advertising, broadcasting, marketing

Time for an Ad: How Groupon and Starbucks are doing things the right way around

Groupons new ad … geotargeted realtime promotions never sounded so straight-forward

Priscilla, who sends tweets from @thoughtcloud, (thanks Priscilla) pointed me in the direction the above video from Groupon, which – as she neatly points out – can be described as mobile + scheduled coupons + mobile micropayments = awesomeness.

the whole proposition, of aggregating local promotions which are geotargeted and delivered in realtime, is in many ways the culmination of a host of recent developments in the mobile space…  a culmination that Groupon – with a view to IPOness – are keen to amplify as much as possible.  it's for perhaps this reason that the company – which has been built from a connections perspective hereto on peer-demanded communications and word of mouth, has put together … an ad.

both regular readers will be familiar with this blog's attitude towards 'the ad' – that 20th Century invention which came to be synonymous with advertising.  our continued reliance on the broadcast interruption model that forms the media basis for adverts remains one of the key limiting factors in brands and marketers embracing a communications age of user-centricity, community and utility.

but Groupon's effort is perhaps a reminder that 'the ad' does have it's place in a 21st Century communications ecosystem.  I can't imagine a neater or more compelling way to communicate realtime geotargeted promotions and offers…  a simple, neat encapsulation of a message and a reminder of what made 'the ad' so predominant in 20th Century marketing communications.

and Groupon aren't alone.  Starbucks have for several years now adopted a community and reward-based marketing approach.  this blog noted in April 2009 that Starbucks were offering free syrup shots for life when you signed up to a Starbucks Card … why?  because – and this was a direct paraphrase from the Bucks' call centre – the brand was looking to what it could, given the (then) current economic climate, for its existing customers.

the last two years have seen a plethora of offers and bonuses for existing customers be deployed in store.  all of which are communicated on regular emails that I'm happy to receive.  like this one that I got today…

Starbucks_frap_mail_2one of the regular eDM's I receive from the Bucks

the mail contains the usual offers and updates, but also invites me to 'watch their new ad' and note that "We're excited that Frappuccino® is on the big screen" …which struck me as an unusual turn of phrase.  excited that they're on the screen.  they're Starbucks.  that pretty big company that turned themselves around with a focus on customer service and involvement in their brand.  why the excitement over an ad?



Starbucks_frap_ad_3 Starbucks' have a new frappuccino ad … and they're excited

but I guess that it's precisely that focus on daily delivery of quality and service that makes their presence in the broadcast stream an exception.  it's a rarity and therefore a novelty for the brand.  even one as big as Starbucks.  and the way I see it both Groupon and Starbucks have this exactly the right way around…

for them, broadcast ads aren't the rule, they are the exception.  and those ads are therefore all the better and more valuable for it.  not for these brands the shout at the millions whether they're listening or not.  not for these brands is broadcast interruption the modus operandi.

rather, daily delivery of value and service and utility and innovation … and when there is something genuinely new, or different, or compelling, they permit themselves to broadcast and interrupt.  only then.  conversation first and as default.  adverts when, and only when, what they have to say is of sufficient value to those on the receiving end.  if only all brands had their priorities in this so very correct order…

advertising, cinema, marketing

Marketing Movies, or not: how three Austrlian Movies failed to market themselves

Griff_The_InvisibleRyan Kwanten in Griff The Invisible: invisible by name, invisible by nature

Robin has pointed me in the direction (thanks Robin) of a really interesting article in SMH describing how three Aussie movies failed to connect with local audiences, resulting in a dire performance for home-grown movies at the box office.  what really surprised me though was that if I hadn't have read the article, I'd have no idea that any of these movies even existed.

I wrote a post back in August celebrating recent marketing initiatives for Scott Pilgrim and The Expendables.  initiatives that weren't necessarily expansive nor expensive.  just smart ways to market and communicate the existence of a movie to a relevant audience.  movies and spoilt for (rich) content that they can use and deploy to engage and nudge an audience into attending.

marketing seems to have been a non (let alone second) thought to the movies that failed to cause a stir last week.  Griff the Invisible (above), The Reef and A Heartbeat Away all seem to have relied solely on being in cinemas to encourage viewing – which is simply no longer enough (if it ever was).

there's simply too much distraction now.  too many other options.  too much to distract you from the planned cinema trip on the off chance that there's something on that you'll be up for seeing.

making movies means marketing movies.

at it's worst this means investing in a commodity media buy to get the trailer in front of as many people as possible (this will usually take the form of a TV campaign although for super light TV viewers for me a jot of outdoor will help too).  but at it's best this can mean creating marketing that becomes an extension of your movie.  AI and The Beast anyone?  or Dark Knight and Why So Serious?

perhaps if marketing was seen as a storytelling and engaging extension of the movie product, it would be higher up the agendas of people who make movies.  perhaps if marketing wasn't a bought (and relatively expensive) commodity buy it would be invested with the same creativity with which the movie was made.  perhaps if these movies had been intelligently marketed they wouldn't have all vanished without a trace.  perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

advertising, differentiating, opinionating, thinking

Running away to the Circus: Dispatches from The Festival of Commercial Creativity – Charles Wigley and BBH’s Anti-Wind Tunnel Movement


"getting medieval on our ass" was what Charles Wigley, chairman of BBH, promised the circus audience last week, as he got "back to the core of what we do with big brands and set processes".  he asked a simple question … how can we spend our time better?


Wigley argued that just like how at some point all cars started to look the same – we've done exactly the same thing to our industry …he refers to it as the anti wind-tunnel marketing movement, and there's a rather nifty presentation embedded below (via a post on BBH labs).

he observes that we talk differentiation, but that 90% of the stuff we "burden the earth with" is the same; "we are churning out similarities" – he suggests two reasons:

(1) we all follow largely the same (consumer insight-oriented) process: "professionalism has led to homogenization and systematisation of the creative process … a model of creative development that traps us all" … the result being that most brands approach the same questions with the same people in same way

(2) we consistently fail to ask the question: is it different?  we focus so exclusively on relevance that we fail to think about whether our work is true or different. a point summed up rather neatly with this still from the above slideshow.



of ads that are indistinguishable from each other…

Banking – NAB, Westpac and St George
SUVs – Jeep, BMW and VW
Cereal – Coco Pops, Milo and Sultana bran

(NB I'm trying to track these down on YouTube but can't find many / any of them – I'll keep trying and post when I do)

Wigley's simple and elegant point is that because the briefs are all the same, the results are the same. this extends into digital solutions too … there's a very real danger that advertising will eat itself.

the cliches are now so ingrained that adverts can be created that that play with the established conventions of the category and market…


why this is happening…?

part of the problem is that lack of tangible USPs.  Wigley argues that we now rely on ESP (emotional selling propositions) to market brands, and so the holy grail becomes the key consumer insight.  but we all have the same products in the same category marketing to the same people with the same process to the consumer insights – and the ideas they generate – are all the same.  we are, as Wigley puts it, "dancing on a pinhead when dealing with these briefs".

