Kia with Melissa McCarthy. I love this ad. Yes, it is silly. Yes, it is slapstick. But it has Melissa McCarthy getting tortured and it took my mind off all the hell of losing money on the game, personal crap, political crap, stuff I had to work on, and all the other serious things. She has this wonderful Belushi-type energy and, with the SNL piece, owned the Super Bowl weekend. There is some fun extra stuff with her that shows off car features as well. I have watched her hit the side of that ship 10 times now − AND I LIKE IT EVERY TIME. BETTER HER THAN ME.
Skittles. Yes. It was weird, edgy, very Skittles-like. And fun.
Bai − I liked it. I don’t drink the drink and I don’t think I will, but I love Justin and I have a love/hate with Walken. We wanted to do an LVCVA ad with him and he refused us. It’s not the first time I have been rejected, and it won’t be the last, but it hurts when it’s Chris.
Coke, Audi, Budweiser − INCLUSION ADS – These were the winners in the game of inclusion. Born the Hard Way harkens back to Bud’s immigrant beginnings. Nicely done, until the very end when he has the drawing of the beer bottle, which feels much less authentic than the rest of the ad. But I can forgive. Coke was way ahead of the game with an ad it ran two years ago. So Coke ran it again. It fit and I like when brands are ahead of their time. Audi went after equal pay for women and the ad was a nice surprise when everyone else was staring at the WALL. Instead, they focused on the ceiling. Still nothing brought tears to my eyes except Brady winning.
Honda’s ad didn’t really feel right when the car came in, but I still liked the way they executed the yearbook photos of the celebrities. It was different and interesting. It is weird though that both Bud and Honda have such a hard time once the product comes in. It’s like, “Story is over. Here comes the sell.”
Wix.com ads were really well done. They were solid and big, but somehow missing that Super Bowl “thing.” I don’t know why I didn’t think they were the best ads. They had action, decent idea, great performances and lots of money. Maybe it was the money. When you have Statham, Favre and explosions, I should care more.
Tide − solid with some really fun extras on the web featuring Gronk and Tambor. I have to say that I knew it was going to be a Tide ad after first seeing the stain. But most of America probably thought it was legit. It’s Bradshaw. I could see him sneaking a chicken wing or two between plays.
Hyundai did a really nice thing for the troops that allowed families to watch the game in 360 virtual surround with their families. Again, didn’t make we want to hug a Hyundai, but it was nice.
Mr. Clean’s butt − enough said.
Brady. YES, HIS AD WAS HORRIBLE. So at least he was a loser there. It was like watching a piece of cardboard in 360.
Snickers – Total losers during the game with a live commercial that no one got. Total winners before the game by planning a live commercial no one would get.
T-Mobile − It had all those people, including the Bieber, and it was all bad. It would have been better off slapping them all together in some sort of Mashup ad. If I was working on T-Mobile, I would fake my own death right now. In other words, the Sprint ad was terrible too.
Mercedes – I would put our simple ad with Fonda against theirs any day. And ours cost considerably less.
I’ve attended conferences across the globe, including an education industry show in London and an energy-efficiency segment event in Kuala Lumpur. In past roles, I’ve even had the opportunity to speak at several—two highlights being at the World Energy Efficiency Congress in Abu Dhabi and at regional conference in Thailand. As a veteran to keynotes, breakout sessions, inspirational speakers, and the art of conference lanyard collection, I feel like I have experienced it all.
And I was wrong. Attending a leadership conference specifically geared to the inspiration, celebration and development of women was a new experience. Celebrating its 10th year and hosted by the MGM Resorts Foundation, this week’s Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC2016) in Las Vegas was a dynamic event with a full agenda for its sold-out crowd of 1,000 women (and a few men). I could wax poetically about the powerful lineup of amazing women, like Phyllis A. James (MGM Resort International’s chief diversity officer), who left me with this thought—that “women have multiple glass ceilings, yet each of us has a hammer.” Yet, I thought I’d rely on the experiences of my talented colleagues who also attended WLC2016, all of whom were invited guests of the R&R Foundation, a proud WLC2016 sponsor.
MGM Resort’s Phyllis A. Jones
Donna Brazile Charms and Inspires
Dr. Lalia Rach’s “Business Leadership: For Adults Only”
“The big theme I took away was leaning in to fears,” says Julie Teasley, director of operations. Several speakers directly mentioned the ideology that Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg made famous in a TED Talk, and others emphasized that instead of waiting to be recognized, women should move forward to success. Donna Brazile, a favorite of attendees who made an impact on several of us, quipped, “Why are you still waiting to be asked to lead? Why not you? There is no one better.”
Donna is a veteran democratic political strategist and most recently named interim chair of the DNC. Her hilarious sense of humor and words of wisdom also resonated with Yanick Dalhouse, account director from R&R Resources+ in Washington, D.C. She recalls Donna saying, “We don’t have to check the boxes that others give us; we can check our own.” And this author giggled along with the entire room to this Donna-ism: “I’ve always told the men I’ve worked with … when I come through the door, I’m not asking you to leave. I’m just saying scoot over!”
R&R’s Chantel Perreault, operations supervisor, recalls several speakers talking about focusing on the important priorities, and breakout speaker Judi Holler added that the master of all fears is the fear that one will succeed. Judi, a former improv comedian at Chicago’s famous Second City, had a quote that resonated with Chantel: “Make fear your homeboy.”
