Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How we spend our time online

Some interesting trends in online habits. 22 % of us are spending our online time on Facebook and other social media sites. And the average joe is spending 66 % more time this year than last surfing Facebook like sites.

What does all this mean? Social media has wrinkled some eyebrows for marketers because it's perceived as a medium that hasn't reached it's peak. But at the rate of growth it is experiencing, it has become an unavoidable part of every marketing mix now.

Post script - espresso and Gucci are being coupled with Facebook. Italians are one of the fastest new appropriators of Facebook.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Retail giants testing out interactive tools

NEW YORK: Major retailers including Wal-Mart, Carrefour and JCPenney are experimenting with new interactive tools in a bid to engage consumers and increase sales.

Wal-Mart and Carrefour, the world's two largest grocery chains, have begun trialling a "virtual mirror" from EZface which allows customers to "test" goods prior to buying them.

This device enables shoppers to see what lipstick, hair colorants and similar lines would look like by taking their photo, and then displaying an updated image on the "mirror" when they scan a relevant brand's barcode.

Users can then print out the results, which contain a reminder of the products entered thus far, as well as emailing them to a friend or posting them on Facebook.

After hosting EZface, developed in partnership with IBM, in two venues in 2009, Wal-Mart is now extending this pool to 40 counters in ten stores.

A spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, which does not currently provide physical samples, argued sales had been "good" where these units were in place, but it "is too early to tell if activity can be tied directly to EZface."

Carrefour also included an EZface centre at one of its five newly-redesigned hypermarkets operating under the Planet banner.

L'Oréal added an EZface application to the web portals for L'Oréal Paris and Maybelline, so visitors could gain familiarity with this system.

"Hair colour searches on Google are massive," said Hal Kimber, L'Oréal's head of customer relationship management and internet.

The company installed the actual gadget at an event in London, and believes the real benefits will come from driving up demand in bricks-and-mortar sites.

"That's where you have the strongest impulse to purchase - where you have to give the final impetus," said Kimber.

Elsewhere, JCPenney has introduced a "FindMore" kiosk in stores, boasting a 52-inch touchscreen letting shoppers browse its inventory, scan items to read background details and view recommendations.

"We have to match customer tastes with technology," said Tom Nealon, its chief information officer, when the appliances were rolled out.

"Some people are very digital, and you have to interact with them. Others are more comfortable with store associates."

Media Lab, owned by Interpublic Group, regularly surveys 10,000 adults in North America, and has found that satisfaction ratings for retailers are typically declining by around 15% annually.

One contributor to this trend is unfavourable comparisons measured against the huge amount of data available online, alongside the surge of interest in health and wellness, and the origins of products.

"The role the store is playing is changing," said John Ross, president of IPG's Shopper Sciences arm. "Shoppers are walking up with a different set of expectations."

In an effort to make the consumption experience more personalised, Dunkin' Donuts is assessing mobile services which empower branches to send targeted offers to patrons.

Inditex, the fashion group, is somewhat behind the curve, having only recently announced Zara would start selling goods via the web in France Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the UK.

Analysts at Sanford C Bernstein predict Zara could generate $2.5bn (€2.0bn; £1.6bn) in revenue from this aspect of its operations in three years time, and may even struggle to keep up with demand.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal - Aug 30-2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

Creative Excellence Fridays - Top virals for August 2010

I was recently in a mall sitting on a bench people watching. It's a habit shared by many. And it's bonus time when someone does something out of the ordinary.
I think that's why useless viral videos have become such time suckers. It's the bizarre moments of people watching condensed into a minute and available at the click of a mouse; no parking, crowds, just click and watch.

Even before the internet we had America's Funniest Home Videos. That show has lost its' edge because you simply need to fire up the computer and check your in box.

Here are the top time waster viral videos for the week of August 23.

Lady "getting down" in Walmart.

Roger Federer "Trick shot"

And finally, the new movie, "The Social Network", based on the life of the founder of Facebook is coming out. A parody is getting a lot of attention.

That's it for this week. As always your comments and suggestions are encouraged and welcome.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Video blogging more effective than text blogging

YouTube is the 2nd biggest search engine on the Internet with more than 1.6 billion searches per month. This is ideal for two reasons.

1.The search mechanisms employed by YouTube help you and your business get found.
2.YouTube also represents positive, "quality" inbound links to aid in your SEO.

Remember - when you place a video on YouTube, place a link prominently in the video description. There are two places you can get links from a YouTube video:

Link to your website in the yellow highlighted areas for a solid SEO boost

The first place to gain a free link on a YouTube video page is in the video description text. The recommended best practice is to place the actual link in the very first line of text when you upload the video. This is the best link available, and it’s reserved for the person originating the content.

The second place to gain a free link is in the “Statistics and Data” section of the video page.

These links point to any website that has embedded the current video on one of their pages. The first website to embed the video gets the best link placement, so if you’re the first to discover a popular video and embed it on your site, you may benefit a boost in your SEO.

