Archives For Social media & networking

Tonight is the first big live TV event in the US since last week’s Super Bowl. Are advertisers on stand-by, waiting for something to jump on, like an electricity malfunction?

Here’s a quick video asking you to predict the future. The “blackout ads” that appeard in social media as a result of the Super Bowl blunder paved new advertising ground. Advertisers took advantage of a one-of-a-kind opportunity to instantly connect with customers in ways that they haven’t before. These kinds of ads are going to happen again, most likely during the awards show season. So, this video asks, what is this new ad format going to be called from here on out?

Here is my annual day after the Super Bowl interview WISC – TV. It’s always great to talk about the ads with Mark and Susan. Thanks folks. And hey, I like horses. They’re our friends. But I’m not loving the Clydesdale ad. Check it out.

What were your favorite and least favorite ads?

Fifty five ads, up to $4 million a pop for airtime, watched by 111 million viewers, plus all the internet traffic before and during the game made for a big night. But it was a small bit of engagement that took Tide and Oreo to the top for me.
The big lesson for advertisers and businesses out there: we’re NOT in the business of advertising! We’re in the business of engaging with customers.
All in all, the best of the best ads were better than in the past, but there were more flat-out duds than I remember in recent years (including Wonderful Pistachio, Blackberry, E-Trade, PepsiNext).
This is the year pre-game ads we’re supposed to be the big story. Before the game, VW and Budweiser got great traction and numbers with Get Happy and the Clydesdales, and other brands eked out teasers. So as the game played out, it looked like it would become a battle between the Surprise ads that we saw during the game for the first time (like Ram, and Tide) vs. the Hyped ad that we already saw online.
But then there was a plot twist, just when you thought there were no new Super Bowl ad formats.
Drumroll please…the blackout! Within 5 minutes Walgreens tweeted “We do carry candles.” Boom. Then Oreo and Tide released social media based ads that lit up the internet. THIS was the big lesson for advertisers – we are in an era when we can use tools like never before to ENGAGE with customers, in real time, not just yell at them with our message. Big lesson. We’re on for our customers 24/7.
My favorite TV ads during the game.
1. “Miracle Stain” for Tide. Classic Super Bowl ad: over the top premise, great comedy, a celeb, and a great ending story twist. If people start talking about Miracle Stains this week and beyond, the win will be even bigger.
2. Oreo. Hilarious Super Bowl slapstick for this first time Super Bowl advertiser. Great comedy.
Other great ads –
“Farmer” for Ram. A brilliant ad. But it was stolen from But Ram will give “up to” a million bucks to, so the theft is…uh…okay. So wha-wha, the creators can’t be feeling tooooo awesome about not being able to come up with a great original idea, but America totally loved it. It was a great idea that really stopped viewers. This was my favorite ad because it was just so different by taking the courage to really say something: “We owe farmers, our classic American underdogs, a huge debt.” Man, I wanted this to be the best ad, but if it’s stolen, nope. Dang!
“Get Happy” for VW. Sells something, it’s funny, and will get cultural buzz around the water cooler, mon.
Bleeeeeeechhhhhhhhhh –
Clydesdales for Budweiser. USA Today’s winner. I really disliked the ad because it doesn’t sell beer, it’s totally ridiculous and not in a hilarious SuperBowl way, and sure enough, America loved it. We are total suckers for the animal ads and the sentimental “awwwww” story. The ending’s “name the baby horse” schtick was totally horsey to me, but good for fan engagement.
The ultimate winners –
Tide and Oreo, for very strong ads that actually sold something, AND for engaging with customers real in real time by creating those ads that integrated their products with the blackout. Brilliant. They engaged. THAT is what great advertising in 2013 is all about.

Oreo, Tide and Walgreens are all taking advantage of the world’s most awkward power outage with some smart advertising.Walgreens

TideBlackout OreoBlackout

Walgreens just put this on Twitter. Brilliant. Walgreens

Remember when Christmas ads and promotions started a couple of weeks before Christmas? Then year by year, the ads would start earlier and earlier. Soon we’ll have Christmas ads starting on July 5th.

Last year, Volkswagen got the Super Bowl advertising party started early, and got 10 million views of their great Darth Vader ad before game day. Despite that, Chrysler won in my opinion, with a strategy that included no pre-game teaser, hype, contest or social media engagement.

