Sunday, February 22, 2009

8 big brand entertainment initiatives in 2009. And it's only February.

Despite the doom and gloom, it’s going to be a defining year for brand entertainment.

Here’s a quick look at some of the initiatives that have already emerged in 2009.

1.The Tmobile Dance
In January, over 350 dancers converged on Liverpool Street station to performed an inspiring routine for surprised morning commuters. The 3 minute
piece from their Life's for Sharing campaign, was filmed using hidden cameras so as to capture spontaneous reaction of commuters.

Not only did the ad go to air on TV within 48 hours of filming, it went around the globe. Commentators were divided on whether flashmobbing still has legs,
but did the ad seemed to strike a chord with punters? The video has attracted 4.6million+ Youtube views and stirred up

lots of chat and PR. On February 7 police had to close the station when flashmob of 13,000 turned up to recreate the Dance after responding to a T-mobile callout via Facebook. As to sales or any other measures, looking forward to hearing more.

2.Rexona's Greatest Athlete

Greatest Athlete pits eight of Australia’s highest profile athletes against each other in a “gruelling test of their physical prowess and mental toughness.” The platform revolves around an eight part television series on Network Nine, that leverages both Rexona’s performance credentials and its sporting ambassadors.

Some brands have previously made the mistake of throwing everything into production at the expense of a broader content marketing effort. There is a kind of 'holy grail' attributed to the creation of a television show. In this case, Rexona have focused on building an entertainment platform, which evolves across a number of channels. It's a lot more than a TV show. You can watch all the episodes here online.

3.Cadbury Eyebrows
The latest effort from
A Glass and a Half Productions has received largely positive reviews from some unlikely sources and more than 4 million views. Cadbury Eyebrows starts with two ten year olds waiting to be shot for the family portrait. When backs are turned, the children cut a range of eyebrow dance moves to the sound of 'Don't Stop the Rock' by electro-funk superstar, Freestyle. On the back of its success, Orange and Cadbury have teamed up to launch the ringtone (downloaded 125,000 times in the first 11 days).

Is it an ad? Is it brand entertainment? I reckon it's both, but most importantly, it’s about the surprise and childlike joy that defines the Cadbury chocolate experience.

4.Gatorade and the Quest for G
This one is a little more puzzling – it’s the latest TBWA campaign for Gatorade and it can only be described as 'a take off of a take off'. Its starting point is
Monty Python and the Holy Grail and it’s layered with references designed to appeal to the die hard fan. Produced to coincide with the NBA All Stars Game, it launched with short spot during the Superbowl - the full series can be viewed Youtube. When you work this one out, can you let me know?

5. Nintendo and the Wiinoma

In January, Nintendo announced the launch of Wiinoma, a dedicated Japanese broadcast TV channel. An internet connection is all Japanese Wii owners need to access original Nintendo produced content - from cartoons to cookery (hmmm not sure about that last one). There are plans for world expansion, potentially opening up 18+ million living rooms around the world. While Nintendo says the channel will "see it make the critical shift towards content-based revenues", it's really based on a traditional advertising model (Dentsu will produce the programs and sell the ads). Still, it's an exciting development - a heady mix of old and new that should make TV networks sit up.

6. King Gee Jack of all Trades
I wrote about Jack of all Trades in January this year, when the third series debuted on Network Nine with over 1 million viewers (thanks to its scheduling in the cricket). It's an entertainment platform model (similar to Rexona's Greatest Athlete) that aims to uncover Australia's greatest tradie. The fact it's in its third series is testament to its appeal to brands and audiences. Not bad.

7. Audi's Truth in 24
In March, ESPN will air a documentary called Truth in 24. The
production follows an Audi team's pursuit of victory at the infamous Le Mans race. The brand reportedly took a hands off approach to it's involvement in the film and there was no guarantee Audi would come out triumphant (still with 8 victories in 9 years, it probably had a pretty good chance).

