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!


YouTube Advertising Strategy

YouTube is definitely the future of advertising, as many people have commented.  It is an interesting platform that has millions of potential customers, and most companies are using it completely wrong. The people who are advertising on YouTube at the moment are not thinking about the platform enough. Most companies just take their TV spot and make it their YouTube ad. This can work if the commercial is posted on the company’s page and gets views that way, but as an ad before videos, it will never work. Here’s why:

YouTube videos are generally short, and watching a 30 to 60 second ad before them is just not going to happen if the video is only 90 seconds. Also, the ability to skip the ad after 5 seconds means not, as many believe, that you need to be engaging in those first second to ensure the continued viewership; it means that’s the ad needs to be 5 seconds long. Millenials will more likely than not skip the ad even if it is interesting. That’s just what we have grown accustomed to.

My proposed solution is simple, make a 5 second ad. This may seem daunting and challenging to a lot of people, but as a millennial I would be impressed with a company that made an ad before a video that just said, “We at XYZ Co. support this video and think it’s really great.” The nature of marketing is changing in a very interesting and counterintuitive way. On the one hand, long form commercials that tell in-depth stories can become viral and get a lot of attention for companies. But on the other hand, millenials don’t want their content interrupted and have gotten very adept at filtering out the noise of the internet. I think that this has created some confusion in how most companies advertise, since they aren’t sure which route to take. Unfortunately, a lot of times this just leads them to fail somewhere in the middle. Instead they show focus on making one of the extremes, great. A 5 second add, supporting a YouTube personality can go a long way in the minds of millenials, much further than an awesome 30 second spot that they skip.

My solution can also be very effective when trying to brand a company because you can show consumers what kinds of things you support. For example, let’s say I am a branding manager for a line of skincare aimed at teens, and I want to show consumers that our line wants to empower girls and promote a healthy body image. One of my strategies would be to find videos on YouTube that promote healthy body images and empower young girls and support them. All I would have to do is film a couple second spot saying, “Our brand thinks that girls are beautiful and cool no matter what. Just like this video.” Not only will this reach the target audience, but it will also reach parents that want to empower their daughters. This, coupled with releasing YouTube videos of our own, and supporting charities and other organizations that empower girls is all you need to brand the product. Obviously, this is a very simplistic example and there are a lot more things that go into advertising, but I think that more companies should understand that YouTube is its own media type and cannot be lumped in with other video types.

Pinterest Strategy

Today I’m going to focus more on the media side of marketing/media. I am an avid pinterest user and have seen some gaps in a lot of company’s pinterest accounts. I am going to pose some problems I’ve noticed and offer some solutions.

First off, I’d like to share this infographic to prove that pinterest is not a waste of time for any company.

“So, Julija, what are the problems you see with companies who use the site and how can companies planning on using it in the future avoid these?” you ask.

Well, let me list them out for you:

Problem 1 – Companies are not pinning enough and not repining at all. Most of the pins shared on pinterest are repins, and as a company it is expected for you to pin more original content. However, repins can generate followers and improve the standing of the company in the eyes of the consumer. If you only promote your own brand, people will quickly realize that you don’t understand how pinterest works. The second part is just pinning more in general. I follow many companies that have only a few hundred pins from the past year whereas I have a couple thousand as an individual. The more you pin, the more interest you generate.

Problem 2 – Advertiser are pinning to the wrong boards. The most notable example of this that I have seen is Hellmann’s mayonnaise. The idea of the ad is great because it is a recipe for chocolate cake that they paid to promote on certain boards. The problem I had with it was that the advertisement was showing up in non-food related categories. The way most people browse pinterest is by choosing a category and scrolling through the pins that have been sorted into that category. This way of browsing makes it immediately clear when something is categorized incorrectly. The reason Hellmann’s ad sticks out to me is because not only was it categorized incorrectly, but it was a repeat of the advertisement in the correct category, food. This made me as a consumer ignore the pin simply because I could tell it was an advertisement. My generation is very good at ignoring advertising, and as soon as I knew I was an ad, I found myself glossing over it. My generation responds to companies that care, and advertisements that honestly seek to improve our lives. I may try a Hellman’s chocolate cake if I see it on pinterest, but the advertising faux pas makes me ignore it entirely.

Problem 3 – Companies are not using pinterest to its full potential. If you are a retailer of any kind, you should be using pinterest. If you are an artist, decorator, wedding designer/planner, or really any company that can fall under the categories provided by pinterest, you should be using pinterest. Pinterest drives traffic and sales in a way that other social media sites do not. As a consumer who rarely buys things online, I can say with confidence that seeing it on pinterest will increase my chances of buying it (especially when I can just click on the pictures and get whatever it is).

