All posts tagged YouTube

Forget Kenny, the Emmys Killed Twitter.

Social media has made the democracy of “vote with your dollars” capitalism even better. Platforms like Twitter keep every person and corporation in check. Sure, they can help overthrow governments but they can also turn any Jack or Jill into a covert whistle blower helping illuminate everything from unethical business practices to napping transit employees. I know it’s not perfect but you have to admit that social media is pretty authentic. And real. And totally fair. If you have something to say, go for it. It’s one of the only places on the planet where everyone is (kinda) treated equally.

That is, until marketers screw it up.
Which is exactly what happened to Twitter last night.

Over the past couple of years, Twitter has made watching live TV enjoyable again. Social TV was born when viewers around the world started sharing unedited comments about the shows they were virtually watching together.

Remember the London closing ceremonies? Which was better: Watching the Spice Girls reunite on top of a bunch of taxis or reading bitchy tweets about Mel C’s cankles? I know… riiiiiight? Dialing into a hashtag was like joining a telephone party line in the ‘70s. Unfiltered and open airwaves. No hierarchy. No status. And corporations were completely welcome, too. They just had to get in line with everyone else where one tweet to a hashtag simply followed another.

Until Sunday night.
I was late for the Emmys broadcast so I did what most modern people who forget to set the PVR do. I searched “#Emmys” on Twitter.

What I expected to see in the hashtag were humourous ramblings from a thousand disciples of Suri’s Burn Book. What I got was a conversation that had been hi-jacked by HBO, Vanity Fair and Chris Kattan. Yes. THAT Chris Kattan. When I compared the stream directly through Twitter with the one through Hootsuite, they were rather different, even after selecting “View all tweets”.

The Emmy’s didn’t just brand the hashtag. They kidnapped the conversation and replaced it with select tweets from Entertainment Tonight, People Magazine, Wolfgang Puck, and Jessica Alba. While the rest of us users froze outside in line waiting, the Emmys gave priority access to partners, media companies, insiders and celebrities who have a vested interest in the telecast. Shouldn’t users be the default stream with an option for “See all biased tweets”?

Did I really need this tweet to have priority?


Do we want to live in a world where Chris Kattan has been judged to be more important than @TanyaRM who has 36 subscribers to her YouTube channel? If you’re not sure, let me give you a hint using 5 little words: “A Night at the Roxbury”.

In the quest for quality content, the Emmys killed the (better) content that was already being generated. For free.
Forget looking a gift horse in the mouth, they sucked the life out of the very thing that gave their telecast a new one. They sucker punched the person who administered CPR. (How many metaphors can I cram in there? )

But more than that, they bought a conversation. And that’s not only wrong, it’s bad business.
Their customers don’t include Vanity Fair. Or People Magazine. Or Jessica Alba. Their customers are you and me. People who have a cable bill. People who have an iTines or Netflix account. People who pay for the right to to tune into (and out of) whatever they want. Most importantly, people who want to share honest and open feedback on the shows and celebrities they financially support.

It still amazes me when brands want to own conversations instead of owning the process to make better products to help improve the conversation.
Done correctly and it’s a win-win.
Done poorly and it’s just another performance of Mango.

Is the brief age of transparency over? I hope not.


Where did this come from?

In between mentions of Clint’s Chrysler spot and the “Shit Girls Say” meme, Content Marketing is getting a lot of ink. How did we get here? Can marketers really turn their backs on the content they’ve historically funded to create their own media properties? Yes they can. And here’s why:

1. Media’s doing it.
Rogers has done a great job extending their Sportsnet brand into all corners of the media universe. You can see and hear it online, on your phone, on TV, on radio, on demand, on tablets, in print, on blogs, and more. And when you turn the channel, flip the page, or call up the site, you’ll probably see ads for other Rogers services and properties. This is great business but the whole system falls apart if there isn’t something to talk about.

That something is content.

With full or partial ownership of the Jays, Leafs, Raptors, FC, and more, Rogers not only owns where the content occurs but what the content is, too. They can’t do it alone but they certainly have decreased their dependence on other brands for revenue. They’re almost completely self sufficient. Brands simply have to return the favour.

2. Consumer expectations
After the financial issues of the past few years, consumers have returned to simplicity and finally value steak over sizzle. They demand honesty and transparency at every interaction. And brands HAVE to deliver because social media allows bad experiences to be shared with millions and brands that don’t act in good faith face the wrath of the masses. Remember the Netflx Canada launch? Wrath. Kenneth Cole? Wrath. Ocean Marketing? Wrath (and hilarious).

