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David Carr wrote a piece in the NYT today talking about a juggernaut taking over print. The proposed takeover by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox of Time Warner Inc. has no print component. Multimedia is the juggernaut and print the dog yapping at the tires.

I was in a meeting last week with some creative people and we were talking about websites. Last year Brian Solis of the Altimeter Group when talking about websites  said “It’s 2013, how come they are so bad?” I propose they’re bad because we are still using a print paradigm to create them. Writers, art directors, and template jockeys are laying out the web experience. What content do we stuff above the fold? What images best reflect our mission? Which type of slide show? Where is the call to action? How many navigational elements on each page? Seems like a clickable print medium to me.

Where’s the surprise? Does the experience have a scripted beginning, middle and end? How do we surface conflict? These are the things of multimedia – of transmedia. I love print and the written word – done well there is story, richness and spark. But many websites today are 80% format, art and copy. Information. Advice. And self-aggrandizement.

Branded utility was a big thing a couple of years ago. Story and narrative are the things today. By combining these two approaches we should get beyond the print-centric view of website design. Peace.




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Brian Clark of GMD Studios in NYC and Winter Park, FL, home of Rollins College, is a diamond-in-the-rough marketing consultant.  He’s kind of like Jonas Salk the inventor of the polio vaccine, before the invention.  Brian gets marketing, he really gets film, his views on transmedia (the flow between media types) are prescient and he keeps his eyes open. Brian enjoys his view beyond the dashboard.

I met him a couple of times, once while we worked as contractors for JWT on Microsoft, and he knows where we are going with this multimedia thing. A statement like that presumes I know where we are going, but follow Brian’s lead first.

He’s a diamond-in-the-rough, I say, because this stuff is hard to fully comprehend. Selling better is hard. Experiential marketing is real but much of it is still theoretical. So when Brian does presos on phenomenology, he’s in the ballpark but it’s a bit rough. And heady. (Check it out on Slideshare.)  Transmedia, as a term, is in the ballpark too but lacks poetry. My view of the experiential and transmedia realm, using language like “fast twitch media” and “twitch point planning” is a bit more intriguing and motivating, but still theoretical.

Thanks to technology and thanks to art forms – with more art forms to be invented – we are on the verge of major media and marketing advance. The inventions are a comin’.  And fun it will be. Do help! And watch Brian and his company.  Peace.    

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After reading a Sony Vaio laptop ad this morning I clicked on the QR code.  These little goodies are the rage, and rightly so, but many marketers haven’t quite figured them out yet.  The worst attempts send people to the company homepage or a Facebook page.  The best provide a trail of proof for the ad claim that moves the consumer closer to purchase – taking the ad logic and selling premise and extending it.  Somewhere in the middle are marketers who provide lists of additional information, either in text or clickables.  Sony’s effort fell in the middle. Their QR code mobile landing site offers a video that is still loading, some nice product specs, price variations, special offers, way under the fold a smart showcase of the illuminated key board feature, a claim about flying from NY to Rome on one charge, powered by Microsoft Windows 7, and something about a kitchen sink.

Ad agencies all complain that their business models and profitability have changed.  The fact is, the things they sell have changed and they’ve been slow to adapt.  This QR code exercise points out how many new things agencies get to make – beyond ads – to enhance the client selling experience and make more money. Happy, happy.

Using a fishing metaphor, ad agencies are focused on the hook — lo, they celebrate the hook — but they forget the line, pole, boat, and fish keeper. (The Vaio video is still loading.)

In my posts about Twitch Point Planning I write of the need to use transmedia or cross media twitches to move customers closer to purchase. That is the absolute best purpose of a QR code. Yet many are lazily using the code simply to move consumers closer to information. Disorganized information at that.  Still loading.  Peace!

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In a Forbes interview with David Eastman, CEO, JWT North America, he speaks of his shop’s unique place in history. Of course, some of it was the same old/same old, which made sense for the audience, but what really stuck out was JWT’s commitment to integrating digital into its offering.  Mr. Eastman may be the first digital officer to CEO a major holding company ad shop.

For a big global shop like JWT, digital is really the R&D department. R&D never really existed at agencies before.  Sure, there were innovations think tanks and media kitchens but those were mostly window dressing.  Eastman believes R&D is an investment not an expense and because JWT hangs with major consumer brands and has a strong brand planning culture, everyone gets the value of a powerful brand idea and everyone gets a seat at the table. This R&D department isn’t off campus in a lab somewhere. Even creatives are open to the manifest destiny love (ish).

