Jan 11, 2006

KING SIZED BLOGS - Best in Commercials 2005

As the continuing series with Greg over at Child of Sod , it is time for the Best in Commercials 2005. This is a tough category at times because there is so much variety in different regions. We are going to try to stick to national ads, to make all three of you who read this happy.

I take commercials very seriously. Partly, that is because my job is in marketing. I like to observe trends and see what I can steal for my own purposes. I think an effective commercial is one that you remember after it aired, one that you will tell your friends they need to watch. It also is one where you actually remember what product was being advertised. On with the picks.

1. Nextel/Sprint - I didn't think it would be fair to give them all three top spots, so I combined their new ad campaign into one spot. First of all, the three guys dancing in their office to Salt-n-Pepa's Push It. Their boss comes in hysterical because he doesn't know where anything is, and they find all the info in five seconds and go back to dancing - very badly. I laugh every time I see it, even though I have seen it dozens of times. Second, the guys moving where the one guy is humming what sounds like Karma Chameleon, and he claims it is In the Hood. Another sure fire laugher. Third, the older boss who comments that his new phone is just his way of sticking it to "the man." His assistant remarks that the boss is "the man," so he is just sticking it to himself. All three of these ads are funny, memorable, and you know which company they are for. Good stuff.

2. Apple's Eminem iPod Commercial - I am a HUGE fan of Apple's marketing department. They are just darn good. I think the iPod commercials are one of the five best ad compaigns of the last ten years. You can see how successful a campaign by how many people rip it off. Already, the iPod ads have been ripped by Target, the funny iPod Flea spoof, and numerous small regional groups (I did the same thing this past summer for youth camp). Last year, their U2 ad not only fit right into the whole concept, it elevated it by giving U2 massive exposure for their new album (which ruled). This year, the Eminem one took it a step further by adding more features than just the plain color background. They weren't afraid to tweak their formula, like the rapper isn't afraid to tweak the music industry. Well done ad. You also know how successful the entire campaign is by the fact that every song they have used for an ad has shot to the top of the iTunes download charts - and the fact that the iPod has a 85-90% market share of the mp3 player market.

3. Hewlett Packard Printers - These ads have still baffled me in the "how did they do that" realm. These are the ones where the different people place frames over live action and turn it into photos, as well as taking photos and turning it into live action. There have been several different ads, and they all are extremely fascinating. Very well constructed and pulled off.

Honorable Mention: Gatorade What If - This is the one where they change all of the famous sports plays to have the opposite outcome. Very well done. Lots of "how did they do that?" Gatorade has had a pretty good run recently.

Honorable Mention: ESPN Lebron Commercial - Lebron James, overexposed star of the NBA (and winner of one my worst ad awards later this week) is on the floor trying to unjam a copier at ESPN Headquarters. Stuart Scott walks by and looks at him, and says, "Chosen One? Ha!" It reminds me of my life, and it is funny.

Other Honorables: ESPN Radio's Mike and Mike ads, Ford Fusion city altering ad, Volkswagen Singing in the Rain R&B Remix, Nike's Tiger & Young Tiger ads

Well Greg, what do you think?

Jan 8, 2006

KING SIZED BLOGS: Worst in Movies 2005

As the next round in our ongoing joint-discussion with Greg over at Child of Sod , here is the Worst in Movies of 2005.

Again, I must place the disclaimer on that I only saw seven movies in the theater this past year. But, I am versed enough in films to at least recognize garbage on film. Here's my Bottom Three.

