September 30, 2010

A story worth telling

Great presentation from Polle de Maagt of agency Boondoggle that shows (with a little help from a baby elephant) how transmedia storytelling is simply about creating stuff worth sharing…

September 29, 2010

iAd on iPad = Awesome

AKQA have created an iPad takeover for VISA that pushes the limit of html5. From a simple ad unit Visa are able to deliver a rich brand experience that demonstrates the product benefit in a really tangible way. Can’t wait to see more of this kind of work. It breathes a whole new life into the poor old banner. See a video demo here.

September 27, 2010

This is iAd

Apple’s iAd isn’t news but we’ve yet to see many really good examples of it in action. It will be a while before marketers put it on their list of media choices for any given campaign. In terms of creating iAds the same thought process will go into them as any other medium. You need a great idea that is relevant for the target and creatively executed so you get the results you want.

As reported on the We are Magnetic blog, Razorfish – Emerging Experiences have “started the ball rolling with their work for JCPenney. The highly interactive ad shows us some of the possibilities of what really engaging mobile advertising can become. In this ad Razorfish show us the potential of creating a mobile experience that holds the attention, engages the scenes and, along the way, allows the viewer to purchase the odd item or two”.

September 26, 2010

Week of tweets #18

It’s been a busy few weeks what with quitting my job and getting things prepared for my move to China. The biggest worry was that Twitter is blocked there but I heard that through a VPN I can still keep tweeting. So expect my regular summary of my favourite tweets to continue…

Money for nothing? NYTimes: Marketing Fanciful Items in the Lands of Make Believe

  • Amazing how easily people will part with their money. In this article we see how big brands are jumping onboard the money train too. For example, “Volvo Cars of North America, the clothing retailer H&M and MTV Networks are among the diverse brands entering the market for virtual goods — the make-believe items offered on social-networking games, smartphone apps or fantasy Internet sites”.

Thoughts on branded utility… RT @loopdiloop: RT @IATV: “The Digital Evolution of Branding”

  • Fascinating article by Nicole Armstrong showing how brands are bringing value to consumers by extending their experience and providing a “meaningful utility that is there for the customer when they need it most”.

Cool. RT @thinktank_int: Nike’s Destroyer Burrito – good example of integrating digital & experiential to create buzz

Cheers! iPad menus sell more wine… NYTimes: Choosing Wines at the Touch of a Screen

  • It could be just a short term gimmick or lead to a whole new line of low cost tablets. Right now it is certainly helping business.

Looking good… RT @adenhepburn: New Digital Buzz Post: Video: Meet The New

  • This could spell bad news for the likes of Tweetdeck but shows how Twitter has big plans to make their service more useful and intuitive for everyone.

Shame on us all 🙂 RT @nakedstudios: The Digital Agencies of the Future!

  • This made me laugh so much. Even digital agencies have yet to wake up to the fact that people might be viewing their sites on devices not supporting Flash. See the whole wall of shame here.

Nice… RT @BBHLabs: Liked: Google Creative Lab’s Ji Lee on ‘The Transformative Power of Personal Projects’

  • OK, so most of us would say that we’re too busy with work to develop personal projects like this one. But it’s amazing where they might take you…

Wow! RT @BBHLabs: Old Record Player + Stop Motion + Lights + Tron Legacy Soundtrack = Awesome –

Kim Pimmel uses old-school techniques to create something futuristic and surreal. See it in HD here.

RT @LarryTolpin: The Future of Ad Agencies – Incredible for New Hybrid Agencies – Not So Good for for Old Agencies –

  • There is so much being written right now about which breed of agency is going to survive when all others fade to black. Edward Boches always has a well-balanced view.

Finally, something to make you smile as autumn bites (if you’re in the same hemisphere as me). I’ve tweeted about both of these in the past couple of weeks and each could actually be a new ad for Ikea. One features dogs and the other cats. I know which one I’d prefer to be for IKEA. Enjoy…

Kitchen sink included

Amazing concept phone from Mozilla, the people who created the Firefox browser. Seems like anyone can imagine making a phone these days. You just have to include more functions than the other guys…

September 25, 2010

Should advertising be abolished?

So here we are, the final chapter of David Ogilvy’s book “Confessions of an Advertising Man”. The book that inspired this blog finishes with this dramatic question – Should advertising be abolished? Ogilvy quotes Churchill who said “Advertising nourishes the consuming power of men. It sets up before a man the goal of a better home, better clothing, better food for himself and his family”. A rather patronising view but spot on in a post-war era when the economy needed to grow. Yet at the time of writing the book (the early 60s) the debate was raging about the value of advertising.