3) How these links can help with SEO. Think of link-building with YouTube as a popularity contest:

  • I upload a video to YouTube. I place a link to my site in the text description. I immediately embed the video on my website. If I do both of these things, I’ll get two great links to my website (the text description link + the “first to embed” link).
  • Others who like my video will embed it on their website.
  • Each embedded video is considered a link to (or vote for) my video’s YouTube page.
  • The more my video is embedded, the more links point to my video’s YouTube page.
  • Each link to my video’s YouTube page increases the value of any outbound links on the page.

Put simply – if I upload a popular video to YouTube and I link back to my website, I can gain a great link.

4) NoFollow is just a guide. A lot of SEO’s are likely going to raise their hands and point out that any link on YouTube is “nofollowed.” If the video is related to your business and popular, you’ll get a good link regardless of the “nofollow” tag.

According to studies conducted by Forrester Research, having a search-engine optimized video on your e-commerce site increases your odds of showing up on the first page of Google in an organic search dramatically — more than 50 times greater than if you just had text on the page.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tiff talent announced

We always look forward to the buzz of the Toronto international Film Festival like kids on Christmas eve; all the films, and buzz from around the world and the inspiration.

Here is the celebrity lineup for this year. Courtesy Montreal Gazette.

Screen legends Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford and Robert De Niro will join hundreds of luminaries, including billionaire Bill Gates and musician Bruce Springsteen, at next month's Toronto International Film Festival.

Yesterday, the festival released its much-anticipated guest list of actors and filmmakers expected to visit the city during the 11-day celebration of cinema Sept. 9 to 19.

Eastwood, 80, is returning to TIFF for the first time in 20 years to premiere his supernatural thriller, Hereafter, starring Matt Damon, who is also expected to attend.

The festival also announced its Mavericks lineup. The program features discussions with noted panel-lists.

Philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Gates appears in Davis Guggenheim's documentary Waiting for 'Superman' and serves as a panellist following the screening. In the film, Guggenheim, who directed An Inconvenient Truth, explores the crisis in American education.

The Mavericks program also features conversations with NBA All-Star and MVP Steve Nash, actor and director Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Springsteen.

Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Uma Thurman, Kevin Spacey, Keanu Reeves, Hilary Swank, Bill Murray and Woody Harrelson are also among the many anticipated guests.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


A friend of mine works in the head office of a large Canadian bank. She attends meeting after meeting and when I mentioned todays blog topic she declared "I know! I know! Why don't people just say in simple language what they plan on doing."

I stumbled into a fellow marketer's blog last week, and really enjoyed these thoughts:

“Jargon is not just about using big word to make small points. Sometimes it’s about using big words to make no point at all. For example, business idiots have figured about that when they don’t have a real strategy, they can just string together a bunch of nonsense and make one up.”

“One of the reasons business people use fifty-cent words to make a five-cent point is that they think using plain language makes them look less intelligent. That’s why we say things like ‘Initiate a project action plan’ rather than ‘Let’s get started.’ We fear that straightforward language might make us look dumb.”

Thanks to Brand Autopsy for the paragraph above. The point being, a good idea is a good idea. It stands on its' own merit. When there is nothing of real substance, involved wording only indicates you have the ability to work in multi-syllabic words, not that you have anything constructive to offer to the task at hand.

I love this quote from Albert Einstein.

Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.
Albert Einstein

Monday, August 23, 2010

Facebook trumping brand sites

I assumed this would happen, but not this soon. The popularity of Facebook has made it a destination site for consumers over the conventional website. Why? Because people want to interact and that's what Facebook is all about; a place to read, see, experience, and leave your mark.

Headline in todays Advertising Age

What Happens When Facebook Trumps Your Brand Site?

'Like' It or Not, Trend Serves as Another Telling Sign of Social Media's Growing Dominance

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BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- While the tech world obsessed about when Facebook would turn on location and morph into a "Foursquare killer," the social network has quietly become something else: the biggest relationship-marketing provider for many brands.

Biggest Facebook Fan Pages

BIGGEST FACEBOOK FAN PAGES: While U.S. web traffic to brand websites rarely exceeds six figures, DBMS can already count 37 branded Facebook pages with at least a million fans just among CPG, retail, pharmaceutical and fast-food marketers.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Creative Excellence Fridays - The Art of Madmen

Being connected to the advertising community in a creative or marketing sense makes you automatically have an appreciation for the aesthetics of the visual arts.
Art direction/set direction are tantamount to creating strong television creative.

I was drawn to Madmen, the television series early on, not just because of its' storyline, advertising men from the industry ground breaking days of 1960's New York, but because of the discerning eye to fashion and attention to detail.

As you watch the early seasons of the show, you note some interesting art hanging on the walls of the original agency, Sterling Cooper.

Agency cofounder Burt Cooper has had two interesting pieces hanging on his main wall. First, a Japanese print called "The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife". It's an erotic woodcut made around 1820 by Japanese artist Hokusai.