1 - Elektra - Why, oh why, did this movie get made? The first movie, Daredevil, was absolutely terrible. Yet, instead of seeing that perhaps they had gone the wrong direction in making that film, the geniuses over at Marvel decided to dive further into that franchise. And they changed things up enough to make it REALLY hard to watch. As far as comic books go, there are your A-Level characters (Batman, Superman, Spiderman, X-Men). Then there are your B-Level characters (Fantastic Four, Green Arrow, Daredevil, Judge Dredd). Then there are C-Level characters (Bullseye, Black Canary, Bloodrayne). Now, what we see in comic book movies is similar. The A-List characters more often (especially lately) make good movies. [That's not to say they always do (Batman and Robin, Superman III & IV).] There are obviously way more B-List and C-List characters than A-List. And, the vast majority of these B-List and C-List characters have produced really really bad movies. Why is that? Well, think for a second...if they were extremely well-written, well-liked, and well-developed characters, wouldn't they become A-List? So, when these characters hit the movies, the things that are holding them back become amplified. Viewers realize that they were too dependent on their source characters or not developed enough to carry a two hour movie. And the movie bombs. These are the ones that give comic book movies a bad name (Steel, Catwoman).

2 - Saw II - No, I didn't see it. But I still think it was one of the worst things about the movie field this past year. According to all of the reviews, it was very gory, very bloody, very terrifying - and those were its good points. Yes, that was why people were told to see it. And that is why it made $87 million. Horror movies are very cheap to make, and they have a huge profit margin. And there is a huge group of people who love them. I have no understanding of what makes them interesting. In addition to the disgusting nature of the movie, I also hate the marketing for it. Movies like this are advertised where they show very disturbing images on tv, or in the mall, or in magazines, or as web banners. You have no idea its coming and your kids are sitting with you, and WHAM, some demon possessed girl is on screen. The whole thing makes me angry.

3. The Pointless Sequel - Like Greg said about last year's box office, this is not a new problem. But every year, a whole bunch of sequels come out. Some of them serve a point - expanding the story or carrying on stories about beloved characters. But a great many of them are just dumb attempts to make money - and often unsuccessful ones at that. Take a look at Miss Congeniality 2, The Legend of Zorro, Cheaper by the Dozen 2, The Ring Two, Be Cool, XXX: State of the Union, Elektra, Son of the Mask, Deuce Bigalow 2, Land of the Dead, and Transporter 2. All of them were pointless sequels released this year. Compare that to the three successful sequels (Star Wars 3, Harry Potter 4, Saw 2). Eleven out of fourteen tanked. And did any of those eleven help the series in any way? Was the entire mythos enhanced? Were there millions of people clammoring for that sequel? [The same could be said for the many mindless remakes this year: Bewitched, Duke of Hazzard, Yours Mine and Ours, The Honeymooners, Herbie: Fully Loaded, Bad News Bears, The Fog, Aeon Flux] Again, this is a losing battle, but I really wish that movie producers would spend more time coming up with original concepts or quality scripts instead of just taking a money making film or concept and redoing to death.

Well, Greg, what do you think?

Jan 5, 2006

KING SIZED BLOGS: Best in Movies 05 Response

Well, our first posting has been going very well. Again, remember that this is a joint effort with my friend Greg's blog over at Child of Sod . If you have missed either part, just click on that link and catch up.

Now for my response to Greg's Best in Movies 05.

1 - Batman Begins - I think we have established that this was the best film. Of course, come awards season, it will be noticeably quiet in favor of a bunch of overly self-important films that no one actually watched except some critics. In reponse to your politely veiled crack at comic books, I would like to say that I also enjoy reading and getting the mental picture from the words on the page. But I like comic books because it is almost like reading a small movie. And they are more exciting than about 85% of the junk out there.

2 - Hitch - I also liked this film. The scenes with Kevin James were great. The DVD extras where they show the entire thought process behind those killer dance scenes are even better. I don't know if this was top 3 level. But it sure was good. And it showed that Will Smith could film a movie about competitive phone book readers and it would open to $50 million.

3 - Walk the Line - I haven't seen it. But I loved the movie poster.

And in defense of my picks...

Narnia -- I didn't say it was one of the best movies of the year - I said it was one of the best things that happened in the realm of movies in 2005. Seeing yet another mainstream Christian film was awesome. And the scene where Aslan charges into the Queen's castle to set the captives free gave me goose bumps - just to see that powerful phrase and concept brought to life. Also, out of the seven movies I did see, it probably did rank in the top three. What was going to knock it out?

