October 15, 2008

haute couture delivered to your inbox

A friend has recently introduced me to a new form of advertising--the elite online sale. The basic concept is that a friend who is already a member has to invite you to join. Once you're been invited, you are able to sign up to be on a mailing list. You then receive daily or weekly email updates about exclusive sales of high-designer items. Name brands like Marc Jacobs, Waterford, Laundry, Kate Spade and Kay Unger are some of the names that are offered at steep discounts.

To up the hype, once you get into a sale (most of which only available for a set amount of time) you have to rush to beat the other buyers. As items are put in shopping carts or purchased, icons saying "on hold" or "sold out" pop up. The faster you are able to get to the sale, the more likely you are to fine something you want. And once you find it, you have to act quickly to buy it before someone else does. Rush!

Wow, they have really hit female shoppers hard. They are offering exclusive items that most people can't afford at prices that are much closer to their normal price range. Get it now before it's gone. You are forced to make an impulse buy. Return policies vary from site to site, many not offering them at all. Purses, clothing, watches, sunglasses, crystal, home items. You can get all these luxury items--if you act fast.

This is a great way to advertise without having to spend a lot of money. These websites are bringing the store to your local inbox. They don't have to carry the overhead of a storefront. They don't have to pay for advertising in magazines or on television. They have an ad that is builds a sense of urgency, makes the receiver feel special (for they are getting an email only a few people are allowed to get) and sell the product. And their only advertising cost is designing an email and a website. That's a good ROI.

Oh, gotta run, I just got an email about a hot sale...

Sample sites:

October 14, 2008

Promoting a PR Firm

Very often, public relations firms are hired to promote a person, an organization, or product. These firms have to be creative, too. However, what about themselves? How should a PR firm promote themselves? Should they be strictly business and professional? Or should they show that they have a sense of humor?

If you visit the websites of one of the bigger PR firms such as Edelman or Ogilvy, they're more clean-cut and straight down to business. However, for boutique PR firms who aren't as well-known, their websites have to grab the potential client's attention while still portraying a professional look. Some firms like JS2 Communications have catchy music and flashy graphics. They also include a "Team" page which shows the members of the firm, which allows the potential client to see who they will be working with.

Lots of boutique PR specialize in certain areas. For ID PR, their specialization in within the entertainment industry, mostly as publicists of our favorite actors and actresses. One of the interesting sections of their website is the "Giving Back" section. For most of us, we see celebrities as these wealthy individuals without really helping others; it's a negative image that ID PR wants to remove, thus the inclusion of the section in the website.

One PR firm website that I came across is Maloney & Fox. At their "Happy Place" section, you can download the firm's theme songs, one of which plays on the opening page. You can also sign-up to be on the mailing list to get free stuff. Lastly, the firm made self-promotional videos or “advermations," as they called them. One of them is below.

As a PR person, I find myself strangely drawn to these boutique firms. They have more shots of personality than the larger firms. I would like to work for a fun, hard-working group of people, even if it's based solely on their websites.

October 13, 2008


If you’re one who gets up bright and early on a Monday eager to start your day, you’re one of few. However, ESPN’s new “Alarm” television commercial sure gives its audience a new incentive to starting their weekly routine on Monday. This commercial is part of a new ad campaign for ESPN’s Monday Night Football.

The first line of this commercial may resonate with many viewers: “Monday, back to the grind for you and your alarm.” How many times do you find yourself hitting the snooze button on Monday? How many times do you find yourself frustrated with minor things in the office on Monday? Whether there’s a paper jam in the printer or a conference call you forgot to make, most of these happen on Monday. This commercial is right on target with its audience and has a strong way of emphasizing its message through the imagery and sound.

On Monday everyone wants to dream a little longer. Everyone hopes to wake up and realize that it’s Saturday and you still have a couple of days before going back to work. The first shot of the guy sleeping and the sound effect of the alarm clock beeping in the back perfectly open the scene for the commercial. The sound of an alarm beeping is probably one of the most annoying sounds. Though this may annoy the viewer, it also intrigues the viewer to keep watching to find out why that annoying sound is playing.

