Brandtainment

Brands that invest in creating content that entertains and delights are poised to stand out, through genuine fan engagement and sharing of the content. It seems obvious, doesn’t it? Create a video, or a picture, or a blog post that in some way makes people glad they spent the time watching the video, viewing the picture, or reading the blog post, and they’re more apt to like what you created, comment on it, and perhaps even share it with their friends.

My question is very straightforward. Why are so many brands still creating boring content?

Here are a couple of examples of the kinds of videos brands should be producing more of. NBC Sports will be airing English Premier League games this year, and they created a very funny promotional video – “An American Football Coach in London”. The video could easel be a Saturday Night Live sketch, and in fact it stars SNL alumni Jason Sudeikis. One week after launching, the video has generated over 3.5 million views. Golden!

At Intuit, we were brainstorming triggers that would entice people to file their taxes using TurboTax in advance of the April 30th tax deadline. With a week left to go, I saw an ad on CBC mentioning that the NHL playoffs were starting on April 30th. Bingo! With the Maple Leafs returning to the play-offs for the first time in nine years, and the Canucks and Habs also participating, we found our trigger. Within 72 hours we assembled a team, authored a script and produced a video using iPhones – “The Great Canadian Face-off: Taxes vs. Playoffs”. No, we didn’t have SNL talent, but we did poke fun at the situation and managed to garner over 12,000 views.

(Guess who’s wearing the Canucks jersey!)

Brands don’t need to invest a lot of money to create an awesome video. However innovative thinking and creativity are definite musts. I foresee a lot more brands going this route in the future.

A New Agency Model: An Interview With Peter LaMotte from GeniusRocket

With agency models in the marketing world in a state of flux, opportunity is ripe for new, more nimble and potentially more innovative agencies to arise. One such agency is GeniusRocket, a small and creative firm focused on video production that brings together the best of traditional advertising with modern crowdsourcing ideas.

GeniusRocket has developed a crowdsourcing model that enables companies to source ideas from a hand-picked and vetted community of creative and video production professionals. Collaboratively, GeniusRocket works with clients to ensure that content produced fits clearly with the client’s vision and strategy while still providing the security, privacy and control associated with more traditional agency models.

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to ask a few questions to Peter LaMotte, the President of GeniusRocket.

Q: What do you feel are the most notable benefits for clients of GeniusRocket’s unique agency model?

A: I think it has to do with comparison to what else is out there. The paths that have always been there have been “go local”, meaning essentially freelance – like a local guy or someone you might know – or go to an agency for the creative space. What crowdsourcing has done, through its evolution, is provide a third alternative. By using GeniusRocket, clients get the benefits of privacy, creative oversight and direction, and quality that an agency delivers as well as the speed, choice and the affordability of your traditional crowdsourcing paths. So, it’s meant to be the best of both worlds. We feel we’re the best approach out there for creating video content for a brand that really isn’t interested in just sophomoric humour or some of the stuff that tends to come out of contests. When you say “hey, $5,000 to the best video” and anyone can submit ideas, you tend to get a lot of college humour, a lot of students participating. When people are truly looking for agency level production, and quality of ideas, GeniusRocket delivers that through our crowdsourcing model.

Q: Often times with more traditional agencies, you’ll have the same creatives dedicated to a client account over an extended period of time. Is that possible through your model?

Yes, it is. Traditionally in an ad agency there is a small team dedicated to an account – and when a brand goes to the agency, you will typically get variations of the same idea. Someone will pitch idea A, and someone will come up and say “that’s great but what if we do this”, and all of a sudden you have ten ideas but it’s really A, AB, AC, AD. Someone else may come up with something new, but it usually ends up being B, BC, BD, again variations of the same idea. Whereas what the the crowd delivers through crowdsourcing and GeniusRocket’s curated process, leveraging established relationships with professionals, is a diverse range of creative and production choices. As a result of our relationship with the creatives, if a client comes back to us and says “I loved working with that team”, then we’ll make sure the same team either participates in another crowdsourcing initiative with the client or works directly with the client. Now where we see that happening more is actually in the production side, so what people will say is “gosh, I love the fact that we got 25 original professional ideas from you”, and “I love the fact that I used that production company, is there anyway going forward we can continue to work with that production company?”. We do that a lot, for one of our biggest clients we’ve done six national TV spots with them across three different projects, four of them done with same production company.

