|Turbulent times: while the media discuss various scenarios of
the allegedly looming economic apocalypse, Apple gets in trouble over poisoning a village in China and Daimler kills the legendary Maybach brand. Vigilant advertising watchdog ASA has noticed that Lynx ads are a touch too frivolous and may even be inappropriate for children. Lynx retaliated with a video apology, which will probably secure more customers than the original campaign would have. If you are still reading, chances are, you are into advertising; the fine people at Adweek have put together what they believe to be the top 10 commercials of 2011.
Dude, you are a barista
The Samsung ad enjoyed impressive viral success before even hitting TV partly due to a good and honest script, partly because few people expected anything of quality from Samsung. While the witty ad will without any doubt recruit quite a few customers, it fails to comprehensively attack the iPhone. The main points of the video, that the new iPhone looks very much like the previous model and that it could have had a larger screen just support the opinion that many of those who criticise Apple just “don’t get it.” In the words of John Gruber, “Bigger is not necessarily better.”
Tesco “gets it”
Tesco, on the other hand, clearly understands technology. The virtual store project developed for Homeplus, their South Korean arm (ironically, co-owned by Samsung), won a Grand Prix in Cannes and is currently running a full-time trial in Seoul. The Cannes festival even added a new category, mobile Lions, to next year’s list, but that may just be a coincidence. At home, Tesco experimented with embedding augmented reality into the online shopping experience. A simple plugin allows customers to get a full 3D view of the item they are interested in. Although it is hard to evaluate the process without testing, the concept seems clever, practical and easy to use.
United Colors of Benetton are professional provocateurs. Their ads have been challenging (offending) people of all social, racial and religious groups since 1980s. This time the unhate campaign has depicted world leaders passionately kissing their political nemeses for world peace. Admittedly one of the least appropriate images caused a predictable media storm, successfully (and affordably) promoting the campaign around the world. The White House and the Vatican took the ads very seriously and were not amused. Not as seriously as Fox News but considering the shots feature homosexual kisses, it could have been worse. It is yet unclear whether the ads will help the troubled company regain some of its former glory but as last chance shock therapies go, Benetton clearly knows the trade. For some reason, people seem to find kissing politicians more offensive and inappropriate than the ad making fun of Robert Mugabe and the late Muammar Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein and Idi Amin.
When one looks at recent valuations of the popular Social Media platforms, it becomes evident that contrary to the famous saying, stepping into the same river twice is quite possible if one is in a good company. The market value of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Groupon and the more exotic Russian Yandex grew for some time, culminating in a number of successful IPOs earlier this year. LinkedIn shares went up over 109% on the first day of trading, those of Yandex and Groupon – 55% and 31% respectively. The sobering November saw Groupon shares lose 16% in a day and those of LinkedIn – 23% in a few weeks. The reason? Rising concerns that shares are traded at an unrealistic valuation. This shocking revelation doesn’t seem to have stopped Facebook, whose IPO, one of the largest in the history of the market, is expected in the very near future. Considering the conjuncture of the global economy, even supported by the rumours that the Social Media giant is due to release its own handset, the $100bn valuation looks a touch surreal. For those who do not follow the news on daily basis, The Street offers an overview of the top tech IPOs of 2011.
Google challenges iTunes
Google got serious about cloud music. The new service, imaginatively dubbed Google Music, will provide infrastructure to access and purchase 13 million tracks and enough space to store 20 thousand of them. Following the deal-rich May, it was only a matter of time before Google would launch something big. The further development of the project followed a rather predictable route: if Facebook uses Spotify to stream music through its social network and Apple sells tracks online, what could Google do? The new music service combines both approaches inviting users to download tracks as well as share them through Google+. With the second direct challenge to Apple, first being the launch of Android phones in 2008, Google tries to take advantage of the breadth of its business empire. Considering Apple are pioneers in the market with an 8 year head start, PC user support and a solid fan club, the fight is easier started than won. On the other hand, Google Music may be the best alternative for those who, for whatever reason, don’t use iTunes. I guess, the success of the project depends on its usability that has so far, unfortunately, not been Google’s forte.
The rebellious 99%
No matter what one thinks of the movement, Occupy Wall St is in many ways reflective of the mood and energy of 2011. Effective form of peaceful protest or pointless ramblings of hipsters who have too much time on their hands, what started as one of many similar left wing splashes, has grown into a wave that has lasted for months and covered hundreds of cities on both sides of the Atlantic. Today, it is almost hard to believe that a single man could have started something as rebellious, rude and spontaneous. New Yorker talks to Kalle Lasn and takes a peek behind the shabby curtains.
Holidays are coming
Christmas time is both magical and controversial, the height of compassionate idealism and mind-numbing hypocrisy. It is an emotional time, whether genuine or fake. The cards we send and receive, the presents we seek and expect, the parties we dream of or avoid, the family dinners, the TV specials – whichever way you look, Christmas is an emotional tornado.
Every time I hear the coke jingle I instantly remember the time I saw the ad for the very first time. I remember what my room looked like and what book I was holding; the snow behind the large rectangular window and the computer game I bought myself that day. Once the backdrop of the lazy holidays, Christmas commercials have grown to dictate the mood. Over 3,000,000 people have watched the John Lewis Christmas ad in just over two weeks. That’s as many as those who visit the Natural History Museum in a year. It has been reported that the clip has moved adult people to tears. It is an old song, but every Christmas seems to make us simpler. In 2011 we consumed more than expected and got sentimental over the corniest of clichés.