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Trends, commentary, and insightful rants from the bleeding edge of advertising, content & branding.

The Good News is…You’re Fired.

munchRecessions Are Good. Pass It On.

Stock trackers off, people.  Disable them, get them off your iGoogle, hide them on your iPhone, just put them away for a little while. Let’s focus on something else.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that we’ve been in recession for a year. The trouble isn’t that we’re in a recession. The trouble is that we’re scared to death.

Welcome to capitalism: recessions happen here. Always have. Part of the deal. The economy grows, reaches a breaking point, and recedes for a while, like a wave on the beach. A breather. An adjustment. It’s a healthy, natural part of the economic cycle. It clears out the bad wood and allows new trees to grow.

And that’s what we should be focused on, instead of the minute-by-minute stock trackers: cycle. Yeah, credit-default swaps and bubble real-estate markets are scary and unpredictable, but here’s the deal: we’ve been here before, we’ll be here again. No matter your personal philosophy, this is a real opportunity to get in touch with your inner Buddhist.

Oh, there’s another one: opportunity. Because – taking our cues from the Buddhists – if we stop focusing on what was, and what will be, we can free ourselves to look around and concentrate on the here and now. Calm hearts and minds will be the real winners right now, those people who can see beyond the panic and concentrate on what they can do today.

When so much is out of our control, we tend to prepare for the worst. But there is opportunity in every recession, even if the headlines drown it out. Your opportunities may be personal or professional, internal or external. But they’re there, and they’re real, and they’re more productive than firing up a browser and watching the stock market freak out.

Filed under: recession, , ,

You Are Not Viral. Stop Trying.

funny-pictures-strings-forte-pleaseSo you’ve decided to save some money this year by crafting a funny, on-message, stealth viral campaign.

Congratulations. You’ve already failed.

Here is the sad, honest truth that keeps a lot of creative people cranking out a lot of subpar home videos and releasing them to the web:

Viral is a lottery ticket. So many factors have to be working with you that it is impossible to predict the success and failure of any one idea, no matter how brilliantly conceived and on-target. In fact, the brilliantly conceived, on-target viral campaigns are the most doomed to fail. Here’s why:

It’s not the perfect storm. For a viral campaign to really catch fire, every wind has to be blowing in your direction. For ten years now, everyone in Hollywood has been trying to recreate the campaign for The Blair Witch Project. This just happened to be the first movie that utilized the web as its main promotional medium, by creating a virtual, creepy, unpolished world that heightened the verisimilitude of the movie itself. It couldn’t have been done after that, it couldn’t have been done prior to that. It only worked because there happened to be dramatic technological upheaval and a new form of communication.

The idea has come and gone. Let’s stay with arguably the most successful viral movie campaign of our lifetimes, Blair Witch. In the wake of that film, a hundred movies tried to do exactly the same thing with a thousand times the budget. But viral is a fickle mistress: once you’ve seen it, it’s over. I mean, over. The target for Blair Witch probably didn’t notice the desperate attempts to catch their attention, because they saw it the first time, when it was still cool.

Your competition has multiplied. By a million. When you make the leap to the web, you’re no longer competing for eyeballs with other marketers. You’re competing for eyeballs with everyone who owns a computer. There are a million people in Los Angeles alone trying to craft “viral” videos to advance their career, to land an agent, to hit the big time – and they don’t have a product to push. Andy Samberg creates a viral video on SNL every couple of weeks, has a million people watch it on television, and (aside from Lazy Sunday) still can’t get much viral traction. Professional entertainers can’t do this. It’s hard.

You’re smarter than a doorknob. Afro Ninja. Numa Numa. Star Wars Kid. Some of the most popular viral videos of all time. What do they have in common? They are viscerally stupid. They’re humiliating. They are the web equivalent of a blooper reel. If you’re smart enough to say the words “viral marketing campaign,” you’ve intellectually excluded yourself from being able to judge whether a viral video will succeed or fail. Your sense of humor is not America’s. Please trust us.

You can embarrass yourself. A lot. Because the most successful viral videos tend to be the most outrageous, marketers frequently assume that outrageousness will get noticed. This is deadly thinking. For every Bruce Campbell Old Spice or JC Penney’s ad that gets traction, there are a thousand misfires, some of them crippling. Agency.com is a smart agency in general. How did this happen? But by far, the majority of viral efforts just never get noticed at all. And that’s embarrassing enough.