Marketing Managers take note:

“There was an element of uncertainty with this film from the outset,” said Scott Keogh, Audi of America’s chief marketing officer. “But we wanted to honestly depict the drama, the triumphs and the setbacks of Le Mans racing and spirit of motorsports that is woven into Audi’s DNA. To accomplish that it was essential to let the outstanding storytellers at NFL Films do their jobs without interference and with unprecedented behind-the-scenes access before, during and after the races they filmed.” (Yep, especially of that last sentence)

8. Cheetos and Boing Boing
This is a good example of why a) partnerships make sense and b) it doesn't have to be complicated. Boing Boing have a big audience. And they have lots of sway due to their ridiculous level of credibility. Cheetos pays Boing Boing to create a video series they know will appeal to their hard-to-please-marketing-savvy-fickle-as-all-hell audience. And they take over advertising for the month. Boing Boing make some cool Cheetos content, tell people about it (and that Cheetos slipped them some cash) and Boing Boing, or should I say ker-ching ker-ching.

Got a campaign you think is worthy of inclusion? Let me know

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Two interesting reads: crowdsourcing and spreadable media

Here's two things I've been thinking a lot about over the last week or two.

First, Neil Perkin's 'crowdsourcing' project. Neil put a call out for people to contribute slides to a presentation on the subject of community. With the addition of bookends and a few tweaks, he 'sourced' a surprisingly cohesive, smart and by its very nature, authentic presentation, and I'm totally enamoured with the idea.

In a funny way, one of Neil's observations about entertainment sums up the whole presentation - quite simply it's more fun if it's shared.

The second is Henry Jenkins' eight part spreadable media serialisation entitled If it doesn't spread, it's dead.

I've only just started reading, but so far it's an interesting look at the concepts of memes and viral media, and the weaknesses of biological metaphors. It suggests that a theoretical emphasis on self replication comes at the expense of understanding the way ideas are transformed 'as they pass from hand to hand'.


Monday, February 16, 2009

How can brands stand out in the music space?

When it comes to brands, music is one hell of a crowded marketplace.

The two Cs - clutter and credibility - means that brands really need a reason to be in this space. They need to be involve audiences in the right way and genuinely enhance the music experience for the people that matter - fans and audiences. Otherwise there just ain't room.

Bands like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails understand this, but it's a more difficult thing for brands to differentiate themselves in this way.

My colleague Brett pointed this one out to me. Nokia's involvement in the Good Vibrations music festival is a good example of a brand doing smart things in music. Especially in a festival environment where signage, promo girls and water pistols are the norm.

Reason to be there
You could send an SMS and download the Nokia mobile festival guide with chances to win freebies, VIP passes (worth it for the loos), Nokia Comes With Music phones, and most importantly, the festival map and program. You know that bit of scrunched up soaked paper that you keep losing throughout the day, forcing you to talk to strangers and search underneath empty beer cans in the dark?

Genuinely enhance the experience
Nokia provided free WiFi access across the festival (apparently this was a little on the dodgy side).

Involve the audience
Nokia set up a Mobile ‘portal’ (available through WiFi) that provided info about the day and let you rate your favourite acts (good idea not to make it too hard). And if you enjoyed the music, they plan on loading up the top picks on a Best of Good Vibrations playlist available on the Nokia Music Store after the event.

What's your favourite brand in music example?

Friday, February 13, 2009

When is an ad just an ad?

Yesterday a creative director said to me "an ad is really branded content, in this case it just happens to be 3 minutes long".

Um no.

It's not.

Well at least not always.

No doubt I'll be accused of getting caught up in semantics here, but client discussions often hover around the role of content in a marketing strategy, and a brand's place within the content (checkout my previous post on 'planning your brand entertainment experiment'). 

And we often find ourselves having to defend the entertainment or interest value of something from a well meaning client wearing an advertising straitjacket.

I'm the first to admit there are no rules.

Is Cadbury Eyebrows an ad? Yes. Is it branded content? Yes.

Is Rexona's Greatest Athlete an ad? No. Is it branded content? Yes. Is it an advertising platform? Yes. 

But is retailer Harvey Norman's latest TV effort flogging flat screens an ad? Yes. Is it branded content? No.

As Rohit Bhargava writes in his post on how to create a content marketing strategy, it has to be about more than you.

"This is not a sales pitch. It needs to be useful and offer more context beyond just how great your product/service is."

Cadbury Eyebrows is about the childlike delight inherent in the brand experience. 

Greatest Athlete is an entertainment platform that leverages Rexona's performance credentials and sporting ambassadors.

What about you, what are you offering?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Marketers know a lot more about audiences than television programmers

Today's article in The Australian about the networks accusing each other of copycat behaviour strikes me as old news.

I've said this before, but brand owners know a hell of a lot more about audiences than television networks. 

I've got an idea, why don't they work together? 

