Advertising is a trade-off. A product or brand is brought to your attention in exchange for an attractive image, an emotional connection or even a laugh. The brain makes a link between the two and the product is in your head whether you admit it or not. It’s a delicate marriage between campaign strategy and brand/product that make an ad resonate. Now consider the .gif below.
Here we see native advertising (another cross-eyed, drooling beast of misguided ad strategy) turning its head to consume the world of video. Imagine you’re watching a rerun of ‘Real Desert Housewives Season 5: Armageddon.’ You don’t remember an obnoxiously blatant Taco Bell billboard in this shot when you first saw the episode, yet there it is. Is that even possible? Am I watching too much E! channel?
Yes and yes.
With this technology, spearheaded by companies like Mirriad, native signage is digitally shoehorned into all manner of video from reruns, youtube videos (even personal ones), even other commercials. Advertising meets ‘Inception.’ Adverception. Shameless product placement is nothing new, but it was always at least at the discretion of the writers and showrunners. Mirriad’s retroactive technology undermines the original creative vision, and even worse, music video procurer Vevo and Mirriad insist this technology is doing us a favor[i].
But it could get even uglier.
Imagine you upload an old video of your late grandma to Youtube for you family in Antarctica to see. In your cut, she’s walking around downtown to the beat of “Graceland” by Paul Simon, and since you can’t afford to pay for the song, Youtube compensates by inserting some harmless Pfizer ads. Everywhere. Seems weird, right? According to Mirriad’s tagline, millennials are the ‘skip’ generation, the ‘skip’ referencing a desire to fast-forward through ads. Something about that label feels more than a little condescending. It’s not that my generation wants to skip over ads because we have attention deficit disorder: it’s the opposite. The millennial generation is actually quite intelligent and self aware of the nature of advertising, and casual product placement is not as effective as it once was. That’s why a lot of recently successful campaigns undermine the predictability and heavy-handed nature of commercials. Companies such as your Geico[ii] and Old Spice stand at the forefront of button-pushing, trail blazing creativity, and my generation responds. Brands are selling to us, but we’re at least being engaged with something interesting. Let’s take a closer look at an ad that creates a strong connection.
This commercial is called “Milky Way.” It has no taglines, no dialogue, no testimonials, pop music, or even celebrity cameos. However, it is widely seen as one of the most groundbreaking commercials to ever air. Why? It’s important that the worlds of commerce and art stay as separated as church and state, though it is okay for them to inform each other. They can never tread on each other’s ground. This commercial is so amazing because it’s incredibly engaging and aesthetically pleasing and it is one of the most artistic commercials ever made. Without the blatant logo at the end, it can be an incredible short film. In this ad, the Volkswagen takes a backseat to the much more powerful story, environment, and music. The directors have portrayed such a familiar experience, such a familiar feeling that you can’t help but compare yourself to the situation, to think back on a similar experience you may have had. It’s very hard to date this video. By using an older song by an [at that time], very unknown folk singer, the commercial can dislodge itself from any specific generation, and in that way bridge a gap between generations. Even though the faces are young, the commercial resonates with all ages. The experience of driving around in a car on beautiful summer night is powerful nostalgia. Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris are the husband/wife directorial team behind this ad. Unsurprisingly, they would go on to future success directing the film “Little Miss Sunshine.” What can companies learn from Volkswagen’s approach versus Mirriad’s approach? The best a commercial can do is establish a connection. And a strong connection comes from an engaging and creative vision, not from berating our eyeballs with ham-fisted product placements. If you’re wondering, ‘When will native digital advertising start becoming prevalent?’ The answer is: it’s already happening.
Here’s a palette cleanser of 2 more excellent commercials:
[i] If you watched the commercial in that link, you just witnessed a solid reference to “The Graduate”: http://youtu.be/gjtoi6Z4lAg?t=49s
[ii] “Our vision at Vevo is to continually re-invent music video as an entertainment art form. Over 30 years ago, music videos on television were a linear, one-dimensional experience. Today, connected platforms give fans more interactive and personal ways to engage with their favorite artists,” said Rio Caraeff, President and CEO of Vevo. “Mirriad allows us to continue bringing the industry forward and improve our fan’s experience by offering uninterrupted viewing while giving brands and content partners a native, creative, scalable and targeted way to come together.” via – http://www.mirriad.com/news/mirriad-vevo-levis-launch-native-video-advertising-technology-platform/ This quote implies Mirriad and Vevo are doing us a favor by giving us the opportunity to see that not only is Pit Bull drinking Bud Light, but we, us lowly peasants, can have the opportunity to partake of the SAME product! Amazing!
