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.
In an effort to passify those who think men are portrayed in advertising as over sexed, neanderthal morons, JWT has announced it will cease characterizing men as boob-fixated, humping jack rabbits. The change in policy follows the release of a book by one of the agency's vice presidents, Marian Salman, who says men have been mocked in advertising for far too long. While true when it comes to illustrating men as clueless buffoons as Verizon did recently, to strip away certain innate behaviors is questionable. Perhaps it's all payback for, until recently, portraying women as clueless, man-serving kitchen maids.
Salman says, "All too often in the marketing arena, we're portraying man as the victim - of his sexual organ or his lust, his emotional neediness, his overinflated ego or his sheer ineptitude." OK, true. That could be toned down a bit but do we want to re-engineer man to appear as if he's become some sexless, robotic, new age, virtue-spewing automaton?
By now, everyone has heard of weblogs. If you haven't, welcome, you are reading one right now. If you think you've read this before, you have. In the interest of espousing the value of weblogs to our industry, we're republishing this little piece of opinionated advice. For various reasons, many people and companies can benefit from blogging. So can ad agencies. Ad agencies are hired for two main reasons. First, and not always most important, is creative. Second is thought leadership - does the agency in question have the smarts to create successful advertising for client companies. Both of these areas of expertise can be shared with the world of potential clients through a weblog.
Right now, agencies might be saying, "What do we need a weblog for? We already have a web site." Great. Take an honest look at it. Is it much more than a creative showcases (if that) and management bios? Aside from a few short paragraphs on your so-called "proprietary process" is there any value there for the reader? Are you offering anything that gives insight into the way your agency thinks and what your opinion is on the current state of advertising? If so, great. Most likely. though it is not.