February 11, 2009

Time For A New Conversation

There has always been a certain charm for what I like to call "out of town" agencies that come off very endearing and more human than the traditional Madison Ave agencies that have been walking the earth forever.

McKinney is one of those special agencies that has always impressed me with its metropolitan thinking and southern charm.

Memorable campaigns such as the sensual and sexy LetsHaveText.com and the Oasys Mobile Booty Call. Nike work such as "Beat The BS" and the NASDAQ "Listed" campaigns have all left memorable impressions on me as very forward thinking, creative and breakthrough.

Now that charming southern agency based in Durham, NC has done it again with a new website that has the entire industry buzzing.

Today was the launch of a new website McKinney.com

The site features a design infused with the tag line "Time For A New Conversation". Users are introduced to a breathtaking 3D, text based interface that has the familiarity of a search engine and the robustness of cutting edge technology.

A spacial design that is both simple and endless as information is driven to us in "players" that house nice small chunks of content that is both enjoyable to read and easy to digest.

I would have liked to have seen actual pcitures in their news section rather than repeating gray boxes and I found the bottom navigation a bit underwhelming compared to the way the rest of the site was treated. But overall its a really impressive site.

The search box is very fun to play with and seems to be quite intelligent when answering odd questions, like it almost really knows what it is I am asking it.

The overall animation and responsiveness is fluid and not typical for an agency website.

McKinney.com is bold and refreshing and it makes a huge statement to the clients that it services. By positioning itself with a site like this it is sending a message to the world that it has embraced digital as its own medium and that it is committed to staying on the cutting edge of technology and interactive design

McKinny.com now joins and exclusive pack of agency websites (BBH, Publicis & Hal Riney) that dare to break tradition and face towards the future where digital is waiting to be met.

Well done!

February 10, 2009

A Moving and Articulate "Manifesto on Interactive Advertising Creativity"

I simply had to share this with everyone.

It happens to be one of the most profound and articulate manifestos I have ever read about "Interactive" it is a MUST read for anyone who is serious about this business and its future.

"A Bigger Idea":
A Manifesto on Interactive Advertising Creativity

Enjoy! ... and pass it on!

Thank You Randall.

February 9, 2009

Internal Review

The nature of a recession typically is to help reset an economy that has gone awry and to help reestablish the momentum and processes that may have caused things to have taken a turn for the worse. This can be due to either rapid growth, corruption, lack of standards, loss of focus or differences within an industry that may strangle its progress.

Our industry, the interactive industry, is no different than any other.

Because of the pace we travel at, interactive professionals, tend to go through the hills and valleys more often than most. There is constant turn over, talent shortages and surges, new technologies to adopt to and trends that change per second.

The results are typically a more refined crop of professionals that are seasoned and nimble enough to take things to the next level and meet the demands of the never ending web.

Ab incunabulis to ad finem (from the cradle to the end) we explore and engage everything we get our hands on and like survivors on an island we are trained to look into every crevice and corner for new ideas and trends in order to survive.

Survival of the fittest in its most primitive form in the most advanced technical age ever.

The onset of most niches within an industry can sometimes be a bit of a free for all. When something new and exciting is unleashed into a ravenous world it can sometimes be over hyped and in many cases over valued.

This is a trapping that can blind many business owners and professionals into thinking that what it is that they are offering is some sort of cure for the woes of the world.

The Internet sets all kinds of unrealistic expectations that on some level do manage to be met on a daily basis, however after meeting each expectation another even greater one is waiting at the gates.

This is no business for a simple mind and someone who needs a calm and peaceful atmosphere. It is the chaotic world of the creative mind that can thrive in such a tumultuous landscape. To remain human while keeping the pace with the every changing trends in design and technology.

Many of the digital shops in our industry have enjoyed a rapid growth based on the novelty of many of the new trends we uncover and expose to clients and the public who are less digitally inclined.

However the pace of the maturation of the industry renders those novelties less impressive within days of their release. What this does is create a very unstable face value for the services we offer our clients.

Loading up on interns and junior talent is a way for smaller shops to keep salaries down and to infuse a youthful energy into the work that is being created, however it also perpetuates the vicious cycle that we tend to get trapped in.

That trap being lack of leadership, maturity and understanding. The elements that will hopefully help stabilize this industry and help form a solid foundation based on real strategy and ideas formulated to last.

With a stable creative and technology core and a leadership group of seasoned veterans who have been doing this from the very beginning, clients can be assured that they are communicating the right messages and that they are getting the most bang for their ad buck.

And not just some fly by night trend that will cause everyone to take three steps back every time we take one almost cool step forward.

We live in uncertain times. Things do not stop progressing and in many cases they accelerate during these times. However, there always seems to be a settling period.

The point in time when over inflated expectations come crashing to the ground and the humble and truly creative come crawling out from the ashes to help clean up the mess.

We seem to be embarking on this period now and while the smaller shops and larger agencies all compete for the same work it will be the real hybrids who come out victorious.

Kind of like Superman who is defeated by the very rock that formed his home planet, us ad folks sometimes become enchanted with our own poison.

We can sometimes becomes so caught up in nonsense and over hype that we fail to see the shaky ground that is under us.

This explains why there seems to be a renaissance of the old guard that helped start this industry coming back to reestablish its foundation. With a mixture of traditional creative know-how and a craftsman approach to introducing new technologies, without flooding the trend radar with over hyped copy-catting and pounding round pegs into square holes.

