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.