Friday, December 11, 2009

"Cheer Factory"

The American Family Association suspended its Christmas season boycott of Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic after Gap released their new "Cheer Factory" campaign.

The Christian organization, AFA, originally called for the boycott because they believed Gap has downplayed the word "Christmas" over the last couple of years in their advertising. Gap responded by saying that they have tried to stay away from being religion-specific in the past to appeal to a wider range of people.

The new holiday ads for Gap feature different groups of dancers cheering about new winter clothes and the Christmas season while dancing. AFA executives believe that Gap has made these ads in response to the pressure they put on them.

"We firmly believe that Gap is responding to an enormous amount of pressure from the AFA network. It looks like Gap has finally decided that a recession is a bad time to take a principled stand on secularism and alienate a huge percentage of their customer base. We're happy that they're apparently keeping Christ and Christmas in the Christmas season," said Brian Fischer, the AFA's director of issues analysis.

On the other hand, Gap representatives have said that the ads were made months in advance, before the boycott was even initiated. Old Navy also released an ad with "Merry Christmas" included, which held off the boycott, but was also developed months in advance.

To read more about the dilemma, click here.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that a Christian group wants to hear more about Christmas in advertising, but I have nothing against a company for trying to appeal to more people and offend less. Gap's new commercials are incredibly entertaining, and I commend them on the new campaigns. I just hate to see this group bashing on them for trying to be all-encompassing. I'm not sure what to think about the skewed ethics here.

Lesson Learned

After multiple allegations of affairs and rumors circulating around the media at warp speed, Tiger Woods' wife has asked him to put a hold on his golfing career if he wants to save their marriage.

Elin Woods wants to keep Tiger close at home until she can regain enough trust in him to let him go out on tour again, or until their children are old enough to go along. This means the most celebrated (and richest) golfer in the world will be hanging up his polo for a while.

In other news, Woods and his crew won a legal victory in London prohibiting British media from publishing any nude videos or pictures of the golfing star. His various mistresses have claimed to have these pictures, but the Woods team will admit to nothing. They have stated that any pictures that may come out are fabricated, but are still tight-lipped about whether or not these pictures even exist.

To read more about what's going on in Tiger's crazy life, click here.

If I have learned anything in my PR class, it's that fast honesty is always the way to go. Look at the aftermath of David Letterman's honest confession to marital dishonesty and Tiger's way of handling everything. While Letterman will continue on as though nothing happened, Tiger is now quitting his career, and there is no telling what the final repercussions on his popularity may be. I would have to say that there is a PR lesson to be learned from Tiger, and that would be: don't be like Tiger.

Beer and Video Games

In an online concert over Thanksgiving weekend, the band Kiss partnered with sponsor Anheuser-Busch to pull in almost 2 million concert views online, and to sell a lot of beer.

Kiss broadcast the last show on their recent tour for free through the live streaming video platform Ustream to give everyone a taste of their "35 Alive" tour. The broadcast pulled two million views that lasted for an average of 43 minutes.

This was good news for their sponsor, Anheuser-Busch, whose logo was fixed in the bottom right-hand corner of the broadcast for the whole show. A-B has been fond of these unique partnerships as a way to connect outside of traditional advertising, and executives say it has payed off in high beer sales.

The other beneficiary of the online concert was Activision, maker of Guitar Hero video games. A text scroll at the bottom of the screen during the live broadcast featured the three-song Kiss "Track Pack" extension pack for the new "Guitar Hero 5" game. The Kiss pack has had the best sales of any of the other packs since the November show, said Activision.

To read more about this unique partnership, click here.

Other companies can take a hint from A-B and Activision after this successful partnership. With less and less people spending time watching commercials live, advertising has to come in new and unique ways through different mediums. To all companies involved, thank you for your forward-thinking.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hit by The Blind Side

In its third week, the movie "The Blind Side" jumped to No. 1 in the box office over its big challenger "New Moon," to become the highest-grossing debut for a sports movie.

"The Blind Side," starring Sandra Bullock, depicts the true story of NFL football player Michael Oher. Oher was homeless until he was adopted by a Tennessee mother (played by Bullock) and was encouraged to play high school football in Memphis, until he was picked up by a team in the NFL.

