Tag Archives: Saatchi & Saatchi

Pedigree’s fascinating new dog food commercial – inspired by Pleix

A Saatchi & Saatchi colleague recently sent me a new commercial for Pedigree dog food.  It’s a fantastic piece of advertising from TBWA, Toronto. No annoying voice over, just fascinating ultra-slow motion shots of dogs leaping in the air to chomp down on a single nugget of Pedigree’s vitality+.  I immediately forwarded it to dog lovers I know.  That’s what you want in an age of skeptical consumers who have the power to block unwanted advertising messages from reaching them.  Make something so good, people want to spread it around to their friends.  It’s garnered over a million views on YouTube since going up at the end of February.

The commercial brilliantly conveys vitality and great taste in an execution that breaks with all the boring conventions of the past 50 years for conveying those benefits.  As I said to a dog lover friend of mine, who is also a market researcher, it’s the first dog food commercial I’ve ever seen that communicates great canine taste appeal without showing the animal — who we know was probably half starved to death before the commercial shoot — lunging at a bowl full of food.  Take a look, and you’ll see what I mean.

The execution was inspired by a video produced in 2006 by Pleix Films for the music group, Vitalic. The similarity is unmistakable.

At first, I got all hot under the collar, because there was no acknowledgment on the YouTube page running the Pedigree version that the idea wasn’t original.  We live in an age of mash-ups, consumer generated content and transparency.  I don’t think people have a problem with borrowing ideas, or adapting them for another purpose, as TBWA has done.  But you need to acknowledge that you did.

Neither Pedigree nor TBWA are at fault, because it seems that wherever this spot appears on YouTube, it was posted by others.  Indeed, TBWA does call out on their web site that “the campaign was inspired by the talented directors at Pleix.”  Unfortunately, the post I saw on YouTube credits the idea to TBWA without any mention of its original source.


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Ikea’s Easy to Assemble video series breaks new ground in branded entertainment

Easy to Assemble is a wacky online video series created and written by Illeana Douglas and sponsored by Ikea.  It’s based on an earlier online show created by Douglas called Supermarket of the Stars. Douglas later pitched it to Ikea and adapted it for the Swedish home furnishings giant.  In both series, Douglas and the other stars (including Justine Bateman, Jeff Goldblum, Kevin Pollak and Jane Lynch) play fictionalized versions of themselves.  The basic idea is that they have decided to get out of show business and start new careers as co-workers in the Ikea store in Burbank, California.  Sounds like a stretch, but the series is incredibly funny and entertaining.

And that’s the secret to its success as a brand property.  According to Advertising Age, Easy to Assemble has racked in 5.1 million views since first going online last year and the numbers are still growing.  Ikea had the vision to give Douglas the creative freedom to place entertainment ahead of marketing.  That doesn’t mean the brand is relegated to the sidelines.  The story takes place in the Ikea store, Ikea branding and products (including those famous Swedish meatballs) are weaved naturally into the story lines, and the brand isn’t afraid to poke fun at itself, or at peculiarly Swedish traits that are at the heart of the brand and the company.  The ability not to take itself so seriously, something most brands sadly lack, makes Ikea all the more approachable and human.

In one of the spoof training videos that come at the end of many episodes, Nicole Bateman advises Ikea trainees not to inform customers who have left an important component behind by mistake.  When they get home, they’ll realize it’s missing, come back to buy it, and will probably pick up other items as well.  “And that means repeat sales.”  Of course everyone watching knows this is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but most marketers would lack the courage for that kind of humor.

I’m also impressed how Easy to Assemble has engaged with Ikea’s online fan base to promote the show.  For the launch of the second season, Douglas engaged the services of CJP Digital Media, a company that creates, distributes and promotes branded entertainment properties.  CJP approached fan communities like Susan Martin’s IKEAFANS.com, which receives over 320,000 unique visitors a month, according to a post on tubefilter news.

CPJ went beyond just providing brand enthusiasts with YouTube embed codes.  It approached the top four Ikea fan sites and gave each an embeddable online player that only works on that site, where visitors could watch the shows.  The one that gets the most people to view the series will be rewarded by getting written into the second season finale.  This provides benefits for everyone involved.  Ikea and Easy to Assemble profit from the increased buzz and word of mouth.  The fan sites are rewarded by repeat visits thanks to recurring, relevant and entertaining content.  October was IKEAFANS.com’s best month ever for traffic and unique visitors, and Martin credits this in part to the show appearing on the site.

The influence and effectiveness of Easy to Assemble will grow in future.  Initially distributed only on YouTube and Metacafe, it now can be seen on CBS’s TV.com, My Damn Channel and Blip.tv.  And it should be showing soon on Hulu, Verizon FiOS and The Hotel Network’s DoNotDisturb TV channel, if it isn’t already.

I loved this quote from Susan Martin in the tubefilter news piece:  “Ikea has that most elusive combination of respect and love from their customer base.”  At Saatchi & Saatchi, we call brands that achieve that elusive combination Lovemarks.  Ikea certainly is one.  But as in any relationship, brands need to find ways to continually fuel that love.  By taking branded entertainment to a new level of comedy and quality, Easy to Assemble is a great way to do that.


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Facebook and Lovemarks

I just discovered a great site for slicing and dicing Facebook page rankings.  Check it out at Facebook Page Statistics.  It’s sub-site of AllFacebook The Unofficial Facebook Resource.


You can choose between rankings by number of fans, daily growth rate and weekly growth rate.  Those rankings are available for all pages or within 61 sub-categories — from  actors, bands and consumer products to TV shows, visual artists and writers.

Top three sites by fans overall?  Barack Obama, Coca-Cola and Nutella.

nutella2Now, I know Nutella is very popular in Germany and across Europe.  But I wouldn’t have expected it to be the third most popular Facebook page on the planet.  Would you?  (Do you even know what Nutella is?)  It has 3.2 million fans.

Some of the data seems a bit off.  Skittles appears twice, ranked number 4 and 6 under consumer products.  And the Bible also appears under consumer products.  Well, I guess it is one, strictly speaking.  But maybe the “Non-Profit” category might have been more appropriate.  Or perhaps “Other Public Figure.”  After all, it is the word of God.

People’s propensity to actually become a fan on a brand’s Facebook page seems like a nice, if somewhat imperfect, measure of their love of  the brand.  Imperfect, because variables of content and entertainment value will influence the number of fans on the page.  And not all brand lovers are on Facebook — yet.

But the fact that Coke is the number one ranked page for consumer goods would support a correlation to Facebook fans and love.  (Remember the revolt of Coca-Cola enthusiasts against New Coke back in the 80’s?  This is brand that is loved, despite its age and the proliferation of competitive offerings in the soft drink category.)  Nutella’s high ranking would confirm that too.  I know people who would take to the streets if “their” Nutella were ever taken off the market or even changed in the slightest way.  At Saatchi & Saatchi, my employer, we call brands like these Lovemarks.  We all have our personal Lovemarks.  Brands to which we are loyal beyond reason.


There are many ways to understand if a brand has moved beyond respect into the lofty realm of love.  The number of fans it has on Facebook is a new one worth keeping an eye on.

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