A friend and colleague recently posted the Nike spot titled Courage to his Pinterest page. It got me to thinking about Nike and the art of the montage spot.
Nike and advertising are basically synonymous.
Advertising and montages can be considered synonymous too.
However, good advertising montages are another story. They are typically an anthem spot with a familiar celebrity’s voiceover trying to talk about how whatever company is so valuable or how valuable you are to whatever company.
The reality is most of these spots suck.
Unless you’re Nike. And then you get guys like me paying homage to W+K and Nike for their omnipresent greatness and ability to so consistently create great montage spots that deliver on the brand promise and make me want to “Just Do It.”
With that, I deliver my top six favorite Nike montage spots.
For anyone who has played competitive sports, you know everything about this moment.
This is for the new Nike Fuel band. I’ll be taking the stairs from now on, thanks.
This just might make you believe that there’s an athlete in all of us.
My better is better than your better. Yes, Ladainian that would be correct. One commercial would vault Saul Williams into the public spotlight and end up being a favorite workout song on everyone’s iPods.
This spot gives me goosebumps every single time. Without fail. It speaks to the elegance of sport and I love it.
I laughed but then thought, wait, “Isn’t it supposed to be, jinx buy me a Coke?”
Is this an uh oh, moment for Coca-Cola? Is there a cultural shift going on right now among my children’s generation where generally middle class parents are less likely to feed their children fast food, soda and sugary fruit drinks. Where we actively buy things that at the very least don’t have high-fructose corn syrup or are organic.
The mere fact that the Corn Refiners Association has a commercial campaign attempting to legitimize high-fructose corn syrup with the line “sugar is sugar” should be telling enough.
Perhaps even more frightening for Coke is when your name starts to slip from the lexicon of an innocent multi-generational game played among kids.
In any sort of filmed medium there’s this thing known as “continuity.” This is when for example you see a scene with a glass of water that is half full. Pan away and pan back and the glass is full. Or there’s a painting on a wall in one shot and it’s not there in another.
This means that scenes were edited from different takes and no one paid attention.
For film buffs, it’s well known that Spielberg could give a rat’s ass about continuity. He argues that if you notice whether or not a glass is full or empty means he’s done a lousy job making a film.
I would argue that in this way Steve Jobs shared this trait with Steven Spielberg although he may not have known it.
Take the iPad for example. When it came out people complained (mostly techies) about it not having Flash. I think Steve Jobs knew that it didn’t inherently matter. Once a user has the device in their hands the overall experience trumps minor flaws.
It’s not to say that we shouldn’t fix mistakes if we can but perhaps not being afraid of a minor flaw in deference to the overall user experience is more important.
Food for thought?
Hello bloggersphere. Yes, it’s been quite some time since I’ve penned something here. It was a busy end of summer and for those of you that don’t know I’ve started a new gig as SVP, Director of Account Services/Operations for the advertising agency UniWorld Group. It’s a tremendous opportunity and I’ll share more about that in time.
Watching TV last night and a commercial came on for a Kleenex product. It was a niftily designed box to rest on a towel rack in a bathroom where you might usually keep your fancy cloth towels for people to dry their hands after having washed them.
When I saw the ad and the product, I immediately exclaimed “Why on earth would you need such a product? What a waste! So much for the environment.” Kate would point out that unfortunately we’re at this perfect intersection of having created a virtually irrational fear of germs which goes completely against trying to protect the environment.
From salmonella to swine flu to stomach bugs we’ve become germophobes and in our ever so growing consumption economy far be it from products like Kleenex to Lysol to Purell to not take advantage.
As if to emphasize the point further, when did a sanitary wipe stand become the official “greeter” at the grocery store? Anything we’ve done as far as bringing our own bags to the grocery store has likely been offset by sanitary wipes.
So who wins in this battle between germs and reduce, re-use, recycle?
I settle on The Daily Show despite the fact that I was fairly certain that it might depress me. Anything to do with “news” these days seems to be inherently depressing. Even making fun of the news.
Well wouldn’t you know it but The Daily Show would deliver.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate Jon Stewart and all he does to expose the buffoonery that our news media outlets have become and for calling them to the carpet on this little gem.
“TOEMAGEDDON 2011: This Little Piggy Went to Hell” is what this would be dubbed.
