Tag Archives: the brief

THE BRIEF: Guerillas in the midst

The Brief wanted to feature Out-of-Home marketing because it has the potential to enrich your relationships with your clients and their brand advocates. The nature of the media also allows your creative teams to colour. Like the potential sizzle of a Saturday night, guerilla sets the stage for unexpected fun and outcome. And, of course, there’s also the bottom line vast savings versus traditional media. So, all in all, grass roots medias and their toolbox of new technologies have finally made it to the adult table.

By its ephemeral nature, grassroots marketing has to have immediate impact and cause buzz. Think of immediate gratification this way: thrilled customers can hit any one of their estimated 940 million social networks. Comment over the week on their 7 billion Facebooks accounts. And proffer over 200 million tweets*. As you can imagine, this is fertile ground you’re setting your grassroots guerrilla campaign in.

Michael Gillissie, VP Sales & Operations, Grassroots Advertising says grassroots advertising, “…is the gateway to an on-line relationship.” And according to the latest Nielsen’s latest Global Trust in Advertising report, word-of-mouth recommendations and reviews, either from someone they know or a stranger’s opinions online, are the most trusted sources of information for buying decisions. The findings speak highly for information gathered through social media or other forms of user-generated content.”* Often generated from your out-of-home experiences.

So let’s explore some of your grassroots options and maybe while you’re reading the muse will arrive.

Projection Campaigns. The following is an MIA Award Winning Projections campaign Grassroots Advertising and Optiamedia did for Doritos. Basically, they “toured streets in 7 markets in Canada with 2 projectors mounted on vehicles blasting these larger than life images in high traffic locations. The projected characters were triggered by TXT messaging from consumers passing by. [Grassroots] paired up with a sampling team to give the consumer a ‘real’ taste of the product while entertaining them.”*

Unless you have been inspired with a brilliant idea, please come back. http://www.grassrootsadvertising.com/projections/doritos/

Gesture Projection: Sapporo became the buzz when Grassroots and Optiad Wall Projections created this Night Projection and Gesture Projection System that works, somewhat, like a gigantic Wii. The content will respond to triggers, (similar to Wii). Gillissie says it’s about setting up these large projectors in just the right location and then having the right Brand Ambassadors to guide people through the experience. And of course, the payoff has to be quick. Interactivity must be linked digitally so people can share their experience in real time on their social networks. Grab a Sapporo and enjoy.

The Brief encourages you to look into all the Out-Of-Home options available to your your clients. Gillissie of Grassroots Advertisings speaks of such things as Interactive Windows, Mobile Billboards, Street Teams, Chalk Art and Stencils. Just about any guerilla event you can imagine. “Campaigns can incorporate SMS & Interactive, Street Teams & Collateral Handouts, Photo Walls & Live Streaming, Large Format Gaming, Bluetooth, Portable Flags & Banners, Mobile Billboards, Sound & Vehicle Branding. Wild Postings: Looks who’s moved into the neighborhood, 50′ Dominations, Wild Tears, (which allow the consumer to tear a poster and take it home.)

Smart posters with QR codes (Quick Response codes) and NFC (Near Field Communication), SMS (Short Message Service) triggered wild projections and gesture activated window FX are what [Grassroots Advertising] is currently focusing on,” reports Gillissie, who believes that “technology will create new opportunities for out-of- home to become more personal and more accountable too.” The words ‘More accountable’ should stand out like a mermaid in a desert. Metrics that matter to the client make guerilla tactics easier to sell. And as 91% of the U.S. has a cell phone, * and 95% of cell phones have SMS capabilities, and, on average, text messages are read within four minutes.

Three more minutes, please. Please stick around and see Ralph Lauren’s London 4D virtual Fashion Show. Watch, enjoy and speak to you soon.

Sources of inspiration

Many, many thanks to Michael Gillissie of Grassroots Advertising

FYI: Parker writes: “…though traditional paid media still are trusted by a great number of consumers, their influence is on the decline. Nearly half of consumers around the world say the trust ads on TV (47%), in magazines (47%) and in newspapers (46%), but those numbers dropped by 24%, 20% and 25% respectively, in a relatively short period of time – between 2009 and 2011. 

Still, Nielsen notes that global advertising spend increased 7 percent from 2010 to 2011, driven by a 10% increase in television advertising.

