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Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

Most everyone does stupid stuff as a kid; you play games and try things with only the most minimal concern for personal safety (“Sure we were shooting each other with BB guns–but we were wearing shop goggles!”).  It’s the nature of kids–particularly boys–to chase a thrill, mindless of dangers or consequences.  It’s why my nephews wrestled on a sidewalk in their Sunday best outside a First Communion Ceremony…

The Jiffy Pop Has Landed...

The Jiffy Pop Has Landed...

But six year old Falcon Heene took this phenomenon to a whole ‘nother level yesterday…a level estimated between 8000′ and 8500’, according to Larimer County Sheriff James Alderden.

As the quickly-christened “Balloon Boy,” he owned CNN for five hours…

He earned a minute-by-minute blog on the NY Times…

#Balloon Boy was Twitter’s #2 trending topic  yesterday, and was number one when aggregating all Balloon Boy variants.

Balloon Boy re-routed all of Colorado’s Northbound air traffic for fifteen full minutes…

In the cold light of a new day, the Balloon Boy may turn out to be a hoax–and he clearly never left the ground–but it’s head-spinning how he managed to garner national and even global attention so quickly.  Apparently the formula of GRAVE RISK TO A CHILD + FOCUSED ATTENTION & INTENTIONS + HAPPY FEEL GOOD RESOLUTION = CULTURE STOPPING MOMENT.  Of course, much like how the passing of any obsession brings up vague embarrassment over one’s outsized collective enthusiasm once the moment passes, a lot of people are backpedaling today.  Some are downright angry and considering pursuing potential charges.

Still, the notion of apply this lesson to create breakthrough for a product naturally crosses any marketer’s mind.  Imagine the impact such an event would have in the marketplace–imagining how truly awesome it could be to span our brutally-fragmented media environment with one compelling story…  It would solve so many media allocation issues.

But then, even if we could determine the precise factors behind this fast-rising phenomenon, we might not want to apply them to brands– the backlash risk would simply be too great and too virulent.

We’re glad Falcon’s safe.  But clearly, he’s no Captain Sully Sullenberger.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79
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Despite what some spittle-lipped sharpsters might try to sell you, social media’s rapid behavior-changing adoption is still far from settled enough for anyone to analyze and measure.  The marketing industry still bobs chest deep in the churning waves, making assessment difficult at best.  The one incontrovertible truth is that in remarkably short order, Twitter, Facebook and other social networks have powerfully reset both who we communicate with and how, leaving brands scrambling to determine just what to make of it and how to adjust.Picture 2

Today’s consumers enjoy a radical new level of access and empowerment; marketers enjoy a unprecedented access and insights.  And everyone involved must now balance the benefits of another powerful new platform even as we assess the drawbacks and limitations.

All of which makes Catharine Taylor’s latest post on Social Media Insider a great jumping off point for timely client discussions.  Under the provocative heading “Is Social Media Turning Us Into Whiner Nation,” Catharine raises the issue of determining the relative quality of social media input.  Sometimes this dialogue can inform and reshape productively, but many times, they amount to so much hyper-empowered bitching.

On one level, companies can consider all of this new social input the equivalent of having a world wide complaint desk that’s always open–a vastly enhanced, far more powerful version of the old one-employee department that existed solely to provide disgruntled shoppers an outlet for their frustrations.  And to a point, that’s reasonably accurate (consider Motrin, and just recently, Amp).  Social media provides a mass channel for opinion, and it can be skewed heavily by special interests or a vocal minority.  Worse, the most destructive of those opinions often spring from people far outside a brand’s core target, rendering them less relevant but still potentially damaging.  Should brands respond then or should they abide, enduring a temporary tempest before the shouters move on to the inevitable next offense, another issue of another new day?

These are questions brands and their advocates must address.  Like it or not, advertisers are well served to monitor these inputs, and make adjustments if necessary.  But to do that, we must all get more skilled at assessing those tweets and blogs–their relevance, resonance and virulence.  And we must also get better at assessing positive feedback; it’s far too simple to slip into easy acquiescence after hearing one or two glowing reviews.  Positive sources can be just as suspect as negative ones.

