Tag Archives: Entertainment

Have The Dodgers Found Their Magic Sports Marketing Mix?

There may be no other entertainment property that can match Sports’ ability to trade on both nostalgia and hope.  Politicians may hope that they can – perhaps they have to work a lot harder to convince their fans that, however bad they were the year before, there is a chance they might become better. For that reason, it is impressive when a team’s sports marketing shines above the rest. They may be talking about different marketing angles at theSports Marketing Association Conference in October, but the true magic comes from the mix of talent and entertainment – which the Los Angeles Dodgers now have in spades.

Koufax

There’s a 24/7 machine of sports information across radio-waves and numerous cable or network channels. Home cinemas bringing viewers closer to the action than they could by spending more than their plasma screens cost in the first place. Yet some franchises are able to fill their stadiums or arenas time and time again.

The Dodgers have historically brought league leading numbers (or close) to the park until they ran into an issue caused by their previous ownership – apathy. That fan apathy plus the availability of games on TV led many fans to stay away or not even pay attention. It was something that was unheard of for a perennially solid team with a rabid fan base. Other teams (like the Marlins) might have won more championships recently, but their fans were getting burned by the ups and downs that lesser franchises find in the balance between owners making money and fielding winners. But, the Dodgers (thankfully) got out of a bad situation by being sold to a collective of people who seemed to care more about winning and fielding a solid team for the fans.  The fact that the face of the ownership is local legend, Magic Johnson.

The team struggled in the first year under the new ownership and I think I might be representative of the general public when I only attended one game after attending a lot more per season prior to the bad owner’s “regime.”  I was thinking this year that it might take a few years before I go as many times as I used to.

That thought change immediately directly before the Opening Day game on Monday. This change was because of something the team did to draw upon that mix of nostalgia and hope – again,  as only sports teams are able to. They leveraged both to drive excitement about the possibilities in an opening video that saw the ball passed from local sports heroes to entertainers and finally to Magic Johnson.  Not satisfied in having Magic throw the first pitch, they threw some drama by having the Dodger manager call for a pitching change – to one of the best pitchers in baseball history, Sandy Koufax. It was well written and perfect genius.

The excitement it generated fed into the belief that everything can happen – and that is sure to fill the seats and get more people to tune in.  It didn’t hurt that the team beat their rivals on that opening day game.  It will be interesting to see how the Dodgers repackage and build upon that video footage through the course of the year.  If done right, fans can remain excited without regard for the fact that the team proceeded to lose the next two games to the Giants. The beauty of sports is that there is always a point that we can look forward to next year.  Hopefully the Dodgers don’t drop the ball on the field or in their media plan and allow for any gains to be lost.

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Scarlet Strategic At CES 2013 – Showcasing Cloud Based Connectivity Innovation

The buzz surrounding next week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is about many things – from the replacement of Microsoft as the Keynote to connected home solutions to the introduction of even larger TVs that may still take a while to make it to market. Scarlet Strategic and Scarlet Terrier Productions are proud to be part of CES through their participation as a contributing member in the ng Connect program.  Of the 12 demos being shown, Scarlet Strategic is involved in two of them that bring connectivity, information and entertainment to public spaces – and best of all, they can be deployed right away.

ngConnect

The ng Connect Program – founded by Alcatel-Lucent – is a multi-industry ‘ecosystem’ dedicated to the creation of the next-generation user experience for connected consumers. The program is comprised of more than 190 member companies, of either Contributing or Associate membership levels, and including leading network, application and content providers and consumer electronics manufacturers.

In Alcatel-Lucent’s booth, South Hall Booth 31412, the demonstration of 12 new cloud-based service concepts created by the ng Connect Program aimed at stimulating application innovation as consumers seek ever more exciting experiences from connected devices like smartphones and tablets.

