If you're interested in viral marketing, there's a business network you might consider joining. Hosted, as is the Adrants Network, on Soflow, the Viral and Word of Mouth Network is a network for people involved or interested in viral and word of mouth marketing. Launched at the beginning of May the network already has over 300 members including some of the top minds in the field. Join here if you're interested.
I'm Cool! I Podcast!
One the heels of, "OMG, we have to get all our clients to blog!" comes "OMG, screw blogs, this Podcast thing is it baby!" Yup. Like lemmings (and I know because I was one for years) the ad industry is gaga over Podcasting. As Publicis Groupe Media Chief Innovation Officer (how's that for a title?) says, "Podcasting is one of the developments, along with online digital music services like iTunes and Rhapsody, that allow a consumer to be their own programmer. That will obsolete terrestrial radio for many advertisers,"
Ah the, the attack of the consumer media clones. Backyard Barbecue Tips By Bill. Luscious Lawns By Lucy. Subway Satire By Sally. Taxi Tips From Tom. If the industry stressed over fragmentation in the 80's and 90's, it ain't seen nothin' yet. But, just how much fragmentation do we want. Do we want one media outlet for every citizen in the world? Oh, don't get all Huffington on me. Of course, I'm generalizing and Podcasting can be a very good thing. In fact, may larger companies such as GM, NPR and Volvo and making great use of the medium right now. It's just amusing to see such hype, excitement and explosion of podcast related start ups for a medium most have no idea exist.
Citing video news releases, product placement and interactive television aimed at children, FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein has asked the FCC to expand its investigation into product placement disclosure and strengthen guidelines. As reported in As Age, Adelstein told the Media Institute, "People out there are frustrated by what they see as fake news and relentless marketing. The use of covert commercial pitches is penetrating deeper and deeper into our media."
While our normal pithiness calls for us to poke fun at government agencies creating rules that assume people are stupid and can't figure things out for themselves, we, believe it or not, feel some control is warranted. Advertising, because of people's increased ability to ignore it, is getting desperate. very desperate. A roadblock buy once meant buying every spot on every network during a single time period or plastering posters over an entire subway station. It now means, literally, creating an advertising barrier so intense, so pervasive one would have to leave the solar system to avoid an ad. It's reached the point on insanity as marketers, who are not entirely at fault since they are faced with intense media fragmentation and consumer control over media, grasp for any and all possible means to get their message in front of potential customers.
While inviting the government into things is not always the best solution, something, anything is needed to guide the advertising beast as it relentlessly seeks eyeballs with cash.
While Commercial Alert's Gary Ruskin says, "Good luck," cell phone providers have adopted a set of guidelines, Consumer Best Practices Guidelines for Cross-Carrier Mobile Content Services, which is intended to place limits on marketer's use of the cell phone as an advertising medium. The guidelines call for double opt-in to promotions, how people are charged for air time and wording people can use to opt in or out of promotions. Even as the guidelines are adopted by all major U.S cell phone companies, Ruskin believes cell advertising will, none the less, proliferate and cause a backlash similar to those that have occurred in Europe where the medium is more established. Ruskin is particularly concerned over the guideline's allowance of opt-in list sale to third parties.
A recent study by Bridge Ratings & Research found just eight percent of radio listeners who have owned an MP3 player for more than six months listen to radio less. While those who have recently bought an MP3 player do, certainly listen to less radio as they get comfortable with their new music source, the study suggest MP3 is not a radio killer. However, for the 12-18 demo, it may be. After owning an MP3 player for six months, 45 percent 12-18 year olds listen to radio less.
This Lincoln Navigator ad on page 41 of last Sunday's New York Times Magazine, according to bike racer, former bike messenger and Animal New York Publisher Bucky Turco, uses bike messenger's names, without permission, to promote the vehicle by attempting to create a relationship between messengers and SUVs.
