Our soul won’t be sold

Soul stabbinbg logo. It's not a principle until it costs you moneyThe email came from another local agency. Can you please give us all the access to the client site, passwords, login info, account data etc. The client was copied on the email.

It wasn’t just any client, it was one of our oldest. One who we helped them birth their business, outgrow a location, move, go through many management changes. Dropped everything to make things happen for them- without rush fees. Their business was like a second home, comfortable, inviting. We know the staff by name and they know us.

Getting the dear john email hurt. The conversation that followed hurt more. The client was crying.

Our activism had collided with their politics.

For almost 20 years we’d been their champions, and they’d been ours. But, now that was all coming to an end. Because we won’t sell our soul to the machine, and they became a part of it.

The loss of their account won’t damage us at all financially. They may find out that they will pay a lot more to work with the competition. They may find out that the drop everything and get this done costs a lot more. It might not get done as quickly. They may pay for the learning curve of a new agency- or, they may just listen a little more, and do things outside what their comfort zone allowed before and feel absolved. These things happen.

But, when it comes to our soul, if anything, we’ve hardened our resolve to continue to fight the machine, to make things better in our community.

Because as the legendary ad man Bill Bernbach of DDB said “it’s not a principle until it costs you money.”

 

Pandorify? Spotify vs Pandora

Pandora Spotify - Internet radio

In the Internet radio wars we have newcomer, the Swedish Spotify vs. the US based Pandora. Usually, the first mover has the advantage, but in the incredibly fickle world of music powered by technology, being the new kid on the block may give you an advantage to roll out a different flavor faster.

If you are a Spotify Free user, you have probably heard the ads about how the company rolled out free mobile radio similar to Pandora where users create stations based on artists and/or songs.

Our latest app features free radio – the only radio where you can save the songs you love. Now you can discover, save and enjoy an unlimited amount of music on the go.

Here’s how it works
Create stations based on any song, artist, album or playlist, and let Spotify bring you one great song after another.

When you like a song, give it a thumbs up and it’ll be saved to a Spotify playlist on your desktop. So you can listen whenever you like.

Get busy with your thumbs
By liking songs, you’ll help to personalize your stations – meaning they’ll play more of the music you want to hear.

Premium users can enjoy a premium radio experience that’s ad-free. Free users, you’ll hear occasional ad-breaks just like you do on your desktop.

So get the free app now to enjoy mobile radio – Spotify-style!

Free radio in all its glory

  • Free radio is powered by the entire Spotify catalog, the biggest of its kind.
  • Unlimited songs and stations – listen forever!
  • Like a song? Save it to your Spotify playlists with a thumbs up.
  • Great music choices from our shiny new recommendation engine.
  • Don’t like a song? Skip it.
  • Make radio even better by liking songs.

Does this mean that the end is near for Pandora?

Taking a quick look at both of them, they have a few more differences than similarities. Spotify has the ability for users to pick and choose the artists and songs they want to listen to on demand for free on computers ($9.99/month on mobile devices), whereas Pandora does not. With Spotify’s new radio function, which works similar to Pandora, users can “star” or “thumbs up” songs to save to them on the Spotify app and listen to them whenever they want. It’s likely that this will make Spotify reign supreme in the world of internet radio. Where Pandora users are used to constantly giving thumbs up or down to songs, Spotify users can simply thumbs up a song then listen to it whenever they want.

Beyond features, Spotify appears to have much better social media integration than Pandora, especially with Facebook. In fact, Facebook integration was an obvious focus for the Swedish company; users with the Spotify app enabled have their activity displayed on the timeline and can share songs and playlists. It should be noted that Spotify forces users to sign up through their Facebook account whereas Pandora does not, but this quirk is made up for by the flawless social media integration.

From our standpoint Spotify has got everything that Pandora has and more, even at the free level. The only thing that Pandora had over Spotify was their mastery of internet radio. Now that Spotify Radio launched on mobile, it’s going to force Pandora to react.

Considering the ultimate goal is to be able to deliver highly targeted ads or get paid to be the end users only music source, none of this is good for old fashioned terrestrial radio which failed in every way to react and adjust to the changes the Internet has forced on them. It will be interesting if at some point, Pandora and Spotify will find a standard for selling ads so that local businesses can target their most likely customers.

Interview with Steven Crutchfield from The Ad Store

Steven Crutchfield from The Ad Store - AMC's The PitchSteven Crutchfield from The Ad Store was nice enough to sit down and answer a few questions for us regarding his agency’s involvement with AMC’s The Pitch. Crutchfield was featured in episode 2 of the show, and will be featured in episode 5 that will be airing Sunday.

How authentic was the show? 