Then, an episode focuses on a Mark Rothko piece. An account rep described it as "...like looking into something very deep. You could fall in." It was a description Rothko would have appreciated. He wouldn't have been amused that Burt Cooper bought it strictly as an investment.

In Don Draper's office hung a beautiful abstract called "Butternut". This was actually painted only a few years ago by artist and musician Michal Shapiro.

At our shop we all took an interest as well in the artistry involved in set direction and attention to detail of Madmen. Don Draper's Sterling Cooper office was featured in a recent CNN piece.

And finally, the art of the show itself. This beautifully written scene by show creator Mathew Weiner is poetic and moving.

As always, your comments and suggestions are appreciated and shared openly. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Facebook Places.. the low down

Facebooks geo location feature has now been launched. There is a lot of curiosity about it as location marketing is the next new buzz word in mobile marketing.

Here's the skinny on Facebook's Places...courtest of Mashable.

How to Use Places

First of all, you or a Facebook friend in your group will need a smartphone. If you don’t have an iPhone, you’ll have to use the Facebook touch mobile site on a browser that supports both HTML 5 and geolocation.

The company does plan to roll out Android (Android) and BlackBerry versions of Places, but they haven’t released any specific dates for those releases yet.

To use Places, go to the Places tab on the iPhone application or touch.facebook.com. You’ll first be asked if Facebook is allowed to know your location. Once you click “allow,” you’ll enter the Places interface. From there, you can share your location with friends, find out where your friends are (if they’re using Places), and discover new places near you.

You can add places, check in to places that already exist, and tag people who are with you. If you’re checking in for a group, make sure you tag your friends before you checkin, yourself. For example, I added my house and checked in there. I then opened the Places page for a nearby sushi restaurant, tagged my boyfriend, and checked us both in there.

We’ve noted that it is possible to checkin from other non-smartphone devices in a regular, non-mobile browser, but you will have to use Facebook’s touch site.

You’ll also need to live in the U.S. Facebook’s goal is to launch all over the United States within a few days. International launch dates haven’t been released yet.

Other Services That Will Use Places

Tomorrow, Facebook is opening up certain data that will allow any and all developers to access parts of Places. That means that a lot of applications will start pulling information from Places, scraping it for data about people, locations, groups and more.

For right now, though, only a few apps have been selected to push information back into Places. Initially, Gowalla (), Foursquare (), Booyah (creators of MyTown and Nightclub City) and Yelp () will integrate with Facebook Places.

If you use a Yelp mobile app for checkins, you’ll be able to push those checkins to Facebook Places, as well. Gowalla and Foursquare checkins can also be pushed to Facebook Places.

Booyah plans to launch a location-based social game called InCrowd; it will be built on Facebook Places. The company says it will be “a playful social app based on interacting with people and sharing real-time posts at real-world locations” and will allow players to “socialize, meet new friends and track popularity” in the app. It will be available in the iTunes App Store () soon.

What About Privacy?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said this feature isn’t about sharing your location with the world; it’s about finding places and sharing them with your friends.

That being said, your checkins will appear by default on your profile, in the news feed and in the activity stream for that place. We’ve also noted that your friends can, by default, check you in without your explicit approval or permission.

If you want to change who can see your checkins, go to your account’s privacy settings. You’ll see that “Places I check in” is by default shared with “Friends Only.” You can change who views your checkins from this area.

If you want to change whether or not others can check you in without your knowledge or permission, you’ll have to click “Customize settings” on your privacy page, then scroll down to the “Things others share” section. You will note that by default, you enable others to check you in. You can disable this setting; there’s no option to allow checkins-by-proxy on individual approval.

Also, another default setting on the “Customize settings” page is “Include me in ‘People Here Now’ after I check in.” When you check in, your location is visible to your friends and also to anyone else nearby. If you’d rather be more private, you’ll have to opt out of this setting.

We’ve written a bit about preliminary concerns voiced by the ACLU over Facebook Places and privacy. With much of the Places-related information being shared by default, it’s clear that most users will want to revisit their privacy settings before jumping wholeheartedly into this new feature.

Places for Businesses and Developers

If you’re a business, you can use Places to give Facebook your business’ location. Once your location has been added to Places, either by you or by another local Facebook user, just go to the Place page from Facebook.com and click the link that says “Is this Place Page your business?”

If you claim the location as your business, it will become a Facebook Page. You can then post updates to people who like the Page, update your business information and more.

Places can only be claimed by official representatives. Verifying a Place claim requires uploading some kind of official document, such as a local business license or Better Business Bureau accreditation.

If you’re a developer and are interested in using one of the Places APIs to use this feature’s technology in your application, you’re in luck. Facebook is launching a Read API tomorrow. This API will scrape checkins from identified users and their friends and will gather public data about Places, as well.

Facebook has also developed a Write and Search API that allows third-party apps to publish checkins and run queries on Places data. That’s currently in private beta; partners include Gowalla and Yelp, among others. We don’t yet have a date for when that API will be opened generally, but we’ll keep you posted.

