Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Holidays/Merry Christmas/Happy New Year

I've been trying to come up with the perfect end of 2007 post and I don't know quite what the topic should be. Christmas is a strange thing for me this year. I don't particularly want anything—save for a replacement for my beloved, now apparently moth-eaten navy blue DKNY sweater—and I see that as a rather happy state of affairs. I had a lot of professional and family-related things I wanted to accomplish in 2007, and, frankly, I've been walking around in a dream-like state for much of the year because so many them have happened. I'm working with people I really like and who are smart and thoughtful and considerate, I got my real estate license (I'm from a family of real estate brokers and even in this market, it just made sense), the kids are doing great, and, oh, I have this little blog that people are actually reading. Of course, my goal for 2008 is that there's more of you, but I've enjoyed our conversation so far and look forward to keeping it going next year.

Before I close down for probably the rest of the year—still too many Christmas things to get done and one assignment due before the Big Day—here's what I'd hope for the advertising business next year. Seemed that 2007 was the most watershed-dy in a series of watershed years. You simply never hear of campaigns anymore that aren't some combination of digital and other media, and that's a good thing. I don't believe that the industry in any way has caught up to consumers' appetite for the Internet, but at least digital is not the sad stepchild anymore. So what I wish for the industry is that it accelerate its pace of change, and not necessarily by snapping up any shop that makes a claim to digital advertising expertise. (There was way too much of that this year. Way too many headlines about huge holding companies buying little digital something-or-others that no one has ever heard of.) In reality, the only way the pace of change will accelerate is for everyone in advertising to either change their mindsets or get out of the business. We all know that there are thousands of ad execs who find all of the changes to the advertising marketplace scary; all they really want to do is retire before the grim digital reaper comes and cuts them out of the business before their time. It's a peculiar attitude, because the changes that everyone was speculating about for much of the last 15 year or so have actually happened, and the old days are decidedly not coming back. Time to just jump in the pool. If an English and Latin major can do it (like me), than anyone is capable of it. Then again, I was on the swim team.

Oh, there's one other thing that I hope for the ad business in 2008: that TBWA/Chiat/Day find more uses for the Berries 'n' Creme lad.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Three viewpoints on advertising in 2007

The BusinessWeek Web site has been running a cool series summarizing the year in advertising from several geographic perspectives. For the fun of it, I'll run the most depressing sound bites from each of the series' three authors (so far, maybe there will be more). Waterfall, the digital guy, is the most hopeful. Wonder why?

From Johnny Vulkan, Anomaly, New York: "This year hasn't been a wonderful one for advertising professionals—unless your business is advertising conferences entitled 'The Future of Marketing'—but 2007 will prove to have been a remarkable year for the marketing profession in general."

From Simon Waterfall, Poke, London: "Another thing I hope we've learned from this year is that advertisers need to learn a lot more about their audience. And they need to start thinking a little more smartly about the new forms of media that have been dominating the headlines. Everyone wants a piece, but do they really need it?"

From Jonathan Kneebone, Glue Society, Sydney: "At the judging of various advertising events this year—from Clio to D&AD, from AWARD to Young Guns and AdFest—it became clear that 2007 was the year no one really knew what to do next—particularly the multinational agencies."

Each author also has a slide show of what they found interesting this year. I don't believe any of them mentioned Adverganza. And BTW, are these peoples names for real, or what?

Not believin' the Whopper Freakout

It's kind of obvious why Crispin, Porter + Bogusky shot the Whopper Freakout in some place with palm trees. Because if the agency shot it in a place that was a little bit harsher on the soul—like, say, New York—the people who were denied their Whoppers would have pulled out a weapon and maimed the "store manager" who tells the assembled multitudes that Burger King has discontinued its most popular offering. (If you're not familiar, you can watch a little bit of Whopper Freakout here. Basically, it's a "mockumentary" in which a local Burger King tells all of its patrons that the Whopper is kaput. Something, but to my mind not hilarity, ensues.) Over at Fallon Planning, they're calling it "genius" but to me, despite all of the claims that this was all shot using real people, who really thought the Whopper was gone, doesn't pass the scent of flame-grilled beef test. First, to quote David Ogilvy, "The consumer is not a moron. She's your wife." The inherent sexism of that quote aside, D.O. had a point: that people are not that gullible, particularly these days. Are there that many people who would really believe this? It's akin to, well, McDonald's KOing the Big Mac. Yeah, right. Second, if people really were that gullible, how come they take it relatively passively? They only really seem to get, um, inflamed, when, in the latter part of the video—which involves store workers actually stuffing burgers from Wendy's and McDonald's surreptitiously into customers' bags—store staff basically accuses the customers of putting the errant burgers in their bags. My last complaint is that, at almost 8 minutes, it's too long. Just because you can stream almost anything of any length these days, doesn't mean you should. OK, you can now accuse me of getting up on the wrong side of the burger this morning.

Can't creative and media all just get along?

