November 20, 2008
A while back, we wrote a short post about the Engaging Ideas Card Pack and mentioned, “We haven’t gotten our hands on the full set, but it looks like a neat package for a broad range of ideas.” Well, now (thanks to Rob Fox) we’ve gotten our grubs on the entire pack and sifted through the stack of colorful cards.
The first impression is that they look like a deck of large novelty sized playing cards printed on thick stock cardboard. The front side of each card is an image meant to invoke the message or activity presented on the back. For the most part, the full card formatted images are stellar, ranging from iconic art and expressive photography down to some painfully low resolution and pixelated images. However, given the goals of the cards to engage employees through practical exercises, this is a rather minor point.
The 52-card deck (not including two jokers) is meant to stimulate positive discussion through identification of business goals and ideals. The cards are divided into three general categories: Discover, Design and Deliver. In this hierarchy of inspiration the cards build on each other by slowly introducing more complex activities, interspersed with straightforward tips.
The themes that appeared the most were honing the effectiveness of leadership, identifying core values and honing the business environment to suit the challenges ahead. Here are two sample cards that we think embody the entire project:
21. Distributed Leadership
We tend to think that leadership is something that happens at the top. True, but what is perhaps more true is that acts of leadership happen across and throughout business, day in, day out. Identify these acts of leadership, encourage them and communicate them widely. Doing so helps to demonstrate that all people can offer leadership and will also help acts of leadership to flourish. This exercise also begs an answer to a fundamentally important question necessary to achieve higher levels of engagement: what does your business recognize as leadership?
A success factor for any engagement effort is to discover, design and deliver better ways to connect emotionally with people to inspire their commitment and action. To help accomplish this make “heartstorming” rather than just brainstorming, a core aspect of your business’ problem solving and change practices. Demonstrating difference, “heartstorming” will help to uncover and build stronger emotional connections by focusing groups on questions like:
- I love it when…
- I get a kick out of it when…
- My heart beats faster when…
- I’m energized when…
- It frustrates me when…
- I feel undermined when…
- I’m intimidated when…
- I feel powerless when…
The Engaging Ideas pack is clearly based on solid business research and extensive experience in the corporate environment. Stagnation of ideas is the clear hurdle targeted by the collection and we applaud the stepping-stones proved for those slow to innovate. Overall, the package is a collection of ideas that won’t be revolutionary to those knowledgeable, but gives a beautifully formatted package of ideas to those hoping to give the friendly push to coworkers or employees. Engaging ideas is a careful and successful balance between professional business pursuits and playful corporate connections.
Thanks again to Rob for taking the time and money to ship a sample pack across the pond.
November 18, 2008
Fast on the heels of what many are heralding as the most successful presidential campaign ever staged, folks everywhere are hoping to be the first to uncover the valuable lessons that made this historic election possible. Those in the marketing industry choose to look at the Obama campaign from the perspective of “effective sales pitch to the entire nation,” able to cross all demographics with a single message. However, maybe this is view is too narrow and fails to see the broader implications as we move forward.
To that end, Gawker offers five realistic takeaways that paint a bigger picture of our country:
1. Facebook doesn’t mean shit - Social networking is still emerging as a tool. Online activity still doesn’t guarantee real life action.
2. TV is still king - The internet continues to grow, particularly as a communication tool, but TV is ubiquitous and still the best method for reaching the widest audience.
3. The candidates matter - Likable equals electable, no matter who you are.
4. Elections ride the swinging pendulum - In light of the past eight years, America was ready for a change.
5. Campaign tactics are always evaluated in retrospect because the media has no idea what it’s talking about, mostly - Until the public’s reaction can be gaged, it’s all pure speculation.
Stories engage us and, as our attention fragments, that is precisely what advertisers are trying to do. Enter the commercial-as- miniseries. The concept has really taken root in Asia–just search youtube for “SK Telecom” or “LG Telecom” and you’ll get tons of hits from South Korea. The following three commercials illustrate this phenomenon, telling the story of a family separated between the North and the South:
Now we’re going to see more of these story-driven ads in the U.S. thanks to a new studio called Dandelion, which officially launched yesterday. Formed by Epoch Films and Kirt Gunn Associates, the company is “dedicated to creating programming and entertainment sponsored by brands.” It’s almost a return to the “brought-to-you-by” model of early television where content was king, and advertisers just paid the bills. Almost. They do work for brands after all, so what they create is essentially branded serial content, but at a higher quality. Actual professional writers, directors and producers are at the helm, rather than marketing interns with a Flip video camera.
Brands today need to be transparent, accessible, human. This is what consumers relate to. These commercials aim to tap into these same ideals by bringing brands to life and appealing to our emotions. If they succeed, will we soon be TiVoing commercials and skipping the shows?
November 10, 2008
Eschewing the prevailing theory in advertising that one should never mention your competitor’s product, many companies are taking a page out of the political campaign season and going with attack ads or in the parlance of the industry, “comparative advertising” that do just that. The trend towards negative marketing is being attributed to the downturn in the economy, forcing businesses to compete for a smaller pool of consumer dollars.
Although a dangerous proposition with plenty of potential to backfire, agencies tasked with creating these campaigns have found injecting humor to be the best method of ensuring success. Additionally, the charges being leveled against the competition need to be well-researched and not simply anecdotal. Advertisers shouldn’t underestimate the savvy of their customer base by pushing unsubstantiated claims, simply to move a few more units. The risk outweighs the reward in these instances, given the the web’s potential to reach a wide audience if any fallacies are uncovered by the public, thus alienating the very people they were attempting to court. At the same time, a poorly conceived strategy opens the door for the competition, allowing them proper justification to employ undercutting tactics of their own. The real question seems to be how much tit for tat can we collectively stomach before everyone walks away a loser?
