February 26th, 2013
In its first year, TED’s Ads Worth Spreading challenged the global advertising community to produce ads that inspired thought, consideration, action, reaction and, not least, sharing. 1,000 entries netted 10 winners, and an annual event and honor was created.
This year, ad submissions were organized into six categories: Talk, Social Good, Cultural Compass, Creative Wonder, Brand Bravery and Education. Other changes included the refinement of overall process and elimination of the open entry system. In the end 10 ads made the cut and were deemed to be “ads worth spreading.”
“The best ads are excellent content — driven by ideas. Culturally relevant content with strong storytelling has the power to spark change, raise awareness, and communicate new ways of thinking,” noted Ronda Carnegie, Head of Global Partnerships at TED.
“The ads selected have a common thread around human connection,” says Carnegie. “They create contagious emotion around wonder, imagination, culture, humor, and ingenuity. We think it is an exciting beginning of a larger conversation about brands as curators of content that creates a playful connection.”
February 18th, 2013
Justin Timberlake — singer, actor, spokesperson — is the new creative director for Bud Light Platinum. Sure Yeezy introduced you to the blue bottle, but JT is driving it home with a new single, sepia-toned Grammy performance and a little something Paul Chibe, Anheuser-Busch’s vice president of U.S. marketing, calls “relevance and credibility.”
“Justin Timberlake is one of the greatest creative minds in the entertainment industry, and his insights will help us further define Bud Light Platinum’s identity in the lifestyle space,” Chibe stated. “Since launching Bud Light Platinum last year, we’ve worked to align the brand closely with music, including leveraging tracks by Kanye West and Avicii in our first ads. Partnering with Justin as he makes his return to music brings a new level of relevance and credibility to the brand.”
“Bud Light Platinum brings a refined, discerning aesthetic to beer that plays well with what I’m doing,” said Mr. Timberlake in a statement. “I’m looking forward to not only being a part of the creative process, but in bringing other talented musicians to the forefront as well.”
The jury is still out on the Timberlake-MySpace collaboration, a partnership that was to tap JT’s creative superpowers. Sure the portal’s been redesigned and like so many other sites it’s sporting a Pinterest-like aesthetic. But the swell of superfans and music junkies has not appeared and it looks like the crooner’s rescue might have been a little too little, a little too late.
What of Timberlake’s brand? CD heal thyself, to twist a phrase. He’s been off the charts for more than five years. His film credits are middling to fair. His SNL performances — especially those Lonely Island jams — have been acclaimed but still number in the single digits. What’s the long-term value of these co-branding connections? Is this meaningful collaboration or just borrowed equity? And which brand in the end will truly benefit — will it be the beer or the boy band leader?
August 14th, 2011
The Gap is rolling out their new marketing campaign just in time for back-to-school in a style that’s more back-to-the-future. The campaign is the first major marketing push by Gap Inc. since a management shake-up in February ended with a new brand president, chief marketing offer, and ad agency.
“1969: L.A. and Beyond” is composed of 30- to 90-second online documentary-style videos centered around the goings on at its denim design studio in Los Angeles. Print ads support the urban fashion mashup as well. Taking the show on the road, “Pico de Gap” vintage taco trucks with celebrity chefs will hit New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco, tweeting locations for each.
While food trucks have become a coast-to-coast craze, boasting everything from sushi and dumplings to street sweets and schnitzel, Gap is sticking with the “original” food truck that started the now nationwide trend. “The idea of Pico de Gap — and the taco truck used in our fall campaign 1969: L.A. and Beyond — came about one night when I was having dinner with our 1969 design team in downtown L.A.,” said Seth Farbman, Gap’s Chief Marketing Officer. “It’s these types of everyday moments that shape who we are as people and inspire the product we design for our customers. We thought it would be an unexpected, engaging way to share a little more about ourselves and the experience we had that night.”
To create an authentic aesthetic, each Pico de Gap truck was hand-painted and includes a replica of a vintage Gap ad and neon sign from the ’70s. Customers can check out the latest 1969 fall denim styles on display while enjoying tacos for a $1.69. With proof of a same-day Gap denim purchase, the meal is free.
Gap’s campaign launches in a back-to-school season in which consumers are expected to cut back spending because of economic woes and rising prices. Not good odds for a brand struggling to regain position — and profits. The once-leading brand is up against a half-decade of shrinking sales and shrinking stature.
Seth Farbman, CMO since 1Q 2011, says the campaign is not a quick fix, but an effort to drive sales and revive Gap’s image, which he says has “lost a bit of relevance.” Farbman says the focus of the campaign — jeans — is appropriate because they have been one of Gap’s strengths, accounting for about a quarter of the Gap brands revenue.
