Posts Tagged ‘advertising’

Content Marketing is the New Black

March 4, 2015

There is a fundamental shift in the way that we create, consume and share content. To quote Marc Mathieu from Unilever, “Marketing used to be about making a myth and telling it. Now it’s about telling the truth and sharing it.” With an ever-more crowded marketing environment, it behooves brands to move away from thinking like marketers or advertisers who are selling a product and more like publishers.

To do this, companies must create and curate relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage their target audience. While this is done with the objective of driving sales, it’s not truly advertising or public relations – rather it’s a bit of both. Content must be consumer and not brand-focused. It also must answer customer questions across the buyers journey. Successful branded content is often more effective than advertising because it tells a story that engages the user. These stories help to build stronger relationships. They make people care about a product, brand or cause in a way that sales can’t.

Even the news media is challenged by the increase in content marketing. Upstarts like BuzzfeedUpworthy, and Digiday, to name a few, are creating new news paradigms. In the past four years, nearly every media company has rolled out sponsored content as a new revenue stream, to varying levels of success.

As an example, let’s look at Buzzfeed. One could argue that the front page of BuzzFeed looks like a 21st-century tabloid. BuzzFeed provides shareable breaking news, original reporting, entertainment, and video across the social web to a global audience of more than 200 million. It isn’t the New York Times, but it may be a new iteration of the New York Times and the future of how consumers get news. Buzzfeed provides newsworthy content to consumers in digestible bites. These bites come in an assortment of styles ranging from listicles to infographics, timelines and more.

In owned social channels, brands must adopt a similar strategy if they hope to keep up. But, the content game is one that all companies must tackle with their eyes wide open. Content creation takes resources, insight, endurance and persistence. It is not about posting once a month and expecting to see sales gains. It takes a lot more time and effort.

Ultimately, there are 3 types of content that brands should try to incorporate into their marketing strategies, these are sometimes called the 3 “C’s” of content production. They are:

  1. Created. This could be dubbed the hardest part of content marketing. Creation happens when a brand or company makes entirely new content to put forth via their owned channels. Hubspot recently posted a blog outlining 44 types of content that can help to get your content creation juices flowing.types-of-content_(1)
  2. Curated. Curation is done when a brand finds pre-created content that engages the target audience, they then collect it and add in their own creativity to it. This could come in the form of offering an original spin on the initial content. The new breed of online publishers (Buzzfeed, Upworthy etc.) is, at the core, clever content curators.
  3. Crowdsourced. Consumers love to share content, whether it is photos, images, videos or content that resonates with them. Ask and you shall receive.

Ready to get started? Many brands have upped their content marketing game in the last year. This article from Outbrain, shares 6 epic examples from 2014.

What types of content marketing have caught your eye thus far in 2015?

WiFi Advertising

October 15, 2014

During a recent vacation we encountered an unwanted interruption in the McDonald’s drive-through. Our navigation was interrupted by a McDonald’s ad. Luckily we were at the drive-through and we were not at risk of getting lost, but this wasn’t the first time this has happened. My friend said that he often has troubles with his phone automatically connecting to business WiFi and prompting ads that interrupt the use of his phone even after he set his phone to not automatically connect to WiFi.  Simplying driving by business downtown has interrupted his navigation and displayed annoying ads for different products and services.

With the phones settings aside, is it acceptable to automatically disrupt what the user is doing in order to display ads from a business that supplies free WiFi?  The business is paying for the use of WiFi, so why not? When you check into a hotel, you have to visit a page on the hotel web site in order to agree to terms and conditions before logging onto the internet.  Is this different? I would argue yes, because driving by a location that offers free WiFi is enough to prompt an ad.  With cell phones, navigation, and other distractions, drivers need to focus on paying attention and not backing out of ads from local business while they’re worrying about where to turn.

So, how do you entice people to visit your business and take advantage of the WiFi (and other wonderful products and services)? Oddly enough, McDonald’s also had a very interesting way to solve this problem.

