BLACK MATCH

Icon

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

The Great Recession is Over. Now What?

 

ass kickin' time

I know you probably don’t remember this, but a year ago, you were sweating bullets. The end was nigh, this was the big one, the economic cataclysm that would consume a generation. You saw your life flashing before your eyes.

And then? Well, things got bad for a while. But somehow armageddon was averted. The ship righted. The blood stopped flowing. And you opened your eyes and realized that you weren’t going to die this time.

Every few years or so, a turning point pivots this little roller coaster called the economy. You don’t realize it at the time. You only see it in retrospect. When Netscape went public. When Google launched. Seismic events that redefine the economy and change the rules of the game.

This is that moment.

We’re at the bottom of one of the biggest recessions in American history. All the deadwood has been cleared out, the money is starting to flow again, and the 2010’s are going to be defined by what you do right now. The tendency is going to be to sit back and be cautious, because people got burned by this thing and they’re not going back into the fire.

More playground for us.

Because the next decade is going to be defined by those of us who recognize the signs. Who realize that media isn’t dead, it’s just fractalizing. Who know that people don’t change habits just because they’re moving more and more of their life online. Who know that whenever something dies in an ecosystem, there is nothing but daylight for the sure and the strong.

Recoveries are made by those who invent them.

If you wait for others to see how warm the water is, you’ve already lost. Pretty soon the whole pool will be packed with people. You’ve got six months, tops, to try to do the things you’ve wanted to do, and help shape what the next phase will look like. After that, you’re locked into whatever shape the economy will take. You’ll be a spectator, not a driver.

Stop reading blogs. Go reinvent the economy.

Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid.

Filed under: mobile, recession, skateboarding cats, supergenius llc, , , ,

FARMVILLE MUST DIE

crop blight has destroyed everything, time to sell your children

Farmville had over 70 million daily users as of last December.  70 million. That, as famously noted, was (at the time) bigger than Twitter.  Yep, over 70 million folks doing some fake farming And yet, it must die.  Why is the rise of ham fisted social gaming going to end in flames?  Is it the insufferable, overly cute Tokyo-pop graphic style? Is it the inherently limited appeal of a “game” about “farming”? Is it the Second Life style dead end of virtuality? Yes to all of the above.  I suppose Farmville is fine in a web 1.0 kind of way but it falls into an uncanny valley of being both TOO social and NOT social enough. No I don’t care about the sad-eyed Piglet you just found on your farm.  Yes I think a fake farm is a disconnect in a social network based on real world connections (yeah it’s diverging some now that it’s huge but we’re not interacting in some SIM land with purple skin avatars).

My grandfather was a farmer (sharecropper). He got up at the crack of butt every day of his life to wrestle a living out of a hundred acres of crops and two  hundred head of cattle.  Hey, there’s an idea, we’ll launch a competing social game called “Sharecropper” or “Dustbowl!”, with more realistic game play.  Sample updates would include: “Three of your fifteen children just got the bloody flux,” or “Your wife’s foot was just crushed by a plow.” Of course, this wouldn’t solve the real problem with these games (yes I realize they are hugely popular), which is how fundamentally anti-social they actually are.  The facebook platform manager posted recently about how the killer social game app has yet to be launched.  He’s right and whatever kind of game that turns out to be (that gets everyone playing) it will probably involve more real world engagement. Think Fourssquare or Groupon.  The opportunity is for what you do in the world of the game to have an “entertaining” or “meaningful” or “valuable” implication outside of the network. Kind of the Wii-fit premise.

Here’s where I’d bet my money. That the first person/organization to figure out social gaming 3.0 will either be a small fry app-style developer or a big brand (entertainment or product).  A brand could add the kind of value to the interaction that takes social gaming beyond an exchange of cartoon animals. “Rise Humans! Rise!”

UPDATE! Just watched a purposely provocative TED talk on social gaming and how it might be harnessed to address real world issues (hunger, homelessness etc.), and thought it worth an add to  this post.  At a minimum this TED talk tackles the idea of “how do we grow beyond” the sort of dumb and narcissistic type of social gameplay popular now?  Can a social game be about something bigger than just “hey look! I have a new cow!” Is her suggestion that we dramatically increase the amount of online gameplay (oooh! counterintuitive) reek of TED talk point scoring? Yep. But social gaming 2.0 is going to be about exactly this kind of linkage.

