Humor. Heard of It?
Last Month a KFC ad, showing call center workers singing with their mouths full to promote KFC's Zinger Crunch Salad, which ran in England garnered a record 1,671 complaints to the country's Advertising Standards Authority because many felt it would cause bad manners among children. At the time we said that was ridiculous and wondered if the human race was losing its sense of humor. Today, the ASA has agreed with us stating it did not agree with those that lodged complaints and that the ad was unlikely to cause bad manners. Parents teach manners. Commercials don't. There's a difference.
Write Nice Things Or Else
It seems BP (more accurately BP's agency MindShare who crafted BP's stringent "zero-tolerance policy") and Morgan Stanley have everybody's panties in a bunch over their recently publicized ad policies stipulating their right to pull ad schedules based on disagreeable editorial content. Ad Age has skewered the announcements, writing, "Shame on BP. And shame on Morgan Stanley and General Motors and any other advertisers involved in assaults on editorial integrity and independence. By wielding their ad budgets as weapons to beat down newsrooms, these companies threaten the bond that media properties have with their audiences, the very thing that gives media their value to advertisers to begin with."
We're none too pleased either. But, for all the reaction these announcements have received, there's nothing all that new. Policies such as these have been around forever. They've just never brazenly been made public. And that's the issue.
succumbed not yet aware of the Axe ad campaign messaging, went out and bought some of the company's shower gel then, checking the campaign out, commented on heavy intertwining of sex to sell the product, writing, "As I've said before, male showering is marketed as a requirement for meeting the standards of the other, cleaner sex. But Axe takes this a step further. Attractiveness isn't the end goal of showering here; sex is. The Axe website makes their intentions clearer than a horny freshman at a sorority party. The splash page features suggestive images of a shower's ceiling lined with mirrors, and bathroom with towels engraved with "His," "Hers," "Her Roomate's," "Her Sister's." You can just see the famous jocks of Heathers punching it in. Even the loading icon is horny. It reads "Your Mojo is Loading." And I guess that's what Axe really is, a mojo-enhancing lube for heterosexual sex.
Accumulating opinion and commentary from across the media and advertising spectrum, The Wall Wall Street Journal has compiled an outlook of the media landscape from network news, advertising, newspapers, book publishing, movies and music. While there are a few insightful suggestions surrounding network news and movies, much, such as turning advertisements into programming and microtargeting has been heard before. All the same, it's nice to see it wrapped up all in one place others who don't analyze this stuff on a minute by minute basis.
Money Shot, Butchered
When Tiger Woods made that famous 16th hole shot, leaving the Nike golf ball hanging on the edge of the cup, swoosh visible for two long seconds before dropping in, the ad industry speculated wildly over over how Nike would turn this moment into a commercial. Well, three weeks passed, nothing was released and the industry gave up hope. In the meantime - actually, the day the shot occurred, Joe Jaffe, pointed out this perfect opportunity for Nike and created a spec spot on his own. Simply and without un-necessary editorializing, Jaffe's version illustrated the miraculous moment and ended quietly with "Just do it." It took a fantastic sporting moment, which needed no additional explanation, and commercialized it beautifully.
While all had given up hope Nike would take advantage of this moment, a Nike-created spot finally emerged a week or so ago. It was about as timely as that Bud Light Super Bowl spot making fun the previous year's Janet Jackson nipple slip. Did it really have to take that long for client and agency to get their shit together? The spot, using the same imagery from the famous day and interspersed with black screen/white type banal messaging, closes with a lame, inside joke about how Woods should have, at least, landed the ball in a way that made the Nike logo more visible.
Over at the Adrants Soflow Network group, Robert Loch posted a quote from vacuum man Richard Dyson in which he claims suits are useless and creatives stink. Dyson said, "The agency business just isn't working for me. I don't want to talk to account planners, and account managers and these other assorted suits. I need to talk to the 'creatives' directly, and explain to them what I am trying to achieve. But they won't come to meetings because they are 'creative.'
"And the fact is that they are not creative at all. They are doing the very worst thing you can do, which is to sit staring at a drawing board trying to come up with an idea out of nowhere. You need dialogue to create. Of all the creative jobs I have encountered it is advertising people who make the most song and dance about creativity. And, you know, they are not creative at all. When I think of the real creation that my designers are involved in, and compare it with these 'creatives' who are earning so much more to just sit around the Groucho Club and be generally useless, it makes me vomit. I can't go on supporting an industry like that, I'm afraid."