Everything you saw was real. Nothing was scripted or staged. The most we’d do anything “staged” was helping the crew get the right kind of exit or entrance shot when we were coming and going from the agency. You know, so they could have one camera inside, then be able to cut to the outside to see us lock up, or what have you. They asked us a bit just to include them in meetings and make sure they were aware if we were having a meeting as to when and where it was so they could be sure to be there. That probably pertains much more to big agencies, but it was still applicable to us as well.

Do the participating ad agencies get compensated for being on the show? 

Again, because it is real, the agency is not compensated. They did help cover travel for two people to the Pitch.

How complete was the brief? Was there solid research provided? Were you able to have any choice in the client?

The brief was pretty complete in both of our cases, with the client having provided solid research. You only have about a week, and both agencies are filmed at the same time. You have no say in the client (again, all “real”). The week (which is not normal) is due I’m sure to help with the entertainment value (pressure makes for interesting TV) and cost of production (only have to pay to have crew at some place for a week). And agencies are hardly ever briefed at the same time.

How did the Ad Store end up with 2 episodes?

You’d have to ask the producers why we ended up with two episodes. I’d like to think it was because we were entertaining.

Have you been recognized after being on the show? Has it brought more work to the firm?

We’ve gotten lots of fans from the show. It has been surprising and fun to see so much passion about the idea. It was surprising and fun to see so much passion about the idea. The show hasn’t really changed anything about us. Again, it was a “documentary” really of us. So, for us, nothing’s changed. Hopefully can get some business out of it, but we’ll see.

Do you think this show is helping the advertising profession?

Not sure if the show is helping the advertising field. I think it’s pretty accurate and shows the reality of dealing with an unknown client and frustration that happen along the way. I think for big agencies, the show isn’t such a good idea, and it’s why you don’t see them on the show. It reveals there really is no reason to have so many people on your business. It also reveals that there is no “secret sauce” that agencies claim. It all comes down to who the people are who are working on your business. Their minds, their inspiration and their creativity solving problems for the client. An agency can’t mass produce that sort of thing.

The show hasn’t really changed anything about us. Again, it was a “documentary” really of us. So, for us, nothing’s changed.

AMC's The Pitch 4 Conversation vs. BooneOakley Predictions

BooneOakley's Staff in Episode 4 of The Pitch on AMC

BooneOakley's Staff in Episode 4 of The Pitch on AMC - Image from AMC

The upcoming episode of AMC’s The Pitch features Conversation from New York vs BooneOakley from Charlotte, NC with Popchips as the client. Popchips, who was #4 in Forbes’ Most Promising Companies list, is a snack company that creates “popped” chips rather than fried or baked. They also have some big name investors, such as Ashton Kutcher, Sean “Diddy” Combs,  David Ortiz, and Jillian Michaels. Even with these big-time backers, it’s no surprise that Popchips has turned to a reality show for their marketing needs – the company is in need of some positive marketing after Kutcher’s controversial ad involving him dressed up as an Indian named Raj (with full “brownface” makeup).

Taking a look at both agency sites, the differences are vast. BooneOakley takes an oversimplified and quirky approach. The website focuses on their work rather than themselves. In fact, the only self-promotion on the whole site is one short paragraph from the about us page on the site:

BooneOakley, founded in 2000, is an award-winning, globally recognized advertising and digital agency with a client roster that has included HBO, Bojangles’, MTV, State Farm, Ruby Tuesday, CarMax, Mizuno and more. Recent accolades include Ad Age’s “Southeast Small Agency of the Year,” Cannes Gold Cyber Lion, SXSW, Webbys and Clios. We were also featured in “Google Creative Canvas” and The One Show’s “Best of The Digital Decade.”

Conversation’s site is a bit more flashy and much more complex (read: hard to navigate). They give the impression of being the bigger agency with bigger clients. Their team page features quirky photos of the members of the company – something that the previous winners FKM and SK+G both feature on their site (right down to the rollover animation).

As for our prediction of who will be the victor in this episode, we’re putting our money on BooneOakley. Looking at their work, it is all a little off beat and quirky and should fit right in with Popchips marketing style. Another clue is the fact that BooneOakley plugs the show (albeit subtly), where as Conversation doesn’t appear to do so on their blog. Whatever the outcome, this may be the biggest mismatch of the series so far agency wise.

Here’s the teaser for episode 4:

"Power to the local dreamer"- create your own opportunity

The word “viral” is a term that gets used a lot these days. People want their content to “go viral”. But “going viral” and creating something that will make your target audience engage with your brand are two different things. If you watched the video above, you’ve heard all you need to know about how to grow your brand the right way; by caring passionately about your audience and giving them everything you have to offer, every time, and expecting nothing in return but their trust.

