Archive for the ‘television’ tag
Lego has unveiled a life-size Star Wars X-Wing fighter jet made entirely of Legos in Times Square. It promotes an upcoming Cartoon Network show called The Yoda Chronicles. You can also see a life-size Lego Chewy, Vader, R2-D2, C-3PO and Boba Fett in the promo for the show. But the X-Wing has the distinction of being the largest Lego structure built to date. At 11 feet tall, 43 feet long, 44 feet wide and almost 46,000 pounds, it's made of 5,335,200 individual Lego bricks. It took 32 people four months just to put it together. And you can climb into the cockpit for a photo. Which means all you Star Wars and Lego fans must make a pilgrimage to this, the largest and most awesome Lego thing ever made, and get a picture of your child sitting in the cockpit shouting "Pew! Pew!" See lots more photos at Gizmodo.
Twitter today made the latest push in its bid to cozy up to Madison Avenue and the world of big-budget advertising, by tapping more into the kind of mainstream mediums where advertisers like to spend their money. Today the big focus is TV and your living room. In New York, the company announced Twitter Amplify, a way of bringing real-time video into the site, with initial partners including the broadcasters BBC America, FOX, Fuse and The Weather Channel. And it also announced TV ad targeting, one of the first fruits of the company’s acquisition of BlueFin Labs.
Twitter ad targeting works like this: an advertiser or media buyer uses a special dashboard that Twitter has created for the service, which lets a brand monitor when an ad has aired on TV. Through this, the campaign manager can then send out Promoted Tweets that coordinate with them. They synchronise, Twitter says, using “video fingerprinting technology to automatically detect when and where a brand’s commercials are running on TV, without requiring that advertiser to do any manual tracking or upload media plan details,” Michael Fleischman, one of the co-founders of BlueFin Labs, and now a product manager for Twitter, notes in a blog post.
Through this, the advertiser is able to measure how socially responsive people are to the TV campaigns and vice versa. Using Twitter handles and hashtags on the TV ads will be how those advertisers shuttle people to the social network.
Twitter says it will be able to determine where and when an ad ran on TV, as well as track those who have subsequently tweeted about the ad and the TV program that it ran against. “We believe a user engaged enough with a TV show to tweet about it very likely saw the commercials as well,” the company notes on its blog.
The company is banking on a crucial stat as the leap of faith that this will all work: it says 64 percent of mobile-centric users on Twitter use it in front of the TV at home.
For now Twitter’s targeting service will be available only in the U.S.
Meanwhile, the instream broadcasting clips that are part of Twitter Amplify, starting with BBC America, FOX, Fuse and The Weather Channel, will be very closely tied to ads and video directly on the platform. This is something that Twitter has already been doing with partnerships with, for example, the NBA, where a video also features a link to an ad:
What’s interesting is that it looks like Twitter will be limiting use of this new kind of Twitter card to paying users, with Glenn Brown, director of promoted content and sponsorships, noting that they will be “powered by Promoted Tweets.” The idea appears to be that rather than replacing the TV experience (not yet at least!) these in-stream videos will be used as “spectacular, timely content that rounds out their TV experience or reminds them to tune in.” In other words, ways of getting people to the TV with teaser clips rather than simply offering them a way of seeing what they want on Twitter and cutting out the tube altogether.
Speaking at the New York event, CEO Dick Costolo talked about how the company has made advertising a more “frictionless” experience because of its emphasis of real-time updates. It’s clear that adding more broadcasting-like experiences into Twitter will further that concept.
Twitter has been making increasingly strong moves this year to get its platform to be more ad-friendly (and revenue-friendly). That kicked off in February with the launch of an advertising API so that larger advertisers can better manage their campaigns on Twitter; an improved advertising analytics dashboard; and Google AdWords-style keyword targeting (TC coverage here, here and here). Just earlier this week the company also unveiled the official launch of Lead Generation Cards, something Twitter had been testing for a while already, which lets advertisers include actions like requests for more information that users can get automatically by clicking a button in an advertising tweet. (You can see how this last one also sets the stage for Twitter making the leap into commerce, with one-click purchasing.)
