Volkswagen gets it right this time

A few weeks ago I lambasted Volkswagen for their ‘Birds and the Bees’ commercial in which a couple love to procreate in their VW, eventually, needing a bigger model to accommodate their growing family – hence the need for the new seven-seater VW Atlas model.

Now, I’m here to sing their praises as they’ve taken another iconic song, this one Simon & Garfunkel’s classic, “America” and set it to a story that is both moving and beautifully told.

The first version I saw was 60-seconds. Here’s a link to the full :90 Volkswagen Atlas commercial – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpq4NXtokNU

Not only is it a masterful telling of a story that connects generations, it’s also some brilliant editing of the song, making the most of the lyrics that are applicable to a cross-country voyage while cutting out the parts about being on a bus and smoking cigarettes.

One of the scenes from a new VW Atlas commercial using Simon & Garfunkel's 'America' song.

One of the scenes from a new VW Atlas commercial using Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘America’ song.

I was drawn into the story immediately. An immigrant father’s dying wish – for his wife to see America courtesy of their daughter and her own family. We see them leaving New York city behind and they’re off on their journey in the new roomy VW Atlas. Of course, that is never mentioned. They simply let the visuals of the cross-country trek unwind, managing to get in a few on-the-road shots as well as interior shots.

But it’s not about the car, it’s about the experience. We see the granddaughter, bonding with her grandmother and getting reassured from her mother that everything’s going to be okay. We’re along for the ride as we get to see the entire family taking the time to experience the many sights and sounds that America has to offer.

Sure, it’s a little sappy. But the cinematography is gorgeous. The on-going story, told through a few snippets of family interaction between various family members evolves and pulls you in. This isn’t meant to be Aunt Edna strapped to the roof of the Griswold family truckster. When they reach the coast of California and Grandma sets Grandpa’s ashes free into the Pacific ocean, I didn’t feel like the story had been trivialized.

And this time, the payoff of “Life’s as big as you make it. The all new 7-seater Volkswagen Atla” made perfect sense to me. I felt better toward Volkswagen as a company. I only wish that it had been Chevy that had jumped on this song and told the story rather than some German manufacturer.

But I don’t blame them for borrowing a bit of Americana and a classic American song called “America” to try and sell vehicles here in the good ole U.S.A. – that’s what commercialism is all about. And this one gets four stars in my playbook.

Watch the commercial. Then let me know what you think.

BloodLines Creative provides advertising and marketing communications support to a variety of consumer, B2B, non-profit and government-related clients. No project is too big, no budget is too small. If you’re looking for big idea thinking, you’ve come to the right place.

 

 

 

An unexpected blast from the past

The music grabbed by attention and pulled me upstairs

The music from this 60-second commercial grabbed by attention and pulled me upstairs.

I was downstairs painting Thursday night, starting in on a new canvas when I heard a music track from the TV upstairs that immediately grabbed my attention.

It was the music we had created for an Infant Adoption Awareness commercial that I wrote and helped produce back in 2005 while working at Hughes.
http://bloodlinescreative.com/tv-radio-video/infant-adoption-awareness

That commercial has always been one of my favorites that I’ve written. It is simple, understated and delivers a powerful message at the end. The whole spot consists of a girl on a swing, coming in and out of the frame.

Each swing takes her higher, and with each swing, she knocks the type that’s on-screen out of the picture …
Like many kids,
she’s happy,
well-cared-for,
loved,
confident,
optimistic
and adopted.

A voiceover delivers the line, “To all those who give birth to, homes to, or just give thought to people adopted as infants … thanks for considering adoption.”

The whole purpose of the commercial was to raise awareness for the Infant Adoption Awareness Council of America. An adopted child is no different than any other child. So why not show a happy kid on a swing to help point that out?

We shot the commercial in Oakland, edited in San Francisco and used Elias Music to create the original score. That was more than a decade ago so I was truly surprised when I saw the commercial was still running.

Its message and ability to cut through the clutter was as strong now as it was back then.

That’s the power of Big Idea Thinking. That’s the power of BloodLines Creative.

 

 

 

Get a room, Volkswagen!

Life's as big as you make it.

Life’s as big as you make it.

Volkswagen has a new commercial that I have already seen about 10 times and though I’m a fan of Dean Martin, I’m not a fan of this commercial.

