World’s toughest job seeks applicants

By Matt Gillis

Well, if you thought that advertisers had used every trick up their sleeves to gain the attention of consumers, think again. After learning in every single communications class that the key to reaching modern consumers is via digital platforms, it seems fitting that companies have embraced the art of viral videos. While it may seem like creating a viral video is an objective out of the hands of advertisers, using real people, shock value and human emotion seems to be a sure formula to creating a successful viral advertisement.

On April 14, American Greetings, a greeting card company, released an advertisement via YouTube that has since accumulated over 7.8 million views as of today. So, how has the company achieved viral video status you may ask?


Boston-based agency, Mullen, created a fake job listing for a position titled “director of operations” for a fictional company called Rehtom Inc. They released paid advertisements digitally for the position and received over 2.7 million impressions.

Of those who viewed the job listing advertisements, 24 people inquired about interviewing for the position. They were interviewed via webcam and their real-time reactions were recorded on video and featured in the YouTube advertisement. The video shows the interviewer revealing the position’s job requirements including standing up almost all the time; constantly exerting yourself; working from 135 to unlimited hours per week; degrees in medicine, finance and culinary arts necessary; no vacations; the work load goes up on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and other holidays; no time to sleep; and a salary of zero dollars.

After watching the advertisement, viewers understand that the position of “director of operations” is for the position of a mother, whose responsibilities match those listed by the interviewer. At first, the job requirements sound outrageous, but once it is revealed that the advertisement is in promotion of mothers and purchasing cards for Mother’s Day, it becomes an eye-opening message.

This advertisement covers all the bases of a viral video including the use of real people, the revelation of a surprising message and the inclusion of real and relatable human emotions. It’s actually nothing short of genius. I mean, who would have thought that a bunch of fake job interviews could be used to effectively promote a greeting cards company?

So, I guess the moral of the story is that creativity is a skill worth investing in. Not only did American Greetings take a creative chance on this advertisement, but they also blended it flawlessly with their wholesome, caring and loving brand identity.

Reference list:

–       Cardstore Blog. (n.d.). #WorldsToughestJob. Cardstore Blog. Retrieved April 16, 2014, from

–       Nudd, T. (2014, April 14). 24 People Who Applied for the World’s Toughest Job Were In for Quite a Surprise. AdWeek. Retrieved April 16, 2014, from

Honey Maid endorses homosexuality

By Matt Gillis

The success of a company’s advertising campaign depends on its ability to stand out against the clutter of its competitors. Traditionally, companies use attention-grabbing themes like sex and beauty to garner added publicity. More recently, advertisers have begun incorporating contemporary, controversial topics like sexuality to create media buzz for their clients.

Honey Maid, producer of snack products including graham crackers and Teddy Grahams, released their “This is Wholesome” advertising campaign on March 10 via YouTube. The commercial features several different types of families, including a single dad, an interracial family, a blended family and two gay men as parents.

The advertisement, which recognizes that the reality of family has changed, but the wholesome connections that families share still remains, received over four million views within four days of being uploaded. With 4.5 million views today, Honey Maid says the commercial has received ten times more positive comments than negative ones despite its controversial nature.

However, several large organizations have spoken out about the advertisement, specifically about its message of describing homosexuality families as “wholesome.” One such organization, One Million Moms, a group promoting “biblical truths” and family values, described the commercial as attempting to “normalize sin” and characterized the two gay parents as “sexually perverse.” The group stated that if Honey Maid continues to define these families as “wholesome,” they would boycott the company’s products.

Honey Maid used the negativity surrounding the initial advertisement as an extension of their overall campaign. The company released a response video showing that the number of supporters of Honey Maid’s campaign greatly outweighed those who were against it. The video reads, “But the best part was all the positive messages we received—over ten times as many—proving that only one thing really matters when it comes to family: love.”

I believe this campaign was successful not only because it managed to gain widespread attention due to the use of a controversial topic like homosexuality (which was, no doubt, a strategic decision made by Honey Maid), but also because the company was able to turn the negative publicity into something positive with their “Honey Maid: Love” response video. The company successfully characterized itself as a progressive brand with every family in mind.

Because Honey Maid already had an established brand following before the release of this campaign, the company was able to approach the topic of homosexuality without much backlash. Honey Maid is the top company in its brand category of graham crackers. The company’s loyal customers will probably remain loyal. However, if Honey Maid was not a top competitor in the marketplace, their campaign approach may have cost them their success and longevity.

