Deadpool, a Perfect Valentine’s Day Treat

Deadpool romantic comedy

Coming to theaters this Valentine’s Day, a former special forces operative, Wade Wilson, is faced with a new kind of battle when he is diagnosed with cancer. He and his heartbroken girlfriend, Vanessa, grapple with what could be his last few months on this world. In desperation, he finds a brief glimpse of shimmering hope in a dangerous experimental cure. With this new found chance to reclaim his future with Vanessa, the brave young fighter goes forth into the fight of his life. This all sounds like a nice heartwarming romantic movie for a Valentine’s Day date, right? Well, it may very well be a great date idea, however, this summary describes the beginning to the movie DeadPool, a movie that can’t be much further from a stereotypical Valentine’s Day movie.

Featuring none other than Marvel’s now iconic “merc with a mouth”, Ryan Reynolds will star as Deadpool in his very own R rated antihero adventure full of ultra-violence, crude humor, course language, and saucy remarks. While some recent advertisements might suggest differently, by simply viewing the Deadpool trailer in the link above, any potential moviegoer would pick up on the offbeat sarcastic tone of the film. Deadpool is a character loved by fans for his ability to break the fourth wall and to satire the more stereotypical super hero movies.

It is only fitting, therefor, that the movie’s advertisements are equally self aware. By jokingly advertising itself as a romance and by opening on Valentine’s Day, Deadpool is humorously showing the audience the style of comedy they are in for. The character, Deadpool, is notorious for breaking the fourth wall, thus he can directly address the movie going audience in his trailers, allowing for such commercials as this. Aired during The Bachelor, Deadpool appears holding a rose while talking seductively to the audience about how his story was actually, “a love story”. This satiric take on The Bachelor’s iconic rose is contrasted by the action scenes and comedic remarks that immediately follow, showing that while, yes, romance does play its role in the movie, romance definitely does not define the movie’s genre.

deadpool bachelor     While it is certainly not a typical Valentine’s Day romance, but instead an action packed comedy of sorts, many couples will likely be including this interesting piece of cinema into their Valentine’s Day schedule. These ironic advertisements seem to be hitting their mark as Deadpool’s interesting “charm” appears to be making quite the impression.

-Lane, Austin, and Allen

A Thai and Vietnamese Creation

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Although it’s only in Wilmington, NC, once you step through the doors of Indochine Restaurant you are transformed into a Vietnamese wonderland.  Guarding the front entrance, a 6-foot golden statue of Buddha welcomes the guests that come to dine.  Statues, paintings, and nicknacks line the walls of the interior of the restaurant, all collected by the restaurants owners during their many travels throughout Asia.

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The true enchantment begins when you pass through the back doors into the garden. With just over an acre, the Bartsch family has created a Vietnamese-inspired garden that will leave you speechless.  From koi ponds to individual tiki-huts for guests to dine in, the garden is a true transformation to a new “far east” destination.

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After opening its doors in 2001, Indochine quickly became one of Wilmington’s most popular attractions.  Voted Encore’s Best Restaurant Overall for over 15 years, each visit to Indochine is a handcrafted experience.  On top of a beautiful atmosphere, the cuisine only enhances the experience.  Staying local and true to Thai culture, each dish is freshly prepared based on family recipes.

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Indochine has built a brand based on every factor of the dining experience.  Atmosphere, service, and cuisine are just a few examples of where the Indochine staff focuses their attention to ensure every guest is experiencing a true taste of Vietnam.  Staying true to culture is very important to the owners and doing so has allowed them to build a strong brand awareness in the Wilmington community.

Based solely on word of mouth marketing, Indochine relies heavily on their reputation.  Through their success it is clear that staying true to culture and providing the very best experience to the customer is vital in surviving in the restaurant business.  Although the owners choose not to advertise in the community, Indochine is a name we all recognize and has become a staple in Wilmington culture.

Halloween or ‘Howl’oween?