While Twitter has not provided any official public guidance on how much it expects to make in advertising this year or in the future, there has been a lot of speculation about the number because many expect Twitter to go public, with a likely date in late 2013 or 2014, according to observers. A report from eMarketer in March noted that it was raising forecasts for the company to $583 million in 2013 and $950 million in ad sales in 2014, 60% coming from mobile.
The stats that Twitter’s president of global revenue, Adam Bain, provided last year shows just how much the company has grown over the last year. Bain noted at the time that Twitter had 140M+ active users; now that figure is estimated to be closer to 300 million.
Bain also had noted that 55% of users access Twitter on mobile, with 40% growth quarter over quarter, and that among Twitter’s active users, only some 60% actually tweet, but all of them “listen.” And in a sign that Twitter was always going to figure out a better way of leveraging ads on the platform, even a year ago, some 79% of people on the site were already following brands.
More to come.
Image: Jim Prosser
Channel surfing got weird.
There was this episode of All-Star Celebrity Apprentice this season that revolved around each team’s ability to create a television ad for the consumer electronics company, LG. It wasn’t really about a particular model of television or kitchen appliance. It wasn’t about some new-fangled technology that would allow their washing machines to clean your clothes through some kind of micro-parcel technology. It was all about how connected these devices have now become. The television, the smartphone, the washer and dryer and yes, even the refrigerator are now "smart." Smart in a connected sense. Smart in not just being connected to the Internet, but in how each device now has a touchscreen that offers up all kinds of information – from operating data to content (like recipes based on what’s inside the fridge). Screens are everywhere. Screens are connected. Screens are mobile. Screens are increasingly getting cheaper and more ubiquitous.
Welcome to the one screen world.
Not too long ago, I was asked to give a presentation on the state of digital media and how well brands are intersecting the worlds of marketing and technology. Prior to my closing keynote presentation, there was a panel discussion about the state of media. One senior media executive was discussing the power of a four screen world. I thought that he had made a mistake. I was familiar with the concept of three screens (television, computer and mobile), but four screens was something new. Eventually, he unveiled that the fourth screen was the tablet. It’s still somewhat shocking to think that the iPad was first introduced on April 3rd, 2010, and we now live in a world where more iPads are being sold than any PC manufacturer sold of their entire PC line (and this has been a constantly growing trend since 2012). In fact, all of this shores up to the notion that it’s not about three screens or four screens. It’s about one screen: whichever screen is in front of me. In a world where screens are connected and everywhere, the notion of even counting them seems arbitrary, at best. Don’t believe me, speak to somebody who is currently sporting Google glass.
The true tale of a nineteen year old.
My niece is nineteen years old. When she was sixteen years old, she would come home school, take out her laptop, plop down on the couch, lift the computer lid, turn on the TV, plug in her earbuds, so that she could listen to music on her iPod, and her BlackBerry was always within reach. From afar it looked like she was running NORAD. Fast-forward a mere three years, and now she comes home from school, takes out her iPad… and that’s it. All of that core content is now readily available on the one screen (in one way, shape or form). From content (in text, images, audio and video) to communications (chatting with friends on Skype or via Google Hangouts)… it’s all readily available on this one device that rules them all. Yes, we are seeing a massive uptick in consumers who are using companion devices (meaning, they are watching TV but have their smartphones nearby), and while the industry does refer to it as a companion device, the truth is that you’re not watching the television with one eyeball and your iPhone with the other. The only screen that still matters, is the screen that is in front of you.
It’s bigger than you think.
While most people are busy paying attention to the fact that Yahoo just bought Tumblr for over one billion dollars, they’re forgetting something profound about the last acquisition of chaotic proportions (when Facebook bought Instagram for close to one billion dollars as well). In the Newsweek article, Instagram Will Take Facebook Into the Mobile Age (April 16th, 2012), journalist Dan Lyons so appropriately wrote: "The Internet was all about websites. Then came the iPhone and Android, and today the only reason anyone creates a website is to promote a cool new mobile app." And here we are, today, with over a billion smartphones in the world and they are outnumbering the PCs. Within the next decade, virtually all mobile phones will be smartphone, meaning 6 billion people will be constantly connected. And, as if the exponential growth of the one screen world is not scary enough, we currently live in a world where more individuals have a mobile subscription than access to electricity or safe drinking water (more on that here: Putting Global Mobile In Context).