The creative director for J. Crew, Jenna Lyons is pictured in an ad with her five year old son, Beckett. The moment seems candid and sweet as the two look lovingly at one another nose to nose. Nothing like a little childhood innocence right? Oh and in the ad, he has his toenails painted pink.
Well that is to say until it hits the media airwaves and turns into this statement of a woman trying confuse her son’s gender identity.
Seriously? WTF is wrong with us?
I have two daughters. They play outside. They get dirty. They dress like princesses. They paint their toenails and fingernails. They also have been known to paint Daddy’s.
Wait. Stop the presses. Get GMA, CNN, the Today Show and FOX news parked outside of my house. OMG, he lets his daughters paint his toes. Oh the humanity. They’ll forever be confused about gender roles because I let them paint my toes and even wore the nail polish out in public. WITH FLIP FLOPS.
Oh dear God. Wait. Now I’m confused. I’m not sure whether to stand or sit to take a leak.
I’ve been working on this post for quite some time. It’s purely conceptual in nature and I’m unsure of where it will go or even what it means to a degree. It’s just something that’s been mulling around in my brain for a while and I’m trying to figure out if it’s valid or valuable or if I should just move on.
My wife who is my de facto editor for most of my posts said that while she liked the general gist of this post that it seemed pompous. Great, so I’m an asshole. Well hopefully you won’t see this post as pompous but reflect on yourselves and what makes you… well you. Hopefully, you’re not an asshole.
“Human DNA consists of about 3 billion bases, and more than 99 percent of those bases are the same in all people. The order, or sequence, of these bases determines the information available for building and maintaining an organism, similar to the way in which letters of the alphabet appear in a certain order to form words and sentences.”
So where does culture fit into the mix of your DNA? Is there such a thing as cultural DNA? If you google cultural DNA there are several views of what it might be. There doesn’t seem to be any real consensus and it’s a term that seems to be applied to a myriad of things from corporate culture to the content of one’s character and more. I’d like to apply this term to people as individuals and how you’re “defined” as it relates to marketing, advertising, brand choice and purchasing decisions.
In the marketing universe typically we bucket consumers. And we bucket them as simply as possible to ensure that we reach the greatest number of people. Age, Gender, Race, Geography, Household Income. Occasionally we’ll create custom segmentations and create fancy names for those segmentations and it’s all very clever and smart. We’ll do focus groups and ethnographies in the interest of getting to know “you”.
But what really makes you… you?
I like to think of consumers as a little bit more complex.
If you think about it everyone has what I’d like to think of as cultural DNA. It’s the what makes you… you.
I’ll use myself as an example.
I myself would say that I’m defined by at least 20 different cultures/sub-cultures/communities built up throughout my exposure to a variety of people and experiences throughout my life. This would include, Black culture specifically as it relates to the Civil Rights movement, Beat Generation writers, 60s drug culture, 80s preppy culture, 80s punk culture, early action sports culture, traditional sports culture, feminist culture, Italian-American culture, gay culture, Higher Ed Academia, NYC prep-school culture (yes it’s a culture) and so on. Then you throw in things like birth order and family legacy and things get even more complicated.
Put another way one way you could define a part of me is by my design sensibilities. I would say that I’m more “Dwell” then “Architectural Digest”. If I were to try and understand why I would guess that it was most closely related to my grandfather who was an architect who studied under Mies Van Der Rohe. Thus it’s very likely that my grandfathers design esthetic influenced my design sensibilities and in turn to this day influences purchase decisions related to various brands I migrate to.
Now what happens when you take the complexity I’ve discussed and two interesting people end up bearing children, their kids end up amassing the cultural DNA from both of their parents in addition to the cultural DNA they continually amass from external sources and sub-cultures.
And thus even more interesting and complex people are hatched.
So I guess the question is how do we take this and make it useful. Help.
This is an extraordinarily complex post. There are two fundamental themes. The first is the notion of the changing means of how content is consumed. The second theme is that the notion of consolidation or “whole” really needs to give way to the notion of “fragmentation”.
HOW WE USED TO RELATE TO CONTENT
Once upon a time we had three major networks. We came home from work. We watched the evening news. We ate dinner. Then we watched our shows. I literally grew up with M*A*S*H. MASH ran for 11 seasons beginning in 1972. So from about age 5 to about age 13 I would sit with my mom and step-father and watch MASH every week. I honestly cried during the last show.
