Sunday, November 30, 2008

The weekend links

Fresh PoMo content coming at cha!

BTW, I've realized how much I like The Hills. I love the mindless blather and catchy soundtrack. It's nice to just to put my brain on autopilot for 20 mins and watch an episode. Does anyone else like Audrina, Spencer, and Heidi? I think that out of anyone on the show these three have the most redemptive value! Seriously, Lauren and her mousey friend Lo are really baseless and have perpetual frowns on their faces. The latest episode of The Hills is here, Lauren accuses Audrina of believing a rumour that Lauren slept with Audrina's boyfriend Justin Bobby.

But the other day I watched an episode where lauren refered to a pool party as a "disaster". Um, no. 9/11 was a disaster. You need to get a fucking life, Lauren.

My new favourite song, AutoKratz, 'Stay the Same':

Olga's story this week about Soviet Russia having only two sizes of underwear (big and really big) was pretty funny, and these pictures from the USSR give it added context.

Required reading for B!G Associates:
Canada's net integrity and online rights are basically squashed now that the CRTC has ruled in favour of Bell Canada's action to throttle down DSL speeds. So really? The ISPs are going to be able to control what we do online? Where's the freedom in that? Consider your rights as citizens of Canada and of the wired world when you read this good article. It's just really disgusting.

This is great. Graffiti artists proclaim that marketers no longer have eminent domain over what outrageous, unsubstantiated claims can be made about a product. Digital democracy seriously is a tour de force. I'm happy about this expression of consumers' rights.

The Top Ten Most Popuar Top Tens
of 2008 - for those who like lists!

Dr. Spaceman is my favourite. Yes, Spe-che-man. 30 Rock's list of secondary characters
is here.

Kama sutra clothing adverts. Um, yeah Ana, but they're wearing clothes! Doesn't this completely defeat the purpose??

Are you up do date with your Flash drivers? If so, then go here, awesome interactive flash site. I highly recommend. It's like flying around little golden glass bubbles and there's tremendous spatial depth and graphic detail. Wow. Mr. Doob rocks.

London subway cars get a new life as an art studio. Cool idea. I wonder what the TTC is doing with all their old buses now that they're getting a new fleet? I really liked those curvey Orion buses, they actually had horsepower.

This really creeps me out.
Shadows of St. Petersburg is a collection of time-motion photographs in the Russian city of people moving around. It just looks so spectral and dark.

R2D2 and C3PO tell me why it's not cool to smoke. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that George Lucas is a huge sellout with a dry lakebed of creative ideas.

And finally, for no other reason than it's Sunday night and I'm tired, here's animals yawning!

Lucy and Kevin, I haven't forgotten to write a blog post about why I think pandas are the world's most useless species because they have no will to live or basic survival instincts. I just need to think more about how to tie this in to contemporary consumer marketing.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ooh my liver!

Wow, so last night was the Canadian Marketing Awards. I crashed it with my agency buds and we all had an amazing time. This was my second time at the CMAs, and my expectations of the night were wholly met:

- Wasted marketers
- Overpriced drinks

- Mainstream retro dance hits

Even though the Bright Ideas Group didn't have a table at this year's event (next year, next year...), it was relatively easy to walk into the event unimpeded.

Max's Guide to Crashing the CMAs:

1. Dress to impress. Suit and tie for the men, nice hair and makeup and cocktail dresses for the women.

2. Look serious and concerned about results, campaign results that is. When walking into the venue, you must look like you belong.

3. Find the side entrance.
Finding the side entrance complete obviates the need look serious or dress to impress!

So anyway, here are a few of my observations from last night.

Lots of crazy fun! You get to see all your clients, former and future employers, and low-ranking marketing wannabes (myself) whooping it up and having a really unpretentious good time. I really loved dancing with everyone and just partying like it was going out of style.

Lots of booze! See above picture....

Lots of embarrassment! There were countless women staggering around drunkenly and lots of guys looking really sweaty and messed up. Through the grapevines I've heard stories from the CMAs of sexually inappropriateness between client and agency on the dancefloor and coke sniffing in the bathroom stalls.

Lots of meaningless awards! I'm not too sure about the validity of the actual awards ceremony. I actually participated in a winning project last year for digital marketing excellence of 2007. Why did we win? Our client was on the judging committee!

Lots of networking! I handed out a few business cards that I probably shouldn't have because it likely makes me look like a spineless social bottomfeeder, but oh well.

Anyway those are some of my reflections. Can't wait to crash the upcoming agency Christmas parties!

Oh, and I got a delicious Burrito Boyz burrito after...yum.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A case against waste

Last night I subscribed to AdBusters because I'm intrigued by the ways that marketing is being challenged to be a more sustainable business model. It's a magazine devoted to smart consumerism and debunking, demystifying, and deflating the hype, nonsense, and bullshit marketers (like me) spew. It's about framing contemporary consumerism within the panoply of the human condition and our interaction with mental and ecological realms.

Marketing is a constructed business. Historically it has manufactured needs and exploited emotion and the id of consumers to belong, to be recognized, and to be real. Advertising went mass, communicating in broad brushstrokes that if you didn't buy the product, you were somehow unfit as a consumer, a parent, a citizen. Marketers leveraged screamingly loud platforms for their voices to be heard, barging their messages and the brands they were shilling deep into intimate corners of the consumers life and making ad logos, slogans, and images so pervasive that a deafening white noise soon blanketed consumers from the moment they woke to the moment they went to sleep.

And it added costs to everything we buy.

Things cost money for two reasons: 1. to cover the fixed and variable costs of product/service production; and 2. to represent the intangible perceived value of the product to the consumer above and beyond what it actually cost to manufacture.

These secondary costs (the ones that we really don't need to pay for!) have become extravagant and fat. Mass marketing is not cheap. It's not effective. Brands that have intangible perceived value are not inexpensive to maintain. Think of them like an old sportscar that you drive for your daily commute all year round - maintenance and upkeep is costly!

So when marketers clamor for lucrative global ad budgets, they're gasping for a share of a market that is built on continuing a cycle of unnecessary spending, unnecessary advertising, and generally poor results.

Why isn't there a push for targetability?

AdBusters doesn't shun marketing. Rather, it argues that marketing needs to be smarter and better executed.

Enough sales pitches. More relationship building.

Enough lifestyle manufacturing. More development of real consumer identities.

Enough mass media. More targeted messages that actually mean something to me, to you.

So here's my pledge to change the world:

I'll be that marketing guy who doesn't spend time on crappy projects which don't mean anything to consumers.

I'll be that marketing guy who's ultimate promise is to the client's customers, and not the client.

I'm going to make the case for better, smarter, faster, and more relevant marketing.

I'm going to make the case for eliminating wasteful spending that contributes nothing to the overall relationship customers develop with the brand and the client's own equity.

And I'm not going to do work that I wouldn't personally want to see or feel is relevant to me.

It's a gift to work on the rare client account when both parties are eminently passionate about the project. Unfortunately these are rare. But I'm as much a consumer as I am a marketer. I love consumers, they are my peeps.

So my final promise is this, never ruin marketing for the consumer.

Ask me later how I plan to implement all these goals...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Intriguing marketing costs paradox

Ok, first answer this question:

If a product costs $15, but you're able to find the exact same product sold elsewhere for $10, what are you going to buy?

....the one that costs $10, obviously.

Ok, what if you're paying fees or added costs in the $15 that you don't need. Let's say that the product's true price is $10 but the fees cost $5.'d still demand to pay only $10 because you're unwilling to pay for the added fees.

So why are consumers willing to put up with paying for the added costs of marketing?

Think of our $15 product like a cd. How much does the artist actually make on a $15 cd? Probably only 10 cents because the balance is record company profit and expenses for marketing, production, and distribution.

And consumers are getting wise to this.

Now think of it like buying cereal. You'll always purchase Count Chocula. For your entire life you're going to purchase Count Chocula. If you never saw another Count Chocula ad in your life you'd still buy it.

So why are you paying a price for the cereal that includes marketing expenses? It's really unfair when you think about it. You're not receiving any benefit from the advertising for Count Chocula,
so why are you paying Post cereal for the expenses it incurs when marketing to others?

Let me repeat this cause it's important-
why are you paying Post cereal for the expenses it incurs when marketing to others?

This is the weird scenario that's been floating around my head for a while.

Consumers are going to demand greater measurability of the costs of production for them, not some overhead costs that may/may not include them. With greater sophistication and fragmentation of buyer behaviors, consumers are seeking to maximize the value to them of everything they buy. It's not only smart consumerism, but it's also saavy financial management.

I'll happily pay your price for the product, if I know that I have fairly incured the costs you shouldered to produce the product for me!

This is why no one is buying records anymore. Because they are willing to pay the least amount possible (free) and still receive the product.

But what about marketers?

Their costs are actually increasing because we're on a weird cusp where absolute targetability is not yet a fully internalized expense. The value per customer created from a CRM program has not yet dropped enough to equal the value per customer from running mass advertising.

Targeted customers are valuable, but expensive (per person). Mass customers are of poor value, but talking to them is cheap (per person).

So our action items? Think about this marketing paradox:

1. Consumers are not willing to pay more than they have to, and they're angry at having to pay unnecessary marketing expenses in the products they buy.

2. Marketers are faced with a declining margin for marketing on the products they sell. If consumers were previously willing to pay $5 to shoulder the costs of being sold, now they're willing to pay $0.

THEREFORE, how can marketers continue to target the valuable customers? This is expensive. How can they continue to build relationships with customers when their actions are under greater scrutiny,
from both their clients and their customers, to reduce costs and be measurable?

Just something to chew on. Comments are appreciated here with any insights.

BTW, Count Chocula is scary delicious.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The weekend links

I'm trying something different today. Each link title and description is going to be no longer than three words. It's meant to get me to express the most central, critical piece of the message but still get you to click through to the site!

In other news, my backache last weekend turned out to be the flu. I'm infirmed and very breathy when I speak because the virus has ravaged my throat. Also, tonight is the season finale of True Blood - I really hope that things start picking up. The plot of last week's episode was so rambling and unresolved.

Ok, on with the show:

Watch. Video. First.

Does. Not. Compute.

Awesome. Marketing. Bullshit.

Gorgeous. Phones. Lust.

Obama. Marketing. Lessons.

Detroit. Dollars. F*cked.

Hideous. Boots. Goodbye.

MP3s. From. YouTube.

Japanese. Handbag. Contents.

Sexist. Commercials. Ever.

Worst. Website. Habits.

Hilarious. Idol. Reaction.

Have a great week, all!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Lifeblogging is insanity

In Florida, 19 year-old Abraham Biggs killed himself on a live webfeed in a forum while people watched and chatted about it. Apparently, he was bipolar and overdosed on drugs. He must have been in an incredibly tortured place mentally to think that killing himself was preferable to continuing to live, but the fact that he chose to do it online for a crowd of virtual voyeurs is really bizarre. It's such a nadir of web 2.0 postmodern life.

So I did some digging. Abraham Biggs had a profile on, a social networking site with channels of users and uploaded video content. The lifeblogging channels are actually addictive and it's curiously intimate to watch complete strangers stare blankly at a computer screen and respond to the adjacent chat window. The users chatting (giving orders) in the forum can be really funny too.

This is Trucker Cam. It's called Over The Road Truck Cam.

Trucker Cam is a live feed from the front dash of this trailer truck via a cellular modem. When I tuned in at 7:00pm on Friday, he was driving through Tulsa, Oklahoma going 60 mph and blasting DJ Tiesto. What's really terrifying is that as he's driving, he's talking back to the chatroom!

Wow, so are these the new cultural mutations from Web 2.0 into Web 3.0?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Integrated marcom and your ignorant friends

You know those people who say they hate marketers and never pay attention to ads? The ones who extol their imperviousness to calls-to-action and freedom when it comes to making their own decisions as consumers?

Imagine how much it stirs an anger deep inside you to just shake them and scream "it's not about selling you on something you don't need, it's about engaging with you in a relevant way that articulates the value proposition!"

Well, imagine how nice it would feel to hear that same person who pooh-poohed marketing talk about what a cool new P2P marketing strategy they interacted with. The same person who selfishly says that they're uninfluenced by marketing messages is now oblivious to the fact that an experiential campaign has made a real mark on them.

In Sydney, Australia, a social networking campaign has been launched to increase tourism to Alberta. It uses online social networking forums and street-based 'experiences'

A number of these unique mammals have been exported to Sydney, Australia, where they will be displayed in cages at Sydney’s Darling Harbour Nov. 20-22. On display will be: Western Party Animal—also known as Extremeous Winterous Dudeous Maximus—the Elusive Skier/Snowboarder Dude, and the Great Outdoors Lover. Every hour a “zookeeper” will bring one of the “animals” out of its cage to answer questions and interact with the crowd.

That's really cool.

It's also a terrific example of a integrated marketing campaign. Alan Middleton argues that with an increasing number of marketing campaigns utilizing different distribution channels, it's more important than ever to "integrate communication systems across this ever-increasing rane of target groups, distribution outlets, and media." Furthermore, "while the creative message will be strategically and conceptually similar, each medium will have create developed to optimize the message, and the role of the medium, and its contribution to the target's buying system."

BTW, how funny is it that Rogers is one of Canada's top marketers, as written in this week's Marketing Mag - a Rogers Media publication!


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Evolution commercials tell a great story

Commercials must have a natural storyline that's understandable and can be followed easily by the audience. There are a lot of really artistic spots that do this and although I question how effective these commercials were at actually contributing to an increase in sales, they're gorgeous to watch and really inventive.




The Guinness clip is fantastic - I like how the product is clearly presented from the beginning and as the commercial progresses the audience is left guessing about not what the product is, but where the guys are going to.

The Saturn clip is eyecatching, but I really don't see the link to the brand. It's also probably too sexual for the blobby functionality of most Saturn cars.

The Johnny Walker clip confuses me. The commercial has nothing to do with the product or the lifestyle. It has to do with a tagline. How can you tell? Well, let's say we kept the tagline 'Keep walking' but that the brand wasn't Johnny Walker, but rather Nike. Or maybe some life insurance company. There's nothing unique about the premise but still it won a bunch of awards for the direction, CGI, and music. Bizarre.

New Star Trek movie trailer

The trailer for the new Star Trek movie is out and it looks like a really fun movie. Not necessarily profound or cinematically deep, but just really fun.

Pajiba says it's gay, and maybe the prolongued looks between teenage Spock and teenage Kirk are a little drawn out and excessive. See for yourself:

But regardless of how good this movie is, we all know that Captain Picard is, and always will be, the finest officer in Starfleet...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sexiest avatars ever

This is too funny. Here's a story from the UK, the link is at the bottom. A couple got married then got divorced on SecondLife because the woman caught the guy virtually cheating with another woman in the game.

Ok first, here's what their SecondLife avatars look like:

On the left is the wife, in the middle is the husband, and on the right is his mistress.

Ok, so she looks like Kate Beckinsale and he looks like Lucas Rossi, the guy who won RockStar Supernova.

And here's what they actually look like. Gird yourself!

Remember this when you make a new friend online!

The link is here.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The weekend links

I'm holed-up today at home with a pinched nerve in my back. I can't twist, bend over, or pick things up. It's seriously painful, but the six Krispy Kreme doughnuts I ate this morning and the Tylenol 3s are really doing the trick. On with the links:

Kotex reminds you to take care of your beaver. Lol, yes, this ad for Kotex tampons in Australia has caused somewhat of a fuss (150 complaints....that's it??) but I think it's actually kinda cute and clever. However, as we all know from Janet Jackson's Superbowl indecency stunt, one complaint equals 1 billion angered viewers. Therefore 150 billion people were offended by this ad, see below.


An amazing Ferrari concept - looks so sexual with the curves and humps.

Forget Obama, Bhutan has a new King. Check out this set of beautiful photographs from this remote place, said to be the ancient site of Xanadu.

I haven't ever read Malcolm Gladwell, so I really don't know what all the fuss is about. But he talked about stickiness and influential people in social groups (tribes, really). Now everyone is using the words 'stickiness' and 'tribes' like it's going out of style. It's time for new words already. So I like this new concept - slippiness - coined by the team at Nickelodeon, a kids channel in the States to refer to the maleability of content across a variety of different mediums. They don't want content to stick, the want it to slip. Cool.

So you know i've ralied before on the blog about how everything is going to a free model? Free content, unlimited server capacity, fast broadband - it's all supported by the media model and greater targetability of ad messages. It's also supported by tchnological sophistication and increasing convergence of separate mobile platforms. This article on in-game advertising for games for the iPhone is a great example of all these new paradigms. Now, remind me again why mass advertising (tv and print) still get all the attention and hoopla?

Droga5 gets the Puma global ad account. See, this is the kind of role I'm lusting after. Top AOR and direct access to the client's ear. Good for them. (Btw, did you know that Puma and Adidas were started by two German brothers who became bitter rivals?)

