The internet has revolutionized a plethora of pastimes: the way people communicate, find dates, commit crimes, you name it. But the business of selling stuff and of building brands continues to see one of the most radical transformations. At the cutting edge is the viral campaign; the short video clip, game, widget or ad that is so compelling much of an advertiser’s work is done for them when their prospective customers forward it to their contacts quickly building up an audience of millions.
What I love about the following ten campaigns is that they did not set out to be viral - they set their creative foot forward and the audience embraced the ideas and made them viral by continuing the conversation. The ones that captured the most attention are edgy, surprising, original, erotic and emotional that tapped in to sub-cultures or into popular culture.
1. Nike: This clip is one of the all time greatest virals ever, with more than 50 million views globally. Featuring world famous soccer star Ronaldinho hitting the crossbar no less than four times, without the ball touching the floor. The creative material is from Framfab, in Denmark. The product on display is the Nike R10 football boot. A massive discussion on whether the clip was actually real or computer edited drove millions of interested viewers to the campaign.
2. John West Salmon Ad: A John West employee fights a grizzly bear off to land a fish – just to go that extra mile for quality. Obviously, it is set up, but with costumes from the Jim Henson Creature Shop it looks surprisingly real, until the bear starts throwing Kung Fu tricks at the “fisherman”
3. Dove Onslaught: Another classic out of Janet Kestin and Ogilvy & Mather, Toronto
4. Harley Davidson Widget: This widget launched with a LIVE video feed for H.O.G's and now acts as a fantastic source of entertainment on web pages across the internet.
5. Marc Ecko: Having started several enterprises around the hip/hop, skater and style scene, Ecko decided to create a ideological statement on the First Amendment. He filmed a session of himself ”tagging” Air Force One and used the following hype to explain why. Did he really spray grafitti on the President’s jet? Judge for yourself @ http://www.stillfree.com
6. Ice Breakers Watch and Whoa: The Spring Break Casting call reality web cast followed four couples on their Spring Beak adventure that ultimately lead one couple to star in the Ice Breakers Beach commercial. While the "Citrus Relay" (http://www.ifilm.com/video/2833182) lead the pack of 32 videos, the site received the biggest fanfare.
7. Coke Zero - Sue A Friend: Two actors pose as marketing execs who start a grassroots campaign to sue coke. A site, rich media with widgets facilitated the spread of the fun functionality.
8. The Trojan Games: Trojan Condoms in the United Kingdom, the "official" web site for the so-called "Trojan Games" was created with several clips by UK-based The Viral Factory. This one is my favorite.
9. Quicksilver Dynamite Surfing: How to go surf in a country without waves: a group of young men throw a bundle of dynamite into an urban lake. Whether the clip was real or not was never really discovered, a factor that itself garnered attention.
10. Criss Angel Freak Your Mind: EVB pulls off a multi-platform magic trick that plunges users into the unbelievable illusions of A&E's "Criss Angel MindFreak." (http://www.freakyourmind.com/) Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest. That's certainly the case with this site. By focusing the experience on "Freaking your friend's mind" and the resulting magical video and follow-up phone call, the designers were able to create an experience that requires little effort from the viewer but has a very cool and impressive payoff.
What is were your favorites this year?? Help add to my list and study by submitting campaigns that were conversation worthy in your social circles.
Tags: Coke Zero - Sue A Friend, Criss Angel Freak Your Mind, Dove Onslaught, Harley Davidson, Ice Breakers Watch and Whoa, John West Salmon, Marc Eco, Nike, Quicksilver Dynamite Surfing, The Trojan Games
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"If you want to be respected by others, the great thing is to respect yourself. Only by that, only by self-respect, will you compel others to respect you." -- Fyodor Dostoyevsky
I was catching up on prototyping tools this week when I was introduced to Adobe's gave new RIA-Builder, Thermo. The demo showed how to take a Photoshop or Fireworks-generated screenshot and transform it into an interactive Flex UI that can be edited in FlexBuilder. This new tool is aimed at designers and will be out in 2008.
There is no official page up, but there is a single page detailing Thermo on the Adobe Labs Wiki. They provide the following details:
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The agency world is going through a change that is so drastic that holding companies are looking at all of their assets and mashing up resources to create new agencies that take a business consultants approach to strategy and converge in the creative agency space. While the debate over rebundling media and creative continues, some media shops are building their capabilities in digital creative. Even the "Digital" agencies are revamping to stay viable against small nimble shops that are being gobbled up by their holding companies or media conglomerates. (good times)
If in 2008, your if agency is still being called "Traditional" I would venture to say that it will not reflect positively on your bottom line. As the sole digital resource and practitioner in an print centric agency I share the moments of triumph and more often the moments of frustration. A little over a year ago I sent up a list of observations and recommendations on how to begin the metamorphosis into an agency that could compete in an age where the media is fragmented and explosion of the information distribution vehicle (the web) has been rampantly adopted by over 70% of consumers.
What I found is that you cannot mandate change. You can facilitate it, encourage it and reward it. Change comes from the top and you must embrace the outcomes of that change. (purging the old or people who are paralyzed by change that they are not willing to learn the new) Change is not easy, and often takes a long time to see the effects of it in a service-based organization's bottom line. The web is no longer an afterthought by most savvy marketers thus making the traditional shop not so savvy.
