Thursday, July 26, 2007

Cannes [isn't just] for Creatives

I just had my inaugural Cannes Lions experience. The Cannes Lions festival is widely known as being a “creative” awards show. But once I was there, I found it to be a melting pot of not only creatives, but of planners, account directors, developers – and clients.

As I walked the seemingly endless sea of blue walls, sat through seminars and workshops, and analyzed the accolades, there were several things that struck me. It’s not just the way we work that’s evolved. It’s the way we think. The way we talk. The way we generate ideas. Our audience has changed. As marketers, we should no longer be talking at consumers. They are empowered. They decide how and if they want us in their lives. “Integration” has taken on an entirely new dimension.

In the past, integration has been about how well different elements of a campaign work together. Does the online look and feel similar to the offline? The old school model of integration was made up of a pretty cut and paste media mix too: TV, print, website, banner and email. Today, it includes a much wider set of deliverables. Advertising is in places that are new and different (and even immersive enough to not feel like advertising). Today’s media mix can be enormously diverse, depending on your idea. One example is the Titanium Grand Prix awarded to Crispin Porter + Bogusky for Burger King for developing a series of video games for the Xbox 360 where users are actually immersing themselves into the world of “The King” and paying for it.

“ Titanium stands for breakthrough ideas. It might be a brand new idea, or it might use an existing idea in a brand new way. ” – Alex Bogusky

In order to reach “the people” we have to speak their language, interact with them and give them meaningful experiences. Integrated is now defined as how well a campaign utilizes these different mediums to tell a story. It’s about context. Where you are and what you’re doing makes all the difference. These mediums don’t just coexist harmoniously, they feed off each other in order to form a collective whole.

The industry trends we face as marketers and brands were evident at the festival. The Titanium & Integrated category received a 60% increase in entries. The Cyber Lions and Media categories also contributed to the overall growth of entries this year. As a creative director, I looked at their work and asked myself, “How did they do this?” Unique use of media is quickly becoming a creative solution. Our Samsung Shout-Out campaign, which short-listed in the Media category at Cannes, used online elements working synergistically with in-stadium placements. Winners in this category included ambient, outdoor, direct, mobile and cinema (and when I say cinema, I mean that the product plays a lead in the movie itself – not just as a placement or cinema spots).

One might say the only thing that limits us is our own imagination. The truth is, it also depends on the people required to help turn a great idea into reality.

Today’s marketing mix brings big ideas into emerging and ambient media spaces such as online widgets and customized outdoor, guerrilla and events.

I looked at work through this filter while at Cannes. As a creative director, I not only have to believe in my team’s ideas and visions, but inspire others to want them just as badly. Samsung Shout-Out was one of these challenges. It was a challenge to pull together and pull it off. I think short-listing at Cannes makes it all worth it. I came back with a new attitude about believing in ideas and how important it is that others around me do the same.

The Cannes Lions festival is a must-see for anyone in the business at least once in his or her career. It will challenge you, it will educate you and it will inspire you. I’m considering spending the weekend doing some COOK uploads to make sure I get to go back next year.

Quenching My Virtual Thirst

My entry into Coke’s Virtual Thirst competition has been selected as the winning entry! WOOT! I got the call from Coca-Cola on Tuesday – and I’m flying out to San Francisco on July 31st to begin work on the project with Millions of Us. Since Coke hasn’t posted the idea anywhere publicly yet, I’m gonna hold off letting the cat out of the bag for a little while. This is a really exciting opportunity for me as a creative, a marketer, and as a Second Life resident. I think my idea is one that will contribute to the SL environment in a relevant and fun way. I’ll keep you posted...

Here’s the announcement from Coke on the Virtual Thirst Blog.

For more info on the competition, visit Coca-Cola’s virtual Thirst site.

MoU: Emerie is just gonna hang out here till you're ready to get started ;-)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Consumer Generated Advertising Revenue

Well, we knew it was coming. UGC has pretty much taken over the web. Up until now, they were doing it for fun, and not getting paid for it. That’s about to change. The new generation of content creators will also be advertisers – or at least conduits to it.

Online Advertisers years ago started programs where users could embed banners into their websites, and users would get discounts based on the traffic they sent to sites, such as Amazon. Well, lets step that up a notch. Google is now paying users to serve relevant ads. See those ads on this blog under “ADS BY GOOGLE” - bottom of right column? I get paid based on click thrus. OK, well, we all know I’m not driving major traffic here, but that’s not the point. What if users could capitalize on views of their own content? Imagine users who get a million views of their content on YouTube – right now that user doesn’t benefit from any of the advertising on that page.

Here’s an example: a new site, currently in beta, called LiveRail is throwing their hat in the ring. They host video (in high-quality, fast loading, flash format), same as YouTube. They allow you to use an embed code to embed the video on your own site, same as YouTube. There are 2 big differences between LiveRail and YouTube. The first is that the videos appear only where the viewer places them – allowing them to maintain control of ownership. I think this will be an area of contention for some. The second, and key differentiator is this: The embed code includes relevant ad placements below. The ads, when clicked, stop the video and show brief content by advertisers. When finished, it resumes the content that was being watched. The creator of the content gets paid for each view.
Check out the LiveRail beta here.

Friday, July 6, 2007

My Wired: 1 of 5,000

When I first started this blog, I mentioned Wired's co-promotion with Xerox aimed at current subscribers. In the first 4 days, Wired received 11,000 submissions. Only the first 5,000 "appropriate" submissions were printed. I'm glad Emerie made it in. I've never anticipated the arrival of my Wired mag as much as I did this month.

The customized Wired covers are actually created using a Xerox iGen3 110 Digital Production Press (and the company's newly acquired XMPie PersonalEffect software). The press itself looks like the biggest copy machine I have ever seen. This could be the beginning of personalization on a much deeper level than just magazine covers. Imagine if your entire Wired issue were customized based on your preferences. OK, OK... maybe that won't be happening right away. But look at reality TV, and the new model for social networking and user created content on the web. It didn't take long for big sites to adopt personalized versions of their sites for readers and even starting charging for online subscriptions. I personally can't wait to see where this goes next.

Check out the Xerox iGen3 110 Digital Production Press here (just trying to help boost your ROI guys!)

How hard is it to win a Lion?

It's damn hard. My recent trip to Cannes for the 2007 Lions gave me a hard dose of reality. The Lions are a collection of pure creative genius. It was a week of yummy brain candy (with a chaser of gutter bar of course).

When we were short-listed in the media category for our NFL project, I was estatic. OK, so it's not a cyber-lion, but a lion is a lion, no???

The work I saw at Cannes was a mixed bowl of insights, strategy, creative and media... served up fresh. NOT various pieces of creative that look and feel alike. It's how they work together to form a collective whole. In terms of our NFL project - maybe we weren't worthy (if we were, I'd have a shiny lion on my desk rather than this stinkin' souvenir mouse-pad). But being shortlisted is still a big deal, right?

Well, this got the left side of my brain going (since the right side is currently full). I decided to do a little digging into the odds. Of the 25,660 entries received for the 2007 Lions, only 2,812 were shortlisted - and 795 Lions awarded (not including agency of the year and young creative awards). 169 Gold. Check out the numbers (these are not official numbers by the way... Tom Eslinger, if you're reading this, I would be HAPPY to update my info *wink*):