Monday, April 30, 2007

Google Gets into the Radio Business

So the folks at Google now want to help you create, plan and place your radio ad campaign. Google Audio Ads lets you create radio ads, set a budget to air them, pick your geographies, the time of day the ads run, and the radio station format (i.e., country, adult contemporary) that they run on.

This is all part of the democratization of communications. Now anyone can make a video and share it on YouTube. Anyone can build a website. And, as this very site proves, anyone can have a blog.

This isn't new. Pagemaker brought desktop publishing to the masses in the 1980s. It was going to mean the end of design firms everywhere with it's simple templates.

Audio ads should help certain people without a lot of money get on the radio. And marginal advertising is, I suppose, a bit better than no advertising. SpotRunner does the same for TV advertising. It's a good thing, truly, to have this option. The average TV spot made today costs over $300,000 just to make it!

Democracy is good. But for most clients, having professional help should pay for itself.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Cup-le of clever out-of-home campaigns

One my earliest posts on this blog was about a Starbucks campaign using magnetic cups attached to car roofs. Now it seems that others are using coffee cups in clever new ways.

DDB Canada has this design for their client Toronto Plastic Surgery. The coffee drinker, with the help of a mirror, can try on a new nose while they sip a latte. Clever clutter busting creative.

The folks at Wrigley's have a similar fun campaign, this time with stickers on the bottom of the coffee cups. Maybe more appropriate at Halloween, huh?

One of my favorite sites, the Coolhunter, found these...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

How "We" Marketed the "Wii"

The Nintendo Wii is an amazing new gaming system--and a blockbuster product. Try to find it in any store and it will be sold out (I FINALLY got one, tonight, after looking casually since Christmas...And just for the record, it's great...). But what's really cool is how they marketed it. Some key things:

  • They used advertising to go after older, non-traditional gaming markets, including seniors.
  • The didn't advertise at all to "gamers". To reach them, they gave systems to key bloggers and let them write about them. They set up Wii MySpace and YouTube sites and they did heavy public relations.

This is marketing in a Web 2.0 world. In essence, "we" all marketed the Wii. It's also "convergence marketing". Part of that is giving up control of your message (who knew what the bloggers were going to actually say???). But the return in 3rd party credibility and buzz is amazing.

Their YouTube video, shown below, as of right now has been watched 1,295,711 times! And the media budget for that extensive media buy? Nothing of course.

This is great, holistic, converged marketing. And great outside the box thinking. Business 2.0 has a fascinating piece on how the product came to life. Read it here.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Advertising on Second Life

"They paved paradise...and put up a parking lot."

There have been lots of articles written about Second Life. If you're into these kind of marketing, gaming, technology trends, you no doubt know about it. And, you may know that marketers like Virgin are already discovering it, opening stores in this virtual world, selling downloads, and making real money. (152 individual users made more than $5,000 in real money by doing business in Second Life in the month of March alone!)

The future of that world is crystal clear.

  • Early adopters come in and create an economy;
  • Some clever marketers see an opportunity to extend their brand into this world, many think it's funny, clever, good thinking;
  • Less clever marketers start to come in. The humor of it all goes away;
  • Every two-bit marketer finds a way to extend into Second Life, the users go away;
  • The buzz fades, the "citizenry" shrinks but doesn't disappear. Marketers go away (mostly) and Second Life continues smaller, less hyped.
It seems a little sad to me on the one hand. On the other, it seems like the natural order of things. We find a new place and we all rush there, transforming it. Just a cautionary tale for those who would make millions in their alternative universe.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Making Money On Tragedy

There's been more than enough debate about whether NBC News should've aired the "manifesto" of the gunman. It's clear to me that they should not have done so. I have no connection to the school and I'm angry that I have to see that twisted loser's face on TV, on my newspaper, on my homepage...

It was clearly about $$. No doubt. Want further proof that the media is cashing in on a hot news cycle. The AP reported that respected outlets like the New York Times and CNN are buying Google Ad Words for phrases like "Virginia Tech Shooting." Clearly, that tragedy is a marketing opportunity for them--a chance to extend their brand positioning.

I'm all for creative, outside the box thinking about marketing tactics. I'm all for looking at current events to see how your product aligns with those, can capitalize on those. But at some point, did nobody in those marketing departments stop for a minute and say, "Hey, maybe this is not the moment we capitalize on a brand opportunity. Maybe we just let this one pass. We're still the dang NY Times, it's not like people will forget us if we don't have our AdWords up this week.

Ridiculous. Have we lost our compass by that much? I've included no links to those pubs, as they don't deserve the reward.

And now, a gunman at NASA killed a hostage and himself. Does NBC share the blame in some small way? Will CNN buy AdWords?