So, how are the brands stacking up?
Not so well, thanks for asking. According to a recent survey by Adobe, 45% of marketers still don’t have a mobile presence, and this is happening at the exact same time that eMarketer is reporting that 15% of online retail sales will take place this year via a mobile device (sales will reach nearly $39 billion in 2013, which is up over 56% from 2012). If ever there was a time to embrace the notion of the one screen world, this would be it. Businesses are still splitting hairs of what is the Web, what is the smartphone, what is the tablet and what is TV in a world where consumers are shoring these screens up into one. They have a constant and consistent desire to simply have the content they want on the device they want, when they want it. Sadly, most marketers are thinking about how they are going to advertise on a mobile screen, instead of hunkering down and figuring out what the customer’s new expectations are when everything from their washer and dryer to their television and smartphone are hyper-connected to one another. Instead of curling up into a ball or sticking the proverbial head in the sand, what we’re truly seeing in this day and age is a massive global opportunity – unlike anything in business that we have seen before – to take the mobile lead. By the looks and sounds of the data and the exponential growth in consumer demands for these devices and the content on them, the one screen world is poised to make websites, social media and e-commerce combined look like a joke in comparison.
Are you ready? Is your brand ready?
The above posting is my twice-monthly column for the Harvard Business Review. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original version online here:
Fellow fans of The Office television show are sharing a moment of sadness this morning. Last night was the series finale of the documentary-style comedy show that exposed the silly side of the workplace for nine years. For me, the show coincided almost perfectly with my move from Australia back to America and my own journey of joining an American workplace, and then leaving to become my own boss around the time that one of the main characters in the show (Jim) first did the same.
But the real star of the show left last year – a lovably lonely character named Michael Scott played by Steve Carrell. Over the years, his character illustrated the highs and lows of having a grown child for a boss. In a signature moment early in the series, Michael Scott is asked by the documentary crew about his philosophy of leadership. Would you rather be feared or loved, they ask. After thinking for a moment, he responds: “Easy, both. I want people to be afraid … of how much they love me.” That was The Office.
A little off center, always entertaining, and routinely smarter about offering sage business advice than anyone usually appreciated.
So to celebrate the show, here are five of the most unforgettable marketing, leadership and business lessons I will remember from Michael Scott and the cast of The Office:
1. Vulnerability Builds Trust.
The moments in the show when you see a glimpse of the real sad personality of Michael Scott are the moment when the audience (and the other characters in the show) connect with him. They trust him because it is easy to see what he feels in his heart. Of course, his character is an exaggeration of this type of personality … but the lesson in it is a powerful one for building trust. The less guarded we can be, the more likely someone will see our real personalities and trust us more as a result.
2. The Boss Isn’t Always The Leader.
Though the boss at The Office changed several times throughout the show, it was always clear that the heart of The Office was the character of Jim, played by John Krasinski. He created the memorable pranks that became the signature opening segments for every episode. He organizes the “Office Olympics.” And when he leaves, there is a real void in The Office unlike at any other moment. In real life, there are people like Jim who form the heart of a corporate culture. Often, they are not the boss. But identifying them is always critical to retain (or change) an office culture.
3. Love What You Sell.
The character of Dwight, played by Rainn Wilson is unapolegetically an enthusiast for paper. He loves to sell it and knows all about it. At one point, when his character looks for another job – he considers “Scranton Breadworks.” His rationale? “Bread is the paper of the food industry. You write your sandwich on it.” Of course his love of paper is over the top, and a little unbelievable … but in the show he also routinely wins any competition for top salesman. His passion shows results – and that happens in real life as well.
4. Flip The Camera.
In later seasons, the audience starts to get a chance to go behind the scenes of the documentary. We see the sound guys and camera guys filming. We go behind the scenes, and the show becomes more real as a result. In companies, this can have the same effect. Though brands are often reluctant to turn the camera around, sharing some “making of” style content and taking people behind the scenes of what you do can pay off highly in terms of building more understanding for what you do.
5. Don’t Overestimate Technology.
One of the most entertaining storylines in the show for anyone who works with digital technology or online marketing has to be the way that the show continually pokes fun at the out of touch technogeek who embraces the tools “of the future” without regard for how silly or wrong they may be. The ecommerce initiative for the paper company fails miserably – because it fails to make life easier for the sales people. Dwight introduces his avatar in Second Life and reminds Jim that “Second life is not a game. It is a multi-user virtual environment. It doesn’t have points or scores; it doesn’t have winners or losers.” To which Jim perfectly responds, “oh it has losers.”
And that may be the perfect moment to capture what made The Office so funny in the first place. It was one of those rare shows, like Seinfeld, that had the ability to take the things around us and shine a much needed spotlight on the hidden humor we might otherwise have missed. And sometimes the lessons are so profound we can only remember them through humor. As Michael Scott so memorably said, “Sometimes you have to take a break from being the kind of boss that’s always trying to teach people things. Sometimes you just have to be the boss of dancing.”
Most answers, at least from the readers of this blog, would be similar. But I’ve got another question. What’s Tumblr? I would bet that at this point the definitions start to differ.
“It’s a blogging platform, like WordPress or Typepad.”
“It’s a social network where people share all sorts of content.”
“It’s a website for theme-based GIF repositories.”
For the record, Tumblr defines itself as a platform that “lets you effortlessly share anything” including “text, photos, quotes, links, music and videos.” But the six-year-old content platform is still commonly misunderstood by brands and agencies as it relates to social strategy. Even its self-definition fails to clearly define its focus, its user base or its potential as a place to engage with fans through organic and paid media.
Should your brand be on Tumblr? Let’s discuss.
Embracing the Creators
Even though Tumblr is often forgotten by brands, it’s still a massive community. In fact, the absence of brands (and the only recent emergence of in-stream advertising) may play a big part in the site’s continued rapid growth. More than 107.5 million blogs and 50.5 billion posts have been created on Tumblr, including the more than 70 million new posts that appear every day.
But aside from the numbers, what’s impressive about Tumblr is the type of content and community it has. Though users can certainly post short text-based updates akin to what they would on Twitter or Facebook, the platform is more often used to express a user’s creativity or even their fandom regarding a brand. It’s a very visual medium and one of the few that can accommodate the GIF, which has produced a new source of content creators for Tumblr.
Embracing the GIF
Though it was introduced almost two decades ago by CompuServe, the GIF has made a comeback of late, acting as a lo-fi method of short-form-video sharing. The file format, whose initials stand for graphics interchange format, has allowed content creators to express themselves through relevant video. Many Tumblr blogs dedicated to the application of funny GIFs to everyday-life situations have popped up. As a soon-to-be dad, I’ve found “The Pregnant Husband” to be one of my favorites.
Fans are also utilizing the format to distill their favorite moments from a television show into a few seconds and add narration in the form of overlying text (since GIFs don’t have audio). Shortly after a television show airs, the best moments can commonly be seen on Tumblr. This practice is actually what makes Tumblr such fertile ground for television networks.
Television networks regularly create Facebook pages and Twitter accounts for their respective programs in an attempt to foster conversation and generate a community for fans. This is certainly a sound strategy, since many conversations about TV shows occur on these platforms. But are they paying attention to where the superfans gather? Because some of the most passionate TV fans are gathering on Tumblr.
Just head over to Tumblr and search for your favorite television show (you’ll have to set up a free account if you don’t already have one). Can’t think of a show? Try searching for HIMYM, the initials of How I Met Your Mother, which just wrapped up its eighth (and next to last) season. What you’ll find is animated GIFs, images, quotations, songs, text-based reactions and more related to the season finale, which aired on Monday. Self five!!
It’s a smorgasbord of content organized in a way that few other platforms could manage. Twitter has hashtags but is still largely text based. Facebook can support images and text but doesn’t organize them well. Tumblr’s flexibility in the types of content it can publish, as well as its tagging functionality, offers something unique to fans, which is rare in today’s age of “me too” social platforms.
