The Bizz by

Business & marketing advice, news and features, design inspiration, and the art of gifting.

Creative Advertising Gone Wild: Kmart’s First 2013 Xmas Ad Goes Balls Out

Ads are a dime a dozen, but great ads are rare. This week, we profile Kmart’s first TV commercial for the 2013 Holiday Season.

by Fausto Mendez

    Kmart proudly toutes the Joe Boxer brand and a set of talented male models in its latest TV ad for this year’s Holiday Season. It’s a funny and memorable video that is conveniently slipping into the sharing streams of web surfers around the world, so it is, of course, making its way across the Web as the marketing industry’s latest viral sensation.

    Like the best TV ads of the modern era, its lifespan stretches across several screens - from HDTV to smartphones - making it the epitome of a successful TV ad in 2013 and effectively multiplying its ROI again and again. 

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Advertisers Beware: 2013 Is the Worst Year in Traditional TV’s History

The past 12 months have made up the worst year in traditional TV’s history. Advertisers need to be wary of TV as a primary marketing channel, and may need to invest in other marketing channels to reach younger crowds.


by Fausto Mendez / graph & data by The Atlantic, Quartz (Ritchie King), Moffett Research, Netflix

    If you’re a young person in America, the likelihood that you’ll ever sign up (or continue paying) for a traditional TV subscription, such as Cable, is at an all-time low since TV blew up as a staple in American culture. The total number of cable subscriptions continue to free fall off the charts, and satellite and telecom service providers can’t attract new customers fast enough to counter Cable’s fall. It looks like the trends will only get stronger over time, but your TV shows aren’t in peril.

    Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and iTunes will take care of your shows (and even produce new shows and/or episodes) as TV producers, directors, writers and actors take to the Web as a primary, first-rate broadcasting channel. Actually, it’s the TV networks that have a lot to worry about. Their cash cow, the TV commercial, is losing value fast, and other marketing channels are eating up all the left-over profit.

   Suddenly, companies with innovative and incredibly sophisticated targeting techniques, like Google and AdRoll, are moving in on TV’s territory while historically stable marketing channels, like promotional giveaways, trade shows, direct mail/email, and billboards, remain strong.

    Furthermore, mainstream social networks tout massive audiences that dwarf those of even the biggest TV networks, and it’s easier than ever to accurately target your audience on these networks, ensuring that you don’t pay for irrelevant impressions or clicks. Topical blog sites also do a great job of attracting smaller niche audiences of the Web, and many of those sites employ creative advertising teams that partner with businesses to build and serve relevant ads to their audiences.

Ditching Traditional TV in My 20s 

    In my own experience of 27 years on this planet, I ditched cable on my way to college. I was an avid TV fan growing up in my parents’ home with Battlestar Galactica, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lost, The X-Files and much more. Sadly, I would often construct my daily schedule around my favorite shows and not the other way around. Clearly, that’s not how life should be. TV should adjust to my schedule. 

     As a college student with robust university-grade Wi-Fi, I discovered a beautiful truth. The Web and a-la-carte methods, such as Netflix DVD subscriptions, are more liberating and satisfying ways of watching TV. The best part is that it costs much less than cable or satellite.

    No, scratch that. The best part is I’m no longer forced to sit through long stretches of ads in between cliffhangers of my favorite shows. 

    Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind the occasional commercial as long as it’s relevant to me, but I can’t stand a long stream of irrelevant commercials every seven to ten minutes. Neither can my peers.

    For example, if I was ever in the mood for Saturday morning cartoons during a weekend study session, Cable would force me to sit through tons of relentless ads for too-sugary cereals, poorly-designed action figures, and make-your-own jewelry kits. As a 19-year-old male, these ads would be wasted on me, but no matter what I watch on the Web, the shows either come ad free or only slightly interrupted with very relevant ads.

    As a result, TV’s fatal flaw is that it can’t segments audiences very well, and TV networks are way too greedy, steadily and stealthily increasing total ad-broadcasting time throughout the history of TV. Marketers, be careful of your strategy on TV; depending on your audience, the marketing channel could turn into a huge waste of money for your business. If your goal is to reach folks under 40, your best bet is probably not TV.

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Too-Busy Chris Hardwick Shares His Time-Management Philosophy

Chris Hardwick is considered one of the busiest TV professionals today, hosting and contributing to a wide range of shows across several networks. The man somehow does too much with too little time, and here’s how he does it without burning out.


by Fausto Mendez / photo by Fast Co.

