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Ad Review: Caterpillar, Ogilvy Craft Cool B-to-B Spot

Video Delivers Joy, Product Attributes and Over a Million Views

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Advertising Age Player

This review is not an attempt to get the good folks at Caterpillar and Ogilvy to invite me over for a game of back-hoe Jenga.

But, man, wouldn't that be cool? Because, let me tell you, playing Jenga with industrial moving equipment looks really cool. Don't believe me? Pull up Caterpillar's "Built for It Trial #1: Stack."

Just as in b-to-c, not all b-to-b products are created equal. The most brilliant ad-agency creatives in the world probably couldn't make payroll software seem the least bit cool. And, in the wrong hands, earth-moving equipment can be made to seem pretty boring, too.

After all, in reality, these mighty beasts do little more than, like that dumb jock in the Planet Fitness commercial, "lift things up and put them down."

But not in this spot, which is set at someplace called the Caterpillar Testing Facility EDLC127 in Edwards, Ill. Viewers are treated to the ad's stars -- the Cat 320E, Cat TH514C, Cat 277D, Cat M316D and Cat 349E -- spinning and playing Jenga, backed by the epic "In the Hall of the Mountain King" as the soundtrack.

Now, some might argue that "cool" is irrelevant to b-to-b advertising for construction equipment. Those people are wrong. The video was posted to YouTube on April 7 and had 1.5 million views and 965 comments by the middle of last week. Sprint's "Meet the Frobinsons," a b-to-c effort backed by a national TV push, was posted March 23 and had 1.1 million views and 71 comments.

That means a large swath of people -- from children to shareholders to local-news anchors to potential consumers -- have seen it. Many of them may have gotten the warm-fuzzies. It's always good when shareholders and potential consumers get the warm-fuzzies. Just as it's always good when the child of a potential consumer comes running into the room screaming, "Holy crap! You gotta see this cool video. You use Caterpillar down at the job site, right?!"

Secondly, once you get past all those annoying feelings like joy and awe generated by the spot, you can see that it does manage to get across product attributes. This Caterpillar equipment, for as big and bulky as it looks, can be pretty damn precise and, in the right hands, do amazing things.

And so can good advertising.

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