May 1, 2007 by Colin
The half-hearted clowns advertising discount roses, furniture sales, condo sales, and used car lots. Shedding bears and floppy eared dogs try to draw crowds to community fairs … They don’t have the moves to compete with the sign spinners featured in the Los Angeles Times today.
And like any niche industry trying to bootstrap into respectability, these guerrilla marketers come traffic cops are pushing a new name for the profession: “human directionals.” (wikipedia or myspace)
Not to say there isn’t hard work and natural skill involved.
“… Local spinners have cooked up hundreds of moves. There’s the Helicopter, in which a spinner does a backbend on one hand while spinning a sign above his head. In the Blender, a spinner twirls the sign behind his back. Spanking the Horse gets the most attention. The spinner puts the sign between his legs, slaps his own behind and giddy-ups. …
Aarrow keeps dozens of moves in a “trick-tionary,” which only a handful of people have seen, said co-founder Mike Kenny. The company records spinners’ movements and sends them in batches to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. “We have to take our intellectual property pretty seriously,” he said …
The outdoor advertising industry still does not recognize sign spinning as a bona fide way of reaching consumers, much less an art form. It regards spinning as a form of guerrilla marketing that commercializes public space. “(LATimes)
Aarrow’s Devin Wade even knows the “infamous Bruce Lee” move. San Diego magazine said “Wade and his ilk are the consumer street division of Cirque du Soleil.”
“… “Traditional forms of advertising have decreased in effectiveness,” says Aarrow CEO Max Durovic. He ticks off old-media mainstays: radio jingles, billboards, TV commercials. “Today, you can’t reach the consumer like that. But if I can make eye contact with someone, and make that human spinteraction, it allows us to create a one-on-one advertising experience. For that split second, that ad is personalized for you.” (Las Vegas City Life)
Youtube has a video of Aarrow’s founders spinning and discussing the company’s origins.
And here’s a video of some sign spinning in Vegas.
And an NPR story on “human directionals.”
Wonder how much spinners make? One company has advertised on Craigslist and the rate is cited as $10 – $20 an hour. Some good spinners, though, can make up to $60 an hour.
Did anyone see the sign spinner on an episode of NCIS earlier this year? He was mercilessly mocked by the NCIS team. I wonder how much he made for that appearance…
[tags] sign spinners, human directionals, promotional, condo sales, guerrilla marketing [/tags]
April 25, 2007 by Colin
The key to continuing customer loyalty is never stop delivering on your brand and product promise. Tim Hortons, the Canadian coffee and donut chain, knows this and delivers in spades.
The company’s regular Roll Up The Rim promotional campaign gives away thousands of prizes at outlets across Canada: cars, bbqs, free drinks, donuts and cash prizes are up for grabs. The campaign has become a pseudo-cultural event for many Canadians.
Winning codes can be found under the waxy rim of each paper coffee cup. (There’s even a custom tool for rolling the rim.)
This year, Tim Hortons has launched a custom Roll Up The Rim campaign designed specifically for the troops in Afghanistan. The cup design incorporates modern camouflage patterns, and the in-store promotional posters are in several international languages. 5 prizes of $1000 are available to be won, as well as caps, digital cameras and the usual donuts and coffee.
That’s a customized promotional campaign, built on the existing material, for ONLY ONE OUTLET.
This is a company that understands its brand and product promise – and knows it has to deliver this promise at every outlet.
Have you ever wondered what a combat zone coffee shop looks like? Take a look at this Canadian Forces Combat Camera footage shot by Sgt. Ed Whitmore (15 meg .mov)
Photo by Sgt. Roxanne Crowe, Canadian Forces Combat Camera.
Thanks to David Akin for the pointer.
[tags] Tim Hortons, Roll Up The Rim, Coffee Shop, Donuts [/tags]
April 8, 2007 by Colin
Yeah, I’m Canadian. I drove about 800 kilometres round trip yesterday to go shopping at an outlet mall in central New York. I paid the duty and taxes on what I bought, too! Just keeping it real, peeps!
