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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: 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.