George Duncan

Marketing copywriter/consultant, author

Archive for the category “KIA”

Adequate Birthday, honey!

From Watch Your Ads – A media memo by George Duncan

Adequate Birthday, honey!

I love the new KIA Optima ad that shows a guy buying the latest model as a birthday present for his daughter. As he’s driving the car home, he clearly begins to enjoy the ride and its many features. So much so, that by the time he gets home and his daughter runs out to the car, she is greeted, not by the key to the car, but by a cute little puppy dad picked up on the way, as he and mom take off in their new KIA.

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Lock up the kids – here comes another plague!

Yikes! Just when we were celebrating our survival from The Great Shingles plague, here comes another national scourge, the Attack of the Giant Toenail Fungus! But fear not. As was the case with the shingles rampage, science again saves the day with a handy vaccine you can buy at your friendly neighborhood pharmacy.

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Bogies on the left—bogies on the right – and watch your six!

No question, flying combat in today’s stock market can get dicey. But you’ll be safe in the “cockpit” provided by Trade Station, a company that provides data and services to day traders. Here at Trade Station you’re your own Top Gun. Charts, charts, charts slicing, dicing and crunching all the data you need to knock fear, doubt and greed out of the sky as you blast your way to informed trades – even if it is all yesterday’s news which, we are frequently reminded, is “no guarantee of future performance.” You may not know any better than anyone else what’s going up and what’s going down and how much, but you’ll feel a hell of a lot better about it as you attack each day’s market in your Trade Station cockpit.

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Aw, c’mon guys, have a party for everyone

VW ads are showcasing a new app called App-Connect, which if you don’t have to send the car in on recall, lets several folks talk to each other, I think, through your car phone system with a Siri-like capacity. Whatever it is, the example they use has three almost 30-somethings sounding like 10-year-olds planning a party. Am I invited? Yeah. But I’m not planning a party. (Another guy checks in): Hey did you hear about the first guy’s party? I knew it! I’ll show him – phone system, find the nearest party shop. I’ll have my own party! And the system responds verbally with directions to a party shop.

I often wonder, with ads like this, whether the advertiser ever thinks about the people they present in their scenarios as representative of their prospective buyers. One would think they would want their ads to be in sync with their market. What could be the attraction to VW with these guys? Maybe they wouldn’t care about emissions. I don’t get it.

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Can I get a puppy?.. Can I, can I?

An example of a great ad that obscures the product – at least for me – is the guy with his 14-year old Great Buddy Dog. He buys him a custom birthday cake and a brand new shoe to chew. He strews tennis balls all over the yard, takes the dog swimming and as a final flourish, takes him to park where he introduces him – the rogue – to a comely lady dog and let the sniffing begin! Honestly, it makes me want to get a dog – but I still don’t know what the ad is not selling.

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Just sayin’…

In his address to Congress, Pope Francis touched on several important policy principles. But his most significant statement, in my view, was his description of politics as, “an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life.” It’s significant because, I believe, it defines the liberal approach to governance from which flow all the policy initiatives that form the social contract, meet people’s needs and fulfill the constitutional mandate to “promote the general welfare.” (Not surprisingly, Bernie Sanders included it in an email the following day.) The Pope’s emphasis on “our compelling need to live as one” and his stress on “community” directly negates the shopworn Republican meme of “personal responsibility” which, they insist, guarantees “freedom”. Right. Freedom to sink or swim on your own. Don’t ask us for help. In an assessment of the Pope’s visit, the New York Times notes that Pope Francis seemed to be “slipping the conservatives’ grasp with broad and generous calls for tolerance and contemplation.” Can you spell tolerance, Mr. Trump?

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Pinch me? Really?

From Watch Your Ads – A media memo by George Duncan

Pinch me? Really?

When was the last time someone asked you to pinch them? Last week? Probably not. In fact, probably not in this century. People who drive the VW Passat seem to be so taken with the car’s “Turbo Power,” whatever that is, they ask someone to pinch them to be sure it’s real. One woman declines to pinch her companion, “not while you’re driving.” Is power really a unique discovery in today’s vehicles? Hardly. Throwing a dated concept like pinch me into the ad for a powerful new car draws the attention away from the car to the interaction between the two people, I believe.

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Hey, why not hamsters!

Taking the distraction element a step – or maybe several steps – further, KIA has a quartette of hamsters  driving a rich lime green KIA. See a lot of those lately? The rodents are all handsomely dressed with jackets, vests, eyeglasses and more – all the more to distract from whatever the message is regarding  the car. It was lost on me. Another example of creatives gone wild.

