GM Points = Brand Loyalty

I had a very interesting conversation with someone today about their car and why they purchased it. They did not have time for a full interview but they did share with me why they always bought Vauxhall cars:

The GM (General Motors) Visa credit card gives shoppers points every time they use it which build up and earn you money off of a car. This man told me that he used the card for everything from his food shopping to his mortgage payments. Over a couple of years he will build up a few thousand pounds which he can redeem against the price of a new Vauxhall car.

I found this really interesting because I never expected a car company to do this. In my very first lecture my tutor told us about the Ansoff Matrix, here is a quick snap of it from me lecture notes:

You could say that GM have developed their product and diversified into an unrelated area by producing a credit card. However, this area is not too unrelated because cars do deal with finance. Not only have they then diversified their company into a kind of service, they have linked it back to their original business. Of course the credit card is a Visa credit card but this partnership will benefit both companies. I think it is a very good example of promotion and diversification working together. It is also a strategy for creating brand loyalty.

(I should note down that GM credit card unfortunately declared bankruptcy a few years ago and only existing customers were allowed to keep their points for a certain number of years before claiming them or losing them)

Celebrity Endorsements and Potatoes

I seen the second part of the Albert Barlet Rooster Potatoes advert a few days ago and it prompted me to look into celebrities in advertising. Marcia Cross is the last celebrity you would expect to be advertising potatoes – in fact there are very few you would. What I like about this advert is that in a Skoda-esque way it plays up to this very idea. Here is the first advert:

This is the follow-up one:

Her red hair is one of the more obvious reasons they chose her, apposed to say any of the other Desperate Housewives. (It’s the fact that the potatoes are red which makes them different from regular potatoes) I suppose Bree being a chef helps as well. However it’s the fact that she doesn’t fit that actually makes it work. It’s the element of surprise, especially in the second one where she could just as easily be talking about her hair. I must admit I also like how they are slightly lampooning hair adverts too.

I decided to do some research about using celebrities in advertising. In a recent lecture my tutor told us about the failure of the Sainsburys adverts featuring John Cleese. These adverts featured him as an eccentric running about the store with a megaphone, shouting at the staff and making them look foolish. I looked it up to find that the campaign was done by the Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO agency who were trying to communicate the message of “value worth shouting about”. Unfortunately the sudden shift from promoting their quality (which Sainsburys had always did in the past, at that time) to then promoting their value was not well received. On top of this the actual staff of Sainsburys were unhappy with the message it sent out about them. I can see why too, it was when you think about it, disrespectful to deem it funny to have someone shouting at them. I read an old article on where Stefano Hatfield, the editor of Campaign magazine said:

“John Cleese is the last resort of people who have run out of ideas”

If you look at Sainsburys adverts now, John Cleese is a long way off from Jamie Oliver who greatly helped to rescue their brand image. This got me thinking about how brands know which celebrities to chose. I would imagine they would want someone who perhaps had a connection to the product.For example, Jamie Oliver is related to Sainsburys because people know him as a television chef thus has an association with good food. In this way he is related to the brand because of his skills and talents. Besides this, his image as a husband and father will help too as it’s something he has in common with families, particularly mums, doing the weekly shop (who I imagine would be a very important section of Sainsburys target market)

According to the Advertising Handbook there has to be a certain amount of synergy between the brand, the celebrity and indeed the target audience. If they manage to strike a good balance then the ‘cultural capital’ that the celebrity has will convert into ‘economical capital’ for the brand. So basically, the seal of approval from a celebrity who people recognise or trust or look-up to will encourage them to recognise, trust and hopefully buy the product. On choosing the celebrity to do this, Helen Powell comments in the Handbook that:

“. . . the value of a celebrity to an advertising campaign and the brand they are endorsing comes from what they represent: a particular image that consumers identify with and wish to buy into. This might be affiliated to their looks, their lifestyle, their personality or a particular skill set, or any combination of these”

Looking back at what I said about Jamie Oliver I can see how people would like to buy into his image as a good cook who likes cooking for his family and friends. Powell goes on to say that in advertising people draw upon what they know about the celebrity and embed that into their interpretation of the advert. You could say this is simply a connotation. What is important however is that you could not achieve the effect of this connotation in a normal advert. The association people have with the celebrity and the emotional attachment they might have towards them is something that has built up over a long period of time. I can now see and understand that this is the value of celebrities. It’s their reputation and their association that is worth something. I just wonder how this worth relates to the actual cost of hiring them…

Beanz Meanz Heinz

Have you seen the new Heinz Beans advert?