Oy. Not another agency of the future. But that's exactly what they're cooking up over at SMG, which has just hired a creative from Avenue A/Razorfish to run an agency within the media-buying conglomerate to do creative. (Google the phrase "agency of the future" and you get almost 15,000 entries.) The unit, called Pixel, has been part of the shop for awhile, but now it's having what appears to be a coming-out party to be an official SMG offering. While the concentration will be on digital, SMG chief Laura Desmond doesn't rule out, according to Mediapost, that "it might migrate into more traditional forms of creative advertising." There are several levels of silliness here, first and foremost that SMG doesn't feel that long-time creative agencies are capable of the task. Here at the end of 2007—even though we all know she's right—that's pitiful. SMG also wants a creative offering that comes at it from a media perspective rather than the reverse. But what of SMG sister shops Digitas and Modem Media? Aren't they reasonable enough interactive offerings? I'm familiar with the work of both, and both are innovators when it comes to media-driven creative applications. Great advertising people these days should have neither a media perspective or a creative perspective, but an idea perspective that allows them to objectively assess the full range of marketing possibilities for them. Of course, there's an 800-lb. gorilla in the offices of SMG's "the agency of the future" and all others that are doing newfangled creative/media mash-ups: that creative and media are inevitably coming back together, and after the machinations to separate them over the last period, few want to admit that the changing media landscape means their inevitable remarriage. It's only a matter of time. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE: Mediapost's Joe Mandese has written another story about this.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Boy comes out of snow globe, does interview

OK, so this purports to be the first interview ever with McKinney & Silver's SnowGlobeBoy. SGB, who spent more than three days in the snow globe, has also received almost 20,000 views of the video above on YouTube. If you're not familiar, think of this as a Christmas version of that made-for-TV flick "Boy in the Plastic Bubble" starring John Travolta, circa 1976.

Have yourself a Spice Girl Christmas

Merry Christmas from Tesco and the Spice Girls.

Monday, December 17, 2007

How to put Keith Kelly in the background

It's not all that easy to upstage Keith Kelly's column in The New York Post, but this Toyota ad certainly managed it.

Shatner, Mr. T discover World of Warcraft

This World of Warcraft ad isn't the best use of William Shatner I've ever seen, but I'd rather watch him than most celebrity endorsers. Here's another in the campaign featuring Mr. T, which has several million YouTube views all told. Weird thing is that probably a lot of the WoW demographic thinks Shatner's that guy on "Boston Legal" and as for Mr. T, I really don't know. Maybe 2008 is the year of his big comeback.

Precious Moments coffins 2007's worst line extension

One story I missed earlier yesterday was Brandweek's list of the worst line extensions of the year. You can read the full list here, but let's just stick, for the purposes of this post, to Precious Moments line of coffins, which won the contest. These were coffins that were based on the treacly, doe-eyed figurines, pictured at right. Unfortunately, if they are still available, they're not available on the Precious Moments Web site. I typed "coffin" into search; I clicked on "Miscellaneous," I clicked on "Occasion" but only saw holidays like Christmas and Birthdays. Alas, no coffins.

Adverganza's Monday morning pics, 12.17.07

Wherein I scan the Monday morning headlines so you don't have to.

From Advertising Age:

—This is the annual Book of Tens. Not quite sure where to begin, but this is as good a place as any: 10 Who Made Their Mark, ranging from Steve Biegel to Don Imus and Rupert Murdoch, it's quite diverse. Problem with the way this is presented on the Web is that there are usually several lists associated with each link, but sometimes you only know what the top one is before you click. Tsk. Tsk.
—"Writers' strike? What me worry?" says Fox.
—Why NBC might make money from returning $10 million to advertisers.
Garfield's top ten ads, plus the Bobbys.
—The Media Guy 2007 Final Exam.

From Adweek (sorry no cover. The link on the Adweek site is broken):

—Tom Carroll takes over as TBWA CEO, but get Lee Clow's new title: global director of media arts. Uh ... media is creative, creative is media ... I'm getting a headache.
—Call it tough love. Looks like Kevin Roberts is going to make Young & Rubicam wait a year until Tony Granger can take over the lead creative role.
—Despite Facebook's recent face plant, social networking is changing advertising.
—Yes, Virginia, there is a Web upfront.
Adweek's top ten trends of 2007.
—So you're a celeb and you've been in rehab, been accused of sexual harassment, or been filmed eating a hamburger off the floor after drinking too many Heinekens? No morals? No problem!
—The annual in/out list.

From Mediapost:

—2008 will be the year of indulgence. Bring it on.
—There will be at least one CGM campaign in 2008: Dove is asking consumers for ideas to promote its Dove Supreme Cream Oil Body Was. The winner will air on the Oscars.
—Make that two CGM campaigns. Heinz unveils the sequel to this year's "Top this TV" contest.
—Bill Cella, thanks for playing, and other shifts at Interpublic's media operations.