The two Demos featuring Scarlet Strategic involvement are:

  • MALL WALL – Showcased on the Video Wall
    A large format digital sign that is placed in a mall or public setting. It takes digital signage to the next level of interactivity, allowing shoppers to interact with the sign from their mobile phones. Shoppers can use their NFC enabled phones to scan NFC tags and initiate a session with the Mall Wall. No custom application is needed on the phone, as all phone screens are implemented as HTML5 mobile web pages. The screens can vary in size from what people may be accustomed to for mall maps to huge 120 foot long bilboards (or more) with multiple points of interactivity.  The scope and dynamic scale provided by this offering is what makes it truly stand out.ng Connect Collaborating member(s): Brass Monkey, Scarlet Strategic/Scarlet Terrier Productions, wCities

    Alcatel-Lucent Highlighted Products:  CloudBand, Velocix, Optism, LTE

  • CLOUD CONNECTED TABLES
    These fully interactive surfaces serve advertising, entertainment, and media in transitional waiting spaces.  They provide a delivery and consumption platform for digital media.  They also provide interactivity via a multitouch screen and smartphones. The tables offer flexible 4G/LTE or wired connectivity.ng Connect Collaborating member(s): Brass Monkey, iGoLogic, wCities, IntuiLab, Scarlet Strategic/Scarlet Terrier Productions

    Alcatel-Lucent Highlighted Products:  DMS, CloudBand, Velocix, Wi-Fi Offload Products

The partnership opportunities generated by the ng Connect program have been phenomenal in that we are able to bring reality-based connective media platforms to market quickly and effectively.  In the case of both items being demoed, the infrastructure is already in place to enable deployment to high-trafficked venues and the integration of media opportunities that Scarlet Strategic’s clients are actively looking for.

Scarlet Strategic’s involvement in the program and CES 2013 makes perfect sense as we move into an age of connectivity that could have only been dreamed of in the past.

It Sucks When You Stop Showing Up To The Party And Nobody Cares

After a ten-day blackout of Viacom-owned cable networks on DirecTV, the sides finally announced this morning that they have come to an agreement. It may be a while before it is absolutely clear what the real impact of this standoff was. During the blackout, there were measurable elements that fluctuated but the real ramifications could be much more than ratings or stock prices. It wasn’t surprising that Viacom took the position that they were in the driver’s seat or that DirecTV engaged in a publicity campaign to ensure that its viewers believed that the negotiating stance was there for the consumer.  What was enlightening was the general ho-hum response by the general public and the nod to what the future holds – both in entertainment outlets and negotiating tactics – as the multitude of choices in channels and consumption platforms is not just a cliché but a reality.

Courtesy Deadline.com

First off, what I found interesting is that the DirecTV subscribers are not in Viacom’s wheelhouse demo. From a non-scientific analysis, it would seem that the majority of the people who are paying for DirecTV are not the ones who are the target for much of Viacom’s offerings. The assumption is that the kids are interested in the Nickelodeon and MTV channels and they aren’t paying the bills. But that’s obviously not entirely true as the bigger issue for Viacom is that there are so many ways to consume the content. They went so far as to remove the online episodes of the grown-up or bill-payer shows (such as Jon Stewart’s Daily Show), only to make those available days later. But, there’s not much new product in the summer to drive demand or viewership. My kid loves a Nick Jr. show, but there were enough episodes in the DVR that she had no idea there was a blackout – let alone have any clue what it means.

Besides the opportunities that consumers have to find content elsewhere – (DirecTV has a whole array of extras that allows viewers to watch content through YouTube and similar online outlets on the TV) how can the sold advertising be allowed to not be shown? The quick-response viewership decline that Deadline pointed out – “Live, full day ratings in the target demos for its channels were down 27% in the week that ended July vs the same week last year – the previous week, before the loss of DirecTV, they were -14%” – only tells half the story. If advertisers are able to, they’ll capture how much of an effect the loss in advertising had on their actual sales.  Perhaps the biggest losers are studios who are trying to promote their films to the key movie-going demo watching Viacom’s channels. But, again, the timing is bad – I don’t know that the demand for the next Batman film is lessened because DirecTV viewers couldn’t see the spots on a few of the many more outlets they access regularly.

The worst by-product of this for Viacom, and perhaps even DirecTV, is that the absence of something provides an opportunity for people to find alternatives. The timing of DirecTV’s addition of Disney Jr during the blackout opened up eyes to the possibility of an alternative for any child who couldn’t get their Nick Jr fix. If the loss was to something outside of the media environment, can anyone be so sure that they will come back?