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Take a little time for the child with you…

That’s the gist of a delightful tune currently running in an ad for Delta Airlines. Graphics show a business man overseas going through the usual grind. I love the way he almost gets run over facing the wrong way in a London street. Happens a lot. Anyway, after the sturm and drang of the day – or two – that he spends working, he returns to the welcoming, restful arms of his Delta flight home. Nice ad, but what’s unique about Delta hospitality? Especially in Business Class? A flight attendant politely takes his coat but not much more than that.

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Rube Goldberg Healthcare?

AARP has an ad out for their supplement medical plans. It features a small ball rolling on a track that recalls the days of Rube Goldberg and his imaginative creations. The ball goes through twists and turns tipping over one gizmo after another while a voiceover describes the benefits of AARP supplement plans, pointedly including phrases like “roll with you,” and “Keep you on track” (get it?). Here again the visual is captivating but I found it difficult to follow the ball as it goes through its contortions and absorb the benefit message at the same time. Also, AARP’s market is seniors who might have more difficulty with this mish mash than the younger set.

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Q. Why did the chicken cross the road?

A. To help make a point about GEICO insurance. (I wonder how many folks today recall that GEICO once stood for Government Employees Insurance Company?) But back to our chicken who crosses the road and takes off with all the romance that once was attached (erroneously) to those “knights of the open road” who, especially during the Great Depression, traveled the boxcar routes and hitchhiked from one hobo encampment to another. This is a free range chicken, see, and he’s ranging across the country, folkie type song strumming along in the background because “that’s what free range chickens do.” That’s followed by GEICO’s current tag line, about calling GEICO to save 15% on insurance. The visuals are clever, but this whole idea for me is still a stretch.

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First the show, then the snake oil

Many of today’s ads seem to be revisiting the old turn of the century practice of snake oil salesmen who traveled around the country with a magic show or a hoochie coochie show (honest!) in a wagon, stop in a town, drop the tailgate, do the show, then bring out the bottles of booze— er, cough medicine or energy syrup – sell a bunch and move on to the next town.

Another example of this is the ad just out for Nationwide Insurance. It stars the actor Mindy Kaling in a fantasy setting because she’s invisible. She walks through several scenes not being seen ending on a basketball court where it seems she suddenly become visible as she interferes with a kid playing hoops. He complains about her interrupting him and she says something to the effect that “there are worse things than being touched by a beautiful woman.” Then the Nationwide tag line about Nationwide is the company “that sees you as a priority.” Or, “Sees you for the person you are.” Wow. I’m knocked over. Where do I sign? Something inside me suggests that this ad was conceived and written by Ms. Kaling.

Ooops! There’s Mindy again in an American Express ad. She’s a producer and writer as well as an actor, so the odds just went up that she’s taking a crack at the ad business. Seems to me folks ought to learn something about marketing before they go off producing ads.

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OK, you’re shallow

“Call me shallow,” says the guy in the National Car Rental ad as he turns selecting a car to drive into a sexual context. Suddenly the maroon whatever that he selects is “she.” The other black car that he rejects remains silent (for a car, that is) and he comments, “Oh, the silent treatment. Real mature.” The arrogance fairly oozes from his pores. Who writes this junk, a bunch of ten-year-olds? One look at the poor schlepps who drag themselves from cramped plane seats to car rentals to the local Days Inn – the backbone of National’s business – would know in an instant they’ve little patience for this kind of baloney.

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My 2c:

How do they do it?

Aside from differences with policies, I’m always astonished at how easily some conservatives can directly contradict fact and keep a straight face. Like climate change denier Sen. James Inhofe who insists that global warming is a hoax as the polar ice collapses around him – and the fossil fuels industry pours money into his campaign funds. Was it Will Rodgers who said we had the best Congress money could buy?

Speaker Boehner and Ted Cruz are the most recent examples as they excoriate the ACA (Obamacare), consistently referring to it as a “job killing plan,” and a disaster of one sort or another while one non-partisan research study after another demonstrates just the opposite.

Congresswoman Cathy Morris Rodgers – that tallish woman who often stands behind Boehner as he announces the next obstruction – was so convinced of the truth of these distortions she asked people to tell their tales of ACA horror on her Facebook page. What she got instead was hundreds of stories of how the ACA has helped this individual or that family with many exhortations to (1) leave it the hell alone, (2) improve it, (3) shut up. I’m sure by now she has crafted some way of explaining where all that opposition came from and why – with a straight face.

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