Set to Dean’s rendition of “The Birds and the Bees” this spot was probably considered ‘cute’ and a throwback to VW’s days as a bit of a rebel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyPbpU3Smhg

Back in the hippie days, a couple going at it in a VW bug may have made sense. But with this timeline, it doesn’t really go back more than 8 years or so and the couple portrayed don’t exactly seem like they’re counter-culture. Dad just seems to have a weird thing about procreating in very tight spaces – rockin’ away in the VW bug at first resulting in a trip to the dealership for a larger VW. The process repeats itself and the happy, growing family continue to have mom and dad go at in the confines of their car. It concludes with another VW rocking away – presumably VWs are very fertile places – only it shows the entire happy family inside the vehicle causing enough of a commotion that they’re causing the car to sway back and forth on its apparently not very sturdy frame.

The commercial ends with the statement, “Life’s as big as you make it. Introducing the all new 7-seater Volkswagen Atlas.” Oh, I get it.

This commercial is trying too hard. Personally, I find it kind of obnoxious, too. In-between all of the Viagra and Cialis commercials, I now get this couple that loves to breed in a bug.

I’m not sure what the key selling points of the Volkswagen Atlas actually are. There are all kinds of vehicles that can seat 7 or more so that isn’t much of a sales pitch.

To me, Volkswagen simply isn’t getting enough bang for their buck.

And I certainly would never want to ride in the back seat of their vehicle.

Being responsive

Visit BloodLines Creative on whatever device you have and hopefully you'll enjoy the experience.

Visit BloodLines Creative on whatever device you have and hopefully you’ll enjoy the experience.

Yes, it took a while.

But BloodLinesCreative.com is finally a responsive website.

So whether you visit on an iPad, your phone, a tablet or on a mac or pc, the site now adapts to the confines of the device.

Yes, it should have been done some time ago. And yes, the site could use a refresh of new work that’s been done over the past year or so. That will come. In fact, the site still isn’t 100% fully functional – my broadcast reel still doesn’t play on mobile devices – but that should be addressed in the next week or so.

I have fallen victim to what so many other advertising and marketing communications companies deal with all the time – it’s tough to manage your own marketing when you’re busy helping with the needs of the clients you serve.

It’s been a busy start to the year. But in order to keep that momentum going, I need to ratchet up my own marketing efforts – and before I began that endeavor, I needed to get the website fully functional no matter how it was viewed.

So I guess I need to wait a few more days until we get the broadcast section remedied for mobile viewing.

In the meantime, feel free to visit the rest of the website – http://bloodlinescreative.com

I welcome any feedback!

BloodLines Creative provides advertising and marketing communications support to a variety of consumer, B2B, non-profit and government-related clients. No project is too big, no budget is too small. If you’re looking for big idea thinking, you’ve come to the right place.

 

2016 and beyond for BloodLines Creative and BloodLines Art

So on this last day of 2016, I take a few moments to look back on the year and try to project what lies ahead for 2017.

Business wise, it was a good year. Not a great year. But a good year. I worked with a variety of new clients, lost an established one and still maintain ties with a long-time relationship which is very rewarding.

Though not a paying ciient, the invite that I created for our SLUH 40th Year Reunion was great fun and so was the Reunion weekend.

Though not a paying ciient, the invite that I created for our SLUH 40th Year Reunion was great fun and so was the Reunion weekend.

I created a number of videos, helped re-vamp one client’s website and we’ll soon be launching a new branding effort for another one. I began blogging for one client, worked on some PPC ads and I’m in the midst of working on a new TV and radio campaign as well. (Sorry for not naming client names – I only do that when I have permission and for this particular piece, I’m not even bothering to ask.)

On the art side of things, I was happy with the progress I’ve made as a painter. I created 11 paintings in 2016 – I don’t exactly churn them out, but I do stay at it and I continue to try and improve my brushwork, executing a variety of ideas that come from all places but always seem to circle back to Magritte in one way or another.

This painting was probably my favorite one that I created in 2016. It will be one of more than 30 on display at a solo show coming up in March.

This painting was probably my favorite one that I created in 2016. It will be one of more than 30 on display at a solo show coming up in March.

I began to more actively market my art this year as well. I now have two websites devoted to my art: http://bloodlinesart.com and http://tom-blood.pixels.com

The first site looks nice but has basically been useless due to a lack of promotion on my part. The second site enables you to take your art and have it show up in the form of pillows, tote bags, iPhone covers, coffee mugs, greeting cards and a variety of ways to order prints. That site continues to draw about 25-50 visitors a day and I’m approaching more than 8000 views since I started it back in July. The sales effort though has been somewhat disappointing – I’ve made enough to pay for the site but that’s about it.

