No Turning Back on Bon Jovi DirectTV Campaign

In Uncategorized on July 25, 2016 at 11:28 am

Okay, I was’t sure at first about the new DirectTV campaign, but now I am. The ability to go back to the start of a program via DVR  doesn’t seem like all that big a deal given today’s plethora of available technologies. But in reflecting on the creative aspects of the commercials themselves, I’ve decided they are perfect for today’s circumstances.

You’ve seen the spots, unless you’ve pawned your TV until the election is over. In them, Jon Bon Jovi magically appears in the living rooms of people who are mourning the fact that they’ve missed the beginning of a show they wanted to watch. He sings a brief song that touts DirectTV’s ability to  “turn back time” and restart the program on their schedule.


The song is actually good, and I’ve always enjoyed Bon Jovi, both from his music and his occasional TV acting appearances. The thing that gave me pause at first were some of the quirky, slightly dark examples written into song lyrics. In each spot, he proposes some other examples of what the general ability to “turn back time” would make possible.

In one spot, it is “…maybe reconsider having that second child” as we see said child scrawling on a wall with crayons – till he disappears.  Hmmm…. a touch on the nasty side. In another spot, “the guy she liked before you” pops in and gets a bit too friendly with the wife.

In still another execution, we edge slightly further in a creepy direction as he sings “a chance to say goodbye to Grampy Tim” as a senior gentlemen suddenly joins the TV-watchers in the room, waving in a slightly “from beyond the grave” manner.

My slightly younger self probably would have launched a slam at these spots as insensitive, catering to a meaner spirit and taking serious things a bit too lightly. But I think these spots are exactly where “the line” is today; maybe they make some folks a bit uncomfortable, but the majority will see nothing wrogn with them. With the good song and the likable Bon Jovi involved (including a wry smile in each that seems to say “I’m only kidding here”) I ultimately pronounce this a quite successful campaign.  I even think the song would have pretty good commercial potential, rewritten a bit.

I can’t speak to how important re-starting a program will be to most potential customers, but creatively, the campaign blends music, celebrity, and just-edgy-enough copy to be watchable without wearing out too quickly. (On that note, don’t get me started on the awful Charter spot in which we have to watch a guy – way too prominently – make sound effects with his mouth for far too long throughout a not-very-memorable jingle.) When I see that one, I wish I could turn back time to switch the channel before I had to see him again.

New BK spot hits trifecta: inane, insensitive, and ineffective.

In Uncategorized on January 2, 2016 at 11:54 am

Okay, Burger King. I’ve defended many of your antics over the years, and your “Whopper Freak-out” was brilliant in its time. I even smirk a little at the “debate” campaign you’ve been running for your chicken nugget deal. But time to get the new copywriter off your account – he or she lacks the experience or the judgment to know a non-idea (even worse, a bad idea) at the first “Hey, what if we….”

In a new spot for its “chicken burger” Burger King calls up all the archaic stereotypes for old people and wraps them into one piece of nonsense. If you have already branded me as being “politically correct” then you don’t get it. Sometimes “politically correct” is correct, period.BurgerKing

The spot is inane in that it forces ridiculous words into the actors’ mouths just to set up a joke that isn’t funny.  Sure, an overplayed senior woman would chide her husband saying “Eat it already, I’m getting old over her.”  And he would certainly answer “You got old a long time ago, believe me.” What a knee-slapper, copywriter pup.

The spot is insensitive for the obvious reasons already hinted at. It portrays senior citizens in just the way too many self-absorbed younger people (and many middle-aged adults) love to think of them: loud, argumentative, whiny and crotchety. (Oh, and the fact that they’re wearing the BK crowns intended for kids? I’m laughing so hard I can’t catch my breath.) Perhaps there’s some psychology here – the more “over the top” we make them, the further that eventual senior status seems from us.

In this spot, I’m surprised the script didn’t call for them to drive away very slowly in a car with a blinker left on.

Finally, the spot is ineffective because it gives me NO reason to try Burger King’s new sandwich. It tells me the chicken burger is new, it’s flame-grilled, and that I can get two of them for a promo price. I’ve got lots of choices for good chicken sandwiches out there. Without more explanation, the thought of a chicken “burger” doesn’t leave me with a very appetizing image.

But of course, what do I know? I’m over thirty, and still believe good advertising can and should entertain and say something meaningful. I’d be happy to stop by and show the BK copywriter how it’s done. I won’t wear a cardigan sweater, and I’ll park my walker far from your office. Or you come to my place – I promise not to tell you to get off my lawn.

“Test Drive” TV spots help Volkswagen weather a testing time.

In Ad Creative, Uncategorized on December 7, 2015 at 1:04 am

Given the recent revelations about VW’s emissions testing subterfuge, the ad industry watched with anticipation to see what sort of persona the company would take on in its post-crisis advertising. The answer? A familiar one.

And that’s a good thing for VW. It brought back a popular campaign supporting its regular “Sign Then Drive” event. The campaign features salespeople who are ‘kidnapped” by people who are test-driving a VW, and are so taken with it, the test drives continue into all manner of entertaining situations for far longer than the anticipated time.


In my favorite spot, a family has taken a VW Christmas shopping, and is unloading gifts outside a family gathering when we see, at last, that there is a VW salesman sitting in the back. His earnest, mild-mannered suggestion to return to the dealership is greeted with a genuine look of hurt feelings as the wife asks,  ‘don’t you want to meet my family?”

In other executions, we join a couple lying on the hood/roof of the vehicle, looking up at the stars, making wishes. Then we hear a mild, totally un-sarcastic voice through the sunroof from an unseen salesman inside chiming in with “I wish we could head back to the dealership now.”

I think the campaign is a particularly good choice for VW for right now, for several reasons.

  1. The message is not a very intense “product/feature” sell – a good decision when almost any specific claim would likely prompt a snarky, knee-jerk response about the claim’s truthfulness.
  2. Secondly, the real “selling idea” here isn’t delivered in the company’s voice at all, but rather through the fondness various people instantly feel and show toward the vehicles on their “test drives.” This virtual third party endorsement works much better for VW at the moment.
  3. Finally, there is a consistent likability displayed by the VW salespeople in each spot. In that “Gifts” spot, for example – despite the salesman’s eagerness to end the test drive, he doesn’t want to hurt the woman’s feelings. So of course he sighs, taps his knees, claps his hands and hops out to go meet that family.