Rogue Advertising

Ad Biz, Heroes, iTV, NBC, NBC Rewind, Nissan, Rogue, Web 2.0

I have recently become a junky for Heroes.  I say recently because I’m a year late to the party. 

After rushing to finish the first season in only two weeks via Netflix, I geared up for the second season only to discover it had already started.  Nice timing, NBC.

Fortunately, NBC has one of the best online content sources on the Web: NBC Video Rewind.

There, I have caught up with what is going on in the second season.  I have been pleasantly surprised with the image and sound quality coming through my home network (DSL and Aiport Extreme) to the point that I have decided not to watch any future episodes on TV.  I just wait until Monday night’s episode is uploaded on Tuesday (which means I have a new episode to watch tonight).

The only thing that irritates me about this service is the advertising model.  NBC is still working out the kinks, but as far as I can tell they have chosen to keep the same format: ten minutes of content followed by a commercial break.  Rinse.  Repeat.

The breaks are only one spot long, and from what I can tell they are devoted wholely to one company that buys all the blocks for a given episode.  That’s not irritating, but what the companies choose to do with their time is.  It’s the same spot they air on television, broadcast over and over and over and over and over…

This is a slap in the face of the medium in which the advertising sits.  This is not TV, don’t run a TV spot.

The only exception is for Heroes episode 205 (2nd season, 5th episode).  This one was snagged by Nissan to advertise their new Rogue crossover (also seen extensively throughout the second season of Heroes).

What Nissan chose to do was make spots specifically for this format.  They aren’t remakes of their TV work or their website; rather, they are interactive snippets that let you scroll over the ads with your mouse to activate information about the car.  You can even click on it to learn more (without interrupting Heroes).  The interactive component quickly exits the screen after 30 seconds, and on with the show:

rogue.jpg

Great stuff.

It also ties in nicely with the microsite built out for the car. 

At this site, you can learn more about the car, play a few games, and customize your own Rogue (to ultimately purchase):

rogueballer.jpg

Try to get the ball past the cabbie in Rogue Baller

mazemaster.jpg

Avoid potholes while driving through a digital city in Maze Master.

Inform.  Entertain.  Engage.

Check. Check. Check.

Kudos to Nissan.  You are the first brand (I know of) to figure out iTV. 

Target Shoots the Messenger

Ad Biz, courier bag, Cultures & Fringes, Design & Creativity, Lamitron, Pop Culturisms, RootPhi, Target, Timbuk2, Wal Mart

This past June, Treehugger reported that Timbuk2 was going to team up with RootPhito build a messenger bag by pressing (laminating) recycled billboards, grocery bags, posters, and the like.  The bags will be called Lamitron, and their development process has been closely watched by influential bloggers including Cool HuntingWired and PSFK.

Here are a few prototypes:

targetbag.jpg

example2.jpg

example3.jpg

I dig it.  I dig it so much that I have postponed buying a new courier bag until these roll out.  Think about it, an ad guy walking around with a bag made of deconstructed ads. 

I signed up for their email and was immediately notified that Lamitron bags would be available for purchase as soon as Timbuk2 and RootPhi ironed out the production process.  That original email is lost, but it included an image with yet another example of what the bags could look like (ever mindful that they are all custom):

target-copy.jpg

(sorry for the fuzzy image…I had to do a screen capture)

As you can see, one of the primary materials RootPhi and Timbuk2 were playing with was the always hip, always branded Target shopping bag.  Cool idea, right?

Not according to Target.

Today, Timbuk2 sent out another email notifying all those interested in Lamitron bags that Target tossed them a cease and desist order.  It read:

notarget.jpg

Note the Lamitron bag in this email.  The right panel, made of a Target shopping bag, has been blurred. 

Obviously, Timbuk2 is taking this cease and decist letter seriously.  Their tact and tone indicates they do not want to poke the beast for fear of legal repercussions, but come on…

Shame on you, Target.  This is a new era, and you know that.  Your marketing efforts are some of the most progressive in the world.  You have a keen understanding of how to engage customers in new, interactive ways.

Timbuk2 may be another “company” rather than a “customer”, but what they offer you is a way to keep the Target brand relevant, fresh, and at the cutting edge of fashion and design.  Why in the world would you ask Timbuk2 to remove your logo from their bags?  It is a critical step in the wrong direction.