Unfortunately, my kids know that there’s a Disney Radio station in Syracuse. I have two observations to make from four hours of listening to that pre-adolescent hell:
- Disney is a marketing MACHINE! Talk about listening to constant cross promotion.
- I now know how MC Hammer can afford his new ministry: I heard “Can’t Touch This” twice in those four hours.
April 6, 2007 by Colin
While it’s true that advertising cultures change (sometimes drastically) from country to country, it’s important to note that the British advertising industry feels sufficiently slammed by consumer advocates to launch an online petition to battle back against accusations that advertising is the source of all evil.
Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration.
Still, we would do well as advertisers, marketers and public relations experts to pay attention to the backlash building in many markets in Europe and North America. Even as technology and careful planning allow us to target markets more effectively, consumers, watchdogs and governments are focusing on the community-wide impacts of consumer marketing. (think kid’s snacks = fat kids)
Campaign magazine has come out swinging, hosting an online campaign calling on British ad types to speak out against increasing restrictions imposed on the industry.
There is a manifesto associated with the campaign, and it attempts to take a punch at all sorts of perceived opponents:
‘We’ve become complacent about single-issue consumer activists,’ an industry lobbyist claims. ‘They get listened to sympathetically, and what they say is often taken as gospel, without any proper investigation of their claims.’ …
‘The Government’s attitude is schizophrenic,’ [Hamish Pringle, Director General of the IPA] declares. ‘It says it supports the creative industries, which it hails as the saviour of UK Plc, while it continues to bash us.’ …
‘Just listen to Caroline Flint, the public health minister,’ one industry leader says. ‘She already talks as if she thinks she can tell us what to do.’ …
[Peta Buscombe, chief executive of the Advertising Association] says the key challenge is for the industry to reclaim control of the agenda and to show not only how important it is to the economy, but also how self- restrained and responsible it is. The rigour applied to devising advertising codes would put many Parliamentary law-makers to shame, she declares. … (Campaign)
I have three comments about the petition campaign:
- As I mentioned above, there is a lengthy manifesto/article associated with the campaign – but it is NOT linked to the actual petition site. There’s a risk that petition signers may not understand the breadth of ideas or positions that could be interpreted by their association with these two documents.
- It works outside the electronic petition process established by the British Government, which can be found at petitions.pm.gov.uk. Campaign has provided a separate comment stream for questions, and one questioner wonders aloud whether the government will even accept an electronic petition in an unconventional format.
- For an online process, there’s a remarkable lack of promotional material to help practitioners drive traffic to the petition. Actually, there’s only that one image I’ve used.
I’ll leave the larger issue of, you know, blaming the messenger for another day. God forbid any parent assumes responsibility for the actions of their children, or any consumer make a conscious decision about their purchasing habits.
[tags] Campaign magazine, Haymarket, Action for Ads, IPA [/tags]
April 2, 2007 by Colin
- Let me say – I like the interview. Ask A Ninja actually interviews Will Ferrell and Jon Heder about their new movie, the apparently sucky Blades of Glory. There’s something weird about seeing the Ninja on a promotional tour, sitting in an anonymous hotel room backed by a movie poster, but the exchanges between Ninja and the stars are funny. “I look forward to killing you soon.” “I’m not looking forward to that!” Make sure to wait for the Scott Hamilton easter egg at the end of the video.
- Imagine, if you will, a mash-up between the Will It Blend? and the Subservient Chicken. Kohler offers up a flash ad where you can direct a young lady (dressed like a plumber) to flush various items down the toilet.
[tags] Ninja, Kohler, viral video, flush [/tags]
March 7, 2007 by Colin
Political criticism via YouTube – “In the Navy” recut to criticize Peter Debnam and the New South Wales Liberal party. Unattributed, but apparently produced by the National Union of Workers. Not nearly as funny as “Peter Debnam’s Crazy Civil Service Sale,” produced by the Public Service Association.
