Anheuser-Busch will use its Super Bowl commercial time to launch a direct-to-consumer network called "The Bud Screen." The network will offer all manner of programming, branded content and advertising delivered to the desktop or an iPod. The brewer intends the network to be long-lived and to eventually be named "Bud TV." We've said it before and we'll say it again, the middleman - the networks - just aren't needed any longer. When a brand or program producer can deliver content directly to the consumer, there's no need for the current TV network set up. Oh sure, big changes are years away but it's happening and it will continue to happen faster and faster as more brands and content producers realize they can have their own channel of distribution.
With baby boomers not really babies any longer and quickly becoming a predominant and "old" audience for marketers to reckon with, both agencies and marketers are wrestling with the notion that it ain't all about the 18-34 year old any more and have begun spouting misleading terms such as "over 35" when they really mean "over 50." But, "over 50" is so uncool and just doesn't gracefully roll off the tongue of the typical 20-something, 30-something agency/marketer type.
Companies have tried to re-brand their older-focused companies towards younger audiences and have alienated existing, older customers. Companies have re-branded upward but have focused to a 35 year old when their audience is really 55. And some say the whole age-focused thing is just the wrong way to target and it should be more about psycho graphics. There's a lively discussion in the Adrants discussion group right now. Are we marketers handling the age thing the right way or the wrong way?
The NFL has announced it will place all Super Bowl ads airing this weekend on its video on demand NFL Network, on NFL.com and on Sprint phones. Budweiser will optimize its five minutes worth of ads for the iPod and make them downloadable from Budweiser.com. GoDaddy, of course, has been pushing its ads online for years. Pepsi will have BrownandBubbly.com. Burger King will have the Whopperettes. Who needs an actual television anymore?
Clinging for it its own life at the expense of the lives of others whom it feels should perceive smoking as a glamorous activity rather than the killer it is, R.J. Reynolds in launching a fancy new brand of cigarettes called Marshall McGearty and supporting the brand with a hipster lounge in Chicago. As if completely oblivious to the past 20 years worth of research highlighting the killing qualities of cancer sticks, Larry McGearty, CD at RJR agency Gyro Worldwide told Ad Age, "No one has done this before. Nobody has tried to create romance in the industry and take it to the next level." McGearty and the other pompous soul who's name is on the brand, RJR stench guru Jerry Marshal cooked up the idea several years ago realizing many other categories of social vices had high end brands that were successful and figured why should cigarettes be left out of that game.
Oh sure, everyone should be free to choose their on manner of death but at least in American society, the whole smoking thing is over. It had it's day. It's done. Clearly, it's not a healthy thing to engage in and eradicating it from the earth wouldn't be such a bad thing. Oh wait, then everyone will want to ban alcohol, coffee and all those other pleasantly mood-altering but health challenged substances we all enjoy from time to time. That said, we just don't think this one's going to go very far. You can see two of the ads here and here.
Coinciding with the launch of China CEO Tom Doctroff's book, Billions: Selling the the New Chinese Consumer, JWT China issued a press release with the headline, "Understanding and Embracing China's Different Worldview Is Main Theme of Billions: Selling to the New Chinese Consumer, by JWT's Tom Doctoroff," which offers 12 facts about the "Confucian Consumer." While the release may seem like yet another harmless attempt by a marketing entity to neatly lump together the traits of billions of people and slap a cute title on it, some who watch the country's culture closer have taken issue with the oversimplification and incorrectness of the 12 facts.
The main complaint is the trotting out of Confucius to "frame the market for American business people" writes the China Herald weblog that doing so "creates the illusion that there is one driving force in the Chinese market you can use as a beacon in an often chaotic situation." In an article on Danwei written by Jeremy Goldkorn who works in the Chinese ad biz, he offers a a point by point analysis of the release and ends with "bullshitting is part of the game in the advertising industry." While we have no idea who's right and who's wrong on this whole Confucian Consumer thing nor are we equipped to make judgement, we do know Goldkorn's statement is as true as the Earth is round.
In what might be the first use of a million dollar homepage for something other than personal gain, Sweden's Sam Nurmi has created HelpFirefox.com, a site that sells pixels for one dollar a pop and donates all the money to the Mozilla Foundation, makers of the open source Firefox browser. Given that the Mozilla Foundation has been very successful is raising money both for development and for advertising, it would appear this particular million dollar homepage idea might see some action.
For brands looking to extend their awareness to the ad-averse generation, Adland points us to user bars, graphic images which people can add to their forum signature or other online presence. User bars, which have been around for some time and are available all over the place, and are grouped into categories such as hobbies, cars, games, TV, movies, sports and, yes, brands. Adidas, Coke, Converse, Corona, Nokia, Nike, Snickers, Sony, Playboy, Pepsi, Reebok, and yes, cigarette makes such as lucky Strike and Marlboro since its about the last place they can advertise. Many users create their own user bars along with those that have been created by forum owners. User bars are a great way to reinforce a brand to those who are forum addicted and advertising averse.
According to American Demographics Founder Peter Francese, Americans out pace the rest of the world, by far, in weekly spending on the consumption of goods. He says Americans, each week, spend more than the gross domestic product of Finland. Francese wonders just how necessary it is for many Americans to "need two homes, three vehicles and four TVs" but he's not complaining acknowledging that world-beating consumption keeps the ad industry afloat. In fact, if consumer spending, over the past ten years, rose at a rate equal to the increase of households (14 percent) rather than 23 percent, people would have spent $640 billion less altering the current American economy orders of considerable magnitude.
Mobile entertainment firm Moderati has released its year-end wrap-up of ringtones including an analysis of regional preferences. Without surprise, hip-hop dominated top spots on the list again this year, with 60 percent of the songs from hip-hop artists.
Video game themes (Super Mario Brothers) and evergreen movie themes (Halloween) ranked high as well, with five top finishes. Cracking the top 20, a bit out of left field, was "Scotty Doesn't Know" by Lustra, a song from the 2004 movie Eurotrip.
The wafting odor of the elder generation is diffusing online at an increasing rate according to a report from BURST! Media featured on eMarketer. The report says online users over the age of 54 are spending more time on the Internet and less time with offline media sources. While the over 54 crowd are still big consumers of offline media such as newspapers, many are finding valuable information online they can't find in traditional offline media. eMarketer has all the smelly details.