I have not control over the process, but I’m hopeful that, in an act of passive aggression, Timbuk2 and RootPhi stop by Wal-Mart on their way to the printing press:

walmart.jpg

A New Take on In-Game Advertising

Ad Biz, Media, Toyota Tacoma Viral Video YouTube, Viral

Did you see me lay down the law?

Absolutely brilliant strategy. The mid-size truck always gets a bad rap. Everyone is familiar with the mullet-and-gun machismo that is a full-size pickup spot, but how often do you look at an ad for a mid-size truck and feel cool? Tundra has some competition from the likes of Ford, Chevy, and GMC, but Tacoma is playing in a league of its own.

Pizzaganda

Ad Biz, austin onion, authenticity, home slice, pizza, Pop Culturisms

The best marketing is authentic.  It doesn’t need to be polished by admen; rather, it is an organic, pervasive manifestation of the company’s culture at every customer touchpoint. 

Two local pizza shops are cases in point.

College Kids

onion.jpg

Austin Onion taps into one of the two most lucrative markets for pizza in the country: college kids.  Their shop on 5th Street is equidistant between the two primary bar districts of downtown.  Drunk tourists from 6th and drug-induced 20-somethings from 4th are both just a short walk away from by-the-slice heaven.

However, their hours of operation and quality ingredients are not that unique.  Several pizza trailers roll into this area every night to help calm the munchy giant.  What Austin Onion has as their secret weapon is a gang of employees that are really cool.

For one, the owner is involved with 9th Street BMX.  These guys haven’t grown up yet, as you can see here.  Therefore, it is only logical that the business culture of Austin Onion exhude the same sense of…how would you describe it…loose morals?

Regardless, the kids love it.  The storefront is dingy, almost as if the people work here, party here, and pass out here.  Punk rock screams from the cheap stereo sitting in the corner, and the dress code can be summed up in three words: full arm tattoo.  This shop has a line out the door almost every night of the week, and their lunch business is doing almost as well. 

Then there is the delivery service.  Here’s an idea of what will show up to your door:

att14548791.jpg

Moms w/Kids

Home Slice, started by two of my neighbors, was opened about a year ago and aims to appeal to the second most lucrative market for national pizza sales: moms with young kids. 

homeslice2.jpg

In the case of Home Slice, the target audience is hipster moms (and dads), sometimes known as Grupsters.  Their approach is subtle so as to not alienate childless parties, but a trained marketing eye soon discovers that every decision has been made in an attempt to make Home Slice the alternative to Chuck-E-Cheese.

For the opening night, the couple that started the shop, Jen and Joseph Strickland, made an effort to request all of their friends come to hang out, drink beer, and act fabulous.  Oh, and bring the kids.

This set a precedent that remains intact today.  The place is teeming with kids – well-behaved, Ritalin-free, unplugged kids – who are attracted by the Pitchfork-approved music on the radio and killer graphics painted on the walls.

The owners of Home Slice have reaffirmed their commitment to cool, progressive families by making them the centerpiece of almost all their business affairs.  For instance, Home Slice is known to throw a party on their back porch from time to time, but the events are always intended to draw in a combination of Grupsters and kids.  The kids watch a pie eating contest and get balloon animals.  The parents get an excuse to eat pizza a drink beer in the middle of the day.  Clearly, it’s a win win.

Here’s what they did with the kids play/coloring book:

kidsbook.jpg

As proof that cool family is more than just a target audience, the Stricklands and co-owner Terri Hannifin recently chose to close shop for a week for what they called a “cultural field trip”.  From a press release:

They’re taking 22 people from their staff to New York City to give them a chance to try New York style pizza in the Big Apple.

“It seemed like a perfect time to take a family vacation. We have a great crew here. They are hard workers helped us make this restaurant successful and we wanted to treat them to an exciting field trip to New York City,” owner Terri Hannifin said.

The owners plan to take their employees to lunch and dinner at several pizza places and have them go on a scavenger hunt.