Reference list:

–       Lee, J. (2014, April 4). Honey Maid responds to antigay backlash with ‘Love’ video. USA Today. Retrieved April 4, 2014, from

–       Nichols, J. (2014, April 3). Honey Maid releases ‘Love’ in response to anti-gay commercial backlash. The Huffington Post. Retrieved April 4, 2014, from

‘Drive High, Get a DUI’

By Matt Gillis

A new product category has made its way to the advertising world. As several states including Colorado, Washington, and New Jersey legalize recreational or medical use of marijuana, weed is proving itself as a lucrative product with new opportunity for promotion.

However, legalized marijuana has also proven to be a polarizing political issue, causing many to question the safety of its recreational use. Because of this, states allowing citizens to get a legal high are now turning to responsible marijuana use public service announcements to ease the minds of those less gung ho about the drug’s journey to mainstream America.

Beginning March 10 through the week of April 14, the state of Colorado, who legalized the recreational use of marijuana beginning January 1, will air an advertising campaign that cautions recreational marijuana users from getting behind the wheel while high. The advertisements take a more light-hearted approach toward driving under the influence compared to other DUI campaigns such as drinking and driving. The campaign uses humor to reach its target audience, featuring stoners under the influence of marijuana trying and failing to start a grill, play basketball, and install a television.

The campaign titled “Drive High, Get a DUI” was created by four Denver-based agencies including Amelie Company, Explore Communications, Communications Infrastructure Group, and Hispanidad. With an increased DUI advertising budget of $500,000 from their typical $325,000, Colorado’s marijuana campaign will feature print and television advertisements that will be placed in Denver, Boulder, and Grand Junction as well as online.

While many would agree that public service announcements like this one are necessary in educating the public about responsible marijuana use, the humorous approach used by Colorado seems to satirize the issue rather than take it seriously. Because the advertisements fall under the same category as those directed at drinking and drinking, they are obviously subject to comparison. The severity, seriousness, and often gruesome nature of drinking and driving advertisements make the “Drive High, Get a DUI” advertisements seem nothing more than a joke.

The humorous nature of the campaign does little more than to catch each viewer’s attention. The advertisements make fun of their target audience, which are recreational marijuana users, by playing on stereotypes and making them look incompetent, lazy, and annoying. While the goal of the public service campaign was not to vilify marijuana use, the message was communicated at the expense of those engaging in the recreational activity.

Reference list:

–          Sebastian, M. (2014, March 6). Watch the Pot: ‘Drive High, Get a DUI’ Ads Chide Newly Legal Weed Smokers. Advertising Age. Retrieved March 8, 2014, from

Twitter and Oreos, a few of my favorite things

By Matt Gillis

It is no doubt that Twitter is taking the advertising world by storm. Essentially, the social media tool is an advertiser’s greatest gift, allowing companies to converse with their target publics, send out messages in real time, and monitor audience receptivity.

Most recently, Twitter became a more-than-successful advertising platform for one such brand, Samsung. On Sunday night during the broadcast of the 86th Annual Academy Awards, Ellen DeGeneres’s now infamous selfie with Oscar-nominated celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence, Brad Pitt, and Meryl Streep, was taken with a Samsung phone and posted via Twitter. The picture became the most retweeted picture in the social media site’s history, a record that was previously held by a picture posted by President Obama of him and Michelle celebrating after his reelection in 2012.

The selfie, which has 3,311,786 retweets and counting, shows the extent to which brands like Samsung can reach potential consumers. Companies now have the opportunity to capitalize on Twitter’s successful use of interactivity by combining the advertising medium with real-world promotional tactics to reach an optimal consumer audience.

Another brand hoping for advertising success via Twitter is Oreo. After garnering widespread attention from their successful Super Bowl XLVII advertisement released on Twitter in response to the game’s blackout, Oreo is hoping to receive comparable publicity for their latest Twitter promotion.


The cookie brand is employing vending machines that will use trending Twitter conversations to create 3D custom-printed Oreo cookies. The vending machines, which were created by technology design and innovation firm Maya Design, will be featured at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival in the Oreo Trending Vending Lounge.


Using each machine’s touch screen, users will be able to browse and choose from the trending Twitter flavors that include a variety of 12 cremes and colors. The user will then be able to watch as the edible cookie is built in front of their eyes in less than two minutes. Twitter users interested in the promotion can follow the Oreo conversation using #eatthetweet.

