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The Internet is growing up

Non-traditional media is a term that does not have a permanent shelf life. Actually, I compare being labeled a non-traditional medium to being tagged as a child star—sooner or later, you’re no longer one and, even worse, people will view you as ordinary. This is exactly what happens to non-traditional media over time.

Let’s take a look through history shall we? Billboards, television and magazines all had a period of time when they were looked at as a new marketing medium. Fast-forward to the present; there are now products designed to skip TV commercials. We don’t care what these once-new messages tell us anymore; they’re on a medium that is simply old news.

Within the past four to five years, marketers have discovered opportunities that only the Internet can provide. Since then, the Web has been thought of as the prime example of a non-traditional medium. Unfortunately, like the once-dreamy Jonathan Taylor Thomas, the Internet is growing up and isn’t as cute anymore.

I want to take a look at the recent phenomenon of online television viewing to argue my point. I can assume that most people participate in this because it: a) allows the public to see their favorite shows/movies for free and/or b) only has about one to two minutes of commercials for an entire episode.

Don’t expect this to last. Hulu, the second-most visited video site on the web right now, is facing pressure from the networks backing it to become a paid premium Web site. In addition to that, The CW network recently announced it is planning on adding TV-length commercial breaks for all of its online viewing.

So, to recap, (legitimate) online viewing is trending to become a premium service (essentially a cable service) and will feature full-length commercial breaks. If this doesn’t sound like a path to becoming a traditional medium, I don’t know what is. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just the natural cycle of media. I’m going to go watch a couple of Brat Pack movies now.

03/30/2010 at 2:05 PM Leave a comment

Winning an ADDY: Crossing another goal off our list

Exactly eight months and 19 days ago, Zag IMC opened its doors. As one of the founding five, I remember all of us sitting down and writing out our goals for the agency. One thing that was said was, “We are winning an ADDY this year.” It was definitely a noble goal for an agency who (at the time) had no clients and the oldest member of the office was 22. Well, this past Saturday we achieved our goal by taking home a silver ADDY award for the full-page advertisement we designed for McKinley’s Fine Bakery and Café.

For those who haven’t been to the ADDY’s, there are no acceptance speeches because there are a lot of submission categories. And honestly, with how people in this business love to talk, we would still be there. With that said, here is a good idea of what I would’ve said if they did allow speeches:

In order to get this place off the ground, a lot of hard work had to be put in by everyone, so it’s nice to be recognized for that.

What was great about this particular project was how everyone seemed to have a hand in its creation. Alex created the concept and copy that we worked with; Ligia acted as our impromptu make up manager (and did quite well, that frosting didn’t want to stay on); I handled pretty much all logistics of putting our photo shoot together and Rolando designed the ad and modeled for it as well. However, if it wasn’t for our awesome leader Kelsey, I wouldn’t be writing this post, because none of what I described above would’ve happened.

As far as shout-outs go, the first and biggest has to be to our parent company GCG Marketing, whose patience and guidance have been absolutely invaluable to all of us. GCG did extremely well at the ADDY’s with 33 awards, so great job guys.

Second goes to Doug Mangold, who we jokingly refer to as our dad. Not only did he do the photography for the ad, he has never turned us away when we have asked him for help. Doug truly does put people like Chuck Norris and Bear Grylls to shame.

Third shout-out goes to the Fort Worth chapter of the American Advertising Federation. Thank you for your continued support of up-and-coming talent, and man you guys can throw a party.

I want to add one final shout-out to The Balcom Agency for coming up with the theme and accompanying creative for this year’s ADDY awards gala—it was great.

Now it’s time to get back to work and drum up (hopefully) more award-winning ideas.

03/02/2010 at 2:03 PM 1 comment

The un-falling sky of Super Bowl ads

There are some things that, as Americans, we simply cannot avoid—like bad music made popular by tweens and Christmas advertisements before Halloween. The most unavoidable force, however, has to be the Super Bowl. 

This Sunday, close to a third of the American population will sit down just to watch a football game featuring two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL right now—at least that’s what I would like to think. But I have a feeling that this isn’t going to be a game where many people are going to TiVo past the commercials.

It’s no secret that arguably the biggest draw to the Super Bowl is the commercials, but late in 2009 Pepsi, who had featured a Super Bowl ad the past 23 years, announced they would not be participating this year. This obviously was a big deal, as I said in a previous post of mine, and was the talk of the industry for a while. I even had some of my friends ask me if this was the beginning of the end for Super Bowl ads. 

In this Web 2.0, “get it done yesterday” world we live in, I can see why some people could view this as a commercial apocalypse, but I don’t think it changes anything. People were saying the same thing last year when vendors like Cash for Gold secured spots. Yes, the vendors might change, but that’s nothing new; the show goes on.

While the faces may change, the overall spirit of the Super Bowl stays the same. AdAge’s Tom Denari put it perfectly when he pointed out that this is the one day out of the year that people will actually sit down with the intent of watching commercials. It’s just what we do; we watch the game and then after each commercial airs we lean over to our friend and tell them what we think—it’s the same thing we do after previews at movie theaters.

The Super Bowl has become an American holiday and the commercials have become integrated into its tradition. You wouldn’t want to have a Fourth of July without the fireworks would you? That’s why, no matter how much the Super Bowl changes, as long as it’s still there, advertisements will be right next to it.

02/05/2010 at 3:41 PM Leave a comment

Celebrate your creativity!

Earlier this week, I learned that January is International Creativity Month, and being as how I work at a place that has a whole department dedicated to creativity, I felt like I should bring this to light.

Creativity is arguably the most subjective thing the world has to offer. What is creative to one person could be meaningless to another — this is why the critic exists. However, there is something about creativity that I feel can be universally agreed upon: everyone needs some form of creative outlet.