But does it matter?

well yes it does.  when we create parity communications with similar insights "we're removing the cost efficiency of real brand differentiation".  we accept a situation where the biggest media budget will always win, a flight to a centre-ground where the biggest spenders remain the biggest spenders and innovation and ideas and differentiation and engagement and adding utility and entertainment to the world through are communications become a quaint dalliance that the communications industry had with itself and consumers at the turn of the 21st Century.  media becomes a commodity not an opportunity, a barrage of impacts not a platform for engagement.  could the last people to leave the industry please turn out the lights.


Wigley rightly observes that we all use the same brands in presentations…  Nike, Google, Uniqlo.  what do they have in common?  they are brand leaders not consumer followers.  So … how do we put differentiation back into the ideas we generate and the work we produce?  Wigley offers ten solutions…

  1. use insights from multiple points of view and disciplines ie go beyond the consumer insight.  lead don't follow consumers.  focus on brand – Wiley quoted Siddarth Banerjee, Unilever's Regional Marketing Director of Asia: "what is the single most important part of the marketing mix that is essential to ensure a better chance of success in the marketplace? … ownership of a point of view" … Wigley describes this as the main distinction between a convention brands and a conviction brands, and observes that the fastest growing brands are in posession of energized differentiation – in that they have vision, innovation and dynamism
  2. Is it different? is the first and last question we should ask
  3. remember that not all consumers are created equal.  there are leaders, followers and the rest.  followers are cheaper and easier to find
  4. test in the real world not in the test tube (echoing what Marvin Chow discussed when he shared Chrome's marketing strategies earlier in the session).  get work up and online and evaluate it based on actual not expected performance
  5. bring back regional test market (was good to see a Yorkshire Television logo up on the screen)
  6. look to the future not the past.  "what's the foresight not the insight?" … Innocent saw colourful fun health coming and built their brand for the future that was to embrace it
  7. hurry up.  what are we so often waiting for?  speed up the process.  Wigley refers to Colin Powell's 40%-70% rule: if you have information to the extent that you're less than 40% likely to make the right decision then get more information.  but if you collect information beyond 70% chance of success you're likely to get it wrong – you'll have too much information and the situation will have changed.  in short act whilst you have more than 40% but less than 70% chance of success
  8. value inexperience as much as experience … we've become too expert in sometimes very niche categories
  9. put judgement back into the job spec – he quoted one marketing director who after being presented to by the agency said "I absolutely love this work, let's go straight to research"
  10. restructure the organisation.  Wigley suggested that the difference between single brand companies vs multi-brand companies was that in the latter people don't work specifically on brands, but rather are sharing the same info with all the brands in the company.  sometime you need new structures and groups to create differentiation – for example First Direct or Unilever siloing Axe into an entirely separate unit

Wigley left us with this delightful observation – courtesy of Mitchell and Webb – into how advertisers approach communicating to women and men.  not sure how it related to the topic in hand, but made the Circus crowd chuckle…

for more information on BBH's Anti-Wind Tunnel thinking you can visit BBH LABS – I recommend that you regularly do so … as labs go, these ones rock

advertising, conferencing, creating, innovating, planning

Running away to the Circus: Dispatches from The Festival of Commercial Creativity – Chow on Chrome and Vervroegen on Creative Constraints


the second session of the first day of this week's Festival of Commercial Creativity, Circus, saw Marvin Chow, the Marketing Director for Google across Asia Pacific and Erik Vervroegen of Goodby Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco take us through two very different kinds of creative process…

Circus_marvin_chow first up, Marvin Chow, who talked about the marketing of Chrome, and about what happens when creativity meets technology…

declaration of interest – Google are a client of PHD Australia, where I spend a lot of my time

Chow  started by making a few points about Google:

  1. one, Google is an engineering company. engineering is part of the culture. Google people like to solve big problems, he cited that driver-less car came from an engineer asking how Google can stop people dying on the roads
  2. Ideas can come from anywhere, for example the search-able maps that helped coordinate the Queensland floods response was conceived and developed by a Sydney engineer who wanted to help
  3. the role of marketing at Google is to bring technology to people.  often this is about filling the existing Google pipeline with content, for example the Life In A Day project, an idea that came from Tim Partridge in London.  The Life in a day video … which was created from a bank of 80,000 clips has now been seen by 13m people on YouTube and will have a cinema release later in the year
  4. finally it's about bringing a culture of engineering to marketing.  engineers are interested in the responses of real people to the real world.  there's no substitute to what real people do in real situations.  Google test 6,000 marketing ideas a year.  they fail regularly, they fail fast, they fail well – test and iterate people, test an iterate…

given that context, what follows is "the story of how one product can change the world" … the story of Chrome.

we know, I suspect, one side of the Chrome story, but the other side is just how challenging it's been for Google to gain market share and gain penetration in a market with a significant, dominant and entrenched player.

the first question was why bother?  why invent another browser?  when Google asked people about browsers, they found that people found browsers indistinguishable from search…

the suggestion is that people see browsing = searching…  Chow made the point that "browsers are a lot like Tyres – we know they are important but we don't care or think about them every day"

the last time a browser launched [excluding Firefox presumably] was in 1995.  Google's ambition was to bring speed, stability and security to browsing.  but how to evolve the browser proposition? … it's been a long time since 1995 and people do lots more than browsing with their browsers, it's no longer a passive experience; browsers are TVs now (35 hours a video a minute currently being uploaded), they are phones and communication devices (100bn emails and texts are sent daily).  this was the new context for the browser and for Google – and how Chrome should drive the web experience forward.

the marketing of Chrome actually began with a comic book, which was distributed in december 2008 to innovators influencers in the web space.

