Archive for January, 2007

Dodge Nitro

Tuesday, 30 January 2007; 14:28

The Dodge Nitro may well be a very nice mid-sized SUV, but its online advertising is far from being as slick as glycerin. It doesn’t even come close to the excellence we saw with Audi. If the Audi Q7 site rates a nine or ten, then the most that can be awarded the Nitro site is a three.

What is the problem? Have American automobile manufacturers not only forgotten how to build cars, but also how to sell them? To The Distillery it certainly seems so. There is little wonder that American car builders now find themselves being displaced from the top by foreign-based car companies.

Dodge’s online multimedia advertising for the Nitro is sometimes irritating, invariably too loud, and frequently inconsistent. Also, far too much of it is the sort of advertising which is better suited for the television and not the internet. Dodge, in case you have somehow missed it, you are now using the internet to reach your target markets. Consumers are using it to make their purchase decisions. It is about time you fully recognized that and have your online content reflect a new awareness.

When will firms like Dodge understand that people will use the internet for information they cannot easily obtain elsewhere–or would like to obtain with a minimum of hassle and trouble? When will those firms recognize that at the stage of looking for online information, the consumer is in a state of high-involvement with the target product? 

Consumers not only want to be shown static pictures and occasionally be entertained with sound, but instead are looking for an online experience. In addition, they want cold hard facts. The Distillery’s advice to Dodge: Flatter Audi and imitate its superb efforts.

Home page:  Dodge Nitro


“Let it out.” (Kleenex)

Friday, 26 January 2007; 11:42

When was the last time you laughed so hard that you cried? Kleenex wants to know and also wants you to post your associated pictures or videos. (There’s nothing like consumer-generated content for one’s site. Just ask YouTube.) Not only is this Kleenex site interactive, but it is also participatory. (Yes, there is a difference.)

One of the things The Distillery especially likes is the way Kleenex absconded with the YouTube model and streams its own videos instead of placing them on YouTube. A number of other firms should follow that lead. The difference is like having a Hotmail e-mail address vs. an e-mail address with your own domain name. The latter is simply more professional and business-like.

The Distillery likes the Kleenex site. Not only will you find the above, but with a few additional clicks one runs into multimedia content for Kleenex’s new oval-shaped tissues. Questions: Might they be a product variation that consumers didn’t even know they wanted? Might they be a true nasal-technology breakthrough? Or, might Kleenex simply be making noise and blowing its nose by offering consumers a “new and improved” Kleenex? (Oops, make that Kleenex brand tissue. The Distillery wouldn’t want to dilute the Kleenex brand name.) 

Home page:  “Let it out” (Kleenex)
Videos:  “Let it out”
Home page:  Kleenex Oval Tissues


Audi Q7 Globe

Thursday, 25 January 2007; 10:16

Overall, the entire Audi web site is excellent. However, The Distillery will today focus only on Audi’s Q7 Globe automobile. It comes with a V-12 engine and plenty of ground clearance. Supposedly, this is a car for anywhere on the planet. (Does anyone remember when Audi made decidedly boring cars?)

If the automobile is even half as impressive as the Audi Q7 Globe micro-site, it is quite the car. Its web site does almost everything extremely well. It is engaging, interactive, has a virtual human host, different bandwidths, sound on/off, and even offers a downloadable freebie via a video clip of the site’s theme song by Carla Vallet.

Yes, the people at Audi and its advertising agency worked very hard at making this one of the best examples of online advertising for a specific product that The Distillery has seen to date. Explore around and enjoy. Kudos galore to Audi and its Q7 Globe. (Oh, and while you are there, also have a look at the Audi Videocast. It includes footage from motor shows and vehicles other than the Q7.)

Home page:  Audi
Home page (micro-site):  Audi Q7 Globe


John Edwards for President

Tuesday, 23 January 2007; 13:10

Somewhere between the very well-designed site of Senator Clinton and the relatively sparse site of Senator Obama is the web site of presidential hopeful, Senator John Edwards. And quite frankly, The Distillery does not like the John Edwards site. Why? It looks very old-fashioned in terms of current web design. (Maybe Edwards’ people should talk to Clinton’s people about that.)

