Friday, August 3, 2007

For Fallon coverage, go elsewhere

I'm a bit babysitter-challenged over the next few weeks, so haven't delved into stuff like Fallon's seeming demotion to Saatchi underling. However, others are doing a good job of it, so I don't have to. With that in mind, check out the exhaustive coverage of " ... why Fallon is in the Shitter" over at AgencySpy.

Aug. 3, 2007: eBay's first ad exchange deal

Dave Goetzl at Mediapost writes today about Oxygen network becoming the first cable net to use eBay's advertising exhange, which it used to buy scatter for Intel. This, even though the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau isn't supporting the system. There are several things that make this momentous in its way, even if the amount of money changing hands is only in the six figures. First, is, of course, that this is a first. Um, duh. Second, it is doing for Oxygen what Google's ad exchange programs have done for other media properties—bringing it an advertiser it wouldn't have gotten otherwise. Third, it seems to underscore my theory that technology companies (along with companies that are based out west, and thus more digitally attuned) are much more open-minded about the whole ad exchange/auction concept than others. Not only is Intel the first advertiser to embrace this system, but two of the other three advertisers that Oxygen is working with for its next buy are Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard. (The other is Home Depot.) I came up with my theory about ad exchange open-mindedness back when I did a story about Google's work towards magazine print ad auctions—while the Conde Nasts and Hearsts of the world didn't return my calls, the publisher of San Francisco-based shelter book Dwell, who had participated in a Google print auction test, was effusive about the model's possibilities, and like Oxygen, she got advertisers into her book that she never would have had the man (woman?) power to attract on her own. BTW, good for Universal McCann in making this transaction happen.

Ogilvy's Wikipedia entry: a cautionary tale

So yesterday, induced, perhaps, by the month of August, I began to what might be a series of posts on agency's Wikipedia entries. I'm skipping ahead to Ogilvy & Mather's here because it's a great example of how not to post to Wikipedia. The good news is it looks as though the agency is actually paying attention to what is said about it on the site; the bad news is it's being used as a self-promotion channel, which is not what Wikipedia intends. The entry has been flagged at the top with this notice: "This article or section is written like an advertisement. Please help rewrite this article from a neutral point of view per Wikipedia policy." Since the entry contains "insights" such as "In 2004 Verge, the OgilvyOne Digital Summit was launched. Within a few short years, Verge has grown to become the preeminent agency-led forum for clients and other industry experts to debate and discuss the realities and possibilities of digital marketing ... " I can see Wikipedia's point.

Ads coming to Microsoft program near you

I'm devoting time to the following topic because I think it's one of those things that most ad execs (not online ad execs) aren't tuned into: advertising is coming to Microsoft software. The company has said it's going to start testing advertising in Microsoft Works, a stripped-down version of Microsoft Office that usually retails for about $40. The plan is to offer it free on PCs and target ads around the programs. If that sounds icky, it really seems like it will be quite similar to the text ads that appear in the margins on Gmail, and that's the whole point. You may not have noticed that Google has a lot of Microsoft Office type software out there. (One place you see it repeatedly, if you have Gmail, is when it's offered up as an option for downloading attachments.) I've no idea how much traction it has, because most of the documents I receive are already in some type of Microsoft Office and it seems best to stick with the software that created it. But, of course, the software is free as is everything else consumer-facing with Google. It does seem creepy to contemplate ads in your Microsoft Word documents, but I'm amazed—and maybe a little depressed—at now inured we become to advertising, particularly in exchange for something free. Gmail's text ads used to freak me out, but now I barely notice them. For Google, I suppose that's good news and bad.

