January 31, 2015

The Time I Predicted Oreo-Tweet-itis


With the Super Bowl just hours away, and earnest tweetniks all over the world gathering in war rooms to do some heavy duty "real-time marketing," I think it's only appropriate to pat myself on the back for having foreseen this day by reprinting a piece I wrote long before the Oreo tweet changed life on earth forever.


August 9, 2012

The 6 Stages Of Digital Delusion

One of our axioms here at The Ad Contrarian worldwide headquarters is that in today's world of marketing delusional thinking is not just acceptable, it's mandatory.

Digital media have been the primary cause and the primary beneficiary of delusional thinking. The fascinating thing is that the cycle of delusion has been going on for over 10 years and we still don't recognize it.

Here are the 6 stages of digital delusion:
1. The Miracle Is Acknowledged: It may be podcasting or banner advertising, YouTube, Twitter or Facebook. Whatever it is, it is going to "change everything." It will be the focus of hysterical attention in the trade press and will often find its way into the business section of the newspaper.

2. The Big Success: A company somewhere has a big success. This is where the danger starts. The success is plastered all over every trade magazine and analyzed at every conference. It is "proof" that the miracle is real.
3. Experts Are Hatched: Clever entrepreneurs gather up a Powerpointful of cliches and march them around from conference to conference. They write articles, and even books, on how not to be left behind.
4. The Bandwagon Rolls: Everyone who knows nothing is suddenly asking the marketing department, "what is our (your miracle here) strategy?" Fearing that she will be thought insufficiently trendy, every CMO is suddenly looking for an agency that is expert at (your miracle here).

5. Reality Rears Its Ugly Head: The numbers dribble in. Oops...people are ignoring our miracle 955 million at a time. The miracle seems to be working for everyone but us!

6. The Back-Pedaling Begins: "Well, it's just part of an integrated program..." say the former zealots. The experts start blaming the victims, "Hey, we never promised...We told you you had to..."
This cycle has repeated itself so many times that it is comical. Here are just some of the digital miracles that have turned out to be "just part of an integrated program..."

    ...websites... blogs... banners... podcasts... MySpace... Second Life... widgets... YouTube... Facebook... Facebook apps... Hulu...games... Twitter... iAds...Linked In... FourSquare... Pinterest... QR codes... and now... content (whatever the hell that means.)

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.


Which reminds me...
...what the hell ever happened to "the conversation?"

January 29, 2015

My Super Bowl Ad Scorecard


On Sunday we will be subject to the annual festival of excess known as the Super Bowl.

This year, it's The Cheaters versus The Asshats. It's hard to find someone to root for. So let's root for the ads.

Inside the advertising and marketing communities the Super Bowl is thought of as the litmus test for advertising creativity. It is not.

While Super Bowl spots are usually bigger and more expensive than regular spots, they are also generally more formulaic.

Below are 6 often used templates for Super Bowl spots.

I prefer to wait for Christmas to open my presents, so I have not gone online to look at the 2015 crop. I'm going to keep track of how many of the ads adhere to the tried and true formulas.
1. Anthropomorphic Animals: In these spots, animals either speak or display human emotions. I guarantee the number one fan-rated spot will be one of these.

2. Celebrity Out Of Water: A famous person in a fish-out-of-water situation. These spots are supposed to be funny but, tragically, seldom are.

3. Automotive Adventure: Someone in a car is pursued/challenged/threatened by aliens/spies/evil-doers/cartoon characters. Lots of expensive computer-generated imagery is employed to save the day.

4. Trailer Trash: Movie trailers in which 30 seconds of weapons, explosions, and havoc are employed to promote films. Later this week the same Hollywood morons that created these monstrosities will be testifying before congress about their hatred of violence and commitment to gun control.

5. I'll Do Anything For A _______: The hero of the spot does something outrageous to get his hands on the product in question, and is usually comically injured or otherwise humiliated for his effort. These spots are doubly Super Bowl-ish when the hero is an animal.

6. America The Beautiful: A drippy tribute to the servicemen/workers/farmers/nurses/mothers/dry cleaners of this great country of ours.
Now that the NFL has deflated our balls, let's hope they don't deflate our expectations.

January 28, 2015

Social Media Metrics: Useful Or Available?


Now that nobody with a functioning brain pays any attention to social media "metrics" (like followers and likes) you have to wonder how advertising and marketing wizards spent years being mesmerized by this bullshit.

I think the answer is simple. It's so difficult to isolate the effect of advertising on sales results that people grasp at anything that sounds like a measurement and is simple to understand.

I don't think social media metrics were fashionable because they were indicative of anything useful or meaningful, they were fashionable because they were easy to come by and easy to comprehend.

When The Noise Is Stronger Than The Signal
It is not unusual for click through rates for banner ads to hover in the .02 to .03% range. That's 2 or 3 clicks per 10,000 impressions. (I use the term "impressions" with great trepidation.)

This is so astoundingly low that I wonder if it is a real number. It seems to me that the margin of error may be far greater than the result itself.

For example, if the margin of error in counting clicks is 1%, that would be 100 clicks in 10,000. In that environment, are 2 or 3 clicks real or just noise?

Are there any statisticians out there who can advise us? Prof. Sharp?

Our Doctors Are Rockstars
In my hometown of Oakland California, there is a children's hospital called, not surprisingly, Children's Hospital Oakland.

For several months now there has been a huge banner hanging from the top of the hospital that says, Our Doctors Are Rockstars. This bugs the shit out of me.

Apparently the dimwits who conceived this banner believe higher virtue obtains to the nincompoops who sing pop songs than to people who save the lives of children.

What a joy it would be to wake up one day and see a sign somewhere that said, Our Rockstars Are Doctors.

Remember Those Great Volkswagen Ads?
Is the title of a wonderful, gorgeous book by Alfredo Marcantonio, David Abbott, and John O'DriscollLike I said in my Amazon review, if you're thinking of a career in advertising it will show you how it's supposed to be done. If you're working in advertising it will remind you of why.