There were some good spots on the game last night. Impeccably shot, brilliantly edited, scored to perfection. Many demonstrated a mastery of advertising’s tried and true techniques. Mercedes Benz used Willem Dafoe and Kate Upton and what the industry calls the reveal at the end.
VW found a device both likeable and controversial, generating both pre-game views and in-game thumbs ups.
Doritos once again showed us that dumb visual jokes and guy humor is solid and reliable.
And Budweiser reminded us that tugging at the heart strings always works, especially if it’s about having to let go.
These spots are all solid commercials. But every one of them comes out of the playbook on how to do a Super Bowl ad. Frat humor. Celebrities. Animals. Follow the formula. Go for the yuks.
Which is why for me, Ram wins. Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard all the arguments about how it was just a copy of something already done. The Richards Group found the idea in a video online. And Paul Harvey’s speech has been a farmer favorite for decades. So what. Had you ever seen it?’
The YouTube video wasn’t a spot, it wasn’t great, it wasn’t even on anyone’s radar until the agency made it a spot, hiring William Albert Allard and Kurt Markus to create the riveting images that elevated the story and actually made us feel the words.
Nothing else on the game — despite how well executed, or cast, or scored — was truly original. Nothing else took a chance or dared to do something outside the familiar box of advertising tricks.
Ram’s Farmer spot and the agency behind it took a risk, got all the pieces right and pulled it off. For taking that chance alone, they deserve credit. For making it work, they deserve our outright admiration.
Years ago, I was CD on the very first Super Bowl spot to use a poem. In an attempt to follow up on the success of our previous year’s blockbuster — Monster.com’s “When I grow up” — we shot a black and white commercial to Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken.
The New York Times liked it.
The sequel to last year’s hugely popular Super Bowl commercial, shown twice during the game, was more serious than its predecessor, which perhaps accounted for its lesser popularity in day-after ad polls. Still, the spot, focused on ”The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, was a standout, if for nothing more than its novelty as perhaps the only game commercial ever based on a poem. Stuart Elliott, NY Times, February 1, 2000.
But it ended up at the bottom of the popularity polls. And that was the beginning of the end of our relationship with Monster.
A few years later CareerBuilder fired its agency (or the agency fired Career Builder) for failing to make the polls with a Super Bowl commercial.
All of which makes The Richards Group decision to try something unsafe braver still. And makes me like it all the more.
I’ve been playing around with the new updates and features on Springpad* and there’s no doubt they make the platform more useful and productive than ever. The onboarding process is clear and encouraging. The UX for the entire site is vastly improved – it’s easier and more intuitive to add content. And best of all you can now drag your “blocks” around to re-order the content of any notebook.
We have plenty of options when it comes to posting and sharing links and images. But if you need a way to collect, organize, share and regularly access information – whether you’re saving recipes, planning a journey, researching a book, or teaching college courses – I can’t think of anything that might serve you better than the updated version of Springpad.
Sure Pinterest works in a similar manner, but because Springpad lets you collect many more different kinds of data — from links to images, ads, videos, Slideshare decks, white papers, lectures and simple notes or calendar items – you can use it for more than a basic expression of your interests.
I just began organizing content for the classes I teach at BU. While I count on Lore for my syllabus, calendar, class submissions, grading and out of class conversation, it’s not the best format for viewing class content. (I’m actually hoping there’s a way for Lore and Springpad to get together.) Springpad lets me organize lectures, books, creative inspiration, and relevant content in a manner that’s visually appealing, easy to access, and available for re-copying into students’ own notebooks. It also becomes the perfect collaborative tool when I’m co-creating content with graduate assistants or other faculty members.
If you are a publisher or author, especially of non-fiction, seems Springpad is the perfect way to augment a book’s subject by topic, place, historical documents, photos, etc. Take Larry Tye’s Superman. Imagine a notebook to go with each chapter? Right now on the author’s website there’s a list of links to different resources and background material. How much more accessible and useful would that information be if it were organized on Springpad.
Hard to imagine that this industry couldn’t benefit significantly, from corporate all the way down to the local offices. Given the franchise model, the platform would work great for the distribution of corporate materials. At the local level, with the ability to instantly create a notebook that includes all a town has to offer, even a small, under-staffed office could more effectively market a community, endear itself to local businesses and make itself a more useful and innovative partner to both home-buyers and sellers.
In what is an increasingly competitive industry that wins and loses as much on service as on price, hotels, airlines, others could leverage Springpad in a multitude of ways. Concierges could organize recommended restaurants, venues and attractions in a digital format that guests could actually use. And if those guests re-sprung any of the content, the hotel or travel company would have instant feedback on what content was useful. Get a little smarter and high-end urban hotels could even use it as a service to which guest contribute, sharing ideas with other guests who likely have similar interests.
How many times have you attempted to access content after a conference only to find that videos, decks, presentations and blog posts are all stored or posted in different places? Or if there is a single site, it’s rarely very navigable. How great would it be if conference organizers simply presented everything in one place? It might actually get seen, used and spread in a more measurable way.
No doubt there are many more curatorial uses. If you have good ones, please share. And if you teach advertising, digital or emerging media or marketing strategy, stop by my professor’s page every now and then. There might be something useful.
*(Note: I was the interim CMO for Springpad in early 2012 and remain active on the board of directors.)
