Sunday, November 27, 2011

This is a fundraiser for my daughter's pre-school

This is a fundraiser for my daughter's pre-school. Please use the search box below before you buy anything from Amazon and her school could receive up to 15% of the purchase! Thanks for your help!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Damn, they're good!

I love Nike. I guess I also have to love Weiden as well, because they have created a hell of an ad. So dramatic, yet cute at the same time.

You gotta see this. If you don't at least get a little chill, you're not human (or at least not a sports fan)...

Uh oh

They are saying that the financial woes might extend to online soon enough. It's of course already felt in the financial sectors, but auto will probably be next.

The flexibility of online which is usually so good, can also be used against it in a pinch, since every other media is longer-lead and/or sunk.

But chin up, the industry is forecasted to have a "banner" year (hee hee) in 2009. Hang on for 10 more weeks!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Online ad industry needs to be more efficient. -- DUH!

I think as this article states, the online ad industry definitely needs to get more efficient. I think all of us in the industry see the inefficiencies but the question is really how to fix it.

When I was at a large agency, we tried a few different ways, like templates, which not only helped make development easier, it made it much more flexible and quick to go live. However, the thing that everyone hated was the lack of creativity. Since our shop was known for its creative solutions, who wanted to put up a template?

I think there's way too much talking about the problem and too little offering real solutions that could help. I look and look to these "experts" to give us some real hints of how to solve the problem and I pretty much always get no real solutions. Just "rules" or things not to do. Sigh...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

VW Routan

Love the name, right? VW has an interesting campaign to promote their new minivan. They've hired Brooke Shields, now a famous mother, to fight against people having babies just so that they can buy a Routan. Man, I just can't get over that horrible name. Really bad for the internet generation. I misspelled it a couple times before I got it.

Anyway the campaign seems pretty fun, where she's self-importantly fighting this cause, with several spots here, here, here, and here, driving people to

Brooke does a good job of keeping a straight face as she accuses couples of having a baby for German engineering instead of love. Will this sell minivans? Not sure, but it will drive awareness that they HAVE a minivan, and that's a start. Now if they could just do something about that name...

Monday, September 22, 2008

What do you think? Are you a PC?

So the new campaign for Microsoft is finally revealed (at least one ad of it, available here) and at first viewing, I thought it was pretty good. However, upon further reflection, I'm not sure it's exactly what they need to bring them back from cultural oblivion.

After all, Apple has made the Mac cool. It's a cultural phenomenon now, young, hip, stylish, trendy even. Microsoft, as in this article, has become the butt of Apple's jokes. Part of it is because it doesn't really have an identity beyond nerdiness or business.

I understand from a logical view that this campaign is meant to rebut this stereotype a little, but to me it almost confirms it. It's not an emotional campaign as much as a logical one. One that will probably resonate much better with those who currently use PCs, and maybe that's the point. Older people, business people, nerdy people, will all rally around their PC platform and just like the blackberry vs. iphone debate will rationalize all the functional benefits of using a PC, like it works better with Outlook! and it doesn't crash as much when you use Microsoft Office! And, and... well, I'm sure the head strong can come up w/ a few more.

But anyway, it's a fun war we have going on and I'm glad Crispin's in it. Because even if this isn't the campaign that really makes it a battle, at least Microsoft has a team that can possibly bring them back to the playing field.

Btw, I'm a PC, but I'm also an iPhone. Maybe that's why I liked the ad the first time?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

HEADLINE: Online Video Continues for 10 years!

Boring. Just read this Google blog post about the "future of online video." It was supposedly a compilation of the thoughts of 10 of Google's top experts.

You know what they come up with? That online video will continue growing and will become the largest communications channel. That there will be more devices to record, edit and upload. That it will become a bigger part of people's lives. Am I missing something? I mean, "top experts" from one of the most forward-thinking Internet behemoths out there and we get predictions of basically "more of the same, but bigger and better."

How boring. I want to hear about new ideas, like "clicking on Jennifer Aniston's sweater to buy it while watching Friends" kind of ideas that were popular 10 years ago during the boom. I want to get excited and inspired, not hit with the blahs.

Well, you know what's really happening. Every one of those exciting ideas are being worked on by a few geeks from MIT in Google's "labs." We'll see it, but only after they figure out how to get little text advertisements right next to the video feed.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Coke Zero Zero Seven Bottle

For some reason when I initially heard about this, I was thinking it was a brilliant idea. "What a sponsorship! A great idea!" (I don't know what I was thinking). Then I saw the bottles and I thought, "eh."

Do you ever get the impression that this goes on not only with consumers but with all parties involved? The marketers that paid for this sponsorship or whatever this is called, Coke, everyone. Collective "eh" and you move on to the next project. "Well, at least we'll get eyeballs" would probably be the resulting sentiment.

There's just too much marketing that may sound good initially but just ends up looking and feeling wrong. What a shame.

Monday, September 08, 2008

New Microsoft Commercial: Bill Gates & Jerry Seinfeld

I'm sure you've seen the new spot by now. In case you haven't, here it is:

I thought it was VERY interesting and it actually made me watch it again and call my wife over to watch it (where I had to rewind a little to start it over). Sure, it didn't mention Windows. Big deal! I can't believe people are already calling this campaign a failure or stupid (see article talking about this stupidity here).

