Thursday, May 29, 2008

You Say You Want a Transformation...

Well, you know, we all want to change the world.

Wow. That's just about the cheesiest way to start off a post whose purpose is to link you to one of the most inspiring reads I've had in a while.

My friend, Leland Maschmeyer, now the Director of Strategy at COLLINS: (soon to be Director of Concept Design and Storytelling, I believe, as it is a more appropriate description of his job there) has recently posted "On Life Support: A Transformation Design Speech".

Let me start off by saying, it is fantastic. And not in a "Man, that Leland is a smart dude...I got through 66% of that post and understood 39% of it and of that 39% approximately 90% was f-ing brilliant" sort of way. I read the whole thing, comprehended all of it (I think) and found it very compelling. And I've been trying since our breakfast yesterday morning to figure out a way to expand on his thoughts. But just as Lee feared he'd never post his speech if he waited for every element, I fear I'll never pass on this link if I take time to build on it.

His observations/examples range from JFK to DJ Dangermouse, from Sao Paolo to Philadelphia's 30th Street Station, from Target to BP to tell the story of transformation design. Which he defines as "the process of developing a system of activity that enables organizations to support or create in individuals the positive change he or she desires." Because as he posits:

The companies that will thrive...will not be those with a great sales pitch. It will be those with a great support system.

He started out just wanting to make better marketing. But the opportunity seems quite a bit bigger (like changing the world bigger).

Enjoy reading the speech here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

This Is Not Quite How You Do Viral

But it's not all that bad either. There are definitely some things working here—although "working" (as defined by ad/marketing people across the world as number of views on YouTube) remains to be seen as this most recently uploaded version only has about 300 views as of this posting. But taking a more comprehensive "view" of this viral attempt, I appreciate a few things:

1. Solid Timing: With the French Open just starting, tennis and Rafa are top of mind for (a handful of) sports fans.
1a. It seems Kia has been able to make this connection to one of the Grand Slams without actually paying for an expensive sponsorship of the tourney at Roland Garros.

2. Rewarding the Crossover Fan: Kia uses this top tennis star to promote its sponsorship of Euro 2008 soccer (yes, my readers are still predominantly American). Yet I'd venture to guess that many European soccer fans know Nadal. Some may also know (and Nadal fans of course know this and his Uncle Tony's past as a professional player) the Spaniard (not THE Spaniard) used to play futbol in his youth ('cause he's so old now). Anyone who has seen him on the tennis court has likely seen him sport some nasty foot skills. And word is his dream was to play striker for Real Madrid.

3. Catchy Title and Interesting Execution: "Nadal vs. Alien" is short and sweet. I know what I'm about to see but have no idea what I'm about to see. Therefore when both he and this alien take the form of MTV Celebrity Deathmatch claymation, it is unexpected and grabs my attention. The sound effects/Nadal noises are also pretty entertaining.

Yet for all this stuff that "works," one main thing is just not that cool. Let me direct you to the video description to the right of the video in image above. Yup, see that right there. Yup, there. Where they Kia (presumably the company or agency is user "euro2008kia") refer to its own video as "viral." Not so fast my car-y. (Pronounced Car E and in the creepy voice of the Wicked Witch of the West. It is not pronounced like Carrie - sorry all you SITC fans.) Anyway, this may not be the best move to make your video go viral. If you have to say it is, it probably isn't (like "cool"), and the corporate speak (even though you're not hiding that it's an ad, we really don't care if you didn't buy broadcast media) is a bit of a turn-off.

I do like that Kia actually responded to viewer feedback and made changes quickly (assuming it wasn't just some last-minute changes based on a senior marketing guy or gal's feedback) but truthfully you should have anticipated that having Nadal put his foot up a mini-Nadal's ass would stirred the pot. Either stand behind it (not so close and toes on the ground) and let that controversy propel you to this viral status you're so hoping for or put the more tame one up from the start so you don't have to start from scratch with the number of views. A bigger number equals greater security that you're passing on a gem. (Don't worry others thought it was funny too!)

Lastly, take a look at the bottom right of the image above. There is another upload of 11-seconds from this same user. I don't really get this. Are you worried that the web viewer is too starved for time to watch 2-minutes? This one actually has a stronger call to action at the end. It doesn't just show the site url and expect you to visit. It gives soccer fans a reason to visit—"Win a ticket" Euro 2008. Can someone tell me why this less than 2-second CTA didn't appear in the 2-minute version? I know it wasn't that it didn't fit into the traditional TV commercial time space because this isn't a TV ad! Did creatives convince you a promotion take away from the coolness, emotion, integrity and thus brand equity of the spot? Jokes!