Grace Hill Media is the entity being credited with "The Blind Side" usurping the tween-tastic "Twilight" sequel in their third weeks. Grace Hill Media, a movie-marketing firm geared toward the church-going crowd, has been quietly reaching out to Christian audiences with the new movie, resulting in a large Christian crowd in theaters.

Movies with faith-based themes often tap into Grace Hill Media's many outlets before it is released. The media company offers clips from these movies to a database of 155,000 ministry professionals and over 1 million consumers. These clips are often used to accompany high-tech Sunday morning services, where they could potentially be shared with the entire church-going population.

To read more about the strategies employed by Grace Hill Media, click here.

The makers of "Blind Side" made a good choice when they utilized Grace Hill Media and the Christian network. However, it does not seem like news to hear about movies marketing themselves through Christian networks. I also have to comment that while "New Moon" may have had a large screaming-girl following in the first two weeks, it's not like the film has any true merit for people outside of that population to attend. The fact that "The Blind Side" beat out "New Moon" in the third week is no real surprise and probably shouldn't shock too many people out there.


The new dramedy "Glee" has been named "The Most Twitter-Worthy Sitcom of the Year" after the season finale last night.

The hour-long show features a high school glee club of misfits who are trying to win their way through competitions. The show has multiple over-the-top singing and dancing numbers in each episode that have become hits on the Internet since the premier.

The first episode of "Glee" was aired over the summer after "American Idol" while the rest of the season was held until this fall. While talk circulated about the first episode, audiences began to tweet and re-tweet note-worthy lines while clips of the episode went viral.

The show's producers took a risk by having such a large gap between the first two episodes, but it seems to have payed off with the show becoming increasingly popular and ratings getting continually higher. The show benefitted by its presence on Twitter, as users constantly tweeted lines from the show all season long.

To read more about the show on Twitter, click here.

I can see a long life ahead for "Glee" as long as the show-stopping numbers and subversive humor keeps coming. Long live "Glee!"

Monday, December 7, 2009

Target to Go!

This Christmas season, Target will open three pop-up stores modeled after fast food restaurants to create buzz in the urban markets of New York, Washington, and San Francisco.

Target to Go stores will be open from Dec. 11-13 and will each stock 50 of the seasons most popular gift items. The items will come pre-wrapped for customers to purchase and skip the "hassle" often associated with gift buying for the holidays.

The stores are popping up out out of a need to reach a broader audience for Target in these tough economic times. Target stores are located close to most retail markets, and they hope to generate a lot of talk and business in urban areas that do not necessarily have a Target as close as many other areas do.

Each Target to Go store will have a Twitter program that will promote each location. They will also use Twitter to drop hints about locations of oversized gift tags worth $10 to $500 that can be redeemed at the locations for merchandise. For each tag redeemed, Target will be donating $100 to the Salvation Army.

To read more about the risk Target is taking, click here.

I think this is one of the coolest programs I have heard about a retail store initiating. If it works out for them, Target will be broadening its horizons to an even larger market and will hopefully see a large amount of good feedback from happy customers. I only wish we all could get a chance to order wrapped gifts from a target-to-go window.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Ikea has released a new U.K. iPhone app containing a simple flip through electronic version of the 2010 catalog, calling for customer feedback on improvements via Twitter, e-mail, and voicemail.

The current app provides customers the ability to flip through the catalog and zoom in and out on different pages. There have been some suggestions made already, like a GPS map of different stores to find a store in any area, the ability to buy things from the app itself, and info about the food menus at the stores. Another idea is to have the ability to "place" furniture in a virtual reality room so customers can see how the furniture looks together.

However, Ikea's "brand entertainment" agency, Cake, is making it clear that only users who download the application now will be able to enjoy the suggested updates later.

"There are plans to quickly improve and develop the app but only in conjunction with customers who choose to download it," says a note on Cake's YouTube channel. To watch a sneak peak video of the app and read more about the story, click here.

While I have to commend Ikea for their plans to make shopping an interactive experience with an app, it is a little ridiculous to exclude everyone who decides not to download the app now. As it is currently, it's not very exciting and I can see a lot of customers looking at the application and then writing it off as too boring. Ikea...this may be a bad move.