Posts filed under BADvertising

BADvertising: Harvey Norman for Dolce & Gabbana SMEG small appliances... or is it genius?

Here’s a communication piece I can’t tell if it’s super smart or just plain dumb: A recent Harvey Norman catalog that landed in my letterbox features some truly fugly small appliances co-designed between Dolce & Gabbana and SMEG.

I’ve always had a beef with SMEG ever since living in a designer unit in Surry Hills that came with a SMEG oven, stovetop and dishwasher that had the most unintuitive icons. Every time I wanted to cook something I had to look up the instruction manual online (which I bookmarked - it was that bad).

Once I got over the visual eye sores gracing the catalog cover, I then moved on to sticker shock seeing the prices: a $799 toaster, kettle and citrus juicer, and a $1100 blender. The blender perhaps didn’t phase me as much as I know they can get quite exxy, but charging $800 for life’s most mundane appliances was still comical to me.

Plus, although I love Italy, my home is Scandi in design - far too minimalist for these patterns! And since I’m currently living in suburban Ipswich for a few months, where I assume all my neighbours received the catalog as well… is this really the target market for this product?

Harvey Norman .jpeg

But I wonder if this is actually really smart marketing: If you’ve read up on behavioural economics, you’ll know the concept of ‘anchoring’ which is where a company puts a really expensive option in their line of SKUs to make the others seem much more palatable to the wallet. A classic example is the luxury car that’s on display at a boat show for $300,000. After looking at multi-million dollar yachts for a few hours, suddenly the $300,000 car doesn’t seem so expensive and you’re more likely to consider it (assuming you are still richer than God).

Going back to the catalog: When I open to the next page and see a range of toasters and kettles from brands like DeLonghi, Russell Hobbs and Breville all selling for around $150, suddenly that seems pretty reasonable. And let’s face it: that’s where the bulk of their customers are going to be purchasing from - not the front page selling $800 kettles.

So if the job was to anchor the price and make the homewares inside feel accessible, mission accomplished. But if the job was to get suburban Ipswich folks to buy into the Dolce and Gabbana meets SMEG aspirational lifestyle, I have to question the success of the catalog cover and for that reason I’m bucketing this one under BADvertising.

Tell me: what do you think?

Posted on April 30, 2019 and filed under BADvertising.

BADvertising: Samsung Galaxy ad... or is it an iPhone ad?

The new Samsung Galaxy ad spends a lot of screen time dissing iPhone users / fanatics.  It doesn't go so far as to call them a "basket of deplorables" - but still, you can't help but feel that making people feel stupid about their phone choices is a good idea, or that they are behind the curve on technology (also: most people are not obsessed with having the latest technology - they're obsessed with having the latest iPhone which is a much greater brand feat).

It also makes the false assumption that people are glued to their screens watching ads.  If you weren't watching closely, it would be easy to catch a glimpse of the screen and think it's an iPhone ad because the Apple logo features so prominently.   This can't be a good thing.

Lastly, what's so good about the new Samsung Galaxy?  What does it come with besides Extra Smugness?   See for yourself and judge:

Posted on November 6, 2017 and filed under BADvertising.

BADvertising: The new Uber logo - a change ahead of its time

If you're under 34, there's a good chance that the next time you update the apps on your phone, you're going to see a new logo appear for taxi-industry nemesis extraordinaire, Uber.  The change was announced on 2 February with an explanation on the Uber website (here) that talks about the importance of bits (ones and zeros – the digital stuff of life) and atoms (the physical stuff of life).  

The change has been highly criticised online – seems everyone’s a critic when it comes to new logos… including us.  But we like to think our condemnation has more to do with strategic reasoning rather than just pure emotion (though we know emotion is incredibly important when it comes to strong brands of course). 

Here’s 3 reasons why we aren’t fans of the new Uber logo:

1.     It’s too soon.  Roy Morgan just released data showing only 5.1% of Australians rode with Uber in the past 3 months, with almost 3 in 4 (73%) of them being 18-34 year olds. Since there are about 5.4 million people ages 18-34 in Australia, that means only 13% of them have taken up the service.  The video talks about the future of Uber going into food delivery (UberEATS) and parcel delivery (UberRUSH) --- and we applaud those grand plans --- but it makes more sense to have a deeper penetration and understanding of the brand and service as it stands today before messing with the logo.

2.     It’s lost some flavour and distinction.  The beauty of the old logo was it immediately conjured up the brand name.  The new logo could be for anything (personally we see a record player --- a more analog technology than digital).  The brand promise of “everyone’s private driver” also felt more appropriate with the black/silver logo which reminded us of black town cars and limousines and had more prestige to it (even if the driver shows up in a bright blue Hyundai i30).  