Filed under: brands, facebook, supergenius llc, Trend Spotting, Uncategorized, , , , , ,

Kid Rock

I don’t like precocious children. But what kind of joyless cynic would deny these two their props.

From the boldaslove blog:

The Bots are two brothers, Mikaiah Lei, 16, and Anaiah Lei, 12, sons of a Chinese father and an Afro-Caribbean mother.

Shout out to ’68’s Brian Tate, who sent me the link to this video.  It was forwarded to him by his guitarist, Eddie Alsina, who said in a note, “. . .they rock tha fuck out.”  Actually, The Bots performance is quite impressive, given their ages.

Their site says their sound is a combination of Punk, Ska, Rock and Reggae, and that they cite The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Rancid, Bad Brains, Led Zeppelin, The Artic Monkeys and Vampire Weekend (to name a few) as their influences.

Filed under: Cool Hunting, Music, supergenius llc, Trend Spotting

Welcome to the Paradise, “New Media” Slumdogs

 

Child Corn Picker

Child Corn Picker

 

Lost in all the hype about New Media! And The Democratization of the News! And Newspapers are Dying! Is the fact that the information phase of the information revolution we’re in right now kind of blows.

We are working harder than ever before to find cool and interesting stuff. Between Digg and StumbleUpon and Reddit and MetaFilter and Facebook and Twitter, we are the ones who vote on the news, send it to the top, and retweet the hell out of it to make sure it gets massive and unprecedented exposure. It’s a simple system, inarguable for anyone who has faith in democracy.

I no longer have faith in democracy.

Here’s the problem. I don’t want to do this much work to find stuff I want to read. For every interesting take on Google vs. Facebook, or a solid analysis of the Iranian nuclear question, there are about fifty useless posts, either lists or lols or scraped content. My Twitter feed has become a series of Burma-Shave signs, haikus leading down a road to nowhere. I may be able to read anything I want, but I’m doing all this work to find it, and by the time I get it, I’m no longer interested.

Information is out there. But we’re doing all the work.

It’s not enough to have people act as information filters: people like you have to act as filters, or else it’s just not going to satisfy. You need trusted sources with a wide range of access to information. If you just choose your friends, you’re going to end up in an echo chamber, retweeting lol posts. You need independent sources of interesting stories, told in a way that’s compelling, challenging, and informative. We used to have something like this: they were called magazines and newspapers.

That’s why this spasm of eulogizing Ye Olde Media feels a little premature. We’re not going to wake up to find a dead tree on our front doorstep anymore. But if you want trusted, analytical, valued information, you’re not going to hook into the Tehran Twitter feed and watch people misspell words. You’re going to click on the New York Times, or the Economist, or Time. For the time being, media brands still matter. They help us stop digging through veins of information, and gain perspective on what’s true.

Filed under: advertising, consumer choice, facebook, social media, supergenius llc, twitter, , , , , ,

Super Genius launches Facebook brand page and application for client lia sophia.

liasophia_AppADOur agency has just “given birth” to an official Facebook brand presence for lia sophia. Their business is largely driven by referrals and relationships, and social media tools align perfectly with how their Advisors work.  We’ve also created a photo sharing app that brings the lia sophia brand to life – by literally allowing fans to share jewelry on photos of their friends.  The photo sharing app was designed to tap into the sharing functionality Facebook provides.  With a simple call to action of “add lia sophia jewelry to your friends’ photos”, a user can select a photo from their own albums or their friends’ available albums they want to decorate with lia sophia jewelry.   Complete with cropping and rotation features, users can get their touches of jewelry just right before sharing.  Users can save the photos and post their friends’ walls which generate powerful news feeds for awareness.  The app also allows a user save an unlimited amount of images that they have created and sent to friends and any that they have received from friends.

Filed under: facebook, social media, supergenius llc, viral, , , ,

Black Dynamite: In Your Face Advertising

ebonyjetrethinkCheck out a piece we wrote for EbonyJet.com that debuted today.

RETHINK is an occasional series featuring contemporary thought on classic Ebony And Jet photos and articles.

We asked ad agency executive Mat Burnett, of Super Genius LLC in Chicago to give some modern perspective on a series of revolutionary ads done by Johnson Publishing in the late 1960s and how far (or not) ethnic advertising has come since then.

Filed under: ad agency, advertising, supergenius llc, , , , , ,

Five Questions for Zappos CEO: Tony Hsieh

Zappos CatalogTony Hsieh, CEO of online retailer Zappos.com was kind enough to debut a new feature on Black Match. Five questions for a CEO. For those under rocks, they sell shoes.