McDonld’s has also used WiFi to entice nearby wireless users to stop by and use their WiFi. Brilliant Ads shared the photo below on Twitter. The difference here being that the customer was seeking out the use of WiFi and were encouraged to visit as they tried to connect.


I think the second ad campaign is an interesting and unique way to advertise the fact that McDonald’s offers free WiFi and the campaign encourages customers to visit a McDonald’s.  I think it also matches the image McDonald’s is trying to create.  I remember walking into our local McDonald’s a few years ago and seeing a rage of newspapers offered, updating seating and colors, TV screens showing news stations, and a cozy fireplace instead of outdated booths and ketchup stains.  I’m not sure the new restaurant image fits with their food image, but that’s a discussion for another day.

The second tactic brings people into the store who are seeking out their services. If driving by and connecting to WiFi is all it takes to disrupt navigation or other cell phone function, shouldn’t businesses be more conscientiousness about this? In my opinion, it only makes the user more irritated and potentially less likely to use their services in the future.

What do you think? Have you found these ads to ever be useful? Are there differences between opt-in and auto-generated ads?

Absolut Advertising.

July 7, 2014

Yet another book calls my coffee table home. Welcome to the family, Absolut Book.

Ever since Bill Oechsler mentioned the rich history behind the award-winning Absolut Vodka advertising campaign during his “Creative Strategist | Strategic Creative” session at Integrate 2014, I’ve been tempted to add the book to my Amazon cart.

I finally caved. And I’m glad I did.

Absolut Book. is a visual reminder of how well-executed, simple ideas can endure. The campaign’s nods to cities and film are just some of many creative Absolut applications. Cultural references communicated through an essentially three-formula ad consisting of bottle+Absolut+[other term] seem endless.


I appreciate brands that consider their audiences smart enough to connect the dots in ads- i.e., a Vespa-disguised vodka bottle…


This one took a few seconds to grasp- something the Absolut Vodka creative team worried about when they designed the ad.


Citizen Kane fans, rejoice.


Want a look at some of the ads that never hit print? This book has some of those “Absolut rejects,” too. As the author explains, there are a variety of reasons such ads haven’t received approval.*

When do campaigns reach the point when they become cultural fixtures in their own right? And does anyone else miss Integrate?!


*I’ll let you discover those when you read the book!

March Madness Marketing!

March 20, 2014

This year, I’m picking the Louisville Cardinals to win it all. Yes, I know they’ve defeated my beloved UCONN Huskies three times this year (including a Kevin Ollie ejection, a 33 point loss and the inaugural AAC championship game), but they’re playing good basketball and I think they could go all the way. No matter what happens, I’ll be glued to the TV and my bracket (which will likely be busted by Thursday evening) all weekend.

Image from Slate --- screenshot from

Image from Slate — screenshot from

This is my favorite time of year! I’m not alone, though. Marketers love this time of year as well and I’m seeing basketball themed advertising on the television, popping up in my Facebook newsfeed and everywhere else I look.

I’ve been prompted to fill out NCAA brackets by just about everyone. I’ve heard from Buffalo Wild Wings, my local NBC affiliate, and most dramatically by Quicken Loans who is offering the chance to win a billion dollars. A number of writers have already established why you won’t win a billion-dollars, but it is easy to see that these brands are winning big by banking on bracket gimmicks and piggybacking on all of the basketball fever in the air.

Quicken Loans will never pay out a billion dollars (they’ve insured the payoff with Berkshire Hathway) but they could end up being big winners themselves. Individuals who would like to test their luck and fill out a bracket are asked to provide their contact information along with the interest rate on their mortgage. Leads like this might normally cost Quicken Loans $50 – $300 making this a valuable campaign for them, especially considering how much earned media the gimmick has garnered.