Back home in Austin, the waiters share tips and are known to break out in chorus whenever Weezer’s Sweater Song comes up on the iPod queue. Their love for their work rubs off on the vibe people get when they come to eat.  Happy smiles, happy kids, big tips.

How cool is this?  Whereas Austin Onion targets party kids by becoming the party-pizza-parlor, Home Slice targets progressive families by establishing their own family traditions.  And is “target” even the right word?  Call it purpose, call it attraction, call it branding…whatever it is, it works.

LBS Notes: Part 1

Ad Biz, AKQA, Digital Media, iPhone, LBS, LOC AID, Location Based Services, Media, mobile, Web 2.0

Voice and data services have become commodities for telecommunications companies.  The result is an industry hungry for innovation to increase customer base and profit margins.

According to TeleMapics, location-based service (LBS), utilizing wireless communications and global position technologies, is poised to be that innovation.

LBS is an old term largely dismissed by industry insiders as it was uveiled almost a decade ago with huge amounts of hype and zero follow-through.  However, today is another story.  LBS could very well be the defining technology of 2008, as I have posted before.

AT&T and the iPhone are the kings of LBS at the moment, but Sprint just announced they are teaming up with Microsoft.  Verizon is not far behind.

If this is the case, marketers have some work in front of them in figuring out how to leverage LBS for their respective clients.

Here is what I/we know so far:

1. Utility Beats Entertainment…For Now 

For all the hoopla we’ve seen about being about being able to watch YouTube videos on iPhones, it turns out people are not as interested in surfing as they are searching.  Adrian from Zeus Jones writes today about an interesting finding from Google.  It turns out Google Maps usage has “increased sharply” since the release of the iPhone and “hasn’t stopped rising.”  Meanwhile, YouTube availability on the iPhone has not effected usage at all. 

Adrian analyzes this, stating “There’s no denying that entertainment is a legitimate way to engage, however this [information] does prove that the barrier to entry for a good entertainment experience is substantially higher than it is for a useful service.”

What does this mean for marketers?  Well, in a nutshell, focus on building mobile utility for your customers if you hope to get the greatest return.  Table the mobile entertainment unless you have some creativity worth a pencil – this may break through the barrier Adrian mentions above.  Or, optimally, pair the two together…just don’t forget the utility.

2. The Battle for Ad Turf

The mobile advertising space is basically virgin territory, but already people are working to carve out space and build standards for mobile marketing.  The “people” are search engines, carriers, and new platforms.

Search Engines: Google AdSense for Mobile enables online publishers to target location-based advertising to anyone using their browser from a mobile phone.  The opportunities here are endless from a marketing perspective, but they are limited at the moment.  Currently, Google only offers AdSense for Mobile on basic text ads. 

Carriers: Another player vying for space is Australian telco Telstra.  Per ITWire, Telstra has “launched a trial of location based coupons from major retailers such as KFC and Pizza Hut. In the trial, users can request a coupon to be sent to their mobile phone from banner ads on a variety of websites.

By clicking on the banner advertisements, consumers are provided with information on the promotional offer and the ability to enter their mobile number to receive a coupon via SMS. For Telstra mobile customers, information on their mobile also includes a map of their local area and the location of the nearest stores plotted on the map.”

New Platforms: ProximityMedia has built out a system that can push out relative content to Bluetooth phones.  Their demo is tacky but interesting:

3. LBS = SMS + MMS + WAP

Wonky?  Yes.  Let me explain.

SMS – A.K.A., Short Message Service – A.K.A., text messaging – can easily be sponsored by corporations.  Envision an ad on top of your text message.  In turn, you can text for free.  Lots of marketers like this idea because it seems so darned simple.

Well, LogicaCMGrecently did a study of consumer reactions to sponsored SMS (or SMS Advertising) and discovered that Northern Europe and the U.S. would be “extremely unlikely” to use the product.  The conclusion here is free SMS isn’t that important in America – after all, unsponsored SMS is only five bucks a month.

However, SMS advertising has shown success when it is paired with multimedia messaging service (MMS) and wireless application protocol (WAP).  For all you non-wonks (a group that includes me), a good example of MMS is any mobile message that includes images, videos or music, and WAP is basically a phone that can connect to the Internet.  Put all three together, and you get yourself a promo.

