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TV is dead. We all know that. We’ve been hearing that for years, anyway, so it must be true. As everything goes “digi”, we hear a lot of conventional wisdom talk about attention spans and eye tracking and the ever-measurable click-through.
But as a creative and an instructor at the local ad school, trying both to do right by my clients’ needs, and to guide my students to push past further than today’s business realities allow, I can’t help but notice that what still gets the most “buzz” are conventional pieces that look a lot like TV.
Some clients hear the death knell of TV blowing through the pop biz books, and are relieved. While TV spots give brands the legitimacy and prestige they clamor for, they are also seen as a tremendous drain on the ad budget– which they are. TV costs money. Media costs money. Talent costs money (and I don’t just mean the monkeys in front of the camera). Despite what that guy at the cocktail party in the black turtleneck says, YouTube and Red Cameras do not mean good quality TV gets a whole lot cheaper. Then the obvious question is Why produce TV when Twitter costs literally $0? I’m not going to answer that, because I respect you.
So TV moves to the Web. It gets longer. Or shorter. But mostly longer. (I was shown a study yesterday claiming the ideal length for online video is between 30 and 90 seconds. Content is a little in the grey area, but for optimum ROI, there is apparently a running time.)
This month, the world went crazy for Nike’s World Cup spot. As of Sunday night, in less than three weeks, more than 12 million people had watched it on YouTube alone. I have it on good authority it’s the spot that both the agency and the client are going to put down as their crown jewel for the year. Though personally, as I’m not much of a futbol fan but I am a giant nerd, I’m partial to Adidas’s work that launched last week just in time for kickoff. Both the Nike and Adidas spots are over two minutes, and clearly cost a boatload of money. And I don’t hear anybody complaining about attention spans, and I’ll bet come awards season, we’ll be seeing them again.
Can you do awesome long format video that doesn’t require the expense of David Beckham sitting down with Greedo at George Lucas’s house? Sure. As kinetic and absorbing and “spectacular” as the Nike spot is, I was much more moved by the 12 minutes I spent with Mother’s Docu-sponsory™ (I’m coining that) for Stella beer, UP THERE. It’s beautiful, moving, and probably cost what 2 seconds of the Nike spot cost. And it made me thirsty.
Here at Kilgannon, the agency recently produced some long-format work for Manheim. You can see it here, and you can read a much better explanation of it here. We’re pretty proud of it, and we think it’ll pull pretty hard for them. And as I sit here typing this, I’m looking at casting tapes for a TV spot. Yes, an actual TV spot that will run on that black rectangle in your living room. It’s not dead yet.
– Devon Suter, VP, Group Creative Director
I was checking out “60 Minutes” online the other day. After enjoying the much-anticipated Conan O’Brien interview, I saw another story that caught my eye. This one was about Chef Josè Andrès. Chef Andrès is world-renowned for his avant-garde approach to cuisine and is regarded as the father of molecular gastronomy. Being a foodie, I was instantly intrigued.
From the first phrase that came out of the chef’s mouth, I could tell there was something different about him. He spoke with such respect and child-like curiosity about everything about his profession, from the simplest of ingredients to the science behind the discipline of cooking itself. I found myself completely engaged just listening to him talk about something as simple and seemingly inconsequential as a pineapple.
It wasn’t even really what he was saying, it was the way he was speaking about his craft. You could just feel his commitment to making sure people have fun with his food and, more importantly, experience food in an entirely different way. He is an innovator, an innovator whose vehicle just so happens to be food.
After watching his story, I started thinking. What is the common thread that runs through innovators of any industry? It’s quite simply passion. Passion for what you do and passion for what you make. It’s not just about making “stuff.” It’s about breaking things down to their simplest form and building them back up in new and unusual ways. And you do this, not because you have to, but because it’s a part of you and because you couldn’t picture yourself doing anything else.
Passion not only applies to four-star chefs, it applies to everyone and everything. Whether you’re a multinational corporation talking about your brand to the masses or a janitor who swells with pride over the cleanest floors in town, passion leads with a higher purpose. I dare you to not feel good after hearing someone passionately talk about what they do. It’s nearly impossible. That’s because enthusiasm is infectious. It opens the mind to rethinking things it may have thought it had all figured out.
Passion gives an invigorated point of view.
Passion drives its possessor.
And passion, ultimately, inspires its audience.
Your company may be an industry leader, but not necessarily a thought leader. According to commentator Elise Bauer, a distinguishing characteristic of a thought leader is “the recognition from the outside world that the company deeply understands its business, the needs of its customers, and the broader marketplace in which it operates.”
Does your company measure up? Here’s a quick test to help you determine whether or not your company is a thought leader:
If your company has not reached “thought leader” status yet, here are six steps you can take to help achieve that goal:
Establish a plan, set up a reasonable timeline and stick to it. The payoff will be worth it. Not only will the exposure help your company’s bottom line, but you are likely to see a boost in company morale and an increase in the number of qualified employee candidates in the pipeline.
