Wednesday, February 23, 2011

wikileaks launches product line

According to the Wall Street Journal today, Wikileaks is selling t-shirts, hoodies and other branded merch on Yes, Wikileaks condoms and coloring books already exist, but now you can choose from officially endorsed product line including messenger bags, laptop sleeves, umbrellas and baseball caps. Spreadshirt says the collection has "better than average" sales potential. Good news for Assange whose $1.5 million advance from Random House isn't nearly enough to defray costs. Lucky for him, he's managed to infiltrate secrets of wily CPG brand managers.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

social media isn't just for kids anymore

A recent study by the Pew Foundation finds that while Millennials remain the most web-social generation, their elders are (slowly) catching up in networking activity. Social use of the web has quadrupled for 74+ since 2008, up from 4% to 16%. The percentage of adults on the web who watch videos has jumped to 66%. The group who most likes to rate things online is the "Silent Generation", ages 65-73. Perhaps they're most comfortable with hierarchy?

This ought to get the attention of pharmas and their agencies: searching for health info is now the third most popular online activity not just for older web surfers, but for all internet users 18 and up.

Read full report here.

tip o the hat to Ben Kunz

Sunday, February 13, 2011

the art of immersion

A lot of business books are so poorly written, you wish you could just jam a thumb-drive into them and download info into your brain without having to actually ingest the pages.

Happily, The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue and the Way We Tell Stories is that rare business book you don’t want to put down, a riveting read for anyone whose business is impacted by how audiences are changing--which is to say, anyone reading this.

The author, Frank Rose, a Wired editor, is a terrific storyteller who imbues in the reader his own fascination with how “after centuries of linear storytelling, a new form of narrative is emerging by which stories are told through many media at once."

Deep Media, he calls this emerging form. Henry Jenkins (eminent thought pioneer in this territory) says transmedia. But whatever it’s named, it’s a growing phenomenon profoundly affecting our business:
The 20th Century approach to advertising…had it all wrong. For decades, ad people had assumed that consumers thought in a linear and essentially rational fashion. All a television spot had to do to arouse desire for the product was to get the viewer’s attention and make a strong case…Cognitive researchers…discovered that this isn’t what happens. People don’t passively ingest a message. Perceptions of a brand aren’t simply created by marketers; they’re “co-created” by marketers and consumers together.
The book includes behind-the-scenes adventures in the creation of some of the most interesting experiments in crossplatform narrative for both entertainment and marketing--the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Lost Experience, Dunder Mifflen Infinity, I Love Bees and many more, including (disclosure) Mad Men on Twitter, a chapter in which @BettyDraper is honored to be profiled.

It’s not officially released yet, but I got my pre-order early here.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

dilemmas of millennial parenting

A friend is visiting, to see his daughter who's moved to New York from a small town in New England. She's 27 and making her way in our crazy business and his visit is prompted by dismay that parental phone calls and emails go unanswered for days.

"Text her," I say. "The reponse rate is better."

He shakes his head. "My thumbs are too slow. Imagine if a new invention were announced today. A social networking tool that lets you connect instantly with someone far away. Faster and less awkward than using your thumbs. All you have to do is speak into it. You can hear a person's actual voice! The telephone," he says,"was invented a century too early."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

copywriter demos creative chops on craigslist

Genius. A job-seeking copywriter in Atlanta, Travis Broyles, resorted to Craigslist to promote his skills with SEO-gold headline "I Do Anything." Unfortunately, the ad's been flagged for removal but Agency Spy preserved its contents for the edification of ad grads who ought to know what they're up against. Guess Travis missed this recent appeal for "professional US copywriter" to rewrite Craigslist ads. But based on the copy sample below, Travis is worth way more than the promised $5/500 words.
My name is Travis Broyles and I will do whatever* you want me to do for less money than whoever you are paying to do it now.
Below is a list of just some of the things I can do. I do want to stress that I DO ANYTHING so email me if your requested service is not listed here.

Things I Will Do For $5:
Stare at you for 5 minutes
Give a hug to the person of your choosing
Call you on the phone and seem genuinely interested for 10 minutes
Draw your face on a balloon
Sing Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week” from memory to the best of my ability
6 minutes of copywriting

Things I Will Do For $10:
Write your new theme song
Perform your new theme song on your voicemail
Spin until I throw up or you lose interest
Rename your Pokémon
Host a conference call with you and a person that you’ve always thought was cool but never really got the chance to hang out with, you know?
12 minutes of copywriting

Things I Will Do For $50:
Break-up with your boyfriend or girlfriend
Help you quit smoking (I’ll call you every day for a month and yell “HEY DON’T SMOKE”)
Tell the person you like that you think they’re cute and what if you had sex together?
Try my best to fly in a public place for an hour
Make you a really great profile picture
1 hour of copywriting

Things I Will Do For $100:
Tell your kids which one is actually your favorite, and what the others could do to improve their standings
Fight someone much smaller or girl than me
Email you a list of 250 things I like about you (need access to any and all social network accounts)
Clean most of your house and apologize for the things I didn’t
Deliver 5 fully cooked DiGiorno pizzas right to your door (5 mile radius from my home)
2 hours of copywriting

Things I Will Do For $1,000:
Host an event (will not host anything racially insensitive, i.e. human being auction)
Give a PowerPoint presentation on team building to your business and/or extended family
Rename your children
Build you a cardboard car and make vroom-vroom sounds while you drive it
Star treatment for a month (I’ll hide in bushes and take pictures of you)
20 hours of copywriting

Things I Will Do For $100,000:
Yell your name every time I wake up for the rest of my life
Change my political and spiritual leanings
Screen all your phone calls for five years
Recreate the best day of your life (or worst, whatevs)
84 straight days of copywriting *BEST VALUE*

If interested, email me at

*Prices and tasks are subject to negotiation. I will not murder or steal or perform a legendary murdersteal. No rapes, and the sex has to be unrelated to the payment, like “Oh, after you’re done cutting those trees down, do you want some lemonade?” but the lemonade means sex, mostly.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

why Groupon's "apology" doesn't work, either

The Wall Street Journal published a piece today on Groupon’s “non-apology apology” issued yesterday by CEO Andrew Mason. In a blog post, Mason defended the commercials to the backchannel, saying they were meant to make fun of Groupon by “highlighting the often trivial nature of stuff on Groupon when juxtaposed against bigger world issues."

Great concept. Unfortunately, not the one that was executed.

Humor is the hardest thing to pull off in broadcast advertising, because unlike in social media where you’re talking to a narrowed audience, in broadcast you’re reaching out to millions whose funny bones aren’t all in the same location.

Groupon’s spots are only funny (sort of) if you know that the company’s heritage is philanthropy. But even minimal research would have suggested that most of the 111 million viewers they spent $3M to address wouldn’t have a clue about this.

Guess Mason missed that Ad 101 class where curriculum includes the infamous ad conveying the state of mind of consumers:
I don't know who you are.
I don't know your company.
I don't know your company's product.
I don't know what your company stands for.
I don't know your company's reputation.
Now--what was it you wanted to sell me?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

the spot Groupon could've run instead

According to BrandBowl (at least at this hour) the two top Superbowl spots are my own choices: Chrysler's "Imported from Detroit" (proof that copywriting still matters) and Volkswagen's "Little Darth Vader" (proof of the storytelling power of visuals.)

We diverge in choices for last place, however. Tweeters gave that to Suzuki, but my pick (and I've got company) is Groupon which (surprisingly) aired spots that were even more offensive than Go Daddy's typically gratuitous use of GURLs. What made Groupons spots appalling was the cultural cluelessness in exploiting oppressed peoples and endangered rainforests to make sophomoric jokes about saving money.

Apparently, they were only kidding. Their site suggests that they donate to the very causes they belittled. But do they really expect disenfranchised consumers inundated with ad messages to go trawling the web in search of their good deeds?

