Friday, October 31, 2008

HP's social marketing

Recently, HP CMO Mike Mendenhall said:
"All public touch points... now impact our brand, its reputation and its revenue. Brands are not defined today by campaigns but by the consumer ecosystems we nurture to support them."

According to AdAge, HP is the world's largest IT marketer, so what he says should carry significant weight.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Advertising as social storytelling

The paradigm of marketing as a "conversation with consumers" is way older than the internet. Many ads are designed to tell a story, however brief. If all goes well for the marketer, people respond favorably to the ad, and they get a chance to make a second or third episode. There is a feedback loop here, but it is slow and indirect, more a peeping-tom or sentiment-surfing than actual dialogue.

With the rise of social media comes an increased ability for marketers to really make advertising into an open-ended ongoing conversation with consumers. For example, as reported on
"A great case in point is the recent EA spot for their Tiger Woods golf game. Someone had uploaded a video of Tiger walking on water inside the game, presenting it as an embarrassing glitch. EA and its agency (Wieden + Kennedy) looked at this video and decided to enter the conversation. They shot a live-action spot of Tiger actually walking on water and stated that it wasn't a glitch in the game, Tiger is just that good. Then they uploaded it as a response to the original video on YouTube. This is the kind of social interaction that earns you tons of respect in the digital world. That the video went viral to the tune of several million views and also made everyone aware there was a new version of EA's Tiger Woods golf game was almost a side effect."
It isn't the conversation that is viral, it is the awareness and sensitivity to consumers that is so infectous. So, how does a marketer make an ad campaign into a conversation campaign? The article on goes on to give a number of guidelines:
"1. Look at any marketing effort as the beginning of a conversation.
2. Closely monitor the conversation and be ready to respond to consumers.
3. Provide consumers with tools that help them carry on the conversation for you.
4. Leave room for consumers to interact. Make sure your creative universe is big enough that there are unexplored areas.
5. The conversation is over when the consumers say it is, not when the media plan (or the budget) says it is.
6. Listen and learn from the feedback loop."

I might disagree a bit with the wording in number 5. If you find you have a great story with consumer interest that wanes, why not fire it up again with a new episode? But other than that: spot on!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bad Ad Contest

Look out Ogilvy!

The New Mexico Media Literacy Project is conducting its annual Bad Ad Contest. The goal of the contest is to heighten awareness and skills of teens in analyzing advertising and advertisers. Contest entries deconstruct an ad, in particular the use of persuasion, subtext and stereotyping, and explaining both what’s wrong with the ad, as well as what could have been done better. See last year’s contest winners.

They are also conducting a parallel Counter Ad Contest. Entries provide commentary by modifying or remaking an ad in a more positive or revealing way. They have some examples, like this one:

I like the emphasis on attention to detail, analysis, and creativity. It's a great way to plant the seeds for better ads and better ad consumers.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Don’t Buy It – Advertising smarts for kids

PBS – Thank you. I have loved your shows since . Now I applaud you for your web site.

The other day I saw my kids playing on the Don’t Buy It subsite of Cool stuff. The activities are all about being wise about ads and advertising. Even the banner ads teach about banner ads!

For instance, they give example recipes for food ads, such as the Perfect Burger that includes 100 hamburger buns, 2 cases of lettuce, and superglue, along with pictures of each step.

I also liked the What’s in the shopping bag? activity. There’s a picture of the ad, and you have to figure out what’s really included in the box (hint: no, the Rocket Launcher doesn’t really shoot).

Here’s one more from them:

Can you find the ad in the following picture?
(hint – it cost $40,000,000)
Thumbs up to PBS Kids!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Twitter Ads?

Twitter has a delicious problem on its hand. It needs money, well, at least the investors want money. The problem is that they aren't making any yet. But it's so easy to taste so many ways they could. Their current challenge is to choose one (or so).

What concerns me is the impact their model could have on the consumers. For instance, Jason Calacanis (CEO of Mahalo), posted a few ideas. Two of them, at least, had to do with ads. He opines that people wouldn't mind getting a sponsored tweet every so often. While his final advice to Twitter is spot-on ("An absolute idiot with 10-20M users can make a ton of money. So, get to tens of millions of users and forget about money."), I was left wondering about the "intermittent ad" proposal in general.

Imagine getting a sponsored message every so often in your:
  • Your Twitter feed
  • Your email
  • Your phone calls or answering service
  • Your mail
How often (e.g. every 200 messages, once a day, ...) would you be willing to get a sponsored ad if it kept the service free? In what ways would you be willing to get more ads in exchange for free premium services?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

VRM - It's about the consumer experience

Recently I learned of Doc Searls' ProjectVRM (note: VRM = "Vendor Relationship Management"), which in effect is a continuation of his Cluetrain Manifesto. While the name VRM starts with the Vendor, I see it more as starting with the consumer. Indeed, as they say on their main page:
In a larger sense, VRM immodestly intends to improve markets and their mechanisms by equipping customers to be independent leaders and not just captive followers in their relationships with vendors and other parties on the supply side of the marketplace. [my emphasis]
In short, they want to empower the consumer, which should power the consumer-vendor relationship, which should make everybody happier. The emphasis on the consumer is evident in their (draft) principles, half of which explicitly emphasize improving the consumer's experience with the vendor. To be fair, the other half emphasize the vendor, and Keith Hopper's post explains why VRM is good for businesses, too, but the main emphasis of the project is around the consumer's experience.

Doc claims that ProjectVRM is just a 'development project'. Well, I for one am eager to see it developed!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Tupperware Parties 2.0

Some people really love some products. So why not celebrate?