Tumblr has carved a niche in the crowded world of social media; it is just taking brands a long time to notice. But that may play in your brand’s favor. A few brands have firmly planted their feet in Tumblr, particularly now that it has a growing ad platform, but it’s still a place where your brand can establish a presence before its competitors do.
Like any platform, it’s not going to be the right fit for every brand, so do your research before diving in headfirst. But there’s a good chance you will find engaging fans and user-generated content you’ve never seen before.
It seems like online publishers are starting to think about the digital-first experience.
In the past short while, we have started to see what could only be described as "true online publishing" taking on a new (and pretty) look and feel. It started not too long ago when Fast Company did a full overhaul of their website. If you choose an article on their site, you will mostly see a big and beautiful image, a bold headline and that’s when the scrolling begins. You intuitively move down the page for the content or left to right at the top of the page for supplemental images associated with the piece. The New York Times had a breakthrough with Snow Fall, which was their interactive coverage of the rise in fatalities from skiing. Reuters is currently previewing their latest web version and there are grumblings that a major redesign of The New York Times is on the way as well.
In response to responsive design.
While the language of how we design the Internet continues to evolve (thanks to HTML5), we are also now seeing responsive Web design and parallax scrolling techniques take hold. Websites will now adjust to the user’s experience (which could be happening on a computer, smartphone or tablet) and adapt (or respond) to the user’s needs accordingly. While it’s not as simple as it sounds in terms of the design and cost to get there, it’s an excellent concession position for online publishers (instead of having to design native experiences for the Web and multiple mobile app platforms). But, what makes these techniques most fascinating is the user experience. Instead of a fixed, square page buffered by banner ads, the user is actually moved through the piece because of the design experience it creates in flowing them along with the story. It’s no longer about having those annoying page numbers to click through at end of each page, and much more about a page that is unencumbered by any physical page limitation.
When television first came on air, it was mostly people performing radio in front of a camera. There was no real acting as we see it today. There were no multi-camera shots. It was mostly live and, if we’re going to honest here: it was boring. It was only exciting because we could see people and the technology was new. While the Web wasn’t boring beyond the recent changes in how we’re designing and publishing stories now, it wouldn’t be unfair to say that most online publishers were simply replicating the print experience. Copy and paste. We took our text from the newspapers and magazines and copy and pasted it on to a Web page. Sure, links added depth to these stories and comments enabled people to add to the discourse (or, as Arianna Huffington likes to say about blogging and the Huffington Post: "self-expression is the new entertainment"), but online publishing still looked and felt like traditional publishing. The thing is that now we’re starting to see and understand the landscape in a much more profound and powerful way. A web page is not limited to the same constraints as a printed page, consumers are better at understanding how to manipulate digital spaces, while tablets and smartphones add a whole new perspective with hand gestures. Plus, legitimate designers are now starting to take the Internet more seriously as a design medium. So, we’re moving beyond trying to make the Internet look, feel and read like paper, and this is the moment in time when it feels like the Internet is about to become a true publishing medium unto itself. And something a whole lot more interesting to look at.
No, it’s not just Twitter.
Blogging, Twitter and more are original ways to spread, share and create content. Facebook, tumblr, YouTube and even the latest entry, Medium, are all doing their fare share of the work in creating new and fascinating ways for content to be penned and distributed, but the majority of the design still harkens back to the day of the printing press. What is about to make all of this digital publishing most fascinating will be more than the words, images, audio and video content, but in how it is designed to create something new. Traditional publishers are no longer just publishing content online, but working – harder than ever – to create a true experience that is native to a digitally connected screen. This the true power and opportunity of online publishing. Articles suddenly look like microsites and stories suddenly have three-dimensional depth to them that could have never have been achieved in the classic formats. For some, these new experiences may be too busy or have too much going on. Personally, these nascent examples are the bedrock of what will make digital such a rich and interesting next-generation publishing engine. It seems like we’ve scratched well beneath the surface with the content part of the equation in the past decade, but now it is time for the designers and user experience people to really up the ante and move us beyond the limitations of pages and fixed spaces to help stories flow in new and interesting ways. The challenge (and there is always a lot of them) will be in figuring out if things like banner ads and text links can maintain their dominance as the revenue generation engine that supports these more robust forms of content.
