John Oliver Skewers Native Advertising...And Offers A Hilarious Solution

You have to see this! Once again, HBO's John Oliver has gone on a rant. This time he takes on native advertising. In this well-researched, well-cited 12-minute video (http://youtu.be/E_F5GxCwizc), Oliver examines the integrity of news and its infiltration by native advertising. He takes on Buzzfeed and Jonah Peretti, whose face he describes as "successful, appealing and yet, somehow, you want to punch it." He also cites the IAB study which found that less than half of people exposed to native advertising realized the material was advertising. And he skewers Time's CEO for referring to the editorial separation of church and state as "whatever that was." And, finally, he has a bit of fun with NYT Advertising EVP Meredith Levien who, at an IAB conference, said, "Good native advertising is not meant to be trickery. It's meant to be publishers sharing their story telling tools with the marketer." To which he says: "And that's not bullshit. It's re-purposed bovine waste." Seriously, if you take a moment, step back and listen to all the bullshit we are slinging about native advertising, you'd be on the floor laughing just as much as you will be if you watch this John Oliver video -- which ends with an absolutely brilliant twist that humorously flips the tables on the very practice of native advertising.

So what's the new way of winning new business? Three-martini lunches are a thing of the past. Pitches? So 1980s. Decks? So 1990s. Capabilities presentation? Yawn. How about writing an article that asks questions you have all the answers to and placing it on a site within the very industry you serve? Yeah -- content marketing, baby. Everyone's doing it. Like HeBSdigital, a New York City-based digital agency which serves the hospitality industry. Senior Marketing Manager Sara O'Brien penned a piece entitled “The Top Ten Questions to Ask Your Online Media Agency.” Apart from the fact that her agency's name has the questionably placed letters "BS" in the middle of its name, the article is filled with insightful questions every agency should have the answers to when pitching new business.

Usually when we hear about some creative person leaving an agency to start yet another "creative venture,” it's a snoozer. Now, I'm not saying the fact that JWT North America CCO Jeff Benjamin is leaving the agency to do just that isn't a snooze-fest. It is. But I like how he elaborates his use of the words "creative venture.” He tells Ad Age: "I feel like every time someone starts something, they don't want to call it an ad agency, but then it ends up being an ad agency. I think it would be silly for me to say it's not an agency, but I do think in order for a startup to succeed, it's gotta be something different." Yes, it does, indeed, need to be something different. At least to investors and prospects. To the rest of us, you'll still be an ad agency.

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  • This Agency's Santa App Aims to Bring Christmas Magic to Children

    Agencies, it seems, are really amping up their holiday card efforts this year with many going the mobile route. Spanish agency Shakleton Group has developed SantApp, a mobile app which creates the illusion that Father Christmas or the Three Kings are moving around in one's living room to enchant the little ones. To get it to work, you enter the name of the child or children, place the phone in the room with the presents, close the door, turn off the lights.

    According to Juan Silva, executive creative director at Shackleton: “People say that technology is robbing children of their innocence. We believe that, for once, we are actually helping to give it back to them.” That's all well and good -- but a video explaining the app leads on to believe all it does is play various Santa voice and flash light. But, hey, sometimes that's all kids need.

  • AKQA Creates Awesome 3D Snowglobe For Your Phone

    AKQA decided to go mobile with its holiday card this year. The agency has introduced Winterlands, a mobile messaging site that lets you send this season’s greetings in a 3D snow globe experience.

    If you visit snow.akqa.com on any mobile device running iOS 8+ or Android 4.3.3+ and choose one of the snowscapes and write your personal message that when opened by a recipient will reveal a message inside a virtual snow globe. And shaking the phone will make it snow. The experience is really quite cool and makes use of the phone's gyroscope and accelerometer.

    Winterlands launches with one wintery and five city-inspired snowscapes including London, Paris, Portland, Tokyo and Washington DC, more cities to be added in the coming days. So grab your phone, head over to the Web site, create your own snow globe extravaganza and shoot it over to a friend.

  • Creative Agency Wants To Know Whether Or Not You Eat Reindeer

    Hanson Dodge Creative has stepped up the holiday card/video/charity thingamajiga with the launch of Global Gift Project, Inc. Its mission is to bring complete joy and wonderment to every child in the world by providing each child with a gift. And the agency is asking for the industry's help.

    Explaining the efforts, the Web site reads: "Trying to give a gift to every single one of them [kids] is really freaking difficult. And it gets harder every year. That's why we've started our ‘Yes, I'm Officially Representing Santa, He's Real and Gave Me the Power to Give You a Gift’ Team. We call it Team "YIORSHRGMPGYG" for short." YIORSHRGMPGYG aims to entrust the non-elven population with the power of good ol' Santa Claus and empowers people to become official members of the Global Gift Project Team.”

    If you click the Apply Now button, you are whisked away to a virtual human resources department where Helen will administer an interview to see if you're up to holiday snuff. The choose-your-own adventure-style questions begin simply enough and then progress to such oddities as how crying babies make you feel and whether or not you like to eat reindeer. It's amusing enough to click all the way through at which time you can download your YIORSHRGMPGYG membership card.

  • Study Predicts Increased Creative Hires in 2015

    Well, here's some good news regarding the outlook for 2015. The Creative Group is out with a piece of research that takes a look at what 2015 has in store in terms of employment. According to the research, one-third of advertising and marketing professionals plan to expand their creative teams in the first half of 2015. That's up 21 percent from six months ago.

    In addition, 56% plan to maintain their current level of staffing within their organizations with just 5% planning to freeze hiring. Forty-one percent of advertising and marketing executives noted that it is challenging to find creative professionals today and hiring managers at large advertising agencies expect the greatest difficulty, with 59% of respondents reporting it will be somewhat or very challenging.

    In terms of the areas which marketing organizations plan to expand, web design/production, social media, content marketing and brand/product management top the list. The Creative Group has produced an infographic summarizing this outlook with addition data points as well. You can access that here.

  • MUH-TAY-ZIK | HOF-FER Solves Oxford Comma Conundrum With Browser Bookmark-Let

    In an ingenious, holiday-themed effort designed to call attention to the importance of the Oxford comma in certain situations, San Francisco-based MUH-TAY-ZIK | HOF-FER has launched a browser bookmark-let that will automagically add missing Oxford commas.

    A video accompanies the effort with clear examples as to why you really should employ the Oxford comma at times. The video says "Missing Oxford commas ruins Christmas." It then cites some unintended results such as "I was shopping for your Christmas presents, toilet paper and prunes," "We went caroling with our dogs, grandma and grandpa" and "Merry Christmas from your parents, Santa and Rudolph." Images accompany the statements to illustrate just how wrong those sentences are without the Oxford comma.

    So if you're ever confused as to whether or not the Oxford comma is necessary, you can recall the awkward examples given in the video.
  • Deep Focus Pays Homage to Classic Console Games With Holiday Charity Effort

    Like the holidays? Like games? Then Deep Focus has something you might like. The agency has developed an old school interactive game called #DeepSnow. The agency developed it from scratch using Google Maps, HTML5, WebSockets, SASS, OpenLayers, and custom animations.

    The aim of the game is to steer a snow plow through the streets of New York City and rescue Deep Focus employees and toys spilt by Santa from the grasps of a winter snowpocalypse. In tandem with the web experience, players use their mobile device as a game controller. Data from the phone’s gyroscope is used to power the steering wheel for the snowplow as it maneuvers around angry Yetis and actual NYC landmarks on the computer screen.

    And, of course, there's a charity element to the game. Because, after all, agencies need to somehow make up for their self-centered, egotistical outlook on life they vamp the rest of the year. Virtual points earned during game play will be turned into physical toys donated to Toy For Tots.

  • Digitas Health Turns Mundane Holiday Card Into Charity Extravaganza

    Oh the agency holiday card. Yawn. Oh wait, not yawn! Some agencies actually put some thought into the mundane annual event. One such agency is Digitas Health LifeBrands which has come up with something a little more meaningful. The agency has launched HUG, a social media campaign which aims to generate awareness of charities and provide a monetary donation from the agency to charities which are nominated by employees.

    In its fifth year, the program involves employees from the New York, Philadelphia, London, and San Francisco offices who have nominated 24 charities to compete to win money. Each week visitors to the Group HUG Facebook page will vote for their favorite charity  by “liking” and “sharing” the logos from the charities. At the end of the campaign, which runs through the end of December, there will be four winning charities.

    Check out the Group HUG video trailer here and be sure to visit the Group HUG Facebook page to vote for your favorite charity. After all, what better way to celebrate the season of giving than with a nice big Group HUG?
  • Ogilvy Pitches Christmas to Focus Group Which Interprets Santa As Pedophilic Rapist

    What if you had to pitch Christmas to a focus group? As we all know, focus groups are a disastrous means of coming to consensus on anything. And that's pretty much what happens in this video created by Ogilvy & Mather Paris.

    After explaining some of the elements of Christmas such as a fat old man with a big beard, a little girl asks, "Why do I have to sit on his lap?" Just let that one sink in for a minute. Ick. Another woman offers up, "You know who else sneaks into your house through the chimney? Rapists." Ouch! This isn't going well.

    The confusion continues with focus group members wondering why Christmas is proposed to be in December instead of the much warmer August. And why the fat guy gets all the credit when he doesn't even buy all the gifts. One panelist even claimed proposed Christmas carols make him feel horny. No, not going well at all. And let's not even get into New Year's Eve.

  • Dick Rich, Co-Founder of Wells Rich Green Dead At 84

    Copywriting legend Dick Rich passed away from a heart attack on November 1. He was 84. His daughter, Karen Rich, made his death known last week. Rich, along with Mary Wells and Rich Greene, was one of the founders of the storied Wells Rich Green ad agency and creator of classic 60's work for Alka-Seltzer and Benson & Hedges. 

    He was known for his confident approach to his work telling The New York Times in 1983: “Clients don’t come to me for O.K. advertising. They come to me for great, great advertising.”

    A real man’s man who will be missed.

  • Starcom Just Screamed 'Oh Sh*t!'

    Looking to consolidate its global media planning business with one agency, Mars has handed its $1,7 billion account to MediaCom after a review. In a review that included WPP, MediaCom ousted incumbent Starcom, which was one of 8 agencies handling a (substantial) slice of that $1.7 billion. 

    Of the account shift, a Mars statement read: "With the constant change in the media landscape, this model will allow us to better collaborate across our global business to drive efficiency, effectiveness, and coordination in our media planning. This change brings our planning model in line with our existing global creative agency structure, and will allow us to further focus media as a growth driver."

    The account has been with Starcom since 2010. Just a couple of months ago, Starcom lost the planning portion of the $575 million Anheuser-Busch InBev. It's a sad week for sure for the media-buying shop.
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