Dodge is showing us “How to Change Cars Forever.” It involves breaking all the rules, and spotlights inspiration and the creative process as the true source of innovative product design.
The division of Chrysler builds on the “Imported from Detroit” campaign, which famously launched with music of Detroit native Eminem, with fast-paced and irreverent visuals backed with a hip, but foreboding, instrumental version of “No Church in the Wild” by Jay-Z and Kanye West.
The spot, from Portland-based Wieden + Kennedy, manages to portray the R&D department at Dodge as the guys who don’t care for the corporate overlords and liberally color outside the lines of the company org chart. “Kick out the committees. Committees lead to compromise. Call in the engineers. Call in the car guys. Call in the nerds. Not those nerds—those nerds. Uh oh…the finance guys. Kick out the finance guys.”
In short, we want to love the rule-breaking, car-loving guys fighting the boring and banal power of tie-wearing, fine-print-loving middle managers who’d rather “shift paradigms” than downshift gears to screech around a sharp turn in a cool car. We love their passion—and then we want their car.
In the next spot, “How to Make the Most Hi-Tech Car,” we see an actor called “Future Guy” who travels back from the future to design the Dart’s configurable 7-inch instrument cluster display. And if you’re a Star Trek fan you’ll recognize Future Guy. It’s Michael Dorn who played Worf—everybody’s favorite Klingon. So +4 on the nerd cred to both agency and client alike for entangling a little Trek in a spot about tech—and generally making a lot of sci-fi guys happy.
Never heard of ソフトバンク株式会社? How about SoftBank? It’s a Japanese telecommunications, internet, finance, media, and marketing zaibatsu now looking to reach across the Pacific pond to snatch a controlling share of #3 U.S. wireless company Sprint Nextel.
Shaking up the mobile market
The deal could see Softbank take a 70 percent stake in Sprint worth more than 1 trillion yen ($12.8 billion). It would allow the combined company to then take a controlling stake in the Sprint minority-owned, and LTE spectrum heavy, Clearwire. They could then use their new global muscle to grab T-Mobile or MetroPCS—and even leverage better terms from hardware manufacturers like iPhone-maker Apple. In fact, the chart below shows how the new company ranks on the global stage.
Business value aside, I’m looking forward to the consumer value of importing the quirky Softbank advertising campaign that features the very non-conventional Shirato family. The mother and sister are Japanese, the brother is black, and the father is a cute white dog. Otosan, meaning Father, is the fluffy, canine patriarch of an otherwise normal human family—and the four-legged star of one of Japan’s most successful advertising campaigns.
The dog days of mobile marketing
Since the first “Shirato Family” commercial in 2007, the long running campaign has produced over 130 episodes. The campaign was created by Creative director Hiroshi Sasaki, TV planner Yoshimitsu Sawamoto, and SoftBank president, Masayoshi Son. The well-loved campaign is seen as a critical part of SoftBank’s climb from obscurity in the mobile market to rivaling Japan’s largest carrier, NTT DoCoMo.
I welcome the Shirato family to the United States. Other than the beautifully branded T-Mobile girl (recently spared from marketing oblivion when the AT&T deal fell through), other US mobile carriers offer bland, boring, uninspired, and undistinguished marketing. Like so many other areas—manga and anime to video games and pop culture in general—Japan is a leading purveyor of not just technology, but a unique Japanese brand.
That brand may originate in the land of the Rising Sun, but it’s a new, global, post-national culture that Dr. Koichi Iwabuchi has called “mukokuseki” (むこくせき). The word, originally used to describe anime, has been extended across other cultural frontiers. Mukokuseki can be translated as “odorless,” but in this context it means a person who is “stateless” or “without country of origin.” It refers to the way Japanese cultural products can be seen to erase national history and identity in an attempt to more fully integrate with a global audience.
