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Posts Tagged ‘Internet’

Knock-knock jokes…  Top Ten lists…  “That’s what she said”…  Over time, cultures build stockpiles of shared comic references.  Back when we all watched Saturday Night Live, everyone copped Dana Carvey’s “Isn’t that special?” complete with the Church Lady’s off-balance lip pursing.  More recently, Kanye West’s obnoxiousness led to a spate of  “Imma let you finish–” bits.  Sharing laughs around common reference points builds bonds between people, and simply makes the day pass more pleasantly…Picture 1

So it’s no surprise that this video popped up at the end of last week.  Mark Wegener, the man behind the consistently intelligent humor of ‘Local Paper’, passed along this latest version of Downfall, this time with Bruno Ganz’ Hitler screaming about the news media’s breathless over-coverage of the Balloon Boy hoax.

These days, you really are nowhere in the cultural landscape if you haven’t been referenced and had the piss taken out of you by ridiculous subtitles laid over this 2004 Oscar nominated film.  Type “Hitler Downfall” into YouTube’s search box and you’ll get 2,280 hits.  People have re-edited this clip to make Hitler rail on everything from Twitter’s server fail to Michael Bay’s Transformers to Tony Romo dumping Jessica Simpson.  It’s become such a common reference point it’s even gone meta, with Hitler losing it over his discovery of all the Hitler parodies.

It will take a far smarter person than me to explain our collective subconscious enjoyment of seeing history’s most notorious villain alternatively simper and explode over the banal topics of everyday life.  But the simpler truth is that the internet, originally designed to link brainiacs involved in military research and development, now serves a far more noble purpose: enabling distant people–often complete strangers–to satisfy our deeply human need for connection.  And laughter.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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As a direct result of Web 2.0 and media fragmentation, consumers have dissed advertisers.  Specifically, they’ve dis-integrated marketing.  Over the years, advertisers accumulated and adopted new media for their messages, and their agencies worked to integrate all of them around a common look, feel and tone. All of which made a ton of sense in a push media environment; in the best cases, common elements made the sum of all these integrated parts greater than the whole.  Advertisers appreciated and encouraged the growth and perfection of integrated marketing.

You Have A Choice: Choose Well

You Have A Choice: Choose Well

Consumers however, had their own ideas.  They may understand that commercials are the tax they pay to enjoy free entertainment, but that doesn’t mean they’re happy about it.  So in recent years, as the internet and DVR’s and DVD boxed sets allowed them to consume media of their own choosing from specialized niche programming channels on their own schedule and terms, they quickly adopted new platforms and technologies.  Even as advertisers worked to integrate marketing, consumers effectively dis-integrated it.

This is one reason social marketing experts are so loathe to use the “campaign” word; traditional campaigns are hardly adequate to span our hyper-fragmented, disintegrated media environment: an environment extending far beyond paid media to include earned media like recommendation and word of mouth.

That’s also the key reason why the means to organize and link all of this dis-integrated marketing lies in brand missions.  Not simply brand stories–those inform the mission, but are not enough by themselves.  We consider advertising an active verb–communication that works, that creates, that does something; specifically, Element 79 thinks it should Incite Interaction.  That’s why a brand mission makes sense–it’s something to do.  Somewhere in the intersection between the authentic brand story and the relevant consumer truth lies the brand mission.

Once you determine that, once you define it and make it real and begin seeding it across all of your paid media, consumers begin to understand the brand’s mission and what it means.  And if your insights are correct and your brand truths are genuine, they take up that mission on their own and begin spreading it on the brand’s behalf.  And disintegrated marketing no longer looms as a scary threat.  Because now people can rally around an idea, which travels much further than an execution.  And they can adopt missions, which they take in much deeper than mere messages.

All of which means that today, the ultimate question for agencies is: “Do you know your brand’s mission?”

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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A good friend forwarded this link to a fascinating blog post by Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody.  It is longish, but if you are at all interested in the changing agency landscape, Shirky’s insights on these waning days of newspapers provide a valuable analogy to the challenges advertising currently faces.  Or doesn’t.

Or We Might Want To Find Another Way Across

Or Perhaps We Should Find Another Way Across

Shirky posits that while newspapers clearly saw the internet coming well over a decade ago, they didn’t respond by rethinking and reinventing their product along new paths but rather tried to fabricate fanciful profit models rooted in the old habits, even though those old habits were already changing and would most likely accelerate.

