As if consumers haven't rebelled enough about increased commercial and promotional proliferation on television, broadcasters are inserting the knife deeper and twisting it more aggressively. While ABC says the total number of minutes per hour of advertising hasn't change in three years, the network, which began the practice last season, this year has required show producers to slice episodes into six acts versus the traditional four increasing the number of breaks per hour and angering viewers in the process.
Seemingly oblivious to people's abhorance of advertising, ABC Ad Sales Chief Mike Shaw said, "We've had the exact same commercial load for three years in a row. People must "feel that way because they love the show so much, that they really notice it when the breaks are there." That's precious.
Everwood producer Greg Berlanti doesn't like the practice saying, "It makes you long for the day when everything comes out in boxed sets of DVDs so you can enjoy it." Given the rise in outraged, DVR-enabled consumers, that day may not be far off. The current television advertising model is a losing proposition. As broadcasters struggle to maintain ad revenue by shoving more ads through consumer's eyeballs, people, increasingly armed with methods of avoiding ads, will rebel, lowering ad viewership thereby causing broadcasters to foist even more insanity-based methods of forced ad viewership upon consumers until the entire broadcast television model implodes on itself and finally experiences the death it so dearly deserves.
While we're not quite what the draw is about watching television on a 2.5 inch screen in a world of 50 inch televisions, we can't complain about Walt Disney's deal with Apple to provide next-day downloads for $1.99 via iTunes to the new video iPod of ABC's popular series Lost and Desperate Housewives, among others. With dwindling television viewership and, hence, dwindling ad revenue for networks, providing mobile, commercial-free, pay-per-view programming makes a tremendous amount of sense for the nets. If this takes off, networks will run with glee to the bank. Marketers, with an ad medium pulled out from under their feet, may not be so happy.
Writing on Ad Age, Bob Garfield, in another of his occasional essays, sums up the recent growing trends of
consumer generated media, conversational marketing and what he calls The Open Source Revolution. We've covered all this over the past year or so but it's nice to see it wrapped up into a coherently powerful statement. From Orange County Teacher George Masters creation of his "Tiny Machine" iPod spot to GE's Pen campaign to Mercedes' send-us-a-picture-of-you-and-your-car campaign to Converse's consumer created films for Chuck Taylors to shifting copyright laws to the future role of agencies as enablers of conversation versus controllers of conversation to marketers need to embrace the conversation, advertising has been turned on its head. Marketers and agencies who do not acknowledge the open source nature of consumer participation in brand conversations will fail miserably.
In a BlogOn panel "Can Advertising Be Social," held October 18 at 9AM, I, along with Life After The 30-Second Spot Author Joe Jaffe, Organic CEO Mark Kingdon and AXE Brand Development Director David Rubin will discuss this very topic.
For some inexplicable reason, some marketers and their agencies still think it's OK to create a website, in this case, an advergame, that only works with Internet Explorer on a PC. Given the horrid user experience Internet Explorer provides with it's gaping holes through which scumware of all forms permeates to the proliferation of far superior browsers such as Firefox, let alone a cadre of Mac users, it's just plain shortsighted idiocy to create anything limited only to IE.
This time the idiocy comes courtesy of VISA and its agency Wild Tangent who created some kind of promotional advergame for the Torino 2006 Olympic Games. That's all we can tell you about the game because, yes, we gave up IE years ago and have avidly used Firefox ever since. And this time, we aren't even going to fire up our stale copy of IE so we can perform our journalistic duty and describe the game's merits or demerits to you. Suffice to say, based on the marketer's ignorance of a huge audience segment, it's safe to say all the effort is worthy of is a giant pile of demerits.
Most of you have heard of this thing called blogging but that's because you work in areas where blogging is commonplace. However, regular folk, the folks we, in advertising, sell to day in and day out don't have a clue as to what blogging is. At least in England. A recent study among taxi drovers, pub landlords and hairdressers found that 70 percent had never heard of blogging. Most thought the survey was asking about dogging, the practice of watching couples have sex in semi-secluded spaces. Hmm, blogging as a perverted sex fetish. Not exactly what the blog elite and the blogebrity had in mind.
