Not anywhere near as smart as Burger King's Subservient Chicken, Heineken's Crystal Light has launched Netherlands-based Ask Crystal, an online talk show type program where you can ask Crystal questions.
Unfortunately, she's not half as smart as our chicken friend and delivers only canned asnwers and mindless commentary. Next.
Levi's puts the spotlight on 6 creative individuals who are independently expressing their personal vision and allowing them to share stories that aim to inspire a wider audience to believe in themselves. (Yes, that did come form a press release) Two websites, www.501anti-fit.se and www.anti-fit.no, promote the project along with a DVD and street marketing. As is usual with these campaigns, the work and the accompanying videos are ethereal and sub-culturally hip which brands love to try and capture and identify with. For us, we prefer the "buy our jeans" approach. It takes less work and it's easier to say no to.
A subject near and dear to our hearts is the portrayal of dads and men as blithering idiots in television commercials. The trend has been around for a long time and now there's an advocacy group speaking out against the practice. The group, Dad's and Daughters which, in some circles, could be construed to stand for something very different than healthy father/daughter relationships, is furious over a recent Verizon DSL ad which features a computer-clueless Dad trying to help his daughter with her homework online. In the ad, he gets shoed away by his wife as he looks over his daughter's shoulders.
"It's really outrageous," said Joe Kelly, executive director of the national advocacy group Dads and Daughters. "It's reflective of some deeply entrenched cultural attitudes - that fathers are second-class parents, that they're not really necessary. To operate from the assumption that Dad is a dolt is harmful to fathers, harmful to children and harmful to mothers." Of course the counter argument is that it's simply a joke and advocacy groups like this one should just learn to have a sense of humor. Afterall, we're just paying dues for all those years we gave women the bimbo treatment, right? Verizon has maintained a bit of a backbone following complaints. "All we can say at this point is we're looking at it," said Verizon spokesman John Bonomo.
"We take our feedback and customer comments quite seriously. We're obviously dismayed that some customers find one of our commercials offensive."
Verizon in running a similar spot for their phones which shows a Dad giving his two daughters new phones and saying, "Now we can all talk together" to which his daughters grin and groan until his wife pipes in and says "and it has "in" so you can talk to your friends as long as you want" getting a much more positive response from the daughters.
Jossip lends its unique use of the English language to call attention to the sad state of reality television by pitting NBC's The Biggest Loser host Caroline Rhea and UPN's America's Next Top Model host Tyra Banks against each other in a running for the best Reality Host Misfit.
On Wednesday morning, the third day of AD:TECH, with exhibitor booths gone, registration area removed and carpets lifted, the Hilton started to look like a hotel again rather than the glorious concentration of smart marketers it became for a few days. As is usual on the third day of the conference, only sessions are held which brought the number of attendees down to less than 1,000.
Walking through meeting room area of the hotel, one wondered if AD:TECH actually happened. Signage for other conferences was up. Walking without arms colliding with inappropriate body parts was possible. And a sense of loneliness hung in the air as friends and associates headed across the country back to their respective cities and homes. We eagerly look forward to seeing them all again in April at AD:TECH San Francisco.
The final day's AD:TECH keynote was given by Creative Artists Agency Entertainment Division CEO Mike Windsor and Berlin Cameron Managing Partner Avi Dan. The thrust of the talk centered on the now common theme of consumer control and the wane of traditional media. While Windsor prognosticated the death of mass “push” media and the rise of involvement and conversation marketing, Dan, while agreeing mass marketing has seen its day, claims the :30 is still a viable ad unit.
Windsor began by citing a dramatic rise in spend on alternative marketing offering the Hollister, Lounge 22 in store concerts and the ilovebees campaign for the online game Halo which required people to solve a mystery using both on and offline methods as examples. Windsor also advocated a focus on creating passion for a brand using the TiVo-Sex and the City example, even while acknowledging that was not a paid placement. As part of embracing passion-based marketing, Windsor told marketers to listen and understand their own customer's passions and cater to those passions. Passion begets passion. Windsor said brands that cater to consumers passions will fare better in the consumer controlled marketplace.
Dan admitted to the audience he may be seen as the sacrificial lamb but insisted the :30 still has a place in the marketing tool kit citing the effectiveness, long term recall an cultural proliferation of Super Bowl commercials. That said, he stated the gap between consumer spend on media related products and ad spend is the narrowest its every been indicating the consumer may, in fact, be taking over. While many cite TiVo as the death of the television advertising medium, Dan claimed it's the best thing that's happened for marketers with its potential, along with Neilsen's, to measure which commercial are watch and which are not effectively killing bad ads.
Dan also admitted mass marketing is over and suggested a new era of tribal marketing which he described as a combination of niche marketing, fragmentation and designer brand product development. With the fall of mass marketing and intrusion marketing, Dan said collaboration with consumers during product development and customer management, versus brand management, will lead to success.