Among the more marketer-driven sources for online information and advertising, company websites and permission-based emails fared well. Fifty-eight percent of global online consumers trusted information they found on a company website, and 50% trust emails they signed up to receive. 

Next up on the trust scale are search engine ads, which are trusted by 40% of those surveyed. Thirty-six percent trust online video ads, and 30% believe banner ad messages. Notably, the banner ad number has increased 27% since 2007. Sponsored ads on social networks are trusted by 36% of respondents. 

Mobile ads of various types have increased trust levels 61 percent since 2007 and 21 percent since 2009. The most trusted are display ads – both videos and banners – on tablets or smartphones, which are trusted by 30% of global respondents. Text ads on mobile phones are slightly less trusted, at 29%.

Interestingly, Nielsen found that relevance often correlated strongly with trust, suggesting that online marketers could raise trust levels by making ads more relevant

* Canadians are a smaller population and slower to adopt with over 26 m. cell phones.


Comment to Linda at this address: thebrief@to411.com.
LinkedIn // Facebook // Twitter


THE BRIEF: The ghost of an old technology kills at Coachella

In 2012, deceased rapper, Tupac Shakur, gifted child of the Black Panthers, folk poet of West Coast’s Death Row Records, virtually killed at the Coachella Music Festival.

2Pac, wearing only his 6-pac and low riding baggy jeans, thrilled a new audience and stunned his fans when he appeared in a hauntingly reincarnated ‘hologram’ shouting, “What the fu-k is up Coachella?”

So lifelike was his performance that The Brief had to conjure an urban legend: what if Tupac is still alive? What if he is actually hiding out in Cuba as some of his fans insist? After all, nobody saw his corpse. And what about Tupac’s prolific posthumous output? But bizarre theories aside, audiences at Coachella had only Dr. Dre to thank for making Tupac’s virtual appearance as badass as real life.

Don’t take my word for it; watch and come back:

Did you think you saw a ghost? Me too. And, frankly, we did. We saw a variation of a ghost illusion. Pepper’s Ghost to be exact. A visual effect discovered back in the 19th century that relies on an angled piece of glass to create a ghostly image. And as back to the future as it may sound, virtually the same thing that was happening back in 1862 happened in 2012 at Coachella. With one technical difference: “In the Victorian era, Pepper’s Ghost was used to reflect actual, physical objects or actors, making them appear “dimensional” in ways that projected or computer-generated imagery, typically used today, do not.”*

Dr. Dre had a spectacular vision. To bring the illusion of Tupac “back to life” to perform at Coachella. First stop Digital Domain – the Hollywood visual effects company that won an Academy Award for the work they did on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Four months later, Digital Domain handed over computer generated graphics of Tupac’s physical characteristics and movements which were captured from recorded performances.*

About the difficulty in creating those graphics, Ed Ulbrich, C.E.O. of Digital Domain, said “To create a completely synthetic human being is the most complicated thing that can be done… performances of the rapper’s hits ‘Hail Mary’ and ‘2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted,’ weren’t simply old ones captured on film and repurposed: This is not found footage. This is not archival footage. This is an illusion.”*

But still a giant step from Coachella. To bring the computer graphics and projection to the stage, Dr. Dre enlisted AV Concepts in San Diego. They utilized the Musion Systems Ltd. patented Mylar screen - which steps up all the above to a gangsta spectacle that transcends.

Visionaries are inspiring. The rest of us can steal. Now that you know how and where it can be done, you only need the right brand, a budget over $100,000 and you can envision an out-of-home experience that may blow peoples’ minds. Just imagine:

1. A flash mob over mobile going out to 6 cities across North America.
2. They congregate to witness a staged event of (say) Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel. (Easy for me to say!)
3. Whilst ambassadors for Chanel hand out samples of their heavenly new fragrance. And you can download the Sistine Chapel as a free screensaver.
4. More mundane and done by AV Concepts with other CEO’s dead and alive - Steve Jobs makes one of his otherworldly new product presentations for 2013.

Of course, with a healthy budget you can always go the traditional route. But judging from here, you might challenge yourself to thrill people.

