South By Southwest

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Poor poor advertising. Woe is Advertising. It really doesn’t get much respect. As a kid growing up in the business (before Cable TV and Mad Men), ad agency peeps listed just above car salesmen in term of trustworthyness and job stature. God knows where they stand today. Advertising needs a PR company to remold its image.

Where do you think Google gets its bank? Its campus? Its engineers and PHDs? And, and, and. From ad dollars. Sure AdWords are McAwful. Not creative and mostly DIY. But its advertising. Advertising is a gazillon dollar business.

Advertising needs a boost. It needs a strategy. It needs an event. An event to end all events? How about something that makes South By look like child’s play? How about we fill NYC or Brooklyn with the top creative people in the world? Not an awards show like Cannes, but a celebration of creativity like never before. “Banksy, would you mind lighting the opening bond fire?” “Pearl Jam, could you play at the closing event?” “Steven Colbert, might you emcee a live stream art face-off from McCarren Park?”

I’m not talking Advertising Week where we parade the Jolly Green Giant and Clara Peller? I’m not talking Lee Clow in a duel of words with Rich Silverstein? I’d love to celebrate and inebriate the city with the biggest creative names, people, brands and sponsors of the day. (That day being tomorrow…not yesterday.)

We need a strategy. I smell money.

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Brand planners love the future. Almost as much as they love the past.  Google is introducing some type of campaign or game or something today at South By whereby it’s mashing up some old school ads form the 60s with new school media.  I’m sure it is going to be lovely and may even sell a little Coke, Alka-Seltzer and few Volvos — participating brands.  Hopefully, the effort will sell some Google thingies.

Planners — and I’m one of them — love the future.  Do things that have never been done. Build new categories. Break new use-case ground.  Design ideas that are future-proof.  Plan “beyond the dashboard” as I like to call it.

But what’s wrong with today?  Today is not sexy for most. Today is boring.  Or is it?  Retailers and those focused on retail marketing are all about today.  And they are so amped it’s scary. Zimmerman Advertising is a retail advertising specialist and they’re not too famous, but they could be.  They are all about the now and have had long-term success. Cash registers are their mana.

The past is gone.  The future never arrives (Remember being a kid in bed on Christmas Eve?  That was some existential shizz, no?)  “Now” is what’s up.  Sell more now.  Today.  Plan for today. Peace!


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 Where do Posters hang out?  And once you find them what’s a good way to reach them?  Good questions. Certainly Posters (original content creators on the web) hang out online, but the best Posters get out of the building to see and smell the coffee – they need living breathing stimulation. So how to you find and reach them? 

On a macro level, you go big.  So Vancouver would be a good place to be promoting and spending to reach Posters this week.  Davos Switzerland or Park City, UT (home to Sundance Film Festival) would have been good places to promote a couple of weeks ago. Buying radio, outdoor, local web or local TV ads in these cities, well in advance, would have been a smart way to reach Posters in a targeted relatively inexpensive way.

On more of a micro level, if you want to reach technology Posters or music Posters, try buying media in Austin, TX during South By Southwest. How about dialing up your Google campaign in that city for those couple of weeks? If you are trying to reach soccer Posters, look to South Africa for the World Cup soccer finals in a few months. 

At McCann-Erickson the media people used to look at targets and do a something called a DILO (Day In the Life Of) to determine appropriate times of day and media choices. While saving money and trying to viral up your message, think about key Poster communities and MILOs (months) or YILOs (year). Target your Posters.

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David Pogue, a pretty tuned-in writer, mentioned in his New York Times article yesterday that while at South By Southwest (heretofore referred to as South By) he noticed lots of newspapers and magazines at attendees hotel room doors each morning.  No doubt, most contained stickers and wraps touting sponsor messages.   What was odd, according to Mr. Poque, was that most people left the papers on the floor. And though this doesn’t say much for the housekeeping at his hotel, the many daily papers started to pile up over time in a subtle form of protest.  Last year while at South By, I noticed an anti-paper phenomenon which took place at the convention center. Check out the “paper protest alcove” picture and post.


South By-Interactive is filled with Posters (opposite of Pasters) who are content generating opinion leaders. South By-Music, held the following week, is filled with Music Posters.  Both are taste makers and both groups are opting out of paper. This is a trend which was very evident at South By and is coming to a neighborhood near you. Peace!




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