By: Eric Hamblett
Recently, I embarked on two week road trip and relied solely on my smartphone for directions, recommendations and communication. Yet whether I was finding hotels, places to eat or tickets to buy, my device was constantly overheating. I wanted to engage during this “down time” but had no hands free way to do so. It became obvious to me that cars have potential to bridge a necessary gap in local search.
Doing some research I learned that companies such as BMW and Audi have already created their own infotainment systems, integrating with Google and Yelp to keep drivers informed. Yet, this proprietary technology has several limitations. The most apparent one is that it does not automatically sync with the smartphone in the driver’s pocket.
If the auto industry is determined to connect cars with the web, then the key to this will be integrating mobile software. One example of this is Apple’s newest feature, iOS7 in the Car. This concept allows drivers to access their full suite of iPhone features from behind the wheel, utilizing Siri for a hands free experience.
In a recent article from Street Fight, Ali Alami outlined several ways mobile development could interface with in-car experiences. The most revealing to me were opportunities to solve Data, Context and sharing issues from within a vehicle.
Issues with growing data usage in cars could be solved with connecting infotainment systems to wifi networks when vehicles are parked. The Nissan Leaf currently does this to update application data within its system.
A “smart car” can detect its context in relation to factors such as vehicle maintenance and traffic patterns. For example, if interior work is required, it can promote local services, or if traffic is bad, perhaps food options along the way.
This will allow drivers to share “ambient location” data in real time. Glympse is a company that has partnered with Ford and BMW to share detailed information from car to device such as speed, what music is playing and destination information.
The best use case for these “smart cars” will be in suburban America, where vehicles are an irreplaceable part of life. If you think of how a company such as FourSquare has gamified walkable cities, imagining a car platform doing the same for suburbia isn’t so far off. I know I hope my next car has some of these tools built in.
By: Tim Hurley
Movie posters are a crucial part of sales. Not only do they help persuade people into going to the theater, they also help movies stand out from one another. Without typography, a movie poster is just an image. Without a title there would be no movie. Typography is a wonderful tool; it helps further express the emotion, tone, feeling, and style in your image. Whether your movie is horror, drama, action, comedy, or a mix between these, each poster has the potential to have its own unique look and feel…or so I thought. Because movie sales are on the line, designers tend to do what’s trusted and proven rather than what would do the particular movie justice. Don’t get me wrong, there are many amazing examples of original typography in movie posters out there currently, but it’s disappointing to find out how many generic ones coexist among them. To prove my point, I’ve raked through the dark depths of Netflix to show how generic and uninspired movie poster typography really can be.
When it comes to horror, the poster can be enough on its own to entice someone to spend an hour and half with the movie. Among the thousands of typographic possibilities, the bold red san serif title seems to be an industry favorite. Yes, red does attract people’s attention and insinuate horror, but Helvetica is everything but scary.
Action movies are fun, fast, and full of adventure. To communicate this, it seems that the go-to is skewing the type to make thing look in motion. Maybe it wouldn’t seem so predictable if every poster that did this didn’t add a flame overlay behind it and make the font look like it came flying in from off the page.
And then there are the romantic comedies. With one look at the poster, you know what you’re in for: a gentle ride with a few laughs and tears, complete with a storybook ending. A lot of these have really nice font choices and lock-ups, but when they’re sandwiched between colorful mosaics of the actors’ faces on a white background, nothing really stands out.
Indie movies are no different either. It seems that the only way to make sure the public knows your movie will be quirky but soft spoken is to hand-letter the title. I’m a big fan of narrow hand-drawn text, but the more it’s used, the less I appreciate its whimsicalness.
Looking ahead, I’d love to see the typography handled more carefully. Instead of immediately assuming that the type for a horror movie needs to be red and bloody, I’d like to see designers thinking about what style and lockup is appropriate for that individual movie based on the plot, the cinematography, and anything else that makes that movie different from other movies. Although the purpose of movie posters is to attract the broadest audience, I hope the industry can get back in touch with their design sense.
By: Eric Hamblett
Tumblr, a popular microblogging platform with over 100 million users, was recently purchased by Yahoo Inc. for $1.1 billion. Though only six years old, Tumblr’s tools have allowed it to establish diverse communities of users that care deeply about the platform and content shared on it. Yahoo’s purchasing decision is an aggressive strategy and one that could potentially shake up Tumblr for the better or the worse. Though the site reaches 44 million people in the United States and 134 million around the world, it has yet to become highly profitable. With Yahoo’s acquisition, how might consumer sentiment be affected?
