These are the real thrillers

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Before Michael Jackson became a walking freak show, he gave the world Thriller, the perfect fushion of art, commerce, and marketing. On the 25th-anniversary of Thriller’s release, I think it is instructive for marketers to consider those times when effective marketing has helped consumers reward a brilliant work of art. These are Thriller moments:

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These are the real thrillers

thriller2.jpg

Before Michael Jackson became a walking freak show, he gave the world Thriller, the perfect fushion of art, commerce, and marketing. On the 25th-anniversary of Thriller’s release, I think it is instructive for marketers to consider those times when effective marketing has helped consumers reward a brilliant work of art. These are Thriller moments:

Continue reading

Marketing rant: Advertising Age is full of crap

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No, I don’t mean the insightful content, which I read religiously — I mean the cluttered advertisements that get in the way of the magazine, like the slickly produced but physically obtrusive inserts pictured above. Like a lot of Advertising Age readers, I tuck its issues into my briefcase to read while on my way to someplace else. It’s getting harder to do so with this increasingly bulky magazine. And I cannot remove the inserts without practically destroying an issue of Advertising Age. Advertising Age isn’t the only sinner, but it’s a high-profile example of what it’s like to try and read a magazine these days. It is difficult enough to dodge those subscription cards that always slip out all over my lap (or, if I’m reading in bed, right at my eye like heat seeking missiles). Now we have to wade upstream through obtrusive advertisements. By the way, I would probably read the inserts if they were produced using lighter paper stock.

Where is TiVo for the magazine reading experience?

Marketing rant: Advertising Age is full of crap

p1010198.JPG

No, I don’t mean the insightful content, which I read religiously — I mean the cluttered advertisements that get in the way of the magazine, like the slickly produced but physically obtrusive inserts pictured above. Like a lot of Advertising Age readers, I tuck its issues into my briefcase to read while on my way to someplace else. It’s getting harder to do so with this increasingly bulky magazine. And I cannot remove the inserts without practically destroying an issue of Advertising Age. Advertising Age isn’t the only sinner, but it’s a high-profile example of what it’s like to try and read a magazine these days. It is difficult enough to dodge those subscription cards that always slip out all over my lap (or, if I’m reading in bed, right at my eye like heat seeking missiles). Now we have to wade upstream through obtrusive advertisements. By the way, I would probably read the inserts if they were produced using lighter paper stock.

Where is TiVo for the magazine reading experience?

Oscar shows signs of credibility

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Now that I have slammed Oscar for losing its credibility as a brand over the years, I believe it’s only fair to speak up when Oscar gets it right. The 80th Academy Awards restored a lot of credibility in recognizing the excellence of No Country for Old Men.

No Country for Old Men bagged major Oscar wins: Best Picture, Best Director and Adapted Screenplay for Ethan and Joel Cohen, and Best Supporting Actor for Javier Bardem. I hope the movie’s success will also cause more people to purchase the brilliant book written by Pulitizer Prize winner Cormac McCarthy.

This is a compelling movie, but an ugly one, unlike Atonement, which had that Big Oscar Movie gravitas.

Like the Cohen Brothers’s Fargo, No Country for Old Men contemplates the existence of evil in the world and our uneasy acceptance of it. But unlike police officer Marge Gunderson in Fargo, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell comes to realize that he is up against an evil (in the form of killer Anton Chigurh) that he cannot fathom or stop.

In short, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell comes face to face with his own limitations — and, ultimately, defeat.

This is the kind of movie that I am not sure I would have understood or appreciated when I was in college, but as an adult coming to terms with human limitations and the reality of evil, I feel like No Country for Old Men speaks to me — which I love about a great movie.

But the movie is violent, harsh, and depressing — hardly the kind the Academy likes. Oscar hasn’t shown cajones like this since awarding the dark, violent Silence of the Lambs a Best Picture.

This is how a brand restores credibility and authenticity.

Oscar shows signs of credibility

ap_no_country_071210_ms.jpg

Now that I have slammed Oscar for losing its credibility as a brand over the years, I believe it’s only fair to speak up when Oscar gets it right. The 80th Academy Awards restored a lot of credibility in recognizing the excellence of No Country for Old Men.