    When Chris Hardwick isn’t hosting the new Comedy Central talk show @Midnight, he’s hosting AMC’s The Talking Dead, voicing Nickelodeon cartoons, getting nerdy on BBC’s The Nerdist, releasing podcasts, cracking up audiences as a stand-up comedian, pitching his next project, or…. well, the list goes on. I think you get the picture. He’s obviously Superman’s buddy the Flash in a suit & tie, or maybe he knows something we don’t.

    His achievements in the past few years would make anyone jealous. Thankfully, he’s willing to share his secret to success: utterly amazing time management. He shares 7 eye-opening tips in an interview with Fast Co, and the one about overcoming a creative block (similar to a “writer’s block”) is perhaps the most inspiring. 

"Even if what you’re coming up with is gibberish at first, you’re unsqueaking the wheel, and you might not notice the benefits right away, but after 15 minutes or so, you’ll find them. You just have to push through it. There’s no trick."

   Though he finds value in pushing through a creative or even physical slump, he warns not to over exhaust yourself.

"Your body tells you when you’ve taken on more than capacity. That’s when you start getting really anxious, or getting insomnia … It’s important to take some time off to recharge, even if it’s just a day or two. Sometimes my girlfriend and I will go to Disneyland, just to take a day off.”

   Keep in mind that you have limits. Sometimes, pushing through the block isn’t worth it, and your relentless drive starts to backfire. Learn how to read your body. Know what it needs in every moment, and give it that.

The Most Important Time-Management Skill: Know Yourself

    Knowing your body and decoding its messages are invaluable productivity tools, and that’s something I quickly learned after college. It’s amazing what a difference my level of performance is now compared to the first year out of school.

    For example, knowing the difference between a caffeine comedown and actual exhaustion is critical for a creative professional like myself, but I had no idea how to tell the difference during my student years. I’d caffeinate myself for way too long with way too much, and little did I know that less caffeine in the right moments goes much farther than tons of caffeine all the time.

    In a similar lesson, I had to figure out that exercise has a very positive effect on my my mental state. My focus and energy were annoyingly inconsistent as a student. As a professional, I discovered the difference between over-exhaustion and exhaustion from not being fit enough. Little did I know that my brain’s energy is directly affected by the state of fitness of my body. The more fit I am, the more my brain can handle, and I could have only learned this lesson by first learning myself.

    Knowing yourself is one the most important time-management skills that you’ll ever develop. Start there, and everything else will surprisingly fall into place. 

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Finished Work: Black USB Hubs for Warner Brothers

AnyPromo’s design and production teams love to show off their #finished work. This is just another project of the many, many projects they finalize on a daily basis.

By Fausto Mendez

    This week, we wrapped up production on a sizable stack of mobile USB hubs for Warner Brothers. I’m really digging the way the shade of blue (that was selected by WB staff) complements the shiny black of the outer casing.

    It’s simple and minimal, yet beautiful, sleek and modern. I really wish I could keep this one, but alas, it has to go back to the client. If you’re interested in slapping your logo on a box of these, inquire at or just call 1-877-368-5678.

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We Bid Farewell & Congratulations to Breaking Bad’s Cast & Crew


By Fausto Mendez

    It’s been a wild ride, but all good bad things have to come to an end. In the spirit of Breaking Bad's Walter White, let's hustle our asses off and make absurd amounts of money for the rest of the year.

    The end of a really great TV show is really fun and really disappointing at the same time. You grow with these characters. You learn their strengths, weaknesses and everything else about them, and you learn to love them. Then, they’re gone… just like that. For those really great TV shows, such as Breaking Bad, it’s almost like ending a romantic relationship or feeling the withdrawal from a bad addiction.

    We’ll miss the cast and crew. It’s sad the actors will rarely (if ever) share a stage together again. Oh well… I need to catch up on House of Cards anyway, and I’m not finished with Attack on Titan either. What show/book/game will be filling that empty hole in your heart over the next few months?

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Latin Icon Sofia Vergara is Now the Best Paid Actress on TV


By Fausto Mendez

    The 20 best-paid TV actresses made a combined $183 million during the last twelve months (from June 2012 to June 2013), but Modern Family’s uber popular Sofia Vergara leads the pack with a total of $30 million in income.

For most adults (that remember watching TV in the 70s, 80s and 90s), it may come as a surprise that the most popular and best-paid actress on TV is Latina, not white. Since the dawn of TV & film, white actors and actresses have always been the the preferred choice, and their paychecks naturally reflected that bias. 