SpotlightAR works with clients to cut through the noise of requests circling the analyst relations industry. Rick Nash and Andrew Hsu use their combined skills to communicate companies’ true value and worth to those analysts established as influential in recognizing and reporting on the company’s particular sector.
SpotlightAR focuses its efforts on building relationships with these analysts, rather than pitching them for recognition. Through comprehensive research and a thorough compilation of supporting content that well positions the client, RIck and Andrew shine light on a company’s attributes and qualities that set it apart from the competition.
It’s time for you to shine.
Branding and identity, content strategy, sales and marketing. Components include a website, business cards and other branding elements. Adaptive design in the works.
“We believe Brockton Creative Group is a leading agency on the forefront of branded content marketing. Their Smart Creative Strategy process is one of a kind and gets results in a straight forward manner.
We have been working with BCG for a few months now, and are extremely happy to call them partners. The understanding shown by Brock and his team to our company’s complex messaging is as impressive as their enthusiasm to turn our collective ideas from strategy to production.
They have assembled a highly creative, friendly team with a real can-do attitude. We recently commissioned them to launch our corporate Brand and corresponding web site. The brief was demanding: it needed to be high quality, functional – to include various ways to communicate our specific message to a sophisticated buyer. And they nailed it.
We highly recommend Brockton Creative Group to anyone looking to partner with an agency who will deliver you something unique in terms of design and content from marketing literature to web sites; and complete the full solution by ensuring the web site attracts many visitors; all in a highly professional manner.”
Headquartered on the University of Kansas Medical Center campus, Juntos is focused on building community-based participatory research (CBPR) programs that translate research findings toward the elimination of health disparities and building healthier communities.
Aside from copious amounts of networking with the rock stars of the digital sphere, we had a chance to preview some great new innovative mobile apps and learn more about the world of startups here in the Midwest and the rest of the globe.
The networking never ended. You wouldn’t believe the amount of business cards collected during the five days we were there. One of our favorite meeting spots was the lobby of the Driskill Hotel. It’s quite the swanky getup.
We spent a good amount of time here. Of course, all the restaurants and bars in Austin were packed full of people of every flavor—from big-name celebrities to passionate CEOs of startups. We even got to have lunch with Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos…well, not exactly, but he was at the same restaurant as us…that counts, right?
People and Places
We met up with fellow Midwesterners Silicon Prairie at their decked-out cereal bar. Over bowls of cornflakes, we discussed some of the latest and greatest apps making a big splash at SXSW 2012.
The gist of this app is to be able to find out more about people around you. If someone nearby has the Highlight app installed, their profile will show up on your phone. It’s an interesting way to discover your surroundings and connect with others that share common interests and friends.
So, we wanted to attend the super-cool, exclusive Mashable party…but we didn’t want to wait in line. I used Zaarly for the first time ever in what I feel was a great application: to ask if someone would pick up my offer of $30 to wait in line for us while we dined across the street. Someone took the bait and we finished dinner just in time to cruise on in to the party. Success!
Let’s hear it for a KC startup! LiveOn is a neat new way to share your family’s story. The online application allows you to create multi-media projects that chronicle generations of your family’s history. The best part? The content is saved online and can be shared with generations to come.
This Midwestern startup takes documentation to the next level. With Biltboard, users can document every step of the process leading up to their finished product. From home-improvement projects to DIY arts and crafts, Biltboard offers a solution to trying to remember back to that one time you did that one thing for some place somewhere.
With a head full of knowledge, names and interactive news, we returned home to hit the hay and recover from the whirlwind of activity and innovation that was SXSW. Overall, it was an incredibly productive, fun and creative experience. We will definitely be heading back next year.
For the past several years, SXSW has become a platform for introducing new ideas in the music, film and interactive industries. SXSW was the birthplace of such revolutionary communications tools as Twitter and QR codes.
Aside from hosting a crowd of the tech industry’s who’s-who, the five-day festival boasts some of the coolest parties with ample opportunity for schmoozing with the most creative minds that drive our times.
We’ll be going down with Local Ruckus, a KC startup, who will use this opportunity to mingle with other startups and gain some serious insight into the interactive and digital worlds.
Be sure to follow @brocktoncg on Twitter for updates and snippets of the excitement at SXSW!