The Consumer Is Not Your Employee

I just read an open letter to the advertising community from a man in his late 20’s. Basically, he asked the industry to stop making him work so hard to buy their stuff. After all, he’s busy juggling a job and family. He doesn’t need another job. He wants information and an easy way to purchase.

Is his complaint a one off? Is he a kook, disgruntled, unhappy? I don’t think so. In fact, I think he reflects a growing opinion that we need to pay close attention too.

Just a year ago, P&G rocked the ad industry when they announced they were going to allocate 30% of their entire ad spend to digital and social outlets to better target consumers. A year later they reported a decline in sales of 8%. They concluded that their practice had limited effectiveness and are now shifting money back toward television.

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Not many people are talking about this, but that doesn’t surprise me. The industry that invented value in likes, shares, interactivity (if that’s a word), engagement and conversations, would never acknowledge a ‘conversation’ that would threaten its very existence. They have, however, spent millions of dollars and years slamming traditional advertising.  No surprise there. Remember, this is the same industry that tells us Millennials don’t want to be sold to but are certain they want to be brand ambassadors. Hmmm…

I also realize it’s fairly idealistic to think new marketing practices will change anytime soon.  Unfortunately, it’s going to take more P&Gs and more consumer complaints. When it hurts enough, we’ll change.

Until then, we’ll remain addicted to complication. We’ll make people watch things, make things, share things, comment on things, engage with things, interact with things, post things and re-post things.  But we won’t ask them to just go buy things. It’s as if we’re sitting in some secret diabolical little back room somewhere laughing our asses off at ‘what we made them do this time.’ (Insert evil laugh here.)

The entertainment space (that I work in) is just as guilty as anyone in this practice. For example, I saw a few promos for a new show. The spots were great and they got me hooked. I couldn’t wait to check the show out. Then, about 8 minutes into the premiere, they put up a lower third graphic asking viewers to check out a web-site about the show. They literally used the word “NOW” in their graphic. As in, stop watching this show and go to this site instead. I scratched my head. Seriously?  You spent all this time and money getting me to check out your show and now you want me to do something else? Can I just watch the show please?

Am I suggesting we abandon social and digital channels altogether? Absolutely not! There are millions of eyeballs glued to certain sites and apps. It would be foolish not to take advantage of them IF they’re home to your demo, if you create advertising that speaks to them and if your creative actually sells.

What about the brand culture? What about it? Brand culture (like Nike and Apple for instance) grows organically out of a history of delivering on a promise.  Cultures are the culmination of earlier efforts, not a first wave of attack.  They’re a modern day, hyperactive water cooler. They can’t be invented and shoved down the consumers throat with a trendy hashtag or a funky app. They should build themselves, effortlessly and be absolutely free.

At the end of the day, marketers are judged by sales. All the likes, site visits, shares and comments mean nothing without sales.  Because unlike trends, selling never goes out of style.

To Your Success!

The Conversation Is All Wrong

People are arguing about new media versus old media, while we should be talking about good advertising and bad advertising. Seriously, it’s like there this great divide of people, who are all in the same boat, yelling at each other, “You don’t get it!”

No really, we do. We need you and you need us.

Technology needs creative input or else it’s just a blank page, or worse yet, landfill. Creativity needs tools to deliver its messages or else it’s just a pipe dream.  Each craft is only a part of the puzzle, not the puzzle itself.

The most successful advertising I witness today is the result of creative that can be executed across multiple formats and rolled out in a way that each execution supports the last and sets up the next move. The only thing that matters to a Client (or an employer) is whether or not all these efforts are going to move the needle in the right direction.

Technology changes, constantly, and creative thinking needs to be nimble and smart enough to take advantage of those changes or to recognize it as useless.  We need to invest as much in strategy and big picture thinking as we do in technology.  We’d probably be a lot better off getting rid of all these trendy titles like: Front and Back End Experience Designer, Digital CD, Interactive Producer…etc., etc. We should rename ourselves Advertising Creatives. Period.

Either you love creating advertising, in whatever format and for whatever platform that’s requested, or you don’t. Either the craft excites you and challenges you, or it doesn’t. Digital, traditional, new, old… who cares!

