Friday, July 13, 2007

Another way to measure iPhone mania

comScore World Metrix yesterday released its top 10 global properties for the month of May, and, with the world in the throes of iPhone mania, even way back then (ha!), Apple's Web site came in at no. 10 with 120 million unique visitors. Wait until comScore releases June's numbers! Granted, as Mediapost points out, visitors came to the Apple site only a fraction of the time that they visited some of the other members of the top 10, like Google, but still, my guess is that Apple will still continue to stay in the top 10 for the next few months at least. Right now, the site is filled with video tutorials, bound to entrance those who already have an iPhone, and those who crave one. Meanwhile, I'm waiting for the first really useful iPhone accessory—cleaning solution, co-branded with Windex(?), to wash your nasty fingerprints off of the iPhone's pristine service. For iPhone, no normal cleaning solution will do.

HP ads not cool next to an iPhone

While we're on the topic of iPhones, it occurred to me the other night while watching the All-Star game that, given that the iPhone was a major advertiser on the broadcast, it was almost pointless for Hewlett-Packard to have bought time during the game also for its new spot featuring Petra Nemcova (above). I've gone on record that I'm a big fan of the current HP campaign, and this spot, with the tactful message about Nemcova's Happy Hearts Fund, lives up to the standard, both in terms of production and content to earlier spots featuring Jay-Z and Mark Cuban. However, next to the ads for the iPhone, the commercials for HP suddenly appeared to suffer from diminished cool. Not that Goodby Silverstein's campaign should go away or anything—nor should HP shirk from the competitive technological challenge presented by the iPhone, but for a mere computer company like HP, the juxtaposition to the iPhone during the All-Star Game didn't work in its favor.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

More on Dell's agency switch

A story today on the Business Week Web site gives a bit more insight as to why Dell decided on a new tagline and agency to replace BBDO’s “Purely You.” While at least one official report of the recent split from BBDO attributed it to the agency’s winning of the BestBuy account, the new marketing chief’s obvious displeasure with the BBDO work comes through loud and clear in the BW piece. The story says of “Purely You,” “Those ads missed the mark … and and one of [Jarvis’] first moves was to pull the plug … " His analysis? That the ads simply weren’t “cool” enough. "Customers are focusing on cool," he says. "Consumers are increasingly conscious of the brand itself," he adds. "People say, 'I'm an Apple person, I'm an HP person, I'm a Dell person.' We're reflected in the brand we use." The new spot, carrying the tag, "Yours Is Here" can be viewed here. Created by Mother, New York, the main point it seems to get across is that Dell's apparently can be had in a lot of colors, though I don't remember that feature from when I bought one last year. There's also a cameo appearance by an AMC Pacer.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

CEO Mackey shoots hole in Whole Foods

It's not precisely a crime that Whole Foods CEO John Mackey used to participate under an alias on chat boards about his company. (The disclosure was buried in an FTC report to do with its suit trying to block Whole Foods acquisition of Wild Oats.) However, posting anonymously is a crime against his brand, whether one is talking about Whole Foods or John Mackey. Here you have a company built on more "honest" food and the CEO is skulking about, under the rather simplistic pseudonym "Rahodeb,"--a not-all-that-jumbled version of his wife's name--pimping his stock. You can see the temptation ... imagine being a public company CEO reading the message boards and having to hold your tongue, or keyboard, while others chatted on freely, and not necessarily very informedly, about your company. Still, what was he thinking? It makes my one encounter with Whole Foods' corporate headquarters kind of humorous in retrospect. Earlier this year, I wrote a story for Adweek Magazines about CEOs who blog, and Mackey proved to be one of the few who did. The only problem with including him in the story was that he wasn't very prolific. Now we know that he was--just not under his own name.

Nike rolls dice on, uh, Dice

This just in from the hard-working folks at Adweek, posted at 9:30 New York time: Nike's new U.S. marketing chief is Ken Dice. The short missive I just received from Adweek doesn't mention what he's leaving. He has been evp of marketing at Discovery Networks, which he seems to have joined in 2003 from Sony. Rampant speculation and Wieden hand-wringing to follow.

Good riddance, page views

Louis Hau at is asking if the page view is dead, prompted by Tuesday's announcement by Nielsen/NetRatings that it would stop ranking sites by the number of page views. If that surprises you, maybe you haven't been paying attention to your Web travels lately. With more and more content available to users without them having to jump through multiple pages, people in-the-online-know have been second-guessing the wisdom of relying on page views for some time now. Thus, NetRatings' decision to emphasize other metrics such as time spent and total visits to individual sites. It's somewhat amusing to read about this shift at, which has often gamed the page-view system by presenting content so that users have to click and click and click again. For instance, a current world-altering feature, "In Pictures: Top Spots to See a Model," asks readers to click at least ten times to get through the content. Let's hope ends this practice soon, though old habits die hard.

Another reason to follow Spot Runner

You'd be a fool not to keep an eye on Spot Runner, the L.A.-based company that has had the audacity to suggest that pre-produced creative in any number of categories could be used by local advertisers to create customized 30-second ads—and, as of yesterday, is partnering with United Talent Agency on a "ministudio" that will distribute short, ad-supported, Web films which will use well-known actors, directors and producers. Awhile back, when I wrote this feature on Google, I got to talk to Nick Grouf, company CEO, former PeoplePC founder and architect of John Kerry's early online ad strategy. (Grouf has nothing to do with Google, far as I know, but his automated system for buying and creating TV ads bears a certain resemblance to some of Google's ad schemes.) While it was obvious that most creatives would sneer at his idea of making high production creative only a few clicks away for the local jewelry store, or dry cleaner, or bridal shop, the concept was simply ingenious. As a test, I created my own ad, complete with a media schedule, on quality cable in local markets in primetime, within about ten minutes. If I'd entered my credit card information we would've been good to go. Depending on your perspective, the concept is either genius, or extremely threatening, since it disintermediates so many of the processes (and people) that have made the traditional advertising industry work. Fortunately for WPP and Interpublic, they have seen the wisdom in Spot Runner's model, both having invested in it late last year. This new deal with UTA disintermediates in a different way, by producing high-quality content specifically for the Web, and then leveraging the potential advertising potential—this time through a human sales force. And though Spot Runner is being referred to, in some stories, as an ad agency, it's actually something much different, since it automates media planning and buying, produces advertising, and, more like a TV network, is now planning to sell advertising, gleefully ignoring the boundaries that have traditionally separated these industries.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bud.TV sends out user questionnaire

As if we haven't already read enough about Bud.TV, now the beer-soaked online network has sent out a questionnaire to registrants asking them what they think of the content on the channel. As it was about five questions long, I don't know how helpful it will be to Anheuser-Busch, but in the spirit of being a good, content-consuming citizen, I filled it out. It basically asked if I liked the video "Swear Jar," if I would like to share Bud.TV content with friends, and whether I had actually shared content with friends from Bud.TV. It did not ask me my age. Still, you gotta wonder ... shouldn't they have asked these questions before they launched the thing?

"'WSJ' Creative Leaders" disappoints

Was just about to give up on the site for the current Wall Street Journal Creative Leaders contest, where creatives who actually took the time to create an advertising homage to their favorite creatives are supposed to have their work posted. Or so I thought. Instead, in the Gallery, are pictures of 36 creatives, ranging from Richard Kirshenbaum to Brett Shevack to Ann Hayden who have entered the contest. Whether they've created ads on behalf of themselves isn't entirely clear. The actual ads will be judged by a panel of former stars of the Journal's Creative Leaders campaign, but wouldn't it've been more fun--not to mention in keeping with the, um, times--to open up the voting to the online ad masses? Sure it would have. Then again, folks at the Journal have been a little distracted lately so maybe it didn't occur to them.

Fox wants fans to get into the Act-ober

Weird that I'm actually sitting around watching the MLB All-Star Game, a waste of primetime if ever there was one. But it helped me stumble across this Fox promo called "Actober," a consumer-generated media solicitation with a twist--it's asking people to re-enact their favorite baseball moments in whatever way they choose and upload them. (In the horrible quality screen grab above, a baby plays the role of Bill Buckner during the 1986 World Series. You can see the ball rolling between his legs if you look closely. Sorry for the poor quality, but, hey, I'm a Mets fan and you'll have to live with it.) I like this CGM competition a bit better than the pitches NFL fans gave to win the opportunity to create their own ode to football. There's strangely something about the focus on a particular event that gives people a solid base to riff off of--and riff they do.

ESPN finds the meaning in "Hello, Goodbye"

A long time ago, for another blog, I was horrified by the use of the Beatles' "Hello, Goodbye," in a Target spot, because it had the audacity to change the spelling of goodbye to goodbuy. (Of course, since the spot continues to air, I guess I was in the minority.) The song is put to much more appropriate use in this commercial from ESPN from Wieden + Kennedy promoting the coming of David Beckham to the U.S. It's just too bad that ESPN had to get to using the song second. Via Adweek.

Stream 50 percent of IAG's favorite spots!

Don't you think that every time a TV commercial gets mentioned online by the trade press, that an effort should be made to find where it's available for streaming? I do. With that in mind, here's a new, improved list of IAG Research's best ten spots for the month of June.

1. Diddy goes to the Burger King CEO's house. (This link is to the video on the Ad Age site. Let's give the folks at some credit for at least allowing visitors to play this first spot.)

2. Verizon commercial for Blackberry, featuring woman in airport hugging the Verizon guy. Or something like that. Couldn't find this one.

3. Martin Scorsese directs and appears in Members Project commercial for American Express.

4. Some commercial for Yoplait Whips. Couldn't find this one.

5. Spot for the Pizza Hut P'Zone. Hey there, better order up some Lipitor after you call for take out.

6. iPhone demo spot featuring a clip from Zoolander.

7. Lowe's commercial for Energy Star appliances. Couldn't find.

8. Commercial for Nintendo's Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree. Couldn't find.

9. Wendy's commercial where people kick trees.

10. Lunesta commercial featuring women who can't sleep. Found one, but don't think it was the right one.

Still I'm five for ten in terms of finding the commercials online. Enjoy the spots, though some are so dull I can't believe they're actually among the most favorite for the month.

Brian Wiliams' homage to Lois Wyse

Given how little time there is in a network newscast, I'm always a bit surprised at how often the ad industry actually makes it into the program rather than just the commercial breaks. So yesterday, it was a bit of a "huh?" to hear Brian Williams sign off the "NBC Nightly News" by saying that the obit over the weekend for Lois Wyse caught his eye. Borrowing heavily from The New York Times obit on Wyse, he talked about her most famous tagline, "With a name like Smuckers, it has to be good," and also, that, without her, Bed Bath and Beyond would have just been Bed Bath, or Bed and Bath, or, well, you get the idea. Now she really is beyond, I suppose.

'New York' mag loves small agencies

You may have noticed that New York magazine has had their way with the ad industry again, this time with a story extolling the pubescent virtues of agencies like Amalgamated, Deep Focus and Droga5 over their big, old, boring predecessors. Essentially, we all know the story. I remain a bit skeptical about some of the claims of viral-a-bility. This part I didn't know—the story's lead is about the Rap Cat from Amalgamated, and, hey, I've been busy and all, but this feline friend who has been allegedly taking the nation by storm is one cat I've never heard of. The story also fails to mention—or maybe the reporter didn't even know—that Droga5 is part of Publicis Groupe, while it goes on for quite some time about Tribal DDB's relationship to DDB, and by extension, the Omnicom Group, which is fittingly described as "like it was invented for a movie about an all-engulfing, soul-crushing corporation." The best part of the piece, without a doubt, are the visuals. The magazine asks Deep Focus, Amalgamated and Tribal to come up with campaigns for Maalox and Blcockbuster. (Amalgamated comes up with a campaign called "Regretflix.")

Why the Facebook phenomenon?

