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A Marketing Movie Ahead of its Time?

February 19, 2011 Leave a comment

I recently watched an old advertising movie named “Crazy People” that made me think harder about how we receive messages from brands.

The movie takes place in the early 90’s & is about a Madison Ave. ad exec played by Dudley Moore. Becoming fed up lies with in advertising, he has a nervous breakdown & decides to create copy that is over the top but boldly truthful. While his content is totally shot down by his bosses, the ads accidentally get into circulation & become a wild success. Throughout the rest of the movie, we watch Dudley’s character & his unique new staff create honest, funny, & effective ads for all sorts of brands.

To give you an example of the type of copy they use, consider one of the ads. It’s a print that has a picture of a wife & her husband. It states:

“WE KNOW YOU LOVE HIM, BUT IF HE HAPPENS TO DIE, WE GIVE YOU TWO MERCEDES AND A SUMMER HOME. Wouldn’t that be nice too?” Signed by John Hancock (the insurance agency).

In addition to just being downright funny, the movie really got me thinking about advertising today. One of the trends over the last few years is that we are rapidly entering into an era of openness & colloquialism. With all the connectivity options of the web, honesty seems to be taking more & more precedence in the role of business communication. Think about the nature of messages we receive when our software goes down…for example, the Twitter “Fail whale” that shows up when the site has an outage.

Nothing like the fail whale would have ever existed 10 years ago, but companies are getting more & more comfortable being honest, open & not taking themselves too seriously. I believe that there is more room for these types of ads. A quote from the movie said it perfectly as a news anchor reported, ” They appeal to a new breed of consumers that want to be dealt with honestly”.

And in addition to a good laugh, isn’t that what we all want?

Are you noticing the area of openness & honesty between companies and consumers? What other examples of this do you see? What would be some brands ads look like today if they were created in the style of Crazy People?

Here are a few funny pictures from the movie:

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…and I saved the funniest for last: “Sony, because Caucasians are just too damn tall!” :

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Categories: Advertising

Homemade iPad integration

January 20, 2011 Leave a comment

I was a little bummed when I first learned that the iPad wouldn’t natively mirror to a tv. So after a short period just dealing with it, I decided to go seeking for solutions on the webs. This evening, after a bit of research and a call to trusty @mattstech, I went all rogue and jail-broke my iPad.

Next up, me and Rick found the “displayout” app from cydia and not too much longer after that, I was gaming away on the 112 inch NanoLumens display.

While this was obviously lots of fun. I did it for a reason. I am extremely interested in how the digital signage industry can improve advertising impressions for brands through remote integration and by bringing exciting experiences to out-of-home displays. Gone are the days of dumb billboards as we’ve seen a new breed come into town like the ads of American Eagle & Forever 21 in Times Square.


The rapid improvement of technology has enabled this industry the ability to build exciting systems that just last year were unheard of…So i’m interested in how we can use these technologies to give something to brands that is not available by itself on the web, the TV, or on mobile phones. But something that folks will immerse with while they are out of home and in public. This silly example is by no means an end product but it got my creative thoughts flowing with ideas to bring tech to life in new ways. I’m hoping that it evolves into something effective for us in the digital out-of-home space. Please watch the video below and let me know if you’d ever like to come by the office and play games on the 112″! …and yes, I realize I left one evil green pig standing, they can be pesky little boogers!

Sign of the Times (Square)

January 12, 2011 2 comments

Bad weather cancelled a meeting today so @wamos80 & I decided to take advantage of our free time by going on a little digital out-of-home tour. After compiling a short list of ads we wanted to see, we hit the road and headed to the mecca of signage- Times Square. Below are the places we visited with a pictures from our phones sprinkled in. I will be diving deeper into these applications over the coming weeks as I learn more and compile my thoughts on their effectiveness & the pros/cons.

CEMUSA Digital News Stands

Launched by an all-star team of industry suppliers (Wirespring, Display Devices, Show + Tell, and of course CEMUSA), these digital newstands effectively bring the concept of billboards down to the street level. There seem to be around a dozen or so of these throughout times square and each of them consists of 5 digital displays (2×2 on the back & 1 portrait on a side). I’ve been anxious to see these ever since first reading about them in DailyDOOH. Here is a link direct from CEMUSA’s site that talks about them from a media buy perspective.

American Eagle Billboard w/ Photo-to-Screen

I’ve read that the American Eagle billboard is the largest in Times Square and today it was the most exciting. Inside of the store, AE has a photo shoot setup that customers can take a part in if they have purchased an item. After making up a message “Team NanoLumens”, where I’m from, and an email address, they put our ugly mugs up on the big screen! The geek in me will tell you that this alone was worth the trip!

Forever 21 Interactive Billboard

This is another billboard that I have really been looking forward to seeing. Its created to interact with the crowd so as you watch the screen (camera feed), models come into view and play with the audience in unique ways. In this example, they took a picture of us and showed it up close. I believe that these types of marketing campaigns are bellwethers for the future of the out-of-home advertising industry.

During the trip, we also visited Penn and Grand Central Stations. These areas are mostly static signage but have a lot of opportunity to go digital so i’ll write about them down the road. All in all, we had a blast checking out these ads and look forward to playing a part in future innovation for this space. What ads in NYC did we miss? Are there spots like these in any other cities that you have found to be particularly exciting?