No Country for Old Men bagged major Oscar wins: Best Picture, Best Director and Adapted Screenplay for Ethan and Joel Cohen, and Best Supporting Actor for Javier Bardem. I hope the movie’s success will also cause more people to purchase the brilliant book written by Pulitizer Prize winner Cormac McCarthy.

This is a compelling movie, but an ugly one, unlike Atonement, which had that Big Oscar Movie gravitas.

Like the Cohen Brothers’s Fargo, No Country for Old Men contemplates the existence of evil in the world and our uneasy acceptance of it. But unlike police officer Marge Gunderson in Fargo, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell comes to realize that he is up against an evil (in the form of killer Anton Chigurh) that he cannot fathom or stop.

In short, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell comes face to face with his own limitations — and, ultimately, defeat.

This is the kind of movie that I am not sure I would have understood or appreciated when I was in college, but as an adult coming to terms with human limitations and the reality of evil, I feel like No Country for Old Men speaks to me — which I love about a great movie.

But the movie is violent, harsh, and depressing — hardly the kind the Academy likes. Oscar hasn’t shown cajones like this since awarding the dark, violent Silence of the Lambs a Best Picture.

This is how a brand restores credibility and authenticity.

Avenue A | Razorfish publishes Digital Outlook Report

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The 2008 Digital Outlook Report, now available from my employer Avenue A | Razorfish, is a must-read for anyone in marketing.

This annual report helps marketers understand trends in digital spending and consumer behavior. It contains rich insights ranging from the future of search marketing to social media. A few key themes jumped out at me as I read this 165-page opus:

1. Marketers: your consumer has escaped. Avenue A | Razorfish $735 million digital media billings for 2007 were distributed across more than 1,800 web properties, as opposed to 863 in 2006. Spend also moved away from a handful of portals and toward vertical properties and search engines, especially entertainment websites and community-focused properties. So why should you care? Because this distributed spend reflects the behavior of the “everywhere consumer” who snacks on content across the entire digital landscape as opposed to relying on a portal to obtain information passively. Marketers: if you want to really build a relationship with consumers in the digital world, likewise you need to think through every possible digital touchpoint where your consumer lives — websites, mobile screens, social media sites, broadband video communities, and so on.

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How to spend $735 million in a year

2. Got social media fatigue? Brace yourself for even more. The most startling (and potentially controversial) section of the report is “Conversations with the Connected Class,” by Brandon Geary. This chapter discusses the results of in-depth interviews with the “connected class” — wired consumers between the ages of 18 to 34. Brandon finds that the connected class uses the internet to build multiple identities that fit the different roles they live today. It is not uncommon for members of the connected class to maintain more than one MySpace profile to reflect their professional and personal lilves. The connected class also views different social media sites as opportunities to meet new people among multiple cultures and scenes. Social media sites like Yelp, 43 Things, or Bebo have their own relevant cultures and places in the digital world. So why should you care? We believe the industry will see the proliferation of even more specialized, sophisticated social networks that cater to the varied identities and roles of the connected class. Consequently, marketers need to plan on participating in even more social media networks and customize our approaches for each speciality.

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Brandon Geary of Avenue A | Razorfish ponders the prospect of yet another interview with the connected class

Sound hard? Well, no sane individual ever said that digital is easy to figure out. But it’s pretty darn fun and rewarding for the marketer.

You can register for the report here, listen to a podcast here, and obtain more commentary from the report’s executive editor Jeff Lanctot on Jeff’s blog. (Hey Brandon Geary: you should have a blog!). Moreover, graphics that illustrate details of Avenue A | Razorfish’s $735 million digital spend are available on Flickr.

This blog post barely scratches the surface of the report. Check it out and tell me what you think of it. Reuters, CNET, and other media are already weighing in.

Happy reading.

Avenue A | Razorfish publishes Digital Outlook Report

dor08.png

The 2008 Digital Outlook Report, now available from my employer Avenue A | Razorfish, is a must-read for anyone in marketing.