As Halloween approaches, children and adults have been preparing for the holiday by buying costumes, decorations, and candies. Halloween is known as a night for children to walk around dressed up and get candy. However, recently the holiday has expanded to include all family members, even the pets

This year, PetSmart has taken to Halloween just as much as other retailers, such as Walmart and Party City, usually do. The pet retailer advertises everything from pet costumes and collars to Halloween themed treats and toys. They also offer Halloween events such as in-store trick-or-treating, pet photo contests, and even Halloween “pet camp” for those that don’t want to leave their pets at home that night.

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https://www.petsmart.com/

The home page for PetSmart’s website features everything a pet owner could need for their pet to be a part of the Halloween festivities. While the majority of their advertising is for their own products, the site also advertises at home do-it-yourself recipes and costume ideas. This form of advertising says to consumers that the retailer truly cares about the pets and wants them to be just as much a part of the holidays, therefore making pet owners trust their brand more.

The communication design that PetSmart implements makes pet owners believe they need these Halloween items just as much as any other pet necessity. The company is making consumers buy into their narrative and purchase costumes for their pets. PetSmart holds a brand image that presents itself as a company for everything pet related. The company is seen as a go-to for food, toys, training, grooming, and in some stores, even veterinary services. By offering pet supplies and events for the holidays, even Halloween, PetSmart solidifies its image as still being the one-stop-shop for pet owners.
One of the main aims of Integrated Marketing Communication is to affect behavior and not just attitudes. PetSmart has turned a once silly idea of dressing your family pet up for Halloween into a business opportunity to make a larger profit. The creation of not just products, but events too, draws customers in so that they feel they have a reason to buy character costumes for their pets and Halloween themed toys. For most pet owners, their animals are members of the family, and should be included in family fun. PetSmart allows that to happen with their holiday apparel and pet-oriented events.

The pet Halloween industry has grown significantly to the point that CNN even offers the top 5 dog costumes of 2015 in their recent online article about Halloween Fast Facts, which can be found here: http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/13/us/halloween-fast-facts/  The top five costumes were as followed: pumpkin, hot dog, Batman, devil, and a bumblebee. Of those five, PetSmart offered every single one, some with multiple options, even for different sexes of dogs. Is it a coincidence that PetSmart sells the top five costumes? Probably not.

Cucalorus: How to Brand an Independent Film Festival

By Daniel Dawson

Cucalorus is Wilmywood’s premiere quirky film festival, showcasing independent films from local, national and international artists. Film connoisseurs sporting chunky glasses, artsy students in their thrift-store best and less interesting folk like you and I file into Thalian Hall (or one of the many other venues), settle down and wait for the lights to dim. This November will be the 21st year this little slice of art and culture draws people to downtown Wilmington.

I could barely convince people to keep coming after my twelfth birthday party, so how does Cucalorus garner a big crowd each consecutive year? A cohesive brand narrative, that’s how. And Cucalorus’ brand narrative is nothing short of weird—but in the good way. Let’s explore what makes Cucalorus cool.

  1. It’s in the copy

While none of these factors are ranked in any specific order of importance, I am a word person and always like to read and evaluate the voice of an organization. Many organizations forget about this, not capitalizing its subtle importance. Bad organizations.

Cucalorus, on the other hand, has got its copy down pat. The copy, whether it’s online, in print or broadcasted on the radio, is how an organization communicates not only its news or events, but its personality, its voice and its image.  Here’s a snippet of copy from Cucalorus’ donation page on their website:

“Hey Cucalorians!!! Do you need to get rid of unwanted cash? Make a donation and we’ll send you a tax deduction letter to send your fuzzy little friends at the IRS (they don’t need your money and clearly don’t know what to do with it!!). We do know what to do with it – we’re already plotting and scheming for the 21st annual Cucalorus Film Festival – taking place November 11-15, 2015!!! Help us fund the dreams and visions of artists all over the world by making a donation today.
Dreaming of eggnog omelettes!
Cucalorius.
The Cucalorus Film Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit and your donation is tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.”