From The New York Times:

Stuart Elliott's Book of Eights, or the eight best and worst moments in advertising in 2007. Why only eight? Go ask your mate. (That was a Dr. Suess reference.)
—Nick Denton becomes the managing editor of Gawker, after rigorous job interviews with himself.
—Food Network to change its menu (insert other lame food metaphors here).

From The Wall Street Journal (subscription required unless otherwise noted):

—Domino's returns to 30-minute pledge in its first ads from Crispin, Porter + Bogusky. Free.
—As the writers' strike continues, will networks cancel production deals. Free.

What we're hearing from The Delaney Report:

—Is MasterCard media getting ancy at GSD&M Idea City?
—Other accounts to sniff around on: TXU Corp., and the Blue Cross Blue Shield organizations of Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Isn't this stop smoking ad beyond the pale?

Among other things that 2007 will come to be known for, it'll be the year of the gross-out anti-tobacco ad. Whether you're talking about the man that AdFreak refers to as Throat-Hole Guy, or the guy who lost his jaw from chewing tobacco, or the person who's lost a few toes due to smoking too much, it's not a pretty picture. Of this genre, the most over the top is our poor friend Skip Legault, pictured here, who, if you can't read the fine print, has suffered "two heart attacks, a stroke, fourteen surgeries, seven blood clots" and "leg amputation" because of smoking. So is this ad effective? I don't think so, and here's why. Poor Skip's smoking-related bad health is so completely over the top that I would think most smokers would look at it and say that could never happen to them, particularly the leg amputation. The ad is ultimately hard to relate to, because most of us have never run into an amputee who had to have a limb whacked off because of smoking. I don't think it doesn't happen, but Skip's experience seems fairly remote, and as we know, people who are addicted are full of denial about what could really happen to them. This ad doesn't help.

Even worse than coal in your stocking

Saw a description of this Alltel spot on Adweek's creative newsletter (worth subscribing to, BTW), but describing it, as always, doesn't do it full justice. Imagine the elves and reindeer as vigilantes, and you'll get the drift. Via Campbell-Ewald.

What 'Campaign' calls worst advert of the year

Saw a story about Campaign's worst adverts of the year and thought I should share the cringe-worthy wealth. The grand prize went to this ad for Rana Pasta which features an actual politician, Ann Widdecombe, among those protesting at 10 Downing Street for "fresh pasta justice." Via Leagas Delaney. Congrats all around!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Citgo Joe returns with new ad

Somehow I missed the Joe Kennedy/Citgo commercial last year, in which Joe says that, thanks to a deal he's struck with Citgo, people who can't afford oil can now get it at a discount. The commercial from last year is above, but there's a new one out, that basically holds up the citizens of Venezuela, and Citgo, as model citizens, who really care for their shivering American counterparts, whereas the American government ... Not surprisingly, Kennedy took a lot of, well, heat, for this campaign last year because of the Hugo Chavez connection, but I guess he remains undeterred.

You read it on Adverganza first ...

After the drubbing I gave Adweek a few weeks ago (it was tough love, really), I shouldn't expect the magazine to give me any credit for being the first to report that Dentsu was changing law firms in the Steve Biegel case to Morgan, Lewis and Bockius. Fair enough. But wanted to point out that it was reported here last Friday. Now that I've gotten that little ego-gratification exercise out of the way, time for some real posts.

Those direct marketers ... so tricky!

Don't you hate it when you fall for direct marketing ploys? I do. In falling for one the other day, my husband and I stumbled upon the industry's latest trick: printed addresses that look like handwriting. With that, we opened this envelope from Wells Fargo, which, of course—doing!—only contained a letter asking of us if we wanted to refinance our mortgage. Once we realized we'd been had, we tried to see if the magic marker on this sucker would run at all if moistened. It didn't.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

All hands on deck for next H-P ad

I'm sure I'm not the only blogger who got an email yesterday from a guy named Geoff Nelson" at Buzz Corps., a social media company working with HP." Seems like Goodby, Silverstein has run out of ideas as to who should be the next person in its "hands" campaign (you know, the one where you only see the spokesperson's hands), and they're asking bloggers to help them. Or maybe it's just that they want more into this democratic, let's-go-ask-the-people-what-they-think thing. I have no suitable ideas since my brain has been thoroughly taken over by pre-Christmas stress, so if you have an idea you can go to this site and submit your ideas.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

David Kenny only ad guy in Silicon Alley 100

And he's no. 54, and last time I knew lived up in Boston. (In case you don't know, Kenny is head of Digitas, which he sold to Publicis last year.) Maybe this is a case of beggars can't be choosers, but on the other hand, are ad people really beggars? I think not. Given that everyone in online expects to make their next million from advertising revenue, you'd think that ad people would rank as a little more important than they do on this list. Instead, the list is dominated by VCs and people at media companies, and while I'll certainly grant that Tim Armstrong of Google deserves his no. 6 position, don't the online media guys need the online ad guys more than the online ad guys need them? Not to take this list too seriously. It claims that no. 62, Randall Rothenberg, has been with the Interactive Advertising Bureau since 2001, when he actually joined a year ago.