Creativity keeps our minds active and simply makes life more fun. What you do doesn’t matter; you can write a story, make an existing recipe your own or even invent a new drinking game ­— the avenues are endless.

So keep that in mind for the rest of this month. Add a little creativity to your day and see where it takes you.

To celebrate International Creativity Month, I have put together some of my favorite examples of creative outdoor advertising. My gift to you.

01/15/2010 at 4:16 PM Leave a comment

The future starts now?

Christmas has come and gone, so now it’s time to take our focus off Santa and Christmas lights and turn it towards confetti and falling disco balls.

However this December 31st, we will welcome in not only a new year, but a new decade — anyone who tells me the new decade doesn’t start until 2011 needs to be welcomed to the real world. This got me wondering how close are we to the future we have seen in the movies – more specifically, in regards to advertising. Filmmakers have given us plenty of examples of how they view the future of advertising, but how close are they? Lets take a look.

1) Back to the Future Part II – Jaws 19 holograph

You couldn’t possibly expect me to write about the future without including Marty McFly’s trip to 2015. In this future full of hoverboards, power laces and yet to be discovered Elijah Woods, Marty stumbles upon an interactive ad for Jaws 19. The shark rises from the marquee, music and all, and takes a harmless swipe at McFly (to his horror).

While I love this bit, I don’t see this trend really catching on. Movie marketing is using the Internet and guerilla tactics to set themselves apart today. Plus the holographic route seems a little 1980’s to me.

2) A.I. Artificial Intelligence/Children of Men – Motion billboards

The audience only gets a quick glimpse of the future of ads; you really have to look for it but I promise it’s there. The outdoor ads in these movies stood out to me because none of them were static. Billboards, bus wraps, you name it, it’s going to be moving.

This is actually not a far-fetched idea at all. With more billboards going digital and the introduction of “electric ink” that can move, it seems only a matter of time before moving ads are a reality.

3) Minority Report – Interactive and Customized ads

In order to make the movie more realistic, director Steven Spielberg brought together a “think-tank” comprised of MIT students and asked them to imagine what advertising would be like in 2054. Furthering the whole “people from MIT are smart” theory, the group was able to produce some very good ideas.

The ads in Minority Report would either be able to recognize you personally and identify your consumer patterns or they had the ability to be manipulated by the user. We are actually seeing this from cell phone newcomer Droid, which set up an interactive ad that can be controlled by anyone who has the ability to touch a screen. Overall, I think this movie did the best job in seeing the trend of marketing to the individual a good five years before it really took off.

4) Lots of movies – Using TV spots

Be it Robocop’s attempt to sell Sunblock 5000 or I, Robot’s commercial for the new robot models, apparently TV is still the best route to take as far as advertising goes in the future.

While it still holds sway, TV is definitely NOT getting more popular as an advertising medium. For a perfect example, take a look at Pepsi. They just recently announced they will not feature an ad in the upcoming Super Bowl– to put a little context on that, they have ran Super Bowl ads for the last 23 years . If that’s not a trend, I don’t know what is.

12/28/2009 at 4:12 PM Leave a comment

Guess what? The BCS isn’t good (at marketing)

It’s that time of year again: the leaves have changed, the air is cooler and colorful little lights can be seen on homes nationwide. Yep, it’s the beginning of the bowl season for college football. Today is a special day because it is the day after the BCS (Bowl Championship Series for you non-sports types) picked the 10 teams to be featured in its five bowl games.

What is special about today is that it’s the day that college football fans are the loudest and angriest. I can’t remember a year going by that hasn’t included a day where close to every sportswriter, blogger and fan unite to protest the BCS selections. Today, I join those ranks, having felt the effects of the BCS firsthand.

However, this is not going to be a blog about how TCU got hosed or how Texas v. Alabama is not what people want – there are plenty of other blogs talking about that. No, I want to talk about (surprise!) the BCS’s attempt at marketing through social media.

The BCS is a perfect example of what not to do in a lot of things, and marketing is no exception. Around mid-November, the BCS (like me) decided to get a Twitter account and a Facebook page. This was done at the behest of their PR firm who is owned and operated by former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer. What immediately followed was both equal parts catastrophic and hilarious – Twitter users from all around took the BCS to town; one user even compared them to the Ku Klux Klan.

Of course they responded by repeatedly stating how their system does really work and is the only system that works; this is the main problem with their campaign. The BCS has a great opportunity to engage in constructive, one-on-one conversations with the public, but instead are using social media as another medium to NOT encourage conversation. Also, when they did respond it just comes off as vindictive, here’s how they replied to one fan:

“You all agree on a “playoff” but don’t agree on who, what, where, when and how- that’s why the +1 and MWC [Mountain West] playoff plans were dismissed.”

This is textbook, the last thing you should do when you are already unpopular and trying to get the public on your side is to attack them. History has shown this doesn’t work too well (i.e. every revolution the world has ever seen). Also, as a sidenote putting quotation marks around “playoffs” just comes off as dismissive and arrogant.

Their Facebook page is no better. The wall features over 30 updates posted by the BCS. After first looking at that, I saw a tab labeled “Just Fans,” I assumed this is for the fans to say their perspective. After clicking on it, I was met with nothing but a blank screen– there was not one post on the wall. This means either no one on Facebook had anything to say or they were all deleted, my hunch is the latter.

Marketing is all about people and how can you take your message/product and make it connect with them. Social media has given us as marketers the ability to communicate with our target markets better than ever. That’s what makes it work, it’s a two-way communication, somehow the BCS and Ari Fleischer missed that.

For those interested you can find the BCS on Twitter at @insidetheBCS or at

12/07/2009 at 5:49 PM Leave a comment

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