 

On first glance this might sound unprofessional and not the voice an organization would want to convey. The context, though, is important. Cucalorus’ audience is mostly the aforementioned artists, hipsters and independent film connoisseurs and Cucalorians. These types of people generally like funny, creative and quirky things (like Cucalorus). These types of people also tend to be skeptical of the IRS—not to mention the state cutting NC’s film incentive last year.  So yes, it might be OK for Cucalorus to be a bit irreverent, and it’s their creative risk.

  1. Digital presence, dude

If your business doesn’t have some sort of online presence (an email address counts), I would like you to write to me immediately by carrier pigeon and explain how you’re still surviving. An online presence is increasingly important each year, and now just having a website and Facebook isn’t cutting it. Brand cohesion across appropriate social media networks and inter-connectivity between them is vital.

Cucalorus not only has a website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram but their own blog and—drum roll—they are all updated. Bravo, Cucalorus. Content creation and audience engagement are essential to a successful IMC strategy.

  1. Creepily consistent image

This one is tandem with the digital presence. IMC consists of advertising, public relations, marketing and every other single communication an organization can perform with its publics. Consistency in corporate communication allows the organization and its audiences to construct a narrative and image of the brand. This is what people can relate to. This is how we can see the quirkiness, irreverence and artsy personality of Cucalorus as if it were that weird kid in your English class who would always have some snappy reference to an obscure book even your professor hadn’t read. But less annoying.

Take a look at Cucalorus’ official website:

Cucalorus Home Page - Wilmington, NC

Ooh, warm fall colors. Where’s my PSL?!

The color scheme and design is consistent. The font-faces, graphics and little cartoon dudes are consistent. There’s well-organized navigation and that copy I was talking about earlier. The social media pages follow suit. There’s an article on this if you’re into academic papers. Basically, the author, Simon Torp from Odense University in Denmark, says that as an organization your communication through all channels must be consistent, accessible and in line with your self-image, public image and meta-image for people to take you seriously.

  1. Zany staff workers

When I said all channels of communication, I meant all of them. Even the staff workers and volunteers need to be carefully selected and even briefed on an organization’s code of conduct. One time I went to a screening of a Cucalorus film at Thalian Hall and, not to get into too much detail, I, with the rest of the audience, was sternly asked by staff to partake in a ritual involving whipped cream, button pins and our tongues. Was I offended? No, but I could have been if I had been misguided by thinking Cucalorus was actually a convention for neo-Puritans. Because their self-branding and self-image don’t suggest that, I could expect something out of the ordinary. It’s the risk that Cucalorus takes to maintain its image and appeal to its target audience.

  1. High-quality product

When it comes down to it, a business or organization is only as good as its product. Silly brand narrative and image aside, Cucalorus does a good job at what it does. It recruits and selects excellent film talent from around the world and showcases it in quality and entertaining venues. This is where word-of-mouth comes into play. Word-of-mouth marketing or WOM is an organic and invaluable means of public relations, advertising and marketing. Have you ever read a positive news story about an organization you love? Or has a good friend of yours recommended a product or service they favor? These are examples of WOM that can make or break an organization depending on whether they are in favor or against it.  Maintaining the balance between brand narrative, professionalism and good business sense is how an organization thrives. While Cucalorus does an outstanding job of its own branding and controlled media, its reputation for quality and intrigue reign in filmmakers and spectators every year.

I am no way affiliated with the Cucalorus film festival professionally, nor do I represent it. I recognize good IMC in organizations and talk about it here. But, if you are tired of what the local theaters are playing, check out a showing of something interesting between November 11 and 15 downtown at Cucalorus.

One Country Painted Red

With the rapid growth of new products, brand extensions and the blurring of traditional and new age advertising, marketing and advertising to target audiences has reached a new level of competitiveness. Brands now must adapt to this changing environment and contest with competitors to stay at the top of their market and target to audiences in creative, attention-grabbing tactics.

