March 12, 2007
Two Interesting Ad Campaigns: Ink Is It and I Hate Steven Singer

I wanted to write briefly this morning about two ad campaigns that have been brought to my attention that I thought were both very creative in their own way. Both operate through storytelling, display quite a bit of creativity, and, while I don't know enough about either campaign and its reception to declare them a success, I certainly think they SOUND headed in the right direction, Kodak's InkIsIt and a longstanding example, the jewelry store campaign "I Hate Steven Singer."

First is the Kodak "Ink Is It" campaign, from the same guys who brought us Mr. McMahon's Ass (not the actual body part, but the cartoon), Animax Entertainment. Actually, I didn't really hear of this new ad campaign virally, as Animax contacted C3 to let us know about the new project based on our interest in their bizarre transmedia cartoon work for the WWE.

In this case, the campaign focuses on the KODAK EASYSHARE, for which black ink cartridges are only $9.99 and 5-ink color is only $14.99.

The ad campaign focuses on a strange couple of characters, Nathan Bannigann and Maxwell Bluum (perhaps a Producers fan in the mix?) These two are printing fanatics who have their own low-rent show called Ink Is It, distributed through YouTube. The two love printing and talk about what they print and how much they love to do it but are crippled by the expensive cost of ink these days. Unaware of the Kodak Easyshare, the two continually try to find ways to create new ways to make their habit cheaper, including refilling cartridges, or even getting squids from the ocean and extracting the ink oneself. Their video podcast is currently on its fourth installment.

The site also includes a blog from the two characters and their game, Ink Blaster.

On their official announcement of the campaign, Animax points out that this is their first venture "into the live-action arena."

I saw at MyBlogLog that there were 37 people listed as part of the InkIsIt community, so I'm assuming that this is gaining some degree of steam from viewers. The videos are funny, and the actors involved are great as the super-serious but unaware Max and Nathan.

Meanwhile, those in the Philadelphia area may know about the "I Hate Steven Singer" campaign that has been getting quite a bit of attention in its own right over the past three years or so. The jewelry store bought billboard space on I-95 that just featured the message "I Hate Steven Singer" and a URL. This went up in 2004, I believe.

According to a comment from back in August 2004, the legend goes that a local actor stopped by the Steven Singer jewelry store and explained that he had bought a ring for his wife of 23 years, and nine months later they had a baby. "Steele dropped by the shop to share his success story and blame Steven Singer for all the sleepless nights associated with a baby. Singer took the backhanded compliment and made it a focal point of the new reverse-psychology ad campaign."

The 184 comments to the post have stretched into 2007, with some people feeling that an anti-yourself campaign is detrimental to business, while others believe the cleverness is attention-grabbing.

There's much better analysis than the off-the-cuff reaction I could provide, as part of Indrajit "Jay" Sinha's new book Reverse Psychology Marketing: The Death of Traditional Marketing and the Rise of the New "Pull" Game. Sinha, a professor at Temple's Fox School of Business, uses the "I Hate Steven Singer" campaign as one of his examples.

My cousin and his wife were driving up from Kentucky to visit here in Cambridge and passed the billboard on the way. They were so curious, they looked up the URL when they got here. Don't know how much that helps business in Philly, but the campaign is getting attention from folks just traveling through.