I am afraid I must admit that I really do not like it at all. It reminded me of the Green Giant ‘you are what you eat advert’ where the boys quickly tuck into the sweetcorn thinking they will become giants. In fact the last scene of the Heinz advert is practically a mirror image of it; the mum has just told the boy he might grow up to be a giant so he’s scooping them up! In Heinz defence the advert was playing on Jack and the Beanstalk – a perfect parody for them.

Coincidentally Heinz were trying to promote the same message as Green Giant, that they are one of your 5 a day. This claim has been made by Heniz before, in fact I found an old article on the MarketingWeek website which told of how they had been “slapped on the wrists by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)” because of it. Apparently complaints had been made about HJ Heniz claiming that their canned products are an equivalent to fresh fruit an vegetables. The ASA did not uphold these complaints.

I wonder if Heniz were worried about reiterating the 5 a day then with this advert? I was told in a recent lecture that broadcasting adverts always get ‘pre-vetted’ before they are shown on television simply because they cost so much to be shown. We can therefore presume this advert was okayed by the ASA. In fact they must be pretty confident with it because the label appears on their packaging too. And why should they not be? I mean it is true:

“What counts towards 5 a day?
● Tinned or canned fruit and vegetables”

That statement appears on the NHS website. However they immediately follow it up by saying you should buy the ones with no added sugar or salt. They later comment that beans and pulses only count as one portion, no matter how many you eat. This is because they contain less nutrients than other fruit and vegetables. Below this statement they then make a comment about convenience foods:

“Fruit and veg in convenience foods, such as ready meals and shop-bought pasta sauces, soups and puddings. Some ready-made foods are high in salt, sugar and fat, so only have them occasionally or in small amounts”

So there we go. Heinz probably were not worried about the advert being banned because even the NHS website say’s we’re allowed to eat them, occasionally.

Nevertheless they will get some grumbles about it. Now of course people complaining about your adverts generates extra publicity. Depending on the nature of your company and the nature of the complaint this can be a good thing or a bad thing. Take Benetton for example, they revelled in the outrage they caused and it didn’t harm their image. Some may even say it helped it, although I feel that remains debatable.

Would bad press about nutrition and the ingredients used in Heniz products help Heniz image? Is the brand enough of an institution to stand up to it? My answer would be: why bother finding out. The loophole that the NHS website gives them is nothing to shout about. It’s not as Seth Cohen, author of the Purple Cow, would say remarkable. He argues against advertising at all unless you have something new and amazing going on.

“If you do nothing, at least you’re not going to short-circuit your existing consumer networks by loading them up with a lot of indefensible junk”

The NHS website proved that the 5 a day claim was not “indefensible junk” but I would argue that it is deficient junk that’s already been peddled by Heniz before. Cohen suggests taking a leaf from companies such as Ben&Jerrys when it comes to advertising. Here is a quick shot from my notebook on the Purple Cow:

The thing with Heinz is that they actually do have something new to shout about. They have re-sealable fridge packs!


That’s remarkable. In fact that’s revolutionising the way we store the product. I presume the beans will taste better if they’ve been stored better so it’s almost a form of product control! More importantly what the fridge pack does is put’s beans back on our radar. Your much more likely to notice them your the fridge than stacked away in your cupboard with your tinned fruit.

What is also remarkable is that in a lecture a few weeks ago my lecturer started talking about beans on toast. (It was in reference to the comfort and nostalgia factor in advertising). He showed us this old advert:


I had that jingle, the entire thing from “a million housewife’s…” in my head for a good few days. The next night I had this huge craving for beans on toast so I had them for dinner. I have not had beans on toast for a good two to three years. Just someone talking about beans on toast, mentioning having beans on toast for tea or when your in a hurry or when you need something comforting to eat, really, really made me want to have some beans on toast!

Heinz could simply get people talking about beans on toast as a form of advertising. Talk about them on social networking sites such as twitter for example. Facebook might even be better as they could ask people about their favourite memories of beans on toast or other things they have with beans. Do they like them hot or cold?

They could also take advantage of the new Tv product placement rules and have characters stacking shelves of Heinz beans; buying them; opening the cans. I wonder if you could show a character eating beans on toast? If not then I bet if they just had a giant picture of beans on toast on a billboard and if nothing else it would increase sales and not damage the brand.

Yore Indent

Yore is a concept section on Dave that would take up an hour or two of the channels schedule. It would feature programmes on history presented in a witty, upbeat way. The aim of this indent was to present the idea of ‘going back in time’ i.e. people used horses before cars were invented. I wanted it to be slightly bizarre and funny to fit in with the Dave brand.

To read more about the project and see my initial test video click here.

The Penalty of Leadership

I have been reading Driving it Home by Judy Vaknin (2008) who mentions that this advert below, by Cadilac in 1915, marked a definitive change in car advertising style and attitude.