I love having the luxury today to be able to dream more freely. As a creative I don’t live in a box anymore. The things I dream up can be used and played and experienced in more ways than ever before. And the really comforting thing is that I know, with certainty, there will always be someone on this planet that will help me execute those dreams…no matter where they take me. That’s awesome. That’s creativity hoping into bed with technology and getting downright nasty. That’s a ‘createch’ love fest. And that’s the world I dig playing in.

 

To your success!

AUTHENTICITY

Chiat/Day’s UBU campaign for Reebok in the 80’s had a big impact on me. Granted I followed the agency’s every move as a student and ended up interning at the Venice complex while in college, but 20 years later, that creative is still my ‘bully on the playground.’   It taunts me, dares me and pushes me… to be authentic.

Recently, I got the chance to ask some very special clients to do the same.

They needed an internal branding piece that would get employees psyched about the company’s new direction. They wanted to shed a stale ‘personality’ and show off a fresh forward thinking model.  After some conceptual back and forth that wasn’t showing signs of progress, I opted to pick up the phone for a good ol’ fashioned heart to heart.  I’d be lying to you if I told you I wasn’t scared as hell doing this, I was, but I was more afraid of living with the regret of not having said something, doing something safe, and watching them fail.

I talked about taking a position that cut through all the b.s. that typically gets thrown around in these sort of pieces.  The copy I scribbled down was brave and new and something she’d been dying to scream out in the workplace but hadn’t been able to articulate.

It was a position she knew, without reservation, that her company had to adopt to stay competitive and attract new talent.

What transpired over the next month and a half was one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career. We became partners. The back and forth was engaging and respectful. The enthusiasm became contagious and before I knew it, players from L.A. to Bulgaria were jumping on board. We successfully re-branded the internal culture of a major international brand.

Why?

Because the concept drove a sword through this company’s cultural demons and the copy was written from the heart. It was real. It was honest. It was authentic. 

The transformation in their operation has given people a voice. It has invigorated a work force with a reason to show up and give a shit. I’m a big believer in empowerment, in making the work as personal as it can be. It needs to mean something to the individual because we’re not really employees are we? We’re human beings that are yearning for a purpose.

A company armed with great people will do great things. A company that hands out directives, with no regard to the work force, is destined for an uphill battle.

To your success!

Surprise, the bottom line matters!

I started the week much like any other, getting caught up on industry news and who pulled in numbers over the weekend.

Then, it started.

The barrage of LinkedIn group discussions on some of the most random stuff imaginable. Do moderators moderate anymore?? I ran across one article in particular that nearly broke my ‘bullshit-meter’.

I’m not going to call out the guy who wrote it, he probably doesn’t know any better, whatever, his article was so bad…and so full of self serving lies, that I felt compelled to respond, if for no other reason than to take back a little sanity.

It was one of those, ‘how to fix the ad industry in two steps’ sort of things. Oh, is that all?  We should have the industry fixed well before lunch then. BRAVO!

According to this author, everyone with an iphone is a creative. First of all no, just because someone can throw a filter on a selfie doesn’t mean they’re a CD, it means they’re a narcissist.

He went on to insinuate that most agencies don’t know why they exist. Really? Because just off the top of my head I would think, in the most shallow sense, that they were at least in the game to make enough money to send little Jimmy to school and buy a 2 bedroom in Boca one day. No?

Seriously, who did he talk to get this info? Andrew Robertson? Miles Young??  I have a hard time thinking either would say, “Yeah, we have no idea what we’re doing.” Although I do find it quite easy to imagine them saying something about their positioning that didn’t gel with this writer…maybe because it challenged his agency’s positioning, therefore, it must be irrelevant right?

I should have stopped reading, really, I should have, but I continued…chalk one up to morbid curiosity.

He went on to discuss the new success model with a guy from a boutique agency that has it all figured out…not because they’ve done iconic work to prove they have it all figured out mind you, but because they are self proclaimed experts on understanding millennials and that they have,

“…the brainpower to decode any problem we’re trying to solve with marketing.”

I’m not making this shit up.

The author did go on to address one of my pet peeves, soft metrics; likes, shares, views, etc. To my surprise we were on the same page on this topic, and apparently many companies are now over the soft metric approach to determining the success of their campaigns.