Nothing says Christmas like Pepto-Bismol

Since it's Christmas, thought I'd run this relatively recent clip from the Pepto-Bismol Sing About Disgusting Bodily Functions Contest. The guy is singing this song wearing a vest adorned with sparkly Christmas trees. How festive. For what it's worth, the contest continues until mid-January and there's an entire YouTube channel devoted to these lovely things. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Y&R: Great recruiter of high-profile speakers

So, Young & Rubicam may not be on anyone's short list of great agencies these days, but the shop excels at one thing: hiring high-profile speakers to appear at Cannes. Last year, as you may recall, they hired speaker-of-the-moment Al Gore to, I think, explain the connection between global warming and advertising. (Think of how much carbon we'd save if there were no advertising! But then what would I do with my life?)This year, the agency has hired Rupert Murdoch, who will speak at Cannes about media. Now, if they could just put some time and effort into being a better agency ...

Nice Sprint visual says nothing about the brand

Because I overthink these things, I've been pondering this Sprint campaign, which you've probably seen by now. Here's the deal: it uses this really cool visual device of neon drawings on top of live action, which definitely makes it more fun to watch than your average commercial, but the device says absolutely nothing about Sprint, and that's the problem. Had I not been someone who follows advertising would I have even remembered what the brand was? Whatever happened to the pin drop? Well, I guess that device is way too analog, for groovin' 2007.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Wendy's red wig stays! I think ...

So, now that Ian Rowden has left the CMO job at Wendy's I'm getting a little nervous for the red wig. The good news is that president-CEO Kerrii Anderson is promising more of the "That's Right" campaign (though he doesn't specifically mention red wigs). The bad news is, of course, that the company is still for sale. With that, above is the most recent Wendy's spot featuring the Air Supply burger. For some reason, I think an Abba burger would've been even funnier, but that's just me.

Totally, awesomely cool ad tournament

Hi folks, my old friends at the Freak (aka AdFreak), are holding a March Madness-like tournament to decide what was the freakiest ad moment of 2007. GREAT idea. Voting is going on currently, so get over there so you can help decide big important questions such as whether Orville Deadenbacher or the Stanley Steemer dog-butt scuttle, or Bob Dylan in an Escalade was the freakiest.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Adverganza's Monday morning picks, 12.10.07

Yep. In which I scan the Monday morning headlines—hopefully in a timely fashion—so you don't have to:

From Advertising Age:

—The writers' strike threatens the $9 billion upfront. What? You don't want to watch reality TV?
—William Morris burnishes the green, as in eco-friendly, reputation of its clients.
—Ads for 'Paranormal State' enough to make you think you're paranoid.
—Is Katie Couric's CBS Evening News being marketed as the Voice of Goddess?
Musta been a slow week. Bob Garfield finally weighs in on soccer Moms who wanna kill the King.
—Q&A with Yum's David Novak on his new book about being "an accidental CEO."

From Adweek:

—NBC has started to give back refunds to advertisers because of the writers' strike. This is gonna hurt.
—Is "doing a Radiohead" becoming more popular?
—Media buyers aren't all that mad at Facebook.
—Survey says many CMOs aspire to be CEOs. But what does it matter? They'll be out on their asses in two years anyway.
Eleftheria Parpis rounds up the best Christmas commercials this year. Of course, JC Penney makes the grade.
—Barbara Lippert calls Dell's new commercial from Mother "a visually dazzling execution of an elementary point" and she's so right. You can watch it here.

From Mediapost:

—Paramount, Jaguar are charter subscribers to MSN Mobile.
A closer look at the "Elf Yourself" agency: Omnicom's EVB.
—Newspapers are a great generator of word-of-mouth (so don't kill 'em).

From The New York Post:

—Will the writers' strike cause more out-of-work celebrities to busy themselves with ad endorsement deals?

From The New York Times:

Nokia looks to regain its U.S. mojo.
—Dr. Pepper turns a YouTube star into a commercial star.
—Advertisers can't get enough of the 1960s.

From The Wall Street Journal (subscription required):

—Nestle will start selling Jamba Juice in some states.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Dentsu hands Biegel lawsuit to Morgan Lewis

This just in to the Adverganza newsroom: it looks like Dentsu has replaced Davis & Gilbert with a new law firm—Morgan Lewis and Bockius—to handle the sexual harrassment lawsuit brought against the agency by former Dentsu creative Steve Biegel. A Dentsu spokesperson that I talked to this morning had no knowledge at that time of the switch. Later on, Dentsu couldn't be reached. I've placed calls to Davis & Gilbert and Morgan Lewis and Bockius to see what they say. I've no context as to why this has apparently happened, but will add it in as I get it. On that note, have a good weekend.

