Archive | December, 2012

The Best Ads of 2012 – Huffing and Puffing Brand “Magic”

29 Dec
Clint Eastwood emerging from the shadows in Chrysler's "Halftime in America."

Clint Eastwood emerging from the shadows in Chrysler’s “Halftime in America,” one of 2012’s best U.S. ads.

     The year that was in advertising may have given us Halftime in America,” but it also produced agencies working overtime everywhere else.  Once again, some of the most creative and strategic television campaigns were produced for foreign brands.  Together, they form a chorus signing to the power of using higher level values, metaphors, and emotion to sell a brand promise to the viewer.  

     There’s no better place to start than with Three Little Pigs.   The creative genius of BBH in London takes a childhood nursery rhyme and makes it real in an effort to sell newspapers.  Or, does it?  The strategic idea is that viewers, readers, and social media mavens can create the discussions that drive the news and its coverage—only at The Guardian. 

       It’s not just the framed Wolf doing the puffing.  Grandpa does it, too.  The McCann agency in Oslo, Norway climbed the value ladder to return us to another time when flying was magic.   Its brilliant message is that Norway’s Wideroe is the airline of wonder and freedom, not baggage fees and delays.  It begs the viewer to come to the airline where flying is magic again.

      Another one of 2012’s best is the beer ad you’ll never see in America.  In this case the Aussies take a tired American cliché and turn it on its head.  The folks at Carlton Draught and their agency Clemenger BBDO Melbourne cleverly mock every Hollywood cops & robbers’ schema ever made in an ad they call Beer Chase.

      The chase scene is not only fun to watch but is exceptionally strategic. Its target audience is beer drinking men who prefer their suds from a tap instead of a can.  It even has a unique selling proposition: beer so good you don’t want to spill a drop.

      Finally, 2012 gave us an ad that demonstrates the power of emotion.  Wiedner + Kennedy in Portland produced a powerful message for Proctor & Gamble’s foreign markets that doesn’t sell soap as much as it sells an idea:  we are our mothers.   Their commercial called Best Job is a clear demonstration of the balance theory concept that advertising savant John Eighmey calls “likability of the ad.”    If you like the ad, you’ll like the brand.  In this powerful message, athletes and moms everywhere are the winners.  P & G, too.

     Four ads, four boldly creative messages.  Can’t wait to see what’s ahead for 2013.   Now, where’s my bowl of popcorn?               

90,000 Stars — Reflections on a Fallen Marine.

1 Dec


             The tears that dropped like rain on a Minnesota prairie didn’t come from the cool air blowing on tired eyes.  They came from the heart.  Many more came from the soul.

             “Tim, I’ve never seen anything like this,” said the prideful farmer looking across the prairie from the base of St. Patrick of Cedar Lake Catholic Church. 

St. Patrick of Cedar Lake Catholic Church. The final resting place of Lance Cpl Dale Means.

St. Patrick of Cedar Lake Catholic Church. The final resting place of Lance Cpl Dale Means.

               “I can’t tell you how proud I am of this town.”  He didn’t have to say anymore.  The tears rolling off his cheeks filled the empty space where words disappear.     

             In this part of Scott County all roads lead to St. Patrick’s.  But on this day people only needed one, the road  where 1,800 American flags pointed the way.

             When the news spread days earlier that a certain son was coming home, it was hardly the celebration anyone wanted.  Dale Means was the kind of man a small town takes pride in.  He was a son, a husband, and a United States Marine.  On November 18th, what pride couldn’t promise a road side bomb took away.  What Minnesota gave, Afghanistan claimed. 

Marine Lance Cpl. Dale Means.

Marine Lance Cpl. Dale Means.

             Tragically, no news travels faster than that of a fallen service member.  When Larry Eckhardt heard, he knew what he had to do.  He packed up his trailer full of 2,000 American flags and set out from his home in Little York, Illinois.

             “Well, I went to a soldier’s funeral and there was probably pretty close to about two-thousand people there and only about 50 to a hundred flags,” Eckhardt said.  “I didn’t think that was right.”

             More than 400 miles later Eckhardt pulled into New Prague with a full trailer, a near empty gas tank, and a plea for help.  Bonnie Valek was among those who heard the call.    

Larry "The Flagman" Eckhardt

Larry “The Flagman” Eckhardt

             “Yesterday they had on the radio station, if they could get fifty volunteers.  And I volunteered.  And they had well over a hundred on the snap of a finger,” Valek said.             

            In a little more than an hour, this community known for planting crops was planting flags.  By the time they were done, the sons and daughters of New Prague with the help of Larry the Flagman built a tri-colored wall of patriotism that stood 1,800 strong.  The flags didn’t just bring volunteers, they brought pride.  Pride brought everyone else.

             Among the people lining Main Street was a man in a leather jacket with a face sculpted by the cold fall wind.  Upon recognizing a familiar face from television he reached out his hand with a tight grip.

            “Thank you, Tim,” he said.  “I’m so glad you’re here, people need to see this.”  He introduced himself only as Scotty, but like so many here the only name that mattered was that of the Marine they claimed as their own.

             “It’s amazing,” Scotty said.  “When I heard about the funeral procession I had to come out.  At first I was one.  Then five minutes later I was ten.  Then I was 50.  Then 100.”    He paused and looked up and down the street.  “Now, I must be a thousand.”

             As the hearse carrying Lance Corporal Means’ body slowly crept past the gauntlet of people, pride, and flags, there was hardly a dry eye.  Jen Ophus was among those fighting off the tears.  

Flags lining the funeral procession route for Lance Cpl. Dale Means to St. Patrick of Cedar Lake Catholic Church.

Flags lining the funeral procession route for Lance Cpl. Dale Means to St. Patrick of Cedar Lake Catholic Church.

             “I think it’s, really impressive,” Ophus said.  “I think it’s something that we should all do and show our respect.  I don’t think it’s seen enough.”

             Further down the street, Ron Dols called it an awakening experience.  “Unfortunately this country doesn’t show its patriotism enough.  And I think this is a good example of it.”

             Lance Corporal Means may have given his life along a lonely trail a half a world away, but at this critical moment he and his family were hardly alone.  His last trip to the church on the hill would be protected by 23,000 stripes and 90,000 stars.  Larry Eckhardt made sure of it.

             “I call it his last gift to the community,” Eckhardt said.  “Because, it does bring the community together and as long as they remember the flags, they’re going to remember him.”

 *            *            *

          Lance Corporal Mean’s funeral was #97 for Larry Eckhardt and his flags.  He was leaving the next day to drive his trailer to Iowa for the funeral of another fallen soldier.  To learn more about Larry Eckhardt and his flags, you can follow him on Facebook

Flags along Main Street in downtown New Prague, Minnesota for the funeral procession of Marine Lance Cpl. Dale Means on November 28, 2012.

Flags along Main Street in downtown New Prague, Minnesota for the funeral procession of Marine Lance Cpl. Dale Means on November 28, 2012.

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