Ad Report Card: The Martin Agency’s new spots for Rosetta Stone

rosettaVirginia-based language instructional company Rosetta Stone is no stranger to effective ads. For years the company ran a print spot in the New Yorker with ad copy that ran, “He was a hard-working farm boy. She was an Italian supermodel. He knew he would have just one chance to impress her.”

Not bad.

But the Martin Agency has come aboard and expanded that approach for the language company, which has its headquarters in Northern Virginia and another office near Harrisonburg.

“We began talking with Rosetta Stone in spring of last year about strategy,” said Jason Komulainen, a Martin Agency vice president and creative director. “They were looking for a way to redesign their brand. … What we wanted to get across was the idea of loving to learn a language.”

The new commercials ditched the farm boy in favor of some dude in his mid-20s who looks a bit like a hipster who has decided to make a career for himself, trading in his tight black jeans and Flaming Lips T-shirt for tight black slacks with an earth-tone sweater and a cream-colored sports coat.

The series of three spots has the young man meeting with some of the old venues for learning language: a strict high school Spanish teacher (watch it here) wearing a spinster-esque sweater, a repetitive language tape announcer (watch it here) and a snooze-inducing Latin professor, (here) who is also wearing a sweater. (Apparently sweaters are out.)

Through various encounters, the young hipster conducts interviews with his contact. Each encounter illustrates why learning a language can suck. The Spanish teacher is mean, the language tape announcer can’t respond to questions and the Latin professor is so mind-numbingly boring that it puts our hipster friend to sleep.

The message is clear: Rosetta Stone isn’t just for career-minded middle-aged people anymore. Rosetta Stone is edgy and youth oriented.

“In our research, we found that they had tremendous success in the 50-plus, 40-plus male demographic,” he said. “So we were definitely trying to aim at a younger audience.”

The new campaign (called “Disruption”) was designed to generate buzz and new interest around the product. In other words, the software isn’t just useful, it’s also cool.

The BizSense Grade: A-. This is a smart campaign. The language tape announcer was a particularly funny. The only thing I’m docking points for is that, in the post-Borat and Bruno world we live in, the funny interview thing is no longer original. Komulainen said that wasn’t intentional and I take him at his word.

I still would have liked to see the original print spots developed as TV ads. Does the farm boy get the model?

David Larter covers marketing and advertising for BizSense. Please send news tips or possible ad report card spots to [email protected].

rosettaVirginia-based language instructional company Rosetta Stone is no stranger to effective ads. For years the company ran a print spot in the New Yorker with ad copy that ran, “He was a hard-working farm boy. She was an Italian supermodel. He knew he would have just one chance to impress her.”

Not bad.

But the Martin Agency has come aboard and expanded that approach for the language company, which has its headquarters in Northern Virginia and another office near Harrisonburg.

“We began talking with Rosetta Stone in spring of last year about strategy,” said Jason Komulainen, a Martin Agency vice president and creative director. “They were looking for a way to redesign their brand. … What we wanted to get across was the idea of loving to learn a language.”

The new commercials ditched the farm boy in favor of some dude in his mid-20s who looks a bit like a hipster who has decided to make a career for himself, trading in his tight black jeans and Flaming Lips T-shirt for tight black slacks with an earth-tone sweater and a cream-colored sports coat.

The series of three spots has the young man meeting with some of the old venues for learning language: a strict high school Spanish teacher (watch it here) wearing a spinster-esque sweater, a repetitive language tape announcer (watch it here) and a snooze-inducing Latin professor, (here) who is also wearing a sweater. (Apparently sweaters are out.)

Through various encounters, the young hipster conducts interviews with his contact. Each encounter illustrates why learning a language can suck. The Spanish teacher is mean, the language tape announcer can’t respond to questions and the Latin professor is so mind-numbingly boring that it puts our hipster friend to sleep.

The message is clear: Rosetta Stone isn’t just for career-minded middle-aged people anymore. Rosetta Stone is edgy and youth oriented.

“In our research, we found that they had tremendous success in the 50-plus, 40-plus male demographic,” he said. “So we were definitely trying to aim at a younger audience.”

The new campaign (called “Disruption”) was designed to generate buzz and new interest around the product. In other words, the software isn’t just useful, it’s also cool.

The BizSense Grade: A-. This is a smart campaign. The language tape announcer was a particularly funny. The only thing I’m docking points for is that, in the post-Borat and Bruno world we live in, the funny interview thing is no longer original. Komulainen said that wasn’t intentional and I take him at his word.

I still would have liked to see the original print spots developed as TV ads. Does the farm boy get the model?

David Larter covers marketing and advertising for BizSense. Please send news tips or possible ad report card spots to [email protected].

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sandy banks
sandy banks
14 years ago

Great article but back to Rosetta Stones real problem….There are too many people out there who have either purchased the system or received the free trial disc and “word of mouth” is the system is NOT the best way to learn Italian. It’s the word of mouth killing sales.

Michel Nizon
Michel Nizon
14 years ago

When the majority of your turn over is coming from US schools, laughing at your customers teachers is not the best way to increase your business. The teacher is not the enemy of e-learning materials, they are just the only one to know how to integrate new technology in teaching and training.

Jamie
Jamie
14 years ago

From Article: “I still would have liked to see the original print spots developed as TV ads. Does the farm boy get the model?” That actually was made as a TV ad and ran for quite a while last year. It was one of Rosetta most popular ad’s (second only to Micheal Phelps) And in response to the Language Teacher that posted above attempting to save face…it may not be that the teachers are the enemy. It’s understandable that they are forced to stick to the curriculum given to them. But they have to understand that what they are doing… Read more »

Michel Nizon
Michel Nizon
14 years ago

Hi Jamie,

Saying that teachers who are not using Rosetta Stone are doomed looks like blackmail! Certainly not the best way to advocate your cause…
I’m not a language teacher, just a e-learning publisher that thinks that you can’t teach a language solely with a computer like your ads would like all of us to believe.

Jeff
Jeff
14 years ago

I’d like to see Rosetta run the same ad, but the other way around + model photo: “She was an Italian supermodel. He was a hard-working farm boy. She knew she would have just one chance to impress him.”