Thursday, March 25, 2010

How (not) to set up your SEM campaign.

Ever since Bud pointed out that no 2010 Super Bowl ads had utilized a custom SEM strategy for the event, I've had some serious longing for smart search strategy in a TV spot. Something inspiring, a la Converse's web of paid search and microsites of 2008. I've come across nothing so far, despite the fact that search and TV are said to work in tandem. Last night, however, a curious bit of voice-over in a spot for DreamWorks' "How To Train Your Dragon" made my ears perk up - would tonight be the night? I wondered.

Watch this trailer, a typical spot promoting the film.

Fairly normal stuff. There are four or so more like it, various cuts and edits, but mostly the same.

Now take a look at this, the cut I saw tonight.

Did you catch it?

Now, I've seen plenty of trailers for this movie, and I probably have a heightened awareness to these spots because I never outgrew kids movies, animation or dragons. Right when it started to roll, I knew it was an ad for "How to Train Your Dragon." I started to pay attention in a 'man! I'm really looking forward to this movie!' sort of way. So, I definitely noticed when I got to the title screen

...and the movie-preview-voice-guy bust out with "DreamWorks' Dragons!"

Nobody in a million years, I decided, would pay millions of dollars to produce and advertise a film and get the name wrong in one cut of the trailer. A clever ruse, to see who's paying attention? I hoped so. It had to be deliberate.

So I Googled, first "how to train your dragon", and saw some pretty standard results,

and then, "dreamworks dragons", hoping for something clever and awe-inspiring.

Disappointingly, nothing was remarkable about the latter. So, I tried a YouTube search.


I Bing-ed, I Yahoo!-ed, I even Asked. Standard results across the board, and no apparent cleverness at play. As it were, the voice-over-guy was just saying the name wrong, and tonight was not the night.

I apologize for leading you down this path, only to dash your hopes for SEM greatness at the end of the road. Trust me, I'm just as disappointed as you are. I do, however, have a few takeaways from this little wild goose-chase. They are threefold.

1. Unless it's deliberately incorrect for a higher purpose, don't be cute about the name of your product in your marketing efforts. Or, if you're going to do so, be consistent. The name of your product is a mainstay of your brand equity. It is important. Calling your product by a different name in just one of a series of ads, that's just bad branding. And it's confusing, especially in an environment where people often multitask, listening and not really watching. Bad idea.

2. Never forget that you always, ALWAYS have the opportunity to do cool things with search. Search can be custom-built to fit literally any campaign, so don't say you can't do it. Cap your budgets at five bucks a day, if you're low on cash. But by all means, utilize this space. It's your playground. People are searching for you - television and search build upon each other, there's no doubt about it. Use this to your advantage.

3. There is always a geek out there somewhere paying attention to your ad, your product, your campaign. Every campaign you put out has the opportunity to be great, even if it's just a movie trailer. Try to produce campaigns worthy of greatness, worthy of scrutiny, wherever possible.

And finally, if your inner child really is a child, like mine is, go see this movie. It looks awesome, whatever it's called.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Offering solutions, Esquire.

Oh my gosh yes, Esquire.

Including 2D barcodes with featured products, solving any sort of "where-can-I-find-that" issues an interested smartphone-having consumer may have.

Being solutions-oriented and forward-thinking FTW. This is how we innovate in traditional media.

Esquire, April 2010

Roll Poll: full-circle campaigning.

An all-time favorite advertising mantra of mine is as follows:

"Advertising is not a one-night stand; good advertising is a relationship. A successful relationship never starts with a one-night stand."

I believe the speaker who introduced that quote was speaking in terms of the nonsense of flighting social media, but it applies in a way to any and all advertising initiatives. Like campaigns, not all relationships last forever, but the ones with meaning tend to have a defined timeline and a clear story. What is a campaign, after all, but a messaging relationship, a messaging story? Any good and well thought-out story, just like most relationships, has a solid beginning, middle, and end.

Delivering a giant punch in the face to any wimpy advertising team who says their brand is low-interest and not good fodder for a riveting integrated campaign, Cottonelle Roll Poll. Does your toilet paper roll over or under? Over or under, indeed.

It's a topic of great importance to me, as evidenced by my reply on LadyData. Over seems to be the *only* correct answer, and I will argue it to the death, for a million different reasons. And apparently, so will a whole lot of other people.

From start to finish, this campaign has been a joy for me, delivering on a strong beginning, middle and end. Totally integrated: television, web, out of home, transit, print are just a few of the media types I've seen utilized, hanging together beautifully from start to finish. My experience with the campaign included the following:

Beginning: television, kicking off some mass awareness with spots such as this:

Hilarious and provoking. I dig it. Gets people to the website for a vote.