Marketers want to know one thing now more than ever…is all the noise they’re making on their creative fronts making noise at the register?

I figured it was a matter of time before companies started questioning the results (and the legitimacy of them) and whether or not they were really helping drive sales.

One thing is clear; the brand story, connection and conversation is getting a little old. A ton of effort has been made by companies to become a part of the ever elusive ‘conversation,’ and research is saying, nobody cares. In fact, 92% of all brands could disappear tomorrow and no one would notice.

I’m really glad I’m in the entertainment marketing game. We create stories about stories one story at a time.  And it has a shelf life. And sometimes it gets taken back off the shelf and we create a limited time story again.  And then it goes away, to be spoken of fondly at social gatherings whenever someone gets smart (or stupid) enough to use it as a reference. I admit, I have it easier than say the gal trying to integrate soap into real life social circles.

The bottom line is becoming the bottom line again my friends. He / she who comes up with the most measurable model that can definitively display a correlation of method to sales, wins.

In other words, strap yourself in. Those companies that made big bets in certain types of media are going to really start digging in, and bullshit-meters everywhere are certain to start sounding alarms.

To Your Success!

Movie Theater Etiquette

Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts that can help the movie theater experience more enjoyable for everyone!

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1. Show up on time. It’s kind of a bummer when you go to the trouble of giving yourself enough time to get to the theater, park, grab a snack and get perfectly situated in the theater, only to have to get all ‘un-situated’ when people come in late. Be a little more considerate.

2. Don’t smack your food. Yes, we know those sour patch worms are deliciously bitter but please, be aware that if you can hear you, we can hear you. And if you’re being louder than motion picture dialogue, music and sound effects, you have issues getting that food down. You might want to see a doctor…or at least take a manners class.

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3. Turn off your phone! This probably should have been #1. Look, we know these stories are made up as well, but when your phone rings at an inopportune time, it sort of reminds us of that and that’s kind of lame. Let us have our pathetic 2 hours of escapism. We paid for it. Silence your phone, this should be a no-brainer.

4. Did you have to bring the baby? I’m a parent too. I get it, you want to get out of the house, you want to see other grown ups in the worst way, but honey, leave the kid at home. If you can’t find a sitter, then you probably shouldn’t come to the show. It’s parenting 101.

5. Don’t Text…or check your email, FB, Twitter, SnapChat, Insta, or any other app while the show is playing. It’s really dark in there, really dark. Your tiny little screen is super bright. Even your most covert attempt at checking the score of the game will not go unnoticed. Can you just wait 90 minutes? Please? If not, that’s cool. But do us all a favor and commit to small screen viewing where no one really gives a shit about sharing a room with you.

6. Please stop kicking my chair.   You do understand how this could be lame for the person sitting in front of you, don’t you? Please tell me you do. If you don’t, I’ll tell you; it’s annoying. Super annoying in fact. So annoying that you want to just get up and leave, but the anger keeps you sitting there, stewing over what a complete jerk you must be. I know you don’t want to be a jerk, and you know that as well. This one is basic, just don’t be a dick.

7. Stop talking…to the screen! The movie theater experience is interactive, to a point. It provides you with content that engages your intellect and emotions. It takes you somewhere else. While this is happening, remind yourself, you’re in public, not your living room. If this is you, don’t just identify and say, “Yeah, I do that.Say, “Yeah, I do that and I have to stop doing that. THAT would be so cool of you!

8. Don’t talk to your friends. I know, movies can be exciting, so much so that you feel a need to discuss in real time. You don’t. You have all night to talk about it with you buddy, pal, girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse, date…It can wait. Besides, if you talk about the movie during the movie, you won’t have anything to talk about after the show!

9. Saving Seats. Your friend, date, brother, mother, is running late. It happens, I think we’ve all been there. But when you try and block out a half dozen seats or more, you’ve probably gone a little too far. Instead of standing up every 2 minutes to tell someone, “They’re saved,” why not wait outside to meet your peeps until there’s a more respectable number of you to hold a few remaining seats. Oh, and when the previews start, you gotta give em’ up.

