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mY Ad Report Card: Cheapbooks.com Biosphere

July 21, 2009

In case you didn’t read my previous edition of mY Ad Report Card check out:  mY review of Audrina Patridge’s Carl’s Junior Spot.

Who: cheapbooks.com

What: “Biosphere” spot

Where: Who knows

When: Present Time

Y:  I have no clue…

No seriously… What is this?

I’m not going to pull any punches here.  This commercial is terrible.  But, let’s look at this objectively and see what they did well (gulp).

Cheapbooks tried to direct this to Gen Y and Gen Y only as textbooks are mainly bought by college students (Gen Yers).  They used many young people in the spot, including Syrus (who we’ll get into later) who was on The Real World and other MTV shows. A high percentage of Gen Y did watch The Real World in junior/high school. We watched these shows, but I don’t think Gen Y looked up to those people as opinion leaders.  Especially random individuals like Syrus.

They tried to get someone that Gen Y would recognize and relate to.  I’ll give them that.  But, he is a pretty obscure Gen Y celebrity (and believe me calling him a celebrity is a stretch).

Let’s see, one thing they did well was pick their site name.  “Cheapbooks” is a very self-explanatory name.  You know they sell books, cheaply.  This about all they did well.

Now lets get into where they could have improved.  Let the laundry list begin.

First, lets start with Syrus.  Yes he was on MTV, yes those MTV Gen Yers will probably recognize him, and yes he still is a terrible spokesperson.

He has no real credibility in anything, especially selling books.  Why should I listen to Syrus from The Real World on where to buy my books?  It’s simple: I shouldn’t.

Lets also look at Syrus’s pervious works.  He was on: The Real World, a couple of Real World/Road Rules Challenges, and what else… Oh yea, he was a guest host of Girls Gone Wild.

If I have a company, I would think twice about having a spokesperson that was hired by a man who exploits drunk girls at parties and sells the recordings to the masses on DVD.  GGW doesn’t really have the best reputation out there and, if you host a GGW DVD encouraging girls to flash the camera, or do other nude activities your reputation isn’t the best either.

I also don’t know what happened in the editing room.  Was the first recording so bad that they had to dub the whole commercial like a bad Japanese Godzilla film?  The actors clearly didn’t say one word of the commercial live.  The quality of the commercial looks like something I could make on my Blackberry.  Gen Y, being the techno savvy generation they are are not impressed at all by this kind of work.  When I first saw the commercial on TV my jaw dropped, I could not believe they would put it on the air.

Lets talk about the messaging… Wait, what messaging.  From what I understand Guy A has room in his back yard.  Syrus says he should build a biosphere.  Guy A says he doesn’t “even know what that is”.  Syrus says get the book and build in… Cheapbooks.com BAM!

What writing, what strategic messaging.

Who wrote this commercial?  Coco the chimp?  I am almost speechless about every aspect of this spot.  It is the most unprofessional, brand damaging commercial I think I have ever seen.

All these factors made this spot extremely memorable, because it was so bad. This spot is so bad that I can’t really say anything else about it.

All I know is that Gen Y should be ashamed that cheapbooks thought that this spot would be a good way to target them.  Yes, Gen Y is college age now; yes, they buy lots of books, but in no way is this a way to target Gen Y to use your service.

Gen Y who prides itself on efficiency, innovation, quality and knowledge should find this spot offensive.  Maybe I am missing something.  If I am, please comment on this post, I would love to hear what everyone has to say about this.

Gen Y Grade (Value to Gen Y)

Product: 8.5

Messaging: 2

Entertainment: 2

Persuasiveness: 2

Recognition of Product: 8

Total Score: 4.5 – Way to go Cheapbooks, I have a feeling it will be a long time until we find a commercial with a lower score

Now excuse me when I go buy books… from Amazon

Follow Todd on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/toddliss

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 21, 2009 2:27 pm

    but yet you wrote about it in your blog.

  2. J. Scott permalink
    July 21, 2009 2:43 pm

    Regarding textbooks, I always use http://www.bigwords.com for my textbook needs. They are a textbook search engine that search all the online retailers to find you the cheapest prices on your textbooks. It’s actually pretty cool.

  3. Jeff Sherwood permalink
    July 31, 2009 11:43 am

    here’s what I don’t understand. isn’t the biosphere bit only HALF of the commercial? so technically you only reviewed the first/last 15 seconds of a 30 second commercial, didn’t you?

  4. hey me permalink
    August 23, 2009 8:05 pm

    Contrary to what you believe, the ad is not targeted to “Gen Y”. The ads are general-audience ads. There are at least 10 in the series, each about a specific book genre (like home improvement or travel).

    And no, the words are not supposed to line up with the video. If you watch all the videos you will clearly hear words when their lips are not moving for extended periods of time.

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