Sean Scott, has issued a call to action for "traditional" agencies. Sean and I have spent a number of late nights trading advise and comparing notes on how to affect change in organizations that were not sure they needed to change. He has written a lovely manifesto at http://www.twofortyeight.com/?p=102 (and part two http://www.twofortyeight.com/?p=104 )
I have spent 14 years of my agency years in shops that started out as digital content developers and went to print, outdoor and customer marketing during the web 1.0 bust to survive. Shops like BBG and Digitas were great as we could do it all because we had a culture of innovation baked in to our DNA. Shops like this work with great speed and profit. My perspective comes from shops that served the clients strategy and added to their bottom lines. Sean's approach is a very good start, I thought I would add the other part of the equation and some learnings from the past year as the Vice President of Interactive at a "Traditional" shop.
Being the Change Agent
Making change in an agency is NEVER easy (i cannot say that enough) - It is also not an impossible mission. But I assure you that it is one of the most difficult missions I have ever undertaken. This past year, I have realized that it requires a complete overhaul of what has up to now and in some instances continued to be successful methodologies and structure. I have also noticed that all too often agency executives coddle those against progress hoping/wishing that somehow magically the culture will be transformed into one that is conducive to doing innovative work regardless of medium, but including digital.
I have argued that it would take a massive change at the top - or a client that demanded change and was willing to pay for it. For some that very thing has happened - WPP, an agency group who was positioned for a change and a client, Dell, who would pay to see a change. That deal has served as a catapult to mandate change across a network of agencies that will serve their client's strategy with smart data-centric marketing ideas and solutions. This is a case study in the making.
But what if...
These are many questions that I have fielded this past year. I do not claim to have all the answers but i do have some recommendations based upon my experience as and agency owner and executive.
1. Your agency was never data-centric?
Answer: You have a long education cycle in front of you. If your agency never collected data, analyzed it and optimized the next campaign from it they are merely a creative production shop. An agency by definition not only needs to be creative but needs to have financial accountably to their clients. Start with the basics and hire good consultants who teach the creative team that their work is a hypothesis and the campaign's purpose is to gather data to prove the scientific equation.
2.The agency never really did CRM or Direct? Answer: You have another long education cycle in front of you. You will need to seek the counsel of database marketers who have run their campaigns off of data and consumer feedback loops. Agency's who participated in email, print or online direct advertising know that it is all in the data. I would also state that these agencies who concentrated on 1-to-1 marketing are properly positioned to have the easiest migration in to the Agency 2.0 world.
3. What if your creative department never saw direct insights that were derived from their creative? Answer: I call this one the ad guy syndrome. Arrogant copy and art directors who believe they're work deserves a wall at MoMA. They also do not see interactive as creative. They see them as IT or production staff to throw their ill concept-ed .PSDs to break up into HTML or flash. The time for this type of creative is gone. The digital creative teams (experience planners and designers) who work hand in hand with business logic layer developers are on top and earning top dollars. If your creative department consists of Art Directors who can not code a stitch of HTML, I would start by giving incentives to your creative teams to build a web page off a basic brief, get them to contribute to an agency blog, make sure they attempt the creation of a viral video and upload it and market it on YouTube, make sure they have one or more social media personas and the last and most important is training creative team to realize their work is ALWAYS IN BETA. (work not meant for the walls of MoMA but the walls of a consumers Facebook accounts)
4.Your agency has become a print production arm of your largest client?
Answer: Your agency needs to reposition itself, bring on talent that supports the new position, then begin selling its repositioned self to a new crop of clients looking for a "Change Agent" Agency. It is likely that your largest client's perception cannot be changed without action. Baby steps... gain their trust with small ventures and prove successes one at a time. In time that client will come around one marketing manager at a time.
5. Your agency has no financial incentives to change?
Answer: This is a tough one! (because we are in the business of making money) There are many agencies who have gotten by on their good looks and charm and have had no dire or absurdly obvious financial incentives. NO AGENCY WILL CHANGE WITHOUT A FINANCIAL INCENTIVE. The vast majority of medium sized advertising agency CEOs, CFOs and Presidents do not have to implement the changes. Everything is just comfortable enough. Most mid-sized agencies (300 to 500 employees) will continue to be able to coast on their meager AAAA’s-certified, cost-plus markups for the next 3-5 years. When the top dogs of those agencies no longer call it an “experiment" the perception of tremendous risk will not appear as a barrier.
I recommend building multiple financial models to show how you will build larger billings while the decreasing production based work which always requires more people overhead. Once you have financial buy in on the right plan then one through four should be a slightly easier ride.
As you can see there are no easy answers or easy steps. The one prediction I will make for 08 is if you are at an agency who is attempting these changes this will be a year of many ups and downs. Hang in there and negotiate your financial incentive to help facilitate the change!
The vast majority of agency executives I have spoken to are making these changes. They have a clear financial incentive and have begun moving to align creative into the fold with the addition of analytics and engagement delivery teams.