And now for some…


Solution 1 – pin more and repin even more. Having someone dedicated to your pinterest account may not be a viable option, but have the social media guru of the company take a little time out of each day to manage and interact on pinterest is a simple solution to this problem.

Solution 2 – be careful where you pin. Even if you are paying for promotional pins, be careful where they appear.

Solution 3 – Pin smarter. Pins with the price generate more traffic than those that don’t; certain categories are more popular than others. Make sure that whoever is managing your pinterest account understand the platform, and is able to use it to its full potential.

So there you have it. A comprehensive (kinda) strategy for using pinterest.

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.

What to do about you….

Husband Accidentally Uses Summer’s Eve, Then Proves He’s the Real Douche | Adweek.

This ^ is a great article about the world that advertisements are set in, and what rules govern them (in this case, specifically, gender role rules.) This campaign struck me because it is almost identical to at least 10 other campaigns I can think of ranging over a variety of products (yogurt, lean pockets, anything diet) from the past five year. This article does a great job outlining the problems with the campaign and the mindset of the industry in general. I’m hoping to expand on the article, however, and offer a solution to the conundrum Ms. Cullers posits.

She writes, “’Feminine care’ products are divisive among women and practically loathed by many feminists who feel the products exist solely to thrive on manufacturing a sense of shame about women’s privates. So what’s a marketer to do? Go with the one safe trope that everyone seems to agree on: Guys are dumb.” I can see what she is saying, but I also think that just pointing out the problem doesn’t help much. So, here’s my take. The problems I see with this ad campaign that I’m going to attempt to rectify are:

  1. They are relying on traditional media and are thus forced to jump through an absurd amount of hoops because of the nature of their product,
  2. They are assuming things about their consumers that are not necessarily true and outdated,
  3. And they’re not being honest.

I understand that marketing ‘unsavory products’ is always a challenge because people don’t really want to think about those kinds of things. However, I think that being frank with consumers is the upward trend in advertising, and consumers in general are responding positively (especially if the company is trying to reach a younger consumer). So, without any knowledge of what the goal of this campaign was besides boosting sales here are my solutions broken down by problem.

  1. Summer’s Eve should start using new media for campaigns like this. The reason I propose this strategy is because online you can say vagina as much as you want (not really, but you know….). And how can you sell a product specifically formulated for the female genitalia without using the word? Using new media also has the benefit of reaching the young consumer that may see ‘feminine wash’ as something their grandmother uses.
  2. Go out on a limb for once! I’m not saying abandon all your campaigns in favor of a new one, but sometimes it pays to take a risk. Even if you fail, people will start paying attention to the company, and there is always a way to recover from a failure (and a lot of times the recovery makes a company better). This idea that consumers are delicate flowers who need their sensibilities protected is quickly becoming outdated. Embrace it.
  3. This is an easy (and in my opinion, the most important) fix, be honest. Yes it’s not entirely pleasant to talk about chemical imbalances in the vagina, but it’s important. I don’t want to buy a product that is made for me, allegedly, but features a man in the advertisement. I also don’t want to buy a product that is uncomfortable with itself. Own what you are and be confident in it, because my generation thrives on that.

The main thing I’m trying to get at is that it’s no longer okay for companies to just advertise things, they need to start a dialogue with the consumer. Otherwise, all they get is a collective sign and the channel changed.

P.S. I realize that I am being pretty hypocritical with this article because the ad is a ‘failure’, and we’re talking about it so it can’t be so unsuccessful. And although technically you are right, you are also wrong. This campaign was not created to start a discussion, and it has not led to one. It has led to a lot of consumers sighing, rolling their eyes and changing the channel.

P.P.S. in the beginning of this blog post I mentioned the prevalence of these kinds of ads in the market today, and so I’m hoping that although I chose to focus on this specific ad, there is a general take away that can be applied to multiple ad campaigns.



So I’m sorry for not sticking to the theme, but I knew that this post would be perfect for today since it is hump day. Many of you have probably seen this advertisement or at least the references made to it. My struggle with this advertisement, and actually with all advertisements that either seek to go or do go viral, is that there doesn’t seem to be a connection to the company. Yes, hypothetically, getting the advertisement out there gets the name of the company out there as well, but how many people actually remember the company? I sure don’t and I am obsessed with advertising.
This advertisement has absolutely nothing to do with car insurance (I googled the ad and found out it was GEICO who produced it). I guess the main question I’m asking is: does viral marketing generate real tangible results? And if some does and some doesn’t (which I have the feeling is the case), what sets apart the kind that does? My theory is that the viral marketing campaigns that relate to the product or company (see dove beauty campaigns) are the ones that are most successful. This is because it’s not enough to just go viral; you need to go viral in a way that relates to what you’re trying to sell.