I understand that the brand was under pressure to come up with creative in very little time. But why didn't they run with something like this simple but memorable spot they already had. Youtube says it was rejected. By whom? Calling Bogusky.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

ads are already playing off in the Brand Bowl

Update: Ad Age just posted a playlist of spots, including agency, airtime and content here.

If, like me, you watch the SuperBowl for the commercials, you’ll love BrandBowl, a website that broadcasts real-time scores of how spots are doing according to viewers.

It works by aggregating comments about commercials and analyzing them via the magic of metrics. Doritos and Google came out on top last year, when the site was first launched by Mullen (Zappos ad agency) with social measurement leader Radian 6.

Any twitter post hashtagged #brandbowl is included. But you don’t have to have a twitter account to play. Just go to Brandbowl on your computer or mobile and join the cheering or hissing crowds. Players are already facing off, thanks to pre-releases on youtube. Volkswagen's in the lead with its pint-size Darth Vader. It’s like sharing a sofa with thousands of ad fans you don’t have to feed.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Kenneth Cole explains it all to you

I don't tweeter. But in the Town Car on the way to office this morning I think of something real funny to say--KC

I find out people don't have a sense of humor like they did in the 80s. Sheesh!--KC

Good thing is, I learned how to Facebook today! --KC

What I frankly don't get is why lawyers are all up my a**, but they can't send a simple cease and desist to this guy--KC

the most important story you tell is your own

Last night, a couple hundred social content enthusiasts, defying the wrath of winter, gathered at Columbus Circle to attend a Future of Storytelling meetup organized by Jeff Pulver, creator of 140 Character conferences. Much talk was on the future of narrative, but co-host Michael Margolis demonstrated its present-day importance by citing the role of storytelling in crafting a bio. He observed that many of us skilled in communicating the stories of others fall down on the job when promoting ourselves. Particularly true if we're in the throes of reinvention. And, these days, who isn’t?.

Because social media is the new meet and greet, everyone needs a short bio these days. And bio-writing is about making choices, he said. A bio isn’t a laundry list. All of us have countless stories we COULD tell, but which narratives will most help us achieve what we’re after?

5 rules of engagement:
1. Think about the “character” you want to portray. What is your origin? Who were your parents? What have you studied and what forces shaped you?
2. Define your work, so people know what it is.
3. Give a glimpse of past experiences that led you to want to do this work.
4. Provide external validators. These days, character trumps credentials but outside validators are still essential, especially if you’re pursuing work that hasn’t been done before.
5. Make yourself sound human. What are your passions, your peeves, what do you geek out on?
And—make it short. An attendee who licenses TedX conferences complained of too-long missives from prospective candidates. She said she dismissed pages-long emails, assuming that if people can’t present themselves concisely in writing, they won’t be able to do it onstage.

Examples of bios that stand out by following the 5 rules? Margolis cited (irrefutably) that of local-wine-monger-turned-global-marketing-guru Gary Vaynerchuck:

Gary Vaynerchuk is a New York Times bestselling author and American businessman who was born in Belarus and immigrated to the United States as a young child. Gary’s entrepreneurial instincts took over at a young age, when he owned a franchise of neighborhood lemonade stands and made $1,000 a weekend selling baseball cards. Much to his dismay, his father Sasha pulled Gary into the family business, a local liquor store called Shopper’s Discount Liquors. Before long, Gary recognized that consumers collected rare wines just like people collected baseball cards, and he was off to the races.

Now, off to rewrite.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

on long intermissions

When I first started blogging in 2007, I updated posts at least once a day. I couldn’t wait to report an observance in daily comings and goings or share a find from the net. Hitting “Post” made me feel connected, gave me an instant dopoamine hit.

And then there came Twitter. Where one can show and tell in just 140 characters. Same dopamine hit, a lot less commitment. To forbearing readers who’ve called me out on long absences, I apologize for what must sometimes seem like neglect. I do mean to do better. But you don’t have to tweet to also follow me here.