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Posts Tagged ‘social networking’

ChaseGuest Blogger: Michael Chase

Michael Chase is an account director at Element 79 and a man with both a deep track record with sports brands and an enviable short game.  He came to Element 79 to work on Gatorade and help develop Element 79 Sports with projects for clients such as Discover, US Soccer, the Wade’s World Foundation, and Chicago 2016.  Before returning to Chicago, Michael spent six years in Portland: two working on Nike Golf (and his short game) and four at Weiden and Kennedy where he first began working on Nike (and his short game).  He began his career with sports projects for Coors and Midas at Foote Cone and Belding after graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder (where the mile-high altitude helped his drives).  Later this afternoon, Element 79 will be relying on Michael’s total game at the AAAA golf outing in Harborside.  Long and strong Michael, long and strong…

Throughout my career, I have had the distinct fortune and pleasure of working with a number of wonderful companies and brands with their sports-related advertising and marketing initiatives. While I have a great deal of passion and energy for the business of sports, I am also a fan.  Okay, not just a fan, but a fanatic

Growing up, if I wasn’t playing baseball, football, soccer, basketball tennis or golf, I was watching it.  Some of my favorites in no particular order were John Elway, John McEnroe, Jack Nicklaus, Pele, Nolan Ryan and of course, MJ.  And like the rest of my friends, I bought what these athletes used, wore, and endorsed. 

I loved watching athletes in advertising.  From Mean Joe Green and Coke to the cast of characters for Miller Lite’s Taste Great/Less Filling campaign, from Nike’s “Bo Knows”  to  Gatorade’s MJ taking on himself, the great ads came from brands with clearly-defined understanding of their roles.  The best brands tapped into insights that resonated with sports fans and took the time and energy to find exactly the right athlete to deliver their message.  I cannot stress that last point enough. 

It has become more and more challenging for brands to find the right athlete.  For years, Element 79 Sports helped brands do just that.  But with our seemingly unlimited media access to our sports hero’s lives, we know too much about today’s athletes and recognize they are not the bulletproof, do-no-wrong heroes they once were.  Worse, with so many sports vying for our attention and so many new media outlets splintering our focus, some of the old luster is gone.  Combine all this with a down economic climate where limited dollars exist to sign athlete endorsers and showcase them through marketing and it’s obvious the old rules have changed.  Those rules may even be gone completely and it is time brands recognize this.

Gone are the days of scouring the Q scores to find the best athlete for the job.  Today, brands need to consider a multitude of criteria to make this crucial decision.  Excelling at their sport and demonstrating an interesting personality is simply not as important as it once was.  One of the most important emerging criteria to consider is whether the athlete is doing a good job of marketing themselves.  Do they have their own website?  Is it any good?  Are they active in social networking?  And if so, as this recent SI article about Twitter and professional sports asks, are they being followed?

Some of the most popular athletes in the world of Twitter may not be among their league’s leaders in stats, but definitely make the most entertaining use of less than 140 characters.  This list of the Top 10 Twitter athletes tells an interesting story; while it contains some of the biggest names in sports (Shaq, Lance, and Serena), you might be surprised by some of the others (skateboarders Ryan Sheckler and Tony Hawk? Nick Swisher? Kareem?).  A new site called Athlete Tweets aggregates thousands upon thousands of tweets from hundreds of athletes from all different sports creating a sort of Twitter sports network.

522,894 Followers Is Waaay Above Par

522,894 Followers Is Waaay Above Par

PGA fans may know Stewart Cink but he is hardly a household name in sports.  Still, Stewart has nearly 523,000 followers.   He provides rich, personal details of his golf life through nearly 1,000 tweets and his Twitter bio, right down to which brand of shafts he uses in his clubs.  Fans comment on the courses he plays and his club selection–they definitely notice.

The brands who recognize this new playing field, the ones who embrace it and use it to create even deeper relationships with athletes through it will win. Social networking will radically restructure who is chosen to endorse brands, how they endorse brands and how those endorsement deals will be structured.  Brands can use sports to reach their consumers in more relevant and efficient ways than ever before.  And the ones that do will win.

Last year Buick made the tough decision to end their long relationship with Tiger Woods because they could no longer afford him.  Maybe they should call Stewart Cink.  Actually, they should tweet him.

by Michael Chase, Element 79

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A lot of people don’t get Twitter.  Actually, that’s okay; you don’t have to get Twitter.  But in these turbulent times of rampant social networking and changing media environment, not getting Twitter can feel awkward and uncomfortable.  Since nearly a third of their demographic is 35-49, it might help to think of it this way: Twitter is the latest iteration of the CB radio, albeit with a far greater reach and diversity of messages.

#Beer In Texarkana with @Smokey @YouLikeMe and @Bandit

#Beer In Texarkana with @Smokey @YouLikeMe and @Bandit

Remember the mid to late ’70’s?  Remember those big-collared days of polyester, pornstar mustaches and a nascent musical style called disco?  Back then, a great portion of America suddenly got all caught up in CB radio.  The Citizen’s Band, made famous by Smokey and the Bandit and a string of other mid-to-low budget movies, basically amounted to a big regional multiparty telephone line.  To join the conversation, people had to learn some words of a new language, christen themselves with a short and preferably memorable name or  handle, and learn some basic rules of participation etiquette.  Sound familiar?  A related offshoot of this phenomenon was listening to scanners, most of them tuned to police and fire dispatch.  People who geeked on monitoring scanners learned about local emergencies first, long before it became general knowledge.

