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Hey Guinness, I thought shaken-not-stirred was just for martinis


Happy St Patrick’s Day! In celebration, AdFreak brings us a cheeky-but-upstanding execution by St Pat’s staple, Guinness. In a 2007 effort by BBDO Toronto, the Irish brewers sent bars and pubs cans featuring blurry logo and type, each imprinted with a gentle reminder: “Please don’t drink and drive.” A clever, attention-getting call to responsibility in service of their “Enjoy Responsibly” campaign.


Shirts cleaner than an ad man’s conscience: Clorox’s Mad Men DVD Insert
clorox insert

The front of Clorox's Mad Men DVD insert: "Getting ad guys out of hot water for generations"

Almost all the brands advertising during the broadcast of Mad Men go for the same approximate strategy: demonstrate long brand heritage, show old-timey product shots of packaging changes over the years, maybe throw in some footage from vintage commercials, go retro retro retro, and ape the program’s throwback aesthetic and theme almost as if the show’s buttoned-up 60’s vibe is the only thing anyone who loves it cares about. I’m not saying they’re not fun, interesting, beautiful ads–in fact, kudos to BMW, Canada Dry, Clorox, et al. for tailoring the ads so well to their media placement–I’m just saying they all start to look the same one after the other, until you’re thinking, I get it, you’ve been around a long time. You’re hip to what this show’s about. Can we please get back to the story now?

I suppose I don’t envy them–trying to come up with clever, innovative branding to tie in on a show that revolves around clever, innovative branding is a lot of pressure. It’s hard not to be self conscious in that weirdly-meta creative environment, to be sure.

But Clorox rose to the occasion with their Season 2 Mad Men DVD insert. A simple single-sheeter tucked discreetly into the 3D shirt-box-lookalike DVD packaging (a tip of the hat to Mad Men’s consistently clever packaging team–the Season 1 DVD box, shaped like a Zippo lighter, was made of metal) featured an extreme closeup of a crisp white shirt collar like that on the outside of the box–except with a scandalous smear of lipstick, and the cheeky tagline “Getting ad guys out of hot water for generations”–a nod on the notorious womanizers of Mad Men. This simple execution managed to align the brand even better than before with the real reasons people love Mad Men, squeezing in a product benefit (and a little coupon on the back for all those desperate housewives…and househusbands?) while paying oblique homage to the characters and story that make the show great.

Clorox insert back

The back of the Clorox Mad Men DVD insert: "Saves the day while saving you half a buck"

Mad Men Season 2 DVD box

The Mad Men Season 2 box in which the insert came--the top part of the box had a clear cellophane pane just like a shirt box, and the box underneath had a shirt printed on it for a true 3D effect. The shirt's label cleverly reads "Menken's," after the department store owned by Don Draper's client-turned-secret-love

A perfect day for banana faces: Chiquita redesigns label with 25 new face stickers
February 23, 2010, 6:10 pm
Filed under: Advertising & Branding | Tags: , , , ,

A banana is a banana is a banana, right? Chiquita says no, and being perhaps the most recognizable brand in the space, thanks no doubt to its iconic blue-and-yellow stickers, it is in a position to do something about it. In a redesign aimed at making bananas playful, fun, and cool–and well, different–Chiquita designed 25 new attention-grabbing face stickers in the stalwart blue and yellow to turn instantly your average commoditized banana into an anthropomorphic potassium pod.

Recognizing that the little Chiquita sticker is the best branding asset at their disposal, the team sought to create bold and engaging personalities the bananas could take on through the stickers, and created a campaign around the notion “Don’t let another good banana go bad,” which in turn spawned an online hub that extends the brand experience through activities such as the Banana Boogie Battle game, in which fresh bananas do a dance-off against their spoiled and spotted counterparts, and “Banana Yo Face” in which users can create their own personalized sticker face from an assortment of features. It may not be getting people to voluntarily tattooo your brand name into their side (branding in the most literal sense–yuck), but the prospect of turning something as essentially mundane and functional as a product sticker into a brand artifact that entertains and in which people see value is pretty cool–when you think about it, it’s pretty absurd that someone would want to keep or share a brand sticker or a product tag, so if you’re actually connecting with audiences that way, more power to you.

