the frequency a kenny chung blog

“Simpsons” from Coca Cola
Apparently, some people liked this commercial. I found it confusing without any real message. Drinking Coca Cola will make an evil (financially and morally) bankrupt billionaire happy? Is that their target audience? To me, it just seemed like Coca Cola creative didn’t have any real ideas and decided that since The Simpsons is universally recognized, it’d be an easy way to create a very, very costly commercial.

“Charles Barkley” from Taco Bell
Why does this commercial exist? I can see it airing during primetime or late night. But during the Super Bowl?! Why is Charles Barkley the spokesperson for anything? Can somebody please answer that?

“KISS” from Dr. Pepper
First of all, KISS is no longer relevant and the original “Dr. Love” campaign was terrible. So what did Dr. Pepper decide to do? They expanded it and aired it during the Super Bowl. “What’s that, you say? There are midgets little people this time around? Then I’m sure it’ll be a lot better.” Except it wasn’t.

“Life Not Wife” by Bridgestone
This was a real disappointment. They went to great lengths for a pretty corny and forced joke. I liked their Alice Cooper/Richard Simmons ad from last year (or at least didn’t hate it), but this one totally underdelivered and frankly, it was boring.

In the “How The Heck Did They Afford a Super Bowl Spot” category:
“Shape-Ups” by Skechers
This commercial was terrible, but Skechers is a big company. So maybe the question isn’t how they purchased a spot, but WHY? It also featured Joe Montana for some reason. Pass.

“Tech Talk” from Metro PCS
I don’t have a link to this commercial, but trust me, you’re better off for that. It blatantly played off of racial stereotypes. It featured two Indian tech gurus talking about Metro PCS cell phone service. It ended with Indian women dancing around the “contestant” on their talk show. It made very little sense, and probably alienated a lot of people without being the slightest bit amusing. How did they not learn from the whole SalesGenie debacle? Also, how did they afford a Super Bowl spot? Are they really doing that well targeting lower class people?

“Sumo” from kgb
kgb is a service where you text a question to someone and pay a fee for them texting you back the answer. It also started when many people didn’t have Smartphones. Now that almost everyone does, this commercial positioned their product against the slowness of typing a question into a search engine in your browser and having to look through search results to find an answer. How do people do that? That sounds so tedious and pointless and totally sounds like something worth paying someone else to do!

Dishonorable Mentions
CBS had a bunch of commercials advertising their subpar primetime lineup. Last year, NBC also aired a lot of commercials for their shows. Network commercials are a really good indicator of how much advertising budgets have been cut. More CBS commercials means fewer companies purchased Super Bowl spots. There was also an ad featuring David Letterman, Jay Leno and Oprah which I cannot explain.

Who was missing?
In a big surprise, Pepsi pulled out of Super Bowl advertising this year, which reminds me of this little piece of satirical excellence from The Onion. Life imitating art? Perhaps. The real reason is that Pepsi is focused more on online advertising. Maybe this was a godsend for Coca Cola, whose two ads were not particularly great. In the same vein, Anheuser-Busch went uncontested in the beer segment. No Heineken. No Michelob. Are Super Bowl ads not as important, or are they just not worth the cost anymore?

I would be remiss if I didn’t blog about Super Bowl XLIV commercials. I thought last year’s showing was pretty weak (a sign of companies cutting back ad spending), but this year was far worse. There were few that made me laugh out loud, think about something poignant, or really feel any connection to a brand or product.

That is, until Google debuted this wonderful ad titled “Parisian Love”:

Watching it made my jaw drop. It was moving, impressively simple, and 100% Google. It positioned Google as a product anyone at any stage of their life will find useful. It clearly conveyed the point that everybody needs to be using Google. All of the search engine’s many features (translations, maps, directory listings, web definitions, etc.) were seamlessly integrated into the storyline. But it was also simple. It was almost exclusively words typed onto a screen. Anybody with a video editing program could’ve created it from their bedroom.

So why did Google decide to purchase a Super Bowl spot? Maybe the execs felt that Yahoo and Microsoft becoming bedfellows pose a serious threat to Google’s search engine market share. Or maybe it was to combat Apple, who also touts simplicity and usability with all its products, especially the iPhone. But then again, Google has also burst onto the mobile handset scene with its Android operating system. However, this will be a discussion for another time.

Throughout the night, I updated my twitter @kennySHARKchung with my thoughts regarding each commercial break. I decided to create a bracket system that got a little messy; I refined it with some minor changes, and you can see how I decided on my favorite ad by clicking the thumbnail below:

Do you agree or disagree? Leave a comment.

I’ll do a more in-depth analysis of the Super Bowl spots and other honorable mentions.

Update: Turns out Google didn’t even create that ad specifically for the Super Bowl. It’s been available online for 3 months. Somehow I find that more impressive. Sounds like they have ultimate faith in their creative (not to mention the input of the public).

November 4th, 2009
according to

It seems you can’t turn on the TV these days (or Hulu or whatever transmission method you prefer) without seeing a “maps” commercial by Verizon. The short of it is that Verizon claims to have 5x more 3G coverage than AT&T. Brilliant ad campaign. And if they did their homework correctly, there’d be no way for AT&T to rebut.

However, AT&T found a solution: they’re just going to sue Verizon. Not about the claim, because they’re not arguing that it’s false. They’re suing because they claim that the Verizon ad is misleading.

Wait, what?

Yes, AT&T thinks that Verizon is implying that people without 3G coverage can’t receive phone calls or surf the web at all. Oh, did I mention that this is even after Verizon had fine print that clearly stated that phone and internet service are still available in areas without 3G on the AT&T network?