When Places Go Wrong

In addition to changing your personal privacy settings, you can also report Places that aren’t correct or that infringe on your own rights somehow. Facebook allows users to report Places for incorrect data, abusive behavior, the permanent closure of a business or duplication of other content.

Reported Places are flagged; removal may not occur immediately.

You can immediately remove checkins from your own profile, and you can also untag yourself if someone else has checked you in without your approval. Just click the “remove” button next to the story on your profile or news feed.

Back tomorrow with Creative Excellence Fridays and our salute to the art of Madmen.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

AdAge talks about the growing popularity of Location Based stores and "MyTown".

AdAge talks about the growing popularity of Location Based stores and "MyTown".

AdAge - Aug 17, 2010

Quick-service chains Subway, McDonald's, Starbucks and Burger King have the most unique check-ins on MyTown, a location-based game with more than 3 million users that provided the data. Subway has seen nearly 6.4 million check-ins from more than 500,000 users since the app launched in December.

Restaurant chains make up eight of the top 10 most unique check-ins locations, along with pharmacies CVS and Walgreens. Restaurants saw the most check-ins by category in July, with 14.2 million. Businesses came in second with 8.5 million, mostly because people like to check-in at work, said Keith Lee, co-founder and CEO of MyTown developer Booyah.

For a category that's become somewhat synonymous with Foursquare, a location-based mobile app that saw 20- and 30-somethings checking in to bars and restaurants in cities in its early days, MyTown's results may seem surprising. But that's the difference between checking in to share your location on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook and checking in to win a game, Mr. Lee said.

Foursquare is often used to build a "social profile," said Allison Mooney, VP-emerging trends at MobileBehavior. While both Foursquare and MyTown offer points for checking in, MyTown users check in to get virtual goods or rewards to advance through a Monopoly-like game.

Top 10 locations on MyTown by unique check-ins since the app launched in December 2009
Location Total Check-ins Total Unique Check-ins
Subway 6,369,560 512,695
McDonald's 4,985,559 452,395
Starbucks 4,404,052 381,821
Burger King 2,507,445 287,898
CVS/pharmacy 6,204,216 285,380
Taco Bell 2,316,292 275,689
Pizza Hut 2,261,548 262,714
Walgreens 2,466,851 258,053
Domino's Pizza 2,181,409 244,263
Wendy's 1,502,047 217,553
Source: MyTown

"People are very selective of where they post on other location-based apps," said Mr. Lee. "Most people don't want to tell Facebook their day-to-day errands or places they go." he said, adding that people are much more willing to check in at everyday places like Best Buy or McDonald's on MyTown because they want to accrue rewards to advance in the game. Only 15% of MyTown check-ins are shared on Facebook, he said.

"We build our social profiles through editing and leaving things out as well as sharing," Ms. Mooney said. "I don't think everyone is embarrassed to check in at fast-food places, but for some people and social groups, there may be a stigma."

That's not to say quick-service check-ins aren't happening at all on Foursquare, or that the app is motivating users with points. Noah Glass, CEO of GoMobo, a food-ordering mobile-technology company, said he used to check in to places such as Five Guys, Subway and Starbucks when he used Foursquare, to earn points and get on that app's leader board.

"I think people are checking in to fast-food places either because they think they are cool or are trying to score points," he said. "Or, more and more these days, people get benefits or direct incentives for checking in."

Booyah's Mr. Lee said chains are topping the check-in charts by virtue of having more locations across the country. Out of MyTown's more than 300 million check-ins, he estimates 60% occur at big-brand locations vs. 40% in sole proprietors and mom-and-pop businesses.

Foursquare, which has 2.7 million users worldwide, with 60% in the U.S., reports that the most popular venues are transit-related locations such as airports and train stations, and also parks and museums. It declined to provide more specific data.

Even with its numerous quick-service check-ins, MyTown has not worked with any restaurant brands, while Foursquare has inked deals with restaurants such as Chili's Grill & Bar, Papa John's, Starbucks and Pizza Hut.

Instead, MyTown has launched programs for retailer H&M; Disney, to promote the movie "Sorcerer's Apprentice"; and package-goods brand Pantene. Pharmacies also made a good showing in MyTown's top check-in list.

By volume including duplicate check-ins by the same user, CVS has the second-most check-ins at 6.2 million. Rite Aid and Walgreens also made that top ten.

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Subscribe to comments on: Fast-Food Chains Grab Most Location-Based Check-ins
By nickwright1967 | Atlanta, GA August 17, 2010 01:42:13 pm:
It is hard to say right now where Foursquare and similar location-based apps are heading in the future, what the user traction will be like, and what exactly the applications in the ad industry are going to be. One thing is for sure is that consumers are going to need to be rewarded pretty handsomely if they are going to keep checking in after they have already posted their whereabouts to multiple social media platforms.
Read our take on it here:
By cseiger | New York, NY August 17, 2010 11:46:20 am:
This type of hyperlocal marketing is definitely gaining ground. Read our take on it on the Luminosity Blog at http://luminositymarketing.com/blog/?p=1371
By ActionAd | Grand Rapids, MI August 17, 2010 02:39:51 pm:
So ... we like fast food and drugs. No surprise there.