“This is the start; one step. This campaign begins to put us on the right course,” Farbman said. “Longer term, it starts a conversation about the brand.”
July 22nd, 2011
Just when you think you’ve got your social media strategy down — constituents profiled, contingencies considered, centralized messaging plotted — REI pulls up the stakes and takes their show on the road.
Well, they’re taking their show out to the 53 markets they have a presence in nationally. And with an approach that takes into account the regional needs of its customers rather than the restrictive needs of corporate, it would appear that we all may want to slip a look out from under HQ’s tent.
REI will now be tweeting via market-based handles, talking up climbing gear in home-base Washington state and cycling wear in NYC, one of its newest locales. Retooling brick-and-mortar stores to better serve consumers partaking of local and regional recreation aligns perfectly with a social and digital direction designed to better dialogue with friends and followers.
“We are not moving away completely from a national presence. The local teams will be in addition to our national presence. Also, in terms of staffing, we have a handful of employees at each location participating in social media. They may play different roles within retail (customer service, outreach, product specialist, etc.).”
Jordan Williams, manager of digital engagement for REI, told AdAge recently that certain staff members are being identified as experts at handling customer complaints, others at communicating new product arrivals and features, and others as people who can provide local travel advice. Claiming no real difference from the offline world, he entrusts more than 9,000 employees every day with these responsibilities as they communicate with customers in person. Why wouldn’t he and the company trust them to do the same online?
Is your company or employer engaging in localized social media? What would it take to make the switch and how likely is it that Twitter would be the channel of choice?
May 18th, 2011
Logo Lounge’s annual survey of logo trends is a great resource for researching what’s hot, what’s not, what’s timeless and what’s flavor-of-the-month. The selects for 2011 are no different: the lounge folks have gathered a comprehensive collection of color, shapes, effects and general direction.
If you are about to embark on a strategic redesign or you’re creating a visual identity from zero, this work will show you where others have gone — and sometimes many others — and what solutions hit the mark and which fall short. Bookmark the Logo Lounge site. Join and become a contributing member. Check out the catalog of books for sale. Enjoy.
May 12th, 2011
Well, it’s not that simple, really. Orange, California-based Adzookie would like to paint your house in a bright color palette, their logo, and the usual SoMe marks. You agree to have your house painted like a clown car (for at least three months, possibly up to a year) and the advertising firm will pay your nut, just as long as the abode remains its new vibrant hue.
Launched last week, Adzookie CEO, Romeo Mendoza, claims the company has already received more than 1,000 applications from people willing to have their houses turned into billboards. “It really blew my mind,” he told CNN. “I knew the economy was tough, but it’s sad to see how many homeowners are really struggling.”
This is not the first guerrilla advertising stunt blurring the line between public and private. Last month, Ecko began offering lifetime 20% discounts to people willing to get the company’s logo tattooed on their skin, calling it “Branded For Life.” Hey, these guys will repaint your place due to cancellation — bet that tattoo offer doesn’t come with a free-laser-removal clause. What’s next? How far will consumers go in search of the ultimate freebie?
And how far will businesses and brands go to show up in unexpected — and unavoidable — spaces? Will the far-out and funky be effective? Will this over-sized billboard promotion push this agency out of self-funding subsistence into fully funded bliss, acquisition, or beyond? Or will it be a few weeks of press, a spike in website traffic, a couple of wacky single-family dwellings and ticked off neighbors, then back to business as usual?
May 2nd, 2011
There’s no escaping social media and the rise of social commerce as the new marketing frontier. Trendwatching.com just released their latest brief on the influence of friends, fans, and followers on consumers’ purchasing decisions, and the sophistication and power of that influence. They call it the F-Factor, and it’s never been more important for brands to make sure they too have “it.”
Why is the F-Factor important to consumers? Offering a more efficient, more relevant, and more interesting purchasing experience, consumers no longer have to spend endless time and effort trying to discover the best of the best or rely on distant, unknown or untrusted (read: brand-driven) sources that could be potentially unreliable or irrelevant.
Sure, consumption has always been social: people have forever been influenced by what others think and buy. KellerFay, a U.S. word-of-mouth marketing research consultancy, estimates that there are nearly one trillion conversations about brands every year in the U.S. alone. And while the core consumer behavior isn’t new, technological developments are enabling new forms of that behavior, amplifying its importance and impact.
