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By: Ellen Pratt

When the new Citibank TV spot premiered earlier this year, there was a lot of debate about how it was made. Considering the dizzying heights and crazy rock climbing filmed, many assumed the video had been captured against a green screen or otherwise developed using CGI.

It wasn’t. The spot was developing using a helicopter and a pair of advanced rock climbers. Hopefully none of the team members on that account were afraid of heights!

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By: Rachel Metter

While watching an episode of “The Pitch” the other day, something intriguing caught my attention. No, it wasn’t the creative, the strategy, or even this particular client’s insanely huge ego (but good guess!). It was, of all things, a Home Depot spot.

Amidst a slew of people happily gardening, the spot featured a Shazam cue on- screen, which prompted viewers to “Shazam for Vertical Garden How-To Video.”

Shazam is well known as a music app that contains technology to identify songs it “hears.” In the context of TV, it “listens” to the commercial’s soundtrack and takes the viewer to the brand’s website, a Youtube video, or social media (known as a “second screen experience”). It transcends a widely accepted one-dimensional medium and brings the viewer to a place where she can further explore the brand on her own terms.

Here’s an SAT analogy for the 21st Century: The QR code is to print, as Shazam is to TV.  The QR code has been around for some time. In 2011, 22% of Fortune 500 companies were using QR codes in their advertising (source). However, Shazam for TV is fairly new. This year the company integrated the app into spots during a few live events, including The Super Bowl, The Grammy’s, and American Idol. In fact, there’s been buzz around the fact that most future Shazam revenue will come from TV commercials.

And that shouldn’t be a surprise. While traditional print and TV ads are somewhat targeted, they are still mass media. Advertisers are careful not to get into too much product detail beyond what’s going to grab the consumer’s attention. With the QR code and Shazam as devices to transport the consumer to a second-screen experience, advertisers have the opportunity to sell their product to people who have already optedinto the brand. Therefore, they can go into much more detail about the brand or particular product, which provides consumers with more reasons to purchase.

On the other end of the spectrum, QR codes and Shazam offer consumers an easy way to furtherexplore products and brands that intrigue them.

While these apps could be more user-friendly (and they probably will be in the near future), they mostly facilitate win-win situations between advertisers/brands/products and their consumers.
Check out the Shazam app if you don’t have it, yet!

By: Stephen Feinberg

Know what my favorite commercial on the Olympics is so far? This one.

I know it’s a craptastic riff on Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

I know that it’s a Trojan Horse for metered internet access.

I don’t care. I love it. You know why? Because it’s 100% Olympics-free.

No slo-mo. No idealized human forms flying through space. No adoring, rapturous parents. And no stinkin’ rings.

I’m not sure what’s going on here—did they not pay up for sponsorship rights? The spots are clearly running in the national feed, as opposed to local, and every other advertiser in the pod is Olympic up the wazoo: United, P&G, TD Ameritrade, Kelloggs, etc. etc.

Whatever. After endless faux-Chariots of Fire soundtracks and strained visual metaphors (United Airlines, I’m talking to you), this piece of straightforward retail shlock is like cool water in the desert.

Verizon: Official absolutely nothing of the Olympic Games. Thank you.

By: Carina Liebmann

When a struggling band, Monsters Calling Home, recorded a music video in their Hondas and posted it to youtube, Honda saw it. To show Honda’s appreciation of the band using their cars, they contacted the band and offered an opportunity for the band to play in front of hundreds of executives. Unfortunately when Monsters Calling Home arrived they were told by the five or so people there that no one else could make it, but were asked if they could still play a song. Right when Monsters Calling Home began playing they got cut off, and were told the truth… Honda got the band onto Jimmy Kimmel Live, where they played a few hours later.

Honda created an amazing experience for these customers as a thank you for their loyalty, loyalty they had shown without expecting anything in return. Then Honda made the story into an exciting and “feel good” ad to watch. Rewarding customers on a personal level, rooting for the underdog, recognizing talent and hard work, showing nice and fun people who drive your car, and all while getting the story out there to get more customers. Not bad. And it is pretty hard to not love Honda after seeing how happy they made the members of the band. 

Watch it and feel good 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!