The most logical piece I've seen on all this is from Peggy Noonan. You can read it here.

Back to more traditional posts tomorrow.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Powerful Social Marketing Message

The company I work for does a lot of social marketing, and I think we're pretty good at it. Done properly, social marketing uses the best practices of marketing to issues. In many cases, however, you can go well beyond traditional marketing, because building the "brand" isn't as important in most cases as raising awareness of the issue.

Here's a great campaign for the Traffic Police in Mumbai, India that uses a special invisible red ink that is only activated when it gets wet. Wow.

Found at Houtlust

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Absolutely Brilliant Outdoor

The key to good creative is narrowing your message down to one simple thing. If you can do that, and you have a good team, you'll get good creative. (Those are, by the way, pretty big "ifs".)

Here's an example of a campaign where they got it right: done for the Red Cross and running in San Francisco:

It doesn't have to say much of anything. A really powerful reminder of why you give to the Red Cross. It just takes something most people don't have: a narrow focus and a willingness to get outside and think...

Props again to Coolhunter for finding this.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Clever Doesn't Always Equal Smart

So you own a bank in Turkey and you want to get your billboard noticed. How about putting a fake cop car under the billboard? That will surely get it noticed...

When you get to the fine print on the billboard (which you can now conveniently read because you slowed down), you realize that the payoff is: "Pay your traffic tickets on time without waiting in line."

Ok, that's clever. But it's a questionable strategy when the first thing each person thinks about your company is: "Oh, those asses..."

Props to Coolhunter for sniffing this out.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Low Budget Doesn't Mean Low Impact

Here's a great example of a local glasses store doing some smart marketing with a simple Polaroid.

Not high dollar, but creative, because they thought about what is impacting their customer's buying decisions and helped them along with it. They went from a store to a fashion partner, for about $39.99 and a couple rolls of film. Nice work.

My friend Rekha told me about this optical shop up at Harvard Square called Eye Q Optical. They recognize that choosing the right frames can be a difficult job. They do a smart thing. They take a Polaroid snapshot of you with the glasses on so that you can show it to your friends and see what they think. Word of mouth by design.

I've always loved the Polaroid experience and how instant printing changes the entire routine and protocols of picture taking. It's a great marketing tool, too, whose novelty is based on its obsolescence. Polaroids have been used in bar promos forever, the company's site even has a Diageo case study about it. The company also sells branded instant film, in case you are interested.
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Keep Spinning Until The Idea Comes

What a fabulous idea for casino marketing. For a casino that is located (I believe) in Europe, came this great piece of out-of-home advertising:

What I really like about this is that the agency didn't just think of the standard tactics and choose among them. They invented a whole new tactic. I can imagine the fun of picking a number (or red/black, or even/odd) to guess for your luggage.

Great idea. Courtesy of disruption, which is written in some foreign tongue...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

MSNBC's Clever Use of RSS

Most people I know still don't know what an RSS Feed even is, even when they are using them. Maybe that's a good thing.

But now the folks at MSNBC have come up with a clever, fun way to incorporate RSS into their pages. Called "NewsBreaker", it's the old "Breakout" or "Bricks" game, but several of the bricks have MSNBC headlines hidden in them. They fall when you break those bricks.

Neat idea. And get this... They are going to take it one step further, by doing a version in movie theaters, where the paddles is controlled by the audience collectively leaning left and right. Now that's really cool...

Friday, April 13, 2007

Scary-Good Marketing

What a great idea for promoting a creepy-spooky video game. Hand out disposal cameras with ghosted images already exposed on the film! Great stuff.

Game Promo Uses Camera, "Ghosted" Film

It's one of those campaigns I wish I'd thought of first: a promo for a PlayStation 2 game "Forbidden Siren 2" last year in Germany during a game con. They have created branded snapshot cameras loaded with ghosts on a pre-exposed film that appeared on the printed pictures given away to visitors. More pictures at I Believe in Advertising (and so do I).

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Tivo and Amazon Strike Interesting Deal

The folks at Tivo seem to be breaking new ground again. With the Amazon Unbox, you can download movies (for rent or purchase) online and have them sent right into your Tivo box over your home network. This is a beautiful alignment with their brand positioning, which positions Tivo as TV on your schedule.

Ok, obvious limitations here. You've got to have a new Tivo, you've got to have a home network, you've got to spring for the service.

But it is cool. And it's convenient. And it takes a step out of the process of renting/buying/watching movies. So this is new ground.

And from a marketing perspective, it's further truth that the power is switching away from the marketer, away from the channel and to the consumer. That's impacting all of us at different rates, but it is a seismic shift. It's a nice idea for Amazon, too.