Jeanette Schneider Charges WLC Attendees to Take Charge of Our Destinies
Yanick Dalhouse, Joan Jungblut, Julie Teasley, Shan Bates-Bundick, Karyn Hearn-Phillips, Chantel Perreault, Sara MacFarlane
Alison Levine: Adventure Grand Slam Designee Who Has Climbed Highest Peak on Every Continent
Something that resonated with Joan Jungblut, corporate media director, from several of the speakers, was best articulated by Donna Brazile: “No matter how you got in the room, bring others with you,” which is to say seize the opportunities that arise for you, as well as create opportunities for others to rise. Another point that was covered in sessions by both Dr. Lalia Rach and Eric Boles was that mediocrity is contagious. Joan says, “It’s easy and ‘safe’ to be average, and so we don’t set goals high enough. We have to set high expectations for ourselves and our teams so we rise to those expectations.”
“Overall, I came away with mixed emotions: on the one hand, we’ve come so far,” shares Sara Macfarlane, director of insight. “But on the other, you could see how even among some of the monumental women on stage, we continue to struggle with the duality of being a professional woman and that we continue to limit ourselves.” Karyn Hearn-Phillips, project supervisor, recalls Judi Holler’s “There are no mistakes, only gifts,” and this advice that sums up the elegance and professionalism that we all hope to be, shared by Donna Brazile: “Be a woman of grace, valor and tenacity.”
Lindsey Patterson, media director, recalled this additional Donna gem that I will leave you with: “Relationships matter. Even when you have staunchly different views, it’s important to play nicely.” With such an outstanding leadership conference under our belts, and with the wisdom by such incredible leaders at our fingertips, we are inspired. And I hope this recap and the learnings of several women leaders at R&R Partners serve to inspire you, as well.
Over the past year, R&R Partners’ Denver office has been meeting once a week to enjoy lunch and watch a selection of TED Talks. It has been an inspiring year of talks, so we thought we would share our favorites with you. Our 10 favorites cover a variety of topics including leadership, motivation and how our world is changing. We hope these talks inspire you and fuel your creativity as well.
Try something new for 30 days – Matt Cutts
Katie Fischer, Media Planner Buyer – “This talk inspired me to tackle several goals that had been on my “far future” to-do list. In realizing that I could accomplish a goal or create a new habit in 30 days, it changed my perspective on these seemingly impossible goals. Thirty days is a short window of time − way less daunting than I had built up in my own head. We really can achieve our highest goals if you truly put in the work day in and day out without quitting!”
Got a wicked problem? First, tell me how you make toast. – Tom Wujec
Jacqueline Meason, Account Director – “Love how this TED Talk reminds us that every person thinks differently. Some people like to really spell things out and others like to be concise. The idea behind breaking down a complex thing into a number of steps through visuals is a good one for agencies. I plan to put my white board to better use and have some drawing sessions with the team.”
The game that can give you 10 extra years of life. – Jane McGonigal
Katie Fischer, Media Planner Buyer – “Learning about gamer mentality completely changed my outlook on the importance of gaming. Not only were my eyes opened, my preconceived notions about gamers were shattered. This talk helped me understand my own brother and his affinity for gaming, and helped me to find a way to better connect with him! Gamers unite!”
The future of news? Virtual reality. – Nonny de la Pena
Monica McCafferty, Director of Public Relations – “As a journalist, your goal is to connect with people on an emotional level, educate them and challenge preexisting perceptions. If people can experience the story for themselves, which VR allows, reporting will take on a whole new dynamic. Vietnam was the first television or “living room” war, bringing the reality of war into people’s homes. If VR takes on today’s modern wars, I think it will have a profound impact on embedded journalism as well as on how people consume news.”
How great leaders inspire action – Simon Sinek
Sean Tonner, President – “This quote from Simon Sinek says it all, ‘If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood, sweat and tears.’”
The power of vulnerability – Brene Brown
Monica McCafferty, Director of Public Relations – “When I was 20, I traveled solo throughout Europe. What I found was that when I allowed myself to be vulnerable, I was rewarded. Whether it was connecting with a local who took me in as a guest, or connecting with other Americans, Canadians and Aussies also with the token Eurail pass − the ability to put yourself out there to strangers and find a family in return was oddly easy. Of course, one must do this in a smart manner, but I left Europe with a strong sense of being able to read people’s body language, have empathy, and look for the similarities, not the differences. These skills have transferred into my professional life as a PR professional, where courage, compassion and the ability to connect are essential. ‘Spin’ is dead.”
How to build your creative confidence – David Kelley
Kellie Starr, Digital Project Supervisor − “This TED Talk spoke to me because I think we oftentimes forget that a good idea can come from anywhere. Surprisingly, through a series of small steps, you can build your confidence in being creative and in other areas as well. So even though my role is not typically a creative one, it reminded me that I have the ability to be naturally creative and therefore support my project team in the ideation and visual process as well.”
How Christmas lights helped guerrillas put down their guns – Jose Miguel Sokoloff
Brian Kelley, Digital Strategist – “As advertisers, we love it when an idea inspires action. Jose Miguel Sokoloff shares a powerful idea with us that helped encourage Colombian guerrillas to put down their weapons and come home. There truly is power in creative ideas.”
Never, ever give up – Diana Nyad
Erin Mowry, Public Relations Coordinator – “In 2013, at the age of 64, Diana Nyad became the first person to swim 111 miles from Cuba to Florida without the aid of a shark cage. Her TED Talk says it all in her title, ‘Never, ever give up.’ Not only did Diana accomplish her dream, she did it later in life when many people said there was no way. This TED Talk was motivating and inspiring to say the least. I loved this talk because it proved that no matter the adversities you face in life, you just keep swimming to accomplish your goals.”
The way we think about charity is dead wrong – Dan Pallotta
Brian Kelley, Digital Strategist – “Are our ideas of how charitable organizations should be run handicapping their ability to be successful? Dan Pallotta offers new ways to think about the way charities spend their funds to accomplish big goals. This talk challenged some of my preconceived notions about charities and reminded me to challenge my notions about other industries as well. Only by truly analyzing the situation can we identify game-changing strategies and ideas.”
I was only at CES for three hours but I met a new friend. He wasn’t a person. He was actually a minibus. He was the VW BUDD-e.
The VW BUDD-e is an electric-powered minibus concept car that charges to 80 percent capacity in 15 minutes which is twice as fast as a Tesla. And it can go a distance of 323 miles before a charge according to VW.
How connected is my new friend? Very.
What makes the BUDD-e concept great is the minivan part as much as the technology. It is basically an extension of the living room. It’s like a living room that stretches for miles. You have a television. You are still able to control your home. And the internal Siri-like being is your virtual butler/driver.
First off, he is connected to you in a very personal way. By integrating cell phones, tablets, tagging and the home, BUDD-e is a pretty influential friend. He knows who is in the car and who isn’t. Just in case you are faced with a home alone situation he knows how to open the garage door, turn off the lights in your house, show you who is at the front door on a 30-inch screen in the passenger section and adjust your air conditioning in the car and house through voice commands. Plus you can wave your hand in front of the door to open it. He also has a delivery slot of sorts for packages.
The BUDD-e won’t let you forget anything either. He will tell you if your phone is in the car. He will tell you if there is an umbrella in the car when rain is forecast. Everything is tagged and BUDD-e keeps track of it all.
And BUDD-e is made for a social experience. He is not only connecting the car to the home and the people, he is connecting the people in the car as well by creating a shared trip experience with shared music, destination facts, visuals, etc., that each person inputs before a trip.
What I love are the implications of connected smart cars like BUDD-e. I like to imagine the conversations that would ensue if they can talk. At the moment I am not sure BUDD-e does — but he should.
Me: “Hey BUDD-e, let’s clean the floor while we’re away.”
(LG makes a Roomba-like automated floor cleaner that has a camera.)
BUDD-e: “Good idea. The floor is a mess. It was last cleaned 5 days, 4 hours and 16 minutes ago. And while we are at it, I’m gonna put the house in energy saving mode. Your carbon footprint is pretty heavy. Power companies shouldn’t let you humans control the air conditioning anymore. WOW, look at that giant piece of dirt.”
Me: “That’s the dog BUDD-e!”
BUDD-e: “Oh, yes. Good point.”
Me: “Hey BUDD-e, do I look fat in this?
BUDD-e: “Yes. According to your fitness device you haven’t exercised in a month and you’ve gained ten pounds. So I am gonna have to go with YES.”
Me: “BUDD-e, I am not feeling that well. I might need emergency assistance.”
BUDD-e: “That isn’t surprising since you opened the fridge seventeen times yesterday, ate fast food 12 times this week, and haven’t been to the doctor in six months. I have alerted emergency techs and they are sending the Ehang 184 Drone Ambulance. I have opened the sunroof. As long as your heart doesn’t stop you should be able to climb to safety. While you are at the hospital I will order more Orange Crush and assorted sugary sodas.”
(The Ehang is even more impressive and scary at the same time. It’s a drone that can automatically fly humans around so you may not even need a smart car. One of these can pick you up and fly you to safety with NO PILOT — someday.)
Samsung has digitally tagged clothing called the Smart Suit so BUDD-e will even know what you are wearing. Why does this matter? Because if you are wearing your business suit BUDD-e will put that together with your calendar and he will say…
BUDD-e: “You forgot your briefcase and your computer. You might need those for the big meeting.”
Me: “OMG I am an idiot.”
BUDD-e: “I can’t argue that. You have 15 books on your Kindle and haven’t read any of them.”
Me: “OK BUDD-e, I get the picture. I don’t read. I’m fat. I’m unhealthy. I get it.”
BUDD-e: “You should bring the bike then and your gym bag. I’ll wait. And oh, can I ask you a question? You have no friends so why did you buy a social minivan? I want to have group sing-a-longs and play slug-a-bug. You could take a golf cart to the Dairy Queen every day. You don’t need me.”
Cars like BUDD-e will feed your dog while you are on a trip (if you have a connected dog feeder). He will start the coffee maker. With the new Keurig Cold he could make you a piña colada (not sure the Keurig is connected yet but it will be someday). He will turn on the TV so that the show your kids were watching in the van is ready to continue on the TV when you get home. And he will obey your commands like a dog.
Just don’t ask him how much energy you are saving by driving a certain way. He has been known to lie on that one.
In the past I have talked about connections that are made at CES and the connections between devices. They are basically becoming the same. Anyone who watched the presentation that I watched on the BUDD-e is already running back to their labs and thinking of ways to be a part of this thing in a few years. Best of all by then, BUDD-e will most likely be connected to the other sensors that will make it self-driving. The connections between these tech companies are moving the curve quickly. And the companies that are open to these connections will move faster than others.
And the combinations of connections are endless for devices. Your watch will tell you when your clothes are done. It will tell you when your oven reaches the required degrees. You will be able to start your BUDD-e by speaking to your Amazon Echo. You might be able to send it out to pick up your kids without a driver. “Hey Alexa (my Amazon Echo’s name), send BUDD-e to pick up the kids at the mall.” Or you could ask Siri to talk to BUDD-e. The only thing I worry about is BUDD-e getting a word in edgewise. And if Siri and Alexa start fighting and BUDD-e gets caught in the middle… watch out!