What do you think?
The above posting is my twice-monthly column for The Huffington Post. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original version online here:
It’s not just about the views anymore.
There are two strikingly new(ish) things happening on YouTube that could very well position it to be one of the most interesting developments in how television (and eve movie-like) content gets consumed and monetized. At this moment, marketers have one of the most compelling platforms to better understand which of their messages resonate. Prior to jumping into the two new(ish) developments that are worthy of your attention, it is still somewhat fascinating to note how few brands leverage YouTube to better understand their consumers. Simple multivariate testing is one way: posting different television ads on YouTube and seeing which one gets more views, ratings, shares and more. Search is another fascinating domain. YouTube remains the second largest search engine (after their parent company, Google). From tutorials to product demos and reviews, it’s amazing how few brands actually leverage the channel to extend their brand narrative and give consumers more in-depth understanding of their products and services. Without question, there are countless other imaginative and innovative ways that brands can use YouTube, sadly we’re still seeing a vast majority of brands simply pumping and dumping their videos on YouTube as if it is one big and free receptacle for all things video. The prevailing attitude still seems to be, "hey, just post it to YouTube as well… it’s free!" as some kind of after-thought.
Two new developments on YouTube to pay attention to:
- TrueView. TrueView is YouTube’s way of understanding how consumers feel about the pre-roll video ads that happen before a video starts. You may have noticed that some of these ads now feature a button that allows consumers to click and skip an ad after five seconds. There is little doubt that regular YouTubers lament the day that the company started running pre-roll ads on videos. Now, with TrueView, YouTube can have a better understanding of which ads get zapped and which ads work. It’s interesting to note that TrueView forces brands to not simply run their 30 second TV spots on YouTube, and that the brands who are getting the most efficacy out of TrueView know that they have less than five seconds to keep the viewer from zapping them. The business model for TrueView is also similar to that of Google AdWords. If a consumer clicks the "skip this ad" button, the advertiser does not pay. You can well imagine that Google will soon be kicking off advertisers who don’t get the full view in a bid to create a better consumer experience. Much like AdWords has matured as a performance-based marketing engine, you can see a time – in the not too distant future – where TrueView offers the same type of performance and analytics to TV ads. Just think about that: TV ads may get better and more relevant over time if advertisers are forced to create content that actually performs.
- Paid channels. YouTube is planning to allow video makers to charge a monthly subscription fee on channels. Don’t panic, everything you’re seeing for free will remain the way it has always been, but giving the video makers an opportunity to charge for access to certain types of content creates a fascinating new layer to the YouTube story. If you look at some of the massive success that mobile app developers have with the freemium model, you can see how compelling of a business model this could be for YouTube. Take, for instance, Joan Rivers. Currently, she is building an audience for her new video podcast, In Bed With Joan. In theory, she could produce 4 episodes a week and offer up only one of them for free as a compelling and consistent ongoing show, but for her more adoring fans, she could charge a monthly fee of five dollars for access to the other three episodes. Brands could use these paid channels to offer heavy users more personal and in-depth content that is worthy of being paid for.
The new, new media model.
Both of these YouTube business strategies help pave the way for business leaders to better understand the true dynamics of digital media. We started off in the raw terrain of selling advertising online much in the same way that traditional media was bought and sold. Now, close to fifteen years after the first paid banner ad appeared, we are still at the very early stages of seeing how digital can actually transform and improve upon the old model. Whether it is turning a TV ad into a performance-based marketing engine or allowing brands to create their own paid subscription channels to see if consumers would actually pay to be connected to said brand, we could well be entering into a entirely new domain for how video content and advertising is produced, consumed and engaged with… across multiple consumer experiences (think YouTube on traditional TVs, Apple TV models, computers screens, tablets and smartphones). Ultimately, this means that media could be shedding its reliance on advertising as the sole income earner.
The one screen world never felt closer.
