August 28, 2006

late night thoughts and responsibility in advertising

When I compose my entries into this blog I try to evoke emotion and thought, I am not looking to solve anything specific, rather open up a forum to study it. I once wrote an essay about the Super Bowl and the ads geared towards the beer guzzling folk who are probably the majority watching the big game. As a Producer in the advertising industry I feel that by adding to the persona of the “beer guzzler” by giving him commercials that further ruin his view on women, sex, responsibility and the environment is a crime and that if we know that the "element' watching the game does tend to allow their views to be dictated by the ads and the content they watch so intensely perhaps we have a responsibility to at least try and guide those views in the right direction. Having this country fall to the wayside because we want to sell more beer and we are willing to degrade women and the environment to do it is simply wrong. Advertising is a responsibility and by misguiding the consumer public with fantasies that distort real relationships on many levels is deadly. Why not sell beer by showing that an intelligent, responsible and hard working man can come home or go to a bar and relax with a cold icy one? Get where im going with this? Why go down to a person’s lowest level when you can raise them by getting them to associate themselves and the products they buy in a positive way.

Its so easy to throw a naked woman on the screen and say BUY THIS there is no challenge there, try doing it in a positive way, that’s where the real success is...

August 24, 2006

Small Agency Response numero deuce

Why does a definition on Wikipedia need to necessarily define an age old industry? Sure we all need the safe definitions of things in order to put them into their place when things get chaotic but when things are not chaotic are we really willing to break away from those safe definitions and color out side of those lines you speak of?

Agencies have a hard enough time producing creative work in general, how many campaigns end up being timeless? Now they are expected to deliver media technologies as well? Smaller interactive agencies have been doing this for years now; we have been innovating new ideas for launching all kinds of brand messages. Minisites, rich media banners, environmental installations, unique kiosks, online games, viral techniques, uploading, downloading, cross loading and more! Agencies are having a hard enough time keeping up in general when it comes to the web. Web 2.0 is all of the things I mentioned above and more, it requires breaking many of the rules that have been established in the Ad Biz and redefining what works and what doesn't and requires going completely against conventional wisdom.

It seems to me that the point isn't are agencies willing to invest in new platforms, because its simply not their core competency, the question is are they now willing to play second fiddle to companies that are creating new platforms. Old habits are hard to break and the agencies have been holding on to the corporate reigns for a long time now, they manage the accounts, come up with the ideas and distribute the money but perhaps that role is now being reduced because of the overwhelming emergence of technology that smaller and younger companies have a better grasp on.

Rather than buying up these smaller companies and driving them into the ground by making them adhere to old rules, why not just play nice and let the experts do their jobs in the environments that suit them best (smaller interactive firms) and let them drive the campaigns. Ideas thrive in smaller open environments and when the stresses of the corporate world take over then the ideas suffer, creating new platforms and ideas requires breathing room and coloring outside the lines and that means that new lines can't be drawn once the color is in place, you cant assume that an agency is ripe to now become a technology firm just because it has the money to do so, sometimes it takes adversity and struggle of being small in order for great ideas to emerge. –Craig Elimeliah, new york, NY

August 22, 2006

We Are Back!

It’s not like we actually went anywhere but we are back and we are better than ever. Who are we? I will tell you who we are, we are every kid that got laid off in the late 90’s and early new millennium, we are every guy and girl who was accused of over hyping the web and forcing the economy to plummet and we are the believers that never for a second lost faith in the web. We are older, a bit more mature a lot more experienced and wanted more than ever for our abilities to innovate and understand a web that has quietly healed from its prepubescent awkwardness into a powerful and healthy medium.

Once known for our fickle work habits and our lack of commitment to any one company, for our distractions and our toy collections at work, for our inability to conform to company policies and dress codes, and most of all our over inflated expectations for the virtual world we live in day in and day out. We are a group of people who are fueled by the infinite possibilities of the web and would be doing what we do at work at home for free anyway. We develop web applications, graphics, utilities, code, and games. We innovate new ideas and work out difficult problems facing user experience, interface and environments. We make the web usable for all. We soak up the internet like sponges and know exactly what is out there and what is still needed. We are the ex-girlfriend who was dumped because we caused too much drama and now that we have grown up and into our bodies we are lusted after more than ever.

Ok enough of the dramatics I think I got my point across.

We are entering a new age, an age when the business world is on their hands and knees to reconcile the relationship that was broken up at the turn of the century’s dot com bust. Everyone agrees that the web is here to stay and that it has proven itself to be one of the most powerful communication platforms known to mankind. Not everyone fully understands its depth but the select few that do are now in high demand by every corporation out there. What changed? Initially the web promised the world automation, it promised instant access to information and services that was never before made available, and it offered globalization and community on such a precise level that most people didn’t know what to do with it when it was first introduced. The financial world was not mistaken when they poured billions in venture capital into the pockets of young developers with bright ideas and those young developers were not selling empty promises either. Every marriage has a period of time when the young couple must acclimate itself to one another, us youngsters back then weren’t ready to handle the fame and fortune being served to us on a silver platter and those financial folks didn’t realize how drastically different we lived our lives.