The obvious scenario with Yahoo’s ownership is heavy advertising integration. Chief Executive David Karp previously disliked this approach, however has had no choice but to embrace the revenue stream and monetize the platform much as possible. This April he made a statement responding to the company’s mobile ad partners GE, Pepsi, Warners Bros and ABC. His words were: “The content our brand partners we have created is more than just advertising — it is thoughtful, beautiful, and diverse content that fits seamlessly alongside the best work on our network.” Karp’s solution to Tumblr’s monetization is aspirational advertising and now Yahoo can leverage its strong ad platforms with new online communities.
Current & Future Plans
Changes to Tumblr currently include integrating native ad units into their desktop version. From here, users will be able to reblog, follow and share the ads. They can distinguish which are sponsored by a dollar sign icon in the top right corner, something new and commercial to the site.
Though Marissa Mayer promised to “not screw up” Tumblr, her search giant must not fail to adapt its ads creatively to Tumblr. Yahoo will adapt by integrating Tumblr content on its news feed as well using the site to bolster search results. Of critical importance is beginning to gather impressions from a young adult demographic who are more socially receptive. The primarily adult audience that uses Yahoo is harming its reputation as a hip network.
Backlash & Weaknesses
There have been varied reactions to the acquisition, most notably because Yahoo has had a turbulent purchasing history. In the past, they picked up Flickr for $35 million as well as GeoCities for $3.6 billion, both of which never rose to their perceived dominance.
In response to early rumors, angry Tumblr users created an online petition to halt the acquisition and managed to receive over 168,000 signatures. Another sign of frustration was noted by WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg, who reported that over 72,000 new accounts were created on his platform immediately following the purchase announcement.
With Yahoo eyeing Tumblr’s communities as prime real estate for big brand advertising, there are a few weaknesses to this strategy that could backfire. One is that a large swath of brands currently on Tumblr have low engagement metrics compared to pages on rivals Facebook and Twitter. There is more user generated content on Tumblr and less customer relationship management tools. Marketing company Optimal conducted a brand survey of Tumblr and discovered that of more than 10,000 brands tracked, less than 25% had a presence on the site and those that did hardly used their accounts.
Though Tumblr has already created partnerships with several big-brand advertisers Yahoo must find a way to make ad impressions through social networking, an expertise it currently lacks. On Tumblr’s end, it must convince existing users that aspirational ads are worth sharing and reposting.
In conversations with friends about how Tumblr perceptions have changed, one group had no idea the transition had even taken place. The second group was unphased by the news and the third was upset that more commercial activity was taking place. In a survey conducted by AYTM (Ask Your Target Market), 12% of respondents who use Tumblr were happy with the acquisition, 22% viewed it as negative, 46% were neutral and 20% were unaware or undecided.
As the media attention begins to fade, I anticipate Tumblr’s core users to continue using the service. Unlike Facebook’s tactic of refusing to display ads on Instagram in fear of losing an ever growing base, Yahoo will be intensifying its ad efforts as new owners. For the sake of Tumblr’s creative taste, I hope aspirational ads inspire marketers to think outside the box and push the limits.
By: Joanna McNurlen
Infographic résumés have seen a rise in popularity in the past few years, but not all of them have been stellar. If you’re thinking about submitting a non-traditional résumé, here are some tips that might help you stand out from other applicants:
Have any more infographic résumé advice? Let us know in the comments.
By: Eric Hamblett
Music identification company Shazam is growing their services in the direction of TV fashion identification. If accomplished successfully, Shazam is in position to challenge search engine middlemen and deliver content directly to viewers.
Currently, Shazam works by tagging audio content and informing users of its details. The new TV feature will build on this foundation and also allow users to tag TV shows and discover content. This could include anything from cast biographies, to trivia and even merchandise. By increasing consumer engagement, viewers have the potential to tag a specific show and then be directed to a shop that has merchandise the characters are wearing.