By ETHAN | NEW YORK, NY August 17, 2010 03:30:52 pm:
What was the purview of the cool-kids First Adopters will now be adapted for the masses.

The action of "checking in" will become second nature to some and an anathema to others as we grow towards craving our 15 minutes of anonymity.

With mega-brands partaking, this exercise will become another means for brands to communicate with their consumers and build awareness amongst their "friends."

It's a step towards hyper-localization, although one I fear could be messy at first if Mark Zuckerberg and crew don't learn from the privacy debacle; which is sounds like they've attempted to do.

We've all waited for this day (in marketing) and it will be interesting to see if the experience lives up to the hype or if it falls flat amongst a torrent of information overwhelming today's consumer. Only time will tell on that front I suppose.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

But ostriches can't fly. Or can they? Cadbury new creative.

Interesting spot out of Saatchi & Saatchi, Johannesburg for Cadbury. I gotta be me.

Who says Ostriches don't know how to live on the edge. This one risks getting lost in the special effects with minimal brand recognition.

In ad news independent agency "Mother" has just hired Six Flags marketing guru Angelina Vieira Barocas to run their New York operation.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Smart phones now outnumber computers in the US

An interesting statistic to be sure. From a recent poll in PCWorld here are a couple of other facts worth noting.

-- The majority (79 percent) of respondents cite the smartphone as the phone they used the most to conduct business, as compared to an office phone or home phone.

-- Smartphones are also encroaching on computers as well, with 34 percent of respondents using the smartphone more than the computer for business. In fact, seven percent don't even take their laptop when they travel for business if they have their smartphone.

And one more little tidbit.

The #1 web destinations on mobile are social sites. Facebook has over 100M users who use mobile regularly to access the site. Twitter's original design was to engage and interact via text messaging and mobile accounts for a significant portion of all Twitter users.

These statistics are not going unnoticed.
The auto industry will spend about $1.2 billion this year on social media advertising, according to consulting firm Borrell Associates Inc. And that number is projected to grow to $4.6 billion by 2015.

The little budgets that grew.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Those rare moments

On the news this morning they featured a 10 year old opera singer from America's Got Talent. It occurred to me that this was a true talent, and my first exposure to someone who had the potential to be another Susan Boyle at the opposite end of the spectrum. Talent like this is so rare, and the pureness of her performance, and her sincerity afterward was infectious.

Writers have their spidy senses on high looking for these types of inspiration. From 0 to goosebumps in 10 seconds. It's those crescendo emotional peaks that make us realize we are alive. And in a marketers eyes, make us lose sight of rational and instead make decisions based on immediate feelings.

I think you'll agree those are the moments we all live for.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ground zero ad controversy

I didn't expect the debate over the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero in New York to go away any time soon, but I was hoping it would carry on over there, well outside the world of advertising. But, no. After the anti-mosque crowd suffered the latest defeat because the Constitution can't be any clearer regarding the subject of governmental interference with religion, they've responded with ads.

According to The New York Post, something called the American Freedom Defense Initiative successfully sued to force the MTA to accept its ads. So New Yorkers will get to see a visual of one of the planes flying into the World Trade Center paired with a mock-up of the proposed mosque.

This is dividing people on religious and political grounds. The separation of church and state are only divided by 2 blocks in this instance, a space some say is too close given the circumstances. I won't wade into the debate of how important it is to allow religious freedoms; I will say that the ads themselves are in very poor taste and fuel negativity. However, for the same reasons a mosque should be allowed on any sight that is legally zoned for it, a citizen should be allowed to purchase ad time and air his grievances. I'm pro choice, but welcome pro life commercials as freedom of speech. Where I draw the line is when messages are poorly crafted and in extremely bad taste. Any ad professional who thinks it's acceptable to have an ad featuring a Sept 11 jet flying into the Twin towers should seriously consider another line of work.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Jet Blue Rogue employee handling

It was reported on Monday that a Jet Blue airline attendant "lost it". A rude customer refused to sit back down when the plane had landed, and went so far as to knock his luggage into the head of the attendant. The Attendant grabbed the microphone and announced he was retiring, grabbed a beer off the cart, pulled the emergency shoot, slid down and drove off.

I've been watching Jet Blue's PR department handle this and honestly, it's a non issue. Many are cheering this employee for doing what many of us don't have the nads to do ourselves. I suspect Jet Blue wanted to speak in favour of his rebellious attitude and how that reflects the brand itself, but he violated serious air port regulations and it is all under review.

In the meantime Jet Blue is taking a neutral position, as it's the only position they can take.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Thought provoking article from AdAge on committing to an online web series. More companies are looking at how to harness the power of the web and offload their branding online, doing a total end run around expensive broadcast airtime. Here are some well researched case studies in successes and failures.