1)   What advantages for the Zappos brand come from being so accessible and  transparent across social/digital platforms?

At Zappos, our #1 priority is our company culture. Our belief is that if
we get the culture right, most of the other stuff, like delivering great
customer service or building a long term enduring brand, will happen
naturally on its own. We’ve formalized the definition of our culture into
10 core values:

Being transparent isn’t really something that’s specific to social/digital
platforms. Core value #6 is “Build Open and Honest Relationships With
Communication”… It’s just part of who we are.

2)   As a company that has famously avoided broadcast advertising in favor
of “actions” that advertise (i.e. free shipping) what was the trigger point for your recent ad campaign? How are you/will you measure success (i.e. sales only)?

We take most of the money we would have spent on paid advertising and
invest it into the customer experience instead.  However, we do spend as
much money on direct marketing as possible when it pays for itself.
Using hypothetical numbers, this means that if we spend $1 on paid
advertising, if we get back $10 in sales, then we will spend as much money
as possible as long as we continue to hit that ratio. The problem is that
there isn’t enough advertising inventory out there that meets that ratio.
What we found was that if we invest some money in offline brand
advertising such as magazine ads or TV ads, then that improves the ROI of
our online campaigns, so that altogether we are still hitting the ratio
that makes sense for us.

3)   Is there an overall strategy for your participation in digital/social media or has it come about organically?

It’s really been organic. We aren’t really about “digital/social media” (a
term which I personally dislike). We’re really just about figuring out
ways where we can best express our core values (our culture) and our
commitment to great customer service. We’ve found that Twitter has been
great for that, but so has the telephone, which is why we put our 1-800
number at the top of every page of our web site. The telephone isn’t very
newsworthy, but it’s one of our best branding devices.

4)   Has/How has the Zappos brand been challenged over the past 12 months?

I think the biggest challenge with building our brand is that Zappos is an
experiential brand. Anyone can start another web site tomorrow and make
the same claims that we do about delivering great customer service, but
it’s not until you actually purchase something from us, or call our 1-800
number, or visit our offices, that you can start to tell the difference
between another company and the Zappos brand and culture.

5)   There are obviously tricks that traditional retailers are stealing from you (I’m looking at you piperlime.com); are there dance moves you’re borrowing from traditional/brick and mortar retailers?

We really don’t focus very much on what other retailers are doing. We just
focus on what our customers and employees tell us and then try to deliver
the best customer experience possible while still meeting our financial
goals.

There are a number of interesting widgets that Zappos has in play, including this great Google/Zappos sales mash-up.

Filed under: brands, ceo, consumer choice, online advertising, recession, social media, supergenius llc, twitter, zappos, , , , , , , , , ,

Twitter is Dead, Long Live Twitter.

tweety1We are slowly dying in 140-character bursts.

Twitter has gone from a precious little idea to a respectable mini-blogging service to a massive cultural phenomenon in a little more than a year. And I think a lot of us are looking around at each other, nodding, saying, yes, this is awesome, I get it, tweet tweet birdhouse tweetdeck rt @imsohip.

I think some people have a legitimate use for Twitter: comedians, technical support, and Barack Obama. I think the rest of us are fumbling around for a way to stay relevant on it. Because Twitter suffers from the same problem blogs, podcasts, and user-generated content does: most people either have something interesting to say but can’t figure out how to tell it, or don’t have something interesting to say and disguise that fact with wry observational humor that went out of style with Seinfeld.

Here’s the great thing about Twitter: you can only communicate in 140-character bursts, so if it sucks, it’s over. Here’s the crappy thing about Twitter: we haven’t learned how to create stories on it yet. What we’re getting is fragments, little tic-tacs of information that hit us like pellets and we pretend are refreshing and informative and clever, but what we’re leaving off is: for a tweet. As in, that’s cute. For a tweet. We’re grading on a 140-character curve.

That’s why most people who sign up for Twitter don’t stick with it: there’s nothing yet there to stick to. There’s no flow there. Say what you want about Facebook, but people have learned how to tell stories with beginnings, middles, and ends. There’s a continuity. Not so on Twitter. Each tweet lives and dies like a fruit fly, leaving us not necessarily wanting more.

