Sunday, May 20, 2012

Where's My Church Key?

If you've seen it once, you will see it again, redone, re-engineered, and relabeled.  It happened to me just the other day watching the commercial about Miller Lite's punch top beer can.

The idea is that with a second hole in the can, the beer will flow out faster and smoother.  Duh.  We've been punching extra holes in beer cans for years.  We used a screwdriver, an Army knife or a church key.  The only thing unique about this is that the hole in the can top is pre-drilled so it doesn't require much effort.  

If you haven't watched the television ad, check it out on YouTube or don't go to the kitchen the next time it airs.  Did you notice?  No one actually pours a beer into a glass.  Perhaps the "smoother pour" still creates a head?  I'm sure it does. A smooth pour means no glugs.  It doesn't mean no head.  Hmmm...something to thing about.

And therein lies my point.  It's a gimmick. It is a way to get you to spend your money on Miller Lite instead of Bud Lite or Coors Lite.  While I grant that it's clever marketing, will people pay extra for an additional hole they were always able and willing to punch themselves?  Still, I expect many will try it just to see what all the fuss is about.

Perhaps the can will make an appearance in science classes.  The can engineering is basic physics. The principal is even a mantra for Mike Holmes of Holmes on Holmes on HGTV.  He probably says it once each show: "Air behind water or nothing moves."  I can't help but wonder if the Miller can designer is a Mike Holmes fan or if he figured out a way to get a pay raise off something everyone was doing anyway.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

For Washingon, No Check Means No Interest?

I figure one of the responsibilities of living in this country is to participate in the political process.  I don't march or protest but I always vote and occasionally send an email or make a phone call. 

With all the campaign hoopla about the national debt, I recently wrote about the cost of the war in the Middle East.  Now that the publicly-stated mission (getting bin Laden) has truly been accomplished, I see no reason for us to remain in an area that is, historically, untenable.  After all, if Alexander the Great, Queen Victoria, and the Russians couldn't conquer Afghanistan, it's a safe bet we won't either.  

Bringing our soldiers home would be a comfort to their families plus it would save us a ton of money - money we could use for other things including caring for our troops.  According to The Washington Post (The Washington Post article of June 21, 2011), the war in Iraq and Afghanistan has cost this country more than $3 trillion. So, a couple of months ago, I wrote to voice my opinion on this matter.

I eventually received replies.  One letter expressed an opinion on the health care bill and the other assured me of support for any legislation that put more controls on banks.

Wait - I didn't write about those topics.  I wrote about bringing our troops home and taking proper care of them when they get here. 

In sending me a form letter that has no bearing on what I wrote, my representatives' staffs indicated that they a) do not read what their constituents send, and b) are only interested in certain key issues that will be hot during the campaign.  Apparently war is not as important as other matters?  Or perhaps I am not entitled to have an opinion on that topic?  

Would it have helped if I had enclosed a big, fat check? 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Gecko's Chicago Accent

Have you seen the Geico commercial set in Chicago?  I mention it in this blog because it is a perfect example of target marketing - a message designed for a specific group of people.

In case you haven't seen it (click to view on YouTube), the Geico gecko is walking along a downtown Chicago street with the El overheard. He feels Chicagoans will pay more attention to his message if he speaks with a Chicago accent.  The balance of the commercial, except for the tag line at the end, is delivered in flawless south side Chicago. (If you don't believe the accent is authentic, search out some old video of Mayor Daley and you'll be convinced.) The closing has the gecko commenting that Chicagoans have a funny accent.

I love a good ad and this is one.  It entertains, it delivers its message clearly, it is memorable, and people around here sure are talking about it. 

The Martin Agency in Richmond, Virginia is responsible for the gecko ads and, IMHO, the series is brilliant. It has won awards for its work, but importantly, it wins customers for Geico.

Perhaps the Chicago ad can only be appreciated by those of us who live here or originate from here. Considering the local buzz, I have no doubt that Geico picked up enough new customers off that ad to pay for its airing.  And that's the whole point of good communication. Getting people to listen to the message and act on it.

The gecko made its first appearance during the 2000 television season. Unlike another long-running ad campaign that lost site of its original premise growing stale and contrived (think battery-operated toy bunny), the Martin Agency writers stay focused on why the gecko is out and about. Their ads work because they are fresh and new while delivering the on-going message about affordable insurance.

It's all about communication. The gecko ads do that and we are listening - when we're not laughing.