If BUDD-e can keep up with everything that is happening in the connected world, he could make a great friend…maybe even one you can’t live without.
It’s that time of the year again – a special time that happens every December … but only in Las Vegas. (I bet you thought I was talking about Christmas!) I DEFINITELY don’t want to diminish the importance or the joy of Christmas, but December is also the time for our annual college football bowl game, the Las Vegas Bowl.
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl pregame activities at Sam Boyd Stadium on December 20, 2014. (Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl)
This year will celebrate the 24th year of the game. I worked on the inaugural game as a student assistant in the UNLV Athletic Department. Now, 24 years later, I am still involved as a member of the Las Vegas Bowl Executive Committee and fulfilling the dedicated sponsorship for the LVCVA.
I am not sure people realize how important the game is to Las Vegas, which is why Rossi Ralenkotter, LVCVA president and CEO, and Rob Dondero, R&R Partners executive vice president, chased the game back in 1991. What motivates travel more than loyal college football fans the week before Christmas? Since the inaugural game in 1992 to last year’s game, the Las Vegas Bowl has generated an estimated $252,201,800 of non-gaming economic impact (that is food/lodging/entertainment) to Las Vegas during a time that’s typically a weaker travel period due to the holiday season. The Las Vegas Bowl has claimed seven sellouts in nine years between 2005 and 2013. Also, this will mark the third year in a row that the Las Vegas Bowl will be broadcast on ABC, showcasing Las Vegas to millions of viewers.
Sponsor signs at the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium on December 21, 2013. (Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl)
Some “Las Vegas Bowl firsts” that I think will be a surprise to most people: In 1995, Toledo and Nevada played in what was the first ever overtime bowl game in the Division 1 FBS level. The Las Vegas Bowl has claim to the FIRST WOMAN to play in an FBS-level game when Katie Hnida of the University of New Mexico entered the game to attempt an extra point. Sadly, it was blocked. In 2013, the game featured three scoring plays of 98 yards or longer and was the first bowl game in history that included a kickoff return to start each half.
And, you might just recognize a few of these names − he’s now known for being in Beast Mode and loving his Skittles, but Seattle Seahawks superstar running back Marshawn Lynch first gained fame in college when he was named MVP of the 2005 Las Vegas Bowl after rushing for three touchdowns and 199 yards for the Cal Bears. He won the Heisman Trophy the year AFTER playing in the 2001 Las Vegas Bowl: Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer led his USC Trojans in the 2001 game against Utah. The world knows him as “Gronk,” but before Rob Gronkowski became a three-time Pro Bowl tight end, the future Super Bowl champion played right here in the Las Vegas Bowl as he helped his Arizona Wildcats earn a win over BYU in the 2008 edition. Before he became a 1,000-yard rusher in the NFL, Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin played right here in the Las Vegas Bowl, piling up 301 all-purpose yards and two scores while helping his Boise State Broncos defeat Arizona State in 2011.
So, while you deck the halls and trim the tree, don’t forget to make the Las Vegas Bowl a part of your December tradition!! This year’s game will be Saturday, Dec. 19, at 12:30 p.m. PT (3:30 p.m. ET) at Sam Boyd Stadium. The 24th Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl will be televised nationally on ABC, featuring BYU against Utah — and with that matchup comes two more Las Vegas Bowl firsts — it marks both the first time “The Holy War” has been contested in the postseason, and the first time the Cougars and Utes have battled on a neutral site.
You can still reach the people who watch popular television shows. Just don’t use television to do it.
Many people are saying that we are in another Golden Age of Television. I can’t argue. It’s difficult to remember when there has been as much good, and varied, episodic programming available at any given time.
I’m even watching. I’ve just finished the most recent seasons of two great shows and right now I’m neck deep in two others. Just finished season 4 of Showtime’s Homeland and season 3 of Netflix’s House of Cards. I’m currently in the middle of AMC’s first season of Better Call Saul and HBO’s amazing six-part documentary, TheJinx. The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.
I know. There’s nothing terribly notable about any of that. They’re all very popular shows, watched by many. But for me, the interesting thing is how I’m watching them. I saw downloads of Homeland on my laptop, mostly on airplanes. House of Cards came via Netflix and my Roku. I’m catching up with Better Call Saul using my cable company’s On Demand service after AMC has actually broadcast the episodes. And I’m seeing TheJinx on HBO GO, HBO’s anytime streaming service.
So, the final count is one via laptop, two using Roku and one from On Demand. Four series, and I haven’t watched a single episode of any of them on “traditional television” as we know it. And I’m 60 years old. Not exactly a “digital early adopter.”
Does that mean that − outside of live sports, news and special events − there’s no way for a marketer to reach someone like me using popular episodic television programming? Well, yes and no. Or maybe the answer is maybe. Traditional TV ads certainly won’t work. Netflix, Showtime and HBO don’t even offer them, and the ads on my On Demand replays of Better Call Saul get the “fast-forward” treatment every time (sorry Capital One and CarMax).
But I believe there are other routes to a television viewer’s mind. Because in today’s world of binge-watching, digital-streaming, on-demand television, many viewers don’t stop at passively watching the episodes. They like to read about them, talk about them and argue about them. Online. With the thousands of others who share their passion for the latest dastardly deeds of Francis and Claire Underwood, the infuriating loose-cannon behavior of CIA Station Chief Carrie Mathieson, or the true meaning of Rust Cole’s latest monologue (I’m wide open to any help I can get on that one).