If You Build a Web Series Around It, Will They Come?

For Some Brands, the Answer Is an Enthusiastic Yes; for Others, Not So Much

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LOS ANGELES (AdAge.com) -- In the past three years, it seems "Make me a branded web series" has become the new "Make me a viral video" for marketers, with brands as varied as Ikea, Procter & Gamble, Toyota, Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese and even Poise incontinence pads all trying their hands at branded storytelling online. But as these webisodes clamor to find audiences in increasingly fragmented numbers, a larger metric for success pervades: Did they actually deliver on the hoped-for ROI for the brand?

For marketers, the typical web series consists of a half-dozen five-minute episodes costing an average of $100,000 to $1 million to create -- a paltry sum considering a typical 30-second spot can cost more than three times the price the most expensive web show.

Yet the bar has been high ever since "In the Motherhood," an online sitcom co-created by Mindshare Entertainment on behalf of clients Sprint and Unilever, became a massive hit on MSN, accumulating more than 16 million views by its second season and eventually becoming a sitcom for ABC. But its swift broadcast cancellation forced advertisers and producers alike to re-evaluate the ultimate metric for determining a web series' long-term success: Instead of being picked up by a TV network, why isn't re-investment by the brand the new barometer for success?

As the web matures as an original entertainment platform, so do the metrics for success. Ad Age took a look at the vast crop of web series from the past year to spotlight 10 that worked and three that did not.

"Buppies" and "My Black Is Beautiful"

Procter & Gamble

The Premise: Procter & Gamble's dedicated line of products targeted toward black women got the entertainment approach last fall when the country's top marketer co-produced two web series with BET. "Buppies," a scripted drama, featured presenting sponsorship and product integration for Cover Girl's Queen Collection, while "My Black Is Beautiful" showcased the eponymous line of P&G products in makeover settings.

The Result: "Buppies," BET's first original web series, has attracted more than 2 million views online since launch, while "My Black Is Beautiful," the TV series, drew an average 3.6 million viewers in its second season on BET. The My Black Is Beautiful collection has seen sales grow 20% in the first half of 2010, while dollar-share increases during second-quarter 2010 were seen by participating brands Pantene (up 14%), Cover Girl (4%) and Olay (up 3%).

"Easy to Assemble"


The Premise: Indie actress Illeana Douglas takes a job at an Ikea to escape the confines of Hollywood, only to find that a host of other actors (Justine Bateman, Tim Meadows, Ed Begley Jr., Tom Arnold, Cheri Oteri) are already working there. Ikea came onboard as an integrated sponsor to raise its profile among hip, cash-conscious furniture shoppers.

The Result: Produced for a shoestring mid-six-figure budget that includes a name cast, some location shooting in Burbank and no external media buys, "Easy to Assemble" is the little web series that could. During its second-season run from October 2009 to January 2010, the show accumulated 12 million video views, 5,000 iPhone-app downloads and more than 34,000 mentions on social media. The show returns for a third season this fall.

"In Gayle We Trust"

American Family Insurance

The Premise: Gayle Evans ("Clueless" star Elisa Donovan) is a small-town insurance agent who tries to be all things to all people in this branded sitcom for American Family Insurance, created for NBC's Digital Studio. The series is part of a larger branded-entertainment program Mindshare Entertainment helped plan for AFI, including an MSN financial-advice video series and custom content for CBS Radio.

The Result: The first season attracted nearly 3 million views, enough for American Family Insurance to renew it for a just-launched second season (NBC Digital Studio's first multiseason pickup). In aggregate, American Family Insurance's branded-entertainment program yielded a 20% lift in quote starts and a 24% increase in purchase intent. Requests for an agent also got a measurable boost from the program's microsites.

"The Real Women of Philadelphia"


The Premise: Kraft teamed with its Publicis agencies Kraft Content One and Digitas, as well as social-media entertainment company EQAL, for a video contest to promote its Paula Deen-hosted brand relaunch of Philadelphia Cream Cheese last September. Fans were asked to submit videos of consumer-generated recipes using the Philly staple, with a chance to win $25,000 and participate in a cook-off with Ms. Deen in Georgia.

The Result: More than 4,000 recipes were submitted to the contest's microsite, which has logged more than 600,000 unique visitors since its March launch. Additionally, Paula Deen's YouTube video for the contest has been viewed more than 10 million times, an indication of the campaign's broader cultural awareness. As part of a multimillion-dollar relaunch for the brand, the contest has helped Philly Cream Cheese achieve a 6% increase in sales since last September.

"The Temp Life"


The Premise: Staffing and temping agency Spherion wanted to make students, recent grads and entry-level professionals aware of its job-finding services when it signed up to sponsor CJP Digital Media's "The Temp Life" back in 2006. As the series evolved and the job market worsened, the "Temp Life" took on an almost meta-reality for the agency as its audience adopted the temp lifestyle portrayed by the series' characters.