An initial release of this feature will be deployed with the audio-tagging example above, and the company will unveil its image recognition technology when it’s finalized. What’s exciting for Shazam’s move into fashion is it establishes immediate and scalable conversations with TV producers. As for consumers, these new interactive possibilities could be the foundation for an engagement disruption.
Can marketers use Shazam to make commercials more appealing? Will we suffer from even more brand saturation? It will be exciting to see how this technology impacts B2C and B2B relationships.
By: Sarah Roach
There has been only 6 months in between the time that I have gone from an interviewee to an interviewer, and I can honestly tell you that the view from each side of the table is very different. With that being said, I remember how stressful the interview process is and I’d like to offer up a little, candid advice for those of you prepping for interviews.
Dad is sometimes right.
As painful as that is to admit, sometimes dad can give some good business and even general life advice. Anyone that has met me will most likely agree that I have a loud personality and am a bit of a talker- this is especially true when I’m nervous. Before every interview my dad would text me and basically tell me to muzzle my inner-urge to ramble about all my great qualities and experiences, let the interviewer do the talking because that’s when you learn about the company and opportunity at hand. Well, now that I’m interviewing interns and even potential teammates, it turns out dad was right, and I’m not the only nervous talker with a tendency to ramble.
We have your resume and have read it, that’s why we’ve set up this interview. So instead of verbalizing the same thing to us with 15 minutes worth of detail, pick out one aspect of each experience and relate it to the position you’re interviewing for. Tell me what your horrible group project taught you about communication and leadership or how your spot on the marching band taught you to work well within team.
For the love of common sense please read the job description AND Google. After you apply with all of the necessary information, research the agency or company your applying to, the most recent projects and the role of the position you’re applying for. For example, account management in advertising has nothing to do with accounting; even Google can help you out with that.
Make it a conversation.
While we are impressed with your previous experiences and eager to learn more, we need to know that you working here will be beneficial for both parties. So attempt to make the interview a conversation- get to know your interviewer because they ultimately have the power to help. Ask questions about their path to that position, why they like working there and more importantly about how you will be contributing to the company. The more you learn, the more prepared you will be if and when you get to work there.
We all have been in your position at some point and want to help give someone else a chance, so ask questions and let us know you’re interested. You have an opportunity to speak with someone that works there currently and maybe even someone that was in your shoes less than 6 months ago, literally. We are able to tell you about the wacky yet functional office dynamic, our day-to-day roles, client relations, the fact that we have an office dog and wear jeans to work 99% of the time. The experience should be beneficial for all parties involved, so make it a conversation and figure out if that position is the right fit for you and the company.
Be smart about being online.
I’m sure you know this, or have hopefully figured it out by now but yes we “stalk” you online. In the least creepy way possible, potential employers are going to Google you, check out your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and any other online sources that might throw up a massive red flag about hiring you. While we want to get to know you and know that you’d be fun to work with, we don’t need to see that you practiced your keg stand every night of college or need to see every sketchy selfie from high school. We all have them and most likely love reminiscing about those moments, but just make sure not to cross that fine-line and be careful with what you put out there for potential employers to find.
By: Stephen Feinberg
Since the ‘80s, when computers began to enter everyday life, filmmakers have struggled with how to show the viewer what’s on that little screen.
Screen shot from the mid-80s: boring!
Part of the challenge is technical: computer monitors (and now, tablets and smartphone screens) refresh at a different rate than film or high-def video, so the screen either has to be specially rigged to synch with the movie camera; or green-screened during filming with the computer images added in post-production.
But the real obstacle, particularly with showing text, is the storytelling aspect. The usual solution is to show a character looking at the screen and reacting, then cutting to a close-up POV shot so the audience knows what the character is looking at—very cumbersome. It also leaves the filmmaker with the choice of showing a real screen (indecipherable) or a comically simplified screen display in order to register visually.
Overly simplified website display: “Single White Female”1992.
These same issues plague commercial directors tasked with selling smart phones and tablets. Because 30 seconds doesn’t leave much time, directors usually dispense with the POV screen shot and instead concentrate on showing users reacting ecstatically to whatever text, email or Facebook update is on their screen.
The folks who made Netflix’s “House of Cards” series have come up with a more elegant solution. Furtive texting between a powerful Congressman and an ambitious young reporter is a key sub-plot driver. It’s handled by showing the text messages superimposed on the action, eliminating the cutaways and tedious screen shots and letting us focus on the characters.
