For the past three years, everyone has been bitching about the fact that SXSW sucks and has sold out. Well, of course it's sold out. Every entity does at one point, but that doesn't make it suck. You know what's still epic about SXSW? Marketing firms like MRY and Rocket Fuel hosting amazing all-expenses-paid parties featuring awesome acts like Rev Run and The Jot Formidable, respectively. Agencies like Barbarian Group and JWT doing the same. Social media firms like Expion hosting "unofficial" panels featuring the likes of Gary V and Bonin Bough who, together, are a sight to see. Fast Company hosting its, yes, all-expenses-paid Fast Company Grill where the chosen ones can go to relax, grab lunch and a drink and chat with friends. Oh, and let's not forget the awesomeness of George Tekai, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. Sure, it's not the quaint gathering of the tech elite anymore. But isn't the point of an event like this to meet new people and expand your horizons? SXSW still does it -- so quit knocking it.
I've chastised Long Island-based Web design company fishbat (yes, that is their name, despite it sounding like they club fish
for lunch on a daily basis) before for sending out pointless press releases
that do nothing but make people like me share with the rest of the world how idiotic they are and how they can't seem to learn a lesson. This particular press release, like all others before it,
latches onto a popular Mashable article, offers commentary from someone at the agency and then proceeds to pimp the agency throughout. This time the agency is commenting on the fact that Facebook is
finally rolling out their news feed redesign and offering up epic commentary from Client Relations VP Justin Mass, who said: "In terms of the colors and icons, Facebook's web version is beginning to
look a lot like the mobile version. We've seen this with other major social networks like Twitter. As more people begin to use their mobile apps and smartphones to browse social media, it makes sense
for networks to make similar design changes." Epic!
At the end of last year, Gareth Kay left Goodby Silverstein & Partners to become founding partner and owner of the San Francisco office of Minneapolis-based Zeus Jones. At the time, Kay noted that he would open the office in March with four employees. True to his word, he has begun hiring and, this week, brought in former AKQA San Francisco Creative Director Neil Robinson, who left the agency last week. Now, of course, we know why he left. Of Robinson joining the startup, Kay said, “I can’t wait to get to work with Neil and to start building a creative company for the modern age from the ground up – a skunkworks that challenges marketing as usual."
Did you know the 4A's annual meeting was coming up? Well, indeed it is. It will take place March 16-19 at the Beverly Hills Hilton, Did you know that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer will keynote at the confab? Well, indeed she will. Also in the house will be American Express CMO John Hayes and GroupM Global Chief Digital Officer Rob Norman. 4A's CEO explains it all in this video.
Ever since the advent of crowdsource-fueled creative entities like 99Designs, Freelancer and Fiver, design studios, which previously buttered their bread with business from ad agencies, are now
upping their game, cutting out the agency and going direct to the brand for business.
Of the trend, Design Business Council Head Greg Branson said, “A lot of the designers I work with have a strategy partner or a senior person in the business that does strategy. Many of them have been recruited by the designer out of the advertising industry, with the intention of taking their business to a higher level and offering a broader range of services."
While a design studio isn't going to take over the Coke account any time soon, shifts like this are on the rise. Interestingly, even before 99Designs and the like, Barbarian Group, which prior to Subservient Chicken, was a tech design studio of sorts, transformed itself into a full blown agency complete with all the usual agency services.
No, there won't be a weekly parade of design studios making it big like Barbarian did but market conditions have changed significantly enough that we will continue to see more of this.
For the past day or so, it seems impossible to escape from a Google News alert that isn't filled with that story about popular Indian celebrity Aishwarya Rai, who appeared in an ad for Kalyan
Jewellers elegantly dressed with a dark-skinned child holding an umbrella over her head. Many have called the ad racist.
An open letter from a consortium of feminist, child and human rights groups says the ad appears to "be representing aristocracy from a bygone era -- bejewelled, poised and relaxing while an obviously underage slave-child, very dark and emaciated, struggles to hold an oversize umbrella over your head."
The letter, which shares several examples of 17th- and 18th-century images that would now be considered racist, continues: "We wish to convey our dismay at the concept of this advertisement, and that you have, perhaps unthinkingly, associated with such a regressive portrayal of a child to sell a product...we, therefore, urge you to do the right thing -- cease to associate yourself with this offensive image by ensuring that further use of this advertisement is stopped."
In response, a statement from Aishwarya pretty much shirks any responsibility and blames the creative agency for the debacle. The statement read: "On the onset we would like to thank you on drawing our attention to the observation of the perception of the advertisement. Here is an attachment (picture of Aishwarya without the child holding the umbrella) of the shot taken by somebody during the shoot. The final layout of the ad is entirely the prerogative of the creative team for a brand. However shall forward your article as a viewpoint that can be taken into consideration by the creative team of professionals working on the brand visual communication. Thank you once again."
Kalyan Jewellers has pulled the ad.
On Wednesday at the LSA|15 Conference in Los Angeles, the Local Search Association announced the winners of its second annual Ad to Action Awards competition. LSA received 91 entries across 10
categories and the winners were revealed on the main stage at the event.
The competition focused on celebrating the most innovative "local" marketing products or solutions that facilitate consumer actions such as calls, clicks, store visits, etc. The winners demonstrated the greatest potential for driving local consumer engagement and best addressed current market needs.
The judging panel -- made up of 18 companies including Twitter, Foursquare, Yahoo, MapQuest, xAd and more -- evaluated these products and solutions. Each judge reviewed a subset of entries and no judge reviewed any entries where there was a potential conflict of interest.
In the Platforms and Services category, Chicago-based Rise Interactive, which likes to refer to itself as an "interactive investment management firm," won the top spot. And we can see why. Any agency that can spin the fact that they buy online advertising into "interactive investment management form" is worthy of praise.
For, oh, at least the past 7-10 years, every prognosticator has gleefully been promising "this is the year of mobile!" to the point where it's become a joke. Now, certainly, mobile has matured and
has become a viable medium for many things including advertising. But AKQA CCO Rei Inamoto isn't completely convinced.
In an interview with The Drum, Inamoto said, “To an extent I think the promise of mobile in relation to marketing has been exaggerated. The biggest misconception about mobile and the biggest mistake that advertisers make about mobile is to treat it like an advertising channel. Instead we should use it as a way to provide service not to provide a message.”
And, being the smart guy that he is, he's right. Rather than forcing old models (*cough* ...banners) through mobile devices, brands should embrace new services. Many have. Love them or hate them, Inamoto cites Uber as a brand that's fully embraced mobile, not as an advertising medium per se but, rather, as a platform for doing business.
So, yes, mobile has finally arrived. But my hope for the medium is that we can skip past all the missteps we took forcing old advertising models onto the internet and treat mobile very differently and more effectively. Like the personal service it has become. Not a pipe through which to shove ads.