Monthly Archives: June 2012

Hot Wheels Makes Children Of All Ages Go Loopy With Excitement

While driving through downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday, my eyes lit up by something I had always hoped for as a child – a full-sized version of the Hot Wheels loop-de-loop toys.  Seeing it as an adult shines a different light on it, as I have no thoughts that I could ever stomach driving a care through the loops – like I believed I could have done in my minds-eye as a child. Other than the excitement of seeing the full-sized toy in real life, the realization of what Mattel was doing with their Hot Wheels brand made me even more impressed. Mattel is seizing on the opportunity presented by ESPN’s X-Games to introduce, re-introduce and just plain make their products more relevant in an entertaining and engaging way.

Hot Wheels Double Loop Dare being built-in a downtown parking lot. Courtesy of SpeedCafe.

Taking place tomorrow morning during the X-Games coverage, ESPN will air the feat between two daredevils.  The drivers will face 7-Gs of force as they do the loop and will only hope that they do not crash into each other.

I had read somewhere that this opportunity was a creative one that they arrived at when they realized there was no big blockbuster to sponsor.  They decided to create their own sort.  At a supposed cost of $1 million dollars to pull off, the content and buzz generated by this should more than pay off.

The fact that Mattel has already been engaged in full-scale treatments of their beloved line of toy cars provides even more reason to do such a thing. You can check out more at their site. They already have a good distribution point for video content and this should provide a wealth of content beyond just the initial viewers on ESPN.

Mattel has recently had a knack for doing strong creative partnerships, such as their program with Gallery 1988 in Hollywood – allowing artists to do renditions of the hot wheels they love. All of these help to make Hot Wheels extend beyond the pre-teen years of boys.

With less than 24 hours to go, it will be great to see whether this stunt flies high or takes a crash.  My bet would be on the former – regardless of how the stunt drivers’ Hot Wheels end up.

Courtesy of Chris Tedesco/ESPN

[UPDATE] The stunt was successful – with the only thing shocking me was that they only reached a top speed of 52 MPH. I would have thought you would have needed to go faster than that to go upside down.  Does that mean I can go straight from the end of a CA highway on-ramp into a loop?  Check out the video on ESPN.

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Finally, A Summit That Almost Reaches The Top

Yesterday, iMedia presented the newest Entertainment Marketing Summit under the header – For Entertainment Marketers by Entertainment Marketers and the difference was palpable. At many summits or conferences; the subjects often blend into each other, the same buzzwords are said too many times, the presentations seem too much like lectures and not the sharing of ideas or conversations, and there seems to be too much company marketing and no real takeaways from presentations.  Perhaps it was iMedia’s format of having members of the community host the entire day that made the difference – making the whole day seem more familial and interesting. For the most part, the sharpened model worked in bubbling this conference up near the top.

iMedia had done something similar for the Video Content Summit in March during the In-Focus breakout – with AJ Vernet hosting and setting the tone for sharing and growing together – but the presentations seemed more like company demonstrations and not data or best-practices sharing. Also at the Video Summit, Shelly Palmer came across as more adversarial as a host. In this case, Bettina Sherick and Kevin Doohan tag-teamed a warm and engaging set of transitions from one session to the next.

It was probably by accident, but the fact that the Keynote Fireside Chat featured two people who don’t just work together – they grew up as close childhood friends – helped establish the familial feel further.  Those friends were Jake Zim and Elias Plishner of Sony Pictures, and you couldn’t find a more respected person to leaf the chat in Gordon Paddison. Jake and Elias did provide insight into some specifics of how Sony works in ways that other studios might not, their challenges were not unique. They provided a sound basics for anyone who did not know them and because of their comfort with each other, Jake’s straight-shooting style was right at home.  He rightfully stated that “people only need one reason not to go to the movies these days.” While it doesn’t make sense to go through everything here, the retweeted quotes from Jake’s mouth cover a lot:

“Fish stinks from the head”
“We have to provide an experience that’s better than free”
“Two commas or spare me the drama”
“No movie sells itself”

I leave it to you to have fun with trying to assign context to the quote…

Brad Berens did his usual solid job with an engaging presentation of the state of entertainment, and more specifically, where the audience is. Between the way viewership has changed in the last 5 or 6 decades and the forms in which entertainment is now available, there is so much change and we still have room for so much more of it to happen. His bit of prescience at the end was his stated belief that XBOX 360 is going to continue to grow and be an even larger property.