Shirky makes many fascinating points (and reading the following excerpt does not excuse you from reading his original post) but I found this the most trenchant for our current situation:

“When reality is labeled unthinkable, it creates a kind of sickness in an industry.  Leadership becomes faith-based, while employees who have the temerity to suggest that what seems to be happening is in fact happening are herded into Innovation Departments, where they can be ignored en masse.  This shunting aside of the realists in favor of the fabulists has different effects on different industries at different times.  One of the effects on the newspapers is that many of their most passionate defenders are unable, even now, to plan for a world in which the industry they knew is visibly going away.”

I won’t pretend I have the answer to the agency world’s challenges…yet.  But I think we can draw some pretty helpful analogies between the advertising and newspaper industries, and hopefully learn some lessons from their struggles. And so to prepare for advertising’s future, I will force myself to think some unthinkable thoughts.

And I do not think of myself as Chicken Little, because I don’t think the sky is falling.

Actually, it could be opening up…

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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The Web Is Growing Up   

The Web Is Growing Up

Today’s 19-32 year olds may be the Net Generation, but surveys by the Pew Internet and American Life Project show a surge in net use by Boomers in their fifties and sixties, and even those in their seventies, to the point where the Seniors’ proportion to the total US population nearly matches their proportion of total internet usage. People of all ages download video these days and engage in internet commerce.  Even e-banking has begun to reach equilibrium among the various age groups.  In fact, now that social networks have become the chosen communication tool for younger generations, those sixty plus dominate the email sector.

All of this makes sense.   Technological advances don’t drive mainstream adoption, usefulness does.   The ever increasing integration of web use into daily life springs directly from its practical value.  Email beats looking for stamps, Google beats running to the library, cnn.com beats CNN the channel because you only skim what interests you.

The kids might always be first, they might do more and flashier things online, but to assume that gives them sole providence over the internet would be foolish.  The numbers tell a far different story.  Unfortunately, the advertising and entertainment world ignores this far too often.  That’s why Hollywood makes more violent movies than proven box office-friendly family fare, though Kevin James is laughing all the way to the bank as Paul Blart: Mall Cop.  And Angela Landsbury commanded a million dollars an episode by the end of twelve seasons of Murder, She Wrote.  Look, the kids do neat things and they certainly look better…

But never underestimate the value of experience.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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A Too Common Writing Assignment...      

An All-Too-Common Writing Assignment

Confidence means jobs.  Unfortunately, consumer confidence, client confidence, market confidence: all languish at crushing depths compared to a mere year ago…

Lack of work means more than losing some fat in the agency system: today’s historically bad numbers cut to the bone, costing talented thinkers and rich imaginations their paychecks and health plans and office comraderie.  The number of paying creative jobs don’t support paying the same number of creatives.

Still, one area of advertising desperately needs these creative minds in a way they never did: media.  Social networks and the ongoing new media revolution put media professionals at a horrific disadvantage.  Decades of metrics and planning no longer apply to a world of three screens–TV, Internet and Mobile.  Worse, robust new platforms like Facebook call for formats of advertising yet to be invented.  I believe the creative platforms that will be most prevalent five years from now have yet to be invented. Seriously.  

With the vast data engines of the internet and digital TV pumping out actionable information about audiences with unprecedented accuracy, our industry needs creative thinkers generating ingenious responses to these opportunities.  Hyper- customization, day-part targeting, contextual messaging and couponing: all of these will be commonplace tomorrow, despite being largely impossible today.  The media discipline has never faced a greater need for innovation and ideas.

In his delightfully-imagined book The Happy Soul Industry, Euro RSCG Chicago’s Steffan Postaer tosses his angelic protagonist into a modern hotelroom, where he turns on the TV news: “Finally and mercifully, the piece ended.  But then came the commercials.  And in their own way, David found them more obscene.  Not because of what they were about–banks and cars and video games–but because of how blindly they went about their business.  Like the reporters, the spots traipsed across the screen utterly unaware of their context…”

Great insight from Steffan.  But we will soon see the final days of commercials that are ‘utterly unaware of their context.’  The sad comScore fact that US Internet users saw 4.5 trillion display ads last year will soon become an archaic indictment of lazy media.  Context will change everything.  Context and that convergence thing.  Convergence between disparate marketing entities far beyond mere online and offline.

I’m talking the convergence of creative and media.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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