In addition, there is little true integration of video content into the overall design of the site. Instead we find a now too-often-seen page of video links. On the other hand, we do find Senator Edwards holding a live online video discussion on January 24th, following the President’s State of the Union address.

In sum, Senator Edwards’ site falls somewhere in between that of his previously mentioned challengers, Senators Obama and Clinton. Were these Democrats’ web sites to determine our next President, Hillary Clinton would win hands-down, but with Senator Edwards occupying the chair of now Vice-President Dick Cheney. (Hey, it’s a given that the Republicans have shot themselves in the feet the past few years. That said, The Distillery is predicting a Democrat landslide come 2008.)

By the way, those of you looking for a more Republican and less liberal view of politics and the world should definitely visit Be certain to tell him SippinWhisky sent you.

Home page:  John Edwards for President


Barack Obama (for President?)

Tuesday, 23 January 2007; 11:16

Oprah loves him. (Isn’t that enough to become President?) He is almost the quintessential American having a home village back in Africa, but having risen to a powerful United States senatorial position in a very short time and at a relatively young age. (Note: His father is actually from the African village, but Senator Obama–his son–is warmly welcomed there as one of their own.) And, most importantly, there has been much speculation about his running for President in 2008.

To gauge the measure of that speculation vs. reality, Senator Obama has created a web site to explore his options and possibilities. However, how does it stack up against who may be his major competitor, Senator Clinton? Quite frankly, although a decent effort, Senator Obama’s web presence is easily trumped by the efforts of Senator Clinton and her team.

Yes, there is an explanatory video at his site. However, different from Senator Clinton, Senator Obama appears not to have fully committed a significant measure of his (possible) campaign to the internet. Although there is not the feeling of his site being incomplete, it does not have the overall integration of design and interactivity found at Senator Clinton’s site. Is that a shortcoming? Maybe or maybe not.

As at his competitor’s site, we do find video about Senator Obama. And again, we find video discussing his possible presidential bid. That is the extent of it. Might I suggest that Senator Obama look closely at one of his most important target audiences and observe their changing information acquisition habits? A greater and more complete web presence is needed for younger voters and possibly some older voters now disenchanted with the current administration. That said, it is still early. Let’s keep an eye on Senator Obama’s site. I suspect “his people” will not be long in recognizing their oversight and mistakes.

Home page:  Barack Obama – Obama Exploratory Committee


Hillary for President

Tuesday, 23 January 2007; 8:57

This is indeed a very different era. We are witnessing changes with politics and the internet as profound was the first televised presidential candidate debate between Nixon and Kennedy. We now have at least three presidential candidates who first disclosed their presidential aspirations via not traditional media outlets, but the internet instead. Of those using the internet, let us first look at Senator and former First Lady, Hillary Clinton.

In a nutshell, Hillary’s people fully get the internet. Senator Clinton’s web site is replete with video and interactivity. In fact, video can be found on every page of the section About Hillary. And, we’re not seeing rehashed TV commercials, either. We’re witnessing a true understanding of the internet and its audiences. It appears we can take Senator Clinton at her word. She is not only beginning a bid for President, but even now is having a “conversation with the American people.” Yes, Hillary gets the internet–and The Distillery’s vote.

Home page:


The North Face & The N.F. Endurance 50

Sunday, 14 January 2007; 21:56

Dean Karnazes would make Forrest Gump and the late Jim Fixx proud. After running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 consecutive days (a.k.a. The North Face Endurance 50), he is now running another 3,000 miles across America to get back home. That indeed is endurance.

And, the same can be said for every North Face product I own. My North Face raincoat is now almost 30 years old–after a few lifetime warranty replacements. My North Face luggage is 25 years old and going strong. The same can be said for my North Face sleeping bag. Endurance and The North Face are one.