Circus_google_comicChrome's comic book, distributed in 2008, was drawn by Scott McCloud and can be viewed, courtesy of Creative Commons, in full here

post the comic book Google looked to deliver more scale, and so developed ideas around platform of 'why switch?' … exploring Chrome's value proposition and product benefits.  they experimented and tested different benefits, for example this effort around 'simple'…

made by a small team in japan, this was broadcast in the US and became Google's first broadcast ad.  but here's the trick, Google didn't just test 'simple' – they tested a whole range of value propositions and product benefits.  and tested them not in focus groups but in the real world.  how did they measure success?  which ones led to the most Chrome downloads … real people in the real world remember…

'fast' (rather than 'simple') worked best, and so fast became worldwide creative brief, which eventually led to this…

"The idea of showing Chrome and speed in a different way excited us" noted Chow … the next iteration of comms was Chrome Fast Ball, which invited browsers to browse the web as fast as you think in a race across the Internet…

the coolest thing – and very Googley – is that these ideas are being crowdsourced from everywhere … ideas like this one which has since adopted another classic Google behaviour – users being able to generate their own versions of the ad.

two and a half years on from launch and 100m people around the world use chrome.  Google seem to be happy, although as the below chart from Wikipedia shows, there's quite a long way to go for Chrome yet.

Share of browsers.svg

one of the most innovative areas of crowd-sourced comms for Chrome is … I'm not going to lie, I don't actually know what these are – the website says that "Chrome Experiments is a showcase for creative web experiments, the vast majority of which are built with the latest open technologies, including HTML5, Canvas, SVG, and WebGL. All of them were made and submitted by talented artists and programmers from around the world" … I'm not sure that I'm any the wiser :o(

one example of which is Arcade Fire's The Wilderness Downtown – saw this a good while back but didn't connect at the time that this was a Google idea.

Chow's two key messages … that ideas can come from anywhere, and that it's crucial to experiment and iterate.  he stressed the importance of understanding the problem that you're trying to solve, and whilst I'm not entirely that sure his solution – hire an engineer to fix it – is feasible for everyone, the last of his comments is true for all of us … that "you have to resist the voice inside you that says only you knows the answer" let go of the problem and let the answer come to you…

you can view Marvin's prezi here.

Circus_erik_vervroegen up next in session two was Erik Vervroegen, who as the recipient of seventy Cannes Lions, is a very creative person indeed.  his thesis was that life in agencies is hard :o( … but don't feel too sorry for the ad agency kids just yet, because it turns out that the result of constrained conditions often produces the best work … the more problems you have the more creative you have to be…

problem one: no money (but free media to use and a super-tight production budget)…

…which was a problem faced by Amnesty International.  the answer for whom was to make this…

of this spot for the Nissan QashQai, where Vervrogen's agency came up with creating an entire fake sport…

McDonald's had no money and no time to combat a recycling message so recycled ads to create new posters…


it's so beautifully obvious in retrospect, but it takes someone to imagine such an elegant solution in the first place.  take these examples for Amora Hot Ketchup, the shoestring budget necessitated a shoestring production, which the creative embraces and uses to its advantage…

some of Vervroegen's most creative work is for AIDS prevention charity AIDES who's brief was "nobody knows us and we can't advertise but we want to be the biggest provider of Aids prevention in Europe' … the solution: target the advertising industry with the magic word 'awards'

if you want proof as to whether or not the strategy has worked I urge you to Google image search AIDES, but here are some of the highlights…







stunning, brilliant work for a client with no money but a lot of balls.

problem two: the impossible brief

Vervroegen quoted the following actual brief from an actual real life client (I'm paraphrasing) "we would like exactly the same ad as last time only this time we want it to work" … you couldn't make it up.  another example was the bread client who said that they wanted to show an entire breakfast table and demonstrate that their bread was the softest.  the solution:


Nissan QashQai asked Vervroegen to come up with an ad that showed the car in the urban environment and which showcased every angle of the car.  every angle.  every.  angle.  they actually said "think of it as a 45 sec 360 degree pack shot" … cue this beautifully elegant solution in which a 45 sec 360 pack shot has never looked so good…

Amnesty International want to show the power of a petition.  specifically in the background they wanted to show the harshness of torture and execution … without violence.  this poses a bit of a problem, as it's hard to show torture and execution without violence…

problem three: Burnt out creatives

…who feel sorry for themselves and are producing tired work.  the solution, observes Vervroegen, is to continue to push the idea.  and push and push as far as it will go…  for example a brief to show how Mir washing powder 'keeps black strong' let to the obvious place of clothes with budging muscles, which was able to be pushed to these fellas…




another example of pushing a bad idea until it becomes a good one was for a brief for Playstation to show rebirth, the idea for which was this tired (his words not mine) approach…


which was pushed to it's limit and resulted in this…


…an effort which secured one of Vervroegen's seventy Cannes Lion in the print category.  the last example, again for Playstation was around a brief to show the excitement of the Playstation gaming experience and equate it to sexual arousal.  here's the obvious sketch…


and here's the pushed execution…


that was it for session two.  I'll aim to get session three written up tomorrow…

advertising, conferencing, debating, planning, predicting, thinking

Running away to the Circus: Dispatches from The Festival of Commercial Creativity – Day One, Session One


yesterday saw the first day of Sydney's first Circus – a festival of commercial creativity for the advertising, media and communications industries.  and a rather cracking event it was too.  a series of speakers took us through what creativity was to them, how it was under threat, how it is thriving and how a changing world places ever incresing demands on those to work to use creativity to commercial ends.

despite starting rather dubiously – we were invited not to tweet, and to only ask questions if we thought that they'd be relevant for everyone (not the most encouraging of starts for a festival aiming to – in part – explore an evolving communications landscape) – it turned out to be a rather inspirational day…

this was how the first session of day one went down…

Circus_jeffrey_cole first up was Jeffrey Cole who eleven years ago founded the Centre for Digital Future at USC.  his talk was on surveying the digital future – and in particular the impact of the Internet on our behaviours.

he introduced himself as a TV guy, and observed that we 'blew' TV – in that we knew it was going to be a mass medium, but didn't track audiences to see how it was changing their lives.  important questions like where did the time to watch TV come from?  what did it displace? …went unanswered.

emerging media are way more powerful than TV.  in 1988 for the first time kids were watching less TV in the US, the result of the rise of computers and the web.  where Cole believes that we lost the opportunity on TV, we can make up for it with online, and eleven years ago set up a research programme to track a panel over time as the internet changes their life…

key findings from the research are around teenage behaviour and in internet, but crucially, Cole seeks to make a key distinction between those behaviours and attitudes that teens do and have because they are young and have time, and those behaviours and attitudes which are permanent.  what will drop off as life gets in the way?  versus what do they do that is 'transformational' with regard to the society that they will grow up to form.