Nuts and Bolts - one of my 'stick' paintings looks really cool in the form of a pillow and I've sold a few of them in 2016.

Nuts and Bolts – one of my ‘stick’ paintings looks really cool in the form of a pillow and I’ve sold a few of them in 2016.

There are more than a million works of art on the website. So I’m not overly surprised that my work isn’t selling like gangbusters. I don’t do art for a living. I do it for fun. I do it because I can. And I will continue to try and get better with each painting.

Prospects for 2017 look solid for both BloodLines Creative and BloodLines Art. Currently, I have a number of projects already in the books, some that will be on-going thru the Spring. I’m hoping to have my website fully optimized by the end of January and then I’ll begin more aggressive new business pursuits.

I hope to ramp up my blogging efforts in 2017 and have them be more focused on advertising and art. I dropped off the blogosphere and I’ve lost a lot of regular readers. Hopefully, I can earn them back.

I’m going to be ramping up for my first solo art show since 1994 over the next two months. It’s going to be at 1900 Park – Creative Space and Gallery. It’s both an art gallery and a music venue which will be awesome as I’ll have more than 30 works on display throughout the month of March. Opening night is going to be on Friday, March 3 and feature the music of Tom Blood, Jr.

More on that will be coming.

1900 Park will be the site of my first solo art show since 1994. Opening night will be on Friday, March 3rd.

1900 Park will be the site of my first solo art show since 1994. Opening night will be on Friday, March 3rd.

I have learned in this business that you never know what’s around the corner. You do your best, try your hardest, be honest with the people you work with and have fun in the process and generally, good things will happen. I have been blessed to work with so many gifted individuals through the years. I continue to learn and explore new ways to market – but bottom line, whether you’re doing a website or online ads or developing a trade show booth, you still need big ideas to stand out, get noticed and acted upon.

I’ve still got a lot of those.

Happy New Year and I’ll see you on the other side of 2017.

 

All in a day’s work – augmented reality, vehicle signage and video script writing

I don’t often post about the work I’ve been doing for BloodLines Creative – which is probably bad for business. Yet I’ve been so busy doing things, including continuing to paint in the evening hours, that I just haven’t found the time – or the energy to tout some of the recent projects I’ve been involved in.

That’s okay because business continues to roll along – never at the volume that I would prefer which would be 40+ billable hours a week – but at the end of each workday, I often wonder where did the time go.

These past few weeks I’ve been working on a new business pitch and part of our proposal involved using augmented reality. In case you’re wondering, Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.

In case you’d like to see it in action, here’s a little demo you can view – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaO5tXzj58U

I won’t go into the actual applications that we were proposing but suffice it to say, it has the potential to be pretty cool – if we actually get the business.

I’ve also been involved in creating new vehicle graphics for an electrical contractor we’ve been working with via The Epstein Group. Recently, we got the opportunity to see some of the new graphics put into place on a variety of vehicles in their fleet – vans, bucket trucks, pickups and even a trailer where we wrapped the entire vehicle in graphics.

What’s really exciting is this is part of a comprehensive re-branding effort that will include a new website, print and collateral materials along with new videos.

Speaking of new videos, I’ve written a number of them recently. One for a construction company, another for a new product launch along with a series of internal award videos recognizing the collective efforts of groups or individuals.

No, I’m not naming names or showing the work as some of the projects are confidential in nature or haven’t been approved for public release.

But the work has been both fun and rewarding. And I continue to learn new things and new tactics to utilize in the ever-changing world of advertising and marketing communications.

Regardless of the tactic, they still take smart, strategic thinking in order to stand out, get noticed and acted upon.

Big Ideas Start Here.

BloodLines Creative provides Big Idea Thinking to a wide variety of consumer, B2B and government-related and not-for-profit accounts. The work we do ranges from individual projects to full-scale advertising and marketing communications across all media. If you’re looking for something out-of-the-ordinary, then resist the ordinary. Give us a call at 314.973.9197 today.

Budweiser’s bully pulpit

budweiser-macrobrew-super-bowl-hed-2016

Even though Budweiser commercials still end with that all-time tag line of, “This Bud’s For You”, I can’t help but feel that they’re trying to insult me into making me drink their beer.