Viral does not mean free. Pay to play, baby. Unless your video features NSFW images of people doing unspeakable things (or a skateboarding cat) you can’t just release into the wild on its own and expect some sort of wildfire runaway hit.  You want people to know about it? You want your viral thingy to get seen? You better be prepared to ante up for that viral goodness.

This is not a screed against web content in general. The smartest thing you can be doing is looking for new opportunities to spread your marketing message via the internet. Just don’t go looking for the viral force to be with you.

Filed under: online advertising, skateboarding cats, supergenius llc, viral, , , , , ,

Do Brands Belong on Twitter?

Do Brands Belong on Twitter?

Thoughtful post via Mashable. Not sure I agree with the idea of banning brands – think it’s probably a case by case thing. But…do agree that forcing brands to put a human face on their Twitter interaction would better serve them in the long run.

twitter

Posted using ShareThis

Filed under: brands, social networking, supergenius llc, twitter, , ,

NBC! OMG! WTF?

NBC! OMG! WTF?

It seems lipeacockke every year around this time we start bemoaning the End of Media As We Know It, but this year has a little more resonance. Just like mainstream America didn’t know how deeply the investment banks were in trouble until Bear Stearns went under, we didn’t know exactly how badly things were going for NBC until this week.

When they gave Jay Leno his own show.

Five nights a week. In prime time.

Network television has recently seen a bleed-off of younger audiences to cable shows at the ten o-clock hour, and FOX has never bothered to program it at all. But what NBC has done is essentially cede five hours of prime time a week to the same people who tune into the current version of The Tonight Show. In other words: they’re hoping to keep people who were already watching Jay Leno.

This is not the platform for a critique of Jay Leno as an entertainer. But with a probable high end of five million people watching every night, this means NBC has essentially given up on five hours of programming every week. As recently as 2006, this hour featured Law and Order, ER, and Medium. Then Lipstick Jungle, Journeyman and Life. This year? My Own Worst Enemy. There are bloody fingerprints all over this corpse.

The Jay Leno experiment is more than a cost-saving device, and it’s more than an attempt to keep Leno from going to ABC. It’s an admission by NBC that they don’t know how to program entertainment anymore. It’s devastating for the entire NBC lineup, and for network television in general. Because once you become the Jay Leno channel, you don’t get to go back.

Filed under: supergenius llc, Uncategorized, , , , , ,

Five Signs Your Brand Needs a Swift Kick In The Pants

buttkickFive Signs Your Brand Needs a Swift Kick In The Pants

No matter how proactive and forward-thinking you and your marketing team are, sooner or later your brand will reach a plateau. You may have accomplished a big marketing push and are unsure where to go next. Or, you may be fighting a rear-guard action against a new player in the market. It happens to everyone. Successful marketers realize it.

The following is a list of “warning signs.” They don’t necessarily mean your brand is in trouble. They just mean you need to take a good, long look at what you’re doing – because chances are, someone else is.

1.    Your creative goals are getting more vague. At the beginning of a marketing campaign, everyone’s on the same page, creative briefs are tight, and the message is clear and concise. But as a campaign wears on, the creative tends to pitch and yaw in search of a strong wind. If your creative briefs are getting loose, you need to rediscover the insight that drove it in the first place – or find something new.
2.    You think you understand your target. Chances are, you’ve got stacks of paper detailing the buying, spending, thinking and living habits of your target customer taking up a full file cabinet. Guess what? You need more. Not only are technology and culture reshaping your target customer on a monthly basis, but as your brand grows, new opportunities pop up just outside your peripheral vision.  Your target was the right one for six months ago. Make sure it’s the right one for six months from now.
3.    Your strategy is still in business school. Sometimes, everything can look great on paper – but that paper doesn’t tell the whole story. We’re all guilty of falling back on the principles we learned from past battles, rather than gearing up to fight the next war. Make sure you’re not strategizing from theory when you could be in the trenches. Store visits. Customer feedback. Brainstorming. Category-busting. Expand your mind to see your brand as a living, breathing thing, not just SKU’s and quarterly results.
4.    Your kingdom is ruled by fear. Especially in a recession – but, let’s be honest, even in good times – brands tend to think defensively, thinking of what they risk rather than what they stand to gain. Fear is a healthy response to uncertain times. But it also leads to stagnation. Some of the greatest marketing innovations come at the hardest times, forcing brand managers to do more with less, and positioning themselves for the inevitable rebound.
5.    You’re bored. Handling a brand on a daily basis, no matter how challenging, inevitably leads to familiarity and contempt. When this happens, most people start looking outside the brand for new challenges. The key to successful brand management is to harness this energy and re-channel it into new possibilities for your brand. Try something new. Explore possibilities. Chances are, if you find something that inspires you, you’ll inspire your team – and eventually, your customers.