Not only are there brands that are effectively banking on brackets to earn themselves some loyalty from existing customers or to acquire new leads, but there are also brands who are taking their liberties with risky “ambush marketing” tactics. With any large sporting or entertainment event, there will be brands that attempt to leverage the excitement to further their own interests, but there is a fine line between what is legal and ethical and what is not. Check out what Brian Heidelberger, a legal expert on advertising, marketing and entertainment law practice has to say on the matter in this video from Advertising Age:

It is certainly an exciting time of year for sports fans and marketers alike. Those brands that have figured out how to create their own “shining moment” may achieve great results. Is your brand making the most of March Madness and what do you think of all the marketing surrounding this event? What do you think about ambush marketing and are brands pushing things too far?

Most importantly, who did you pick in your bracket this year?

Jason Falls | Digital Marketing Success: Make Your Content Amazing

June 1, 2013

“Holy Smokes” is the philosophy behind how to make your content amazing! Social media according to Falls is not always about selling, it instead comes down to delivering brand experiences.

Falls advised the audience that it all comes down to crafting instant “Holy Smokes” moments.

Examples included:

Twitter: @Charmin

Pinterest: Readersheds


Print Ads: McDonalds and Colgate


PR: H&R Block | Million Mustache March – 2012

In order to craft “Holy Smokes” content, you need to leverage the following practical tips on how to be amazing:

  1. Assume the role of your audience or prospect
  2. Imagine what would make you say “Holy Smokes!”
  3. Imagine what would compel you at an emotional level to like, share, comment, convert or buy
  4. Build that in as the payoff or goal for every post, video, tweet, etc.
  5. Tweet/FB Post = Instant reaction, share
  6. Blog post = instigate response, share, think
  7. Video= Produce an emotional reaction (laugh)
  8.  White Paper = Discuss with colleagues; Incorporate in planning
  9. Webinar = Compel people to contact for more

Feel free to share other “Holy Smokes” moments below. My personal favorite has been K-Mart’s “Ship Your Pants.”

A Sea of Sameness

August 28, 2012

Do you feel this way when you buy a car…


you pick out THE car.  It has all the latest and greatest features, has that brand new car smell, it has been washed so it shines bright.  Everyone will be looking at you driving down the road in your new, unique, awesome car, right?  You merge out of the lot into traffic, all happy, only to realize that every car you see is the same car you just bought.  You didn’t notice this before you bought the car but now your not so special, not so unique.  It’s a sea of sameness.


Brands are no different.

Literally hundreds of studies have been conducted over the years to try and determine how many ads a person is exposed to in a single day.  One study I found from 1965 pegged it at around 1,900 and that was way before technology became so pervasive. Now, I cannot even imagine.  Another more recent study I read said 3,000, another 5000.  Not only is it hard for people to absorb all these messages, consumers now have the technology in their hands, literally, to turn these messages off.  I have a sad confession to make.  I don’t watch too many TV advertisements and I am in the business of advertising.  I am a time displaced TV watcher.  Outside of a live sporting event, 95% of my TV viewing is done using my DVR or Netflix.  Not unlike many people, an advertiser really has to work hard for me to see their brand, make it stand out above the crowd, communicate its value to me as a consumer and differentiate itself.  Another confession.  That doesn’t mean I don’t pay attention to products that are important  to me, like beer commercials.


The main point I want to make here is that you have to find points of differentiation for your product or service that break through all this clutter and make you get noticed by consumers.  You then  need to stay focused on these messages and not get distracted by what others are saying.  If a company does nothing in terms of research, I recommend that they undertake two research projects:

  1. Segmentation Research.  This answers the question, Who is our Target Audience?  It is too expensive to target everyone so segmentation studies like MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer can help you identify the hand-raisers who are apt to want your product.
  2. Brand Perception and Awareness Research.  How many people in your target demo, how many are aware of you  and what do they think of you versus your competition?  If they are not aware of you, they will not consider you.

These two research projects help you do three things: Determine your true target audience, help you understand how many of these people are aware of your product and most importantly, help you create the key messaging points you want to communicate to this audience.  You can differentiate your message vs the competition and cut through the clutter.  You get away from the sea of sameness.