This annual report helps marketers understand trends in digital spending and consumer behavior. It contains rich insights ranging from the future of search marketing to social media. A few key themes jumped out at me as I read this 165-page opus:

1. Marketers: your consumer has escaped. Avenue A | Razorfish $735 million digital media billings for 2007 were distributed across more than 1,800 web properties, as opposed to 863 in 2006. Spend also moved away from a handful of portals and toward vertical properties and search engines, especially entertainment websites and community-focused properties. So why should you care? Because this distributed spend reflects the behavior of the “everywhere consumer” who snacks on content across the entire digital landscape as opposed to relying on a portal to obtain information passively. Marketers: if you want to really build a relationship with consumers in the digital world, likewise you need to think through every possible digital touchpoint where your consumer lives — websites, mobile screens, social media sites, broadband video communities, and so on.

2289408655_3b6e930508_m.jpg

How to spend $735 million in a year

2. Got social media fatigue? Brace yourself for even more. The most startling (and potentially controversial) section of the report is “Conversations with the Connected Class,” by Brandon Geary. This chapter discusses the results of in-depth interviews with the “connected class” — wired consumers between the ages of 18 to 34. Brandon finds that the connected class uses the internet to build multiple identities that fit the different roles they live today. It is not uncommon for members of the connected class to maintain more than one MySpace profile to reflect their professional and personal lilves. The connected class also views different social media sites as opportunities to meet new people among multiple cultures and scenes. Social media sites like Yelp, 43 Things, or Bebo have their own relevant cultures and places in the digital world. So why should you care? We believe the industry will see the proliferation of even more specialized, sophisticated social networks that cater to the varied identities and roles of the connected class. Consequently, marketers need to plan on participating in even more social media networks and customize our approaches for each speciality.

s704206900_3461.jpg

Brandon Geary of Avenue A | Razorfish ponders the prospect of yet another interview with the connected class

Sound hard? Well, no sane individual ever said that digital is easy to figure out. But it’s pretty darn fun and rewarding for the marketer.

You can register for the report here, listen to a podcast here, and obtain more commentary from the report’s executive editor Jeff Lanctot on Jeff’s blog. (Hey Brandon Geary: you should have a blog!). Moreover, graphics that illustrate details of Avenue A | Razorfish’s $735 million digital spend are available on Flickr.

This blog post barely scratches the surface of the report. Check it out and tell me what you think of it. Reuters, CNET, and other media are already weighing in.

Happy reading.

Why does “Juno” piss me off?

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In a previous blog post, I took Joe Morgenstern to task for recommending Juno for a Best Picture Oscar. “No one who has ever met an unwed teen mother in real life would ever vote for that cutesy, hipper-than-thou fluff,” I wrote. Since then, I’ve been asked why I’m being so hard on Juno. So let me break it down for you.

From the start, Juno over-reached with ridiculous dialogue. Consider this exchange in which Rollo, a store clerk, and Juno ponder the interpretation of her home pregnancy test:

Rollo: That ain’t no etch-a-sketch. This is one doodle that can’t be un-did, homeskillet.

Rollo: So what’s the prognosis, Fertile Myrtle? Minus or plus?
Juno MacGuff: I don’t know. It’s not seasoned yet.
[grabs products]
Juno MacGuff: I’ll take some of these. Nope… There it is. The little pink plus sign is so unholy.
[shakes pregnancy tester]
Rollo: That ain’t no Etch-A-Sketch. This is one doodle that can’t be un-did, Homeskillet.
Rollo: You better pay for that pee-stick when you’re done with it. Don’t think it’s yours just because you marked it with your urine!
Rollo: Well, well… If it isn’t MacGuff the crime dog! Back for another test?
Juno MacGuff: I think the last one was defective. The plus sign looked more like a division sign. I remain unconvinced.
[Rollo pulls the bathroom key out of reach]
Rollo: This is your third test today, Mama Bear. Your eggo is preggo, no doubt about it.

Yeah, right — just your typical exchange between your local store clerk and a pregnant, unwed teen.

If you’ve seen Juno, you know the rest of the story — and Juno’s penchant for oh-so-ironic literary allusions and deadpan observations about life.

Now consider Pulp Fiction from 1994. No one in real life (that I’ve ever met) talks like anyone in Pulp Fiction. But, here’s the difference: Pulp Fiction immediately established its own world apart from ours, where a cartoon-like character ponders the merits of a Big Kahuna burger before murdering some poor shmuck with a Flock of Seagulls haircut. Moreover, it was obvious that Pulp Fiction was as much a statement about our casual acceptance of violence as it was a work of art.

Pulp Fiction worked becuase it established its intent and tone immediately. We were able to willingly suspend disbelief and let the movie play by its own rules in its own strange world that existed inside our own.

Juno failed because I was supposed to believe that Juno was a real person dealing with real problems in a ridiculous, breezy fashion. Had the movie been about satirizing our culture’s perception of teen pregancy by telling its story through the eyes of a ridiculously over-the-top pregnant teen hipster, I might have formed different conclusions.

But I don’t think satire was its intent.

Juno did have its moments. Jennifer Garner deserved an Oscar nomination. Her character was fully realized and complex. But I resented the movie overall because Juno demanded that I accept the unacceptable.

Why does “Juno” piss me off?

juno-poster2-big.jpg

In a previous blog post, I took Joe Morgenstern to task for recommending Juno for a Best Picture Oscar. “No one who has ever met an unwed teen mother in real life would ever vote for that cutesy, hipper-than-thou fluff,” I wrote. Since then, I’ve been asked why I’m being so hard on Juno. So let me break it down for you.

From the start, Juno over-reached with ridiculous dialogue. Consider this exchange in which Rollo, a store clerk, and Juno ponder the interpretation of her home pregnancy test:

Rollo: That ain’t no etch-a-sketch. This is one doodle that can’t be un-did, homeskillet.

Rollo: So what’s the prognosis, Fertile Myrtle? Minus or plus?
Juno MacGuff: I don’t know. It’s not seasoned yet.
[grabs products]
Juno MacGuff: I’ll take some of these. Nope… There it is. The little pink plus sign is so unholy.
[shakes pregnancy tester]
Rollo: That ain’t no Etch-A-Sketch. This is one doodle that can’t be un-did, Homeskillet.
Rollo: You better pay for that pee-stick when you’re done with it. Don’t think it’s yours just because you marked it with your urine!
Rollo: Well, well… If it isn’t MacGuff the crime dog! Back for another test?
Juno MacGuff: I think the last one was defective. The plus sign looked more like a division sign. I remain unconvinced.
[Rollo pulls the bathroom key out of reach]
Rollo: This is your third test today, Mama Bear. Your eggo is preggo, no doubt about it.

Yeah, right — just your typical exchange between your local store clerk and a pregnant, unwed teen.

If you’ve seen Juno, you know the rest of the story — and Juno’s penchant for oh-so-ironic literary allusions and deadpan observations about life.

Now consider Pulp Fiction from 1994. No one in real life (that I’ve ever met) talks like anyone in Pulp Fiction. But, here’s the difference: Pulp Fiction immediately established its own world apart from ours, where a cartoon-like character ponders the merits of a Big Kahuna burger before murdering some poor shmuck with a Flock of Seagulls haircut. Moreover, it was obvious that Pulp Fiction was as much a statement about our casual acceptance of violence as it was a work of art.

Pulp Fiction worked becuase it established its intent and tone immediately. We were able to willingly suspend disbelief and let the movie play by its own rules in its own strange world that existed inside our own.

Juno failed because I was supposed to believe that Juno was a real person dealing with real problems in a ridiculous, breezy fashion. Had the movie been about satirizing our culture’s perception of teen pregancy by telling its story through the eyes of a ridiculously over-the-top pregnant teen hipster, I might have formed different conclusions.

But I don’t think satire was its intent.

Juno did have its moments. Jennifer Garner deserved an Oscar nomination. Her character was fully realized and complex. But I resented the movie overall because Juno demanded that I accept the unacceptable.