Madonna live with Gorillaz hologram using the same Musion Systems Ltd. patented Mylar screen in this illusion used for the 2006 Grammy Awards. Click and enjoy:

Séance Sources

* Rapper’s De-Light: Tupac ‘Hologram’ May Go On Tour’ Wall Street Journal, TECHNOLOGY Monday, April 16, 2012
* Report: Tupac Hologram at Coachella Cost at Least $100K Rolling Stone Music, April 16, 2012
* “Hologram” in Marketing: An Uncanny Ally? By Andrew Pryor Mashed Marketing, April 23, 2012


Comment to Linda at this address: thebrief@to411.com.
LinkedIn // Facebook // Twitter

THE BRIEF: From anthems to tantrums

By TO411Daily Columnist
Linda Chandler

GE’s new brief is an American idea whose time has come. Again. GE’s dancing elephants were a delightful metaphor for innovation. But these are not delightful times. These tough times call for big stories and a strong dose of American heroism here and there. And here comes GE to save the day. GE says they polled their employees last year – manufacturing workers, researchers, and corporate managers, over 130,000 people in the U.S. – and asked them to describe the work they do at GE. The employees rose in unison and said. “…the work [we] do builds, powers, moves and cures the world.”

The Brief wonders, is that all?

Clearly, GE wants to show us what a role model they are for these times. Co-branding its television commercials with several companies from healthcare to product goods is an example of innovation – but really, who comes out on top? Watch and decide for yourself.

GE’s commercial has all those human elements of pride and glory, right? But The Brief has seen this strategy before. It’s not innovative. It’s what Boeing has done. And United Airlines has done. And financial institutions have done during past hard times. Because hard times call for this tone of campaign. It’s expected that everyman rises up and roars. Making this GE campaign, likely only for The Brief, too transparent and ho-hum. I miss that dancing elephant. But the elephant can’t illustrate GE putting people back to work.

And Work is the operative word for these times. When I watch this campaign I hear this. Perhaps you do too.

GE co-brands with Budweiser for the Super Bowl. An economic touchdown. Co-branding as GE did with Budweiser is likely to encourage copycats. It makes the buy so much easier to buy. But because there’s more to what brings these disparate brands together than you’d imagine – it takes a full 46-seconds to explain it and a full 31-seconds before a mention of Budweiser. In this commercial, GE comes out the winner. If this were also a Bud commercial, wouldn’t there be some babes?

But don’t let The Brief blur your enthusiasm. Watch GE’s commercial with Budweiser which opens in the GE Turbine Manufacturing plant in Schenectady, New York…

Again, (hardly sub-text), all those images of people back to work and enjoying life. Over a Bud. But this co-branding commercial only imparts that GE is America’s harbinger of hope. Excuse me, is this a political year?

The Brief wonders, is this heart-manipulating campaign of real American people just a well-made piece of propaganda for GE? Should Budweiser get its money back? It feels that way to me.

But maybe I’m angry at getting ripped off. Read on.

Do you have one of those mediocre babies?

What does your baby do? Burp? Poop? Laugh when you make funny faces?

Don’t you just hate that? You got stuck with a mediocre baby like me. I had three of them. Not a one I could roller blade and drink Evian Water with.

Or, discuss my investments and financial future on E*TRADE. *

In hard times, leave ’em laughing.

Sources of Inspiration:
* http://www.ge.com/ca/en/


Comment to Linda at this address: thebrief@to411.com.
LinkedIn // Facebook // Twitter


THE BRIEF: Taking on a packaged good, a communications company, and a financial institution

By TO411Daily Columnist
Linda Chandler

1. When life throws you lemons, make Florida Orange Juice.
Florida Orange Juice fortifies you with more than Vitamin C, it gets you through the day, no matter what your day may bring. At least that’s what the Florida Orange Juice campaign would have you entertain. One glass in the morning will brace you from the evils of teenagers, unforeseen chaos at work, and dating wackos. The net/net of the campaign is that drinking a glass of Florida Orange Juice in the morning will support you with the equanimity suggestive of weed, coupled with the physical stamina of speed.

Like snake oil, a gulp in the morning will give you everything you need to take on all the pulp life has to offer. Isn’t that wonderful?

Challenges such as turning on your TV and being subjected to the new Rogers’ campaign.

2. Like it or not, Rogers is your partner in life. With a new and ubiquitous campaign that uses slice of life commercials that also break the fourth wall, the communications company attempts to show how interwoven their products and services are with every facet of our life. A curious conceit was the casting of the same boorish red-haired* actor throughout each spot for continuity. Very risky business if you don’t cast properly. Perhaps you saw him in Rogers’ Christmas commercial every 15 minutes like I did? If not, I paraphrase the spot below:

A 30-something red-haired husband and his wife are sitting at their dining room table. He is playing orgasmically with a new tablet (which comes free with two new mobile phones from Rogers). The wife is idly fiddling around with a ribbon on a gift she just wrapped. 