Even when it’s honestly delivered, traditional ad messages that don’t actually create value go unnoticed. Consumers want stuff that does stuff. Most would rather see Starbucks focus their efforts on a perfect mobile app than an ad to tell us about it.

That’s where content comes in.

Whether it’s informative, entertaining or both, content adds value. Just what consumers want.

3. Rise of the niche markets
Most of us have unique interests that trump the lowest-common denominator content that is served up by traditional media outlets. If you love quilting, there used to be very little that could help stir your passions. Now you can watch a quilting Youtube Channel, read a blog, and participate with others who love quilting. Surely, that content is more engaging than anything offered up on CTV. It’s quilting!!

Well, many brands’ consumers also share interests. Brands can offer up interesting content that their consumers care about and provide additional product value-adds along the way.

4. Affordable production
Naturally, none of this would be possible if brands had to enlist a full crew, expensive cameras, an Avid suite, a Flame artist and a team of nerds to code it. Production and post production is cheaper than ever as are the methods of distribution. Want to be Rupert Murdoch? You’re a Mac Airbook and a WordPress site away from doing it.

Why outsource content to a mass media company when you can own the highly specific content your customer wants as well as the place they see it?
Seems like an easy question to answer.

If not, this may help:

This is the future of Television. Or is it?

Television is caught somewhere between being a dying a medium and, because everything will eventually be delivered over IP, a rapidly growing one. Throw in the network acquisitions of Canadian telcos and it’s easy to see why the old boob tube is in a period of transition.

Well, one network that has clearly jumped the queue is internet television network Revision 3. If anyone has staked out a unique spot in the TV universe, it’s them.

I had a chance to chat with their impressive CEO, Jim Louderback recently. If you have any interest on where television (or the ads that pay for it) is headed, you should listen to this brief interview.

With close to 30 shows including Epic Meal Time and Digg Nation and over 80 million views a month, Revision 3 is redefining the modern day network. Here’s why:

Content people care about
It costs a lot of money to put a show on television so networks have to serve up programming that serves the most number of people possible. The result is lowest common denominator content that a lot of people like but may not love. Revision 3, on the other hand, delivers shows that people actually care about. Do you really love apps? Well, they have App Judgement. Into the “Unboxing” phenomenon? You can tune into Unboxing Porn. We all have specific interests that, given the choice, we’d watch over shows made for the masses.

A new approach to advertising
On mainstream TV, we either cut to a commercial break to see a big budget spot that is repurposed across a whole whack of shows or we’re forced to endure branded content that can leave us feeling dirty. Not so with Revision 3. They’ve managed to keep church and state separate while delivering more effective ads that are actually delivered by the hosts, a taboo among conventional networks. Plus, many of the advertisers featured could never afford to advertise on TV. Now they can.

The numbers
You want unaided brand awareness? 100% (yes, 100%) of viewers can name a show sponsor. That’s unbelievable. 93% can name 2 or more. More importantly, 57% of viewers have purchased products from the sponsors. When you pair specific content with advertisers that are closely aligned to that content, the numbers aren’t surprising but still pretty impressive.

The hosts
Normally, we get pretty people who are trained to be good on TV. Revision 3 chooses to get subject matter experts who are passionate about the content. It’s substance over style. The result is a more genuine host that the viewer trusts.

Social integration
Since it’s delivered through a browser, you can not only set up network preferences, you can also Tweet it, Digg it, Like it, share it, favourite it, download it, email it, comment on it, and check in for special deals. Don’t want to actually watch at No problem, you can tune in via tablet and smart phone apps or just watch on their Youtube channel. They even have Ambassadors who volunteer to help spread the word through their own social networks and face to face events.

Responsible production
Whether they appear on CBC, HBO, Netflix, or Rogers on Demand, there will always be a place for big budget shows like Boardwalk Empire and The Wire. Shows that have a smaller, more passionate viewer base will never be able to compete on production value. But with more importance being placed on the content, they don’t have to. Revision 3 balances both. Nice production. Low cost.

Is this exclusively the future of television? I don’t think so. It’ll augment standard TV and more importantly, it’ll help redefine what we watch, how we watch it and how it all gets paid for. Internet networks will continue to grow as more content is produced for smaller audiences. Many of the features that you see on internet networks will be seamlessly integrated into the shows you already watch.