What strategies do you employ to fight brand stagnation? Discuss.

Filed under: supergenius llc, , , , , , ,

Content Sucks

The Bard

The Bard

I’m going to write a few words, and I want you to note the first thing that pops into your head. Don’t worry, this isn’t a test, just an illustration. Here we go:

Story.

Opinion.

Argument.

Myth.

Comedy.

Tragedy.

Content.

Chances are, the first six words conjured an emotion, a picture, an idea in your head.

And chances are, the last one didn’t.

“Content” sucks. “Content” is a word that people use to hide behind when they don’t know what they want. It’s a safe, open word that people can fill with their own meanings, and keeps you from having to make a decision. Like “synergy” and “reengineering” and “benchmarking” before it, it has been rendered meaningless from overuse. It’s uninspiring. It’s a verbal placeholder until a better word comes along.

So don’t.

Don’t use the word “content.” Spend the extra three seconds to find the word that expresses what you really want to say. Do you want to entertain? To inform? To inspire? To shock? To amuse? To ramble?

The word “content” is too often used to describe what goes in after we establish the brand experience. But in reality, it is the brand experience. So that word we use to describe it makes all the difference in the world.

You don’t use “transportation” to describe a motorcycle.

You don’t use “emotion” to describe the act of falling in love.

You can do better than “content.” Try.

Filed under: supergenius llc, , , ,

Your Kung Fu is Good. Mine is Better.

nokia-bruceleepingpong08-20081125-105839-sm3Here’s Nokia with a decent example of the kind of non sequitor oddness it often takes to go viral (hate the word!) these days. Funny still works and utility (our favorite) works best of all, but cool & strange also makes the clicks go AAAHHHHH. What’s the concept? Bruce Lee secret training videos. Unearthed for your viewing pleasure. It looks real. It’s fake. Doesn’t matter as it certainly passes the “wonder what that’s about” test. Yeah…Bruce Lee SCHOOLING some chump at ping pong with all the high kicking tools at his disposal. Did it catch out attention? It sure did; however, from our point of view when do this kind of thing (viral that is) we like the linkage to brand to be a bit more obvious (or even remotely obvious). That’s just our ten cents. If the idea is strong enough it can carry the logo (i.e. it can overcome consumer negativity about branded videos.) Why? ’cause funny is funny and cool is cool. No matter if it is sponsored. And, of course, this is why real UTIILITY wins every time.

Filed under: online advertising, viral, , , , , , ,

The Dark Side of Sticky

Zero

Zero

Nothing world shattering here folks, just weighing in with everyone else who is SICK AND TIRED of the “Saved by Zero” ad.  They’ve taken a (vageuly) fondly remembered Fixx tune and destroyed it forever. Thanks.

Filed under: Bad Ads,

Welcome to the Social

Are we being “Facebooked” to death? How much friend connectivity are we supposed to take? Apparently a lot more. Facebook has launched yet another (dare I say) instrusive feature called Facebook Connect, that allows members to log onto other webistes using their Facebook ID and track their friend’s activities on those sites.  Connect also lets you broadcast your activity to your friends.  So basically if you’ve discovered a great new Skateboarding

Stop Following Me!

Cat video on “Funny or Die”  you can invite your other half-wit buddies over in real time to check it out.  All the other big names are getting in on this act as well.  Fine, I suppose. I still wonder if there’s real utility to this kind of functionality.  Do you really want your friends tracking your online movements? I don’t want my spouse tracking me online much less a bunch of people I barely remember from elementary school.

Filed under: Uncategorized, , ,

About

Super Genius LLC is a digital media and creative incubator that excels at bringing fresh, new thinking to existing strategy as well as blank-page strategic development. Our mission is to open up unique and exciting ways of connecting brands and consumers.

"The future is here, it's just not evenly distributed yet." William Gibson

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