Friday, February 29, 2008

DDB's online remembrance of Paul Tilley

One last note on Paul Tilley, and one that illustrates how the Web, like any other medium, can be used to good end, not just bad. If you haven't noticed already, DDB has a tribute to Tilley up on the home page of its site. If you click on the "Remembering our friend Paul Tilley" link, you'll find a post from chief creative officer Bob Scarpelli, and 37 comments thus far from people affected by his death a week ago. The people who contributed range from very close colleagues, to an actor who worked on several of his commercials, to those who didn't know him at all. It's worth a read, and some reflection. (The navigation is a little quirky. To see all the comments you have to hit your down arrow key. There's no nav-bar up/down thingie on the right.)

Saul Hansell's thoughts on Yahoo

Finally got a chance today to check out Saul Hansell's "Bits" blog over at to see what he had to say about the IAB conference. Read this excellent post, "Wishing for the old yodel from Yahoo"—it's a good summation of why Yahoo finds itself where it is today, and includes a nice tip of the hat to Wenda Harris Millard, who, Hansell notes "was unceremoniously pushed aside in a power struggle with Yahoo’s search advertising department." I've long believed that Yahoo didn't know what it had in her—an executive who could truly bridge both sides of the traditional/non-traditional divide—and I think Hansell agrees.

MasterCard's "Priceless" campaign works in any language

Utalkmarketing just posted this overseas commercial from the MasterCard "Priceless" campaign. Even though the denominations aren't in dollars, I think this commercial could just as well run stateside.

Bottles of Coke, not that exciting

I gather this commercial aired on "American Idol" the other night. I'll just take the whole thing literally—screw the voiceover—and say I hope I never get this excited over a bottle of Coke.

What people are saying about Tiger's Gatorade drinks

I was felled yesterday by a stomach virus so sorry for the sparse posting. We'll see what I'm made of today. Anyway, you have to drill down a bit on the new Adweek site, but if you go to the BuzzMetrics section of its DataCenter, there's a daily post by my former AdFreak partner in crime Tim Nudd about what brands are meriting buzz online—and what people are saying. Today's post is about the new Gatorade flavors developed by Tiger Woods, and let's just say the fans are not impressed. Says someone who goes by the handle Dogs That Chase Cars: "Quiet Storm is the grape flavor of the new Tiger drink, and it tastes, well, exactly like Grape Gatorade ... If I was going to pay $100 million to an athlete to pimp a drink, I'd at least change the recipe around." Comments someone else who is obviously painfully aware of Woods' endorsement deals: "If it weren't for the different colors and the creative descriptions of the names on the label, you wouldn't know what the actual flavor was, but you'd sure feel like playing golf, driving a Buick, and shaving with a Gillette razor afterwards." It's counterintuitive for the BuzzMetrics section not to let visitors comment to the posts, but, hey, it's a fun read anyway. Comment amongst yourselves.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Goofing off at Honda's "Problem Playground"

Was fooling around tonight on "Problem Playground," the site that accompanies Honda's new "Problem Playground" video that went up online earlier this month from Wieden + Kennedy London. It's really entertaining, and full of fairly-challenging games. (The screen shot above is my unsuccessful attempt at untangling the lines in the sun.) Funniest part of the site is the little animated Honda engineers who "ooh" and "aah" as you try to solve some of the puzzles.

David Beckham signs on with Sharpie

Frustrated that I can't find this spot for Sharpie today that stars David Beckham--or his hands anyway. Long story. But I think that since this blog has posted something about it proves I wasn't seeing things. Does Beckham really need more endorsement money? Does he use his Sharpies to write his name in his soccer shorts so they don't get confused with someone else's?

A few thoughts on the sad topic of the week

I write this post wondering if I should. Maybe the time to comment on the suicide of DDB's Paul Tilley was several days ago. And yet, the story continues, particularly because of the posts and comments which appeared on AgencySpy and Adscam just before his death. I would never have the temerity to comment on any cause and effect between blog postings and someone's decision to take his or her own life, but I do want to say this: though it's more the rule than the exception for people to comment anonymously to blog posts, I still think it's the coward's way to go when it concerns personal attacks on other people. If you have something to say about someone, by all means say it. And have the courage to put your name next to it.
My thoughts go out to Paul Tilley's family, friends and colleagues.

Taking a look at

I think most of us at the IAB meeting who had not seen a demo of (it’s in so-called private beta, and I couldn’t find president Jason Kilar after his speech to get a free password), were suitably impressed with the News Corp. and NBC joint venture, which, as he pointed out, isn’t a YouTube killer at all, but rather, plans to be the central Web property for “premium content.” (I think that's the abridged version of saying that the content never includes seven minutes of video of someone's cat peeing into a toilet.) Part of what makes it cool is the elegant, simple interface, which makes YouTube look like your crazy aunt’s attic by comparison. But enough already with the YouTube analogies. In addition to the fact that the quality of the video streams is well—fuckin’ awesome!—another thing about Hulu that stands out is the ability to search by any number of metrics. I think it included most viewed, favorited and so forth. Other cool features: the ability to send parts of clips to friends, embeddable video, and that Hulu isn't going for the walled garden approach, using content only from the partners. It'll, well, find "Lost" for you, even though it's on ABC. Not so good: that the ad model so far doesn't allow for revenue sharing with other sites which embed its content. When are these video sites going to get a clue on that issue?
If I have time later today, I'll post more about IAB, but other duties call.

You're not a creative agency, you're a boutique

I should check if Group M’s Rob Norman has said this before, but he said during his speech yesterday at the IAB, and during his a later brief conversation I had with him at the airport that, “Creativity is inherently a boutique business.” Don’t go telling that to the head of a major creative agency. If you take a step back further, to what Norman sees as the future of his own Group M, you’ll see why he might be right—if media agencies are able not only to buy, sell and track campaigns, roll-their-own content and most importantly, aggregate data in such a way as to have their hands at the controls of consumer insight, they also have the fuel that keeps the marketing engine running over the long-term. In that context, creatives certainly are allowed to produce moments of magic, but what they are essentially doing is providing one-off solutions to more immediate positioning problems. OK creatives, it’s time to be pissed off.

Yahoo wants to open it up

At a time like this, you have to give props to Jerry Yang just for showing up at the IAB conference. But as far as really addressing Microsoft’s attempt at an acquisition, well, of course, he didn’t. (To that extent, it seemed like he and Microsoft senior vp Brian McAndrews, who appeared later in the day, were reading from the same playbook, both using almost precisely the same wording to describe how they couldn’t really add anything to what’s already been out there. Maybe they're closer in world view than we thought.) After IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg gamely asked about the Microsoft deal, Yang, and Susan Decker, who was added to the agenda late (as Jerry’s bodyguard?) discussed what they saw as the Next Big Thing Yahoo should pursue having finally completed its search reinvention, Project Panama, last year. What they came up with isn’t exactly nothing you've heard before, but here you go: a sort of uber-advertising network which would let advertisers buy inventory across multiple sites beyond what is available today, and would allow publishers to package inventory (both their own and others) across a using a streamlined, standardized platform that would take a lot of friction out of the industry. But here’s the problem: from what I could tell from other conference attendees, no one in the industry seems to be buying what Yahoo’s selling. During a later panel moderated by Federated Media founder/"Search" author/super blogger John Battelle, the panelists were openly derisive of Yahoo’s idea. Here are some quotes:

From Peter Horan, CEO of IAC Media and Advertising, "Run your own business well before you start running someone else's business."

Lauren Weiner, senior vp, Meredith Digital Media was down on losing the insight and control of inventory has across its own sites: "We lose that advantage when we start representing other properties."