Let's call it brand entertainment.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

7 things you didn't know about me

Dirk and Julian have tagged me in their game of hide and reveal - otherwise known as '7 things you didn't know about me'. 

So I thought I'd better fess up. And then I'll get back to business.

1. My mum was the deputy head mistress at my high school
That's right, she didn't just drop me off on the first day she also marched on up to her office. I spent the first few weeks attempting to appear unfazed and defiantly cool while secretly dying of embarrassment. She was formidable but fair. I certainly didn't get away with much. Mum was adventurous, curious, strongwilled and a woman of firm opinions. She was also an excellent teacher. She died a few years ago.

2. This is my second attempt at a blog
The first was called Lipstick Diaries - musings on the lesbian dating scene. It lasted about two weeks. I shut it down because it was searingly dull. I was bored even writing it. 

3. Well I guess that was really two things you didn't know about me

4. I grew up a queen of extra curricular activities
At one time or another I did classical ballet, jazz ballet, physical culture, scottish highland dancing, singing lessons, speech and drama, amateur theatre, acting classes, basketball, netball, orchestra, choir, horseriding lessons, swimming lessons, tennis lessons, clarinet lessons, piano lessons and hockey. It's scarred me with a short attention span and an appreciation for new projects. 

5. In 2008 I had my favourite ever holiday
Africa. It was wild. I visited a good friend in Sudan who also accidentally booked us on a five star safari in Tanzania (we thought we were camping). I went white water rafting in Uganda and stayed in a fancy tent on the Nile. And I met and went away with a fabulous local guy in the magical place that is Zanzibar. It was a holiday of contrasts - poverty and comfort, being alone and in company. And it was incredible.

6. I love to dress up
At my new years day night soiree I busted out 11 different outfits. But even more impressive, I debuted one fabulous pair of shoes that worked with every ensemble. 

7. In 2007 I completed the Sydney Leadership program
This is a year long experiential social leadership program run by The Benevolent Society and Social Leadership Australia. It was a very challenging, personally confronting and rewarding experience and I recommend it. I was lucky enough to meet some very smart and interesting people, and get acquainted with thinkers like Adam Kahane and Dean Williams. It completely changed my ideas about leadership and I wrote this little post over at The Flasher about it a while back.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The days of writing about the death of the TVC are numbered

'The days of the TVC are numbered'.

I thought I'd post my 'for' argument that appears in today's copy of B&T magazine.

It's (cough cough) a topic that has been written about a few times before but it still seems to provoke discussion.

I hope you find it entertaining if nothing else.

Damn, how did I end up on the unwinnable side of the debate?

I’m sitting here snatching some time during the ad breaks and racking my brain for that elusive first argument.

I’m watching Mad Men series 2. I saw the first on DVD and my brother keeps promising to download the second for me so I can watch it all in one go but it never seems to materialise (hey if you haven’t checked out Mad Men on Twitter, you must, I’m following nearly all the characters).

Anyway, I just can’t see TV commercials going anywhere fast. I mean ad breaks give me time to shuffle off to the kitchen, and trawl about on the net which I seem to be doing a lot more of lately. And I can flick around and watch a few things at once which is useful with the amount of crap on.

So... still thinking. This is hard.

I just put out a call on Twitter for some food for thought on the topic. People responded with comments about participatory culture, ‘conversation’, the amount of entertainment choices available and blah blah blah.

OK sure I agree our entertainment consumption is becoming more social with video sharing sites and gaming and stuff, but I’ll often have a good chat in front of the TV...especially when the ads are on. There’s plenty of so called ‘conversation’ happening there so take that digital boffins.

Back to the task.

I guess there’s the ‘interruption’ argument that people often tout.

You know, like a TVC is the equivalent of someone you don’t know (or even like that much) yelling at you about something you have no interest in? Look sometimes it takes a lot to get someone’s attention and shouting loudly and waving can help.

I don’t think that’s it.

And I mean, if I’m finding the ads to be an interruption I can always just switch off or jump online and go do something else. It’s not like I HAVE to sit through them is it?

And if it’s a brand or product that really interests me, I can find stuff for myself. Like a few of my friends have PVRs now and we’ve been chatting about them online and swapping ATR tips (appointment to record). One of them sent me a Nielsen stat from the New York Times recently noting over half the audiences for US prime time shows like Greys are now watching via delayed viewing.

Show’s back. Maybe an idea will come to me in the next break.

*Image from Nataliedee