he observed that college students setting up home for first the time are particularly instructive. no landline and no newspapers for them. but also no cable (90% penetration in US so this is a significant trend).  Cole believes that whilst we're not looking at the end of cable, we are looking at the end of the cable pricing structure as it stands.

things that teenagers abandon…

  • teenagers say they're not affcted by advertising.  which isn't true.  like all of us they are they just don't like to admit it
  • they believe that unknown peers are 'just like me' and can be trusted – similarly this comes to change over time as they learn the world isn't always what it seems
  • teenagers don't use email and claim to only need IM, texts and facebook (they go further and say that voice calling is 'an intrusion' – similarly this is an attitude that fades into adulthood
  • they want to know all the details of their peers' lifes in what they describe as 'ambient awareness' (a phrase strikingly similar to the continuous partial presence that Faris described in May 2007); Cole observed that Twitter works because of this … ambient awareness is a general understanding of someone's situation, and a reflection that teens want not fifteen minutes but fifteen megabytes of fame
  • we're not initially good at distinguishing truth from fiction. Cole argues that this is because we didn't have to question the mass media we grew up with (the Chinese for example are better at critical media assesment) …we are better at understanding amateur vs proffesional, which Cole suggested was due to beter understanding the limitations and boundaries of ugc
  • he talked about Murdoch and MySpace, and reflected that at the time of the NewsCorp purchase he commented that "it's a great investment but he'll never hang onto the teenage users" … an angry NewsCorp rebutted by saying "look how much money we're making" but Cole by that time already had the hindsight to see Friendster and Geocities go.  to teenagers, he said, "social networks are like nightclubs", despite this, Facebook is going nowhere (yet), a fact underlined by his observation that at their last Zeitgeist, Google seemed nervous (they have no place nor role in Facebook's world)
  • finally, teenagers have no sense of the nature of and need for privacy.  for good reason the law says you can't sign contract till 18.  whilst this attitude means that kids upload potentially very compromising things to the internet, this is not a lifelong attitude, and with maturity comes a sense of what is public and what is private

which brings us to the things teenagers keep, and with them significant implications for society, brands and advertising…

  • teenagers have, and keep into adulthood a total control over their media.  Cole cited the 17yo who first unlocked his iPhone; he didn't want to unlock it for anything in particular, he unlocked it so that he knew that he could
  • a huge implication for the media industry is that permanent changes in attitude mean we're seeing the beginning of the end of platforms … Newspapers, in Cole's opinion, are history. environmental reasons is one reason for teens, but furtermore the concept of owning media is in it's last days as we move to the cloud.  on newspapers, teenagers not using print is a permanent shift. they are very much into news, but the internet delivers this.  Cole's prediction is a stark one – because every time a print reader dies they are not being replaced, print has about 5 years in the states, and around 8-9 years in Australia (perhaps)
  • teenagers don't grow out of not wearing watches (the mobile is their watch and alarm clock and much else besides) – this is not a problem for Rolex, but will have consequences for more mainstream inexpensive watches
  • TV is not on a set top box and is not scheduled.  YouTube is TV, and TV is any content you watch on your schedule
  • Game playing is serious business that ecourages task-oriented behaviour and is similarly a behaviour and attitude that is here to stay
  • "Mobile isn't everything – it's becoming every thing" – it's rapidly becoming the primary and predominant place where teenagers get media
  • on the iPad, Cole observes that it is NOT the fourth screen, rather it replaces the second screen (the pc), and that we're witnessing the beginning of the end of the PC as standard home device for many people
  • finally and most significantly, there is an emerging and permanent shift in the perception of real versus perceived empowerment. we are passive readers no more, we contribute and correct. we self-diagnose our illnesses. we negotiate on deals based on pre-research and start our negotiations based on wholesale prices … the "internet is best at shining light into dark places", giving everyone power over governments, over repression … this most important trend will emerge and very much in Cole's opinion stay with us.


will Facebook eventually be displaced?  yes, but it will continue to grow for around four more years. it will be supplanted by another more fragmented social media landscape.  Facebook won't be abandoned completely, but will become more passive – an ongoing reminder of the biggest social networking site there ever was or ever will be.

2% of people drop off the internet each year…  they leave because they change jobs or their PCs break. with few exceptions their back within 14 months.

advertising will remain the model for content. Cole wants to see content survive, and so wants to see digital advertising survive.

I asked about permanent vs transitory media.  there was suggestion that whilst the legacy media (BBC, NBC, NYT) were permanent, emerging media (notably social networks) aren't – they are transitory platforms that people adopt for a while before moving on.  will Hulu – for example – be permanent or transitory?  Cole's opinion is that all platforms will need to learn and adapt.  Google will adapt. as will Hulu.  legacy media brands – and indeed all media brands – will be defined by their ability to evolve.

Circus_agnello_dias next up Agnello Dias – creative director at Taproot, who talked to the festival about the remarkable story of advertising and comms work for The Times Of India, a story that began with a brief…

a brief to celebrate India's 60th year of independence. an argument broke out in the agency about whether India was on the verge or greatness or the cusp of the abyss.  the client talked about the country being at a crossroads. was India to go forward or back?  Dias scribbled a paragraph describing 'India vs India' as a creative brief, but as time ran out the client ran the brief as an ad.  the brief.  a dat later Dias was informed that the brief wouldn't be an ad after all … it was to be the front page editorial.

the front page became audiovisual content which became a YouTube viral.

which became a debate.  a debate so emphatic that The Times Of India decided to call the debaters bluff…

the response to the video was a national platform that created a parralel decision making group, bypassing party politics and supported by politicians.  facilitating democracy in a nation a billion people strong.

what has any of this to do with brand and selling newspapers?  nothing.  to the client it's not about that.  it's about building credibility – something that has huge benefit for a paper… after all who is the prime minister going to call?

the latest phase was editorial that ran on the anniversary of Mumbai terrorist attacks. The Times Of India ran a headline saying love Pakistan – a controversial position that stimulated a great deal of opposition, even people in Dias' office didn't want to work on the campaign.  but the objective was to start a debate that would lead to peace, rather than perpetuate an argument for war…


the jury, according to Dias, is out on whether or not they should have done it. they will see what results.  whatever happens, it's a phenomenal story … a story of a media brand acting not as reporters or observers but as instigators of change.  as provocateurs of debate.  as writers of the future.