After all, isn't advertising about first getting someone's attention and breaking through the clutter? This first effort definitely got that. So I'm wondering what the pundits will say when they HAVE to see what's coming next. That's what Crispin has done, created an appetite and a curiosity about the campaign. Like the first season of "Heroes" where we couldn't wait until the next episode, the audience now wants answers to the burning questions in their heads:

- What is the purpose of all this and how does it tie into Microsoft?
- What does Crispin have up their sleeve?
- Will they outshine Apple?
- Will they finally get some cultural currency?
- What will Jerry do next? Will his jokes get better? (we hope)
- Will there be other cameos?
- Will Bill show us his house? Is he really a cheapskate?

Anyway, the point is, this is the stuff that inspires blog rantings and yes, even the stuff that gives long-retired bloggers (such as myself) a reason to pick up a pen... er, keyboard again. Stay tuned. I think it's VERY interesting!

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Few Good Ads

Deep down in places I don't want to talk about at parties I just want the creatives to frickin' listen to my strategy and use it. Just once? Kidding. There are a FEW good creatives out there...

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Righty or Lefty?

I recently received an interesting "test" from my friend that I just had to share. It's an animation of a dancer's silhouette doing a turn. What's so great about that? Well, depending on whether you are primarily a left-brained or right-brained thinker, it turns a certain way. That's right, depending on the way you THINK it turns different ways. Try it here.

Some people can't get it to switch directions (I saw it turning clockwise immediately and it took me a little while to see it turning the other way), but if you can, I'm betting that you can't just leave it alone and just need to keep trying to make it switch directions.

Why do I mention it? I just think it's great viral fun. Ok, ok, if I had to pull an interactive "lesson" from this, it's that as the web gets more and more complex, one thing remains consistent, it's that good content, not necessarily the latest bells-and-whistles, always triumphs over mere good execution.

Eye Wonder Why

Keeping on top of online marketing trends means going on a lot of sites that talk about such things. The ads that consistently impress me on these sites are the EyeWonder self-promotion ads, like this one. They are so good to me because they utilize EyeWonder's "instant play video" technology better than anyone else I've seen (which is probably why they did it -- frustrated with their clients not utilizing their technology to its potential, they decided to do it themselves). They not only load extremely quickly and self-play, intriguing users to look at them and play them, they also offer videos in addition to the first one to play with.

What keeps me wondering is why they haven't been touted a little bit more for their effective use of their product in their ads. Such a slam dunk, in my opinion.

Sprint's is a really fun site by Sprint which uses video to show users ways to save time. The examples they have are fun, quick and addictive. That’s the good part.

Criticisms are that there really isn’t that much to tie it into the brand and their message (what is the tie-in anyway?) and once a user is done looking at all the time-savers, there’s little more for the user to get involved with. The logic seems to be to roll the time-savers out, but with their cool little concept to start, I think a better idea in today’s online social media landscape would’ve been to open it up to people more – allow them to comment on each shortcut, allow them to submit their own shortcuts for immediate broadcast (instead of submitting them for curating), and allow people to respond through video to the campaign (like YouTube does). Sure, it’s riskier, but given the money that they probably threw at this campaign and this website anyway, isn’t it riskier to leave it as is – a fun experience that you visit once and never come back to?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Don't be a bloghead!

So since blogging has gone mainstream I have had a lot of clients ask me to get the blogging world excited about their product or service.

I have to then educate them in the tough world of guerrilla/viral online. I remind them that these are not lemmings to be manipulated, much as some well-publicized examples tend to imply otherwise, but they are typically the most vocal, opinionated and, sometimes, cynical of all consumers. To treat them in a "post it and they will believe it" type of way is a huge mistake. I tell my clients that although it sounds great -- I mean, it's supposed to be free, right? -- it's a risky strategy that can easily backfire.

Just like the message boards that are still thriving out there, blogs have to be treated with respect. On the boards you have many long-standing "residents" of the forums, not only talking to each other, but establishing influential, trusted relationships even with the "lurkers." A strange or new voice is easily detected and agendas are easily figured out. Once you're figured out, even your most helpful online buddy will turn into Sgt. Get-the-f-outta-here.

A slightly different dynamic is present on the blogs. Sure, sometimes commenters are frequent contributors and respected members of that blog's "community," but typically the blogger him/herself is the star of the show and you can't forget that.

My tact on getting some degree of attention in this space is to treat them like a feature writer for your local paper. Remember, they're people just like you and me, maybe some have slightly bigger egos, but they are people. They are also busy people and most likely get a lot of mail, solicitations and requests. My guess is if it's relevant to what their blog's about, and you use honey (respect, generosity and even flattery) rather than vinegar (demands or trickery), you'll have a much better chance. But even then, I wouldn't hold your breath.

In a good WSJ article about blogs and other community media turning your life public, it talks about some services that now aim to "clean up" people's online reputations that have been besmirched by online media. My guess? These services used a PR person's honey (relationships, relevance, respect) to get the story.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Starbucks Roadblock

I was at my local Starbucks this morning, waiting in the usual long line and straining to find something interesting to occupy my time when I happened to glance up at the specials board. I saw that they were playing the new Paul McCartney CD in what they called a "Global Listening Event" or something. Apparently they are playing McCartney's new album all day in every Starbucks and from the title, it sounded like this could be happening in every Starbucks across the world. That's pretty big.