And Now, A Word From Our Sponsor

What's old is new again. Single sponsor television programming is coming back, according to an article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Remember the "Toast of the Town" (which became the Ed Sullivan Show), sponsored by Emerson Radios? No, neither do I, but I've heard clips.

Now ABC News is doing it one day a week as an experiment. And their ratings actually went up each time they did it.

The problem of course is that only folks like Ford have the money to pull off full sponsorships nationally. There's not a lot of room at any level for smaller budget people to use this strategy. But for the rich advertisers, this is an interesting experiment. And an experiment best done by established brands.

This idea, like so many others, is a response to Tivo. The better response, of course, is finding a way to deliver content when someone is looking to buy. In the meantime, it will be interesting to watch this develop.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Coin Operated Man Breaks Through Clutter

Here's a great non-traditional tactic. It seems the folks at Australian advertising agency Cummins & Partners designed a campaign for MS Australia. It features a "scientist" played by a volunteer who performs "research", but only when someone deposits money in a container under his glass box.

What an amazing idea. Great for consumer shows, great for malls. And, most important, the idea is **gasp** on strategy. Because it leaves people with the exact message that MS Australia wants conveyed. "Without your donation, research will stop." In case you run the risk of missing the message, they printed it in big letters just under where you put your donation.

According to Carolyn Davis, art director on the account, the booth is raising $100 an hour and people are encouraging one another to put money in to keep the research going. And the scientists are played by volunteers, meaning there is no cost for the campaign beyond the cost of the box. Brilliant. Just brilliant.

It's getting some good buzz around the blogosphere, with links like this:

It deserves the buzz. Low budget, high impact and on message. Wish I'd thought of it...

Monday, April 9, 2007

Let's Remember: Good Creative Works

"Let's have Abe Lincoln, and a beaver playing chess. Sad that their insomniac can't visit them anymore because he can't sleep. The ads will really pull people in!"

You've seen the ads. They've gotten critical praise. They're for Rozerem, a new sleep aid. Here's the problem. According to Business 2.0, they've spent $110 million advertising the drug, and sold about $76 million worth of pills. That's a losing equation to be sure.

The big problem here is either (a) the creative brief (which outlines the strategy that the ad is supposed to reflect) was bad, or (b) the creative team ignored the strategy in their glee over their "clever" idea.

But here's the thing: Rozerem really IS different. It's the first sleep aid that doesn't have a risk of being habit forming. So why didn't the commercials focus on that? The ads are so weird, so "clever" that when you finally get the joke, you realize it's for a sleep aid. But THAT's not the point. The point is you can finally take one without the risk of addiction.

A good campaign would have left that key message in the minds of a potential consumer instead of confusing people. The agency that developed the campaign, Cramer-Krasselt, really missed the mark on this one. Whether it's the client's fault, the agency's fault, or a bit of both, we'll never know.

You can watch one of the ads here:

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Air Travel: The Game's About to Change

Did you see that South Park episode, where they invent a new flying machine? When you use it, it does terrible things to you. But everyone who uses it says, "Well, it's still better than flying commercial."

Well, Business 2.0 has an article that shows exactly how air travel is going to change. And when there's a game changer, there's a huge marketing/branding opportunity. Basically, we have a bunch of factors coinciding at once:

  • Air travel is increasingly onerous and, until something changes, it will only get worse;
  • Flights on airlines cost more and more, and the pricing is nuts, so nobody can figure out what they should pay; and
  • These new airplanes make "air taxis" financial practical for the first time.
These won't be for everyone. But three people going on a business trip? It will be either cheaper, or about the same, to take one of these flights. Minus two hours of nonsense on either end.

Who will be the Cingular/Starbucks/Coke of this business?

~Jim Tobin

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Consider positioning, body and soul

Earlier, we were talking about how you need to position against something. Too often people look at how they want to be perceived, but the audience needs to compartmentalize you as "something," so help them do that. Not just as the great car for anyone, for example, but as the luxury car or the affordable car, or the safe car.

This is particularly hard to do in health care marketing. Here's an example where it was done really well--and not just because my agency did it. One hospital in the market is running basically a scare campaign saying, "If you don't have one of our doctors, you're taking a risk."

We helped St. John Health, our client, on the other hand, position as more than fixing the health crisis, but fixing the person body and soul. This is supported in many ways, not the least of which is the fact that they are a faith based organization. The result has been getting a lot of praise, in newspapers, on radio talk shows and more.

Because when you position against something, you get interesting creative. When you position as everything in your field, you get plain vanilla marketing, even when you do it well. Because they didn't do vanilla, they ended up with a great ad--enough to make a Rocky Road for their competitors...

If you like that spot as much as I do, watch the complementary spot on cardiac care running in the same market: