Wednesday, April 20, 2011

the killing of interactive and throwback viral

13 million people shared a refreshed version of subservient chicken. But what made Tipp-Ex popular even amongst those of us who have already seen it all before?

The experience happens on youtube. Here's how it works : You load a video called Hunter Shoots Bear and in that video a hunter is about to shoot a bear, but before he does, he reaches outside of the video frame, grabs the Tipp-Ex Product (a liquid paper/white out style thing) and uses it on the title of the video to create blank space where the word Shoots used to be. Then you type a verb into the blank space to create a new title. Then the magic happens and you watch what you just typed come to life -as a video!!!! (Sound familiar?)

So that is the user experience. But.....

Here's why it works : It exploits your need to control and/or participate with the web. (Exploiting is not a bad word here.) That's how the web was sold. It was grass roots. It was by the people for the people. It was FREE. It used to be called interactive long before it was digital. Remember? It was new media. It was better than any other media because it was lean forward and not lean back. Finally! The medium that put the power back in your hands.

If you spent countless hours in front of a TV you were fat and lazy - a couch potato. But countless hours in front of a computer was ACTIVITY. Learning, surfing, sharing, blogging....all ACTIVE verbs. Doing more than watching. There is a certain status to being wired and wireless. There is no status to watching American Idol and Jersey Shore. If you admit to watching TV you need excuse your behaviour in some way...or counteract it by pulling the geek card : "I don't watch TV anymore....I download." As if that is different. Mad Men on TV and Mad Men from btjunkie is still Mad Men. Couch potatoes are not cool - web junkies are.

Experiences like Tipp-Ex (and Subservient Chicken and Old Spice) work because they give you the illusion of control over your medium and subsequently they perpetuate the underlying belief that the web is better than or different than TV.

And it is. Kind of.

But the difference no longer lies between active vs. passive. Ten years ago it did. Now, the web and TV are practically on even playing ground. TV producers are coming up with new ideas to get you involved with their programming and as of late the web has become about watching video. Just look at any award show and find the category called "online video" if you need proof. What was touted the lean forward medium is increasingly lean back.

Tipp-Ex Blank the Bear is a reminder of what the web used to be when it was born. What it was intended to be! Technically Blank the Bear is old-school. And there is nothing wrong with that. I say more power to them for refreshing throwback. It works because I expect to sit back and watch yet another video of yet another amazing circumstance of man vs nature and instead, I take a little control back by using my ACTIVE verbs. Blank the Bear is a very literal statement about what we've been slowly losing from our marketing efforts....INTERACTIVITY.

See it here.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Real Social

What on the singular screen is real? Forget the existentialist angle here and just take a moment to look at your screen. With the birth of REALITY TV came the death of authenticity. There is no real.

Most people under 20 grew up watching all 16 (YES SIXTEEN) seasons of Survivor, 12 seasons of Big Brother and the nearly 10 years of America's search for an idol. America's penchant for video-taping trailor-trash and broadcasting it on the series COPS (1989) may have started it all but it has graduated. We used to see those social deviants get arrested. Now we see them get sponsorship deals and book deals and spin-offs and sequels. REAL deviant behaviour is rewarded.

After years of camera-in-your-face broadcasts and the ever-shrinking technologies we carry in our pockets we have created the "camera in perpetua".

Hey Andy Warhol, nice prediction but a more specific way to have put it is "In the future everyone will be famous because fame will become easy."

I have yet to find any real data regarding the impact RTV has on our culture but I can theorize.

It's killed fame on one hand but so what there's too much of that anyway. So let's say the good thing that came of RTV is "anyone can be famous so that makes the Tom Cruises of the world less famous". Kinda.

But a stranger impact of RTV is that it dulls our senses and regardless of how horrifying the content may be, we feel nothing. On one hand, we know what we see is untrue but, on the other, we are highly aware that we want to believe it's real and that we are allowing our suspension of disbelief to occur. Those are conflicting forces on the psyche and, as a culture, that has to have an impact on us.

What happens on Jersey Shore is not real. They are in front of a camera and the "characters" play up their own good and bad sides in order to gain popularity and ensure their place in the next season. Right? It's edited and somewhat prescriptive and, in that sense, unreal. Yes? But a highly charged argument at 6 AM after a night of heavy drinking cannot be saved by the omnipresence of the camera. That's real. The "scenes" between Sammi and Ronnie crossed the line and became "dangerous" on a number of occasions. These people need some serious help. Real help. They've lost control and even though we are watching it all happen, we don't accept that and it becomes just more entertainment. The ever present camera creates a dichotomy that numbs our common sense, our collective sense, our sense of reality.

These effects are compounded by the immediacy of web broadcasting. There are a plethora of insights we can gather from a film like We Live In Public but one thing is for certain. Something happens when we get lost in the world of voyeurism that we are becoming so fond of. We lose sight of the fact that what is happening on the screen is real and we lose the ability to respond.

As social marketing rears its head toward the use of more cameras to tell a story we need to ensure we maintain our integrity as advertisers otherwise, consumers will begin to doubt the validity of the message before they even engage with it and they will not respond. They might pass it to a friend and that might send your numbers through the roof and you can enter your work into an award show and brag about your trophy but it will do NOTHING to elevate the brand and you'll have to come up with something new every 8 months or so. Unless that brand is "The Situation" you don't want to be in a constant struggle trying to outdo yourself.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Creative Recipe

Woudn't it be great if someone could give you the recipe for great creative? Wait a minute, would that be great or would that make the whole thing just another thing on your list of things made easier? That big easy button in that ad is a reflection of our continual spiral downward into the dark and lazy couch potato abyss that pervades our culture. Who needs it to be easy?

Bill Hicks was right. About a lot of things. But he spoke out of both sides of his mouth too. So meh. let's not talk about who is right and who is wrong. Let's talk about ideas and where they come from. There isn't a book and there isn't a mentor and there isn't a parent and there isn't a guru that can give you that answer but everyone has an opinion about good creative so why can't I?

Here's my opinion. Good creative comes from activity so rigorous you need Curious George bandages of all sizes for each finger. Good creative comes from teaching your ego how to dance. Not just regular dance, but ballroom. Maybe even paso doble. Good creative comes from being able to pick up someone else's sandwich, taking a bite and loving it as it goes down. Good creative comes from the corner of the room in the dream you can't remember. It has no form but it casts a shadow. If you cut it it bleeds. It stands on a corner twirling a string of beads and popping its gum so you can pull up along side it and ask "How much?" Good creative comes not from searching for the holy grail but falling down a flight of stairs and counting the number of posts on the way. Good creative is something you can bounce against a wall for someone else to catch. It comes from your desire to play with others.

When you really wrap your cranium around the fact that people want to play with you you will leave your cranium behind and discover the best creative thinking you will ever think.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

MIT, tabasco sauce and facebook

Okay I'm really glad it's so hard to get into places like MIT because if it weren't we wouldn't have a special place for geniuses like this to do their very special "thing".

You don't really have to spend too much time reading that article because what it says is that you can tell a man is gay by the company he keeps on facebook. Ok. I'll buy that for a dollar but do we need guys at MIT to be telling us this? Because you know who can tell us this? Facebook. No really, what was the assignment they were given? Find a mathematical equation to state the obvious and then publish your results? Really, MIT? REALLY?

I am so going to rant about this in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

First of all, "As part of the study the researchers Carter Jernigan and Behram Mistree scanned the Facebook friends of more than 1,500 fellow students who indicated their sexual orientation – straight, gay or bisexual – on their profiles."

So wait, you go to MIT and your big idea is to identify who is gay on a social network by asking by asking them if they're gay. Then you facebook stalk their friends. Determine which of THOSE are gay. And then you publish your results as if they are correct and true.

So the results look something like this: "Out of 100 people who identified as gay and had a bunch of gay friends, we found 100 of them were gay. It follows that if you don't say you are gay and all of your friends are gay and they say they're gay on facebook, people might find out you are gay. Or think you are gay even if they don't find out you are gay. So don't friend any gays unless you want to be OUTED by a mathematical computation that THEN emails your mother with the subject line "Guess what, Mom, I have something to tell you." And ..... oh did we mention it's a facebook privacy issue?"

Well thank you, MIT, because you have now mathematically determined that "you don’t have control over your information." Even though everyone already knows that it's harder to open a fresh bottle of Tabasco sauce than it is to keep something private on facebook, now we have the power of Math, thank Apollo, to prove it.

Proof. Good word to focus on for a nanosecond. "Jernigan and Mistree say they are attempting to get their study, titled Gaydar, published in a scientific journal." But how do you prove your results because all I can see is that you proved people who say they are gay are, in fact, gay.

Call it scientific but let me ask you this: Once you do that, how do you prove that his friends are gay? So what if he has 10 gay friends? How do you know any of them are gay? Do you ask him? Do you ask them? How did you get that information? Is it facebook that has privacy issues or is it MIT?

Friday, August 28, 2009

what is worth your time?

Hmm. Well let us agree that life is SHORT. If we can agree on that then we can agree that you need to be very prudent when it comes to your free time. Let's say that, hypothetically, you have a maximum of 5 hours of free time in one week. How do you use the time?

Hypothetically, you may play some video games, like Little Big Planet. That's worth your time. Let's say 1 hour. You might read a book like Pygmy by my man Chuck. K, 1 more hour. You might listen to some music like Kitsune. Although most people don't listen to music any more. They use it as filler. That's what most people do. 1 more hour. That leaves two but when you say you're going for a ride, you're left with


And we all know that if you're playing video games, reading Chuck Pahlaniuk, listening to Kitsune and riding your HOG you MUST be watching some telly too. And what the hell are you supposed to watch?

OK here's the list:

Mad Men
That's right, I said it. And now that I've said it you're thinking how unoriginal I am because everyone is talking about Mad Men. But it wasn't always so. It took off like a rocket and now y'all need to catch up to those of us that have been loving the boys on Madison Avenue since the very start. BTW...this show is very popular with a lot of people, yes? And if you happen to be in marketing, but you have yet to see this are on the proverbial crack-pipe. Tune in, turn off, drop lines....watching Don Draper pitch a line to a client is like a cobra watching the swaying movement of his tooter.

Don't tell me you are too good for TV. Watch it. Take two Drapers and call me in the morning.

True Blood
Can we hear even more about vampires nowadays? This one is a bucket of bloody fun and if you can handle the x-rated content, it's worth seeing. Best thing is, you only have 2 seasons to catch up on here so it won't take you forever to figure out what is going on down there in N'awlins L'isianna. Warning warning....the main character Bill is too short to be famous! I don't care what anyone says. He is just too short. Warning warning....the print ads for the show make you think it might be full of stupid puns but it's down home vamp stuff with a bloody twist.

Breaking Bad
Holy meth, this is one of the most amazing shows on tv. You've just missed the end of season two BUT THAT IS WHAT THE INTERNET IS FOR. Go download it because it's an edge of your seat, bad-ass what would happen if kind of program about a science teacher gone drug lord. Really, go for it...come on...try a little bit....just a little....not like you're going to get hooked or anything.

And I quote: "Over the hills in a weird little land. Live fairies and goblins with more than two hands. Some gremlins they say, can come with four eyes. The dragons can scorch with the simplest of sighs. The scariest things to people like us, cos nothing can touch them, they're allergic to fuss. Until their mother appeared, started roaming their valley. Hiding and pouncing from damp, dark alleys. No noise, No chewing, No signs of a fight. Devouring the children with a plate of French fries. The ***** as she's called in the company of elves. Brought this tormenting curse upon herself. She'd been on a bender and staggered home pissed. Found an eighth and some Rizlas and rolled out a spliff. Got the munchies and reached for the handiest snack. She hate her own kids and then spat them straight back. Forgive me, my beauties, what a dreadful mistake! The children can't hear her they've gone it's too late."

Nurse Jackie
Yup. Seen enough emerg room dramas for a life time right? Not like this you haven't. Honest to god the character development in this program is out of this world. It's not the squirting emergencies and bloody scrubs that get your attention, it's how the characters react and respond to those situations that merits your time. This show is not about plot, it's about personality. Ouch it's so good you'll need gauze.

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia

No, really. It's Seinfeld if Seinfeld was on crack. Literally.

Go be fruitful and download. Or whatever it takes but at least if you're going to watch tv. Make it worth your hour.

Friday, August 21, 2009

in a blog's age

Time is one of those things you just can't really wrap your head around so you just take it for granted. Granted it will pass. Granted it's 11:11. Granted you'll be "late" if you're stuck in traffic.