Either way, I applaud Kia's entering the online space with something unexpected (definitely different from their good but mostly forgettable TV spots). This, I just realized, does deliver on their tag-line, "The Power to Surprise." Now imagine if they started taking this tagline more literally and using it as a platform for communications (if not product development, etc.). That could be fun.

Watch the full two-minutes of "online viral content," which I'm calling Rafakia (not to be confused with Rafiki from The Lion King) because I like mashing up words to create new terminology, here.

Friday, May 23, 2008

This Is How You Do Viral

A few months back Absolut Vodka approached Zach Galifianakis to make an ad for them. He said, long as he could do whatever he wanted with no restrictions. Then they said (wait for it), yes!

There is a reason Absolut approached him in the first place. Likely they felt that his type of humor connected to their target of LDA-25. (That's a guess, and LDA = Legal Drinking Age for anyone who has not worked with a liquor, spirits, alcohol company.) Sure there were definitely a few rules in place, such as: no underage drinking, binge drinking or death. But otherwise, AV gave him the creative freedom. They realized that there's no worse way to lose authenticity and relevancy with your audience than to change (even subtly) his brand of comedy!

Zach enlisted Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Coincidentally or not (depending on Zach's motive for bring those two in), the sign-off to their show is Tim's father rich saying, "Abso...lutely" and their production company is called Absolutely. (Apologies followers for having to use the term awesome.) And as of now, the first in a series of I hope more than two has around 55K views on FoD, where it was first launched. Don't let that (low?) number fool you, though. It has 280K on YouTube as well as 138K on MySpace. The second, which was added about two weeks ago, is at about a quarter of that total number. But even if it this number didn't even reach that illusive 6-digits (the 100K view mark on YouTube I'd say is the metric lots of clients set), I'd call this a successful foray into the world of branded entertainment.

BONUS: As you'll see, the comedians (I'm assuming) even came up with a great tag-line for the content: "In an Absolut world, friends would get together more often."

Here's Part 1:

And Part 2:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Comcast is Caring/Twittering

We all love to hate the cable well as all the phone companies according to Noah's observations on (his creation) Brand Tags. But especially the cable company and especially because of their lousy customer service. To be fair, they're definitely in one of those "we only notice when things go wrong" industries. But truthfully, considering most of us don't ask very much of them—like Clotaire Rapaille's code for America, we just want it to work—it seems they could do more to delight us. The first part of that phrase, SURPRISE, goes without saying, but is also the entire reason for this post.

So it was with great interest, enthusiasm and yes, shock that I heard a couple weekends ago Comcast was jumping into Twitter. I have Time Warner, who I, of course, despise—the guy who replaced my second cable box was more than pleasant and only a bit late yet he also acknowledged that "all these new DVR boxes are havin' problems"—so it is no direct help to me. Yet, I figured I'd holler at @comcastcares to see how this experiment may work.

In no more than 10 minutes I had these responses:

I'm sorry but that is aweso- I mean fantastic. Hopefully it will invest more heavily in this space (perhaps IM service like Delta has now) and apply what it learns to enhance customer service across the company. Who knows how quickly they can start to change its perceptions on Brand Tags.

And yes, I also know this is not the biggest piece of Comcast news today.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The NBA Is (Way) Younger than John McCain

Between work, jamming to get my Age of Conversation chapter done, running, NBA Playoffs and brainstorming excuses, I've had limited time to scour the Internet for things that make you go ha. (Yes, that's a C&C Music Factory reference.) So, some of these are old and coldplayed out but I hope a complete waste of time in a good way.

First, let's kick it off with some links connected to my excuse. Here's a little action about declaring for the NBA Draft (via kenyatta via kottke) as well as an NBA nickname generator. (I'm Seth "Margarine" Gaffney.)

Second, for any of you players or playettes going out this weekend, take a quick look at this text dating primer. For those staying in watching reruns of SBTB the College Years, this Onion article is all you.

Third, and getting a bit grosser, peep yet another instant Nick Thune classic on FoD. And I dare you to tell me that Nick doesn't look Palek from HBO's Tell Me You Love Me. That makes me want to pull a Sue Simmons (via @akispicer).

Fourth and lastly, I've rather enjoyed this site: Things Younger than Republican Candidate (and Oh, Did I Forget to Mention "War Hero") John McCain (via avin on Fallon Planning Blog).

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Awesomed Out

It all started with this Verizon commercial starring Michael Bay. First couple times around (and besides for the nerdy Verizon employee), I have to admit I was kind of into it. But then I started noticing this word appearing (not always so centrally to the script) in ads all over the place. Within communications where it made sense as well as within others that didn't feel so natural. But now it's been around so often that it's getting in the way of any other (main) message that the brand's using it are trying to throw my way. (Yes, if this was an argument with a specific person, they'd be going: "Like when/where? I need EXAMPLES." I don't really have the time to look right now, but hopefully you've noticed it too. Or else you're just fast-forwarding through them.)