Other shows I grew up with were “Different Strokes” (8 seasons), “Facts of Life” (9 seasons), “Dukes of Hazzard” (7 seasons), “Fall Guy” (5 seasons), “Magnum PI” (8 seasons) and of course “The Cosby Show” (8 seasons).
Hopefully, you’re starting to see a pattern. We used to “live” with TV shows. They were constants in our lives from season to season. We had relationships with these shows. Whether it was “St. Elsewhere” or “Hill Street Blues” we had prolonged relationships with shows and networks.
For the longest time every network followed a prescribed schedule. Then along came cable where repeats found new life and new audiences (or the same old ones). Then came FOX that started airing new shows when nobody else was. Then the Internet gradually began to turn things on its ear. Yet for some reason in the world of media planning and buying we still have a TV upfront.
I’ve known for quite some time that that the nature of TV shows and the way we watch them has been changing. I believe this to be a geologic change though. One in which we don’t necessarily see it happening. We make minor adaptations but there has yet to be a seismic shift.
That however I believe is coming. I’m not sure what it looks like. I’m not sure exactly when it will happen. Five years? Ten years? That’s where perhaps you can all lend a voice to predict or pontificate.
I believe that we are on the cusp of something and we need a much deeper understanding of people’s relationship with content.
What do we watch on which screen and why? Where does each “screen” fall as it relates to the trade-off of fidelity versus convenience? What is content we share versus content we commiserate about versus content we talk about at the water cooler?
We used to watch shows on a specific night. Now we may DVR a show and watch it on a different night. We may wait altogether and watch a whole season in weeks courtesy of Netflix. We may watch a show one week with friends and the next week online and the third week via a smartphone waiting at an airport.
Nevertheless, networks continue to present shows the same way all the time.
HOW CONTENT IS CHANGING
About a year ago, I watched Ken Block’s second iteration of Gymkhana.
No this isn’t Kurt Thomas’ attempt to extend his 15 minutes of fame and woeful acting skills on the heels of his early ‘80s film Gymkata. I’m talking about the founder of DC Shoes and his foray into the world of rally racing, stunt driving and the next generation of drifting.
Ken Block is a phenomenally intuitive marketer. Certainly as evidenced by his savvy in building DC Shoes into arguably one of the strongest action sports brands ever. Perhaps second only to Burton. Maybe it’s that no one felt comfortable to tell him the rules. Or he wasn’t listening anyway. Whatever it is, he knows right when he sees it.
Gymkhana 1 was originally posted about three years ago and between various posters of the video, it garnered over nine million views. Not too shabby. No doubt it was professionally shot at every level and Ken Block has money to throw at these things. Although, I’m pretty sure he’s mastered the art of OPM.
But then he came out with Gymkhana 2 (22m views). And Gymkhana 3 (25m views).
Nevertheless, while most create :60 spots and hope they’ll find viral traction on Youtube, Ken Block did it on purpose! And I know lots of people will say, “come on, we did that.” Tampax, Dove, Cadillac. Blah Blah Blah. I don’t think anyone has done it as well AND on purpose as Ken Block.
In Gymkhana 2, the video is 7 minutes and 32 seconds. They even call it an infomercial. At the beginning of the video note the following:
How many people are choosing to watch your spots?
Now let’s just take YouTube and content as a whole. Consider this from the ADWEEK article by Brian Morrissey about “YouTube’s Stars”.
“The dirty secret of cable TV is audience numbers are often pitifully small, with many programs drawing under 100,000 viewers. That’s not the case for a select group of YouTube creators… The numbers they draw can be staggering. Comic actor Shane Dawson averages nearly 1.5 million views per day, according to video analytics service TubeMogul, and has racked up 670 million views of his videos over two and a half years. The typical YouTube star will average 250,000 views per video. ‘On any given night or day or two, the top 10 YouTubers will have more views than any cable channel,’ says Walter Sabo, a former ABC radio executive who started an Internet talent agency three years ago called HitViews.”
iJustine pictured to the left has more than 1m subscribers. DC Shoes… 79k subscribers.
Take that Ken Block.
“Tremor Media, the largest independent network, reached a deal last week to acquire Scanscout, one of its smaller competitors, in a bold attempt to consolidate the market, and create a scaled competitor to Hulu and YouTube. Separately, Undertone Networks is expected to announce a deal Monday to buy Jambo Media, a video syndication and ad platform. Two weeks ago, Specific Media snapped up BBE, one of the first pure-play video networks in the market… TV advertisers are the ones moving most aggressively into web video, looking to achieve similar goals through it. ‘I think that has been one thing that has been missing for advertisers is the ability to deliver mass reach,’ said Chris Allen, VP-video innovations at Starcom USA. ‘A lot of our clients are married to the reach metric, and TV delivers reach as fast as possible. The only way to achieve that reach online is through a network.’”