In a very similar way to the Apple Macintosh 1984 television advert, this advert was only printed once, in the Saturday Evening Post. If you read it, there is no mention of a car at all in the text. Instead, it is a very grand narrative about the qualities and difficulties faced by leaders. There is a strong suggestion of envy and ambition within the sentences. I found this sentence quite significant:

“Spiteful little voices in the domain of art were raised against our own Whistler as a Mountebank. Long after the big world had acclaimed him as its greatest artistic genius”

By saying ‘our own Whistler’ they have cleverly endeared themselves to the American public by being patriotic. Snippets like this captured people’s imaginations and were seen as inspirational and motivational narratives. Elvis Presley had a framed copy of it on his office wall in Graceland. To this day, Cadalic have had requests for copies of the text. Many leading advertisers cite it as the best copy-writing of all time.

I wonder if it was just brilliant copy-writing or was there anything else that made it such success? From my reading of the book, the adverts previous to this were full of car illustrations (some more daring than others) technical descriptions and prices, all advertising the car they were selling. This one didn’t do any of these but more significantly advertised the brand. In the original publication only the Cadilac logo appeared on the border in a very small size. Thus implying the brands status as a leader. Therefore, being the leader in a new style of advertising greatly contributed to it’s success. It was an advert of it’s time; it was relevant; it was cashing in on the imagination and culture of people of that time. It spoke to people in a different way and made them feel something, made them want to be something rather than making them want a car. It was the first non-direct advertisement, the first use, if you like, of the power of association.

Lord Puttnam

I am in the middle of designing a magazine article on Collett, Dickenson and Pearce – a British Advertising firm from the sixties. I used Box of Broadcasts to watch the BBC4 documentary The Men From the Agency that was made about them in 2003. I thought that the very last reflection on the agency, made by Lord Puttnam, would be a good addition to my article.  It helps to put the rest of my article (more or less a celebration of the agencies success) into perspective and gives it a little bit of context as well.

“All of us were responsible for giving the world a good… kick in the arse. We’ve entertained it; we’ve sharped it up. But the irony is that probably our greatest quality may have also been our greatest defect. We we were not well-educated; we made a virtue out of not being well or certainly overly-educated. But the interesting thing was the bit that was missing from our education if you like was the lethal bit. The bit that we never really understood. What the human being is. What makes them tick? What are their rights? What are their entitlements? You know we have been responsible for selling, shoving down peoples throats – one way or another – products which have been quite evidentially very, very bad for them. If you look fifty years from now I think people will wonder where our brains were? We were selling cars that were dangerous; we were selling cigarettes that were dangerous; we were selling loads and loads of products which – in one form or another – defied peoples rights as citizens. And thats the only part about of that agency that bothers me and will go on bothering me I think for a few years to come.”

I also thought that it was relevant to my Advertising and Branding module. Often when I find myself looking back at old advertising firms, old adverts and even watch Mad Men, there is a certain amount of presupposed glamour. Even today, when you think of big perfume accounts, the presumption remains.  This quote counters that, replacing the glamour with a strong pragmatic consideration.

Stop Motion Test Video

One of my projects this year at DJCAD involves creating a ‘sting indent’ video for a television channel you have re-branded or made-up. I chose to do an add on for Dave in the same way that E4 has T4 – if you get me? I wanted the add on to be a ‘time for clever banter’ where Dave could present history and factual information – but do it in a light-hearted, amusing way. I have decided to call it Yore which I think sums up the tone of the segment as by definition yore means: mock-nostalgic recollection. Here is a quick snap of the idea in my sketchbook:

(Sorry it's a bit messy)

You may remember the friends episode where Rachel buys an apothecary table? She tells Phoebe “it’s from the days of yore” when it’s actually from pottery barn. Here is a clip:

Anyway. I wanted to create an indent that would be in the same odd style as the ones Dave uses but be different at the same time. I thought people might not understand the segment at first so wanted something that would visualise the ‘going back’. One of my first ideas was old things attacking new things. For example some soldiers on horseback shooting arrows which all land on a car.

I moved on to think about new things turning into old things however as I felt I could play more with it and make it seem really weird and funny (to fit in with the context of Dave).

I made a really quick test movie of my idea to get a feel for it so you can have a nosy:

I would of course like the soundtrack to be more medieval than the Kooks for my final video. Making the test video was a really good thing for me to do though. I have never made a stop-motion video myself before although I am familiar with the technique. There were a few things I know I will do differently when I come to do my final video.

On the subject of stop-motion I came across this brilliant video on youtube and I had to share it!

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