Friday, March 14, 2008

No Michael Gates Gill found at Starbucks

As luck would have it, I had a cup of coffee this morning with a friend at what is probably the advertising industry's most famous Starbucks—the one where ex-JWT executive Michael Gates Gill found employment, and a book and movie deals for writing How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else. Sadly, there was scant evidence of Mr. Gill amid the tall lattes, save for a poster on the wall about how Starbucks is hiring that contained a picture of him. I realize now I should have endeavored to find out if he still pours the occasional cappuccino there. Also of note, is that while Starbucks did have at least one book for sale, there was no evidence that his tome is currently on the Starbucks' bestseller list. Not a copy to be found.

Inside look at OMD case studies

For some reason spent part of yesterday posting case studies from OMD. I think there all from the UK, but hey, if you want insight into how one of your media agency competitors markets itself, here's your chance. The one above is for Habitat. There are also ones posted for the Sony Playstation Singstar and Brylcreem.

Assignment: read Dave Morgan's column on Curt Viebranz

In case you hadn't noticed, one of the big stories this week was the firing of Curt Viebranz, head of AOL's Platform A advertising unit. One reason it made headlines was that his dismissal eschewed the usual niceties used to describe higher-ups who have been told to move on. More than one headline I read used the word "sacked." There was nothing said about "leaving to pursue other opportunities." Several posts have asserted that Viebranz got fired after refusing to meet very aggressive revenue targets. Dave Morgan's Mediapost column about Viebranz yesterday doesn't address that issue directly, but it paints a picture of a man who is not only competent, but is very clear-eyed about the interactive market, its highs and its lows. A must read.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

This spot is for Scion. Try to remember that.

Saw this Scion spot on The Daily Show or something the other night. Funny concept, though I'm not sure that I'd walk away from it remembering the brand. God, I'm old school.

New Misko Iho-directed Coke commercial

Misko Iho, or people associated with the Finnish director, just posted this spot. What's the language? Well, it kinda makes sense in any language.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Last comment on Ogilvy's Verge

Last note on Ogilvy's Verge digital summit. I'll start with saying that I've had a warm spot in my heart for the agency ever since working there as my first job out of college. That was a loooonnnnng time ago, and it was quite a time. The shop was really running on all pistons at that point—American Express' "Don't Leave Home Without It" and the Smith Barney campaign, "We make money the old-fashioned way. We earn it" were the shop's signature campaigns. Shelly Lazarus was a management supervisor on the Amex business, Hal Riney was in charge of the San Francisco office and occasionally, I'd pick up my boss' phone, and D.O. would be on the other end. The place was just humming with smart people, and even though I went on to work at other agencies (Dancer Fitzgerald Sample into Saatchi, Grey and JWT), none of those agencies came anywhere close to being as good as Ogilvy. I guess giving you this background is a long way of saying that you should take what follows with a grain of salt, but Verge was really good. First, they got some big names: NBC's Ben Silverman,Warner Music's Kevin Liles, ESPN's George Bodenheimer, Federated Media's John Battelle, former Facebook exec Owen Van Natta, Gawker's Nick Denton, The New York Times' Martin Nisenholtz, Sequioa Capital's Mark Kvamme ... you could do worse. Of course, Ogilvy people were sprinkled throughout the program, but with a few minor exceptions, it wasn't all about Ogilvy. It was about innovation, digital media, and how and if storytelling and data-driven media can co-exist. The agency could charge for conferences like this (and I take it it does when certain clients have asked for their own, proprietary, in-house Verge). It's hard to picture most of the big global agencies (or BDAs as George Parker calls them) being able to pull this kind of meeting off with the same degree of digital savvy. Of course, what's curious is that the shop hasn't been translating its digital chops into a huge new business streak. Don't have the answer to that one.

Cadbury Flake's Joss Stone commercial

It seemed like it was big news in the U.K. a week or so ago when Joss Stone was named a new spokes-eater for Cadbury's Flake. Here is the result. Think it tries a little too hard not to be a commercial, if that makes any sense, because, hey, it's a commercial.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Stream of consciousness post on perpetual beta panel

I'm having a flashback because Mark Kvamme is on stage previewing something called SearchMe. Remember Kvamme? CKS? He's been at Sequioa Capital, VCing for awhile. And now he's talking about his son's project, FunnyOrDie. He looks too young to have a son that age. Also on the panel: Scott Kurnit, who founded Moderator: The New York Times' Martin Nisenholtz, who started the Ogilvy interactive practice in 1983 doing teletext, I think. The topic: perpetual beta, although Nisenholtz maintains that interactive TV has been in perpetual alpha. True. Now Nisenholtz is getting ribbed for traffic clogs on because of the Spitzer scandal. He just said something along the lines of: "We can't engineer for the governor getting caught in a prostitution scandal." Also true. Kurnit just mentioned Prodigy. Remember Prodigy? He used to be in charge of it. Martin's now asking what people should focus on in the next few years, but my flashbsck state is only intensifying. Next thing I know, someone will mention Netscape.

Who's right ... John Battelle or Nick Denton?

Maybe because I'm Mediapost's Social Media Insider (plug), I thought the social media panel was the most interesting so far. John Battelle, the ubiquitous head of Federated Media, and Nick Denton, founder of Gawker Media, best illustrated why, because they represented polar opposite views of whether social media's engagement power will make it online marketing's killer app. Said Battelle: "I think social media is the place that is going to happen. I really believe that." Denton said that a social media properties 'ability to engage consumers is correlated with "their failure as an advertising medium." So, which one is right?:

Looking inside Ogilvy Digital Labs

Afternoon here at the Ogilvy Verge conference and we're hearing bout new technologies. Apparently, the agency is working with a company which can let consumers put themselves into commercial content. Beyond the fun factor, the agency thinks such personalized/customized media will build awareness and maybe increase sales for brands that let you incorporate you, the individual. Big thought. Hmmm.
Now they're showing something called the WiiFit which is the Wii as an exercise device. The reason it's been delayed for U.S. release is because we're fat. The WiiFit platform, which you stand on as you exercise, has to be adapted to people who weigh as much as 300 pounds for the U.S. market. Pass the Doritos.

Things you didn't know about Dove "Evolution"

Even though her presentation was pretty much only about 0ogilvy clients, Shelly Lazarus didn't sound too sales-y. Her attitude was more one of amazement at what is possible in advertising today. With that, here are the latest stats she presented about "Evolution": 500 million views, $150 million in media value and $100 million in incremental sales. All for $50,000 in production costs.

Best Eliot Spitzer quip at Verge

There have been a number of Eliot Spitzer, um, insights here at Verge. Best one so far from Ogilvy's Rory Sutherland (may have spelled the last name wrong) is this: "How can he possibly pay for sex from a Web site that spells emperors without an apostrophe?" You won't hear that insight on CNN.

Things you didn't know about ESPN

You can always get a crowd engaged by showing Wieden & Kennedy's SportsCenter spots, even in a crowd full of people from Ogilvy. George Bodenheimer from ESPN, who is speaking now, is no dummy. I've never seen him present before, but what comes across is how pragmatism and innovation aren't mutually exclusive. Here are some things you probably didn't know about ESPN: the company has a ScoreCenter in beta aiming to publish every sports score in the world in real-time, the ESPN Widget Center has 1000 widgets and ESPN: The Magazine is celebrating its 10th anniversary with 10 different covers. On a frightening note, 28 families over the years have informed ESPN that they've named a child after the network. There's brand loyalty, and then there's stuff like this.

Here comes Bill Gray

So Ogilvy major executive Bill Gray is introducing ESPN's George Bodenheimer. Here's my first recollection of Bill Gray: it's about 1983. I'm a PR assistant (OK, glorified secretary) at Ogilvy & Mather back at 2 E. 48th Street waiting for the elevator next to Bill Gray, who is about 15 levels above me in the agency heirarchy. Gray is pacing, pacing, pacing in front of the elevator with an intensity I've never seen before or since. Obviously, it got him somewhere. Have wondered, more than once, if he still paces like that.

Blogging from Ogilvy's Verge digital summit today

So I'm here at Ogilvy's Verge digital summit today at The New York Times building. I'm a little bit disappointed at the size of the crowd here. A few too many people here to have a chance to out Agency Spy, who allegedly is here today. Gotta run. Carla Hendra is talking.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The skinny on that Adweek editorial job

I was away skiing on Friday when some saw this intriguing headline on Gawker: "'Adweek' Seeks Slightly Less Loathed Editor." I'm here to tell ya it ain't quite what it seems. According to the job spec, "The ideal candidate will play an important role in working with the senior management team, including Alison Fahey, who has moved into a general management role." Sabrina Crow, senior vp at Nielsen Business Media, and Fahey's boss, confirmed to me that Fahey will continue to be involved with the new editor and that Cheyenne Group is handling the search.

Adverganza's Monday morning picks, 03.10.08

Wherein I scan the Monday morning headlines so you don't have to (sorry I'm behind today):

From Advertising Age:

—One big happy family: Pepsi, Starbucks, water, Matt Damon.
—Campbell's Soup with less sodium is hot!
—Companies that lend money are evil.
—At the 4As media conference: what's to be done about measurement?
—Finally, a story that explains why Britney made the cover of The Atlantic.
—Sheryl Sandberg on why she moved to Facebook.
—Bob Garfield's on Abercrombie and Fitch's new Australian-themed underwear brand. He cracks a "down under" joke.

From Adweek (would link to its 4As Media Conference coverage, except that clicking on the banner about it on the home page doesn't do squat. UPDATE: They've loaded some more videos from the Media Conference now, but don't click on the banner; click on the video links up above it):

—Ad agencies pushing the envelope on office design. Now if that can just filter down to more of the ads.
—Airborne has no reason to get all rattled about false ad claims.
—Domino's pizza builder as sign of a revolution.
—U.K.'s Steak comes stateside. Insert Mad Cow joke here.
—Barbara Lippert critiques Kobe Bryant's new Nike site.

From Brandweek:

—A fire sale at MySpace.
All-natural Skyy Vodka. But is it better for your liver?
—Here's an idea: marketing Tecate to Mexican immigrants.
—Advertisers who are scared of online advertising.

From Mediapost:
—Buick signs up Tiger Woods to be your caddy. And I don't mean Caddy.
—Are search ads about to become more expensive?
—Some may not be able to curb their enthusiasm about a Seinfeld reality show.
—Advertising Research Foundation sees engagement as so 2007. Now it's all about brands, baby.

From The New York Times:
—It can't be good for the online industry that the Times put "To Aim Ads, Web Is Keeping Closer Eye on You," on its front page this morning.
—Oh, crap. This "Thriller" rebirth has gone beyond that stupid Naomi Campbell commercial.
—Welcome to the do-it-yourself commercial.

From The Wall Street Journal:
—Polo Ralph Lauren loses its fight to stop the United States Polo Association and Jordache from using a logo that looks like someone playing polo. Does it get sillier? (Story not free.)