But that’s just the beginning. Twitter is always filled with discussions after episodes of popular shows have aired. And I can’t even imagine how many subreddit threads are devoted to Game of Thrones. In fact, if all of the sites, discussion boards, threads and digital space devoted just to Game of Thrones were amalgamated in one place, it would constitute a “Westeros Internet” unto itself.
There are reviews, discussions, updates and news about television all over the Web. I know one of the first things I want to do after an episode of Better Call Saul or Homeland is go to The AV Club for the latest review and discussion of said episode. So if a marketer wants to find me and other Homeland fans, that’s where we’ll be – again and again. And that’s where you can market to us, if you do it right.
Which means not just throwing mindless banner ads or annoying pre-rolls at us. Understand why we’re there and tap into it. Use our interest in and devotion to Sons of Anarchy or Mad Men or True Detective or whatever else it is we’re there to talk about and engage us. Odds are good we’ll pay attention.
The point is, today’s popular episodic television constitutes a culturewide shared experience as much as it ever has. But instead of gathering around the water cooler to talk about last night’s installment of Twin Peaks or Hill Street Blues, we’re sitting at our keyboards or grabbing our smartphones to discuss the hilarious white linen “Matlock” suit Jimmy McGill (aka Saul Goodman) wore at the assisted living facility last Monday night.
Shared experience can also be shared passion. Which can be an open door for marketers who understand who’s watching what. And why.
I am sure you are aware of the Internet of Things, but are you aware of the Internet of Listening. The Internet of Things takes your devices inside the home and sometimes on your body and connects them to the cloud. Nest, a smart thermostat, is connected to the cloud and adjustable by your phone on the same cloud. But it’s much more interesting than that. Nest is learning from you. It knows when you are in a room. It knows how long you are in said room. It knows when you leave said room. So it can almost gleam how you feel about said room. If you liked it, you stayed longer. If you didn’t, you stayed less. It is deducing such feelings from your interaction with the device. But what if it had more to go from? What if it heard you had cold feet? Of course,assuming it knows the difference between actual cold feet and the term “cold feet” it could turn up the heat. If it heard the sounds of amore, it could change the temperature accordingly … so if you like it hot, it can actually be hot. This may sound good to some and may sound creepy to others. However it sounds … this type of listening has already begun.
Your devices are already monitoring your conversations. If you read any of the books on Edward Snowden, you know that phones can monitor conversations even when they are off. This is not science fiction – it is in government documents. Snowden and the reporters involved would put their phones inside the hotel room refrigerators when they needed to talk about sensitive stuff. Thankfully, the refrigerators weren’t listening yet. … YET. But it’s not just sophisticated government surveillance. Samsung’s new smart TV allows you to give it instructions by voice. It also monitors conversations that aren’t telling it to turn on BETTER CALL SAUL (great show by the way). Of course, Samsung has since changed its terms to sound like it isn’t doing this.
Amazon’s Echo (I ordered one but don’t have it yet) is a device that sits in your living room and talks to you; keeps your grocery list; answers questions; plays music; and promises to learn to do many more things that I am sure I won’t need. But it’s someone else to talk to, so why not? The interesting part is the sophisticated microphone system inside it. Amazon claims it can hear your commands in a normal voice from anywhere in the room. You will forget it’s there until you say the wake up word … Alexa. But is Alexa really sleeping or is she pretending to sleep like an angry lover listening to every word and making plans? Maybe that’s the wrong way to look at it, but who knows what Alexa really thinks or wants?
As I am writing this, Evernote is reading what I am typing. I wrote about Samsung’s TV and Evernote put the perfect link to the article at the bottom of this. Then it gave me a link to Amazon’s Echo when I was writing about that. Evernote is listening and adding context to what I am writing. I hope that is all Evernote is doing, but probably not. Adding context through a couple of suggested articles is one of the nice things Evernote does for me. But what if Evernote could actually hear what I was talking about in my home with my family? And what if it could take what it knows from what I’ve written and put it together with what I might be saying, doing, buying, and connect that to what other devices on the cloud are doing for me?
THE CIRCLE, by Dave Eggers, imagines a world where all is known by everyone through a connected social network with connected cameras everywhere that can hear and see everything except in the bedroom and bathroom. If you think you might be seen, you won’t commit a crime. If you are sick and alone, the world can help when they see you fall. If you want to know what the world really thinks should be done about ISIS, it’s a collective thought away. You can see the implications for privacy and it seems like future fantasy. But it is not. When they can hear what you are saying, it’s almost as telling as the cameras. And don’t forget – cameras are everywhere as well. Everything, from phones, to cams that watch your dog, to cams that watch your front door to hidden cameras all connected to the cloud. This world is becoming very transparent. Your hopes, dreams and actions are becoming more and more obvious to the cloud.
What does this mean to privacy? There are three kinds of people in the world. There are people who don’t want anyone knowing anything about them. There are people who don’t care if anyone is watching them because they don’t think there is any reason why anyone would care. In other words… the innocent people. Then there is the group that realizes that it is all being done to sell you something…and they choose to accept that or they don’t. It is amazing what consumers will accept in order to have the NEW. Look at any of the app agreements and you’ll know what I am talking about. Consumers will give up a ton to get what they think they need.
What does this mean to marketers? Pretty simple. Your targeting is going to get laser. If someone mentions a desire for your product or service in casual conversation, it is going to show up somewhere very quickly. Your Echo, your TV, your speaker system that listens for ambient sounds, your talking refrigerator, or basically anything connected to the cloud with a microphone (remember Mr. Microphone – now think of Mr. Microphone Cloud Edition) will deliver the “context”/”way” to buy, book, get, order, find, embrace – whatever you are talking about in your home. Your Echo will send it immediately if you ask. And once every appliance is connected to every other appliance and connected to social and connected to your Apple Watch and whatever else the Cloud knows about your customer, then it isn’t selling anymore.
