BLACK MATCH

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

DUMB WORDS! BANNED WORDS & PHRASES 2010

 

Her words are witchcraft and heresy. The very tools of the Devil!

 

Although by no means exact, rough web based estimates of the number of words in the English language put the total at somewhere between 750,000 and 1 million.  By any civilized standard this is too many! A million words! That has the sulfuric stench of the devil.  Here at super genius we’d wager that at least 40% of that is pure waste, and we’d like to do our part to cut that waste. On the heels of the infamous memo put out by Tribune CEO Randy Michaels (a memo we support by the way); we’ve decided to begin publishing our own list of words we’re banning in 2010 and invite crowdsourced (uh oh! spoiler alert on that one!) additions.  Now, a millions words is a lot for us to go through so as THE BANNENING continues and we add new words we’ll publish them in our twitter feed (there’s another one!) under #dumbwords. The real goal here, is to avoid using words that make you sound like a jargon drunk simpleton. By not using these words you enhance your reputation as a human being. And so:

BRAND PROMISE (yes we know, two words, but it’s combination that kills)

CROWDSOURCE (CROWDSOURCED)

TWEET

THE “CLOUD”

VAMPIRE

ALCOPOP (this was actually on the 2007 list but we didn’t publish that year)

BLOG (the term micro-blog has been added to our 2011 watchlist)

SOCCER

AKIMBO

Additional words will be published via the 140 character service known as Twitter under the hash #dumbwords. If you have words to add to the list please do the same. Cheers!

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Filed under: advertising, Bad Ads, Self Help, skateboarding cats, Uncategorized, Vampires, , , , , , ,

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, , , , , ,

DEEP BLUE BRANDING

Or what can Avatar tell us about effective advertising?

1)   Don’t Suck.

 Seems obvious, and it is, but this rule is broken all the time.  Let’s just start from a place of doing something well. Mmm’kay! It’s a good life lesson really not just for an Avatar listicle.  Hey, if you say you’re going to re-invent film-making then you need to actually go ahead and re-invent film-making.  Box. Checked.

 2)   I.T.S.S.  (It’s the story stupid)

 Yeah, bad acronym, but the point is that people still care about a simple story well told.  We can quibble over a few things (dialogue?) here and there but Avatar is your classic hero’s journey, your basic quest and growth story.  And you know what? People love that! They still do…maybe they just needed to see it with fresh eyes.  The authenticity of that simple Aristotelian good/bad, 3 act, sword in the stone story still sings with audiences.

 3)   Immersive story-telling equals Brand Immersion

 “This 3D stuff is gold, Jerry! Its gold!” Used to be that a great performance was enough to suck you so deeply into the story you didn’t want to leave.  Or the writing was so vivid and provocative you couldn’t put the book down.  Looks like Cameron has raised the bar just a wee bit in that regard.  Lots of online buzz about Avatars viewers who have sunk into depression because they can’t actually “live” in the world of Avatar.  The sense memory of that world (Pandora) is so real you desperately want to return.  Could the same soon be said of a branded experience? Well…its just content.  Well crafted content with a story people care about (see above).  So, you might laugh at world centered around Tide w/Bleach but if the story and the brand come together to create something really experiential people will pay attention.

Think about it this way, Avatar is essentially a 2.5 hour commercial for Greenpeace and people walk out “loving it.”

 4)   Community. Community. Community.

 We might be sick of hearing about brand communities. But damned if it doesn’t still work.  When passions are ignited people come together if whatever forums are available to discuss and extend and deepen their relationship with that “idea” or “story” or “product.”  Why does creating an outlet for brand communities still work? Essentially because its not a gimmick. It certainly can be in the wrong hands but if you make something good (see rule #1) and then provide clever and provocative ways for folks to share about that good thing connections are going to happen.  People will find a way to do it themselves (I’m sure there are Avatar meet-ups happening) so you might as well benefit from it in some way.

 5)   Three D – Schmeee D.

The technology is just the tool. The Idea is the Engine.  Cameron had apparently been dreaming about the idea of this world and this story for years. And then developed the technology to bring it to life.  This is the proper order of things, not “hey, what do I do with this cool 3D camera?” You start at the molecular level with a creative idea that’s powerful and then realize it in the best way possible.

Filed under: advertising, avatar, brands, consumer choice, online advertising, social media

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, , , , , ,

Planes, trains & advertising: The John Hughes School of Craft

weirdscienceJohn Hughes means a lot to everyone who grew up on his films. But if you’re from Chicago, he means a little bit more.

John Hughes reinvented Chicago. The suburbs around Chicago are fine, safe places to grow up, but they lack anything in the way of personality. When Hughes introduced us to the good people of Shermer, Illinois, teenagers of the greater Chicagoland area took a collective gasp. Here was someone who understood the mind-numbing sameness, the bland days that rolled into each other, the long flat streets that never went anywhere no matter how long you walked. No one saw cinema in this but him.

What Hughes did was to take Chicago and make it universal. For a stretch of the 1980’s, Shermer stood in for everything that was right and wrong about growing up in America. The trapped claustrophobia of The Breakfast Club. The giddy feeling of freedom from tedium in Ferris Beuller’s Day Off. The geeky, insular, Dungeons-and-Dragons-in-the-basement world of Weird Science. These were more than iconic moments in film. These were our lives. No matter how universal the themes of his films, there was still something in them that was uniquely, relentlessly Chicago.

Hughes did all of this, of course, after putting in his time working at Leo Burnett and busting out of there to do great things. As former Burnetters ourselves, we know the talent that flows through that place, and the heights to which our former colleagues have and will soar. Hughes was special. And if we can create a small echo of his work here at Super-Genius by overturning old stories and making them feel relevant, fresh, and universal — by making our own Shermer, so to speak — then we have accomplished a great, true thing.

Hughes made a generation of Chicagoans proud of who we were. For that and a million other reasons, we are grateful. Because life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Filed under: advertising, , ,

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, , , ,

Kids on the Future of TV

Filed under: advertising, , , , ,

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, , , , , , , , , ,

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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