Fast forward forty years and in the digital world we now live in the debate continues… but today the backlash against advertising comes from consumers who now have personal control to ban advertising themselves. From ad skipping Tivo to pop-up blockers through to spam filters – people have multiple ways to avoid being advertised to. Now we are facing a situation where our audience is no longer captive but rather it is brands that are held hostage by consumers who demand more than being told that they should buy a product to have a better life. Marketers are now forced to find new ways to reach the people who potentially could buy the product. When any negative experiences with a product can be posted online brands are being held accountable more than ever before.

Interestingly David Ogilvy showed in his book how advertising has always been a force for sustaining standards of quality and service. When his agency started advertising KLM Royal Dutch Airlines as “punctual” and “reliable”, their top management told their staff that they had to live up to the promise of their advertising. Today we see campaigns like the Domino Pizza Turnaround that allow consumers a window into their operations and shout their new values from the computer screen. Power to the people.

Ogilvy believed that TV was the most potent advertising medium ever devised but he would pay for the privilege of watching it without “commercial interruptions”. Times have changed but they stay the same. Online people enjoy free media with online news and entertainment content but hate animated ads that cover the page they are looking at. No doubt David Ogilvy would have loved Tivo allowing him to skip all the ads. Online advertisers have learned quickly that consumers will ignore their messages so have developed more engaging ways to attract attention. Branded content rewards people for their time. iAds promise to deliver a richer experience. Advergames entertain you hoping that next time you want to buy a bag of chips that you’ll choose their brand. When you want to launch a new movie a trailer just isn’t enough any more. You need to draw people into the world of the movie through transmedia “experiences”  like the multi-screen campaign that was executed for the Avatar movie across Xbox and MSN.

Ogilvy finishes by saying that advertising should not be abolished (of course) but it must be reformed. No doubt he’d be alarmed and fascinated by the digital world of today where reform is being enforced by consumer behavior. Truth and lies about brands and products are revealed by the verbal few and received by the masses on social networks, blogs and Twitter. Ultimately commerce needs communication. Brands need fans that act rather than just “like” (as pointed out in this article by Simon Mainwaring). Digital spells the end of advertising as we know it. Ads that talk at you are definitely banned. Campaigns that connect with customers in a meaningful way, that bring people together with a common brand affiliation and ultimately result in sales… that’s the kind of advertising that rings in a new way of thinking.

So I come to the end of Ogilvy’s book and as I close it I’m also on the verge of a new chapter myself. At the end of October I leave Ogilvy to take up an exciting new challenge in China where I hope to continue the digital adventure in a market where online and mobile brand communication is still relatively new. I’ll be posting my future confessions of a digital adman from a totally different perspective. It’s going to be a blast.

September 21, 2010

The Future of the Book

IDEO are constantly designing the future across every conceivable industry. Now they have turned their attention to books. With conceptual projects Nelson, Coupland, and Alice — IDEO imagines the faces of tomorrow’s book. They explore the experiences that might be created by linking diverse discussions, imagine what additional value could be created by connecting readers to one another, and look at the innovative ways we might tell our favorite stories and build communities around books.

September 17, 2010

Rise and Fall of the (digital) Adman?

Last night I watched a fascinating BBC documentary called “The Rise and Fall of the Ad Man” which, as described by the BBC, was an “insightful and witty look at the changing fortunes of British advertising with the story of the personalities who led it through its highs and lows”. It was quite timely since the Saatchis are busy celebrating their 40 years in the business and, in many ways, the story being told in the documentary seemed to reflect what is happening now with the digital revolution in advertising.

The 60s advertising scene was a backlash to the 50’s style of advertising which was run by ex-army majors where creativity took second place. Alan Parker is best known as a film director but he started out at one of the 60s and 70s leading London agencies Collett Dickenson Pearce & Partners. In the documentary he talked about the emergence of the colour suppliments of 60s which allowed ad agencies to escape from the small black & white ad in the bottom corner of a newspaper to full page glossy spreads which could now be as interesting as the content of the magazine itself. Hasn’t the web provided a creative escape for a new generation of advertising people bored with the 30 second TV ad or print advertising?

Also appearing was Frank Lowe who, talking about the 60s, said that the new generation understood TV and created ads that were often more creative than tv shows. Once again, we are seeing something similar online with branded content being a destination in itself rather than being pure advertising. We have our own new generation of creative people doing some amazing work in digital branded experiences.