But it's an interesting and, since it's a globally known entity like McCartney, very valid tactic to introduce a new album. They could've done more with signage (maybe table tents or at least a real sign, which admittedly I didn't look for), but in general, it's great to hear what you're buying. Lord knows you're waiting long enough so there's time to hear a good sample.

It's a great example of the mash-up of music and food service because the music becomes a part of the ambiance and the brand experience. You, being a captive audience ready to experience a tasty beverage, are in the mood to receive it and the music can add another layer to the image the store is trying to project.

It started me thinking about all the other food service and retail establishments that could possibly implement such a strategy from the stereotypical (bbq restaurants and country or blues music, diners and 50s music) to the quirky (Target and the many songs it uses in its ads?). I mean, why not package your audio image and make a few bucks in the process? It also creates a legitimate reason for consumers to go to your website and pretty much applies to everyone that visits the store.

Ok, so there are licensing issues, manufacturing issues, additional headaches, but isn't that just an opportunity ready to happen? A company can be created that does the licensing in one shot, the picking and packaging of songs, the cutting of the CDs (optional), the labeling, etc. and ships it out (or enables downloads) for companies big and small. Create a skin-able front end engine for clients, and it's ready for incorporation into a client's website.

Anyway, my apologies. I intended to talk about how this Starbucks Roadblock thing was like interactive marketing's near equivalent, the all-day roadblock on portals, but kind of meandered into something else. Oh well, that's what blogs are for, no?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Bricks and Clicks (Revisited)

Is it just me or is "Bricks and Clicks" starting to really take hold? I'm seeing more and more businesses -- and mind you, not necessarily the kind of tech-friendly kind that you might typically think of (e.g. Circuit City) -- embrace a "bricks and clicks" mentality and I'm personally loving it.

For instance, the other day I went to Tito's Tacos to do the wait-in-a-line-for-20-minutes-but-it's-worth-it thing and as I walked up to the building, I noticed a sign. It said that if you ordered online, you just wait here with your car and they'd bring out the food. Holy crap. You mean, after 20-some years of coming to one of the landmark Culver City eating joints and dreading long waits and (sometimes) unsavory characters, Tito's is now gone digital and in the process will save me time and frustration? Hooooooly moly. Talk about revolution! Arriba! [Caveat: Ok, I haven't tried it yet and it may very well be slow or the quality of the food may suffer, but c'mon, you always have to pay some price for that kind of convenience, no? -- Caveat update: According to the website, it's only for orders over $75. Bummer, but it will still come in handy next time I have a Tito's party]. Give it a shot:

A greater example of this, however, is buying Wine online. Think about your process for buying wine: you go to a store, maybe a wine store, maybe a more general store, and browse through the aisles, sometimes getting some help if the shop is knowledgeable and well marketed, but mostly not. So how do you decide then? By what's on sale? The label? Ick. Hate the process. But now, you can order online and pick it up at your local shop (at least near me, on the Westside of Los Angeles).

Here's how it worked: I went to the website, looked up some wines, read about them, selected some, paid for it, and in less than an hour, the wine was picked and packed in a nice box and ready for me to pick it up. Fan-frickin-tastic! No going down aisles, no shlepping a shopping cart around the store, eyes glazed over looking at label after label, no asking store personnel how much a bottle is, no scanning a label for the region of the wine or what grape it was made from, no wishing for a description or a rating, it was all there. They even had the real labels scanned in for you pretty-label people. Best of all, I got to do it all in between other work on my computer, then got to save $40 on shipping by picking it up. Saves time, saves money (since I also price-compared online), saves my sanity. I was very impressed and I'll definitely do that again.

So, is the world ready for this? Maybe not yet.
The penetration and awareness of these types of services seems to be low and, of course, there's still the pleasure of occasionally walking down physical aisles looking at real goods, but the world will definitely warm up to it. It's the perfect blend of online and physical store convenience. And if these businesses with their not-so-sophisticated appearances are any indicator, when the world is ready, they will be too. Now only if we can get Home Depot (my biggest nightmare online) and my local supermarket to offer such services. What a wonderful world it would be!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Marvel Vs. DC

Love these parodies of the Mac/PC commercials:

The Future of Mobile: Crush or Flush

Heard of "Crush or Flush"? It's a new "Hot or not" for today's mobile set. Although it's a simple idea, I think simple applications like this one (users only have three choices: "crush", "flush" or "tell a friend") is where mobile will finally shine. I think there's been too much effort in recreating the web on phones. That's just silly. The web is great for elaborate graphics, depth of content and endless linking. Mobile is NOT good at those things and it may never be.

Developers/entrepreneurs need to start thinking smarter about delivering apps that facilitate use by the normal person's cell phone before mobile becomes anything substantially more than a phone. They should keep in mind the fact that typically there are limits to battery life, user patience, what the user wants to learn and the time period users want to spend using their phone.

Is Crush or Flush going to change the world? Hardly. But maybe it'll change mobile and mobile marketing for the better.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Greatest Sponsorship Ever?