This year, more brands got the party started early as a way to justify spending $3.5 to $4.5 million. This is making two kinds of ads become part of our beloved cultural institution – The Surprise Ad and the The Hyped Ad. What’s better? Nobody knows until well after the Super Bowl.

But one thing’s for sure. Super Bowl ads were once relegated to game day. Then the started to stretch out well after game day. We are very much in “before” game day mode. But how long will the new “before” last?

At a record $4 million-plus, advertisers are way past counting on the element of surprise to make their ads a big deal on Super Bowl game day. Most brands are trying to get their money’s worth by starting the conversation early. Oreo already got their Super Bowl ad hype machine going. It began in October. Ads will be pre-released, there will be contests. Lincoln asked fans to contribute to their script via Twitter. Paramount’s ad for “Star Trek Into Darkness” will be enhanced if you download an app.

Advertising genius/dropout Alex Bogusky got great hype already for SodaStream by cleverly getting the ad banned. In Britian. For “denigration of the bottled drinks market.” But the ad strategy is brilliant, and SodaStream could be one of the biggest financial winners among Super Bowl advertisers. They likely lead in brand impressions at this point because of the ban.

CBS Chief Les Moonves called it “probably the biggest day of the year for this entire corporation.” Shyeah. Let’s see, $4 million times about 60 available ads = $240 million for CBS. Yes, that’s a good day.

I’ll be having another Super Bowl ad party here on at the Idea Bucket. Stay tuned. Meanwhile here’s an excellent scorecard summary on this year’s ads.


Above: how we currently text. Below: how ETC technology will allow us to communicate more with symbols, images, and logos.

Happy birthday, text messaging. Today marks its 20th year as a communication form. So what a great day to pontificate on the next big thing in communications, which is right at our fingertips. Or, should I say, our thumbtips.

Imagine using pictures when you text and message and write online, in addition to words. It’s almost here, it’s cool, it’ll change how we communicate, and it came to me in a really neat way. Better grab a cup of coffee. This could take a minute.

I’m President of KW2, an ad agency in Madison, Wisconsin. We bought our building around 1990 from Towell Advertising, which was the longest-running ad agency in Madison. Three generations of Towells made ads here for long-time Madison businesses. But soon after we moved in, Towell Advertising changed its name to Roundhouse, and completely changed their business model to become a promotional agency.

Can you imagine? Here’s Bill Towell, all of 36 years old, telling his dad and grandfather he’s going to toss away the model they spent a couple of lifetimes growing. I bet that was an interesting conversation.

I’d known Bill over all these years, because a couple of good pals of mine worked at Roundhouse. Bill was always kinetic and intense and full of passion. His office was in a train car. They made their employees take a one hour lunch every day from noon to 1:00 PM on the dot. This is when I knew it wasn’t an advertising agency any more.

Well, Roundhouse worked really well, is still going strong, and Bill sold his share in the business a few years ago. In “retirement,” Bill drove around folks from the Porchlight homeless shelter for a year, mastered the art of lounging, and took a few classes at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I bumped into him on LinkedIn, and invited him to see what we’ve done to the building he said goodbye to some 20 years ago.

It was fantastic. So much history. The names of classic Madison advertising folks and brands and campaigns was great fun to hear about.

Then in the “see you later” home stretch of our chat, Bill kind of blew my mind. He told me about how he and a team of digital folks across the globe figured out how to get pictures seamlessly integrated into digital communications, in the places words would typically go. Wow.

He invented the next big thing. It was one of those that you hear about and go “duh” and you smack your palm on your forehead. Palmsmack! Of course!

It’s called Enriched Text Content (ETC). It allows people to insert images, pictures, images, logos, and graphics into alphanumeric text. Palmsmack! What took so long?

If you go to their site,, it would seeeeeeeem to appear that Kraft is one of the first big brands to jump on board. And given that Forbes has Kraft ranked as the #14 social brand in the world, well, this could indicate that one of the world’s largest food manufacturers thinks Bill is on to something.

This makes so much sense. We’re going more and more and more visual as a species. Instagram had 10 million shares just over Thanksgiving weekend. Do you think we’re a visually-driven bunch of mammals? Seems like it. Words are work. Pictures are not. Pictures are fast. Words are . . . less fast. Poor boring old word-based texts. They’re going to look like black and white TV next to high def, wide screen LCD TV.

