Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Microinteractions = Branding 2.0

I came across this really intriguing slideshow created by David Armano, VP of experience design at Critical Mass, "a professional services firm with a sweet spot for creating outstanding experiences." In his view, microinteractions between consumers and brands--social media, widgets, mash-ups, etc.--are the building blocks behind the brands themselves. It sort of turns the whole top-down branding idea on its head. On some level, it goes against the basic tenet we're instilled with in the Strat Comm: brand positioning first and everything else follows.

For Armano, since technology has allowed consumers to become hyper-engaged and co-authors in their own brand experiences, these mini interactions are more important than the overall brand messaging.

He says:

“We live in a world where the little things really do matter. Each
encounter no matter how brief is a micro interaction which makes a deposit or
withdrawal from our rational and emotional subconscious. The sum of these
interactions and encounters adds up to how we feel about a particular product,
brand or service. Little things. Feelings. They influence our
everyday behaviors more than we realize.”

So what does that mean for companies? It seems as though they'll have to relinquish control over their brands, giving audience's the control over their own experiences. So are brands then just a forum for user interactivity? As Sunya stated in our JetBlue presentation, are they just a branded playground for people to communicate with one another? I think the most successful brand are just that: facilitators. Starbucks creates a welcoming cafe environment where customers can come in and relax with their friends. Apple, who even though operate on a closed-technology business model, creates a community of users who feel like they "own" a piece of their brand.

Then it not only becomes a question of interactivity, but also a question of consumer empowerment. Umair Haque of Havas Media Lab says it best:

"[The] future of communications as advantage lies in talking less, and listening more. The decision to invest in consumers is also a decision to listen to consumers – instead of talk at them."

[Via Adweek newsletter]

Monday, April 28, 2008

Genius: Zyrtec Ad on Telephone Pole

Oh this brightened my day. Adrants posted this funny Zyrtec ad found on a telephone pole in Boston. They ask, "Can A Sharpie Poster Push More Sales Than A Glossy Ad?" Apparently their source took the time to take down the ad and pass it around the office. Even though I suffer from horrible skin allergies, I don't think I'd really act on this if I saw it.

It kinda reminds me of the Craig's List ad the guy from Ogilvy put up for Six Flags.

Throwing $ Away: Levi's Copper Microsite

You know, I used to love microsites. Until building microsites became a unnecessary and/or gratuitous addition to an integrated ad campaign. Case in point, Levi's Copper Jeans site, Hot models? Check. Snazzy Flash/Actionscript animation? Check. A point? Hmm, you lost me there.

Not only does the site takes a couple of minutes to load, the wait is no where near worth it. A flashy 3D rendering of a girl and guy stripping (not as sexy as it sounds), only to be be swathed in copper armor is all you get to see, and that only takes a few seconds to view. Boo. Give me a game or a customizable jean design or something.

The Odder Adder = An Odd Ad

Ha! Can you see it? My likeness is on a T-Mobile banner ad! Don't believe me? Look a little closer below:

Striking resemblence. no? The bangs, the flat nose, even the smile are uncanny. Except for the fact that the girl sports a stump. I can attest both of my hands and all ten fingers are still intact. Therefore, this model, as lovely as she is, is NOT me. And check out the crappy copy:


Really now. Like this is actually going to sell home cell phone service packages? I know no Gen X, Gen Y or Millenial would be willing to shell out a hundred bucks when they can just call up Maury Povich.

In any case, when this ad splashed on my screen, I quickly jumped over to my coworker's desk to make sure this wasn't some super-duper-targeted marketing campaign. Imagine if your face popped up on every ad you come across on the web.

But if this were indeed a picture of myself, I wonder where it came from. My thoughts can't help but wander to Virgin's lawsuit from using a teenager's Flickr photo without permission for an ad campaign. Over the teen's picture, Virgin wrote, ""Dump your pen friend," and "Free text virgin to virgin" at the bottom. At least my accompanying copy isn't so condemning.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

WTF? Copyranter Fakes Own Death

What a smarmy bastard. Two days after my fawning eulogy for the ad blog Copyranter, he decides to resurrect himself from the dead. The sudden resuscitation is due in large part to the other fawning eulogies the ad community left in his comments and other blogs. What an attention whore.

Turns out Mr. Ranter took on a pseudo day job at AnimalNewYork, yet another blog dedicated to decoding the underbelly of NYC. (Yawn.) He now only has time to blog on Copyranter 2-3 times a week, much to the chagrin of the ad industry.

My assistant asked why he hadn't just hosted ads on his blogs if he's so worried about productivity. Well, wouldn't that just go against everything he stands for? What purpose would a contextual ad touting the wonders of "Men's Stylish Underwear" from next to your American Apparel crotch rant serve?

The best thing about the Copyranter phenom is a) the writer is criticizing his own industry, and b) his readers are largely from the same industry. I guess Gawker bitching about the publishing world is no different. I wonder what's fueling all these blogs. Is it self-hatred? Perhaps it's joy from seeing our competitors get a good knock in the nuts. Maybe it's twisted cocktail of both.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

RIP: Copyranter

Oh no! One my most favoritest blogs in the whole wide world is throwing in the towel.

The man behind the advertising blog Copyranter, best known for tearing new ones for countless ad campaigns with his searing commentary and verbal abuse, is calling it quits in favor of more productive pursuits. (You mean to say blogs aren't productive?) When a diabolical genius like like Copyranter goes belly up, one can't help but wonder if this is an omen of things to come. Is the blog world going bust? Or was he just bought out by Kenneth Cole, American Apparel, or any one of his many archnemeses?

