Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Walmart...is that really G?

I promise I have thoughts, theories, wonders and queries that extend beyond the breakdown of a 30 second spot (yes I meant to rhyme in a lame fashion there). However, I recently saw an ad that got me going. It was a very simple Walmart ad featuring Gatorade. There was not a whole lot to it other a Walmart store and an explanation that they carriy Gatorade at a low price (I apologize but I am not seeing it on YouTube right now, I promise I am not making anything up and that it does exist).

My initial reaction was a surprise that Gatorade wants to partner up with Walmart. I quickly found out that this reaction put me in the minority of thinking. My roommate along with anyone else I brought this topic up with made similar claims like, "Why wouldn't a brand want to be in a Walmart commercial? Walmart has millions upon millions of customers every day." As we all know Walmart and Google run the world so obviously I agree that the vast majority of consumer products would love to be featured in a Walmart ad.

Yet, I question whether it is a smart move in the specific case of Gatorade. Gatorade is in the rare circumstance of dominating a category. I understand that it is getting harder to keep its crown considering the success of Vitamin Water and the introduction of newly competing products almost every day. I also imagine that even a company like Gatorade is having issues with the well documented southern turn of financial frugality (that is my fancy way of avoiding the E word).

That being said, I go back to advertising 101. Is an action that is a possible detriment to your brand in the long run worth the opportunity to help sales in the short term. I mean no disrespect to Walmart but sites like this exist for a reason. And for the record I thoroughly enjoy that site and hope it continues to deliver the goods.

I know my perception of Walmart being the place we went when me and my renegade friends needed to buy  toilet paper in Costcoesque bulk for mischievous high school behavior is probably not the same as millions of others around the country. But Gatorade has spent years building one of the strongest brands there is. Most of us have probably seen this commercial...

...and frankly I think it is great (who doesn't love a good montage). You know what I don't think; that it screams Walmart in any way, shape, form, color, texture, etc.

I am more than willing to listen to the argument that being paired up with Walmart is too great an opportunity to pass up. However, I imagine that the vast majority of consumers would be able to gather that Walmart stocks Gatorade. Over the past thirty years Gatorade has built itself up into a monster brand that people love and respect. Gatorade's brand was crafted with amazing work like this...

Not by selling out to the man...did I just sell out to the man by using the term, selling out to the man? Probs.

One love, one heart

Eric McPherson

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rubio, Rubio Ru Bi NOOOOO

I'm sure Minnesota sports fans are pretty sick of hearing about Ricky Rubio (the recent Minnesota Timberwolves first round draft pick that went awry). That said, I will make this short and promise not to just regurgitate thoughts, rants, slander, libel, cliches about the economy being bad or opinions from Bill Simmons or any other ESPN/NBA analyst.

If you are unfamiliar with the situation feel free to peruse this article and/or this article for a better understanding of the debauchery that is Ricky Rubio. If you are a Twolves fan that is just pissed off that Rubio not playing for the Wolves this year means the team will not be able to take advantage of sweet Rufio, from the movie "Hook", promotions or chants during the games click here.

My frustration dates back to the NBA draft this past spring.

I believe the new GM, David Kahn, for the Timberwolves did about 95% of his homework for the draft. For the record I am a firm believer that GMs/coaches should do 100% of their homework before their respective drafts...weird concept, I know.

Let me explain.

Everyone knew that Blake Griffin was going first to the Clippers. The next 5 or 6 picks were pretty up in the air. David Kahn was obviously very high on taking Johnny Flynn with one of his back to back picks at 5 or 6. My guess is, like many of the "experts", he figured Ricky Rubio would be drafted in the top four, leaving him with his choice of Tyreke Evans, Hasheem Thabeet or James Harden to complement his dreamy I mean coveted point guard, Johnny Flynn.

On the surface, a solid plan.

Yet, David Kahn forgot to take into account the curse of former Timberwolves GM Kevin McFail. Naturally, the three guys that Kahn planned on choosing from were taken consecutively two, three and four.

Uh oh. Panic mode.

This led to Kahn quickly realizing that he had no choice but to take Ricky Rubio and deal with his whole Spain, buyout situation later. What Kahn failed to do was be quick on his feet and make a smart decision following the Rubio pick. He could not let go of his Tom Brady like man crush (oh wait that is me with a man crush on Tom Brady but we can discuss that at another time) on Johnny Flynn and decided what the heck, I will take him too.