Look at how just the last few years of digital evolution has already changed how we communicate. A cursor arrow. A trash can symbol. A colon with a parenthesis next to it. New shortcuts in communication are getting created and used all the time.

What are the long-term implications? I think this will significantly change things. Are we headed towards a visually driven language, or alphabet? Will new symbols be created to visually communicate?

There’s value to the user. In the time that it takes to text the word weinermobile, a texter could send an entire ETC message, like the one here. Reading messages with symbols is faster as well. Palmsmack!

The value to brands will increase. A text or email or blog post with logos in place of pictures will make those branded messages worth more, yes? Many logos will not work, and will have to be tweaked. Nike, the NFL, sports teams, and Apple will look great. Other brands like Harley-Davidson Motorcycles may need some identity work to get their logos “text logo” ready.

More symbols and fewer words in the future? Makes sense. We’ve always loved symbols. Thirty-five thousand years ago, some French communicator tagged cave walls with symbols of the giant creatures that they hunted. He (or she) didn’t graffiti the word “DINNER” or “RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!” on the wall, the caveman/woman made symbols. Then the Egyptians, over 5,000 years ago, invented symbols to depict words, giving birth to the idea of written language. Then there’s the 15th century sign in an English street that showed a symbol of a boot on it, indicating where a black plague survivor could pick up a pair of sensible Mary Janes.

And then there’s ETC, the technology that paves the way for more symbols being used more often in some of the most popular forms of communication in this era.

We’ve gone from pictures on cave walls to pictures on social walls. Pretty cool.

This is a great article from Mashable on the smart things some brands are doing to goose the social media world as part of their Super Bowl communications strategy. With a $3 million price tag on the air time, plus the cost of production (typically $1 million+), leveraging social is a smart, obvious, and an incraesingly mandatory play. Hey, it ain’t just about the ad anymore.

See how Mercedes with their Tweet Race, Bud Light with their Facebook “guess the plot” game Unlock the Spot, Kim Kardashian ‘s private gym for Skechers, Pepsi’s iPad-specific ad, Kia, E*Trade, and VW just plopping their ads on YouTube have all pushed social networks more than ever. In the coming years, Super Bowl communications for brands in social spaces will become, like the Packers, a dynasty.

It’s been a great couple of weeks for new tools for social networking. Here are a few I’ve been digging lately.

RockMelt is a web browser that integrates your Twitter, Facebook, and RSS feeds, so as you surf the web, updates come to you in real time. The updates that pop up can get a bit annoying, and the browser’s search capabilities are limited, but it is a pretty slick way to stay connected.

Pinterest is a social networking site that lets you share cool things you find on the web, or in the real world. You can “pin” your find onto a board for all to see, or “re-pin” something that someone else pinned. It’s got a bee-u-ti-ful design focus, and has a smooth interface. Pretty cool for the aesthetically-driven folks.

Quora lit up the world this week. It’s a simple Q & A site. You ask questions, the world gives you answers. It allows you to follow, and be followed, like many social apps. Yahoo Answers and Google searches (and Google-to-Wikipedia) are probably it’s biggest competitors. But the instant connectivity to experts could help Quora break out. It looks like a lot of tech and web developer folks are having the most engagement so far. Some big names have been asking, and answering questions. This could be extremely powerful, as you could develop a network of category experts to be your personal reference resource 24/7.

The Mac App Store was launched this week. This is big. It allows you to download apps for your Mac, basically the same way as downloading apps for your iPhone or iPad. The Apps here are much higher-priced than iPhone and iPad apps, but then again, your Mac uses a lot more muscle. This will change how we view our Macs. Only a couple of days in, and I’ve gotten a couple of productivity and business apps that I know will fundamentally alter how I interact with my computer. That’s saying something.

The rumor mill says Yahoo is going to kill Delicious, the terrific bookmarking site, which is yet another bonehead move by Yahoo. Facebook is sending signals that it’ll go public. The big boys are trying to kill RSS (good luck with that one). And my damn HootSuite and TweetDeck apps for iPhone have been crashing a lot lately. I hope stability updates are coming.

Are there any category-killers here? Quora’s ability to build an expert network gives it a great chance of being a big deal. Apple is reporting 1 million downloads on day one at the App Store, so it looks like that will be a big deal, which is no surprise because lately everything Apple has made has been a big deal. It’s what they do.