Tag Archives: Storytelling

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.

TV Ads Score Supreme During A World Cup Of Fewer Ads

It is easy to get caught up in the fervor of the World Cup as hundreds of millions root for teams from around the globe. Many of those viewers may be seeing ad styles that they’re not used to seeing if they are not already watchers of Soccer/Futbol – with no breaks other than half-time. With that being said, it’s interesting to see the quality of the futbol-themed ads and the alternative viewing data that’s revealing itself in this first week of competition. Tubefilter reports that 1.2 Billion minutes of World Cup adverts have been watched on YouTube alone in the first week. What was refreshing beyond the numbers was the opportunity to see some great spots in a language I don’t fully understand when watching games on Univision – where the advertisers have really score in producing strong ads with emotional strings that defy language.

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While there are many good spots that capture the great skill of the sport in a technical sense as a solid celebration of the game, the strongest visceral response I had was to McDonald’s “House Divided” spot in Spanish.  Honestly, I even had a little letdown when I saw it in English as it changed the resonance somewhat.

What does seem to be the case is that the general public gets an opportunity to see ad creative surrounding the Beautiful Game that they otherwise might not get a chance to see.  In the case of McDonald’s, they’ve gone to an agency they’ve had strong history with from an emotional perspective tied to futbol the Alma agency based in Miami.  Alma created another futbol-based winner for the golden arches in February of ’13 with their Ancha spot.

World events like this have that great by-product – love ’em or hate ’em – of TV ads that can truly connect emotionally.  Even with the limited opportunities for running within the matches themselves, their strength and emotion reign supreme during this Beautiful Tournament for the Beautiful Game..

Los Angeles Billboard Check

Visitors to Los Angeles are always in awe of the number, scale and permutations of billboards across the city. To those who live here, they can often be lost within the urban sprawl. Because of this, its worth checking out some billboards of interest – and the reasons they are compelling.

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The buzz surrounding the final season of the series, BREAKING BAD, is deafening. Even those “in the know” folks in LA are plainly not when it comes to this television show.  Is the lead going to live or die? Is the antagonist’s DEA agent brother going to bring him down, or vice-versa? The anticipation for the final story is of the same level of that other popular show where everyone was rooting for the antagonist, HBO’s THE SOPRANOS.

Which leads to a billboard seen around town for BREAKING BAD.  With the image of the main character, the marketing team was judicious in their copy – keeping it short, sweet and with absolutely no answers! Whether they meant it or not, the words could be conveyed in so many ways – from that of a drug kingpin demanding respect and immortality to the invocation of a song from the 80s version of FAME (I’m going to live forever.) To me, it’s a perfect billboard in imagery, copy and information.

XX Venice

Angelenos are also used to billboards conveying insider information.  For instance, you can easily figure out the paths that studio heads take to their offices as their studios’ billboards, bus sides and others are always on that route. Of interest was this Dos Equis billboard with the quote “He can get from the valley to Venice in 14 minutes.”  Certainly, the quote works for a location-specific audience who constantly trades in how long they can get from one part of town to another. But this one intrigued me for another reason.

Though I’ve never met Jonathan Goldsmith, the actor who portrays The Most Interesting Man In The World in the Dos Equis commercials, I do know that he lived in Marina de Rey and the Venice area when the spots started in 2006.  With that understanding, I wouldn’t be surprised if the marketing team got the idea from a casual discussion with Goldsmith.  I could imagine Goldsmith brashly stating that he could get from the Valley to Venice in 14 minutes – and a billboard quote was born.

Of course, my assumptions about both billboards could be completely wrong – which only proves how much the viewer’s perception plays into these large format advertisements… Stay Marketing, My Friends.

Wonka Taught My 4-yo Everything About Marketing

So, maybe there’s no truth in my daughter learning anything about marketing while watching the 1971 Gene Wilder version of WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, but there was certainly compelling content that could lead to a dissertation for anyone who cares to share on their way to a marketing degree. Though one of my favorite movies, I had not seen it in years.  It seemed like the perfect time to share with my daughter – since she had just completed being read the story in her pre-school. The magical moments remain, but what struck me most are the marketing concepts and case studies (good and bad) that play out in the film.

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Here’s just a couple of concepts or case studies from the film:

Kick-off a season or product by giving away product to those who are most likely to come back and buy your product.

The movie start out with kids leaving school – presumably for the summer break – and running to the candy store. It’s clear that not everyone is allowed inside as we see Charlie Bucket on the outside looking in.  What he sees through the glass is the candy man effectively throwing candy at the kids and even welcoming them behind the counter to take what they want.

When we return to the store later, its much quieter and the same candy man requires payment for whatever is bought. That store cleaning at the beginning of the film must have been great for loyalty – and clearing out old inventory to make way for the Wonka Bar craze that was soon to be a boon to the candy business…

Create a promotion with such an insane reward that demand for product skyrockets globally driving sales far beyond consumption capabilities.