Middle: Interactive, keep people talking, voting, and thinking about the brand. The site includes a live polling map, comments-ticker, and video components. Pretty slick for a toilet-paper site. Driving to the site were badges and contests pushed by mommy bloggers, search, the whole nine yards.

Transit and out of home ads tracked the poll in public, showing dedication to the outcome of the campaign (aka, we're not joking, this is a real poll) and providing up-to-date polling results.

End: Some forward-thinking print, bringing the campaign full-circle by displaying the results in an interactive manner.

The print includes a glue-in insert, depicting the toilet paper rolling in the manner the people have chosen (over, obviously, the only correct choice).

It flips up, just like a real roll would, see?

It folds out to include all kinds of information on the poll,

...which includes a pretty infographic!

Loved this print, and was very excited to see it during my Sunday morning magazine catch-up. What a great close to the campaign.

The Cottonelle Roll Poll campaign is important for a few key reasons.

First and foremost, the brand deviated from their traditional messaging (softness, strength, amount, etcetera) and instead went to town with one of life's most pressing questions, something silly.. I applaud them for taking that risk, something we don't tend to see a lot of in the CPG category.

In doing so, they fostered a relationship with a consumer who had seen their product as a necessity, not a topic of conversation. In other words, they got people talking about the product.

Finally, they committed to their campaign, and they played it out to the very end. They didn't leave their consumer hanging; once they engaged, they stuck with the conversation and wrapped it up in a timely manner. Their clear beginning, middle, and end made for a focused and well thought-out campaign, as well as a lovely case study for integration.

Nice work, Cottonelle. I congratulate you on your finely-tuned vision. Advertising is supposed to be fun, after all. We're not saving lives, here.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

One World, Everybody Eats: On business accountability.

I really like the idea of holding your customer service accountable for your business. A true testament of your value to your consumer.

I tore this snippet on One World Everybody Eats from April's Food Network Magazine. [Side note, I ADORE Food Network Magazine. It's got to be the most incredibly well-organized piece of print on the newsstand. Every kind of index you can imagine, including a food-photo recipe index, organized by course (appetizers, salads, and so on). Foodies, go get yourself a copy, immediately. Love, love, love.] Basically, it's a pay-what-you-wish operation with an eye towards organic, unprocessed food and eliminating hunger in the community. FNM highlighted the fact that customers are willingly paying more than their share, which more than makes up for those who can't pay. The whole operation is so successful, more locations are beginning to pop up around the country.

Obviously, the idea of charity is a factor here, and people are more likely to give to a good cause. But the fact that a business could operate successfully simply off the appreciation of their consumer base makes for a wonderful argument for the necessity of delivering on great customer service and a high-quality product.

In the spirit of charity, I think one of my developer-friends should do a little pro-bono site work for them... their site could use a little love. What say ye?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Studies find men, octopuses prefer HD formats.

First of all, yes, octopuses is a correct plural form of octopus. I looked it up.

This is a post about psychology, technology, marine biology, and the common ties that bind.

Psychology and Technology: Men and high-def
If I had to bullet-point my notes on the male gender from the past 24 years spent studying them, one key takeaway to note is that they prefer things to be viewed in high-definition whenever possible. Sports, video games, movies; my collective interactions with my father, brothers, friends and various assorted boyfriends have taught me that men prefer to be entertained in as large and crispy-clear a format as possible. This is very important to them, and they will eagerly fork over their hard-earned paychecks to improve their viewing experience. Some larger events (the Super Bowl, for example) are deemed by men as hardly worth watching in standard definition. Almost all press-worthy technological advances in the way of the television have had to do with the clarity and size of the picture. High-def, so it seems, is serious business.

Marine Biology: Octopuses

My apologies to the men in the audience that this video is somewhat fuzzy.

By the magic of the internet, I've been part of an initiative for the past year or so collecting materials on that sharpest of invertebrates, the octopus. The interest stems from the fact that our friend the octopus is capable of so much, such as using tools or giving unassuming aquarium-workers what for. Please, read. A sampling from the latter:

"In one instance, an octopus given a slightly spoiled shrimp stuffed it down the drain while maintaining eye contact with its keeper."


Gizmodo alerted me to a study in which octopuses had refused to react to videos footage for ten years - UNTIL they were shown video in high-def. Then, they lunged, darted, attacked, or hid.

