Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Morgan Freeman and the Crystal Ball

The Beijing Olympics have seen fantastic viewership numbers, with NBC and many of its Olympic partners benefiting far beyond the original projections. And of course, many of the biggest advertisers have used Olympic themed ads to help draw us in to their own brand stories. Some of these are transparent, some expected, some touching, and some border on clairvoyant.

I'm talking of course about Visa's Morgan Freeman narrated "Go World" campaign, which already gave many people goosebumps without some absolutely fantastic media planning and foresight on the part of TBWA\Chiat\Day.

The planning to which I'm referring involves two ads based around Michael Phelps. Each mentioned the specific number of Gold medals Phelps had at the time of the commercial, which was quite a feat considering how often that number changed. More amazing, however, is that the fully-produced commercials ran in the commercial pod s(that's adspeak for commercial break for any non-adfolk readers) IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING the win of another medal. That means, that months and months ago, the agency put together these ads and bought the space, on the assumption that the events they described would happen. It's a good thing, too, since Morgan Freeman was hospitalized before the ads ran, which would have made it impossible to get his voice-over done in a timely fashion if it hadn't been done already.

The result were two ads that were so relevant to that very moment, audience, emotion, etc., that they almost seemed to be living, breathing things. My hats off TBWA\Chiat\Day.

Monday, August 25, 2008

How can a virus power your car?

We often wonder how technology will advance itself, especially in those big, potentially-history altering ways. We've already got internet on our cell phones, and they're quickly working to make 3D television a consumer-affordable reality. Well, I think the example I'm about to share is another of these, probably even bigger. It's an amazing example of taking a negative and turning into a positive. I apologize for the pun, you'll know what I mean when you read the article. How could viruses change the model of companies like Interstate Batteries? Read the article to find out.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

iPhone 3G: The next Firestone?

Apple often remains at the forefront of the news, but not always for good reasons. If you read by blog regularly, you might get the impression I don't like Apple, which is simply not true. I am, in fact, in awe of the marketing and product development genius that often goes into the company's offerings. However, I count myself a healthy skeptic and don't share the same religious-strength faith in the company that many of my fan boy advertising compatriots do.

As many have heard, there has been a great deal of controversy over the iPhone. From offering vouchers to save their skin in the face of angry iPhone buyers who spent considerably more money on the previous generation iPhone, to the debacle of the two month price drop on the first gen iPhone, to a phone that can't get a 3G signal in places like the middle of downtown Chicago, it's amazing it hasn't generated more bad press. But I guess that's the power of a dedicated consumer base.

The part that really amazes me about the whole thing is that Apple and AT&T have not only failed to address the problem to the satisfaction of their customers, they don't even admit there's a problem at all. Apple is basically telling consumers, "It's all in your head." Tell that to the guy who finally gave his iPhone 3G up only to find out it had dropped 32% of his calls, amongst other problems.

My biggest question is how the whole thing will end. It's my understanding that dedicated Apple customers are used to a certain level of service and support, and I doubt anyone's going to get less vocal about the problems of the exorbitantly (or at least previously exorbitantly) expensive item an its accompanying service agreement. I want to see if the fingers start point, and when they do, who, if anyone, will admit fault. Will Apple and AT&T start pointing back and forth at each other proclaiming it's the other's fault while sales drop and public perception of both companies spirals downward? Or will one or both admit some error and rectify the situation to the satisfaction of the consumers?

I suppose only time will tell.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Faulty methodologies meet Gen-Y

All sorts of people have been trying to figure out how to reach Gen-Y for as long as they've had disposable income. They have encountered some difficulty with this generation in large part because this generation has spent a ridiculous amount of time figure out ways NOT to be reached. They're constantly innovating ways to circumvent unsolicited messages.

One company claiming to be an expert fuelled a recent CNN article that proposes to know how the latest thing in attracting Gen-Y college grads into your workforce. The answer, they claim, is social responsibility.

According to their study, 4 in 5 millenials say they want to work for a company that pays attention to how it affects the world and that 68% said they would refuse to work for an employer that is not socially responsible. That's cute of them.

This is where the problems in the methodology come in. First, they weren't interviewing recently graduated college seniors, soon-to-graduate college seniors, college grads a year out of school who managed to secure their first job, or anyone of the sort. In fact, they didn't even bother with the college freshmen, one of the most idealistic groups known to man. I'm not pointing fingers, I was one of them, too. No, the study was based on INCOMING college freshmen, people who hadn't even gotten as close to the real world as college, people who still have their graduation year painted on the windows of their cars, people still high off the scent of four-color brochures for universities promising hopes and dreams.

In short, they were interviewing people who have absolutely no idea what the real work world is like, and based findings on questions that ask for self report on the aspirations of people who will probably change their majors and average of 3 times before graduating.

The real Gen-Y is happy with pay that's above poverty level, basic health benefits and some semblance of job stability. Why? Because Gen-Y is known as the boomerang generation due to the fact that it's so hard for college grads to find jobs right out of school that most go home to live with their parents for 6-8 months before getting their first job, most of which pay less than a teacher's or nurse's salary until the student gets a few years of experience under his or her belt. And those sorts of salaries don't help much when student loans come calling at several hundred dollars a month.

Perhaps if they did a study of recent grads at 3,6,9 and 12 months out of school, we'd get a better picture for potential employers, because it doesn't matter how many seeds you're donating to plant trees downtown if you're only paying $12.50/hr...if that. What's even better, they only did the study on one class of incoming freshmen at one college in California- hardly what you'd call a satisfactory sample size.

Now, I'm not arguing that given the choice between two equal jobs whose only difference is a measure of corporate conscience, a grad wouldn't choose the socially responsible company to work for. However, if you talk to real recent grads, and take some hard data on where they actually ended up working instead of aspirational self-report, especially in these tough times, you'll find a decent salary, some specter of benefits and the smallest inkling of job security go a lot farther than three Fridays a year off to help Meals on Wheels (a venerable charity, I might add).