Oreo has managed to stay ahead of the advertising trends and create an innovative advertising experience that allows for ultimate consumer interactivity with the brand. Consumers are involved in creating the Twitter conversations that influence the Oreo flavors, they are able to choose the actual cookie to be created, and they can engage in conversation using the promoted hashtag.

This promotion definitely wins my personal award for best advertisement because it combines my two favorite things, Twitter and Oreos.

Reference list:

–       Lukovitz, K. (2014, March 6). Twitter-Powered Vending Machine Creates 3D Oreos. MediaPost. Retrieved March 6, 2014, from

–       Sloane, G. (2014, March 6). Oreo Uses Twitter to Make 3-D Cookies at SXSW. AdWeek. Retrieved March 6, 2014, from

Cue student junk food withdrawals

By Matt Gillis

Advertising to children has always been a point of controversy in the marketing industry. Consumers under the age of 18 are more susceptible to the manipulative and persuasive nature of advertisements. Previously, most of those advertisements in question dealt with sexualizing women, portraying unattainable standards of beauty or promoting alcohol or drug use. However, a category of brands that has traditionally banked on the sale of their products to young consumers has recently been added to the controversial list of those not allowed to advertise to children.

As part of her Let’s Move! initiative to solve the challenge of childhood obesity facing the United States, first lady Michelle Obama proposed Wednesday to ban the advertisement of sugary snacks and drinks on school campuses for later this year. If put into effect, the proposal would ban companies including Pepsi and Coca-Cola from advertising their “unhealthy” products on school grounds via vending machines or cafeterias. Company logos used as sponsorship of school scoreboards or event programs would also be banned under the proposed plan.

Obama believes the initiative, which comes in celebration of Let’s Move!’s fourth anniversary, will sustain the work parents are doing at home to promote healthy eating. “Our classrooms should be healthy places where kids are not bombarded with ads for junk food,” she said. “[Parents’] good efforts shouldn’t be undermined when they send their kids off to school.”

Michelle Obama junk food announcement

The American Beverage Association, which is led in part by Pepsi and Coca-Cola, surprisingly supports Obama’s proposal. The backing from the two soda companies may stem from their production of healthier drinks including bottled water, which would still be allowed for promotion in schools once the ban is initiated.

From an advertising perspective, this ban is a major challenge for companies selling “unhealthy” products. With children being the number one consumers of sugary snacks and beverages, this proposal has the potential to put several of the companies selling these products at risk.

Pepsi and Coca-Cola will have to put more effort into developing healthier beverage options in order to compete with companies that have the right to advertise to students in school, an environment these younger consumers spend the majority of their day in for five days a week. With companies spending over 149 million dollars a year on advertising in schools, losing this advertising platform will require these companies to develop creative solutions to make up for the lost brand exposure.

I guess the saving grace for these companies is that younger consumers are almost always digitally connected. This gives companies the ability to advertise to children via online platforms, which they are usually connected to throughout the day while at school, and inadvertently make the junk food advertising ban pointless.

Reference list:

–       Associated Press. (2014, February 25). Michelle Obama announces new rules for advertising junk food at schools. NY Daily News. Retrieved February 27, 2014, from

–       Let’s Move!. (2014). Learn The Facts. Retrieved February 27, 2014, from

–       People. (2014, February 26). Michelle Obama proposes ban on junk food advertising in schools. People. Retrieved February 27, 2014, from

Barbie’s not apologizing for being sexy

By Matt Gillis

Amidst the advertising clutter, it is no surprise that many companies use controversial promotional tactics as a way to break through the buzz. Most of the time, companies get just 15 minutes of fame from media attention surrounding their latest antics. However, despite beliefs from some critics that negative publicity does not promote long-term success for a brand, several companies have learned to capitalize on their controversial image and outlast many of their competitors.