(playing with a free tablet)

Thanks to the kids getting two Rogers’ mobile phones that THEY always wanted, Dad gets the free tablet he always wanted.



Or, Mom.


(laying it on thick)

Of course! Absolutely! You can have it.

The husband turns to the camera, breaks the fourth wall and smirks an ‘as if’ to us.

I’m thinking about how to find Mom a good divorce attorney when I remember it’s only a Rogers commercial. Then I wonder why on earth a slice-of-life commercial breaks the fourth wall? It’s a poor technique that makes one feel like the husband is omnipotent. (Keep that notion in mind.)

One more from Rogers. Again, I paraphrase.

In a generic office, an officious boss (the same red- haired blowhard) walks past the work cubicles and stops for a split moment to leer at an underling who is watching a hockey game on his computer. The employee is noticeably shaken.



[Name] get in my office. 


And bring your computer.

Breaking the fourth wall, the boss smirks straight to camera.

The Brief hates this campaign and there are so many more spots in this series to disparage. But to Rogers’ credit, The Brief believes this campaign is nothing if not honest. 

The protagonist is an omnipotent bully. Just like Rogers. 

Herein lies the perfect example of a brand being too true to its essence.

3. Scotiabank says I’m richer than I think. I’m so happy? This great expectations campaign has been running throughout this not-so-great depression and has the gall to insist: “You’re richer than you think.”

Even while they nickel and dime you with hidden fees, Scotiabank personifies itself as the bank that finds you hidden cash. Please.

On Scotiabank’s homepage is the visual of an autumn leaf. (At my age I take that to be a metaphor.) The headline reads – Richness is: All around you. Look under the bed and come back. 

Not surprisingly, the copy squirms like an eel, like a Wall Street con, out of the premise. 

You have to read the copy. 

“You define richness. Not us, that’s for sure. We do know that everyone’s definition of richness is different and it’s rarely about money. Let’s talk about what richness means to you, starting with your next five years.” 

“Rarely about money”! ARE THEY INSANE? 

We all know what our idea of “richer” means in the context of banking. But, Scotiabank isn’t discussing how to get richer, or even rich; they’ve slyly replaced the idea of “rich”, which we understand as the accumulation of wealth, with the nature of “richness.”

A Deepak Chopra kind of richness. Good luck buying a house with that. 

Thank God I started my day with Florida Orange Juice.


  • Rogers Communications has continued to cast red-haired actors in their new campaigns. Your guess is as good as mine. Write in.

Please send me feedback about what you feel about the climate of creativity and strategy. Always eager to hear from you.


Comment to Linda at this address: thebrief@to411.com.
LinkedIn // Facebook // Twitter

THE BRIEF: Talking with Howie Cohen. Try it you’ll like it.

By TO411Daily Columnist
Linda Chandler

Every creative person I know in L.A. says the same thing. “You gotta talk to Howie Cohen.” So I’m thrilled when Howie says he’ll let me interview him for The Brief. Though I shouldn’t be surprised, as Howie is a self-professed “mensch.” And, as I am about to learn, a genuinely nice ad guy.

(And you thought that was an oxymoron.)

Howie suggests we meet in margarita heaven but interview hell. At a Mexican restaurant near The Phelps Group, an independent integrated marketing communications agency in Santa Monica (near the beach) where Cohen is currently a partner and Chief Creative Officer. I would love to say that I could hear everything Cohen said during our two hour interview, but in all truth, between the waiter insinuating himself into our conversation (just in case he could pitch his very own screenplay – as everyone, including the homeless in L.A, are working on a screenplay) and the overall ambient sound of crunching tortilla chips, gulping of drinks, and hobbling of heels over terracotta tiles – all I can say is it was no surprise, audio-wise, that the tape on my low-tech tape recorder snapped off leaving me with nothing but my memory and vivid impressions. And a huge Mexican feast. I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.