The placement of 5 golden tickets leading to a lifetime supply of candy made everyone go insane and those who could, bought more chocolate bars than anyone could eat. Add to that demand by inflating the re-sellers’ market (a box’s auction started at 5000 GBP) and you’ve not only increased sales, but you’ve increased the value of the brand exponentially.

We won’t harbor on the fact that it seemed, in the end, that Wonka seemingly had no intention of honoring the candy for life for all five winners.

Truly create an compelling experience and people will do everything they can to be a part of it.

After 20 years of Grandpa Joe, Grandma Josephina, Grandpa George and Grandma Georgina being bed-ridden, Grandpa Joe miraculously gets out of bed and, within minutes, is dancing in preparation for visiting the Wonka factory.

Throw off your competition by sharing news about the development of a product that is so secretive that everyone wants a piece of it – even if it has no long-term value.

Reports were coming out about the Everlasting Gobstopper as soon as the contest launched (if not sooner) and everyone wanted to know what they were. In this case, the evil competitor reached out to all five winners to entreat them to bring back a sample of the super-secret product.

On a side note about gaming rules and ethics, one has to question how he was able to be in the proximity of every single winner just moments after they won.  In fact, after finding that he was a Wonka employee, one can question the validity of the random-ness of winning…

Had anyone stopped to think about the commercial viability in the Everlasting Gobstopper, they would have realized that there was no future.  It would have done great sales at first, but you would not have been able to sell more than one to a person (or a family with proper cleaning and hygiene) because you could never finish sucking on them – they’re everlasting!

Create a theme park factory to draw crowds.  Even if you don’t allow visitors, the pent-up excitement will find its way into your sales.

It sadly drew parallels to Michael Jackson’s Neverland – where too few people got to experience it and be transported.

Did you see the amazement on the kids’ faces when they see the candy garden, the chocolate river, its boat or the sudsy car contraption that only traveled 20 yards?  That stuff was priceless and was created, ostensibly, to never be seen by anyone other than Wonka and his Oompa Loompas… But, those tales that would be told by the kids after they saw it and the demand it would have created would have only led further to propping up the brand’s image.

Epilogue

Much like this was all fantasy created in the mind of Roald Dahl or the filmmakers, there is always a bit of truth at its core.  We can pick out what we like and discard the rest.  We can gloss over the fact that the contract that Wonka had the minors sign without their parents’ signatures would not hold up if challenged.

The Quaker Oats company actually paid for the production as a launch point for their new candy bars that they were planning to go to market with. The sad thing is that the products got into market at the time of the theatrical release, but they all had to be recalled because they melted.

What is prevalent as the film relates to marketing is that a sense of wonder goes a long way toward its effectiveness. What happens in the long run is up to how strong the product actually is. A great story can launch a product, but a great product can launch a story and reach even greater heights.

Lacking Vision and Strategy, Everyone Witnessed the Hemmorhaging While Waiting For Others To Act

On the heels of Advertising Week and all of the feel-good excitement it generates, the feeling intensified that there’s too much mis-directed emphasis in digital media.  The reasons for this could be due to digital media’s “youth,” but I’m worried it’s based more on lack of vision or creativity. Far too often, the take-aways from large events or provider presentations are mired in technical/representational capabilities.  The buzz analysis emphasizes media’s reach via platforms, pushes, networks and the like. But reach and placement opportunity is only part of the equation – the thing that’s too often left out of the mix is how they could fit with a brand’s strategy.  No matter how cool the technology is or how many eyeballs are reached, if there’s not a clear plan for how the story connects with the eyeballs emotionally or what the end-user will do with this new-found information, all that advertisers are doing is filling pipeline just because it is there.

Image from Advertising Week 2012
(Courtesy of Hunt Mobile)

While we can focus on any part of the media environment to illustrate this, we can look at mobile. Yesterday I came across two pieces online to help convey the concern – CMO Council’s report on companies’ relationship with Mobile and David Gwozdz’ (CEO of Mojiva – a major global player in mobile advertising) recap of Advertising Week in the Huffington Post.

First off, I really like Mojiva and what they are able to do in the mobile space in many global markets via great targeting and interesting ad formats.  As such, I was interested in Gwozdz’ take on the conference.  Near the top of his recap, he astutely conveys the conference’s permeating message that “technology has to work collaboratively with creative,” but then numbers his top things heard/learned at the conference and all of them relate to mechanics.  They are definitely important, but what is missing are the opportunities to connect creatively and what needs to happen strategically to be able to count mobile as a success.  He does end on the note that what he listed (and the conference in general) was just a first step and I agree.