For instance, a radio station in Boca Raton, FL, recently teamed up with LOC-AID (a LBS technology provider) to build out a scavenger hunt called Dash for Cash.  In it, people got SMS, MMS, and had to use WAP to find clues that would lead to $10k in booty. Supposedly the thing was a hit.  You can see more here:

4. LBS doesn’t have to sit on your phone

We have all seen the LBS billboards in Minority Report.  Tom Cruise walks by a board that customizes to his presence.

Well, we aren’t there yet, but AKQA recently got us closer.  This time last year, they built out a billboard campaign for Yell.com that was placed on the sides of London buses.  The billboards were linked to GPS that enabled them to be customized as they were on route.  Interactive, local maps were also put in at bus shelters.  Killer.  And they didn’t even use a phone.

akqa_yell_com.jpg

More later from me.  Anyone else have a best practice/insight for using effectively using LBS in marketing/advertising?

iTV now myTV

Ad Biz, Co Creation, Digital Media, iTV, Joost, Media Technologies, myTV, Web 2.0, widgets

Most people in the business of marketing know of Joost if they haven’t already had the chance to play with it.  For those that don’t, let me sum up their service as high-quality, full-length, time-agnostic television broadcast through the Internet. 

Given that it’s a web-based platform, Joost offers viewers basic Internet services as they watch.  For instance, you can instant message your buddies across the globe as you simultaneously watch the same show.  Your screen looks something like this:

im.jpg

(The IM components are in the upper-left and lower-right corners)

Joost aptly calls this IM service a “widget” that can be put on top of your primary content (the show you are watching) as add-on components.  Other examples of widgets on Joost include a news ticker, rating tools (upper-right corner), and an alarm clock.  All are made by Joost programmers. 

The problem thus far is that Joost hadn’t opened up their widget source code so that people could upload their own widgets into the system. Combine this barrier with the fact the programming available on Joost comes from broadcast corporations like MTV and you quickly realize that iTV is not necessarily “myTV”.  I don’t get the rights to upload content – like I do on YouTube – and I don’t get the rights to upload widget applications – like I do on many major social networks.

Well, Joost is opening up, and we should all rejoice.  MIT’s Advertising Lab noted today that Joost has opened their Widget API (or source code) to anyone interested in adding new features. 

According to the Joost forum (where Joost fanatics talk shop), the ideas for new widgets are pouring in.  Here is just a select few (with marketing implications in parenthesis):

  • Queuing – drag/drop/select movies/shows to go into a viewing queue similar to what Netflix offers (marketers could build target audiences by queue content)
  • Show Tagging – let people mark great moments in a show to indicate their favorite/worst moments (think 0f this as a copy test…for better or for worse)
  • Content Screener – let people take a survey that then generates content recommendations (more options for targeting, options for paid search)
  • Shopping Widget – syncs with programming so that people can buy what they see (allows marketers to advertising products in widget that are seen on show)

There will soon be a day when all content is a la carte.  Passive programming and active components will intermingle at my discretion.  TV? Internet?  Who cares?

TV + Internet = iTV

iTV + co-creation = myTV

The Age of Objective Value

Ad Biz, Analysis, Blogosphere, Deep Narratives & Commentary, Research & Insight

Zeus Jones is a new agency in Minneapolis started by a bunch of ex-Fallon guys including Adrian Ho.  Their blog is excellent, and Adrian is one of the primary authors.

From his entries, I’m seeing a pattern.

Only July 8th, Adrian wrote an entry entitled the Abstracted Economy.  In it, he made note of the fact we “have transitioned from a world of things to a world of services.”

Service now makes up 90% of the US economy. 

To put it another way – doing things for people, not selling (or telling) things to people is the vast majority of enterprise in the world’s largest economy. 

Then, on August 21st, he posted this data from Financial Times.  It shows the increasing role of brand as a percentage of corporate value:

brand_value.png

Although I’m sure this data has Baudrillard and McLuhan smiling in their respective graves, Adrian noted “there are some signs that the reverse [of this trend towards brands playing a dominant role in corporate value] appears to be happening.”

