Category: Ad Industry

Patriots Lose, Tide Wins & All Is Right With the World After Super Bowl LII


I hate the Patriots as much as the next red-blooded American, but even I have to admit that there was some damn good football played on both sides of the field last night.

But the important thing is that the Patriots lost, and we got to watch half a billion dollars’ worth of advertising. With 30-second spots coming in at $5 million apiece, how effective were advertisers with their incredibly expensive media buys?

Best Use of $20 Million: Tide

If Super Bowl ads were Super Bowl teams, Tide would be the Super Bowl XLVII-winning Seahawks and everyone else would be the XLVII-losing Broncos (final score 43:8).

This year, Tide was unstoppable. Its ads were hilarious, tied (get it – “tied”) into previous Procter & Gamble all-time greats like “I’m on a Horse” from Old Spice and disturbingly sexy Mr. Clean. And, perhaps most importantly of all, the spot actually focused on an important attribute of the product. You know, keeping clothes clean.

I don’t know if spending $20 million on Super Bowl advertising can ever deliver a positive ROI, but Tide seems to be making a pretty good go of it.

Tide was a clear winner in our office too. They made Roni’s and Andy’s “Best Of” lists, and perhaps Mustafa put it best: “They literally mindf*#ked us into thinking about Tide the whole time, even when it wasn’t their commercial. That’s seriously genius!!!”

Best & Worst Car Ads of the Game: FCA

Leave it to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to run both the best and worst car ads of the big game. By best, I’m clearly talking about the Wrangler Rubicon driving through a lake and up a waterfall.

But, even though I think it was the best car ad of the game, I’ve got a couple of minor nits to pick:

  • First, the ad would have been better without any voiceover – just a jeep doing awesome jeep stuff.
  • Second, if you’re going to poke fun at car ads with manifestos in them, and you’re FCA, you should first look in the mirror.

FCA (and Chrysler before them) has proved to be the king of manifestodriven Super Bowl ads … some of which were actually pretty decent. Others were not, which brings us to the year’s worst car ad: FCA automotive brand Ram using a MLK speech to sell trucks.

It has been swiftly and fairly criticized. There are valid arguments to be made here, but I’m pretty sure that at the end of the day, Dr. King’s dream was not to sell cars. I see this ad as a prime example of a great idea gone terribly, terribly wrong in the execution.

The ad’s tagline, “Built to Serve,” is really a bold departure for truck advertising. For the past 50 years, Dodge, Chevy and Ford have all been selling their trucks with variations on the theme of “This truck is big, tough and manly, and you will also be big, tough and manly if you buy it.”

The “Built to Serve” concept is a fresh, appealing departure from that message, which could have actually earned the Ram brand some appeal with new types of customers.

Oh well, too bad they messed it up.

At least we got this masterpiece, where someone dubbed a much more appropriate MLK speech over the same ad.

Nearly Perfect: Kia Stinger

Reverse-aging Steven Tyler, with the help of an affordable sports car, is a great concept. And for 99% of the ad, it was perfectly executed.

Then, the tagline popped up at the end: “Feel Something Again.”

That’s a weirdly pessimistic sentiment for a car ad. Like, we’re all just sitting here – dead inside – waiting for a Korean car manufacturer to awaken our ability to emote?

Don’t get me wrong; I love the Stinger and wish Kia all the success in the world … but Kia, don’t tell me how I do or do not feel.

This is also a perfect opportunity to make tsking noises in the direction of sister brand Hyundai’s oddly manipulative “If you buy any other car brand, you’re literally giving children cancer” ad.

Rap of Ice & Fire: Doritos / Mountain Dew

If you were writing an article for BuzzFeed titled “10 Most Likable Celebrities,” you’d have an awfully difficult time putting anyone but Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman at the top of that list.

It seems as though PepsiCo figured this out and used it to their advantage in their back-to-back Doritos and Mountain Dew spot.

The ad made Alysia’s and Roni’s list of favorites, and no one else had anything negative to say. My only criticism is that perhaps in the year of the #MeToo movement, Dinklage could have lip-synced to a Busta Rhymes line that wasn’t part of a song by someone with a history of violence against women.

Oddly Delightful: Passion in OBJ’s & Eli’s Eyes

No one at Echo-Factory had anything but praise for Odell Beckham Jr. and the NFL’s last-remaining Manning doing a bit of dirty dancing. The spot was great on a surface level, and there were a couple of Easter eggs in there for more obsessed football fans.

After a few years of clamping down on touchdown celebrations, the league finally let players celebrate this year, and seems ready to do more of the same in the future. It’s also nice to see OBJ comfortable with playing Jennifer Gray to Eli’s Patrick Swayze, even when one of Odell’s famous outbursts was reportedly a reaction to homophobic slurs.

Carl, Kyle and Alysia all picked it as a favorite.