The Game is not the thing anymore. … It’s the game around the Game that matters. It’s filled with opportunities to engage, hijack and win long before the Game starts.
We all know how brands have been showcasing their Super Bowl commercials in the weeks leading up to the Game. And, of course, there are brands like Newcastle that play around the Game. But this year, more and more brands and others looked for ways outside the official broadcast to play not just with the broadcast itself, but with other brands. What’s next year’s big thing around the Big Game? Start thinking now. It will start sooner than you think.
Newcastle’s Band of Brands
Newcastle couldn’t advertise in the network broadcast of the Super Bowl because Budweiser is the event’s official beer. However, for this latest effort, it used cost as an excuse. So, they, along with Droga5, put together the first crowdfunded Big Game ad.
“Not only did we create the world’s first crowdfunded Big Game ad, but I’m pretty sure we just made the cheapest Big Game ad ever,” Priscilla Flores Dohnert, brand director for Newcastle Brown Ale, said in a statement. “By asking other brands to team up with our brand, we are making a statement that Big Game advertising should be accessible to everyone, whether they can afford it or not.”
R&R’s client, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, was one of those 37 brands. The Las Vegas logo was featured twice in the ad. Las Vegas is another brand not allowed in the broadcast because of the strict gambling rules of the NFL. We considered a ton of ideas to get into the game. Then Band of Brands came along and we were in.
This isn’t the first time we’ve used not being allowed in the Game to our advantage. Years ago, the exclusion got us national news coverage of the ban on Vegas and great play for the brand (because hey, it’s a little hypocritical).
Doritos Gets Hijacked
Newcastle also hacked into Doritos’ ad contest with its own Newcastle-laced version of a Doritos ad entry. Here, Newcastle took advantage of an established Super Bowl brand, Doritos, and used it to their advantage. They weren’t the only ones. There was also an entry that was not as favorable to the corn-chip franchise.
Marshawn turned the Game into his own little brand builder. It’s almost as if he planned it all. … By never talking to the press, he put the talking Marshawn in demand. And the talking Marshawn came out in the week before the Big Game. I personally know that they reached out to many brands in a last-second attempt to make a fast and furious buck off the Marshawn mystique. Because the social channels are being watched as closely as they are putting something together quickly is possible. Skittles, Progressive, and Mortal Combat were three of the brands that answered the Marshawn call to great success.
Totino’s Early Super Bowl
Totino’s tweeted the entire Game a day early. Most of the world thought it was a mistake (until they thought about it). I hate to say it, but Totino’s was ahead of its time on this one. They almost did something that people didn’t get because it was such genius. What better way to stand out during the Big Game than to have all your tweets about the Big Game happen the day before? Big win for Totino’s.
So What’s Next?
More Brands Will Team Up
Band of Brands was just the beginning. Next year, look for more brands to join with other brands to get attention. There are some brands that just go together well, like Doritos and Newcastle. But they aren’t the only ones. And watch out for brands that don’t look like brands but they are. Marshawn was always a brand in waiting. He and some others knew it. Who will next year’s be? I’m kind of surprised that the Chevy Guy didn’t get an ad this year – the nervous everyman would have been a great spokesman for the right Big Game social play.
Someone Will Start Their Super Bowl Program a Year Before the Game
The planning has already started for next year. Brands will be looking to play further and further out. Like Totino’s knows – the Big Game is big enough for brands to start some ripples that will grow to waves as the Game approaches. OK, while I was writing this it already happened. And, of course, it was Newcastle. They are already teasing next year.
You Will Also See More Brands Attacking Other Brands During the Game
This is my favorite from @RealAvocadoFact.
From bidding on search words like Bud did, to using other brand’s platforms, to hacking into other brands’ hacking, brands will look more and more to get any advantage. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there – even for that cute Bud dog.
More Just Plain, Unexpected Weirdness Will Happen from People You Wouldn’t Expect with Lower Budgets
The element of surprise works incredibly well during the Big Game. Look at Loctite. Who would even expect that brand to be in the Game? And no one expected them to be considered a winner in the Game. Next time you’re looking for glue, that surprise should pay off. Even advertisers who wouldn’t be considered big brands can play if they come at it right. Jamie Casino, a lawyer in Georgia, spent $100,000 to do an ad that looks like it belongs in the Big Game. He ran it in one market during Sunday’s broadcast (he ran a similar piece last year). It went viral and now he is not only the talk of Law Game in Georgia – he is a sought-after player in social. Look for more insanity in single markets. Newcastle’s Band of Brands only ran in Palm Springs. If it’s an interesting enough play in a local market, it will get social play nationally.
Expect a Brand to Try and Own the Meme Bowl Next Year
Twitter memes are probably the most fun part of the Game. Check out the Katy Sharks, specifically #LEFTSHARK. Doritos did for commercials what your brand may be able to do with memes. It’s tons of great content and a true winner the entire week after the Game.
More Ads Will Try to Spur Serious Conversation
Because the real game is the social game around the Game, more brands will try and spur conversation using their ads. In the past, it was all about being a great ad that people talked about. Now it will be more about a great ad that starts people talking about something. Just because there were missteps this year with ads that didn’t hit the right tone and weren’t great ads doesn’t mean they didn’t work to some degree in social. And like the guy who owns this joint (Billy Vassiliadis of R&R Partners) says, “If you have a parity brand and you want to reach the millennials, teaming up with a great cause may get them to your website.” Nationwide’s ad stood out and started some talk (just not enough to drown out the dislike of the ad). Nationwide and some others in this year’s Game forgot the biggest rule – if you’re gonna make someone cry – make them CRY HAPPY. Imagine a great ad that spurs a continuing conversation after the Game about a cause close to a brand. Maybe something great could really be accomplished in this wonderful world. That would be an opportunity for a smart, caring brand to show the world what it’s all about.