Scene from “House of Cards,” 2013.
This approach assumes two things: 1) the viewer recognizes, from the context and the formatting, that these are text messages; and 2) that the viewer can process both on-screen action and text simultaneously. Five years ago, these points may have been debatable. Not anymore. But not every tech advertiser has gotten the message. Here’s a brand new Blackberry spot:
Blackberry z10 launch spot, 2013.
Compared to the “House of Cards” technique, this feels very “You’ve Got Mail” to me. Which is not what Blackberry, or any other tech brand, needs right now.
By: Joanna McNurlen
In the 1985 bestseller White Noise, author Don DeLillo describes a tourist site known as “the most photographed barn in America.” Multiple signs populate the highway leading up to the barn, trumpeting the upcoming landmark. Before incoming tourists see the barn, they encounter the site’s gift shop as well as exiting tourists who have recently visited the barn. As DeLillo’s character Murray says, “No one sees the barn … once [people] see signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn.” The barn has become a pure simulacrum.
This is what memes are: content that has been imitated and shared to the point of distortion beyond recognition. Philosopher Jean Baudrillard (yes, this is going to be one of “those” blog posts) argues that there exist four stages of distortion when an original image is imitated:
Let’s look at this phenomenon in the context of the “Overly Attached Girlfriend” meme. The path to simulacrum begins with Laina Morris, a reasonably normal 20-year-old woman who serves as the original image.
Many who viewed the “Overly Attached Boyfriend” knew that it referred to “Overly Attached Girlfriend”, but few knew of the latter’s origin as a Justin Bieber parody, let alone of Laina Morris, the girl behind the meme. The meme itself became the reality with which people became familiar, bearing no resemblance to the original image of Miss Morris herself.
To apply this concept of advertising, let’s look at the original image of MasterCard.
MasterCard’s devolution into meme shows how virality can remove all but the faintest associations to the original product. This is why advertisers have to be careful when they seek to create something “viral”: popularity inspires imitation, which distorts an image. Minor distortion still allows an imitation to be tied to the original image. However, significant distortion can mar the image or brand so that the advertiser’s initial intent is obscured beyond recognition. This reinforces an advertiser’s need to carefully monitor its campaigns so that the original message is never lost on a consumer.
By: Jessica Chen
Queen Bey is simply unstoppable! As of March 21, H&M has confirmed that Beyonce is now the face of H&M’s summer ad campaign, and H&M is sponsoring Beyonce’s “Mrs. Carter” tour. Beyonce’s personal style guided her input into the designs of the line, which includes perfect bodycon dresses, flowing sundresses, and fringed bikinis. The clothing will be available in May both in stores and online. Print and billboard ads of “Beyonce as Mrs. Carter in H&M” will promote that women can be strong, vulnerable, sensual, maternal, fun, and flirtatious.
Why did H&M choose Beyonce? According to branding expert and Zimmerman Advertising Chief Marketing Officer Cliff Courtney, “In terms of pure wattage, Beyonce has got more juice—[H&M’s] lucky to get her. If you need more pizzazz on your image, Beyonce is the way to go.” But is Beyonce really as influential as we think?
From a $50 million deal with Pepsi to work for L’oreal, Emporio Armani, and Vizio, just to name a few, the #32 gal on Forbes’ World’s Most Powerful Women list is everywhere. Add all of this on top of her music career and fashion brand, House of Dereon. Her presence is strong—-think of the Super Bowl, the Presidential Inauguration, and even her own HBO documentary special.
She is everywhere, and personally, I’ve been Beyonce-d out. It’s Beyonce saturation. Sometimes less is more. If a celebrity endorses every product, credibility is lost. I don’t know if I really find the Beyonce of Pepsi to be as compelling as the Beyonce of H&M, and I’m sure others may feel it vice-versa. Nevertheless, the ads—-and Beyonce—-are gorgeous. Come May, I’m sure we, and H&M, will witness the power of Queen Bey.
By: Joanna McNurlen
Game of Thrones, the popular HBO series that brings George R.R. Martin’s stories of warring medieval families to life in rich (and occasionally nauseating) detail, will return for its third season this Sunday at 9:00 ET on HBO. The amount of advertising leading up to 03.31.13 has been extensive: adragon cast its shadow in one of this year’s best print ads, imposing photos of cast members (complete with warm/cool retouching to hint at this season’s fire and ice themes) dominate the city, and the show’s Facebook page has cranked out new content almost daily.