Twenty One Pilots is a duo from Columbus, Ohio. They have under 14,000 likes on their Facebook page. They also only have close to 3,500 followers* on Twitter. These numbers aren’t small, but they aren’t the huge numbers to really be considered “viral”. So how did they manage to get the attention of some of the hottest national record companies and sign a deal?

They did things right.

How so? First, they teamed up with the right people to generate buzz. The most important connection was with Mark C. Eshleman at Reel Bear Media, a Columbus-based video production company. The team started off with a hit – the first video that they released on their Youtube page was a live live cover of Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts”, which gained thousands of views within days of being posted. The original song was at the top of the charts at the time, so the band was able to generate a huge amount of exposure with their timely video post. They were able to catch people’s attention at the right time, and more importantly they gained a large Youtube audience from the start.

While they had a fan base before, they now had a bigger audience – the internet.

Twenty One Pilots - Tyler Joseph and Josh Dunn

Twenty One Pilots - Tyler Joseph and Josh Dunn. Image from twentyonepilots.com

When it came time to promote their album Regional At Best, the group created a web series (which bears the same name) that lead up to a rock star performance of the first track from the CD – Guns for Hands, which gained thousands of views within a short period of time. The fans responded; when the band played their next big performance at The Newport in Columbus, Ohio a few months later, it’s no surprised that the show was completely sold out. This was the first time the venue had ever sold out with a local act. According to the above video, that night was the most important night in the history of the band up to that point. So how do you follow up a sold out stellar performance like this? With not one but four videos, of course. Record companies started to notice the band, and were able to track the number of views generated from the show. Almost every video gained over 30k views in a matter of a few months. It gave Twenty One Pilots more than enough leverage to be in the position to choose between a handful of record labels. They eventually chose Fueled by Ramen, which is the home to such bands as Paramore, Gym Class Heroes, and Panic! At The Disco. And how did they announce the news? With a video, of course.

While Twenty One Pilots is far from being a viral Youtube sensation like bands such as Ok Go, the band’s awareness of the benefits of online video content was a huge factor in their ability to gain exposure. Beyond Youtube, the band was successful in creating an engaging brand. Not just through the occasional tweet or Facebook status update – they let you into their world. They reward their fans’ loyalty with intimate videos and exclusive news. They create a ever-growing relationship with their fans. Every brand needs to do this in order to be successful – does your brand accomplish this? Maybe then you’ll be able to say “It wasn’t always like this.” before diving into a crowd of 2000 of your screaming fans.

*These numbers have been growing since this post was first written.

AMC’s The Pitch 3 The Hive vs. FKM Predictions

AMC's The Pitch - The Hive and FKM Clockwork Home Services

Photo from AMC

Next week’s The Pitch, (@ThePitch_AMC) episode 3, will feature two ad agencies competing to win Clockwork Home Services as a client.  The contenders are  The Hive (@The_hive) from Toronto and FKM (@FKMAgency), located in various office in Texas. From the teaser the assignment will be for three different brands; Mister Sparky, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing and One Hour Heating and Air Cooling. They hint at the the briefing – “The task is to develop a tri-branded, integrated promotion that will drive customers to call one of our brands.” The first two episodes have had some pretty tough assignments to crank out in one week, but this one may take the cake. It’s not clear whether or not it will be a complete rebranding or a new ad campaign, but either way it’s a daunting task.

Just like an ad-centric Oscar party, we’re making our prediction on this episode;  The Hive will emerge victorious. Why? Looking at their site,  The Hive is building “buzz” (pun intended) about The Pitch all over the place, whereas FKM only has a few mentions Only the winning agency promotes the hell out of the show? It worked that way for episode 2.

On the other hand, our pattern recognition mode has been switched on and we see that FKM’s About page is very similar in concept to the About page on SK+G’s website; right down to the rollover animation on the photos.  This makes them seem a bit more quirky and web-savvy–traits that have won the previous two clients on The Pitch.  We are still going with The Hive as the victor, but it could go either way.

Perhaps also worth noting is that one of the clients featured on FKM’s website is Waste Management. Yep, the very same WM from Episode 2. Intriguing…does this mean that FKM was scrapped (pun intended) by WM?  This begins to raise questions about how and why AMC picked the agencies that they picked; the connections are a little too apparent.

We at The Next Wave believe in deep insight based creativity and after seeing a few of The Pitches, we’ve become a bit pessimistic. We’re also fairly certain that the ad agency with the best pitch will not be chosen.  Look for the best showmanship and razzle dazzle, not the agency with the profound concept.

We’ll watch the show on Tuesday morning at the office and do our post pitch review like we’ve done for the previous episodes.

Here is the trailer for the episode: