Ad Man Opens Haunted House Bed and Breakfast

There are a lot of things ad professionals do when they go down the elevator at night, but they usually don't involve things that go, well, bump in the night. But that's exactly what Bil Bungay, founder of UK agency BMB, did when he bought a famous haunted house and turned it into a bed and breakfast. Bungay purchased the house used to film the British poltergeist movie, “When the Lights Went Out,” and turned it into a B&B. The house is said to be the site of one of the UK's most violent hauntings with such occurrences a "small room trashed by Fred" and the "shadow of a man walks from kitchen into neighbor's house." The Web site for the B&B urges people to stay -- if they dare.

In another chilling warning to ad agencies, WSJ CMO Today scribe Suzanne Vranica pens a piece about the ever up-swinging trend of media companies forming their own in-house agencies, which are stealing business from traditional agencies. Pandora, Screenvision, Forbes and The Wall Street Journal itself, have formed in-house operations to serve the changing needs of brands. Native advertising and content marketing have played a major role in this shift. The skill set required to create this particular form of advertising appears to better match with the skill sets of media companies than with ad agencies. 

Publicis Groupe has acquired Cybermedia, the parent company of Proximedia, a Web services provider for small/medium businesses in Belgium and the Netherlands. The agency has 380 employees and 25,000 clients. Publicis, which also has its own small/medium business focused digital division, Webformance, aims to capitalize off the 25 million small businesses in the European Union that are in the process of "going digital."

Even helicopter companies need ad agencies. Denver-based Agency Zero has been selected as the advertising agency of record for Sundance Helicopters, a helicopter tour company based in Las Vegas, Nevada. “Las Vegas itself is an amazing sight, however many people don’t realize the close proximity of these natural wonders and the perspective-changing feelings that Sundance’s adventures evoke,” stated Jeremy Irwin, Agency Zero Partner/CCO. “We want the unforgettable experience of the tours to translate through every point of contact, from Sundance’s Web site, to a strong local presence in Vegas, to global digital display work.”

Global Chief Executive Officer of Starcom MediaVest Group Laura Desmond has been named Chair of the Board of Directors of the Advertising Council. She succeeds Debra L. Lee, chairman and chief executive officer of BET Networks. David Kenny, chief executive officer of The Weather Company, has been announced as vice chair of media, joining vice chair of advertisers, David Christopher, CMO of AT&T Mobility. Desmond will be Board Chair through June 2015 when she will be succeeded by  Christopher. Of the selection, Ad Council President and CEO Peggy Conlon said, "We are thrilled to announce Laura's leadership on our Board. Laura is one of this country's most respected leaders in the media and advertising communities, and her business acumen, marketing expertise and outstanding leadership will be instrumental to furthering our mission and the goals of our campaigns."
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  • Aishwarya Rai Blames Creative Agency For That Racist Ad

    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.

  • Apparently, The Spanish Can't Pronounce 'Ogilvy & Mather' Properly

    Is there any other industry that pokes fun at itself as much as advertising? Perhaps, but I can't think of one right now. Maybe it's because I have yet again been distracted by a witty agency self-promotion that gleefully mocks the fact that seemingly no one in Spain can properly pronounce "Ogilvy & Mather."

    To point out this travesty and to offer some help, the agency itself has produced a series of videos featuring a very regal English gentleman offering helpful tips on the proper pronunciation of the agency's name.

    Once such video instructs viewers that the emphasis is on the "O" and should be pronounced as if one were surprised or in pain. Sort of like being whacked in the nuts with a boot. Which is exactly what happens to our regal English gentleman in this particular video. 

    Check out all the videos here.
  • Surprise, Surprise. Chuck E. Cheese Gets New CMO And Launches Agency Review

    This is getting so tired. New CMO joins brand. CMO, in an effort to prove his or her worth, trashes current agency and launches review, thereby proving that whatever the previous CMO had in place sucked and the new solution is far superior. It's like a broken record. Oh wait, half of you have no idea what a record is. Anyway, the whole thing is like predicting an apple will fall if you drop it.

    So what's the latest CMO-fueled shenanigan? In January, Michael Hartman joined Chuck E. Cheese as chief marketing officer. Previously, Hartman was senior marketing officer at Seaworld. Yeah, probably a really good move for Hartman, given the crap that brand is facing these days. But back to the agency review.

    Sources tell AdWeek the brand has launched a creative agency review. But the source everyone really wants to hear from, Hartman, isn't talking. Mums the word I guess. It's as if it's some sort of national security secret that will topple the entire world of marketing if any one were, God forbid, to become privy to the inner dealings of an agency review. 

    Currently, the account is handled by The Richards Group. But...wait for it...no one from The Richards Group is talking either. Last year, the brand spent $28 million on media, according to Kantar Media.
  • Rise Interactive Agency Wins LA Search Marketing Award

    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.

  • SMG Just Screamed 'Oh Sh*t' ... Again!

    Late last year, in an effort to consolidate its global media planning business with one agency, Mars yanked its account from Starcom, placed it in review and handed it to MediaCom. The agency has also recently lost Microsoft and Anheuser-Busch InBev. Now, Starcom is getting the shaft again.

    Soft drink giant Coca-Cola has placed its U.S. media buying and planning account into review. While MediaVest will participate in the review alongside sister Coke agencies UM, MediaCom and Carat, we all know how these things go.

    Hoping to placate any nervousness, a Coke spokeswoman said: "We have a very productive and strong relationship with Starcom MediaVest Group that has served both companies very well for the last 11 years. Over this period, SMG has continually improved and strengthened its offering and remains a valued partner. As the media marketplace reshapes and reinvents itself, we frequently take the opportunity to formally review our media partners all around the world. Continued appraisal of our partners ensures we are both working with, and acting as, the best partners to create the most value at the right price."