MCDONALD'S All American. What kind of All American? He's a MCDONALD'S All American. After all, if you're the best of the best in high school basketball you have to be a MCDONALD'S All American.

I just finished watching some great basketball during March Madness. After hearing "McDonald's All American" mentioned as THE qualification of why so-and-so is supposed to be great, or why so-and-so will change the fortune of this team or that, and hearing it about 15 million times in the course of watching the games, I came to the conclusion that McDonald's may have the greatest sponsorship ever. They will never EVER give this up. After all, they alone hold the name of the pinnacle of high school basketball. It's what you want to be if you're a high school basketball player. You don't just want to be an All American, you want to be a MCDONALD'S All American. Because McDonald's IS All American. McDonald's IS the best. McDonald's IS your favorite food, high schooler. Yes, yes, now you have it. Go get a Big Mac right now... and don't forget the fries, you need carbs to play your best. Good boy.

Nike can't do that, can they?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Some good Pointrolls

Huh? What do you mean where have I been? Ok, ok. So I took a little hiatus, big deal. You weren't supposed to be reading this anyway, you were supposed to be working! ... slacker.

On with today's topic...
I received the latest newsletter from Pointroll and unlike every other time I get one of them, this time I opened it. More surprisingly, I'm actually glad that I did. There's some good stuff in there. Here are my three favorites:

I love this ad
for its interactivity and keeping it simple. I think it's really hard to get someone's attention online when they're trying to read something other than your ad.

But the key is, once you get their attention, how do you hold on to it? Or, taking it a step further, how do you continue to hold on to it? This ad is great because it delivers (pun not intended)
the message very simply, but in an interactive way.

But the best part is, if you're like me (and God help you if you are like me), after trying the slingshot once, you have questions:
  • If I do it again, will it go to another location?
  • If I do it softer will the destination be closer to home?
  • How far can I stretch the rubber band?
In essence, the activity and the resulting questions created a natural urge to do it again and possibly again and again. In doing so, it adds more exposures to the brand, more exposures to the message and ingrains the experience deeper into the user's mind. And you thought it was just a fun ad.

This one does a great job of leading the user down a path. First, it inspires curiosity, you want to find out what's behind the door. And it just takes a rollover, you don't have to click to another site or anything. So I rollover and wow, a whole new world, complete with rollover descriptions of the villians!

[Of course it would be nice to understand a little more about who this little detective guy is and wouldn't it be better if there was a pretty damsel dentist in distress instead of some Jughead-with-hair dentist? And do you really want to change the interaction and make the "what is plaque" and "caring for your teeth" buttons require clicks vs. rollovers? But I digress, there's a cool story unfolding, right?]

So I click “continue.”

The gang scatters [I'm not sure why, all the detective's packing is a magnifying glass, what's he going to do, burn their wings off using sunlight? But then again, this is for kids, right?] then the contest screen shows up. There's a nice clear call to action that then leads to the site, saying "click here to play now."

[This is kind of where it all breaks down. What just happened? What exactly is the story? What does the Wii have to do with the cavity creeps or whatever those monsters were? And finally, what's with the copy on the last page: "Many will enter but few will win"? Is that supposed to inspire me to take the time to enter the contest? Yikes. Ok, after doing this analysis, there maybe more to dislike than like on this one.]

I like this ad because it uses the expandable ad to really load up content in multiple formats for a campaign that is supposed to answer questions (see the image to the left). It offers a nice little interactive trivia game, some videos and another section that I couldn't get to work.

The things I didn't like were the speed (which could be the Pointroll site) which made it too long to get to the three rollover interactions and to get through the trivia game. The trivia also didn't have a prize or a nice end to it, and didn't really help users learn after answering the questions (e.g. by offering the right answer and maybe the reason why it's the right answer). As mentioned above, I also didn't get the "meet our experts" part to work, which seemed like it might've been interesting.

Anyway, although these ads aren't perfect, they're a lot better and a lot more clever than most that I see expandable ads used for. All it took was a little more thought about what's appropriate and the willingness to make it happen.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

9,305 Years of YouTube Viewed So Far

Holy Crap! I love You...Tube. In fact, just over the weekend I've fallen in love with it all over again. I won't go into why, after all, this isn't really a personal blog, so let's just leave it at that.

However, in this great WSJ article about scraping stats (btw, I have no idea exactly how they are scraping. If you know, let me know so I can tell my technology-experimenting-and-hyper-analytical business partner to do it ;)), they discuss all the analysis that's being done on the YouTube audience. Interesting, yes, bladdity blah, BUT, this is the greatest stat: The total time the people of the world spent watching YouTube since it started last year is 9,305 years!

Man. Another interesting tidbit is how they are spending several million dollars' worth of bandwidth every month. Double man. Makes me think we all better get it while it's out there because if the suits don't figure out the business model and start cranking more ad dollars in (or start charging, or something), they may not be around very long.

Oh YouTube, I hardly knew you! :(

gWorld - Google's image labeler

Google World Domination Watch, #245,235: Google is so tricky. They have a new diabolical psychological device they have unleashed on the public (as reported in Media Post's Search Insider). They call it a "game" to make it sound innocent, but it's an alien mind sucking tool. Don't buy into it.

