What do the folks at Anheuser-Busch like more than beer? Misdirection. Over the summer, they sparked a minor uproar with a 45-second viral spot featuring a series of people declaring how much they liked "getting it in the can." For the first 40 seconds, viewers were quietly shocked at the possibility they were watching people rave about doing it through the back door before the final frames revealed they were actually talking about Bud Light Lime being available in cans. This Sunday, Budweiser Canada will begin another ad featuring people speaking directly to the camera about something that again sounds suspiciously sexual. "Some guys think it's cool not to use one," complains a woman as the spot opens. "Knowing you're safe makes it even more pleasurable," explains another. Then a guy chimes in: "The guys on my team, we'll share the same one for, like, a month at a time." What are they talking about? Having a designated driver. So: Happy holidays, and may the best double entendre win.
Noted: A word from our sponsors
In Ross Petty's world, selling out is a good thing. The actor-impresario's annual holiday pantomime at Toronto's Elgin Theatre revels in its blurring of art and commerce: Product placement is, according to the critics, sometimes the most entertaining part of the show. This year's edition, Robin Hood: The EnvironMENTAL Family Musical , which opened last night, brings back some of the show's long-time sponsors, including Bank of Montreal and Tim Hortons, which recognize the value of a captive audience. In one of the two commercial breaks woven into the show, Robin Hood (Jeff Irving) and Maid Marian ( Canadian Idol 's Eva Avila) visit a BMO branch to inquire about buying a home, prompting a bank manager to weep in joy. In another spot, a visit to Tim's turns tragic when an ugly stepsister (a hideously cross-dressing Dan Chameroy) is drawn into a catfight for double-dipping a doughnut in her friend's coffee. Theatre purists who object to commercial integration may be missing the point, since the only pure thing in Mr. Petty's world is camp. Good thing for him it pays the bills.
Quoted: Counterfeits in context
It's like a public shaming ritual.
Renée Richardson Gosline, MIT
Can you tell the difference between a luxury handbag and a fake? A new working paper by an associate professor of marketing at MIT's Sloan School of Management suggests that most people look to contextual clues to help discern the real from the counterfeit. "Basically these consumers look at the person, the setting, and determine the authenticity by seeing if the person's image corresponds with the image they have of the brand," said Renée Richardson Gosline, whose "Rethinking Brand Contamination" is being written with an eye to publication in the Journal of Marketing. Her research suggests that mere product shots of luxury goods are not nearly as persuasive as images of those products in a full-scale luxury context. Prof. Gosline further notes that people judge each other's entire appearance rather than the individual items worn. For anecdotal support, she points to the existence of many online fashion-police groups, including a Facebook page with the most adorably revolting name we've heard this week: "Darling, I can tell by the rest of your outfit your Louis Vuitton is fake."
30-second spot: Season of giving
The season of giving is approaching, and Nissan Canada is hoping its gifts of free coffee and gas will translate into a season of buying. The car maker is dispatching street teams to perform random acts of kindness for unsuspecting pedestrians, then encouraging them to visit its microsite, bestpartofyourday.ca, to share their impressions and maybe take a virtual test drive of one of its vehicles. Other fun activities offered on the site include a bumper-sticker maker, road trip randomizer and funny online videos. Just be sure you're not surfing while driving because, even in a Nissan, a rollover would not be the best part of your day.
iFood for thought
Not sure what to serve at your upcoming holiday fête? There's an app for that. This week, Kraft launched a Canadian version of its popular iFood Assistant, an application for iPhones and BlackBerrys that puts cooking-demo videos, meal ideas and thousands of recipes at your fingertips, and Kraft products in your cart. Created by the Hyperfactory and Meredith Integrated Marketing, the app offers recipes for seasoned chefs and novice cooks alike, and promises entertaining tips to help you wow your guests and have them coming back for more. Now where's the app that helps you get them to leave?
U.S. mobile carriers BFFs once more
Yes, Santa Claus is coming to town, and AT&T and Verizon have decided they'd better not fight. The U.S. wireless providers have dismissed lawsuits accusing each other of lying in television ads about who's more reliable and who has the fastest network. The dispute has been going on since July and has included a request by AT&T for an injunction to stop Verizon's ads. The companies, however, have seemingly put all that behind them, without offering any explanation. Bell, Rogers, Telus, are you reading this? Can't you all be friends?
Show us the money
Emboldened by our new-found frugality, it seems we consumers now want downtrodden companies to actually pay us to watch their ads. A global survey by marketing research firm Synovate finds that although more than two-thirds of us think there are too many ads on television and try to avoid them by flipping channels, 42 per cent of us would gladly watch more ads if companies would make it worth our while, perhaps in the form of a lower cable or Internet bill. So just to recap: Lower our cable bills and we promise not to use the skip function on our DVRs.
China's extreme makeover
When you think of China, do you think of lead-based paint and melamine-tainted milk? That's all about to change, if the exporting superpower has its way. Its commerce ministry has commissioned an ad, created by DDB Guoan, depicting Westerners happily engaged with products such as music players "made in China with software from Silicon Valley," and clothes "made in China with French designers." The tagline says, "When it says, 'Made in China,' it really means, 'Made in China, made with the world.'" Not included in the feel-good ad: The fact that China executed two people last week for their role in the tainted-milk case.