Classified's "Oh-Canada" and the countdown begins.

I am interested to see how long it takes before we see this song being used by a brand to capitalize on patriotic pride. Possibly within weeks as we look at the quickly approaching Olympic games?

Coca-cola is already using Canadian artist K'naan's song waving flag in ads and ad the theme song of FIFA World Cup. Could "Oh Canada" be the waving flag of the Olympics?

Ohhh Globe & Mail fail to think again.

I am not sure who from the Halifax office of the Extreme Group found this and posted it on the whiteboard in hallway but they were not the only person to notice this horrible ad placement. If you haven't seen it, the ad is asking if people are tired of waiting in line. And of course, showcasing how an American Express Card can make it so you never need to wait in lines again. The content surrounding the ad is images of Haitian's waiting in line for food, water and medical attention. (check out these other photos if you want a closer shot.)

American Express is an unfortunate and unintentional victim of this mess-up BUT once again it highlights the importance of content creators who sell media space to wake-up and start ensuring they are providing advertisers with a effective environment to advertise.

My guess is that this placement would have cost $20 - $30,000 plus ad production. If you are a media buyer and know, please comment as I am interested in how much money the Globe & Mail is making to ignore what they are doing with their advertisers brands.

TBWA AIDS GRAFFITI: A message not an experience

I have seen this video on almost every blog I have visited in the past 2 or 3 days. A lot of mixed emotions and thoughts about the work have been shared, and I felt it was about time that Adjoke weighed in on the discussion.

Personally I think it is entertaining and effectively showcases the need to wrap it up against for both genders. The video portrays to men that you won't get any unless it is wrapped while also making you question your partner choice if she doesn't care. For women (the two I've asked) it makes them think that they are dirty if they aren't using condoms.

That is where my analysis of the video will end. What I want to talk about is the missed opportunity to create an experience instead of a message. The differing view points on the video showcase that not everyone thinks the same (duh) and if we apply the point of Malcolm Gladwell's video "What I learned from spaghetti sauce" then we know that we can't be trying to create one message for all, but multiple messages that will connect with different people in different ways. So how do we create these multiple messages? Easily, create an experience that will connect with multiple people in different ways.

I hope that we will see more from TBWA to turn this video into a campaign full of experiences as I believe it has the foundation to really make an impact and drive change.

Some thoughts I have :)

The video is a wonderful element to ignite the conversation. It is controversial, entertaining, detachable and distributable and most importantly something that will be effective against a wide range of targets. What it needs to do is offer an experience that will allow different segments within their target to more access points to the message and amplify the conversation. Why not put out a video showing the making of the video. Demonstrating the "how" behind the animation that will interest curious minds of creative youth interested in animation, film, gaming, advertising, etc. This video on its own has the ability (if done right) within segments of the longtail to attract new audiences and amplify the conversation. Now, lets take our great characters and create educations videos where our simple graffiti stars showcase proper condom usage, dispel myths, discuss the stats around AIDS and provide interested youth, social workers, sex-ed teachers and more access to videos that the target will find interesting and pay attention to.

As, our characters become known and embedded within "pop-culture" they can be utilized as an iconic and simple reminder at relevant locations to "wrap it up". Removable stickers (let them take them if they want) can be placed on bathroom walls at pubs, clubs and bars. They can be stuck on subway tiles in stations serving University areas or club district and placed on light poles.

Why not create a Facebook community where people can become fans of our little wrapped up friend. He can share information and drive contests around access to concerts, events and other promotions that fit the target. At the same time they can ask people to take pictures and share everywhere they see the stickers of our little guy. Hey, why not put stickers of him unwrapped and ask people to draw a condom on (like in the video) to any unprotected penises they see. Make them feel apart of the campaign, make it fun and create motivation for them wrap it up. If they upload a picture of the little guy they wrapped up maybe they have a chance to win something.

These community building actions allow TBWA to have an existing community of followers that makes the job of igniting the conversation even easier as they evolve their communications. Whether the evolution means new videos, creating awareness around fundraising drives, World AIDs day or whatever else they want.