Here’s the salsa on Cohen. He started out in 1965 as a cub writer on the VW Beetle account. What an entrance. That was during the time when Bill Bernbach’s agency was a landing strip for shooting stars. Halls were filled with great thinkers like George Lois, Len Sirowitz, Sid Meyers, Bob Reitzfeld, Mike Mangano, Mike Lawlor, Bob Matsumoto and Bob Kuperman – to name a few. Creatives were pitching iconic campaigns such as Volkswagen “Think small”, Avis ‘We Try Harder”, Levy’s Rye Bread “You don’t have to be Jewish to Love Levy’s”, Mobil “We want you to live”.*

Now you should know that Cohen went over to Wells, Rich, Greene to work for the giant, Charlie Moss and the impeccable Mary Wells. She was responsible for plopping Alka-Seltzer into the daily lives of the burping American suburbs. At Wells, Rich, Greene, the young team of Howie Cohen and Bob Pasquilina were put on the Alka-Seltzer account – as the ‘just in case they hate everything else’ creative team.

To everyone’s surprise, the ‘kids’ came up with two legendary campaigns for Alka-Seltzer that went right to the Clio Hall of Fame. Their campaign lines ”Try it, you’ll like it” * and “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.”* caught on like Elvis and made war rooms of boardrooms – client vs. agency – huffing and puffing, “Give me one a those catchy phrases like ‘I can’t believe I ate the whole thing’ like ‘Try it, you’ll like it.'”

Success sent Cohen and Pasqualina packing. Landing as co-creative directors at Wells, Rich, Greene/ Los Angeles. Where the agency had substantial accounts such as Columbia Pictures, Max Factor and a fast-food chain that was quickly losing its numbers.

Jack in the Box was having trouble competing with McDonald’s and Burger King for share of the family business. It also had a bad reputation for its food and was disparagingly labeled “Gag-in-the-Bag”. These are problems that make clients run for the hills and acquire new agencies.

But Cohen and Pasqualina had a big idea to express Jack in the Box’s total change.* They would explode the clown. Boom!

As Cohen says, “Blame it on the clown. We didn’t disappoint our customers, the clown did.”*

The research numbers for the campaign, 30 being high, were at 72, making it the highest scoring fast food commercial of that time. And perhaps the very first ‘event-driven’ fully integrated marketing campaign, if not close to it.

Which brings this conversation to the present. And Howie Cohen is very much the present tense. As the CCO of The Phelps Group, considered one of the largest leading integrated marketing communications agencies on the West Coast, and recognized as one of LA’s “Best Places to Work” four years in a row, it’s no wonder we find Howie Cohen in that culture.

WARNING: If you’re unhappy with your agency, the following could be advantageous to your health.

The Phelps Group offers a range of progressive workplace benefits, including: reimbursement for education classes and programs; ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan); telecommuting; pet-friendly work environment; green workplace program; full-feedback environment; competitive pay and health benefits; weekly educational seminars; and hosted lunch twice a week.*

Howie referred me to the launch of his latest campaign for the City of Hope. The campaign line is: City of Hope, We Live to Cure Cancer. Cohen explains, “It’s the reason they get up in the morning. It’s what they live and breathe to accomplish – beat cancer! And unlike other hospitals that treat everything from heart disease to obesity to bad knees, City of Hope’s singular focus on curing cancer makes them the best at what they do.”

It’s The Brief’s belief that the reason for Howie Cohen’s longevity in this youth-obsessed business is his passion and singular desire to be the best at what he does too. Needless to say, The Brief would agree with my creative friends in L.A., you gotta speak to Howie.

You can do that by going to his blog MadMensch.* Which is chock full of nuts.

And don’t forget to send me your comments on Facebook and Twitter. Always great to hear from you. 

Sources of inspiration:

  • Alka-Seltzer commercial Script (1971, 30 seconds “Try it you’ll like it” by Howie Cohen and Bob Pasqualina. It went like this:

  Man: I came to this little place, the waiter says,

  Man imitating waiter: “Try this you’ll like it.”

  Man: “What’s this?”

  Man imitating waiter: “Try it, you’ll like it.”

  Man: “But what is it?”

  Man imitating waiter: “Try it, you’ll like it.”

  Man: So I tried it… thought I was going to die. Took two Alka-Seltzers.

Voice Over: For headache and acid indigestion, no aspirin or antacid alone relieves you in as many ways as Alka-Seltzer. For headache and acid indigestion.

Man: Alka-Seltzer works. [imitates waiter] Try it, you’ll like it.


Comment to Linda at this address: thebrief@to411.com.
LinkedIn // Facebook // Twitter

Posts navigation