Here’s a political scandal that could be branded “Canadian Style” – except that it’s causing problems over in New York State – the Lobbying Commissioner was caught taking most of his office to an afternoon session of curling, then demanding to know who tipped off the TV cameras that showed up. And no, that isn’t a euphemism for anything. So stay away from my rocks, and keep outta my house!
“I am Ninja” theme song, extended version, as performed by the Neu Tickles on MySpace. Funny, entertaining, and the lead singer looks like a seedy Ben Stiller impersonator.
For some reason, I feel a real affinity for account planners. Maybe it’s my daytime role as a communications advisor to government policy shops. That’s why I like this promo reel for the IPA Effectiveness Awards 2007 via Organic Frog and Serendipity Books.
“Andrew was born, with a planet-sized brain …from an early age, he realized he wasn’t the same … when all the other kids played robbers and cops, he busied himself researching trends … the career’s advice ‘become an advertising planner, you’d be good at it!” … the planner with the planet-sized brain, take the complicated and make it plain, … he intellectualizes, for clients of all sizes …“
February 27, 2007 by Colin
We all know Kazakhstan felt unjustly characterized by Sacha Baron Cohen’s blazingly popular and remarkably offensive Borat character. This week, the Kazakhstani Ambassador to the United States and Canada began a speaking tour of universities in the U.S. The first stop was Yale, where his sometimes leaden speech and light promotional video appear to have received a polite reception.
The targeting seems appropriate: it’s easy to book a room on campus and draw enough attendees from the essential target audiences:
- Central Asian student groups
- International Affairs students
- Activists for democracy and government transparency (good luck with that)
- Wrestling fans hoping to catch a glimpse of Islaim Bairamukov.
- University newspaper reporters
- Oil industry lobbyists
- Frat boys who saw Borat “but didn’t feel right about seeing Azamat naked”
University audiences would seem to be the most open to hearing the “other side of the story” – looking to the event for intellectual fodder, increased cred with their poli sci profs, and maybe knockin’ some Birkenstocks.
Asked about the impact of Borat’s over-the-top character on his country’s international image, the Kazakh press secretary noted that:
“The movie did heighten interest in Kazakhstan,” said Roman Y. Vassilenko, the ambassador’s press secretary. “We could have said, `That’s nice,’ but we didn’t leave it at that. We took the opportunity to tell our story.”
All in all, he said, “Borat” probably did more good than bad for Kazakhstan. “It was a blessing in disguise. A heavy disguise.” (Hartford Courant)
Ever the efficient press rep, Vassilenko translated for the Ambassador. During the post-speech Q&A session, they asked for questions, but “not related to Borat.” Of course, Vassilenko’s been fighting Borat’s assertions for a loooong time.
Kazinform, the government “information agency” has the text of Kanat B. Saudabayev’s speech. It’s an old school oligarch doozy.
As for results, the Ambassador’s appearance prompted heavy local coverage and some international mention.
- Kanat B. Saudabayev closes the room in New Haven.
- “I was surprised by … how economically developed the country is.”
- The embassy’s website is getting five times the hits as before.
- Kazinform is carrying the AP story.
[tags] Borat, Kazakhstan, public affairs, diplomacy, outreach [/tags]
February 19, 2007 by Colin
Did you know 2007 was the year of the attention economy? Saatchi & Saatchi seems to have decided that – its in their sig line. Our Italian colleagues have felt the magic touch of Saatchi’s attention – their Italian team reached out to marcomm writers to promote the launch of a client site. The release from Saatchi has drawn particular scorn from Gianluca and Italo because of its jargon-laden copy:
“…Il sito web, ItaliaIndependent.com, è on line dal 10 gennaio con una prima release di quella che si preannuncia una web experience magmatica, adrenalinica e fortemente interattiva. Figlio dell’era del crowdsourcing, in cui il consumatore diviene al tempo stesso target ed elemento cardine per la ideazione, progettazione e comunicazione del prodotto, italiaindependent.com è il primo passo di una self-building platform che saranno gli utenti stessi a generare, uploadando i propri contenuti.”