The most iconic brand in the soda market, and throughout the world, is undoubtedly that of Coca-Cola. In the summer of 2011, Coke created an original marketing strategy to run a campaign that would inspire people to connect with the brand both online and offline in order to acclimate to the changing marketing environment. The campaign’s prime objective was to increase consumption of Coke over the summer season and to get people to fall in love with the iconic brand again. Particularly, in Australia, at the time nearly 50% of teens and young adults had never tasted a Coke and this drove the brand to reconnect with the country.

Established in Australia, the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign immediately received positive media attention and consumer responsiveness. The idea of the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign was to place Australia’s 150 most popular names on the front of millions of Coca-Cola bottles, simple right? This was the first time in 125 years that Coke had made such a paramount transformation to it packaging, and it was revolutionary.

“We used publicly available data to review the most popular names in Australia and ethnic representation in Australia to ensure the diversity of our multi-cultural nation was represented appropriately.”

– Coca-Cola Spokesperson.

The Coca-Cola brand wanted to initiate conversations by putting Australians front and center and inspire them to connect with people and ‘Share a Coke’. The central theme that gave ‘Share a Coke’ its power was the way a brand so universal could replace its logo with individual names by reaching out to consumers and personalizing its brand to individuals.

“We are using the power of the first name in a playful and social way to remind people of those in their lives they may have lost touch with, or have yet to connect with”

-Lucie Austin, Marketing Director for Coca-Cola South Pacific.

The ‘Share a Coke’ campaign strategically exhibited that when personalization in advertising is done the right way, it can be highly appealing and extremely effective. While Coke got personal, media was buzzing with talk over what the brand was implementing behind the personalization. Coke remained silent until Australia’s highest rated media weekend. The campaign was revealed to the public and aired across the biggest weekend in Australian sport, during the AFL (Australian Football League) and NRL (National Rugby League) grand finals which reached over 30% of the population.

Succeeding the campaign launch, requests for more names were coming in the thousands. Coke was prepared for this boom of requests by setting up kiosks that toured 18 Westfield shopping centers attracting consumers to personalize any name on a Coca-Cola bottle.

Coke wanted to especially reach out to the 50% of young adults that had never tasted a Coke in Australia, and there was no better way to reach this target market than online. Participation and mass allocation was achieved through Facebook by providing consumers with the resources to connect and ‘Share a Coke’ by creating a personalized virtual Coke bottle to share with a Facebook friend. Consumers were tagging friends in pictures with personalized Coke bottles and sharing stories on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Coke consumers also could create their own commercials! With the abundance of requests still pouring in, Coke told consumers to put in a vote of “who do you want to share a Coke with the most?” via Facebook. After 65,000 people voted, Coke bottles with 50 new names were released. “Consumers were invited to SMS a friend’s name, which was projected live onto the iconic ‘Coca-Cola’ sign at Sydney’s King’s Cross. They then received an MMS enabling them to share their friend’s name up in lights, via Facebook and email.”

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The multi-platform communications strategy was implemented to ‘Share a Coke’ with someone you know, or want to know and ultimately gave people the resources to find, connect and share. After 3 short months of running the campaign, young adult Coca-Cola consumption increased significantly in Australia by up to 7%, making 2011 Coke’s most fruitful summer season in history. The ‘Share a Coke’ campaign resulted in 76,000 virtual coke cans shared, 378,000 extra coke cans printed at kiosks, and 5% more people were drinking coke. Coca-Cola had successfully won over Australia and became a part of popular culture again.

-Briana McWhirter

See the USA in Your Chevrolet, or See China in Your Buick

Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. That line from this 1970s ad for Chevrolet exhibits the brand’s position as an American icon.

Fast-forward several decades, and General Motors’ Chevy is still an iconic American brand. Meanwhile, in China, the Chevrolet brand is still young. Chevy is China’s seventh-best selling brand, although two models, the Cruze (sold in North America) and the Sail are strong sellers.

