It’s a long listen, and without the slides- if you aren’t a bit familiar with the B Cycle project, the later part will get a little slow.
And while the B Cycle is sexy and intriguing- the beginning of the podcast has some insight that hint at what makes Crispin Porter + Bogusky the hot agency: hint, it’s not about being an agency.
Alex claims to hate advertising and that he reads AdBusters– and not Ad Age. They don’t hire people for jobs, they hire smart people and let them figure out what to do- he calls CP+B a “Holding company for smart people.”
They don’t worry about deliverables- but more about “Business momentum”- and if you understand that business runs on cash flow- the idea of momentum makes perfect sense. Now that the agency numbers 900 people and has 1.5B in billings, things are a lot different from when he worked at what he considered the “third best agency in Miami” and was employee number 16.
For one thing, they no longer feel limited to doing “advertising” and claims that anything good that he’s been a part of, comes from sticking his nose where they don’t belong. This includes doing things like telling Mini that putting mileage restrictions on the sub-compact, while encouraging people to “Let’s Motor” didn’t make sense. This is marketing thinking, practiced at the highest level.
Just as accountants originally were part of assessing and evaluating business processes for profitability- instead of just how to account for taxes(and how to avoid them)- advertising is just one subset of the marketing process- not the end all and be all.
If your agency isn’t giving you insight on the complete customer connection experience, you don’t really have an agency- just an ad vendor.
In it’s early ads, Apple claimed the personal computer was the “bicycle for your mind”- and now, we have great minds rethinking bicycles. Spend some time with both the podcast- and thinking about the B Cycle concept- and how an ad agency can be a thought leader on solving the worlds problems, instead of being blamed for creating so many of them.
I’m not going to go Sun Tzu on you, but a guiding principle in warfare is to attack where your enemy is weakest. In judo, you try to make your weakness your strength. Political advertising may be one of the areas where this is toughest- since incumbency and large campaign chests are considered prime indicators of product value. Shrewd political contributors don’t give to longshots, they bet their dollars on who they think can win. It’s the nature of the game, and a very hard marketing battle.
Think of it as launching a challenger brand, with no money, no time, and a very absolute deadline to dominate the market (election day). Can you imagine Procter and Gamble launching a new detergent and having to have 51% of the market make a purchase in two months?
Here is our first shot at launching a local political activist into a National Congressional race. Please note, not only did the candidate star in the ad, he wrote it himself (unlike his competition) because of course, the candidate is the same person writing this post.
One of the keys of viral marketing and leveraging your low budget campaign is getting others to talk about it- the “word of mouth” factor. You can’t count on this happening automatically. This is where your established network of customers can make or break you. First, you have to actively tell them that the campaign is out there. Digitally- this means sending e-mails, posting appropriate comments in appropriate places, and reaching out to people who think as you do. It used to be marketing to the influencer or early adopter- now, it’s to your social network either formal (Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace) or informal as I did. Here is what creative genius Ernie Schenck said about the spot:
Ernie Schenck Calls This Advertising?
Seriously, people, show me a spot in this already tired political year that comes close to this simple little gem from Dayton ad guy, David Esrati, and I will eat my moustache. Attention, candidates: A little imagination, a little self-deprectation and a little ability to lighten up can go a long way. The man ought to get elected on the spot alone. Nice work, Esrati.
A client, and really smart guy, Charles Halton posted on his Awilum site:
it’s the funniest political ad I have ever seen. If politics were more like this it would make election season actually fun!
Remember, people scoffed at the first iPod, $500 for an MP3 player. They ridiculed the video iPod- “Who is going to watch a movie on that small screen, and pay $1.99 for a tv show I could watch the night before for free- puhlleeezeeeeee”
Well, we know what happened there. And remember, Apple wasn’t the first mover.
Amazon has taken the e-book to a new level, with constant connectivity via the Sprint high speed cell network, but, there are some hidden gotcha’s that make this book worth passing on – mostly, the fact that Amazon wants to charge you to upload your own data, or to subscribe to blogs. Eh, better luck next time.
Here is a brief description of the reader from the lengthy Newsweek article, which is well worth reading:
Amazon: Reinventing the Book | Newsweek.com
First, it must project an aura of bookishness; it should be less of a whizzy gizmo than an austere vessel of culture. Therefore the Kindle (named to evoke the crackling ignition of knowledge) has the dimensions of a paperback, with a tapering of its width that emulates the bulge toward a book’s binding. It weighs but 10.3 ounces, and unlike a laptop computer it does not run hot or make intrusive beeps. A reading device must be sharp and durable, Bezos says, and with the use of E Ink, a breakthrough technology of several years ago that mimes the clarity of a printed book, the Kindle’s six-inch screen posts readable pages. The battery has to last for a while, he adds, since there’s nothing sadder than a book you can’t read because of electile dysfunction. (The Kindle gets as many as 30 hours of reading on a charge, and recharges in two hours.) And, to soothe the anxieties of print-culture stalwarts, in sleep mode the Kindle displays retro images of ancient texts, early printing presses and beloved authors like Emily Dickinson and Jane Austen.
