Every month, I subtract $7.99 from my bank account so I can stream movies and TV programs directly onto my computer. I pay this monthly fee knowing full well that I won’t have access to all of your content. A portion of which is available to the online streamer, while the rest is available to the DVD renter.
Call me a sucker, but I’m hoping for change.
It makes sense, for now, that Netflix differentiates between online stream and DVD rental, because each service has a different target. The millennial generation, including myself, lives and plays in digital. The “online stream plan” provides millennials with the instant gratification that we crave. There’s no wait time. We want what we want when we want it.
On the other hand, the DVD rental program taps into the nostalgic complacency exhibited by my parents’ generation. Despite my countless demonstrations of the Instant Stream, they would much rather rent a DVD and wait 2-4 days.
Fine. That’s their loss.
But why differentiate between the content of each member? More often than not, I find myself frustrated because I cannot stream the TV program or film I want to watch. A few nights ago, I wanted to watch Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums, which happens to be one of my favorite films, and couldn’t because the film is only available to DVD renters. Rather than explore Netflix’s vast library for a new film or change my subscription, I found the film on a 3rd party website for free.
Because of Netflix’s differentiation in content, I find myself resorting to alternate websites most of the time. As of late, I’m considering cancelling my subscription.
Given this problem, I’d like to suggest a change in the structure of Netflix. Although I believe in a divide between DVD rental and online stream, because two very different audiences have two very different needs, I do not believe in the differentiation of content. The millennial online streamer will not convert to the dark side (DVD renter) for more content: we will simply find alternative websites/sources to fulfill our needs, leaving Netflix for the chumps willing to pay for limited content.
Of course I mean this with the upmost respect. I’m a huge fan of Netflix and routinely watch TV programs, most recently Louie, while on the treadmill or stationary bike at the gym.
My request is simple — equality among subscribers. Millennial may not find everything they need, but a balanced arsenal of movies/TV shows would help keep our interest in subscribing. Until then, I’m heavily considering a cancellation of my subscription.
“Holy shit, Google.”
That was my reaction after listening to Ben Malbon’s presentation about Google Creative Lab at Boston University College of Communication last Friday.
Google Glass and Chromebook Pixel aside, I was truly blown away by the inner workings of Google. Not only does the mantra, “be uncomfortably ambitious,” dictate the actions of the employees, it lives within them as well. These ex-ad men and tech junkies are the dreamers, the innovators and the thinkers of tomorrow, which may be why Google is the innovation giant of the 21st century.
So what is Google doing that others are not?
I look back at the mantra stated above: be uncomfortably ambitious. I couldn’t agree more. Playing it safe will get you nowhere, and I’m not just talking about the tech industry. This mentality applies to every aspect of life, especially relationships. Guys, if you haven’t spoken to the cute girl in the elevator yet, you fucked up.
Don’t believe me? Look at Apple. For the past 10 years, Apple produced the hottest gadgets on the market. Nothing held a candle to the iPhone, MacBook, or iPad. Fast-forward to today, and Apple has hit a wall. Since the passing of the brilliant Steve Jobs, Apple has yet to awe the world with an original, game-changing product. You could argue it’s still too soon to make this assumption, but this is the digital age where technology is obsolete 2 months after its launch. Complacency is the enemy of progress.
What has Apple done recently that is “uncomfortably ambitious?” A new phone featuring an inferior navigation application and slightly larger screen, a smaller tablet with the same functions as its larger counterpart, and new iPod Nano/Shuffle. Color me unimpressed.
With Job’s death went Apple’s vision and contentment sunk in.
I say this as an art director/graphic designer typing on a MacBook Pro and checking texts on an iPhone 4. I bought into Apple/Job’s vision in the past, but not for much longer. As a creative individual, I’m more excited for Google’s future, than Apple’s.
So, Google. What’s next?
I recently spoke with my mother about her and my father’s 30+ years of marriage. When I asked about why the marriage has been so successful, she said it was money. Luckily, sarcasm is my first language, so I knew she was kidding.
Her real answer was communication. To her, communication meant two things: openness and consideration.
Openness is your output: what you say, how you act, and how you feel. The other person in a relationship — whether be a spouse, friend, or colleague — isn’t a mind reader. Without expressing these actions honestly, your relationship is doomed.
Consideration is your input, or how you listen. While one person expresses openness, the other considers their feelings and opinions. The two go hand in hand in creating a successful relationship.
After my mother bestowed her infinite wisdom upon me, I hung up on her. Don’t worry, I said, “thank you” and “love you, Ma” before hanging up.
That moment, I realized how similar a personal relationship is to the consumer and product/brand relationship of the 21st century. Although consumers don’t interact with their favorite brand/product every day, there is an opportunity to create the interaction at any moment through social media and the Internet.
Social media and the Internet have become a consumer’s cell phone to contact brands. Unfortunately, not enough brands answer the consumer’s phone call and stick with the strategy of the past: broadcast, broadcast, broadcast. The consumer’s openness falls on deaf ears and the relationship ceases to exist.
But, when brands take the time to listen to their consumers via social, they plant a little seed of hope in the consumer’s mind. It’s that little feeling of being cared for that will lure consumers back every time. A perfect demonstration of a well-rounded relationship is Firestone Complete Auto Care, the body shop brand of the Firestone Tired and Rubber Company.
FCAC is killing it on social media, specifically Twitter, by reaching out to potential and existing customers. Their actions clearly demonstrate the openness and consideration factors of a good relationship. Complaints about poor customer service are answered with concern, while praise for FCAC triggers a thank you from the brand. They’re kind of like your best friend, who gets to deal with all your shit, good or bad.
Aside from communicating brilliantly, FCAC communicates in real time. Many brands respond hours or even days later to a tweet, but not FCAC. Check out the tweet below.