Bravia bunnies hop over here

In no-brainer news, Sony has decided to run its Bravia "Bunnies" ad here. (Apparently, the 60-second ad has already been running in theaters, but I don't get out much.) It's always seemed a bit odd that none of the three ads has officially run stateside; two of them were even shot here, and you have to imagine that many of the gazillion views on YouTube, particularly for the original, "Balls," are from the U.S.. It's a campaign with universal appeal. I even saw several Bravia "Bunnies" outdoor ads in Moscow a few weeks ago, which considerably brightened up the drab environs of Sheremetyevo Airport. As for how "Bunnies" is doing in terms of YouTube views, it's at about 700,000 all told, according to my usual kneejerk analysis complete with sketchy mathematical skills. That's good, but it's no match for its forerunners. Via Fallon, London.

First Nike work from Crispin musta been pricey

Ad Age has posted Crispin, Porter + Bogusky's first ad for Nike, which you can watch by going here. My initial impression is that the ad cost a lot of money, and has a fairly strong concept, but it ain't the sometimes jaw-dropping stuff that we've become accustomed to seeing from Wieden + Kennedy, which, unless you've spent the last few decades living in the primordial ooze, you know is Nike's long-time agency. (BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE: I added in a stream of the spot above, now that I found it. Sorry it's so pixel-ly.)

And on Dec. 1, Greg Stern ate a ballerina

Here at Adverganza Estates, we are big fans of advent calendars, to such a great extent that Grandma Adverganza made a special trip down from Connecticut just to drop off one for each of the kiddies last week. So, we are predisposed to be fans of Butler Shine Stern's Advent-o-Rama, which presents a little surprise for visitors at least through Dec. 24 (when most advent calendars end), but maybe even longer! Today's treat is Holiday Tetris, which you can access by going to the site and clicking on the 7, because it's the 7th! (This isn't rocket science people). Oh, and if you click on Dec. 1, you will see Greg Stern eat a ballerina.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Bob Berenson's the new Dell dude

You could've knocked me over with a feather when I read an email this morning from an FOA (Friend of Adverganza) informing me that Bob Berenson would be the new chairman of the Dell agency, DaVinci, that WPP is setting up. You can read one of the many stories about it here. Berenson, in case you don't remember the name, was the right-hand man to Ed Meyer at Grey for several decades, keeping the agency on the straight and narrow from his roll-top desk in a corner office next to Ed's suite of conference rooms, assistants and offices. I actually saw Berenson do a speaking engagement earlier this year; his compadre on stage was Jeff Dachis. Yes, that Jeff Dachis. And I came away thinking he felt his days in the ad biz were over. (Here's video of it.) Well, I guess not if someone asks you to set up an entirely new ad agency set to run a really, really, really, really big account (remember, I said I wouldn't post billings figures on this blog; only revenue figures).

Martin Sorrell's Google obsession

So, apparently WPP Group chief Martin Sorrell was obsessing about Google again yesterday, during remarks he made at the UBS media conference. This time, his concerns about the company—which he has called in the past a "frenemy"—are about its mobile plans and the DoubleClick acquisition, which he believes could turn Google from frenemy into enemy. He also engaged in, what by now, is his obligatory discussion of Google's market cap vs. those in the ad industry. Yesterday's sound bite: that Google's market cap is four times the size of the top 4 agency holding companies. Thing is, Sorrell has been obsessing about Google for awhile. The first time I recorded it was in a March 2006 story I wrote about Google, in which Sorrell mused that the company's then market cap of $100 billion, was $85 billion more than what he called "poor little WPP." Somehow, I doubt I was witness to the first time he made such a comparison. In fact, Sorrell is constantly raising the specter of Google. In searching for that story, I found remarks by Sorrell about Google here, here and here. Well, one thing you can say about constantly talking about Google—it sure gets you quoted.

McDonald's pushes envelope with report card promo

I don't always agree with the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, but this time, they have a point. Seems that in Seminole County, Florida, students received their report cards in an envelope emblazoned with a picture of Ronald McDonald and promising them a Happy Meal for good grades. Now that's what I call pushing the envelope! Anyway, at a time when childhood obesity is making headlines—I saw another alarming report about that last night on NBC Nightly News, while slicing the kids' vegetables (get it? I'm a health Mom!)—companies like McDonald's have to pick their advertising choices carefully. Now, McDonald's counter to this is that the school board and parents in Seminole are behind the promotion, and that Happy Meals can contain healthy alternatives: "McDonald's provides parents with Happy Meal choices including Chicken McNuggets made with white meat, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, apple dippers, apple juice and low-fat milk, so they can choose the Happy Meal that is appropriate for their child." OK, point taken. But McDonald's still has a long way to go to rehabilitate its image before it should consider advertising on report card envelopes.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

AT&T rips off MTV's 'Cribs'

Not sure what the point of this AT&T promo is in which Deion Sanders tours the homes of football players like the Miami Dolphin's Trent Green, but its inspiration is obvious: MTV's 'Cribs'. The series seems to be an excuse to show off AT&T devices, and you can take a deep dive on that front here. For those of us who don't give a rat's ass what this guy's house looks like—or are far too jealous to want a tour—there are brief outtakes posted on YouTube, like the one I've posted here.