"Previous attempts to get octopuses to respond to videos failed, probably because they used CRT, which displays footage at a rate of 24 frames per second – too slowly for their sophisticated eyes."

Conclusion: Octopuses are not unlike men
Like men, octopuses find that things that are not in high-def are often not worth watching.

You can be sure I'll keep you posted if any other worthwhile octopus-fodder comes my way. Man-fodder too, for that matter.

Happy Monday!

An extremely brief history of octopus gadgetry, John Herrman,, Dec 14, 2009
Curious octopus floods aquarium, Christine Dell'Amore,, Feb 27, 2009
Did you know that octopus love high-definition crabs, Kyle VanHemert,, Mar 12, 2010
HDTV reveals brainy octopus has no personality, Shanta Barley,, Mar 12, 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The "death" of a medium.

What's your all-time favorite print campaign that you can think of off the top of your head?

A print rep asked me that recently. I stared at her for a second, mouth agape, before she followed up with, "alright, what's ANY print campaign that you can think of?" It took a second before I could come up with the Absolut campaign. A wonderful campaign, indeed; TBWA has been running that puppy in one form or another since 1981. Makes sense that I would remember it.

I can easily rattle off 100 TV spots, no problem. Plenty of cool digital campaigns. Radio stuff, even. But apparently, in 21 years of literacy, I can only conjure up one print ad.

People love print. One of my fearless account directors recently labeled it "media dessert." People make time for magazines. They like to sit down with print and have an armchair vacation. They savor it. I am a heavy user of magazines. I get somewhere around ten to fifteen magazines a week, and it breaks my heart when it comes time to throw them away. So, what's the deal?

Brutal honesty: print is not that exciting. But why? It's been proven to be a great reach driver. It's been proven to move the needle. Must print campaigns run for 30 years to be memorable?

Potential false reasons why print is not memorable:

1. Print is dead.

Print is not dead. How many times have we heard this now, that a media type is dead? The invention of television rendered radio obsolete. The invention of DVR rendered television obsolete. And yet we still watch TV and listen to the radio.

Yes, 2009 was a bad year for magazines, just like it was a bad year for everyone else in the industry. Crain's New York reported 367 magazines closed in 2009. However, they also reported that this was a bit of a slowdown; 526 magazines ceased operation in 2008, and 573 in 2007. Truth is, magazines aren't closing because of ad pages. Like any other business, a magazine closes when its business model can no longer sustain its production. Very few of the magazines I work with decreased their rate bases; several had increases. Also per Crain's, 247 magazines launched in 2009. That's a pretty good year, if you ask me.

People are finding new ways to consume print, sure. Which brings me to number 2:

2. Digital is the new print.

I saw this article fluttering around the Twittersphere on Monday, and many concerned/elated comments along with it. Print is finally dead! Digital is king! Etcetera. In a nutshell, Forbes is seeing digital spending up 10% in 2010, for the first time outspending print media. Now, I am certainly a champion of digital media in all its wonder and glory. There is no doubt in my mind that digital spending is very much on the rise, and a strong player in the media mix. But this article and its implications gave me pause for a few reasons.

Print and digital have completely different usage occasions. The experience with the medium, the type of interaction is not the same. Print is more passive, digital, more active. They should really be addressed as such. In integrated campaigns, they often run in tandem - this alone should tell us that they serve different functions.

Also, if we're going to talk about apples to apples, the items that were tallied for digital spend do not seem congruent to those which could have a similar objective in print. Magazine ad spending was compared to combined spend in e-mail, video ads, display ads and search marketing. Display ads, video, sure. But email, I would consider that a CRM tactic, or direct marketing. Doesn't quite seem in line with print to me. And search, an enormous business, has an entirely different objective than display and generally aims for a different target. So, while I am very excited to see so many eggs being put in the digital basket, I don't know that I'm ready to say that digital has "beaten" print just yet. They serve different purposes.

Print is not dead. And it's not digital. So what is it? Some sort of media zombie?

Potential true reasons why print is not memorable:

We've stopped trying.

Let's face it, from an agency perspective, print can be boring. A standard print ad is not dynamic, it's not interactive. It doesn't give you any kind of stats or rich data surrounding its usage. It is inherently not viral. Sure, you can jazz up a print ad; make it scented, change your paper stock, drive to web in the call-to-action. But print in and of itself is not sexy.