I’m not saying there aren’t uses for this sort of communication, but that they’re more limited than we think they are. If I am wrong — and I am never wrong — then maybe it works as a meta-communicator and tastemaker, directing your attention to bit.ly links. The Japanese are writing novels this way, but they’re not necessarily the sanest of nations, pop-culturally speaking. Pogue has decided to let others write a book for him, which is stupid, lazy and just like him. It’s nice when you have a question to pop it into the ether and get responses. And it helps to have a brand, a mission, and something worthwhile to say. Three times a day. Every day.

We’re tweeting, we follow other tweeters, so we’re biting the hand that feeds us. But it feels like the Twitter phenomenon, like billions of “Margaritas! WOO HOO!” tweets themselves, has a shelf life, until something better comes along.

Filed under: social media, supergenius llc, twitter, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,

Why We Blog

thacarterAgency blogs suck. That’s why we write one. It is a strange feeling to communicate in a medium you despise. Deep down, you despise blogs too. With rare exception, blogs do not add anything to your life. They are time-suckers. They are usually poorly written. They breed like gnats. Of these creatures, there are few things worse than the corporate blog, which are typically just glorified vehicles for press releases. Of the corporate blogs, there are few things worse than the advertising agency blog, because it has the stench of desperation. You can see someone, somewhere in the organization decided the blog had to be clever – because we’re an AD AGENCY, dammit – and so you have the obligatory twist of whimsy. But since it’s still a corporate communication, it has to go through legal, PR, IT, and some poor junior copywriter whose job it is to keep the blog from doing anything that would slander the reputation of the company. The result is inevitably unreadable. Why do we blog? I’m sure the readers of this blog are using the word ‘hypocrite’ along with their epithet of choice, and they’re probably not wrong. We might be hypocrites, or worse. We snark. We steal from popular culture. We bite the hands that feed us. We link to the sites that pique our interest and occasionally offer meta-commentary. We post opinions as fact. We have an alarmingly high opinion of ourselves. We lie to ourselves while pretending to be brutally honest. We’re maddeningly inconsistent. None of which you’ll find on a typical agency blog, except for the alarmingly high self-regard. If these were other times in history, we’d streak, or skywrite, or perform magic tricks. We’d paint, drink absinthe, and become expatriates. In some eras, we’d be hailed as prophets, in others, heretics. But this is 2009. And that is why we blog.

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

The Enduring Mythology of the “Name” Advertising Agency

death of the dinosaursThe Enduring Mythology of the “Name” Advertising Agency

Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM. That’s the story. IBM was such an industry standard, and so widely perceived as being the best in the business, that no one could impugn you for making a decision based on that name alone.

Well, we all know that was a load of horse crap. Plenty of people got fired for buying IBM; IBM just had them quietly killed to preserve their word-of-mouth. But the temptation to buy something large, well-regarded, and safe is still with us. It’s how most of us buy (or bought, and will again) houses, cars, investment funds.

Oh, and by the way, advertising agencies.

That’s the funny part of this business. Agencies stake their name on their early campaigns that create edgy, breakthrough, back-of-a-napkin, two-guys-in-their-wetsuits campaigns that change a category and instantly make a name for themselves. Then those agencies get noticed, and get more business than the two guys in their wetsuits can handle. They get big. They hire people. They hire people to manage those people. And every level they add puts them further and further away from the ideas that made them great in the first place.

Here’s the ugly truth: big agencies get out of the idea business. They get into the selling-the-idea business. They stop feeling the idea and start thinking it to death. That’s why with every idea, you get a ream of paper explaining why the idea is not only good, it is also right. And they create an entire bureaucratic structure of planners, account service, creative and media to sell the idea to you, so you can sell it to your boss. Because nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.

Everyone who works at Super-Genius has worked at a big agency. We’ve made the sausage. We know what goes into one. And we were once seduced by the big names, too. We get it.

But we wanted to talk ideas without asking the admin assistant to schedule a pre-brief meeting in the staff room. We wanted to pick up the phone and talk to you. We wanted to be closer to the work and farther away from the smoke and mirrors we use to sell you the work.

Who knows? We might hire a bunch of people and sell out to Omnicom tomorrow.

But today? You’ve got two guys in wetsuits. Anything is possible.

Filed under: ad agency, advertising, brands, supergenius llc, , , , , ,

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

Super Genius Tweets

SuperGenius LLC Flickr Photos

That guy

Plain White Ts

OAR

More Photos

Blog Stats

  • 6,260 hits
smt_blogger
sglogo1
Marketing Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
Add to Technorati Favorites