sundance channel

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Jeffrey Katzenberg is making a big bet with OPM (other people’s money) in a reported video startup designed for mobile devices. He’s looking for $2B and he’ll probably get it. Driving the idea are 500M people who watch 45 minutes of video on their phones daily. This I don’t doubt. Nor do I doubt that people want more HBO-like quality to watch, rather than silly time-kill dreck.  But Mr. Katzenberg’s business idea is founded a 10 minute high quality video segment. This is where the rubber doesn’t meet the road.

People who sit down (not stand up) to watch Game of Thrones want to settle in to the experience, not watch it on the line waiting for a chalupa.  Any dramatic video consummated in 10 minutes (probably including 1 minute of ads) feels to me like foreplay interruptus.  There’s a reason short stories are a fraction of book sales.

Mr. Katzenberg may be on to something though. Ten minutes snippets of video are not a bad idea.  But the idea is not chunking up HBO or Sundance Channel programming. Perhaps he should be looking at news-related, educational or comedic interludes. Hey not a bad name!.

He’s a little off-piste but ideas have to start somewhere.



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The new paradigm driving a great deal of marketing dollars today is well summarized in a Sundance Channel print ad appearing in today’s New York Times. It says: “…the only currency that matters is trust; marketing can’t change consumer behavior, but must be a two-way conversation built around engaging content..”


Let’s parse this little tidbit.


1. Trust is indeed important. Too many marketers and ad agencies have reduced consumer trust by inflating claims and implying things that are just not accurate. (Can you say food stylist?) We have conditioned consumers to question our claims and have therefore made our beds. If you can’t tell the truth, change the product.  


2. Marketing can’t change consumer behavior.  OMFG. It may make for good copy and even sound thoughtful, but it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Marketing has, does and ever shall change consumer behavior. Take a dollar off a bag of lettuce and you alter consumer behavior.   


3. Marketing must be a two-way conversation built around engaging content. This is the pop marketing tactic of the week and, frankly, it’s dangerous. Allowing consumers to drive the claims, features and benefits conversation is just bad business. Having spent lots of client money modulating messages in the hope of increasing share points, I know how scientific it can be. Ceding that modulation to a bunch of Posters and Paster on the web can be problematic. Moreover, it’s lazy.  I’m not saying don’t allow the conversation; good marketing comes from listening to consumers, but my point is that a two-way conversation can quickly recede to a one-way conversation if not managed. Peace!


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