Dec 6

Tim O'Reilly

Tim O'Reilly

Advertising Homage to the DIY Spirit

Nick Dragotta, the illustrator of Howtoons, just sent a pointer to an absolutely lovely advertising video about a little nerd girl who builds a rocket to go visit Santa. It's a lovely homage to the DIY spirit celebrated in Howtoons, as well as in the pages of Make.

Nick found the video via a post on Adverganza entitled JC Penney Ads Rock While Sales Suck. Catherine P. Taylor, the author of the post, wrote:

There are many small details that make this ad extraordinary—that the girl would never be cast for a Pottery Barn Kids catalog, that she wears her prettiest party dress when she's getting in her rocket ship to prepare for her meeting with Santa. And then there's the music. Lots of people know I'm a complete curmudgeon when it comes to the use of Beatles tunes in commercials, but this time, I'm, well, changing my tune. The commercial uses the John Lennon tune "Real Love" and it's used so perfectly that it's obvious great pains were taken to choreograph the action to the song, rather than it just being thrown haphazardly into the mix. He might not even have minded its use. But, as for JC Penney's sales, they decreased "dramatically" in September and October according to this story in Mediapost. Whatever the retailer does to fix its woes, I hope it doesn't include firing the ad agency. No company is going to get better advertising than this.

I can't agree more. I wish that Penneys sold something I wanted to buy. And as the comments on Catherine's post note, the ad, however wonderful, doesn't solve Penney's real problem: getting people into the stores. Therein lies a conundrum.

I'm reminded of a meeting I had in 1995, after we'd sold GNN to AOL. Dale Dougherty and Lisa Gansky and I met with the head of AOL's direct marketing efforts (yes, the woman who carpeted the world with AOL diskettes.) We were complaining about the garish CDs they were planning to use to promote their version of GNN. She scattered about 50 diskette mailers on the table, and asked us which ones we liked. After we'd picked a few, she said, "Now let me show you the ones that worked..."

tags: diy, make  | comments: 6   | Sphere It

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Comments: 6

  Michael R. Bernstein [12.06.07 08:08 AM]

"I wish that Penneys sold something I wanted to buy."

J.C. Penney sells nicely constructed flannel and chamois (ie. solid-color non-plaid flannel) shirts that I'm a sucker for. They might appeal to you too.

  Maurice [12.07.07 03:37 AM]

Nice spot, but the "I wish that Penneys sold something I wanted to buy." comment is very true. Last time I bought something at J.C. Penney was a couple of plain white t-shirts 6 years ago - but only because I did not know where the next Walmart is.

  Siri Dhyan Singh [12.07.07 10:40 AM]

Some of the best 100% cotton Tees around! :P Their boxer briefs are quite comfortable as well.

  Dan [12.07.07 02:26 PM]

Saw the ad on TV last night. Unfortunately, they had truncated it down to 30 seconds or somesuch, discarding the story's development, and losing every bit of magic as a result. Another reason not to blame the folks who made this lovely video.

  Eugene [12.08.07 10:35 AM]

This commercial reminds me of the movie Radio Flyer and evokes the same conflicting emotions in me of sadness and fantasy.

  Jason Coleman [12.10.07 12:11 PM]

I had only seen the short edit spot for that on television, so thanks for posting the entire commercial.

I couldn't agree more about what a great ad it is and just about every time it airs I find myself turning to my wife with a bit of a tear in my eye and I'd be thankful if our daughter ends up being half the odd little genius this commercial depicts.

I'm not entirely sure that the commercial or its theme has much of anything to do with Penny's, but I'll probably go out of my way to buy some underwear or socks there solely as a result of this commercial.

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