The next big global telcom brand
If there is a CEO who could bring to bare both the business and branding skills needed to build a new global telecom brand, it’s Masayoshi Son. He’s known as a lover of all things American. Son moved to California at age 16, going to high school in San Francisco, and attended the University of California in Berkeley. He was infected by the Silicon Valley virus, and exhibited a rash of entrepreneurial ideas that’s made him the second richest man in Japan.
One of the big advantages of Softbank is its exclusive Japanese iPhone marketing deal—helped along by a friendship with Steve Jobs. Like Jobs, Son’s success, in part, came from a sense of being an outsider striving for greatness, fueled in part from being a Korean child raised in largely homogeneous Japan. His particular mukokuseki could be advantageous in taking a combined Softbank + Sprint + T-Mobile to a dominant position that ties together global consumers with a post-national brand that’s a perfect fit for this Pacific-dominated century.
If Son has his way, it’s only a matter of time before we see the English versions of these Softbank commercials:
Doc: “He’s recovering so fast, its hard to believe he’s human.”
Nurse: “Yeah Doc, I can’t believe he’s human”
Daughter: “Dad’s a genuine human, isn’t that right?”
Dog: “I’m starving”
A fake Shell Oil billboard in Houston reads “You Can’t Run Your SUV on Cute, Let’s Go.”
The sign, courtesy of Greenpeace activists, mocks Shell’s current advertising campaign with an image of a polar bear and cubs. According to Greenpeace, “by chasing after hard-to-reach oil in remote and dangerous places, Shell is putting polar bears, walruses, and other Arctic wildlife at risk.”
Interestingly, the ad was crowdsourced, being selected from over 10,000 user-generated online submissions to ArcticReady.com, an online collaboration with Yes Lab to increase awareness of their anti-Shell campaign. The website, which is modeled to look like an authentic Shell site and created by Greenpeace and Yes Lab, includes an iceberg-zapping game and more spoof ads.
The Houston billboard is one of several moves for opponets of Arctic drilling. Protests have been staged around the globe to bring attention to oil company’s planned exploration in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. Activists in England, Holland, Germany, and other countries unfurled “#SaveTheArctic” banners and also blocked access to Shell gas stations. The Twitter hashtag campaign included pleas from Sir Paul McCartney and Pamela Anderson.
The Guardian described some of the protesters’ tactics in England, which involved using an emergency-shut-off switch to prevent the pumping of petrol and then removing a fuse to keep it from being reactivated. About 70 Greenpeace activists also blocked access to Shell’s headquarters in The Hague and hung a banner on the building proclaiming “Stop Shell, Save The Arctic.”
I thought this was a joke. I kept expecting the record-scratch sound effect, and the real commercial to start. But no—this really is a product.
Sure it sounds great on paper: it’s “the only phone accessory on earth that’s truly hands free.” It works with all cell phones, even cordless phones, and doesn’t require batteries. But do you want to look like a total n00b?
Hey, life moves pretty fast—if you don’t stop and..um, drive around…you could mss it. Honda’s commercial for the 2012 CR-V features famed Ferris actor Matthew Broderick in a Super Bowl spot that’s packed with homages to the beloved 80′s classic. ”How can I handle work on a day like today?”
My suggestion for the next movie featured in a Honda CR-V ad: Office Space.
Certainly James Bond wouldn’t drink “Fluffed” or “Whipped” vodka, but we’re certainly not all 007. JWT New York did this spot for Smirnoff’s new marshmallow ”Fluffed” and “Whipped” (as in cream) flavored vodka. Kanye West’s ex-girlfriend, Amber Rose, cavorts about attempting to make these overly sugary spirits sexy. I’ll have mine with an insulin chaser.
Powerful Jedi Masters can work up a powerful hunger for the steaming hot starchy goodness of this famous Japanese noodle dish. No wonder the trash compactors on the detention level were so full. From swampy Dagobah to frigid Hoth or sweltering Tatooine, who doesn’t like ramen? Especially when it’s a Japanese commercial featuring Yoda as a 900 year old pitchman levitating the product. Oh, miso hungry.