But then comes the features that your mom’s copy of “Gone With the Wind” can’t match. E-book devices like the Kindle allow you to change the font size: aging baby boomers will appreciate that every book can instantly be a large-type edition. The handheld device can also hold several shelves’ worth of books: 200 of them onboard, hundreds more on a memory card and a limitless amount in virtual library stacks maintained by Amazon. Also, the Kindle allows you to search within the book for a phrase or name.
My bet would still be on Apple- with a tablet style iPod Touch, or tablet Mac. Combined with the iTunes store, you have an integration that’s already proven- plus an Apple device would be able to play video- a key media tool that can’t be ignored. And hopefully, Apple won’t try to gouge you on uploading your own content- after all, it’s an Open Source world- shouldn’t you be able to upload anything you want that’s yours to your own device without paying the piper?
The big question is when does this device become cheap enough that it becomes cheaper for a newspaper to give you a reader instead of a printed newspaper? When does your choice of reading materials start serving up targeted ads? Amazon will have suggestions, no doubt- but, how will this help their partners move the sales needle?
Watch and see?
In the mean time- what do you think? And, do you want one? Even if it is butt-fugly?
Once a year the local runaway shelter, Daybreak, hosts a fund raising breakfast where they have table captains invite 9 people for a free meal. Of course there’s a catch, you have to sit through a program that makes you feel warm and fuzzy about their charity cause. This year, the fifth year of using the “secret formula” for raising money- Daybreak asked The Next Wave to provide the 7 minute video for the event.
Yes, folks- it’s prescribed as 7 minutes, and you are supposed to make the audience cry 3 times. It’s near the close of the session, just before the gut-wrenching, heartfelt story of success despite the odds, and the final ask for donations.
After watching the four previous years videos, we knew one thing- we weren’t going to do anything like them: a montage of interviews, “recreations” and narration by staff. It was time for something totally different- something where you wouldn’t know what’s coming- or get caught up in the delivery of the story- just a focus on the story.
Our original idea was to draft David Chappelle to do the MC of the video- and I actually spent 20 minutes talking with him, face-to-face, and offering to pay him to help us out. The goal was to bring national attention to the shelter- and to make more kids aware that it was a positive place for them- instead of an option of last resort. Unfortunately, Mr. Chappelle isn’t reliable- so we found one of Daybreaks own to step in- Mr. Robert Neal Jr.
By placing the clients behind the screen- 60 minute anonymous interview style- we knew that our audience would focus on the story- not on the personalities, when the ending came, it would all draw together in a powerful close. We didn’t want slick production values- and the number of times we had to set up made it an even more daunting task- but the real payoff was the results- watch the video before you look to see how effective it was.
I watched the audience at the table next to me: totally riveted to the big screen, when the totals were counted:
For the first time they had a donor pledge at each of the two highest levels- $10K a year for 5 years and $5K a year for 5 years. Total donations were higher than ever before. They took the concept of the “Fairy tale” gone wrong- and built the whole morning on the theme. While sometimes we wonder if selling more widgets is truly a noble cause, the opportunity to help a great social service organization headquartered a mere 4 blocks from our office makes us proud to do what we do.
As to the secret formula- yes, the whole one hour program follows a fixed script on how to manipulate an audience into giving money. It has worked like clockwork for our client, however, this year, it worked even better.
We teach a seminar called Websitetology to try to educate clients on web 2.0. We also teach a fair number of other ad agencies (even the local competition) because, well, that’s the kind of people we are.
One of the things we stress is that if you aren’t on the first page of Google you don’t exist, and that content drives traffic. Build valuable content and they will come.
Unfortunately, it’s falling on mostly dead ears. Even huge advertisers like Apple, Burger King and BMW don’t seem to understand how to port their marketing to the web properly. It’s not about how your site looks, especially your “home page”- it’s about the content on every page: every page is home for someone- about something.
So- it was good to see new media bigwigs Avenue A/Razorfish do a study to confirm what we already knew- excerpts from the Ad Age article follow- with a short primer on what we know works on the web:
Garrick Schmitt was sitting in a meeting, listening to a client talk about the need to make its website “Web 2.0-compliant,” complete with tag clouds and profile pages. “Tag clouds?” thought Mr. Schmitt, VP-user experience at Avenue A/Razorfish. “Really?”…
The request seemed curious to him — do that many people really use tag clouds that a brand marketer’s website needed to incorporate them? Surprisingly, he couldn’t find the answer to that question. So he decided to find out. (more…)