Almost exactly a year ago (give or take 3 weeks) I wrote a post on Microsofts’s then new XBox accessory, the motion sensing Kinect. Back then I noted how the Kinect had been passionately embraced by hackers and scientists across America and the globe. Engineering grad students were finding uses for the Kinect that Microsoft could not have even begun to dream of. Microsoft’s initial reaction was to lets it’s lawyers off the leash but luckily, someone with a modicum of sense managed to beat that instinct down and lock it in cupboard. However, after that, Microsoft largely turned silent. Videos of new and creative uses for the Kinect kept coming but the big M seemed to stick to the plan that the Kinect should be nothing but a cool addition to a gaming console. Truly a horrific waste in terms of marketing and a sad testament to Microsofts ability to grasp the reins of a potentially paradigm shifting opportunity. I was genuinely sad.
Until this video was passed around my office on Monday morning.
That video is goddamn magic.
For me it is more than just the hauntingly beautiful interpretation of the Pixies “Where is my mind?” that accompanies the video* of people using the Kinect in ways that most hardcore gamers would find baffling, if not downright infuriating.
The video is accompanies Microsoft’s recent launch of The Kinect Effect website and the release of SDK Beta, a software package that will make it easier for people to write programs for their Kinect. The company has finally decided to throw its full weight behind the modding community, a move we usually only get from Google. What is more, Microsoft has decided that the Kinect has the heft and power to stand on it’s own. No longer is it merely an fancy gadget that will allow your kids to interact with Elmo or for you to impress your drunk friends with your Dance Central moves. It is a product, no, it is brand all on its own and the video is testament to this.
Only once do you hear someone in the video mention the word XBox, but the fabled entertainment console is nowhere to be seen in the video. At the end of the video, the word “Kinect” stands entirely on it’s own. It is no longer the XBox Kinect, it has grown beyond it.
I don’t think that I would be out of line by saying that even the great, late Steve Jobs could not help but be impressed by this.
- Philip Beickler
* The video was made by twofifteenmccann, a division of McCann Erikson, the global ad agency that won the exclusive contract to all Microsoft advertising. The company is responsible for the hugely impressive Halo and Gears of War ad campaigns that I have mentioned in this space previously. They really have done some amazing work for Microsoft and for the XBox division in particular. I will definitely write about those campaigns in the future.
Alright. Way back when we at YBiS were still updating with some regularity, my colleagues showed you some stellar examples of humerous baseball and American football advertisements. Now it is my turn to represent some of the best and funniest soccer clips. Beware, some of the them go back to the early to mid 90’s, as you can see in the first clip by the apperance of one Eric Cantona (still the most brutal Frenchman to have ever played the game) and a 19 year old Ronaldo. If these names don’t mean anything to you then you ought to be deeply ashamed of yourself. Enjoy!
This one was absolutely legendary back in the day. Oddly enough, it too seems to feature Eric Cantona, who was well retired by this point.
This is just getting strange, I am beginning to wonder if Eric might have some serious blackmail material on Nike.
Now for a little something from the competition.
The irony of this video would not be appreciated until years later.
Well folks, that is all. I wish you all a good weekend!
- Philip Beickler
I am going to do something very mean and allow you all to watch these videos first. Then once you are done clawing out your eyes and stuffing pencils in your ears, I’ll continue.
That’s right let it all out. It is better out than in. So, now that you have picked yourself off the floor, time for us to get down to brass tacks.
You probably had some indication from the header, that I don’t like these ads. I find them to be offensive to me as a man, as a marketer and as human being with the mental capacity to dress myself in the mornings. Some might be tempted to say that I have no right to comment on “Hail to the V” *shudder* campaign as I am obviously not the target demographic, but that is a weak counter argument. While Summer’s Eve products may not be meant for me, I am still fully capable of being offended on behalf of the women who this ad campaign is meant to appeal to. I don’t think anyone would hesitate to denounce an ad campaign involving a talking penis. (Editors note: Stephen Colbert has done a humorous take on this)
However, looking past the squick factor of a talking set of genitals, the question does eventually spring to mind “is this a bad campaign?”. My answer to that would: yes. It really is.
The person who came up with the phrase “there is no such thing as bad publicity” was a filthy, devious liar, probably trying to save their job after a particularly sordid scandal, because this is bad publicity. People may be talking about the campaign but conversations that generally start with “Did you see that awful…” are not ones that you want your company’s name involved in. Beyond which, it is impossible to ignore fact that these videos indulge in extremely lazy ethnic stereotyping. We have Vanilla Vagina, Sassy Black Vagina and Fiery Latina Vagina. Why did they stop there? Why not go for Mysterious Middle Eastern Vagina or Unshaven European Vagina. Yes, these are crass ideas but it doesn’t change the fact that it would fit snugly into the narrative of the campaign.
You could give Summer’s Eve credit for trying something new and daring, but that doesn’t make it good. The purpose of ad campaigns is to boost revenues through increased brand awareness. I am certain “Summer’s Eve” and “Hail to the V” are trending high on Google and twitter, but given the context I wouldn’t call that a good thing. I am also pretty sure that women who see these ads will not be inspired to buy their products. After all the implication seems to be: use Summer’s Eve, and your vagina will talk to you.
- (with his sincerest apologies) Philip Beickler
Augmented reality is the “live direct or an indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input, such as sound or graphics” according to it’s Wikipedia page. The basic idea is that you point your phone or other viewing device at some real world location and it will then show you something about it, either information, digital art or advertisements. The concept is still in the process of being birthed but the potential is immense, for any number of industries including advertising and branding.
Imagine you go to your favorite shop, pull out your phone, activate AR app and WHAM, what was once an ordinary store front lights up with information. The types of items they sell, sales events, profiles of people who work there, little commercial videos even your own purchasing history and frequent shopper status. Just imagine the Terminator vision from the movies and you are essentially there.
At the moment you need to use a webcam or a smartphone with the appropriate app in order to see the foundations of this new world. However that is merely a temporary state of affairs. One day we will be able to switch between the AR world and the real world at whim, likely wearing glasses not to dissimilar from the ones pictured below or even using contact lenses.
For now though, let us marvel at some of the imaginative ways branders have started to use augmented reality to give their campaigns that added special touch. Below are some of the most impressive examples I found on the web. Enjoy!
Digital billboards that turn the background landscape into Lego
Angels fall on people in Victoria Station in London.
You can find many more excellent examples of AR campaigns here. Don’t forget to comment and let us know of any other campaigns out there in the wilderness of the internet.