Monday, April 6, 2009

Hot and Cold

Dan Ariely conducted a really interesting study at UC Berkeley a few years back where he attempted to understand how decisions were changed from a "cold state" (rational) to a "hot state" (emotional). One of the most powerful examples of Hot and Cold states is pregnancy.

Women prior to giving birth (cold state) often deny the use of an epidural, but once labor begins (hot state) they ignore their earlier decision and want pain killers - badly.

Dan Ariely argues that these states exist in all sorts of situations: young males for example when asked if they would ever have unprotected sex almost always answer "never!", but statistics have proven (Unwanted pregnancies and STD's) that when these young males are in an aroused state that their cold (rational) state decisions are quickly ignored.

Dan Ariely argues that hot and cold states are based on "the seasonality of the consumers mind" not based on perceptions towards a particular product or category alone.

A product CAN live in both hot and cold states e.g. a frozen fish brand can advertise its exceptional taste in December - a time of year when most consumers eat whatever they want, even expecting to gain weight. In January that same product can speak about its health benefits - when consumers are all thinking about getting back in shape.

Yes consumers are now in charge, but I don't believe most agencies take the time to truly understand WHAT is in charge of consumers.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Digital Celebrity

I just read a note by my favorite British comedian Russell Brand. He wrote about Jade Goody (UK Big Brother reality star) who recently passed away from cancer. Russell made a really interesting point: "Fame has long been bequeathed by virtue of wealth and birth and this is the first generation where it has been democratically distributed by the most lowbrow of phenomenon - reality television" - this made me think about brands and how we continue to define celebrity from the dictionaries of the older generations.

If you are a gaming brand, you should be aware of Yahtzee - a video game reviewer who reaches 1 million + views on his youtube videogame reviews. Almost EVERY time!

Carls Jr. used Paris Hilton to connect with young males off line, but I wonder if they ever considered using Tia Tequila online? She had over 4 million friends on myspace and over 16 million page views BEFORE VH1 gave her a reality show, or "Molls" whose hilarious blog receives over 50,000 page views a week?

WWTDD.COM (What would Tyler Durden Do) is a celebrity blog written from the perspective of my favorite Fight Club Alpha Male. Massively trafficked site that is constantly mentioned on TMZ and KROQ's nationally syndicated radio program.

It's not just reality TV that has democratized celebrity, its the digital world too.

These "democratic celebrities" seem to be missed by most and I think it's a big mistake. The attached video is Weezers Pork and Beans where Weezer incorporates Youtubes best into their music video. With nearly 18 million page views I wonder if they aren't helping rewrite dictionaries.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Movie trailer revolution coming soon

The attached video was part of The Exorcist film premier in the early 1970's. What I think is so progressive was the shift from showing a standard 30 second film trailer IN viewers homes to bringing the viewer into the experience FROM their home. I wonder if their idea wasn't inspired by Roone Arledge of ABC sports? Hmmm.

In the 1960's NCAA Football games were really problematic for a fledgling ABC sports. Most fans only cared about their own schools team, so if a popular team lost...the next game would inevitably have poor ratings. Enter Roone Arledge who stated "Television has done a great job bringing the game to the viewer - now we are going to bring the viewer to the game!" 

Camera's shifted from pan shots of the field, to pre-shot film of the campus, stadium, town and fans. Roone once said "We must orient the viewer, by allowing him to know how many people are watching the game with him, If the game is in Corvallis, Oregon...we need the viewer to know how mad the town is about football." 

This methodology was used later to increase female viewership of Olympics programming by telling the athletes story. Childhood, struggles, parents, siblings, etc...And again to increase viewership in boxing - almost every big fight today includes back stories - all for the purpose of multiplying the number of "entry points of attraction" to the event. It just seems to work.

The Exorcist EXPERIENCE became pop culture by doing this. It even showed up as a major story on the evening news. At the film premier fake ambulances were parked on the curb outside of the theatre further stoking the belief that if you missed this film, you would have missed out on an experience that everyone was talking about. Personally, it would have reminded me of not getting picked on the soccer team - standing alone, watching a crowd have fun.

I applaud the JACKASS film trailer that premiered a few years back, the movie trailer did not show 1 clip of the film, but instead turned a night vision camera on an audience that was laughing its ass off. Just like Roone preached, they brought the film to the viewer. 

Certain emotions can create "emotional contagions" (laughter, sadness and anger) - the phenomenon that happens when we laugh simply because others are laughing...oddly, followed by asking "what's so funny?" 

Film trailers have been beyond lazy and now with the window between theater and DVD release narrowing, they will need a revolution, lest we see the end of theaters in our near future. 

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Vu Ja De

If there is only 1 lesson that Youtube and the likes have taught me, its that agencies are over thinking and under doing.

"Vu Ja De" is a great little phrase that I came across, which describes the ability to see what WILL be important. What WILL be relevant and engaging enough to grab the attention of a population.

There is a fantastic case study from Denmark written by Martin Lindstrom, in his book Buyology.

Years ago Luciano Pavoratti decided to visit Denmark. The entire country was excited as this was his first visit. Radio and TV shows scheduled interviews, talk shows announced live telecasts and press wrote article after article about the anticipation of his arrival.
Sadly, the Italian tenor got a sore throat and cancelled.

Pavoratti was top of mind for nearly everyone in Denmark when a nimble agency decided to approach Gaiola, a Danish sore throat lozenge with an over night campaign:

"Things would have been different if Pavoratti knew about us." ran in local papers the very next day and Gaiola immediately became part of Danish pop culture forever. Vu Ja De.

Fast is the new big. If you're thinking when others are've lost.

A strategist today needs to also be an investigative reporter with a bit of Vu Ja De. You must be able to not only understand what will influence a consumer, but also how consumers influence each other.