The Icon aircraft is the world's first 'sport aircraft', an amphibious two seater that's more reminiscent of a sports car than an ultra-light plane. Check out the video and the gorgeous cockpit interior. Anyone still thinking of Christmas ideas for me, take note...

I'm all too familiar with the link between psychology and torture, but this article puts it in an interesting new spin. I guess it's hypocritical for the APA to refuse to condone the use of psychological techniques for torture when, as a practice, it's so often used for other less nefarious and compensated means.

Honestly, I've only ever seen Japanese schoolgirls using erasers. Cool designs though.

Weird new language that someone with a lot of time on their hands invented.

If you click on one link today, click this It's a really awesome interactive timeline of all the popular internet memes. It's got all your favourites: 'Ken Lee', 'Spaghetti Cat', 'Leave Britny Alone', 'Sneezing Panda', 'Dick in a box', all the way back to 'Dancing Baby' in 1996.

I like the lamp that looks like the intestinal tract (below). This and other cool lamp designs

Required reading for B!G Associates: Canadian Gen Y television viewing habits study has just been released by Forrester Research. Some key insights: "This generation will watch shows on a computer screen, multi-task while watching TV or do “time shifting” to record shows and watch them when it’s convenient" Yep, I couldn't agree more.

And finally, some really close up photography of stuff way too small to be seen with the naked eye.

Have a great week, all!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The cast of Twilight explains MuchMusic

So I’m watching Live @ Much right now and Sarah is interviewing the cast of this upcoming movie Twilight. Now, I haven’t read the books so I can’t authoritatively comment on the plot – can a commenter fill in here with plot please, Robyn or Kevin maybe? – but it seems to be about a girl in some rainy NorPac town who falls in with a crowd of sultry vampires. The movie is cast with models, not actors. Seriously. This is exactly the same route that Ashton Kutcher took, and last night I watched him on Real Time with Bill Maher – what an Amtrak performance.

But this crowd outside the ChumCity building at Queen and John is going absolutely insane. Like just total hysteria. Sarah is interviewing four cast members: three waif model-looking girls with gorgeous locks, and this foppish good-looking British guy who obviously is the object of everyone’s adoration and mania. He has his head in his hands most of the time and it makes me think he’s either jet-lagged or looking to score more coke. His name apparently is Robert Pattinson.

Sarah is now asking them “how are the vampires in this movie different from the vampires in other movies?”

They reply, “our vampires aren’t just villains, you get to see how they live, you know, they’re like, real people” – wow, deep.

Ok but really what is this saying about MuchMusic? It’s a scene that we’ve seen a million times before at MuchMusic: screaming fans and unsubstantive questions from vapid veejays.

But teens don’t like this, do they? Ok they do, but the ones watching at home are saying to themselves, “yeah, I love MM and I love the movie Twilight, but I’d sure as hell never be one of those losers screaming downtown in the rain.” The teens watching at home are still as engrossed with the content of MM but somehow can relate to the medium in a more marketable way. MuchMusic has crafted themselves as a youth culture powerhouse, a federal reserve for the distribution of what is meaningful and current.

See, MuchMusic creates a reality-based stage for the lowest common denominator. Teens love the lowest common denominator. It’s a way to feel intellectually superior to the depravity going on live on location but still get your fix of brands, celebrities, mundane issues, and relatable content.

I really don’t like the content on MuchMusic, but I adore the marketing. It’s just so blatant and pervasive. Even during commercials they’re now having trivia and showing a tiny square of live video feed. It makes you sit and watch. Brilliant.

MuchMusic markets to teens through creating a connection point with them. Note that I’m not saying they’ve created a ‘channel’, a ‘brand’, or a ‘programming schedule’. MuchMusic is a connection point with teens because it’s integrative across a variety of different media channels (tv, sms, video, web, etc) and has a high degree of interactivity with its viewers. The identity is founded upon strong young-culture acknowledgement (not debasement) and a recognition that commercialism is almost a partnership between the viewer and the channel.

Do the viewers know this? I’d argue that yes, they know they’re being sold with commercials targeted to them and content styled and translated to resonate. But they really don’t care about that. It’s being sold on a lifestyle and an identity that they affiliate with and like anyway.

So I actually now want to go see Twilight. Apparently so do all of you!