So Who’s GaGa Now?

Dennis Ryan, Chicago Advertising, Element 9I’m not a Lady GaGa fan. In general, I don’t follow royalty and the few times I have heard her music have been quite by accident. And yet, there she was when I flipped on my laptop this morning, in a featured link of the Yahoo! homepage, something about how once again, she managed to cause a stir during her entrance at the VMA’s.

Frankly, you have to hand it to her: she’s really, really good at this. Time and time again, she makes a splash in the press and on the web with what she wears.  Occasionally, that’s for brazen undressing but far more often, it’s for outlandish fashions, attention-getting masks and dresses and get ups of the kind one rarely sees outside a Mummers Parade

Admittedly, we live in times when new technology and access is forcing redefinition in the news industry (“Are bloggers journalists?” “Is gossip/opinion/reaction news?” “Do sources matter?”), and yet somehow, this woman has thrived through that journalistic uncertainty, demanding and receiving consistent attention–the kind of attention that translates into album and ticket sales.

Not because she’s drop dead gorgeous.

Not because she’s deeply-funded.

Simply because she uses creativity to make herself interesting.  Particularly during awards shows when dozens of camera crews are looking for anything noteworthy.

A lot of brands could take a lesson there.  It’s amazing what a stir creative new packaging can cause…


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79


Packaging, Positioning…and Produce.

A few weeks back, a client and I met for breakfast.  As the head of his food company’s advertising production, he touches dozens of brands every week.  Recently, one of his colleagues challenged him to help make a rather ordinary frozen food brand ‘cool.’

That’s an interesting assignment, but one that’s doomed to failure if it’s approached through advertising alone.  Particularly since the packaging of this product is a dog’s breakfast of serving instructions, nutritional information and the typical parade of trite, graphic category conventions.  Simply put, the existing package is the exact opposite of cool.  I told him he should get their packaging people to think of a redesign the way ad agencies think of pure brand television–long on emotional impact, short on facts, and almost no copy.

It was a radical notion…but not nearly as radical as what a bunch of carrot farmers–primarily Bolthouse Farms–are up to.  These guys had the radical notion to package their perfectly healthy, perfectly wonderful little baby carrots like potato chips–all single-serve plastic bags and loud graphics.  They then took this idea to advertising, developing a website, an iPhone game, and the following three TV spots featuring explosive silliness and unapologetically over-the-top exhortations to “Eat ‘Em Like Junk Food!”  It is, in the parlance of the industry, EXTREME!!!  And yes, that word does require a minimum of three exclamation points.

God love them, I hope this works.  It is a brilliant positioning and the freshest thing to happen to produce since those little misters on the grocery store shelving.  In case you missed their debut on Facebook yesterday (or if say, you’re not a friend of ad savant Kent Carmichael), here are the three very aware ads that take the starch out of junk food advertising conventions even as they sell these fresh alternatives.

There’s the sexual innuendo one…

The teen fanboy sci-fi one…

And the hard-rocking, demolition derby execution long on sturm und drang and short on any sort of logical thought process…

I dug around their website for more information but there wasn’t a ton of background explanation.  Only smart copy like this mission statement: “A BUNCH OF CARROT FARMERS™ is made up of, well, a bunch of carrot farmers. Our mission: To get folks to eat more carrots. Then get their friends to eat more carrots. Then get their friends’ friends to eat more carrots. And so on and so forth, until carrots are the official favorite food of everyone, everywhere.”

If God loves advertising–and every now and again, some achievement in the field makes me inclined to think that our supreme being actually does–then this multi-platform will sell boxcars of those little orange vegetables.  I for one, plan on buying a bag today simply to support their chutzpah.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79