Last night it came full circle with another Verizon ad (this time for a phone deal not Fios). In this one, an unsuspecting young Asian guy opens his door to a quartet singing about this phone (I think) and (lastly) how it's "awesome." (If anyone can find it online, please pass it on.) I thought I had lost my mind. I may be. But I am certainly losing my capacity to be objective about communications containing this "hot" adjective. Case in point:

I was definitely fan of this commercial for the first 55 seconds. Then I saw Discovery's new-ish tagline, "The World Is Just Awesome." I - okay, I'm going to walk away for a day. In the meantime, what do you all think?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Tale of Two Superstars

Thanks to new mash-up, TimeTube, which lets you search YouTube videos and creates a visual historical time-line of the search term whether it's person, place or thing, I happened upon this video from February 2006. In the studio making "Bittersweet" is the first result for Kanye West and second for John Mayer (Eric Clapton duet is his first).

Kanye's latest is result is home-girl singing/rapping Jesus Walks, and Mayer's second to last is him calling a Japanese baseball game. (His last is a Perez Hilton lie detector test, which is not worth watching.)Yet what most of us Internetters know is that John Mayer in fact has release something more recently and with many more hits. And that's this awesome video on his creative songwriting process.

Now I'm not going to launch into a diatribe on how you can't get the whole story on YouTube anymore or how it is losing its cache as the home of great homegrown content. But as I've talked about specific to FoD (Funny or Die), it has major competition from other more specialized (and often high-quality) content sites that house videos as well as those that curate cool/funny/etc (even if they don't know how they do it). Not to mention, if you want more of these guys specifically you can find them at their own blogs.

Instead, I'm just going to say how interesting it can be to see where a quick, innocent search takes you...whether it starts on someone's blog, twitter feed or one of the many new tools out there like TimeTube. This search was short and specific. And thus the story (above) was framed in such a way. But it is nice to know that a less directed search can take some unpredictable turns if you let it (stumble), and it can lead to an even more random and intriguing story.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Keeping Me Busy, Keep U Busy

It's been (unofficial) brief week over here at Wieden. I knocked out an average of one a day, though Wednesday was the craziest with three. Note to new planners: knocking out briefs is not a good habit to get into but sometimes necessary - like when clients give you less than a week turnaround for creative on an assignment. Note to self: see above.

Anyway, this morning I caught up on some hot RSS action (I still use Netvibes) as well as started to prepare for the IOI. That's when BFFB tipped me off to this pretty awesome interactive piece from Uniqlo promoting its t-shirts. I created my loop using a series of 1-4-3's as a shout out to the beeper code for I luv u. Yeah I just did that - two u's...not to be confused with the two yoots or youth-s as Someone else's Cousin Vinny would say. Without further Freddy adU:

So go make your own if you're bored or straight chillin' on a Friday.

Monday, May 05, 2008

ACDC Like You've Never Seen Before

Honestly I can't think of a better way to kick off a Monday than with this sick display of dancing. I have to admit (to those who don't know already), I'm a huge fan of You Got Served and specifically David and Elgin's crew. So you can imagine my excitement when I caught a tweet from @andrewbaron about a Dance Battle between Miley Cyrus and Jon Chu (director of Step Up: The Streets). Apparently Jon and Adam Sevani (main actor in the movie) called out Miley and Mandy (aka M&M) a couple weeks back on their video blog. M&M responded with a strong number to Madonna and JT's 4 Minutes. Now it was on ACDC (Adam and Jon's crew), and they took it to the next level with the help of Lindsay Lohan, Adam Sandler, Amanda Bynes and Chris Brown as well as MTV's Best Dance Crew, JabbaWockeez.

I hope you enjoy. I know Michael K. will he enjoys dance battles as much as I do. And P.S. I want to trade places with Rob Hoffman. P.P.S. That's Dellicious with two l's. You have to accentuate the 'l'.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Preparing Immaturity for Cinco de Mayo

Any frequent readers know I'm pretty obsessed with Someecards (also note you can now follow the company on twitter). So if you're not a freq like me (props to Adina Howard) or you're just forgetful, take a look back at that site in order to get some send-worthy stuff for Cinco de Mayo. Like this perhaps:

As for some other immaturity to get you through the rest of Friday...
via ROFLcon

Bill Hicks on Marketing via Stuart Smith email - not to be confused with Gil Hicks of Mallrats fame who kisses like a jackhammer in with some pressure and when he's done you're not the're changed.

Geek pants via @gaeyia

And lastly, I saw this on the news last night and Jake reminded me about it today. It's not funny...except for the part when the boy says his punishment should be a weekend without video games.