We just finished awards season with the close of The Academy Awards, and we once again had a blast commenting on all the marketing during our live Twitter party at #OscarExp. I have to say that the advertising was the best of the season, in my opinion, as we witnessed the return of the consumer insight. Great advertising, scratch that, great marketing is built on a true and deep consumer insight about how people live, eat, breath, behave, worry, and feel -- marketers who can uncover that and make an emotional connection with their brand will score.
Much of the advertising during The SuperBowl, for example, felt like advertising for advertising sake. Entertaining in some cases, great productions in many, but not a lot of insight. Not a lot that moved me, or anyone for that matter. Not the case the other night at The Oscars, at least from my couch. Although not all of it was new executions, the ones that were new for me resonated quite well.
Take for example the Johnson's Baby spot - "You're doing ok, Mom." The best I've seen of capturing the emotions of new parents as they worry that they're doing what's right for their baby. Babies don't really give feedback so it can be scary and worrisome for a new parent. If only the baby could say that all is all right.
Google+. While the platform itself hasn't shown its true value in practice yet, the advertising certainly did. Finally, a brand that depicts a Dad as a caring caregiver engaged in the life of his new baby. No fumbling, bumbling, dumb Dad in this spot -- yet still very much real at the same time. One of many executions that show how we are living our lives these days, and how Google+ adds value. Just what a brand should do.
But what was "Best in Show?" -- no easy decision. Originally I was going to give it to Meryl Streep. She showed her brand in true colors not only in her mind-blowing performance as Margaret Thatcher, but also in her graceful and self-depricating acceptance speech. If good marketing is all about making good decisions, than Meryl Streep is an amazing brand.
But for "Best in Show" I have to give that to JCPenney, hands down. The brand owned the night. Sure, Ellen was entertaining ... she was Ellen. And yes the productions were clever and nicely tied to the Hollywood theme of the event, which is always good when you can tailor your message to tightly fit with a touchpoint. But I am giving JCPenney "Best in Show" because they not only owned the night, but the brand is taking full ownership, consistently, of their new business model ... Everyday Low Prices. Putting their money where their mouth is across the entire brand experience.
The "Fair and Square" campaign is brilliantly crafted to show how JCPenney is turning retail on its side, smashing most conventions of what other retailers are doing like flashy promotions, heavy couponing, "trend" merchandise that sells out in a day, and not-so-easy customer service. The campaign brings it all to life, one benefit at a time per execution. Easy to understand and very motivating. Fair and Square. A bold move, and a brave move, that will only work if done consistently at every turn. Well done, JCP.
That's the way to own who you are, and that's the way to own an awards show sponsorship.
What's your experience? Jim.
President, North American of Cohn & Wolfe
Author of "The Experience Effect" series
Professor at NYU