Sure there were many young companies who blew every dime of venture capital on stupid promotional events, ridiculous office spaces and all kinds of other nerdy things, salaries were so over the top and stock options were given out like candy. Mistakes were made and times were fast but then again every revolution needs a period where chaos rules, we had the depression, the wild west, the new world, all throughout history whenever massive change took place there was always some economic precariousness. What started in the mid nineties was no different and looking back I don’t think it could have happened any other way. There is a certain feeling of accomplishment when a new innovative technology changes the world, throws it into disarray and then shortly after it all works itself out and we are all much better off because of it.

So now we are back in business, we have quietly licked our wounds and recovered from being banished from the business elite and are now once again desperately needed in order to innovate and make the most of this ever growing World Wide Web. We are a bit older, a bit more grounded and definitely more cautious with our roles as keepers of the web. There will be no more extravagant toys and offices, no more stock options and definitely no more empty IPOs. Flash and other web technologies have trained us to deliver our ideas in a more powerful and robust way, we can now roll out websites that not only live on the web but are the interface for the world. As the chosen people to guard the vast channels of information and to create conduits for delivering the information we must now assume our roles and take our place amongst the elite as the guards of the information super highway.

August 15, 2006

My response to Getting a Grip...

Noelle Weaver write a very interesting post on her Small Agency Diary Blog she entitled it Coming to Grips in the Advertising World. Although I think this is a great title I think that she didnt even scratch the surface of what should have been written based on the title. Shame. I responded with some emotions and ideas that I had, here goes...

This post is appropriately titled “Coming to Grips” because that is exactly what is going on in the advertising world. People are now having to come to grips with the fact that the media convergence is taking place faster than most people can make any sense of it, it puts many of the “numbers” people in a very precarious position because in this transition period they are forced to put their faith in places that they may not be so comfortable with. Interactive agencies are seen as the New Kids on the Block, the new jacks who are trampling all over ad world and stealing the glory away from the prestige of TV, radio and print.

The convergence of media is an example for us all to follow suit and converge ideas, practices and abilities and to try our best by marrying the old and the new. The only way we are going to get a grip on this thing is if we all respect and appreciate each very important role we all play in this very fast evolution that our industry is going through. I especially liked what Noelle said about knowing our audiences intimately, the web is a portal, people date on the web, buy food on the web and even have sex on the web, how much more intimate can we get with our audiences than the web?

When I think about all of the issues being brought up in this blog and I look at what the web and interactive offers us as far as metrics, intimacy, results and the impact of the media itself it is quite clear that we can find most our solutions by embracing the web and accepting it as a major ad platform. Growth is painful and transitions can be awkward but when emotions and fears get involved with decisions and obvious choices, clients rely on agencies to be their eyes and ears, but when the eyes are shut to the obvious because the obvious forces change then it’s the clients who get burned and the industry as a whole suffers.

I think it is now our job to funnel the massive expansiveness of the web and its abilities into real solutions for our clients and to harness the power interactive presents to us as far as delivering the numbers, the results and the expectations of our clientele.

August 11, 2006

Defending the Web

I feel like I constantly have to defend the web, almost like a preacher defending a religion. I have been defending it since the mid 90s when I had to explain to my clients that the web isn’t going anywhere, that it wont go down and that it hold endless possibilities for creative messaging.

Here is a comment I recently made to add to my list of defensives…

Once again I feel the need to comment in the name of Interactive. We keep asking ourselves these questions of how sticky something is but it seems like an exercise in futility. Who can predict the fickle habits of the public? The web can! We know where people are going, where they came from and how long they stayed, we know what they looked at and what they clicked on and as Interactive evolves more and more into the top spot as the anchor of a campaign we can come up with more creative ways to market. For example, an interactive agency can potentially create two or three campaigns at once, if something isn’t working or need adjustment it could potentially be tweaked on the fly. The level of control is limitless. Agencies need to understand and embrace the flexibility of the medium to be able to feel out and test the public reactions as they change. The web is a dynamic world, results are practically instant and adjustments can be made based on feedback, its interesting that any interactive project can be deemed a failure, unless it is way off the mark, but when adjustments need to be made or a direction needs some tweaking it can be done in a million different creative ways. I think that people are real and when dealing with the fantasy world of advertising and the over hyping of products and services of our clients we need to understand that people know that realistic expectations are set based on exaggerations and that those exaggerations are simply a form of entertainment of sorts to help create an emotional attachment to the brand and just like a relationship needs to be coddled and formed so to does the user, before now you got what you got because the medium only allowed for static presentations but the expectations set by the web now create a demand by the public for more effort from the advertisers to entice their audiences. Attention is hard to get in this world of many distractions and in order to grab that attention we need to understand the more complex habits of the consumers and how they want to be marketed to. The web offers us so many more opportunities for success and if used correctly our failure rate should decrease dramatically as long as the campaign is on target. The question posed was What Sticks? But perhaps we should be asking ourselves How Many Chances to We Get to Make it Stick? You can never know for sure is something is going to work but the web offers us the ability to at least adjust if we see that it isn’t working.