Fay Wheldon is better known as an author but was a copywriter in during the boom years of advertising. She said that customers knew they being sold to but just needed to feel good about it. Not much different from today’s social media campaigns where customers become fans of brands.

One interesting comment in the documentary was about how some campaigns were so successful that TV comedy shows copied the commercials with parodies. Today anyone can parody a popular viral video hit and become one itself.

Alan Parker pointed out that the people in the business at the time were  “having fun doing it – clients loved it and business grew”. Clearly there is some of that same vibe around now in the digital ad business although not to the point of the crazy times advertising lived through in the 70s when many of the personalities lived the life of kings. Yet the 70s were also grim times in the UK and the advertising being developed represented a kind of escapism. It isn’t much different from the current world financial crisis with people seeking alternate realities in online games.

As the 70s rolled into the 80s admen branded themselves wanting to be celebrities. Peter Marsh was the worst example of this while the Saatchis took the world by storm with their creative and commercial bravery. They came to embody the greed is good 80s lifestyle.

These people were larger than life. Some said of Tim Bell, Saatchi MD at the time, that “dogs would cross road to be patted by him”. We don’t quite have the same personalities in the digital ad world today but people like Mark Zuckerberg can easily attract a panting crowd at something like the Cannes Lions.

The advertising industry didn’t look like it would stop growing. TV ads became more epic in 70s and early 80s looking more like movies.

Meanwhile Charles Saatchi fed stories to press and used Campaign magazine as springboard into the national media. Not much different than digital agencies using blogs, Twitter and Facebook to make a name for themselves today. In an interesting parallel with the Obama campaign the Saatchis  helped change politics allowing Margaret Thatcher to move into 10 Downing Street. In the documentary we see her talking at the Press Advertising Awards in 1979 saying that “it does pay to advertise”. In the same way that an ad campaign got her into power would Obama be in the Whitehouse without the ability of social media to change the mindset of the majority?

In the 80s British advertising became extravagant and indulgent… and sloppy. The people running these hugely succeful agencies wanted to be master of universe. To dominate the world. They started to believe that they could they run industry not just campaigns? In 1987 The Saatchis tried to buy Midland Bank – pure hubris as the documentary pointed out along with an ironic comment by Martin Sorell that they had “delusions of grandeur”.

Makes you think about AOL buying Time Warner at the height of the dotcom boom.

So the ad industry had become too powerful and they were put back into their box by the business world. There was just no accountability. The Saatchis suffered a drop in revenue of over US$100 million. They had to readjust and the figureheads were forced out. The bottom line took over with the business was now led by managers and accountants. It was like going back to 50s with “suits” in charge. Creatives were no longer king.

The advertising revolution that started in the 60s was over by the end of the 80s and the beancounters took over. Now we sit in the middle of a new revolution which already suffered one bust at the end of the 90s but is now stronger than every. Traditional advertising is being overrun by digital with many agencies scrambling to keep up. Google are the new Saatchis with a bloated sense of importance and value. Will the digital ad industry keep growing in the coming decade or suffer the same fate as the British ad industry in the 80s? Perhaps with a little wisdom from past experiences we can avoid the same fate.

Google boxes

Google likes to move into existing businesses and try to show how it should be done (usually destroying the companies doing it right now). Android is a work in progress and now they want to reinvent the poor neglected web banner. You can see what they are saying on the Inspiration Room blog where they have gathered together all the videos.

September 14, 2010

Books for the app generation

Stephen Fry always surprised me by his fascination with technology. Perhaps it’s the way he talks in that Dickensian way that puts him more in the 19th century rather than the 21st. But he gushes on his blog about Apple products like he’s Steve Jobs boyfriend and has more Twitter followers than Kanye West.

When it came to publishing his biography he also wanted to give it a touch of geekiness and he has done this with the app version. This interactive iPhone app lets users read his new book The Fry Chronicles using an innovative pinwheel. It uses “visual indexing” to let you read the book in an non-linear fashion. This gives you the freedom to pull together different threads from the book to read, such as people he has worked with (Hugh Laurie, Rowan Atkinson, Ben Elton) and themes in his life (addictions, Cambridge University, Blackadder, depression).

The app’s description says: “myFry takes the traditional art of the index, plugs it into the mains and brings it twitchingly to life for the 21st century.”

Will this pave the way for publishing in the hyperactive, attention-deficient world we now live in?