Brandsplat Video Report on Xoom, Android, iPad, Google, Content Farming, Oscars and YouTube Trends

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Brandsplat Video Report on Xoom, Android, iPad, Google, Content Farming, Oscars, YouTube Trends. from Enzo Cesario on Vimeo.

This week’s Brandsplat Video report episode covers Xoom, Android, iPad, Google, Content Farming, Oscars and YouTube Trends. Check it out! Or click here for more Brandsplat vids

Greedy App Developers Smurf Themselves

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Since its launch late last year, we’ve been hearing rumblings that the Smurfs Village app for smartphones and tablets was swindling customers out of big-time cash. The Smurfs? These guys? Really? We found it hard to believe until this piece came out last week in Forbes. Turns out Smurfs Village, which is free to play and download, charges actual currency inside the game for precious “Smurfberries.” From $5 bucks to $100 bucks, Smurfberries can end up costing parents a bundle. Now the happy little blue creatures and their iPhone app have consumers and marketers both questioning the values and motives of smartphone apps.

Smurfs Village, which operates much like Farmville, encourages players to help the Smurfs decorate their village and mushroom houses. In order to get certain things, players need Smurfberries, which can be earned with more game play or bought with real-life money for players who don’t want to wait. Smurfs Village maker Capcom claims the warnings about in-app purchases are clearly marked. But parents like Madison’s beg to differ. Madison is an 8-year-old girl from Rockville, Maryland, who racked up more than $1,400 in Smurf purchases. Ouch.

We could go back and forth about if kids should be allowed to play with smartphones (uhm, no) or if in-app purchases are a good idea (hell, no) but we won’t. Instead, what’s interesting about this little “Smurf-up” is how it really puts the microscope on our intentions with smartphone apps. Are we developing smartphone apps as extensions of our mobile marketing plans or do we want the apps to be money making products that contribute to our brand’s vision? Capcom is suspected saying something is free but then charging for extras once you’re inside the game. But this isn’t really that different from brands with free apps that are helping themselves to user info for demographic and advertising purposes. Yet these little app games with users are not bound to last: Apple has wound up in court due to claims that the company has sold user information to app developers and advertisers.

Apple itself reportedly is fuming at Capcom and other companies for in-app purchases. The Smurfs, who have a new movie coming out, should tread lightly with Mac because Steve Jobs is certainly a more formidable enemy than that silly old Gargamel.

5 Things You Might Have Missed

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Friday! Friday! Friday! It’s finally the end of the week – which means it must be time for our weekly list of five things you might have missed.

1.) Tongue Scraper Scrapes Up Big Bucks: The oddest yet most inspiring startup backing we’ve ever heard of went down this week when Orabrush got a juicy $25 million dollar investment from True Ventures. The company obviously knew that the tongue scraper made by this small Utah company was worth it. Orabrush made a splash last year when its social media and YouTube campaign were rated one of the best by Advertising Age. Orabrush’s Cinderella story tops the list for being proof positive that a good idea when mixed with great viral videos eventually pays off.

2.) When History Meets Today: Every so often, we like to applaud acts of creativity and awesomeness. Photographer Irina Werning’s Back to the Future seemed to fit the bill nicely. Werning’s obsession with old pictures became a full-scale project which uses photos from the past with the same models in the same setup in 2010. It’s a cool idea and one we’re sure Madison Avenue is ripping off at this very moment.

3.) Your iPhone Doodles in Times Square: Prius took ambient advertising to another level this week when the company took over a Times Square billboard and let iPhone holders who happened to be in the right place at the right time draw the background for its massive billboard. It’s more groovy interaction we’ve come to love and expect from Prius.

4.) Condoms with a Soundtrack: Durex condoms created a playlist generator just for lovers on its Last.fm ad. The result? A sexy, silly and smart use of Internet ad space.

5.) Fantasy Baseball Goes Live: Spring is almost here – but Major League Baseball is already swinging big time branding and promotional partnerships. This season, MLB has partnered with CBSSports.com to bring live baseball audio and video to the very pretend Fantasy Baseball product. MLB is hoping for NFL-type growth with Fantasy Baseball and multi-media and social media engagement is a step in the right direction.

What a Brand Can Learn From Spider-Man

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When we last left Spider-Man in 2007, he was a happily-dormant, arachnid-bitten superhero who had box office gold under his belt. The superhero had overcome bad 1970’s cinematic and television juju and once again become a viable brand for Marvel Comics and Universal. Yet as any comic book fan can tell you, happy endings for guys like Spidey don’t last long. Flash forward to 2011: The once beloved hero has become a punch line to a national joke. So what the heck happened and what can small businesses and brands learn from the once-amazing Spider-Man?

First off, there’s the little issue of that musical. You know, the one that every publication and website on the planet has lined up to take a swing at? “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” has become the most expensive and most maligned musical in Broadway history. While we haven’t seen the show, we’d like to argue that the very notion of Spider-Man as a musical was a horrible idea from the very get-go.

Naturally, Spider-man is not the first brand that should have never became a musical – nor will he be the last. But in general it’s a bad idea. This is the biggest thing Spider-Man can teach us: It’s okay to say no. Look, we’ve seen celebrities, food companies and clothing designers veer into terrible branding territory and Spider-Man as a musical is one of the worst. By reaching out to theater goers and musical lovers, Spider-Man has forsaken its core male demographic of comic book dudes.

Secondly, darker, more serious adaptations of comic books are the current trend, and Spider-Man as a Broadway show ignores what’s hot. It would be like if Batman had decided not to make films with Christopher Nolan and became an ice show instead. It’s crucial for us as marketers and brands to know how to pass on opportunities that go against the very grain of who we are.

That said, we believe that Spider-Man’s problems reach beyond the musical. In general, Spider-Man’s vision as a brand has become scattered. While the comic book continues to be a bestseller, Marvel unexplainably has recently given him a white costume and had him join the revamped Fantastic Four. The film franchise has experienced some downright bipolar decisions as well. Marvel canned the idea of Spider-Man IV with Tobey Maguire in favor of a younger Spider-Man franchise whose vision is also different from that of the musical and two comic book appearances. These days, any brand manager at any company can ask himself “What would Spider-Man do?” and quickly do the opposite – to great success. A clean, concise image and marketing plan can reach different groups without having to be schizophrenic and sloppy.

But in the end, none of this affects a resilient brand like Spider-Man whose following is so loyal they stick with him through bad costumes and bad reviews. The musical is currently raking up big bucks and the yet-to-be released movie makes headlines everyday on fan boy sites. Yet this is but another lesson Spidey can teach us: Just because it has your well-loved name on it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily going to be amazing.