After receiving an email from Banu Sen of Publicis Net Paris telling us about a viral teaser trailer created to promote a new online game which would feature car maker Renault and that a fake game company and fake website where created and disseminated to bloggers as part of the promotion, a lengthy email exchange with Ben ensued regarding the buzz phrase of the day, transparency. Transparency is the notion that all marketing, especially that which comes through buzz, viral and word of mouth channels, be fully forthcoming with what brand is behind the campaign.
Clearly, with fake company names and websites, this was not transparent. However, during our discussion, in which, at first, I was quite surprised a major agency like Publicis and a major car maker like Renault would engage in fakery such as this given the recent uproar over buzz and word of mouth marketers and their associations calling for transparency, I realized it's really nothing more than your standard teaser campaign which has been around forever. There's a fine line, though, between a teaser campaign and a misleading campaign. The prior always, at some point reveals its identity which this Renault campaign does. The latter, which uses stealth methods like the recent U.S. Cellular blue man fiasco or an army of 250,000 teenagers who may or may not reveal their association with the large word of mouth company for whom they work.
Publicis and Renault has done nothing wrong here. Not that anyone is saying they did. Though in the face of transparency insanity, the discussion was worth having.
Enough of this shit. Ad network FastClick, along with all other ad networks that continue to defy people's wishes by circumventing pop up blockers should be boycotted for their pop up delivery practices. Not only are pop ups annoying but, if you look at the one pictured (click for actual size), it is clearly deceptive and all about trickery. What respectable ad network would even consider allowing such an advertiser to use its network?. Also, shame on Dribbleglass, the site at which this pop up popped, for allowing pop ups to be served. To be fair, all pops are not always associated with the site being visited but most are.
Any media buyer out there who is currently buying pops should be shamed as well. Any advertiser that engages in the use of pops should be boycotted to death. Any site that serves pops should pack it in, leaving only a 404 page behind. Are we finished with this crap yet?
BBDO has created and outstanding campaign for eBay called What is it. The campaign tells the story of two guys who invent "it" and how it became the world's most famous, hippest thing to own. Of course, the message in all of this is that "what ever it is, you can get it on ebay." Really brilliant. Really. Check it out.
Aquent's final round of Studio Smackdown 2, the second edition of the marketing and communication company's interactive online design talent competition was won by Melissa A. Phillips. The four-week elimination contest ended October 18, 2005. Results of the challenge, which pitted five motion graphic designers against each other, can be viewed at www.studiosmackdown.com.
Besides scoring the grand prize of $5,000 and getting to keep the Adobe Creative Suite 2 and Canon MiniDV camcorder that were provided to each of the five challengers, Phillips says the second greatest thrill was the thought of so many people seeing her work. "It's like an instant international portfolio," said the Milwaukee resident. "The hardest part was meeting all the deadlines while still working a full time job." We wonder what her boss now thinks about that.
Last week, Miller Brewing Company launched an online game, Miller Beer Runner, which mirrors an ad campaign that kicked off this past weekend. The game has players face the usual problems when on a beer run from running through the streets and avoiding obstacles, to dodging ongoing football games and resisting bar temptations to avoiding hard objects like fire hydrants - all with the goal of getting to the store, making a Miller beer purchase and returning home before the halftime clock runs out. Given all the money Miller spends on TV commercials, the video introduction to the game is quite humorous as one of the guys tells his friend he has plenty of time to get the beer because "Hey, it's a commercial. Don't worry about it." In the first four days of the game's release, 360,000 games were played by 165,000 unique users.
Sort of defeating the purpose of highlighting Jeep's new seven seat, 2006 Commander, Chrysler has launched an online promotion, called The Mudds featuring a family if five. Yup. Five, Not seven. OK, maybe that's splitting hairs but if you're going to highlight seven seats, you better have seven people to fill them. Hopefully, the kids have some friends.
The promotion will have all the usuals: bi-weekly webisodes - also available on Dish TV), biography pages, screensavers, wallpapers, text message notification of site updates, AvantGo PDA notification and online scavenger hunts using Google Maps. Oh wait, the Google Maps thing is new. Visitors can use Google maps to find virtual "geocaches" the Mudds have hidden and get a chance to win one of the new 2006 Commander's. Get your mud on.
Once again, Zugara has created an engaging, compelling, promotional site for Sony PlayStation. It's to promote Sony PlayStation's Socom 3 U.S. Navy SEALs game. The site itself is pretty in-depth with information on the game, real-life footage and interviews shot on set with actual Navy SEALs and a first person stealth game where you take on the role of a Navy SEAL to infiltrate a bunker and rescue a captured pilot. Zugara used other elements for the experience as well including AOL Instant Messenger where players can retrieve a code to unlock things on the site as well as an 800# to call into to get a code to gain access to the bunker where the first person game starts. Zugara's Matthew Szymczyk told us it was a "very cool experience putting the site together because of all the access we had to real-life Navy Seals at various army bases where the site's video's were shot.
On Tuesday, October 18 at 9AM, I'll be moderating a panel at BlogOn in New York. The panel is called "Can Advertising Be Social." On this panel, the panelists, who include Organic CEO Mark Kingdon, Unilever Brand Development Director David Rubin, Jaffe LLC Founder Joe Jaffe and I hope to discuss the relationship between social media and advertising - the ways in which people have entered what has now become a two-way conversation rather than the former one-way, marketer to consumer bullhorn approach.
It should be an interesting and, hopefully, informative discussion. There's blogs, chat rooms, forums, IM, Wikis, podcasting, social networks and innumerable other methods with which consumers can achieve a voice as powerful and widespread as marketers.
As examples of this newfound consumer voice, there's Jeff Jarvis who, following a bad experience with a Dell computer, took on Dell publicly forcing Dell to respond. Unfortunately, it wasn't much of a response. There's George Masters, a teacher who created a professional looking iPod commercial which raced around the globe. Smartly, Apple took a hands off approach. There's Converse who asked people to submit films about Chuck Taylors. There's Mercedes who encouraged people to send in photos of themselves with their Mercedes which were ultimately featured in the company's ad campaign. The examples go on. People have become socially active with their brand experiences, good and bad, and the level of activity is forcing marketers to join the conversation and, forever, putting aside old methods of controlling it.
Indeed, marketing is in for the ride of its life.
As if Victoria's Secret hasn't already done enough to maximize a girl's assets, apparently, there's a new, even more uplifting line of bras out highlighted on a UK Victoria's Secret website. It's actually an ingenious site design that depicts real-world scenarios in which people observe a particular woman, comment on her assests from both a male and female perspective, then show the woman modeling one of four bra effects, uplift, rounded, plunging and cleavage. The site even demonstrates how the effect looks with clothes on and with clotrhe off. Very helpful, indeed.
The first of a series of five videos, which will have ads sold in them trough a deal with MSN, Jib Jab has created Big Box Mart, a short that skewers big box retailers poking fun at merchandise created with cheap labor oversees, stores full of crap no one needs, Americans losing manufacturing jobs and the kicker: the same company that eliminated those jobs is scooping up the unemployed it displaced to work for low wages in its own big box stores.
Other videos will be created and sponsored by brands which will be place ads within the video as well as be features, perhaps no always positively, in the video. Jib Jab Co-Founder says it's all in good fun. "If you have a sense of humor about your own brand, and poke a little fun at it, then people appreciate that. It's a more honest approach, maybe." Yes, maybe.