– Debbie Dryden, VP Thought Leadership
Have you ever been really nervous before or during a big presentation? I mean WTF; that’s Why The Fear, to my texting buds following along. What is it about “presenting” that causes the um… sweaty palms, um…tremors and the um…stttutttterrring?
Was your preparation substandard? Doubtful. If you’re a nervous presenter, you’ve likely rehearsed and know your material inside and out, so that shouldn’t be the problem.
Are you afraid of being judged by the audience, who are likely your peers and/or clients? Possibly, but remember that your peers are in your corner and have been there before, and your clients hired you for the expertise you’re about to expound. Own it.
Maybe you’re afraid of being put on the spot without an answer, like Miss Teen South Carolina.
Or how about thinking you’re prepared, but just a little too nervous, like this best man.
Perhaps really flubbing up over and over and over, like this broadcaster.
Yikes. Colossal blunders, don’t you think? But guess what. Each presenter survived to present again, so relax, and thus the moral of the blog. You will survive.
If you were reading this for tips or tools to be a better presenter, you’re reading the wrong article. But the next time you’re preparing for your big presentation, maybe you’ll smile, think WTF, and remember it could be worse….well, hopefully, for your sake.
– Gary Sayers, Account Director
As a relatively new member of the seemingly elite “I own an iPhone” club, I am still discovering the joys (and challenges) of owning such a life-changing device. And no, I do not think “life-changing” is an overstatement — buy one, you’ll see. On a daily basis I am uncovering the hottest apps, pushing my personal status updates across various networking sites, reading news feeds about the economy’s latest mishap, downloading music, purchasing movie tickets…the list goes on. This thing has integrated itself into my life beyond the realm of a typical cell phone, and I may be slightly obsessed. However, it wasn’t until recently, when a friend encouraged me to read this article from the Huffington Post, that I realized “obsessed” may be a slight understatement. Seven words in, and I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty: iPhone Turns Users Into Junkies, Study Finds.
My initial reaction to the piece was to put up my defenses. Erroneous! I’m no junkie, no addict! But as time passed and I rattled off reasons to justify my “non-addiction”, I began to feel unconvinced. You see, I am one of those users you frown upon as I navigate the aisles of Publix with one hand on the cart, the other furiously typing away. I’m one of those users who sits down to watch a previously recorded television show, yet always has one eye on that little handheld screen. And though I am strongly opposed to texting while driving, I still get excited to hear that little beep en route, and upon putting the car in park sprint into response mode at full speed ahead. And these are just a few examples. So, I have finally come to terms with and accepted the reality of my situation: My name is Beth, and it is quite possible that I am an iPhone junkie.
But is that necessarily a bad thing? I must believe that I am not the only, nor even the first, to ultimately accept and embrace being eternally bound to a piece of plastic with internet access. The evidence is clear in what so many businesses are doing these days to promote their brands to “addicts” like me. I’m not watching live television like I used to, and skipping commercials as a result. My eyes and attention are glued to the screen, and not to your indoor signage all over the MARTA cars. I’m not surfing the Web and reading banner ads as traditionally as I used to. But, it doesn’t mean I’m not getting exposed to the same product information and messaging as those who are.
For example, I can’t play a game on my phone without first seeing a screen advertising Tim Burton’s new movie, or the hottest shoes to hit the courts since Air Jordans. Searching for a simple dinner recipe prompts my phone to ask me if I want to download The Food Network mobile app or receive 10% off a Martha Stewart cookbook. Companies big and small are making moves to embrace the reality that many of their best consumers are part human, part smartphone. Their marketing efforts are tailored to reach us mobile addicts in a variety of ways; and though I cannot quote anything verbatim, I know there is research out there to prove their efforts are paying off. Each day I discover new and interesting things on this device, and each day I am exposed to new and interesting methods of advertising. The possibilities are infinite.
I applaud the brands that have gone the extra mile to make their advertising more mobile-friendly, and challenge those who have not gotten there quite yet to also embrace this reality and tailor their efforts accordingly. There is still plenty of room on the bandwagon; we hope you’ll join us soon!
– Beth Madigan, Account Executive
Timing is everything. And while I fully endorse capitalizing on opportunities to sell a customer another product or service, particularly when you have them on the phone, or in the store, doing so when that customer is extremely annoyed with you is… how shall I put this… NOT SMART.
Take my recent encounter with a leading satellite provider, for example. In the short time I have been a customer, I have experienced three multiday service disruptions. Most recently during the season premiere of LOST (which made me even more unhappy). So let’s just say my sentiments toward this particular company are not favorable at the moment.