Perhaps my favorite promotional effort for the series is the Join the Realm official sigil creator. For those who aren’t familiar with the show (or simply lack a knowledge of archaic English), a sigil is a symbol of a noble family’s name – similar to a coat of arms. On the Join the Realm site, users can mix and match colors, patterns, and symbols to create their own Game of Thrones-esque sigils. Launched on Monday, the feature has already become a huge hit, prompting thousands of shared images on Twitter and plenty of parodies.
Unlike traditional, one-sided advertising, the Game of Thrones sigil is an interactive, entertaining tool that puts consumers in control of their advertising experiences. Granted, putting marketing power in the hands of the consumer can prove dangerous (ahem, #McDStories), but such control also provides a sense of ownership, increasing the likelihood that an experience will be shared.
Like AMC’s MadMenYourself before it, HBO’s Join the Realm sigil creator reflects the shift toward engaging, experience-focused marketing in television. As May sweeps season looms closer, it will be interesting to see what other television programs (and other advertisers) create.
By: Eric Hamblett
Music is an emotional force that has the ability to influence brand experiences and ultimately our purchasing decisions. It is not typically included in a pitch portfolio, however has definite positive potential. Think about the music you encounter in your daily life, the songs that wake you up, put you to sleep and make your mind wander.
Enter the world of marketing through playlists. Brands have begun exploring this tactic by engaging with streaming services, the most notable being Spotify, Grooveshark and Pandora. When Spotify first came to the United States, Chevy leveraged its limited access invites by becoming an “exclusive automotive advertising partner” and gave away registration codes. Though this was a national PR push by both firms, success can still be achieved on a smaller budget with a more targeted audience.
Curated playlists seem to be most effective when they accompany a blog post, a product, an event, or a social campaign. Music adds an intangible factor that makes an experience more memorable and interactive.
Let’s take a look at TIME Magazine’s Spotify campaign. The company named “The Protester” as 2011 Person of the Year and to accompany this selection, they created a playlist titled “Protest Songs”. The songs essentially added more of a human context to the words, creating an experience as an extension of original content.
For the 2012 Presidential race, the Obama campaign created a Spotify playlist representative of their energy and promise. Comparing this to TIME’s, both playlists were themed and included 30 songs a piece.
While there may be opportunities for brands to assist with music discovery, current examples show that brands prefer to curate and organize.
Another unique approach for brands is to directly leverage their online community. A brand can host a contestand make a call for submissions to offer a grand prize. Or they can create a “collaborative playlist” and invite members to edit it. Companies may even use this as an internal morale booster, letting office members submit songs they work to or find interesting.
Overall, marketing through playlists is an atypical approach, however, something that can solidify a brand message if accomplished correctly. One thing to remember is that it must seem organic, relevant and exist as an extension of a campaign. While this may be difficult for brands that do not have a clear relationship with music, playlist marketing exposes a welcomed opportunity to deliver a refreshing message.
By: Joanna McNurlen
Maybe it’s because I went to a D3 university, or maybe it’s because I spent college basketball games inside a bulky mascot costume (go bears), but somehow I have never embraced the mania surrounding March Madness. I haven’t avoided it out of ignorance – I understand how brackets and seeds and point spreads all work – basketball just isn’t my particular cup of tea.
On the other hand, I did begin following the This is Madness Star Wars Character Tournament. Yes sir, I created my official Star Wars-themed bracket and made my own prediction as to who will be crowned the most popular character in the galaxy (hint: he shot first). So far I’m eight for eight with my predictions, and I’m anticipating a highly successful season.
Star Wars isn’t the only company to attempt to boost brand involvement by piggybacking on the popularity of the Big Dance. Seamless, the popular online food ordering service, has launched a sweepstakes on its Facebook page to determine its fans’ favorite sandwich (I’m counting on a final showdown between PB&J and the Monte Cristo). Even stodgy NPR isplaying off the tourney’s name, showcasing popular marches on its classical music blog throughout the month of March.
Other promotions range from the creative (“1 for 1 All the Way” discounts at Syracuse retailers to celebrate the school’s number one seed in 2012) to the routine (deals on TVs at amazon.com) to the downright obscure (free pizza with vasectomy at a clinic in Cape Cod). All across the board, brands have embraced the ubiquity of March Madness.
Seasonal promotions like those surrounding March Madness make sense: they link brands to special events and the positive feelings associated with them. These links also reinforce the temporality of a promotion, motivating consumers to engage before the promotion’s end. Plus, a gimmick like tournament brackets gives us advertisers a fun jumping-off point for ideas.
Even the consumers who don’t particularly follow the NCAA likely will get involved in a bracket of sorts simply due to the season’s omnipresence as a marketing vehicle. I will proudly count myself among them: come on, Han Solo.
By: Sarah Roach
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Or in this case… the chick or the bunny? It’s that time of year again, when fluffy, multicolored chick and bunny Peeps will be lining the shelves pretty much everywhere you turn.
Growing up, it wasn’t Easter until the Peeps had been successfully exploded in the microwave, stuffed into plastic eggs and hidden throughout the house or simply stuffed in my mouth until not even a single bunny ear could fit. After 60 years of existence, Peeps are still as popular as the day they hatched, which is a truly remarkable feat. Who would have thought that Easter inspired marshmallows could become such a lasting tradition and ultimately a lasting brand?
Although Easter chick and bunny Peeps are the originals, Peeps now hatch from chocolaty egg shells and even have expanded into other holidays that bring fluffy white ghosts, jack-o-lanterns, reindeer or Valentine’s hearts into your home year-round. Not only have the clever minds behind Peeps carried on the traditions; they have created an extensive list of festive and delicious recipes and crafts that use our favorite marshmallow characters.
I may or may not have joined in and made Peeps popcorn last week…which is an ultimate sweet and salty treat, essentially a colorful ball of popcorn held together with former marshmallow chick and bunny Peeps. Besides melting them or simply biting their heads off, I think Peeps are one of the only foods that are acceptable to eat stale… and I’m not entirely sure there’re technically “stale”, but for those of you that have let them get a little on the “stiff” side, you know what I mean.
You’ll have to visit the website to join in the rest of the fun that Peeps provides or visit their Facebook page to see which Peepsonality you are by answering a few questions about your Peeps moments.
I hope each and every one of your Easter baskets and bellies are full of Peeps in the weeks to come!
By: Patrick Lupinski
Facebook unveiled its latest revamp today, making it more consistent across different platforms. The biggest take away is that, overall, it’s a much cleaner and whitespace-friendly design.
Some major changes that you’ll notice:
Brands on Facebook
Facebook’s studies have revealed that engagement with ads in its main news feed is greater than with those that appear on the right-hand side. These ads are absent from its mobile apps entirely.
Promoted posts within the news feed have increased in size on Facebook’s mobile platforms over the last few months. Expect to see this carried over onto the website version, making it easier for users to interact with a brand’s content.
The main takeaway for brands? Immersive promoted content in the form of images and video will always prove to be more engaging.
If you’re as eager as me to try the new news feed, sign up here.
By: Eric Hamblett
AT&T is currently exploring how they can use best practices and learnings from online ad campaigns to create more effective TV targeting tactics. This is kind of a big deal because their technology could create better experiences for viewers while also making TV network’s smarter and more profitable as a result.
Right now TV advertising requires too much human capital to collect ratings and surveys. This information is essential but it relies too heavily on the judgment calls of executives who are often limited by budgets and voluntary participation. In direct contrast, online advertising relies on software to match ads and provide valuable data-driven insights and results. It is more of a formulaic and much more specific process.
Current TV techniques are decades old and ripe for this kind of disruption. AT&T is pushing for real time ad scheduling that calibrates based on specific viewership. Think of Facebook’s targeted campaigns and how much control the campaign manager has over their budget and demographic scope—now apply that to TV.
I am curious how TV networks will react to this technology because the same executives making placement decisions for commercials may see their expertise at risk. AT&T is already testing a product called AdWorks that offers advertisers ways to measure TV campaigns using set-top-box data. Their measurement mechanism is Return on Impressions (ROI) and the next product iteration may have targeted software capabilities.
If online ads can be targeted and provide metrics to their success, why can’t TV advertising? Seems like that’s about to change and that’s exciting!