The F-Factor is being fueled by new tools and platforms available to consumers and brands. Both groups are evolving and improving these tools as well. A few recent stats demonstrating the reach and power of the F-Factor and how brands are leveraging this power today:
- The F-Factor is currently dominated by Facebook, as more than 500 million active users spend more than 700 billion minutes a month on the site. (Source: Facebook, April 2011)
- Every month, more than 250 million people engage with Facebook across more than 2.5 million external websites. (Source: Facebook, April 2011)
- The average user clicks the “Like” button 9 times each month. (Source: Facebook, 2010)
- Three quarters of Facebook users have “Liked” a brand. (Source: AdAge/Ipsos, February 2011)
- Juicy Couture found that their product purchase conversion rate increased by 160% after installing social sharing features. (Source: CreateTheGroup, February 2011)
- Incipio Technologies, a gadget accessory retailer, found that referrals from Facebook had a conversion rate double the average. (Source: Business Insider, March 2011)
- But it’s not just about Facebook. Take for example the explosive rise of the daily deal site Groupon, which used referrals from friends and colleagues to drive sales of more than 40 million deals in the 2-1/2 years since it launched in November 2008.
And five ways that the F-Factor is influencing consumption behavior:
1. F-DISCOVERY: How consumers discover new products and services by relying on their social networks.
2. F-RATED: How consumers will increasingly (and automatically) receive targeted ratings, recommendations and reviews from their social networks.
3. F-FEEDBACK: How consumers can ask their friends and followers to improve and validate their buying decisions.
4. F-TOGETHER: How shopping is becoming increasingly social, even when consumers and their peers are not physically together.
5. F-ME: How consumers’ social networks are literally turned into products and services.
Are you seeing conversion improvements like the examples above? Does your brand have the F-Factor?
April 5th, 2011
Twitter — and some very public Twitter mishaps — have been entertaining to read over the last couple of months. The most recent example is a Friday night tweet-fest and tirade produced by a Marc Jacobs Intl (@MarcJacobsIntl) intern who had time to post and pack before leaving the company. Seems that this temp insider was the social media manager while a Twitter-based search/promotion was in place to find the hire that would permanently hold the position.
Posting to the fashion brand’s official account, the anonymous insider shared his/her true feelings about the company’s CEO, Robert Duffy, calling him a “tyrant” and “difficult.” And as the night turned to morning, the “true confessions” continued to show up. Here’s the thread that’s making the rounds:
Duffy has been “presented… with 50 people,” but is “not happy” with any of them.
Duffy is a “tyrant” and @MarcJacobsIntl followers “have no idea how difficult Robert is. I am only an intern.”
“My last day is tomorrow. I wouldn’t be tweeting this if not!”
“Good luck! I pray for you all. If you get the job! I’m out of here. See ya! Don’t want to be ya! Roberts a tyrant! Seriously! He is tough!”
“I can call him out! I’m out! Won’t work in this town again! I know that! Learned a lot. But, I don’t have the energy for what is expected!”
“Yea, walk in my MJ shoes! Don’t judge me! I’m alone in this office having to try and entertain you all. This isn’t easy. I have tried. Done!”
By 4am Saturday all tweets were removed and replaced with:
“All is well here at MJ. Twitter is a crazy place. Protect your passwords.”
Twitter is “a crazy place” if you’re a brand without a social media strategy, plan and policies for implementation. Aflac fired Gilbert Gottfried (the voice of the duck/mascot for the last decade) for “insensitive” tweets post-tsunami. Chrysler fired agency, New Media Strategies, for the now-infamous f-bomb tweet. And the Green Bay Packers are convinced that they’re suffering from a “Twitter Curse.”
How often are we asked to fire up a Twitter feed, a Facebook page or other social media “must-have”? How often are clients prepared to look internally, at how they’ll manage the care-and-feeding of these fast-paced and very public forums? And how much “trouble” will they (and we, as their representatives or agencies) find themselves in, entertaining — and exasperating — those of us watching?
March 10th, 2011
In my previous post, “The Rise of The Citysumer – Part 1” (appearing on Talent Zoo Media blog, Beneath the Brand) we took a look at how the increasing consumption taking place in urban settings and “Citysumers” who play a critical role in how markets and brands act and react. These experienced and sophisticated urbanites will demand brands that show some personality, loosen up, and embrace urban culture.
Trendwatching.com, a leading consumer trends firm, notes that many brands are already delighting Citysumers around the world. In the eight areas highlighted, where do you see opportunities for the brands you represent? Are there other success stories that you can share?
Opportunity 1: Celebrate Urban Pride
- Fragrances are a popular way to capture a city’s essence. Fashion brand DKNY released a fragrance “Love from New York for Women.” Beverly Hills created their own line of three scents that are meant to “evoke what life is like for the Beverly Hills woman.”