#DigitalOOH Advertising owned Georgia’s Spirit of Endeavor Awards

January 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Just don't try to pick it up by the ring...

Last month we went to the 8th annual Spirit of Endeavor Awards hosted by TAG & TechAmerica. Its an event that honors local technology companies. In addition to our company NanoLumens walking away with an award, I thought that it all really represented a huge win for the digital out-of-home advertising community. For starters, lets take a look at the 6 awards that were given out during the event:

In my opinion, I would classify 3 of these companies as part of the digital out-of-home advertising industry (Digital Assent, SoloHealth & NanoLumens). Here is why:

Digital Assent’s product is the PatientPad. This is an electronic replacement for the “paper clipboard” found at the check-in counter of most hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices in the United States. While the patient is using it to fill out all of their information, Digital Assent makes money by serving up targeted & interactive digital advertisements to the digital display.

SoloHealth’s product is EyeSite, a self-service eye examination kiosk that runs in grocery stores, malls, superstores, etc. It helps customers diagnose potential eye health issues and refers them to doctors for examinations. Like the PatientPad, EyeSite generates revenue by running targeted and specific digital advertisements on their LCD monitors.

Both SoloHealth and Digital Assent are able to show strong targeting, relevancy, and dwell time to their clients. Their ads are composed in a digital format that is hard for the consumer to miss based on their interactivity with the medium. This enables them to charge a premium for their ad impressions & click-throughs.

Lastly is my company, NanoLumens. We build large, thin, lightweight & flexible video displays which we supply to the digital signage and out-of-home advertising market. Our screens fill a market need for OOH advertisers by working in environments where traditional displays fail.

The fact that these three companies are some of the most talked about and now award-winning start-ups in the city speaks volumes for the industry and hints that it is gaining more traction and making an impact on the way that brands place their advertising dollars.

Who are some other Atlanta technology start-ups that are focused on digital out-of-home advertising?

Product overviews for the companies mentioned:

11th Screen

January 6, 2011 Leave a comment

I left a post last night on 11th Screen and wanted to tag to it from here. Mike Cearly has put together an awesome blog which I definitely recommended reading if you are into OOH and all the ways that the internet can come to life outside of our homes. I really like the fact that Mike digs deep into his topics, and he oftentimes does his own case studies of brands through the eyes of the consumer. This post is exactly that type of case study on Coca-Cola and I was glad to share my experiences in response. I hope you enjoy!

Is Coke’s “Secret Formula” the Secret to their Brand Story?

Twitter founder credits digital signage as a key factor in their breakout success.

January 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Thanks to a tweet by @Amdev last night, I read some super cool Quora Q&A which involved Evan Williams (founder of Twitter) and a link to the following question: “What is the process involved in launching a startup at SXSW?”

At first blush, I didn’t think much of it until I read Evan’s answer and noticed how he basically credits Twitter’s success to a digital signage & out-of-home ad campaign that they created for SXSW in 2007. I had heard that twitter’s tipping point is recognized as occurring during SXSW but had never heard how they did it. In Evan Williams own words:

“We did two things to take advantage of the emerging critical mass:

1) We created a Twitter visualizer and negotiated with the festival to put flat panel screens in the hallways. This is something they’d never done before, but we didn’t want a booth on the trade show floor, because we knew hallways is where the action was. We paid $11K for this and set up the TVs ourselves. (This was about the only money Twitter’s *ever* spent on marketing.)

2) We created an event-specific feature, where, you could text ‘join sxsw’ to 40404. Then you would show up on the screens….”

So basically to summarize, the second largest social network on the planet credits digital signage w/ a mobile interactivity component as a core impetus to their business launch success. After spending the only money they’ve ever spent on digital signage advertising, the company caught traction and took off! This further illustrates how this type of media can be so effective in connecting the online & physical world. I’m glad to hear of Twitter’s success in this way and look forward to hearing more stories like this down the road. What other companies have you heard of that have similar advertising experiences?

The best 2 articles I read yesterday

January 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Before throwing away my night in further exploration of the burgeoning Q&A Site, Quora, I learned of an awesome story tweetlinked by @DavidWeinfeld as well as a solid industry post I got wind of through @Datrigub.

The first article here is about the company, PrimeSense who I learned is the is the creator of a key technology in the motion sensing function of the wildly successful Microsoft Kinect. According to the report, PrimeSense struck a deal with Asus and plans to get motion detection into our PCs as soon as Q2 of this year. To me, this represents a significant paradigm shift for user experience which has many implications for future in the way we interact with our displays…& not just in gaming. To make that more exciting, developers will soon be able to get access to APIs as well as an app store so they can build & sell motion-controlled apps. I am totally looking forward to the RSS reader and presentation apps when they come out in addition to all the out-of-home applications for this!

The second article here is in reference to the digital out-of-home advertising industry and was written by the industry golden child, Garry McGuire. This article gives Garry’s point of view with the current sticking points holding DOOH back from spreading its wings and flourishing. It’s a great piece with too many nuggets to summarize briefly but if you are looking to learn the challenges that DOOH faces with some great recommendations by the right person, I recommend checking it out.

Hope to see articles just as intriguing as these as the week progresses. With CES going on, I’m sure there will be a lot to read about.

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