From Don Friedman, exec vp/CMO of Computer Associates (who spends 30 percent of his budget in digital): "It's not going to be as clean as they play it out to be."

Whether Yang and Decker caught wind of this, I don't know. After their talk was over, they went quickly backstage; one intrepid reporter I talked to, who tried to get back there, wasn't even allowed to breath the same air as Yang, things being what they are.

The Yahoo bashing continued during the many conversations I had over drinks later in the day. What I can’t get my head around is this: this is an industry in which new standards are always being invented, and, although it would be lovely if one platform could dominate (probably Google search comes as close as anything to a frictionless transaction market in online), it’s hard to see how this would happen. Sometimes I think it would be especially great for agencies who still have trouble figuring out how to make money off of this business. Making planning and buying not so time-consuming would help. However, if it truly is a great idea, Microsoft and Google would surely build their own, and the industry, instead of being streamlined, might end up right where it started. The upside is that even in its hobbled state, Yahoo still is much more of a powerhouse in display advertising than either Microsoft or Google, but in the current, down-on-Yahoo environment it still doesn’t necessarily seem positioned to rewrite the rules of the marketplace.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A few short notes from the IAB conference

Sorry the blog has been quiet for the last day. Kind of ironic since yesterday would have been a great day to blog more since I've been at the IAB conference (that's the Interactive Advertising Bureau, but seriously if you don't know that by now I have no time for you.). I'll say more later, but wanted to jot down that this has been one of the few conferences where there has actually been real discussion and interesting things to ponder, whether it was trying to look past Jerry Yang's glasses and figure out what was really going to happen between Microsoft and Yahoo! or Group M's Rob Norman stating the case for media agencies to take on, and profit from, the markets in which they play. What I haven't seen--dare I say of course?--are many traditional advertising types, which, about fourteen years into the revolution, is frankly astonishing. However, in addition to the Internet faces in the crowd like Martha Stewart's Wenda Harris Millard, Internet exec around town Dave Morgan, and Google North American president Tim Armstrong, attendees included the Magazine Publishers Association's Ellen Oppenheim, and Nancy Hill, incoming head of the 4As. While I'm listening to the panel onstage now, here's a new definition for remnant inventory: Inventory that hasn't found a buyer yet. Ha! One last note: the IAB was hoping for 200 attendees. They got 400. More meaty posts to follow.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Adverganza's Monday morning picks, 02.25.08

Wherein I scan the Monday morning headlines so you don't have to (though I'm out at the Interactive Advertising Bureau conference in Phoenix so this may be spotty) ...

From Advertising Age:

--The death of DDB's Paul Tilley by apparent suicide.
--Sony opens up its gaming platform to advertisers.
--Kimberly-Clark, Unilever cut back on their TV budgets.
--Actual ad creatives behind Barack Obama's viral video successes.
--After all these years, Bob Garfield decides he likes Fallon's Holiday Inn campaign.

From Adweek:

--More on the death of Paul Tilley.

From The New York Times:

--Company wants to turn cell phones into universal remotes. Scary.
--ABC to launch on-demand service that doesn't allow users to skip commercials. Scary.
--The Leap Year Day as promotional opportunity. Yeah, that's scary too.

From Brandweek:

--Automotives scramble for online inventory.
--Crest WhiteStrips are really for protecting you against tartar. Yeah, sure.
--Why worry about commodity inflation?
--How mobile will be a big hit among print publishers.

From The Wall Street Journal:

--Online ad networks get more funding. Click away, it's free.

From Mediapost:

--Burger King will follow rules for marketing to kids in Europe.
--P&G gets behind initiative to measure marketing in stores.
--Avenue A/Razorfish spent less on portals last year.
--Zinio strikes a deal with Havas Media.
--Internal email from Microsoft's Kevin Johnson detailing how the Yahoo deal would come together.
--Project Apollo is dead.

More to come later. I'm off to the IAB conference call to hear Jerry Yang speak. Should be, um, interesting.