3.  It's inconsistent.  They mention that the look and feel will change depending on which country you're in:   "The team has spent months researching architecture, textiles, scenery, art, fashion, people and more to come up with authentic identities for the countries where Uber operates."  Again, the whole point of a brand identity is to be a shortcut for recognising and attaching meaning to a brand --- by having a different looking logo every time we land in a new country (and we'd like to believe Uber users are well-travelled) seems to make it harder on the user, not easier.  We'd rather they leave the local market acculturation job to the driver rather than the logo.

For these reasons, plus an underwhelming response to the visual itself, we have to rate one of our favourite brands as BADvertising when it comes to the new logo.  We'll still take you anywhere Uber... it just might be harder to spot you amongst our 73 apps after a big night out.     

You can watch the brand video here.      

Posted on February 16, 2016 and filed under BADvertising.

BADvertising: Love Supreme Pizza - overly emotional?

We don't normally focus on smaller, local businesses, and certainly don't want to cause them any harm (we love small biz - we ARE a small biz)... but walking past Love Supreme, a pizza joint (if-not-institution) in Paddington, we noticed its tagline "Emotional Pizza for One and All."  Something about this just rubs us the wrong way.  There's been a lot of talk over the past few years about building emotion into brands and the increased efficacy of emotional advertising (vs rational / logical ads).  This tagline just seems to hit the wrong note and here's why:

1. "Emotional + Pizza" are not really two words that make sense together in the first place.  What exactly IS emotional pizza?  It doesn't even sound very nice.  Are there tears in my sauce?  In food branding, perceptions of taste are uber-important, and this phrase risks diluting positive perceptions - not a risk we would encourage clients to take;   

2. They've already got the words Love and Supreme in their name - both strong, evocative words rife with meaning, and together they work very well: everyone can relate to the notion of Love, and Supreme tells us that there is something great about this brand and thus (hopefully), the pizza.   We don't need "emotion" beat into our heads.  One questions if they even need the tagline at all given the stronger brand name and local reputation (4.3 Stars out of 5 on Facebook reviews).  

3.  Last, we've done a lot of brand strategy work over the years, and this tagline sounds more like someone took what was supposed to be an internally-facing brand essence and turned it into a tagline.  We like the democratic angle ("for one and all") but just can't wrap our heads around why you'd call it emotional pizza.  If anyone who works at Love Supreme is reading this, let us know the thinking behind it and we'll happily share with our readers!   



Posted on January 30, 2016 and filed under BADvertising.

BADvertising: TIDAL - what were they thinking?! Oh wait...

It's been about a month now since music streaming service and Spotify/Pandora competitor TIDAL launched with much fanfare, including an over-the-top yet dreadfully dull press conference with some of music's top stars (Jay-Z, Madonna, Rihanna, Beyonce, Kanye).  Most looked like they were embarrassed or bored to be there.  Madonna acted out (shock!) as she approached the table to sign the "declaration of independence" for the music industry.   Sadly, it was the highlight of the ego-fest:   

Last week it was reported the app had already fallen out of the top 700 downloaded iphone apps chart.

We downloaded it and were disappointed immediately in what we saw - and the lack of a freemium model for us to get into it.  A 30 day free trial is offered, but you have to enter your credit card information?  We all know the frustration that will bring when we forget to cancel.  

All of this leads us to ask:  What were they thinking?  Oh wait... maybe they weren't.  Here's a few reasons why:

1. A main selling point of the service has been "high fidelity music streaming."  With the quality of speakers today and the lowering cost of even a Bose portable speaker, does anyone actually feel the audio quality of digital music is so bad that it's worth paying $24 a month?  (Standard sound quality is only $12 a month, the same as Spotify).  High Fidelity is the same as "CD quality" --- problem is, most Gen Ys today don't have a strong recollection of what a CD sounded like.  And how did they pick those prices?  It feels like someone just said "High Fidelity?  Double it."  as the pricing strategy.    

2.  The positioning of the brand as a revolutionary new service ("the future of music" was uttered multiple times) that is going to save the music industry feels pompous and quite frankly, satisfying no real need.  Comparing yourself to a revolution before it's even begun is pretty foolhardy.  People don't buy into such bombastic statements anymore.   We're too smart and sceptical.  

3.  #TIDALforALL as the official hashtag doesn't feel much like a manifesto for democracy but more like a command from marketers to consumers.  It wants to be democratic but the launch event felt aristocratic.  It would've been better to bring independent musicians onto the stage, or had each celebrity partner with an up and coming artist so that we would feel our money was going to someone who needs it.  

We can't help but think this entire service, and the go-to-market strategy, was designed without any consumer co-creation or collaboration / feedback.  Did they test the idea?  Did they test MULTIPLE ideas?  Did they speak with consumers currently using Spotify and Pandora to see what their Achilles heels were?  

