Sunday, October 24, 2010

What Would David Ogilvy Do?

Prior to my conversion to pharmaceutical marketing, I spent more than a decade at OgilvyOne, New York.

It was, at least for most of those years, the best, most productive and educational experience of my agency career. (And I've had many experiences in my agency career.)

Ogilvy prided itself in being the advertising equivalent to a teaching hospital. Training was as big a part of the culture as its red hallways. You really could learn something new there every day.

It all stemmed from the old man, himself. Anyone who has read any of David's books or seen one of his many interviews knows that he had some very strong opinions about what advertising should and should not be.

Some of these pronouncements were so subjective and limiting that even the agency had long looked the other way when it came to them. (For example, one of David's rules was that an ad should never have reversed out type.)

Others are harder to shake. Particularly David's ultimate credo, "We sell or else."

At OgilvyOne, the direct response arm of O&M, that statement gave us our reason to be. (Along with his statements that direct response was his "first love" and "secret weapon," which were quoted ad nauseam.)

In a rather prescient video he taped for the Direct Marketing Association, sometime in the '70s, David accurately predicted how direct marketing and general advertising were each headed on a collision course. He was right: Today, clients do indeed demand more accountability and measurability, and virtually every advertisement has some sort of call to action, via a phone number, or more likely, an email address.

But what would Ogilvy make of today's marketing world?

Consumers are savvier and more skeptical of advertising than ever before. They abhor being sold to. Thanks to the Internet, they can more actively seek what they are looking for on their own terms. Rather than merely sell to them, businesses need to strategically position themselves where those raising their hands can find them.

Furthermore, brands today need to provide customers with more than just great products. (And products today better damn well be great.) They need to provide them with a brand experience (in store, online, etc.) that truly pushes the right buttons.

But even that isn't enough. In today's experience economy, brands must seek to transform – to literally improve the lives of those who use them. Success is when a customer can actually credit a brand for having had a profoundly positive influence on their lives.

Think of the classic election time question, "Are you better off today than you were four years ago?"

I'm not sure how flexible D.O. was. If he was willing to change with the times. Would he now say, "We transform or else."?


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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Tweeting

I was browsing the net the other day, thinking about the new movie, The Social Network (which I just saw, by the way, and it’s GREAT), when I happened upon an article that mapped out what Harry Potter’s foray into social media would look like.

One element that The Social Network stressed was the timeliness of Facebook and how nowadays, we all want something that connects us to each-other in a digital setting. It would seem that the world of Harry Potter would be exempt from this desire for intense connectivity. Wizards do, after all, have slightly bigger fish to fry, what with the Dementors kissing and Ogres plundering. In spite of the very Muggle-like nature of the online social network, our favorite four-eyed wizard has, at long last, entered the world of FACEBOOK!

Ok…so Harry has actually been online, having his life tweeted away for quite some time now. But not until recently did an exploratory into what a real-life Harry Potter Facebook page, Youtube account, or Twitter stream would look like, actually exist. Thank you New York Magazine for showing us what Harry would have to say if he were to write posts, update his status, Foursquare himself and “friend“ others. The results are entertaining to say the least, and confirm the fact that if you are not engaged in social media, you’re missing out. 

(My personal favorites are Dobby’s comments. Take a look for yourself!)

And while these parodies offer a few laughs, they also inadvertently demonstrate how a brand can carry it's message and tone across multiple social media channels in a consistent and engaging way.



Saturday, October 9, 2010

Power to the People: The Power to Transform

This being the 70th birthday of John Lennon, I thought it the perfect time to look into why he holds such a special place in our collective memory, beyond the obvious contributions he made as a Beatle and during his solo career.

Like the other three members of the Fab Four, he was a decent musician and singer. And fortunately for all of us – he was also the perfectly acerbic counterbalance to McCartney's saccharine sweetness.

But in my opinion, what made Lennon so transcendent and transformational was not the power of his musicianship, songwriting or singing.

It was the power of his ideas.

Lennon brought "power to the people," imagined a world in which there was "nothing to kill or die for," and asked us to "give peace a chance."

He and Yoko spent their honeymoon in bed for a week, talking to and singing for the press, to promote their dream of world peace. Imagine if they had Twitter to play with.

The point is that even the most incredible talent and great production values can only get you so far. 

Regardless if you're a Beatle or a marketing executive, to be truly transformational, there's nothing more powerful than a strong idea. 



Saturday, October 2, 2010

What Makes a Viral Video Viral?

We've been working on a very cool assignment to drive consumers to educational content through the power of viral videos. 

In order to make our viral videos as viral as possible (meaning irresistible for people to pass around to each other), we've spent a lot of time analyzing the most successfully viral videos of all time.

We've watched everything from the "The Evolution of Dance," to "David After Dentist."  From "Charlie Bit My Finger...Again!" to "Charlie the Unicorn." 

We found that the most viral videos share a few common qualities: They are either obnoxious and annoying (see "The Annoying Orange") or bordering on "naughty" in terms of scatological or sexual innuendo. It seems adolescent humor appeals to more than just adolescents.
Wired Magazine
But these are just my thoughts and observations. I'd love to know what you think makes a great viral video and see some of your favorite examples!


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