Archive for January 2009
Last Friday's video, Johnny Cash's cover of "Hurt," demonstrated how a powerful voice can transform the meaning of a song. Cash told the story in a way Trent Reznor could not. This week, we look at Duran Duran’s cover of Public Enemy’s “911 Is A Joke.” Duran Duran tells the story in a way Flavor Flav could not: like pathetic posers.
A new campaign from Diet Pepsi is an odd departure for a brand long-associated with hip celebrity. No Sean Combs or Jackie Chan here. No dramatic red carpet entrances or Hollywood magic. Just a young professional and a sobering dose of reality.
At the risk of crossing Oprah, we question whether the Starbucks “I’m In” initiative was the best way for the struggling coffee giant to tap into the zeitgeist. No doubt the election put a premium on optimism and grassroots participation, and admittedly, the campaign’s execution to date has been flawless, earning major endorsements and plenty of ink. But does a populist rally cry from a company that sells $5 Venti Caramel Frappuccinos trigger anyone else’s BS meter? More importantly, does it translate to sales?
I have been following a brand for a while, on Twitter and in general. In 2004 I was walking down the fresh drinks aisle in my local supermarket in Amsterdam when it caught my attention. It was appealing, kind, real, and it stood out. It was innocent.
Sound strategy can flounder in the absence of a clear voice. It’s especially interesting, however, when a shift in strategy causes an otherwise powerful voice to crack.
A strong brand voice can be expressed with nary a word. Behold the joy of Cadbury.
“Hurt” was first released on Nine Inch Nails' 1994 album, The Downward Spiral . In 2002, legendary singer/songwriter Johnny Cash partnered with producer Rick Rubin to cover Reznor’s bleak account of addiction and isolation for American IV: The Man Comes Around. The Man in Black’s gritty sound and decades of struggle and pain transformed the song into a dark, desperate retrospective. Cash died soon after.
UE’s Video of the Day recently featured the latest spot in Geico’s Kash campaign. Allstate also recently launched a new spot clearly aimed at retention and equally noteworthy with regards to voice. While Geico whispers from the deep discount bin, Allstate resonates with gravitas. The two spots stand at opposite poles of a broad spectrum of insurance company voices, each struggling to speak to their customers in the context of our current economic realities.
While banks across the U.S. were pleading for bailouts, ING Direct posted a 10-point Declaration of Financial Independence to a simple microsite and invited people to sign it. 20,000 people have. And as the surviving financial services companies struggle to find the right tone and message to comfort and reassure consumers in the new year, one clear voice speaks plainly and directly about personal responsibility and the basics of saving. Consistently delivered online and through frank messages by CEO Arkadi Kuhlmann, the ING voice is genuine, distinguishable in the market place and perfectly aligned with the company’s brand position and identity.
I’d like to thank T-Mobile for tapping into one of my lifelong fantasies. Mind you, I’ve never met a befringed surrey I didn’t love. I grew up knowing jolly sailors really should bust out in into choreographed numbers more often and was really ticked that I didn’t have six sisters, a barn, and a bunch of lumber laying around so we could all do this on a lazy Sunday. Yes indeedy, we all just need to break out into song and/or dance numbers in public more often.