This is all stuff that a bit of research and insights could've helped predict... and prevent.  

You don't need to be an insights professional to be able to read this body language!

Posted on April 29, 2015 and filed under BADvertising.

BADvertising: Pie Face - what happened to a rising Aussie brand?

A few weeks ago in Nerang, QLD whilst headed to the Gold Coast theme parks, we spotted a strange sight:  a freestanding Pie Face store.  Something just felt horribly wrong about it, mostly: does Pie Face really sell enough or offer enough of an experience to justify its own building (complete with drive through?).  

If anything, Pie Face has been disappointing over the years.   I'll never forget one late buzzy night on Oxford St when I went to order the tandoori vegetable pie (one of the few options for vegetarians available) and asked to receive the same sale discount they were offering on 3 of their most popular meat pies, knowing full well the cost (both economically and environmentally) to produce a beef pie is much more than a vegetable pie.  But the gal at the counter said she couldn't sell it to me for the discounted price.  

Needless to say I was livid (and drunk - never a good combination).  I'd been going to Pie Face frequently for years - you could say I was a "high volume customer" - aka valuable to the business.  But because the employee wasn't empowered to act on her own, she lost my business and I've never been back.  

Pie Face's financial troubles have been well-documented already, citing too-aggressive expansion plans overseas, high rents and declining sales.  But overall to us it's also about the lack of innovation - sure they added mushy peas and mashed potato as a "stack"... but compared to other quick service outlets like Macca's and Subway who are always launching new products, Pie Face has always felt a bit stagnant.   Which is sad really, because I was a fan once, a major advocate.   And now, I'm feeling just a bit like Tyra:

I would love to be "surprised and delighted" by Pie Face once again - but until then it's dirty street kebabs for me.


BADvertising: Uniqlo tagline says it all... yet says nothing

A bus just drove past me with a billboard for retailer Uniqlo that simply said: "Life Wear."  Perhaps the most vacuous tagline I've seen in a long time - like they placed the two broadest terms together and called it an idea.   I've always thought of Uniqlo as the Japanese Gap and I've no doubt benefited from their uber-cheap cashmere sweaters in the past (when I lived in a cold environment that required them).   Hoping there was more to this under-statement, I went online hoping to discover a more unique, erm, I mean, Uniqlo slant.   Instead, all I found was this non-sense:  


So basically... we sell clothes.   

Pretty disappointing comms from a brand that otherwise stands out.

Posted on January 7, 2015 and filed under BADvertising.

Why are morning talk shows in Australia so bad?

The practice of embedding infomercials into morning talk shows on Australian TV is something that's always made us scratch our heads and ask "Why God, WHY?"  Of course we understand it's one way for TV networks to make money, but we prefer when an infomercial is labeled as such on the TV guide.  For example:  it's pretty clear that the show titled "Brazil Butt Lift" is not going to involve any hard hitting news.... but when the Morning Show features segments like the one above, it's a waste of my time when I click on it and feel duped.  

Note:  The segment above is a few years old but perfectly captures the heavily scripted, inauthentic nature of these segments.

tags:  BADvertising, TV, infomercial

Posted on October 1, 2014 and filed under BADvertising.

Bread Wars and Supermarkets Behaving Badly

It seems unfair to pick on just one of our Australian duopoly supermarkets so it's an uncanny coincidence when they BOTH manage to behave badly in the same month regarding the same topic: Bread.   

Woolies is currently airing a TVC "Cheap Cheap" that features a parody of the song Rockin' Robin ("cheap cheap" replaces "tweet tweet").  It's main thrust is a tactical promotion of their 85-cent loaf of their Homebrand white bread.  Now we're all for finding a (rare) bargain on food in Australia so applaud helping out Aussie families that have kids to feed.   We also expect the deal to be hugely popular among German backpackers in hostels across the country (but not French ones of course).  

But the whole execution just feels a bit too much like a rip-off of "Down Down" from Coles.   Using language like "It's cheap, and staying cheap" is really no different from the "Down and staying down" Coles message.  Great brands aim to create real and sustainable difference - this ad, with the read signage that recalls the Coles "Down" foam finger - just blurs the two brands further together.   

Coles on the other hand was just banned from advertising bread FOR 3 YEARS(!) after the Federal Court found them guilty of misleading consumers by claiming its bread was "freshly baked in store" when in fact it was sometimes partially baked elsewhere.   We love the way Coles bakery smells so we're somewhat disheartened by this - but the moral of the story kids is one of transparency: lies, even itty bitty teeny tiny (cheap cheap!) lies will get caught.

Posted on October 1, 2014 and filed under BADvertising.