Facing declining sales, Bud has been fighting back with an in-your face campaign designed to slam microbrews and imported beers.

Initially, I liked the big, bold approach.

The King of Beers was protecting its throne.

But after seeing the same spot for about the tenth time with plenty more views guaranteed now that the Cardinals are back on the air, it struck me that Bud just now comes off as a big bully.

The commercials, by Anomaly out of New York, are very well-directed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rF711XAtrVg Lots of close ups of the powerful Clydesdales; a guy flicking a fruit wedge out of his beer; young ladies dancing with Buds in their hands; more close ups of the beechwood aging process and the beer being brewed; all set to a pulsating, vibrating, big, bold music track.

But it’s all just too in your face. And I can’t even remember the last time I saw a female drinking a Budweiser.

Gone are the days when Bud would salute the hard-working every man with a smooth, silky, friendly approach that all led up to the final thought of, “For All You Do, This Bud’s For You.”

Now, I feel like the commercials are being shoved down my throat.

“Drink our beer, you putz. What kind of a man are you, anyway?”

Sorry, Budweiser. I’m not buying it.

A really crappy assignment

tt-toilet-humor-hed-01-2015I never really imagined I’d be writing about toilet commercials but when I saw a recent spot for American Standard’s new VorMax flushing system, I just about ____ my pants.

http://bcove.me/0svmmhid

Well, not really. But the commercial called “Splatter” certainly made its point and grabbed my attention, particularly since I just recently got over a stomach virus.

Ewwww!!!

I can just imagine the writer assigned to the account on a conversation with his mother. “Yeah, mom, we’re working on some really cool stuff. Yeah, it’s going to be a national TV commercial for American Standard – you and dad ought to check it out.”

Actually, the premise behind the commercial makes brilliant sense. Ever since low flow regulations reduced the amount of water toilets could flush from 3.5 gallons down to 1.6, Americans have been both disgusted and discouraged by what’s been left behind. The new VorMax flushing system comes in with two streams of water to wash our troubles away.

But how to demonstrate that fact? Resort to potty humor.

There are three spots in the campaign – “Skid Marks”, “Clingers” and “Splatter”. I had seen “Clingers” a few times before. http://bcove.me/2wlabta2 I don’t think I quite got the message with the first viewing but I definitely remember the end visual of a man’s head popping out of the toilet with the message, “It’s clean!”

Talk about memorable visuals.

The first time I saw “Splatter”, I even noticed the subtle reference of a ketchup bottle on the insides of the toilet, cleansed away in a VorMax product demonstration. Now that I’ve seen all three of the commercials (here’s the third one called “Skid Marks” http://bcove.me/b6enm8ex) I see how they’re carrying that message through in each of the spots.

The commercials were created by 22squared in Atlanta. I’ve never heard of them before but a little research told me that they’re the 4th largest independently owned agency in America which evolved out of West Group back in the early 90s. So they’ve been around for awhile. A little more time on their website and I see that they do consistently great work and have had the American Standard account for a while and in fact, won a 2014 Gold Effie award for a campaign that helped provide impoverished countries with more than 500,000 donated toilet pans. http://www.22squared.com/work/american-standard

So congrats to the creative team at 22squared.

We’re not quite ready to rush out and buy a new toilet as a result of this campaign. But they’ve definitely raised brand awareness of American Standard in my brain.

There’s a lot of bad advertising out there. Most of it, should be flushed right down the toilet. Thanks to VorMax, I can be sure there won’t be any lingering residue.

Duty calls.

 

 

 

Flush the Rams and prepare for some Super Bowl commercials

The St. Louis media has hyped the loss of the Rams about as much as they can. Sure, we’re down an NFL team and about $16 million in fees on top of the yearly bill to pay for the soon to be nameless dome that will be home to more tractor pulls and monster truck races in the near future.

We loathe Stan. We will continue to loathe him for as long as he is around to be loathed.

But it’s also time to move on. Time to forget that there is no longer any conceivable way for St. Louis to end up in the Super Bowl. Those days are over. The way the Rams were run, they may never get back there again, anyway. So it’s time for the national hype to pick up on Peyton vs. Cam.

It’s going to be a good game – I think. It should also be a good year for a whole new crop of commercials coming from a whole new crop of agencies.