Circus_jess_greenwood next up the enigmatic Jess Greenwood of Contagious fame who talked about projects not campaigns – and a shift away from the creation of advertising to the creation of projects with no specific timespan.  less say and more do, behaviour rather than talk.

Greenwood also talked about how everything is advertsing and – in a phrase of which I was particularly fond – that we need to be "less 360 in our thinking and more 365" … nice.  as an example she cited how after tweeting to complain about the music in the Air New Zealand lounge in LAX, her tweet was picked up by the airline in New Zealand who called the lounge front desk in LA who invited Greenwood to choose her own music.  this all took less than 60 seconds.  remarkable stuff.

so how do we change, well one we put insights before advertising. no more the Mad Men model of ideas leading executions, of working out how to execute ideas generated on gut feel.  two, its about engagement over reach (allelulia) – citing one advertiser who said they would rather have 100 engaged people than 1,000,000 passive ones.

the Contagious mantra is that branded communications in the early 21st Century should be Useful and or Relevant and or Entertaining.  a mantra she expounded across three main themes…

ONE – Inside Out Marketing

we need to stop mindlessly pushing marketing and product into the world and instead be the change we want to see.  as example is Operation Nice, which seeks to encourage people to embrace an emering sense of independence by saying that 'if you want something doing…'

her next example was Dulux who want to own colour.  rather than telling people that they want to own colour they behaved like they owned colour via an urban regeneration project.  they asked people which areas deseved colour, then launched Let's Colour.  they went to areas around the world and added colour, areas like Tower Hamlets. the brand managers and local communities did the painting, and produced some rather remarkable content…

their sucker punch is that Dulux 'own' colour, but communicate such in a very real and credible – or inside-out – way.  Greenwood talked about a smart approach by Dulux to how this thinking is deployed on a global via local level; the global mandate was to find out what colour means to your country, and make it happen through actions and behaviours at a local level.

Greenwood talked about mass media as an "iterative process", citing the example of how VW and a tiny Darth Vader 'jacked' the superbowl.  the ad was deliberately released prior to the broadcast to build buzz prior to seeing it on the Superbowl screen.  it is TV (advertising) but TV not just designed for TV – it's wholeheartedly designed for theiInternet.

another example from Levi's and their Go Forth organising idea (note not campign).  Levi's are using this idea to generate behaviour and action as opposed to making and broadcasting hyperbole. Levi's – amongst other things – built a community centre and funded the library in Braddock.  they are building infrastructure. they've opened workshops to give substance to their claim that 'Levi's makes things by hand and makes things the right way'.  this makes levi's meaningful.

Greenwood talked about four pillars of convergence in media and communications:

  1. AV experience on screen (whatever and wherever that screen may be)
  2. Interctivity of internet (facilitation two-way engagement, converstion, debate and cooperation and cocreation)
  3. Location-based functionality and customisation of mobile phone
  4. Real world experience

when developing insights and ideas we need to ask ourselves if said insight or idea can work in and across these four areas. if it can, then it could work…  for example T-Mobile create advertising as programming. if you're doing mass media it has to be this engaging…

"it's designed not just for broadcasting but for sharing.  they are creating mass media for the Internet, for niche media".

TWO – be Prolific not Precious

'Social media makes stories' – this, in Greenwood's opinion, is the evolution of user generated content … smart brands monitor and track the stories as they emerge around them – cue Gatorade Mission controlness.

another example is reformed drug addict Ted Williams, the story of whom was picked up by a journalist who learned he had a great voice for radio.  he made a film about ted's life.  which went from zero to 13m views in two days.  this in turn ws picked up by Kraft who used the Ted in their ad.  all of which is phenomenal enough, until you consider the timescale…

Monday – upload the video
Tuesday – watch the views pile up
Wednesday – Ted appears on TV with ad agency
Friday – Ted's voiced ad is on air

using social media to tell stories garnered 450m media impressions for Kraft.  and there are a plethora of examples where that came from…  Qantas flew the girl with the twitter handle @theashes to Australia for the Ashes.  all because said girl / handle got messages from people wanting the cricket score … a bit of support via #gettheashestotheashes and Qantas and Virgin were fighting it out to make it happen.

Hippo snacks example of using tweets as distribution management system and saw a 76% increase in sales.

and finally on proliferation, the South African low cost airline project (not campaign) around the World Cup in aid of being the 'unofficial national carrier' of the World Cup… the best thing about this campaign was something they hadn't planned for.  the airline offered free flights to anyone called Sepp Blatter, so when a dog came forward to say that that was his name the airline flew the dog around the world.

THREE -  Play and Gaming

the rise of play dynamics in marketing. Gamification. adding game dynamics into marketing but also product design.  Greenwood used the example of Ford who have a virtual plant on the dashboard that grows if you drive in an environmentally friendly manner.

NBC do market research not via a focus group or survey but via fanit, an initiative that I discussed in a post in May of last year.


Skittles pitched David Phoenix versus Skittles fans.

Mini gaming in Stockholm example. Steal the car.

one interesting point from Greenwood, if you're going to develop or have a game or app, make sure that you have an end to it, a climax or endpoint to which people can aim.

and finally in gameification a wonderful project called iButterfly, which uses an app that captures virtual butterflies to get vouchers to people.  smart, contemporary, embedded with utility and above all fun.  as Contagious as it gets.

three final suggestions from Greenwood…

  • ensure that your communications are Useful and/or Relevant and/or Entertaining
  • make sure your idea is created, developed and deployed for real people not marketing people
  • Be brave and make mistakes

and that was session one, post is way big enough so I'll write up the other sessions in following posts…

advertising, content creating, flashmobbing, television

Never critique a movie you haven’t seen: How T-Mobile at T5 is a triumph of execution over strategy

so you've seen the above already … T-Mobile's latest real-people-crowd-mob-activation-engagement thing, which took place at Heathrow's Terminal 5 not too long ago.  big thanks to Laura for sending it in my direction.