It's intriguing to read these reports about Facebook traffic surging, and although I don't entirely understand why, it makes anecdotal sense. I was saying just a few weeks ago to someone or other that I almost no one has asked me to be a friend of theirs on MySpace—someone that I actually know, that is. Meanwhile, I get an email every few weeks from some former colleague/college classmate/old friend who wants to add me to their friends list on Facebook. As anyone who checks my pages on both will notice, I'm not exactly a master social networker—the reason I even created either page is because of a story I was writing where I needed to get further acquainted with each, and I can remember distinctly, early this year, creating my Facebook page and being almost embarrassed about being the only forty-something mother listed among all of the Westchester County, NY members of Facebook. Everyone else seemed to be a 17-year-old looking for love. It's Facebook's heritage as being only for people with .edu email addresses that makes the apparent shift toward it so surprising. This story in Adweek says Facebook has benefited from allowing developers to build applications for Facebook users . Certainly, that's of interest to some, but it doesn't explain why certain, um, motherly demos are migrating toward the site.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Wieden wins Nokia, despite "controversy"

I'm rather late to the news that Nokia gave its business to Wieden + Kennedy, but thought I'd pause for a minute to muse on the fact that none of the news stories about the win mentioned the so-called controversy that erupted when Wieden London published a harmless travelogue about their pitch team's trip to the client in March. (A photo from their visit is pictured here.) I say so-called here because it was a controversy only in so much as a bunch of rival agencies tsk-tsked about whether or not it was a good idea to post even the slightest whisper about the review. Obviously, if Nokia had cared, it would have bounced Wieden from the pitch long ago.

Adverganza's Monday picks

Adverganza's Monday wrap-up of what's worth reading from today's advertising news dump.

From Advertising Age:

Man, it sucks to be a CMO.
Google allegedly scared of Facebook, but apparently only Facebook.
Is anyone ready for Chivas.TV?
Rance Crain says going upscale is over-rated and thinks Wal-Mart should celebrate its biggest market: poor people!
Five ex-Crispin guys start an agency with no clients, and it still rates a 600-plus word story.
Bob Garfield loves that Simpsons/7-11 promo.

From Adweek:

A Q&A with Arianna Huffington.
A take on the convoluted upfront, in which low ratings make prices go higher! Sir Isaac Newton, rethinking Law of Gravity, somewhere.
Barbara Lippert gets all Slurpee about the genius Simpsons Movie/7-11 promo.

From The New York Times:

Alcohol advertisers spending more on advertising, less on public service ads.

From Mediapost:

Please don't laugh. Wendy's launches The Baconator.
Pravda drinkers tell, and taste, the truth.

There was other coverage out there, but frankly, it was really boring.

Thoughts on advertising in Texas

Sorry not to have posted in awhile. It was only by not posting that I realized people are actually reading this (they told me so), so I apologize for dropping off the face of the earth. Well, I guess you could say that I fell off the face off the earth and deep in(to) the heart of Texas--that's where I've been y'all (ouch), in part visiting this particular ad guy. A few Texas advertising observations: We kind of dug the advertising for Buc-ee's, an uber-convenience store with an excellent brisket of beef sandwich and a large selection of chewing tobacco. The campaign was an occasionally more product-driven series of billboards that evoked the "South of the Border" ads on I-95, and, after driving past a half dozen or so, not going there was simply not an option. (Thanks to Good Spins at Flickr for the pic.) The one in Luling pretty much lived up to the claim of "fabulous restrooms" we saw on one billboard, unless you've been spoiled by powdering your nose at the Waldorf or something ... The best place-based campaign I saw was for Tyler Flood, a Houston lawyer who advertises in the restrooms at Minute Maid Stadium--he actually implores people to enter his phone number into their cell phones right then and there, in case they get stopped for DWI on the way home from the Astros game. Brilliant ... It was even better than the "Eat Mor [sic] Fowl" foul poles sponsored by Chick-fil-A down the left and right field lines. Usually sponsorship of that sort offends me, but for some reason this did not. Every time an Astro hits a "fowl" pole this season, everyone in the place gets a free chicken sandwich. So much better than those lousy KFC commercials ... GSD&M's Idea Factory in Austin looks really cool from the outside.