So what does this mean?  The outputs are better.  The ads are informed by digital insights, the didge is coddled by emotional consumer brand ideas, and the media intersects at just the right moment. The work doesn’t feel like work to many consumers, it feels welcome and softly influential. “Soft influence.” Hmm, I like that.

Sometime the approach is a little sloppy, sometimes it’s quite elegant, but it’s almost always goaled (as they say) on being brand-strategic.  In this tactics-palooza marketing world, a holding company shop with a transmedia team working with the wind at its back offers a superior product.  But you knew that. Peace!

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Fast Twitch Media and twitch point planning, and from the quality of the responses it seems I’m on to something.  Faris Yakob of KBS+P is in the fast twitch neighborhood when he refers to our low latency culture, and others who talk about integrating transmedia solutions are similarly on the trail.   It’s a nascent practice but quite exciting. One key to effectively getting people to twitch from one media type to another, with the goal of taking them closer to a transaction, is to create intrigue. Especially in a low-interest category.  If we are talking Gillette razors, you don’t need to twitch me to a treasure map or man-scape video game, but you do need to get me to think, feel and do – within the context of a brand idea. Go Daddy got this years ago, albeit shamelessly and sans selling idea.

As the mobile online experience improves, and it’s not there yet, a twitch to a website is only a pants pocket away. A twitch to a hastag. A QR code to a video. A geo-check –all within arm’s reach.  Print ads are already becoming short form billboards using a call to twitch. Check out the new Kobo e-reader ad in The New York Times paper/paper today.

The RGAs , Crispin Porter’s and 72 and Sunny’s are thinking twitch point planning — they just don’t call it so. And they are trying to decide who is responsible for it. Media people, creative, geekuses?  The answer is yes. Peace!

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The new big thing in marketing is transmedia — the ability to carry a consistent message from media type to media type. A video on YouTube may be an extended version of a :30 spot from TV, using a music bed and voice over from radio, telling the same story told on an out of home billboard supported by a branded geolocation app on your mobile.  It takes planning and is not easy, but for those who do it, it’s tight.

Touchpoints are marketing parlance for places consumers come in contact with the brand.  They include all the aforementioned media intersections but extent to packaging, point of sale, customer care and, to an extent, curated community.  The goal at the touchpoint level is similar to the goal at the transmedia level: foster positive opinion, create bias toward your product and sell (Foster, Bias and Sales, the name of my next business). This must be done in an organized way that doesn’t create or even begin to create confusion.

Twitchpoints are my new thing. Mapping them and making them work to your brand’s advantage is the goal in a Fast Twitch Media world.  Fast Twitch Media is bursty media consumed in small chunks that supports our ADD habits. Texting, Tweeting, hashtags, landing pages, mobile apps, reality TV. When you read something in a magazine and Google it, that’s a twitch.   Marketers who can maps and manipulate the fast twitch media behaviors of millennials and the rest of us, will have an advantage. Let’s call it the third “T”.  Pah, pah pah Peace!

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I love social media.  I do.  It is changing the marketing landscape. Not always for the better, but that’s okay, we can learn from our mistakes.  The key is to use it. 

One of the areas in which I think social media is misused is cause marketing – specifically when paired in transmedia  programs tied to advertising and promotion.  Case in point:  In an article in yesterday’s New York Times, there was a story about the Kellogg Company getting behind a very important cause – feeding impoverished kids breakfast.  Kellogg is said to be donating $200,000 across the country to feed school kids healthy breakfasts.  Yesterday was National Breakfast Day. The cause was clearly a good one.

Where it gets a little hinky and bit forced is when Kellogg campaigns (verb) the effort and promotes a social activity called “Share your breakfast.”  For each picture of a breakfast uploaded to the Kellogg website a breakfast will be donated to an under-served school.  The program will be promoted via traditional advertising, digital, event, mobile and the rest of the kitchen sink.  There will be a long table TV spot, free breakfasts in Grand Central Station and a bunch of agencies sharing media plans. According to Kellogg this is their largest integrated program yet. 

I truly applaud the “feed the under-served” intent, though $200,000  wouldn’t pay for half the TV spot production.  That said, the total program is a bit like an undercooked omelet prepared with a bunch of back-of-the-refrigerator ingredients.  The initial idea was a good one no doubt, but the transmedia requirement took it way off the rails.  The cause component would have been better handled as a solo PR effort. Perhaps next year will be tighter.  Peace!

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