Once again, you can elf yourself!

I've no earthly idea what the "Elf Yourself" promo from OfficeMax has to do with office supplies, but, what the hell, I decided to elf myself, which is personally disturbing, though others may find it amusing. Just goes to show I'll do anything to increase traffic. Last year David Lubars and Alex Bogusky were turned into elves. If there are any ad guys you'd particularly like to see elved let me know. We can work on it together. Launching this year: ScroogeYourself. Via Toy and EVB. I'll still by my gear at Staples.

Forrester's weird interactive marketing agencies report

A tipster has slipped me a PDF of Forrester's annual report about interactive marketing agencies, which picks OgilvyInteractive as best among the best and brightest. There's a full accounting of the agencies they rated here. This report, which has been known to make interactive shops shake in their Doc Martens, is both the most and least comprehensive of the, um, genre, if that makes any sense. It rates agencies on a voluminous 52 criteria ranging from campaign integration to financial resources to account management, using Advertising Age's Top 50 Interactive Agencies list as a starting point. But then it gets really, well, uncomprehensive. The study only examines seven agencies closely, and it's a peculiar bunch of cats and dogs—in addition to Ogilvy, Forrester looked at Avenue A/Razorfish, Critical Mass, Digitas, imc (squared), Sapient and VML. VML? A fiarly minor WPP shop? Forrester's rational is that it wanted to look at both independent and holding company-owned shops, that the shops had to have crossed a number of thresholds in terms of revenue, revenue growth, client growth, employees and ability in social media. (The report also points out that it does a separate review of Web design shops, where no doubt some of the missing are located there.) But still, one of the problems here, I think, is looking at only one source. Virtually everyone who tries to compile a comprehensive list of interactive agencies, defines the segment differently. As some of you know, I worked on Adweek's Top 50 interactive agencies list for some time, and although we all became frustrated at the increasing difficulty of getting accurate information, at least, back when we were doing it, it offered an alternative viewpoint. The Ad Age list, for instance, doesn't include McCann WorldGroup's MRM Worldwide, and, indeed, MRM was not evaluated. It's also strange that RGA didn't make the grade, but if that's because Forrester considers it a Web design shop, that seems misplaced given how the shop has expanded into other areas over the last few years. As for Sapient, the company has only recently started building creative into its tool set ... and without creative, it's hard to see how a company could be a superlative interactive marketing agency. Just ask Avenue A, which had to go out and buy a few shops a few years back to become full service. Well congrats anyway Ogilvy.

Imus needs to hire a Web designer

You'd think that after all of the hullabaloo about Imus' return to radio, WABC could have come up with a slightly more sophisticated graphic on the Web page that links you to his show's live stream. This is like Web graphics circa 1995.

The Facebook advertiser fans scorecard! Round Three!*

OK, folks I'm filled with blogging regret for not posting all that much last week. But sometimes the people who pay me for my words get in the way of what might otherwise be some perfectly pleasant posts. As a way of getting back in the game, here's round three of my Facebook advertiser fans scorecard, in which the massive Adverganza staff sees how many Facebook fans some of those initial Facebook advertisers have gained. Here goes:

Sprite Sips: 218 fans (that's a gain of only 65 since Nov. 15; well, at least Brian Morrissey is a fan of Mr. Sips).
Blockbuster: 180 fans (that's a gain of only 41 since Nov. 15)
Amazing Race: 4575 fans (an impressive gain of 3076 since Nov. 15)
Epicurious: 462 fans (a gain of 269 since Nov. 15)
Verizon: 9457 fans (a gain of 7958!)
The New York Times: 5045 fans ((a gain of 2708 fans).

OK, so this week's big gainer is Verizon, but God knows why. In fact, while certain things make sense about who is gaining fans and who isn't, other things don't. The gains of Amazing Race and The New York Times make sense—they're both media brands. But then try to explain Blockbuster's lackluster performance? As for Mr. Sips, his ho-hum fan base makes some sense. It's just a soda, people.

*Study completely unscientific, subject to radical change and chock full o' specious logic.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Adverganza's Monday morning picks, 12.03.07

Wherein I scan the Monday morning headines so you don't have to:

From Advertising Age (BTW, as of this writing the This Week's Issue link still shows last week's issue. Tsk. Tsk.):

—Dell's teensy-weensy $4.5 billion account goes to WPP instead of IPG. Somewhere Michael Roth is crying in his beer.
—Matt Creamer has himself (search engine) optimized. And just look at the results.
—Oh no. Bob Garfield likes the Starbucks spots. Well, at least, he admits to a desire "to go after the CVS birdie with a 20-gauge."
—A (fairly obvious) primer on what not to do at the office holiday party. As in "No one wants to wipe your vomit off the CMO's new sport coat."
—ZenithOptimedia predicts 2008 ad spending. Hint: Unless you're in online you won't be all that happy.