    Oh -- because evaluating the actual work agencies do on a day-to-day basis for you is too difficult? You need the dog and pony show to make sure your agencies don't get too comfortable? Same old story.
  • Agency Stages Fake Robbery to Illustrate How Awesome Its Work Is

    On April 16, it was reported that three men broke into the offices of Sagmeister & Walsch at 206 West 23rd Street in New York and made off with a bunch of stuff. The entire robbery, however, was caught by a ceiling cam that normally streams studio activity to the agency Web site.

    Of the robbery, Steffan Sagmeister said: "We never thought something like this could happen. When we launched our website we thought it would be a good way to showcase our work to those who admire us; now it's all gone." 

    Following the robbery, the agency tweeted: "We are Deeply saddened by this loss. Next time take the printer." You see, all the robbers took was the agency's work and nothing else. Now what sort of robbers do you think would take only the work -- that's valuable to no one but the client and the agency -- and not all the physical electronics that could be sold?

    Well, the agency itself, of course. Yes, the agency staged the robbery, got Creative Review to write about it and then the agency's receptionist burst into laughter when AdWeek's Tim Nudd called for confirmation. Well played, indeed!
  • Has Mobile Advertising Finally Arrived? Not According to AKQA CCO Rei Inamoto

    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.

  • Publicis, Omnicom Downplay the Whole Agency Rebate Thing

    The notion (accusation?) that ad agencies take kickbacks in the form of lower ad rates, cash or free ad space in exchange for more media budget is not a new thing. And it's not just a few weeks old, either, when former MediaCom exec Jon Mandel made news telling a seemingly shocked world that, OMG, media sellers reward media buyers for increased spending. This practice has been going on since before anyone had heard of Madonna.

    Anyway, the topic arose again Tuesday during a Publicis Groupe earnings call during which Maurice Levy said: “We are not suffering at all from this kickback situation. Most of our clients know exactly what our practices are. They know that we are extremely rigorous and that we are playing by the rules. So we are suffering as an industry because there has been a lot of noise which has been made by a former media commentary.”

    In an Omnicom earnings call earlier that day, Omnicom Media Group CEO Daryl Simm said: “Our media agencies in the U.S. don’t seek rebates, and the U.S. of course is not a rebate-based marketplace from a negotiation standpoint. So in terms of our media agency clients in the U.S., they receive all the value that gets negotiated on their behalf.”

    Pivotal Research Analyst Brian Wieser isn't buying the defensive statements and said: “There remains some inconsistencies as to what marketers perceive and what vendors know about the nature of rebates. The statements today and what we’ll hear from WPP and Interpublic won’t cause this issue to go away anytime soon.”

    And, you know what -- he's probably right. Because anytime there are negotiations, there's bound to be a little grease applied to the situation in order to make everything move smoothly across the two sides of the table.
  • Agencies, Don't Like That BuzzFeed Post About Your Client? You Can Get It Deleted

    In an audit of the 1,000 posts that BuzzFeed deleted from its site, three were deleted because advertisers complained. Yes, it's true. Don't like what someone writes about you? All you have to do is bitch a little and get it removed. 

    In 2013, BuzzFeed published a post about an Axe body spray ad that was, it seems, not very positive. The brand's agency at the time didn't like what they read, complained and it was removed. Also is 2013, the publication chided Microsoft about its Internet Explorer browser. According to BuzzFeed Editor in Chief Ben Smith, the post was deleted because its author "had worked on a Microsoft ad campaign, and BuzzFeed's chief revenue officer complained about the post to me."

    A third post, published in January 2014, which discussed what brands had planned on Twitter for the Super Bowl was pulled because it was critical of what Pepsi had planned and -- oops, the brand's Twitter account was handled by BuzzFeed staff at the time. Of that decision, Smith said: "We'd never previously considered the case of an editor that would be writing about an ad that was produced by our creative team, but we decided it was inappropriate and deleted the post." Really?

    Remember when advertising and editorial where separate entities? Yeah, neither do I. We've all been pummeled so hard with native advertising bullshit over the past few years that it's practically become -- much like the banner before it -- invisible. Not to mention the over-the-top, incessant use of ridiculously sensationalistic clickbait headlines that achieved nothing but to quicken the tactic's invisibility.

  • Job-Seeking Ad Students Envision Ad Agencies As Ice Cream Flavors

    You know it's true. Ad agencies spend an inordinate amount of time positioning themselves in a never-ending effort to separate themselves from the sea of sameness -- which, when you think about it, is really a pointless effort because all agencies do the same thing: Help brands sell stuff. You know it's true.

    But what if ad agencies were to define themselves as ice cream flavors? Hey, it's probably better and more informative than all those overly wordy Web sites that at the end of the day all say the same thing: nothing at all.

    So two Miami Ad School New York students, Aditya Hariharan and Joshua Namdar, decided to help us all differentiate between agency sameness by, yes, envisioning ad agencies as ice cream flavors by taking into consideration some of the better-known work each agency has done. They put it all up on a Tumblr aptly named Agency Scoops.

    So which agencies are what flavors? Ogilvy is Share A Scoop, McCann is Dumb Death by Chocolate, Leo Burnett is GR-R-Reat Lovin', BBDO is an M&M-themed Peanut Caramel Split and Wieden+Kennedy is Just Desserts with a Nike swoop holding a scoop of ice cream.

    On the back of each ice cream label are listings of each agency's clients and awards. The effort, of course, is a job-seeking effort for the creators but also a humorous way to help creative students seeking summer internships to get a, ahem, taste of different agencies.
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