When the NFL, Eli and OBJ team up to poke fun at themselves, we all win – except for the Patriots who, let me once again remind you, lost.

Giving Up: Corporate America Embraces Cowardice

Last year, corporate America seemed ready to stand up to the bigotry and racism that were taking over our political discourse.

That was the year Coke re-ran its multilingual America the Beautiful ad, 84 Lumber introduced us to an adorable girl stopped from coming to American by a wall and Budweiser reminded us that nearly all of us immigrated from somewhere.

This year, they apparently remembered that the alt-right has grocery budgets too.

Apart from Blacture’s “Be Celebrated” ad – and perhaps Ram’s incredibly misguided use of MLK’s speech – there really wasn’t a provocative political or social message to be seen during the big game. The closest we got was beer makers talking about water.

That isn’t just a sad moment from a social perspective; it’s also a missed opportunity for marketers to connect with new customers. Statements like the ones made during last year’s game can cause customers to think about brands in new, appealing ways. Backing off that message just confirms what we already know: It’s all just pandering.

Pop Music: Authenticity Wins & Loses

Both musical performances during the Super Bowl were more authentic than average.

In the case of Pink’s rendition of the national anthem, authenticity is exactly what the moment demanded. The best renditions of our nation’s anthem are skillful, bare and largely unadorned. Christina picked Pink’s performance as her favorite moment of the whole event.

Justin Timberlake’s halftime show was similarly authentic. It was clear that the pop megastar wasn’t lip-syncing as he carried his microphone in his hands and danced across nearly the entire stadium. And love or hate his music, it’s clear that Timberlake is good at what he does.

But when it comes to a Super Bowl halftime show, authenticity isn’t enough. We want theatrics: Lady Gaga flying in from the rafters – not, I dunno, a bunch of fans holding mirrors?

In the words of an 8-year-old I was watching with, “This is way less exciting than last year’s halftime.”

Is It Worth It?

So, after spending half a billion on Super Bowl advertisements, the big question remains: Is it money well spent?

In a time of cord cutters and YouTube, the Super Bowl is really traditional advertising’s last great event. But like nearly all traditional media outlets, results are hard to track.

It’s easy to guess that Tide will see a bump in sales, but is that going to account for the $20 million they spent on their ads? Could that $20 million have been better spent elsewhere?

This is likely why, on Friday before the game, when I reminded my coworkers that I’d be canvassing them for their opinions on Super Bowl ads, our CEO Mike Schaffer replied with, “Is it too early for me to say that Super Bowl commercials are irrelevant now?”

At the moment, perhaps. But it seems like it’s only a matter of time.

Using ROI to separate the brilliant from the bullsh*t



If you work in marketing, you’re no doubt inundated with emails, retargeting ads and Google alerts about the 10 new advertising technologies that are going to “transform the face of marketing”. These new platforms claim they can peer into consumers’ minds, predict their behaviors and use a specialized form of mind control to guarantee a customer will connect with your brand. And while it’s tempting to believe these claims, the reality is often more disappointing.

At Echo Factory, we’re proud to say we’re ad-techoholics. We’re able to weed through the noise and select the technology that might actually change the face of marketing—or at least give it a face lift. But if you don’t have a team of experts who can separate the brilliant from the bullsh*t, how can you make smart decisions when it comes to investing in new ad tech? In a recent article from CSQ, Echo-Factory’s fearless leader, Mike Schaffer, shares the answer: understand ROI.

The history of (not) tracking ad dollars


Accurately tracking the ROI of advertisements is a relatively new practice. Back in the Don Draper days, the success of an ad campaign was evaluate on how many newspapers were purchased on the day your ad ran, the number of TVs that were tuned in when your commercial played or whether or not your client heard their ad on the radio during their commute.

Fast forward to the age of social media, mobile apps and big data. Digital advertising has transformed the way we track ad effectiveness. With new ad tech tools, companies have a more definitive way to track the source of every sale or lead. In a few clicks, you’ll know the last action a consumer took before they converted, and any digital advertising they encountered along the path to the sale.

Of course, this isn’t always the case. Whether it’s due to a flaky tool or a company’s unwillingness to pay attention to the numbers, there are still many cases of marketers blindly throwing money at advertising.  In the past year, our agency took on multiple accounts where we discovered that the companies were spending upwards of $1k to acquire a new client who would spend less than $50 on their first purchase. You don’t need to be a statistician to know that it will take way too many purchases for the company to break even on their advertising spend.


Using ROI to find the gold 


Because we now have the technology to accurately track ad spend and understand marketing attribution, it’s essential for marketers to use that data to determine customer acquisition costs on any given channel. You can then test any new ad tech that comes along to decide where to spend your advertising dollars. Just pit the “revolutionary” new technology against what you’re already doing. If the new ad technology allows you to spend less and sell more, (we probably don’t need to say this, but we will anyway) it’s worth investing in. If not, you can peace out and skip the wasted time, frustration and money.