They are trying to capture and log people's brains for their own gain. Reminds me of the classic Twilight Zone titled, "To Serve Man." Ooooh, sends shivers down my spine everytime I think of it! Don't you miss great shows like the Twilight Zone? Do they still have the marathon on Thanksgiving weekend? Ahh, Thanksgiving turkey. Man, it's already September. Where does the time go?

Uh... oops, sorry, bit of a mental lapse there. So, as I was saying, Google reminds me of those aliens in that Twilight Zone. They are doing all this good for the world and everyone's buying into it. They read about the "benevolent" things that they are doing for their community (e.g. providing free wi-fi), that they provide a service to the world (e.g. search), etc. but really? They are aliens. Their motives will be known soon enough, but by then, it will be too late. We'll all be on their space ships, rocketing off to become someone's feast (hey, ironically, I referenced Thanksgiving turkey above. Neat!). Shouting to the faceless intercom, "What time is it! What time is it! Can't you just tell me what time it is without giving me a lesson in Euclidian Geometry!"

The answer back in the ominous tone of Sergey Brin's voice, "There is no time in space."

Ok, weird post I know. I'm not on drugs (except advil and caffeine), I swear it.

gmac? iGoogle?

In a great NYT article, the author speculates about how two anti-Microsoft players are banding together (to an extent, through the appointment of Eric Schmidt onto Apple's board).

Although I think it's a great partnership of innovative brands, I'm not sure what that means to the world. There is mention of using Google within iTunes. Paradigm shifting? I don't see it. Do you?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Google offering free Wi-Fi

The other day Google announced that it was going to launch its free wi-fi service in Mountain View, CA. Now, the author of the article says that Google "simply has more money than sense," but what do you think? I'm thinking that they want to find a way to track users. Ok, maybe not that, but at least get an idea of usage levels, then roll it out to the rest of the country, monetizing this "free" service with restrictions (e.g. a new interstitial initiated by the service? shown every 15 minutes of use? pop-unders?). I know they aren't in favor of overt ad-spamming, but they've got something up their sleeve, that's for sure.

More money than sense my @$$.

AOL Digging For Gold...Literally

In a fantastic article, AOL, after winning a large multi-million dollar settlement from a spammer and not being able to collect from him, wants to dig near his parents' house to see if they can find GOLD that he supposedly buried there!

Apparently he made millions off spamming people and hides his money by burying it! I love this story.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Smart Cars are coming!

Hooray! Ok, slightly off subject, but ever since I went to Italy about five years ago and saw the cute little Smart cars, I knew they would do great here in the US. I was even thinking of starting a "small car" dealership with Smart cars, Mini's and some other european mini-cars. Anyway, it's good to see they're coming. No, I wouldn't drive one, I probably wouldn't fit. I'm just saying...

Record songs from your XM player

XM now has a portable player that can record songs wirelessly as you hear it on their radio (Read the L.A. Times article here). I love this function and was hoping it would happen (my vision was always one where you could purchase it wirelessly then choose whether you wanted to download it wirelessly or wait until you got home to use your fatter pipes).

Anyway, I hope it takes off (and gets all its legal issues worked out and gets cheaper).

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Great commercial,

Just had to give my props to the new ad for the Sony Bravia in Europe.

Read about the campaign here or just watch the commercial here. Also, if you like it (which you will), there's some additional video here.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

Finance writers... sheesh

Do me a favor -- read this article and tell me what her point was (or just laugh). Horrible. I would expect more from a woman named Bambi Frickin' Francisco.

Quick news bites...

Here are a few things that caught my eye this morning in the L.A. Times:

Public libraries are now offering checking out and downloading of digital books online!
Cool. I'm definitely going to "check this out" :) -- all I need to do is dust off my old library card from the 70's. The catch? You can only check it out for about three weeks, then it digitally goes poof.

Netscape going to a Digg Model
It's a big risk for AOL, but it's a good experiment for them. I mean, what do they have to lose, except 11.2 million people in traffic.

Nielsen is going to track TV viewing on the Web
I think this is interesting, but ultimately it's kind of retrofitting a new medium to the old way of thinking. Sure, it's a good thing for the old guard to try to compare apples to apples, but we're talking Granny Smith to Red Delicious. Not exactly the same. Not only that, but we really need to have better ways to measure things...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

34% of Boys Don't Want To Be Rich!

Ok, so, the NY Times article was about how Scion is marketing their cars to kids 8- to 15-year olds through an online interactive community, which I think is a great idea. Just like putting smoking advertising at kid's eye-level in the 7-11.

BUT, the big news to me was hidden in one of the statistics. According to research from Packaged Facts, quoted in the article, only 66% of boys age 9 to 11 say they want to be rich! What the...!

Am I crazy or did everyone want to be rich when they were that age? Who didn't want to live like Richie Rich and have the world's largest lollypop or a circus in their backyard? Ok, the short shorts I could do without, but still!

I think it's a crime. Parents, do a better job. Raise your kids to be consumers and respond to marketing. It's how I make a living. ;)

Are "screens" the most powerful brand drivers? It depends.

Just read a Fast Company article that showcased a debate between Saatchi & Saatchi's Worldwide CEO and Ogilvy & Mather's Exec. Creative Director for the Brand Integration Group. Interesting discussion, but I'm not sure I quite understood what they were arguing about.