Movie Slump -- Yes, this has been going on for years, but this year you couldn't read a story about the movies without hearing about it. Every big film was hailed as the one that would kill the slump -- until it flopped. It was an indication of several things. First, the over-inflated ticket prices that have created a glut of $100 million films. That used to be a benchmark. Now, it is $200 million. Second, it highlighted that people won't stand for crappy movies. Even the two R films in the top 17 (Wedding Crashers and 40 Year Old Virgin) were hailed for their well-written scripts and well-executed performances. [That was NOT an endorsement of those films.] Third, the desire for quality and decent movies. I really hope that movie studios will start to pay attention and push to make movies that are worth spending $8.50 on. Of course, with the stupid fascination with turning video games into movies still alive, I doubt that.

Well, that should wrap up movies - unless Greg wants to respond back. Next up, we will do the Worst in Movies 2005. See you all soon. Don't forget to check out the other half of this discussion over at Greg's site.

Jan 4, 2006

King Sized Blogs - Best & Worst of 2005

Cross-promotionals have been a huge trend for years. Well, welcome to the Blog Cross-Promotional. My good friend Greg Ramer both wanted to do a Best and Worst of 2005 thing on our blogs, but we didn't want it to be the same old thing. So, we have come up with the King Sized Blogs. We may do this from time to time, where we swap postings across our two blogs. Instead of just one blog, you get a KING SIZED BLOG. And, it also clever because we both are larger than normal guys. Anyway, we are going to start with our Best and Worst of 2005 lists. One of us will post, the other will reply, and then the first person will respond. Then we will move to a new topic. Now, these are not necessarily the best three movies or worst three people. These are the best three things or worst three things that happened in that field in 2005. You'll see what I mean. Hopefully this will be fun for everyone. If not, at least Greg and I will get a kick out of it.

Greg's blog is http://www.gregramer.typepad.com/.

I get the honor of going first.

1. Batman Begins - As a huge Batman fan, this was a no brainer. This was the best comic book adaptation of all time. It was the first film to completely bring the comic book completely to life. Tim Burton's vision in Batman and Batman Returns were close, but there were little things that bothered me. Like Batman killed people in those movies - which is something he has never done (well, the Bruce Wayne version anyway - but that just shows how big of a wonk I am). The whole movie was great - except for Katie Holmes who was annoying. Fortunately, she was not a major character and hopefully she will get killed off in the sequel. But I was absolutely thrilled with the film.

2. Narnia - I am not saying this was one the second best film of the year. But it was a good movie. And it was a good movie. I was pleased with the adaptation. It was done very well (no, not Lord of the Rings well, but what is?). And it was a great family flick. Yes, it was too scary for my kids, but I didn't read the book until 4th grade. Kids by that age, if they can take the book, can take the movie. And seeing how well that the film is doing at the Box Office, I hope they decide to make more from this great series.

3. The Box Office Slump - Why is this a good thing? I hope that it makes Hollywood realize that we are not going to just go to watch movies because they got released any more. People are becoming more discriminating in their film watching. They know that they can wait four months and watch the DVD or six months and catch it on In-Demand cable. I know that is what I do. I saw seven movies this year in the theater: Hitch, Madagascar, Wallace and Grommit, Batman Begins, Narnia, King Kong, and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. This is a person who used to see about sixty films a year. I only go when it is a movie I really want to see, that is going to be good - or that you have to see on the big screen (like King Kong). The rest I watch on In-Demand ($4), HBO (free), or DVD ($4 rental, $15 purchase). My friend Toney told me years ago that he figured out it is cheaper to buy the DVD than go to the movie. We have started to follow that - as has much of America. Maybe this slump will convince Hollywood to make more films like the ones that were successful - WELL MADE, well written movies and family-friendly movies. Of the seventeen films that made $100 million, 2 were rated R. Horrible remakes and poorly written films didn't make money. (Of course, neither did Cinderella Man, but that was just too depressing.)

Okay, Greg let me see your list.