Thursday, December 25, 2008

DailyLit: When advertising is worth it

I like books. I like to read. I like to learn and think about new things. Once I was able to get audiobooks onto my phone, I finally had books with me whenever I was able to squeeze in a few more minutes of reading time. But the interface on my phone is sooooo bad for fastforwarding, that it really only makes sense when I have a larger chunk of time to listen.

So comes in DailyLit. They have a bunch of books which they can send you in byte-size (heh) chunks via email or RSS, at your schedule, under your easy-to-manage guidance. Only problem is that most of their books that I'd want to read you have to pay for.

Comes in advertising. What a great potential, as long as they do it right. They know what the book is about, and it's reasonable to assume that if I'm reading the book it's because I'm interested in those topics. So as long as they limit the ads, and make them relevant and quality, then I'd gladly accept ads in lieu of paying for the books. This is one of the few places that I've seen that ads would be mostly welcome.

What do you think?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Whopper of a Flummox

Cute idea, I think. But I'm not sure I'm glad they followed through with it. And then to hear how they flummoxed the whole online thing, well, as a net-head, I'm somewhat shocked, almost even appalled.

I'm writing of course about the infamous Whopper Virginssssss campaign. The idea was to do a burger taste test with people who had never had neither Whopper nor Big Mac. A taste test, in fact, with people who had never even heard of a 'hamburger'. So called 'Whopper Virgins'.

Coming from a background in usability and research, I think the idea of doing a taste test with such a 'pure' subject pool is at least cute. And while the experimental setup may have been a tad flawed (e.g. they had a portable Whopper grill, but nothing similar for a Big Mac, and from the video it did not appear all comparisons were made with comparable sandwiches), the testing was done via a presumably (it was sponsored by Burger King) impartial independent group. All in all, cute. But I have two 'buts'.

My first big but is that, while their test may be pure, they have now poisoned (in a number of ways) some previously less-tainted peoples. While there was some gastrio-cultural exchange, I doubt the 'virgins' got the better end of the deal.

My second big but is that, according to yet another good article by AdAge, Burger King blew the internetation of the campaign. For instance, search for 'Whopper Virgin' (sans 's'), and no Burger King turns up in the results. Indeed they report that the number of searches for Whopper Virgins and Whopper Virgin where just about equal. That means that half the folks had problems finding the supposedly viral campaign - just because of a single letter.

Well, what do you think?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Girl Power

Ok, this is not my typical post. I suppose this could be called an ad, an ad for change, an ad about change. It's an ad about changing the world by supporting an individual in a poor town. Give them some money, they buy a cow, the cow becomes a herd, the girl helps the village, the village helps the country, and so on.

I liked this because of the message, indeed, but also because of the very simplicity of the ad - just some kinetic text. Nice ad indeed.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Your brand, our brand, firebrand

People like to talk about what they like. That can often mean lots of free positive publicity for products.

Take the Harry Potter phenomenon for instance. Millions of books sold, billions of dollars earned, and I have no idea how many fan sites and secondary products. People of all ages love to read, watch, think about, and talk about the story, its characters, and its themes. You'd think that would be a great thing for J.K. Rowling and Warner Brothers. Oddly, it isn't always, at least not when you take a fan site and put it into print.

Earlier this year Rowling and WB took a middle school librarian and his publisher to court over his plans to publish the contents of a Harry Potter fan site. Why? According to Rowling, the book preempts a book she intends to publish.

Come on JK. If I understand right, the material already exists on the fan site. You even praised the fan site. And you haven't even written the book yet. Are you going to take down the site too?

Take it a step further. Can I teach a creative writing course, and have the students rewrite the story based on the characters, and then publish it? What if some of the rewrites are similar to an idea the author may have had? Who owns the concept of the characters? Isn't art in the eye of the consumer?

Me, I'd say let them publish it, or better, JK could dialogue with the author(s), create synergy with her own ideas, and make something much better together. To paraphrase my father, the guru of fun, isn't the power of the one so much greater when it is at one with the power of the many?

(read more about the legal battle on copyright infringement)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Viral interactive chickens

When does a chicken become viral? Not disease-viral, I mean massive views viral. Burger King recently put out an interactive ad featuring a chicken that understands natural (human) language.

Ok, it's kind of funny, kind of cute, and then quickly, kind of annoying. But don't let me bias you - what do you think?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Super markets for the elderly

Yes, supermarket is one word. But when you reposition your supermarket to service the needs for a special group, I might call it just Super. Take the Lawson market in Japan. The whole store was designed for the elderly - softer colors, aisles and shelves designed for easy access, particularly for wheel chairs, and a special lounge for those who can't stand to shop that long. And it all makes sense, or Yense as the case may be - more than 20% of the Japanese population is over 65. So don't just target your products, target your markets to meet the special needs of your special market.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Product placement does not work

The latest 007 movie has over 20 product placements. Apparently, a recent Sylvester Stallone movie had over 100 product placements (more than one a minute). Companies spend a LOT of money (sometimes tens of millions of dollars!) to get their product into a movie. But does it work?

A recent report on AdAge says not only does it not work, it works against the brand. A brain scan of people watching a movie showed that at times, when a product appeared on the screen, it actually gets deleted from the brain.

Hey companies, tell you what, I've got a great service for you: just give one million usd, and I'll promise not to place it in a movie. I now have evidence my campaign will work better than yours!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

ZunaVision - Simple in-video advertising

Want to earn advertising dollars on your home videos? Ever wanted to replace that picture of your ex in YouTube videos of your living room? Ashutosh Saxena, Siddharth Batra and Andrew Ng at Stanford University have come up with a way to easily embed pictures or videos into an existing video. The result is a way to monetize any video or image on the internet. They also have some good ideas of how to use this for everything from mundane activities like home remodeling to adding sign-language overlays.

I think the application is awesome! Anybody know how I can get a piece of this action?

Having said that, I wonder: won't this lead to a new generation of faked photos, fraudelent news, and just really annoying YouTube experiences? What do you think?