Print, to me, is one of those things that you have think about from the vantage point of an old advertising romantic. Absolut did a really wonderful job of this. The creative was treated like art, the brand message was strong and clear, and there was a very defined strategy connecting each creative treatment. They committed to their creative strategy 100%, and haven't faltered once in three decades. I know this doesn't make sense for every campaign, every product, every time, but I think the way that they were thinking about their brand strategy is crucial here. Creative strategy is SO important in print, just as in any medium.

Media strategy is another place we can't cut corners. It's so easy to throw a page in a book. That, however, doesn't guarantee that anyone will see it. Before consumers can start to seek out our campaign, perhaps to display them on their walls like people did and do with the Absolut bottles, we first need to show it to them. Integration. Innovation. There needs to be a way to work with magazine partners to keep print advertising alive and well. Just because digital media offers another avenue to connect with a consumer doesn't mean we should allow traditional media to fall by the wayside. If anything, we should work twice as hard to help it keep up, so long as the medium is still relevant to the consumers.

Print is not dead, and it's not digital, but we have perhaps stopped trying. I love digital; I love everything about it. But I don't believe that because there are more innovative things out there, there is no longer room for innovation in traditional media. There are roadblocks with every campaign, regardless of media type; playing alchemist, to me, is one of the greatest parts of working in advertising.

Instead of freaking out about the "death" of print, why don't we all calm down and have a good think about ways to recreate it as something memorable. A better use of energy, in my opinion.

"367 magazines shuttered in 2009", Crain's New York, December 11, 2009
"Digital Lift-Off",, March 8, 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010

Like minds, Writeminds.

I recently mentioned reading Wired to Care, by Dev Patnaik, as part of an agency initiative, a deep dive on empathy. Empathy, in this case, referring to the idea that businesses are best seeded for prosperity when they can put themselves in the shoes of their consumers. And not just in a being-thoughtful kind of way. It's more of a changing-your-whole-business-perspective, living-breathing-doing sort of way.

I wasn't planning to write about Wired to Care until I was done reading, but this bit on page 45 made me stop for a think.

"For thousands of years, people made things for other people they knew. Cobblers made shoes for people who lived down the street. That intimacy helped a cobbler know whether you had flat feet, liked to walk, or sprained your ankle last summer. All of that ended when something transformative happened to human society; a rift grew between producers and consumers that we've been struggling to repair ever since."

The empathy thing, the thinking-like-the-consumer thing, isn't a new philosophy. It's old. Crazy old, in fact. Patnaik goes on to credit the explosion of commerce the Industrial Revolution brought for separating the producer from the consumer. Fantastic for productivity, but perhaps distracted from a focus on the relationship with the consumer. Prior to the explosion of industry, empathy wasn't a business initiative; it just was. Now, businesses like Harley-Davidson and Microsoft are living and dying by their ability to be the ball. And businesses who aren't never seem to be quite right. Is it possible to have a smash hit product when you can't think what your consumer is thinking? Is it possible to fit a need you aren't 100% sure exists?

This video shows the author, Dev Patnaik, discussing some of the issues that inspired the book. Here. Watch. I'm sorry that I can't embed it. Kind of ruins my flow, I know.

But seriously, watch it. And then come back. I'll wait.


Interesting, right? I particularly like the bit about Microsoft and the X-Box; for nerds, by nerds being a recipe for success. That, and this excerpt from page 45 got me thinking.

"It's much harder to succeed when you create things for people you don't know and whose lives seem alien to your own."

I have some friends who are entrenched in the development of a consumer-facing product, a content-creation platform called Writeminds. It's promised to be a quiet place for writing, and a simple, clean environment for editing, collaborating, and publishing. You can sign up now to be a beta tester, which I recommend very strongly to my writer friends (I'm talking to you, Paige). I'm pretty excited to give it a whirl, as the Blogger interface is less than ideal.

A month or so ago, I was attempting to explain the Writeminds idea to my mother, perhaps not very eloquently. She asked why I was so sure it would be a hit. And, I didn't know. It just felt right to me. I was reminded of this conversation when I started reading Wired to Care, and suddenly it made such perfect sense as to why Writeminds feels right.

Patnaik's empathy is why this product will work, if they do it right (and I am confident that they will). These gents are digital natives, curious people, and most importantly, creators of web content. They are their consumer. They know the need exists, because it's their need. And they know what issues to address, because they are their issues. They are experts on their consumer, and as such are very well-poised to solve the problem at hand.

I'm looking forward to seeing what comes from the gentlemen of Writeminds. Also, I'm looking forward to finishing Wired to Care. I'm 48 pages in, and already two blog-worthy quotes. That's how you know it's good.

Source: Wired to Care, Dev Patnaik, 2009

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Digital deep-cleaning.

