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Olympics Campaigns: Winners in the Cute, Lucky and Oddball Competitions

I get all warm and fuzzy watching those gold-filtered Visa ads voiced by Morgan Freeman, but the editorial team here at ChasNote prefers campaigns that take more creative risks. Here are a few that would land on the podium if “cutest product placement” or “weirdest TV commercial” were Olympic events.

In that first category gold goes to Mini. Those one-fourth-sized mini Minis that retrieve javelins, discuses and hammers are even more adorable than the full-sized cars — and the concept is consistent with the smaller-is-better positioning that’s long been the core of Mini messaging. (More info and pictures at NOTCOT.) But as far as product placement goes, it’s rather subtle. Almost too subtle, eh?

Others complain that International Olympic Committee is violating its own rules prohibiting advertising on the field of play. From Eurosport:

The remote-controlled cars whizzing around the athletics stadium have triggered branding questions. The Olympic venues at the London Games are supposed to be strictly ad-free, but the use of the distinctive cars appears to be blatant advertising. The International Olympic Committee ensures adverts or logos of products are not visible in the fields of play in line with its Olympic Charter despite sponsors paying hundreds of millions of dollars to be associated with the Games. The Minis, made by German car manufacturer BMW who is also a Games sponsor, may not carry visible logos but are instantly recognisable for what they are.

(Credit: From the Facebook page of VividSeats.)

In the “wow, that worked out well” category, we’re going with McDonalds and the widely-covered remark by Usain Bolt, when he filled us in on the dietary regimen of the world’s fastest man on race day: “I had some plaintains, some hash browns, fruit, then a wrap from McDonald’s. For lunch I had rice and pork and some apple juice.” Was that exceptionally good luck, or just the product of making darn good wraps?

In the “weirdest TV commercial” competition we decided against awarding medals. If that weren’t the case, though, Ragu would take the big prize. The preferred pasta sauce for kids who are traumatized by watching their parents have sex?! Oh my. That’s just a terribly conceived ad.

US Drivers Bought Only 469 Smart Cars Last Month

Smart sold 2,556 Smart Cars in the first half of 2011, which is 25% fewer than the sold in the first half of 2010. In July its new owner, Mercedes-Benz USA, launched a TV campaign for the brand. “The approach may be working,” says Mediapost, “Smart reported an uptick last month versus last September: 469 ForTwo cars delivered, compared to 422 vehicles sold in September 2010.” A new spot launched earlier this week.

But you sort of have to wonder — is TV advertising the right approach for a car company that sells fewer than 6,000 cars a year? MINI sold that many cars in the US in a single month, just 3 months after its North American launch in 2002. And MINI spent a mere $13 million that year, none of it on TV.

BMW’s Very Long Banner

BMW's Very Long Banner Ad

According to Bannerblog, this BMW X3 banner is the world’s longest. I can’t verify that, since I didn’t make it all the way to the bottom, nor have I taken the time to scroll through and measure other absurdly large banner ads. I’ll have to trust that the patient people at Bannerblog did their homework.

Conversational Marketing, Billboard to Billboard

From 37 Signals:

BMW v Audi billboards

“Brilliant move by a local BMW dealer in responding to a national Audi ad. Audi’s 2009 A4 ad on the left side of the street says ‘Your move, BMW.’ Santa Monica BMW comes back with an M3 ad across the street that says ‘Checkmate.’”

MIXX Awards Honor American Express, BMW, Others

It makes me proud that FM had a hand in two campaigns that won awards from MIXX tonight. Amex won gold in the Brand Awareness and Positioning category, and BMW won silver in Direct Response and Lead Generation.

HP Print Ads Give Computer-Skin Contest Scale

At least twice a week I hear some variation of this question: “Gee, that conversational-marketing stuff is cool, but how does it scale?”

HP’s computer-skin design contest offers one answer. Back in September HP put out a call to artists who’d be interested in designing a notebook “skin” for an HP Pavillion, and 8,500 creations were submitted. HP then featured the winning design (by Joao Oliverira) in print ads to take the “Computer Is Personal Again” message to a significantly larger audience. Here it is, ripped from July’s issue of Wired:

HP ad in July 2008 Wired Magazine

Other examples: BMW, Dell, Haagen-Dazs and Intel sponsored Graffiti contests in Facebook.

Forrester's Owyang Calls BMW Drawing Contest Best of Social Network Marketing, 2008

Among Jeremiah Owyang’s Best and Worst Social Network Marketing round up, BMW’s Graffiti drawing contest in Facebook gets the top score.

BMW Submissions

Thanks, Jeremiah!

I Think ValleyWag Likes BMW Graffiti Drawing Contest, I Think

Hey, thanks, ValleyWag!

If it makes you uncomfortable to read mention of FM on ValleyWag without middle-fingers raised in the Battelle Salute, here you go.

Brazell’s Battelle Salute

FM’s Bill Brazell demonstrating Battelle Salute.

More on the BMW 1-Series Graffiti contest in Facebook here.

Bloggers Still Talking About BMW's Graffiti Contest on Facebook

Including’s KickingTires blog:

KickingTires BMW

Slideshow of BWM Graffiti Art in Facebook