I could probably write about this all day, but in 20 minutes this is what I have. Is it perfect? No. But is it better than just looking at creating a message? I believe so.

I would be proud to be connected to this video, but I would LOVE to be a part of creating the experience I shared.

We need to get over intersecting with messages and begin to connect through experiences.


Coca-Cola Snowball

Well, I am pretty happy that Coca-Cola didn't go with some sappy, all the nations love each other, human achievement is awesome, the world is better with sports than war, and just like with the Olympics we can all come together and have a Coke together spot.

But I am not 100% sold on this one. It is missing something that makes it feel truly Coke. I feel any product (A Coors Light for example) could be dropped into the spot and nothing would change (except for some added cleavage).

Nontheless see the Coke Snowball spot here:


Get involved in your conversations

This image shows the search results for "aniston globes" after the Golden Globes. I wanted to share the amazing dress that Jennifer was wearing at the event with a colleague. In the search results and clearly highlighted was relevant conversations happening in twitter and showcased by "recency" not quality, or accuracy. This is on the first page, not hidden down below.

If this is what consumers will see every time they Google your brand you had better be participating. The countdown is on until the term SECO (Search Engine Conversation Optimization) is the latest buzzword in the social media world.

*SECO (Search engine conversation optimization) is officially trademarked by me :)

Are we all doing the same thing? ... continued.

Before I jump into my post and share with you some thoughts I want to point out to everyone that Tyler has moved to London so beyond taking Adjoke global a few other things have changed. The biggest change Tyler and I can no longer grab a beer or sit on the couch and discuss and debate each others posts and thoughts.

This change will be great for Adjoke as we now have the opportunity to share our conversations with you.

So onto my post....

As Tyler mentioned brands and agencies are flocking to the social media world faster than 16 year old girls to a Coach 75% off sale and by the end of 2010 every brand will have some sort of social media campaign, page or presence.

As we flock to the space and companies invest they are looking for "tangible" results and they are looking for them very quickly. This demand paired with agencies that are lost in the space and generally a lack of strategy has turned the social media brand experience into a contest corner or a bargain bin. Brands are looking to get tangible results so agencies deliver high-value contests and promotions as it is the easiest way to build a base of fans (not targeted consumers or quality networks). The problem is that this is also the strategy that the agencies are using to sustain the social media efforts. If your agency is recommending an ongoing strategy around pure promotional engagement do yourself, your budgets and your fans a favour and send out and RFP or email me :).

Before I continue to talk about the brand and agency challenges, lets talk about the most important piece of the puzzle, the consumer. If you were to ask 1 million users of social media why they joined Facebook, or why the signed up for Twitter, etc none of them would say it is because they are "excited about how social media offers them a completely new way to engage with brands" OR "that they are looking to deepen their brand relationships".

Brand experiences and promotions is NOT why consumers flocked to the space or why they will continue to engage with it.

They started engaging in social media and continue to because it offers them something of value. The benefits of social media are different for almost every user, whether it be connecting with friends, access to entertainment, a channel to share their creations, to join in conversations they care about, to keep up to date on content and topics that matter to them, to raise their profile within their industry, to find a job, a girlfriend/friend, drive sales or identify insights and learn about their target market; everyone has a different motivation.

Now brands can use promotions to drive initial awareness and build a base, but before they do they should have a strategy about how they will transition to offering something valuable (content, exclusive access, connections, etc) to their consumer that also benefits the brand. If the only value you can bring to social media is contests your organization is in a lot more trouble then not having a strong social media presence.

Once you go beyond delivering free shit to everyone and begin delivering value to your target consumer through social media your brand will be rewarded and thanked by consumers.

Create experiences, not messages and destinations.

Some brands just "get-it". If you or your clients are still demanding that everything must drive hits to their website with every campaign than they need to wake-up. Advertising to consumers in the digital space has quickly evolved from driving consumers (through media) to destination sites to intersecting consumers with experiences.

The best campaigns are no longer about building a flashy microsite then blanketing the world with banner ads, emails and mass CTA's to visit the site (then probably a call to action on the site asking visitors to "fan your brand on Facebook").