So while you may not have a team of highly-trained professionals who can take a deep dive into every new technology that comes your way, take a look at the projected ROI of that new technology and use that to better inform your decisions. To learn more, check out the full CSQ article on ROI tracking. And let us know if you need help developing a marketing strategy that maximizes your ROI. (Trust us–we’re one of the brilliant ones.)

Social Media Is Key, Especially If You Want Nuggs


As marketing professionals, we know that social media is important for reaching and engaging with your customers. It’s free and hardly takes any time, right? This is what @Wendys thought before they met Carter Wilkerson (@carterjwm), your average high school teenager just wanting his nuggets.

Wendy’s had a way with talking, or tweeting, with its customers. No other chain was doing things like this juicy hamburger-maker.


You Have the Meats, and My Heart: How Arby’s Marketing Wins Over Vegetarians & Millennials


Arby's: We Have the Millennials

There’s nothing I love more than criticizing other people’s work. So it only seems fair that when someone in the industry does something I  love, they get called out as well.

Arby’s, I love what you’re doing.

Let me give some context here. I was raised a vegetarian. I like animals. I try to avoid eating them. I have literally never set foot in an Arby’s.

I should, by all rights, be deeply offended by commercials like this one.

But I’m not. Even though I eat at least two salads a day, don’t hunt and have ethical concerns about meat-eating. I love this commercial. I love the whole campaign.


Using Trigger Systems to Avoid PR Nightmares



In the latest issue of CSQ, our very own Mike Schaffer writes about how you can use trigger systems to avoid PR nightmares.

In case you’re not familiar with trigger systems (which are kind of our new favorite thing), let’s catch you up. A trigger-system is a planned group of marketing activities that support a business event.

Let’s make that even simpler. Say your company makes widgets. You release a few new widget designs per year. If you were working with Echo-Factory (because obviously, we’re leaders in the widget-marketing field), we’d set up a trigger system, so that every time you were close to releasing a new widget, that’d trigger a series of marketing projects, like creating a new product page on your website for the new widget, and press releases, and social media announcements, etc. etc. etc. (more…)

An Outsiders Perspective on the Women in Tech Movement


During the month of February, Echo-Factory planned, promoted and hosted a series of Women in Tech panels at Apple stores in Old Pasadena and Santa Monica. These events, featuring major local tech players, including Renée LaBran, senior advisor to Idealab, Max Powers, senior vice president of business operations at TeleSign, Natalie Sun, creative technologist and founder of NextArt, and Anna Barber, managing director at Techstars, centered around the advantages women bring to the industry, along with advice for tech companies looking to include more women and for techy women looking to advance.

Lol. Ugh. WTF? Reviewing 2017’s Super Bowl Ads



Yesterday, the evil-league-of-evil, lead by the evilly-handsome Tom Brady and his evil overlord Bill Belichick Sith, triumphed over the forces of good to deliver unto Boston the city’s 37th major sports championship, and deny Atlanta its 2nd.

New England’s never-before-seen-in-a-super-bowl comeback and victory further cemented Brady’s position as the greatest quarterback to ever play the game (gross), and doubtless will push the smugness of Boston sports fans into even more stratospheric heights (even grosser).

But we’re not here to talk about the disgusting show of terrible’ness that occurred on the field, we’re here to talk about important bits: the ads.


Harness Fast-Moving Opportunities with a ‘Trigger System’


marketing trigger system

Why A Trigger System?

Electronic information circles the globe constantly, moving almost at the speed of light. With the endless information comes a steady flow of marketing opportunities. The problem is that, because these opportunities arrive in a real-time, 24-hour cycle, the pace is so overwhelming that we miss most of our chances. To capitalize on these opportunities, it’s important to be prepared ahead of time, so you can respond in real time. (more…)

Top 10 Takeaways from Our Social Media Marketing Expert Panel

social media marketing expert panel

(Photos courtesy of Taryn Rothstein of Pasadena Charm via Thomas Reiten)

Last week’s social media marketing expert panel at the Apple Store in Pasadena sold out fast. So if you’re one of the many who missed it, you’re in luck—we’ve got the 10 most awesome pieces of advice they offered, right here.

The Apple Store in Pasadena gets a constant barrage of marketing-related tech questions that go beyond their hardware expertise. To help address some of these questions for its clients, the store asked Pasadena-based branding agency Echo-Factory for help. We put together a series titled, “New Tech in Old Pasadena,” and held the first discussion August 10 at the store. (more…)

Thinking About Acquisition? Think About Branding


(article written for CSQ magazine)

Branding can play an enormous role in creating or destroying value during an acquisition


Bringing in a CFO to “clean up the books” before acquisition is a common process. Even if the books aren’t particularly dirty to begin with, a good CFO has the ability to help cast the company in the best possible financial light to potential investors. (more…)