I've had two totally separate conversations about this activity.  the first was on Saturday, where in a discussion about T-Mobile's latest effort my general line of observation was along the lines of 'yeah but they've pretty much done that now … where can they possibly go? … they're in danger of becoming a one-trick pony – I fear I may have even gone as far as to use the phrase 'jumped the shark'.

my thinking was that it all sounded rather a bit much.  a tactical idea that started – brilliantly – at Liverpool Street a couple of years ago is now being stretched just a little too thin.  been there, seen T-Mobile doing that.  singing to people as they arrive at Heathrow.  really T-Mobile?  really?!

the second conversation I had about the effort was this afternoon.  a full six hours after I actually took three minutes out of my life to watch the above video of the effort.  it would seem that Mark Kermode – who says never critique a movie you haven't seen – is totally right…

strategically this is a tactical activation re-imagined in a new time and place.  strategically this is an inside-out TV ad and not a lot more.  strategically this is a PR platform that engages relatively few people in the actual experience.  strategically we should all be really very over this already.

only I'm not over it.  I happen to adore this tactical replay of a PR-led inside out TV ad.

I adore it because of the dedication and effort to make it executionally so polished.  because of the realness and authenticity of people's reactions.  and because it's a piece of communication that reflects a genuinely positive aspect of the human condition.

strategically this shouldn't work.  but in execution, it delivers in spades.  a strategic one-trick pony it may be, but as ponies that do a trick go, you've got to admit its a pretty good one…

advertising, cinema, content creating, engaging, marketing, praising, social media-ising

Scott Pilgrim vs. The Expendables vs. Eat Pray Love vs. The World: lessons from Hollywood on content, sociability and adding value

it has been many moons since Mediation bemoaned Michael Bay's tirade against Paramount's marketing for the dire Transformers 2.  you can relive the magic of those crazy days here, but the point of the post was that advertising can't turn a bad product into a good one…

we all have instant access to what the world knows.  we can research, reveal and review products and services in a second.  no one takes a punt on anything anymore – why would you when everything has been reviewed and rated by the crowd…  we don't rely on the promise of a glitzed up poster any more.

I made the point that some of the best marketing stories emerge when communications are a natural extension of product.  and that no one knows this better than movies…  Transmedia storytelling via the The Matrix, Cloverfield's Mystery Box marketing, The Dark Knight's Vote Harvey Dent ARG to name a few.

the last few weeks have continued the theme of the best of marketing initiatives emerging from Hollywood.  the above is for Universal's Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, an adaptation of the comic book series.  the whole marketing effort is pretty much text book.  there's an incredibly immersive iTrailer (you can put an i in front of anything these days) above, leading to an awesome website which – via its socialrama – is social to the extreme and which actively encourages remixing of the marketing material to propagate content and word of mouth.

Scott_pilgrim_1 the Scott Pilgrim movie website, or is it a comic book?  or a mash-up of both?

Scott_pilgrim_2 the socialness of Scott… a plethora of ways to share and engage across you nearest available social network

other recent marketing efforts have continued the innovative theme…  this glorious 'Call To Arms' trailer for The Expendables directly takes on the competition that is Julia Roberts' Eat, Pray, Love …

the trailer observes that the likes of Twilight, Sex and the City and now Eat, Pray, Love, are taking over the cinema, and that this is men's last collective chance to take cinema back.  it makes the delightfully honest observation that the place to see The Expendables isn't "off your torrents but in a f***ing theatre (where violence belongs) …if this loses to Eat, Pray, Love you don't deserve to be a man" – in the spirit of the movie, no punches pulled then.

The Expendables also brings us a genius innovative use of YouTube, following in the giant footsteps of Wario's Shake It and Cadbury's Round YouTube videos.

Hollywood seem to be learning fast.  illegal file sharing and the rise of better-than-cinema home entertainment (where you can enjoy movies sans other people talking and on a sofa) continue to threaten box-office revenues.  Hollywood need to innovate to keep people in cinemas.

but there's a further interesting angle on all of the above examples of Hollywood entertainment… in that they all start to slash the required marketing budget.  they all take advantage of the studios' owned and – predominantly via activation in social networks – earned media.

it's not unusual for a $150m movie to have a marketing budget of $100m+ … anything that the studios take off their marketing budget goes straight back to the bottom line.  movies also have the double advantage of being content rich and very topical, there's a new and shininess which adds to their social appeal.

movie marketing is increasingly getting that marketing isn't about ensuring that as many of the target audience as possible are aware of a movie, rather its about creating value for enough of the right people and encouraging them to propagate your message.  the implicit promise… that the product you buy will live up to the marketing, is made explicit by marketing that adds value to a movie's audience before they've ever entered the cinema.

slash your marketing budget via content and sociability that adds value to potential customers.  sounds so easy that anyone could do it right?  so why aren't you?

adserving, advertising, broadcasting, targeting

Sex addicted, debt-ridden, body-obsessed, astigmatic, game-playing gadget-phile: but enough about me, what does advertising say about you?

What_ads_say_about_me some recent ads that define me.  or do they?

what does advertising say about me?  that's the question I'm increasingly asking myself as the broadcast model wanes and targeted advertising becomes the norm.  I'm imagining a future where my Glee is interrupted by messages from fat-burning miracle powders, or where my 30 mins with Modern Family is interspersed with messages for help with sex-addiction or an encouragement to buy some oil shares.

you see the ad-serving paradigm – with which anyone who has worked in online advertising will be more than familiar – will in the future spread beyond the computer screen.  to hand-held devices and then, as IPTV gains traction, to TV screens.

it's one thing to see niche targeted ads on my computer screen; it will be quite another to see them on my TV…  but as the ability to target on TV becomes widespread, niche advertisers will increasingly be able to ad-serve specific messages to targeted audiences at a fraction of the cost of even a small TV campaign today.

on one hand the future is potentially very bright…  we engage more with brands that we like and therefore, theoretically, as ads become more targeted and better tailored to our interests and passions, advertising will be more engaging and, theoretically, more engaged with.

at least that's the theory.

but there's a potential downside…  the lowering in the cost of entry will allow hundreds of advertisers who previously couldn't, to advertise on TV.  the result is inevitable, a lowering in the average quality of the ads that get produced.  this is inevitable.

to escape the race to the bottom, we're going to need choice…  the only solution to such a wave of ads will be to have choice over which ones we receive.  there's a double benefit – for advertisers there will be increased engagement (we do engage more with ads that we've chosen to watch), and for audiences there will be the algorithm…

because unlike broadcast, where we all have to endure the same ads as everyone else, an ad-served model offers the possibility of a world where only content that get engaged with (clicked on, liked etc) gets further propagated.  if Google served TV ads (beyond their current very limited scope) they'd use a quality score (based on relevance and preformance of the ads) to propagate ads that are reaching the right people and being engaged with, and suppress ones that aren't.  and that can only be a good thing?  can't it?