But that’s not something I can blame on the poor customer-service rep who happened to receive my troubleshooting call. It was all going fine at first. I explained the problem. She walked me through the steps to try and resolve it. She was cordial and professional. I was cordial back.
Until she chose that moment to try to sell me another product, no doubt following the script she was handed. A product that would protect me from having to pay more money if they had to come out to make the service actually work. I don’t think so! I’m actually quite proud of how I handled it, as I did not take it out on her, though I did tell her that she didn’t have a happy customer on her hands, and that trying to sell me something new was not well timed.
Her response? “I can appreciate that, ma’am. But don’t you think…” etc.
Moral of the story:
1) Train your front lines to think. Not just follow a script.
2) Make sure they understand that it’s way cheaper to keep a current customer than it is to acquire a new one.
3) Equip them to choose their moments wisely. Lest they meet up with a customer far less cordial than I.
– Ellen Repasky, Account Director
One of the more popular urban legends is how the Chevrolet Nova sold poorly in Spanish-speaking countries because “no va,” in Spanish, literally translates to “it does not go.” Despite whether or not this story is true, or really just a legend, the moral behind the story is still as relevant as ever. Poor representation of your brand will greatly affect your sales.
I was not as disappointed with the commercials during the 2010 Super Bowl as in previous years. I commented on the smart ones, chuckled at the funny ones, and made fun of the ones that just fell flat. However, one that I believe has poorly represented its brand was Audi.
When I watched the “green” Audi commercial the first time, I thought it to be a smart approach — tackling the eco-friendly automobile industry. However, it wasn’t until the following Monday where I was reminded that the “green police” was another name for Hitler’s Police during World War II. The Green police were at the heart of numerous deportations, ghetto-clearing operations, and massacres.
So I watched it again. And perhaps I am being too sensitive, but I found it incredibly distasteful. The way the police showed up at the store arresting the consumer on the counter for choosing a plastic bag, or taking someone out of their home for using the wrong kind of light bulbs – all while having a re-recorded version of Cheap Trick’s “Dream Police” as “Green Police” playing in the background. Was it not hypocritical to be wasting water by pouring it out of bottles simply because they were plastic? It just reminded me of the cruelty of the Nazis simply because they were in positions of power.
To make it even worse, Audi is a German company, owned by Volkswagen. I realize that the point wasn’t to make light of the Holocaust or even to try and emulate Hitler’s Police of the 1940s, but there is a much better way to portray your new eco-friendly, “green” automobile. How Audi approved such a concept is beyond me, but their ad agency should have done their research and been more sensitive.
All brands should be perceptive as to how to represent their brand. And German brands like Audi and Volkswagen, should know better than to associate with the “Green Police” 65 years after World War II. This misrepresentation is as bad as telling Spanish-speaking people that your vehicle simply “no va.”
– Jonathan Ginburg, Account Executive
The usual suspects made their appearance in yesterday’s Super Bowl, and I’m not talking about Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne. There were the expected Budweiser and Bud Light Super Bowl spots, as well as a few spots from E*TRADE that could make anyone chuckle. One thing seemed new, however. There were a few good car spots, two of which ended up in my Super Bowl XLIV top 10. To see some of these favorite spots, just click on the link.
Anyone who watches football on a weekly basis is used to seeing the typical Ford F-150, “look how much weight I can pull up a ramp” or “check out our great lease price on a Toyota Camry” spots. However, this Super Bowl lineup was different for a few automobile makers. KIA, Audi and Dodge took a right turn at Humorous and Light-Hearted, and may have broken the mold for automobile commercials.
KIA’s stuffed animals road trip was an instant classic, with a late reveal of the KIA Sorento only after the vehicle’s toy inhabitants had gotten a taste of life, road-tripping the country with a stop in Vegas.
Audi struck a chord with their Green Police clean diesel spot. It was a very timely, cute spot that could draw a hush across any Super Bowl party. The end button of the Green Police pulling over a cop for drinking out of a foam cup seals the deal and gives it a place in this year’s top 10.
And finally, while the Dodge and Volkswagen spots didn’t exactly make my top 10, they still made a departure from the standard car spot. Dodge employed the stereotypical, “look what the guy has to do for his wife to let him have a Charger.” Stereotypical for a beer spot maybe, but not for an automobile spot, which is why I give Dodge credit.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen made me reminisce for a minute with their Punch Dub spot, ending nicely with a clever Stevie Wonder/Tracy Morgan cameo.
What did these four automobile spots have in common that made them stand out and receive a thumbs up? They used humor and had a nice reveal. I didn’t have to watch 30 seconds of smiling family driving through the city, desert or on a winding road by the sea. Nice. Maybe these four brands will pave the way for automobile companies down the road.
With that, my top 10 Super Bowl XLIV spots below. Feel free to agree, disagree or send along your top 10.
– Gary Sayers, VP Account Director