In the Q and A, an audience member asked how mass marketing can move to a more consumer focused approach if marketers continue to express their methods with warlike terminology such as targeting, acquiring, launching and blitzing. Windsor replied with a logical, straight forward answer. "when marketing becomes a dialog, this will change. A dialog is not a war."
Do I Have Cellulite?
Following Monday's all out, non-stop, multi-party bash, the social scene Tuesday night was less harried than Monday's with fewer parties, more one on one dinners and a slower pace. There were no exhibit hall parties as exhibitors were more concerned with packing up their booths as fast as possible once the hall closed so many headed out to dinner or drinks with friends to start the night.
The first stop for our entourage was the Hilton Hotel bar. Yes, we know it's not very exciting but it was time well spent after standing up on the floor all day doing business. Drinks and appetizers were shared with Underscore Marketing's Tom Hespos and Jim Meskauskas as well as Integrated Media Solutions' Jason Oates. After debating the merits of the consumer control trend and, visiting Booble on our hand helds to pass time, Tom and Jim headed off to a client dinner and we cabbed our way down to the Eyeblaster Awards party at Show.
Mommy, Where Am I?
In what turned out to be both brilliant and, at the same time, confusing event planning, the Eyeblaster Awards party was held at the same venue as the Bluelithium AD:TECH After Party. The brilliant part was once at the Eyeblaster Awards, there was no need to venture out into the cold to another club to attend the Bluelithium party. The not so brilliant part occurred when Show and Bluelithium attempted to clear the place of everyone to effectively restart their party fresh. After about one half hour of nudging by bouncers, music lowered by DJ's and raised lights, it became clear no one already present was going to leave simply to stand in line outside in the cold waiting to get back in. Not logical. Thankfully, common sense prevailed and the DJ kicked off the Bluelitium party with a simple "Welcome to the Bluelithium party" announcement. We don't know our music very well but we'd describe the style as a form of Latin-laced dance pop.
We Cool. We Groove
For its small size, Show handled the crowd quiet well. While filled to capacity, our group found an area to the right of the stage in the front of the venue that was spacious enough to move about and talk without tearing a vocal chord. We met Neal Sheridan from HomeStore and the crew from Catalano Lellos & Silverstein including new media hires Ami Hoberg and Mike Valentin and graphic designer Alice Anda. Both Mike and Alice ripped up our little corner of the dance floor with their smooth moves. Even though Alice had the urge, no amount of persuading could get the two of them up on the platform in the center of the floor. That didn't stop her from attempting to persuade us to hop up and become the joke of AD:TECH New York 2004 with our far less than acceptable dancing skills. Luckily, sobriety was in attendance and the suggestion was politely declined.
Crises averted, it was good fun to hang with the two and to marvel at Alice's uncanny ability to know, and lip synch, the lyrics to every song the DJ threw down. Not to mention looking at the cute pictures of her and her dog on her camera.
We Are Like So hot!
While our group never made it up, there were people that did manage to find their way up to the various platforms throughout Show. Yes, the requisite AD:TECH table/pole dancers were in attendance causing hundreds of cameras to flash away in what could only be described as a digital drool fest. While flashes lit up the club, two of the dancers climbed up on the bar - which just happened to have a pole in the middle of it - and began grinding and thrusting as onlookers crowded for an unobstructed view. The third dancer climbed onto a raised platform in the back of the club and clearly possessed the highest level of thrustability. View the clip off the pic link below and you'll agree.
The night ended conversing with our favorite AD:TECH friend with whom more Polaroid pictures were exchanged and an enjoyable cab ride home was shared.
There are many, many more full sized pictures and a video clip for your enjoyment here. Be sure to check out Bluelithium's professional photographs of the event. They make ours look horrific. Oh, but wait. We meant to go for that blurry style.
We Want Your Traffic!
After a day and a half of endless searching, frustration and withdrawal, one company finally stepped up to the plate to deliver the trade show staple, booth babes. Card Traffic, an affiliate marketing, get-out-of-debt company had the women searching for affiliate traffic while turning male conference attendees into gawking, drooling highscool boys. Of course, the woman, Mandy Ashford, Erin Schmidt and others were very pleasant as well as knowledgeable about the company.
Wearing T-shirts with "Got traffic? Stop by...let's talk" emblazoned across their curvaceous chests, the girls had a throng of men following them around the exhibit hall, all feigning composure while thoughts far from those considered composed raced through their head. That aside, the presence of the "Card Traffic Girls" was a welcome addition to the second day of booth schmoozing. Another picture here.
The half-full attended Web Publisher's forum was moderated by OPA President Michael Zimbalist. The panel included CBS Marketwatch Publisher Larry Kramer, Washingtonpost.com CEO & Publisher Caroline Little, New York Times Digital CEO Martin Nisenholtz and Weather Channel President Debora Wilson.
Zimbalist opened the session with an overview of market conditions and then questioned the publishers on the current market is treating them.
