advertising, broadcasting, social media-ising, television, viewing

Message for Chrysler: the 1980s called and they want their marketing model back

Superbowl_empty_stadium NBC's SuperBowl broadcast cash cow; could the last marketer out please turn off the lights (pic sourced)

news this week that Chrysler has caused quite a stir by 'snapping up' one of the last remaining ad spots in the Superbowl.  'Chrysler' you say, 'the Chrysler that got bailed out by the American taxpayer to the tune of $13.5 BILLION last year?' … yes, the same.

I am, in a word, stunned.  stunned that an advertiser that had just been bailed out by the American taxpayer could decide that blowing something in the region of $100,000 per second on a 60" TV ad is in any way shape or form the right thing to do.  when oh when are people going to get that broadcast advertising is neither efficient nor effective at selling things.  McKinsey, if you remember, did a really cracking bit of research that went a long way to proving that consideration isn't a funnel and doesn't work like that.


I'm not suggesting that advertising (ie one-to-many 'adverts') isn't good at doing things.  it really is.  it's very good at (1) communicating new news, (2) getting people talking about your brand and (3) it's very good at validating purchase decisions.  but none of these are relevant for Chrysler; who in this move have only succeeded in getting people talking for all the wrong reasons…

Ad Age quote one commenter as saying that the move is a "slap in the face to every American taxpayer … This is Chrysler's way of saying 'Thanks for saving us, but now screw you, America. We're gonna use the money to pay for some Super Bowl ads".

a spokesperson for Chrysler- quoted in the same article – comments that "The Super Bowl is one of the most-watched TV programs of the year, not only for the football game but for the creative advertising … It provides an efficient platform to make a statement, set the new brand-positioning and reach the maximum number of viewers in comparison to traditional advertising … It would be more costly to achieve the same number of viewers in traditional media placement and ensure the high viewership attention span that the Super Bowl delivers."

I'm sorry but the 1980's called and they want their marketing model back.

its a statement from a company marching backwards: "efficient platform to make a statement", "set a new brand positioning", "in comparison to traditional advertising", "high viewership attention span" … I really am at a loss for words.

Advertising Age's headline was that "you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't" – their reporting suggesting "Don't advertise, you don't move product. Advertise, you get hammered for wasting money" … I'm sorry but in this case Chrysler are just damned.  damned because they have.  they have wasted money, they have taken a lazy way out, and they have ignored the new paradigm of marking and communications that has evolved around them over the last decade.

Pepsi decided that they wouldn't be damned if they didn't.  the company that spent $142m on SuperBowl advertising between 1999-2009 (source) have decided that they'd rather invest the money on something a little more meaningful than lining the pockets of Madison Avenue's Bad Men.  Pepsi are marketing by investing in the people and projects that people think are worthy of investment.  Pepsi get that ad money isn't there to 'sell' stuff.  it's there to get people talking about your brand, because what you're doing is worthy and meaningful and acting as though you give a damn about the people that you want to buy your products.  and full credit to them.

in the slow painful death of the broadcast sales model, it's the existence of events like the SuperBowl that will allow its last standing defendants to cry "it works … we can shout at people and claim 'our brand believes in freedom, or choice, or in the human spirit, or technology or whatever we think will most differentiates us from a competitive set that we create in order to validate our investments and people will believe us and they will buy and it will be awesome".

but if the reaction to Chrysler's move tells us anything its that the long held contract between advertisers and people who buy stuff may be starting to show more than a few cracks.  people are realising that thereare other ways to be marketed at than to be shouted at by a company who can spend $100,000 a second on an advert.  sure the model and it's contract will hold, probably for a good while to come, and Chrysler seem happy to throw their dollars at it.  but I'd rather be one of the first ones to get out and taste the fresh air than be the last one to turn out the lights.  what you do, I guess is your call.