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10. Take your trash with you. I know, they have people who work there and part of their job duties are to clean the place up, but go on, you came in with that wide load tub of popcorn, it’s weighs even less now, throw it out on your way out.

These are the basics. Do you have other suggestions?

 

Commercial Content Can Thrive Again!

Can someone please explain ‘Ad Blocking’ to me? And by that I mean I understand it completely, I just don’t see it’s usefulness, except maybe to undermine a free market.

Ad blocking usage has grown by 41% in the past 12 months. More than half of the $14 billion annual digital display spend alone is a complete waste of money since less than 8% of display ads are even seen my real people! I don’t know about you but I find this baffling.

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Insert TiVo’s new Bolt, a device that lets viewers skip commercial pods entirely and the ad blocking game has now completely usurped commercial supported programming on all levels. I’m sure TiVo’s CEO Ton Rogers is proud. I don’t know where he’s going to advertise the company’s newest device, but I’m sure he’s proud nonetheless.

More than $5 trillion a year changes hands in an advertising and content  industry that employs over 12 million people around the globe. If nothing changes, if people don’t start to think as radically and disruptive as the technology that’s trying to put them out of business, then there won’t be a business model left to protect.

  • The 1000+ channel line-up will be history.
  • Networks and web-sites will move to subscription models.
  • Free On Demand will be a thing of the past.
  • MILLIONS of web destinations will fold. Probably not a terrible thing 😉
  • Apple TV, Amazon Prime and Netflix will thrive.
  • Jobs will be lost, by the millions.
  • OOH Advertising (and possibly radio) will thrive.

In light of all that, here are some completely free, easy to use, super simple ways to deal with ad-blocking.

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  1. MAKE BETTER ADS   – You know those ads we see on TV or YouTube that makes us cringe and punch on the FF button or hit SKIP as fast as humanly possible?  Don’t make those.  Think about the medium you’re advertising on, sell, for sure, but it’s probably going to go over a little better if your angle is kind of entertaining.
  2. PLAN BETTER MEDIA –  Ever sit down to watch your favorite show and find yourself seeing the same ads over, and over, and over again?  Limiting same ad runs in a half hour show might be a smart move.  Repetitive ads tend to make people lunge for that remote or hit a Skip button as soon as they can.
  3. BUY TIVO – Hell, Google, Apple, Microsoft buy up their competition, long before they have any power to hurt their business model.  Maybe someone with a few more bucks than me will step up and be a hero.
  4. IS THIS LEGAL –  Serious question here.  Has anyone ever challenged the legality of ad blocking?  It seems as though tampering with someone else’s intellectual property might be frowned upon.
  5. RUN FEWER, MORE EXPENSIVE ADS – So few that it would make hitting and stopping a FF button a complete pain in the ass. Sponsor recall would surge and viewers would have a more enjoyable viewing experience. Seems pretty simple.
  6. WITHHOLD CONTENT – Distributors can lock content until ad blocking is disengaged.
  7. MAKE EM’ PAY –  If the commercial model fails, I have no doubt that viewing content on any channel or site or app will be a pay as you go venture for the consumer. And even at that, it will have limited commercial interruptions and a disabled fast forward feature.

It will be interesting to see what unfolds.  If I was a bettin’ man, and I am, I’d expect a more improved and streamlined version of pay and commercially supported experiences play out.

To Your Success!

ABOUT US

Basically, we’re a bunch of creatives who know how to decode marketing objectives and create A/V assets that make John and Jane Consumer want to buy (or watch) your stuff.

Typically, we play in the entertainment marketing playground, but we’re always willing to make new friends…on other playgrounds.

We do everything in house, creative, editorial, design and finishing. We don’t shoot here, primarily because we don’t own a sound stage. We book those, and other locations if that’s the assignment on the table.

We’ve won a bunch of awards, but honestly, who cares?   We like results. A big opening weekend, a sold out shelf, a ratings topper…basically we’re always working toward a number one position in any category.

One thing we’re super proud of around here is that we have never, as in ever, dropped the ball.  We’ve delivered more than 500 projects to date, on time, on budget and on point.

We’re Group 11, and we’re in business for one simple, yet profound reason…to help your business succeed.