Bottom Line – It isn’t about buying the spot anymore. It’s about playing the field in the Opportunistic Bowl … and the field is wide.
If you talk to any good creative they will tell you politics and good marketing don’t go together. They will tell you that there are too many formulas for political advertising … and that it is tough to be really creative. I have seen both sides. Some really creative political work; lots of formula work; and some really bad work (especially in the last election). And in my career, I have done all three. In the new movie NO, a desperate situation leads to creative marketing with almost a Pepsi-like political campaign. When Chile is faced with the daunting task of ousting its longtime leader, the powers that be decide they have to take risks. So, they do. And, surprise, it works. By taking risks, I mean treating the candidate or party like an agency would treat an actual brand. It doesn’t happen very often. Political marketing people think they are building a brand but, for the most part, they are just using formulas, like putting him or her with the family, showing them with the right peeps and reacting to what the other candidate or party does. And, of course, counting the lies. That is pretty much a proven route to at least a reasonably close campaign.
Obama did it right in his first election by creating the CHANGE brand. His platform was as intriguing as he was. The second time around, his brand was basically, I AM NOT ROMNEY. Which worked also because he was on the right side and he had very sophisticated polling methods. Sometimes that’s all you need. Well, that and a talking horse. You really can’t go wrong with a wealthy talking horse ad.
So what about when brands pick sides? We just did a piece for our client (the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority) that played off of the NSA controversy. The ad is featured here and did pretty well, garnering more than 10 times its cost in earned media. That is media earned from the publicity – not from paying to have something placed in media. Afterward, I listened to an interview with Stuart Elliott from The New York Times where he intimated that as long as it’s a one-time thing and Las Vegas doesn’t pick sides … it’s cute and fun. I may be putting words in his mouth, but he seemed to be saying that brands like Vegas can have fun with current events but not become an active part in them – at least a brand like Vegas.
At R&R, we pride ourselves on Building and Protecting the brands we work for. And there are no other agencies in the country that have a marketing arm and a political arm that are both successful in what they do to the level we are. But even around here, it’s an interesting argument. Can a brand pick a side on a public issue and ride with it … or is politics too serious and a brand like Vegas too fun? Will some of that serious issue taint the brand or will the issue turn and the brand suffer? Or are big issues just to negative and a brand like Vegas too positive? It usually makes for a really long meeting.
It’s a tough one. The truth of the Vegas brand is Adult Freedom. That is what led to What happens here, stays here® and most of what happens with the brand. That puts Vegas clearly on the side of privacy and all the freedoms that allows. Vegas is a place where you can do and be what you can’t at home – and no one will judge you. Seems pretty clear that Vegas is on the side against the NSA, whether it’s done in a fun way or a more serious way. Of course, the NSA has its own WHHSH aspects. I recently read a piece where a man tries to get a record of the information the NSA has on him through the FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT. The NSA responded by telling him that they can’t send him that information because they can’t reveal that they have it. That would be a risk to national security. Vegas is kind of the same way … if you tell on one person, everyone is in danger.
Comedians don’t stop until it’s not funny anymore. I use The Daily Show and The Colbert Report as a measure of what still has play and what doesn’t. But you could really use any late night talk show. Or you could just do a Google search, watch the chatter on Twitter. There are a million ways to see if something is still a story. Later this month, the head of the NSA is speaking here … so really the story is just building and building. So there is still play in the NSA.
One of the tweets I continue to see on Twitter is “What happens in Vegas, stays in an NSA database.” This is being passed around continually. It might actually be gaining momentum as a tweet meme. And some would argue a tweet like that is dangerous to the LVCVA brand. Whether you like it or not, social media erodes What happens here, stays here. That’s why we came up with the #knowthecode campaign in the first place. With so much being shared online, the whole WHHSH claim seems suspect. Las Vegas has to protect that … R&R has to protect that. But is there a cost to going too far in the real world versus the marketing world? Or is there any difference anymore? Has the social media world brought the two so close together that there are fewer lines between them? And is there a danger of a brand looking like it is taking itself too seriously
This isn’t really new. We have done this sort of thing before. When Biden said something he shouldn’t have, we commented. When Obama said something detrimental about Vegas, we shot back. We defended Prince Harry. But we didn’t go too far. We stayed in the brand’s voice and made it a short blast and not a continued effort. And we aren’t the only people doing it. A lingerie brand played off the NSA thing with a message to Snowden … again, pretty much a one-time shot. And a number of brands are defending the LGBT issues in this country … Oreo has done a fantastic job of this.
And in Brazil, protesters are picking and choosing brands to use against the government by their slogans. “Come to the street,” a Fiat slogan used to celebrate the Confederations Cup soccer championship, and “The Giant woke up,” a slogan for Johnnie Walker in Brazil, have both been seen on signs and on Twitter.
What if we do go too far? I guess there is always the danger of going so far that we are all arrested and put in a very dark cell where no one will ever find us. It would be hard to put the whole city of Vegas in such a cell, but certain R&R folk could disappear and no one would be the wiser. I am always looking over my shoulder. Then there is the danger of Vegas seeming un-American. What is more American than total self-gratification for a weekend? Nothing. I know this from personal experience as an American who does a lot of selfing. And there is the risk of losing U.S. government conventions and meetings that are held here. Nah … politicians enjoy selfing way too much.