That copy is buzz-heavy, transparently self-serving, and the pitch was not well thought out. The site in question is completely coded in flash – and of consequence completely useless to bloggers who like to link to areas of particular interest. It seems the pitch was also accompanied by a .pdf file (linked at Gianluca‘s post).
But the story gets better. Here in Canada, we’ve become used to buying up multiple URLs and top level domain names when working across languages. In the case of this site, it seems that an misspelt URL in a Reuters article let a small Italian marketing agency grab some attention (there’s that word again!) when it quickly snapped up the misspelt doman name.
Lessons learned from Saatchi’s pitch:
- Don’t try to sell milk to the milkman: throwing buzzwords and 2.0 concepts around will backfire if your work doesn’t back up the concept.
- Don’t misappropriate concepts: consumer as idea creator works – but not as well when you’re selling glasses at 1000 euros a crack. As one commenter points out on Gianluca’s blog, the average Italian metalworker makes 1000 euros a month.
- Personalize your pitch: once again, don’t mass mail your news release, especially when it provides very little detail.
- Follow-up with media, especially when they get your URL wrong.
[tags] Saatchi, italiaindependente, blogger outreach, blogger relations [/tags]
February 15, 2007 by Colin
- Mike tells us the news cycle is now 90 seconds long.
- “There is no time to waste! Waste is folly. Waiting is pain. I have pain.” W+K London gets a doozy of a follow-up message from a job-seeker.
- “I think cucumbers are very sensual, don’t you?” A previous W+K job-seeker seems to channel Eric Stratton in his reference to supermarkets, oranges and bananas.
- CNW sent me this about their move to include social bookmarking links on news releases distributed through their wire. Only 11 months after this.
- 7 Ways to Tap Into Enthusiasm, from Mark McGuinness.
- A reminder that informal networks are often the key to knowledge, influence and promotion in an office.
- Leveraged Sell-Out has a good piece on speed dating, but here’s an amusing pull quote:
“…Why didn’t anyone ever tell me that being in PE meant that half of my life was going to be spent traveling to shitshow portfolio companies to boss around retards twice my age with the business acumen of Accenture employees? That would have been nice to know (not that it would have changed much) …”
That quote goes out to my friend Peter. For all you marketing types, PE means “Private Equity.”
[tags] CNW, private equity [/tags]
February 9, 2007 by Colin
OfficeMax is rolling out their new logo – a giant ball of rubber bands – and part of the exercise is a “guerrilla marketing campaign” touted in AdWeek. I think perspective is being lost here. Any sort of “guerrilla” action requires stealth, a willingness to break with convention and an innate knowledge of your surroundings and your target area.
I offer some signs that you’re not so “guerrilla” after all:
- The creative director on the campaign wears an ironic Che Guevara tshirt
- You actually needed to have your ideas validated by a creative director.
- Your client uses the words “best practice” and “experiential” to describe your work.
- The money was signed off by two executives – in different cities.
- The idea was tested with focus groups. Guerrillas don’t do focus groups. They drop bags of rice from 3000 feet.
- Somehow, a custom painted sports utility vehicle was involved. If it doesn’t have more than 50,000 miles on it, you can rightly be accused of corporate hypocrisy.
- You had a discussion with a lawyer about insurance premiums.
- A lawyer was actually involved. Guerrillas don’t consult lawyers: they avoid them.
- The street materials clearly draw from a corporate identity.
- A permit was filed and the Mayor’s Office was consulted.
- Your street materials were printed in China. Not at Kinko’s, or by your ex-girlfriend who knows how to silkscreen.
- No college buddies were involved in the actual execution.
- Crosspromotion? Only if it involves another band/artist/performer/spoken word performer/knitting collective appearing at the same vanue.
- You even know what a planogram is.
[tags] guerilla marketing, word of mouth, WOM [/tags]
February 7, 2007 by Colin
Life as an alternative journalist bounces around the Sundance Film Festival. A lengthy feature in the LA Weekly.
