Not Just for the Kids

February 25, 2009

Coraline Box

Have you gone to see the animated feature, Coraline yet? I finally did. Admittedly, I’m a little late on the bandwagon but it was still great. While the charming 3D animation is fantastic, it’s not the only innovation that should be celebrated. The film’s mash up of traditional Hollywood movie promotion and some very smart “pinwheel” marketing concepted by Wieden+Kennedy, proved to be very successful in more than just the kiddie market.

With Phil Knight, founder of Nike, heading up the film’s promotion and pushing the distribution company, Focus Features, to launch the campaign a little differently, Coraline was able to bring in $7 million more than was originally projected. If you’re interested in finding out how a 70-yr-old billionaire founder of a shoe company got involved, click here.

What particularly caught my eye was the innovative marketing tactics that I started following on the web about a month ago. Wieden+Kennedy has the uncanny ability to be able to get the consumer engaged and people talking. The campaign for Coraline was no different. They understood the fact that this movie could appeal to an older generation with it’s emotional core and used this to reach out directly to niche markets that included toy makers and design geeks. The agency sent 5o of their favorite blogs a handcrafted box filled with original pieces from the production(such as Coraline’s wigs or her hand knitted sweaters). Each box was individually unique and brought great curiosity about the film to their recipients. Many of them can be seen here.

What a clever way to get influencers to talk about a mainstream children’s movie. It’s good to see the importance of design culture recognized and the power of word of mouth in action.


U2 Lands on Letterman

February 13, 2009


We’ll file this post under “innovative use of media” (which is nothing new for U2).  The band has announced that it will appear on CBS’s The Late Show for an entire week to promote the release of its new album.

Given the consistent slide of music sales in the US—a 45 percent decline in the number of albums sold since 2000 (src: it’s not surprising that bands and labels are looking for innovative ways to promote their products (Radiohead’s “name-your-own-price Internet release,” the proposed Ticketmaster / Live Nation merger, guest judges and audience members on “American Idol,” etc.).

What’s interesting about these types of arrangements is that they mirror a more broad marketing strategy—integrating a product into the world of the audience (the old “integrate vs. interrupt” approach).  Whether it’s getting a single track included on EA’s “Madden NFL” or licensing your music for commercial use as Moby and Sting have done, it’s apparent that the old play book is being updated for the digital age (regardless of the product being promoted).

The new paradigm seeks to obtain respect from the audience, and looks for ways to align a product with an interest, whether the forum be on Facebook or “Friends.”

“TV Industry Faces Ad Avoidance Crisis More Severe Than Financial Crisis, Warns TiVo CEO.”

October 24, 2008

I read a column recently called :

“TV Industry Faces Ad Avoidance Crisis More Severe Than Financial Crisis, Warns TiVo CEO.”

If you are at all in/around the space of television advertising, you might want to take a look at it … Self professed interactive television guru Jack Myers’ column is worth a look.

Myers paints a picture that’s pretty bleak for us in the tv ad industry. The message: we’d better evolve. The article, citing TiVo’s ability to track on a micro level, consumer behavior and ad avoidance, really points to a situation that brands might want to make the decision not to advertise. Obviously, if you create entertaining commercials, more people are apt to NOT fast forward … but, the fact is, people don’t want to see advertising, and now, 3.5 million households can actually avoid them. And, with TiVo beating the DISH Network patent problem, they are going to be in most every household pretty soon (5 years? 10 years?).

For advertisers, there is another way to go.

The challenge is, rather than challenge your agency to produce compelling and entertaining commercials make interactive and engaging ones. How? Well, first off, advertisers need to look at tv differently. It’s no longer totally a lean back, entertaining delivery system. A lot of viewers, and more each day, are either multi-screeners with Internet and TV in the same room at the same time, or, are watching TV on their computer.

Changing the mentality of the advertiser is on the agency.
Finding the solution, on the networks and cable folks.

Can that happen? Yes. Is it? Well, it was!

Years ago, I was part of a start up called actzero. We were an Intel Capital and angel investor funded Internet company, focused on developing a Web-based solution for interactive television. Our cobbled convergence solution, the Burst Network, rested on a platform that was capable of handling 5 million simultaneous users, giving them the ability to participate in real time. We had some initial success with ESPN, Shrine Game and eBay, proving that our concept was real. Disappointingly, we were not able to raise a second round of funding and closed. At the time, as futurist Paul Saffo said, “you are ahead of the “S” curve of adoption.”

But, all is not lost (well besides that $4 million we burned).

Today, David Verklin is working with Cast Ventures. That’s a new startup in NYC focusing on this new direction. From their own materials : “ service bureau focused on making cable’s advanced advertising solutions easier to buy, use and measure. Canoe Ventures provides technology solutions that leverage cable’s two-way infrastructure for unprecedented message precision, engagement, interactivity, reach and measurability, and it helps networks tap into the power of cable so they can provide most effective and efficient marketing solutions for advertising clients, ultimately, changing the way viewers use TV.”

Weird. Seems like that S curve of adoption isn’t so far out in front of us.