Friday, June 8, 2007

Cool executive move of the week: Rutherford to Digitas

You gotta hand it to Digitas. First, the agency holding company sells out for the big bucks to Publicis, and then it actually hires a guy from Unilever to come on board as global CEO, announcing yesterday that Alan Rutherford, vp/global media at Unilever, will take the job. Holding company client Procter & Gamble must be happy, happy, happy. And you gotta hand it to Publicis, too. I had always wondered how parts of the holding company, like Saatchi, and Kaplan Thaler Group, had managed to slide through the last ten years with little digital expertise to their names. Frankly, it seemed unfathomable—standing on the sidelines in the middle of the revolution? The best thing Publicis had going for it in the interactive arena was Rishad Tobaccowala, but one extremely talented interactive executive (and his cadre) does not a digital strategy make. Omnicom has long had interactive street cred in owning all or parts of, Critical Mass, Organic and Tribal DDB. WPP had OgilvyInteractive. And Interpublic, for all its difficulties, could claim what could be considered the industry's crown jewel: R/GA. Now, Publicis has more than joined the club, and, yeah, it was worth the $1.3 billion.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Does Olympics logo induce seizures?

Yep, they're saying that the animated version of the 2012 London Olympics logo might cause epileptic seizures, and according to this clip, from which I've posted a screen grab above, it's already been taken off the official Olympic Web site. The brainwaves behind this piece of—I don't know what you'd call it—is Wolff Olins, a design firm that is part of Omnicom Group. Why they felt they had to go with something like this, by the way, is so the logo would be "'dynamic, modern and flexible reflecting a brand savvy world where people, especially young people, no longer relate to static logos but respond to a dynamic brand that works with new technology and across traditional and new media networks'. " Whew. In other words, although some people unfortunately suffer from epilepsy, a whole generation is afflicted with ADD.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Duke lacrosse team sells newspaper ads

Maybe you saw the full-page print ad in a couple of major newspapers applauding the Duke University lacrosse team for putting its, um, distractions aside and get all the way to the finals of the national championships. (They lost.) The ad, was, to say the least, unusual, and now the mystery behind it has been solved. The ad was placed by a 1981 alumnus named Aubrey McClendon, who bought The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post as part of his $400,000 ad buy, in addition to buying some major North Carolina newspapers. But it was actually the second pro-Duke ad to be published after the university's loss to Johns Hopkins. McClendon was inspired by another Duke grad who placed an ad in USA Today. Two things you can say for people who went to Duke: they stand by their school, and they make a lot of money.

In radio ad wars, does eBay beat Google?

The march toward an auction marketplace continues with eBay's announcement that it has started to auction last-minute radio inventory in its Media Marketplace. (Sorry, folks, you have to be registered to play, so you can't just swing on over to eBay to see what radio is really selling for.) What we should all be watching for, obviously, is how eBay performs compared with Google, which has been in the market for awhile now with its January 2006 acquisition of dMarc Broadcasting, and other deals, such as its April agreement with Clear Channel to sell a small percentage of its inventory. Since auction-type models are supposed to be neat and clean, you'd like to think that the battle between Google and eBay will come down to who has the best model in the end. But I'm not sure this is how the battle for radio inventory will work out. About 15 months ago, I did a story on all of Google's aspirations to get into the ad business, and the response of radio buyers was what you could call NIMBY. There was simply no way that these people were going to let Google start sniffing around their turf and get involved in radio ad sales. Surely, things like the Clear Channel deal show that times are changing, but I'd still give eBay the upperhand here, just because it isn't Google, and ultimately people who often aren't to fond of Google will decide where the dollars go.

Some f*cking content from Bud.TV

I know Bud.TV has been covered exhaustively, but thought it would be fun to share this clip, which The Wall Street Journal alluded to the other day, where workers at an office have to put change in a jar every time they swear. Rather than being a piece of content sponsored by Bud, it's really a one-minute long profane Bud Light ad, since the money in the jar is to go toward a case of Bud Light. That's not meant to be a criticism -- just an observation on what you'll see if you choose to watch. Still don't understand how Bud gets to distribute this content, while some organizations pressed Anheuser-Busch to make age-verification on its site more arduous.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Wilco just wants to sell records

Some folks are so outraged at the fact Wilco has licensed some of the songs from its new album to the new campaign for Volkswagen that the band has had to post a big item on their Web site under the rather straightforward headline, "Wilco Music Used in Advertisement in an Effort to Sell Records." The band even provided this ringing endorsement: " ... we feel OK about VWs. Several of us even drive them." (I've yet to find these ads online, BTW.) Well, at least the people who don't like it when bands sell out haven't sold out yet.

Does Blackberry need an image campaign?

I've seen this ad now twice in two days on, and I keep asking myself, "Does this brand need an image campaign?" Maybe one addressing what to do during a Blackberry outage, but not this. Then again, what do I know? I use a Treo.

Take a crack at Yahoo's Ad Libs

If you've got time to waste today -- and don't start getting all self-important and pretending you don't -- you might want to spend time goofing around with Yahoo's Mad. Ave. Ad Libs. OK, mine, above, wasn't as funny as the David Lubars bobblehead doll.

What's the real story behind TNS' numbers?