While Chevy is still catching on in China, another longtime GM brand from the United States holds popular: Buick.

lugzaoaf2otau1jrolprYou may be asking yourself: Buick? Isn’t that the car for old people? Not so the case in China! In 2013, four times as many Buicks were sold in China than in the U.S.  Nearly 810,000 Buicks were sold in China, compared to over 205,000 stateside.

What explains Buick’s popularity in China? The answer is rooted in the early 20th century when important Chinese government figures such as president Dr. Sun Yat-sen, premier Zhou Enlai, and emperor Pu Yi either owned, drove, or were driven around in Buicks. This historical background adds to Buick’s image of upper class and prestige. Their advertising uses images of success to propel Buick to a high-end brand, such as in this Buick Excelle ad from the 2000s.

Establishing global brand coherence has its difficulties. To contrast, in the United States, Buick is having trouble shaking off the “55-to-dead” demographic, and they tackle that problem in this new ad that features the demographic commonly associated with the brand in the U.S. with the desired target demographic in the driver’s seat of the brand-new 2014 Buicks:

GM isn’t the only American automaker popular with the Chinese. Ford’s sales in China rose 49 percent in 2013, and the Ford Focus was China’s best-selling car that year. NPR interviewed 32-year-old Li Ning, who said he bought a Focus because he likes its muscular American style. In China, Ford is establishing its image as young and trendy.

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Auto China 2014, the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, kicked off on April 20th and runs until April 29th. At Auto China, Ford is introducing a luxury brand familiar to Americans—Lincoln.

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Lincoln’s model of selling cars in China is called “The Lincoln Way” and features luxurious showrooms that feel like a five-star hotel. Lincoln plans to focus on building customer relationships by understanding and fulfilling their needs. Lincoln may bring this style of personal selling to the U.S. based on how it works in China.

Only time will tell if Ford’s effort to introduce the Lincoln brand to China will be a success. Will it become a competitor to Buick, which is already established as a strong luxury brand in China? Are there other ways in which this is an example of globalization?

Nathan Evers

We Love Our Moms (And So Do Advertisers!)

With just a couple weeks until another one of the biggest card holidays, Mother’s Day, card companies are gearing up their promotions. Last week, American Greetings released their new ad, “The World’s Toughest Job” and with over 14 million views in just one week, it’s safe to say the video has gone viral. This call to action is sure to have you considering whether or not to switch from Hallmark to American Greetings this year.

Prior to this advertisement, American Greetings ads consisted of mainly cute animals – much like the ones you can find on their actual greeting cards. What these ads were missing were what this recent ad captured – emotion evoking concepts – something competitors such as Hallmark have been relying on and capturing for years. See Hallmark’s “Proud Mom” ad below:

Yet, it seems that even Hallmark couldn’t capture the raw emotions that the Mullen Agency was able to evoke from the interviewees – simply starting with a job posting and 24 interview candidates. The finished piece was a compilation of honest reactions that left viewer’s hearts melting.

The American Greetings’ spot isn’t the only ad that has played on the love and appreciation of our mothers this year. Proctor and Gamble’s “Thank You, Mom” series showed the mother as much a part of the Olympics as the athletes themselves. Several other companies including British Airways and General Electric have recently produced ads centered on mothers.

So what do these “tribute to mom” ads tell us and why do our hearts warm when we watch them? Understanding how advertising works tells us the answer. Ads tell us what is virtuous and what is our ideal world. These “shout out to moms” tell us what we virtue – the compassion mothers have and the love families have for their mother. In the ideal world, that appreciation would be shown by a card everyday, but since this isn’t the ideal world we hope to make it up on Mother’s Day.

So what do you think about all these ads centered on Mothers? Is it ethical to exploit this relationship that our society holds so valuable? Will you turn to buying an American Greetings card this holiday or stick with Hallmark?

Caroline Robinson, Elizabeth Harrington