What do you think. Comment here or see what others have said in the forum (yes, I know it's a pain, you have to join).
Put a business guy and a tech guy in one room and it's just a disaster waiting to happen. In a classic commercial versus Utopian discussion of whether ads should be placed in RSS feeds, Calcanis and Winer go at it dissing barbs left and right. Winer doesn't think Calcanis has the "right" to have a business that involves RSS nor does he think Calacanis has the "right" to pay bloggers (with income generated by ads in RSS feeds) to publish their content. Accompanying the insanely questionable notion of that logic, Calcanis tells Winer, "You can cry about it all you want, but this train has left the station and you're still at the ticket counter bitching about why you even need a ticket."
The conversation is largely pointless. It's just version 37.8 of the same old "free versus pay" bitch session that's gone on since the first ad was scrawled on the wall of a cave. The conversation will never be resolved. There is no answer. People hate ads but they also hate to pay for content. RSS is simply the current whipping boy until the next new delivery medium comes along. One thing is certain. Where there are people, there will be ads. Get over it.
AdJab points to a post by Craig's List founder Craig Newmark in which Newmark says current.tv, the new Al Gore, community-created, viewer voted content cable channel, should make commercials part of it's communal approach by allowing viewers to give thumbs up or thumbs down to commercials.
While this might be a fair indication of whether or not a spot proverbially "resonates" with the viewer, the system lacks one important element: why. Why are the ads voted off or blessed as acceptable content. As Newmark writes in his post, "The devil's in the details..." and developing a system like this that would truly deliver feedback marketers need in an abuse-free manner is, certainly, a tall order.
Writing on his weblog, Association of National Advertiser President Bob Liodice offers six platforms which create the foundation for successful marketing. From product and service quality to continuous improvement to creating one to one connections with consumers, Liodice offers positive fodder for improving a company's marketing efforts.
Nielsen is having a bit of a tiff lately with ad agencies over its provision of television ratings. While the majority of ad agency execs want commercials rated, not the shows they air within, Nielsen claims they have already offered those ratings to agencies. Agencies have countered saying those ratings, 60-second unit measurements, do not adequately serve what's really needed, the measurement of actual commercial ratings. The way the 60-second unit ratings are taken do not align exactly with when commercials actually air. That is the sticky point agencies have with this offer from Nielsen.
This new method of commercial measurement, if it sees the light of day, could foster some radically different methods of television commercialization. If it's commercials that are measured and not the containing programs, all of the promotion that goes into hyping a television show to viewers in order to achieve high ratings could now go towards hyping commercials to viewers instead. Imagine NBC, faced with radically lower ratings because of ad-skippage, bathroom breaks, etc. The network would have to insure a high level of commercial viewership to maintain its ad rates. Conceivably, NBC would have to do whatever it could to make viewers watch commercials.
In theory, NBC would have to offer incentives to viewers to watch commercials. These incentives could be monetary in nature or come in other forms. Aside from possible Nielsen ratings that would "count" commercial viewership, embedded within the commercials (or before or after a commercial break) would be some sort of code or proof mechanism for the viewer to redeem. This would be necessary, not to prove viewership (although it could serve as a form of comparison to Nielsen ratings) because Nielsen would provide that proof with its new commercial ratings. It would be needed simply to get viewers to watch so high commercial ratings would be achieved for the network, then reported back by Nielsen, then used by networks as a basis from which to set rates for advertisers.
This could dramatically alter the definition of a commercial. While consumers might be swayed financially into watching a commercial, after a time, if commercials remain as boring as they currently are, no amount of money will get consumers to watch when they can so easily skip commercials. Commercials will have to take on elements of what I think is one of the better forms of promotion, the movie/TV trailer. Trailers, whether for good programming or bad, always seem to create the sense that you absolutely positively have to watch the movie/show being promoted. Does any current commercial today come close to that? Yes, promoting content is very different than promoting and ad but we're talking theory here.
That's just one idea. There could be many additional means to make commercials a "must watch" activity. A series of commercials could take on the form of a soap opera or serial drama where viewers would have to watch from day to day/week to week to either follow the story line or to receive other "incentives" for financial redemption. In this sense, commercials become a form of the programming.
In essence, this new economic model would compel networks to pay (or compel in some other very powerful way) viewers to watch commercials so that they can continue to sustain their current ad supported business model. Extrapolating this further, the current model is flipped on its head. Advertisers become producers and the programming becomes the commercial.