It’s surprising to me that the New York Times even asks the question in its Room for Debate column this morning, inviting six guest authors and the Twitter community to weigh in. Suggesting that Facebook’s “worrisome IPO” begs the question, the headline is a bit misleading as you’d be hard-pressed to find even a hint from the guest opinions that the phenomenon is a fad.
Most of the writers reiterate much of what we already know or have seen and read from countless other sources over the past few years. The positive: New levels of interaction that transcend geographic isolation. A transfer of power from the few to the many. A voice for people previously excluded. An easy way to stay constantly connected. The benefits of instant answers. And the negative: concerns about privacy and who ultimately has access to all of our online content and at whose discretion. Our increased inability to focus as we jump from one intrusion to another. The long term ramifications for teenagers who create public online identities before they’ve developed their real identities.
Perhaps the Times feels compelled to cover a worn out topic because its readers are a year or two behind social media’s early adopters or the blogs that cover them. But is that possible when there are nearly a billion people on Facebook? Maybe it’s just that it’s hard to fill up an online newspaper when bits are endless and social media is still a hot enough topic to attract readers. Or better yet, the Times might just be practicing its own version of social media by giving others a voice, a say and a way to participate. There’s a hashtag #socialRFD if you want to join in.
I think the Times knows the answer. Of course social media are here to stay. Not because of the technologies or the platforms. Rather because Facebook and Twitter and Instagram allow us to resume the kinds of interactions that always defined human relationships until they were interrupted by the post industrial age when we moved to the suburbs, lost our sense of neighborhood and turned to TV for our solace. Thanks to all the new digital platforms on our iPads, phones and laptops, we can once again connect, albeit digitally, with people who share our interests, passions and concerns, maybe even meet and discover new virtual neighbors. (Granted, the fact that we tend to connect with people just like us, reinforcing existing beliefs and opinions is problem of which we should all be cognizant.)
The real question the Times should be asking is: “How else can we use social media to accomplish something good — make college education more affordable, increase cross-cultural understanding, invite new ways to serve our communities, or simply identify better topics for Room for Debate.”
The question isn’t whether or not social media are here to stay. It’s whether or not we continue to find really meaningful ways to leverage them.
As part of its upcoming Women’s Leadership Forum, the Ad Club of Boston asked a group of us to write blog posts about women we admire. I could have written a traditional blog post about the many women who have in one way or another left lasting impressions on me. But since I’ve been working with my friends at Springpad, I thought it might be more fun to create my blog post in the form of a notebook. Take a look.
Typically I don’t use this blog to stump for Mullen or Springpad. But in this case I’ll make an exception, given that while I may be the CMO at Springpad, I’m also an enthusiastic user, excited about a single platform that lets me create and share such a wide array of data types. Even for this one little notebook I was able to combine photographs (from my own library as well as the web); notes, videos, playlists, books, blog posts and more. What’s even cooler is that I could augment a single “spring” with multiple media, adding additional content and information about each person included. Readers and viewers can simply check the list, peruse the images or discover more about each of the women from books, films and music that I’ve attached.
For me, smart, digital, social notebooks work perfectly for collecting, preserving and sharing content over time. They’re persistent, searchable and even collaborative should I want to invite others to create with me.
So far I’m using Springpad to plan vacations, organize curricula, start my summer reading collection, save content on new interests, and collaborate with others who share my passions. What about you? Are you using the new Springpad?
As the media landscape continues to change, one of the more interesting trends is traditional media’s use of social media. There was a time, not that long ago, when a reader’s only option to be heard was getting a letter to the editor published. And that was not easy.
The web, of course, brought comments. And virtually every online medium now invites readers to weigh in. Twitter’s arrival on the scene distributed those comments beyond the confines of a destination website. And more recently sophisticated comment platforms like LiveFyre help media properties use original content not only to stimulate and spread online chatter, but to identify what kind of content will generate the most conversation to begin with.
Still this is only the beginning. As more and more media properties realize they’re in the business of connecting readers to each other as well as to content – the same holds true for brands, by the way – we’ll see the creation of more social networks like the one Boston’s WBUR launched today: Healthcare Savvy.
Instead of simply reporting on health care, the NPR station has started a collaborative site that invites listeners to share and learn from each other how to purchase and evaluate health care offerings.
This is smart on three points.
It attracts more listeners
Smart brands everywhere now know that they have to create value. This is a perfect example of a media property building something that has genuine utility. Potentially it could become a new reason to engage with WBUR. And if the station becomes part of your health care decision making, it might also become your go-to source of news on the topic.
It’s a source of content and news for WBUR
Health care will continue to be a lead story for years to come, especially as baby boomers age and government subsidized programs come under increasing pressure. The shared content, comments and dialog regarding the costs, services, fears and frustrations that all patients face will provide WBUR with essential content and insight for its own news coverage of this topic.
It demonstrates social responsibility that is good for business
Simon Mainwaring writes about brands doing good in his book We First. Harvard B-School Professor Michael E. Porter makes the same point in a recent Harvard Business Review piece. Addressing societal issues is integral to profit maximization, not external to it. Granted NPR stations don’t generate profits. But they do raise money. The idea that doing something good for the public — beyond programming — should come back and benefit the bottom line. Aren’t you more likely to donate, or donate even more, if your public radio station creates a service that saves you money on health care?
We’re seeing collaboration, the inclusion of readers and customers, and platforms that encourage it to a greater and greater extent. But the fact is, we’re still only learning how to do this so it benefits all of us.
Got any other examples? Please share.