TV anywhere startup Aereo is doing its best to stave off attacks that its business is operating illegally, and has now asked a federal court in New York to block broadcaster CBS from filing additional lawsuits.
Aereo provides a service that allows people to watch and record the free locally broadcasted television content online via desktops, computers, set-top boxes, and mobile devices. It does this by providing tiny antennas for each subscriber, thus making the service legal in the eyes of at least east coast federal judges so far. But major broadcast stations like Fox, ABC, and yes, CBS are arguing that Aereo should have to pay a licensing fee for repurposing that content. And those broadcasters have filed several lawsuits to stop the startup from operating.
Right now Aereo is only in a handful of markets, but broadcasters like CBS have vowed to continue suing in each of the new cities Aereo plans to launch in. That’s what’s behind Aereo’s move to ask the New York federal court to stop CBS and others from filing more lawsuits.
The broadcasters are so spooked with the thought of Aereo’s continued existence that both Fox and CBS have threatened to take their programing off the air and transform them into cable networks. CBS has even made investments in startups that can mimic Aereo’s functionality.
Photo by Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat
Of all the images to take from British TV series Black Mirror, the one that made a billboard for Australian TV network Studio was of a man doing the underpants Charleston with a pig. Cable provider Foxtel issued an apology in response to the immediate blowback, and it's as spineless as the offending image was tasteless and bewildering. "[The billboard] was intended to provoke," it said in a statement, "but it is clearly in appalling taste and demonstrates a lapse of judgment by Studio, and a failure in the approvals process at Foxtel." Well, no kidding. Why even move forward with an idea like that when you know you'll just have to apologize and take it right down? Part of me wants to see what would have happened if they'd stood their ground.
Television advertising has traditionally been seen as an interruptive yet creative means of exposing audiences to a brand. There’s no denying the massive audience that television commands, not only in the United States and the UK but around the world, but it’s been said that audiences hate advertisements so much that they created technologies for avoiding them.
Many households have “pulled the plug” on television altogether, opting for on-demand television viewing with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Roku, HBOGo and many more alternative services. Add to that the Nielsen Global Survey revealing the decline in consumer trust of ads on television (from 62 percent in 2009 to 47 percent in 2012) and one would have to wonder how television advertising can or will stay relevant in the post-advertising age.
The answer? Storytelling.
While some emerging platforms and technologies have made it more difficult for television advertisements to reach an attentive audience, they have also made it easier for the best ads to spread. One of the common threads of many of the most shared and viewed advertisements is storytelling. Some stories provide a deep history; others make you laugh; and yet others may make you cry. These ads have a second, often more successful, life in digital format, in which mode they are passed from one person to the next.
Here are six ads that have embraced storytelling, thereby engaging audiences and garnering attention long past their airdate.
1. Dodge Ram—“God Made a Farmer”
This two-minute ad from the 2013 Super Bowl tells a moving story about the life of a farmer. Dodge isn’t a farming company but makes trucks for all those who are farmers, and this ad speaks to them.
2. Johnnie Walker—“The Man Who Walked Around the World”
This Johnnie Walker ad clocks in at five and a half minutes—far longer than any commercial on television could run —but tells the authentic story of the brand in just one take (the 40th, to be exact).
3. HBO—“I Still Have a Soul”
It may just be the fighter in me, but this commercial always gets me. A story of passion, sacrifice and perseverance, it gave deep context to the sport of boxing and what HBO was bringing to television in its late-night series Boxing After Dark, all without a single word of dialogue.
4. Chipotle—“Back to the Start”
A winner of the Cannes Film Lions Grand Prix, Chipotle’s first national ad was one of our favorite examples of successful long-form branded content. The ad helped audiences understand the brand’s commitment to a sustainable future.
5. Canadian Paralympic Committee—“Running (Unstoppable)”
This ad hits close to home after what happened in Boston a few weeks ago. The Canadian Paralympic Committee captured in reverse chronological order the story of how one man became an amputee, providing inspiration to us all.
6. Epuron—“The Wind”
At first I didn’t get it and thought the commercial had no point. Then it hit me, and I laughed out loud at my desk.
Did I miss any of your favorites? Let me know in the comments.