Turco tells us, "Not only does this Lincoln ad hijack names of messengers who never gave permission, but just the idea that a NYC bike messengers having anything in common with a Lincoln is so far from reality. What is wrong with these idiots. Messengers hate cars. It's like using vegetarians to sell furs, it don't work. Who in the hell approved this creative?"
Bike messenger Squid, who is referred to in the ad, is a high ranking member of the NYBMA, and often referred to as "the bike messenger-general" never, according to Turco, OK'd the use of his name in this ad. Turco claims this is the second time Lincoln has run this type of creative, showing a bike messenger and then "throwing a few messenger names in with the copy for street cred."
Despite his image also appearing in an international version of the ad, without permission, a few months ago after declining to participate, Squid tells us he took no legal action. This time, he promises to do so.
Adrants reader Ed Misley wrote he just saw the documentary movie, "Enron: The Smartest guys in the room," and noted a prominent Coke product placement he thought quite odd. He writes, "During many scenes of Jeffrey Skilling testifying before congress they digitally edited a Diet Coke can (with the logo prominently facing the camera). Now because of how they cropped the scene, the coke can was almost the size of his head. Now I watch a lot of C-Span and I don't remember a time when I saw anything other than glasses and pitchers of water on the tables of those testifying. Why would Coca Cola Crop pay good money to have their product next to the bad guy?"
He continued, commenting upon a second product placement, "I also noticed a more subtle product placement of a water bottle, which I think was "Spring Hill" due to the green label but it was turned in such a way as to not see the label entirely. Was this a ruse to divert attention away from the suspicious coke can? This was during an exchange of words between Barbara Boxers and Jeffrey Skilling. Skilling had the blatant coke and Boxer had the subtle water bottle. The coke can appeared almost every time you saw Skilling testifying. I am not anti-adverting I just can't figure out why this would help either Coca Cola or the filmmakers."
Well, unfortunately, Ed, it's all about the money. While we haven't seen the movie and can't comment directly, we suspect somebody needed money, Coke had money, transaction happened.
While we had to fire up dusty old Internet Explorer for it to actually work, IBM, as part of its Rolland Garros sponsorship, is running in interesting Flash expand-o-banner which opens to reveal a customizable tennis player which you can pit against other online players. The scores of the actual tournament are displayed at the lower left of the banner. It was engaging enough to catch out attention which is a rarity. View here. You may have to reload a few times.
A French website promoting TransAtlantys, an undersea train providing eight hour travel between New York and Paris, was launched March 2 by DDB France and is causing a great deal of debate on discussion boards. Very likely, it's another viral marketing hoax. The site, which claims construction will start in June and take 11 years to complete, provides the opportunity for visitors to register for tickets. But, according to French speaking Adrants reader Richard Ollier, when you look at the conditions of the "Register to be the first", you have to claim your price before September 15, 2005 and travel between June 15, 2005 and December 31, 2005. There is mention of another date period between May 23, 3005 and June 2, 2005 but it's unclear what those dates represent. We're sure our French speaking readers will provide comment. Not to mention you folks at DDB France. We know you read us.
While we're no engineer, there is quite a bit of discussion on boards about the practical impossibilities of building such an undertaking and the speeds at which the train would have to travel to make the eight hour journey. Snopes has nothing yet but we're calling this one a hoax and will wait patiently for the true marketing goal behind this to rear it's head.
UPDATE: In comments, Adrants reader Bruno points out the travel site voyages-sncf.com is behind the hoax. A French story on the campaign is here.
Adrants reader JoAnna, who publishes ChefBlog received, on a recent blog post, what she believed to be comment spam from a faux blog set up for Panera bread company. Read the comment on JoAnna's post here. Then, visit the Panera blog, where JoAnna has left a comment of her own on the blog's only post calling the bluff, and decide for yourself. Loyal Panera fan or lame, uninformed blog marketing effort? We're leaning toward the latter. It just wreaks.