Piotr Jakubowski – Mind over Marketing

Happy Holidays
December 24, 2008, 12:02 am
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Happy Holidays to you all! Merry Christmas to those who celebrate!

I’m taking some time off in Colorado, will be back next week.




Fire Meets Desire

bk3One thing that you don’t see too often in the advertising industry, is a budget that includes some viral work. Certain brands tend to stray this way, and one of these is Burger King.

After I lambasted their Whopper Virgins campaign two weeks ago, CP+B and Alex have redeemed themselves with an interesting concept that really has nothing to do with the flame-grilled objects of desire served at Burger King.

Enter FireMeetsDesire.com.

One thing that food establishments are always associated with is scent. But not very many of these scents are available as perfume for purchase. FireMeetsDesire is based on “Flame” a new perfume from BK that “sets the mood no matter what mood you’re in the mood for.” Described as the “scent of seduction, with a hint of flame-broiled meat”, spraying the bottle takes you through a variety of moods and scenarios, with a great selection of 80’s groove in the background.

And for some Whopper-addicts, it’s even available for purchase.

My two cents?


Meet The Ungiftables
December 15, 2008, 12:10 pm
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ungiftablesWhat do the critical mother-in-law, emo nephew and cutesy couple all have in common? They’re all impossible to shop for and they send people scrambling for the right gifts right before Christmas. This year CafePress, an online custom gift retailer, comes to the rescue with “The Ungiftables”. With their ingenuity and a little viral action, the idea could become one of the talking points of the season.

At first site (pun intended), Ungiftables.com features a spread with all of the characters, from the cutesy couple to the conspiracy uncle. Click on one of them and it takes you to another site featuring a collection of short video clips of the person hounding you to make a choice, and letting you know how difficult this person can be. The nosy neighbor keeps asking questions based on what she saw in the trash, and the vege-liberal activist discusses the next protest she will attend. While these videos are rolling, sliders allow you to select how much you want to spend, and a question based on the type of person (mother-in-law’s question is “What do you do when she comes to visit?” Slider ranges from “clear out the guest room” to “clear out of town”). What better way to alleviate the exasperation than with a little bit of humor?

With the availability of hundreds of thousands of ready-made t-shirts, mugs and other knick-knacks, and the possibility of customizing your own, CafePress hits the jackpot with a light-hearted take on the beauty (or not) of Christmas shopping. By positioning itself as the place that customers can find anything, even for those who are the hardest to shop for, CafePress is taking advantage of the seasonal increase in consumer expenditure. And with the shape of the economy, CafePress may be the solution to finding some customized, less expensive gifts.

Getting Dirty While Staying Clean

One Dirty ManIn one of my recent posts about Michael Phelps I mentioned how his brand has been stretched a little too far in the wake of his record-breaking success in Beijing.

A few months ago I had the pleasure of working for a large construction equipment manufacturer at the CONEXPO – CON/AGG tradeshow in Las Vegas. CONEXPO occurs every three years and consists of the who’s who of the construction industry. In my work with the manufacturer, I had the chance to interact with Mike Rowe for the entire span of the tradeshow. Mike Rowe is the host/victim of the popular show “Dirty Jobs” on Discovery, and through my three days of work with him I realized that Mike has his brand under control.

Although having held numerous jobs and roles in the past, Mike is known as the guy who does the dirty work. He’s known to his fans as the guy who cleans bird poop at a chicken farm, sweeps chimneys, shears alpacas and handles baggage. There are two remarkable things about the show.


  1. 90% of the jobs are collected through user-submission – engaging the fans, the people who actually complete these jobs, with the program
  2. Mike Rowe and Discovery truly understand his audience both on and off the air

In February 2008, FastCompany officially labeled “Dirty Jobs” a megabrand, and indicated that Mike Rowe had become a hot commodity for advertisers with his extremely unique access to a certain demographic. In the process, Rowe has sidestepped deals for reality TV shows, hosting activities and acting roles. Why? Credibility.

What Mike and his team has understood is the idea of credibility. One thing that he consistently mentioned during the tradeshow is “maintaining the brand image” and “not selling out”. Through the success of the show he has almost single-handedly brought attention to “people who make civilized life possible.” One of the questions he consistenly asked was “how can all that brilliance be ignored?” By not selling out, Rowe and the Dirty Jobs brand is keeping true to the demographic with which it has the closest ties.

In the meantime he has picked up sponsorships with Ford, Whirlpool, HP and done speaking events for companies such as Motorola or Yahoo. Despite being approached by Toyota, Rowe felt that Ford, as an American company, fit much better with their image as well as the demographic. What else would the guy with dirty work drive than a Ford F-150.

With well thought out planning, Rowe and his team has managed to maintain the authenticity that appeals to the tastes of this group of individuals, while not alienating the other viewers – those who love watching the Discovery channel. Steering clear of the lucrative temptations that have peppered the rising popularity of the show, Dirty Jobs has managed to stay raw, rugged and most importantly – dirty. 

From the desk of Alex Bogusky
December 3, 2008, 10:22 pm
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bkUnder Alex Bogusky’s helm, Crispin Porter + Bogusky has managed to blow new air into brands such as Burger King and Volkswagen. With the reintroduction of the mildly stalkerish and creepy King, Bogusky placed Burger King back on the fast food map of America. The success brought Burger King plenty of attention, and lifted The King to new realms fame and fan obsession. A few days ago, a new campaign graced our TV and computer screens – The Whopper Virgins.

The gist of the campaign is that Burger King has brought the classic taste test to people who “don’t have a word for burger”, remote villages in Romania, Greenland and the Golden Triangle. At first, this idea seems brilliant – who better to use for taste tests than people who haven’t tried either product? But putting this aside, Crispin is really pushing the envelope, particularly in the way it projects how Americans think about the rest of the world. A post on Adfreak, an industry blog, mentions that “it’s more embarrassing and emblematic of how ignorant Americans still seem to the rest of the world.”

I couldn’t agree more, and that’s the first thing I thought about when I saw the website and ads for the first time. I had the fortune of growing up as a TCK (Third Culture Kid), and despite being surrounded by plenty of political incorrectness, everyone knew when a line was crossed. Whopper Virgins crosses that line.

It is remarkable that these cultures have remained relatively untouched by the McDonaldization of the world, and it is quite despicable that they are being exploited for this reason. This isn’t to say that Burger King is dropping cases of Whoppers in these villages, but the idea that they would even pull the stunt for our entertainment pushes the limit.

As these people show up in the test locations dressed in their traditional attire, it feels like they are being paraded around with a similar aura as the African-Americans and little people paraded around the World Expo in Chicago over 70 years ago. Though on paper it seems like a great idea – having people who’ve never had a burger to complete a taste test – in theory it pushes cultural boundaries that are better left untouched. At least until BK or McDonalds set up shop in Greenland.

The countdown is on – in 3 days the documentary which the TV spots and sites advertise will go live. Check it out at WhopperVirgins.com 

What do you think?

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