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

Super Genius’ car rescue TV reality series bows Aug. 1(ReelChicago)

 

Bruno Massel gives an update on Garage Squad.

Bruno Massel gives an update on Garage Squad.

Super Genius’s all-Chicago produced reality series, “Garage Squad,” devoted to helping gearheads restore their cherished vintage vehicles, will premiere Friday, Aug. 1, on Velocity, a supercharged Discovery Channel entirely devoted to all things automotive. Velocity deems “Garage Squad” so good that it’s part of Velocity’s current Dream Car Week’s 14 hours of programming focusing on the most unique, beautiful and exotic vehicles.   The half-hour, 10-episode series was developed and produced at Velocity’s request by eight-year old Super Genius, a hybrid advertising/entertainment shop. The partners, co-managers Bill Connell and Mat Burnett – EPs on the series — and ECD Craig Motlong are former long-time Leo Burnett executives. “We’ve had a relationship with Velocity for several years, when we turned a turned a brand initiative into a series, called ‘One of a Kind’ for the network.  It’s about the early design and production of custom cars,” Connell says. (continue reading at ReelChicago).

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Filed under: ad agency, advertising, super genius inc., TV Production, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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, , , , , , , ,

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, , , ,

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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