That's just what is about. They organize a nationwide party around a product, sponsored by the brand. It's a Tupperware party gone Web 2.0. Celebrating the people celebrating the product.

Nice idea.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Passion by the people of the people for the people

On the same day, I read an article about YouTube's increasing advertising arsenal, and watched Michael Wesch's talk about YouTube to the Library of Congress. What struck me most was the contrast of motivations between the boob-tube and YouTube. TV was made by advertisers to sell products - the program was just filler, and the choice of programs was heavily influenced by the advertisers. In contrast, YouTube programming is made by the people (aka consumer), with absolutely no control in the hands of brands.

Indeed, advertising has come to YouTube, but it is still the passion of the people, about the people, and for the people that really gives YouTube the edge.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Reebok Respects Runners

It's no surprise I think advertisers should respect their ad consumers. Forrester has been saying this for some time, in fact. As they report in "Reebok's 'Run Easy' Creates A Movement, Not A Campaign":
Involve your audience in your media plan. You've heard Forrester talk already about "ceding control of your brand to your customer." This example shows where Reebok actually ceded control of what media and what messages they used to the people who were participating in their movement. Reebok's users created valuable marketing tools like running maps, testimonials, images of them and their friends running easy. And Reebok users determined what media Reebok should use. Reebok bought on and offline properties based on how and where their users RAN, not just how they consumed media.
So empowering your ad consumers makes your ad more powerful. We knew, yes?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Good Ads Make People Happier

It's no surprise. People like playing good games better. But now they've proved it, at least with advergames. If you make an advergame that respects both the product and the player, people respond positively. As reported in the Journal of Interactive Advertising:
The analysis reveals a stronger positive relationship between attitude toward the advergame and attitude toward the brand when participants play games with a high thematic connection to the brand's product. (Wise et al.)
So, like really, is anybody surprised?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Humane marketing

Stumbled onto Joseph Jaffe today, from the Jaffe Juice blog and Crayon. He gives a very nice diatribe against treating customers as anything but human. As he says "Every single customer that reaches out to us deserves a response." Watch it here (9 mins).

Friday, October 10, 2008

The beauty and the ugly

Dove has an amazing focus on 'pro-age'. As they say in at least one ad "because beauty has no age limit." Wonderful focus for a soap. Unfortunately, many of their ads are not appropriate for this blog, but here is one that is just incredible:

Now, one of my reasons for mentioning this ad is that it's honesty and creativity sparked a video response:

What is significant about this parody is that the quality of the Dove video inspired someone to spend so much time and effort to respond. In fact, at the time of this writing, the parody has been watched over 200 thousand times more than the original video. I think this shows the power of Dove's ad campaign, and more importantly, the appreciation of the ad consumer.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Advergame Review: Chunga

Kit Kat AdvergameSome Advergames are notable for their intrinsic use of the brand or product. But does that mean the consumer will have a better experience?

I tried out the popular Chunga. It's a nice take on the classic game of Jenga, using Kit Kat bars instead. It's nice that it respects the intrinsic bar-ness of Kit Kats, and the friction-feel of Jenga. However, some of the control is a bit rough, and although I liked the self-poking comedic aspect, it got old real fast.

Overall, I'd say it's worth a try for those interested in Advergames, because of its intrinsic-ness. Those looking for a good game, however, try elsewhere.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Advergame Review: Rooftop

Coca Cola Zero AdvergameThe advergame Coke Zero Rooftop surprised me in several ways:
  • there was a game to play while the game was loading,
  • the game play was compelling and simple, though it took a few tries to master
  • the best use of smoke and rain I have seen in a game
  • incentives to try again (try "twelve")
Overall, I found the game pleasant to play, and respectful of the player and the product.
Good job!

Monday, October 6, 2008

People Pixel Ads

Some ads use people as pixels, often with amazing results. Look at this enlargement of the picture on the left.

Here are some nice video ad examples:
Audience as beer
A very big ad

See also my adconsumer delicious feed and look for the label "peoplepixel"

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Green Makes Green

Performics published a brief article on a study by DoubleClick concerning the impact of green advertising on a company's bottom line. I have not read the original report, but here are some important quotations from the Perfomics article:
“Not only are consumers interested in green products and companies, our survey shows that nearly half of them will pay at least five percent more for them,” said Stuart Larkins, senior vice president of search at DoubleClick Performics.
Not only are they willing to pay more to be green, green also goes viral, as they quoted:
“Recommendations continue to drive sales,” said Larkins. “We also found that a majority of online consumers would recommend an environmentally-conscious company to friends and family.”
So you advertisers out there, get the message: green makes green!
And for all: check out my delicious feed and look for ads tagged 'green'. Have another one to recommend? Please let me know!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Ads That Give

Energy producers and car manufacturers have been touting the importance of going green for years. They spend millions of dollars on high-production ad campaigns. But they're out to sell a product.

There are a lot of powerful ads that sell messages, instead of products. Messages about positive change in the world, messages like child abuse, hunger, and homelessness. The companies making the ads, such as Salvation Army and United Way, benefit in two ways: changing the world and improved brand recognition and consumer trust.

Look for the 'nonprofit' label in my ad feed for examples. Below are a few of the cooler ones I have found:
I'm always looking for more... (hint hint)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Interactive online advertising

In addition to advergaming, there are other ways of making ads more interactive. As a leading example, consider Qoof. The company's mission statement claims:
"Qoof is the first video commerce platform that maximizes the commerce potential of online video through a unique networking service that matches e-Tailer videos with web publishing channels."

Here is an example of their widget: