Thursday, December 24, 2009

Virgin Mobile -- Is it just me or is this way off?

The Virgin family of companies has generally been pretty on brand. Edgy, hip and cutting edge. The latest Virgin Mobile ad, however, leaves me cold and scratching my head. Or in the case of the actress in the commercial, scratching various other areas. Since when have communicable diseases been a reason to make me want to buy a phone, or anything else for that matter.

It's an interesting idea, having the mouth leave the body. But it's one of those ads that makes me feel uncomfortable and just say "I don't get it".

Ending up this year's Creative Excellence series, we must end on a positive note.
James Boag's Tasmanian beer pulled out all the stops for this beautiful commercial.

As we wrap up the year, Ontrack is excited about upcoming projects. Online, and digital offerings are all in the cue for this year and we look forward to sharing with you over the coming months.
Have a wonderful holiday season and here's hoping creative is fun, festive and fresh for 2010!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Kudo makes the top ten viral views

Canadian mobile brand Koodo arrives drops in the No. 9 spot on the Adage top viral view list with the kind of choose-your-own-adventure-style campaign we first saw from Unfortunately, the review from Visible Measures, which compiles the chart, calls it "a drawn out 'story' that runs out of tricks early and then just drags on ... and the conclusion is not much of a payoff. While an interesting gimmick, the interactive approach still requires good story telling ... and this one could have been done in half as many videos and 25% of the time."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Mobile Couponing the future

I call it phone envy. People used to compare suits, or shoes. Now they pull out their smart phone over drinks and compare features.

With the smartphone rapidly penetrating across affluent and youth demographics, marketers are taking advantage.

7-11 and Wendy's are both serving up mobile coupon campaigns currently.
Read all the details here Mobile Coupons

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday Ad news Tiger & Online ad rates

Well 4 more sleeps til Christmas. In the meantime we plod ahead with the Ontrack blog covering ad news for a Monday December 21st.
Tiger Woods soon to be ex had better get her settlement in quickly as Tiger's earning power is depreciating weekly. Tag Heuer joins the list of advertisers who have opted to take a pass on further connections to the Tiger brand.

As we start to move more and more dollars towards online ad venues, here are the results of a survey of who gets the highest online revenues.

Highest online rates

Friday, December 18, 2009

Creative Excellence Fridays - Mobius Best of Show and Up

Recently Dave Boire of DBAudio included me in the Toronto judging panel to choose the top international television/cinema creative for the Mobius 2009 awards.
We all agreed, a Canadian commercial, GM Cadillac - Film Festival, was the best of show. Congratulations to the creative team behind this. I recall seeing it at the opening of several film festival screenings and I never tired of seeing it again. There are a few in the series. Here is -- Crazy Scream.

Now - the Slap.

And finally - Tied Up.

The campaign was designed to tie in with the cachet of the Toronto International Film Festival. As well its' intention was to re-ignite and add some youth branding to the Cadillac name. Nice job.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thurs adnews & Hot viral of the week

Rogers Communications Inc. says a B.C. judge has ruled Bell Mobility’s claim that it has Canada’s most reliable network is false and misleading and has called for immediate removal of all advertising containing the statement.

Toronto-based Rogers launched legal action against Bell Canada and Bell Mobility on Dec.1 after losing its own battle against Telus over its own claim to be Canada’s most reliable network.

Rogers argued before a B.C. court that data suggesting Bell’s network is the most reliable and fastest is misleading because it was compiled before the commercial launch of its upgraded network.

It also argued that Bell Mobility cannot promote its network as being Canada’s largest, because it is shared with Telus Corp.

Rogers is also taking aim at Bell’s claims to have the “best” and “most powerful network” because it says those statements are not quantifiable.

In Viral news - One of the hottest virals this week celebrates the 25th anniversary of Virgin Atlantic Airlines . A great salute to 1984 and to an airline that celebrates sexy.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Top Ten Media Influencers of 2009

As we wrap up this decade, we reflect on an industry that is in transition. The old standards, television, newspaper, radio, are all being rapidly nibbled away at by social media and e-media. According to the Retail Marketing association, here are the top ten media influencers of 2009.

Coupons 45%
Word-of-mouth 27%
Advertising inserts 27%
Broadcast TV 23%
Newspaper 22%
Direct mail 21%
In-store promotion 18%
E-mail advertising 16%
Cable TV 12%
Magazines 11%
Internet advertising 11%
Radio 10%
Source: Retail Advertising and Marketing Association

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Google Phone

What is the fascination with Google? Probably it's the fact that they continue to bring in the finest minds available and set aside a certain percentage of every work week to allow those individuals to come up with new ways to conquer the digital world.
So what's next for Google? Mobile is where it's at, so it only makes sense Google would jump into the game.

With all the attention Google's plan to launch its own phone is receiving, a sensible question remains: Why, when it makes billions off the high-margin business of search and online advertising, would it want to jump into creating a mobile handset?

Google's fortunes come from advertising, making money off eyeballs and user experience. As the online world matures and growth from advertising revenue slows, Google is looking to reap ad dollars from mobile. Net expert EMarketer has online advertising revenue growing 6% next year, compared to 40% for mobile.

The new Google phone has a few bells and whistles to shout about-- from the promises of visual search to using voice commands to find stuff -- it makes sense that Google wants to have a direct hand in accelerating the promise of these applications and control the user's experience with them.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Google's next battle and Top Ten US agencies

The decade is wrapping up. Adage has chosen, from their perspective, the top ten US ad agencies of the decade. They are as follows:

Crispin Porter & Bogusky began the decade with just over 100 staffers and a reputation as a strong regional shop that had done award-winning anti-smoking work. The MDC Partners agency will enter 2010 with more than 900 staffers, a client list including marketers such as Burger King, Microsoft, Domino's and The Gap, and its portfolio stuffed with the some of the most memorable marketing campaigns of the century thus far. Having successfully moved its center of gravity from southern Florida to Boulder, Colo., creative legends Alex Bogusky and Chuck Porter have gone international in their own distinctive way: by buying the Swedish digital shop Daddy and rebranding it CPB Europe.

2. R/GA
In 10 years, R/GA has shrugged off its film- and print-production roots to become the premier digital agency, a dominance exemplified by Nike Plus, which introduced the idea of platform-based, utility-driven marketing to many. The platform allows runners to log running data by syncing Nike footwear with iPods, and, years later, it still stands out as a prime example of how marketing content can create consumer value. Under Chairman-CEO and Chief Creative Bob Greenberg, the Interpublic agency's client list has included heavyweights such as Nokia, Verizon and IBM, and most recently, Walmart and MasterCard. Today, it counts more than 600 employees worldwide, with offices in London and San Francisco, and has plans to grow its global footprint. R/GA is already showing signs of its next evolution into a full-service agency with digital at its core: It recently won full creative agency-of-record duties for Ameriprise Financial.

The marriage of scale and creativity in advertising is usually not a long one, but TBWA has demonstrated that being a global network doesn't mean the bean counters have to take over. Under the leadership of Jean-Marie Dru, CEO Tom Carroll and creative icon Lee Clow, TBWA grew into a thriving global player this decade, combining the creative chops of a lean micro-network with a much bigger footprint. Standout work for Pedigree, Mars and, of course, Apple, whose "Get a Mac" campaign could rightly be called the campaign of the decade and remains a testament to the power of a well-executed creative idea.

Mother pioneered the agency-as-brand approach, dealing fearlessly with clients and putting creativity and playfulness center-stage. The independent agency employs 400 people across three continents, and it's spawned 20 new companies, including Naked -- now a global player in its own right -- as well as Mother, New York; Madre, Buenos Aires; digital agency Poke; and design agency Saturday. The agency established an advertising-as-entertainment approach that has been widely imitated, and much of its work is now a mainstay of British culture. Its Coca-Cola "I wish" commercial was the first non-U.S. spot for the main Coke brand to run in the U.S.

AKQA has managed to grow into one of the top global digital agencies while keeping its creative prowess and independence. Not bad for a shop whose operations were confined to the U.K. at the decade's start. In 2001, consultancy Accenture invested in the company to bring now-CEO Tom Bedecarre's agency, web developer Magnet Interactive into the family, which helped establish the brand's footprint in Europe, Asia and the U.S. Since then, the network has survived the dot-com bust and built itself up again to 750 people in six offices. Its roster has included Nike, McDonald's, BMW and Visa. AKQA has also made its mark by designing non-ad brand platforms for Microsoft (the user interface for Xbox 360) and Fiat's recent EcoDrive application that mines data and stores it on USB keys in cars.

Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, like Crispin Porter & Bogusky, is an illustration of what happens when an agency forsakes silos and its ego to simply focus on the work. Located only in San Francisco, Goodby combines new-business performance, creativity and business smarts to remain on the short-list of top shops in the land, with a client list that includes Sprint, Frito-Lay, HP, Yahoo and Haagen-Dazs. In 2007, it won Ad Age's Agency of the Year after demonstrating some strong digital work. Since then, it's continued to show that a one-stop-shop for creative solutions is the model for an advertising agency in our day and age.

Without holding-company backing, independent PR shop Edelman has not only come through two significant recessions this decade, but it has also managed to solidify itself as the leading agency and most recognizable name in the entire industry. Whether it's through the use of traditional PR tactics or the development and implementation of digital, blogger and social-media programs, the agency continually breaks new ground in the world of communications and has redefined the role PR agencies are playing in the marketing mix. Led by the PR industry's most influential voice, CEO Richard Edelman, the agency, whose client list includes some of the biggest brands in the world, such as Walmart, Starbucks, Burger King, Microsoft and Pfizer, will rack up nearly half a billion in worldwide revenue in 2009. The only major hiccup these past ten years was the Wal-Mart Across America blog snafu back in 2006.

Not many agencies come out the other side of mergers with their health intact. Fewer still make the whole bigger than the sum of their parts. But Weber Shandwick, not even a full decade since it was incorporated in 2001 after a series of mergers between three shops, has successfully pulled off the complicated act of a major agency merger. Described by many as the most professional agency in the sector, the Interpublic Group of Cos. shop is the largest PR firm in the world, with offices in more than 70 markets globally. And its client list is a who's who of blue chip marketers including General Electric, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, MasterCard, Microsoft and Verizon.

9. BBH
Bartle Bogle Hegarty was 18 years old in 2000, and had just sold a minority stake to Leo Burnett, the first deal of its kind. In the decade since, BBH London, Singapore and New York were joined by BBH Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Mumbai, securing the agency's place in history as the model of the tightly branded yet truly global micro-network. In the past 10 years, BBH won -- and kept -- some of its biggest clients, including KFC, Barclays, Vodafone, Omo, British Airways and LG, while retaining two founding client Levi's. Often a step ahead of the rest of the industry, BBH launched the first music publishing company in advertising, a content department, and created an engagement-planning function and brand-invention arm Zag.

10. BBDO
This decade has been brutal on Madison Avenue's giants, now faced with a stark reality: Modernize or die. It's a nearly impossible task, but Omnicom Group's BBDO has made a go of it. In the capable hands of worldwide CEO Andrew Robertson, BBDO managed to become a new-business machine in the middle part of the decade. It netted Agency of the Year honors in 2005. And, despite once being known primarily as a factory for TV spots, BBDO has managed to display some digital acumen on work for M&M's and HBO. Massive challenges loom during the new decade: BBDO and parent Omnicom need to recover quickly from the crumbling of their relationship with Chrylser, not long ago its largest client.

Google goes after social media marketing in a big way.

Google lifted the curtain today on a host of new features that incorporate time and place into its search results, including the coming integration of Facebook and MySpace status updates into search results.
Google real time searchEnlarge
A Google spokesperson said there were no immediate plans to place advertising next to real-time search results while it refines the user experience.

The search giant also demonstrated its latest innovations in mobile search, including an augmented-reality application for it Android mobile-operating-system platform that can identify objects such as a book, product or piece of artwork and deliver relevant information about them.

Social network search
The new features, introduced at the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley, come more than a month after it announced the integration of Twitter update, announced on the same day that Microsoft's Bing would integrate updates from the microblogging service.
Related Story:
Google Bets (Again) on QR Codes
Will Its Big Local Play Help the Technology Take Off?

As with Twitter, Google declined to say if it's paying MySpace and Facebook for its data, but clearly the goal is to cement its position as preferred search engine for social-network users, and to give anyone searching better visibility in what is being said at a given moment.

As with its Twitter deal, a Google spokesperson said there were no immediate plans to place advertising next to real-time search results while it refines the user experience.

'Beginning of the beginning'
But Google did say that as far as it has come in developing search as a tool and an ad marketplace, there is much more on the way. "We're at the beginning of the beginning," said Vic Gundotra, Google's VP of engineering.

That search is still in its infancy either is scary notion for Google because it has a very well-funded competitor from Microsoft, which is about to absorb Yahoo's search business, or promising because of what's possible, particularly in local advertising, thanks to myriad new applications.

"The location relevance of mobile searches is clearly top of mind for Google," wrote Kelsey Group's Mike Borland in a blog. "They've told us, in fact, that local searches index two to three times higher (as a percentage of overall searches) on mobile than PC. With this comes even greater relevance for local information."

Rolling real-time updates
Google's mobile search results will now include a section containing a rolling list of real-time updates from sources including newly published blogs and pages, feeds from Twitter and public Facebook and MySpace updates. Google will also show the real-time trending topics being discussed.

Some have wondered how Google will be able to keep up the quality of search results and present useful, relevant information to consumers in the cacophony of real-time babble.

"The big challenge isn't pulling in the information from across the web quickly -- it's sorting through it and putting the good stuff at the top," said Harry McCracken, editor of the Technologist. "In a way, this is similar to the challenge that Google tackled when it was founded. There were other search engines, such as AltaVista, but nobody had figured out how to determine which sites should be at the top of results. Google nailed relevance back then, so they have as good a short as anyone at addressing it with real-time search."

'Google googles'
In addition to real-time search, Google showed off its first augmented-reality app for Android it calls "Google Goggles," which allows you to point your mobile phone's camera at an object and submit that image as a search query. You can snap pictures of anything from wine labels to pet tarantulas. Google's vision algorithms then analyze the photos, which are matched up against an index containing a billion images, before it sends the best match to your device.

Google also showed a few new features that make search more sensitive to geography. Mr. Gundotra gave the example of a user who starts to type the letters "RE" as a query. For someone living in San Francisco, Google will predict "REI," the outdoors sports retailer popular with Bay Area residents. For Boston searchers, Google will predict "Red Sox." Mr. Gundotra noted 40% of mobile searches originate from Google-suggested queries -- that is, users accept a search term that Google suggests based on predictive text algorithms.

Both Android phones and desktop searchers will get the new "Near Me Now" feature, which allows users to pinpoint areas of interest to them on Google Maps, including local merchants.

"My sense is mobile search will end up being a bunch of things -- there's voice input, you'll use a map, you'll use a camera," said independent mobile search analyst Greg Sterling. "The context and modality with which you have in mobile is much more varied than on a desktop. None of this is a translation of the desktop experience."

Friday, December 11, 2009

Creative Excellence Fridays - New Zealand Humour

First off, we'd like to take a moment and ... drum roll please... announce the unveiling of our new website Ontrack Congrats to Heronymo Allen and Dan Sampson for all their hard work.

Also a thank you to Dave Boire of DBAudio for having me to his funky studio diggs earlier this week. Dave is the Toronto chairperson for the Mobius Awards and he kindly asked me to be one of the television judges. We'll feature the best of show winners in next week's blog.

Now on to this weeks' blog.
We've all marveled at British humour over the years. Monty Python, Little Britain et all. Well it turns out the "colonies" brought some of that edge with them. Below is a commercial produced in New Zealand by DDB New Zealand to promote Sky Cable. It is definitely out there, but I have to say I like it, alot. It's the kind of commercial you want to see more than once, and when it comes on you say to a friend in the next room, "come here.. come here.. it's on..come see this". Which, in all honesty is the biggest compliment you can pay.

Warning, this may prove a bit distasteful for some. But you definitely will remember it and the uniqueness will transfer to brand recognition too.

Coming up on Monday, adnews from the Google camp. They have chosen another monster to compete with. Details on Monday. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Burger King targets breakfast for the boys

Burger King has released a new microsite and viral campaign focusing on young males. The website, has,you guessed it,a young woman in the 20shower. And yes she's wearing a bathing suit.
A spokesperson for Burger King said "The Singing Shower Website is billed as "the world's first guilt-free shower-cam," where visitors can ask a 20-year-old woman to wear a different bikini and sing a different song as she takes her morning shower each day.

Burger King U.K. is inviting young men to watch and interact with a bikini-clad girl as she takes her daily shower, in a new "glorious mornings" promotion which urges consumers to "seize the day your way."


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Digital verses Traditional Shops

When Cliff Freeman & Partners went under recently it shed a lot of light on traditional ad shops, verses digital agencies. Some of the brightest ideas of the last twenty years came from Cliff Freeman's shop, but strong creative is not enough. Today, in order for an agency to survive, strong creative needs to be filtered through a plethora of digital channels. Media planning has always been important, but today it's essential that every agency, whether considered a digital shop or not, have a strong relationship with digital planners, so the message reaches an incredibly splintered market.

Adweek has a great article by Brian Morrisey talking about the competition between traditional and digital. Digital vs traditional

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mastercard vs Visa

The two leaders in their respective credit fields are Visa and Mastercard ..with Amex coming up on the outside.

Here's an interesting article from Anthony Young of Adage with a look at the battle of the titans


Monday, December 7, 2009

PizzaPizza partners with Coca Cola and brings back the past

Pizza Pizza, which hasn't used the Peel 'n Reveal contest since its debut run in 2001, partnered with Coca-Cola Canada this time around to leverage the popularity of, said Pat Finelli, chief marketing officer for Pizza Pizza.

Meanwhile back in the Tiger Woods camp, Gillette has decided to stay with the Tiger. In spite of almost daily stories of various women throughout the world coming out with their own tiger by the tail stories, Gillette will be standing by their man.

Story here Tiger by the tail

Friday, December 4, 2009

Creative Excellence Fridays - The banned viral

We recently featured a commercial called Shiny Suds in a Friday post. It was a parody spot designed to raise awareness for household cleaner marketer "Method". However after complaints from some women's groups, claiming the ad was sexist and promoted rape, the ad was pulled. Now here's the interesting question; was the ad deliberately designed to promote controversy? When an advertiser immediately puts out a statement saying they regret any impressions, wrongful or otherwise this commercial may have caused, and pull the ad immediately, it causes ripples of free press. It also shows they are sensitive to the concerns of others. The free press is the key. Some marketers deliberately plan for this as part of the delivery process.
You be the judge. Here is Shiny Bubbles, the "banned" viral.

Next a banned commercial for 7up. Not sure why it was banned, other than perhaps it could start a rush of people to trauma wards.

That's it for this week. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Microsites Part 4 - Clear the clutter

In part 4 of our look at Microsites, it's agreed by all industry experts, clutter.... bad. No matter what the advertising vehicle, one of the hardest things for a client to do is focus on the message. We have to remember that, even though a business has a myriad of sales points, you want to focus on one part of your business in your microsite.

Some simple rules come into play.
1.If the visitor has to work to find what they're looking for, they're gone.
2.If you clutter up the microsite with too many items it will feel like a construction zone. And no one enjoys navigating through those.
3.Any delay is a one way ticket to your competitor's site and product.

And finally, Entry Pop-ups. Bad. What are entry pop ups? Those annoying little windows that pop up and float around the screen asking for a call-to-action. They are the equivalent of the loud guy at the party who demands to be the centre of attention even though he's done nothing to deserve it.

Tomorrow on Creative Excellence Fridays - a past entry is banned because of complaints of sexism.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Microsites Part 3 Banner & text ads

Part 3 of Microsites - Banner and Text ads.

Banner ads of course are the ads at the top, side or bottom of a highly viewed web page. This is usually in the form of short text advertisements or rectangles of various sizes containing images designed to inspire you to take action. These are done by agencies directly or through a variety of online distribution companies such as Global Market Exposure. The banners work in harmony with your microsites to either drive traffic to the Microsite so you can drive an information conversion, or they work independently of your Microsite to drive traffic directly to your main site. They work towards increasing the following: SEO Website Traffic,On-Line Purchase,SEO Page Views,
In-store Sales, SEO Website Time Spent, Page Views, SEO Website Branding,
Media Exposure, SEO Website Sales, Impressions, SEO Website Ranking,
Product Branding, SEO Website Indexing, Clicks, SEO Website Reputation, Actions, SEO Website Click Through, Conversions, SEO Return On Investment ROI, Return On Investment(ROI)

Pay per click (PPC) is also a very popular online advertising model. PPC ads are typically short text ads along the top, sides or bottom of a web page. PPC text ads appear in two major instances. When featured on Search engine results pages (SERPS), the PPC ads are targeted to the particular keyword that the searcher typed in. Other text PPC ads occur by insertion into targeted Web pages whose thems are associated with the keyword in question. PPC gives the advertiser much more control over the way the paid search result appears.

Affliates. Many midsize and larger companies have affliate programs. It essentially is a form of pure-commission selling. The affilate directs a visitor to a website or landing page. The affiliate that the visitor originated from is recorded. That there is a conversion the affilate gets credit and payment for the action.

Tomorrow in Part 4. Clutter and Clean. Keeping focus on your microsite.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Microsites Part 2

So why bother with a microsite? The whole point is to drive customers to your product or service correct? The microsite helps you test and focus on different areas of your business. Perhaps you're selling those bungie blankets. You want to appeal to both an older demographic and a younger demographic. By having two separate microsites you can use different key words and different looks to target those two very diverse demographics. Ultimately your goal is the magic trilogy. Acquisition, Conversion and Retention.

Acquisition - to get people to your website or landing page.
Conversion - Convincing them to take the desired action.
Retention - Build a more meaningful relationship with the customer which potentially could last a lifetime.

One of the ways to increase your SEO website traffic is to have important and credible sites in your industry link back to you. Links are usually requested from the webmasters of other sites. You get in touch with them and ask them to add a relevant link back to your site from the appropriate spot on their site. This can definitely result in higher rankings.

Tomorrow - Banner and text ads and how they work with microsites.