I’ve been in Paris during a strike by the Metro and museum workers. My feet killed me from so much walking and I ate very well as an alternative to museums, but there is no doubt I would be returning once the trains were running.  Disruption in access to a few channels leads to much less discomfort than the loss of transportation. Viacom and other content providers and carriers should keep that in mind as they threaten tactics like this in the future.

The hardball tactic is fine from a negotiation standpoint – with its true business value debated. But, the risk to the ultimate bottom line of consumer’s interest is a different story that nobody can ill-afford to take lightly. Because, if you’re not around, there’s no certainty that anyone will really care.

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.

Location Based Marketing To Wait In Line For

Too often, a campaign will be launched that seems to have just been executed in order to tick a “Location Based” event box.  In the case of a campaign from a few months ago in Brazil, they seem to have hit the nail on the head by offering a truly relatable experience for all who came across the campaign. The campaign was not even for a product – it was about awareness surrounding the need for organ donors because many just couldn’t wait long enough for their number to be called.

The event was sponsored by the hospital,  Santa Casa de Misericórdia de São Paulo, and executed by Y&R’s São Paulo office. The beauty of it was that it didn’t require someone to actually make the choice as to whether they wanted to participate or not.  Just by doing something in their normal lives, they were brought into the campaign.  In this case, it was the pulling of a number ticket for a deli counter line.

The numbers symbolized the number location in the line while waiting for an organ.  The biggest number on the ticket could have been somewhere around 27,951 – which would have caused concern if the lit number they were then serving was in the hundreds or less. After reading the copy that explains what the big number relates to and then provides the URL, it does tip-off the real number you are waiting to have called.

In the scheme of a day, it is a small blip out of the normal routine, but the simple and subtle message that intertwines a specific narrative into the mundane that makes the difference. Rather than getting people to step out of their norm and try something new, more opportunities should be ventured into where the location-based campaign really ties into what people went to the location for.

I do not know how they leveraged the video capture beyond the case study video shown above.  When going to the hospital’s site, there’s really not anything I can find and I do not know if there were any commercial video segments placed in media. Whatever it was, there is a strong lesson about how to best intertwine a message into the audience’s real world experiences. It’s so much harder to get someone to change their every day to wait in line for an experience – and this one came up with the great solution of bringing the experience to the line.

Don’t Fall Into The One Size Fits All Strategy Trap

At the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles last week, Lionsgate’s CEO, Jon Feltheimer responded to a question with the statement that studios will likely be spending less on television ads and more on digital promotion in the future. Whether that full shift takes place in a few years or a decade, I don’t know.  But the shift has certainly begun to happen – even if it is just on an extremely small-scale. The reference Feltheimer made stemmed from his conversation about the marketing for THE HUNGER GAMES – where they spent a modest $45 Million and focused heavily on social media due to its core audience. The Chicago Tribune article covering the conference conversation leaves readers with a general feeling that the shift from TV to social has begun and is universal. Unfortunately, that ideology will lead marketers into a trap as the run to one way strategy of doing things doesn’t really make sense.

The Regal Cinemas is seen during the opening night of “The Hunger Games” in Los Angeles (JONATHAN ALCORN, REUTERS / May 4, 2012) Courtesy Chicago Tribune

Focusing on Lionsgate’s research that found that 55% of the moviegoers got “the majority of the information about their movie” online and Feltheimer’s deeming, “That made me think that the paradigm is changing even faster than we thought,” misses some of the point.

If the film did not do so well, I am sure that percentage would have been actually higher.  As the core audience is a huge digital native group, I am sure most of them got their information online or on mobile. But, movies don’t become as huge a success as THE HUNGER GAMES on that young demo alone.  They had to draw huge numbers from people outside of that group in order to generate the huge receipts.  That larger group of people actually brought the average of digital information majority gatherers down.

Taking that into account, the same marketing mix would absolutely not work across all titles as a general rule of thumb. We need to be wary of jumping into that one size fits all mentality because it could become a devastating financial loss. There is absolute opportunity for studios to refine and optimize their spends AND reach with the right bit of strategy prior to planning.

So, will social – or just digital in general – overtake spending on TV by studios?  Maybe, but probably not for quite a while. If you see a horde of people moving in that direction, make sure it still fits with your smart strategy.