Peter Stouggard Presenting – All Pictures Courtesy of iMedia

Peter Stouggard should be applauded for actually using technology for full effect by building an app to house his presentation. His compelling review of what he sees as the “best of” was refreshing just because of his willingness to not only laud the achievements but also look at some of the “what could have beens” to make those even stronger.  He didn’t present it as a negative for what was already done, but as a celebration (or challenge) relating to what opportunities could be advanced in the future.

This year’s visionary  Marketer Award went to Doug Neil of Universal. it was the first Powerpoint/Keynote acceptance speech that I’ve seen. But other than not being able to play a piece from Les Miserables, it was a successful turn of technology.  Or, it at least embraced the spirit of sharing and community in how he used the forum to discuss what he sees the keys to success are.

Unfortunately, after lunch, the programming fell into the same traps we’ve seen at lesser forums and conferences.  It turned into much more presentations of case studies that felt more like business pitches than sharing of best practices.  I won’t go into specifics here out of respect for the presenters and iMedia, but there was far too much general commenting and ideas with no real metrics that can help us determine which way to move forward (or, at least sell the concepts upwards.) It seems that the biggest hiccup that arises all the time is measurement understanding or strategies. Many of those items are nice, but not truly helpful without placing them in context of some clear metrics.

When the day grew later and started veering far off-schedule, the presentations and panels just seemed to grow longer and without as fine a point as those in the first half of the day. Mark Silva brought up some interesting concepts about the collaboration with startups in Silicon Valley. Yet he even acknowledged that he needed to spend more time in Los Angeles to understand how things work to see if it would make any sense to engage on such partnerships.

The day closed out with Lori H. Schwartz interviewing Dane Boedigheimer of Annoying Orange fame. It was presented almost as if it were the highlight of the day in terms of how complete it was and how long it was, but half the attendees had left by then. I was glad I stuck around for a couple of reasons: First, it was good to see Dane still laugh at the humor of an old episode – often creators don’t seem to enjoy their own product as much in public; Second, Dane was able to provide some bits of insight into a group that is ordinarily quite challenging to reach socially – boys 6-11. He named his engagement at his site in the hours after posting new videos was key in building his base. From that, he was able to leverage the deep base to do other UGC and contest mechanics to more deeply involve them in the brand. After a line-up of seasoned vets, it was truly refreshing to see someone who is talented and, perhaps, has a less jaded view on things.

Bettina Sherick stated that “the playing field keeps changing” during her opening remarks and it certainly seems true that we cannot afford to work alone within our silos.  There’s just too much information and development to afford to do such a thing. In entertainment, we are all in this together and, while we are a competitive bunch, what’s good for one is good for all.  In as much a way as it is impossible to have a film that doesn’t need marketing, it is not possible for one studio or another to beat the odds and have huge successes every year.  A few years ago, it was Fox with AVATAR and this year it’s all about Paramount/Disney/Marvel with THE AVENGERS. As such, it is important for everyone to be familial and friendly – along with the competitive.

Just like anything else, there is constant tweaking and development to be found in forums and conferences. iMedia is doing a solid job of not resting on their laurels and getting stronger with each event.

Aside

Launching product campaigns and watching trends, it is easy to see marketers shift quickly from one new technology or platform to the other without really gleaning all that they can from what they have already done.  Perhaps this is a … Continue reading

There’s Proof You Don’t Need To Be Major To Blow It Up

Taking what we normally see on Fridays in support of the larger action films opening in cinemas, the basic cabler – A&E – brought the explosiveness to premiere day of the newest season of STORAGE WARS.  Being one of the more popular basic cable reality shows on the air and the gist of the actual show, I guess we could have expected something so over the top for the new season. It remains to be seen what kind of effect the big campaign comprising portal page takeovers and second-screen experiences will do for the show, but the mere fact that they went so big for this one shows that you don’t have to be one of the majors to blow out a big campaign.