Yes, the big boys will be there – Pepsi and AB (I don’t like to acknowledge the InBev part) and I assume Coke as well. Wieden + Kennedy will be unveiling their first work for Bud Light introducing ‘The Bud Light Party’. Doritos is back with their Crash the Super Bowl commercials and the one they have out as a tease called “Ultrasound” is lots of fun.

New movies will be touted. The automakers will step up with a variety of approaches that are meant to be memorable and hopefully will have some semblance of day after recall.

But get ready for some new entries as well.

Have you ever heard of Bai? Sorry, but I hadn’t. And have you ever heard of Barton F. Graf? That’s the agency that produced Bai’s new Super Bowl commercial. I checked out their previous “None of this makes sense” campaign and it’s pretty darn good and has a really nice overall positioning. I don’t know what their spot is going to be about but I look forward to it.

SquareSpace will be using the comedic talents of Keegan-Michael Kelly and Jordan Peele. I’d say I’m looking forward to that but in reality, I never heard of either one of them before I typed their names – showing how hopelessly out of touch with who’s hot and who’s not.

Sorry.

So, am I going to actually share anything? Yes.

Pokemon, of all things, is celebrating their 20th anniversary and they’re still going strong. Some agency named Omelet out of Los Angeles (maybe they’ll get the Rams account) produced this awesome, fun to watch, and highly unexpected commercial.

Brilliantly shot. Great editing. Great music.

Enjoy.

That’s all I’ve got for now.

Random thoughts from a soon to be 58-year-old man

My 58th birthday is now just hours away and as I get ever closer to that very strange number of 60, it’s got me thinking all kinds of weird thoughts.

How did I get this old, this fast?

I know, getting older is a gradual process. When you’re a kid, you wonder what it would be like to be a teenager, to be 20 and beyond that, you really have no clue. I have vague memories of wondering what I would be like when I was in my 50s. I still wonder what it’s going to be like when I’m in my 50s as they’re not done yet.

I wonder about the world and where it’s heading. Doomsday chronicles seem to populate my inbox with more frequency these days. The world is coming to an end. The U.S. is going to be hit by a terror attack unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before. The grid is going to go dark. Chaos will reign. Become a survivalist, pack some water, batteries and lots of beef jerky and get ready for the worst.

Yikes.

Yet you’ve still got to keep on keeping on. The lead story on the local news tonight was about a cat that had been shot with an arrow and there was a frantic hunt to find the perpetrator. If that’s the lead story, somehow, the planet should be able to carry on. With or without the cat.

I wonder what I’ll be doing two years from now. Sometimes, I wonder what I’ll be doing two weeks from now. You can’t predict the future.

This is coming from a guy who has had two hip replacements, 64 stitches to his head to close up a wound from an errant golf ball, a broken nose from being an idiot behind home plate without wearing a catcher’s mask, a few broken wrists, a broken ankle, more stitches to my head when a neighbor’s buck teeth pierced my skull playing King of the Hill and numerous other close calls with death, danger and dismemberment.

I’m lucky to be alive.

I’m glad to be alive.

I’ve got a loving wife who puts up with my eccentricities and makes me a better person every single day that I’m with her and three great kids who are immensely talented and unique in their own respective ways. I love our extended family. I love our dog. I love Brian Piccolo – well, I’ve always loved that line at least.

We’ve been blessed with good health, good fortune and overall, lots and lots of good times.

My career is still a career. I’m still doing what I set out to do upon graduating from Mizzou – create advertising and marketing communications. I have a journalism degree with an emphasis in advertising and I have put those skills to good use for a lot of clients through the years though I sure wish I could get back to making TV commercials again. I always thought that was my best strength – print, radio, TV, outdoor, direct marketing – I loved to do TV. These days, TV spots seem to have been removed from the equation.

So I adjusted my skill sets. I’ve learned new skills. I realize that I have to be a lifelong student and that I need to learn something new every day.

I was thrilled when my first Vine video went live courtesy of Pickett Productions. Five months ago, I had never even heard of Vine.

Have you?

We live in an ever-changing, always evolving world. It seems to get crazier everyday. It seems people respect life less and less. I don’t long for the good old days. I don’t know when the good old days actually were.

To me, all the days that I’ve been around have been more than just good, they’ve been blessed.

When you get to be 58, you wonder how many more laps you’ve got around the calendar. You think back to the many things you’ve done in your life – some good, some bad.

And then you set your resolve to learn more. Do more. Give more.

There’s so much I haven’t done.

There’s so much I need to do.

Tomorrow’s another day.

Bring it on!