Ray-Ban's "Bobbing" somewhat respectable

Thought it worth checking back on how Ray-Ban's "Bobbing for Glasses," was doing now that it's been up for about two weeks. (It's a follow-up, of course, to "Catch" the video where the guy appears to catch glasses with his face, which currently has 2.7 million views on YouTube alone.) But the big difference with this video, in terms of distribution, is that the agency, Cutwater, and client decided—to me inexplicably—to not seed it as aggressively as they did with the first one. (Hey, it's the client's money, but this is supposed to be advertising, not social experimentation.) Still, the video is doing respectably. As of this morning it has 142,000 views on YouTube. True, nowhere near its predecessor, which has been up for a few months, but not measly either. While the folks at Cutwater and Ray-Ban analyze what the drivers were of this particular video, one thing we may never know is how much of what will probably be a traffic drop compared to the other is attributable to what might be called Sequel Syndrome, in which the second of anything is never nearly as noteworthy as the first.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Adscam asks if 'Ad Age' will trump 'Adweek'

In the unbridled style to which we've become accustomed, George Parker of AdScam said yesterday that he thought that Ad Age will finish off Adweek. You can read the whole post, which contains only four swear words, here. The high- or low-light, depending on one's perspective, is when he tells Ad Age editor Jonah Bloom that the one thing he needs to do to declare victory is to hire away long-time Adweek-er Barbara Lippert. Obviously those who know me know I've a little perspective on this. I worked at Adweek for much of my career, and even was the interactive editor at Ad Age for a glorious ten months, until the publication more or less declared interactive comatose, along with my career there, in October 2001. (No hard feelings, honest.) But the whole thing isn't as simplistic as Parker makes it out to be. First, Ad Age vs. Adweek isn't an either/or proposition, and frankly, the health of both publications depends on both continuing to exist. Much of what has made both books vibrant over the years is the fact that there has been another publication out there to compete against. (True, there are now other competitors out there, like Mediapost, that are doing a fine job, but there's something about the long rivalry of Ad Age vs. Adweek that brings out both publications' best competitive instincts.) Still, Parker raises a valid question. What might make someone perceive Ad Age as better, at this point when media and creative and branding are sometimes one in the same, is that Ad Age has a more comprehensive perspective. There is shared content amongst Adweek and its siblings Mediaweek and Brandweek, but ultimately Ad Age is a one-stop content shop; Adweek is not. And then there's the matter of commitment, not by the reporters and editors that work at both publications, but by the corporate higher-ups. It's obvious to anyone who studies this stuff closely that Ad Age has received more investment over the last few years than Adweek has, which isn't surprising given that it is owned by a private, family-run company—Crain Communications—which considers Ad Age, along with Automotive News and another book or two, to be one of its signature properties. A commenter to Parker's post asks, "Could VNU/Nielsen be the problem?" and the answer, I think, is a qualified yes. Before VNU was bought out by a bunch of private equity guys, the focus was on cost-cutting, both because of the continued slump in circulation and ad pages that many magazines are experiencing, and because the company was public and on the block. Strategically speaking, I believe this was exactly the same time at which VNU, for the sake of the publications, should have been investing more in its magazines, particularly in the digital arena. Instead, from what I could tell, budgets kept shrinking, and vacated jobs weren't filled, leaving less people to do the same, or more, work. Under the recently re-branded Nielsen, things may—or may not—improve, but the sense from within the company is that all the private equity people are really interested in, is, understandably, Nielsen itself, a cash-cow and near monopoly. (After all, the powers-that-be renamed the company Nielsen, which is evidence enough.) Impossible to say what will happen of course, but both Adweek and Ad Age will be better off with each other than without each other.

Is your agency on Wikipedia? BBDO is.