So TNS Media Intelligence just came out with its first quarter ad spending numbers and if you're in traditional media, now's as good a time as any to reach for the meds. Ad spending is down .3 percent to just under $35 billion, with big advertisers such as General Motors and Procter & Gamble cutting budgets. But it's strange how the reports I've read thus far simply assume this is because of the usual blend of stuff that makes advertisers cut budgets, without asking whether there might be something else at work: the rise in accountable media. I don't want to sit around tooting the Internet's horn too much, but while many categories are hurting, Web spending was up more than 16 percent (and Hispanic advertising, 14 percent). And TNS doesn't even measure search advertising. Then, look at the fact that one of the culprits is the automotive category. But wait, before you go blaming that on Detroit's woes, spending is down for both foreign and domestic. Could it be possible that automotive -- which can make one of the clearest connection between online advertising and sales -- is souring on TV? Just asking. BUT THERE'S MORE: Now the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers are saying that Internet advertising was up in Q1 to a new record of $4.9 billion, a 26 percent increase over the same period last year.

Saatchi-Doc Martens scandal kinda obvious

OK. So far, I've refrained from saying something about the whole "Kurt Cobain and other dead rock stars wearing Doc Martens" fiasco, but I suppose one shoudn't let such a scandal pass without making a few observations. Especially when it's so easy to find one of the visuals online and run it—which is part of my point. According to The New York Times' accounting of the whole thing today (not that I haven't read it elsewhere), the agency, Saatchi, only planned on having one of the ads run once, in some obscure British magazine, and has since dismissed the naughty employee who also sent the ads to over here. But, wait a minute, isn't this whole scenario sooooo 1993? True, the employee shouldn't have sent the campaign stateside (copyright law differs here and the ads were illegal), but wasn'it t also silly for the agency and client to actually believe that such a wonderfully outrageous idea would remain squirreled away in the pages of the obscure British magazine in which they'd placed it? If some employee didn't start spreading it around, it seems that someone else would have, a scandal would've ensued, and the agency would at least have gotten a slap on the wrist. Saatchi wanted one of the ads to run so it would win some awards, a concept that's as old as the hills in advertising, but one that doesn't exactly work the same way when any piece of advertising has the potential become viral. If you want to keep a lid on an ad, don't run it at all.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Amex membership has its philanthropies

In what looks to be a combination of social networking, philanthropy and credit card marketing, American Express sent out emails to cardmembers last week promoting its "Members Project" which it started in mid-May; the brand also broke a commercial, directed by and featuring Martin Scorsese, and some other Amex spokespeople, over the weekend. The commercial has that same grating humor from other Amex spots; the humor seems too proud of its tongue-in-cheekness to ultimately be very amusing. Too bad, because the "Members Project" concept is really cool. Here's how it works: people submit ideas for charitable projects to the site; they can also discuss and comment on some of the project ideas submitted. Even registering contributes a $1 to the project, with the money going to the project that wins, by user vote, in July. If you've got a great, philanthropic idea, you have until June 17 to submit it. Get crackin'.

Anyone participating in this 'WSJ' campaign?

It's been three weeks since The Wall Street Journal launched its campaign asking people to submit ads to pay homage to creative leaders to, and yet the gallery at the site (where, presumably, these ads would show up), is still empty. Anyone out there care to suck up to an advertising creative by creating an ad about him or her? Anyone?

iPhone: the cell that sells itself

You may have seen the first product-driven iPhone spots over the weekend (as opposed to the teaser that launched on the Oscars). Found it intriguing that coming from a company that is known for its high concept ads, the iPhone campaign is amazingly concept free. All it does is demonstrate what the iPhone can do. And, frankly, that's enough.

Adverganza's Monday morning picks

With apologies to Cliff Notes, our Cliff Notes about what's worth reading in Monday morning's ad news dump:

From Ad Age:
—Google/DoubleClick? Yahoo!/Right Media? Microsoft/aQuantive? The ANA and 4As don't get it.
—Why "It's gotta be New Era Man no matter what they charge."
—Nat Ives plays guess the future management of the magazine industry. But the bigger question may be will anyone care?
—Another VW campaign. No cars die.
—Bob Garfield loves Goodby's new Comcast spot. You gotta check this thing out. Rats haven't been this funny since they were over running that NYC Taco Bell.

From Adweek:
—Whoops! A glitch in Nielsen's first delivery of commercial ratings data.
—Google buys Feedburner.
—Should American presidential candidates imitate the online video strategy of France's Sarkozy?
—Barbara Lippert kind of likes the first Audi campaign from Venables Bell and Partners. (You can see at least some of the spots here.)

From The New York Times:
—Aw, geez, now the magazine industry doesn't even need Madison Avenue.
—Everyone's waiting for the iPhone, also known as "The God Machine." Remember, kiddies, never buy version 1.0 of anything.
—Hillary Clinton's YouTube-fueled effort to let voters pick her theme song.

From The Wall Street Journal (subscription required, at least until Rupert Murdoch buys it, and then we'll talk):
—It's about time: Hearst-Argyle becomes the first TV station to actually get a cut of the ad revenue surrounding its content on YouTube.
—Cognitive scientists come to the ad industry.