At ad:tech Chicago last week, and prior to his opening talk, I approached Denuo CEO Rishad Tobaccowala in hopes of scoring an interview later on. He was in a hurry and answered in a way I found brusque and upsetting -- which ended up colouring my feelings about the keynote.
Tobaccowala emailed to apologize immediately after reading the article I wrote, and was also good enough to give me almost three hours of his time in an interview -- more of a conversation, really -- later that week.
We never did get around to a formal Q/A. But I learned so much about branding and relationships from him that most of the gems would be lost if I didn't whip out the cam and start recording.
See the footage below the drop.
My last ad:tech Chicago session was the Social Media Industry Forum, presented by Geoff Ramsey of eMarketer.
The sesh had a festive air for many reasons, not least that it was Ramsey's birthday. ad:tech's Warren Pickett burst in near the end to furnish him with candle-lit cupcakes.
But the company was also lively: we had a frothy, sometimes cynical and perennially candid band that included Digital Marketing Manager Katie O'Brien of Ben & Jerry's, President Rick Murray of Edelman Digital (which does interactive stuff for B&J's), PR/Social Media Manager Susan Wassel of Sanford Brands (here to rep Sharpie), and Digital Strategist Akash Pathak of DraftFCB, which worked with Wassel to bring life to Sharpie's label.
ad:tech Chicago's "Love for Sale -- How Great Creative Seduces Its Target" session was broken into two discernably useful parts: statistics on online dating, and seduction as a metaphor for marketing.
We'll begin at the beginning.
The Online Dating Crowd
Accompanied by Liz Ross of Digitas US, Fusion Idea Lab's Matt Brennock regaled us with both statistics and close-to-home anecdotes -- the kind that's fueled many a romantic comedy.
I heard one guy say the pair had great chemistry, and he commended them for "[opening] the kimono" the way they did. Given the topic matter, and Brennock's zeal for reminding us (first once, then twice, then...) that men really do just wanna get laid, the geisha metaphor was oddly appropriate.
- The average online dater is 42 years old.
- Match.com remains tops, with 3.4 million uniques/month, but people increasingly drift away from these big-box dating sites and into more niche fare: j-date, veggiedate, Christian singles. (AdAge blogger Kelly Eidson seized this opportunity to send me a link to STD Match, a dating site targeted to people living with sexually transmitted diseases. There are also -- as if you didn't know -- ethnicity-specific sites.)
If the world wasn't our oyster before, the marvelous advances of the internet, coupled with mankind's enterprising creative spirit, have ensured it certainly is now. There's a match worth blogging.
I admit it: I was eavesdropping.
Me and a crew of other bloggers invaded the press room early today. We were setting up our things, chatting about nothing, when I overheard something really interesting.
I looked up just as the guy was finishing his surmise: "In the future," he was saying, "I think people are going to wonder what the need was for keyboards. Or why we needed dial-up to access the internet. It will be free, and everywhere, like air."
This struck me as simple but inspired. I put my glasses on, checked out his tag: Rishad Tobaccowala, CEO, Denuo. It hits me: Hey! This is the guy who's doing the first keynote!
So I sit and futz with my thumbs for awhile, and finally I get up and walk over.
If you love the AMC television show Mad Med, then you'll love the week of August 10 in New York City. There's a long list of promotional events going on leading up to the debut of the series's season three premiere, Sunday, August 16.
There's Drink Like A Mad Man at the Hilton August 10. There's The Golden Age of Advertising projected on the side of the Museum of Arts and Design beginning Wednesday, August 12. There's New York Mets Gone Mad August 14 during the Mets/Giants game.
Check it all out here.
- We just love the fast-talking data stream of these new Sprint commercials.
- The University of Colorado is launching a new school called Boulder Digital Works, in partnership with Crispin Porter + Bogusky, MDC Partners and Hyper Island (top digital school in Sweden).
- Like TNT's Leverage? Then you'll like the Jetset Studios-created online promotion, Con Your Friend.
- Jack Black thinks Jelly Bean will be the next viral sensation. Uh, no.
- OMG! Julie Roehm has a job!
- If only Olympus camera really did have camera lenses that could shoot as wide as these ads imply they can.
While everyone's all a Twitter over EA's Act of Lust booth babe stunt, consider this: If the Booth babes were Booth Dudes and the rules were the same, would anyone care?
Of course, encouraging people to "commit acts of lust" and then photograph it in order to get a chance to win "dinner and a sinful night with two hot girls, a limo service, paparazzi and a chest full of booty" isn't going to win any prizes at a church fund raising competition but let's break this one down a bit.
The "booty" referred to in the promotion is not the ass of the "two hot girls." It's a swag bag full of geeky goodness any fanboy would lust over as much as he might lust over a booth babe. The encouraged "act of lust" is most certainly not meant to get people to do anything rude, crude or disrespectful to a woman hired to play the role of booth babe. Anyone who might actually do that is just a loser and in need of castration.
While this promotion can certainly be seen as crossing the ever-moving, hard-to-define line of decency, it's not encouraging rape, prostitution or other unseemly (and illegal) behavior. It's simply using a time-tested - if not tired and lame - marketing strategy to get people to do what a marketer wants.
The "two hot girls" are obviously paid for their participation in this promotion and while we're sure they'd rather spend a night with some hot dude - not to mention their own boyfriends - they knowingly took this job and the money and knew what they'd be getting into.
One of the most interesting people I met at Cannes last week was Herve De Clerck, who runs Ad Forum and Act Responsible.
In this video he talks about how Ad Forum operates, and in great length about Act Responsible -- its humble roots out of the ashes of 9/11, and how it's pushing to do two interesting things:
o Encourage the advertising industry to contribute its talent to social and environmental causes
o Promote the work of those that do
"Every year we gather the work for social and environmental issues ... and every year, we put on an exhibition," he said. The exhibition was held with support from DraftFCB, on a sunny terrace alongside the Palais, where you could grab a coffee, check out the beach and stroll at leisure through a wide-open gallery of interactive and print-based cause work from around the world.
For those too junior or broke to go to Cannes this year, there was Wrath of Cannes in the "East Riviera,"* where advertising's overlooked enter work to win a trophy they can't actually take home. (It gets recycled for next year.)
This year's winner was ex-associate AD Alan Kwon of RTCRM (now freelancing). He entered a tear-out coupon for Crunch Gym, printed on Tyvek, which means the material was virtually untearable.
Saturday night: the show to end all shows, the one people actually queue in line for. (Though markedly less so than in previous years, as tweeted by Influencia.) And while recession-spawned conservatism was accounted for, the jury hailed from all corners of the globe and generated cheers -- like rock stars.
Saw some awesome work over the next two hours, but it remains a shock who ultimately won what.
There was a lot of talk about how Cannes Lions '09 differed from previous years. I'd say there was a greater focus on how efforts addressed users directly, although creativity remains a big part of that. And given who won the Grands Prix for Titanium and Integrated, it may be the first year agencies must take into account that the user has become a legitimate advertiser himself.
This is no death-of-the-agency foretelling; it's simply a call to listen more closely and respond more intuitively to the crowd. We have spent so many years trying to contrive artificial emotional connections between products and people; it is only natural that, now that they're able, consumers demand to know why those connections should exist in the first place.
What does your company stand for? Does it listen and respond to me? Crucially, is it as willing to incorporate me into its message as I am to incorporate it into my life?
Grand Prix recipients, and a wee bit o' work, listed below.