The attached is an example of being an investigative reporter, as well as a strategist. Before we asked ourselves how the Australian government can stop young males from speeding...we asked ourselves how young women would convince them?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Friends, tricks, strangers and lies

The other day I watched a Youtube video of a cute girl who apparently met a man in a cafe, had some great conversation and grabbed the coat that he left behind. Why did she make a Youtube video? An attempt to find him and return the jacket. Ahh romance!

Here's the part that's causing some controversy - its a fake video created by a media agency in Sydney for a fashion retailer called Witchery. 

As the effects of the global recession begin to hit Australia, I think more and more agencies will be asked to explore these digital stunts and inevitably more and more agencies will make the same mistake this agency has - believing that a stranger (unknown brand) can behave like a friend (preferred brand)

The problem I have with this video is that a STRANGER has made me the butt of her joke. 
Close your eyes and imagine a stranger making fun of you at a party, okay now open them and say the first thing that comes to mind...mine was "ASS (pause for emphasis) HOLE." 

Droga5's successful Airforce1 viral for Marc Ecko did it differently. They "tricked us" the way a magician would,  the treat was well worth the trick. The trick was so entertaining that the impact was only slightly diluted when we discovered the truth. And if you are a real Marc Ecko loyalist you were rewarded with an insiders clue, "live free" was tagged on the presidents plane - giving you the social currency of knowing Marc Ecko was involved before the general population. 

The differences between relationships with strangers and friends are well documented in social psychology studies. Dan Ariely describes 2 distinctly different worlds in his book "Predictably Irrational": The world of monetary market norms (money=service e.g. a prostitute) and 
non-monetary social norms (friendship/love = service e.g. a date who decides to sleep with you because she likes you). 

The Witchery video leads us to believe that this woman is from the world of non-monetary social norms (girl you date), but once we discover the author is actually from the world of monetary market norms (prostitute) many feel ANGRY. 

Droga5 seems to have first understood the relationship between Marc Ecko and the consumer. They made sure that the behaviour of the brand was consistent with the image in consumers minds. Mixing those 2 up leads to massive problems, just ask the white kid who walks into a room full of black hip hop aficionados and says "what's up my ni...."... That's an exact quote, he never finished the sentence. 

A friend can play an entertaining trick. What Witcherys agency did not seem to understand, is that a stranger playing a similar nothing more than a liar. 

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dead or Alive

While working on Nissan at TBWA Chiat/Day in Los Angeles, I came across a really interesting phenomenon. 

During the launch of the '09 Nissan Z, we discovered that the owner to vehicle relationship was strikingly similar to those of Porsche, Mustang and Corvette. 

Unlike most vehicles, these cars inspired multiple purchases of the same make and model - again and again, year after year. I met several people that owned a 4th Nissan Z, a 5th Mustang, a 3rd Corvette.

During the process of conducting an ethnographic study, I attended several owner groups and drives. I met with owners individually, some of their wives or husbands, went for drives in their cars, listened to their stories (Without a notebook. I looked at them when they spoke.) and asked loads of questions online, across dozens of blogs. 

After becoming active on several Z owner sites, I began to feel a sort of quietness every time I returned to the Nissan built site. To be honest, it confused the shit out of me! The Nissan built site was beautiful, had gorgeous imagery and was very easy to navigate. All the right boxes were ticked!

I began to do these side by side comparisons with the other vehicle sites as well and noticed that a VERY different language was being used by owners when compared to manufacturers. 

This directed my curiosity towards psychology, social science and philosophy journals to find if there were any studies conducted on people and the relationships they have with certain kinds of objects.  

To my surprise I found an amazing book called "ich und du" translated from German to I and thou by Martin Buber in 1923. 

In the book, Buber describes 2 relationships he named "I-it and I-you": 
I-it describes an unemotional relationship, one where a person may treat another person as an object e.g. a surgeon NEEDS to maintain an i-it relationship with the patient he is about to cut into. 

It is incredibly difficult for surgeons to operate on family members or loved ones for example. Unfortunately, once surgery is complete many surgeons have difficulty treating that patient with the emotion they removed from the relationship...often leading to the all too common complaint of "poor bedside manner".

The reverse can be seen with a human to object relationship e.g. asking to buy an object at a yard sale where your question is answered with a "Sorry, this teddy bear is NOT for sale, HE has sentimental value". 

That person has ADDED emotion to an object. Essentially treating it as a living thing. Buber described how I-it and I-you relationships can both be identified via adjectives. 

With this new insight in hand, we went back to the owner created web sites and were able to identify an I-you relationship, e.g. the cars were treated as if they were LIVING, BREATHING BEINGS. A he or a she.

When we reviewed the manufacturer web sites, EVERY SINGLE SITE had an I-it relationship with the vehicles, meaning they spoke about the vehicles they created, as if they were DEAD THINGS. An it.

The video below is a target audience brief that I decided to "bring to life" with the help of one of my favourite creatives, Ken Pappanduros.  Much of the "living language" used by the passionate owners is quoted in the voice over, also done by the Papps! :) 

We learned that this vehicle is not a mid-life crisis car, but rather a reminder that they are and have always been different than societies norm. A little braver, a little bolder.

Some explained how they enjoyed getting tattoos, because most only talked about it.
Some surfed, because most only talked about it. Some lived on the beach, because most only talked about it

Consistently, they enjoyed DOING what others only talked about, and that included getting a powerful 2 seater sports car.

I believe agencies need to start treating focus groups as learning groups. Not building discussion guides, but actually having 

We need to learn from Hollywoods methodologies and understand how to become method actors. Learn how to look, walk and find the voice of our most passionate consumer, rather than the voice of a passionate salesman.