Perhaps the greatest irony of this new reset in the advertiser-consumer relationship–from a one-sided platform driven by wealthy brands to a two-way dialogue powered by basically anyone with broadband–is how hard it is for marketers to reconcile the fact that consumers now have a voice.  And speak up.  Pretty loudly sometimes.

We always thought that was our job.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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The notion of a Twitter Social Mobile Crash is not a metaphor.  I don’t mean to imply Twitter no longer dominates as the pre-eminent social media on the mobile platform–they certainly do.  In fact, according to a Crowd Science survey, 41% of Twitter users contact friends via social media rather than by phone.  And 11% of Twitter users admitted to tweeting while driving during the previous thirty days.  And that is probably a lowball number.478966.1-lg

Unfortunately, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute released a different study back in July that showed texting while driving makes you twenty-three times more likely to crash.

Do that math: twenty-three freaking times more likely to crash…

We gotta put these things down, hard as that may be.  And I’ll admit, I’m guilty.  I’ve done it.  I’ve texted and tweeted while steering with my knees.  But by any rational measure, that’s idiotic behavior.  Adding another comment on Amp Energy Drink’s boneheaded iPhone app doesn’t quite seem worth creasing a quarter panel of sheet metal…or worse.

So while the inevitable Twitter Social Mobile Crashes have already come and will keep coming, I’ll make you a deal: I won’t tweet behind the wheel if you won’t.  That way, we won’t have to meet on the shattered glass of an accident scene or the grim lighting in the emergency room; we can meet the way the web intended–virtually, with goofy assumed names and offbeat links.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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The Original E-mail from Dyson US

Monday morning, I received an email from Dyson US entitled “What has Dyson invented now?”  I usually delete sales messages right away but having owned three Dyson vacuums over the years and spent some time poking around the website that celebrates his charmingly curious mind, I opened it up.

The headline inside read “We did away with bags.  Now we’ve got rid of ___ in ____.” The copy went on to stress the familiar Dyson themes of re-imagining old technology, ultimately ending in a link to learn more.  So I clicked that.

The link led to a slightly-overlong video of people staring, mouth agape, at some remarkable object just below camera.  They couldn’t identify it but loved the object’s look.  Clearly, it resembled nothing they’d ever seen.  By the time I finished the video, Dyson had engaged me for three and a half minutes.  But then they dropped the meat in the dirt…

They simply supered “October 2009” and ended the video.  After investing all that time they gave me nothing, not even a glimpse of the unidentified object to pique my curiosity about what it might be.  Frustrated, I combed the rest of their website but found nothing.

Suddenly, I kinda hated James Dyson.  I hated his plastic contraptions, his British accent which I had long found intellectually appealing now rang twee, and the blueprints of other objects just looked like so much self indulgence.

The man had wasted my time.  And I deeply, deeply resented it.  Advocates tout the advantages of digital technology largely along the lines of engagement, user experience and information.  Web users have come to expect that anything they need to know is just a few clicks away, and often more comprehensive than they need.  But this tactic, which began with a simple, well-written email, dishonored those expectations.  It treated this medium like TV, where I might see a teaser ad on “Family Guy” one week then see the corresponding explanatory ad the next week, since I watch that show regularly.

But there are no appointments with the web.  It is always on, always available, and always presents an entirely fresh experience with little sense of prior history and absolutely no narrative arc.  What had started as an awesome advertising launch tactic ultimately backfired, alienating an engaged user.

Happily, there’s something else unique to the web: you can adjust and edit your content in real time.  So this morning, when I sat down to write about this madding experience, I clicked the link again and landed on a whole new page.  Perhaps they received complaints, perhaps they noticed people left the site pretty quickly, or perhaps they embedded cookies so that anytime someone revisited the site they would receive an answer; whatever they did, they corrected the problem.  And I was engaged once more.