Increasingly creating brand value is not about occupying mindspace or deepening symbolic value, instead it is about doing tangible things that create value. I found this latest story about Etsy (via: Influxideas) quite telling in that regard. [Etsy] clearly saw as the logical next step for the development of its business the need for an old-fashioned retail experience. To build greater extrinsic value in their brand they have chosen to build intrinsic value. Further, they have chosen to take a step that makes little business sense from one perspective; they have taken a fully virtual business and tied it to the world of atoms. I think there is something very important happening here because our models of branding are based on the notion that a brand exists in the minds of customers. That they are entirely symbolic. Those of us with classic brand training are ingrained with the notion that brands exist entirely divorced from any physical or tangible manifestation.It is ironic that as our lives and worlds become increasingly virtual, some of the concepts that were entirely virtual are migrating towards the physical.

Amen, brother.  I like your thinking, and I’m seeing it everywhere.  Just recently one of my favorite business models, Threadless, announced they were opening a store for the very same reaons as Etsy. 

But I digress.

Stepping back for a minute, what is the pattern?  In my opinion, the shift from a tangible- to service-based economy (from industrialism to post-industrialism) is directly tied to society’s changing views on brand value. In fact, if you look back at the three primary eras of recorded civilization – agriculturalism, industrialism, and post-industrialism – you will note that there is a theory of brand value synonymous with each.  Therefore, in the age of post-industrialism (e.g., service-based economy) we need a new theory of brand value: 

Argriculturalism = Intrinsic Brand Value

The Intrinsic Theory of Value follows the history of a theory that began with Aristotle. It holds that “the good” or value is inherent in certain things regardless of their context and consequences, and regardless of any benefit or injury they may cause to the person involved. In other words, value is in the object and the object alone. The person who values such an object has no value inherently; thus, value is impersonal. The quintessential example is the intrinsic value placed on a pocket watch – the value is in the artistry and sweat equity of the craftsman, not the man who wears it on his wrist.

Industrialism = Subjective Brand Value

The Subjective Theory of Value follows how the theory of value swung to the opposite pole with the dawn of industrialization. Formalized by Carl Mengerand the Austrian School of economics, the subjective theory of value holds that, to possess value, an object must be useful in satisfying wants of an individual and scarce in terms of availability. In other words, value is in the eye of the beholder, is personal, and is a human characteristic. Therefore, brand value is based on customer beliefs and those beliefs must be measured and reinforced to ensure a brand remains relevant and healthy. Using the watch analogy, one individual is a Tag-man and another a Rolex-man.  Both Tag and Rolex rely on a specific audience with specific desires as these end-users hold the value that can ultimately be applied to their brands.

Post-Industrialism = Objective Brand Value

The Objective Theory of Value was first posed by Ayn Rand and Alan Greenspan in the 1960s. They rejected the intrinsic and subjective theories of value on the grounds that both polarize and paralyze man’s judgment (e.g., the evaluation is muddy at best because value is an attribute of only one party). They saw the “objective” theory of value – a value theory separate from their controversial theory of objectivism – as one where value is seen as the relationship between both parties rather than an attribute of one. Unfortunately, their theory was tabled as it was ahead of its time. Companies would continue to use the subjective theory of value (what Adrian referred to as extrinsic value) well into the 21st century, masking purchase decisions behind a veil of product personality and emotional connections that were/are shallow at best.

However, at the dawn of post-industrialization, a new form of customer has emerged that is rejecting the subjective and intrinsic forms of value. They evaluate their purchases through objective lenses (this is where Adrian was headed when he saw the merger of intrinsic and extrinsic values). For this new audience, one that marketing fails to yet fully understand, the watch and the wearer are irrelevant. Instead, it is the relationship between the two, promoted by the service of companies on one end and consumer action (co-creation, consumer-generated media) on the other. 

This new audience, using a new method of evaluation, wants an honest and open relationship with the company (what GSD&M’s Idea City calls “Purpose” and what Zeus Jones calls “Marketing as a Service”). Companies must incorporate the objective theory of value in their marketing if they hope to sell their wares in the post-industrial/information/Web 2.0 age. 

If you’d like to read more on how the Objective Theory of Value will impact advertising (and planning) you can check out this chapter from my book.  Its a bit dated as I wrote it a little over a year ago, but I think it still holds water:

chapter-2.pdf