This research confirms the notion we've supported for a long time. Weblogging is just a really easy way to publish a website that, because of the platform, gets easily distributed and picked up by search engines.
Former BBDO Chairman Phil Dusenberry, the guy that worked on the Reagan campaign and the famous Michael Jackson Pepsi spot, has written a book called, Then We Set His Hair on Fire, a title nodding to the media circus which surrounded Michael Jackson's hair catching on fire while shooting the Pepsi spot. The book is great. The subtitle on the book "Insights and Accidents from a Hall-of-Fame Career in Advertising" sums up the tone of the book: humble and helpful commentary on a very successful career. It's the most enjoyable book we've read in a long time. Dusenberry takes readers through his very long and very successful career at BBDO as well as several years he spent on his own running his on shop. The book is all about the power of the Insight and how insights are related to but very different than Ideas. Many times the two terms are co mingled but after reading this book, the differences and similarities between the two are clearly understood. Ideas are great but it's insights you really want. It's the "Ah ha" moment.
Growing up, our house was always full of LEGOS. Boxes and boxes of LEGOS. There were elaborate trucks made out of LEGOS; strange flying machines; entire cities constructed out of LEGOS. Friends would come over and spend hours playing with LEGOS. Grandparents, aunts ans uncles would marvel at the creations. It was fun. It kept us out of Mom's hair. As entertaining as this was, we never knew that every time we uttered the word LEGOS, we were pissing off a member of the LEGO brand management police. That's right. LEGO has no 'S.' It's just plain LEGO. Though, since time began, it seems kids the world over have been abusing the LEGO brand by calling them LEGOS. We know of no one who "plays with LEGO." Everyone "plays with LEGOS," of course.
Clearly the result of waring factions caught up in weeks of pompous, self-important, white-boarded, conference room mission/vision/essence/position marketing pontification, Sprint, today, launched its new look incorporating its recent acquisition of Nextel. The new logo features the word "Sprint" along with an innocuous graphic and the words, "Together with Nextel." Huh? Which company is this? Together with who? Sprint? Nextel? Help. We are very confused. And we actually know what's going on. Pity the poor consumer who has to wade through this morass of compromise. Please let this be very temporary.
Bucky Turco reports Scion's latest hip hop promotion, NEXT UP, an unsigned emcee search, has recently faced backlash from the very community it was trying to reach. The car company disqualified an emcee because of his politically charged lyrics about President Bush and the war. The track, entitled Black Gold, is an obvious reference to oil and the war.
The rap artist, Bavu Blakes, was willing to alter his lyrics a bit so he could advance to the next round of the competition and potentially win a $50,000 marketing deal, but Inform Ventures, the marketing company handling the promotion for Scion, said he was disqualified because his lyrics were too political.In fairness to Scion, Bavu entered the "underground" category rather than the "political" category but many still believe Bavu was censored.
Sullivan Higdon & Sink VP Creative Director and one half of the American Copywriter podcast team John January has weighed in on the recent Project Wannamaker study by The PreTesting Company which found creative effectiveness burns out after two to three weeks on the air.
In response to a blog post by Business Week's David Kiley which, in part, predicted a trend towards increasing offshore commercial production, January wrote, "Outsourcing production to India? Come on, kids. We can figure this out. Can't we? All it takes is open minds. Open-minded creatives, open-minded producers, open-minded production partners. So simple in pixels. So not simple in real life. But we'd better get our collective heads around this."
Kiley also mentions one agency is exploring how MTV produces so many high quality promotions and videos at low cost and how media shops, with their number crunching efficiencies are about to take on the bloated world of advertising production. Forget weblogs. That shift, if it sees light of day, is something to seriously ponder.