I think they both agreed that ideas can start anywhere and I think they both agreed that "screens" (e.g. PC, TV, DVD, movie, Playstation, etc.) were powerful ways to touch people, but I guess they were arguing whether screens were the most powerful driver.

Interesting thought and some really good points follow in the article, but really, who cares? After all, I believe in the beautiful but eternally frustrating phrase, "it depends." When my clients ask me a question, like, "What should we be measuring?" or "What should we have on our home page?" or "Shouldn't we be using rich media for our online ads?" hoping for that simple, succinct, strong stance that they can definitively take to their boss, I unfortunately usually have to say, "it depends." Because it does. Much of what we do in marketing has completely to do with context. What is the consumer like? How do they get their information and entertainment? I mean, how are you going to affect that consumer that gets her news from a newspaper and her entertainment from books or shopping or going to museums? What screen will you use for her?

Anyway, in that way I have to agree more (but not completely) with the Ogilvy guy. He at least acknowledges that other elements can be just as or more powerful. I think he was put in the unfortunate position of almost arguing against screens, but c'mon, they are ubiquitous and a huge part of our lives, so sometimes they are the best option.

That's why discussions like this seem kind of silly. I think both of these guys would ultimately agree with my views. But then, Fast Company wouldn't have a story, huh?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Self-Fulfilling Termination?

Reading the L.A. Times article this morning about more services moving to the web gave me chills a little bit. I mean, you saw The Terminator, right? Remember the premise? That the "machines" (read "computers"), with all the artificial intelligence research getting more and more sophisticated, finally achieved self-awareness and took over the world? It was a plausible story because right before that happened, all the world's information was digital and centralized (e.g. on the Internet).

Yes, boys and girls. This could happen. Sure, maybe not in our lifetime, but hey, maybe your kid or your kid's kid will have to travel back in time to protect you from the robots that are here to kill you. Ok, now that I say it like that, maybe it isn't so plausible. BUT, the thought still does haunt me.

Or how about they become self-aware, then they take over the world and power themselves on solar power, then we make the sky all cloudy, then they use our body heat as power and create an alternate reality for us to live in. Then there's this guy called Neo...

(<-- Neo, before becoming "the one")

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Brawny's Pretty Brainy As Well

Well, I have to tip my lumberjack skull cap to them once again.

By now I'm sure you've seen a commercial or otherwise heard about the Brawny Academy. It looks to be a made-for-Internet reality show where Brawny Man teaches eight n'er-do-wells how to be a man (however, since the women in their life sent them, I think it's more how to make them have more characteristics that women want).

I saw the trailer and it definitely looks fun. I'm a sucker for reality TV and it sure sounds better than watching cats lick themselves 24/7, that's for sure.

In any case, this post is not just about Brawny and their interesting forays using the Internet as their more inexpensive way to break out and create interesting content (remember, they were doing this years ago -- check this out), it's about my assertion that TV is no longer the destination, dammit! It's the Internet, stupid!

I know that I'm not the only one saying this, but still, I feel that people just aren't really getting it. The Internet is allowing all kinds of boundaries to be pushed or shattered (or at least experimented with) and it's not going to let up.

Again, it's not always going to be about the Internet that we know and love today, the one that is usually viewable on certain screens in your home office as opposed to the living room. It's going to be delivered entirely differently in the future, sure, but that's not my point. My point is about the storage, and the searching, and the beautiful lack of regulation and the connections and the trackability and the self-selectedness...(pant, pant, pant) Ok... I'm tired now. I'm going to go lay down.

But before I do, heed my warning, you TV/movie producers and you marketers and you advertisers. Don't wait any longer. Get in the inventive/creative Internet content game instead of just repurposing your same ol' TV shows or commercials. You'll learn relatively early and be the best when the rest of the world catches up (btw, it's not that far away).

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Meow Mix: The Cutting Edge Cat Food

In dramatic movie-announcer voice:
(hyper-fast montage of cats scratching each other, hissing, chasing each other, cuddling, screaming at each other, with drum music, playing faster and faster until...)
-- fade away --
June on Fox

Ok, maybe it's not on Fox. Maybe it's not even on TV, but Meow Mix has done it again. Say what you will about the quirky brand, it's hard for me to think of another CPG, let alone a pet food brand, that has done as much as they have to experiment and really push the boundaries in the name of brand and marketing.

They created Meow TV, the Meow Mix Cafe in New York and now they have created the Meow Mix House, apparently a real house that will have 10 cats (selected from shelters) living in it from June 13-23, to love, laugh and scratch each other's eyes out. It will have webcams in every room and America will vote for their favorites. The least favorite will be voted out and the top cat "gets" to be a taster for the company.

Ok, I'm not going to comment on whether or not this will sell cat food for Meow Mix or whether they should measure response and all that (of course they should). It seems as if Meow Mix has made a commitment to make their brand about being out there, about going where the people are and giving a cat-twist to things. I think their relatively bold moves in their field represents the chutzpah of the brand and that's probably translating to consumers who identify with fun and quirky (and may be a little nuts to boot -- hey, they're cat people after all).

