I just got my first “fan” on Digg.com which is pretty pathetic because I’ve been a member of Digg for a really long time (relatively speaking). I love Digg.com I think that it is a prototype everything the “new web” idealists are striving for. So, you can imagine my horror when I found that my “fan” was just some ass-clown spammer. I was surprised by my own reaction…I was genuinely angry and immediately wrote a couple of emails to the Digg people.
Using a social news website is a really rewarding experience (if such a thing can be said for reading the news these days). The democratization and like mindedness of the information culture on Digg is refreshing (and by like mindedness I mean most everyone gets why Digg is a good thing and why mixing it into your menu of information sources is a good thing, not that everyone has a particular point of view on news/politics/culture/technology/anything else). Spammers using a platform like this is disconcerting but also a sign that the phase of early adoption is over, this is almost like a rite of passage. The soul-less marketing forces that dominate the Internet have taken notice and now are attempting to take advantage. I only hope that the innovative thinkers, and the group mentality helps to curb this behavior and make it unprofitable for spammers to use. When marketers of any size, mentality, or motivation infringe on consumer space without permission everyone loses. So, no Tony_G I’d rather you not be my fan on Digg or anywhere else and tell your friends that I’m not interested in replica watches they keep telling me about in my work email.
In his usual fashion the face of facebook Mark Zuckerberg announced new advertising offerings on the website that will help to put the services price in perspective. I could go into each one of the aspects in detail but I’m not sure I fully understand how each one of them works…at least I hope they aren’t as flat, shortsighted, and generally ill-conceived as I think that they are. I personally feel like there is a lot of fleshing out that needs to happen for all three of these ideas to be revolutionary or even viable. But i guess that’s the good thing about putting my thoughts down here. I can look back in 6 months or a year and see if I was right or wrong.
That aside I find it pretty interesting the different takes people have on the news. Old media (ad age, NY Times) seems to see the move with cautious optimism and have chosen for the most part to follow the logic Zuckerberg without pointing out many of the flaws in the logic. I think that these media outlets are looking at the track record of facbook and giving the guys the benefit of the doubt (I mean the newsfeeds worked out pretty well). However, the cautious optimism disappears if one looks at expert takes in the field which are few and far between. One of my favorite sites Techdirt has taken pains to point out that there is a lot to be desired in the facebook advertising model. Everyone (including people much smarter than me on the matter) has an opinion about the facebook model however the way in which people talk about the move seems to depend a lot on their general media perspectives. I’m getting the sinking feeling that there may be two Internets (to borrow an idea from John Edwards). These two Internets have nothing to do with the haves and the have nots like the two Americas. No, they are the paradigm that we bring to the table rightly or wrongly based on our own experiences and comfort with the web in general. One view is that of old media giants and the moguls of traditional advertising where the Internet is scary, because what matters isn’t how much money you have or your overall share of voice. The Internet to them looks like it plays by a whole new set of rules so they don’t really know what to do with it. Its a scary place because of the democratization of content distribution and a much more even playing field when it comes to ownership due to the fact that the barriers to entering into the communications game are so low. This isn’t good for companies that are used to being the biggest if not the only game in town. But are all the notions really true? I think that the fundamentals of interactive advertising aren’t as different as the old media stalwarts would believe.
The other view of the Internet is that of the people who are in no way intimidated by the web. They barley flinch when “YOU” are chosen as person of the year or Facebook decides to monetize itself in new and maybe not so smart ways. They bring a steady viewpoint to the online happenings that can set off some of the old media giants into full on defcon 4. Its not that they are right all the time but overall sites like TechDirt, Clickz, and podcasts like This Week in Tech (TWiT) and Diggnation seem to do a much better job of explaining the heart of things way better than the guys who’ve been doing it for decades. It is true that there is a revolution going on, it has less to do with what Facebook is doing and more to do with how people are reacting to it and talking about it.
The video below is a focus group for a barely refreshed (only a tag at the end that points to a new product) version of one of the greatest TV commercials ever made. When Lee Chow’s vision and Steve Hayden’s words were put together by director Ridley Scott (who’d just finished “Blade Runner”) one of the most talked about commercials in Super Bowl history was made. The spot was so powerful that Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak (my favorite executive of all time) offered to pay for the commercial to run during the Super Bowl when the board of directors threatened to bury it. In the end Apple decided to go against the recommendation and run the ad but only once nationally (it ran one other time to qualify for an award on a local tv station). So now that we have some background information I’d like to point out some initial thoughts that I have about this particular video.
1. Let me say first that I think using focus groups as a way to approval for advertising ideas is a really really bad idea. Focus groups do have their place (a good topic for another post) but this definitely isn’t one. Especially an ad that is as visually compelling as this one.
2. This is a great gimmick that was definitely played to the right audience at a creative awards show…really funny, point taken.
3. This commercial cannot be adequately appreciated unless taken in the proper context. A context that is completely missing in this focus group. Let me expound:
In 1983 most computers were made by IBM. In fact the basis for the commercial is showing what life would be like without an alternative. The IBM PC world was Orwellian but Apple was the savior. It is pretty safe to say that no one sitting in that room during that focus group was thinking about the commercial in the context of 1983 and that context is part of what makes “1984” so brilliant. Not only was it the most visually compelling and provocative ad that’s ever run during the Super Bowl, it was also the touchstone/launching point of the Apple brand as we know it today. Without “1984” we wouldn’t have the brilliance that Apple is making today. I believe that is part of the reason why ad geeks (myself included) has crowned this spot king. It was a great commercial when it was shown the first time because it was so visually arresting but also because it was making a valid point. I in no way want to take anything away from the brilliance of the ad, but it should be pointed out that the terms of the computer wars are not what they once were. Apple now has an upper hand from the standpoint of mass communicating their brand that they did not have back then.
Maybe this is a huge over think…but that’s alright its just a blog.
The new Halo 3 spots are outstanding. It isn’t often that a series of video games is as successful as the Halo series has been, but it also isn’t often that the advertising is just as good. I was talking with a non-gamer who really enjoys the artistry and the idea of the ad. For someone that is actually into the Halo series and understands the imagery this ad is dead on. The entire Believe campaign can be seen on YouTube if you like this one I would definitely check it out.
I guess there isn’t really a need to have a big “this is my first post” post because I feel like those are useless and if you really want to know more about what this is about click on the link that says “Who Do I Think I Am?” at the top of the page. So here we go…
I’m giving a presentation to a group of interns from all the major advertising disciplines at our agency later this month. I seem to be doing this more and more often where I work. We have a canned deck entitled “Account Planning 101” and I’m not sure if its been updated since the late 90’s, so I feel like we’re overdue for an “Account Planning 101 v2.” With this in mind I had a couple of conversations with others in the agency concerning what exactly it is a planner’s job is and how it can be adequately explained to a college student who probably has very little education concerning our posts at agencies. One thing that I did want to share (and I can’t adequately cite it but this is not my idea at all) is a vin diagram that doesn’t do a great job of explaining our job a-z or even on a task oriented basis. It does however show a really good reason for us being around. I hope to work it into my presentation.
Commerce is pulling in a way to make money and an ad/strategy/big idea can be sometimes too concerned with selling to make money. Art is pulling in a different direction which is also not a great place to be on the fringe of if we are in fact trying to do the business of branding and overall of selling something. The middle is where I think a planner has to have his or her mind dead set on hitting.
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