     In fact, Vergara’s TV husband Ed O’Neill was one of the best-paid TV actors during his reign in the 90’s on the legendary sitcom Married with Children, but it’s incredible how times have changed since then. 

The World Was a Different Place Five Years Ago

    Back in college, I was an intern at a mainstream film studio in Santa Monica, CA. It was my job to read incoming screenplays that may or may not be turned into Hollywood movies. Then, I’d recommend the best ones for further consideration and in-depth reading. I fondly remember reading a touching screenplay with a male hispanic lead, and the producers at the film studio loved the script too.

    When it was time to finally make a decision about whether we should actually produce the movie, one issue remained on the table: American audiences just don’t respond to Hispanic leads. We were not the first nor the last studio to turn it down due to the same issue.

    It’s amazing how much has changed since then, and that was only back in the Spring of 2008! But that was well before Modern Family, and even President Obama was not yet elected as the first non-white President. Time moves fast these days.

How Does She Do It?

     Vergara’s enviable income is a result of a combination of lots of acting work and several advertising deals. If you keep up with TV ads, you’ve noticed her in commercials for Diet Pepsi, Cover Girl, Diet Mountain Dew and other brands, but she’s also a star in the Colombian version of Desperate Housewives. She’s made several guest appearances on other TV shows, including ABC’s Dirty Sexy Money and at least one Mexican telenovela, Fuego En La Sangre. You may have also noticed her in the Three Stooges big screen remake from last year.

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#MarketingMonday - How Netflix’s Arrested Development Uses Promotional Giveaways to Sell New Episodes


By Fausto Mendez

    The brand-spankin’-new fourth season of the cult TV series Arrested Development hit Netflix at the end of May, and the new episodes are a massive success despite Netflix’s exclusivity. This case study breaks down the show’s powerful marketing tactics, including a wildly successful promotional giveaway.

    Arrested Development isn’t well know for its superb marketing tactics. Actually, it was the lack of effective marketing that lead to the cancellation of the original Fox series, which spanned three seasons. As a result, Netflix’s exclusive fourth season came out fists swinging as it launched a relentless marketing campaign that’s pushing the show to new heights.

Marketing a TV Show that Will Never Be on TV


    Facing an uphill battle - as the new episodes will never hit traditional TV - Netflix’s marketing team studied the forces behind the original show’s cancellation. Taking those lessons into account, the team approached the relaunch with a fresh strategy that remixes high-yield, low-cost tactics to effectively reach the masses from coast to coast.

    The team started by generating basic buzz at all the right web channels: Reddit, Facebook, Twitter and tons of entertainment blogs. You’ve probably even noticed the occasional feature in some mainstream magazines, such as Forbes.

Buzz Isn’t Good Enough. Where’s the Bang?


    With the upcoming release of the fourth season planted in the back of every fan’s head, the next step would be to design some kind of publicity stunt during launch, which should remind discouraged and frustrated fans of their passion for the show.

    See, the problem with Arrested Development’s online marketing strategy is that it works well as long as the user is engaged in those marketing channels, but what happens if the user becomes disinterested in those marketing channels over the months leading up to the premier? Even worse, what if the passionate fans get tired of waiting, and they just stop paying attention or caring? The previous seasons never failed at generating buzz too, but for some reason, they couldn’t actually get the fans to tune into Fox at the right times. 

Listening to Fans via Social Media


    The show’s marketing team dug through their social-media channels to find some of the fans’ favorite recurring jokes, which is how they came up with the perfect giveaway concept: hand out free frozen bananas from a Bluth’s Frozen Bannana stand at major cities around the world. The stand is, of course, a famous and beloved prop in the show, and it’s at the center of some of the show’s jokes and characters. 

    The banana stand visited several cities - even the show’s setting in Newport Beach, CA - just prior to the launch of the new episodes, and it looks like the stunt worked. Netflix hasn’t disclosed subscriber numbers, but shares of Netflix have more than doubled this year so far. 

    Though the giveaway worked well as is, AD’s marketing team could have employed branded promotional giveaways, such as Bluth brand napkins, cups and Popsicle sticks to achieve a greater effect. It would’ve given fans an opportunity to take home limited-edition souvenirs besides the happy memories, and those souvenirs could have boosted views of the new episodes as fans share and discuss the souvenirs with other fans of the show. Still, it’s a great concept, and it certainly worked. Never underestimate the power of a promotional giveaway. 

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