Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sir Mix-A-Lot Is Mixing Things Up At Burger King

"Oh my God, Becky look at her...phonebook?"

CP+B is in the news again with a new sexualized ad for Burger King that plays off Sir Mix-a-Lot's classic song Baby Got Back. The commercial has spawned a lot of controversy—is it funny or is it inappropriate? Everyone familiar with the song (in other words, my entire generation) knows the song centers around Sir Mix-a-Lot's admiration of large female butts. This isn't the first time Sir Mix-a-Lot's famous one hit wonder has hit the commercial waves, but this particular commercial is aimed at kids.

The BK spot features Sir Mix-a-Lot and Sponge Bob since BK is offering Sponge Bob toys in their kids meals. The controversy comes when the images of Sponge Bob are mixed in with music video like images of Sir Mix-a-Lot and women in tight mini dresses with phonebooks shoved up them. Sir Mix-a-Lot consequently sings about liking square butts.

I was very undecided on where I stood on this commercial. On the one hand, it's funny to an adult audience, but I can definitely understand concerned parents as well. Sponge Bob is one of those cartoons, beloved by children but also capable of being genuinely entertaining to adults as well. Believe it or not, Sponge Bob has some adult fans—I've even met a few that didn't have kids. The problem is that this commercial is clearly aimed at children. It's on at times when kids would be watching tv and advertises Sponge Bob toys.

I'm a bit delayed on this post, I know. There have been many news reports and blogs discussing the issue. I was very undecided on where I stood and felt ill equipped to say anything without being a parent myself, so I solicited opinions from friends and relatives who are young parents. Not completely surprisingly, I got responses on both sides. Mothers who were disgusted by the commercial and others who shrugged their shoulders and laughed at it. There were a few stuck in the middle though too, finding the commercial funny themselves, but not quite appropriate for their children. I suppose the main consensus, however, was that this spot is not really child appropriate.

But where did CP+B cross the line? The concept is funny and oddly appropriate. Who cares that it's about butts? I mean kids talk and laugh about butts all the time. But one of the responses I received nailed the problem I have with this commercial on the head:
... as the father of a young daughter, what I do find to be troubling are the sexual images of young women. (They should have been consistent and had a row of people dressed in SpongeBob mascot outfits, quite frankly.)
Exactly! Would the commercial have lost anything to have both men and women with phone book butts in slightly looser clothing? I really don't think it would. I realize the original song is very sexual, but it could be just as humorous to adults while staying appropriate for kids. After all they are marketing a kids meal. I think the real humor of the concept is playing off Sponge Bob's square butt. He has one. It's funny. They half mention the fact in the title of the show—Sponge Bob Square Pants.

Overall, I think the concept of the spot was brilliant, but the execution was off. A tamer version could have kept the integrity of the concept while quelling the concerns of parents, but then again maybe all the media attention was exactly what CP+B and Burger King were aiming for. What do you think? Would a tamer version be capable of walking the line between funny and child appropriate?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Truth in Advertising #44

Vacations are very necessary to jump start creativity (or so we tell ourselves).

Took a few days to visit Megan and soak up some sun. We'll be back posting soon!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Is Liberty Mutual Doing The Right Thing?

Liberty Mutual has a new campaign running about doing the 'right thing.' The campaign follows a family faced with a number of difficult decisions. Should Grandpa go in a nursing home or move in with the family? Should the parents spy on their teenage daughter's online activity? How do you handle lay off in the family? Typical difficult decisions faced by a regular family. The first spot sets up the following two by outline the tough decisions the family has to make.

The trouble is, the following spots don't make much sense if you haven't seen the first one. I saw the parents spying on their daughter spot (below) first and was completely confused. As a stand alone it makes little sense, especially on how it relates to insurance. The text at the end is the only connection.

If you visit the corresponding site, ResponsibilityProject.com, you can see all five videos that follow the family through a variety of situations. They're almost like little mini homemade films shot by the hand held video camera of the youngest sibling and at the end you are asked to join the discussion. It doesn't seem like they have too many people discussing, although it's interesting to note they also have a section with articles of other controversial topics, from Rent as a high school musical to cloning puppies, and those articles are actually sparking some decent discussion on the site. More than the spots themselves it seems.

It's entirely possible that I saw the set up commercial before the daughter one, but glossed over it since it's pretty forgettable, and I remembered the daughter one only because it confused me. Overall, the campaign has a nice idea but it just seems to be trying to hard. I enjoyed Liberty Mutual's last campaign, which gave the same idea, but simplified it and managed to show you good deeds and responsible actions rather than tell you about them. Plus the execution of it was fantastic and I soon became a fan of the band from that soundtrack.

What do you think? Are these Liberty Mutual ads effective? Have you even noticed them?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Tropicana Sales Drop With Redesign?

According to AdAge, Tropicana sales plummeted 20% between Jan. 1 and Feb. 22 after they launched the botched redesign (left). Late February, Tropicana decided to revert back to their old packaging after large amounts of criticism from consumers and the design community.

We blogged and tweeted about the redesign and it sparked quite a bit of discussion. Some of the many responses we received centered around people being unable to find Tropicana juice since they scanned over it in the grocery store thinking it was a generic brand. While we can't necessarily claim cause and effect here, it makes sense. Hopefully for Tropicana this is a temporary, though costly, mistake and they won't lose any market share to competitors once people are able to find Tropicana again, but we'll see. Tropicana did open the door to competitors with this blunder after all...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Honda Gets Groovy

So this apparently went down back in October, but I just saw this commercial last night. Honda took a section of road in Lancaster, California and paved it with grooves so that when you drive over it, the William Tell Overture plays. The overall effect is quite cool. It reminds me a bit of the fantastic Machine and Acapella spots W+K London did for Honda a couple years ago. Though the project got some bad press with neighbors sick of hearing the noise from passing cars, most people driving over the piece of road thoroughly enjoy it. I almost think of it as environmental art in a way. Check out the commercial to see how they did it and hear the final product.