Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Digital + Traditional = Stronger

A while back I wrote about the Olympics coverage, and the great efforts NBC were taking to stream content and engage viewers online. Some results are in, and no surprise, the online portion appears to have deepened and engaged consumers total involvement. In a nutshell, the digital media did not cannibalize viewers, rather it enhanced and got those people to watch more Olympics TV. So both traditional and digital complimented each other. 

This is not rocket science, but it is still a big thing. For years the music, film and traditional media business have seen digital as a revenue threat, and chosen to dismiss, avoid and kill it. The reality is, done right, brands and media properties can enhance their offering and make stronger connections. Of course, the next step is turning that into increased engagement into revenue and profits, but the main point is, their is a huge upside to take advantage of. 

Monday, September 29, 2008


Advertising is a tough business. Winning accounts is hard, hard work. I can not imagine how rough it feels right now for Ogilviy.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Future Quotes

Apologies for the long gap in postings. I have been busy, (x2 trips to NY) and a host of other stuff hitting the fan.

While in NY I attended a panel discussion on the Future of Media. It was a very good list of speakers, Cathie Black of Hearst, Randy Falco of AOL, Joe Uva of Univision. (My boss, Jeff Goodby, as well). In truth, there were a few to many people on the stage. I did like a couple of thoughts and phrases. 

Susan Whiting, EVP of Neilsen, speaking about consumer behavior online said: "Older people believe in a right to privacy, younger people in a right to publicity".

Mark Cuban made a strong case for a looming digital shake-out. Simply put, there are a lot of sites that are subsidized. Google pays for YouTube. The minute Google decides that it can not monetize YouTube, is the minute they will have to shut it down or sell it. 

All the panel, at the end, where asked for their synopsis of the biggest challenge or opportunity. I liked:- 

"No single company can do it all. The question is how do you put stuff together"


"You need a balance between what is possible with what is practical".

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Creatives VS everyone else

One question I often get asked by people who want to work at a creative agency is how I handle "creatives". There is a perception in the world that creatives at agencies are prima-donna, hissy-fit throwing, drama queens. Of course, they are not. Their bad reputation really comes from, I believe, the different way creatives work to nearly everyone else in the marketplace.

In my line of work, most of what I do is correct. By the time I get to present work to a client, I have a brief, a direction, input, analysis and and a whole load of other inputs. The result is I can be pretty confident I am going down the correct path, I am doing the right thing. I would estimate that 90%+ of my work is accepted. Clients usually ask me to tweak around the edges, but the basics are good.

For creatives it is very different. Their tweak ratio is reversed. For creative teams, even if they are phenomenal, perhaps 10% of their output  get past a creative director. And in truth, it is closer to 1%. Think about that for a second. Would you have the mental toughness to head into work everyday, knowing that 99% of your work, that you have poured your heart and late nights into, will be summarily rejected? 

Why do creatives care so much, get so caught up in the font size and seemingly small details? They care because they have to get it right. If it is not perfect it does not see the light of day. And you know what? It is great working with people who are that committed. Life is to short to take the easy, safe and expected route. Good creatives never do, and nor should everyone else. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


If TV has a future, (and people staring at an electronic screen while entertainment plays is not going anywhere), it is companies like Google that are making it. Google TV is pretty interesting. The nut of it is advertisers only pay for the audience who actually watch the ad, not the quarter hour average rating of the show and ad break. In exchange, Google slots the ads so marketers have less control over which shows their spots end up in. 

Anyway, the Google TV program has been struggling because the traditional cable and TV nets do not like Google. They fear that true transparency in the metrics will take dollars away from their bottom line. This week Google struck a new deal with NBC. While it is only cable nets so far, this is still a huge development for Google. It gives them credibility and scale that the deal with EchoStar alone could not. We will see what happens, but hopefully the other nets will join the party. Anything that makes media more accountable and targeted is a good thing in my book. 

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Progressive X prize

I recently came across a genius move by Progressive Insurance. Progressive have announced they will give $10m to anyone who invents a car that can get 100 miles to the gallon. This is similar to the original X prize, which was for $1m to the first non-government agency to get a space-ship into space. You can read about it by clicking here.

Why is this genius? Well, with a Prius currently only at around 45mpg, there is a long way to go till they have to pay out. In the meantime, Progressive lives up to its name and can claim halo of environmental concern, (for a business that  ultimately relies on oil). 

Most importantly though, this is all free media. Every-time someone does a story on fuel technology, the impact of cars or socially aware marketing, Progressive is going to get featured. Oh, and it is also a cool thing that consumers and the employees of Progressive can be proud of.

Think about the reverse of this. Exxon recently spent some $20m or so buying prime spots during the Olympics. Exactly what did they get out of that? If they are lucky, some positive brand perceptions scores but only in the very short-term. More likely they achieved nada. What if Exxon had been the company to offer this prize? From an oil company, that would have been progressive!

Thursday, September 4, 2008


This is a shameless piece of agency self promotion. Today, our new campaign for the Hyundai Genesis car launches. It is a great car, priced phenomenally. You can check out the incredibly sleek website here . Working on Hyundai is a real treat. In a nutshell, the cars are wonderful, but the brand sucks. Or did suck. It is getting stronger. The Genesis is a serious contender in the luxury car space. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


I am back from a vacation in Hawaii, so should get back to regular postings now. 

First up, this past weekend The Dark Knight passed the $500m marker in domestic US box office. It is only the second film in history, behind Titanic, to earn over half a billion dollars. (Of course, adjusted for inflation other films have done better, but within the modern era it beats Harry Potter, Captain Jack, James Bond, Jason Bourne, Spiderman and even Forrest Gump).

Earning this much cash is incredible, especially for a film so critically acclaimed. A rare confluence of art and money. I am stuck by a few thoughts:

- You can make high quality, yet mass appeal products. In some regard, network and cable TV are ahead of Hollywood. Lost, American Idol, Mad Men, all our quality mass entertainment. Hollywood struggles to make good blockbusters, yet clearly there is a desire for it. This plays to something I have always believed, people are smart. Brands do not need to play to the lowest common denominator. 

- Big, pop-cultural events play an important role in our culture. People want to be a part of something. For all the talk of the long-tail etc, (and it is real), big can still be beautiful.

- I see very little on the cultural horizon that will be as big as this movie has become. Of course, no one can truly predict the next mega thing, but looking at the release schedules and cultural events, there is a real lack of major event experiences to look forward too.