The thoughts, "but wait, Ricky Rubio and Johnny Flynn both play point guard...Ricky Rubio and Johnny Flynn can't play at the same time...it will be difficult to develop both of these guys into great players if they have to split minutes with each other...it's going to be a pain to get Ricky Rubio to come here in the first place and now he will have to compete with a young, further developed player making him want to come to Minnesota even less" failed to surface in Kahn's brain.

You have the fifth and sixth overall picks of a draft, David Kahn nor anybody else on his staff couldn't have stopped and said "hey, maybe we should take 10 minutes and come up with a plan just in case Ricky Rubio does fall to us at number five?" I was better prepared for multiple scenarios during my fantasy football draft than David Kahn. I am a self admitted fantasy football dork, but nevertheless and alwaysthemore.

The moral of the story...

DON'T ASSUME (I will spare you the cliche "assume" saying), but take the extra ten or fifteen minutes for that "what if" situation. Especially if it is your first major assignment for a very public, high profile job.

(Like GM of an NBA team)

One love, one heart


If you like what I have to say or don't, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @emacdizzle

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Late in the Game but here Nevertheless.

Introduction: I decided it was time to take a crack at entering the blogosphere and share some of my thoughts that can't be expressed in 140 characters or less (I could not resist a cliche reference to Twitter right off the bat...sorry) I am a huge fan of just about anything  advertising or sports related. That said, I do not intend on attempting to intertwine both advertising and sports into every post. There will be times where that will more than likely happen, but as popular as niche is becoming I am taking a stand and will attempt to go against the status quot and discuss two industries within the same medium.

Here goes post #1 (an advertising focused entry)...

Yesterday I saw a new TV spot during SportsCenter (so much for not intertwining...) for 1800 Tequila. The ad features Michael Imperioli who famously portrayed Christopher on "The Sopranos". My guess is that this ad will generate a lot of buzz because of its blatant attack on Patron. It is a great example in the ongoing debate of whether ads that directly mention/attack their competition  are A) fair game B) actually help your competition because of the "all press is good press" rule or C) whether they are even effective at all.

Yet, when I saw this ad, this debate was not the first thing that came to mind. Like many others, I am a huge fan of "The Sopranos". At the mid point of my senior year in college, I discovered I had a neighbor who owned every season of "The Sopranos" on DVD, ever. Needless to say a few of my roommates and I ripped through the entire series over the course of our winter break (I'm not a big skier or snowboarder so I had a lot of free time during winter breaks in Minnesota...it's cold...check judgment at the door). A euphemism for this experience might be a  "timeless couch escapade". I agree with the masses that "The Sopranos" was a brilliantly done show and continues to have a huge influence on pop culture today.

Alright, I will try to get back to the tequila ad and to the point here but first a little more background. For those of you not familiar with "The Sopranos", Christopher's character was a very loose cannon with a lot of potential in Tony Soprano's mobster regime. He also had a serious drug and alcohol problem that became very significant to the plot throughout the series.

So when I first saw this TV spot, what immediately came to mind was, "Should Christopher be drinking?" Obviously this was a silly thought to have considering "Christopher" was a character in a fictional show. Yet, I guarantee the vast majority of people who recognize Michael Imperioli do so as the former Sopranos star, and I am willing to bet I am not the only one who thought about Christopher's drinking and drug habits when seeing him endorse a brand of Tequila. As I thought about it further, I decided that the ad could be portrayed many different ways; ironic, smart, insensitive or maybe I'm just crazy and nobody else really cares about this stuff because it is a pretty cool ad.

Yet, I question 1800 Tequila's choice of spokesperson. I have a hard time believing that during the concepting stages of this ad, nobody brought up this little detail about Michael Imperioli's past portrayal of Christopher. I am now wondering if he was chosen on purpose because people like me might over analyze the situation and talk to other consumers about it while generating buzz all at the same time (in that case, touche1800 Tequila).

I think it is important for alcohol based brands to be very careful with their advertising (which could easily be the topic of a whole other post, or five paragraph essay...everyone's favorite kind of essay, but I will spare you). Will anything come of this? Probably not, but I do not think it is smart to ignore details, especially the way consumers pick everything apart in today's world and how easy it is to post it online (see this post). Subtle details might not seem like a big deal, but when you are at the beginning stages of executing a very expensive campaign it is wise to make sure your ads don't contain elements that could lead to a negative uprising or just a small stir.

Only time will tell if this campaign helps 1800 Tequila become more top of mind in the classy tequila realm (if there is such a thing). I was once asked, "What are you doing tonight? You wanna get in the zone with some Patron?" So they might have a ways to go.

One love, one heart

Eric McPherson (Emac)

If you are at all interested in my shorter thoughts feel free to follow me on Twitter at @emacdizzle.