The Result: Recently renewed for a fifth season, "The Temp Life" has quietly become the longest-running branded series on the web, with each season adding an average of 85% more viewers, according to web-video measurement firm Tubefilter. Spherion Corp. CEO Roy Krause has publicly declared the series his company's top marketing priority and a direct contributor to its rise in stock price.

Five more that worked

"Into The Heart of Italy," Bertolli
Why It Worked: Unilever's reality series starring Marisa Tomei logged more than 40 million views across the web and boosted the Bertolli brand's volume, unit share and dollar share compared to the 12-week period prior to the show's launch.

"Hellmann's Real Food Project," Hellmann's Mayonnaise
Why It Worked: Another Unilever series, the microsite's videos were viewed more than 600,000 times and helped the mayonnaise brand outperform the rest of Unilever's otherwise flat spreads products during the first quarter it aired.

"Business on Main," Sprint (MSN.com)
Why It Worked: Sprint's custom content for the small-business owner was successful and sticky, with more than 7.7 million video views, 84,000 pieces of content shared and 58% of users watching at least one episode all the way through.

"1 in 3 Like Me," Poise
Why It Worked: The campaign, which starred Whoopi Goldberg, made light bladder leakage a hot topic (and the subject of an "SNL" skit), and helped the Kimberly-Clark pads achieve the highest share of the incontinence category's sales in the brand's history.

"Fit to Boom," Subway
Why It Worked: Logging over 4.5 million total site visits, "Fit to Boom" saw 3 million video views at a 50% completion rate and boosted purchase intent among baby boomers by 12%.

Three that didn't work

"The Broadroom," Maybelline
Why It Didn't Work: Candace Bushnell's first scripted web series attracted well-known actresses (Jennie Garth, Jennifer Esposito) and a smart partner (More magazine) but had poor distribution strategy. Available only on a Maybelline microsite, the series has logged a middling 433,000 views to date.

"The Narrow World of Sports With Peter Mehlman," Palm Pre
Why It Didn't Work: YouTube's splashy branded-entertainment debut had a familiar host ("Seinfeld" alum Mehlman) interviewing big-name athletes, but viewers didn't latch on very quickly -- the series banked less than 1 million total views. Sponsor Palm Pre didn't have too good of a year either -- sales plunged by 29% in first quarter 2010.

"Woke Up Dead," Kodak
Why It Didn't Work: Sony's heavily hyped zombie series starring Jon Heder ("Napoleon Dynamite") started out strong with 1.4 million views in 10 days, but quickly lost viewers with a 56% drop-off in its second week and an average 6.54% decline in the weeks after. Neither sponsor Kodak nor the busy cast has signed up for a second season.

Three to watch

"The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers," Puma (Hulu)
It's "Step Up" meets "X-Men," as this new Paramount Digital series takes the medium to gravity-defying heights, courtesy of Puma. The show has routinely topped Hulu's most-viewed series since its July debut.
"Fact Checkers Unit," Samsung
Two amateur copy editors for a men's magazine enlist their Samsung phones to check the most obscure facts about guest stars such as rocker Dave Navarro, supermodel Karolina Kurkova and "Jeopardy" host Alex Trebek.
"Around the World For Free," American Airlines and AT&T
"Big Brother" and "Amazing Race" alum Jeff Schroeder takes a consumer-generated trek across the globe paying not even as much of a dime for his travels, courtesy of transportation sponsor American Airlines and communications partner AT&T.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Creative Excellence Fridays - Going wheeee all the way home with Geico

There is an advertiser's hall of fame. And I'm not going out on a limb saying that Geico will have a prominent place. I won't deny, like Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire, the accomplishments of all current members were all granola inspired, but regardless, the end result was out of the park.

Thanks this week to Reelheart film festival founder Shannon Kelly for the heads up on the latest piece of genius from Geico.

This little pig going wheeeeeeee all the way home has garnered over a million views on Youtube already.

Brilliant concept with spot on execution. Named Adweek agency of the year, The Martin Agency has created a pool of spots that are flat out funny. And more importantly have enabled Geico to develop a brand relationship that some are calling revolutionary for the product category.
If you have ever watched the Antique Roadshow on PBS, you'll do a double take at the attention to detail in this parody spot.

What many marvel at is their audacity to challenge their own brand. Rolling the gecko character in with cavemen, campy on camera announcers, and releasing a youth driven motorcycle video spot, all over the same period, might send out confusing visual signals. But somehow it all meshes together, and works.

As our shop rolls out social media strategies with clients, we are confident in saying that Geico has a strong social media commitment as well with a different social media presence for each product they represent.

We cast our vote for Geico as a future ad hall of fame member.
Have a great weekend. And as always, your comments and contributions are encouraged.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Newspaper clipping Facebook

Do coupon clippers use Facebook? Throughout North America, Walgreen's, Canadian Tire, JC Penney, Save-A-Lot, Sports Authority, Staples, and True Value intend to find out. They have been among brands recently incorporating the web version of their weekly newspaper circulars into their Facebook pages.