It is like a virtual Shaolin Temple of Flash masters who first saw this medium as a means to tell more engaging stories, people like Vas Sloutchevsky, Samuel Wan, Marc Stricklin, Chris Andrade, Gabriel Mulzer, Brian Limond, Pete Barr-Watson, Mickey Stretton, Josh Levine, Jessica Spiegel, Hoss Gifford, Manuel Tan, Amit Pitaru, Ross Mawdsley, Erik Natzke, Joshua Davis, Eric Jordan, Yugo Nakamura, Brendan Dawes, Adam Phillips, Billy Bussey, Anthony Eden, Aral Balkan, Moses Gunesch, Keith Peters, Colin Moock and many others who knew very early on that interactive multimedia was so much more than an over hyped and really technical mathematical and physics platform.

No one knew that it could very well be the demise of the traditional ad agency. But those early masters did see it as a new tool that if fully understood and integrated into the ad world, could change the landscape of communications forever.

So now we stand at a new frontier.

Everyone is stepping over the hill and we are collectively trying to figure out how to ascend the mountain that stands before us. Traditional is still holding the reigns but the grip is not as tight. Digital is frothing at the mouth waiting for the opportunity to take those reigns and lead the big brands to the top of that mountain.

We all struggle with various aspects of the business where the digital artisans and the number crunching traditionals all need to see eye to eye and communicate for the sake of the clients.

We need to have a moral and an ethical responsibility to step out from behind the curtain and to work side by side with our clients. This is accomplished by educating them in what we do and listening better to how they want us to help them communicate their messages without getting tangled up in the entrapping of trends and regurgitated ideas.

We need to address the economic crisis and figure out a way for everyone to come out successful and by doing this our young industry will thrive by us establishing a unified and glorious foundation.

February 2, 2009

Bowl of Cherries

The highly anticipated and extremely underwhelming Super Blow ads have aired and, at least in my circles, Monday morning is a time to review not the game but the performance of the ads.

The Super Bowl has become the stage where advertisers bring out the big guns and pay top dollar to impact their audiences' perceptions and purchasing habits.

Advertising is obviously the backbone of a capitalist society that thrives on consumption in order to keep the blood pumping through the veins of the public. This is something that we all know in the back of our minds and in accepting this lifestyle we combine our greatest yearly sporting event with an injection of marketing elixir that will ensure that our appetites for domain names and fast food are met throughout the course of the year.

Coke came out the big winner this year with a flurry of animation and visual candy featuring more natural and familiar subjects like grasshoppers, ants, ladybugs and bees trying to steal a sip of its bubbly, caffeinated goodness from a snoozing picnicker.

I felt that it was the most well balanced, socially conscience and refreshingly natural (in all its computer generated glory) spot during this years game.

In a pool of horny horses and horny domain name registrars, 80s cartoon movie revivals, the emergence of Hyundai as the economical choice of wheels and lots of beer and chips, there were two spots that really made me take notice.

The first would be the almost embarrassing pairing of the legendary Bob Dylan with the Black Eyed Peas front man Wil.I.Am. While the spot was well conceived and actually a nice juxtaposition of the "now and then", I felt that some of the comparisons were insulting to the greatness of those who have laid down the foundation for todays posers who eat from the fat that has been accumulated from the greatness of the pioneers of the past. It just didn't sit well with me, however I remember it on Monday morning so it must have been effective.

The second spot that stuck with me was a name I had not expected to see during the game. Pedigree ran a pretty well done spot for something called The Pedigree Adoption Guide, the VO says - "Maybe You Should Get A Dog?" - ...maybe you should get a dog, so you can buy more dog food? It was really the first time I had seen something like this during the big game. A dog food manufacturer telling people to get a dog... I will let that set in for a bit.

Coke remained consistent this year with some very cool spots that I thought resonated really well culturally. Avatar is by far my favorite spot from them this year. It is well written and spot on in terms of the convergence of digital into our culture. Its official folks! When Coke ads feature digital avatars and cute characters living harmoniously with humans, now you know that whatever it is you think is cool, is really cool.

In the second Coke spot named Heist we are witness to some more great computer generated life all pining to get a sip of some carbonated water, lots of sugar, phosphoric acid, fructose, corn syrup, caramel, color, natural flavors, and caffeine.

What else would "nature" want to drink?

In perpetual second place is Pepsi with some pretty lame and violent ads trying to sell men diet soda. Cheetos, SOBE, Gatorade and Frosted Flakes all rounded out the line up of the staples of the American diet.

Cars and tires made their perennial appearance this year with the usual disappointment expected from the diminishing auto industry.

My two favorite breakthrough spots had to be Alec Baldwin for Hulu which made watching TV on the web supremely better than watching TV on TV. The tag line? Hulu: An Evil Plot To Destroy The World, well done NBC!

The second had to be the Cash4Gold spot featuring none other than MC HAMMER and Ed McMahon pawning off all of their worldly possessions for some cash. The spot had that "dirty" effect rendering it cheap and lowly yet was obviously backed by some big bucks. I am not quite sure what to make of this spot, kinda sad that pawning is now big business.

I always try to put the entire line up into some sort of social perspective where I judge our great nation based upon what I see in these Super Bowl commercials.

This year it was obvious that the economy has taken a real hit. Jobs and food seemed to be the stress. What I didn't see was a focus on the new administration, looking towards the future, a chin up and a chest out attitude. I would have liked to have seen more of that kind of messaging to both ride and enhance the momentum of the recent elections and changing of the guard.

I think that the opportunity was lost and hopefully next years batch will be more optimistic and hopeful.