With the same beeping sound in the background, the commercial then takes the viewer into the character’s high-fetched dreams. The character is dreaming he’s in a recording studio with MC Hammer and he’s wearing 80s parachute pants. Then Hammer complains about the beeping and the character is woken up by the reality of his alarm interrupting his sleep. The narrator then says, “You realize its Monday and you’ve got to go to work, but with Monday, comes Monday Night Football.” The commercial then takes a different mood by showing the character smiling as he’s getting ready for work. In the next shot, he’s smiling and then he’s watching the game and the Monday Night Football tune plays. The announcer then says, “Your Monday morning can’t touch this.”

The commercial is not only humorous and entertaining, but also informative. It effectively reaches its 80’s babies audience while appealing to wider spectrum through its humor. As annoying as the beeping sound is it proves the point and leads the viewer to every shot. Mondays won’t ever be the same.

Cesar's blue disaster

There are commercials that work. They may not be funny or cute or amazing, but they work. And then there are commercials that are overdone, not very appealing, and don't work that well. Cesar dog food commercial belongs to the second category.

First thing that hit me, was that incredible amount of blue color. Why blue? And why so much of blue? Blue sky, blue car, blue sea, blue scarf on that woman's head and even her tank top is blue. What's up with that blue color? I appreciate that her sunglasses are not blue, but maybe her eyes are, who knows. Obviously, the point of the blue was that Filet Mignon Cesar is packed in blue but other Cesars are packed in yellow, pink, green, dark blue, red, so why blue only? One of their other commercials is all pink. For some reason it isn't as disturbing as all the blue in this one.

It's not only the color. Everything about this commercial seems so fake. Who would be so irresponsible to let his dog sticking out of the car when driving in a convertible? And what is that weird green thing covering the plate on which the food is being served to the poor by blue color surrounded doggie? I think it's supposed to be salad, but why does it look so plastic?
I don't understand another thing. Westie (West Highland White Terrier) has been a Cesar dog ever since I can remember. It is great because Westies are adorable dogs and very photogenic compared to for example Chihuahuas. I know, because i have both. But they are also known for being very stubborn, wild and very hard to tame dogs. So why would they make this beautiful dog look so unnatural and fake and so very lovey-dovey? Have him run around fields and play outside where you feed him Cesar, don't make him part of this ugly Barbie-like commercial.

There are only two things that are likable here. I like the "Cesar, Love Them Back" slogan. It goes straight to the point, and it isn't fooling anyone. Your dog loves you, you love him back, you give them good quality food like Cesar is offering. I like the music, too. I think it is playful and fits for a dog commercial, if only that commercial was better.

I love dog commercials and my dogs love Cesar. If I wasn't a long time buyer of Cesar this commercial would no way convince me to give it a try. If Cesar wants to have their commercials be like this, they should change their mascot dog to Yorkie. They will still have their terrier, but a little more fitting for their blue, lovely format. I'm sure Westies would appreciate this decision.

A Snapshot of Phnom Penh (Cambodian Capital)

It is more like a documentary rather than a commercial advertising. Interestingly enough, It provides a snapshot of Cambodian Capital City, Phnom Penh. This short documentary shows some interesting cultural, and historical places in Phnom Penh, including Royal Palace, Independence Monument, Killing Field and Wat Phnom, which is the only biggest sacred site in the city. Generally recognized as the pearl of Asia, Phnom Penh has boosted great development in the past 5 years.It is to accommodate three satellite towns in the next five years.

The documentary is informally produced, so its quality is not very good. The tour guide is good but there should be a better one as there are a number of well-trained guides who speak standard English and have in-depth knowledge about the city and its history. Also, the camera man is not very professonal. Many shots are not good enough. Their angles are poorly selected. More importantly, the documentary does not well represent the beauty of the capital itself because it fails to show other elegant structures of the capital such as satellite towns. In short, it is not appealing enough to foreign tourists.