A New Form Of Superstar Athlete? A Little Bit Of Content Will Do…

eSports

It wasn’t so long ago that people would provide a quizzical stare when presented the concept of eSports as an industry and an even shorter time since people would laugh at the thought of eSports becoming big business with a huge following. Now, adding to the list of new generational tastes and trends that bucked the naysayers of older generations, eSporting continues to crystallize itself as a huge opportunity for both entertainment and commerce. Turner Broadcasting and major entertainment/sports agency, WME/IMG have announced their ELeague and 30 weekly hours of coverage that will be coming with it on a grand scale.

For those who don’t know about eSports, it has been brewing for a few years – where video game players (both single and team) compete against each other in leagues and championships with the action streaming much in the same way we’re used to seeing other professional sports around the world. Here’s the huge opportunity — as FIFA benefits from the accessibility of Football/Soccer to make it’s sport the largest in the world, the same could be said for video games and the leagues that have formed to support them. The players you see in these leagues are the cream of the crop, but the opportunity is attainable with hard work – and these teams work hard.

Just looking at Riot Games’ LEAGUE OF LEGENDS, their competitive teams are able to focus on practice and competing 24/7 with strong sponsorship packages. Their championships sell out around the world and the demand continues to grow.

Now that the first regular linear presentation of these sports is arriving on Turner in 2016, the opportunity for growth is even stronger. What is key though – for the strength of the leagues and their competitors – is that the production is treated as strongly as those of the recognized major sports. There is no excuse not to. And, with the opportunity to highlight players that are more like the every-man through solid content development and storytelling, there is every possibility that strong competitors/personalities will be able to reach fans and consumers in ways that not even our present top athletes can.

Hopefully, the sneers and jeers will be muted early enough to allow for enough talented people to get in on something special before the opportunity passes them by.

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Don’t Let Your Brand Name Fall Flat On Your Audience

Often, there’s a name that really sticks among the founders of the company. There’s a ring to it… It makes people smile… It seems obviously right… Or, frequently, in these times, the cute omission of vowels in a product name is just plain cool. Unfortunately, some of those names get lost in translation. The BBC’s Justin Rowlatt captures the pitfalls of naming beautifully in his column of how context can change a brand’s inflection.

Plopp

Whether the ownership is too close to the product, doesn’t think beyond their initial market or just has bad luck with other things going on in the world, sometimes the brand name just leaves you wondering what they were thinking. This isn’t to say that you’ve got got neuter your brand name to make it work without offending anyone – it’s just that you should take the opportunity to get to know your audience well in order to name the brand as best as possible.

Of course, you should only have the problem of being so successful that changing your brand’s name is a major hassle. Otherwise, be sharp on the front end and strongly consider your brand name so you don’t have egg on your brand later.

Strong List Of 2015’s Greatest Innovations

CICADA

If you have time to look away from the numerous sales hitting your in-box, you might want to check out a list of the Greatest Innovations attributed to 2015 that Popular Science just published. The cool thing about it is that it is not limited to one vertical, and while some lists of innovation only refer to tech, this one covers some items that have nothing to do with chip sets, wiring or other hi-fi.

One great lens to look at this list through is in thinking how product development, consumer traits and advancements in how we actually do things will be affected by these new ideas and technologies. Certainly, there are some items that we’ve heard of and considered before and some items were available in other countries or pro-grade models, but it doesn’t make them any less cooler.

Beyond my geek-love for the Sphero BB-8 and fascination with Erector Set Bridges, there were some other specific items that caught my eye:

  • RED’s Epic Dragon Camera – Shooting in 6K is pretty nifty, but this baby provides flexibility in the edit bay.
  • Amazon has been talking about Drone delivery, but it seems that DHL’s Parcelcopter already has it beat in delivering packages to remote locations in all types of weather.
  • You can see the image of the CICADA above. This is a series of nanobots that can all work together in unison for weather readings, bomb discovery and more. The Navy just signed a contract with their parent company. I’m most interested in seeing how this might be used for (or affect) consumers – and I’ll try to keep my sci-fi mind from the thoughts of nanobots in The Day The Earth Stood Still remake that I marketed years ago…
  • How cool is the Malloy Aeronautics Hoverbike?  If that ever comes out for commercial use, I’ve got to get me one. Just don’t want to think about what insurance will cost.
  • Sort of like putting a chip in your dog for tracking if they are lost, Anti-Theft dots allow you to do the same with all items – if the police (or finders) actually have the technology to decipher them.
  • Proving that BYOD is pervading everything, NYPD just started using the DAS app to rely on mobile connectivity for quick information faster than what they can get through their patrol cars. Wanna find an arrest record quickly, pop out your iPhone or Android device!
  • I would love to have solar panels, but it only made sense to me if you could use that harnessed power when the Sun’s not shining. Tesla has seemingly answered that dream with their Powerwall – starting at only $3000.  Now I just need to get the panels installed for “no cost” as I’ve been marketed soooo many times.
  • Something that will hopefully make a true difference is the XOFT targeted radiation treatment. Any summary written here wouldn’t do this lifesaver justice. You’ve got to zip through the listing to find out more and imagine what this would do at scale.
  • I laughed a little when I saw the USB Type C in here. It will be interesting to see if it really picks up, being as the USB 3.0 never caught on. And, as we’ve found in some cases, just because Apple uses a certain type of connector doesn’t mean that it will last…

Hope you enjoy, and please feel free to add your thoughts or add items that should have been on the list below!

The Amazing Speed Of A Static Image

The Amazing Speed Of A Static Image

Forget, for a second, the impetus for Jean Jullien’s drawing mashing up the peace symbol and the Eiffel Tower to appreciate how incredibly fast it spread throughout the world. Being as only 24 hours after Jullien took a minute to create the illustration it was all over the place, you’d have thought it had been created long before and was already known and had a following. The fact that it was so perfectly simple and related to a major zeitgeist moment just proves the power of connectivity and interconnected”ness” that today’s distribution and social platforms afford us.

Not only a solid tech development for Comic Books – an opportunity for more compelling Storytelling.

Google has developed new functionality to simplify comic book consumption on small devices – something that has been a challenge due to the dynamic way in which comic books and graphic novels are laid out. By turning the phone to landscape, a viewer can more easily scroll through the reading experience as described in the Android blog, fans should have a more compelling experience. The thing is, this functionality can be used for storytelling of many types that can make good work out of a scrolling ability.  It will be interesting to see how storytellers might utilize this new feature to give audiences of all types something to cheer about.

5 Facts That Affect GREAT Social

PancakeSelfie

Holiday Inn Express has just gotten past the hump of their nine city, SelfiePancake Express truck tour and there’s already a few pieces of learning to be gained from this strong social content event. Signing Rob Riggle as the “Creative Director” for this campaign touting Holiday Inn Express’ newly launched 60-second pancake maker that includes a food truck outfitted with quirky and cool technology placing visitors’ selfies on the pancake themselves was very smart. The concept is a good one, but both wins and losses are showing in the middle of the campaign that makes a stop in Los Angeles this weekend. Here’s five of them…

CONTENT STRATEGY DOESN’T HAVE TO BE ON-THE-NOSE – This campaign doesn’t blatantly tout the things you usually associate with hotel stays – hospitality, comfort, etc. – to engender conversion. They key on a secondary offering in this content – their included breakfasts and spiffy pancake maker – to add to the aura while having some fun. It’s definitely not a hard sell to stay at their locations, but its a meaningful one.

HASHTAG STRATEGY SHOULD CLARIFY, NOT CONFUSE – Looking at just some of the collateral for this campaign, there’s not one, not two, but three hashtags presented. The most beneficial to this campaign is the #PancakeSelfie tag due to the content and context. The second one – #StaySmart – makes sense as it is their current corporate hashtag. But, that general tag should not have the prominence it does on this campaign and one can wonder why they chose such a generally vague tag when other hotel chains and organizations use the same tag. When choosing a hashtag, you should know you’ll be able to completely own it (again, no confusion.) And, the third hashtag is the most confusing – #DontWaffle. Besides the obvious point that a waffle is not a pancake, it just bifurcates the audience and certainly does not inspire by leading with a negative – a sentiment not aligned with their overall branding or this campaign.

POSITIONING CELEBRITY IN CREATIVE WAYS IS A WIN – They made a smart move by incorporating talent (Rob Riggle) as not just a spokesperson, but an executive of the company. We’re not sure if he’s being anything more than creative for the company, but it puts a different spin that alludes to the fun the chain is poking at themselves. As Riggle proves, the change in perspective allows more flexibility in storytelling and relate-ability. There’s a number of videos that were created and, with Riggle’s talent, there probably was enough content on the cutting room floor to complete a half-dozen more.

AUDIENCES NEED AN INCENTIVE – OR TO BE INSPIRED – TO POST TO THE SOCIAL NETWORKS – This is absolutely not scientific (due to just being a quick look at hashtags to get a sense of how many people were tagging posts properly), but there are an incredibly low number of people posting pictures of their #PancakeSelfies. Pardon the pun, but the table was set with plates that had all the right branding printed to surround the pancake and the participants just didn’t bite. Either they felt it was not cool enough to post without prodding, or an incentive like a “post to win” mechanism was needed. In this case, the chain could have offered a lucky person(s) a few free nights.

PR AND OUTREACH IS ESSENTIAL TO EVENT SOCIAL PROGRAMMING – When reviewing location mentions, the actual locations were surprisingly not posted with the hashtag – as far as we could see. And we definitely couldn’t find exact location call-outs from the official social feeds. The location announcements were found through local media outlets. Without knowing how many people showed up at each location, we can’t tell how effective they were, but it does show that events need tight integration with the communications teams to activate all outlets. In the case of this campaign, the fact that we don’t know where the truck is going to be in Los Angeles – and there’s nothing in the feeds about past locations (except Long Beach), there’s a hole in the plan.

So, Holiday Inn Express has done a great job with the Social Content Concept and execution on a good number of the pieces. It just highlights that all of a campaigns components (social or otherwise) really need to be addressed and aligned to see holistic success and a return on the efforts of a hard-working team.

The Best Brand Social Communication

SocialDisarray

Far too many brands fail by using social as arms of their PR team – where they announce and tell rather than join in a conversation. The reality is that probably less than 10% are doing their brand communication on social effectively. MediaPost’s post on Sprout Social’s recent study of brand response to their audience (or consumers) through social shows a dismal upward trend of not responding to social queries. More audiences are expecting more customer service capabilities via social, yet brands continue to send many more posts than replies. In the case of media and entertainment, they send 8.5X more posts than replies and, in the real estate vertical, nearly 12X. Some of the brands that better understand not only the power in responding, but the need to, are those in travel/hospitality and some in everyday-use package goods. Virgin Atlantic is one company that set the tone early in the use of social media in how they handled travel disruptions caused by volcano ash that hampered travel throughout Europe in 2010. Where other airlines completely let their customers down, Virgin Atlantic served their customers well through constant communication and grew loyalty in the process. The thing is, your brand should determine how involved you are in social communication with your audience – not the vertical.

Of equal importance is that responding to your audience via social is only part of the equation in good brand social communication. That often overlooked component is the brand voice. As with the other pieces of brand experience that are moving to the forefront of Audience Development is the consistent portrayal of your brand’s voice. Especially when maneuvering the social realm, consistency is even more important as it will usually be the most “human” relationship the audience has with the brand. The voice needs to factor the following at minimum:

Purpose – Why are you on Social platforms in the first place? What services will you serve via social and what will you not? If, for example, you have no intention of delivering customer service via social, that will greatly affect the voice.

Character – What does your brand “sound like”? As this is the must human interaction, what do you want your audience to take away from the brand socially?

Tone – What is the general vibe of the brand? If this is not consistent with character and your overall brand, your social is DOA.

Language – Determining the kind of words you use and the style of language is completely dependent on who your audience is. If you don’t have that understanding of your audience, you can find yourself actually hindering growth by using the wrong language.

All of these considerations – along with your brand’s consistent dedication to providing the needed resources – can lead to great brand social communication. Being clear and consistent with your social strategy and execution will not only lead to streamlined resources, but also consistent growth.