The concern is that judgements are being made by CMOs and other C-Level executives relating to mobile based on the possibilities, platforms and metrics, but those don’t always relate to any true strategies or even opportunities to genuinely connect in ways that are right for the medium. As with any new medium, it is a challenge to shift people to do things in ways they had not previously. The thing is, we should have learned from our growing pains with the advent of “New Media” years ago.  Everything was mentioned about the mechanics of reaching consumers but it was all in the jargon of other forms of media. Nobody was formulating campaigns to leverage the platform and its capabilities.  In mobile, there is a lot to be learned, but that learning curve will be longer as we try to just fill the hole with something that worked for other platforms.  Again, as we’ve learned with online advertising — not only do the same rules not apply, they keep evolving.

The one thing that can remain consistent regardless of platform is clear and cohesive strategy – which brings us to the report published by the CMO Council.

The survey of  250 companies’ chief marketer found that there is a general struggle with mobile.  Only 8% felt that they had advanced capabilities in the mobile channel.  The thing that struck me is — 26% of the respondents are currently building mobile apps and an extra 17% stated that they have a “good level” of competence in mobile marketing — yet only 16% currently have a mobile strategy in place. Of the 43% delving in mobile, only 16% bothered to devise a strategy first?

Once that caveat was established, it didn’t really matter that 43% of the respondents were unimpressed with their results in mobile or the fact that 69% are most interested in social media ads with 54% hot on paid media in mobile. It’s all irrelevant when there is no real strategy to base it on – it reverts back to the shiny object factor and executives’ chase after the hottest new thing.

This obviously doesn’t just relate to mobile media – it relates to every facet of the marketing puzzle. If companies skimp on the foundation of establishing a strategy and just pay for marketing based on what sounds cool or what is the shiny object du jour, there will certainly be a lot of money wasted.

For the sake of all media – publishers, technology firms, brands, planners and agencies need to step up and fully increase their chops in the strategy and storytelling departments.  It needs to be a collaborative process.  Planners can’t absolve themselves of all creative responsibility. Brands can’t leave it to agencies to fully develop product strategies. Technology firms and publishers can’t figure that clients will easily connect the dots between the ways the shiny object could connect correctly with the consumer. A clear and consistent strategy enables all the parties to up their game and create successful campaigns. That strong strategy also allows others to gain insight into the original vision.

For all players, if you’re not going to formulate a dynamic strategy that energizes the brand, enables those working on it and allows for format flexibility, all you’ll be left with is a bunch of data that doesn’t mean much and even more opportunity (costs/revenue) flowing out the door.

While it sort of makes sense for publishers and technologists to emphasize mechanics, the lack of marketing vision creates an obstacle that doesn’t need to be there. It places too much burden on the clients to figure out how the platform helps them. Conversely, marketers need to build the marketing and media strategy that provide the vision to immediately determine whether a technology or platform works or not.  If they don’t fit your strategy, there’s no easier way to move along until you find just the right platform for connecting with your consumers.

Until the emphasis on strategy and the vision it helps to convey becomes commonplace within companies of all kinds, resources will continue to be hemmorhaged with diminishing chances for ROI.

Fear Forces Social Television To Grow Up

TV Guide just released a survey about Social TV and the Mass Market and while I don’t know how many people were included in the survey, one thing that stood out was the top reason for people to share what they are watching.  When asked “Why do you share what you’re watching,” the leading response was not “To tell my friends which shows I watch.” Leading the way with 76% was the reasoning that they do it to help keep their favorite shows on the air.  That’s a huge component – and not a new topic on the list (it was second last year) – that points to the growing maturity (and perhaps cynicism) of the audience. When fans are using social media to try to manipulate the business behind their favorite shows, it’s a sign of growing up that evokes the sense of nostalgia or loss a parent might have when their child starts realizing that Santa, the tooth fairy and leprechauns don’t exist. If the numbers are true, it’s too bad that social media surrounding television has grown up with a bit more fear than innocent discovery.

There has been social outreach that has led to shows being saved in the past (Friday Night Lights and Roswell come quickly to mind.)  A few months ago, Daisy Whitney wrote about the correlation between social buzz and ratings – with the report from Nielsen that, for the 18-34 age group, a 9% increase in social relates to a 1% increase in ratings. But, neither of these directly relates to the fan’s somewhat bizarre use of social to trigger business decisions.  much like parents would not want their children to engage in the family finances, should the providers of television content want the viewers to feel that they have to do anything but love (and interact with) the show to keep it on the air?

With the viewer’s time investment in shows that have no assuredness they will actually remain on the air, perhaps the social action is something they can do to feel that they are affecting the eventual outcomes. And sadly, it seems they feel  that they have to do such a thing as somewhat of a defensive tactic.