Real time communication. Does it get any better? If I ask a friend to go to the bar tonight, I don’t want him responding tomorrow. FCAC knows this. The ability to communicate in the now brings creates a certain authenticity within the conversation. I know FCAC cares, because they answered me 3 minutes later.
I don’t know whether or not FCAC follows up complaining tweeters with actual action, but that’s not my point. There is engagement and actual conversation occurring between the brand and its followers. This phenomenon is no trend either. It’s the future of marketing/advertising. And if brands don’t start communicating (openly and considerately), they’ll quickly turn into the creepy guy at the party, who stands in the corner alone the whole night.
For the past twenty-four hours, I’ve felt like shit. Sadly, I know why and there’s nothing I can do about it. For the first time I can remember, I enjoyed the actual Super Bowl game more than the commercials. There. I said it.
Before the world of advertising blacklists my name, hear me out. Each team had a mountain of juicy storylines waiting to play out from the Harbowl to Ray Lewis’ final game to a team rallying behind a quarterback, who seemed to have come out of nowhere. The drama was to be expected.
But I don’t credit the game with stealing my interest as much as I blame the commercials for a lackluster performance. Regardless of whether or not I had seen the spot a week earlier, the “wow” factor was nowhere to be found except for a few spots. The reason? Poor strategies, especially from some of the night’s biggest players: Doritos, GoDaddy, and Coke just to name a few.
Doritos, for starters, did what they always do: not make sense. Kudos to whoever sold the marketing execs on the junkie goat hooked on Doritos. I have to make note that the commercial was made by a fan, but there’s a reason advertising agencies exist. No one can do what we do. Take the idea and rework it. But seriously, THAT was $4 million worth of creative work? Where was the strategy? What the hell could have possibly been the insight? Nothing funny. Nothing memorable.
Next, we’ve got another recycled strategy from our favorite Super Bowl regular, GoDaddy. I would like to give them a few points for their early released “Big Idea” spot. Hell, I’ll even throw in a couple more points for the line, “more everything sky waitress.” Classic. It was refreshing to see the web giant go with an honest, simple spot and avoid the cheap sex sell for a change. Now, I’d like to take back all the points mentioned above for the other spot that appeared during the big game. Congratulations, GoDaddy. You managed to make over one hundred million people feel physically uncomfortable with the same, half-assed strategy you’ve used every year. The sloppy make out scene was completely tasteless and unoriginal. Zooming in for a closer look confirmed why I will never host my website with GoDaddy.
But the biggest disappointment of them all comes from Coca-Cola’s “The Chase,” which relied on two strategies implemented by others this year: prereleasing the spot and crowd sourcing content. Personally, I love the idea of building hype with a prereleased spot and allowing consumers to engage and dictate the brand’s decisions, but the creative execution fell short. Very short. I’m not really sure how and why the various groups end up in the dessert competing for a bottle of Coke. What happened to Coca-Cola as a uniting force, bringing together the most opposite of people? Nope, instead the first part of the commercial built up the latter half quite a bit, but ended in a terribly anticlimactic manner. The showgirl scores the Coke while her competition shrugs off the loss as if to say, “better luck next year.” Same to goes you, Coke. Better luck next year.
While gathering my thoughts for this post, I realized I would never watch the Super Bowl the same again. It’s no longer a five hour block of entertainment, like it is for the rest of the country. Instead, it’s a case study challenging the culmination of my college education. More importantly, it’s the beginning of my career in advertising and I welcome the challenge.
Insurance advertising sucks.
And rightfully so. Insurance is like banking: people want a straightforward explanation, not a creative, witty concept that requires some digging. After all, insurance is about protecting what is most important to us: our family, our most expensive possessions and ourselves.
But somehow, insurance advertising reeks of cheap gimmicks and fictional salespersons that are suppose to gain our trust while making us laugh. Sorry Geico, I’m not interested in buying insurance from any of the following spokespersons:
4. A stack of money with eyes (though I DID get a kick out of this campaign for some reason)
7. The two hipsters playing a banjo and guitar (is it me, or does Eddie Money sound like shit?)
The lack of consistency and substance in Geico’s ads makes me question if the each character was suppose to be the “big idea.” If so, Geico better reassess their marketing strategy.
But even the leader in auto insurance, State Farm, has me scratching my head at times. While the company blends humor with a cohesive message (unlike Geico), it lacks the “Ah ha!” moment sparked by the big idea. For example, there seems to be two separate messages communicated by State Farm’s most recent ads.
1. The Jingle promotes the promptness of State Farm in response to your needs.
2. The [Discount] Double Check helps customers save tons of cash with State Farm.
Cool, but neither has anything to do with the other and neither is lasting. The Jingle is cute but is starting run out of clever ways to communicate the idea. Secondly, The Discount Double Check will fade with Aaron Rodger’s career, though as a Packers fan, I hope isn’t any time soon.
So what does this mean about our industry? One may argue that with time all things die, including David Ogilvy’s big idea philosophy. But that’s just a cop out for lazy advertising.
Everyone should take note of Absolut’s most impressive limited edition series to date: Absolut Unique.
The campaign features 4 million bottles, each decorated with a unique label designed randomly by machine. Don’t worry, I won’t go into detail about rewiring the machine’s algorithms for this process to be possible. I’m an ad guy, not an engineer.
The idea continues to fuel the brand’s long standing tradition of annually releasing limited edition vodkas, but it doesn’t stop there. Absolut Unique takes this tradition to a whole new level of innovation, modernization, and creativity.
The Absolut Unique campaign is absolutely brilliant in my opinion. It reminds us why Absolut is the hip, modern vodka among the younger generations of vodka drinkers.