Two brands, Barbie and Sports Illustrated, have managed to do just that. On February 18, Barbie will be making her Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue debut as part of an advertising scheme titled “Unapologetic.” These two popular brands, which are no stranger to the media scrutiny surrounding their debatably objectifying depictions of women, are teaming up as a promotional tactic to express their “unapologetic” nature about who they are.

barbie sports illustrated

The partnership is in promotion of SI’s 50th anniversary of the swimsuit issue and will feature Barbie, photographed by SI veteran Walter Ioos Jr., in a four-page spread in SI as well as on the magazine’s cover, video clips, a magazine cover wrap, declaration of Barbie as “The Doll That Started It All,” and a limited-edition SI Barbie sold exclusively at

Mattel, the company that sells Barbie, is claiming that the campaign is aimed at redefining the doll’s image in promotion of a healthy body image and a connection to contemporary consumers. In partnering with SI, Mattel hopes to make a comparison between Barbie and the magazine’s alum, which includes Tyra Banks, Christie Brinkley, and Heidi Klum, who all used their beginnings in swimsuits to launch successful careers as entrepreneurs.

Despite the company’s efforts, Mattel may have missed the mark. There is a clear disconnect between the target markets of both Barbie and SI, seeing as SI is not for little girls and Barbie is not for adults. In fact, Mattel might have done just the opposite of their objective to eradicate the objectifying nature of the doll by further defining the toy as a sex object that promotes unrealistic standards of beauty.

While the two iconic brands may not be the most likely of collaborators, the SI and Barbie partnership has generated a considerable amount of media attention. Despite Mattel’s effort to improve Barbie’s brand reputation, they may want to embrace their doll’s controversial image. Barbie has survived the market for over 50 years with nothing short of controversy, and that success requires no apology.

Reference list:

–       Elliott, S. (2014, February 11). Barbie’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Causes a Stir Online. The New York Times: Media. Retrieved February 12, 2014, from

–       Weir, S. B. (2014, February 12). Barbie Poses for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. We Give Up.. Yahoo Shine. Retrieved February 12, 2014, from

#EsuranceSave30 sweepstakes explodes Twitter

By Matt Gillis

In today’s marketplace, any company looking to create a successful brand presence must turn their advertising efforts to the realm of social media. Consumers are voicing their opinions via online blogs, engaging with companies on Twitter and “liking” the organization’s Facebook page to get the brand’s latest updates. But in order to bridge the gap between such online interactions and traditional print or broadcast advertisements as a fulfillment of a company’s integrated marketing communications, these brands must provide incentive for consumers to make that jump.

While many companies chose the traditional and expensive route of broadcast television advertisements during Super Bowl XLVIII this past Sunday, Esurance, an auto insurance company, combined the use of a television commercial with the integrated communication tactic of online engagement in promotion of a sweepstakes.

The company strategically purchased a television spot for directly after the big game. In the advertisement, The Office star John Krasinski explains that the company is randomly giving away $1.5 million, which is the amount of money the company saved by waiting to advertise until after the Super Bowl, to a United States Twitter user who tweets using the hashtag #EsuranceSave30. The sweepstakes was scheduled to last from 4 p.m. Eastern Sunday until 4 a.m. Eastern Tuesday.

While the sweepstakes was the largest sum of money given out via a Twitter contest, the promotional tactic also generated significant publicity for Esurance due to its successful reception by Twitter users. According to the company’s spokesman Danny Miller, 200,000 tweets featuring the promoted hashtag were submitted within a minute of the commercial’s airing and two million entries were recorded within less than 24 hours into the contest. Esurance increased their Twitter following by 101,100 followers within the sweepstake’s timeframe and was the top trending topic throughout the United States throughout that period.


“John,” a 29-year-old from California, was revealed as the winner of the sweepstakes Wednesday night on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!.

Last year during Super Bowl XLVII, Oreo released a timely advertisement via Twitter during the game, which made reference to the blackout that occurred during the second half. Both Oreo and Esurance’s advertisements garnered more attention than any televised commercial during each Super Bowl, proving that Twitter is a powerful marketing platform in the world of advertising.

Due to the nature of Twitter, which allows users to easily retweet content generated by others, companies have the opportunity to create viral marketing messages with just a little bit of creativity. Consumers are willing and eager to engage with companies in order to establish a more intimate relationship with the brand. With just a small incentive, like $1.5 million, companies have the ability to reach outside of the bounds of traditional advertising and into the world of social media.

Reference list:

–       Luckerson, V. (2014, February 3). Esurances $1.5 Million Giveaway Is Making Twitter Go Crazy. Time: Business & Money. Retrieved February 5, 2014, from


–       Rive Holmes, R. (2014, February 6). Winner of $1.5M Esurance Giveaway Announced on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”. KMBZ. Retrieved February 6, 2014, from