From Adweek:

—Is it that people don't like ads? Or do they just don't like bad ads?
—Anomaly breaks up with Virgin, despite making interesting in-flight safety videos.
—A look at ad spending numbers for the first three quarters from Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Most of the biggest advertisers spent less on TV.
A stream of the Media All-Stars lunch. If your boss was one of them, make sure to watch.
What lobsters have to do with keeping people tuned in.
—Paul Kurnit chews on whether advertising causes obesity.
—Barbara Lippert gives a thumbs-up to Converse's first campaign from Anomaly. You can see the ads here.

What we hear from the world of Tom Delaney:

—Mars is talking to shops about "yet defined assignments" whatever that means.

From The New York Post:

—The straightforwardly-named Advertising Rating Co. says it can rate the creative effectiveness of any ad.

From The New York Times:

—Doc Martens tries out a new campaign, without stomping all over Kurt Cobain's memory.

From Mediapost:

—AT&T's CEO lets slip that a 3G iPhone is coming.
—Mercedes to promote clean diesel—and it's not supposed to be an oxymoron!
—You knew this already: Google will bid for part of the wireless spectrum.
—The FCC turns its eye to product placement.

From The Wall Street Journal:

—LG Electronics consolidates at Bartle Bogle Hegarty. Not free.
—Phil Knight secretly taking creative writing classes at Stanford. Well, not so secretly anymore. Free.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Red Wendy's spot, but no red wig

Came across this while looking for a more contemporary Wendy's spot. It's a Cliff Freeman classic dating back to when he, and a young innocent named Cathy Taylor, worked at Dancer Fitzgerald Sample. Note the Cold War theme. Hey, did I mention that we went to Lenin's Mausoleum last week? Creepy.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

'Online Media Daily' makes it into writers' strike

Insertion-of-ad-trades-into-popular-culture award for this month goes to Online Media Daily, which is referenced in this video written by a Daily Show writer who makes pointed, hilarious commentary about the issues involved in the writers' strike. OK, so you can't even see in my lousy screen grab that it says Online Media Daily at the bottom of this quote from Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, so go watch the vid. At least during this writers' strike, we can still watch funny stuff on YouTube, which none of the authors get paid for.

Being sweet will get Starbucks nowhere

I'm finally taking a look at these Starbucks spots from Wieden + Kennedy. ("Bear Hug" is above, "Ski Lift" is here, and "Window Wash" is here.) They're way too cutesy-Christmas-ey for me (not to mention that they go with that old trick of anthropomorphizing animals), but I'll admit to being caught up in my opinion, stated earlier, that it's not worth it for Starbucks to do a TV campaign. All we need to be reminded of the company's existence is to walk out the front door, and this campaign doesn't do much more than remind us of its existence—by giving us a nice, sweet serving of whipped cream on the top of the grande latte. (Obligatory weak coffee metaphor!) Yeah, I know Starbucks has got increasing competition from McDonald's, Dunkin' Donuts, and so forth, but the real difference between Starbucks and its competitors is its venues, which play no role in this campaign. Bah humbug, etc.

Samsung phone spot, nothing if not heartfelt

Engaging spot for Samsung, I think for the U.K. market. Almost makes you forget that many mobile phones can take pictures. Would be better if it ran during Valentine's Day though.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Adverganza's Tuesday/Wednesday morning picks

OK, so I'm getting around to this a on Tuesday. Better late than never:

From Advertising Age:

Dentsu files motion to dismiss Steve Biegel's suit, based on legal technicalities rather than bathhouse attendance.
—A YouTube video star shows how you, too,can go viral.
AdBuster guy wears New Balance.
—More ruminating about Starbucks' national TV campaign.
—Who knew that Bob Garfield had such a strong opinion about the Island of Misfit Toys?

From Adweek:

Yet more Dentsu/Biegel.
—Wendy Melillo on Starbucks and the limitations of word-of-mouth.
—Does playing at war make you want to sign up for war?
—Only 19 percent of clients compensate agencies based on performance. Not exactly putting money where one's mouth is.
—Barbara Lippert gets all warm and fuzzy about Starbucks' new spot.

What we hear from The Delaney Report:

—I've never heard of iBiquity in Columbia, Maryland but allegedly it has a $250 million budget to promote HD something or other. Get on the horn to them kids!
—Is there some sorta conflict between Dentsu's Suzuki account and Attik's Scion account?

From The New York Times:

—Not a moment too soon, the Ad Council discovers the Internet.
—Yeah, so someone already thought of free WiFi paid for by commercials.

From The Wall Street Journal (subscription required unless otherwise noted):

CondeNet starts putting its videos on YouTube.
—Marketers are fans of Facebook. Free.

My apologies for doing these so late, folks. It's been one of those weeks, and probably will continue to be at this rate!

Monday, November 26, 2007

How about making 'Adweek' a monthly?