“…Much of Main Street gets converted into a promotional Potemkin village, but this is the most heavily fortified center of celebrity shoulder-rubbing and free stuff. In another act of festival identity theft, I got a badge for The Village from a friend, and even though it says Ivana Schechter-Garcia and features her picture,
I took the risk that a quick, strategic flash would get me in, which is why I am now enjoying free food in The Village’s T-Mobile–sponsored café, watching Billy Baldwin get his photograph taken through the window.
Outside, a security guard named Alan describes all the other famous faces he’s seen from his post at The Village: “somebody off That ’70s Show”; “the girl from Scary Movie”; “a guy from The Matrix”; “that dude from 90210”; “oh yeah — and Tara Reid.” (LA Weekly)
January 17, 2007 by Colin
Dammit, I like Richard Huntington’s Adliterate post on the benefits of blogging for planners.
“… I have often joked that it is only planners that blog in advertising because account people have nothing to say and creatives have better places to say it but maybe its more that blogging was built for us. … Blogging has given us planners a way to show we are good and create influence within our agencies, the broader community and potentally with our clients. “
I’ve long had an affinity for planning. As a government communications strategist, I’m expected to maintain a wide-ranging interest in and knowledge of popular culture, public policy, media trends, new technology and strategic insight – but feel very little of the love regularly thrown the way of the “civilian” public relations community. (ha! right.)
Richard touches upon some of the scepticism still directed at blogging and social networks, particularly among “more established” planners and executives, but isn’t shy about recognizing that
” … the community, like all communities, has begun to coalesce around specific ‘new marketing’ ideas that are in danger of becoming of becoming an orthodoxy every bit as dangerous as the antiquated ideas about brands and communications that it is seeking to replace. Specifically it encourages a view that the marketing landscape has already reached a kind of utopian future without offering any clues about how brands and the clients that own them should get there. …”
[tags] adliterate, media planning [/tags]
January 15, 2007 by Colin
My only thought at the moment? A lot of Amanda Chapel’s comments* across the blogosphere have nothing to do with debating a finer point, and hell of a lot to do with promoting and protecting the Strumpette brand.
*by comments, I mean her appearance on others’ blogs. I frequently enjoy and appreciate her point of view on Strumpette itself. It’s like a buffet, folks: sometimes you have to pass over the particularly unappetizing dishes and give the chef a break.
[tags] Strumpette, Amanda Chapel, ProPr, Chris Clarke [/tags]
January 12, 2007 by Colin
… and I don’t mean Kid Rock. Steve-O has signed up with PETA to expose animal cruelty at Ringling Bros. circuses. He seems to have first brought up his distaste for animal abuse while visiting the Tom Green Show (I know! Who knew he was still around!) – and I was surprised to actually hear Steve-O say the words “spend the money on Cirque du Soleil tickets.”
Thanks Steve! Now that Celine is shutting down her Vegas theatre, Cirque is Canada’s main cultural export.
… Back to PETA … Steve-O’s campaign includes a draw for a PETA2 tshirt signed by the Jackass himself, as well as a skate deck. Great way to add to the mailing list!
PETA, who is clearly on the ball when it comes to campaigning, has made a promo video with Steve-O. The campaign page provides the code to stream the video on your MySpace page, and it is also available on YouTube.
January 8, 2007 by Colin
Michael Geist, a noted copyright policy expert in Canada, has posted a number of suggestions for how the Government of Canada could react to the UGC revolution in his “the Policy Response to the User-Generated Content Boom” post.
There are many insightful points in his post, but I thought online audiences would find one particularly interesting: making sure that government-funded media organizations make their proprietary content available through open licenses.
The federal government can also play an important role by improving Canadians’ access to the content it controls or helps fund. There are a surprising number of possibilities, each of which can be implemented at minimal cost and without new legislation:
- the repositioning of CBC content by adopting open licenses that invite the public to remix the content to tell their own stories.
[tags] Geist, UGC, copyright, user generated content [/tags]