And Here’s The Pitch …

Monday marks the start of AMC’s advertising agency reality series called “The Pitch.”
If you haven’t heard, The Pitch is where two agencies square off each week to win a potential piece of a brand’s business. A sneak preview was released last week to mixed reviews from folks in the advertising biz.

I think copywriter Cary Moore summed it up best in my good friend Michael Palma’s recent blog post, “Hernias and the Sausage Factory.”

“If you rolled the cameras and re-created a typical week in a creative department, it would be the most boring television ever made. What we actually do isn’t very glamorous to a cold set of eyes. They had to make it contrived to make it even remotely watchable.”

Like a lot of people in advertising, part of me is still curious to see how the rest of the agencies compare. How they present, how they execute, etc., etc.
Michael Gass’ Fuel Lines posted a list of the agencies that are participating and the 27 who declined the invitation.

After reading the list, I started to wonder who else besides people in the agency business would even watch a show like this? In fact most clients could care less how efficient their agency’s process is. What clients or potential clients really care about is how effective their agency is (meaning: how can they improve my return on investment).

Michael Palma points out in his post, “Does a butcher take you in the back of the store and say — ‘Here’s where we take the gizzards and chop them up. And these are the casings that we stuff the fat and chopped organs into. Our casings are made of the finest pig intestines.’ If this happened, you may never eat sausage again.”

Well, regardless, this Milwaukee native is gonna pick up some brats, a couple beers and tune into AMC April 30 at 9:00 p.m. Let me know what you think of The Pitch.

March Social Media Madness

March Madness is upon us.

Millions will flock to social media for advice on how to fill out their “March Madness” bracket or learn what time their favorite team is playing so they can watch via streaming media.

It also means that numerous brands will be increasing the social media component of their tournament budgets.

In 2010, Coke spent 2% of its ad budget on social media; in 2011, they added a zero and increased it to 20%. Last year, Coke Zero sponsored the “Social Arena” on ESPN and Verizon offered a similar version called “Tournament of Tweets.” Reese’s enticed fans to visit their Facebook page for a chance to shoot a half-court shot worth $1 million at the 2012 tournament. This year they are offering a trip to next year’s tournament and Reese’s for life.

There goes my girlish figure.

I’m sure there will be new brands that join the March Madness this year. Here is a list of “16 Sweet Must-Follows” on Twitter, compiled by Sam Laird of Mashable, as well as the #marchMadness Social Media Cheat Sheet posted by Likeable Media.

One group that doesn’t embrace the NCAA love are IT professionals who suffer network slow-downs due to the streaming of live games by employees – and employers – during office hours. Then again, it builds camaraderie, right? Gives you things to talk about around the water cooler. How’s your bracket doing? Did your team win? Did you see that last second shot?

No doubt about it: The big dance is a slam dunk online.

Plan Your Bathroom Breaks Accordingly

The NFL Playoffs are about to begin, which means two things:

My beloved Green Bay Packers have a shot at another Super Bowl victory – a “G-peat” – and the Super Bowl ads are right around the corner.

This year’s air time sold out by Thanksgiving for a mere $3.5 million per spot. Pundits have long debated the value of dropping that type of media coin on one spot. I’m neither for nor against it, but as an agency creative, I do enjoy watching.

It’s fun checking USA Today and the trade pubs the next day to see what resonated with consumers.

It’s time to see if what I think is funny, is funny to millions of Americans.

Time to see if the same spots that make an emotional connection with me do the same for others.

Time to see if you and I agree on the spots are the best and the worst.

Time to wonder why I’ve ever done business with Go Daddy.

Well, this year we don’t have to wait until the day after the big game.

This year, USA Today and Facebook have teamed up to create the “USA Today-Facebook Super Bowl Ad Meter.” It will allow you to view, rate and share Super Bowl ads. The best part about the new Ad Meter is that this will be the first time consumers – not just focus groups – will be able to determine who will be this year’s winner of the USA Today Ad Meter.

Who will unseat last years winners, Bud Light and Doritos? Plan your bathroom breaks accordingly and be sure to cast your vote.

And let me know which spot was your favorite. Game on!

“The chair is not my son.”

I was in a meeting the other day, discussing the merits of “optimizing”  copy for a client’s website, when I was reminded of an old David Lettermen bit.

Dave was trying to decipher the lyrics to Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.”

He wondered: Did Jackson sing the lyrics, “The kid is not my son” or “The CHAIR is not my son”? Letterman played the song for the audience, but had stagehand Al Frisch say the word “CHAIR” in a thick New York accent over Jackson singing the word “kid.”

It was quite funny…and quite obvious that “kid” was the correct word in the song.

Reading branded web copy that has been optimized can have the same forced feeling of Al Frisch’s interpretation of the ”Billy Jean” lyrics. Your hidden agenda (ranking) becomes not-so-hidden and you risk eroding your brand’s personality.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is important, but there has to be a balance between creating a brand voice and shoe-horning key words (CHAIR) for the sake of a Google rank.

What’s the right balance?

Depends on you, your agency and your client philosophies, but I prefer creative content that resonates with humans first, then SEO spiders.

Marching to the beat of a different drummer

Unsatisfied with the 200+ offerings on television the other evening, I decided to see what I could find on YouTube. I stumbled upon “Dream Theater – The Spirit Carries On Episode 1.” I’m an eclectic music junkie and while I’ve always admired Dream Theater’s technical prowess, I can’t say I’m much of a fan. 

But, for some reason, I clicked the link.

I come to discover that Dream Theater’s original drummer of 25 years, Mike Portnoy, had left the band and that “The Spirit Carries On” consisted of three 20-minute videos in which the four remaining bandmates searched for a new drummer.

What on earth does this have to do with advertising or brand marketing?

Well, it called to mind when a brand — in this case, Dream Theater — searches to find a new agency — in this case, drummer — and the importance of chemistry in that search and eventual client/agency relationship. 

It also reinforced my belief that there is no shortage of great creative talent in the world and that each brings their unique point of view to the table — or drum kit. Most clients already know, or assume, that an ad agency produces solid creative work or they would have never reached out in the first place. 

At the end of the day, it comes down to who in your selection set feels right. 

Well, watch the videos below. Who feels right to you? Who would you have picked to be the next skin pounder for Dream Theater?