out of interest, what does advertising say about you?

advertising, broadcasting, converging, debating, internet, thinking, viewing

More Questions than Answers: notes from the media frontier as encountered at Sydney’s iMedia Agency Summit

“the broadcast model isn’t broken…  yet.  how prepared are agencies for when it breaks?” was the question I wanted to put to the Q&A panel at last week’s iMedia Agency Summit in Sydney.  whilst I didn’t get the chance to ask the panel, I did get the opportunity to ask it to Rohan Lund of Yahoo!7, but more of that later.

yes, this week saw the AdTech Summit series hit Sydney, part of which was the iMedia festival which I attended along with around one hundred of my Sydney media counterparts.  all in all it was a day of more questions than answers, but that was to be expected I, well, expect.  that said, some genuine morsels emerged, which (after a bit of an absence from the blogosphere) I thought I’d share…  here then, is what happened at iMedia, at AdTech, at Sydney…

Unilever_campaigns Unilever brands that have utilised the social media space

first up, delivering the keynote welcome, was Unilever’s Babs Rangaiah (@babs26) who described how he and others are pioneering in the Social Media space at the company.  its necessary stuff in his opinion, pointing out that only 18% of TV campaigns generate positive ROI, and that 24 of the top 25 biggest newspapers are undergoing circulation decline.


his three observations were that Unilever is (1) living the [social media] space, (2) re-framing their thinking re Social media and Applications [ie NOT pre-rolls – thats the broadcast solution applied to the online paradigm], he cited BBH’s Axe Wake Up Service app from Japan (above), and (3) rewriting its media manifesto along these lines, as would be written by customers:

  1. be part of the world – Rangaiah pointed out the gap between time spent online and advertising spend online
  2. penetrate our culture – the move from interruption to engagement; is what we create useful, entertaining or interesting?  he cited the example of the Dove for Men campaign, which after scooping up a SuperBowl spot proceeded to land its American Football-playing star a seat on Oprah’s couch
  3. give us a voice and a role – Best Job In The World anyone?
  4. be authentic – anyone unclear on this one just Google Dell Hell…
  5. listen to us
  6. create more value – “you want us to pay? … [then] we want you to pay attention”
  7. don’t be so corporate
  8. keep it simple – good one this, if you can’t explain an idea to a non-marketing friend or partner in ten seconds then its probably to complex to ever get traction
  9. telling friends – WoM is the most powerful form on advertising [Alleluia Babs, Alleluia]
  10. do good

he ended on a topic that would be the subject of some debate for the rest of the day…  how the rapid evolution on metrics in the online space has created its own rewards but also problems.  from clicks and impressions to unique users to engagement or stickiness and now ROI … measuring success has never been so possible nor so complex.

Megan_Brownlow_PHOTO next up was the lovely Megan Brownlow, Entertainment and Media Editor for PWC’s Outlook, which complies stats on ‘where the money is’ in the entertainment and media spaces…  this is facts given meaning not opinions back up with stats, so worth paying attention to, especially a key observation re consumer spending vs advertiser spending…

PWC’s five year view looks a lot like this

PWC_media_&_entertainment_forecasts_imedia_summit_2010 PWC revenue predictions as presented at iMedia Summit last week in Sydney

put simply, people are predicted to spend proportionately more on entertainment and media (content) than advertisers will spend on media.  good news if your media business model is predicated on creating and distributing stuff that people will want and pay for. bad news if your media business model is taking commission on advertising spend.  a problem further compounded by the well documented explosion in inventory, which any economist will tell you will lead to lower yields for media publishers and agencies.

Brownlow described the ‘structural change’ of this versus other recessions.  the recovery will be shallower than any previous one, “a crawl rather than a jump out”, but not for everyone.  between 2003 and 2009 search revenues have increased from 31% of ad revenues to 50.4% – 90% of which, no one needs reminding, goes to one company.

the big growth is in consumer pay models, where growth is predicted to be 5.5% CAGR (’09-’13).  hence media owners and publishers seeking hybrid business models (another hot topic of the day) to monetise content.  Brownlow noted research suggesting that, for example, in newspapers people will pay, but only for verticals – a proportion (Finance 97%, Sport 77%) of the hard copy price as long as that same content is not available for free elsewhere.  in this context Murdoch’s rallying cry to the newspaper industry to declare war on Google makes immaculate sense.  her final observation was that even if hybrid pay models work, lost revenues won’t be replaced.  the annihilation of the old model of newspaper publishing is still an inevitability.

Brownlow’s final observation however was a cold shower for any Australians readying themselves for seats of honour in the digital revolution after-show party.  compared to the rest of the world, the country is significantly lagging in online adoption, with revenues in the online space in the region of 25%, compared with 31% globally and up to 50% in countries such as south east Asia.  “traditional media ‘owns’ the market in Australia for a long time yet to come”.  the reasons, infrastructure (and therefore effectively ISP cost) and attitude…  the former understandable given the countries geography, the latter frustrating to say the least in a country with such an entrepreneurial culture (my observation not Brownlow’s).

three ‘game-changers’ to end with: (1) the NBM or National Broadcast Network, a government initiative to hardwire the nation by 2017, but which Goldman Sachs predicts will be only 50% complete by then, (2) mobile, yes 2010 IS mobile’s year and (3) interactive games, with a 7.5% growth forecast, 2.2bn market and two structural changes to boost the sector in the form of mobile and online gaming.  play on.

Ed_smith_pic next up the enigmatic Ed Smith of NDM who started with a topic that was to become one of the themes of the day…  that of volume versus value in the online space.  he made two observations – one, that (average) click rates were down from 32% to 16%; and two, that 8% of people accounted for 80% of clicks.  so just how valuable is a click?  how many brands and businesses are so overly obsessed with generating clicks that they’re “going out of business as cost effectively as possible”?  …he questioned what the point of [100%] paid-for search was when you’re not investing in product or marketing initiatives that ‘build the brand’?

this was a phrase that kept on cropping up, bit of a fat phrase (and not in a good street way)…  ultimately by ‘build the brand’ I suspect the speakers were referring to brand associations.  and raising the (valid) question of how long the broadcast interruption model can create and sustain brand associations (ie what ‘brands’ effectively are) if we’re all collectively ignoring / avoiding more, clicking less, and paying for content direct.