Thought it might be interesting to see which agencies rate an entry on Wikipedia, and if your agency doesn't have one, better get cracking. I'm not saying that Wikipedia entries are the be-all- and-end-all, but since agencies tend to be fairly miserable at self-promotion, particularly in the digital realm, might be something you'd at least want to check in on in case a new business prospect gets misled by all of the shite printed out there about agencies. So here's the first in an ongoing series of what Wikipedia is saying about you. First up in alphabetical order—BBDO, because Arnold didn't seem to have one. Someone (or someones?) has been spending a lot of time on the shop's entry, which befits an agency that goes back to the 1920s (or 1891, depending on how you count it). There are even bios of the agency's founders. However, there is a 13-year gap in the last two entries about the agency's history. It only mentions 1994, when the shop was named Agency of the Year by Adweek and Ad Age, and then skips to 2007, when, gee whiz, the agency won another bunch of awards. No mentions in the intervening years of Cindy Crawford, David Lubars, or Andrew Robertson. Not a bad page, but it needs some work.

'Ad Age' says Dell's in review

Finally a review worth paying attention to. Ad Age is reporting that Dell has put its $760 million account up for grabs, in what thus far is a holding company shootout amongst the usual suspects: Omnicom, Interpublic, Publicis, Havas and WPP. Of course, recently, the company left BBDO Atlanta because of a perceived conflict with the agency's win of the BestBuy account, though, frankly, holding company-land is chock-a-block with conflicts and it didn't sound like the new marketing chief at Dell liked the BBDO work much anyway. The current campaign (above) is from Mother. The company also has relationships with MRM and Carat.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Hellman's: In search of real traffic

For the first time last night saw the new TV campaign for Hellman's Mayonnaise, which positions the Best Foods brand as real food under the "It's time for real" tagline. (You can see the spot here.) I was sort of intrigued because there seems to be a real food trend-let going on. There was a story in The New York Times Sunday Magazine a few months ago (which unfortunately, I couldn't find for this post), which posited that if people just started eating food that started its life as food—as opposed to food-like products such as Doritos and Gogurt—we could solve the obesity epidemic. Even if one doubts the health benefits of mayonnaise, at least it's a good sign that it goes bad pretty quickly if it's not put in the refrigerator. Anyway, I followed the campaign online, and even if the premise is in keeping with the times, the effort just goes to show that that doesn't a viral marketing program make. The company appears to have posted eight videos, mostly featuring guy cook Dave Lieberman, under insearchofrealfood on YouTube, starting two weeks ago—so far, all eight have a total of slightly more than 700 views. But the online hub of the campaign looks like this site at Yahoo Food, where Lieberman is taking what visitors there are on a virtual tour of cuisines of America. There are also opportunities to swap recipes, share "real food" videos (whatever that means), and participate in the inevitable "Real Food" blog, with posts written by Lieberman. But, just as with the YouTube site, the traffic is pitiful. The group on the site has roughly 850 members, and Lieberman has posted only seven times. Though one post garnered a healthy discussion on what real food is, the one that caught my eye was the post that had over 130 comments. Something, I figured, must be going on there. And it is: the majority of the comments are devoted to discussing how annoying a pop-up ad in support of the campaign is. It apparently was served to Yahoo email users and disrupted their email experience, with one frustrated user commenting, with reference to the upcoming Independence Day: "Yea, Dave. While you open your mouth about the upcoming celebration of our freedom, it seems that I'm denied the freedom of deleting your annoying commercial." Give Hellman's credit for leaving the comments up, but other than that, given that the demo for Hellman's is pretty much the whole country, there's something's wrong with this campaign. Looks like Ogilvy and Mather is the agency.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What the 'WSJ''s publisher has to say

Here's a link to a letter sent out at about 11 p.m. tonight from the publisher of The Wall Street Journal about the completion of the News Corp. deal. It's almost anti-climatic after these last few months, but now that it's done, it's hard not to wonder if this is in some sense a blueprint for the newspaper business at least in the (troubled) near-term. Despite the industry's current difficulties, newspapers--certain ones anyway--are incredibly prestigious properties to own, and there are certainly enough billionaires in the world to buy up the ones that matter. Whether those properties make money, when hidden inside vast conglomerates, is irrelevant, and thus the newspaper can continue on, in just the fashion that Rupert Murdoch has hung onto The New York Post all these years. It may not be a perfect solution, particularly if those new owners become meddlesome. But given the alternatives ...

Is Digitas China deal about outsourcing?

Almost lost in the headlines about Digitas and its sugar-daddy, Publicis, buying a major Chinese interactive company, CCG, is that it will also expand Digitas' three-month-old digital production arm, Prodigious, into China as well. Or is it really the other way around? My guess is that while one can yammer on all day about the potential of the digital market in China, one of the best near-term reasons to enter the market is to get access to a low-cost workforce that can build out digital advertising applications for clients all over the world at a fraction of the cost of employing North American or western European labor. For the most part, people in traditional advertising aren't attuned to the potential of outsourcing production overseas (well, there's not nearly as much to outsource), but digital shops including Organic and Critical Mass have been outsourcing—at least to Canada—for some time. Look for this to solidify Digitas' relationship with a lot of clients, particularly General Motors, which isn't exactly in a position to throw its money around.

Nokia sponsors "When laptops attack"

Just came across this completely ridiculous campaign for the Nokia NSeries and Nokia N5, featuring jealous laptops that attack people who own other devices that do many of the things laptops do. The above video, featuring a girl attacked in her dorm room, seems to be the most popular in the couple of weeks the campaign has been around, but there are also eight other videos so far. Meanwhile, the site builds out the campaign with other "evidence" that laptops are on the attack. Though we've seen this kind of mock campaign before, it's hard not to belly laugh at the site of a laptop on the rampage.

YouTube makes viral more viral

Looks like YouTube launched a new interface this morning for all of the videos from the site that are embedded all over the Web—which, one can assume, only shows up after a user has played a video once. (See above, which is only a screenshot.) Like so many good ideas, it's really fairly simple—obvious even. The new interface makes it easier to get the code (that's the embed icon in the upper right), and the URL for a video and seed it yourself. The other obviously cool feature is the menu of related videos at the bottom of the screen. I stole this screen grab from a post I did last week on Dove's new hair campaign, and, as you can see, the related videos include the Dove "Evolution" video (along with a photoshopping of Britney Spears, but I'll spare all of us.) This is destined to have a big effect on YouTube traffic—it's as though the site just dispersed YouTube sitelets all over the Internet. How viral, dude.

Monday, July 30, 2007

'Mad Men' finds hype in a strange place

I've actually been liking "Mad Men" so far, but does anyone else snicker when, during one of the commercial breaks, the show's announcer intones that it is, "One of the best reviewed shows of the summer?" You mean against such tough competition as "America's Got Talent"? What an unintentionally hilarious advertising claim. Anyway, above is a preview of this week's episode. Credibility watch: don't you think the agency's retailing client would fire its ass on the spot given that none of the people on the account have been to the store?

Folger's newfangled celebrity endorsement deals

Nothing all that unique about this celeb-focused campaign from Folger's, for its Gourmet Selection coffees, but it still provides pretty much the blueprint for how celebrities are used in campaigns now that advertisers aren't limited to 30 seconds anymore. In this effort, featuring Grey's Anatomy's Chandra Wilson and woman-about-TV Lisa Ling, the Web site contains five clips of bonus footage each about the spokeswoman's lives. (One of the clips even tries to nail Lisa Ling on how much coffee she really consumes in a day. Sounds like a lot.) There's also a consumer-generated media effort, here. But isn't that so 2006?

VW's 'Bourne' tie-in not so supreme

I've seen reviews lately that compare The Bourne Ultimatum favorably to The French Connection, so it's kind of astonishing that this clip, which shows a car chase involving a VW Touraeg in the upcoming Matt Damon, um, vehicle, has gotten only less than 1700 views. It's not a great clip ... at 15 seconds way too short ... but, on the other hand, the brand bought the home page position on YouTube today. Shoulda done better.

Art directors at Publicis make $85K a year

Maybe some of you read The New York Times real estate section this weekend looking for a property to buy, but I was attracted to the cover story on those plucky New Yorkers, who, despite the immense handicap of not working on Wall Street, still managed to buy a place of their own, even if it's in some part of NYC that no aspiring power executive would have considered calling home back in the day. Which brings me to Amy Wegenaar, whose biggest problems in the apartment hunt were that she could only pay $250,000 and that she was worried about finding a place "large enough to fit her lunchbox collection, her Spiderman collection and her collection of Jack Skellington dolls in coffins from 'The Nightmare Before Christmas.'" Needless to say, she's an ad agency art director, who told the paper that her job at Publicis pays her roughly $85,000 per year. I always wonder about people who are so anxious to share their salary info with the entire NYT readership. What do you think the chit-chat was around the Publicis water cooler today? Anyway, Ms. Wegenaar can be found with her collections in a one-bedroom in Ditmas Park.

Michael Stipe should keep his day job

I mean I had a copy of "Murmur" (a vinyl copy, no less!) long before it was, um, fashionable, but Michael Stipe as a fashion model for Marc Jacobs does nothing for me, not even in some post-modern ironic way.

BusinessWeek names the top 100 global brands

BusinessWeek has a major package inserted within its "Pet Economy" issue this week covering the top 100 brands, which includes a lot of online-only content. These days that could mean that there weren't enough ad pages to be able to cover the topic adequately in the print issue, but I haven't seen it yet, so I shouldn't necessarily jump to conclusions. Here's a link to all of the content. Worth checking out are David Kiley's piece on five comeback brands, the five big winners and losers, the 100 global brands scorecard, and a Q&A with Google's vp/marketing.

Dancing martian gets night job

Kind of weird, but it looks like the dancing martian has a second gig. (OK, actually both advertisers are part of the Experian Interactive Family, which means that, if he isn't already, the martian will soon be showing up in ads for and Or maybe he's a she.)

Steve Ballmer, Kevin Johnson on Microsoft's ad commitment

You'll be disappointed by his low-key entrance, but nonetheless it's worth a few minutes to check out what Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had to say about its commitment to the advertising business last week at the software giant's Financial Analysts Day. There are links to the Webcast (which can only be streamed in Windows Media Player, natch) and Ballmer's Powerpoint presentation here. He starts in on the advertising discussion at about 20:45 on the Webcast, and then, goes deeper in at 24:00. The Financial Analysts Day site also contains a lengthier discussion of Microsoft's online advertising strategy from Kevin Johnson, president of platforms and services, who uses groovy graphics like the above to explain himself. You can access his speech and Powerpoint here.

Adverganza's Monday morning picks

A look at what the ad news is this morning. I'd say the bar for news today has been set pretty low.

From Ad Age:

—Account planners have to learn to play with others.
—Advertisers and MySpace are stuck with each other.
A story about the diet drug Alli, which actually has released a commercial about its unfortunate pooping side effect. (See, I told you the bar was set pretty low.)
StrawberryFrog might be bought ... by frogs!
—Jonah Bloom needs a vacation.

From Adweek (no print issue this week, so no trees were killed in reporting this news):

—A Q&A with Carat Americas CEO David Verklin, on last week's merger of Carat's digital and non-digital units, a story which Ad Age, seems to have ignored.
—Broadband it like Beckham: a look at how digital media is changing sports marketing.
A close look at the RFP for the Sony PlayStation review reveals a brand at a "crossroads."

From The New York Times:

—Environmental groups try to pressure Home Depot into not advertising its "Eco Options" line on global-warming friendly Fox News.
—Ed Anger, who doesn't live anyway, will now only live online.

From Mediapost:

—A look at the pros and cons of asking an insurance guy to market Coke.
—McDonald's holds a concert tour—in its parking lots.
—A Q&A with Carat CEO Sarah Fay about last week's restructuring.

What we hear from The Delaney Report:

—Is USAA going into review?
—Is McGarryBowen looking to sell?