The best campaigns create multiple experiences that can be detached and distributed from any touchpoint anywhere. Utility and value are delivered everywhere and through these experiences consumers understand the message that the brand is conveying.

Coca-cola and Unilever announced that they will be dropping their campaign site to focus on delivering value within their targets existing communities.

In short they are trying to add value to the consumers existing digital world, not try to get the consumer to come to theirs.

From New media edge:

Coca-Cola and Unilever are shifting their digital focus away from traditional campaign sites and towards community platforms, such as Facebook and YouTube, as social media begins to dictate their marketing activity in 2010.

The FMCG giants are moving away from sites created on a campaign-by-campaign basis in favour of investment in existing communities. While both companies will continue to create campaign sites for certain brands in the immediate future, they have said the long-term future lies with social media on platforms populated by their target consumers.

Coca-Cola will position its official Facebook and YouTube pages as the lead online channels for upcoming international activity for its Coke Zero and Fanta brands, new media age understands.


Are we all doing the same thing?

A few months ago, Razorfish published a report called FEED. The report outlines findings from a comprehensive survey that polled 'highly connected' US internet users and asked them a variety of questions dealing with their branded online experiences. It is a fairly quick read (for a Razorfish deck) and contains some good stats for anyone in an agency to be aware of.

Here are some that have got me thinking:
  • "40% of consumers "friended" a brand on Facebook or MySpace"
  • "37% of consumers who "friended" a brand on Facebook or MySpace did so for the deals"
  • "26% of consumers have "followed" a brand on Twitter"
  • "44% of consumers who follow a brand on Twitter do so for the deals"
  • "70% have participated in a brand contest"
Deals, offers, promotions and social spaces. See the pattern here?

Let's look it another way, from the client-agency side of things:

CLIENT: "My daughter says that Twitter and Facebook are huge. We need a social strategy asap!"
AGENCY: "Got it. Facebook page and Twitter account will be up in two days."

...3 days later...

CLIENT: "Why do we only have 47 fans and 6 followers"
AGENCY: "(Sighing) It's a tough one. Let's get a promotion up there. Make people vote for stuff, upload content, create viral impressions. Then we will own Facebook and Twitter."

(high fives all around)

Of course we all know the next part of the story because we all have either been the agency or the client in this situation. I certainly have been. The contest gets run. People engage, metrics go up and the feelings about the brand are generally positive. It was a success, albeit a small one when compared to what Apple or Nike are doing, but still.

If 2010 is truly going to be the "Year of Social" than social network users are going to have to brace themselves for the 365 / 24 / 7 contest schedule that is about to happen.

And this brings me back to the Razorfish stats. A huge portion of respondents clearly stated that the reason the engage with these brands is via a promotion. But is that because they like the contests or because every brand uses a promotion as the "carrot" for the consumer to join their community?

What about adding real value vs. buying fans on an ongoing basis?

Many brands have been successful on the real value front and, guess what, they're brands that typically have strong positioning, creative and (surprise!) products. They might create cool tools, connect with you new people who share your passion for the brand or simply show you new ways to use the products that they already know you love. Sure, they throw in competitions and promotions in every once and a while but the pages are about enhancing the brand experiences, not just giving away more free stuff.

My point? In 12 months almost every major brand will have a page on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, WordPress, Foursquare and whatever else that their appointed 'social media expert' advises them on. They will go there without a real strategy or a plan but just to connect with their consumers where they are.

The problem with that approach? Consumers are busy, they're being spammed by their own friends so that they can try to win some contest and they are generally tired of seeing 'Become a fan to win' messages every time they buy something online.

Brands who use social to augment their positions and create holistic experiences will win a piece of our attention. They will break through the clutter and the "EVERYTHING MUST GO" mentality of the other 80% and meet their objectives. I don't think that many brands can achieve this type of success and most need promotional elements to drive engagement.

But I do hope that every brand thinks beyond the contests and challenges themselves (and their agencies) to create strategies and ideas that don't hinge on paying consumers to engage with them.