Smith went on to give the publishers’ perspective wrt post-broadcast print…  describing some of the emerging platforms he played with at a recent tech conference.  I was going to ask him “how he was intending to meet the challenge of defending margins when the cost of producing content is no longer matched by advertising revenues?” … but we know the answer to this, it’s the much talked about hybrid model…  of combining (lower) ad revenues with direct payment from people for the content.  the ‘iPad $ a day’ model.  Smith’s retort to those who question the sustainability of the hybrid model: “People who say ‘people won’t pay for content’ don’t know what’s possible”.  to that point, he showed us this:

he observed that the NYT’s iPad application launched with three advertisers each paying US$200k for the privilege and challenged the audience with the question “are your digital media choices making your brand bigger or smaller?”

Jack_matthews_fairfax the end of the morning saw Fairfax Digital’s CEO Jack Matthews take up some of the themes opened by Smith…  “consumer demand for media, in all it’s forms, has never been greater”, “a new era of online advertising”, “direct response get’s too big a share of the media mix”, “the future of media companies and agencies is to add value” … there’s a clear direction of travel from publishers here; away from trading debates based on the value of a click, towards trading debates predicated on the value of the audience the publisher is providing…

Matthews outlined three change catalysts in the space: (1) three screens (2) building brands on desktops and (3) agency / campaign integration

he made a delightful observation on the three screen model: “if the desktop user is a browser, then a mobile user is a hunter”.  I have a lot of time for that, it really focuses how you think about adding value to people in the mobile space.  he reiterated the belief that “people are willing to pay for content on mobile devices”, and pointed out the projected rise of video advertising on the desktop – 48% CAGR in ad revenues to 2014.  he also made it quite clear to the audience that Fairfax Digital is in the business of and focusing on “building engaged audiences more than reach”.

he ended with a call for integration, observing that “we have no aligned metric for measuring ‘brand building’ [that phrase again] online”, and that there’s not enough integration within agencies on aligning on and offline media.  he acknowledged that his organisation had to be more prepared to work with other organisations too…  an acknowledgment that he described as a “fundamental shift” in Fairfax’s position.

after post-lunch sessions by Michael Hendricks, Head of Decision Management, CitibankAsia Pacific (“we’re about acquiring the right customers, not the most”, “our most valuable customers use all of our channels most of the time”) and Corporate Anthropologist (who knew?) Michael Henderson, it was back to the media agenda with Rohan Lund of Yahoo!7…

Rohan-Lund-Yahoo7 58% of Yahoo!7’s audience media ‘mesh’ at least several times a week: 95% on email, 63% on social networks, 54% to get more info on a show and 40% to follow-up on an ad they’ve seen…  time spent online watching video is now 13%, and very much social.

Lund challenged the session – in a context of content, content content – to question what our business models were?  access isn’t enough.  “we [Yahoo!7] make it easier for users to access content that matters to them most”, adding that “our businesses are data businesses … our core business is targeting”.

he outlined Yahoo!7’s recently launched catch up service, thru which every primetime show is available.  he described how the ambition is to get the browser closer to a TV environment, and talked thru the challenges of making TV shows available for different IPTV-ready TV models.  interestingly, for non-partner TVs they’ve introduced open-source development.  and he was quite clear that he saw no reason why online video CPMs will never be lower than for TV; in effect a premium for targeting.

back to the question I asked at the start of the post, I put to Lund that “the broadcast model isn’t broken…  yet.  how prepared are agencies
for when it breaks?” … he believed that agencies are becoming more integrated, and understanding better the balance between on and offline.  but acknowledged the elephant in the room; that “no one ever got fired for buying TV”, and that people are still “hiding behind TV as a safe solution”…

good to have it out and said, and credit to Lund for doing so…  but I think its less about TV being seen as the safe solution, and more the reach and delivery of the broadcast model that’s seen as the safe solution.  the absurdness of this just gets truer every day.  if the iMedia summit made one thing clear its that the figures are now starting to track the theory.  viewing fragmenting, click rates decreasing, ad avoidance up…  and the solution?  a continued clinging to the sinking ship that is broadcast interruption.  it’s like the Titanic’s going down and the industry is scrabbling to get on board…

Sean_Finnegan_Starcom this was followed by (for me) one the highlights of the day as Sean Finnegan, President and Chief Digital Officer at Starcom MediaVest Group took us thru his vision for his media agency’s digital offering.

his logic is crystal: clients are struggling to deliver accountability in rapidly changing markets where its harder to connect with consumers.  agencies therefore need restructure and resource to provide a range of new offerings: RealTime consumer insight, actionable insights, and content – all created by what Finnegan describes as ‘liquid talent’.  how…

  • business intelligence and hub formations
  • data exchanges (in the US buying of non-identify-able consumer data is now mainstream)
  • standardised findings with consumers and the industry (common and consistent measurement)
  • instant content delivery, real time text and video (eg EA’s Tiger Woods video)
  • strategic alliances, frenemies have never been more important…

he observed that “efficient pricing is no longer a value add”, and that “marketers and agencies that focus only on price are leaving value on the table”.  we’ve gone “from a linear to a networked comms infrastructure [which] creates a transfer of power to the consumer”.  he noted that we “need to start understanding the passions and behaviours of individuals [across media platforms]”, and observed that this would have inherent problems for publishers.

he also outlined his thoughts on the media agency offering…  “because of our proximity to consumers we have to be more adept at design and messaging”, but also gave a stark warning to media isolationists: “you need to be confident enough to partner with competitors that are better than you to deliver the best solutions for your clients … the more we give away, the more we grow”.

his view on the future of the Starcom’s digital offering is clear: a move away from media people as aggregators towards media people as analysis of data, interpreting, modeling and projecting for clients and brands.  his people will be more account managerial and who are less in the business of “killing bad news” and more in the business of “selling the best ideas”.

so what to make of it all?

great day and some interesting comment and debate, but you can’t help but leave with the impression that there’s far more questions than answers.  but perhaps that’s well and good, it’s an easy cliche to say that there’s never been a more interesting time to work in media…  but its true never the less.  for more than three years this blog has set itself the task of negotiating the future of media and communications; a task is no less interesting, gripping and exciting than it was when in November 2006 I wrote my first post on TV (versus) online:

“the internet is television.  but it’s television on viewers’ rather than broadcaster’s terms.  the issue isn’t the demise of TV, but the decline of the broadcast model and of the broadcaster as commissioning editor and content aggregator.”

its vaguely how terrifying how little has changed.  the debate, the argument and the negotiation continues, and we’re all the better for forums like iMedia in which to talk, and for that matter drink, it out…


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.