"The creative is the same as what appears on the retailer's website but is different than what appears in the newspaper," explained Brendan Flynn, senior director of product development for ShopLocal, which developed the Facebook app for the brands. It is owned by newspaper giant Gannett.

Coupon companies have gone online as they recognize more and more people spend more time online and less time flipping through a hard copy newspaper. Companies like www.coupons.com are trying to appeal to the same consumers who clipped. And Facebook and social media are the next logical step to created that consumer bond.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Rim makes big splash

AdAge covered the Rim new operating system launch yesterday stating that AT&T is backing Rim's Iphone killer. (article below) Meanwhile afterhours catering must be on high in Waterloo with the news that Saudi Arabia is threatening banning Blackberry's in October if they don't reveal how to unencrypt messages so the government can monitor all messaging going on in that country.

AT&T Backs BlackBerry's IPhone Killer

Goes Up Against Verizon's Bet on Android

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Verizon and AT&T have picked their horses in the next smartphone race. While Verizon has aligned with Android for its high-profile Droid phones, AT&T is backing BlackBerry.

Today, manufacturer Research in Motion launched the BlackBerry Torch exclusively on the AT&T network, and starting Thursday AT&T will launch a major marketing push from Omnicom Group's BBDO that targets BlackBerry's core business user as well as a more mass consumer audience. Consumers can expect "a lot of media weight" behind the launch, said Vance Overbey, executive director-advertising for AT&T Mobility, though he declined to disclose budget specifics.

AT&T claims "more smartphone users choose AT&T than any other carrier" and the Torch will be an important handset for the carrier if it hopes to retain that title -- especially as it may soon lose Apple's iPhone.

BlackBerry is only the latest smartphone platform to get a major marketing push. Verizon late last year in another recent carrier-backed smartphone launch spent heavily on its marketing blitz for Droid -- estimated at $100 million. And in July Verizon also backed the most recent Android handset, Droid X. Apple has dropped high-profile TV spots and outdoor for its recent releases, and Microsoft, the No. 3 smartphone platform in May, according to ComScore estimates, is poised to launch a major push for its new mobile operating system, Mobile Windows 7, this fall.

AT&T was the third biggest U.S. ad spender in 2009 across all its business units, according to Ad Age Data Center. The Dallas-based company spent nearly $2.8 billion vs. No. 2 Verizon's $3 billion last year.

David Christopher, chief marketer for AT&T Wireless, previewed the first spot for Torch at a press event in New York today. Like early spots for iPhone, the first commercial shows off the handset and its interface, but he said to expect storytelling as the campaign, which will include national TV, print, outdoor, digital and social media, continues. "You'll see more product as hero, as well as broader story work for an audience ranging from professionals to consumers," he said. The first spot was heavily AT&T branded, and bore its new tagline, "Rethink Possible," also from longtime agency BBDO.

To stop BlackBerry's slow bleed in U.S. smartphone market share, Torch will have to best Android. To date, BlackBerry's position as the U.S. smartphone market leader is slipping, while Android is gaining fast. From February to May, BlackBerry lost a small fraction of its more than 40% market share, while Google's Android jumped from 4% to 13%. Apple lost one percentage point, from 25.4% to 24.4%.

Verizon's Droid push does seem to have had an impact on Android's explosive growth. Yesterday, market research firm Canalys released a finding that Android worldwide shipments increased eight times during the second quarter. Canalys analyst Chris Jones cited Verizon's Android promotions as a driver. (It's important to note that Android phones are produced by a range of manufacturers, not just one, as is the case for the iPhone or BlackBerry handsets.)

By design, it looks like Blackberry Torch is angling to challenge the iPhone, which much to the dismay of Apple fans has had AT&T as its exclusive carrier since its launch three years ago. Torch has a touch screen and a new operating system, BlackBerry 6, which claims to be much more developer-friendly to spur app development. The phone, however, also features BlackBerry's signature keyboard to grab consumers looking for an iPhone-like experience but hesitant to leave keypad typing.

Though the question remains, why did RIM partner with AT&T for its iPhone competitor, when the carrier has proved to be that smartphone's Achilles heel?

"It may be because Verizon is more focused today on Droid as a differentiator against iPhone," said Charles Golvin, Forrester wireless principal analyst. Also, he finds RIM immune to network complaints. Dropped calls on AT&T has been largely an iPhone problem.

"Those criticisms have been extremely focused on iPhone," he said. "Despite all the negative press directed at AT&T because of iPhone user dissatisfaction, RIM hasn't experienced the same deficiencies nor had the [same] customers' complaints."

AT&T also offers Android handsets, though it has not blown out anyone with a comparable marketing program.

"As exclusivity on iPhone is preparing to lapse, it's increasingly important that AT&T be seen as more than a place for the [iPhone] and nothing else," said Mr. Golvin.