Q: How do you envision agency models evolving over the next number of years? Are you seeing other agencies coming in, with models that are similar to yours?

A:  The trouble with large agencies trying to adapt to this changing environment, and yes they do have to adapt, is that they’re going to have a tough time shaving off excess baggage that they have to make themselves more nimble. It’s not that they’re not going to do it, its just going to be difficult for them and they’re really going to turn to maybe more virtual teams than they have in the past and learn a lot from what is working at companies like GeniusRocket and Victors and Spoils from a more traditional approach. I believe you’ll see some disappear, more will acquire companies like ours to give them that agility

For a post on another innovative crowdsourcing firm in the ad industry, read my interview with Ignacio Oreamuno from Giant Hydra.

Building a Customer-Centric Company: Lessons from Coca-Cola Content 2020

Marketing was much simpler when information flowed in one direction, from company to customer. However, with the rapid proliferation of touch points over the past decade or so, and the ability for customers to generate and share their own content about brands, the nature of the game has truly changed – forever.

While most companies realize and understand this, the extreme rapid pace of change has left many somewhat bewildered and slow to adapt in shifting from a product or company-focussed organization to one that truly is customer-centric.

Last year, Coca-Cola produced a visionary and informative video communicating their vision for marketing and communications over the next decade. I recently learned about and watched the video, and I wanted to share my key takeaways – I have done so below.

First, here is the video. Trust me, it is well worth spending twenty minutes of your time to watch.

Key takeaways Coca-Cola’s Content 2020:

1. Content Marketing is Going to Become Critically Important

 

People are drowning in a vast ocean of information and content. Most of it, when viewed from the perspective of a particular individual, is completely and utterly irrelevant. However brands that are able to create interesting and meaningful content – in the mindset of customers, that is – will be better positioned to set themselves apart. In developing a compelling brand story, companies most focus on fitting into the unique individual narratives of a customer’s everyday life, and in someway creating real and genuine value. Marketing “fluff” just won’t cut it.

2. Company Structures and Processes Need to Evolve

The environment has changed, and company structures that were well-suited for the mass marketing era have become antiquated. In particular, companies need to become more open and willing to partner with different contributors in an effort to collaboratively achieve objectives. Essentially, companies need to consider new ways of doing things – such as, for example, inviting input from customers through crowdsourcing or perhaps partnering with a technology company to reach customers in a new and innovative way.

3. Companies Must Adapt to an On-Demand Culture

 

Digital technology and social media has truly facilitated the development of an on-demand culture. While marketing and communications campaigns, finite in nature, will still play an important role – companies need to focus more on being present when customers want them to be present. Engagement opportunities now exist 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, across multiple touch points.

4. Think Big, But Keep Business Objectives in Mind

The rapid pace of change necessitates that companies become more innovative in how they engage with customers. An innovative corporate culture requires big thinking – ideas that push boundaries, perhaps getting companies out of their comfort zone. However, in developing innovative approaches, companies must not lose sight of their business objectives. Connecting the dots might not be easy, and the path might not always be clear, but companies must consider how “idea X” will help the company achieve “objective Y”.

5. Learn to Operate in Perpetual Beta

 

Test, learn, measure and refine. Companies like Google continually test and refine products – often not even dropping the “beta” label once a product has been launched.  Big, creative thinking and innovative content requires testing, and the reality is not everything will work. But companies that focus on identifying successes through measurement, and refining those successes based on insights gained, will be well-poised to create relevant content for customers that truly has meaning and provides value.

What are your thoughts?

Create Your Own TV Ad and Media Buy

This is très, très cool! Today, I found out about Google TV Ads, an online marketplace that enables anyone to buy and measure national cable advertising. For an overview of how the service works, have a look at the video below from Slate. It’s hard to believe that with a little ingenuity and creativity, one can now create and submit an ad, and develop a media buy right from the comfort of home.


Homeless to Harvard – An Inspiring Story

I learned about Liz Murray in a recent issue of Success magazine. I thought I would share this video, which I found on YouTube.


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Great Viral Marketing – Steve Nash and Vitamin Water

I thought I would share a video that has very quickly gone viral, a hilarious infomercial spoof written, produced, directed by and starring Steve Nash.

Also, here is a very interesting and related article from Marketing Magazine on how the nature of athletes as brands has changed – with athletes leveraging social media to mold and control their image.