There are so many opportunities for social buzz as it relates to celebrating – and even extending the narrative – for beloved shows. With the growing periods of time between seasons for a number of series, there is a need for more social programming to keep the audiences engaged.  Three Showtime series (SHAMELESS, HOUSE OF LIES and CALIFORNICATION) had season finales this past weekend and will not return with new episodes until winter of 2013 – that’s a long time to keep interest up.  Maintaining a flow of social content could help keep interest there. With an even shorter hiatus of nine months, the season 2 premiere the series, THE KILLING on AMC only brought in 1.8 million total viewers. While those numbers are still decent in this fragmented world, its a half million less than the amount who watched the season finale on June 19, 2011. Again, leveraging social to keep viewers engaged rather than letting them fend for themselves could have helped to generate more awareness.

I’ve always felt that social could be a better tool for exploration rather than maintenance. The thing is, there’s often a responsibility tied to the narrative of the show and the question of who “owns” that progression.  In most cases, the show runners or owners would not want to give that control to the users.  Without opening up the opportunities for conversation beyond the latest episode or a show’s “Who Shot J.R.?” question, there’s not really a lot users can dig into during the hiatus.

It then comes down to economics.  Networks have the model of promoting a show when it is actually on the air. The owners of the shows are in the best position to activate campaigns that bridge the gap because they control the show narratives, but they usually don’t have the budgets set up to handle any such campaign. There are many reasons this should change – beyond just retaining fans through long breaks – that we’ll dig into in a later post. I guess it comes down to who needs those viewers more, the show or the network. The answer is probably shared right down the middle to some extent.

So, at some point, the kids caught on to how the adults were doing things and innocence was lost. Some would argue that its hardest to foster true creativity and connection from fear. It would be better for all involved if the fear of a show being cancelled was not the top reason, by a large margin, for people to be involved in a show’s social activity. Time and again, it has been proven that people relate and connect to things that have a narrative or emotional hook more than those with just mechanical activities. The “saving the world” narrative might work for some shows’ fans – probably for limited periods of time – but to truly maintain and build a fan base, there needs to be a shift from fear to celebration/engagement in terms of social media and television.

Consumers Connections as the Metric To Rule Them All – But What Is It?

Yet another iMedia Summit has come and gone and I think they did a really nice job.  This one was the Video Summit and there was more than enough in the way of presentation and provocation to push the conversations along about media and digital video content. Shelley Palmer was the chief instigator as he pushed for people to think and make choices one way or the other about how this is all going to work – sometimes he pushed too hard, but his insights were welcome throughout.  It seemed clear that the biggest hurdle for all players – traditional media planners, digital media planners, publishers, brands, technologists and developers – is the navigation from where we are in the way of monetizing digital video content to where we think it can be.  What exacerbates the challenge is the never-ending search for the metric that clearly works for both television and digital distribution. With that search, the problem remains that powerful storytelling and true connections with consumers is oft skipped over by technologies and program mechanics – leaving everyone questioning what metric will rule them all.

Jen Dawson (TubeMogul), Felix Gomez (Pointroll), Jonathan Tavss (Scarlet Strategic)

iMedia tried something new this time by offering a track specifically for creatives and production companies to explore the tricks of the trade and, countered against the media-heavy elements of the rest of the summit, the creative samples were refreshing.  Though there could have stood to be more creative attendees, it was a strong first-go. I do wish that there was more interplay between creatives and planners as way to extend the conversation about what the possibilities may be. It ended up feeling like the creatives were excluded at a certain point and that was a shame – especially as one of the presentations in the In-Focus track showcased a strong partnership between Moxie’s media and creative teams worked closely to produce a very compelling campaign for Verizon.  Showcasing that stuff to everyone could have gotten the juices flowing about solutions other than what planners already know and the tendency to stick with that known commodity.

Both Palmer and Intel’s Futurist, Brian David Johnson beseeched everyone to envision a great future and make it happen. I agree whole-heartedly with what they said, but opportunities to get the imagination going could have been done through programming that led to more sharing and problem solving.  Whether it was by way of presenting some of the In-Focus track sections to the entire community or programming round-table sessions –like what iMedia has done at their Breakthrough summits in the past — people could have been prodded more completely to be creative and then see where that lead us.

But, in the end, the fact that there is an environment where people can share thoughts and ideas without too much preening or jockeying within a social context, these iMedia Summits are invaluable.  Hopefully, they will continue to grow and evolve.  As this was the first Video-specific summit, I look forward to seeing the evolution of both the medium and its programming in the future.  It can’t do anything but further itself into the conversation as the powers that be are pushing digital content further into the stratosphere that is usually reserved for television.

I’ve already conveyed my concerns about not staking digital as strong and specific, yet different beast and present it as such to the media community – and I brought it up at the conference as well. But, we can all hope that the similarities and differences are carefully and clearly communicated and understood by the influencers and the decision makers. Again, the type of interaction and communication that is offered at these summits can go a long way toward that becoming a reality.