In my time spent working on home cleaning products, I've learned that there are two types of cleaning: touch-up cleaning and deep cleaning. Touch-ups are the tidy-ups; the Swiffer wipes, the straighten-ups, the quick once-overs with the vacuum. Deep cleaning is the get-your-bucket-and-bleach-out-style cleaning, the kind that goes down on hands and knees. Less frequent, but much more thorough and hardcore. Hold your TWSSs, if you would.

I'm a neat freak, and as such, am constantly performing touch-ups in my various digital spaces. However, in the spirit of spring cleaning, I've implemented some digital deep cleaning over the past few weeks. Apparently, but not surprisingly, I get just as geeked out over digi-cleaning as I do about Swiffering. Curse you, P&G, and your verb-able products!

My digital deep-clean
First and foremost, I finally coughed up the ten bucks and purchased to host my blog. My first domain! I'm pretty stoked about it. Feel free to insert Pinocchio "I'm a real boy" joke here.

Secondly, I gave my blog a little face-lift to go with its shiny new URL. This stuff is probably old hat to you, but I'm feeling pretty fancy about it all. I made it more:

I've got some tabs going on, and some secondary pages to explore. Please, click away. By moving about and contact info to their own homes, I have a cleaner homepage. Anyone who's seen my white-on-white apartment knows the kind of joy this brings me.


That's right, my pith can now be delivered directly to your hot little reader via RSS. Right now I'm my only subscriber. The button is enormous, which is exactly how buttons should be when you want people to click them. So, I hope you will. Either way, I'm a happy camper.

I've added search functionality and a tag cloud to the right-hand navigation. I hope to someday have enough memorable content here to warrant the use of both of these.

I am a more than a year behind the eight-ball on tapping into Google Analytics. But, no matter; now that they're set up, I'm elbows-deep in data and optimizing away. Happy happy happy! The map feature allows me to confirm that my mother (Lake in the Hills, IL) is my most loyal reader.

Other digital prunings of note
Cleaning and re-organizing my Reader
Setting up Reader in my HTC Droid Eris
Wiping out and re-building my Tweetdeck groups (went from 10 groups to 2!)
A mass geo-tagging and sorting of Flickr photos
Sorting through and cleaning out my Teux-Deux list

I feel so much better already. And, to keep on top of it, some Lenten Resolutions, of sorts:

My digital to-do list for March
Log interesting nuggets from Analytics data each morning
Remember to favorite things: photos, tweets
Bookmark all tabs to Delicious
Make better use of my Reader; share more

I'm looking forward to seeing how these updates improve my digital experience, and help better express my digital persona. If you have any tips for how you keep your digitae cranking, I would love to hear them! Cheers to spring, all.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Media Planner's Guide to the Super Bowl: Reprise.

In the midst of the post-Super Bowl rabble, I wrote about media placement, trying to sort out the intricacies of media's grandest dance. One of the points I made referenced the Dockers and ads that ran one right after another with very similar creative. The question: did either brand get a make-good?

The answer: yep. Chris just posted a comment pointing me to this Ad Age post documenting the aftermath. Dockers did receive free air time from CBS, despite the fact that conflicting creative content within a pod would not normally warrant a make-good.

A note on pod organization:
"TV networks deliberately screen commercials for outsize claims, unproven allegations against competitors, decency standards and other criteria. But they rarely make certain the theme and creative elements in one are completely different from others that may air in the same commercial break."
 Thanks for addressing, Ad Age, and thanks to Chris for calling my attention to it.

Another day, another media mystery solved. LMJ, signing off.

Another way to look at things.

My most excellent cousin Ingrid has always had the following quote as her email signature. I, in turn, have always wanted to steal it for something, so here we go.
If you change the way you look at things, things will change the way they look. -Wayne Dyer
My job as an ad gal is to use channels to show people another way to look at something, often something mundane and seemingly uninteresting. Make it relevant to them. Make them need it. Seems crass, but that's what we do. And, it's interesting and fantastic when it works and we're able to transform something properly.

Even things that seem pretty solid and airtight can always be reworked into something new and quite spectacular. Providing inspiration on that front is Pomplamoose.

Pomplamoose is a two-man operation known for covering popular music with an entirely different sound. They're not new, but I re-stumbled upon them yesterday evening when I needed to take another look at my own situation, and I thought I'd share a sampling of them with you here.

My Favorite Things

Beat It

And, my absolute favorite, Single Ladies

Check out their full channel here.

I'm challenging myself to find a new way to look at things today.