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
Archives for February 2011
From obviously genius to embarrassingly adorable, we’ve gathered up another edition of 5 Things you Might Have Missed.
1.) Your Bio is Your SEO Secret Weapon: This insightful blog by Rand Fishkin provided us with both a “duh!” and an “a-ha!” moment. Fishkin details how our bios left scattered around the Internet can actually work as agents who lure readers back to our websites. It’s simply genius and we’re reconsidering our bios now that we view them as so much more than an after-thought.
2.) Words Making Art: NovelPoster is an idea floating about Kickstarter that can be viewed as either one of those nifty throw away web oddities or a really cool project. We think it’s mostly the latter. By turning words of five classic novels and five of the most well-known Twitter users into posters, NovelPoster makes the list for literally showing how words shape images and change our worlds.
3.) Bringing Happy Back: Coke’s Happiness Machine rolled back onto the scene and we couldn’t be happier. The happiness machine became a reality this week when it left the virtual and television commercial worlds and pulled up on the beaches and streets of Rio De Janeiro. Smiling Brazilians pressed the button and got all kinds of goodies. The video is sure to put a grin on your face too.
4.) Calvin Klein Still Exists: Okay, so that’s a tad snarky but hey, it has been awhile since Calvin Klein the brand has made any headlines. This week Calvin & Co. announced it would be launching its biggest digital push ever to celebrate the rebranding of CK One, which was formerly the top-selling unisex fragrance that smells oh so ’90s today. Still, CK One is getting an interactive multiplatform campaign and we’re excited to see where this goes. Calvin Klein has always been a brand on the cutting edge of advertising so this new social and digital chapter could be rocking.
5.) iPhone Hoodies: Yes, little zip-up sweatshirts for your smartphone made our list this week. We’re not immune to ridiculous cuteness, you know. Take a look and you’ll see why we’re obsessed.
The new Britney Spears video for “Hold it Against Me” is crying out for a product placement drinking game. Each time a brand name pops up on screen, take a drink! At roughly 13 cuts to products in fewer than 5 minutes, you’d be feeling pretty happy by the time the nonsensical song and dance fest ended. Spears herself is undoubtedly feeling pretty happy, too. Reports surfaced this week that the star earned a cool $500,000 for her product pimping in the video, which has already seen 11 million hits in the week it’s been on YouTube.
“Hold it Against Me” features quick and lingering shots of Sony electronics, Spears’ own perfume and of the dating website Plenty of Fish (although the video contains neither dating nor, uhm, fish). It is no coincidence that Jonas Akerlund, the director of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” video, also helmed this masterpiece. “Telephone,” in addition to showcasing the limited acting talents of Beyonce, showed off more products than a trip to the Price is Right. Spears and Akerlund’s collaboration is a little more forthright with their love for advertiser money than his previous effort for Gaga – and people aren’t happy. Britney has somehow shattered the illusion for folks that music videos aren’t and haven’t always been big old commercials. Child, please.
Back in the day, Madonna was in deep doo doo for featuring burning crosses in her Like a Prayer video, causing Pepsi to dump her commercial. Madonna claimed the soda company kicked her to the curb because she wouldn’t insert Pepsi into her song lyrics. Today the record industry is on the verge of extinction. Artists like Spears literally can’t afford to tick off advertisers and are actively pursuing relationships with brands. The cost of music videos, much of which comes directly out of the pockets of artists, can be less severe if big companies pick up part of the tab. We can’t pretend to make sense of the catfights and faceless backup dancers in the video, but we do know that our gal Britney is no stranger to pushing products. Deals in the past have included Candies, Skechers and Pepsi.
Britney, who has already sold nearly 100 million records worldwide and whose first album’s 25 million sold still kicks the sales stuffing out of albums by today’s artists like Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga, looks to have done it again when it comes to striking branding gold… and to that we say “bottoms up!”
While many of items seen on the runway at this year’s fashion week will eventually end up on the eBay when a broke stylista needs to pay her cell phone bill, one designer is hoping his dresses on eBay will teach him more about his clientele.
Designer Derek Lam is in the process of diversifying his brand by creating a line with a lower price point, and to get an idea what his new buyers want, he’s decided to crowdsource on eBay. In collaboration with eBay, Lam has released a preview of his new collection on eBay and shoppers can vote on their favorite looks. The five dresses that gather the most consumer votes will be available on eBay for a limited time.
This kind of “let’s hear from the people” attitude is very un-fashion industry, which is full of people who fancy themselves the types who create taste without the input from consumers. But it makes sense. What Lam has tapped into about crowdsourcing is something small businesses have been doing online for a while. Whether it’s helping pick out new flavors for gelato or asking consumers what they think of a company’s new website, the little guy has found hundreds of ways to get feedback and help from the masses. The best thing is that crowdsourcing can be conducted on our Twitter and Facebook accounts. This doesn’t mean you won’t open yourselves up to a lot of crazytown opinions that are far from helpful. On the contrary, crowdsourcing is inviting all opinions and thoughts, even the nutty ones. Sifting through these is an eye-opening experience. I recently helped launch a survey for a theater company wherein we asked the group’s Facebook friends to contribute their ideas and thoughts about programming the upcoming season. The results were fascinating and even odd at times. Overall, we learned something we already knew: People want to be heard and people like contributing to businesses and organizations that they believe in.
Crowdsourcing helps brands see what’s going on in the minds of their audiences. So, in the spirit of that, we wanna know what you think. Tell us some of your crowdsourcing thoughts, nightmares or successes in the comments section below.
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.
This week’s Brandsplat Video report episode covers Orabrush, YouTube, X-Men, Facebook and the New York Academy of Art.Check it out! Or click here for more Brandsplat vids
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.
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.