View more images and read a great interview with DJ Neff of the design team here, in which Neff discusses how brand strengths, business insights, and audience behavior helped inform good design and effective branding. My favorite bit is in the brand equity section, which encapsulates the team’s media arts-savvy philosophy thusly: “When designing a brand for your product, make sure you know what party you are going to go to because what you wear speaks wonders about who you are.”

Start over, Warhol: Campbell’s undergoes neuromarketing-driven packaging overhaul

Maybe that’s a misleading title–it turns out Campbell’s, in a nod to their plum place in culture, is wisely choosing not to revamp their top 3 sellers, including the tomato soup can Warhol famously canonized. (Yikes–just saw the pun. I’m leaving it. Enjoy.)

But the top 3 are the only ones sticking with the old iconic design. Following two years of scientifically-based marketing research–neuromarketing–which measured audiences’ biometric responses to different packaging designs, Campbell’s has made major changes to its distinctive labels in an effort to cater to what audiences actually respond to emotionally, rather than what they think or say they respond to.

Measuring heart rate, skin moisture, eye-tracking, and other neurological and physical factors, Campbell’s is attempting to bridge the gap between audience feedback and sales by seeing what is really going on with audiences unconsciously. Revisions include a smaller logo placed at the bottom to avoid distracting from the product image, steam rising from the soup (no spoon!), a larger, more contemporary bowl, and color-coded soup categories at the top.

It’s no secret audience feedback doesn’t always translate into sales, so I’ve always found it a bit frustrating when every conflicting audience utterance is taken as the wisest of gospel. Where’s the grain of salt? Where’s the branding intuition? Being, as I am, a bit dubious of what people say they are/do/think/buy versus what they actually are/do/think/buy,  I like this approach to consumer behavior research. Sometimes it’s difficult to get at the real underlying truth in focus groups, surveys, etc. because the audiences don’t know it themselves or can’t articulate it–and sometimes, because they consciously or subconsciously just don’t want to admit it (or fancy themselves the sort of person they aren’t, or are influenced by external factors, or any number of confounding things). As such, it can be advantageous to observe the audience’s actual behavior and make your own educated inferences to aid in piecing together a more accurate audience story. Hopefully by leveraging more meaningful audience insights, this design makeover will have an impact not only on user experience, but also on sales–all by giving the customer what they actually need.

Take that, recession–Hennessey Paradis Horus is in town
December 22, 2009, 2:10 pm
Filed under: Advertising & Branding | Tags: , , , , ,

Paradis Horus

Italian designer Ferruccio Laviani has created an opulent new bottle for Hennessey’s new Paradis Horus cognac. Paradis Horus boasts flame-shaped packaging in the same radiant gold as its namesake (Horus is the Egyptian god of the sun), and features an oversized stopper reminiscent of the lavish headdress of ancient pharoahs (and, of course, of the cognac, that divine ambrosia, festively overflowing).

Plated in 18k gold and utlizing a new gold finishing technique, this sculptural bottle is a statement-maker and conversation piece: the bottle is clearly meant to be displayed, to be shown on a sideboard as a marker of luxury, status, and discerning taste–even as an art piece–a move that makes sense for a prestige brand like Hennessey, and a drink like cognac, meant for sophisticated entertaining.

It’s beautiful, it’s brash, it’s even insensitive. It’s a corporate jet to a bailout hearing. Conspicuous consumption of this sort is the ultimate let-them-eat-cake, but it works for Hennessey. It reinforces their promise of class that borders on crass, of larger-than-life, even reckless extravagance for those for whom ostentatious demonstration of wealth is even more important than wealth itself.

More views of the bottle–and some sumptuous concept sketches by Laviani–at designboom.

Paradis Horus

 Horus Comp