I think the only thing that really can and eventually will transcend time is the interweb. The tubes will transcend time.

Consider this: it took radio 38 years to reach 50 million people, tv 13 years, and the interweb 4 years. But when you add things like the ability for people to reach people, like on facebook, you reach 100 million in only 9 months.

If that's not bending time, I don't know what is.

I feel like so much time has passed since I last blogged and yet this morning I heard from a friend I hadn't spoken to in over a year. That doesn't seem as far away. There's no date stamp on that.

So I'd like to add a new phrase to our vernacular "A Blog's Age" to replace a dog's age. A dog is only 7:1. But if you do that math on the interweb, it's 700:1.

Friday, June 26, 2009

who will blog about michael jackson today?


And everyone will have their reasons. Is his death blog worthy? Yes.

Regardless of his freakshow persona, Michael Jackson was a STAR. Anyone between the ages of 35 and 45 cannot disagree with that. In the 80s he was everywhere all the time. His performance of the moonwalk on the Motown anniversary special was extraordinary. No one had seen that move before. No one in mainstream North America, anyway. We were sure he was magic. There was no PVR instant replay and everyone jumped up off their "chesterfields" and shouted "What the hell was THAT?!" Based on that one thing MJ did the world of dance opened up. It's thanks to him that we have breakin, poppin, lockin, street, crump. And, if it weren't for MJ doing that one move on live TV we would NOT be seeing it on prime time television today.

The Thriller video premier was an EVENT. Everyone stayed in to watch it that night, like it was the Superbowl or the Royal Wedding. It changed the face of music video, which was like this before Michael Jackson came along and showed us how it could be done. Not only was Thriller a great song but there was a story attached to it, preceding it, wrapped around it.... and Michael was going to tell that story the best way possible. He wouldn't do it any other way. Sure, MTV shortened the video and played that regularly but he made history with the 14 minute version. 14 minutes!! Unheard of. John Landis? A cinematic director? Unheard of. Even wiki calls Landis' Triller Video a "short film". It was so popular MTV had to air it twice an hour. People wanted to see it but there was no way to show it without planning around it. It was just too long. How can you sell ads when you're taking up all your time showing content? Announce that you're showing it and make people wait. We sat and watched those ads because we couldn't stand the thought of missing even a moment of that video. The reaction was astounding. Everyone wanted to be like Michael. Everybody did their own version of the moonwalk in their paneled basements. Everybody was talking about it the next day.


People cried because they couldn't stand to see Michael looking so horrific. The special effects like that were unheard of in music video. The cinematography. No blue screens! The make up. His cat eyes. Holy shit, the dancing. The choreography was so sophisticated people are still inspired by it 25 years later. People like Wade Robson.

Every video was a song first and the Thriller album is still the best selling album of all time and if you were around to buy it on vinyl you remember how excited you were to open up the jacket and see Michael reclining in the white suit. (I still have the portrait of Michael Jackson I drew using that jacket as inspiration. And I still have my original copy of Thriller. Track number one is a different colour than all the others because it is so worn down. I will never give away that album. I've kept it for 25 years for a reason. It was special. But I might sell the portrait if the price is right ;)

I'm not discounting all the freakshow antics neither - the endless surgeries, the baby dangling, the allegations. That's not what this blog is about, though. This blog is about what made him a star right up until his death.......

Why will everyone blog about MJ? It was impossible to google his name when the news broke. Impossible.

A Google spokesperson confirmed: “Some Google News users experienced difficulty accessing search results for queries related to Michael Jackson.” This difficulty occurred between 10.40pm and 11.15pm UK time.

During this period Google News did not go down, but users searching for Michael Jackson related information were asked to verify they were indeed a human and not a computer attempting to launch a spam attack.

The last time there was such strain put on the web was in the aftermath of 9/11. However, despite certain individual sites being unable to cope with the pressure in 2001, most notably the BBC which went blank for a period, people could still surf the rest of the web.

(That's a snippet from here.)

Twitter tweets doubled. Facebook traffic tripled. Another first for Michael Jackson. Someone needs to add that to his wiki. He broke the Internet.

RIP Michael Jackson but this post is dedicated to Farrah Fawcett.