The Future Landscapes and New Economics of Original Content

Amid the beginning of the dot-com lunacy at the turn of the millennium, a company called Digital Entertainment Network (den.net) formed as an online channel for original content.  They were positioning themselves to be a form of competition for the traditional broadcast and cable outlets – programming niche original content for youth to access through their computers.  At the time, FBC was getting stronger in its run against the big three networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) and in the spring of 1998, there were only 171 national cable networks.  DEN couldn’t help themselves from getting attention (both good and bad) due to their publicity machine, extravagant parties and the legal issues of its founders.  At the time, it seemed like an interesting model, but not one that could last into the future. Regardless of the content, we really had no clear vision of what that landscape would be and what the economic play would be.

Seeing DEN was one of the things that pushed me to make the move from being a network development executive into digital.  I didn’t think DEN, or any other online video platform at that time, was a recipe for success in the future.  I didn’t know what the future held, but I wanted to jump in near the beginning to see where things would take us. 

DEN went away early in 2000 and the larger dot-com implosion came soon thereafter.  Since then, the world, technology and the outlets for original content have changed beyond anything many imagined.  Besides the more than 500 cable channels that are vying for attention on television sets along with the now big four networks, online video sites and their serving capabilities have improved dramatically and there’s so many ways to view video beyond the television sets and computer monitors.

In addition to the challenges of getting your “channel” seen or even generating awareness about its existence, there’s numerous ways to interact with the content and each other that were either dreams or creative lab tests at the time.  Suffice it to say, the model has evolved and we are all trying to keep up with it.

YouTube launched its program to pay 100 content providers good sums of money to provide sufficient content for their own channels.  They just announced four channels – all focusing on extreme sports – yesterday and there is sure to be more. How they plan to promote and discern between the four remains to be seen.

Episodes of shows on television are appearing on sites across the spectrum – both legitimate and not-so-legitimate. Viewers are expecting to not only watch shows, but to vote on them, communicate with their friends during them no matter where they are and view their content anywhere at any time. Content is being created and now has the ability to be sold in so many forms without the help of traditional media companies (e.g. the previously covered Louis CK concert at the Beacon Theatre). All of these are vying for eyeballs.

Even the production of those shows has dropped in price considerably as technology has allowed us to film HD footage on such easily accessible tools as our mobile phones.  Most computers are coming with at least a basic editing suite with near-professional versions becoming more affordable each year.

The reality is that there is so much more original content (good or bad) coming from different sources that we are still yet to see what the big play will be.  The big companies that are looking to establish themselves as key digital distribution platforms – like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu and more – will continue to pump money into the products to try to generate an audience that is either advertising or subscription supported or both. There is no doubt that the monies going into these productions are significantly smaller than those budgets for content back in 1998 and the amount of buzz that needs to be generated to reach a certain level to make them profitable is more than what was required back then.

What effectively was derived from a standard platform back then has changed so much in such a short time that it has even soundly shifted the foundation that the original platform of television on which it was built upon.  The general feeling in the established media back then was that of superiority. No matter how intrigued or excited we were by the possibilities of the future, nobody really saw it and prepared those established outlets to be able to deftly move along with the flow.

Ultimately, storytelling is storytelling.  Even without the clear economics, we now have access to so much more than before – and so much more of a fragmented audience to try to reach. Yes,  there are more outlets to get the content out there, and the key difference may be in the one that really aggregates everything in the best way possible.  Currently, if someone wants to search for content, it is relatively hard to find with so many different platforms.  For broadcast type stuff you need to pay for, you’ve got to look at outlets like Hulu, Crackle or Netflix.  The outlets to find content of all types for free consist of those like YouTube, Revver, Break and many, many more.  Throw in iTunes and you’ve got even more outlets.  All this leads to more challenges when trying to find content – let alone pay for it.

We have so much more to discover before finding that next standard. It will be in flux for quite a while longer as the players try to re-establish their footing in the quickly-changing marketplace.  The economic possibilities for Original Content and their outlets remain huge and complex – is it enough to just stay in the game?  I’m certain DEN wishes they still in play. And I am certain we all can’t wait to see how it all plays out.