So why did AT&T do this? My guess would be they felt the shot to their pride. Verizon hit them where it hurt and there was no way AT&T could retalliate. I’m not saying AT&T should have taken their ball and went home, but they could have handled this much better than with a flimsy lawsuit. As of right now, I can see this turning into a PR nightmare.

Consider the following:

-AT&T filed the lawsuit not because Verizon’s claim of 500% more 3G coverage was false. People who read about the suit may correctly infer that AT&T concedes victory on that point.

-Others may read between the lines and feel that AT&T doesn’t believe in their own marketing/advertising department to come up with a rebuttal. Or maybe they don’t even have faith in their network.

-And let’s face it. This lawsuit makes AT&T seem like a kid who wants to play dodgeball but then complains when he/she gets hit.

Note: I should have prefaced this post by saying that I have been an AT&T customer for about 6 years (through the whole Cingular phase).

It’s no secret that Android phones will soon be flooding the market. The latest product in this category is the myTouch phone from T-Mobile.

From the looks of their commercial, it seems like a solid product and another entrant in the long line of supposedly serious iPhone competitors.

However, what is their target audience? I assumed that since I’d been seeing these commercials a lot (no matter what program I was watching) that I was within the target demo. But then again, look at who’s in the commercials.

Whoopi Goldberg, for one. As far as I’m concerned, the last time she was relevant was when she was in the movie Ghost. But now she’s hosting The View, which is for older women.

Phil Jackson is also in this commercial. Former Chicago Bulls coach and current LA Lakers head coach. Are viewers who aren’t basketball fans supposed to know who he is?

And the last person in this ad is Jesse James from the show West Coast Choppers. I don’t watch the show, but I assume the audience is mostly male. I didn’t even recognize him in the commercial. I actually thought it was Fred Durst.

And the commercial is set to song by (the artist formerly known as) Cat Stevens. So obviously, they’re trying to target an older audience… who is both female and male… who watches basketball, TV shows about building bikes, and The View.

The other major point of the commercial is that customization is the key feature of the phone. While that’s all well and great for young people who like to have individualized everythings, I don’t think adults particularly care for a cartoon vampire caricature of themselves on the back of their phone.

But hey, maybe when I grow up some more that’s what I’ll want.

The one consistency I’ve found with Microsoft advertisements is that they’re pretty inconsistent. In the past few years (since the modern PC vs. Mac wars began), Windows commercials have generally been hit-or-miss.

The last three-spot TV campaign they ran showed a lot of promise. I especially liked the introductory one featuring an Asian girl named Kylie who, after showcasing Vista’s ease of use, exclaims “I’m a PC and I’m four and a half!” For once, it seemed as if Microsoft had their fingers on the pulse on what people found memorable and worth sharing. Simply put, people love watching cute kids and create buzz around those types of videos (just consider the YouTube hits Hey Jude sung by a small Asian boy or the more recent kittens inspired by kittens).

And then the Microsoft effect kicked in. Each subsequent commercial featured older kids, each less cute than the last. The follow-up commercial featured a 7-year old girl named Alexa who demonstrated Vista’s ability to stitch photos together. For me, that one was a miss. But then the last of the set featured an 8-year old boy named Adam (who had the voice of a teenager) creating a photo slideshow. After the first time, I had no desire whatsoever to see that commercial again.

Anyway, Microsoft has rolled out a new TV campaign (by Crispin Porter). It features Lauren, a young woman trying to find a laptop with certain specifications for under a grand. She visits an Apple store, where only one of the computers is within her budget but outside of what she wants. Eventually she decides to buy a PC from BestBuy and Microsoft foots the bill. On the drive over to Best Buy, Lauren makes a statement that’s making waves around the tech marketing industry: “I’m just not cool enough to be a Mac person.”

Watch the spot (via MSN):
<a href=”;playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:0bb6a07c-c829-4562-8375-49e6693810c7&#038;showPlaylist=true&#038;from=msnvideo” mce_href=”;playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:0bb6a07c-c829-4562-8375-49e6693810c7&amp;showPlaylist=true&amp;from=msnvideo” target=”_new” title=”Laptop Hunters $1000 – Lauren Gets an HP Pavilion”>Video: Laptop Hunters $1000 – Lauren Gets an HP Pavilion</a>

Why this Ad works:

In the first college Advertising course I ever took, we discussed why people buy certain brands and products when they enter a store. And the one point that’s really stuck with me through the years (due to personal relevance) is that generally, you cannot change the mind of the consumer who walks in with a mission to spend the least amount of money. Clever smear campaigns against the competition may help you, but of course, they have their consequences.

The latest PC ad (and the ongoing marketing technique of making the term ‘PC’ synonymous with Windows, and by extension Vista) taps right into the most undeniable benefit of purchasing a Windows-loaded machine: It’s cheaper. The ad is obviously not targeted towards Mac or PC loyalists, but to the ever-growing number of consumers who want to buy a new computer and aren’t exactly tech-savvy. In this day and age, that’s a critical audience. Think about it: your aunt wants a new computer to check her e-mail and isn’t sure whether to get a PC or a Mac. She sees this commercial, which convinces her to try a PC because she just wants the barebones capabilities. So she ends up buying one and (ideally) acclimates to the OS. Boom, brand loyalty. Then let’s say your younger cousins will also use the computer. Parents are a major reference group affecting brand loyalty so your cousins become second generation Microsoft users and buy PCs for years to come.

Of course, that example is 100% dependent on how Apple responds to the Microsoft ad. They’re usually very good with tongue-in-cheek retorts that don’t come off as petty.

So we’ll see.