“It’s very tactical, it’s very short-term, but today marketers are thinking short-term,” said David Melançon, the chief executive of the Ito Partnership, a brand identity consulting company in New York.
Other examples of negative product pitches include a long-running campaign from Apple that mercilessly mocks the PC operating systems sold by Microsoft; a campaign from the Fox Business Channel cable network, which deridesJim Cramer of CNBC; ads for Burger King that take on other fast-food chains like McDonald’s and Wendy’s; and a campaign for a new variety of Campbell’s soup, Select Harvest, that berates Progresso for selling soups with ingredients like monosodium glutamate.
[via New York Times]
November 7, 2008
A visually stunning new advert from Nike has come to our attention. The ad was created by Darbotz, an Indonesian artist best known for his monochromatic and intricate style. Though it may not come across in the video, it’s a promotion for a new version of the classic Air Force Ones. The video is supposed to reflect the evolution of the brand and give a taste of the reinterpretation and remixing in the Sportswear division. It was animated by Randy Rais with music by Arianjie. Here’s the video:
October 21, 2008
As technology like TiVo or internet streaming enables individuals to avoid advertising, the industry has sought ways to sneak into the shows themselves. The moral dilemma of corporate control was often dodged during the age of record viewers, but as television budgets tighten and viewers seek alternatives to the tube, network execs push product integration into the plots themselves. While this long hated practice is often fought by the writers and actors, it is arguably an inevitable development in our favorite characters’ lives. Tina Fey mocked product placement on 30 Rock, but it was in response to actually needing the advertising money for production. NY Magazine writes about the complexity of the issue and the surprising twists behind the scenes to successfully integrate products into plots:
It is indeed possible to create subversive comedy that also sells Yarises. On most TV series, brands are woven indiscernibly into each plot twist—while on others they are referenced openly, with tremendous finesse, because there’s no longer any distinction between what’s funny and what moves the needle. Characters are designed as shills or consumers from day one. Shows themselves are brands, actors are brands, and so are songs and sodas, and these entities link and detach with the elegance of acrobats. No one will see a distinction between a scriptwriter and a copywriter—least of all an audience member—because that frog has boiled beyond recognition.
[via New York Magazine]
October 20, 2008
October 9, 2008
Times Online reports that British Television network, ITV is investing in a new technology that will allow the network to embed advertisements into programming. According to Times Online:
The new technology, which is known as “automatically placed overlay advertising”, uses complex computer algorithms to find clear space, such as blue sky or blank walls, in video footage in which to display logos or messages.
The technology is currently being tested in news footage on the broadcaster’s ITV Local website. The rollout of the technology is currently dependent on the response from the viewing audience.
The cat and mouse game taking place between media networks and viewers continues…
via Times Online
September 22, 2008
Ford has a very interesting campaign in place to promote their new Fiesta model. Based on the central theme of ‘This is Now’, they have set up a collaborative art project which has four stages. The first involves a series of work commissioned by animation artist Noah Harris. Some of the art work from this stage broke in an ad released last week, which was directed by Harris himself.
This ad has taken clear creative cues from the Disney film, Enchanted, but it’s not selling tween products, instead it’s the latest offering for Axe.
A new take on an old idea, Axe get away with… Continue reading| Comments
We’ve been spending quite a lot of time in the last few weeks considering the right venue to hold our next conference. After a long search, we’ve decided that there couldn’t be anything more appropriate… Continue reading| Comments
The folks over at TBWA Shanghai have come up with a nice, even poignant video for adidas highlighting China’s rising Olympic stars. We like how the ad focuses on the star athletes leading China into… Continue reading| Comments
Unbelievable in the negative use of the word.
First it was that ad in town in the hillside of Argentina where the domino effect was supposed to reveal a big pint of Guinness made from a… Continue reading| Comments
Dubbed “punch you in the face” by the Las Vegas Sun, KVVU, a Fox news affiliate in Las Vegas has begun using product placement as a non traditional source of revenue. After 7am, when the… Continue reading| Comments
In their faux news show, the Onion imagines what branded TV shows could really deliver us with a clip entitled ‘Home Depot Honors Fallen Soldiers With Great Prices On Tools’… Continue reading| Comments
Fallon London, arguably the world’s most prolific agency right now, has created a series of incredible ads and idents for Sony HD. Set to a Def Lepard soundtrack the ads were shot by Johnny Hardstaff… Continue reading| Comments
This is a fantastic ad for Smirnoff by JWT London and Frederick Bond. Somewhat overlooked by awards it deserves some online attention… Continue reading| Comments
This is a charming ad for John West fish. The story behind the ad is that after finding an inspiring piece of footage the agency asked the creator of the orginal film to shoot it… Continue reading| Comments
It’s been a pretty busy week at Cannes. The biggest question was would Cadbury’s Gorilla or Skittles’ Touch win the Film Grand Prix. As I’m sure you know by now the big ape won but… Continue reading| Comments
Hot on the heels of last week’s skydiving spectacular, comes this, the full version of the latest Honda campaign. Following the Power of Dreams campaign, this execution focuses on one of Soichiro Honda’s famous sayings… Continue reading| Comments
This is a beautiful ad from Publicis Conseil. Via Lunar BBDO… Continue reading| Comments
Honda Live Advert Sky Dive Difficult is worth doingby unitedgoals
A couple of weeks ago we posted about Honda’s latest advertising idea, Difficult Is Worth Doing. Last night saw the first live ad in the UK… Continue reading| Comments
Great new iPod ad with a fantastic tune. Via Only Dead Fish… Continue reading| Comments