I’ve watched the show numerous times – its almost like a 21st century rendition of Let’s Make A Deal without the silly costumes (per se.) Half the fun is seeing what the bounty in the storage containers are really worht.  The other part is seeing the relationship between competing bidders and the no-names around them.  As such, it was interesting to see the creative put them in overblown situations.  You get the feeling that they over-react sometimes for the camera (as this is reality TV) so it could backfire to have them effectively laugh at themselves in the promotion of the show. We won’t know until we see the new episodes, but I’m concerned the people are going to make it any more uncomfortable to watch. But back to the explosiveness…

The media execution I saw on MSN started with an image of a monkey with a detonator button and the call to action to  Explode the page:

And upon clicking, there’s a jumpy transition to a page overlay and the explosion and season promo that plays on the Blockbuster theme – only changing Blockbuster to Lockbuster (Get it?  If you don’t.  Watch the show.)

Again, there is a concern about having the “characters” be self-aware in promo materials.  I realize that its a reality TV show, but is this the tipping of the hat that they now know what fans expect of them, so they better deliver at all costs? With that being said, I’m glad that they are doing a big campaign like this.  Just using me as a focus group – I had no idea that a new season was beginning.  I don’t watch A&E other than my occassional viewings of this show.  Therfore, the network couldn’t have expected they could just run on-air promos to drive viewers to tonight’s premiere.

A&E is also going beyond that with their Fan Challenge App.  The App will allow viewers to play along with the action on-screen.  It’s powered by TVPLUS, though its unclear if it is immediately available on both the computer and mobile phones or if the iOS and Android versions will not work until the future.  It also is not clear whether the experience will come up if the user accesses it directly through the TVPLUS app.

It’s great that they are really pushing this program and the inherent opportunities for viewers to play along. The big questions are whether fans will become more involved, whether the personalities will get too big for their breeches and become more annoying than they might already be, or if there will be a mixture of both.

The show moved its way up to the second-highest rated show on A&E last season and they are seizing the opportunity to push it up even higher.  The marketing team seems to be doing their job.  Can the programming team and the content delivered match up to really blow out the series or just blow it up? Or, will we just be wondering what is up with Barry’s monkey?

Some Quick Bites: Media and Entertainment

 

Media

As more and more people are surfing the internet through their smartphones or tablets, the optimal serving of assets specific to that platform becomes more important.  There are some who default to a mobile version and some who just provide the website as you would see it through a computer browser.  Others provide the option of viewing through a web browser or an App. What should be done is predicated on what type of content you are providing.  In many cases, the best solution could be a mixture of solutions.

What should definitely NOT be done is try to make the media come through as if the user was viewing the content on their desktop. Unfortunately, some publishers try to push pop-overs or pop-unders to the mobile device – which causes latency issues and frustration.

Perhaps the worst offender I come across is from my beloved hometown newspaper, the Miami Herald.  To provide context of how much of a bad predicament it has become, here’s some back story… Before the internet, I had to go to a specific news stand in Los Angeles to get the Sunday edition of the newspaper a few days after it was published.  Sometimes I was lucky if I could read about Miami Sports teams’ games before they played their next one.  Obviously, I was happy when I was then able to read articles online from 3000 miles away before the physical newspaper was placed on my parent’s doorstep.

Sadly, The Herald has worked themselves into a bad situation both on computers and mobile.  Below, you can see a recent page with MANY different advertisers on one page – and this doesn’t even show the pop-unders that are so annoying with every page load.

Forgetting that all of the ads being served and the pop-under makes the load time on my mobile longer than any other website, the Herald sales team would probably do better by booking multiple units on a page to one advertiser to have a stronger impact.  Their multiple units are so cluttered and disparate that I would feel that I am wasting client’s money if I were to book their advertising on such a site.

The Herald has come up with some decent solutions for providing inventory above the fold, but the lack of consistency makes the media too disruptive and annoying. That annoying factor has gotten so great on the mobile web that I am contemplating the move entirely away from the Herald and to their competitors.  Mind you, this is the newspaper brand that I grew up on and read every day leading to a huge love and affinity to a product. For me to be ready to leave the writers I enjoy reading because their inventory causes such a problem is a bad sign.

Entertainment

The editors of iMedia published a nice survey about social marketing by a number of entertainment entities in advance of their entertainment summit later this month. It’s a good quick read if you are not up to speed on some of the successful campaigns and tools of recent film and television campaigns.

They do tip their hat to the vendors in a couple of examples.  It would be interesting to see a more detailed accounting of how pieces came together because it is always a solid mix of brand and vendor integration that brings along success.