CB radio represented real time media long before marketing eggheads coined  the phrase ‘real time media.’  Twitter too, works in real time.  It is the platform of now; what people are thinking and doing and concerned about right now, this moment.  People on Twitter participate in a huge, ongoing conversation that’s searchable and easily customizable.  You can jump in and talk or hang back and use it like a scanner, monitoring individual reactions and responses to the issues of the day.

Should you be on Twitter?  That’s a personal decision based on what you might want to accomplish with it.  Twitter may be a ‘real time micro blogging media platform that aggregates the collective zeitgeist 140 characters at a time’ but it is also merely a tool.  You can use this tool in many different ways but you don’t have to use it at all.  Personally, I’ve long been fascinated by those little Dremel rotary tools: they seem so precise, so flexible, so perfect for any number of fine sculptural and woodworking projects.  But as cool as they are, I don’t need one so I never bought one.

Twitter is a tool anyone can pick up and use but before you make any serious investment in it, ask yourself: ‘what do I want to do with it?’

10-4, Good Buddy.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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'His Holiness' Would Make an Epic Twitter Handle

'His Holiness' Would Make an Epic Twitter Handle

 

As reported in various news channels before the recent Holiday weekend, the Vatican launched www.pope2you.net last Thursday to celebrate World Communications Day, or Inter Mirifica: an outcome of the Second Vatican Council.  This year, the Pope’s message directly addresses ‘the digital generation’ through a website, e-mail outreach, and yes, a Facebook app.  No, you won’t be able to poke the pontiff or learn what his Smurf name might be, but this action represents a conscious, if occasionally unwieldy, move by this ancient organization into social media. 

The Pope’s message invites young people to become instruments for peace and promote a culture of respect built on ‘great synergies of friendship.’  Beyond the dismaying fact that the Pope himself resorted to saying ‘synergies,’ this move by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications drills home just how quickly our media environment has evolved over the past five years.  Obviously, technology has changed, but that’s not nearly as remarkable as how human behavior has changed.  The Vatican’s decision to turn to the internet as a means of spreading church gospel shows a practical awareness of where their congregation lives, plays and exchanges ideas.  With this new site, Catholics can now interact in this rich dialogue environment with a limitless supply of e-cards and banners from the Pope.  They can also follow and forward news and updates on YouTube or through a new iPhone app.  

What marketers refer to as viral messaging is merely a 21st century update of missionary work: a central organization creates a strong message, then sends out true believers with an imprimatur to take that message and spread it to people in far off lands.  The big difference is that today, you can do that simply by pressing ‘send.’ 

As Clay Shirky explains in his engaging, imminently readable book “Here Comes Everybody” (You still haven’t read it?  C’mon…), we live in a time where communications technology makes it incredibly easy to organize without organizations.  Because of this, organizations need to think beyond their own walls and self interests to consider outside communities that might share their thinking, values or interests.  These communities are not officially sanctioned extensions of the organization, because they exist solely on the strength of their members’ passion; call them ‘intramural organizations.’

Every large organization with a message to market must become aware of their own ‘intramural organizations’ and find ways to foster and encourage them.  When done deftly, large organizations can extend their marketing almost exponentially because these intramural groups excel at driving recommendation and word of mouth. 

The best way to spread any message—religious or secular—is to define your brand’s mission, and spread that.  The Pope’s doing it, why aren’t you?

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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Someone Dial Up The Fixx    

Someone Dial Up The Fixx

A friend of mine makes a very convincing case for why we may look back on the whole Facebook phenom as something on the order of  the early 21st century’s Members Only jacket.  At this moment, we are all caught up in the novelty—the constant status updates, the endless movie, music and cultural trivia quizzes, even the emerging etiquette debates around friending that drive daily life around Facebook. But one thing most adults agree upon is that it is a massive time suck.

And that ultimately, may be what causes this white hot trend to cool somewhat: at a certain point, the benefits of all this new light connectedness may no longer outweigh the investment it requires.  Or more probably, in a world with seemingly infinite opportunities for distraction, this particular one may lose it’s novelty.  My friend makes a reasonable point.

But one need Facebook seems uniquely suited to fulfill became extremely obvious yesterday.  The number of continual updates and comments surrounding the Inauguration was stunning.  Dozens of people around our agency left their pages up all morning, commenting and building and sharing on each new thought someone posted regarding this historical event.  People wanted to participate and Facebook provided an outlet for all that emotion, all that desire, all those hopes and dreams and wishes.

So even if Facebook does prove to be the Members Only jacket of the current moment, a number of us will probably drag it out again sometime down the road…like when we walk on Mars.  Or learn that someone we don’t really know did something that stirs our better selves and highest hopes for our species; you know, like landing an Airbus on the Hudson.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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