confirms that today’s creatives are too often more interested in their own gratification than the client’s interest. For me, that’s the scary part as I witnessed a few horror stories in my career to back it up and it’s the subject of my post of January 3rd. That controversy in the industry is a great reality check and a well deserved slap in the face.

David Morin B.V.A.
Brand Artist

1 comment:

David said...


Hello, and thank you for your great comments on my blog.

You subscribe to comments, but every notification gets bounced back to me. Not sure why.

I just want you to know that I'm not ignoring you. In fact, I respond to most (hopefully all, but excuse me if I don't) of your kind messages.

I hope you're well.

David Airey