After you have watched Dean’s video. Then trot on over to The North Face TV. There you will find an abundance of multimedia advertising which also showcases the wonders of nature, the limits of human beings in nature, and some great gear to survive Mother Nature. (The video of the guy skiing just ahead of a huge avalanche is quite amazing. An avalanche right on your butt has to be a major incentive to remain upright and get to the bottom ASAP!)

Home page:  The North Face
Home page:  The North Face Endurance 50
Home page:  The North Face TV


Level One Design

Sunday, 14 January 2007; 21:07

You will first need to download and install the Virtools 3D Life Player. Afterward, enjoy the 3D design work of the Netherlands design firm, Level One Design. Using your mouse, go ahead and play by dragging the image around. And, be certain to click on the little red button. Nice work, eh? Nice background music, too.

(You know, there may be a good living for a few excellent composers in writing short, but unique background compositions as content-rich and music-themed web sites continue to develop. The music we will see being written might one day be the online equivalent of the now well-known TV jingle.)

Home page:  Level One Design 


Wednesday, 10 January 2007; 18:35

There is something very wrong, and possibly a little evil (and definitely indicative of cluelessness) in advertising when the only multimedia content at a corporate web site (i.e., KFC) is targeted toward kids. Shame on you Col. Sanders.

(And that’s all I have to say about that. ~Forrest Gump)

Home page:  KFC



Wednesday, 10 January 2007; 12:25

Every once in a while, The Distillery finds something done quite right. For example, if your firm is determined to use rehashed TV commercials as its online multimedia content, then let Hardee’s show you how to do it–put them on TV! Even The Distillery cannot complain when such a novel approach is taken. Look and learn.

Beyond that, we find a wealth of other engaging content. Register to win a Harley-Davidson–in return for your e-mail address and future spam. You’ll find Paris Hilton’s phone number. (Not really, I suspect.) Play games, either Burger Time or Burger Invaders. And, there are dollar-off coupons for a couple of Hardee’s food products.

In sum, Hardee’s has a superb, engaging, and content-rich site. The firm is clearly in step with its fairly wide range of target audiences. You’ll find a little something for everyone, and all done quite well. Congratulations to a firm originally from my own home state of North Carolina. (One more thing as a lesson for others–pay attention to the little sounds throughout the site. Although many are just barely audible, they make a huge perceptual difference.)

Home page: Hardee’s


Wednesday, 10 January 2007; 11:39

A single opening page with multimedia does not make a rich content site. Neither does a rehashed 30-second TV advertisement. It seems many firms think that, Armitron being one of them. 

However, at least Armitron goes further than its better known competitor, Timex, to provide at least some online sights and sounds. On the other hand, the holiday season is now over and so should be Armitron’s promotions related to it.  There’s nothing like out-dating your corporate web site out of sheer inattention. It is time to reset your watch and get going for Valentine’s Day, Armitron.

Home page:  Armitron

Eurofighter Typhoon

Tuesday, 9 January 2007; 14:30

War seems to be good business these days. Maybe that is why we see bona fide fighter aircraft being sold online as if they were only Matchbox toys. Although it cannot be the case, one could think simply pulling out a credit card and paying a few million dollars will place a Eurofighter Typhoon in your driveway.

As all who have taken basic marketing know, there are several roles in the purchasing process. For example, we have influencers and decision-makers, among others. That then begs the question for which role was the low-tech game Blue Sky One designed? And, it is not the only game at the web site. Strangely, there are several. Might they be for the children of evil despots looking to buy planes for their governments? Might they be for a President who enjoys playing war? Regardless, The Distillery is having a rough time determining what children’s games are doing in the middle of a web site designed to sell weapons of destruction. (Or, in the case of some opinions–weapons of democracy.)

That strange finding aside, we do discover quite a number of superb Typhoon videos at the web site. Several are essentially small movie productions (e.g., Nothing Comes Close), and are quite excellent. It seems the international arms trade is not to be left behind as the internet and online marketing mature. Almost all of the videos are of significant size so be patient as you wait for them to download and play. However, each is also offered in low- and high-bandwidth versions. Enjoy.

Home page:  Eurofighter Typhoon