I’m sure Revision 3 isn’t the last revision to the television model but as of right now, it’s certainly one of the best. To check them out, go to

This user will not generate.

A few years ago, I was speaking at an event for a very large CPG in the US and one of the other speakers was Phil Dusenberry who had retired from BBDO. If you don’t know who Phil is, you should. Sadly, he passed away in 2007 after spending close to 45 years in the business, all of them with the same agency (I believe). Michael Jackson and Pepsi? Phil did that. He also co-wrote the movie The Natural. Needless to say, I was in awe and it was an honour to meet him and share the stage with him.

The client had just wrapped up a very successful user-generated campaign that saw hundreds of consumers submit commercials for one of their brands. They were pretty proud of their success and when it came time for Q&A, one of the participants asked Phil what he thought of the trend of user-generated campaigns. Phil’s response:

“I think it’s bullshit.”

So do I. Here’s why:

1. It’s not advertising. It’s PR. 
I’m proud of the fact that I make a living in applied creativity. I enjoy wrestling with the academic side of branding before generating something interesting around a tight set of rules and caveats that a client collaborates on and eventually approves. While we bitch about the process, we’re better for it and so are our communications. THAT’S advertising. Someone developing a commercial on their own with no insight, no research, no brief, and no budget is art. And paying to put it on TV is just one big PR stunt.

2. It’s not strategic. 
After placing so much importance on the strategic process with ethnography, qualitative and quantitative focus groups, insight generation, brief development and an approval process that makes the Iditarod seem like a Sunday morning toboggan run, I’m amazed that clients will throw the entire process out the window so a teenage boy can kick his friend in the balls while using the product. How can you question every second of a campaign that you’ve paid professionals to develop for one brand and then completely abandon your intellectual principles for another? Strategy is half the battle. Good advertising fights for it. User-generated campaigns abandon it.

3. It’s not organic.
I know what the geeks are saying. “It’s a new world, man. The consumer has all the power and they own brands. We have to empower them to….” Sorry. I usually nod off at that point only to wake up when I hear the 25th use of the word “engagement”. This is BS, too. Do consumers have a stronger voice? Yup. And they deserve it. If people want to create ads and post them to Youtube, I’m all for it. Get out of the way and let them express themselves. Hell, we should even fight for their right to do it and be proud when they do. I just don’t think we should take their creations and spend our media money airing them. It makes the whole process less organic and less genuine.

4. They’re not real consumers.
If you want real user generated ads, give a kid a camcorder and let him cut it on iMovie. What we actually get are commercials with the production value of Waterworld. This year’s Doritos winner was done by J.R. Burningham and Tess Ortbals, 2 film school grads who own a production company, Mythmakers Entertainment. Let me repeat. They own a production company. They are professionals. The campaign was not user-generated. It was crowd sourced. What’s stopping Victors and Spoils from competing in next year’s contest?



Be Proud of Canadian Advertising.

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

Canadian Super Bowl Advertising. It’s not lame.

Coast to coast, the Super Sunday commercials are debated, discussed, and dissed. As much I participate in critiquing the ads aired, there’s one annual collective Canadian statement I don’t agree with:

“The Canadian advertising is lame.”

I like the American ads as much as the next Joe Canadian – I actually muted the game and watched the US spots on Youtube – but it doesn’t mean that Canadian advertising is worse than American advertising. We’re lucky to have some of the best creative minds in the world living and working right here in our home and native land.  

No, it’s not about talent. It’s not about ability. It’s about money.

With ten times the population and the budgets to match, our American counterparts can afford to deliver spots with insane production values that are created exclusively for that one event and the audience it attracts. A brief that targeted is bound to create brilliant work. And it has. Some of the best commercials of all time – Apple’s “1984”, Budweiser’s “9/11 Tribute” and Google’s “Parisian Love” – were aired only once and that was during the Super Bowl.

North of the border, we just can’t do that.

There aren’t many Canadian clients who can invest a significant portion of their budget for one big spot created exclusively for one big night. And if you tuned in last night, you experienced what that means.

It means we get pretty good commercials that we’ve probably seen before or new ones that were produced in the US and customized for our market by changing “.com” to “.ca”. Even the select few that are specifically created for CTV’s Super Bowl feed (Thanks, TD) are done with modest budgets and a lot less fanfare.

We don’t blow our budgets on one big party. We’re Canadian. We’re responsible. And sometimes, that’s better in the long run. Right, Fannie Mae?