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.
Ad Induced Hotness?
Previously on Adrants: Writing in the Hendersonville News, Susan Hanley Lane shares her feelings regarding a racy Skechers billboard she saw when she was with her father in law as he was getting haircut. Noting the odd juxtaposition of the two figures on the billboard having simulated sex, advertising-style, with the presence of her father in law and two small girls playing outside near the board, Susan makes a convincingly cogent argument that, perhaps, we've taken this sex sells thing a bit too far.
She notes the walled garden that used to be called childhood has collapsed and has been replaced, at least for girls, by girlhood. In other words, kids aren't kids anymore but have, because of the continual presence of adult imagery, become young hotties in training. When you roll it up like that, it does certainly feel odd that young kids are routinely exposed to this sort of imagery. Many, including myself, have said, "Oh, just don't look. Turn the TV off. Monitor what your kids read and what they do online." Well, sure. That's all good but it's also like trying to juggle 12 tons of Jello while riding a unicycle. It's not possible. Kids are resourceful. If they want to see or do something, they'll find a way around parental blockage. Acknowledging that, one could argue if racy imagery that is now commonplace wasn't there in the first place, kids who circumvent so called blockage would find nothing more that a fully clothed Betty Crocker staring back at them.
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.
At a promotional event tomorrow, Saturday September 24, graffiti artists Serve One FBA and Chino B.Y.I. will do custom airbrushing on Converse sneakers free for anyone who purchases a pair between 2 and 4 PM at the Underground Station store in Brooklyn, New York.
Enabling the consumer-created advertising trend is a company called AdCandy which has positioned itself an exchange for people who think they have great ad ideas and marketers who think consumer-created ads are worthy of buying. We're not quite sure this is going to take off. Afterall, can you imagine anyone in our ego-centric advertising world allowing something to pass for an ad that doesn't have their name all over it so they can tout it during new business pitches and pre-award run ups? Oh wait...this is a good thing! People creating ads for products out of true love rather than ego-maniacle, head-swelling glory.
Flickr user Alane Golden has created a set of American Apparel ads he created as "a presentation for American Apparel. Call it my attempt landing a creative gig. Just something i have thrown together -to be reproduced nowhere, except perhaps as photos for my mates who posed!" No there's some serious consumer-created advertising dedication for you. The ads certainly mirror American Apparel's odd image but seem to steer clear of the already over-done kiddy-porn look which has gained the fashion brand fame and notoriety. Check out all the ads here.
Having fun with the whole metrosexual trendlet, Virgin Atlantic Airways announced that nominations for its ongoing Jetrosexual Awards will close this Friday, September 16. Apparently, hundreds of people have nominated their metro/jetrosexual friends since the program launched in June. The program seeks the ultimate Boston and Washington D.C. area entrepreneur and will award the Bostonian and DCist that best personifies the Jetrosexual spirit. Virgin Atlantis says the awards celebrate a "new emerging business culture lead by a growing group of Jetrosexuals, those high fliers who move business and culture forward each and every day."
The nomination site includes a list of 11 Jetrosexual Commandments including "Thou shalt be able to order a beer in at least six different languages" and "Thou shalt respect the five minute rule when using the lavatory." Local semi-finalists will be announced on September 30, 2005, be reviewed by a selection committee with final awards announced October 17, 2005. The winner will enjoy a high flying, Virgin Atlantic Upper Class experience to London.
Whether a veiled agency promotion or just two kooks on bikes, 86 the Onions design intern and UCLA student Steve Ounanian and bike messenger Chris Jahn left Los Angeles on bikes September 5 and north on a 100 mile-per-day, 14 day ride to Starbucks headquarters in Seattle. The purpose of the pair's trip, in a nod to the morning coffee quest, is to examine people's daily rituals - their's and the rituals of others - and understand why routine is so important. The two are documenting the trip with a blog and video clips.
Ounanian says, "The hypothesis is, ritual equals comfort, but it also equals, ironically, both freedom and confinement. There is something about the repetitive task of riding my bike, the machine aspect of it that is alluring. When everything is uncertain, stressful, or even wonderful—you can have control over it by just executing your daily ritual." Ounanian and Jahn are stopping in 14 cities on the way and interviewing people about their daily rituals hoping to understand it's core. Somehow, this is all related to marketing. Or research. Or agency promotion. Or weight loss. Or. Or. Or not.
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?
Illustrating the life cycle of the average advertising professional, Hugh MacCleod of "cartoons drawn on the back of business cards" fame, has created a new cartoon, called "The Three Ages of Slavery," that clearly, but perhaps depressingly, depicts what the average person working in advertising can expect as he progresses through his career. There's no 50's or 60's cause, you know, after 49, all those ad people seem to disappear into other endeavors courtesy of ageism.