The eBay Ad Campaign Has Begun: Will It Help?

Nov. 3.09 | About: eBay Inc. (EBAY)

Last week, eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) previewed one TV ad from its 'Come to think of it' campaign. Seller reaction was negative with an occasional positive of 'at least they are doing something this year' as you can see in the comments of that post.

Tuesday, eBay has a microsite up here, that shows off all of the new holiday ad campaigns. Here's the blurb used to introduce the campaign:

eBay isn’t just a marketplace for quirky old lamps. It is a fertile shopping ground full of deals on both premium-used and brand-new items. The mission of this campaign is to prove that eBay is THE place to get a deal. We did this in a compelling, funny, stand-out kind of way to get people thinking of eBay in a new way: as the smartest place to shop for deals on the new and old, high-end and bargain.

They are split into categories: TV, Web Videos, Print, Rich Media banners and Other banners. Let's briefly tour each.

Talent

There are three, well four, folks in the ads that are all up and coming comedians from Comedy Central.

  • Jim - Jim Gaffigan, has some CDs and DVDs out. He's got a dry sense of comedy and a good delivery.
  • Michaels - Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter. You can find their Comedy Central show details here and bios on the links.
  • Kevin - Kevin Hart - Stand up guy that tends to talk about his relationship stuff. This is a great video (safe for work).

Here's a funny sketch from the Michaels that will prime you for the eBay ads:

Michael & Michael Have Issues
Preview - Michael's Schedule
www.comedycentral.com
Joke of the Day Stand-Up Comedy Free Online Games
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

TV

There are three TV ad 'flavors':

  • Kevin - this is the guy whose wife got last year's dress at 40% off and now he's in chicken nugget hell. He has two ads - Dress and TV. Does anyone know if Kevin is a comedian or his full name?
    • Dress - we've talked this one to death
    • TV - I actually like this one, the cut to the TV is pretty darn funny (notice it covers the door frame), and I think all guys can relate to the wife saying: "why didn't you get a bigger one?" Tag line: "For deals on everything, big or small...Come to think of it, eBay"
  • Jim - There are four Jim spots.
  • Snowboard - pretty funny, guess he won't use it though as he doesn't even know what bindings are. Tag line: "For deals on sporting goods, come to think of it, eBay."
    • Gift -This one kind of slams homemade gifts - funny shot of him in the store with the snow mobile. Tag line: "For a better deal on better gifts, come to think of it, eBay." P.S. Granny smells bad.
    • Treadmill - I don't get this one, he got a treadmill he's not going to use? "For used stuff that's as good as new, come to think of it, eBay."
    • Vest - Vests are the thongs of coats. Tag line: "For new clothes for a lot less, come to think of it eBay."
  • The Michaels - There are two Michaels spots - they are both called Michael and seem familiar, but I can't place them - anyone know them?
    • Camera - This one is the funniest by far - I won't spoil it for you - it's about a digital camera, but that plays a supporting role. Tag line: "For the same stuff at better price...Come to think of it eBay."
    • Scuba - Pretty good, but not as good as other one. Tag line: "For a good price on great gear...Come to think of it, eBay."

Personally, I'd have to rate Michaels/Camera #1, Kevin/TV #2 and then they fall off from there. What do you think?

Web Videos

The web videos feature the same three folks (Kevin, Jim and the Michaels):

  • Kevin - Talks about kids love gadgets. Tag line: "Baby-proof your wallet, see great electronics deals" - note, no Come to think of it tagline, maybe it's in the surround or front/tail of the ad though that we don't see here.
  • Jim - Boat, DVD, Gifts, Toaster, Toothbrush - a series of 5 where Jim sits in a chair and rifs on various topics. These are pretty good if you get his dry sense of humor.
  • The Michaels - Bike, Mini fridge, headphones, gifts, video games

Print

There are seven different print ads - each featuring a product picture with a tag line in the bottom left with the 'come to think of it' tag at the end. For example, Jeans says "New designer jeans for fifty percent off still make your butt look completely amazing." Other products are purse, cookware, tv, mp3 player, drill and crib. The most snarky is the crib: "Your baby won't know it's last year's model. Babies don't know anything."

Rich Media banners and other banners (online)

The three rich media banners are pretty clever- this fashion one features a walking model and you can see pop outs of all the clothes she is wearing and then find that stuff on eBay. The other two are cookware (Mark Sullivan is chef) and mp3 player plays a Sydney Wayser song on a nondescript mp3 player.

The other banner ads are categorical and target: apparel, cameras, gifts, golf and cutlery with some clever little animations - for example you cut a tomato and pear with the virtual knife.

Conclusion

After seeing the complete campaign, the whole thing is growing on me. I'm still not a fan of the 'come to think of it' tag-line, but I do like that they are showing a very wide range of things here from new to used to refurb and golf, cutlery, apparel, etc. The comedians for the TV commercials were a nice touch and add some personality to things which should help get attention. The ads started running on 11/3 so we'll report in if we see any bump in traffic or transactions from the campaign. Readers, share your thoughts in comments.

Disclosure: I am long Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). eBay is an investor in ChannelAdvisor where I am CEO.