In any case, Copyranter was one of the reasons I chose to become an ad blogger in the first place. In his memory, here are some of the top lessons I've learned from his 3 glorious years in the blogosphere:

Lesson #1: Puns Are for Wimps
And the wimp in question is designer Kenneth Cole. With a blog called "Awearness," not to mention ad copy like "We're forgetting AIDS," "Beware weapons of mass distraction," and," Help re-pair the lives of the homeless" (an ad for shoes), Cole, who does all his own copy, BTW, is a walking case of pundemonium (sorry, I couldn't help it). Save the the cutesy-ness for the clothing.

Lesson #2: Too Much T&A (&P) Can Be a Bad Thing
If you don't know what I mean by "P," check out any one of American Apparel's ads. But really, there's only so much softcore '70s porn we can take in a day. Make that a lifetime. We get it, Dov Charney. You like women and you like to f###. What does that have to do with your Fruit-of-the-Loom-on-Acid outfits?

Lesson #3: Subliminal Messaging is Alive and Well
Okay, maybe it's not textbook subliminal. Any dingbat with working pipes would see right through any of these, but the creatives don't give a crap. Not that I agree with everything Copyranter ranted about (the lemon vagina and shoe penis, for instance), but there are some notables that I wouldn't have noticed had he not noted them.

Goodbye, Copyranter. You shall be missed.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Hillarack? Barackillary... Broccoli!

What do you get when you cross...

If only our own citizens were as interested in US politics. (Ahem, Canada.) This is a print ad for Hogeschool Universitein Brussel, a university/college in Belgium. "Why choose when you can combine," asks the copy. "Go study at HUB. The first college and university in one."

[Via Copyranter]

Trademark Battle: Apple vs New York City

It ain't easy being green. New York City's latest green campaign, GreeNYC, is getting a kick in the shins courtesy of Apple czar Steve Jobs. Wired reports that according to the iMagnate, GreeNYC's logo, a figure-8 apple with a stalk, resembles Apple's trademark apple (see above courtesy of Gothamist). Around the same time New York and Co filed to trademark their new logo, Apple filed an opposition. Apple's worry: the two apples would confuse consumers.
But in my book, whoever heads to City Hall to purchase the latest iPod Nano shouldn't be handling sophisticated technology in the first place.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Columbia Career Panel: Notes from New Media

I had the chance to check out Columbia Career Education center's new media panel last night, and while I was there to mine for some (ahem) new opportunities, instead, I ended up gleaning a lot of great industry info from the panelists. If you're interested in a career in new media, it's worth taking a look at their answers below.

Members included:

Maurice Matiz, Vice Executive Director of at Columbia Center for New Technology
Janet Balis, President and Founder of Digital Media Strategies
Shannon Friedrichs, Director of Programming Planning and Strategy for Nickelodeon
Karen Levine, Strategy and Marketing Consultant for Triple Play Consulting
Sean Pfitzenmaier, Co-founder of Social Sauce and

If someone were trying to break into the new media, what are some of the requisite skills they should have?

Shane: 1) A background or understanding of engineering/programming behind of how systems work, 2) an understanding of design on the frontend and 3) an understanding of how to market or communicate your product or ideas.

Shannon: A willingness to change. You have to be flexible.

Shane: A hunger for new technologies.

Janet: It would also be helpful to think in terms of big business--if you phrase things in a way to your client or boss that let's them know you have the bigger picture in mind, it helps push your ideas through.

What are some of the buzz words in the new media industry?

Karen: Engagement, monetize (as in how to make something make money), and lean in vs lean back (the interactivity of media).

Shannon: Access points and the writable web. Distribution media vs destination media, which is similar to lean in vs lean back. I think some companies have problems today letting go of their ownership over certain media products (Ed's Note: think SNL pulling episodes off YouTube).

You all mention this hunger for technology--how do you keep up with all the technology coming out? What resources do you use?

Shane: I try to keep up with certain blogs like, a blog about web 2.0 startups,, a blog about social media and, a blog about venture capitalism.

Karen: MediaPost has a ton of newsletters I subscribe to, but hardly get to read, but industry newsletters like that are helpful.

Shannon: I find Google News Product helpful, but is great for those looking to break into the TV industry. They even have a great jobs section. I sometimes check, too.

Maurice: I suggest picking 1-3 topics that you love, and focusing only on them, otherwise you'll be overwhelmed.

Karen: Are we overwhelming you yet? has a wonderful newsletter that even has a daily thought. And if you are willing to pay, or if the school has an account, is really good. You should also listen to NPR's On Media show on the weekend.

Janis: I find that a lot of executives in both new and traditional media read Jack Myers' newsletter ( He usually breaks stories before everyone else.

Shane, I read an article that the facebooks and MySpaces are going down. How do you feel about that?

Shane: I hope they are! But seriously, it's really interesting to see how today's trend is towards these open API systems. Facebook didn't have an open API at first and now everyone is getting spammed with user-generated applications every day. But open-source isn't the only way to go. Apple has been using a closed-system model for years very successfully--in large part because they innovate regularly on their own. is trying to follow that model. It many ways, it's a gamble, but we feel that this is the opportunity in the market right now so it's a gamble we're willing to take.