His new item truly looks wildly original.  Suddenly, I like James Dyson again.  Good design and good will amongst men: both good things in this world.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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As part of a new business pitch this morning, we’ve been reviewing the Lighthouse philosophy of challenger brands as espoused by Adam Morgan and the big brains at “Eat Big Fish.”  At the most simplistic level, a Lighthouse Identity helps a brand define what it stands for, both out in the marketplace and inside the company hallways.eatbigfish_logo

It’s a well-reasoned, very pragmatic approach to positioning and shaping brand considerations and perceptions.  And last night, over omelettes and coffee at a roadside Perkins, it got a few of us thinking about what we would consider our own agency identity, what one thing galvanizes us and represents the best of this advertising business.  We quickly arrived at one thing: enthusiasm.

Enthusiasm for the process, but far more importantly, enthusiasm for our product: ideas.  In the marketing business, ROI really boils down to Return on Ideas.  Ideas create perceptions, differentiation, empathy and engagement.  Ideas separate and celebrate.  Ideas are our ultimate product.

And anyone who touches them, influences them or sells them does that better when alight with the energy and group-lifting zeal of enthusiasm.  YEAH!

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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Since it’s debut in 1970 on ABC, Monday Night Football has been a storied franchise. With nearly forty years of TV ratings success, that would be inevitable.  Week after week, the nation tunes in to watch the NFL in it’s most deluxe packaging–extra cameras, ever more innovative graphics, and a palpably higher level of excitement that only a two team national telecast spotlight can provide.

scaled_jpg.phpTonight, the Green Bay Packers visit the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field.  But that’s not the story. The story is Brett Favre vs. the Green Bay Packers.  People want to watch the perennial-retiree face the team he lead for sixteen seasons and by extension, the state that welcomed him deep into their hearts.  Green Bay and Favre were a storybook relationship that ended with feelings of betrayal and recrimination.  And it’s an awkward situation made worse because Favre ended up with Minnesota; these are two northern states with a deep-seated professional antitpathy.  Tonight’s game has so much interest, officials pushed back the Tigers-Twins one game baseball playoff game at the Metrodome til Tuesday.

I like the NFL, but I’m much more of a Saturday football fan.  Still, like every other person on the planet, I can’t resist a good story.  And tonight’s game features a terrific one, one that I’ll still care about even after every analyst and promo spot hammers it into overkill.  Stories matter, and the NFL brand seems to have an intuitive sense of that.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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16dayPalmcardToday is decision day, when the International Olympic Committee announces their choice of city to host the 2016 Olympic Games.  Because of this, great numbers of Chicagoans now know firsthand what it’s like to be in a new business pitch.

Because that’s what this is, on a global scale.  And it’s certainly been a long slog getting here…  Committees formed, strategies outlined, creative developed–by most any measure it’s been a Herculean task to marshall the civic resources and execute the proposed plan.  And yet, dealing with the challenges and problems is rarely the big difficulty in a pitch–the waiting is the hardest part.

Solving problems is our daily work, much like it’s Daley’s job for this City that Works.  Pulling everything together is mostly a larger, less certain version of the tasks we handle every workday.  But now, at this point, there is nothing more to be done.  There are no more points to make, no more influence to wield, no more remarkable surprises to unveil (“Presto!  It’s Oprah!”).  There is only the backroom handicapping (“Sure Rio’s right, the games have never been in South America…then again, Rio police average more than three killings a day under the heading of resisting arrest!”) and the nail-biting wait for the decision, for the messenger to emerge from behind the closed doors, for the white smoke to issue from the Vatican chimney…

An estimated thirty-thousand people will be gathering in Daley Plaza today, starting around 9 AM.  The announcement itself is planned for 11:30 (CST).  If you want more details, check out www.chicago2016.org

A lot of us from Element 79 will be down there in that anxious throng, wearing orange t-shirts with our fingers crossed.  The announcement could make for wild elation or a huge bummer.

Which is only fitting because in the long run, much like a new business win, it will work out to be some balance of both anyway.  Go Chicago!

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

UPDATE:  BUMMER

Congrats Rio...I guess.

Congrats Rio...I guess.


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