I hope they do track it and they have been somehow tracking their other efforts, but my guess is that they are creating more buzz and PR hits than similar budgets would be able to generate. Most importantly, they are trying things and (hopefully) learning from them.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

You Can't Spell .mobi Without "MOB"

Forget the Sopranos. How about ICANN? How can you get a gig to be the OFFICIAL organization that gets to extort money from every single corporation and wannabe company in the world?

I'm talking about the .mobi extension. Paying to get your .mobi extension is like extorsion, isn't it? The mob (ICANN) comes to you and tells you (use your favorite gangster voice), "yo, I suggest you pay the fee and nobody gets hurt. I would also suggest auto-renewal. Otherwise? Maybe all of a sudden you won't be found in Google, or anywhere else, capische? Oh, and by the way, because you're a big company with money (ahem!), I mean, for your protection, we're going to charge you a higher rate, to dissuade those nasty cyber-squatters (not that we know any) from coming in and damaging your name. You wouldn't want that, now would you? Oh, and if you have any other companies or brands, you wouldn't want them to get hurt either, would you?"

What a scam. I mean, how many of these companies REALLY believe that this is where they have to be, at least right now? To which of these companies is it really THAT important? I mean, do you really need to be checking job listings on your phone (Hot Jobs was reportedly one of the first to sign up)? I can barely get through the day on my crappy battery just using the phone for what it's for -- CALLS. Really, what's the rush? We've been hearing about this mobile phone jazz for about five years now. It's coming, I know, but it's not here yet, that's for sure.

Anyway, I'm not really mad at ICANN. I just want to be jumped in. I want to be made.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Print and Online Work Together, Not Apart

In an OMMA article, Bob Carrigan makes the point that online sites of magazines are not and should not be just a repurposing of the offline content. I can't agree more.

He details how online counterparts to offline magazines should offer more than what is in print, and the best examples of sites that have succeeded end up looking little like their print parent.

The article is aimed at marketers having to evaluate publishers to advertise with (and Bob recommends going with those that have recognized the value of adding to the experience through their site, since those will be the ones that survive and thrive). However, I think his points also help validate my long-standing thoughts that traditional print (along with other traditional media like TV and radio) will ultimately become more of a driver to online than destinations themselves.

With the flexibility of display (video, audio, graphics) and especially the ability to connect and interact, the web (or some evolved cousin of the web we know and love today) will be the destination. This is already happening in several ways (way too many to mention here), but a good example is The Apprentice or some similar show. I'm a big fan of the show (hey, don't judge me) and I LOVE the fact that you can get uncut footage of some of the boardroom battles. I knew for several seaons that they must've edited the hell out of those things and it's just great that you can now get more online. This speaks to another great thing about online. It's not someone choosing for you what you get to see (well, to a certain extent, but bear with me), it allows you to self-select what you want to see more of and then you get to delve deeper.

With magazines the options are even greater. Instead of getting a little (like say, 3 pages and two photos) about a subject, you can go online and get a link to a video or more photos, or links to even more photos, or links to related articles, demos, tools you can use, and most of all, the ability to interact with the writers, editors and fellow readers, to truly get the most out of what you're looking for. The sky's the limit. And marketing online is likewise limitless.

[As an aside, I also believe that online presents a very strong ability for strong magazine brands to expand into the world of broadcast/video by experimentally floating out content to see what hits and what doesn't at a far lower cost and risk than trying to make a mega-deal with a network or cable channel.]

Anyway, as you can tell, I can go on and on, but I'll finish up here. Just mark my words, in the near future, the Internet is going to be media and all other current media will just drive people there.

User-Generated Content Crumudgeon

In an iMedia Connection article the author lashes out at user-generated content and it's continuing foibles, notably the recent Chevy Tahoe user-generated ad fiasco. He absolutely rails on the GM execs and how there is no way that GM even thought of the potential hazards and how, basically, the whole thing was nothing short of a complete and utter failure.

He then implies that sites like MySpace will never generate serious money because mainstream brands are afraid of the unbridled content.

Now, I acknowledge that there are definitely problems with user-generated content and that yes, marketers should learn from the past when thinking about using such media for advertising purposes. In fact, when working with one of the top automotive companies wanting to explore a community site, I argued against it due to its unpredictable nature. However, there is a difference between being cautious and being completely negative on the subject. After all, user-generated content is truly changing the face of the Internet and nearly all media and is not going to let up any time soon.

The trick is going to be how to effectively get in there and effectively manage the issues inherent in a free-form media. The solution is not to lambaste those brave enough (note I am not calling them "stupid enough") to venture out and explore the possibilities. In fact, we should applaud those pioneers. I don't think pulling out the old and dusty case study of GeoCities is going to necessarily be the light we all need to understand and navigate through today's Internet. It's a whole new world and if you don't adapt, you might as well go back to TV.

Axe Booty Tones

A recent MediaPost article outlines how Axe Body Spray has created a new mobile phone related promotion, called Axe Booty Tones where you can view a "black book" and download ringtones that match the girl that you choose.

More than the promotion, I enjoyed the analysis of the article which not only acknowledged the annoying quality of ringtones, but also succintly noted why this campaign stands out. Mostly, it creates an emotional connection with it's target, identifying the young males' undeniable desire to use media (in this case a ringtone) as social currency.

Can we all just (file) share?