Marketwatch's Kramer says his users have become more and more engaged in the site and that implementing behavioral targeting has provided an increase in value of each page of 3-4 times. Page design has been modified to lure users deeper into the site.
Washingtonpost.com's Little explained 80 percent of site users are not local necessitating page redesign to insure visitors know they are on the site. Additionally, she is considering the launch of two separate homepages catering to the specific expectations of local users versus national users. Times Digital Nisenholtz says the site sees 13-14 million users per month each spending between 38 and 40 minutes on the site. He considers this “not acceptable” and is building out the back of the site with more content as well as adopting rss feeds and syndication as methods of bringing additional users.
Moderator Zimbalist then asked the panel to comment on the increasingly distributed nature of the web and the emergence of RSS. Little says coming in through the home page is an old model and coming in sideways is the new method or arrival for most users. As well, the site has begun to write headlines differently online than off to more effectively attract search engine traffic. WeatherChannel's Wilson her site has been an early adopter of wireless delivery and aims to "surround the consumer with weather info: no matter where they are."
All publishers agreed that paid subscription models are not a priority nor are they a viable revenue stream at this point. Most publisher also agreed that combining sales efforts with offline properties has been a challenge as well due to the differing language of the two media and, at times, opposing sales goals.
When asked by a by an audience member how weblogs are affecting their sites, Nesenholtz say the New York Times has embraced weblogs and now links to them from some online articles. He says he "sees nothing wrong with pointing to another sources of content.” This, along with the implementation of RSS feeds, Nisenholtz sees as more of a user service rather than a revenue channel for the site.
Where Do I Click?
It was a very busy afternoon and evening socially at AD:TECH Monday with at least six parties vying for attendees attention. Kicking off the party scene was old standby TribalFusion which hosted its end-of-day exhibit hall party with beer, wine and finger food. Since the party was held in the exhibit hall, TribalFusion's party is always an interesting mix of business and anticipation of what's to come later at night. Partaking in the party spirit, DoubleClick's Rick Bruner mugged for a shot with Did It.com's frogs.
Once the exhibit hall cleared out, attendees headed down to the hotel bar where Overture held its Mixer providing attendees, perhaps for the first time today, a place to sit down. relax and spend some time with business associates in a more informal environment. A full compliment of buffet items were available to cater to all food preferences - as long as those preferences were limited to fried food. The day's hunger won out over any concern for cholesterol levels.
Next up was the Viral and Buzz Marketing Association's get together held at Whiskeys. The venue was, for once, conducive to conversation even if the lighting was such that significant squinting was required to see who you were talking to. Open bar had a way of making this irrelevant. The center of the party was DMC Founder Justin Kirby who was decked out, head to toe, in a shimmering white suit. Just before leaving, a conversation with Pod Digital Design Principal Liz Curran and her co-principal husband ensued leading to the discovery the Curran's living a stone's throw from our little Massachusetts town.
Please Don't Kiss Me
Then it was over to 327 West 44th to Babalu for the 212 Networking event, along with BlogAds Henry Copeland, which turned out to be the first throb-fest of the evening. Joining the entourage were iCrossing's David Berkowitz and eMarketer's Waisum Tam. For some unexplained reason, the DJ had an odd fascination with eighties Michael Jackson music that grew in volume to the point where head bobs, ear screaming and hand signals became the only means of conversing. That said, the evening connected many long time industry vets including Underscore Marketing President Tom Hespos and a very pretty woman in a long pink coat with a beautiful smile who's name we were, sadly, unable to obtain.
Shifting gears to the late night events, it was TribalFusion's turn again to play party host. This time, the ad network hosted a party at the P.M. club. When entering, it was surprisingly quiet compared to the earlier 212 Networking party but within an hour, rising from the plush, booth-style couches became a fruitless endeavor. Thankfully, the company a JWT'er who engaged Tam in a boisterous conversation about weblogs and one woman from “can't remember the name of the agency” who engaged in the intriguingly repetitious behavior of checking messages on her cell phone, smiling beautifully and pulling her short black skirt down made leaving the couch unnecessary.
Once we did tear ourselves away from the enjoyable company seated at our comfy couch, the final throb-fest of the night was up next at Crobar. We're not sure who hosted this party but there were a lot of banners hanging inside the venue with the words “traffic” on them. The Crobar party continued the baffling need for sponsor companies to create VIP areas that end up more crowded than the non-VIP areas.
Thankfully, the delightful Tia Fix, now with MagicJupiter, was there with her pre-historic Barbie Polaroid camera to snap pictures framed by frilly, Barbie-like borders. While it was amusing to experience the gut-pounding dance music - again, an odd fascination with eighties Michael Jackson - , the writhing bodies on the dance floor and the ubiquitous booty shaker in the VIP booth next door, the cell phone clock was delivering a very clear message. It was time to go home. We did and we're glad as we write this on a semi clear-headed Tuesday morning as opposed to a hangover induced Tuesday afternoon.