If you are at an agency that does not support this type of change it is highly likely that your clients do not support it either, thus lacking financial incentives. If you are a digi-rati in the making then I would recommend that you resolve to make a change in '08 and find an agency or media company that is looking for your expertise.
Embrace my mantra for 2008: Engage, Interact, Sell
When you engage the consumer they will interact with your brand and you will sell more product!
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Spent a moment enjoying my best work. Team Bickley (left to right: Leah, Thomas, Rebecca and Rachel) @ Lasker Ice Rink near the Harlem Meer. Here's wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!
Life is painting a picture, not doing a sum. -- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
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This coming week I will focus on looking back and learning, but more importantly looking forward from those learnings. All of it will manifest itself in Top 10 category lists. Today I start with a spotlight on Bruce Tempkin of Forrester and the Customer Experience Matters blog. What I love about this top ten list is that he gift-wrapped the top ten "Customer Experience Resolutions".
To create great experiences for people (consumers, yes, they are people) you must first bake it in to your culture. If you are working for a company that doesn't have a culture of customer-centricity baked into it, then it will be difficult to achieve any of these goals. If your company never had it—you will have to figure out how to build that culture or move to a company that exudes this culture.
It is rare that I let a post ruin my day or make my blood boil. However, I got a chance to read Jakob Nielsen's article on his Alertbox called, Web 2.0 Can Be Dangerous and it had me seeing red. In recent years, I have found most of Nielsen's posts are close-minded and ill informed – yet his write up on Web 2.0 Can Be Dangerous was the worst offender and takes the cake.
The main point of his article is to prove that:
“AJAX, rich Internet UIs, mashups, communities, and user-generated content often add more complexity than they're worth. They also divert design resources and prove (once again) that what's hyped is rarely what's most profitable.”
Fellow practitioners agree that his POVs are just that - his personal view, take, opinion, etc. However, as an active practitioner of AJAX, rich Internet UIs, mashups, communities, and user-generated content programs I can attest that these are not methods and languages are not hyped, they are a basic need in the conversation economy. Moreover, they have improved the way we think, build, and create experiences for consumers to engage within. Not only do I disagree that we divert design resources, but I would state that design resources need to jump into the game and treat their work as if it were always in beta. (Like a great car designer or architect) old school designers need to get into the game.
He makes many arguments, one of which is there are two few users for community and user-generated content. After examining three different teen studies conducted by major media companies and one from Forrester that show 75% are active contributors in online community content, it is presumable that users are not limiting their online conversations and dialogs to merely interesting business tasks.
The vast majority of his points are off and have no real world practitioner’s basis for the conclusions except one.
“Instead of adding Facebook-like features that let users bite other users and turn them into zombies, the B2B site would get more sales by offering clear prices, good product photos, detailed specs, convincing whitepapers, an easily navigable information architecture... Before throwing spending money at 2.0 features, make sure that you have all the 1.0 requirements working to perfection.”
We in the digital world should take to heart. This was a good point but the way it is stated is a bit backwards and stated with the attitude of a dictator (someone who does not seek outside insights to find solutions to a problem) when getting to that conclusion, I have hard time taking the article seriously.
What Nielsen has managed to do with his latest post is prove that Web 1.0 guys who refuse to see the light of new consumer engagement models. Nielson proves the he cannot evolve with the help of insights and has inevitably become the old guy at the bar, trying to pick up women with bad pick-up lines. Simultaneously, AJAX practitioners are reaping the benefits of listening, changing practices to evolve with their audience (like any good partner should).
One of his arguments takes on profitability, which can be discredited by any number of profitable web companies that have been pushing the envelope of innovation.
Practitioners sound off... Do you think Jakob Nielsen's viewpoint keeps the industry from moving forward? Alternatively, does it keep us in a method that helped prove the demise of the 1.0 model?
After a 30-day period of public comment and review, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has published the Rich Media Measurement Guidelines. IAB "Rich media" ads are online ads with elements that users can interact with. Formats include transitional (interstitial) and over-the-page units (floating ads, page tear-backs and take-overs).
The new measurement guidelines determine the point at which a rich media ad impression is counted. Generally, a measurement will be considered legitimate when an ad counter receives and responds to an HTTP request for a tracking asset from a user's browser. This is considered as late as possible in "the delivery of creative material to the user’s browser and therefore closest to the actual opportunity to see by the user."
Ad counters are also required to employ standard headers on the response, to minimize caching.
Wireless, offline cached media, interactive television, "flash tracking" and flash sites were not covered in the guidelines. To help educate practitioners and others about rich media measurement, the IAB is hosting a webinar on Wednesday, January 23rd, between 4-5 PM Eastern.
Download the Rich Media Measurement Guidelines. Those inclined may register for the webinar at the same URL.
The standards, which cover online browser or browser-equivale nt based internet activity, are positioned as addendum to existing IAB Ad Impression Measurement Guidelines, which were published in 2004. The addendum was facilitated by the Media Rating Council, and the final product was warmly applauded by the Association of National Advertisers.
Although nature commences with reason and ends in experience it is necessary for us to do the opposite, that is to commence with experience and from this to proceed to investigate the reason.