- The Absolut Cities Series first launched in New Orleans, when the brand developed a special mango and black pepper blend inspired by the city. The taste of Boston saw the brand launch a black tea and elderflower vodka that has a backdrop reminiscent of Fenway Park’s Green Monster, while 2010′s Absolut Brooklyn was a red apple and ginger flavored vodka with a Spike Lee-designed brownstone themed bottle.
- In August 2010, Starbucks announced the launch of a new range of ultra-premium, single-origin coffees that will be only available in limited quantities in metropolitan markets including: New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and Miami.
Opportunity 2: Enabling Urban Encounters
- Geomium is an iPhone app launched in September 2010 in London that informs the user of where their friends are and what events are on in their area. It also helps them discover local bars, restaurants, and places of interest.
- Gowalla curates content for select cities via City Pages, providing a display of popular places, what’s “hot now,” and highlights from a variety of venue categories (e.g. best burgers, best coffee).
- In May 2010, Yahoo bought Indonesian social networking service Koprol that allows users to connect based on location. Mobile users can post a 200-character status message and use the site as a positioning service without the need for a GPS receiver. Once logged in, users can see other members who are in the same location.
Opportunity 3: Enriching The Urban Canvas
- In July 2010, Volvo London’s Starlite Urban Drive-In featured a full-sized, outdoor screen along with 25 preparked Volvo cars ready for patrons’ viewing, reminiscing, and snacking pleasure.
- Adidas has added Hamburg to their Urban Art Guide, following the success of their iPhone travel app that guides users around Berlin’s best graffiti spots.
- Snickers hosts festivals of youth street culture in various cities across Russia and Mexico. “Snickers Urbania” features nearly all major areas of street culture: extreme sports, graffiti, breakdancing, beatbox and freestyle. It encourages young people to express themselves and their talent.
Opportunity 4: Pushing The Urban Envelope
- In July 2010, Calvin Klein posted a large QR code across two billboard locations in New York City. Passersby who used their smart phones to capture the QR code were then shown a 40-second ad featuring model Lara Stone.
- Also in July 2010, Mini Cooper launched an interactive billboard campaign in the red light district of Hamburg, featuring the back of a Mini with an automated S&M whip hanging over the back that could be triggered to “spank” the vehicle.
- Spanish-based boutique hotel chain, Axel Hotels, partnered with New York-based Parkview Developers to launch a resort in New York targeted at the gay community. The resort, called Out NYC Urban Resort, will have an Axel Hotel, a spa, several restaurants and bars, stores and a dance club.
Opportunity 5: Go Eco-Urban
- US-based Urban Green Energy launched a wind turbine called eddy GT. The product boasts a special vertical axis design that enables power to be generated without making much noise and regardless of wind direction. The turbine was specifically designed for city rooftop use.
- Japanese car manufacturer Mitsubishi has partnered with appliance chain Yamada Denki to sell its i-MiEV electric vehicle from 17 stores within the Tokyo area. Mitsubishi has sold 3,000 i-MiEVs in Japan since sales began in April 2010, but is hoping to boost these figures by taking the vehicle in-store.
- A prototype of an environmentally friendly black cab was unveiled in London in Summer 2010. It runs on a hydrogen fuel cell system, converting hydrogen into electricity with the only emission being water vapor. The plan is to have 150 of these cabs running on the road in time for the Olympic Games in 2012.
Opportunity 6: Urban Escape
Brands that take Citysumers temporarily out of the city and into peace and quiet—away from crowds, noise, concrete, and foul air—will find innovation pays off nicely.
- Meine Ernte, a German agricultural start-up, is offering couples and families the opportunity to rent plots of land for farming vegetables near six of the largest cities in the country, including Frankfurt and Bonn. Tools and advice from an expert farmer are included.
Opportunity 7: Urban Transcendence
For those Citysumers unable to escape, how about bringing peace and quiet, greenery, and other rural qualities to the city?
- Property developer The Albanese Organization announced its collaboration with Holton Farms to deliver fresh, local produce to the residents of its properties in New York every week.
Opportunity 8: To Buy Or Not To Buy
- New York’s Department of Transportation’s partnership with Zipcar to share hybrid cars between employees and the public.
- SoBi, the first public bike share system where the authorization, tracking and security systems are attached to the bicycle itself.
- Snapgoods enables NYC residents to rent other people’s belongings, while Rent the Runway allows women to rent designer dresses (with same-day delivery available in NYC).