If I Were in Charge of All the Advertising Directed at Children…

If somebody said to me, “Hey, Julija, how would you like to be in charge of all of the advertising directed at children?” I would be ecstatic. There is a lot of good advertising out there, but there’s also a lot of bad stuff, too. The biggest problem that I see, and that honestly makes no sense to me, is an extreme gendering of toy advertising directed at children. When I was a kid there was gendering, of course, but there was also a lot of middle ground. There were toys that were for both boys and girls and I liked that. I have thought a lot about this phenomenon and the only thing I can think of as the cause is this:  as the internet pushes more and more targeted marketing the toy/cereal/childhood industries are trying to do so as well. But, here’s the deal, kids are much more impressionable than adults. They don’t know what they like or dislike. So, targeted marketing for children has this strange side effect of actually creating the targeting it targets.

“Why is that such a big deal?” You’re probably asking. Well, think about the ads that have come out recently that your kid is probably watching, specifically toy ads. Do you really want you little girl to think that all she can play with are dolls and fairy princesses? Do you want your little boy to think that trucks and tools are the only things he should like? There have been quite a few backlashes to the female side of this, see goldieblox and this interview with Rachel Giordano. However, I have seen a startling lack of backlash in the boys department. Yes, products for girls tend to be sexist in an overt way, but products for boys are too. They may have much more variety in the types of toys, but they still send a message that is not entirely positive. I’m not saying that the focus should move towards backlash for young boys; I’m saying that the backlash should be for children in general.

So, I have been given control of all the advertising and what do I do? First, I don’t allow stores to separate toys by gender. Put all the Disney toys together, I say! Second, I would start a new trend in commercials where no matter if the toy is a ‘boy toy’ or a ‘girl toy’, it shows both boys and girls playing with it and enjoying it. Girls can enjoy laser shooting, color changing, bad guy fighting toys as much as boys; and boys can like sparkly, outfit changing, soft and cuddly toys as much as girls. Lastly, I would encourage toy companies to educate parents and their children about advertising. “Raise your kids as cynics,” says this New York Times article. Parents are starting to respond to transparency in companies, and if we can change the way parents think about their kids/gender maybe we can raise an awesome new generation!


Super Bowl Game Plan

This week’s marketing post is going to be a marketing campaign/ plan specifically for the Super Bowl. I don’t have a specific company in mind but I outline some broad swatches to narrow down what kinds of companies/products I think this strategy is best for. I used my own personal experience with the Super Bowl as well as these studies:

There are a couple things to think about when deciding to do a Super Bowl spot:

Cost: a national ad may cost up to three times more than a regional one. Also, the marketers need to consider whether or not they are certain to get a return on their investment. There has been no evidence that companies that choose to not participate in the Super Bowl ad frenzy get penalized (they may not be rewarded as much as other companies, but they won’t be penalized).

Type of commercial: The type of commercial is vital to a company’s Super Bowl ad success. In general people respond best to humor, but the product of service being sold needs to be factored in. Another factor to consider is the branding/product tie in. Commercials that are funny and memorable may not increase sales if they don’t feature the brand or product in a memorable way.  Communicus speaks about the Budweiser “Brotherhood” ad and why it was so successful.This ad is all about friendship and lifelong bonds, and that’s the feeling people want when drinking Budweiser. When taking your own brand and product it helps to think about what you want your customer to feel when using the product, and trying to evoke that feeling in the commercial instead of just trying to be wacky and memorable.

Social Media: Social media is changing the way Super Bowl ads are seen and perceived. This info graphic sums it up pretty well I think.

Making sure that you have someone managing the social side of your company on the big day is vital. Sometimes the most memorable moments (see: Oreo tweet about blackout) are spontaneous. Also, having a post-game plan as to how to continue promoting your advertisement in order to get the most out of the ad, and engage your customer.

Overall, I personally think that for most companies the Super Bowl ad spot is a waste of money, but it can also be incredibly fruitful. It is a high risk, high reward situation, but if you carefully plan your strategy out beforehand, while allowing for some flexibility, you are more likely to succeed.

My Favorite Ads so Far

NEW THEME! So, while I was agonizing over this blog on Monday, I came to a decision. I want to keep this blog as positive as possible. I realized that it is a lot easier to rip on companies and ad campaigns and other reviews than actually think about what you are doing and what goes on behind the scenes of whatever you’re destroying.  So to kick the positivity off here is a list of my 5 favorite ad campaigns and why I liked them (in no particular order)

  1. The first campaign comes from the agency AMV BBDO and is a print ad. The copy reads, “Feeding your cat’s instincts.” I love this campaign because it is such a simple concept and image but it sells the product incredibly well. You’ll notice from this list that I tend to gravitate towards simple and clean ads. That isn’t to say that simple and clean is always the best option, but I think that it works best most of the time.
  2. Next is a print ad from Publicis, Singapore. The copy reads, “Liking isn’t helping.”  This ad campaign is another very simple idea with a powerful message. It causes the consumer to rethink their social media use and how it affects the greater world. I included it because it shows that advertising can do more than just sell things. It can make people reevaluate their actions. This power should not be used lightly.
  3. This next advertisement is a series of ads on a billboard and is ambient. It was brought to us by  Y&R Not Just Film. This campaign is humorous and eye catching. It is also, again, a simple idea. Put something unappealing on a billboard so that someone buys the space.  Y&R Not Just Film ran a few campaigns with similar themes but this one was by far the most successful.
  4. This ad is produced by Jung von Matt for a horror/mystery/thriller channel. Another simple idea that speaks volumes. I like this ad because it legitimately scares me, but I don’t really know why. I know it is horror movie trope, but the simplicity of the images makes me question everything about them and create my own scenarios. These ads work, in my opinion, because they subtly engage the viewer and pique their interest.
  5. Ogilvy Group UK  brings us the last item on our list. This campaign’s goal was to get people to look up more as well as promote British Airways. The really spectacular thing about this billboard was that the little boy stood up and pointed whenever a BA plane flew over it. Not only is this simple idea incredibly cute and memorable, it also shows an innovative new way technological advancements can be used in conjunction with traditional media.

I wish I could add even more campaigns to this list because there are so many great ones, but I need to save some for a later post. As an aspiring advertising professional I try to look at all advertising critically, but I think that figuring out what draws me in as a consumer is an important part of learning about the industry and gives me a unique understanding of how the advertising world works.