The Tenties: An Ad Agency April Fool’s

One of the biggest jokes in the advertising industry is the number of award shows that exist to honour its outputs. So it is quite clever that Minneapolis-based Colle+McVoy, which has worked with Old Navy, Purina, Target, and General Mills, decided to act on this award show insight for the 11061708_794977273910003_108476885174316937_npurposes of an April Fool’s prank. The agency created The Tenties Awards and sent stylized invitations to various media outlets. It has its own website and is being trumpeted on social media.

The Tenties purport to represent the very niche category of “table tent advertising”. That is advertising that appears atop tables in restaurants, bars and, our favourite … other award ceremonies. And, as one would expect, from such a fine agency, the copy is damn good fun, “This year, we honor the dreamers. The risk takers. The ones who see something more than just a flat surface; they see opportunity. Those who toiled in obscurity, quietly connecting with millions where they eat, sleep and work. 11074708_794592203948510_3500536439816555279_nThey’ve built business empires. They’ve championed societal changes. No more shall their efforts be ignored, for today we celebrate those who did it on a table.”

Colle+McVoy know that award shows are the industry’s way of guarding its delicate self-esteem. The purpose of the Lions, Effies, Pencils and so many others are to make advertising professionals feel better about the profession while suggesting that the awards themselves accurately capture importance and value. DDB’s Global Chief Creative Officer, Amir Kassaei, puts this into context, “I believe winning awards only proves that you are good at winning awards.”

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Under the Influence: Getting Hammered on Alcohol Ads

The beer, wine and spirits industry is one of the most active when it comes to brand-building and advertising. From Absolut to Bud, the industry has produced many of the most iconic ads. They have also been smart and creative when it comes to efforts more “guerilla” in nature. This may date 6a00d83451ccbc69e2013485862140970cback to the late 19th Century when Pyotr Smirnov hired groups of people to theatrically demand his vodka in their local bars.

Over a hundred years later, Smirnoff Vodka teamed up with Wieden + Kennedy to create an urban art project in Sao Paulo. Local artists painted highly stylized and artistic graffiti on buildings across the city. The art was only visible at night under black light that were activated at random to illuminate the creations. In 2012, Absolut Vodka created 4,000,000 uniquely decorated bottles each featuring artwork created with splash guns, 38 colors and 51 pattern types. Absolut estimated it would take 94 quintillion bottles before two similar ones were ever created.

The industry has always been a big spender in advertising. Now a study from The University of Texas on the impact of alcohol advertising raises interesting questions. Researchers found that alcohol ads have increased an amazing 400% over the last 40 years. However, people are not drinking any more. It seems that the advertising spend works only in driving choice, not increased consumption. For society’s sake that is probably a good thing but absolut_warhol_by_lorddavid04for advertising effectiveness it suggests less may be more.

The report is blunt, “Relating these findings to previous research reveals a consistency in that there is either no relationship or a weak one between advertising and aggregate sales. Over this time period, beer sales have exhibited a downward trend since the early 1990s, while wine and liquor have increased their share of total alcohol sales. This is despite large increases in advertising expenditures across all three categories of alcohol.”

This helps support the argument that ads cannot be blamed for over drinking. However, there is one demographic where the industry must be aware of its influence. A study released this year in the journal JAMA Pediatrics shows that alcohol advertising that reaches children and young adults helps lead them to drink for the first time or, if they’re your_dad_was_not_a_metrosexualexperienced underage drinkers, to drink more. “It’s very strong evidence that underage drinkers are not only exposed to the television advertising, but they also assimilate the messages,” says James D. Sargent, MD, study author and professor of pediatrics at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine. “That process moves them forward in their drinking behavior.”

The industry is under constant scrutiny and faces calls for reforms related to their marketing
efforts like tobacco before it. Recent concerns have covered the targeting of women and adolescent African-Americans. Yet with no evidence of increased consumption, where ads have a role is in brand preference by informing consumers of competitive information such as pricing and availability. This is helpful not evil.

It seems that established brands should be sharing and creating dialogue around more tactical benefit messages rather than broad positioning. Both consumer and the industry have to be responsible when it comes to alcohol. A big part of that is being better informed which was why advertising was invented in the first place.

Related Content: Swystun Communications’ report on Wine Branding.

The Personalities of Ad Agencies

The New Yorker published an article titled, What Your Tweets Say About You. It profiled, AnalyzeWords, the latest creation from James Pennebaker, a psychologist at the University of Texas who “looks at the words we use, and in what frequency and context, and uses this information to gauge our psychological states and various aspects of our personality.” AnalyzeWords scans recent tweets to uncover your Personal, Social and Thinking styles. You simply enter your Twitter name. I decided to see how the leading advertising agencies made out. The results were interesting.

First, differentiation among them is largely lacking. Leo Burnett, DDB, TBWA, JWT, Wieden + tumblr_lsmyrny9j81r372c2Kennedy, Razorfish, CPB, and Saatchi are shockingly similar. They were primarily Upbeat, Plugged in but overly Arrogant/Distant. R/GA is in a league all its own. The innovative agency moves the bar on all dimensions portraying either a holistic dynamism or schizophrenia. Ogilvy needs to see a therapist given it is the most Depressed agency. BBDO, Leo Burnett, TBWA, JWT, Razorfish, CPB, and Saatchi lack a discernible Thinking style.

Individual results follow with fun commentary (all to be taken with a large grain of salt). Perhaps the social media folks who control these accounts will take notice and either make changes, keep doing what they are doing, or sign up for Instagram.

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