brand extending, creating, realtiming, social media-ising

It’s a crazy world, but I wouldn’t have it any other way: me and a pair of limited edition adidas’ that I was never destined to own

its a beautiful Friday evening in Sydney, but before I head out for a few drinks for Zaac's birthday, I'd like to tell you a story.  its a story about a great brand, and about how the world of communications works now; but more than that its a story about me and a pair of trainers that I will never now own.  and why thats OK.

it begins last Saturday, when Size sent an email to their mailing list.  on that list was my friend @fraser201 who, upon seeing that contained in that email were some of the most amazing trainers he'd seen an a good long while, forwarded the email on to me.  he knew I'd like it, you see two of my favourite things in all the world are trainers and Star Wars.  and there on the Size email were those two things.  together.  in one place.  Star Wars limited edition trainers.  and they were glorious.

so I turned to Google and got a few results from Star Wars and various trainer sites, but notably saw a result from @adi_originals.  so I promptly hit TweetDeck and fired off a Tweet to adidas, and heard back almost immediately…

Cws_twitter @adi_originals re StarWars collection, awesome stuff!! when are the orange Xwing hightops hitting Sydney? and where can I get them?

Adidas_twitter @cwstephenson The Skywalkers will be available at our Sydney Originals store. Give them a call:

following their link, I got to their Town Hall Originals Store website and placed a call.  the wonderful Chrissie picked up.  she explained that there were strictly limited numbers and that they'd go on sale on a first come first served basis on Friday.  in the diary Friday morning went and I did the polite thing and sent a Tweet back to adidas:

Cws_twitter @adi_originals nice one, thanks – looking forward to picking up some Skywalkers on Friday

and so the week passed.  and when I wasn't working or going out or up to no good, I was thinking about a limited edition pair of adidas Star Wars Stormtroopers, and tweeting about them to @fraser201 and @willsh.  Friday morning, this morning, couldn't come soon enough.

I however, could have come considerably sooner.  too late, I was.  I simply got there too late.  by the time I got to the store there was already a queue and as, one by one, people entered and left the store, the limited editions, one by one, left the store with them.  very soon there weren't any left for me.

I'm not angry or pissed off.  I guess I'm just a little blue.  somewhere in and around Sydney there are limited edition adidas Stormtroopers being worn, or admired, or stored in a safe, but none are being worn or admired or stored in a safe by me.

please don't feel too sorry for me.  there's more where they came from.  the first transport may have gotten away but battle will recommence in a month's time…  the prize?  these little puppies…


but thats not the end of the story, because towards the end of this morning the following popped into my Twitterfeed:

Adidas_twitter @cwstephenson What did you pick up? May The Force Be With You:

adidas remembered.  not just that I was interested in their products but that I was planning on getting some this morning.  four days after our Tweet exchange – an eternity in a world that's converging into RealTime – they remembered and sent me a message.  perhaps its just me, perhaps I was feeling needy, but I find that pretty remarkable.

play my story back again… here's how it went down: a retailer sent a mailer out which was forwarded to me via someone in my network so I searched then tweeted, then tweeted some more, then went to a store and missed out but then received a tweet which contained a link to the below rather amazing ad which I clicked on and watched.

the ad came last.

after all the product development, partnership building, new news generating, social networking and direct communicating, I watched an ad.  and ad designed not to make me go and by something.  quite the opposite.  an ad as an affirmation.  a validation of the journey that I'd just been on.  "thats why I love this brand" is the response it so deservedly earns.

because in all of that story, in all that maelstrom of communications and connections, at no point was any media bought.  at every step along the way it was earned; earned by a brand creating something that in the end I wasn't even able to buy.

its a crazy world, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  good weekends all…

brand extending, charging, creating, selling

Demanding Supply: What the Sydney Festival can learn from adidas and Star Wars

Becks_late_at_Sydney_Festival the Becks Festival Bar @ The Barracks [source]

so last night I spend a brilliant evening jumping around to Big Black Voodoo Daddy & Black Joe lewis and the Honeybears at the Becks Festival bar (above).  its all part of the Sydney Festival, which opened on Saturday with Al Green performing to about 200,000 people in the Domain.

but here's the thing – I had to buy my and Jonathan's (hi Jonathan @jonnyp) way into Big Black Voodoo Daddy et al, because all the tickets had been and gone months ago when they were first released.  it seems to me that there for a city the size of Sydney the festival just doesn't seem BIG enough…  there needs to be more stuff, more to do, because the demand is currently far outstripping supply.  …and thats the thing about supply and demand – the more there is of something, the more we want of it:

Supply-demand-right-shift-supply.svg Induced demand: When supply shifts from S1 to S2, the price drops from P1 to P2, and quantity consumed increases from Q1 to Q2 [source: Wikipedianess]

I love the counter-intuitiveness of this.  the more you create of something the more people want it.  the problem however is that at the same time the value of the commodity goes down – but only if the commodity in question is homogeneous.

this is the great opportunity for something like the Sydney Festival – you don't make it bigger by making more of the same; in order to protect value you need to produce more of the different.  more venues, more spaces and places, more 'differentiated scale'.  in this the festival can learn much – and a big thanks to a heads up from @Fraser201 on this – from adidas and Star Wars…  yeah, I know…

in December of last year adidas announced the creation of an originals range inspired by the Star Wars universe, its been trending up ever since:

there's three very smart things about this, the second two of which relate to really brilliant understanding of induced supply.  the first thing to say is that in no way shape or form will adidas ever have to spend a penny in broadcast advertising of this range: its existence will be all the marketing collateral they need.  but thats not whats really interesting about what adidas are doing.

I had a quick conversation with the lovely Chrissie at the Sydney Originals store this morning, who informed me that the range isn't all being released at once, rather its being phased over three months.  thats the first smart way of increasing supply without compromising price; phased supply over time.

secondly, not all lines will be equally available – some of the lines will be general release and fairly easily obtained, but others will be strictly limited, some down to two pairs of sneaks per store.  thats the second smart way of increasing supply without compromising price; variable availability.  the entry levels for demand are different – individuals with heavy demand will invest more time and energy than those with lower levels of demand but the value equation for both will be similar.

both the Sydney Festival and adidas' Star Wars range can teach communications a thing or two too: imagine that the theory of induced demand applies to bought media…  an increase in the volume of advertising impacts has resulted firstly in a fall in the value (real or perceived) of brand communications and secondly, an increase in the demand for brand communications…  advertising has gone from the Immortal to the Immediate:

Sistene_banksy from the Immortal to the Immediate; Michelangelo’s Sistine ceiling (top) took four years to paint, current economics wouldn’t favour its commissioning today.  Banksy’s Tesco Flag (bottom) took a little more than four minutes

it couldn't be less about doing a few things well; fewer bigger better needs to be thrown out with the noughties.  rather its about doing lots of things well enough.  on which I'll let you enjoy the awesomeness of the below…  they're on phased release from now till March, form orderly queues please…




internet, predicting, realtiming, social media-ising, targeting

Staring into the Infinity of Now: the challenge of living in RealTime

Doctor_who_untempered_schism the Untempered Schism [source] …the Doctor ran away, The Master went mad, I just keep staring at the Tweets and clicking on the links as they hurtle towards me

I have seen my future – it is TweetDeck on a SmartPhone – and it terrifies me.  I fear that my life will not be the same again.

it all started when earlier in the week I got round to downloading TweetDeck to my laptop, and lost the following two hours, and several hours since, jumping to links as they were delivered into my live feed.  it got me thinking about how much the way I consume stuff has accelerated over time…


I used to communicate pretty much exclusively asynchronously; if someone called me and I wasn't around they called back later or just didn't call at all.  but then things started speeding up, first with email and mobile phones, and then with RSS (which I never really got used to) and now Twitter.  at the end of this acceleration phase I now find myself plugged directly into stuff as it happens; I'm living in RealTime, my communications are predominantly synchronous.  I'm not alone.  in a brilliant post, Jim Stogdill describes a similar experience…