Hi all. Got back from our week-long trip to Moscow last night at 5 (that's 1 a.m. Moscow time for you jet lag fans), so I'm a bit behind on the Monday morning picks. Thought I should get to first things first, however: the announcement on Tuesday of Thanksgiving week that Adweek will no longer, as the name implies, be a weekly that covers advertising, instead only publishing 36 issues a year as it builds out a better Web site. If you haven't heard this already, then at least one thing about the announcement worked—if the publication had something it wanted to shout from the rooftops, it wouldn't have buried the story by releasing it on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. In news terms, days like that exist for brushing distasteful matters under the rug. (UPDATE: Nat Ives at Ad Age broke this on Tuesday which forced the story. What can I say ... I was in Moscow.)

Truth is, I'd heard that this was happening some time ago, but hadn't had a chance to report it and feel a little bad about not sharing it with you awhile ago. (Yes, it's true, I'm an oxymoron of a blogger; I actually report things from time to time.) Knowing what I knew, I would've expected something, well, a lot less half-baked than the wimpy, weak-on-detail, so-called announcement that came out on Tuesday. From a publication that prides itself on carving through spin, it was embarrassing—a misleading headline that said, "Adweek to Expand on Digital Offering," on top of a "story" which left until the end of the third paragraph that little side-note about the powers-that-be cutting the weekly down to 36 issues a year. It got worse when, in a fit of jet-lag induced insomnia, I went to the Mediaweek site to see its write-up of the shift late one night last week, because the one thing I hadn't already heard was whether the cut-down in frequency applied to Brandweek and Mediaweek as well. The answer is no, it doesn't. But get this: a comment about how forward-looking Adweek is blah, blah, blah is attributed on the Adweek site to BBDO North America's Mark Goldstein. At, the exact same quote is attributed to Adweek editor Alison Fahey. Pitiful. (UPDATE: You kinda knew this was going to happen: as of late today, the Mediaweek quote is from Goldstein as well.)

But, of course, these are mostly semantic issues. The real question is whether Adweek can survive as a principally online publication, and the announcement was painfully weak on details about how this might happen, promising only "the most robust content in the industry 24/7 replete with exclusive Nielsen data," according to Nielsen Business Media's Sabrina Crow. Puh-leese! I can hardly wait! Why the publication didn't wait to make this announcement until they had an actual site to show people—beta would've been fine—to add some meat to the blather defies logic. (And there's no indication as to when this new site will launch.) The announcement was one of the most painfully inept attempts at spin I've ever seen. George Parker put it as only he can, "Oh please Sabrina, why can't you just say Ad Age is kicking your arse and you can't make any money?" Right on, George.

And what could a revamped Adweek site really offer that Ad Age doesn't already? (Oh, right, "exclusive Nielsen data", but that's hardly enough to save a business.) With the exception of AdFreak (yes, I founded it), there isn't one innovation in online in recent years that Ad Age hasn't done first, and Adweek, because it mostly operates separately from Brandweek and Mediaweek, probably will have neither the money, nor the staff to pull it off. To that extent, taking resources out of print should help, but the Adweek staff has been absolutely decimated in recent years in a slow drip, drip, drip that has made it barely noticeable to outsiders. Even several years ago, Adweek had a raft of reporters in New York covering agencies, and at least one staffer apiece in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Detroit, Dallas, Atlanta and Washington, DC. The Dallas, Detroit and Atlanta staffers are long gone, and, as of the departure of Aaron Baar out of Chicago, Adweek has pulled out of that market as well. Let me repeat ... pulled out of Chicago! DC reporter Wendy Melillo, who occasionally still seems to file, left recently for American University's School of Communication. Long-time agency reporter Kathy Sampey wasn't replaced when she departed earlier this year for MRM Worldwide. The problem is that in the time the Adweek staff has shrunk to its current size, the news hasn't gone away; it's just that Adweek's ability to cover it has. Unless there are plans to beef up staff to meet that 24/7 demand for news, it's hard to picture how Adweek will pull off a great resurrection now. Addressing the staffing issue, if there's anything positive that can be said about it, is just the sort of thing that should have been in the announcement.

To that extent, if anyone cares, I think pulling back on print is absolutely the right move, but, if it were me, I'd pull back even further. Hell, I'd make the print issue a monthly. Media consumption is a habit, and that alone makes the 36-issues-a-year gambit awkward. What is habit-forming about a magazine, that might—or might not—publish on a given week? The random nature of when these issues are coming out diminishes their value. A monthly might have the opposite effect, making the the print issue more of an event for subscribers and advertisers. It also would free up more resources for online, and would give the print issues a concerted focus on in-depth reporting, a real contrast to what the Adweek Web site—or Ad Agecurrently provides. Publishing kinda, sorta, whenever makes the print issue of Adweek neither a weekly nor a monthly nor a biweekly, and with print as troubled as it already is, that's a huge liability.

I could go on here, but I've gone on quite long enough. Maybe people who read this will think that I detest the place, after having worked there for years, but I don't. It's just frustrating to see a brand that I've loved mishandle the biggest challenge of its existence.