Classic Commercial: Juicy Fruit, early 80s


You know, it’s amazing what you find yourself singing to a teething baby in the middle of the night.  I’ve discovered, for example, that I have a whole repertoire of 70s and 80s advertising jingles in my head.  This commercial, for example, wasn’t much to look at (well, I think adolescent boys did like looking at 0:03-0:04), but the jingle was definitely a keeper:

In fact, it was so good that Wrigley’s recently resurrected it for a new commercial.  Tragically, the spot is really kind of cringe-inducing, due to bad casting, a cliched setup (a roller coaster?  really?), and some really bad directing:

Also, am I the only one who thinks it’s a shame that they had to change “a stick of Juicy Fruit” to “a piece of Juicy Fruit”?

Can something go ‘slow viral’? Anecdotal evidence.

slow viral sarah welstead

(This is a slow loris.  It’s what came up when I hit Google Images for ‘slow viral’.  Not sure what this means.)

In 2011, Max and I tried to eat at the Boston Pizza just east of Yonge and Eglinton.  I don’t know why, with all the other restaurants in the area, we decided to go there – probably I said something like “Oh, I see these Boston Pizza places everywhere but I’ve never been in one. Let’s try it,” and Max, who’s good about stuff like that, probably said “Sure.”

We should have realized that something was wrong when we discovered that the place was almost empty, on a weekend night when all the other restaurants in the area are usually crowded.  But we were already there, we were hungry, and sometimes we’re just not that picky.  When we’d been sitting at our table for 25 minutes without anyone even taking our drinks order, however, we decided we weren’t that desperate, and we left.  The two hostesses chatting at the front desk didn’t seem surprised or disappointed about this turn of events.

In March 2012, we set out for dinner again.  But it was a Saturday night at 8pm, and all the restaurants we tried had lineups – except Boston Pizza, so we tried again. This time, we had a very nice waitress and the place seemed a little busier. We decided maybe our bad experience in 2011 was an anomaly.

But – no.  Max had pizza, about which he said: “Well, it’s edible, but Pizza Pizza delivers better and it costs a lot less.”  I had spaghetti and meatballs (yes, I know, I’m no gourmand – whatever), which could best be described as boil-in-bag.  Any Chef Boyardee product is better tasting, and about one-ninth the price. It was so bad I tweeted about it:  “The only good part about dinner at Boston Pizza was the air freshener in the bathrooms.”

A couple of Twitter followers commented (mostly along the lines of “Yeah, it’s only good if you go there for pizza and beer after a softball game or something”). My Twitter feeds directly into my Facebook page, and I got some comments there, too, such as:  “The only thing they make fresh is the pizza. Everything else is like military MREs – drop in boiling water, open bag, plate.”

Cut to August 2013.  Max and I are in Pembroke doing a grocery run for the cottage, and we pass a Boston Pizza.  “I don’t understand how a restaurant so bad could possibly have so many locations,” I said to him  (Wikipedia says there are 350 in Canada).  And because I was in that kind of a mood, I tweeted it:  “Hard to believe something so bad could be so prevalent.  #bostonpizza”.  A couple of people on Twitter and Facebook indicated their agreement, but it didn’t exactly blow up teh interwebs.

Then I promptly forgot about it. I mean, I was on vacation at the cottage and I have a 5-month-old baby – this August, I’m forgetting all kinds of things, most of which are much more important than Boston Pizza.

Imagine my surprise, then, when – a few days later – a couple of people actually mentioned it to me, in real life.  “I saw that thing about Boston Pizza,” they said.  “Didn’t you say something about them a while ago?  What the heck happened with you and Boston Pizza?” >

Here’s what I found interesting:

  • None of the people who mentioned it to me in real life are hard-core social media types. In fact, I’d assumed they never really paid attention to my (or anyone else’s) status updates/tweets on a regular basis
  • None of the people who mentioned it in real life had commented on it online
  • It wasn’t like I’d barraged the internet with a stream of Amanda Bynes-like commentary.  Two mentions, over 18 months, was enough to make them take notice

It got me thinking…

I’m a big believer in the Feiler Faster Thesis, which says that these days, the media and its consumers can go from ‘total ignorance’ to ‘oversaturated with information’ on a given subject at lightning speed.  It was originally coined to explain changes in political media coverage vis-a-vis the 24-hour news cycle, but I think it’s a useful concept for all kinds of media, including advertising.  So as a general rule, I’d say that if you want something to ‘go viral’, it’s going to happen swiftly and then be replaced, just as swiftly, by the next viral thing.

However, my Boston Pizza experience got me thinking that perhaps there’s such a thing as the ‘slow viral’. My comments about Boston Pizza did ‘go viral’, but not quickly and not as a result of an all-out, sustained effort.  The question, to me, is:  Does a slow viral message, by virtue of its longevity, ultimately have more effect on purchasing decisions than a short-sharp-shocked viral message?  

The trouble with my ‘slow viral’ theory, of course, is that it’s absolutely unmeasurable. There are no clickthroughs, no lively comment threads, no mainstream media coverage, and connecting a social media comment of March 2012 to a purchasing decision in August 2013 is nigh-on impossible.  But I think it might be time for brands to measure social media’s effect on sales over longer periods than they have been hitherto.

NOTE: I was (pleasantly) surprised to receive a (prompt) response to my August tweet from Boston Pizza:  “Hi Sarah, happy to hear any feedback. Are you referring to specific visit? Pls email”  I’ve sent him a link to this post – I’ll let you know if I hear anything.

There’s nothing better than the 100% branding ad

I’ve been working on a couple of longer blog posts this week, but the truth is that the post-cottage-vacation re-entry is proving more difficult than usual (I’m assuming this is baby-related and will pass in, like, 12 years).  So today I’m giving you my current favourite tv commercial:

What’s so great about it, you ask?  Well, first of all, it’s hard to argue with any ad that uses Girls on Film (I don’t care how trendy they got later, I loved Duran Duran‘s first two albums).  But mostly I love high-end fragrance/fashion ads because they’re basically 100% branding.  No call to action, no benefit statements, no offers or fine print or comparisons – just hard-core art direction, beautiful people, and emotional resonance.  This Michael Kors ad is all that plus a whole early-80s Jerry Hall-Bryan Ferry vibe, to wit:

jerry hall bryan ferry

Is this ad going to drive incremental sales for Michael Kors?  Who knows?  (I suspect the answer is yes, because they’ve done a great job of positioning Michael Kors as a sort of higher-end brand while keeping the price points much lower than other luxury brands – Louboutins may cost you $800 a pair, but Michael Kors shoes can be had for $250.)  I don’t really care – sometimes I just like to enjoy ads for their own sake.

29 Ways to Stay Creative


Being creative isn’t as easy as everyone thinks.

My personal #1 recommendation is “Take a walk”.  Sounds cliched, I know – but can you remember the last time you took a walk of more than 30 minutes, outside, that wasn’t errand-related?

Also, I think the walk needs to involve nature.

Designed by Islam Abudaoud.  Found here.  

Music in ads: Sometimes it’s okay to be old


I’ve long thought that age can be a real problem challenge when you work in advertising, especially if you’ve chosen to forge a career within the agency system.  Agencies tend to want to be seen as hotbeds of hyper-cool-cutting-edgery, clients want to reach the 18-39s, and there are always plenty of hungry 29-year-olds prepared to work 70 hours a week.  If you’re over 40 and still working in an agency, it’s not hard to feel like you’re mere moments from complete obsolescence.

However, if you’ve played your cards right, by 40 you’re the Creative Director or Group Account Director or something, and you’ve got more influence and control over the stuff your creative teams are doing.

In my teens and early 20s, I spent a fair amount of time (and money) on esoteric pop music: I’d track down whatever indie imports NME was raving about Comsat Angels, Jazz ButcherPale Fountains) and buy them without even hearing them first. But I hardly ever met anyone else who’d heard of them, and in those pre-internet days, it wasn’t like you could just join a Comsat Angels Facebook group or whatever.  So I was happy to discover that there are lots of other pop music geeks in marketing, especially in the creative department.  

Why do I mention this?  Because I’m starting to hear all kinds of music I like and recognize in tv ads, and I’m pretty sure this has a lot to do with the fact that my peers (i.e. agency types in the 38-48 age range) are picking the tunes.

I’ve been noticing it more and more in the past few years, but the current Fruttare ad really caught my attention:


The ad is kind of awful, but fast-forward to about 0:22 and listen to the soundtrack.

Now, listen to this Marine Girls (the band Tracey Thorn was in before Everything But the Girl) song from 1983, from about 0:05-0:17:

Here’s what I like to think happened:

The (44-year-old) creative director in charge of this spot didn’t love the backing track the creative team came up with, so one night he went through his record collection to see what inspired him.  He came across the Marine Girls track and thought it was just the sort of randomness that might be perfect.  They tried to get the original song, but no one at Cherry Red had any idea who owned the copyright any more, and anyway, someone lost the masters years ago.  So creative director guy told the music house to come up with a sort of ‘soundalike’ that had the same vibe but wasn’t going to cause any legal problems (soundalikes are quite common, BTW, when clients can’t afford the original tracks).

And then creative director guy sat back, a little sad thinking that probably no one else in the world would twig to the Marine Girls connection – but feeling just a little cool, too, the way he did when he was 15 and he was the only one in his school who’d even heard of Marine Girls.

Is my imagination running away with me a little?  Maybe.  But if you show me a list of people who worked on that Fruttare spot, I’ll show you a person over 40 who had a Marine Girls album in the 80s.