"Email was the first electronic medium to raise my clock speed, and also my first digital distraction problem. After some "ding, you have mail," I turned off the blackberry notification buzz, added rationing to my kit bag of coping strategies, and kept on concentrating. Then RSS came along and it was like memetic crystal meth. The pursuit of novelty in super-concentrated form delivered like the office coffee service … It was a RUSH to know all this stuff, and know it soonest; but it came like a flood. That un-read counter was HARD to keep to zero and there was always one more blog to add … From my vantage point today, RSS seems quaint. The good old days. I gave it up for good last year when I finally bought an iPhone and tapped Twitter straight into the vein. Yeah, I went real time."

the problem with staring into the infinity of RealTime is that your attention levels drop through the floor.  there's only so much attention to give, and as the density of the communications coming at me has increased my ability to stay focused on any one thing has declined.

Richard of Sydney-based Now and Next calls is Constant Partial Stupidity.  in a great post on his trend spotting site, he describes some of the symptoms of CPS…

"…how about your inability to remember multiple passwords, with the result that getting money out of an ATM at weekends has been turned into something resembling the national lottery? Or what about phone numbers? What is your home telephone number? Many people no longer have a clue and it’s not simply because they use a mobile telephone. This is the brave new world of too much information and not enough functioning memory"

my attention is increasingly focused on staring into the infinity of now, with the result that increasing amounts of my attention are being diverted to now, and away from my past and futures.

the history of my life since 19th February 2006 is contained with 5,150 gmails, all search-able in seconds.  I don't have to remember anything, so I don't.

I plan in the now too…  if I wanted a Playstation game (its XBox these days) I used to do my research in magazines and online – my attention was on the future.  now if I'm passing a shop I can check the reviews there and then, make the decision not in the past but in the now.

my world is collapsing into RealTime, and as a consequence my attention is being pulled away from my past and possible futures.  the implication for brand communications planning is obvious: the past and the future become irrelevant.  unless a brand is active in the moment, in RealTime, then they may as well not exist at all.

predicting, trending

Mapping & Mining the Future: How an Innovative & Imaginative Approach from What’s Next is making future-reading more accessible for us all

the above screengrab is from a really rather glorious TRENDS & TECHNOLOGY TIMELINE 2010+ conceived, created and – courtesy of creative commons – shared with the world by Richard Watson at  you can view the whole thing here.  its worth it.  do it now.

its a complicated thing for a complicated subject…  how do you aggregate let alone predict the various and multiplicitous future offerings that a speeding-up tech-driven lived-in-real-time world will bring?  well, you imagine a London tube map where stations are trends, lines are broad themes or topics and the further away from zone 1 you get the further into the future you travel, and it turns out you're in pretty good shape.

as Watson observes, "Predicting the future is a dangerous game — the future is never a straight, linear extrapolation from the present. Unexpected innovations and events will conspire to trip up the best-laid plans — but it’s still better than not thinking about the future at all"  …well worth printing in A3 and sticking near your desk.

not surprisingly, given the whole dawning of a new decade thing, recent weeks have seen a deluge of predictions and future trend observations emerge; and in another philanthropic move, Syamant of futurechat has aggregated a whole load of them into one place for us.  dive in a go future-exploring.

all this is important.  its important because as media and message blur, the recommendations we make to brands can't just be what to say and where to say it.  an application – for example – is neither media or message, its a blur of both.  our recommendations instead have to be developed and built around identification of the topics and themes that exist for a brand or organisation to potentially say something about, and indeed why its relevant for a given brand to be involved in a particular area.

predicting the trends of tomorrow doesn't just provide an academic sojourn into what may come to pass… rather it gives anyone involved in communications planning starters for ten on the topics and themes that will impact and change our lives.  and understanding and explaining to which of those a brand should connect is some of the most valuable advice we can give.  let the future commence.