Posts tagged ‘Collin Howell’

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

Why I like Twilight (professionally)

With the new Twilight movie “New Moon” coming out today, I feel it’s only necessary to write about the elephant in the room. Twilight is a series that is guaranteed to spawn one of two reactions: rolling eyes or incessant swooning – I fall into the former group.

However, while I personally view the movies to be about as entertaining as a water fountain, professionally I am fascinated by them — starting with the first one.

Here was a movie that had a no-name cast (the only people I recognized was the guy who played Cedric Diggory and the guy who was the jock in “Can’t Hardly Wait”), was made on an average budget at best and has some of the corniest plotlines I have ever seen – there’s no way this will fly with the jaded movie-going public. Wrong.

The marketing minds behind the Twilight movies need a raise right now. They used their knowledge of the target audience and market trends to turn what was a just another series of books into a cultural phenomenon.

One of the most important things the minds behind Twilight’s marketing discovered was their Internet savvy target audience. From there they launched a digital marketing campaign that has been compared to what Obama did during the election. The campaign utilized multiple social media outlets, widgets/applications and microsites featuring exclusive web content. Keep in mind executing a multi-platform digital plan was still relatively new (yes, marketing moves that fast), so while it seems like this is standard now, last year it was viewed as progressive.

How well did it work you ask, lets go down the figures. In the month leading up to the first movie’s release, Fandango reported 58% of their online ticket sales were for “Twilight”. Another survey conducted by Fandango showed 87% of people had seen the trailer online and 92% of those people said the trailer made them want to go see the movie. Why hello return-on-investment, good to see you.

The efforts don’t look to be slowing down either. For the just-released “New Moon”, the studio partnered with AT&T and released a mobile/social media plan designed to actually connect the fans with the actors in the movie, further imprinting any emotional ties they might have with the story. Say what you want about Twilight, those people know what they’re doing.

11/20/2009 at 4:08 PM Leave a comment

Lessons Learned, Part 3

CollinIt’s official! Today marks exactly six months to the day since we opened our doors and went to work – not too bad for a couple of twenty-somethings in the midst of a recession.

During the past six months I have learned quite a bit, here are a couple of highlights:

Check then check again. I cannot emphasize just how important this is in the world of marketing. Credibility is really all you and your agency have. If you make and send out a brochure for a client and there is a mistake on it, not only have you wasted your client’s money, you have also hurt your agency’s credibility. This can be a killer seeing as how a lot of new business can come from referrals.

Always be willing to learn. Marketing is an always-changing entity. I equate marketing with golf – nobody can absolutely master it. However, you can still be great but it takes work. Stay vigilant on blogs and other media to see where trends are heading (what’s considered creative this year will be standard next year). Also, never underestimate the value of a mentor. They have been in the industry longer than you and know the subtle nuances that come with it. A mentor is the best resource you can have when you’re starting out your career.

Get to know your co-workers. Simply put, I love my job. Part of the reason is my passion for marketing (obviously), but another, almost as important factor is because the people I work with are awesome. We have all tried to make it a point to get to know each other outside of work, be it happy hour or lunch. This has created a fun atmosphere for all of us, which has definitely helped our productivity as an agency.

11/11/2009 at 3:36 PM Leave a comment

The good, the bad, and the confusing

CollinWe are always entitled to our own opinion. Advertising, like pretty much anything in life, is something that can be critiqued and analyzed. Ever since I became a part of this industry, I find myself watching advertisements with a more discerning eye. Over my lifetime, I have seen some really good ads, some really bad ones and some that just keep me thinking – in a bad way most of the time, but there have been exceptions. Here are a few examples of recent ads that I have enjoyed, hated and never understood:

The Good – “Laptop Hunters” from Microsoft

I honestly can’t remember any Microsoft advertising in the 90’s and early 00’s, but with Apple increasing its market share, Microsoft had to kick into high gear. After a string of misguided attempts (i.e. the Jerry Seinfeld spots), they finally got it right with the “Laptop Hunters”. A counter-attack to Apple’s “Get a Mac” ads, the “Laptop Hunters” spots were great because of how the messaging was paired with the timing of the economy. Instead of focusing on their systems, Microsoft highlighted how Mac’s are substantially more expensive than PC’s and even hinted that Mac’s were successful only because they were viewed as a fashion statement. In an economy where price and frivolous spending definitely matters, these spots hit the nail on the head. In fact, the “Laptop Hunter spots” were able to drastically hurt the public perception of Apple while simultaneously helping the perception of Microsoft —which really is what advertising is all about.

The Bad – Palm Pre campaign

I don’t think I have met a soul on this earth who enjoyed this campaign. The music is strange, and the copy sounds like it came from a failed haiku writer. But what everyone (including me) seems to hate is the woman featured in the ads— I don’t know if it’s her blank gaze that she doesn’t break once, the horrible writing or the fact that she looks like a cross between that guy from the movie Powder and the witch from Narnia. This woman creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable. The agency responsible stood by their work, saying they meant for the ads to do that and they’re happy that people are talking about it. First off, history has proven multiple times that the “any press is good press” idea isn’t true— just ask O.J. Simpson. Secondly, if the agency meant to get the reaction they have from the ads, then I think they need to canned for sabotaging their client.

The Confusing – Playstation 3’s Baby

There are times in advertising that an agency’s creative department can get a little too creative and release something only Hunter S. Thompson can comprehend. This is one of those ads. I don’t know what just happened, I don’t know what a porcelain doll reverse crying has to do with video games, I just know I’m a little scared of my Playstation at home now.

10/23/2009 at 2:13 PM Leave a comment

The fireworks of social media

collin-polaFireworks are awesome. They are fun to watch and even more fun to light. But here’s the thing about fireworks: if not handled correctly, they can be catastrophic.

The same point can be made about social media. It’s fun and attention-grabbing, but it can also be destructive if executed poorly. Yesterday, I read a blog post where the writer obviously did not learn about fire safety; so to my younger readers and those not too familiar with social media culture, here are some safety guidelines:

Social media is on the Internet and, therefore, public. Never, ever, EVER (just for emphasis) post something online thinking only a few people will see/read it. Just like you should assume a gun is always loaded, you should also always assume your friends are not your only audience.

Social media is not the best place to vent. Before I start, random Twitter or Facebook updates saying something like, “Man today sucked,” is not what I’m talking about. That is letting off steam; we all need to do it sometimes. What I am addressing is a full-blown vent-fest only appropriate for your friends, your mom or a psychiatrist. If you write an essay-long blog post publicly calling someone out (Kanye West is an exception, go to town on him) or blowing-up after something has bothered you for a while, it probably won’t end well. Remember guideline one: some unintended person will probably read it. If that happens, you will come off as rude or condescending, when instead you probably just had a really bad day.

Everyone has an opinion on social media (this article is proof). The Internet commenter is the modern critic. I’m not saying this a good or a bad thing, because I have seen it go both ways. Social media has provided the opportunity for pretty much anyone to point out a mistake you’ve made. Now stay with me here, if you are venting, you are generally mad. Anger can lead to irrational behavior, which often leads to mistakes. Once this happens and (playing off guideline two) your readers think you’re a jerk, enjoy the commentary firestorm that is to follow. If you give people a reason to talk bad about you, they will.

So that’s it, keep these rules in mind and your social media experience should be nothing but pleasant.

P.S. Everyone going to the TCU game on Saturday should grab a program. An ad we created for McKinley’s is featured, and it rocks. GO FROGS!

09/18/2009 at 1:56 PM Leave a comment

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