I would love your opinion on this. Are brands separate from the issues of the people? Is there a responsibility to become part of the conversation? Is it dangerous for a brand to speak too loudly on an issue even if it fits the truth of that brand? Let me know … I am listening.
This message was brought to you by THE COMMITTEE FOR A FREE LAS VEGAS.
If you know what the Electric Daisy Carnival is, skip this paragraph. I’m going to use it to bring those unaware of all things EDC up to speed. I’ll meet you in a hundred words or so. For those who don’t know, the Electric Daisy Carnival is, as far as I know, the largest gathering of electronic dance music (EDM) fans and artists in the country, probably the world. For three consecutive nights in June, 115,000 people gather in the infield of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to dance, jump up and down, wander around and listen to more than 200 acts spread out over seven stages. There are also a bunch of carnival rides, art installations and hundreds of actors roaming the grounds wearing incredible costumes, many of them riding on amazing contraptions.
Last weekend, I was there for two of EDC’s three nights. At this point, it’s appropriate to mention that I am 58 years old, which undoubtedly begs the question: What am I doing out there in the infield of a race track in the middle of the night with 115,000 people – most of whom are one-third to one-half my age – listening to the likes of Nicky Romero, Fake Blood, Dirty South, Destructo, Avicii, John Digweed and Tiesto?
Valid question. There are a couple of reasons. First, I am actually a fan of EDM. Not every genre (and there are many genres. If you don’t believe me, just search “EDM genres”), but I like a lot of it. I listen to BPM and Electric Area on Sirius and my oldest son has actually been a DJ (mostly house music) for the last 12 years or so. I certainly don’t qualify as an expert, but I’m not a neophyte.
I also enjoy new and distinctive experiences. When something as big, overblown and bombastic as EDC is occurring literally 40 minutes from my front door, I’m going out of pure curiosity if for no other reason. In truth, curiosity is what brought me to my first EDC for one night in 2012. I had so much fun, I returned this year for two.
So, what’s it like? Big, overblown and bombastic. What struck me the most was the sheer size and scale of it. Most don’t realize how big the infield of a mile-and-a-half racetrack is – and EDC fills it. Look at it this way. The main stage, called Kinetic Field, was expanded this year to a capacity of 80,000. One stage. There are six others. Plus the carnival rides. Plus the art installations. Plus 115,000 people. It’s big. And in the course of a night, as you move from stage to stage, you do a lot of walking, mostly on concrete and dirt, and not a lot of sitting down. Throw in dancing and jumping up and down, and it can be physically taxing.
But the fun never stops. At EDC the music and the activity are constant. The stages are divided, for the most part, by genre: dubstep, drum & bass and other heavier stuff at the BassPod; clubby, danceable house and techno in the Circuit Grounds; harder, more aggressive techno (the kind that drills a hole in your chest) at BassCon; slower, more minimal and rhythmic stuff in the Neon Garden; a little bit of everything at the Cosmic Meadows; and the big guys – the Tiestos, Sander Van Doorns and Calvin Harrises – playing for crowds of 50,000 or more at Kinetic Field. If you don’t like what you’re hearing at any given stage, there are six others going at the same time, all night long. Off you go.
Yet still you might say, as many have, “You’re 58. Aren’t you just a bit… past that?”
I hope not. First, let me say that the promoters of the event have done an amazing job. Considering they are literally creating a throbbing, dancing city of 115,000 people crammed into one place for 10 hours a night, EDC runs like clockwork. The sound and the lights at every stage are impeccable. The DJs start and finish on schedule. There are friendly, non-aggressive staff people everywhere to help with everything. The police are cool. The medical personnel are professional and efficient. And there are more Porta-Johns than I’ve seen at any event in my life. Not an insignificant detail. They’ve even addressed some of the parking and traffic issues that plagued them in previous years. There is nothing about it that isn’t professional and well managed.
Which leaves the crowd. I’ve been in crowds this large many times. Led Zeppelin shows, rock festivals, NASCAR races, Superbowls, The Bay-to-Breakers. Never had any real problems. But I can say that the EDC crowd is the mellowest, friendliest, least aggressive group of 100,000 I’ve ever been a part of. They smile, they laugh, they dance, and they take care of – and look out for- one another. In two nights, I never saw a single person having harsh words with another, let alone a fight or any other nastiness. Can’t say the same for many of the football games or rock shows I’ve attended (I once witnessed a fist fight between a guy and a girl at a System of a Down show at the Hard Rock. The girl beat the crap out of him. Female System of a Down fans are tough.).
The memorable thing about attending EDC was that many of them seemed genuinely amused by my presence. I’m not saying I was the only person my age out there, but there weren’t many. Still, I must have been asked more than a hundred times if I was having fun. People smiled, offered me ice for the back of my neck (I declined), complimented my Daft Punk t-shirt and gave me a bunch of good old-fashioned high-fives. It was as if I was some kind of old-guy mascot who had joined their tribe for the weekend. I felt absolutely no negativity. They were glad I was there to experience their music and they really wanted me to have a good time. It was gratifying, in a neon bracelet, furry boots kind of way.
Of course, I did make some concessions to age. The event lasts until 5:30 each morning. I never got near that. Bailed at midnight on Friday and 2:30 am on Saturday. 22-year-olds can go three days without sleep. Not me. But I did have a great time and have every intention of returning next year for EDC 2014. I’ll be a few months from my 60th birthday then. Maybe I’ll celebrate by going all three nights. Assuming I can find a way to get enough sleep.