Interesting Business 2.0 Article talks about three services using file-sharing for transferring large files to hopefully end the problems of attaching large files (e.g. photos, video files) to emails. The solutions are Pando Networks, Perenety and WiredReach.

Although the new services use the same (or similar) technology some of us more geeky types have been using (allegedly) to illegally download music and video online, their goal is to create a more user-friendly interface, similar to (or actually using) regular email.

Sounds like an easy transition from this to implementing the same to bolster the biggies' (AOL, Yahoo, MSN) instant messenger services, no?

Mission: Stupidity or Mission: Genius?

Love this story about a Mission: Impossible III stunt gone awry. Apparently a bunch of newspaper racks were rigged to play the M:I theme song when someone opened them to buy a newspaper, but some of the units fell on the paper and looked like bombs.

As a result, the bomb squad blew them up. Ha! A spokesperson said it was the "least intended outcome." So, was it a mistake or was it on purpose? I mean they must've generated many many times more news stories than if the gimmick had just gone as planned. Hmmm... marketers take note. :)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Microsoft to Buy Massive

Not much to say here since others have commented on this already (see Branded Newb and Joystiq), but I think it's a good move for Microsoft to buy Massive.

Not only does it make sense in terms of their console/online gaming business, but it's a great in-road to a place where Google isn't (yet) on the ad-inventory/selling side. They are also planning on integrating it into their ad-brokering service, AdCenter, which can really help them differentiate their offering from Google, by providing a "one-stop" to buy search, display and gaming advertising placements.

I don't know about you, but I love the on-going battle between Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. It's fun to watch, isn't it? I just wouldn't want to be in the middle of it. Think of the stress. Yipes.

MySpace Competition Heating Up

In today's Wall Street Journal, there were a few interesting articles about the on-going battle for social-networking supremacy. In one article, the Journal highlights four competitors, TagWorld, Imeem, Tagged and VarsityWorld. It contains their "strategies" for carving out a niche in the social networking space. One emphasizes the drag-and-drop interface, one is downloadable (big mistake), one is aimed at high-schoolers and the last is monitored by humans. Is there room for them in the increasingly crowded area? Well, according to the article, their user bases range from 50,000 to three million. Will they survive and/or thrive? You decide.

BBC Enters Social Networking
In another article (sorry, it's not public), the Journal reports that the BBC has its own plan to "offer a serice on its Web site simlar in some respects to"

Microsoft to Launch Social-Networking Site
Last, Microsoft is entering the fray by launching their own social-networking site, called Wallop. This may be old news to you, since about 200,000 users are currently testing the service within Microsoft.

I'm bored with social-networking. Anyone have any other ideas? :)

Friday, April 21, 2006

Males as sex objects

In a recent posting, my buddy jokingly writes about how appalled he is males are being portrayed as sex objects and gives a couple of examples. One of the examples I didn't look at because I'm just a little too busy at the moment, but the other (which I had seen some time ago, but that I was happy to be reminded of) was for Brawny paper towels, a microsite featuring VERY funny videos is one of the most memorable advertising microsites I've seen in a long time (even though the videos take forever to download).

One thing that quickly comes to mind when thinking about the Brawny site is how increasingly important the Internet is and will continue to be in keeping advertising and all content fresh and pushing the boundaries. I'm not sure if you're familiar with the Brawny TV ads that accompanied that campaign, but they were so dull and stupid compared to the online videos (e.g. they had a hunky guy presenting a birthday cake with a cheesy voiceover with none of the cleverness and just a hint of the tongue-in-cheekness that the online work had so much of). Makes you wonder whether the TV came first and was enhanced/blown-out by the online or the online was first and it was watered-down for the TV executions.

But in any case, it's clear that the online gave the advertisers the ability to reach out and be more creative, explore the idea further and really give the idea more dimensions -- thereby giving the brand a fuller personality. I think that's why TV is going to dominated by online content in the near future. The ability to try more things, to be more edgy and experimental will quickly catapult the "wild west" of the Internet to the forefront of media that we know today.

Pretty soon, in my eyes, roles will be reversed and TV will be more of a promotional mechanism for the broader, edgier content online. Consumers (at least the more forward-thinking ones) will tire of the watered-down, corporate-filtered content on TV and will want to get fuller experiences, where they will not only be offered different, more experimental content, but also the ability to self-select that which interests them most.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Whoa! McMobile: McDonald's goes mobile!

McDonald's is promoting some of its Oklahoma restaurants with a "Mobile Whoa" campaign, where customers can participate in a mobile scavenger hunt, get a mobile coupon and post photos in a camera phone and Web site picture gallery. The scavenger hunt starts when customers text-message a specific code or register online at a microsite for the promotion. Customers then receive a series of clues via text messages. Besides the coupons for free fries with the purchase of a Big Mac, there's another plus: all customers who submit a photo to the picture gallery will receive a code on their phone to download a free ringtone or wallpaper.

Will it work? Who knows, but seeing as though Mickie D's was one of the first to sign up on IAB's Cross-Media Optimization Studies, I think they are on the right track to getting it right. All this experimentation is sure to pay off somewhere down the line. Heck, if I were a kid in Oklahoma with a mobile phone, I'd definitely play. In fact, I'm jealous I can't play now. :(
Check it out here.