Is the :60 spot going away? No.
Does broadcast deserve its dominance and to make all the money? Most definitely not. Arguably, they are the least removed from purchase behavior. Wouldn’t it make sense that I’d be more likely if I was online to then stay online to purchase something as opposed to going from one screen to another to do so?
Are “reach and frequency” dated analytics? Do they truly get at how we consume media and connect to purchase behavior?
Once upon a time people laughed at cable as a network contender. ESPN, 24 hour sports. It’ll never work. FOX could never take on the Big 3. 24 hour news? Don’t be silly. 24 hour weather? Please!
Is Comcast/NBC really that big of deal? Not really in my opinion.
Fragmentation is the world of today. Whole is the world of yesterday.
No matter how big Comcast/NBC make themselves, the reality is that when it comes to content, they are hardly the only game in town.
McCracken, Grant “Chief Culture Officer: How to Curate a Living Breathing Corporation”, 2010
Maney, Kevin “Trade-Off: Why Some Things Catch On and Others Don’t” 2009
Grant McCracken hosts this thing called the “Minerva Contest”. They are in my view intellectual compare and contrasts on topics that are seemingly similar but not. The contests may be intellectual bragging rights but I’ll take it. The task is as follows here. It was on the difference between PBS’ “Antiques Roadshow” and The History Channels’ “Pawn Stars”. I’m honored to have won the most recent Minerva Contest. Below is my entry. Enjoy.
“When apprised of this intellectual compare and contrast of Antiques Roadshow versus Pawn Stars my initial inclination of those who watch either show or participate was that the primary difference would be in level of educational attainment. Immediately there’s a snob factor when you think about a distinction between the shows.
After a conversation with a producer of Antiques Roadshow, Sarah Elliott, I came to believe I was over thinking it a bit. Or at least I couldn’t find any hard evidence to support my hypothesis.
What I discovered was that while the shows could be seemingly similar, the core differences with the shows really have to do more with the nature of each show.
According to Ms. Elliott, “Antiques Roadshow is filmed over the summer. We visit six cities and travel with about 75 or so professional appraisers. Each event attracts some 5000 to 6000 attendees and sees appraisals of 10,000 to 12,000 items in a one day event. We produce 18 original shows and two compilation shows for a total of 20 shows each season. It’s a pretty well-oiled machine.” About her Anecdotal observations Ms. Elliott continued, “In my 11 years working on the show I can honestly say that it truly attracts the widest cross-section of America imaginable.”
Your price of entry into an Antiques Roadshow event is an item to be appraised and generally the item is legitimately believed to be antique.
Although as Ms. Elliott said, that she’s come across the “widest cross-section of America imaginable,” that’s not the focal point of the show. That’s an unintended outcome arrived at as a result of an object. When producing Antiques Roadshow she noted that they make the “object” the focal point. As far as the appraiser or person with the object being entertaining is almost purely a matter of luck.
The most important distinction about Antiques Roadshow is that there is no buying or selling of items on Antiques Roadshow. Thus motivation becomes an important factor. Once an item is appraised on Antiques Roadshow what the individual does with that item is then up to them.
In some cases clearly people will likely look to sell/auction the item but in many cases the item’s sentimental value outweighs the financial value. In one episode a gentleman has a Civil War era canteen appraised that was a gift from a dear friend. The appraiser estimated its worth at around $5000 whereupon the gentleman says, “I guess I better keep it in a secure place then.”
With Pawn Stars motivation in almost all cases is financial. There is a financial need or want. A person enters Gold & Silver less concerned about the item’s integrity and more concerned with the cash transaction. Or put this way, they’re only concerned about the items integrity in relation to its dollar value.
To further this dynamic there is often a level disappointment on Pawn Stars because every item the Harrison family comes into contact with they evaluate from the perspective of how much they can in turn sell it for. This means people often leave unable to have made any money.
While both shows are “reality” TV shows, Pawn Stars is produced as such and built around the dynamics of the family. This exposes a few things most notable it seems to me is pride – both generational (wanting to make Dad proud) and individual (wanting to “win” by extracting the most profit). There is also the element of risk. In many cases you see the Harrisons taking on an item, having it restored and hoping they can make a profit on the item. One could equate the Harrisons to stock brokers or traders.
“Pawning” is believed to have existed for more than 3000 years, its history rooted as a means of banking
From an article by Vonda Shines the history of pawn shops, “The word “pawn” comes from the Latin word ‘pignus,’ which means to pledge. The principle of pawning is simple. Someone has an item of worth against which they’d like a monetary loan. A pawn broker accepts it as a pledge – or collateral or pawn – in exchange for money. If the loan isn’t repaid according to its terms, the pawned item is offered for sale to the public.”
However, you rarely see the Harrison’s enter such a contract. Of course that would add an entirely new and complicated dimension to the show. Nevertheless, the character of the Harrison family still comes through clearly in the art of the transaction.
Consider this passage from a book called “In Hock” by Wendy Woloson.
“Pawnbrokers and their staff are not unlike bartenders or beauticians, whose relations with their clients are at once both professional and personal. For many the place plays a special role in both social and economic aspects of their lives.”
Antiques Roadshow originally began on the BBC a mere 31 years ago and in the US, 13 years ago via PBS. This means the show has weathered economic ups and downs.
According to the Simply Hired web site, their most recent Las Vegas trends data shows “Las Vegas, Nevada jobs have decreased 41% since April 2009.” Thus it stands to reason that the Harrison family’s Gold & Silver might see some brisk business these days. One would wonder whether given that we’re at one of the worst economic lows in our nation’s history if that has an effect on Pawn Stars success or even viability.
In short, the difference between the two shows is simple yet robust. One is about the thing and the other is about the people.
Woloson, Wendy. 2009. “In Hock: Pawning in America from Independence to the Great Depression”
Roath’s Pawn Shop, “History of Pawnbroking” – http://www.roaths.com/pawnbroking.htm
Sines, Vonda ”The History of Pawn Shops” – http://www.helium.com/items/1445253-history-of-pawn-shops
SimplyHired.com – http://www.simplyhired.com/a/local-jobs/city/l-Las+Vegas,+NV
Interview: Sarah Elliott, Producer, Antiques Roadshow, December 8, 2010″
My next three posts are going to be about our relationship with content primarily with respect to marketing.
The first will discuss the mistakes we’re currently making with social media, the second will discuss what makes great ads great and the third will make the argument that our TV is by no means what it used to be.
With that that, here goes nothing.
Recently I was fortunate enough to watch a TED talk which featured a designer named Emily Pilloton. Emily Pilloton is a pretty impressive young woman. She wrote a book called Design Revolution about 100-plus objects and systems designed to make people’s lives better. “At age 26, convinced of the power of design to change the world, she founded Project H to help develop effective design solutions for people who need it most.”
“In February 2009, Pilloton and her Project H partner Matthew Miller began working in Bertie County, North Carolina, the poorest and most rural county in the state, to develop a design-build curriculum for high-school kids, called Studio H. In August 2010 they began teaching their first class of 13 students.”
In my view there is a considerable shift going on culturally in the United States with consumer choice and it has largely to do with our expectations of design.
A lot of people would view America as lagging behind places like the Europe (Netherlands/Germany) when it comes to design but I firmly believe that this is gradually changing and it’s as a result of people like Emily Pilloton.
However I think it’s also as a result of companies, like Apple or Target. Some would argue that Apple’s market capitalization is an example of how thoughtful design can affect the bottom-line.
The other example I provided was Target. Often, I will use a Target vs. Wal-Mart analogy to help clients try to understand the types of their customers. An example would be Citibank is to Target as Bank of America is to Wal-Mart. Target has differentiated itself among big-box stores with design. Target even has a discussion of their “Focus on Design” on their website.
Target changed the perception of the big box store forever and arguably its ads are stylistically some of the most imitated by far. Target however is remarkably mainstream but has brought good design to Middle-America with its product selection (think Mossimo and Method).
Perhaps you can help me… What does the effect of good design say about our standards culturally and the impact and expectations on choice? Do companies like Apple or Target have that much of an effect on our overall design sensibilities? Are we better because of them? Can design in fact change the world as Emily Pilloton asserts? Does it take a confluence of things to help us evolve our relationship with design to see where else good and effective design can be applied? What are your thoughts?