Friday, June 24, 2011

21st century advertising.

When I started reading Marc Ruxin's HuffPo piece entitled "The New Creative Department" I was prepared to feel dissatisfied over not having reached yet another moving goal post that defines a next gen advertising agency.

Marc posits that what marketers need in today's media and cultural landscape is "a creative team that can manufacture content in an age where news feeds, social games, Pandora, daily deals, photo sharing, on demand or time-shifted video competes with live television, magazines, movies and radio."

I agree.  And I'm also proud to say that Barrie D'Rozario Murphy is doing this every day for its clients.  When we stand up to give our credentials presentation here's what we show:
  • Mobile games to promote United's Travel Options.  (Check them out on iTunes, they've been played nine million times and counting.)
  • Station Domination take-over to help Dell connect with hard to reach IT decision makers in D.C.
  • Social media campaign for Applied Materials' burgeoning solar division.  (Follow The Sun on Twitter @TweetFromTheSun.)
  • iPad app to help Medtronic's customer-facing employees tell the corporate story.
  • Street marketing buzz gangs to launch eBikes at Best Buy.
  • QR codes for Compellent that imbue static collateral with the sight, sound and motion of customer testimonial films.
  • SMS-enabled airport banners to show video demonstrations of United Airlines' new International First and Business Class sleeper seats, as well as a microsite to help road warriors track the roll out.
  • Viral film for the Chambers Hotel that won a Gold Lion at Cannes.
  • Documentary films to capture the vitality of Del Webb's residents.
  • Rich media to allow women to design Chamilia bracelets in the unit itself.
  • And, yes, some award-winning TV and print for all our clients.
So what's the moral of the story?  First, I'm proud to partner with Bob Barrie and Stuart D'Rozario and the creative teams they lead; second, it's been my observation that those who write how the our industry needs to change must take more time to observe what successful agencies such as Goodby, Wieden, Crispin, Anomaly, etc. are already doing; finally, let's not call it "creative content" – it's advertising.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Misusing QR codes

A QR code should not be a substitute for a URL.

Used correctly, a QRC is one way to imbue offline, static communications with the brand-building power of sight, sound and motion — e.g., a link to an emotional brand video, or a provocative product demonstration, or compelling customer testimonials.  (For the record, I'm no QR fanboy.  I believe an SMS call to action is a more natural behavior for most people.  Not everyone has a barcode reader, but all know how to text.)

Use it incorrectly and you end up doing something like Medica has done, which recently wallpapered Minneapolis with its QR codes.

After a couple of weeks of curiosity (one of the secret draws of a QR) I broke down and tagged the code. Imagine my joy when it revealed a mobile site that can give me a health insurance quote. I feel this misses a QR's true potential and also overlooks the role of context in brand-building — a parking garage usually is not the place where I want a price quote on my health plan.  (Those more mundane moments in life may be the exact time to inspire me with tips and tricks to live healthier.)

If you want prospects to go to a microsite, simply give them a URL.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Groupon dissected. Merchant beware?

Here's a provocative POV on Groupon from TechCrunch - internet marketing company or small merchant loan sharking scheme?  

A few excerpts:
Groupon is not an Internet marketing business so much as it is the equivalent of a loan sharking business. The $21,000 that the business (up front) for running a Groupon is essentially a very, very expensive loan.  They get the cash up front, but pay for it with deep discounts over time.  Now here’s the crazy part.  Not only is Groupon effectively giving loans to merchants, but it also works the other way around.  The merchant is on the hook for the entire value of those deals until Groupon pays the merchant back its portion.  Unlike other loan providers, the merchant is making a short-term loan to Groupon. (Not technically, but effectively.) They buy inventory in advance of the Groupon run. They also serve the initial rush of customers. The business is in a hole before they get their 30- and 60-day Groupon payouts.

Even more interesting is the squeeze that Google Offers is putting on Groupon.
In (Groupon's payment terms), the first installment is 33% in 5 days. If they have to pay merchants faster, that could lead to problems.  And Google might force that to happen. According to Google Offers’ payment terms, merchants receive 80% of their share in 4 days—more than twice as much, 1 day earlier.  There’s no way that was an accident.  If Groupon matches these payment terms, they’ll need cash faster and need to grow faster.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Happy birthday, David Ogilvy.

David Ogilvy would have been 100 today.

I spent my formative years at Ogilvy & Mather, going there straight from Duquesne University and leaving 15 years later with a grasp of brand strategy, integrated marketing, global branding, and most importantly, the value of big creative ideas.  O&M helped me grow up professionally and personally, and I am forever grateful.

In those days Ogilvy was a "teaching hospital" – you learned while you practiced your craft.  In addition to formal training programs we were inspired by the ever-present Ogilvy-isms – a body of "how to" principles for creating effective advertising.

Even though David had long since retired to his chateau in France by the time I joined O&M, I did have one memorable encounter with the man.  We were pitching Jaguar Cars on the Friday afternoon before the Memorial Day weekend, but half the agency had left early for the long weekend.  So we created the perception of a bustling shop by moving people around the building by walkie-talkie (in the days before cell phones) as we led the clients to various pitch rooms.  In in the midst of this logistically complex pitch I heard that David Ogilvy was in town and wanted to meet the clients.  What could be better than to have the man who penned the famous Rolls Royce ads meet the gentlemen from Jaguar Cars?  David entered the final room on the walking pitch, introduced himself, and asked the clients to leave with him.  For 15 minutes, Charlotte Beers, Graham Phillips, Bill Hamilton, Rick Boyko, Kelly O'Dea and I, sat there with absolutely no clue where he had taken them (fearing that I had not only lost the pitch, but I had literally lost the clients).  We later found them huddled in David's office.  It seems David needed to pee, so he brought them to the men's room, then to his office to hear his wisdom.

We won the account – my first victory leading a pitch.

Thank you, David Ogilvy.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Shazam – The QR code of TV.

Progressive Insurance is running (testing?) TV spots that are Shazam enabled.  When I saw the spot the other day I was excited and jealous at the same time.

I love Shazam – it's a very cool music app.  Last weekend, after tagging "Pumped Up Kicks," I found myself wondering why Shazam hadn't yet positioned itself as a QR code for TV.  TV audio is just like a music track – it's all about ones and zeros.  When I later saw the spot I realized I wasn't alone in pondering this question.

Using Shazam to tag the Progressive spot downloads content from Flo, a link to get a quote, a Flo-isms app, etc.  Is Progressive the best test case of Shazam?  Not sure, but I applaud them for testing it.  It would certainly be good for a brand that needs deeper demonstrations or explanations – e.g., cars, computers, financial services, etc.